January Reading Wrap-Up

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This year, I started off the year strong with not only reading more books a month than I usually do, but also reading a lot of books that I really enjoyed. Here are the books that I read during January:

  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Eleanor & Park

  • Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt (★ ★ ★)

Bookish Boyfriends

  • Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins (★ ★ ★)

Lady Renegades (Rebel Belle, #3)

  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (★ ★ ★)

Every Last Word

  • Life Just Got Real by Sadie Robertson (★ ★ ★)

Life Just Got Real

  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Love, Life, and the List

  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (★ ★ ★)

An Enchantment of Ravens

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (★ ★ ★)

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

  • Be Mine by Sabrina James (★ ★ ★)

Be Mine

Re-reads:

  • My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison (★ ★ ★)

My Fair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #1)

 

 

What was the best book that you read during January?

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Stars Above Book Review

stars above review

I’m giving Stars Above by Marissa Meyer an average number of stars.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer gives fans of The Lunar Chronicles a deeper look with a collection of short stories. Within this collection, most of the stories focus on the characters before The Lunar Chronicles take place. Readers also are given a short story with characters new to The Lunar Chronicles world, a scene from Cinder from Kai’s point of view, and a story that takes place after the events of The Lunar Chronicles.

I’m a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles series and will pretty much read anything that Marissa Meyer writes which takes place in this world. Needless to say, I went into Stars Above with high expectations. Although there were a few stand out stories, I only found myself mildly interested in this story collection.

I think the greatest reason I found myself not completely invested in this collection is because many of the stories take place before The Lunar Chronicles with several of the stories already being vaguely mentioned in the original series. For example, the background stories about Scarlet’s grandmother or how Cinder came to Beijing, are already mentioned in The Lunar Chronicles. These stories weren’t awful and I definitely enjoyed some of them, but it wasn’t as exciting to read stories where I already knew the ending.

As for the story that didn’t feature characters from the original series, I was slightly disappointed. I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters and I sometimes found it difficult to follow the story line. Since this felt like one of the longer stories in the collection, I struggled to finish it. I’m also not a fan of stories that are the same story from a different character’s point of view, which is Kai’s story within the collection. To me, I feel like I’m just reading the same story again.

The highlight of this collection is the final story. I heard about this story before the book and I knew it further developed some of the relationships from the original series. This story is also the only story in the collection which takes place after the original series. Out of all of the stories in this collection, this was by far my favorite. I loved seeing all my favorite characters again and getting a glimpse of their lives after all of the drama that concluded with Winter. Without giving away any spoilers, this story will really delight some die-hard shippers of Lunar Chronicles couple.

While I loved reading more stories centered on The Lunar Chronicles, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others within the series. I appreciated learning more of the back stories of some of the characters, but only found myself loving one of the stories in the collection. I give Stars Above three out of five stars.

By Your Side Book Review

by your side

When it comes to my favorite Kasie West books, By Your Side definitely sits off to the side.

In By Your Side by Kasie West, Autumn Collins finds herself trapped in a library over a holiday weekend during a snowstorm. Autumn quickly learns that she isn’t alone and is trapped in the library with the school’s notorious bad boy, Dax Miller. Little does Autumn know, nothing will be the same after that weekend in the library.

I became a huge fan of Kasie West earlier this year and was so excited once I read the plot of this book. While this book wasn’t exactly what I expected and didn’t meet all of my expectations, it was a cute and quick read that I still enjoyed. In terms of all the Kasie West books that I’ve read, I would say this book falls somewhere in the middle because it contains aspects about her books that I love, but also aspects that I find need improvement in her books.

I think one of the most successful aspects of this book are the two main characters, Autumn and Dax. I like how Autumn already possesses a solid group of friends all with unique personalities which I find fairly uncommon in young adult literature. Autumn also struggles with an anxiety disorder, which is relatable to many readers, and plays a significant role in the plot. With Dax, I appreciated how Kasie West gave him a little more depth than some of her other male characters. In On The Fence, I liked how Braden had a darker back story, but wish Kasie West explored it more. Fortunately in this book, readers get a more well-rounded view of Dax and his backstory.

