Saturday, August 31, 2013

Book Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Goodreads summary:

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

My review:

Belle Epoque, or Beautiful Era, is a lovely little hidden gem of a novel.  I absolutely love the author's gorgeous prose.  It's clear that she researched the amazing time period of the 1880s very well, and she writes about it beautifully.  I love the moral of the story, too: how beauty doesn't matter.  I was afraid it might be cliché but it's actually quite touching.

The story of Belle Epoque is so very original.  I've never read anything like it.  If you read the summary, you'll see it's about a girl who works at an agency where people can hire her, because she is considered plain, in order to make themselves look more beautiful.  My heart broke for Maude as throughout the story she slowly loses all self-esteem.  It's frightening to consider how damaging a job like hers is.

I liked Maude as a main character fairly well.  It's quite easy to sympathize with her plight, and her inner strength and determination is something I admire.  Still, she had a few moments that tested my patience slightly.  Her deception to her friend Isabelle seemed to continue too long - I wanted her to just be honest and realize that her friendship, not riches, was what mattered most.

But that was all that bothered me, and I loved everything else about the book.  The setting has to be my favorite part.  I'm obsessed with France - I took two years of French, I love the fashion there and learning about the culture, and I'm dying to visit Paris one day.  So I was completely in love with the descriptions of Paris.  This time period is so important to the story too; as this is the year the Eiffel Tower was being built.  It plays such an interesting part in the story.  Ross has perfectly captured the culture of France. 

There's a wonderful slew of minor characters I loved.  Like Isabelle, who seems like a snob at first but has surprising depth.  And Paul, the kindhearted love interest.  (Can I also point out that this book is a great example of romance playing a side role in the story, while leaving plenty of room for the actual plot to develop.)  Lastly there was Marie-Josee, the sweet girl who tried her best to help Maude and was there for her no matter what.

If you are a fan of historical fiction or of Paris, then you definitely have to pick up this thought-provoking book.  Even if historical fiction's not your thing, I'd still recommend giving it a try!  It's a wonderful book.

Favorite quote: 

"'You possess it,' he says. 
'Possess what?' I ask, hoping what follows is a compliment. 
'You have the capacity to be moved by art, to be affected by beauty.'"

My rating:  4 (close to 4.5) out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Siege and Storm, This Is What Happy Looks Like, and Gravity

Goodreads summary:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


After completely falling in love with Shadow and Bone last year, I thought there was no way this sequel could be as good as the first book.  So I was thrilled to find that Siege and Storm is just as good, if not better, than Shadow and Bone.  This is fantasy at its finest.  The writing is perfectly paced, with gorgeous descriptions and action scenes that seem to fly off the page.  I love the magic in this book.  It's a little like Narnia for teens, and I absolutely love this inventive world that Bardugo has created.

I know most people don't like Mal, but I actually do want him and Alina to end up together.  He was a little too needy and moody in this book, but I still like him.  Sturmhond, however...let's just say he is completely swoon-worthy.  I don't know of a single person who's read this book and not fallen in love with him.  And Alina is such a likeable heroine.  This is such a captivating sequel - definitely not a sophomore slump.  I can't wait for the final book, Ruin and Rising!

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

This is an adorable little contemporary.  Although I enjoyed this author's previous work, I was a little wary of this one - I can't stand books where the main character falls in love with a celebrity.  It's usually pretty cheesy, but Jennifer E. Smith pulls it off well in this book.  I love how she portrays Graham as a genuinely nice guy who hates being famous, and points out that being a celebrity isn't as glamorous and thrilling as one might think.

This is quite lighthearted, but I also like the thoughtful questions about life that are asked.  I like the emails back and forth between Graham and Ellie, and I like their definitions of what happy looks like.  And even though the book's a little over 400 pages, which is pretty long for a contemporary, there was never a boring moment.  I finished this book with a smile on my face.  Very cute read, and recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

In the future, only one rule will matter:

Don’t. Ever. Peek.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.


