Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan
4/5 stars
Mira, 2013
328 pages
Adult Historical Women's Epistolary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

This book popped up on my radar after seeing it recommended on Dear Author. I adore epistolary novels and the World War II time period so I eagerly grasped at the chance to read and review this. I'm so glad it got on my radar because I adored this book and will be pushing it at my mom and grandma as I think they will like it too. Christina T noted in my comment section that it made her think of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Having read both, I think that is an accurate observation and would recommend fans of one to check out the other if they haven't already.

As for this book itself, I adored its portrayal of female friendship despite differences in upbringing, temperament, distance, and almost anything else that differentiates people. What brings the two women together is a pen pal program for military wives beginning in 1943 and going through the end of the war. Very quickly these women form a tight bond that sees them through their difficulties and binds them as family.

I would have to say that I more immediately connected with Glory, a young wife and mother living in New England, born of privilege, (who is actually my age) who is struggling with missing her husband and an illicit flirtation with a childhood friend. Yet as she made some spectacularly bad decisions, I found myself more drawn to the steadier presence of Rita, a Midwestern sensible lady whose husband and adult son are both out there fighting. Still I liked both ladies immensely and loved as they grew to trust each more and opened up their hearts, also incidentally expanding the cast of characters who all found a place in my heart.

What was most evident to me was the combined struggling and pride of everyone in America. Yes, many things are rationed (nifty recipes are included in the book and I imagine they would be delicious to make if you wanted to challenge yourself) and they frequently have to do without. But they know it is in service of ridding the world of the tremendous evil of potential Nazi domination and they're able to console themselves about the sacrifices.

One last thing I really loved learning was from the end where the authors are interviewed. For example, the authors themselves have never met (at least up to that point in publication) and their "meeting" somewhat echoes the meeting of their fictional creations as they bonded through blogging. Yet already they are planning their next novel following sisters and set during the Progressive Era-I definitely want to check it out!

Overall: A very enjoyable read-though fast-moving, it has deep emotional roots and I can see fans of popular women's fiction eating this one up!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ARC August Announcement

I was reading through some posts today and "ARC August" by Inspiring Insomnia caught my eye. I have a lot of ARCs to read (thinks I) and after checking out the challenge from Octavia at Read, Sleep, Repeat, I decided I was in. It's not just physical copies-we're talking Netgalley, Edelweiss, and even overdue ones (um, what, I don't have any of those *shiftyeyes*) This is my official sign-up post.

It's not August yet so there's still time to sign-up (if you do, you could win a $20 gift card! Yes, that was a big motivator for me :)

Some of the books on my schedule (giving you a tease of August but there are actually even more in my pile)
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
VIII by HM Castor
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Love Disguised by Lisa Klein
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick
The Chaos of the Stars by Kiersten White
Tumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

So go sign up and spread the word :) If you do, leave me a link to your post so I can cheer for you!

The Wells Bequest

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman
3.5/5 stars
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013
257 pages
YA/MG Fantasy

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First book The Grimm Legacy was an absolute delight for me so I was thrilled to discover this companion novel! This book is loosely related featuring Jaya, the younger sister of Anjali, both of whom played important roles in the first book and of course the backdrop for both is the New York Circulating Material Repository. While the first book played with fairy tale items, this one takes a turn for the science-fiction side looking at items from HG Wells' novels as well as others.

Our new main character is Leo, son and younger brother of scientists whose own interests tend more toward the fantastical. He however is shocked when a tiny version of himself along with a beautiful girl, both on a time machine, appears in his bedroom. This sets off a journey that leads him to the aforementioned repository where he discovers that some of the creations he's read about are real (like HG Wells' time machine from the titular novel), meets the beautiful girl, and must confront a jealous rival.

Leo was a good kid. Probably my favorite thing about him is his concern over possibly messing up the future through his time travel. I loved his caution and how it was necessary to balance out his counterpart, the lovely Jaya, an experienced page whose enthusiasm takes over the adventure.  She easily rushes forward ready for anything.

While both of the leads were good, the villain was pathetic-I don't really remember the villain in The Grimm Legacy but I did not find this book's villain scary at all. I found him deranged and possibly in need of some medical health. This was the biggest point of frustration for me and I found that his simplicity brought the story down to more of a middle-grade level. Additionally I found a bit of the time travel confusing although further reflection has mostly brought it into line-I did enjoy those sequences but I found it very young for my taste.

Overall: A cool companion to The Grimm Legacy; while your reading experience will be enhanced by reading both in order, I don't think it's necessary and if fairy tales aren't really your thing, you could probably skip it and dive right into this one.

Other Opinions:
A Reader of Fictions
Little Squeed
Random Musings of a Bibliophile

Monday, July 29, 2013

Five Summers

Five Summers by Una LaMarche
4/5 stars
Razorbill, 2013
378 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book was not really on my radar until I received an unsolicited copy for review. Realizing that it contained many of my favorite things (contemporary genre; alternating perspective; summer; female friendship), I added it to my review schedule and I'm so glad I squeezed it in to the summer season though this could certainly be read during any other as well.

Over the course of five summers, Emma, Jo, Skylar, and Maddie forged an unbreakable bond of best friendship that sustained them through the sometimes difficult school year until they could return to camp. However once they grew too old to be campers, their lives further diverged with high school, boys, and secrets interfering. Now it's reunion weekend for the seventeen year olds and the truth is coming out-can their friendship be sustained?

As a child, I never attended camp nor did I really want to (I was an extremely picky eater who loathed physical activity/outdoors/bugs/latrines-I do not think I would have done well) so the fond memories of camp are not mine. Saying that, the Baby-Sitters Club did attend a camp and I enjoyed their adventures vicariously, same as I did for the girls here. They placed a lot of importance on the camp and the people they were there and I enjoyed getting to know them and their friendship.

I initially anticipated having some trouble with the narration which is told third person, alternating between the four girls as well as over time (the five summers plus reunion weekend.) Yet most of the story is told in the present day at reunion weekend and I feel like Emma was the main character so it was very easy to follow the engaging writing. I could barely put the book down and I easily flew through it.

