ARC Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M Parker

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Thegirlwhofell

 

The Girl Who Fell

Shannon M. Parker

Publication: March 1, 2016

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

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His obsession.
Her fall.

High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

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I have been interested in this book since April 2015 when the only description it had was :

A YA debut in which a high school senior mistakes her boyfriend’s physical and mental manipulations for devotion, only to discover the truth when it may be too late.

That right there hooked me and I knew I had to read it.

There are a plethora of examples in YA Lit of unhealthy and borderline, if not straight up abusive relationships. And the majority of readers rarely acknowledge them. Instead the asshole love interests are lauded and adored and the relationships are set as standards of true love. And it’s bullshit.

This book is so important because it shows just how wrong relationships like these can end up.

Personally, it was an extremely hard book to read. I saw SO much of my 16-year-old self with her first boyfriend and her first love in Zephyr. Of course, my relationship wasn’t as abusive as the one presented in this one, but still. It has taken me over a decade to recognize that a lot of what happened in that relationship was incredibly unhealthy. Anyone who has experienced the all-consuming, need to spend every second with someone, type of first love that usually manifests in high school students will be able to connect with Zephyr.

It was also hard to read just because you already know how it ends. The synopsis and the opening chapter sets up how things turn out, so you go in knowing that shit is going to hit the fan and it is so hard to see Zephyr realize that for herself. The entire time I just wanted to jump into the book and shake her and make her see what was so obvious to the reader.

The writing was superb. Parker did a wonderful job of slowly building up to the climax of the book, subtly showing how unstable Alec was, but was also able to make it seem so reasonable that Zephyr didn’t recognize it for what it was. Alec’s emotional manipulation was so ingrained in the text that sometimes I had to even reread a few sections to see it myself. Honestly, the writing was the highlight of this book.

Zephyr’s friends Gregg and Lizzie were interesting characters. They weren’t nearly as developed as Zephyr or even Alec, but they added an interesting touch. 500 points for a great female friendship, and a great friend who sticks by Zephyr even when she is ditched multiple times. Gregg was a bit of a jerk at times, but he was still a good friend.

There was also the subplot with her father who walked out on her and her mother the previous summer and it was interesting and totally played into the overall plot, but I was really just here for the “romance”.

My only real complaint is that the ending seemed a tad rushed, but honestly, it’s fine. It didn’t detract from the powerful message. I read this in one sitting. I was hooked from the moment I started, and only took a few breaks when my anxiety was about to hit the roof and I just couldn’t read anymore. This book reminded me so much of a tamer Fear, the 1996 movie with Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, minus the iconic rollercoaster scene. So if you’re a fan of the movie and you like YA, I would say that this is a must read (And you aren’t a fan of the movie, you’re wrong because it’s a cinematic masterpiece. JK. But really…NICOLE 4EVA.)

Sailing Through Time: Review of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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thegirlfromeverywhere

 

The Girl From Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere #1

Heidi Heilig

2/16/2016

Source: Netgalley

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.


 

Again I should point out that time travel books are my favorite so they are probably already always guaranteed at least 3 stars.  Or maybe I just haven’t read a really bad time travel book yet.

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The Good

The Storytelling

The Girl From Everywhere was a beautiful blend of history and mythology. On top of time traveling, which they call “navigating”, to the far off past, they can also go to mythical places, since it’s based on maps, and the belief that these places/things existed. That means if they found a map of Atlantis, there is a strong possibility they could actually go to Atlantis.  Kashmir, actually might even be from a mythical location that people once believed existed.   So to learn about Hawaiian mythology was really cool and I think Heilig did a wonderful job of weaving it into the story.

Plus, a lot of what happened was inspired by actual events! I definitely don’t really have a huge grasp on time travel science, but I like the theory that you can never really change the present/future.  Everything you do in the past has/will already happen in the present, simply by you going back to the past.  Does that make any sense?  Who knows if that’s a real theory, but it’s the one I like most.  So to find out that some of the events actually happened added to my favorite time travel theory.  Plus I just really love history.