This book was just meh.  Almost a 2.5 rating.  Maybe?  I don't know.  There were times I wanted to slap Ari for being so oblivious.  I didn't like the writing style, it felt too chunky and slow (although as far as I've seen, no one else has a problem with it, so it could be just me).  And the insta-love?  Gag.  But the plot was pretty inventive and nicely thought-out.

Most of the time I didn't like Ari because she was so impulsive and made awful choices.  But I thought it was kind of fun that she's grown up being taught how to fight, so it's nice that she actually uses her skills and doesn't stand off to the side whining.  And thankfully, despite the romance being full of clichés and insta-love, it's not the main focus of the story.  There's plenty of action, too.  So in the end, this book had both bad and good points.  I'm not too crazy about it, but I don't hate it either.  I wouldn't recommend it personally, but lots of others have loved it.  I think it's just a "it's not you, it's me" thing.

My rating:  3 (leaning towards 2.5) out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Here's my haul for the week!

Books I got from the library:
- Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Books I bought:
- A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
- Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
- The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
- White Cat by Holly Black
- The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
- You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

I'm so excited about my new books - I went to the Green Valley book fair this week, and that's where I got the Sarah Dessen books, White Cat, You Are Here, and Bloodlines.  I got all five of those books for $ about a deal! :D I haven't read any of these books yet besides White Cat (I read it months ago and loved it so much that I got my own copy), but I can't wait to dive into them.

What new books have you gotten?  Comment with a link to your blog so I can come check it out!

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ARC Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Goodreads summary:

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

My review:

This is my first Trish Doller book, and while I enjoyed it and thought it was a unique contemporary, I had a few problems with it.  Although, I should probably say, it's more of a realistic fiction type of story than contemporary.  This isn't a lighthearted contemporary; it's thought-provoking and real.  That being said, there were a couple issues that I wished were different.

First is the main character, Callie.  I neither loved her nor hated her, but that's a bad thing - a character should always provoke an emotion in you, whether positive or negative.  And that's my big problem with Callie: she's so passive.  She just stands there and lets life happen to her.  I know she's had a rough past and struggles with trusting her new family, but I just wanted some more emotion from her.  I wanted her to make a decision for herself and actually make an effort to care about her family.  By the end of the novel, I felt like none of her problems had been resolved.  She didn't have enough character growth.

Second is the romance.  Sadly, I didn't really feel the chemistry between Callie and Alex.  Callie is not the type of character to fall in love easily, so I definitely didn't feel like she was in love with Alex.  Their relationship started way too fast and didn't seem very in-character for Callie.  After all, if she was willing to make time to be with Alex (who is basically a stranger to her), why couldn't she make more time for her family (who are also strangers to her)?

But aside from these two issues, I really did enjoy Where the Stars Still Shine (seriously amazing title, by the way!).  It's a unique concept for a contemporary/realistic fiction story, and it has some truly fantastic minor characters.  I completely fell in love with Callie's family.  I loved her poor dad, who doesn't know how to deal with a teenage daughter but is doing his best to love her in his own way.  And I loved the complex stepmother and Callie's sweet little stepbrothers.  The way Trish Doller writes these relationships and bonds between Callie's family is so, so touching.  And the writing is great, it flowed very well and despite not always liking Callie, I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

While I didn't totally love Where the Stars Still Shine, I predict it will be perfect for fans of gritty realistic fiction.  I can see other people loving the complexity of Callie's character and her trust issues, even though it was a problem for me.  Overall, Trish Doller is definitely a talented contemporary writer, and I'll have to try her first novel sometime.

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (27)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases and books we can't wait to read.

My pick is Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis!

Goodreads summary:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

My thoughts:

Eep, I'm so excited about this one!  I've already preordered it - just one more month till it comes out.  It's hard to find original dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, but this one definitely sounds unique.  And early reviews for it have been great.  Plus, Michael Grant blurbed it.  Um, I don't know about ya'll, but if Michael Grant likes it, then that's enough to get me interested.  Can't wait!

