Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: For Real by Alison Cherry

Goodreads summary:

No parents. No limits. No clue what they're in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister's shadow. While Miranda's life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it's Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They'll outshine Miranda's fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life... or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what's for real?
My review:
What an awesome read!  I was pleasantly surprised by For Real.  It's so fun and relatable; definitely the perfect fast-paced Christmas break read.  It has a great balance of humor and realism, and there's a great variety of characters.
I love the main character Claire!  I really like her journey to overcome her fears.  I also love that she accepts herself for who she is.  Plus, she's a nerd, which is freakin' awesome - there are even a couple references to Doctor Who and Joss Whedon!  And her explanation for why people like reality TV is so cool; I had never thought about it that way before.
The relationships in this book just had so much win.  The relationship between Claire and her sister is perfectly imperfect.  Yes, they get on each other's nerves a LOT but in the end they stick up for each other.  I love how the author handled Claire's feelings of inadequacy when compared to her sister, and how eventually she learns to stand on her own.  Secondly, there's the relationship between Claire and the love interest, Will.  I don't want to say a lot about this because that would include lots of spoilers.  But suffice it to say, it is so realistic.  I felt Claire's emotions every step of the way and cheered at the ending.  
The plot is super exciting!  Thanks to the competition taking place, there is always something happening.  I laughed at all the awkward situations poor Claire has to go through, and I love how all the minor characters stood out.  There's also plenty of twists!  And a certain scene at the end had me grinning the whole time.
The best way to describe For Real is that it's (pardon the pun) very real.  With a storyline like this, it could easily be cheesy, but this book is refreshingly realistic and features well-written relationships and fantastic character development.  For Real is definitely worth your time.  I can't wait to check out the author's first book!
* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars
~ Kaitlyn

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: Captive by Aimee Carter

Goodreads summary:

For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

My review:

After being blown away by the awesomeness that was Pawn last year, I was a bit nervous about whether or not the sequel would really be as good as the first.  Luckily, Captive was just as epic!  I was honestly shocked by some of the amazing twists.  The only con is that I found myself a little more annoyed with Kitty than I did in the first book.

In Pawn, I was amused by Kitty and connected to her character a lot.  But in Captive, she just didn't click for me.  She is a good character in that she's independent and shows maturity.  Yet I was frustrated because at every turn, she does something that hurts else.  It felt like she was constantly trying to be proactive and help, but she just made things worse!  That bothered me somewhat.

But aside from that, this book was so much fun (and it gave me a lot of feels, just FYI!).  Admittedly, it does start out slightly slow, but about a third of the way there's a major scene that makes you go, "WHAT?!" and from then on, it's literally impossible to put down.  And there are many more twists to come throughout the book.  So many things about the rebellion, Lila, etc. are revealed.  I was really pleased because this sequel expanded thoroughly on things mentioned in the first book.  

Overall, Captive was amazing.  Yay for sequels that increase character growth, have complex storylines, and delve deeper into world-building!  I did get a little irritated with Kitty's character at times, but really, that is the only flaw.  I can't wait to see how it all goes down in the last book!

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

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Top 3 Books of November 2014

This semester has been flying by!  Finals are next week, and once that's over, I'm excited to post a couple more reviews for ARCs I read.  For now, here are the books I read in November:

- Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
- Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
- The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
- Mortal Heart by Robin LaFavers
- The Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
- For Real by Alison Cherry
- The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
- Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
- Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
- Captive by Aimee Carter

Here's my top 3 favorites:

1. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.  Um, how is it that every book in this series keeps getting better and better?  Heir of Fire was emotional, gripping, and action-packed.  As always, Maas's writing style is brilliant and perfectly suited for fantasy books, an I was an awe over Celaena's character growth and the events of this book.  Amazing!

2. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFavers.  Like Heir of Fire, this fantasy book blew me away.  I have so enjoyed reading this series and Mortal Heart was no exception.  I was stunned by two amazing twists, and it was impossible not to root for the characters.  I was glued to this book and I'm so glad I read it!

3. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.  It had been a year and a half since I read the first book in this series, so I didn't remember a lot.  I will say that I think I enjoyed the first book better, but this was still an impressive sequel.  It took me a while to get into it and remember all the characters, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.  There is some truly great writing, and I love how Yancey explores the gray areas of good and bad.  And UGH the cliffhanger.

Shoutout to Captive for being utterly awesome!  (And I'll have a review for it posted soon!)

What books have you enjoyed lately?

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, November 21, 2014

ARC Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Goodreads summary:

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

My review:

The main reason I was interested in this book (besides the gorgeously gothic cover) was that it's supposed to be perfect for Downton Abbey fans.  I wouldn't quite call that an accurate description.  Instead, I think it is more like The Princess Diaries, as author Amy Plum said in her blurb.  Unfortunately, this book was good but not great.  It felt like it was littered with cliches.

First off, the main character was very much a Mary-Sue.  Everything about Imogen seemed cliched, from her awkwardly cute personality to her naive and cheerful attitude.  As for the love interest, I found him to be incredibly bland.  He was a handsome, wealthy heir who acted distant and rude.  And Imogen still liked him.  So the romance made me feel very irritated.  Sure, they were good friends as children, but they had no connection as teenagers and so I didn't feel their chemistry.  Oh well, at least it wasn't insta-love.

The plot and the setting were the main reasons I liked this book.  The story did take a while to actually start because there were so many flashbacks to Imogen's childhood, but I didn't mind it.  The flashbacks held my attention and were crucial to the storyline.  The plot certainly had a good deal of suspense, always leaving you to wonder who Imogen can trust.  Although I didn't figure everything out, I did guess some of the reveals.  The big twist at the end was decent, but I have to say it was ultimately a little unbelievable.  But the setting was done pretty well.  There wasn't an overabundance of description, but it was just enough to make me feel like I was in England!

In the end, this book was a fast and decent read, but not particularly memorable.  I disliked the main character and the romance, but the plot was good enough to make me keep reading.  I wouldn't recommend buying Suspicion right away - maybe get a Kindle sample to see if you're really interested or wait till your library gets it.

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

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Top 3 Books of October 2014

October was a crazy month for me.  But after this next week, things will be slowing down for me.  And I will definitely have a couple reviews up this month - I have a couple books from Netgalley that need to be reviewed. :) So here are the books I read in October:

- Panic by Lauren Oliver
- Of Neptune by Anna Banks
- Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
- Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
- Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
- The Jewel by Amy Ewing
- Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

My top three favorites:

1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  I only picked this book up because of the hype, but I am SO glad that I did.  It's easily one of my favorite books that I've read lately.  The prose was beautiful; I reread so many lines that were so perfect, I was at a loss for words.  And the suspense!  Wow.  When I read the twist at the end, I just sat there in shock and had to rethink the whole story.  This is one of those books that you'll immediately want to reread.

2. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.  I did not have high expectations for this book, since I didn't really care for the author's previous book Amy and Roger's Epic Detour.  But wow, did I love this one!  It's everything that a great contemporary novel should be.  I loved the main character's growth throughout the story, and the introspective writing style.  Such a lovely read.

3. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  I feel like I've been waiting for this book forever, and I'm happy to say that it was amazing!  There's a proper ending for each of the characters we love so much, and thankfully not too much heartbreak.  The only thing I disliked was that I wanted the points of view for Percy or Annabeth, but oh well.  Still a fantastic conclusion!

What books have you enjoyed lately?

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Top 3 Books of September 2014

This post is a bit belated, thanks to a history exam and an essay I have due this week, but here goes!

These are the books I read in September:

- The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
- Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
- Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
- Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
- Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
- The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
- Frozen by Erin Bowman
- Stay With Me by J. Lynn

My top three:

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  I had major expectations for this book - it felt like I'd been waiting to read it for so long!  It was absolute perfection.  Isla is so adorkable and Josh is such a sweetheart and together they made a wonderful couple.  I also love that their relationship isn't perfect and it has its ups and downs - it's a realistic yet cute romance!

