Book Reviews

Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

12283261Summary: Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.
And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.
A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.


My Thoughts:  I’ve read a few Jodi Picoult books, some which I loved and others that I didn’t, so I was open to seeing her take on a YA novel.  I am in love with the concept of this book.  I think it is so creative and smart, and I could not wait to see what they did with it.  Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

First of all, it was definitely a YOUNG adult book- it felt more pre-teen to me than YA.  The writing style and characters felt pretty juvenile.  With such an amazing concept, I was so excited to see the world building in the book within the book, Between the Lines.  I couldn’t wait to see the difference between the story told on the page and what happens when the book is closed, and sadly we didn’t get that much detail and what we did get seemed really cheesy.  Even the love between Delilah and Oliver felt like more of a sweet, crush like relationship, despite their declarations of deep and true love.  It makes sense that it was this way since they were technically characters in children’s fairy tale book, but I think because I was expecting a slightly more mature vibe, I had trouble fully getting on board.  While I enjoyed the plot of trying to get Oliver out of the book, the reasoning behind some of the attempts didn’t fully make sense to me, or it wasn’t explained enough.  The ending was really frustrating.  Without spoiling it, I didn’t think the choice made was fair to all parties involved, but hey, they’re (kind of selfish) teenagers.  Overall, I loved the concept and just wished for more out of it.  It had so much potential, and I think it fell flat.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee

35795906Summary: Everything in Emma’s life has always gone according to her very careful plans. But things take a turn toward the unexpected when she falls in love for the first time with the one person in the world who’s off-limits–her new foster brother, the gorgeous and tormented Dylan McAndrews.

Meanwhile, Emma’s AP English class is reading Wuthering Heights, and she’s been assigned to mimic Bronte’s style in an epistolary format. With no one to confide in, she’s got a lot to write about. Emma and Dylan try to constrain their romance to the page–for fear of threatening Dylan’s chances of being adopted into another home. But the strength of first love is all-consuming, and they soon get enveloped in a passionate, secretive relationship with a very uncertain outcome.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

Release Date: July 17th, 2018


My Thoughts: I love a modern re-imagining, so when Tiffany Brownlee approached me about reading her new book, Wrong in All the Right Ways, I was excited to see her take on a classic like Wuthering Heights.  Now, having not read Wuthering Heights yet, (it has been on my list FOREVER), I may have missed a few things, but I knew the story enough to understand the comparison.

This book was a super quick and easy read.  It started off strong and I liked the voice of our main character, Emma.  When we are introduced to her new foster brother, Dylan, there is instant chemistry between the two and it got me super excited for all the secret forbidden love moments- unfortunately it didn’t continue in that direction.  Their relationship quickly turned toxic, with both of them being complete morons.  I spent the majority of the book screaming at them, mostly at Emma, for all of the stupid decisions they were making, and not understanding how they could possibly think that they were doing the right thing to help their situation.  While the plot kept me engaged, a few of the major scenes felt a little disjointed and over dramatic and they came out of nowhere.  My favorite characters were Emma’s best friend, Karmin, and Karmin’s twin brother, Keegan (#teamKeegan).   Karmin provided great comic relief and was a surprisingly good friend to Emma (even though their friendship also came out of nowhere), and I liked Keegan A LOT more than Dylan.  Overall, this book was a quick read, but lacked the swoon-worthy love story that I was hoping for, and left me feeling kind of weird.

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Book Reviews

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

6487308Summary: What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.

Get ready to fall . . .


 

My Thoughts: I was expecting so much more from this book.  I’ve heard such great things, and it left me completely underwhelmed.  The concept is very intriguing — a teenage girl gets sent to reform school where she falls in love with one of the mythical fallen angels.  Sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, it fell really flat for me.