What are you waiting on this week?  Leave a comment with a link to your WoW so I can check it out!

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Touch of Death by Kelly Hashway

Goodreads summary:

Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

My review:

Oh, I wanted to love this one.  Greek mythology - and about Medusa, no less!  It's rare to find books based on her, so I was so thrilled at the summary.  And sadly, the book just wasn't as great as I'd hoped it would be.

It's not really cringe-worthy, it's just nothing great.  I probably could've given it 3 stars if I wasn't so disappointed with the blah-worthy romance and naïve main character.  There are too many little predictable clichés, and overall it turned out to be another rather bland YA book.

I do like that we actually get some backstory on the whole "descendents of Medusa" thing.  It was nice to get some explanations about the plot. And the story's very fast-paced and flows along well.  Other than that, there wasn't much I particularly liked.

Like many others, what annoyed me most was the love interest.  He starts out as a stalker.  I kid you not.  What is it with so many YA books thinking that it's romantic to be stalked?  Stalking is NOT in any way, shape, or form, romantic.

Of course, the love interest Alex has a good explanation for his stalking, but it's still just weird that Jodi would even consider falling in love with him.  Speaking of Jodi... *facepalm* There were so many times that she didn't understand the obvious.  Like, why did it take her so long to realize that every time she bled, a person/animal died?  Is it real that hard to put two and two together?

Besides the fact that I wanted to throttle Jodi for her obliviousness in the first half, and then shake her for falling in love with a freaky stalker, the story is okay.  It really does improve in the second half, once you get past all that weird stuff.  But then in the second half, a cliché mean girl showed up, and there was a "surprise twist" when Jodi is betrayed, which really wasn't all that surprising to me.

I wouldn't recommend this book.  I am glad I gave it a try, because at least it's short and fast-paced and the mythology held my attention.  But I'm probably not interested in reading the sequel.

My rating:  2 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ARC Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Goodreads summary:

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

My review:

I have seriously conflicted feelings about Conjured.  Although I loved the magical and mysterious feeling to it, I had a difficult time caring about the main character and thought the plot dragged on too long.

What I liked:

Zach!  I like that for once, we just have a sweet boy-next-door kind of guy as the love interest.  Instead of being all mysterious and angsty, he's fun-loving and lightens the mood of the story.  He made me smile with all his witty sayings.  Take this scene of Zach talking to Eve (I paraphrased it):

"The guy who drops you off...looks like a bodyguard?  Probably knows six kinds of martial arts and carries a knife in his socks?" 
"It's a gun."
Zach's eyes widened. "I can never tell if you're serious or if you have the most awesome deadpan delivery of any person alive."

I just thought he was a fun character.  Besides Zach, I also thought it was cool how Eve keeps waking up with no memory of what happened in the last week or two.  The idea of missing memories is rather fascinating, and it drew me quickly into Eve's story.

I think the last quarter of the story is the absolute best.  The pacing in the first third or so is a little funky, but Durst's writing simply shines in the last quarter.  It was so creepy and magical, and a bit reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland - it has that eerie dreamlike feel to it.  Lovely!

What I didn't like:

The changing POVs were rather jarring at first.  Every time Eve has a vision, it switches to first person, and it took me a little while to get used to it.

(Warning: minor spoilers in this paragraph.)  There's also the fact that Eve and Zach have to kiss each other to work magic.  I found it to be cheesy and a little too much like a Disney movie.  I much prefer the dark, creepy magic that Durst is so talented at writing.

I didn't care much for Eve as a heroine.  She's a little too wimpy and unsure of herself.  I just wanted her to toughen up and make decisions for herself.  I should also mention that the plot takes a while to really kick off.  For those who are looking for a thriller-type of story with action and twists - there's not really much of that in Conjured.  It's a strange genre: it has many contemporary themes, especially in the first half, but there's also a definite fairytale feel to it.  It's not necessarily bad, but it may not be what some are expecting.

