Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ARC Review: Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins

**Due to some problems I've been having with Blogger, I can't upload the cover.  However, you can find a link to it here on Goodreads.**

Goodreads summary:

All I want is my happily-ever-after.

That's all I've wanted since meeting Noah Miller.

From the day we met, the world has tried to keep Noah and me from being together, but now that I'm carrying his child, no one will be able to tear us apart. Or so I hope. But Noah and I have made some mistakes along the way, and the consequences are impacting the people we love. Worse, there's a storm on the horizon, and it's sure to cause serious devastation.

If we can get through this, we'll finally be Rose and Noah; a family, forever.

But first we have to survive the road ahead. And happily-ever-after is a long way off.

My review:

I've enjoyed reading this series.  It's definitely different from other contemporary books and worth giving a try.  Still, I haven't been able to give any of the books in this series more than three stars - I've always disliked the main characters and I find the stories to sometimes be a little cheesy.  Aside from my issues, though, Forever is a strong novel that fans of this series will devour.

I just don't care for Noah or Rose.  To me, Noah comes across as a jerk at times.  I couldn't stand the way he would make decisions about his and Rose's future without giving much thought to what she wanted.  It just seems like he doesn't consider Rose's opinion.  Fortunately, he does have some character growth and he ends up changing more by the end of the story, but I still didn't like him much.

Despite disliking Rose in the first two books, I liked her better in Forever.  She's finally forced to grow up and start acting more mature, and I liked this.  She was a good example of character development.  Yes, she was still too whiny and stubborn at times, but I really sympathized with her more in this book.  She suffers a lot and you can't help feeling sorry for her plight.

But the minor characters are what really makes this book shine.  I love Rose's best friend, Summer (who is also dating Rose's brother Sam), and how she supports Rose and remains loyal to her even if it means disagreeing with Sam.  She's a wonderful friend to Rose and I liked how she was so sassy and likeable.  I also liked that we get to see more of Rose's little brother Justin in this book.  He's a sweet character with surprising depth, and I enjoyed his role in the story.  Sarah, who is Noah's younger sister, is also a great character and I liked getting to read some of the story from her point of view.

I was also pleased with the pacing in Forever.  While for some reason, the previous books seemed to drag on a bit for me, I flew through Forever in a couple days.  There were a lot more high stakes and drama than in the previous books.  And yet, there were a few cliché moments where the drama just got to be too much and I almost wanted to roll my eyes.  The romance is so sappy and I've never been a big fan of Noah and Rose's love story - I just don't understand how they are willing to sacrifice so much to be together when they're so young.  Plus, the ending was slightly too happily-ever-after for me.  Everything worked out just so for the characters. 

To fans of this series, I would absolutely recommend Forever; it's a fast-paced and highly readable ending to the trilogy.  I just wasn't a fan of the sappy romance and Noah's character, along with a couple of the other small problems I mentioned.  Still, this is a unique contemporary series, and I'm glad I had the chance to read it and learn more about the Amish life.

*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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

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 Landry Park by Bethany Hagen!

Goodreads summary:

Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

My thoughts:

Oh, man.  I am SO excited for this book, it's ridiculous.  Downton Abbey meets The Selection?  That has to be the best pitch ever.  I'm always looking for Downton Abbey type books in YA, and I LOVE The Selection, so there's no way Landry Park will be anything but completely awesome.  Plus, it's gotten lots of great reviews from bloggers.  I'm definitely going to need to pick up a copy of this when it comes out.

Landry Park releases on February 4, 2014.

What's your WoW pick?

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ARC Review: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Goodreads summary:

Nowhere is safe. Not even home…

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.
Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.

There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

My review:

Maybe closer to 2.5 stars.

I really wish I could've enjoyed this more, as I absolutely love this series, but I had two big problems with Secret.  First, the lack of plot.  Second, the romance.

Now, I hadn't read the novella Breathless before reading Secret, so I didn't know about Nick's big secret.  And to be honest, that's part of the reason why I didn't love this book.  I do not support gay rights at all, so I was disappointed in the romance and I did skip over many of the scenes with Nick and Adam.