The Familial Relationships

Nix’s dad is a huge jerk.  He’s obsessed with getting back to 1868 so that he can save Nix’s mother’s life, even if it includes endangering his daughter’s existence, only really cares about himself, and is an opium addict.  But I actually really enjoyed Nix and his relationships, her frustration over wanting to leave and feeling obligated to stay, and the growth their relationship undergoes.  It actually isn’t very often where a parent is a pretty prevalent secondary character in a YA novel.

The Lack of Romance

Ok, so there are not so subtle hints of romance, and even the briefest glimpses of a love triangle (although I don’t actually think it was one, but I’ll come back to that later), but this book was so much more.  The relationship between Nix and Kashmir was so perfect because that’s all it was: hints. They developed on their own and together. There is nothing better than when you can completely remove the romantic storyline and nothing changes.

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The Not So Good

Nothing in this book was bad per say, but there were some issues

Backstory/Worldbuilding

While Heilig did a wonderful job bringing Hawaii to life, not so much with explaining the science/magic behind the ability to navigate.  It involves maps, which you can only use once, doesn’t have to include ships and you have to believe it, but that’s basically all we know.  While I would prefer the information to be woven throughout the storytelling, I would much prefer an massive info dump to a lack of information.  It didn’t really ruin the book for me, and maybe it’s good that it’s a bit vague because it does seem magical.

The Actual Lack of “Navigating”

Ok, for a time travel book, they stay in one place for a good like 80% of the book.  We do get to see some of 18th century Calcutta and ancient (I think) China, most of the story takes place on one island of Hawaii. And to be honest, it made the plot a bit slow.  Usually with time travel books I’m always excited for the next location, which speeds up the pace a lot.  The Girl From Everywhere is over 400 pages long, and while it was still a quick read (for me anyway), there were some times when I was a bit bored.  While it was wonderful learning about and visualizing Hawaii in 1884, I wanted more action and adventure.

The Fact that This is A Series

Honestly, this book is a perfect standalone.  While I would love to learn more about the science/magic behind the navigating and actually see more traveling, I would prefer this not to be a series.  Maybe it will be a companion novel series, which I would enjoy more, because Nix’s story just seems to have ended perfectly.  It was open and free and anything can happen, and I kind of don’t want to see that. Especially since I suspect a series would definitely involve a love triangle and I’m not here for that.  So unless it is a companion novel, I don’t think I will be reading the next one.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book enough to look past the lack of explanation/navigating.  I will probably even reread it (probably in preparation for the sequel which I say I won’t read but totally will).  If I wasn’t on a 6 month book buying ban I might even buy it.  Check back with me in 5 months.

 

*This is a scheduled post. I am currently on vacation*

Historical Romance Thursday #1

I’ve been thinking of adding more monthly features for awhile now.  So I’ve decided to mix my newfound interest in expanding the genres I read and monthly features.  From now on, on the 2nd Thursday of every month, I will highlight a Historical Romance novel that I have read recently.  This is a genre that I have been wanting to explore for some time, and I’m happy to say that my first few reads have been great experiences!

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Mine Till Midnight

The Hathaways #1

Lisa Kleypas

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter…

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I really, really enjoyed this.  I actually liked it more than the first HR I read, The Rogue Not Taken.

Amelia Hathaway was a great character to start this series off with.  As the oldest female, at 26 (I think) she is resigned to life as a spinster.  In fact, she doesn’t have any desire to get married because she doesn’t want to give up her control of her own life.  She doesn’t want to have to obey a man.  All she wants to do is take care of her 3 younger sisters and her older brother.   All of the characters are great and I loved the family relationships.  In fact, I can’t wait to get to Poppy and Beatrix’s stories because they seemed like more interesting characters.

