Finding It (Losing It 3)
By: Cora Carmack
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
|Summary: Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life…or that’s what she keeps telling herself.
It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.
Review: I just have one very huge complaint. Why the hell would Jackson have a USMC tattoo if he was in the army? At first, I thought it was Kelsey’s ignorance, but Jackson actually said army on two different occasions.
Other than that, I would have to say this is my favorite book so far in this series. I liked the first book because of the great lines, and I liked the second one because of Cade, although I wasn’t a fan of Max. With this one, I just thought it was great overall.
Really, the storyline wasn’t something that I hadn’t heard before. And the dialogue was good – with a nice mix of enticing allure, challenging arguments and witty banter, as well as emotionally intriguing – but I wouldn’t describe it as excellent.
BUT I love how the way the story was set up. I’ve never traveled to Europe before, and even though the book didn’t give me very much setting description as I would have liked, I was all for the adventurous feeling that came along with touring across the continent and visiting all of the cities and doing who knows what.
Also, I really liked Kelsey. She your typical rich girl whose parents cared more about image than the truth, so as a result, she’s puts on a smile while getting herself into who knows what kind of trouble. But her insecurity did not come across as bitchy, as so many do, and you just felt for her and wanted her to find the right path that would make everything right for her.
And Hunt? OMG, my love for Cade actually has a rival. He’s hot. He’s charming. He’s former military. And he’s got a great mix of troubled past yet honorable chivalry – yes his protectiveness can be a bit much, but who cares when it comes off as hot. Squeal!
I will say that when I finally do get to that “OMG” point in the book, I had seen that coming from miles away. But it didn’t make it less surprising or gut-wrenching or heartbreaking when I did get to it. Yep, I screamed “OMG.” And I did feel that the end was a bit rushed, but I can understand why Carmack didn’t want to drag it out. I just wish she had put a little more into it so I wouldn’t have felt that rush – maybe some insight on how she coped afterwards, rather than jumping into her well accomplished and so composed future.
Otherwise, I totally loved this book.
How To Love
By: Katie Cotugno
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
|Summary: Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.
After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.
Review: Okay, so this wasn’t the light, cute, fun read I was looking for, but wow, this book was pretty good. What a great story that realistically portrays a situation that happens all-too-often in a way that captures your heart.
The reason I liked this story so much was because it wasn’t about a girl in a rough or trashy neighborhood that got pregnant by the typical bad boy. Serena and Sawyer are from devout Christian families, and they deal with issues that real teens deal with – whether it’s Serena’s studious attempt to graduate a year early so she can leave town or Sawyer finding escape through music and other substances. Maybe Allie’s and Leo’s situations were a bit too much, but I think they were both necessary, especially the latter, to kind of make the story work.
And I really connected with Serena in this book. Yeah, she was a bit stand-offish at the beginning, but if I were a private person who had a friend like Allie, I would probably be that way too. Don’t get me wrong, Serena did come across as a bitch for a good portion of this book. But at the same time, she really does go through a lot, and I can’t imagine having to deal with the situations that she’s had to face – with Sawyer, with the baby, with her family’s change, with moving on. And she made her fair share of stupid actions, but you can’t help who you fall in love with sometimes, and really, I can’t see it ending up any other way for her.
The romance itself was realistically good. Serena and Sawyer both had their great moments, making them wonderful companions. At the same time, they had their fair share of arguments – over stupid things, over ridiculous things, over legitimate things, real issues that couples deal with all the time.
I wish I got to know Lydia more and why she decide not to be there for Serena, and what Roger’s problem was with Sawyer. And Cade was there, but not. I really love Soledad and Shelby (although I did feel that fact about her at the end just came from nowhere), and it was heartwarming to see Serena patch things up with Leo. And Aaron – it breaks my heart.
Overall, it was refreshing to read something that happens enough but does not get enough attention – but in such a way where you can actually connect with the characters. Props to Cotugno on her debut.
Tumble & Fall
By: Alexandra Coutts
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Rating: 1 star
|Summary: A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
Review: Not what I was expecting, and quite frankly, I just don’t get it.
After reading the summary, I looked at the cover and thought, “Hmmm, doesn’t really look like a science fiction or dystopian.” Well, it’s not.
I spent the first part of the book really confused because I was introduced to three different point of views, and I kept wondering how they were all connected, aside from Zan dropping of groceries at Caden’s place. Well, here’s your warning – they weren’t connected. They never do come together, other than on a car ride and the last scene.
To me, I felt this book would have been better written as three short stories because they were different people dealing with different issues. It was just irritating that my reading experience was constantly interrupted by the next short snippet.
And really, they were just everyday issues that normal people deal with all the time in our society – given, Caden’s adventure was a bit extreme, but that’s not to say that doesn’t happen either. Each character is unhappy with his or her reality, he/she is faced with an alternative, and he/she overcomes said problem, and he/she learns to appreciate what he/she has.
I just don’t understand why Coutts would use the “end of the world” topic in this book. I guess the end of the world makes you realize what’s important in life, but really, the lessons in this book doesn’t need such a dramatic catalyst for one to believe so.