One aspects of this book that I thought could be improved was the pacing and plot. From the book’s description, I assumed this book primarily took place in the library. However, Autumn and Dax escape around halfway through the book. For the next 25% of the book, it didn’t seem like much happened and the plot kept moving around in circles. Although Kasie West is known for playing on a lot of cliches in her books, but twisting them into her own ideas, a lot of this portion of the book felt a little too generic and bland to me. Luckily, the book picked up again in the last quarter of the book.

Overall, By Your Side is a cute, but predictable book that is perfect for readers going back to school. While there were some aspects about this book that I really enjoyed, there were others that I felt could use improvement to make this book a more solid and cohesive read. Still, I enjoyed this book and give it four out of five stars.

Wanderlost Book Review

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Not all those who wander are lost… except for Aubree.

In Wanderlost by Jen Malone, Aubree finds herself in hot water after her sister takes the blame for a high school party gone wrong and is arrested. Aubree’s sister, Elizabeth, was supposed to lead a senior citizen tour around Europe, but with a looming court date, she is unable to leave the country even though this job is very important for her future career. Elizabeth convinces Aubree to pose as Elizabeth and lead the tour even though she’s never been out of there small town.

Wanderlost is a book that I was interested in as soon as it was released, but held off on reading it. When I spotted Wanderlost as a Kindle deal, I was excited to finally read it! Wanderlost was everything I expected it be. It is the perfect fun summer contemporary that makes you feel like you’re on vacation.

I really enjoyed Aubree as a main character and think many readers will relate to her. Aubree has never left her small town and even after her high school graduation, she never plans on leaving. When Aubree finds herself in a foreign country, without her sister’s guide book or her phone, she is definitely challenged to go out of her comfort zone. As a result, Aubree grows significantly throughout the novel. Even though she never loses her small town roots, she gets a greater appreciation for the world around her.

I think one of the biggest factors of this novel that draws people in is the European tour. Even though there are some locations that are better detailed and represented that others, overall, I think that overall the tour aspect is well done. In the tour, Aubree visits several countries across Europe and the author definitely gives each country its own distinct feel. Additionally, all of the members of the tour group are well characterized and add a lot of humor to the novel.

There’s only one major criticism that I have with this novel. Inevitably, readers know that Aubree’s identity will be exposed. However, I’m not really a fan of how this plays out in the book. Without spoiling the book, I think what occurs is very unnecessary. It really disappointed me because I thought the story lines of the characters involved would go in very different directions. Even though I didn’t care for this part of the story, overall, it didn’t ruin the novel for me.

Wanderlost is a solid summer read if you’re looking for a read that will whisk you off to a new place. I give Wanderlost four out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Releases of 2016 (so far)

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is favorite releases of 2016 so far. Since I haven’t read that many 2016 releases yet, I decided to do my favorite releases so far based on their descriptions/that I plan to read. Here are my choices:

1.) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything

In The Unexpected Everything, Andie’s perfect life is turned upside down by her father’s political scandal. Now, she is forced to spend her summer as a dog walker and repair her relationship with her father.

I read Since You’ve Been Gone last month and loved it! I’ve heard great things about The Unexpected Everything, so I went out and bought it. If you have seen any of my thrifting hauls, you know how much I love getting books for a few coins. I have to be really excited for a book to buy it for full price!

2.) Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Wanderlost

In this book, Aubree covers hersister’s summer job of leading a tour bus of senior citizens around Europe with the cute son of the company’s owner. Where do I sign up?

3.) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato

I love books that take place in Italy, so I can’t wait to read this one! In Love and Gelato, Lina discovers her mother’s old journal that her mother kept while she lived in Italy. With the help of a cute boy, Lina follows her mother’s footsteps and finds out a secret that will change everything.

