Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Take Place in Another Country

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books that take place in another country. Since I am from the United States, all the books on my list will take place in countries other than the United States. Here are my choices, each from a different country:

  • Ireland: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Luck

I was lucky to receive an eARC of Love & Luck… and I absolutely adored it! The descriptions of Ireland in this book made me feel like I was there. After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about Ireland and visit the country!

  • France: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

This YA contemporary classic always pops up on lists like these. Going to a high school boarding school in Paris? Sounds like the perfect setting for a YA romance. Plus, it was interesting to learn about some of the famous places described in this book.

  • Australia: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

In Stolen, readers see a young girl fight for survival in the desolate deserts of Australia. This landscape plays a major part in this story and is integral to the plot.

  • Italy: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato

Like Love & Luck, Love & Gelato will make you want to book the first flight to Italy. I loved the story, but also really enjoyed the descriptions of Italy’s landscape.

  • China: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Cinder takes place in a futuristic China as a deadly plague spreads across the land. If you haven’t read this series, I would definitely check it out for its creativity!

  • Japan: Flame in the Mist by Reneé Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

Flame in the Mist is often described as a Mulan retelling set in Japan (even though it doesn’t really follow the Mulan story line). My favorite part of this book was the rich world building that the author created. I can’t wait to finish this duology!

  • England: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella 

I've Got Your Number

Even though setting doesn’t play the largest role in Sophie Kinsella’s books, it’s fun to read cute contemporaries that take place across the pond.

  • Netherlands: Wanderlost by Jen Malone 

Wanderlost

This book takes place across several European countries, but the story kicks off in Amsterdam. I loved learning more about European history in this book as well as reading about so many different countries.

  • Greece: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

This book is very focused on Greek culture, which made it so much fun to read! You get to see past Greece stereotypes and see many different perspective of people who live there. Plus, you get to learn a lot about different celebrations and attitudes towards different subjects.

  • Lithuania and Russia: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray is a heartbreaking book that brings to light a part of World War II that was hidden for many years. Obviously, where the characters live and then where they are forced to go plays a huge role in this story.

 

What is your favorite book that takes place in a different country than your own?

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March Wrap-Up

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After reading around 20 books in January and February combined, I definitely slowed it down in March. This month, I only read three books with ratings across the board. Here’s what I read in March:

  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (★ ★ ★)

Words in Deep Blue

  • Textrovert by Lindsey Summers (★ ★)

Textrovert

ARCs:

  • Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Love & Luck

 

What was the best book that you read in March?

Renegades Review

book review

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a new Marissa Meyer book!

Renegades, the first book in Marissa Meyer’s new young adult series, follows prodigy Nova as she attempts to infiltrate her city’s superhero organization in order to eliminate them. After the organization, known as the Renegades, failed to protect her family, Nova aligned herself with her uncle’s rebel group, the Anarchists. After witnessing the abuse of her fellow Anarchists, Nova decides to join the Renegades to learn their secrets and to take them down once and for all.

I rank The Lunar Chronicles as one of my favorite young adult series, so I was extremely excited to start a new series by the same author. In The Lunar Chronicles, I loved the characters, the setting, and Meyer’s re-invention of classic fairy tales. While I don’t think the first book in this new series is as strong as The Lunar Chronicles in regards to those three aspects, I did enjoy the book overall and will definitely continue the series.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons Marissa Meyer’s books are so popular are the characters. In this book, I’m on the fence about the overall execution. I really enjoyed the two main characters, Nova and Adrian. Their backstories were pretty well-developed and aligned with their motivations. However, I really needed a little more from the side characters. While I appreciated the helpful guide in the front of the book to help me remember both the character and their superhero persona, it was hard to differentiate between personalities of them individually in the book. I felt like too many characters were introduced in this book, so none of them really popped like side characters in other Marissa Meyer books (for example, Iko stood out in Cinder).