2. The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols.  This book was a total guilty pleasure read, but I just loved it.  It was the perfect escapist read, and there was not a moment that I was bored - funny lines were flying every which way and the main character had the funniest sense of humor.  Sometimes it's a nice break for the mind to read a predictable but entertaining story. :)

3. Stay With Me by J. Lynn.  Wow, so my top three books for the past month were all contemporary romances!  What can I say, they're so fun to read.  Stay With Me was so brilliant; it was the perfect combination of romance and suspense.  And the love interest Jax is totally swoon-worthy - he's the sweetest guy ever.  Loved this one!

What books have you enjoyed recently?

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, September 22, 2014

ARC Review: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

Goodreads summary:

Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He's the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he's all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She's got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael's defiance, his family's 'bad luck'. Before he knows it, Michael's enemies have turned into the Merricks' enemies, and they're armed for war.

They're not interested in surrender. But Michael isn't the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

My review:

I can't believe this series is now over!  I'm going to miss the Merrick brothers so much.  Sacrifice was a gripping, fast-paced ending that totally gave me all the feels.  Brigid Kemmerer has done it again!

Michael is my favorite character besides Gabriel, and this book just made me fall in love with him even more.  He's hardworking and cares for his brothers so deeply - as the title suggests, he's willing to sacrifice literally anything for them.  My heart broke for him in this book because so much crap happens and Michael is at a loss as to how to protect his family.  It's interesting yet fitting to see the way Michael views his brothers, because they come across as much younger than they did in the previous books.

Hannah, Michael's girlfriend and the other narrator in this book, was also a well-developed character.  She'd only appeared briefly in the other books, so I was excited that we finally get to learn more about her.  She's a strong character, but...well, let's just say she doesn't handle stress as well as Michael.  I liked her, but didn't love her - she threw tantrums and argued so much instead of just acting her age.  I will say I adored the way the tense relationship between Hannah and her father played out, though.  Very well-done.

The plot was action-packed, as always - lots of fires and explosions!  Kemmerer packs a lot into a fairly short book (and for anyone wondering, the actual book is less than 300 pages - the Kindle and paperback versions are longer because there's previews of the other books/novellas).  I was always on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to poor Michael next, and I liked the way a couple subplots were intertwined.  My only quibble about this book is that it's almost too much crammed into too short an amount of time.  I believe the whole book only covers the span of a week, and I felt like it should take place over a longer period of time. 

But aside from that and Hannah's sometimes immature attitude, I quite enjoyed Sacrifice.  It's a wonderful, heartfelt conclusion to the Elemental series, and I'm going to miss the Merrick brothers more than words can say.  It goes without saying that I'm picking up Brigid Kemmerer's next book the instant it hits shelves!

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

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Goodreads summary:

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

My review:

I wanted so badly to love this book, especially since I've loved Angelini's other books and everyone else has nothing but glowing praise for this book.  While I certainly enjoyed it, I just could not get completely into it.  I found the main character hard to root for and annoying.

One of  my problems was the pacing.  I was constantly checking to see how many pages were left.  I don't know why, but it seems like I keep stumbling on books that have strong plots and should be impossible to put down, but something about the pacing - long paragraphs or overdone descriptions, I guess? - makes them seem never-ending.  Thankfully, with Trial by Fire there really was a strong storyline and great writing, so that helped make up for the pacing.

This book is fun and unique...and also a bit confusing.  The basis of the plot is centered around alternate worlds, which is the main reason for the confusion.  It's a lot to keep track of!  But if you pay attention, you'll appreciate the complexity of the story and the way Angelini writes out every detail of the culture she's created.  And the writing was good - yay for entertaining dialogue!

But I just did not like Lily.  She didn't click with me.  I think part of it is that she seems like too much of a martyr.  Not only that, but she's extremely naive.  She thinks she's in love with her friend Tristan, but then in the alternate universe she was falls for a guy Rowan.  The romance just seemed jumbled and all over the place.  

I might read the sequel, but it's not going to be high on my priority list.  Although I appreciated the creativity and detailed world-building, the slow pacing and unlikeable main character ruined the book for me.  But if you're interested, I definitely think it's worth checking out - nearly everyone else seems to have loved this book!  I guess it just wasn't for me.