But on to the plot.  What happened?  There was hardly any action happening at all; instead it was replaced by tons of melodrama.  What happened to the edge-of-your-seat, action-packed plots in the first three books?  All three of the first books had some romance, but the romance never overtook the main storyline and there was always so much mystery and intrigue.  I didn't find any of that in Secret; as there wasn't much of a focus on the plot.  I wish there had been less drama and more action.

There's also the fact that there are two romantic storylines going on in Secret, as opposed to one in the previous books.  In Secret we have two dual points of view: Nick's and Quinn's.  I already mentioned how I wasn't a fan of Nick's storyline, but I did like reading from Quinn's point-of-view a lot.  I like the way her past was uncovered and how she found someone who understood and accepted her.  I'll admit I was surprised by who her love interest was - I totally didn't see that coming!  I won't say his name to avoid spoilers, but it was a pleasant surprise, and even though I wouldn't have thought I'd like Quinn's love interest, Kemmerer made their relationship work and I ended up really liking their romance.  Yes, it might have a couple clichés, but I still loved it.  Quinn's story was the one thing I truly liked about this book.

I'm sad that I didn't end up loving Secret as much as I'd hoped I would, but I still have high hopes for the final book in this series, Sacrifice (that title has me SO worried about what's going to happen!).  Aside from Gabriel, Michael has always been my favorite Merrick brother and I'm looking forward to reading his story. 

So, would I recommend Secret?  I disliked that the plot wasn't as action-oriented, but most other fans of this series seem to love it.  Personally, it just wasn't for me.

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

My rating:  2.5/3 stars out of 5

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ARC Review: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Goodreads summary:

The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.

My review:

I keep seeking out historical books such as Manor of Secrets in the hope that I'll find a book as good as Downton Abbey, and sadly I have yet to find any books that meet my (extremely high) expectations.  In fact, this book reminded me a LOT of Wentworth Hall, a similar historical book with a Downton Abbey-esque feel to it.  Still, Manor of Secrets was a fun, quick read and I'm glad I got the chance to read it.

Manor of Secrets reads a lot like a cliché yet addictive soap opera.  Yes, it had many moments that made me roll my eyes.  Yes, the large cast of characters was occasionally confusing.  Yes, there were some overly dramatic plot twists at the end that are easy to guess if you were paying attention.  But despite all this, I have to admit that I did enjoy this book. 

I liked the main characters, Charlotte and Janie.  They could've had more character development and they acted a bit unrealistically at times; however, they're easy to root for.  They both want change in their lives and want to be given a choice.  This is why I love the time period of the early 1900s: it's right before all the changes that happened in the 1920s, and it's fascinating to read about sheltered girls who long to make a difference in the world and learn to break free.  The author handled the characters well and I really like the way their stories are resolved.

The plot is full of drama, drama, drama.  I know that this aspect got on my nerves slightly, but at the same time I loved it.  All the different, small storylines are intertwined very well and it will keep you reading for sure.  I sped through this book in the space of a couple hours.  Even if you don't care for all the drama, it's by no means boring and it'll still hold your attention.

I'm not really sure if I'd recommend Manor of Secrets, as it really depends on the reader.  If you're in the mood for a fluffy, guilty-pleasure type of read, this will probably be a good book for you.  I liked the theme of the book, about Charlotte and Janie choosing to change their lives, and I liked the fast-paced plot.  Just be warned that this book has its share of cheesy moments.  It's not quite as good as Downton Abbey, but it's fun historical escapism and I'll probably read more of this author's books when I get the chance.

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

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, January 10, 2014

ARC Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Goodreads summary:

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

My review:

I really loved this book except for one big thing: the main character, Emma.  Aside from her, I loved the sweet message about family this book sends, as well as the flowing writing style and gripping storyline.

This book deals with a difficult subject: Emma's mother is brain-dead but still kept alive by machines since she's pregnant.  Emma struggles with this fact throughout the book and is angry at her stepfather for not letting her mother die peacefully.  I certainly felt sympathetic towards Emma's plight, and my heart broke for her multiple times, but at the same time I couldn't understand how Emma wouldn't want her baby brother to have a chance to live.  Her stepdad sums it up perfectly when he say, "Your brother is fighting for his life, and you talk about him like he's not real."  It would've been easier to like Emma if she was slightly more emotional.  She's too selfish, and doesn't understand that her stepdad is grieving too.  She was bitter and angry at him for far too long, but I did grow to like Emma eventually. 