As for the plot-wow, what drama! All of the girls have their secrets and they pretty much all come out over the course of the weekend, leading to a lot of anger and fighting but also self-reflection and bonding. They're not the same people they were when they first met (thank God) and they need to reconcile the changes that have occurred with the perceptions they used to have of their friends. Though some of the secrets are only hinted at in the beginning, it is pretty easy to figure them out and then just wait for the fur to fly. I found the drama all a bit much but that's just the kind of reader I am.

Overall: A fun summer read that I bet will be especially engaging to people with fond memories of their camp years as well as fans of female friendship in YA lit.

Content: Lots of mostly oblique sexual references; very casual teen drinking presented as normal; I think the language is pretty clean though.

Other Opinions:
Dark Faerie Tales
Forever Young Adult
Parajunkee's View
Read My Breath Away

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 28JUL13

So last week, I felt ill and could barely bring myself to write anything but this week, I am healthy and positively overflowing with words. As usual, I have bolded the topic headings so you can skim and read only what you think sounds most interesting.

Review from my mom:
Yesterday my mom stopped by the blog to do an interview/joint review with me about the delightful historical fiction novel A Hundred Summers. She's gotten a big kick out of your comments and would love for you to leave more (#shamelesscommentrequest ;)

Last chance to get entries into the Summer of Love Blog Hop! My post is here with links to the other giveaways.

Books Received:
It was a busy week. I received a surprise review copy of the latest Jeannie Lin novel, The Lotus Palace. Can't wait to read her latest release!

Then I got a bunch of books through Amazon Vine/Last Harvest; reviews for all of these will be coming throughout August and September.

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi
Passion and Poison: Tales of Shape-Shifters, Ghosts, and Spirited Women by Janice M. Del Negro
The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

I feel so blessed by every comment that has ever been left for me and I just wanted to say that I love you guys so much! (I also love you even if you've never commented; I just don't know who you are.) I try not to check my phone during the workday because it distracts me but I usually break down and do so at lunch; though I'm pretty happy at work, my mood immediately lifts upon reading your nice words. I love when you agree with me about a book's flaws and/or merits and I love when you disagree with me because you're always so thoughtful-thank you for the food for thought and keep them coming :)

August Project:
I believe I've mentioned a few times that I adore the Baby-Sitters Club. I read them throughout my childhood and credit them for establishing a deep love of reading. I also trace my love of the contemporary genre and stories about female friendship to this series. So I'm excited to be joining forces with some other fans to read through the books again. My first posts for the project will be starting in August at Sarah Millar's blog and I'll be sure to update you all when it goes live.

Week to Come:
I'm catching up on some older review books to start and then switching gears to adult novels to close out the week. We start with Five Summers by Una LaMarche, which I'm glad I squeezed in to my summer reading. Tuesday is The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman, the companion novel to the enchanting The Grimm Bequest, which I enjoyed reading way back in 2011. As for adult novels, Wednesday's review is I'll Be Seeing You, a highly recommended epistolary novel set during WWII. Thursday is the beginning of a new month, which means it's time for a War and Peace readalong update. Friday, I'm hosting a stop on the Mr. Monk Helps Himself blog tour reviewing this first book from Hy Conrad, the new author of the mystery series. And we're ending the week strong with the new novel The Lotus Palace from beloved romance author Jeannie Lin.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Special Guest Review: A Hundred Summers

Today is a special treat as my mom is stopping by to share her thoughts on this book :) Please welcome Reader1809, who completed an interview with me to compose this review; I'll be sharing my thoughts as well.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
4/5 stars
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013
355 pages
Adult Historical

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

B: Hi Mom, welcome to the blog! I'm going to ask you some of the questions I usually ask myself when composing a review. To start, why did you want to read this book? (When mom wants to read a book, she gives me the title to put on hold at the library.)
R: Book seemed like a fun summer read (it has summer in the title.) I like books about friendship.
B: I wanted to read this after seeing how much you enjoyed it and also because I like historical fiction.

B: Okay, second prompt is to describe the plot in brief.
R: The main character meets the love of her life in college. Fast forward 7 years and this love is married to her best friend. Story alternates between the year they met 1931/2 to the present day 1938 to explain what happened.

B: Now, we start the review in earnest. What did you think about the characters?
R: I really liked main character Lily and her love Nick. The best friend, Budgie, was not likable from the start and should have been developed more. I could relate to the Lily character; she was nice and nurturing and I think I am like that.
B: I would second that description of you. I liked those characters a lot although I think I had more sympathy for Budgie-I love the calculating woman who goes after what she wants but eventually even Budgie pushed past the bounds of what I could tolerate.

B: What did you think of the plot and writing?
R: Plot was similar to other stories I've read (like Scarlett going after men in Gone With the Wind). I also liked how one chapter was in 1931 and then the next in 1938 and how the story continued alternating between the two. Also liked the way they incorporated the famous New England hurricane of 1938 with these characters.
B: I agree that the plot was very akin to other stories (I'm thinking specifically of The Ashford Affair, which I read earlier this year and has the same basic plot of best friend steals girl's love) and most everything felt very familiar. I am wondering if my readers know about the hurricane; it was not known to me but you have a funny story about it.
R: Yes, I was telling some of my friends about this book and they had never heard of the hurricane. Of course, I had told your dad about it and he came right back with knowledge about the storm including the fact that Katharine Hepburn almost died in it. My friends replied that they weren't alive back then; well, neither was your father so that's not much of an excuse!

B: Did anything infuriate you? (I know I am often driven to comment on the things that bother me.)
R: I don't know about infuriate but unfortunately I guessed what happened between the couple early in the story so the ending was not a surprise for me.
B: Don't watch Castle or Psych or any of those detective shows with my mom as she has a tendency to spoil them within about 15 minutes!
R: I also didn't personally like Budgie since I couldn't relate to her but I found her fascinating to read about.

B: Would you recommend this book? To whom?
R: Yes, I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction. It is an enjoyable book to read.
B: I think it is a fun beach book-though there are darker moments, it still moves quickly

B: Overall, what is your impression?
R: Kudos to the author for including two other books on the hurricane that one could read if interested. Also really liked how she added an epilogue dated 1944. I am the type of reader who wants to know what the characters are doing years later!
B: I thought you would like that part-you always want to see a wedding or a family with kids at the end of romantic comedies :)

B: To end, do you have any thoughts about the cover?
R: Simple cover that shows two girls in the sand under an umbrella. Girls are missing drinks in hand (B: there is a lot of drinking in this book considering half of it is set in Prohibition and almost all of it is set in stodgy New England) and/or books and/or towels. Why are they wearing shoes???

