Sunday, June 29, 2014

ARC Review: Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton

Goodreads summary:

In this companion novel to the critically acclaimed Some Quiet Place, Alex must choose between Revenge and Forgiveness.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Tate sits outside Nate Foster's house, clutching a gun. After serving ten years for the drunk driving accident that killed Alex's family, Nate has been released from prison. Every night, Alex waits out of sight, building up the courage to exact her own justice. There's just one problem: Forgiveness. 

Alex has been able to see personified Emotions for as long as she can remember, and Revenge is her best friend. But when Forgiveness suddenly appears, he offers Alex a choice—getting even or moving on. It's impossible to decide when Revenge whispers in one ear . . . and Forgiveness whispers in the other.

My review:

After reading and falling in love with Some Quiet Place last year, I was eager to read this companion novel.  Just like the first book, it was a haunting and bittersweet read, but it didn't hold my interest quite as much as the first one did.

Really, my only problem was that I had trouble empathizing with the main character.  Alex is so bitter and so set on revenge that it was hard to care about her.  Also, her family has been dead for many years, but Alex still acts like she's just now recovering from the grief.  Of course it was awful to lose her family, but I would've thought she'd have moved on at least a little.  The other thing about her I didn't like is how she constantly hurts the people closest to her and treats them horribly.  I can't count how many times in the book I cringed because I felt so bad for Alex's aunt and uncle and her best friends.  They were just trying to be there for her, and she kept pushing them away.

Aside from Alex, I was really swept away by this book.  As always, Kelsey Sutton's talent for writing shines through.  Not only is she gifted at writing poetic, haunting prose, but she's also especially good with settings.  She paints a beautiful picture of a dark and dreary town that I was completely lost in.  I also loved the mysteriousness of this book.  The plot had lots of big reveals and secrets.  And of course, there are the amazingly inventive Emotions.  They continue to be my favorite aspect in Sutton's books because they're so mindblowingly original.  It's such a cool idea to personify Emotions, and Sutton weaves them into the story perfectly.  I loved the roles of Revenge and Forgiveness in Alex's decisions.  

I didn't like Where Silence Gathers as much as the first book, mainly because Alex was so self-destructive and difficult to like.  But aside from her character, I was blown away by this book.  The author continues to improve in all the other aspects: gorgeous writing, well-developed minor characters, and an original plot.  I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.  I'm really hoping she'll continue this series; I can't get enough of the Emotions!

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

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Only Everything by Kieran Scott

Goodreads summary:

Sometimes the gods can be so unreasonable.

Like Zeus, the king, who thinks the proper reaction to finding me kissing a mortal is to threaten my boyfriend Orion's life, banish me to Earth, and force me to inspire true love between three couples without my powers. I know! Elders! I'm Eros, a.k.a. Cupid. The Goddess of Love. Until this morning, anyway.

Now I'm stuck on Earth with no clue how to function as a human, and I can't even conjure up my magical bow and arrows to help me do my job. I've already met this amazing guy—Charlie, a new kid in school like me—but matching him up isn't as easy as I thought. Turns out opposites don't attract, nearly identicals don't attract, and giving a guy what he seems to want is just one big disaster. My sweet new friend Katrina might work, but she's got more complications than Medusa's hair, and a live-in boyfriend with a serious mean streak. Probably not the best idea to go there.

If I don't make a match, I may never see Orion again. I have so much to lose, and only everything to gain.

My review:

I love reading books about Greek mythology, so I had high hopes for Only Everything.  Unfortunately, it turns out there isn't much in the way of mythology in this book.  Instead, it was filled with endless drama and ridiculous scenarios.

I couldn't stand Eros.  She's so vain and petty.  Also, she's supposed to be the goddess of love, plus she's thousands of years old, so you would think she's somewhat intelligent, right?  But no, she falls in love with Orion after only knowing him for a few months (and their love story was extremely underdeveloped).  Not only that, but she has no idea how to function in the human world.  She chooses the name True as her human name, dresses in random clothing, and has no idea how to interact with humans.  You'd think that after years of watching humans, she'd have some idea of how to act normal, right??  Well, apparently not. 

The story is not only told from Eros's point-of-view, but also from Katrina's and Charlie's.  I couldn't stand Katrina's character either.  She's in a relationship with an older guy that's clearly going downhill, but she spends the whole story acting oblivious to it.  How does she not realize that her boyfriend is a jerk?  I kept wishing she would hurry up and stand up for herself.  I felt a little bad for her, but I really couldn't bring myself to care much for her character at all.  

Charlie was about the only character I could stand.  I didn't particularly like him, but I didn't want to constantly strangle him like I did Eros and Katrina.  His storyline was actually pretty decent.  It was about him trying to fit in with his family and impress his father by participating in sports, until he eventually learns that he needs to do what makes him happy.  Slightly cliche, but it was bearable.  I did get somewhat frustrated with Charlie because he could be such a pushover, but I found it easier to like his character.