As for the setting, there were aspects that I really enjoyed and some aspects that I thought could be improved. I appreciated how Marissa Meyer gave us a lot of backstory on how the world in this book came to be. Additionally, I enjoyed that we were able to see any aspects of both the Renegade and Anarchist organizations. The only aspect that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the carnival-like feel given to the Anarachist. Where they live and how they dress came across as a little cartoonish so they never really seemed like a threat. Especially since the books literally ends at an amusement park/carnival setting, I didn’t get the strongest superhero vibes.

Another huge reason that people love Marissa Meyer’s books is she takes an idea done many time before, but puts her own spin on it. Once again, I’m hoping to see a little more growth in this area within the next books in the series. Although some of the superheroes have fun and different powers (for example, I really enjoyed Adrian’s superpower where whatever he sketched came to life), none of the story elements so far differ from the typical superhero story line. That being said, I still really enjoyed this book and found myself keep turning the pages to see what happened next.

Even though most of my review contains mixed feelings towards this book, I have high hopes that this series will continue to improve just as The Lunar Chronicles did. While I have mixed feelings towards some aspects of this book, I still really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I give Renegades five out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books on my Spring TBR. Here are my choices:

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas 

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)

Ah! This is my most anticipated book of the entire year. How will I be able to wait until May to read it?

  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up

I absolutely loved The Hate U Give, so I can’t wait to read another book by Angie Thomas. After watching interviews with Angie, it will be cool to see how her life connects with this story.

  • Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Ever since I saw the blurb for this book, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it! This book description reminds me a little bit of Six of Crows, which I loved, so needless to say I have very high expectations for this book.

  • Stay Sweet by Siobahn Vivian

Stay Sweet

This sounds like the perfect book to transition into summer! From the description, it sounds like a cute YA contemporary that also celebrates girl power. I’m in!

  • Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

Listen to Your Heart

Kasie West is one of my auto-buy authors, so I can’t wait to read another book by her especially since her last book (Love, Life, and the List) became my favorite of her books. This one will be released at the very end of May, so I have way too long to wait for it!

  • Smoke in the Sun by Reneé Ahdieh

Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist, #2)

I enjoyed Flame in the Mist, so I can’t wait to wrap up this story with Smoke in the Sun. I haven’t read Flame in the Mist in quite awhile, so I will have to read it again or find a summary to remember what happened in the first book.

  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Royals

I really enjoyed Rebel Belle (even if I wasn’t a huge fan of the series as a whole), so I can’t wait to read another book by Rachel Hawkins. This book includes a royal family, so it will be especially fun to read right before the royal wedding.

  • Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberly

Always Never Yours

This book sounds like a cute contemporary which is my favorite to read! It also has a tie-in to Romeo and Juliet and I always love books that reference another work.

  • The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer

The Season

This isn’t a new release, but I found it recently at a discount store near my house. This always appears in my suggested on Goodreads, so it will be interesting to see if this book really matches up with my reading tastes.

  • Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Furthermore (Furthermore, #1)

I never read the Shatter Me series, but I found this book at a discount store for only $2 and couldn’t pass it up! I’m a huge fan of middle grade and this sounds like an interesting fantasy story. If I enjoy this, I might just have to pick up the Shatter Me series!

 

What books are on your Spring TBR?

Love on the Lifts Review

book review

This book just needed a little more to lift it up two more stars.

Love of the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne follows high school senior Kate who travels with two of her friends to spend some of winter break at her aunt’s skiing resort. Kate’s trip is interrupted when her brothers and his two friends also show up the condo. However, Kate has a plan up her sleeve to finally get her brother’s college roommate to notice her. Too bad her brother’s other friend keeps getting in the way.

With Rachel Hawthorne’s books, I always expect a fun and lighthearted read. I can always finish her books within a few hours and with a smile on my face. Love on the Lifts is a book I reread many times in high school. After reading it again now, I can see why I initially loved this book, but I also see why it’s only a three star read for me.