Friday, July 26, 2013


Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
4/5 stars
Balzer + Bray, 2013
479 pages
YA Paranormal

Source: Library

After being surprised by the very enjoyable Unraveling, I knew I would be returning to the series for the further adventures of Janelle and co as they race against a five day countdown.

In case you don't remember, the situation got bad at the end of Unraveling and though they seem to be rebuilding in Unbreakable that situation also turns ominous with Janelle racing against a five day countdown to prevent something truly awful happening. This book further explores the science-fiction aspects while also ramping up the tension and not hesitating to put all the characters through the wringer (how's that for vague? I don't want to spoil anything if I can avoid it although I do have one point that is a spoiler marked at the end of the review.)

For me, the writing style is what really propels this story. The chapters are short and each opens with the ticking down of the clock, pushing me always forward. I might have opened the book intending to just read one chapter but when that chapter is only two pages, it is easy to decide to read just one more until, lo and behold, the book is finished. I'm not usually good at predicting what is to come and the breakneck pace didn't leave me much chance to speculate, which is actually how I like it.

Janelle continues to be kickass: facing impossible odds, working with someone she's not sure she can trust, providing valuable advice (if ever attacked, I'm hoping to be able to utilize her advice to try to gouge the attacker's eyes out), and never giving up. I like her a lot. The other characters maybe don't get as much development but do their fair share of fighting and trying to save the world(s).

Overall: Though not as unique and exciting as I found book one to be, I'm really enjoying this series and look forward to a third.

Cover: I really don't like this cover. It does match with Unraveling but this may have been an instance where I'd prefer a redesign. I just hate them standing there and staring out at me. Plus her hair looks so awkward.


I didn't think I had anything relating to a spoiler to discuss but I do actually. In the beginning Janelle sees Ben's double and almost instantly knows it isn't him, which is great foreshadowing for how Ben does not realize that Janelle's double isn't her. So heartbreaking and I was afraid it would prove to be an insurmountable obstacle for the couple, who I am supporting. In his defense, he was already in a vulnerable scared position with his family also in captivity and this Janelle was pretty beaten up. But still, how do you not know? Thoughts on how this affected your perception of the couple?


Other Opinions:
Forever YA
Katie's Book Blog
Ruby's Reads
The Reader Lines

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ARC Review: The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
5/5 stars
Greenwillow Books, 2013
448 pages
YA Fantasy
Scheduled to release August 27

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers well enough but I wasn't as passionate about this series as other bloggers had been. Still I hoped to end the series strong so I was pleased to receive an early copy of this conclusion to the trilogy. Well, if you looked at my rating, you will see that I was well-rewarded by taking that chance because this book blew me away! I'm going to share a few non-spoiler points as well as a marked spoiler at the very bottom to hopefully explain how this book won me over.

Though most of the narrative is told from Elisa's perspective, as occurred in the first books, this one also brings in a few chapters narrated from Hector's point of view. I adore dual narration and really loved it here. Because my e-copy showed which chapters he narrated in the index, I could easily access how long it would be until the next entry and looked forward to each and every one. Which is not to say that I don't like Elisa's narration; I just happen to like the variety provided by Hector.

Another plot element I actually liked was the journey-Elisa and her crew have to travel a lot in this book and though that is not ordinarily the kind of story I like, it really pleased me here. Especially exciting was when they were caught in a snowstorm and decide to seek safer passage through mines (it was so Fellowship of the Ring). There was just so much action and it kept me glued to the pages.

But I guess what I liked the most was Elisa's confidence, which has been growing rapidly since her introduction as a shy mousy thing. She knows her rightful place as ruler and that she has the capacity to conceive and execute fantastic daring plans. She can fight, she can love (I promise you Hector fans some good things!), she can strategize-it's amazing! Right after Elisa comes spunky new character Mula, a little girl whose heartbreaking past will be only a dark memory as she gets to embark on an amazingly bright new future.

Overall: An excellent conclusion to this fantasy series. Usually my favorite book in a trilogy is the first but in my opinion, this finale demonstrates such tremendous growth on the part of its characters while also amping up the tension to almost unbearable stakes throughout the course of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you'll be finishing this series!


So near the end Elisa's godstone falls out because she has fulfilled her purpose. First I loved that she didn't die because she had friends to share the burden-so many other Chosen had lived in isolation and couldn't finish but she built those relationships and invested in them and was rewarded. Then second she has to try to face her enemy without that power. But then it turns out she doesn't need it because she is anything but ordinary even without the stone. Oh, I just loved it!


Other Opinions:
Book Labyrinth
Paranormal Indulgence
Pure Imagination

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
4/5 stars
Entangled Publishing, 2013
305 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Library

For some reason, when I first saw this title, I recoiled, thinking it was like Sean Griswold's Head and not interested in at all (not sure why as I adore SGH and highly recommend it. My brain is weird sometimes.) Then I saw Estelle at Rather Be Reading's review, which highlighted its musical theater details. Then I read further and discovered that Reece Malcolm is actually the narrator's long-estranged mother and all of a sudden, I wanted this book.

I'm really glad I came around because I had so much fun reading this book especially being immersed in the musical theater life (main character Devan gets to act in Merrily We Roll Along) and exploring the complicated relationship between Devan and her mother as they try to become family. Less enthralling was some of Devan's personality and the teenage love dramas, which I'll get to in a sec.

A quick summary is that we follow Devan who is going to live with her best-selling author mother after the death of her father; she never knew the woman and has a lot of apprehension about the experience. Though Reece is prickly, her boyfriend Brad is amazing and soon Devan is enrolled in a performing arts school and thriving despite still wondering about her place in the family and why hasn't her mother contacted her before now? Can Devan crack the Reece Malcolm code?