4.) The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

The Last Boy and Girl in the World

In The Last Boy and Girl in the World, Keeley’s town is sliding underwater and everyone is forced to evacuate. With a few days left in the town, Keeley’s friends decide to take advantage of the situation and go crazy. Apparently, this is loosely based on a true story, which makes me interested to read it!

5.) Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink Poppy Midnight

I can’t tell much about the plot of this story from the description, but it’s been getting a lot of hype so I can’t wait to read it for myself!

6.) Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band

Kill the Boy Band follows a group of fangirls who accidentally kidnap a member of their favorite boy band. This book sounds hilarious, so it’s definitely a recent release that I want to check out.

7.) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

I loved both Between Shades of Grey and Out of the Easy, so I have really high expectations for loving Salt to the Sea! In Salt to the Sea, four teenagers board the Wilhelm Gustloff to escape World War II when tragedy strikes.

8.) The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren

In The Siren, Kahlen was saved from drowning in the ocean, but she must repay her debt by living as a siren where using her voice leads to certain death for anyone who listens. Then, Kalhen meets Akinli and even though she can’t speak to him, they form an incredible bond that makes her want to challenge the rules. The cover of this book is beautiful and makes me want to read it during the summertime!

9.) The Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine

The Season of You & Me

The Season of You & Me centers around Cassidy Emmerich who finds herself boyfriendless and stuck as a camp counselor on the Jersey Shore. At Camp Manatee, she meets Bryan Lakewood who was left paralyzed after an accident, but it determined to regain his independence as a camp counselor. This book sounds like a perfect summer read, so I hopefully I can read it before the summer ends!

10.) Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims

Please Don't Tell

In Please Don’t Tell, Joy believes she killed a boy at a party, but her memory of that night is hazy. Soon, Joy is blackmailed by a stranger who threatens to reveal her secret and forces her to expose the town’s dirty secrets. This book has an interesting premise and I’m interested to see how it plays out.

 

What are your favorite 2016 releases so far?

#TeenTuesday: Torn Away Review

torn away

What does it mean to lose everything?

Teenager Jersey Cameron grapples with this question after a deadly tornado devastates her town, and even worse, her family in Jennifer Brown’s Torn Away. In the aftermath of the tornado, Jersey’s stepfather sends her off to live with unruly relatives who will never accept her as family–they force her to sleep on the porch, steal the few things she could salvage from her home, and torment her about her real family and the storm she survived.

When I first read the summary of Torn Away, I expected most of the book to revolve around Jersey struggling to fit in with her new family and only one, or maybe even two, chapters dedicated to the tornado. However, the tornado and the couple days following actually spanned a good chunk of the book and Jersey’s journey actually crosses the paths of two different families, not just one. While this wasn’t what I was expecting, I actually really enjoyed the author’s direction in the plot.

In the author’s note, the author explained that she wrote this book following the Joplin tornado. A few weeks after the tornado, the author was set to speak in Joplin’s library. The author called the library and told them that she would understand if they didn’t want her to come, but the librarians encouraged her to visit to bring something positive to the town. I’m sure a large chunk of the beginning chapters reflect what the author saw in Joplin and her own experiences (she’s from the midwest) and it was interesting to see the impact a tornado has days after on a town. On television, you mostly see video of the tornado and flattened homes. By focusing several chapters on the tornado, you really get to see the emotional impact–a girl frantically searching all over town for her family in her stepfather’s oversized work boots because she has nothing else to walk in, sleeping in a collapsing house with the sounds of another storm rolling in, and finding out that you lost way more than the material items you possessed.

The next phase of the book focused on Jersey’s transition to living with a family she’s never met. The author’s characterization of Jersey’s new “family” was flawless. You could perfectly picture ever character (even if the picture wasn’t so pretty). The other family Jersey lived with starkly contrasts her birth father’s family. The contrast of these two families nicely fit with the author’s theme as it helped Jersey realize what family truly is and what it really meant to lose everything.