Despite not caring much for the heroine, and the fact that there's not as much fantasy as I would've liked, I'd still recommend Conjured.  It has an achingly gorgeous ending and amazing fantasy elements that come into play in the last quarter, and I liked the sweet romance.  Just be prepared that this book might be different than what you'd expected.

Favorite quotes:  "Once upon a time, a young witch fell in love with a boy who feared death...and it was beautiful.  For a time."

"If my insides were a book, she thought, I'd be a jumble of volumes, stacked in random order and filled with blank pages."

*Please note that these quotes are from an advanced copy and may be different in the finished book.

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: The Rules by Stacey Kade

Goodreads summary:

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

My review:

The Rules, while not quite what I expected it to be, was still a very entertaining read.  It reminded me a bit of Mila 2.0 in that both book summaries promise lots of sci-fi awesomeness, but in reality have more contemporary aspects than sci-fi.  Fortunately for me, I thought The Rules was much more well-written than Mila 2.0

What I liked:

I quite enjoyed the fact that the story is from both Ariane and Zane's POVs.  It was unexpected, but worked well for the story.  Both Ariane and Zane have separate issues and character arcs, yet their storylines interact and come together perfectly.  And I really liked the way Ariane and Zane quickly judge each other during the first third of the story, then slowly learn that there's more to each other than meets the eye.  Great character development.

The plot...the contemporary part was excellent, and the sci-fi part was good, but not great.  (The author's talents especially lie in the contemporary genre - a little similar to Katie McGarry's books, actually.)  However, there is one absolutely amazing twist that I loved.  It was so out of the blue, I just sat there and stared at the page.  Talk about well-done!

What I didn't like:

Nothing too huge.  Like, the misleading summary that led me to expect more action.  With a little more sci-fi, the plot could've been tighter and more balanced.

Also, some of the high school drama was irritating.  For example, the mean girl Rachel who's out to steal Zane from Ariane.  She actually played a great role in the plot and wasn't as clichéd as I'd been afraid she would be, but it was still slightly overkill at times.  Less drama and more action, please!

Is this book perfect?  No, but it is fun-filled and sure to keep you turning the pages.  Now I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope that the author writes the sequel soon.

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (4)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Here's my haul for the week!  This week, it's all library books.

- Shadowlands by Kate Brian
- Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
- In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
- This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetti
- Frostbite by Richelle Mead
- The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

Eep, I am SO excited about these books!  I haven't had the chance to read any of them yet, but I'm definitely diving into a few of them this week. :) What do you think I should read first?

Please leave a link in the comments to your Stacking the Shelves post so I can check out your blog!  Thanks for stopping by.

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 9, 2013

ARC Review: Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin

Goodreads summary:

This much anticipated sequel to the New York Times Bestseller Impossible a fantasy full of suspense, mystery, and romance will appeal to fans of Beautiful Creatures, Raven Boys, and Wicked Lovely.

Fenella was the first Scarborough girl to be cursed, hundreds of years ago, and she has been trapped in the faerie realm ever since, forced to watch generations of daughters try to break this same faerie curse that has enslaved them all. But now Fenella’s descendant, Lucy, has accomplished the impossible and broken the curse, so why is Fenella still trapped in Faerie?

In her desperation, Fenella makes a deal with the faerie queen: If she can accomplish three acts of destruction, she will be free, at last, to die.  What she doesn't realize is that these acts must be aimed at her own family and if she fails, the consequences will be dire, for all of the Scarborough girls.

How can she possibly choose to hurt her own cherished family not to mention the new man whom she’s surprised to find herself falling in love with? But if she doesn’t go through with the tasks, how will she manage to save her dear ones?

My review:

Okay, I have to say, Unthinkable is not *quite* as good as the first book Impossible, but it's still a pretty brilliant sequel.  What I love is how inventive it is.  The idea and plot for this sequel is amazing!  It would be perfect if only I could've liked the main character more.