To truly appreciate and understand the main character in this book Kate, I feel like you need to be a younger reader. In this book, Kate initially chooses guys she likes based on their appearance with no regard for the personality. Kate and her friends to create “plans,” like sitting next to him when they get pizza, to win him over. While I appreciate how Kate and her friends actually act like my friends did in high school, I think older readers may have a more difficult time relating to her and her actions.

As for the story, it’s cute, but nothing remarkable. I really enjoyed the winter setting in this book. Additionally, the guy Kate eventually chooses is a sweet and nice character. This book is perfect to read if you are stuck inside for a snow day or want a story you don’t have to think to hard about to follow.

Overall, Love on the Lift is an enjoyable story, even though it is a tad forgettable. I give this book three out of five stars.

Kiss Me, I’m Irish Book Tag

Book Tag

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To celebrate the holiday, here are my answers for the Kiss Me, I’m Irish Book Tag:

Green (Book with a Green Cover)

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks, #4)

Racing Savannah has an adorable cover and contains an adorable story! This book was definitely one of my favorites in the Hundred Oaks series.

Blarney (A book that deceived you into either liking it or was over-hyped and you ended up disliking it)

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

This was one of the first hyped books that I reviewed on my blog and one of the first books I picked up after seeing recommendations online. Unfortunately, this book didn’t really work for me and I never continued on with the series.

Brogue (Dialect–A book where one of the characters has an accent)

Words in Deep Blue

This book takes place in Australia. Since I live in the United States, all of these characters would have accents to me!

Leprechaun (A book you enjoyed when you were a little person)

My Fair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #1)

I loved books by Janette Rallison in middle school. Her books always had fun plots filled with tons of humor. This book even has a leprechaun!

Pot of Gold (A book that cost you a lot or is of great value to you)

Lucky in Love

Since I usually buy my books at thrift stores or on Kindle Daily Deals, I must really like an author if I buy their book when it is released. When I saw Lucky in Love, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I went to the store and purchased it as soon as it was released!

Four Leaf Clover and Shamrock (Four leaves = more than one book. Pick your current or old favorite series)

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

I absolutely love this series and talk about it non-stop. I am still in love with the characters and their stories and am counting down the days until A Court of Frost and Starlight.

Magic (A book that you found magical or a book where you enjoyed a magic element that was found in the story line)

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

Even though this book was only an okay read for me, I am really loving fantasy books that explore faeries and their world. Since this book definitely revolved around that, I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Kiss (You current favorite book pairing or your all time favorite book pairing)

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

I don’t like using a book twice in a tag, but this is an exception. Feyre and Rhysand are definitely one of my current favorite couples and one of my favorite book couples of all time. I can’t wait to see where their story goes!

Luck (A book on your shelf you’ll get to…some day)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)

I wanted to read this soon after The Lightning Thief, but never got around to it and it is two years later. I definitely want to continue this series because I enjoyed the first book and I want to read more of Rick Riordan’s work. I just don’t know when I will pick this one up!

Jig (A book that you don’t currently own but if you could get a hold of it would make you dance with joy)

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

This book seems right up my alley so I can’t wait until it is released and I can get my hands on it!

Rainbow (That’s you! Lead other bloggers to this tag)

 

Along for the Ride Review

book review

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen follows Auden West who decides to visit her father, stepmother, and their new baby at the beach over the summer. Raised by two professor parents, Auden never had the typical high school experience. When Auden takes a job at her stepmother’s boutique, she makes new friends who help her experience all of the high school experiences she missed.

While Along for the Ride isn’t in my top three favorite Sarah Dessen books, it still ranks near the top of my favorite Sarah Dessen list. Along for the Ride is similar to many classic Sarah Dessen books with strong characters, strong themes, and strong relationships. Additionally, it’s the perfect book for the summer time!