The good is abundant in this book. Firstly it was heaven for this musical theater nerd (especially defining my personality in high school despite being pretty tone-deaf) to have so many references-I would have taken even more but I don't know if that would have been isolating to people who aren't as familiar with musicals.

My favoritest part though was getting to meet Brad, boyfriend to Reece and almost superhumanly patient and warm. He makes things easy and is a welcoming presence even when Reece can't quite connect with Devan. There are also two boyfriend options for Devan and I liked how she got to have some fun instead of immediately settling down with the one but I didn't feel like either was that great of an option. Thinking back, I liked pretty much all of the adult characters a lot (like Reece's best friend Kate and the musical teacher Mr. Deans) but not so much the teenagers, who seemed shallowly drawn despite being very important to Devan.

For the most part I liked Devan's voice as she conversationally carries us through the story. I did find some of her personality quirks frustrating. The main one was her habit of constantly apologizing and angsting over her mother. Now these are completely understandable within the context of her personal history. Her father and stepmother were not good parents who did not welcome Devan so it makes complete sense for her to feel awkward and apologetic about being dropped into her mother's life. Still I found it a little over the top and annoying although thankfully as Devan settles into her new life, she stops apologizing all the time. So it's actually an example of character growth but it still bothered me.

The other thing I found annoying was Devan's back and forth relationship with her crush Sai, who is dating another girl for most of the book. I don't want to be one of those adults who complains about teenagers acting like teenagers but I'm pretty sure I didn't act like that when I was a teenager (thank God I no longer am!) I won't spend time elaborating on this point as I think these complaints were both very personal based on my own experiences.

Well, this ended up being pretty long, which is usually a negative sign for me but is actual positive here. There was just so much to think about and I'm really glad I finally picked this one up! Recommended for fans of musical theater/performing stories as well as lovers of funny contemporary.

Other Opinions:
Book Labyrinth
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
Just Sitting Thar
Rather Be Reading
Stuck In Books

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

OCD Love Story

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
4/5 stars
Simon Pulse, 2013
341 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

As has been pretty well-documented on this blog, I adore YA contemporary with romance so the title of this made it pretty much a done deal. Plus how could I resist the call of its pretty bright colors?

The story follows Bea, a young bright teenager, filled with passion and excitement. She has goals for the future (costume designer), she likes kissing boys (kissing is fun), and she's also in therapy for OCD. Initially during her group therapy, she feels like the normal one; I mean, she isn't pulling out her hair or completing tasks in groups of eight. But as the book progresses, we can see the toll her OCD really is taking on her and those around her (like her accidentally enabling friend, the boy she likes, and the couple she stalks, yes stalks.)

This book became super hard to read the further I got into it as the reality of Bea's condition becomes clear. For so long, she is able to convince herself that things are fine, that if she follows certain rules everything will be fine, until she can no longer hide from the truth. Most scary is her stalking of a couple after eavesdropping on them in therapy. She follows them home, she records everything she can, and she even tries to ingratiate herself in their company. Thankfully she doesn't become violent but the extreme invasion of privacy is enough. This is an intense book and all the feelings felt by Bea are well described and were definitely felt by me.

I especially loved the relationships in this book like Bea's with her friend who I described as accidentally enabling Bea. This friend loves Bea and they've been close for a long time but she doesn't fully understand what is compelling Bea so while her actions initially are those of a friend, she also comes to realize that she is not actually helping Bea and takes drastic action to fix that situation. Also of interest is Bea's blossoming romance with Beck, who she meets while he's experiencing his first panic attack and whose compulsions manifest in extreme exercising and repeating tasks eight times in a row. His journey and breakthroughs contrast with Bea's. Though this romance is not necessarily destined for a happily ever after, the relationship has its bright spots within its unconventionality. I do wish the parents had more of a presence as their daughter certainly seemed to need them; I don't entirely know how to account for that although it would have been a very different story otherwise.

I feel like my thoughts about this book are all over the place so really the best thing I can say is to give it a read for yourself-the story is incredibly engaging and though it's not easy, it's definitely worth it.

Cover: Love the combination of pink and yellow-makes me think of lemonade as well as wanting to try to rock this color combination in a real-life outfit.

Other Opinions:
A Girl, A Boy and A Blog
Candace's Book Blog
Chick Loves Lit
Rather Be Reading
The Flyleaf Review

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer of Love Blog Hop

So excited to be a stop on this giveaway hop! The theme is "Summer of Love" so I'm giving you the option to choose between two fun love stories set during the summer, both from the amazing Sarah Dessen. These are two of my favorite books of all time and this is your chance to make sure you have a copy in your personal library.


1. There will be 1 winner, who must have a mailing address in a country where Book Depository ships. So this contest is international :)
2. You must be 13 years of age or older or use parental information to enter.
3. All it takes to enter is to input a valid email address; there is one bonus entry for following my blog somehow
4. Contest ends July 29 at midnight, EST per Rafflecopter standards
5. Winner will be contacted via email by August 2 and will have 48 hours to respond with book selection and address or else I will move on to the next person. I pledge to keep your address confidential and to delete it as soon as I have shipped your book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Looking for more giveaways? Check out these links below for more Summer of Love fun!


Ink by Amanda Sun
3.5/5 stars
Harlequin Teen, 2013
350 pages
YA Paranormal Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

On the one hand, I feel bad for this book because it might have been a victim of my feeling sick, which made me a little impatient with books. On the other hand, it has earned a wide variety of reviews from the very negative to the very enthusiastic so maybe the way I physically felt doesn't really affect anything. My general impression of this book is pretty meh. I didn't fall in love but nothing left me outraged. It just was.

This book has a lot of positives in its favor: it is set in Japan and cultural differences are conveniently noticed by American-born and raised Katie who initially feels like she will never adapt to her new life. Of course she does though, attending Tea Ceremony practices, learning kendo, making friends, and meeting a boy Tomohiro, who plays a pretty big role in changing her mind. After accidentally spying on Tomo breaking up with his girlfriend and seeing one of his drawings move, Katie becomes very curious to learn more, finding herself drawn to him despite the potential danger he represents.