I think the main problem people will have with this book is the main character Fenella.  She's quite difficult to like, simply because she's trying to hurt her own family.  Sure, she doesn't want to, and yes, it does bring some interesting conflict and tension to the story that had me turning pages, but in the end I just didn't like her.  She causes so much destruction and pain, and I got a little annoyed with her woe-is-me attitude.  Plus, I didn't like how naïve she was in the modern world.  It's part of her character, of course - she's hundreds of years old and has never lived in modern times - but it's just another aspect of her character that frustrated me. 

All problems with Fenella aside, this book is just fantastic.  The supporting characters, new and old, are all perfect.  It was so good to read more about Lucy again and see her through Fenella's eyes.  I adored Lucy's character in Impossible and still loved her in Unthinkable.  She's much like Lucy from the Narnia books - they both have that same sweet and innocent spirit.

And Ryland.  Oh my word.  I think he has to be my favorite character besides Lucy.  He's turned into a cat in this book and is sort of a guide or companion to help Fenella.  He just cracks me up.  Not to mention the fact that he and Fenella can read each other's minds.  Let's just say there was lots of giggling over his thoughts and reactions to being a cat.  He definitely had the best lines!

The plot is pretty straightforward: Fenella has to commit three acts of destruction.  Despite disliking Fenella, I loved the plot and the conflict the storyline brings.  Although it takes a while for the story to really get going, I loved the fantasy aspect of it and it definitely kept me turning pages.  It certainly helps that the author has such a poetic yet fast-paced writing style; perfect for fantasy books like this.  I especially liked the opening scene with the faerie queen - SO lovely. *sigh*  As for the romance, I enjoyed Walker's character, though I can't say I really liked him and Fenella together.

I'd absolutely recommend this for fans of Impossible!  Aside from the unlikeable main character, it's a good continuation and worth reading.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wish had Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke and Bookish.  Each week, a new list topic is posted, and book bloggers fill in their choices.  This week's topic is "Top Ten Books I Wish had Sequels."

My Top Ten:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  It's perfectly complete as a standalone, but it's an all-time favorite of mine and I'd still love to see a sequel.

2. The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna.  Another all-time favorite, with perfect prose, pacing, plot, characters, etc.  I would so love to see more of the story explored, though!

3. The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long.  A gorgeously written story about faeries, it's really very complete as a standalone, but there's still potential for a sequel!

4. Origin by Jessica Khoury.  The way that Origin ends leaves plenty of room for a sequel - and I wish there was going to be another novel about Pia's character!  However, a companion novel Vitro is coming out next year.

5. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard.  The story is wrapped up quite nicely, but I would love to read more about the amazing main characters.

6. Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  What can I say?  JLA is one of my favorite authors, so I really really wish this one had a sequel!  I loved the paranormal aspect of it.

7. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini.  An interesting take on the afterlife.  I loved the idea of it and would freak out if there was a sequel!  So much to be explored.

8. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen.  The ending felt slightly incomplete to me.  I kind of wanted the relationship between the main character and her love interest to be more developed, so I'd love to see a sequel.

9. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.  I've loved this book since I was a kid - I've read it over six times.  Needless to say, I would LOVE to see more of these characters.

10. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg.  Again, another great standalone, but the ending definitely leaves possible room for a sequel to be written.  Please?!  I'd die of happiness!

What's on your TTT this week?  Leave a link to your blog in the comments!

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Goodreads summary:

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

My review:

I have a confession to make.  I am NOT a fan of vampires.  They've always grossed me out, what with the whole drinking blood thing.  I usually tend to stay away from books where the main focus is on vampires, but I'd read so many gushing reviews for Vampire Academy.  So with great trepidation, I started reading it.

And...I actually liked it.  *waits a moment for that to sink in*  In fact, I liked it so much that I've already got the second book from my library and I will definitely be finishing this series (and perhaps even reading the Bloodlines series too).  Mead's writing is certainly addicting, and she has a knack for storytelling.