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

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I'm sure you've all noticed that I haven't been posting as frequently for the last few months.  To put it simply, life has just gotten crazy, and it's going to be even crazier for me in the upcoming months.  The reason why?  I've started college!  I'm a senior in high school, but I'm doing dual enrollment classes at my local community college.  So things are pretty busy.

Unfortunately, since school takes priority over blogging, my posts are going to be even more sporadic than they have been.  I don't want to abandon my blog completely - I've enjoyed the experience of blogging too much to just quit! - but it's definitely going to be taking a backseat.  I still want to post at least 2 or 3 times a month, probably a book review or two and my usual monthly reading update.  But I felt like I should post an update just so everyone officially knows.  I may not have time to post very often, but I'm still here. :) Thanks for sticking around, guys!

My Top 5 Books of August 2014

Here's my slightly belated post for my August reads!  Of course, once school started, it got harder to squeeze in time to read, but I still managed to get a decent amount of reading done.  Here's the books I read in August:

- Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
- Gilt by Katherine Longshore
- Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
- The Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
- Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
- 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
- Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
- The Osiris Curse by Paul Crilley
- Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
- Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn
- On the Fence by Kasie West
- Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
- Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

Here's my top 5 favorites:

1. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater.  This is my favorite book of Maggie's yet.  I couldn't get over the gorgeous prose.  The writing is just so dang perfect.  I can't count how many lines I highlighted on my Kindle.  Plus, the love story is so poignant and heartbreaking, and the character development is outstanding.  Sooo good!

2. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead.  I'm loving this series so much.  I was thrilled that part of the story was from Adrian's point-of-view.  He and Sydney are both amazing characters, both on their own and as a couple.  Even though they were separated for a good deal of the story, you could feel the love between them.  And the action?  Ahh!  So may great scenes.  I nearly had chills in some of them!

3. On the Fence by Kasie West.  The best word to sum up this book is adorkable.  I squealed and giggled and swooned an embarrassing number of times.  As always, West wrote a sweet love story that will tug on your heartstrings and make you smile.

4. Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones.  I was so surprised by how much I loved this book.  I'd hoped it would be good, since the awesome tagline said "X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven," but i loved it way more than I expected to.  It blew me away, from the fascinating world-building to the witty dialogue to the original characters.  And don't get me started on all the amazing twists.  Such a fun read!

5. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.  It took me a while to get into this book, mostly because it's been two and a half years since I read the first two books in the series.  Thankfully, it wasn't too confusing once I got into it, and I ended up really enjoying it!  It's a great ending for the series, full of danger and thrills.

Did you read any good books this past month?

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn

Goodreads summary:

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

My review:

I've always enjoyed Weyn's books.  They're quick, fun reads, and I read quite a few of her fairytale retellings in my early teens.  So I was looking forward to reading Faces of the Dead.  It was a fast and interesting read that held my attention, although it does have a few problems.

What I liked:  History fans, be sure to check this book out!  Weyn captures the gritty feel of the French Revolution perfectly, and she doesn't hold back.  Every dark detail is there.  I felt like I was swept away in that time period.  Even in such a short book, I learned so many facts about the French Revolution.

There is a strong cast of characters too.  It's so clever that the main character, Marie-Therese, is the daughter of Marie Antionette!  I haven't heard of many YA books about Marie Antionette, and I liked how she's inserted into the story.  In fact, all the members of Marie-Therese's family are so realistic and distinctive.  Another interesting addition is Marie-Therese's maidservant and friend, who looks just like her, enough that the two of them frequently switch roles.  I liked all the characters and felt caught up in their story.

What I didn't like:  Something about this book just didn't click for me.  I liked everything, but I didn't love it.  I think part of the reason why this book didn't totally work for me is that it's so short.  It's barely 200 pages, and it took me a little over an hour to read it.  It was as if the whole story was over so quickly, especially because it spans so much time - we jump from Marie-Therese's childhood, to her preteens, to her teens, etc.  It was like the story never paused long enough for me to grow attached to the characters.

Something else that felt off was the magical aspect of the story.  I guess this book is considered a historical fantasy, but it felt so much more like a historical book than a fantasy.  The magical aspect isn't even introduced until halfway through the story, and it seemed very out of place.  Plus, the ending is tied up way too easily thanks to the magic.  It just wasn't very satisfying.