I didn’t get the sense of doom-and-gloom or the desperation one would feel knowing the end was coming. People weren’t scrambling around like they did before Y2K or a hurricane or other natural disaster to prepare themselves. I did find it interesting that everyone seemed to think it was the time to stay at home and spend the last moments with those you care about. I would have expected some people to just think, “What the heck” and start looting or committing other crimes because none of it mattered next week.
The individual stories themselves weren’t bad, though I don’t think they were anything special and even a bit bored. I just don’t really understand why Coutts chose to write this book the way she did.
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
By: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
|Summary: It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
Review: I really like this story, but I wasn’t too crazy about the delivery.
Maybe it was just me, but Thomas’ style was very difficult to read. The third-person narrative type of delivery made me feel as if I’m listening to an ancient storyteller depicting a folklore. And the way she formed her sentence structure, I felt as if I was reading Old English (not really) or a foreign language (nope, it’s English). The switching-back-and-forth of points-of-view was interesting, but it wasn’t very consistent, so at times it threw the pacing off, and the abrupt switch made the storyline very choppy.
I don’t deny that there was a ton of world-building in this book – from the palace to the all-boys school, to the adventures in the Crucible. Thomas has built a very elaborate world of humans, mages, fairytales and beyond. At the same time, I felt Thomas spent way too much time on certain things and not enough on others, and I’m left wondering what about this or that?
For instance, I’m really curious about Atlantis, and the history of how they came into power, and especially the Bane. I mean I did find out something about him at the end (Titus’ revelation), but there’s so much more to him than what we were told. And I want to know the story behind Haywood and the lost memories and what exactly happened at the end. Additionally, I know what the Crucible is and what it’s for, but it’s such an importantly powerful instrument that I would love to know more about it – not necessarily what it contains but the background and how it came to be in the possession of certain people.
Speaking of, the whole book had a pretty slow pace – even when there was action, it was told at a more leisure way. This may have had a lot to do with the style in which Thomas wrote. So when we got near the end, I spent a lot of time confused and rereading a good deal of it because Thomas switched back and forth between Titus and Fairfax so quickly, and there was so much going on that I had a hard time picturing this wyvern and that wyvern. There were a number of times where I thought the two POV had merged, but then I would realized the two characters are not yet in the same setting. And what happened to the Inquisitor confused me also. It was just a lot to take in at the end.
Aside from the awkward style and weird pacing and the slight dissatisfaction that so many words didn’t yield as much information as I would have liked, I did enjoy the story.
I loved Iolanthe, her boldness and her determination. Heroines like her just make great characters. Her story wasn’t one that I haven’t heard before, but Thomas had a way to keep it interesting. And I really liked how Titus was always one step ahead. Sure he had the advantage of knowing the sights of a seer, but every action is so calculated. The situation with Fairfax was just amazing – yeah, too good to be true, but it worked in this book. I had to give Thomas major props for making it so unrealistic but so acceptably incredible.
All in all, I think The Burning Sky was a great story full of wonderful characters and world of imagination. I just wish that it hadn’t been so difficult to read (for me) and that I had gotten that wow feeling at the end, something that didn’t quite happen.
Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles 2)
By: Kat Zhang
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
|Summary: Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.
Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.
Review: I loved “What’s Left of Me” – like blown away by the concept and sucked into the story. This one was still enjoyable enough, but I couldn’t really get into it until the last third.
First of all, I’m glad to see Eva coming out of her shell. Sure, there were times I wanted to yell at her for being stupid or for being a self-absorbed, selfish brat, but I could sympathize that she finally has an opportunity to let her personality surface. And I honestly do like her. My complaint, however, is Eva was the recessive one, the weaker one. But in this book, Addie was such a weakling, and Eva was the strong, determined one. Like I said, I understand that’s she’s finally discovering what it’s like to be in control, but if she had always been like this, she would have never almost faded away. I had expected this book to be about her finally being able to experience everything, appreciating and savoring each thing she was able to do. Not at all like she was in this book. It’s as if she was a different person.
And sort of like my Addie and Eva complaint, I really wondered what happened to Halle and Lisa? Again, I understand they went through a pretty traumatic experience near the end of book 1, but they were so strong and determined back then. They were the one urging Addie and Eva to consider something very dangerous. They hardly appeared in this book, and when they were, they were either aloof, or like the book said, seeking acceptance from others. Not the same characters I grew to love from the first book.
My thing was there were so many characters in this book. I mean, you have a lot of players during a rebellion, in general, but to double everyone up, it was just a little hard to keep track of.
As for the book itself, it was good, but not mind-blowingly amazing. I don’t know, it just felt like any other book about oppressed citizens seeking for equal rights and preparing a rebellion, not knowing who to trust and constantly battling with themselves whether this was the right thing to do. The only thing that stuck out was the two people sharing a body concept. So yeah, I knew Zhang was trying to build up to the big climax at the end, but I struggled a bit to stay with the story, and I kept waiting for something to happen.