There's a bit more drama and a bit less action than I'd expected in Vampire Academy.  Still, this didn't really affect my enjoyment too badly.  The drama actually plays an important role in the plot, and ends up making the story flow really well.  I really liked the balance; it was paranormal with a slight contemporary feel.  And there's certainly plenty of twists and action at the end.

Oh the characters.  I think Lissa (Rose's best friend) was my favorite.  I love how complicated her character is; it's such a brilliant cross between light and dark.  Lissa is naturally very sweet and kindhearted, but there's such great character development as her new powers develop and it changes her whole attitude.  Then there's Rose - I liked her pretty well.  She's sassy, unafraid, hilarious, and sticks up for her friends.  The love interest, Dimitri, is okay.  I was rooting for Rose and Dimitri to end up together, but while I liked him, I just didn't love him.  Maybe he'll get better in the later books.

So overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this.  Perhaps it's not completely unique as far as paranormal novels go, but it's certainly thrilling and fun.  And I wasn't even terribly disgusted by the vampires drinking blood thing - yay!  I'll definitely be reading the sequel soon, and I'm especially excited now for the movie coming out in February!

My rating:  4 out of 5

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 2, 2013

Feature & Follow #1

Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  This week's question is "How do you handle a book you don't like?  Do you DNF or do you power through?"

I'm one of those people who always has to finish the book, no matter what - which can be really torturous sometimes!  If I really can't stand the book, I'll skim a bit here and there, but I have this thing about always finishing it.  I just don't feel right reviewing/rating it if I haven't read it all the way. 

If you'd like, I'd love it if you follow me through GFC, or on Twitter @KTheBookworm.  If you do, let me know in the comments so I can follow you back! :)

~ Kaitlyn

My Top 5 Books of July 2013

I'm slightly late on my monthly book round-up post.  *sigh* July was a super busy month for me.  Glad it's finally August!  Anyway, here are all the books I read in July:

- Hooked by Liz Fichera
- Also Known As by Robin Benway
- A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
- Foretold by Jana Oliver
- Avenger by Heather Burch
- In Between by Jenny B. Jones
- On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones
- The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones
- Frigid by J. Lynn
- Lullaby by Amanda Hocking
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
- All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
- That Summer by Sarah Dessen
- How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
- Relic by Renee Collins
- Golden by Jessi Kirby
- The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos
- Eve by Anna Carey
- Everafter by Elizabeth Chandler
- Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
- Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin
- A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
- Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

Well, amidst going to camp, being sick, and having a birthday celebration, I still managed to find lots of time to read, haha.  My top five books of July:

1. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill.  I was lucky enough to get an e-arc of this through Netgalley, and oh my word it is just so good.  It's one of my favorite time travel books ever.  There's just so many twists, so much action, and seriously amazing character development.  This book will blow you away.

2. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.  I simply adore historical books, and this one has all the charm, wit, and elegance of a Jane Austen novel - except there's also some pretty epic steampunk elements mixed in.  Perfection?  I think yes.

3. How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer.  Ahh, this was the perfect summer read.  Sometimes, after reading tons of fantasy and dystopian, you just need a lighthearted contemporary read.  This book is too cute for words, and I was reminded a lot of The Devil Wears Prada movie while reading it.  Strohmeyer is one of my favorite authors now!

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.  I am NOT a fan of vampires (they just gross me out), so I wasn't expecting to like this one when I picked it up.  I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  It's an all-around fun paranormal read.  I especially loved the strong friendship between Rose and Lissa.

5. Golden by Jessi Kirby.  I've read and liked Kirby's two previous books, but Golden is definitely her best yet!  It's a sweet, achingly beautiful story of self-discovery.  I was flipping the pages like crazy and found myself relating to the main character and the journey she was going on.  Loved it.

What are some of your favorite reads from this past month?

~ Kaitlyn