I think my favorite aspect of this book would have to be the characters. Each character, whether major or minor, is fully developed and represent part of the theme that Sarah Dessen expresses in this book. In this book, the focus is on people changing. The main character, Auden, changes dramatically in her final summer before college. She learns to make her own opinions, learns to socialize with people her own age, and learns that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.

I also appreciated how Sarah Dessen explored what it means to be a girl in this book. Auden’s mom is a cold and driven professor who shuns everything girly, as a result, Auden sees anything considered typically feminine as weak. However, through her friends and other characters in the book, Auden learns this is not the case. Auden’s stepmother, Heidi, own an extremely girl boutique, but she’s also an incredibly smart businesswoman. Auden’s new friend, Maggie, likes fashion and boys, but also is very intelligent and great at riding dirtbikes. I really like how Sarah Dessen conveyed that their isn’t “a right way” to be a girl and that just because someone is traditionally feminine that doesn’t mean that they are also weak.

Overall, Along for the Ride is a fun, but deep summer read. Like Sarah Dessen’s other books, it is extremely relatable and will stay with you after you read it. I give Along for the Ride five out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Surprised Me

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books that surprised you in a good or bad way. Here are my choices:

  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)

I definitely enjoyed this book more than I expected I picked this book up as a Kindle Deal because I heard decent reviews. This book is a lot of fun to read if you don’t go in expecting a gritty pirate adventure story, but a romance that also happens to feature pirates.

  • Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts (Superlatives, #1)

This book surprised me, but unfortunately in a bad way. I expected a fun contemporary, but I really didn’t like any of the characters or the story line. I also really disliked the love interest in this book–I felt like he never took accountability for his actions and always blamed the female main character without any challenge. As a result, I really did not enjoy this book.

  • Textrovert by Lindsey Summers

Textrovert

I actually didn’t have a problem with this book until the very end when it surprised me with a very unlikable plot twist. (SPOILER WARNING AHEAD). In this book, it is revealed that the main character’s love interest sent out revealing photos of an ex-girlfriend after their relationship ended. So many characters came forward to show that he changed, but I didn’t believe it when I thought about his actions throughout the story. Overall, it just completely ruined the love interest for me.

  • Be Mine by Sabrina James

Be Mine

I loved Secret Santa by the same author, so it surprised me when this story left me disappointed. I feel like Be Mine copied and pasted characters and lines from her other books, which made the characters and their stories not as interesting.

  • When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It's Real

I heard so many positive reviews for books by Erin Watt, I was excited to read When It’s Real after it popped up as a Kindle Daily Deal. I love lighthearted contemporary stories, so I felt extremely disappointed when I didn’t enjoy this book. For me, the characters and story were kind of all over the place, so I didn’t really enjoy reading it.

  • I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number

I’ve had mixed experiences with books by Sophie Kinsella, so I went in expected to like this book but not to love it. However, I completely fell in love with book and it became one of my favorite contemporary books that I read in 2018! I liked how I was able to venture into reading more “adult” books, but still having the light and fun vibe from my favorite YA contemporaries.

  • Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

I tried reading books by Marie Lu before, but didn’t ever finish them. As a result, I didn’t go into this book with high expectations. However, I really did like this book, especially the writing style. I can’t wait to read the next books!

  • Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1)

Even though I heard rave reviews for this book, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it since I don’t usually gravitate towards deep contemporary books. However, I was surprised how I couldn’t put this book down! This book, along with Brigid Kemmerer’s newest book More Than We Can Tell, are some of my favorite recent contemporaries. I can’t wait to see with what she releases next!

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Since I was just starting to get more into fantasy books, I wasn’t sure if Six of Crows would live up to the hype for me. However, it surprised me how much I loved these characters after I finished this book. I still think about their stories long after reading it!

  • Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

Royce Rolls

This book surprised me, but not in a good way. I heard awesome reviews for this book, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me at all. It took me about two weeks for me to finish, which is also surprising for me because it usually only takes me about two days to finish a book. I just couldn’t connect to the characters or the story.

 

What books surprised you in a good or bad way?