This book was a very fast read for me, and yet it still manages to be full of depth.  This is not an ordinary contemporary - it's raw and gritty.  The minor characters really make this book - such as Emma's best friend, who refuses to use most electronics because her parents work in the electronic industry and are so busy they spend much of their time ignoring her.  And Caleb, the love interest, is very sweet and I love the way he helps Emma learn to be happy again.  Like her, he's suffered, and he understands her pain in a way that no one else does.  I didn't completely love the romance for some reason, but it was a nice touch and never overtook the storyline.

Although I had a hard time caring about Emma, I still enjoyed Heartbeat.  It was a heartbreaking story that teaches the importance of family, and I liked Emma's journey from numbness and pain to slowly becoming part of the world again, or, as the summary says, "feeling her own heart beat again."  Heartbeat is a thoughtful contemporary story you won't want to miss out on.

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

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

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

My pick is Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger!

Goodreads summary:

Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.

But Audra’s still running. From her past. From the Gales. Even from Vane, who she doesn’t believe she deserves. And the farther she flees, the more danger she finds. She possesses the secret power her enemy craves, and protecting it might be more than she can handle—especially when she discovers Raiden’s newest weapon.

With the Gale Force weakened by recent attacks, and the power of four collapsing, Vane and Audra are forced to make a choice: keep trusting the failing winds, or turn to the people who’ve betrayed them before. But even if they survive the storms sent to destroy them, will they have anything left to hold on to?

My thoughts:

Gah, these covers.  Why are they so gorgeous?  I sincerely hope that the publishing company doesn't decide to change the cover design for the last book.  They're perfect just the way they are.

Anyway, my best friend and I are practically counting the days till this comes out.  I convinced her to read Let the Sky Fall and, like me, she completely loved it.  I can't wait to find out what happens in this sequel!

What's your WoW pick?

~ The Bookworm

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 End of Year Survey

Here's my 2013 End of Year Survey.  This survey was created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner.  This is my second time doing it! :)

1. Best book you read in 2013?  (You can break it down by genre)

My absolute favorite was Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.  But I had many other favorites, so I'm breaking it down by genre too.

Fantasy: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson, Deception by C. J. Redwine
Sci-fi: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Contemporary: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Dystopian: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Historical: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Paranormal: The Diviners by Libba Bray, Pivot Point by Kasie West

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Splintered by A. G. Howard.  This was on my TBR list for over a year before I actually read it, and I thought for sure I would love it, but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped.  I did enjoy it (I gave it 3.5 stars) but definitely not as much as I'd thought I would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Pawn by Aimee Carter.  I liked Carter's Goddess Test series, but they weren't favorites, so I wasn't expecting much of Pawn.  But I was so impressed with the solid storytelling and writing.  It was a pleasant surprise!

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people the most in 2013?

Probably Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger.  I convinced my best friend to read it and she absolutely loved it!

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Ohh...I can't pick just one!  I'll go with two.  The Curse Workers series by Holly Black and The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater.  I loved both series so much!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?

Sarah Dessen, Richelle Mead, Victoria Scott, and Rainbow Rowell.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or a new genre for you?

Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy books.  Usually I hate books about vampires, but I actually enjoyed the Vampire Academy books a lot.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

The 5th Wave, All Our Yesterdays, Deception, Crown of Midnight.  I think I was biting my nails for all of those...

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to reread in 2014?

I will probably be rereading Pivot Point, Unravel Me, and Perfect Ruin before their sequels come out!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Hmm.  Probably Celaena (Crown of Midnight) or Caymen (The Distance Between Us).  I love how tough and strong Celaena is, and Caymen is full of sarcasm and dry wit that had me cracking up.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2013?

Perfect Ruin wins without question.  But I also loved the writing in Unravel Me and The Beginning of Everything.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Clockwork Princess.  It will challenge your views on love and friendship.  Heartbreaking, yet so thought-provoking.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Anna and the French Kiss and The Book Thief!  And now they're both favorites! :)

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

I'll do my best to limit this to just a few, lol:

"I am haunted by humans." - The Book Thief.

"Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read." - Clockwork Princess.

"The madness of youth made me unafraid." - Perfect Ruin.

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?