Like I said, I wasn't really feeling this book. There was nothing to make me angry but I never found myself passionately drawn into it. I liked Katie well enough and strongly empathized with her feeling out of place especially as she had only a few months of frantically studying Japanese before her full immersion. The other characters were also fine although as she meets Tomo pretty early on in the book, he soon comes to pretty much dominate everything about her world. I would have liked more about her platonic friendships (also more descriptions of the food, which sounded amazing!)

The paranormal concept is really cool-Tomo has the ability to bring his ink illustrations to life, which is dangerous to him and those around him (like the friend who was once attacked by one of his drawings) as well as the fact that there are those who would use this power for evil. I'm a little unclear on the best way to harness the power as it seems more likely to hurt the drawer than anyone else. I also really loved that illustrations were included-this would probably be a beautiful book to own in hardcover.

One note about this e-copy: I was pleased to discovery that it did have a glossary at the end after struggling with some Japanese words throughout the text. If you pick this up, be sure to utilize the glossary as I was really wanting one before I stumbled upon it. That's the difficulty with e-books-it's hard to flip to the end!

Overall: An average read that takes advantage of its atypical setting.

Other Opinions:
A Reader of Fictions
Finding Bliss in Books
Great Imaginations
My Shelf Confessions
Young Adult Book Haven

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 21JUL13

About Me:
So on Thursday afternoon, I felt like I was coming down with something and I felt off on Friday and Saturday. I kind of want to just feel really sick because then I can track getting better. Instead I just feel wrong. I was still able to do some reading but I'm kind of crabby and hungry all the time (so I've heard that when some people are sick, they don't want to eat; that's not me. All I want to do is eat.)

Readathon Wrap-Up:
On a whim, I signed up for The Hot Summer Reads Readathon hosted by Patrick @ The Bookshelves and Jen @ YA Romantics. I ended up reading 5 books (though I was shooting for 6) and I meant to participate in challenges and cheerlead but life got in the way :( I hope all the other participants had fun because I sure did!

Giveaway Reminder:
This is the last week of my Louise Rozett giveaway: your choice of Confessions of an Angry Girl or Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend.

Also tomorrow I'm participating in Jen Ryland/YA Romantics Summer of Love Blog Hop so be sure to check back to see what I'm giving away and to see what other goodies are up for grabs!

Week to Come: Loads of cool 2013 releases

Ink by Amanda Sun
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sight Reading

Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay
4/5 stars
Harper, 2013
328 pages
Adult Historical Literary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

Way back in 2010, I read this author's Russian Winter and enjoyed it enough to have my interest piqued when I saw this new novel especially because of the violin on the cover (except that as I play viola, I pretended it was a viola; it's never a viola.)

The book follows artistic mother Hazel and composer/conductor Nicholas whose marriage is broken up when he sleeps with young violinist Remy. The book follows them over twenty years of struggles incorporating insights into music, art, and life.

I found this book to be very heavy on character development so it was sometimes a struggle to balance the three perspectives especially because I liked Hazel the most by far. I viewed Remy as the callous jerk who broke up a marriage (also a child was involved) and I disdained Nicholas' self-absorbedness, a common theme throughout the novel. Yet I found them all compelling and kept the pages turning, unable to stop until done.

This is most probably due to its incorporation of music. Nicholas conducts at the conservatory where Remy is studying and both of their plots rely heavily on music. I especially adored Remy's summer taking an advanced master class-there was such passion in describing her musical education. I wonder if Kalotay plays an instrument because I thought she did an outstanding job with descriptions here all around.

Sample Quote (just because I loved it): "...But the middle voices were just as important. The seconds, the violas, the altos. The ones no one paid much attention to. They were the ones who added texture and depth, whose presence, if generally unnoticed, was absolutely necessary." (p. 130 in ARC)

For non-musicians, there is a glossary of musical terms at the very end. I always appreciate such resources and I found it interesting to have the translations of terms from say Italian or French to English as well as a bit of history if relevant.

Overall: I feel like this would be a good book for book clubs because though classical music plays a large component, it is at heart focused on relationships, love, and family, very universal topics and it would certainly provide a lot of fodder for discussion with its potentially polarizing characters.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger by Beth Harbison
3/5 stars
St. Martin's Press, 2013
384 pages
Adult Romance

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What an eye-catching title, am I right? Those nine words are the explanation Quinn Barton writes to her guests after she abruptly calls of her wedding to long-time love Burke after being informed by his brother Frank that Burke has been cheating on her. She ran off with Frank and although they enjoyed two nights of passion, she felt like she would never be freed from Burke if she stayed with his brother. Now it's ten years later, Quinn hasn't quite gotten over the heartbreak and both men are back in her life when their grandmother asks Quinn to make her wedding dress.  With the aid of her best friend Glenn, Quinn has to start facing her past and reach for a brighter future.

Many times I crave a lighthearted romantic story and from the summary, I thought this might fit the bill. Indeed there were many moments of hilarity usually provided by Glenn who pushes Quinn out of her comfort zone with daily challenges ranging from the relatively mundane to the outrageous. However the angst experienced by Quinn over her feelings for both brothers drove me crazy. They were completely understandable-she had been with Burke for six years, starting in high school, with Frank always being a warm presence as well. But for some reason, I had no sympathy for her, preferring that she go back to chilling with Glenn instead of trying to fight her intense physical attraction to both guys.

Additionally I loved her career. She owns a custom wedding dress shop, designing exquisite creations to please brides of all sorts. I loved getting to see her customers and the way she delicately negotiated their wishes. She also faced competition mostly with grace and was rewarded with a positive outcome. I just wish this could have been more of a focus instead of the stupid guys.

Overall: I guess I wasn't craving romance as much as I thought because the non-romantic relationships and career paths were far more enjoyable than the romance at the focus of the story. Still it might tickle someone's heart though it didn't mine.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ARC Review: A Really Awesome Mess

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
4/5 stars
EgmontUSA, 2013
275 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled to release July 23

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to read this because of previous experiences with these authors' writing (Notes From the Blender was coauthored by them and Halpin cowrote these two others with another writer: The Half-Life of Planets and Tessa Masterson WILL Go to Prom). Like those books, this alternates between a male and a female perspective allowing for more insight into character and the relationships around them while also touching on romance and deeper family issues. As a bonus, this was definitely my favorite of these cowritten books, as I found it hilarious and moving despite the unlikely setting of a reform school for teens with psychiatric problems.