Cam Rohan was a very interesting love interest.  I don’t think I’ve read any books about a Romani  character.  I don’t really know much about them, so I can’t really tell if it was a stereotypical portrayal, but it didn’t seem bad. I liked how the book brought up the stereotypes that most people believed about the Romani, and explored them within the two characters of Cam and Merripen. What I liked most about him was that he wasn’t a brooding male! I am so sick of the woe is me love interest.  He was confident and sexy and seemed more than willing to let Amelia live her own life, while also taking care of her at the same time.

The only real issues I had with this was the random POV shifts to Merripen and Winnifred.  It’s actually a major pet peeve when new POVs are introduced towards the end of novels.  It wasn’t a deal breaker for me here because I felt like it was just setting up for the second book of the series which will focus on these two characters.  I will definitely be reading the rest of this series as soon as I can get my hands on them!

Review: Up To This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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Up to This Pointe

Jennifer Longo

Publication: 1/19/2016 

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
 
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.


This might contain spoilers, but I thought the reason for why Harper wound up in Antarctica was obvious from the synopsis alone, so I’m going to talk about that within my review. 

I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary YA.  I used to be way more into when I was a teenager myself, but now I often find that I feel way too removed from the trials of being a teenager that it doesn’t end up working.  So I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel.

I am secretly obsessed with ballet, even though I only took lessons for 2 years when I was 5.  There aren’t too many books that are about ballet, but I am always looking for more.  Up to This Pointe, isn’t exactly really about ballet, but more about the dancer and what happens when the plan you worked for your entire life is dashed right before your eyes.

Harper and her best friend Kate have had a plan in place since they were young.  They are both going to dance with the San Francisco Ballet after graduating high school.  Except, as Harper soon learns, although she has more love for ballet than possibly anything else in her life, she does not have the skill to make it as a professional dancer.  She feels an obvious sense of loss and confusion and ends up running away to Antarctica to figure out what to do next.

Before I go into anything else, I want to talk about the fact that NO ONE, especially her ballet teacher, tells Harper that she does not have the talent to make it as a ballet dancer until it almost too late.  Her teacher waits until a few weeks before the audition to break it to her that there is no way she would ever be picked up by a company.  Now, that might seem harsh, and it is, but that’s ballet.  And this should have been relayed to Harper years before the story takes place.  She probably would have still auditioned, because that’s just who she is (and she still does) but at least she would have had years, not weeks to come to terms with the fact that she will probably not be selected.  It just made me angry, and doesn’t seem realistic that a ballet teacher wouldn’t have informed her of this.

I liked Harper.  I loved her love for ballet, her students and her city.  This book was a beautiful homage to San Francisco.  I understand her need to go away to find herself after such a devastating loss. But I think the best part of this book was the friendships.  SO MANY FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS.  Kate, Vivian and Charlotte are the main women that Harper interacts with and each relationship was different, and I think wonderfully portrayed.  The friendship with Vivian might have been a bit rushed, but I still really enjoyed it. And there was a moment where I really hated Kate, but for the most part I understand her as well (I, personally, wouldn’t have forgiven her for saying what she did, but that is just me and I’m petty and I can hold a fantastic grudge).  The relationships weren’t always perfect, but they were realistic and that means a lot more.

Another plus was the family relationships portrayed in this book.  A huge hell yeah for present and pretty awesome parents and a positive sibling relationship.

The romance, although not really entirely a love triangle, wasn’t my favorite part, but I’m really happy with how it ended.  It might seem like it, but I don’t think the romance was even really a huge focus of the story.  A lot of it was just Harper trying to figure shit out and what to do now that she can’t be a dancer.  The answer was right in front of her all along and I’m happy with the ending.