Love, Life, and the List Review

book review

It would take forever to list what I love about this book.

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West follows aspiring artist Abby Turner after her paintings are declined from a local art show for lacking heart. To improve her painting, Abby develops a list to experience more in life with her best friend and long-time crush, Cooper.

After reading all of Kasie West’s contemporaries, I find that I either absolutely love her books or only find them okay. Either way, they are still extremely fun to read for their fluffy content. I’m happy to say that Love, Life, and the List falls into my “love” category of Kasie West’s books and my be my new favorite out of her books.

One problem I tend to have with Kasie West’s books is the pacing. Sometimes, the book will have a slow start, and once it finally picks up, everything will be wrapped up quickly at the end. While some aspects of this book were rushed at the end, overall, I found the pacing much more even in Love, Life, and the List. This book flowed a lot easier than some of her other books, which kept me turning the pages until it was done.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed with the characters. While I never have any major issues with characters in Kasie West’s book, they can sometimes be forgettable. However, Abby and Cooper really stuck out to me among other couples in Kasie West’s books. I think since I’ve seen similar situations to Abby and Cooper’s relationship play out in real life, I had a greater connection with their story. Plus, they were both extremely relatable and likable characters.

However, I think my favorite aspects of this book was Abby’s character growth. In the beginning of the book, Abby will literally do anything to make Cooper happy and to keep his attention, but he never puts in the same effort. I liked how Abby learned to stand her ground and find friends and other things she loves outside of Cooper’s orbit. I think this is a great message for Kasie West’s target audience.

Overall, Love, Life, and the List has been one of my favorite reads so far of the year. It makes me even more excited for Kasie West’s book released later this year and the rest of the books in this companion series. I give Love, Life, and the List five out of five stars.

This Lullaby Review

book review

If this book was a song, I would play it on repeat.

This Lullaby follows Remy Starr, the daughter of a famous romance author as she plans for her mother’s latest wedding. When talking over some of the wedding plans with her soon-to-be stepfather at his car dealership, Remy runs into Dexter, a boy in a band settling in her town for the summer. Remy, however, always sticks to her rules and one big rule is no musicians.

This Lullaby is one of Sarah Dessen’s books that I didn’t enjoy when I read it the first time. I think at the age when I read it, I was a little too younger to understand and appreciate the themes within this book. However, now that I’m older and after rereading the book several times, it ranks in my top three Sarah Dessen books.

Remy is very different than the typical Sarah Dessen main character. Usually, Sarah Dessen’s main characters are wallflowers who go through a summer transformation and discover themselves. While Remy does transform over one summer, she is more take charge and bold than other main characters in Sarah Dessen’s books. Since Sarah Dessen’s books are typically character-driven, it’s nice to have a different perspective in her book. Additionally, this allows for different events and choices from the main character (for example, The Truth About Forever and Saint Anything have very similar plots/characters to me).

Additionally, I think Sarah Dessen created a great love interest with Dexter. Like with Remy, Dexter is very different than some other love interests featured in Sarah Dessen’s books. In most of her books, I feel like the love interest often has more of an edge with some sort of secret in his past. The only other love interest with the same goofy and light-hearted personality for me was Ambrose in her most recent book, Once and For All. I really enjoyed the contrast between Dexter’s bright and happy personality and Remy’s closed off and thorny personality within this book.

While I do enjoy the characters in this book, my favorite aspect of This Lullaby would have to be its relatability. Remy’s been burned quite a few times in her life throughout different relationships (not just romantic relationships). Outside her own life, she’s seen many more relationships fail. As a result, she becomes very cynical. However, after watching several relationships in this book, she develops a better perspective about how relationships grow and change.

The best way that I can describe This Lullaby is classic Sarah Dessen. Like Sarah Dessen’s other stand out works, this book combines well-developed characters and a relatable themes to create a book that sticks with you long after you read it. I give This Lullaby five out of five stars.