We first meet Emmy who does not feel wanted within her family, being the tiny adopted Chinese daughter while her perfect younger sister is obviously the favorite. She also has anger issues and, as is observed by our other narrator, is anorexic. That other narrator is Justin who ends up in the reform school due to his sexual activities and a suicide attempt, revealing his battle with depression. The two of them plus four others form an offbeat group that together begins to face their issues and develop appropriate ways of handling them.

What I enjoyed most was definitely the humor, which I wasn't really expecting. Though the synopsis teases funny, I figured it would be more serious as the characters have very real dark problems. As someone who loves comedy, I appreciated the lighter touch here though some of the reviews I've seen seemed to want it handled more seriously. I can see where that desire comes from but I was fine to just enjoy the laughter.

My favorite parts come from the characters interacting. For example, when the group first starts meeting, they all hate each other. However incentives cause them to band together and really progress in their healing. I loved all of the group scenes and couldn't believe everything they managed to get up to in such a restricted setting. Now I do think the adventure toward the end was way over the top (it involves leaving campus to set free a smuggled pig) but in keeping with the lightweight tone of the book overall.

Unfortunately the humor does somewhat trivialize the serious problems faced by the kids. I had some trouble rationalizing that in my head. I can sometimes over-empathize with book characters so I desperately wanted them all to be healed and to receive the love and care they need to build better lives while also realizing that such healing doesn't happen over night. I wouldn't want to suggest that depression, anorexic, etc. was something to laugh about and yet I also understand the desire to put these issues in the light and show that they can be faced, especially if you have good friends who make you laugh. (I think this paragraph may be a bit muddled but it all makes sense in my head, I promise!)

Content warning: Some language, violence, and sexual talk and situations-I found it all very organic and fitting but I'm sure it would bother some readers.

Other Opinions:
Books and Things
Litchick's Hit List
Realm of Fiction

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Lost Sun

The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
4/5 stars
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013
350 pages
YA Mythology Paranormal

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

Though this book was released at the end of June, I haven't seen much buzz for it. I find this surprising as I know the author has had popular releases before, it features Norse gods in an intriguing paranormal/alternate history story, and because I really enjoyed it so why wouldn't others?

I will try to keep my plot summary as simple and straightforward as I can. In an alternate history, the United States of Asgard seems to cover what is known as the United States of America in our world and is based on worship of Norse gods who came over. One of those is Baldur who dies at the end of every summer and comes back to begin summer; he is associated with sun (hence the title). To solve the mystery of his disappearance stunning prophet Astrid enlists our narrator berserker Soren to go on a road trip to find him based on the information in her visions. Soren is reluctant as he has been fighting his fate to become a bloodthirsty warrior but succumbs to

My summary above isn't that good but I wanted to try to describe it differently from the official publisher synopsis and I think I did that well! For me, the best part of this book was the writing. I fell very easily into this world and did not want to leave until it was concluded. The plot moved at a fast clip, surprising to me as road trip books don't tend to be among my favorites. I also loved all the bits of mythology incorporated. Though I'm not familiar with most of the aspects, I suspect a lot was modified for this story. I would love to know more about what was changed, o knowledgeable readers!

As for the characters, yes there is a bit of a romance. I have a soft spot for guy who falls for the seemingly unattainable girl and just adores her so this played well for me. I have read some reviews mentioning the romance wasn't very well-developed and I honestly can't argue with that other than to say that for some reason it worked for me but it might not work for you.

One last piece of information to know: though this is the start of a series, it does not end on a cliffhanger. The main conflict of this book (where is Baldur?) is resolved though there are still lingering threads of tension to explore as the series continues; I will definitely be returning! I also want to check out Gratton's other books since this outing was such a success.

Other Opinions:
The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
Birth of a New Witch
Miss Print

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Elegy by Tara Hudson
4/5 stars
HarperTeen, 2013
386 pages
YA Paranormal Ghost

Source: Library

First book Hereafter absolutely enchanted me with its ghost girl/human boy romance. Sequel Arise was less enthralling as I felt like it took a while to heat up in New Orleans. Luckily this conclusion returns to Oklahoma, bringing together all the plot threads and resolving them for a satisfying conclusion.

I'm not going to go too in-depth about the plot to avoid spoilers but I really liked how Amelia and Joshua confronted the impracticalities and challenges of their romance. It did go on a bit much for my taste but it is the dominating fact of their relationship so it's understandable. Their romance is what kept me coming back to these books. I love Amelia's compassion and self-sacrificial personality and Joshua's relative normality considering his love for a ghost and his magical powers.

Other characters continue to play a role like Joshua's sister Jillian and their terrifying Gran while new ones are also added or have their roles expanded to provide more background around the evil that is coalescing. Joshua's parents seem rather oblivious though, which I think is a shame. I think if they'd had power they could have provided support and been an example of great YA parents instead of ones who are physically around but have no clue what their kids get up to when out of sight.

As for setting, I liked that we were back at home base in Oklahoma focusing in on High Bridge where Amelia first died and which has been a focus of dark activity for years. Finally all of the powerful good characters are coming together to take it down and end their reign of terror. I was a bit confused on some of the rules that govern ghost behaviors especially relating to some actions taken by Amelia; some things seemed to change on a dime to be convenient. I was never sure what she could and could not touch. The plotting is rather bonkers if you pay close attention (for example, one kid has easy access to a grenade which they decide would be the perfect tool to destroy the (haunted demonic) bridge.) Still it moves fast and flows smoothly as I always expect from a HarperTeen publication.

Overall: If you liked the first two books, you'll probably want to continue the series. I found it to be a fitting end.

Other Opinions:
Love Is Not a Triangle
Refracted Light Reviews

Monday, July 15, 2013

Super Pop!

Super Pop! by Daniel Harmon
4/5 stars
Zest Books, 2013
279 pages
Non-Fiction Pop Culture

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely adore trivia, lists, and pop culture so checking this book out was a complete no-brainer especially once I saw Liviana at In Bed With Books' positive review. I'm glad I checked it out because this book was so much fun! I don't have a lot to say about it other than I really enjoyed reading it.