There are just some things that weren’t fully addressed and I have some issues with.  As a dancer (and one who wants to be a professional), Harper obviously has to retain the right body weight (I say obviously because ballet is brutal).  She is constantly dieting, and there were some points where it seemed extremely close to anorexia.  If it’s not anorexia, she has some serious issues with food and eating and they were hardly addressed.  Also, what’s with her nails always being blue (not painted blue, just blue).  Does she just have bad circulation?  Is it because of her weight? WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS BLUE?  You tell me this but don’t explain it.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading it.  A win for contemporary YA, which I haven’t had the best of luck with recently!

 

Snowed In Read-A-Thon Reviews

So last Friday, the snow started to fall in Baltimore, and it didn’t stop until Saturday night.  All together we got around 29 inches (a new all time record!)  and I was stuck in my apartment until Tuesday when I finally went back to work.  (There are some sections of the city and out towards the county that still aren’t plowed! The DC-Baltimore area is horrible at handling snow, mainly because we don’t usually get THIS much snow.)

But, I was prepared.  I knew I would be stuck inside so I decided to host my own personal Snowed In Read-a-thon.  I wanted to read 6 books (2/day Friday-Sunday), but by Sunday afternoon and 5 books later, I was pretty burnt out on reading. But still.  5 books in 3 days is still pretty good! So here is another round of mini reviews!

Friday

awickedthing

 

A Wicked Thing

A Wicked Thing #1

Rhiannon Thomas

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this one. I finished this book in one sitting, but the pacing was pretty slow and not much actually happened. Usually when in doubt, I go with 3 stars.

I liked Aurora as a character and how Thomas updated this fairy tale. Sleeping Beauty isn’t my favorite (probably because I’ve really only seen the Disney version where she has like 7 lines), but Thomas made it more interesting.

Aurora doesn’t need or want to be saved and when she awakens to find a strange guy in her room kissing her she is appalled and creeped out.  She learns that her entire family is dead, and that the kingdom has fallen into hard times. She discovers that everyone wants to use her to their own ends and that she isn’t really safe anywhere.  There are  3 men, all who can offer her different things, but she doesn’t really like any of the choices so it’s not really technically a love square.

There is a sequel, so the book kind of just ends without that much of a climax. Well, to me anyway.  I’m sure other people would disagree, but I thought the ending was a bit weak.I liked the book, and I plan on continuing the series, but it was just kind of anti-climatic.   Even this mini review is hard to write, so I’m just going to stop.

*This book counts towards the Rock my TBR Challenge and the Fairytale Retelling challenge

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How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

by Sarah Strohmeyer

1star

Goodreads


This might be the dumbest book I have ever read.  I hated it.

Maybe I could have enjoyed this more if the Fairyland Theme Park hadn’t existed in the same world as Disney. I mean you are seriously  trying to tell me that a British Duke would go to a knock off amusement park in New Jersey over the real thing in California/FLorida?  NEW JERSEY?? (No offense to anyone from Jersey. I’m from NY, so you know, I’m an asshole.) Or try to say that Disney was lame competition for Fairyland? GET OUT OF HERE. You ruined it for me with that.

Also this book was WAY too juvenile. People who send their kids to fairyland camp so that they can become Prince and Princesses at Fairyland? I don’t think so. I shouldn’t have to suspend my disbelief more in a realistic fiction book more than a fantasy.  Nope. sorry.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t been younger or obsessed with Disney World.

*This book counts towards the Rock My TBR Challenge

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Saturday

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Tell me Again how a Crush Should Feel

Sara Farizan

2.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


I liked this book, but it wasn’t amazing or anything and that makes me sad.  I wanted it to be great. The writing was pretty simple which isn’t always a bad thing, but I just couldn’t connect with it.

I mean this book has a lot going for it.  It’s about a Persian lesbian.  Not only are there not enough F/F YA books, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a Persian MC.  There was so much other diversity as well, and it didn’t come off as tokenized either.  There was even a Jew, and it is so hard for me to find Jewish characters. Yeah, she was a side character, but I still really liked her.