Faces of the Dead is a decent, entertaining, and very quick read.  The detailed setting and strong characters add life to the story, but it was too short and jumbled for me to really love it.  Still, I'll keep my eye out for more of Weyn's books.

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

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (49)

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

My pick is Suspicion by Alexandra Monir!

Goodreads summary:

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

My thoughts:

I just found out about this book yesterday while browsing Netgalley, and WOW!  It sounds amazing.  Fresh twist on Rebecca?  How about yes.  And it was pitched on Netgalley as a modern Downton Abbey.  Um, yes please.  I can't freakin' wait for this book!

Suspicion releases December 9, 2014.

What's your WoW pick?

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

Goodreads summary:

I was beyond thrilled when it was announced that Maggie Stiefvater had written a book about Cole and Isabel.  I can remember the exact moment I saw the news on my phone and started squealing out loud, much to the alarm of my family, haha.  Cole and Isabel were my favorite characters in the original trilogy, so to say I had big expectations is an understatement.  I'm so happy to say that Sinner was amazing!  Even better than the trilogy, in my opinion.  It's definitely my favorite of Maggie's books.

Sinner is a lot different from the first three books in that it's not so much focused on werewolves as it is on the characters of Cole and Isabel.  They are both such complex and broken characters.  I love that they both have tons of faults - just look at the title of the book, after all - but it's impossible to not love them anyway.  And of course, they are amazing as a couple too.  Cole and Isabel both fight a lot, have tons of issues to work through, and have dark pasts, but underneath it all they are deeply in love with each other.  It's a beautiful romance that's impossible to forget.

As I mentioned above, the plot doesn't focus much on the werewolf aspect.  It's touched upon briefly and comes into play during a few scenes, but this is really more of a contemporary novel.  It's about two broken people who are trying to find themselves, and in doing so find their way back to each other.  And as always, I'm still just astounded at the writing.  Maggie writes some of the most gorgeous prose ever.  I usually only highlight a few passages here and there when I read a book on my Kindle, but I was highlighting like crazy while reading Sinner!  There were so many profound quotes and amazing little lines and achingly beautiful descriptions.  It's a treat to read a book that is full of such detailed writing in every aspect - the setting, the characters, the storyline.  I loved it.

If you're a Maggie Stiefvater fan, there's no doubt in my mind that you're going to love this book.  It's perfect in every way, and I'm so happy that Cole and Isabel got their own story and their own happy ending.  Filled with lovely writing and irresistible characters, Sinner is one book you don't want to miss.

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

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Top 5 Books of July 2014

Umm, how is it August already?  Because I am so not ready for school to start in a couple weeks!  Thankfully, I still managed to squeeze in a small amount of reading this past month despite being gone at camp for a week.  Here are the books I read in July:

- Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
- Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
- This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
- The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
- House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- The Falconer by Elizabeth May
- Take Me On by Katie McGarry
- Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
- After the End by Amy Plum
- Deliverance by C. J. Redwine

Yikes, I seriously need to step up on my reading game!  My top five:

1. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  I'm convinced that no matter what genre JLA chooses to write, it's gonna be awesome.  This book is different than what she usually writes; it's a contemporary thriller with a mystery twist.  I loved it!  Suspenseful, humorous, addictive, and everything that a JLA book should be.

2. Take Me On by Katie McGarry.  GAH.  She writes the BEST contemporary romances ever!  I love how she can take the most cliched romance storyline and spin it into this emotional story that will make you tear up.  And she writes some of the best book boyfriends ever. ;) West was so swoon-worthy and I loved him and Haley together!

3. Death Sworn by Leah Cypess.  This book wasn't even on my to-read list, I just grabbed it randomly at the library because I remembered skimming some bloggers' reviews of it.  Now I'm sooo glad that I did, because this fantasy book kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Creative and full of action.  Also, loved how the chemistry developed into a romance!  I had to make a concentrated effort not to squeal out loud at the adorableness of the growing romance between Illeni and her love interest, lol.  Loved it!

4. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith.  Another fantastic contemporary author.  I always highly enjoy her books; they are this lovely mixture of thoughtful reflections on life, uniquely developed characters, sweet yet realistic romances, and touches of humor here and there.  This one was about long-distance relationships and if they can really work, and I adored it.  Such a fun read!

5. Deliverance by C. J. Redwine.  An awesome ending to a fantasy trilogy that I've loved.  I will say I preferred the other books in this series, though.  For some reason it took me longer to get through this one, I guess the pacing was a little slow and it didn't hold my attention the whole time.  But overall it's a solid ending to a series I'll always love.  Lots of action and amazing character development.  I can't wait to read what this author writes next!

What books have you read lately that you loved?

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (48)

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

My pick is In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis!

Goodreads summary:

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

My thoughts:

I can't wait for this book!  I loved the first book, Not a Drop to Drink, when I read it last year.  It's rare for me to absolutely love dystopians anymore,  but I thought it was extremely realistic and well-written.  I also think it's so cool that In a Handful of Dust isn't exactly a sequel, but more of a companion book.  I'm excited to see what McGinnis will do with this story!

In a Handful of Dust releases on September 23, 2014.

What's your WoW pick?

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, July 19, 2014

ARC Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Goodreads summary:

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.
My review:
Just Like the Movies was a cutesey, feel-good summer read that I devoured in a day.  With humorous moments and likeable characters, it's easy to enjoy this book.  However, I do have to say that there's no real substance to it and it honestly doesn't stick out in my mind as a particularly memorable contemporary book.
I liked the two main characters.  Lily and Marijke, although they both have very different personalities, somehow manage to come together when they share the same goal: make their life just like the movies.  This was a fun idea that's perfectly fitting for a contemporary story.  It's unique, results in some rather hilarious situations, plus all the movie references made me smile.  (Also: Pitch Perfect shout-out for the win!  Although I wish one of the scenes from that movie could've actually been used in the storyline.)
The romance was okay-ish.  Honestly, I didn't find either of the boys that Lily and Marijke are interested in particularly appealing - especially Marijke's!  The boys' characters were a little bland and cookie-cutter for me.  I had my fingers crossed that their love stories wouldn't turn out to be so predictable, but it turned out the same way it would in your typical romantic comedy.  A little disappointing for me, but I suppose if you love happily-ever-after endings you'll like it.
I also found the ending to be a little rushed.  Everything worked out just perfectly just in time.  But that and the slightly boring romance are my only complaints.  Otherwise, I found this story to be utterly charming.  I laughed at the characters' crazy schemes and found them to be very quirky and relatable, and I was pleased at the great development of minor characters like Lily and Marijke's families.
Definitely check out this book if you feel like being entertained with a fun, fast read.  I certainly enjoyed it, and this is the kind of author whose books I'll reach for when it's summer and I want a good beach read.  It's not a favorite contemporary of mine, but it's still oh-so-fun and worth reading.
*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!
My rating:  3 out of 5 stars
~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, July 13, 2014

ARC Review: Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Goodreads summary:

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

My review:

Kiss of Deception was indeed an epic fantasy.  I highly enjoyed it and will definitely be reading the sequel, but for some reason it just didn't have the "wow" factor for me.  I had a couple problems with it, mainly the pacing and the writing style.

What I liked:

Lia is such a kick-butt heroine.  I loved her!  Not only is she unafraid to work hard for what she wants, she is also intelligent, smart, and sticks up for her friends.  She's not some naive princess; instead, she thinks things through and does her best to make the right decisions.  I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't much insta-love, too.  The romance is really only centered on Lia and one guy, and I liked their sweet relationship.  Which brings me to...the love triangle.  Or lack of.

So, I liked the two love interests.  They were well-developed and had integral roles in the plot. wasn't much of a love triangle.  There's really only one guy that Lia's in love with, so I kept wondering why the other guy had to be in love with her.  It seemed a little pointless, because his character would be much better if he wasn't in love with Lia.  Just my thought. *shrugs*

Also, the setting was fantastic!  The author really worked out every detail of the world.  It felt so real, and it was such a treat to read a book with such wonderful world-building.  It reminded me of reading about worlds like in the Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings.  And of course, the plot was top-notch.  The three points-of-view help add to the suspense, and despite the slow pacing, there are many well-crafted twists and exciting action scenes.