I do consider myself pretty familiar with many areas of pop culture but I was pleased to discover even more new things. I did know a lot of the movies and books but there are also music, video games, and more that were new to me. I appreciated the chance to get some new ideas for entertainment to check out. The list topics are arranged in five areas and then pretty randomly within each category.

What I liked the most about the book was that it is not just lists. There are full-on (often very humorous) paragraphs explaining why something is on the list as well as providing bonus materials on occasion. I literally laughed out loud at several points and shared a few tidbits with the people around me.

Overall, I think this would be a fun book to keep as a reference, definitely something you would want a hard copy of rather than the e-book version I read. My copy featured black and white illustrations; I am wondering if the actual book has color to match the cover.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 14JUL13 #giveaway

First up is my giveaway reminder: I am giving away your choice of Confessions of an Angry Girl or Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett. Check out the link for all the details!
You could win this!
I don't feel compelled to share much this week-I had a good week at work with lots accomplished; as expected we lost our softball game and are now on hiatus until the end of August; I tried making blueberry muffins from scratch and was pleased with how they turned out (and how easy they were!); I didn't read as much as I wanted to, didn't comment as much as I wanted to, and spent less time blogging than I wanted to. I'm pretty tired and I'm having a weekend of moderate activity. After my workout this morning, I'm hoping to regroup and get ready for a better next week!

Week to Come:
Super Pop! by Daniel Harmon
Elegy by Tara Hudson
The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger by Beth Harbison
Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Battleship by Dorothy Ours
3/5 stars
St. Martin's Press, 2013
276 pages
Adult History Non-Fiction

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

This book first got my attention when I saw it featured by the publisher on Netgalley; unfortunately my copy expired before I got to it so I was pleased to see it for offer on Amazon Vine, giving me another chance to check out what seemed to be billed as a very gripping read. While it was not to my taste, I think there will be fans of the story.

I've always heard that little girls love horses but maybe there was something wrong with me because I never got it. Horses are big and smelly and I had less than zero interest in them. Instead I was interested in this book because of the billing of a daring heiress (Marion duPont), teenage jockey (Bruce Hobbs), an American horse (the titular Battleship), and the converging paths of all the people necessary to make a racing legend like Battleship.

The conclusion to this book with that final race that made his name was very exciting. It shows clearly all the hard work and time invested that was necessary to reach that point. However many of the passages before that bored me. There was so much information about horses and racing and I did not care nor did I need full recaps of all the races that even remotely related to the story. My expectation of this book was that it would be filled with engaging writing and be accessible to laymen and I don't feel like it met either of those.

I did enjoy the passages that focused more on the humans especially Marion's life of seemingly confirmed spinsterhood in an era that really condemned such a fate to two somewhat surprising marriages against her lifelong passion for horses. The jockey, Bruce's, story was also fascinating with his tough upbringing under his strict horse-mad trainer father that led to the very tall young man riding to victory on a comparatively small horse.

Overall: Not to my taste at all!

Note: As I read an ARC, it lacked footnotes or endnotes and pictures, both of which I hope are in the final product. I would love to see how Battleship stacked up next to the bigger horses mentioned over the course of the novel.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Forevermore by Cindy Miles
2/5 stars
Point, 2013
279 pages
YA Paranormal Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

*Slightly spoilery*

Of all the kinds of paranormal stories out there, ghost and witches tend to be my favorites so when I realized that this was a new addition to the former category, I was pleased and requested it to read. As the time grew near to read and review this, I was also pleased to see its short length, hoping to read it quickly.

I was correct in that it read very fast...unfortunately it didn't really please the part of me that loves ghost stories (and yes, has a soft spot for human/ghost love stories). Overall I found it very bland with nothing speaking to me except for slight confusion over something that I'll discuss in a second that may be considered a spoiler.

The plot for this is that Ivy and her mother are moving to Scotland to live in a castle with Ivy's new stepfather and his grandmother. Upon arrival, the grandmother takes an instant dislike to Ivy and the girl's violin floats in mid-air. Other occurrences and talking with new friend Emma confirm for Ivy that there's a ghost, who graciously reveals himself to her as Logan Munro. But he's not the only ghost around as another malevolent spirit seems to be threatening Ivy's safety-can she solve this puzzle?

As I wrote above, I found this book pretty bland though it had many elements I like. For example, Ivy plays violin which spoke to my viola-playing heart. Scotland is the beautiful setting with many examples of Gaelic to enhance the authenticity. And there's the ghost. But all together, this book did nothing for me. It was easy enough to read and not too infuriating except for the part below.

Okay, this is the spoiler part. So what I found confusing is that after a storm the grandmother has an abrupt personality change and yet no one does anything for 30 years. Her grandson doesn't even seem to have noticed! I just thought that was rather a long period of time and I feel sad for how long she made people miserable with no one daring to say anything.

Overall: I have linked to some reviews below of people who enjoyed the book but for me, this was very unsatisfying.

Cover: Love the accuracy-Ivy is blond and has a pink streak! I didn't see the pink here at first because I was looking at a thumbnail on my nook but now that I look more closely, I am very impressed with how this captures the story.

Other Opinions:
Bookdictive Reviews
In Bed With Books
Just Another Rabid Reader
Small Review
The Book Monsters

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
4/5 stars
Redhook, 2013
416 pages
Adult Contemporary Literary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I initially thought this book was YA as it is shelved as such on goodreads but now that I have read it, I feel like that is inaccurate. On the one hand, the main character is a teenager reaching his seventeenth year during the course of this book. But on the other hand, age of the protagonist is not the only qualifier for a YA novel. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I think there is definitely crossover appeal although I would be more inclined to shelve this as adult, when I compare it to the other YA books I've read.

The book opens in what I found to be a confusing manner but then jumps back in time to show how Alex reached that scene. This unfolds at a very leisurely pace so be prepared to invest some time. While events happen, I feel like this is more character-driven (it's Alex's coming of age story) and I was surprised by how much I ultimately liked it as the beginning had so dissatisfied me.