But something just stopped me from loving it.  It was probably the writing style as I had no major problems with Leila.  I wish I could have loved this, but it definitely wasn’t a bad book.  If you are looking for more F/F YA or a Persian MC with actual Persian culture within the book, this is a great book.

**This book counts towards the Rock my TBR challenge

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jack

 

Jack: The True Story of Jack & The Beanstalk

Liesl Shurtliff

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


This one was very cute.  I had previously read Rump by the same author, and while I enjoyed it, I definitely think I enjoyed this one more.  I don’t really remember much of what happened in Rump,  but some of the characters are present or mentioned within this book, which is always one of my favorite things.  You don’t have to have read Rump first, but it is always nice to start at the beginning.

I think this is perfect for the younger set of Middle Grade readers who are interested in fairy tales. I liked how there were a bunch of allusions to other fairytales/folktales, such as Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, the woman who lived in a shoe and others.    I also really liked how the author tied together the “worlds” of her two books.  I’m glad I finally got around to reading this and I’m looking forward to reading Red soon.

**This book counts towards COYER, the NG & EW  & Fairytale Retelling challenge.

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Sunday

thegirlwhofell1

 

The Girl Who Fell

Shannon M Parker

I have a full review coming for this one since it was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases.  Stay tuned for it.

Recent Reads

I’ve been on a reading spree lately where I finish one book and dive right into another.  This is wonderful of course, but it also means I haven’t been stopping to write reviews after I read each book.  Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing, but for me I need to write the review soon after finishing otherwise I forget what I want to say.  So here are some mini-reviews of recent reads that I never wrote actual reviews for.

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Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

*no rating*


Well. I read it.

The End.

JK

I don’t review Classics and I rarely rate them because I don’t really have anything meaningful to add to a book that has been critiqued and evaluated for 100s of years. Also,   how am I supposed to rate this?? Obviously it’s an extremely important work of literature to have such lasting power but honestly?  I was bored. As I usually am when I read classics.  I mostly listened to it because every time I tried to slog through 19th century text I felt my eyes closing. But I did finish it and that is all that matters. I have officially read my first Austen novel and finished the first month of the Classics challenge. So that is all that really matter. Also, I didn’t hate it.  It wasn’t Ethan Frome  bad and I will probably read more Jane Austen, but not for a few months.

*this book goes towards the 2016 Classics Challenge*

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theroguenottaken

The Rogue Not Taken 

Scandal & Scoundrel, #1

Sarah MacLean

2015

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


The 4 star rating is a bit arbitrary because this is my first ever Adult Historical Romance, so I have nothing to compare it to!  I really enjoyed the book, so I defineitly plan on exploring more of the genre, so who knows, this could end up becoming  a 5 or a 2 star book!

It’s been about a week since I read the book and unfortunately, I did not take any notes while reading. (I find it often distracts me from the novel and lowers my level of enjoyment).  So while I remember the plot and the general demeanor of the characters a lot has already faded.

I do know that I thought Sophie was a wonderful character.  From the first page when she defended her sister I knew I would like her.  She was funny, smart, and ready to take care of herself even if she did often end up being rescued.

For the most part, I did also enjoy King.  However, he might have been a bit too broody for my taste.  Give me sarcasm all day long but you need to stop whining about your dead love.  Plus he became a huge dick towards Sophie at the end.  And he refused to believe she was being honest throughout the entire book.  He did have his moments, which saves him from going on my “WTF Love Interest” shelf.

The romance, when King wasn’t being a brooding little bitch, was wonderful. I’m glad my first foray into historical romance was a success and I will definitely be checking out Sarah MacLean’s other work. If you guys have any suggestions of other authors or favorite novels let me know! I’m ready to get sucked into this genre!