When I first picked up this book, it sounded interesting, but I thought it would get lost in my TBR pile among other books. Much to my surprise, I got completely wrapped up in the story. Since the book was also well written and provoked a great message, I rate this book five out five stars.

 

What book has surprised you recently? 

Unpopular Book Opinions Tag

my life next door

Here are my answers to the Unpopular Book Opinions tag. I tag anyone who is reading this!

  • A popular book you didn’t like

 After seeing a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads and reading the plot, I decided to read My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I love light, fluffy novels set in the summer, but this was an exception. I felt like the book was too long, it became too unbelievable at the end, and a “too perfect” main character.

  • A book or series that everyone else seems to hate, but you love

People either love or hate this book and I fall into the first category. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher made me keep wanting to turn the page to hear more of Hannah’s story and made me think for weeks after reading it.

  • A love triangle where the main character ended up with a person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don’t like

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, but whenever I think of couples in her books, I usually forget about Ruby and Nate. I don’t  dislike them, but I never really connected with this book or them either.

  • A popular book genre that you hardly reach for

I never really reach for fantasy books or paranormal books even though there are many popular books in both of those genres released recently.

  • A popular or beloved character that you don’t like

It’s not that I don’t like this character, it’s just that I didn’t connect with him. Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace have a great relationship that I enjoyed, but Augustus has a personality that I don’t mesh with well. The deep and philosophical statements and always speaking in metaphors sometimes came across as a little unauthentic to me. Since this book was so hyped, I expected to fall in love with Gus and fangirl over him like everyone else, but there just wasn’t the connection that I expected.

  • A popular author that you can’t seem to get into

I really loved The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, but every time I pick up another book by him it is difficult for me to get past the first chapter.

  • A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing

Love triangles. Most of the time, one of the characters just seems to be standing there off to the side… they usually don’t have much of a personality and you can easily see they won’t be the person chosen at the end.

  • A popular series that you have no interest in reading

The Selection series seems like something that I would enjoy since the plot appears to be the dystopian version of the Bachelor. However, there are so many dystopian books out, I’ve heard from that it wasn’t that interesting, and I usually don’t gravitate to dystopian books that focus on love (for example, Delirium and Matched).

  • The saying goes, “The book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

When reading Mockingjay for the first time, it didn’t seem to have the same spark present in the first two novels. I found myself uninterested in the characters and just reading to see how the series ended. However, I loved the movies and they helped me visualize the large cast of characters and appreciate the book more.

If YA Characters were on Tinder

ya tinder

Day 10 of Blogentine’s Day. 

Tinder is one of the most addictive apps filled with some of the most interesting people. Which of these YA love interests would you swipe right for?

Gale from The Hunger Games

gale tinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you make snares? Because I’m all tangled up in your love. 

 

Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars

augustus tinder

It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you. 

 

Tobias from the Divergent Series

four tinder

You’re hotter than the flames of Dauntless. 

 

Adam from If I Stay

adam tinder

Are you a baritone? Because I’d like to get to first bass with you. 

 

Evan from The Fifth Wave

evan tinder

Are you sure you’re not an alien? Because you’ve abducted my heart.

 

What other YA characters would you swipe right for?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Reads

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Day 9 of Blogentine’s Day.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.This week’s theme is Valentine’s Day! I decided to do my top 10 Valentine’s Day reads.

Since I have so many favorite romance books, I decided to narrow it down to short romance books published by HarperTeen. These books are quick, easy to read, and are the perfect feel-good Valentine’s Day reads. For my top ten, I’m going to do it a little differently and count down the twelve HarperTeen books that I’ve read from my least favorite to favorite. Here’s my list:

12. and 11. Island Girls (and Boys) by Rachel Hawthorne and Killer Cruise by Jennifer Shaw

These two would have to be least favorite. I remember enjoying their stories the least and I never really loved any of the characters.

10. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker

I did enjoy reading this book, but it doesn’t have one of my favorite couples and I enjoy other stories more than this one. The music touches in this book are great though!

9. Snow Queen by Emma Harrison

I love the whole crazy beauty pageant idea, but sometimes the book gets a little too over-dramatic.

8. and 7. Picture Perfect by Catherine Clark and So Inn Love by Catherine Clark

I love the Outer Banks, so that is a definitely plus for Picture Perfect! Both these stories are fun, summer reads. However, the adorable romances are perfect for any time of year!

6. Snow in Love by Claire Ray

I love the setting of this book and the fashion involved! The strong friendship in this book is also a plus.

5. Summer in the City by Elizabeth Chandler

This is one of the longer HarperTeen books, but the fun story makes it go by quickly. I love the Baltimore setting and integration of sports.

4. and 3. Save the Date by Tamara Summers and Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne

The couples in these books are great! Wedding stories like in Save the Date are always fun and hilarious and any book set in a ski town always makes for a cute book to read by the fireplace.

2. Thrill Ride by Rachel Hawthorne

Who hasn’t thought about working at a theme park for the summer? The relationship in this book is one of my favorites and the minor characters all have unique personalities.

1. The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne

Baseball players. That’s all I have to say.

What book will you be reading on Valentine’s Day? 

 

 

Final Countdown Friday: Meg Cabot

meg cabot books

Day 5 of Blogentine’s Day where I countdown the books by one of my favorite authors

I started reading Meg Cabot’s books in elementary school, starting with the Princess Diaries series. I remember going to the store and my mom let me pick out a book. I already had the first book in the series, my sister chose the second book, and I picked the third (probably because it was pink).

The third Princess Diaries book

Whenever I want to read books with a light and fluffy romance, I always grab for Meg Cabot. I’ve reread her books a few times and love them more each time that I read them. Here is a countdown of my favorite young adult Meg Cabot books (excluding the Abandon series, the Mediator series, Vanished, and Jinx):

9. Airhead series

I like Emerson Watts, but she isn’t my favorite Meg Cabot character. I also wish this was more of a standalone novel. I’ve only read 2/3 of the books in this series and while I do want to know how it ends, I never find myself going out of my way to read it.

8. Pants on Fire

I really like the main character Kate in this book because she isn’t the typical Meg Cabot character. I like the story line and relationship in this book, but it isn’t my favorite and I don’t find myself rereading this book as much as some of Meg Cabot’s other books.

7. How to be Popular

Since many of Meg Cabot’s characters scoff at popularity, it is refreshing to see a character who strives for popularity. How to be Popular is a fun, quick read that I remember rereading every year that I was in high school.

6. and 5. Nicola and the Viscount/Victoria and the Rogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read both of these books when I went on vacation to the beach and they were perfect beach reads. Both are historical fiction books that follow similar plots. They are the perfect romances to read when you want a quick and light read.

4. Avalon High

I really like reading Avalon High over and over to pick up on little details that I didn’t notice the first time around. I love how Ellie refuses to believe her role is over in the story and fights until the end. There’s also a Disney movie based on this that definitely doesn’t do this book justice.

3. Teen Idol

Every time I read Teen Idol, I laugh out loud. All of the characters will remind you of someone you went to high school with and everyone has though about a movie star coming to their school. I really like the less obvious love interest and Jenny’s compassion for others.

2. All-American Girl series

I reread All-American Girl at least twice a year. There are only two books (so it is a lot quicker to go through than the Princess Diaries) and it always makes me laugh out loud. I love how Samantha realizes who she really is and stands up for herself at the end.

  1. Princess Diaries series

The Princess Diaries and All-American Girl are very close in my book, but the Princess Diaries wins out because I love seeing Mia grow from the awkward girl in high school into a leader who takes control of her own life. I’ve always identified with Mia’s character and appreciated her relationship with Michael.

What is your favorite Meg Cabot book?