The jump back in time takes us to Alex being hit in the head with a meteorite and I thought that would be the focus. While this plays an important role in Alex's formation, it does not end up being the main plot, serving ultimately as more of a sidenote. That is another reason I struggled in the beginning-what is the point of this book? How exactly is the universe against Alex? Again though once the story begins moving in earnest, it really takes off and is absolutely gripping.

Alex is just the kind of character I like (and can really identify with.) He feels very out of step with his peers, preferring more introverted contemplative pastimes especially in the sciences (remember how he was hit on the head by a rock falling from space?), and seeking out the company of adults. Although I was never much into science, I have the other two traits and I appreciated Alex in all his awkwardness. There's also a character Ellie whose bluntness cracked me up. She is an important character but doesn't get much page time to my dismay.

Overall: A disorienting beginning and difficult categorization made the start of this book a tough read but I'm very glad I stuck to it. The humor and the way everything ties together were well worth it. I only wish I was more familiar with Kurt Vonnegut as this book pays significant tribute to him (and I've read a grand total of none of his books.)

Other Opinions:
Book Blather
Maya Panika
More Than a Reading Journal

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
4.5/5 stars
Walden Pond Press, 2013
477 pages
MG Fairy Tale Fantasy

Source: Library

This highly anticipated sequel to The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is an absolute pleasure, proving a worthy successor, no second book syndrome here! Its many delights include the chatty humorous narration style, which matches exactly the first book's writing style, the familiar characters plus new charmers, and the way the plot thickens in preparation for book three.

As mentioned the humorous writing style continues. Here's an example of one of my favorite lines: "The element of surprise can offer a hero great advantage in battle. The element of oxygen--also important" (page 382). That's just one that really struck me so I wrote down the page number for reference. There's basically an average of one laugh a page as you go through this whole entire book.

Of course the characters are fab too! For me, the real standouts this time were Duncan and his wife Snow White; though neither will ever win an award for intelligence, they can be depended upon to provide a distraction like none other and are uncommonly sweet. I can't list the number of times I was cracking up because of something they said or did. The other standout was Briar Rose whose vile character I thought was self-evident. Well, not so much as this book complicates her motivations and deepens her character. And as I write this I realize that I have a third standout in the character of Troll who is just awesome and who fully enlivens the pages on which he appears. Okay, I totally could go on but seriously pretty much every character is great. Still I did struggle a bit to differentiate personalities and motivations of the princes Frederic and Duncan-their timidity tends to confuse me. But I think I almost have them straightened out.

So why didn't this get a perfect 5 stars? I feel like it's a little on the long side. Yes, I flew through the book but still an itsy bit on the long side. Additionally I wasn't that impressed with the villain(s). I liked getting to see their side and what was being plotted but I twiddled my thumbs a bit during those sections, waiting to return to the Princes Charming and co.

Other Opinions:
The Book Monsters
Buried in Books
Paranormal Indulgence

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Elite

The Elite by Kiera Cass
4/5 stars
HarperTeen, 2013
323 pages
YA Dystopia

Source: Library

OK-I think this is going to be a long one...fair warning but hopefully there will be some good moments :)

This sequel to The Selection had a lot I wanted it to achieve. I wanted a lot more action coming from the rebels who threaten the precarious stability of the country. I wanted America to stop mooning over Aspen and choose Maxon (or vice versa but at least to make a decision). And I wanted a lot more tension among the few remaining girls (for most of the book, there are six still vying for Maxon's hand.)

Unfortunately I do not feel that this book left me satisfied.  The rebels do continue to attack possibly for a reason proposed by America but which would be too spoilery to share here. Yet it serves more as a distraction from the main event than as actually furthering the plot. America continues to waver between Prince Maxon and first love Aspen in an annoying fashion (reminded me of the love triangle in The Madman's Daughter where she thought she loved whoever she was with.) On the other hand, the drama of now six girls competing to become princess was exciting (the feelings America and the other girls experience vividly reminds me of what I've read about "The Bachelor/ette." Note: I do not watch that show but I do read tabloids cover to cover and it gets mentioned a lot.)

Still the romance had its moments. Of particular interest to me was America's musing on how although Aspen gives less, it means more because he is starting at such a disadvantage compared to Maxon's life of privilege. If you have a chance, My Friend Amy actually wrote about that back when The Selection came out. I mean, I still prefer Maxon (who is blonde to add to my swooning) and I can't just forgive Aspen for pushing America away but I am more sympathetic to him.

And I must mention some of my thoughts about the characters, in handy bullet-format:
  • America must be addressed first; she continues to exasperate me and the other characters with her impetuous, idealistic, irritating, compassionate self. I love that America cares so much but sometimes the way she expresses that just drives me bonkers! Furthermore her indecision over whether she even wants to be in the competition continues to bother me, largely because of my own personality. I'm pretty decisive and if I'm in it, then I'm in it to win it.
  • Maxon-we really get to look at the difficulties of being a prince while also seeing how he is trying to (slowly, subtly) change the realities of his country's situation; there is a heartbreaking moment toward the end that shows how even a prince cannot escape a bad family life (oh I just wanted to hug that boy)
  • Aspen has never been a favorite of mine but he gets a bit more of a chance to present his case and I can mentally understand how hard it is to just turn off feelings but man I kind of just want him to go away.
  • The other girls-America realizes that her closest friend is also her toughest competitor in a difficult moment. We also see some more about how each is doing her best to get close to Maxon.
  • King Clarkson emerges as a more immediate threat than the rebels with his intimidating bullying posture that is very unbecoming of a monarch, in my opinion
  • Queen Amberly and Silvia really shine here-their grace and poise under trying circumstances is most inspiring. I loved both ladies so much and wish it was appropriate that they got more page time.
  • The maids: Anne, Mary, and Lucy are responsible for many small moments of humor and companionability that balance America's angst and rash decisions.
Overall: So many feelings and thoughts generated by this book. I wish I could unreservedly love it (as I do with all the books I read) but I appreciate that I am still thinking about it in the days after and I think it will linger in my head if not my heart as I count down to The One.

Other Opinions: Lots of conflict among my blogging buddies-some loved this installment and others loathed this book.
Beauty and the Bookshelf
Imaginary Reads
Reading Under the Willow Tree
Supernatural Snark
Young Adult Book Haven
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...