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The Iron Daughter

The Iron Fey #2

Julie Kagawa

2.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


That 2.5 rating is all due to Meghan and how ridiculously annoying and stupid she was in this book.  This review comes off a bit like a rant, but I really did enjoy the plot of this book.  I just HAVE to complain about Meghan.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Meghan in the first book BUT OH MY GOD. She was so annoying in this one. So obsessed with Ash and so stupid. He literally tells her that he will not be able to talk to her and treat her the same way because he can not betray his queen (um DOUCHE ALERT).  I also remember them talking in the 1st book and both of them acknowledging that it is HIGHLY illegal for them to be together and they could both be killed or banished because of it.  But what does  Meghan do the first time she sees him? Gets SUPER upset and complains for what felt like 5 hours about how she can’t believe he would betray her and believes that he never cared about her.  I HATE HATE HATE when characters are this stupid.  YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS.   HE LITERALLY TOLD YOU ALL THIS.

And don’t get me started on that weak attempt at a love triangle. “Oh Ash is leaving me. How about I try it with Puck because he’s here and he loves me  and I realize out of no where, with no prior indication, that I love him too”. Nope. Get out of here.  First of all Puck is 500x better than broody Ash and he doesn’t deserve for you to do that to him.

But, as I said,  I do actually really enjoy the plot of this series so I will continue to put up with dumbass Meghan and hope she gets better in the last book (or last 2 books I’m still confused about the Iron Knight).

*this book goes to the 2016 Audiobook challenge

A Pleasant Surprise: Review of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy #1

Richelle Mead

2007

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever.


 

I’m not exactly sure why I had Vampire Academy on my “Nope” shelf. Maybe it had something to do with reviews, or the fact that people say the series goes downhill, but I had resolved not to read it. That is, until now. I meant to read one “Nope” selection each month, but as soon as I finished Beautiful Creatures, I knew I had to give another one a chance. I wasn’t a fan of BC, but I’m happy to say that this challenge hasn’t been a complete failure yet. I really did enjoy Vampire Academy.

For the most part, I really did love Rose. Besides her hang up on being labeled a slut and how she treated Mia, she was a pretty awesome character. I guess when it comes down to it I like really sassy characters, but also some pretty rude ones. Maybe it’s just after a sea of Mary Sue’s who are super sweet, it’s refreshing to find female who isn’t afraid to be a bitch some times. And I say that with complete and total respect. Bitches really do get shit done.

Lissa, on the other hand, wasn’t my favorite. For the majority of the book she was pretty boring and way too safe. Towards the end I started to enjoy her more, but then again it just goes to show that I enjoy characters that have a bit of darkness inside of them. Hell, while watching the Vampire Diaries I completely hated Stefan until he went ripper on everyone. Team Damon all the way (also, case where the TV show is about 5000x better than the books). Anyway, back to Vampire Academy.

For the first time in awhile I actually liked both the love interests (for Rose and Lissa; no love triangle in sight…yet). Well, if you could really call Dmitri a love interest. I mean, I was a bit weirded out by the age difference between Dmitri and Rose, but probably more so with myself because I was totally behind it.

This was definitely one of the better vampire books I’ve read. I loved the world Mead created, even if I think the Moroi are a bit lame with their “only use magic for good” and “no compulsion” rules. I definitely think that the rest of the series will be testing that so I’m excited to move on the second book eventually. But I loved the different classes of vampires and the vampire royalty aspect. It reminded me a lot of The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) that I really enjoyed for the first few books (and seasons).

I totally guessed the ending, but it doesn’t bother me that much. Overall, I was extremely pleased with how this book turned out.

nopechallenge

Why I didn’t want to read it:      I don’t remember. Probably reviews.

Why I changed my mind:    General interest in the series

Do I regret reading it?:    Not at all!

Will I continue the series?:    Definitely

A Somewhat Disappointing Finale: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

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unmade

Unmade

The Lynburn Legacy #3

Sarah Rees Brennan

2014

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility – and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

Set against a centuries-old legacy of blood, power, and vengeance, the truth does not seem like much of a weapon. But it is all Kami has.