What I didn't like:  

The pacing wasn't great.  Even though I was really enjoying the storyline, it took me forever to finish this book because it was so slow.  Honestly, the writing style just weighed it down.  I feel like a fantasy book like this should have a slightly faster pace to it.  But instead of having a little more action, the story was flooded with endless descriptions and lengthy paragraphs.  Yes, the descriptions are good in that they add to the world-building and help the reader feel lost in the characters' lives; the problem was there there was just way too much.  Also, some of the paragraphs really should've been shortened.  They take so long to get through, unlike short lines of dialogue, which would have suited the story better.

I had issues with the slow pacing and overly descriptive writing, but despite that I really liked this book.  It's so fun to read a well-developed fantasy with such in-depth world-building and characters.  This is one fantasy book you definitely want to try.  I'm looking forward to the sequel.

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

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

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

My pick is Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins!

Goodreads summary:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

My thoughts:

I absolutely love Stephanie Perkins's books.  She writes some of the best YA contemporary fiction I've ever read, hands down.  Her characters are so adorkable and swoony!  Plus, all the pre-reviews I've read for this book have simply gushed about it.  I can't wait for it to come out!

Isla and the Happily Ever After releases August 14, 2014.

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Top 5 Books of June 2014

Now that school is officially over, I have SO much more time to read! :) I'm so excited about the books I read this past month; I enjoyed most of them!  As for this month, I will be gone for a week of camp, but I'm still hoping to read a lot of books anyway.

Books I read in June:
- Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
- Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
- The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett
- Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
- The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
- Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
- How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark
- Towering by Alex Flinn
- Only Everything by Kieran Scott
- City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
- Cold Fury by T. M. Goeglein
- Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
- The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
- The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
- Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
- My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
- The Obvious Game by Rita Arens
- Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
- To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

My top five favorites:

1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare.  Clare continually blows me away with her books.  Something I love about her books is that they're not the type that you rush through in a day; they're written with such care and detail that you can't help savoring every word.  I'll admit this book had a couple flaws, but I don't even care because I was so invested in the characters and their stories.  And kudos to Clare for introducing a totally new character (Emma) in the very last book of the series and making her so well-developed!  I can't wait for Emma's series now.

2. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han.  I was surprised by how much I loved this book.  I certainly didn't have high expectations.  I've read Han's other books and liked them well enough, but I did not expect to love this book as much as I did.  It was about romance and family and growing up and was basically just perfection.  I could relate to the main character so much that there were moments when I had to stop and reread lines or paragraphs because I was like, this is so me.  Everything about it was amazing, from the subtle romance to the wonderfully real main character to the realistic storyline.  And the ending...gah, I need the sequel now!

3. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols.  Summer simply isn't summer without a Jennifer Echols books.  I devoured Biggest Flirts in just a couple days.  Echols never fails to write a totally irresistible story with hilarious characters and a charmingly real love interest.  The romance was a tad bit insta-lovey, but it just worked so well that I didn't mind at all.  Plus, I'm excited that the next book in the series has the same setting, etc., but with different main characters.  Can't wait for it to come out!

4. The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen.  I'm so sad this series is over now!  I love Godbersen's books.  No one can write YA historical fiction like her.  She includes amazing details without making it seem the slightest bit stuffy or boring.  I was swept away into the story of the three main characters.  And what a great was sad, nostalgic, but still had a touch of hope.  I really hope Godbersen writes more YA fiction soon!

5. The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes.  This book should come with a warning label: cuteness overload!  I couldn't stop giggling and fangirling while I was reading this.  It's an absolutely adorable contemporary that will make you flail and squeal incoherently.  Also, talk about a perfect romance!  I love books where the main character pretends to be in love with someone else to make a guy jealous...and then she ends up falling for the guy she's pretending to love.  Yeah, it's predictable, but it's just so fun, and Stokes totally makes it work.  I think I liked this even better than the series she's written under her other penname, Fiona Paul.  So addicting!

What good books have you read lately?

~ Kaitlyn