Kate created a great atmosphere in this novel that was dark, creepy, and engaging, but that’s kind of where it stopped.  The plot was almost nonexistent.. just a lot of Luce yearning for a boy she doesn’t really know, and everyone keeping information from her that should have been revealed way sooner.  I was constantly frustrated at the slow pace and lack of justification.  I get that Luce and Daniel knew each other in their past lives, but I still would have liked to see more of a connection and some sort of development or growth with them to justify the slow pace of their relationship.  I didn’t really feel anything between them, other than being told that they had a connection- there wasn’t any real heat or chemistry.  Cam, the other guy vying for Luce’s affections, was super creepy, and while I think he was supposed to be charming, he just came across as overbearing and gross.  I liked her friends, Arriane and Gabbe, but Penn was my favorite character.  She was probably the most developed character in the book, but even she was pretty one note.  “The Shadows,” that follow Luce around are explained, but to me it didn’t fully make sense.  In fact all of the explanations in this book felt very surface level.  The school seemed unrealistic and I still don’t quite understand how they all ended up there.  Is the school involved and aware of the angel situation or is it just supposed to be an actual reform school?  There was one pretty good twist towards the end, but the rest was predictable and boring.  I love the concept and atmosphere, and think it could have been a really cool and romantic story if only it had more development in its characters and plot.

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Book Reviews

Review: Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane

36374015Summary: Prep meets Girls in White Dresses in Genevieve Sly Crane’s deliciously addictive, voyeuristic exploration of female friendship and coming of age that will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about what happens in a sorority house.

Twinsets and pearls, secrets and kinship, rituals that hold sisters together in a sacred bond of everlasting trust. Certain chaste images spring to mind when one thinks of sororities. But make no mistake: these women are not braiding each other’s hair and having pillow fights—not by a long shot.

What Genevieve Sly Crane has conjured in these pages is a blunt, in your face look behind the closed doors of a house full of contemporary women—and there are no holds barred. These women have issues: self-inflicted, family inflicted, sister-to-sister inflicted—and it is all on the page. At the center of this swirl is Margot: the sister who died in the house, and each chapter is told from the points of view of the women who orbit her death and have their own reactions to it.

With a keen sense of character and elegant, observant prose, Crane details the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship… or at least the appearance of it. Woven throughout are glimmers of the classical myths that undercut the lives of women in Greek life. After all, the Greek goddesses did cause their fair share of destruction.


My Thoughts: As a proud sorority alum *Shout out to my Chi Omega sisters*, I am always drawn to books about greek life.  I found this while browsing at the library and had to pick it up.  It was VERY different than I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it.

I first have to say a disclaimer: The sorority and women depicted in this book were NOTHING like my experience with greek life… but that didn’t stop me from getting invested in these vibrant characters.  While this isn’t really a true representation of my experience as a sorority girl, (I was never hazed or bullied by the older girls in the house), I still found myself laughing at so many things/situations that I recognized and had lived through.  At first, I was annoyed at the negative (and in my experience unrealistic) picture that Crane paints of sorority women, but I quickly let that go when I became completely immersed in the stories being told.  This book isn’t a novel in the typical sense, with a linear plot, but more of a group of snap shots into the lives of very different women who are all connected by one thing, their sisterhood.  Each sister had a very interesting story to tell, all in beautiful and stark prose that still felt unique to each woman.  These characters were REAL.  None of them are really likable, and sometimes they’re downright horrible people, and yet I found myself relating to each one in some way and wanting more for them.  Crane was not afraid to tackle some big issues like eating disorders, rape, bullying, family disfunction, death etc. and show the reality of the different ways people, but especially women, cope with them.  This book went beyond my expectations and I am glad it was different than what I had expected.  It was thought provoking, sad, funny, and haunting, and I will definitely remember these characters for a long time.

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Book Hangover

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Review: Blackout (The Color Alchemist #3) by Nina Walker

blackoutSummary: Trembling in the wake of devastating treachery, can the Loxely sisters finally bring down the Royals?

United in the cause of saving their kingdom and bringing their family back together, Jessa and Sasha will face their greatest tests yet. Jessa’s wedding is coming at her faster than she can stop it, but it’s Sasha who is running out of time. Things aren’t as they seem in the palace, and the one person who can save them is the one they’ll never trust again.