And when something finally did happen, starting in the last third or so, everything occurred really quickly, and I remembered why I liked the story so much. There was a LOT of action, a lot of twists and turns, some betrayals and surprises (although some you will probably see it coming). And when Eva and Addie come face-to-face with Jensen again? Okay, totally NOT what I would have expected, and it’s got my gears churning in my head.
So okay, I think this book had a lot of the second-book or middle-book elements in it. If Eva and Addie had been portrayed differently or if Zhang had incorporated what was going on in the laboratories more instead of the drama and tension in the little rebellion group, I probably would have been more sucked in. But I just know that book 3 is going to knock my socks off, and I’m pretty excited to find out what Jensen and his gang has up his sleeves and reveal whatever it is that we thought we knew but we really didn’t or what we were led to believe is not really as it had seemed. So putting this one aside, the end has me pumped up for the next book.
By: Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Rating: 3.5 stars
|Summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?
Review: This book was surprisingly good.
Honestly, I had made up my mind pretty early on that I wasn’t going to like this book. I had a totally different preconceived notion of “fangirling,” and the whole Simon and Baz thing wasn’t for me (view spoiler) Instead, Cath’s obsession was not at all what I thought it was going to be, so I lost a bit of enthusiasm there.
Also, I had a really hard time connecting with Cath. I get that she’s in a different environment. Starting college is hard enough as is, but to do it without her twin by her side is a pretty daunting task. I understand that she’s shy and scared, but I was so frustrated with her for holing herself in her room all the time. I mean, come on, to eat protein bars because you don’t want to face going to the dining room or not knowing major areas on campus. Get a grip.
And the book started out meh – mundane and unmemorable.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when I started liking the story. It just kept growing on me as I continued reading, and it wasn’t until “the kiss” that I realized I was – and had been – enjoying it quite a bit. I love Reagan’s spunky attitude and how she just had a way of easing Cath out of her shell, whether it was intentional (we’re going to have dinner) or not (the daily gossip). And I loved how Levi just had this easy-going, reliable charm to him. And her dad was strange but quirky.
You would think that with everything going on – starting college, meeting new people, dealing her father, dealing with her mother, breaking up and starting new relationships, drama with her sister, school issues above just doing wel in class, oh right, and the fanfiction writing – that it was a little too much. And I think at first, I did think that. Something was ALWAYS happening in her messed up world.
But once I had realized that I had been enjoying the story, I totally sympathized. I laughed. I smiled. I may have even shed a few tears. It was a great “normal” read.
My other complaint, aside from the slow start, was that a lot of the issues in the book were never solved. Primarily, Cath’s relationship with her mother. With others, it took that typical dramatic event for her to realize what’s important. And with Wren, I still don’t she has it all figured out.
Overall, it’s was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a leisurely, lazy afternoon, not-to-serious, not-at-all-fluffy read.
05.14.13 – Mitch had asked if this is my autobiography. I guess I should find out.
Two Lies and a Spy
By: Kat Carlton
Release Date: September 2, 2013
|Summary: Kari plunges into the world of espionage on a mission to save her parents while trying to impress the guy she’s been in love with forever.
When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding. Because when your parents are superspies and your dad declares a Code Black, it can only mean something bad. Very bad.
Kari soon discovers that her parents have been disavowed and declared traitors, and she’s determined to clear their names. Breaking into the Agency seems like a reasonable plan, especially with the help of a team that includes her longtime crush, Luke, as well as her two best friends—an expert hacker with attitude and a master martial artist—and Luke’s popular, vindictive twin sister. Oh, and a new guy, who’s as cute as he is complicated…
Review: This ended up being a pretty great read. It was intriguing. It was thrilling. It was FUN! And, it surprised me in more ways than one and did not end up the way I thought it was going to.
Before I start, I wouldn’t say the espionage plot was out of this world. Kari’s parents are missing; they’re declared traitors; she and her brother are on the run; and she and her friends try to clear her parents’ names. There are some spy stuff, as well as a few fight scenes. But it was written in a way that didn’t make you take it way too seriously to the point where you’re thinking, “C’mon on! This is BS!” It just sort of worked – really, really well.
The characters were really great. I really liked Kari. She was spunky, but not in an annoying way – a thin line many authors often cross. My admiration for her is most comparable to the way I feel about Katarina Bishop in Ally Carter’s Heist Society.
Charlie was amazing. Luke is adorable. And I LOVE Evan. Yeah, I can see how he would annoy the crap out of someone, but I could tell there was more to him, and his bickering with Kari kept me entertained. Rita and Kale were typical sidekicks. And even though Lacey was a bit over-the-top, I really liked her too because her ridiculousness made me chuckle.
I had expected to pick up a espionage story that would most likely try too hard to make the spy scenes thrilling and exciting (hey, you are writing for young adult after all). So I was prepared to nit-pick. BUT I was totally blown away by how much I enjoyed reading this. Carlton just had a way of making the book serious, yet light and fun at the same time, and it’s been a while that I can say that I just thoroughly enjoyed reading a book instead of grading its merits.