This isn’t going to be a very long review. Mainly because it took me so long to read that I don’t really remember that much of what happened in the beginning. And that probably isn’t a good sign.

I am sad to say that this series went downhill from where it started. Not so much that I didn’t like the books, I just didn’t love them the way I did the first. Kami was still amazing (as the majoirty of the characters still were. I especially enjoyed the banter between Lillian Lynburn and Jon Glass), and I really did enjoy the ending, but the middle really forced my opinion. I was much more aware of the failures of Brennan’s writing, and the pace was a bit too slow and the relationship drama was over the top. JUST BE HONEST WHEN YOU TALK TO EACH OTHER. STOP BEING SO GOD DAMN MOPEY.

At the same time, a lot of what happened was a too convenient for me.  There were multiple times where the characters were pretty much about to die and then miraculously they were saved! Once would have been fine, but it happened 3 or 4 times.

Plus, I’m kind of really angry over a certain aspect of the plot. I get it, but I don’t have to be happy about it.

In the end I’m going to give it 3 stars, even thought it took me over a week to read and I didn’t particularly enjoy the majority of this book. I just can’t bring myself to give a series that started off so well anything less than 3 stars. I just wished it had remained at the same level of awesomeness that was Unspoken.

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My first “Nope” Review: Beautiful Creatures

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Before I even started my blog, I knew I wanted to set a few challenges for myself in 2016.  There were a bunch of series I wanted to start and a bunch to finish.  I also wanted to actually take a second look at books that I had previously labeled “Nope” for some reason or another.  Usually due to others reviews I decided not to read certain books, and I decided that simply wasn’t fair and I wanted to give the books a try, because maybe I would find a book that I actually really enjoyed.  You can check out the original post here.

My first book in this “Nope Challenge” was Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

beautifulcreatures

 

Beautiful Creatures

Caster Chronicles #1

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

2009

2stars

Goodreads


Is falling in love the beginning . . . or the end?

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . .

There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head . . . Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes.

There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it’s been promised. And no one can stop it.

In the end, there is a grave.

Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.


 

Obviously since this was on my “Nope” shelf, reviews had warned me against it.  But I really just had to see it for myself.  So where should I start?

The writing is really bad. Honestly, I recognized this on the second page. I can sometimes look past bad writing if I’m invested in the plot.  Hell, I’m not winning any awards for my writing.  But, it was really, really bad in this. And, on top of bad writing, the pacing of the plot is too slow, yet oddly jumbled and confusing at many points.  I mean, I enjoyed the overall plot.  I thought the world Garcia and Stohl created was interesting and deep, if only a bit confusing, but this book did not have to be 500 pages.  There are some books that do.  There are some books that NEED to be 800 pages long and every single word is important.  This is not one of them.  Again, take 200 pages off, speed up the plot and it probably would have gotten a better rating, bad writing and all.

I liked the setting.  I haven’t read too many “Southern Gothics” and this book really made me interested in them, mainly because it didn’t do that great of a job creating the South for me. I mean, I know the South can still be pretty backwards (well America can just be pretty backwards sometimes, so it’s wrong to just point to the South), but I have a real hard time believing that this book is supposed to take place in the present day with how they treat Lena.  Totally not believable.  But I am totally interested in reading more Southern Gothic stories.

I did like that it was a male POV, except for the fact that it was so hard to remember that Ethan was a dude.  He didn’t sound like any 16 year old boy I ever met.  I’m not trying to say that he wasn’t manly enough, I just think that the authors don’t know how to write from the male perspective.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Ethan, but he wasn’t half as bad as Lena.

Lena, hmm I don’t even know what I can really say about her except I hated her. Like if there is nothing you can do about possibly going dark, then get the fuck over it.  She was so god damn melodramatic I wanted to rip my hair out.  Honestly, Ridley was the best character and it made me realize that I am sick of reading about the “good” side.  The dark side might be a nice place to set a story.