 


My Thoughts: I wish more people knew about this series because it really is fantastic.  At the end of Book 2, the world is kind of in shambles, and we pick up right where we left off.  Lucas and Jessa’s relationship is very strained (for good reason), and I started to get annoyed with Lucas and his not understanding her feelings.  It did taint my view of him for a while, but I came back around to him towards the end.  Sasha is my favorite character, and my love for her grows the more we see and learn about her.  I really enjoy the love triangle between her, Mastin, and Tristan.  I think it’s well done and understandable why she would be torn. *Cough Team Mastin Cough*.  We got a glimpse of West America in Book 2, but it was great to get a more in depth experience with it, and I love where we’re going with this plot line.  I still find the whole system of magic in this book very interesting. Jessa’s growing ability with purple alchemy makes it even more so –There are so many possibilities.  The villains in this series are despicable and I can’t wait for them to get theirs because I am getting frustrated with them and can’t take it anymore.  While I found this book a little slower moving than the others, there was still a ton of action and cliff hangers, and the ending was insane!  I can’t wait for Book 4!

 

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Book Reviews

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard *Spoiler Free* Review

27188596Synopsis: Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

*Spoiler Free*

My Thoughts:  Being the conclusion to such a great series, I was so excited to read War Storm, almost to the point of nervousness.  After all this time, I wanted an amazing and epic finale and had high expectations.  It felt so good to be back with these characters that I have grown to love and invest in.  Just like in the previous books, I loved that Aveyard just jumps right in to the action at the start.  There were so many layers and plot lines, that I never had any idea where the story was going to go.  This book, while it does have some of the great battle scenes we’ve come to expect, focused a lot on the politics and the inner workings of each kingdom, which I thought was interesting.  I loved the involvement and development we got with Montfort- and how the relationships with them affected all the characters individually.  We got a ton of different perspectives in this book, more so than the others, and I thought they all worked really well in developing the plot, and never felt overwhelming or confusing.  It definitely made it more of an ensemble story than just Mare’s, which I think might have taken away some of it’s “umfph”.  Evangeline Samos is without a doubt my favorite character, and she has the best arc in this book, while the rest of the characters stay, more or less, the same.  There were several big events spread out throughout the book, and while I loved all of them, I sort of wish we would have had a bigger, stronger build up to the final confrontation.  While the last battle was exciting, it sort of felt anticlimactic and unsatisfying for the end of the series.  The very ending is left open, which also disappointed me a bit.  I like a strong, concrete ending, especially in a finale, and found this one to be a bit underwhelming.  Overall, I loved being back in the world of Red Queen and being back with these characters again, seeing where they all ended up.  I just wanted a slightly bigger and more explosive finale to what was a wonderful series.

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Book Reviews

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg Review

32565146Goodreads Summary:  Meet the Turners – a socially awkward genius child, an adolescent cat burglar, a philandering husband, and a doormat wife in desperate need of a backbone. The Turners are doing their best to craft a happy life and face down a history they have no control over in a neighborhood where only the houses are similar. And when relationships sprout from seemingly nowhere and secrets begin to unravel, practicing normal becomes harder than it’s ever been.
Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thank you Cara Sue Achterberg!*

My Thoughts: When I first read the synopsis for Practicing Normal, I expected an overly dramatic, Desperate Housewives-esuqe, women’s fiction novel.  I was wrong.  Instead, it was a strikingly real and honest account of a family who is just trying to keep their lives together.  The entirety of the book is more of a slice of their every day lives than an action driven narrative, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s boring.  These characters were so engaging, and my favorite thing about the book was how real they seemed.  There was no dramatic heightening effect.  They were just real people with real problems.  I liked the daughter, Jenna, a lot, but the mother, Kate, was definitely who I sympathized with the most.  She has the strongest arc in the story and was dealing with so much.  Since the characters were the heart of the novel, I was very happy with how well fleshed out they all were.  I understood who they were immediately, and how they got to be that way.  Achterberg provided us with the perfect amount of detail and action through side characters, that really helped to create a full picture of this family and their  dynamics.  One of my favorite details was how Jenna called her dad by his first name, Everett, instead of calling him “Dad.”  It was a very effective way of showing their relationship without having to tell us much.  All of the writing in this book felt very full and complete and made it easy to become emotionally invested in these people.  The ending doesn’t have a satisfying, dramatic resolution, but I loved that it didn’t.  Life is messy, and I thought that where we leave the characters was a perfect representation of that.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

We Other by Sue Bentley Blog Tour

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We Other with quote V2Summary: Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie.  She is linked to a world where humans- ‘hot bloods’- are disposable entertainment.  Life on a run-down estate — her single mom’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend — become the least of Jess’s worries.