Shortest - Charm and Strange (216 pages).  Longest - The Sweet Far Thing (819 pages).

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?

Chapter 62 of Unravel Me.  Ahh, the feels.  Also, the endings of Clockwork Princess and Allegiant.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013?

Tarver and Lilac (These Broken Stars) and Celaena and Chaol (Crown of Midnight).  I ship them sooo hard, you guys.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you've read previously?

Sever, Deception, Crown of Midnight, Crash Into You.

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?

None in particular that I can think of, but I suppose The Book Thief.  Everyone was gushing about it and the general hype with the movie coming out pushed me to read it, and I LOVED it.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?

Fantasy/paranormal, with dystopian as a close second.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Tarver from These Broken Stars, Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss, and Adrian Ivashkov from Bloodlines. *sighs*

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Not a Drop to Drink, Let the Sky Fall, Pivot Point.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

The Diviners!  The atmosphere and historical details were so in-depth and rich.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

Stir Me Up and Smart Girls Get What They Want were such fun contemporaries!

26. Book that made you cry in 2013?

I sobbed through the epilogue of Clockwork Princess.  Also, The Beginning of Everything and The Book Thief brought some tears.

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?

All Our Yesterdays was a really fantastic time travel book and I definitely think it deserves more hype.

Looking ahead...

1. One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number one priority in 2014?

Probably Sarah Dessen?  I started her books last year and I still have several I haven't read yet, so I need to finish them soon!

2. Book you are most anticipating in 2014 (non-debut)?

Ignite Me and Split Second.  I CAN'T WAIT.

3. 2014 debut you are most anticipating?

Camelot Burning.  Awesome premise.  Can't wait!

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?

Shatter Me.  Gah.  I need to know how that series ends.  Also the Everneath series, Dante Walker series, The Selection series, Defiance series, The Grisha series, Mortal Instruments, Lux series.  Whew, that's a lot.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?

I'd like to not stress so much about blogging frequently.  I'm busier with school this year, so it means I'm only posting 2 or 3 times a week now, and I need to just accept that that's all I have time for.  And of course, my reading challenge - 225 books. :)

If you did an End of Year survey, please comment with a link.  I would love to stop by and read it!

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Top 5 Books of December 2013

How is it already 2014?!  That's so hard to believe.  I've been blogging for about a year and a half now.  I'm not blogging as often as I used to, as I'm a lot busier with school/college preparations this year, but I'm still going to keep up with blogging and I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring. :)

So here's the books I read in December:

- Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
- Bittersweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
- Goddess by Josephine Angelini
- Splintered by A.G. Howard
- Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Defy by Sara B. Larson
- Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
- The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski
- The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
- Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
- Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
- Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
- Just One Year by Gayle Forman
- Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
- Champion by Marie Lu
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Sadly, I didn't read as many great books as I'd hoped I would last month.  There were a few disappointing sequels and a lot of the books were just overall "meh."  Here's my top five, though:

1. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.  This was one sequel that is truly every bit as good as the first book.  I was completely swept away in the engrossing fantasy world Mass had created, and I was on the edge of my seat with the action, plot twists, bittersweet romance, and wonderful characters.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This one really lives up to the hype.  It was so beautifully written and that ending made me cry my eyes out.  This book broke my heart.  I can't wait to see the movie.

3. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole.  I was surprised I liked this, given how most other reviewers didn't care for it as much.  Still, it was a solid 4-star read for me, and I enjoyed the plot and romance.  Yes, it had its flaws, but it was a fast-paced and fun read.  I'll definitely be reading the sequel.

4. Champion by Marie Lu.  What a great way to end a trilogy!  This will always be one of my favorite dystopian series.  There's a great combination of action scenes and character growth.  And the ending, although sad, still has hope for a better future.  I loved it.

5. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead.  Much better than the first book, Bloodlines, in my opinion.  It's a very fast read, and even though I'm still not a fan of the main character Sydney (she's too bland and lacks in personality for me) I loved the way the romance developed.  ADRIAN.  He is just too swoon-worthy. <3 And the plot was very entertaining, too.

What books did you read this month?  Did you reach your reading challenge for 2013?  I did - my goal was 250, and I was able to hit 273!  I'll be posting a 2013 book survey this weekend, so keep an eye out.

~ Kaitlyn