Both Ethan and Lena are extremely stupid. I mean they have this whole conversation over what the clue “Claim Yourself” means.  That’s when I lost it.  I would have thrown the book across the room if I hadn’t been reading on the computer or if I hadn’t been at work. Their romance was so disgustingly gag-worthy.  It’s insta-love of epic proportions, even if they don’t admit it right away.  The way Ethan thinks about Lena makes me want to throw up.  Not even my high school boyfriend was that cheesy.

The ending was entirely too convenient and it made me pretty angry.

This would have been a great book. If not for the characters.  Or the pacing.  Or the writing.  Obviously I finished it. I read 567 pages, so it gets 2 stars because I just need to prove to myself that I didn’t waste my time.

nopechallenge

Why I didn’t want to read it:      Reviews

Why I changed my mind:    Popularity

Do I regret reading it?:    Not exactly

Will I continue the series?:    Probably not

Reviewing the Sequel: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

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untold

 

Untold

The Lynburn Legacy #2

Sarah Rees Brennan

2013

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


It’s time to choose sides….

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.


Some spoilers for the first book.

So since the last book, Kami and Jared have broken the link between them, Jared hates her and Kami has no power. Rob is raising a Sorcerer army, and Lillian wants nothing to do with Kami, Ash, or Jared.

This was another reread for me.

This was my original review:

not as good as the first one, but I have hope for the third. I don’t really consider Kami Jared Ash to be a love triangle because it’s obvious at this point that she really doesn’t care for Ash the way she does Jared. There is no competition at this point. Also, where the fuck is Kami’s mom and why does she suck so much?

It wasn’t as good as the first one, but I think I will change my original 3 star rating to 3.5. I still really enjoyed the book, it’s just not much really happened. It was kind of a filler book, with a weak battle scene at the end. There was a lot of relationship drama and SO MUCH could have been avoided if Kami and Jared had just had a conversation where neither jumped to conclusions about what the other one wanted/meant.

Again, the characters make this book, and again Kami comes out as the true winner.

She cried quietly, hands pressed to her eyes, and as she cried she was almost relieved. Here she was, lonely and miserable, and she was still going to go into the gym and do what needed to be done. She had wondered who she was without Jared, stripped of all her supports and forced to stand on her own. She had worried that she would break if her heart broke, but she wasn’t broken. She had lost everything, but she was not lost.

NOW THIS IS HOW YOU HANDLED A BREAK UP.   Honestly, I don’t think I can think of another book, especially a paranormal romance book where a character so maturely handles a break up. Honestly, for all it’s faults, this one paragraph alone makes up for a lot of the bullshit drama. Kami NEVER lets the fact that she is upset over a break up stand in her way. I mean, that is seriously bad ass. At her age, I would have taken a day or two off from trying to fight evil. But NOPE. Not Kami. And that is why she is possibly one of my favorite heroines ever.

Oh, and lets not forget about the fact that throughout this book, Kami is literally powerless. Yes she was a source in the first book, and was at some points able to control the magic, but she has lost that link. All she has is her brains and her mouth and she kicks serious ass. I mean, not exactly in the fight scene that comes at the end, but just in general. She doesn’t need special magic powers to be awesome. And I love that.

The other characters were just as awesome, with the exception of Jared. He was funny again, but way too melodramatic. And I really hate Kami’s mom. She is completely useless as a human being. Jon Glass for the win. Rusty Montgomery was another winner in this book. I just love him so much. I really want Kami to forget the Lynburns and be with him, but you know…platonic friendships are cool…I guess.

Ooh, just something else, the book actually mentions bisexuals!! An actual mention, which is almost unheard of in, ANY form of entertainment.

All in all, I enjoy these books mostly for the characters. Untold read almost a bit too much like a filler book and the drama was a bit much, but I would still totally recommend it.  I am super excited to FINALLY read the last book and find out once and for all how this all ends!

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