*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

My Thoughts: There have been so many faerie books coming out recently, and I was excited to see the take on them in this book.  We Other started out really strong.  The opening grabbed me, and I loved the transition from the past into the present.  Our heroine, Jess, was a spunky and angsty teen, with too much responsibility on her shoulders, due to her mom’s drinking and abusive relationships.  I think her mom’s history, that we find out in pieces and flashbacks, was my favorite part of the story, and it was cool to put all the pieces together.  The introduction of Caleb and Ivy was a surprise, and the weaving and connecting of all the story lines was really well done.  Jess and Caleb’s relationship felt very inta-lovey to me, and I didn’t buy it 100%.  I liked each of their characters individually, but I didn’t feel a spark between them.  The plot was a little slow moving and anticlimactic, but it was easy to read.  The beginning and the end felt like two different books with where the narrative progressed, and this whole book felt like a set up for the next part of the story.  There were some good reveals, and some exciting moments, but overall it was pretty low-key.  The afterword definitely sets you up for a sequel, and I while I’m not dying for the next book, I would like to see how it turns out.

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About the Author: Sue Bentley

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age.  She worked for We Other - Sue author pic 5Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing.  She is the author of the worldwide, bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years.  She also writes for children and adults under various pen names.  A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the every day.  Her books have been translated into around 20 languages.  We Other is her first book for Young Adults. www.suebentley.co.uk

•Twitter: @Suebentleywords• Facebook: Sue Bentley Author •

• Instagram: @therealsuebentley• Goodreads: Sue Bentley Author 



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Book Reviews

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza Review

34705479Goodreads Summary: When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin–the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin–her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place?

A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

My Thoughts:  This book was so much fun.  The writing style was easy, engaging, hilarious, and I devoured it.  It was a perfect satire of the health and wellness industry, and the pressure that is put on people today to be fit.  Living in NYC, in a business that is heavily centered on fitness, all of the characters were like people that I come across on a daily basis.   They were exaggeratedly ridiculous, while still maintaining truth.  I really liked and connected with the main character Janey.  All of her feelings were super relatable, and I felt for her situation.  Her best friend Beau, the catalyst for Janey’s fitness journey, was just the worst (in the best way).  While being manipulative and cruel, he still managed to be entertaining, and I completely understood their relationship.  I loved Ivy, and know a lot of friends who teach fitness who go through the same thing she does.  I felt that the plot definitely took a back seat to the characters in the novel, but it was a super quick and engaging read.  Everything happens pretty quickly, but it matches the high-stakes writing style.  Janey’s arc wasn’t super big, but I appreciated the subtle changes in her thinking and self-confidence.  It made her seem more real and I felt super satisfied with how it ended.  This book definitely gave me Devil Wears Prada vibes, and I think fans of Lauren Weisberger would enjoy this one too.  I’m for sure going to pick up Sykes and Piazza’s other book, The Knock-Off, soon and I am excited to see what else they come up with!

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Book Reviews

Everless by Sara Holland Review

32320661Goodreads Summary: In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


My Thoughts: I liked Everless.  Was it amazing? No, but it was an enjoyable YA Fantasy novel.  I’ve been excited to read this book ever since I first heard its premise.  The idea is so interesting, but unfortunately the execution just seemed a little under developed.  The origin story of The Sorceress and The Alchemist, which is supposed to explain how the blood-irons came to be, was confusing and didn’t feel fully completed or fleshed out with enough detail.  The first mention of it was confusing and hard to follow, and I just kind of accepted that it had happened somehow and moved on.  They keep coming back to the legend, so I was able to figure out a little more every time, but I still didn’t feel like I had a full grasp on it.  Background info aside, I did still enjoy the concept and the world of the story.  I felt very indifferent about most of the characters.  Jules was a very typical YA heroine, and her “love interest”, Roan, was super boring.  I did like Liam and Caro and thought they were interesting and a little more complex.  The plot of this book started off a bit slower, but MAN did it pick up towards the end.  The last few chapters were awesome and had a bunch of twists that I actually didn’t see coming, which surprised me because the rest of the book had been pretty predictable.  Overall, Everless was a quick and fun read, and after that ending I’m excited to see where the story goes from here!

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