Overall, I just couldn't get into this book.  Despite the cliffhanger ending, I'm not going to pick up the sequel.  I was annoyed by all the characters and disappointed by how it was in no way realistic to Greek mythology.  The only good thing I can say is that it was a quick read.  

*I won a copy in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway 

My rating:  2 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (13)

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

Here's my haul!

Books I bought/received:
- The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
- The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

So far I've only read The Art of Lainey, which I loved!  It was a super-cute, addicting contemporary.  I can't wait to read the others - Sarah Strohmeyer is one of my favorite authors, and I've heard great things about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

What's in your book haul?  Comment with a link to your blog!

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ARC Review: The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

Goodreads summary:

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire. 

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

My review:

I'm a sucker for retellings, especially when they involve fairytales, so I knew I had to check out this book.  I'm so glad I did!  It was a charming, fast-paced read, and it really puts a unique spin on the story of Cinderella.

The storyline was a lot different than what I thought it would be.  Most of it revolves around Jane and her family struggling to survive.  But I enjoyed it because everything that happened was so unexpected.  This story doesn't go the same way the original fairytale does, and I loved that!  Plus, I like that the author introduced some new characters, like Jane's love interest and his family.  The romance wasn't too insta-lovey, as I'd been afraid.  Instead, Jane and the love interest (I can't for the life of me remember his name) develop a strong friendship before falling in love.

I liked the strong cast of characters.  They had their flaws, but they were each unique in their own way.  Jane is a good main character.  She's dependable, a hard worker, and easy to like.  The only thing about her that bothered me is that she's a bit of a pushover at times; she seemed too willing to whatever her mother said, and didn't stuck up for herself enough.  I felt so sorry for Jane's mother.  She refuses to realize that they are poor and instead keeps believing in illusions of grandeur.  It takes a while for reality to hit her.  As for Cinderella, I didn't know what to make of her - at first, she seems like a spoiled brat, but by the end of the story we see that there's more to her than that.  Although, I did feel confused by her character at times.  She was supposed to be about thirteen, but she could act much younger than that.

The writing was really good.  I loved the descriptions of the old mansion that Jane and her family live in.  I could picture it perfectly in my head.  I thought there was a great balance of dialogue and description.  Admittedly, some sections of the book can be a little slow, such as the long winter that takes place in the middle.  But overall, it was pretty fast-paced and surprisingly entertaining.

The Stepsister's Tale was a fun, unique read.  It's nice to read a retelling that sticks out with its originality.  I liked the character arcs and the way all the characters grew and changed throughout the story.  And the ending was not what I expected at all.  If you enjoy classic fairytales or retellings, this is definitely a book you want to read!

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

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

ARC Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

Goodreads summary:

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. 

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

My review:

There's nothing quite like  a good contemporary mystery, and My Last Kiss was a totally addicting read.  I honestly had no idea what to expect from it, but I'm happy to say it exceeded my expectations.  It's full of inventive twists, secrets, and drama that rivals Pretty Little Liars.  I was completely hooked!

The writing was the first thing I really noticed about the story.  There was something about the main character Cassidy's voice that I loved; it's so authentic and distinctive.  The author really nailed the "teen" voice that many YA books fail to succeed in capturing.  And there was the perfect amount of description about the characters and settings.  It had just enough details, and yet the story flowed with a good balance of action and suspense.

I loved Cassidy as a main character.  I was afraid that since she's a ghost, her character wouldn't have much of a purpose or might be boring.  On the contrary, I grew to love her character and her determination to discover the truth.  I felt her pain when she could do nothing but sit and watch life move on without her.  And the flashbacks helped to reveal more about her character.  The only thing that bothered me about her was the fact that she's a ghost, but only her boyfriend can see her.  That just didn't make sense and wasn't really explained.

The plot held my attention.  My only complaint is that there were a few scenes every now and then where it felt like nothing important was happening.  Otherwise, the story flowed very fast and I honestly couldn't put the book down.  The flashbacks, which I would normally find annoying, actually served to increase the suspense.  And YAY for a young adult murder mystery where the killer wasn't totally obvious.  I had my suspicions on several different characters, but even by the end, I couldn't quite narrow it down to who it really was.  I loved the ending - so many twists!

This was such an engaging read.  I loved the wide cast of characters, the authentic teen voice, and the inventive storyline.  I had a few minor quibbles, but overall I loved this debut novel and I can't wait for Bethany Neal to write more books!  I'd absolutely recommend this, especially for Pretty Little Liars fans.  It's impossible to put down - the perfect summer read!

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

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (46)

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 Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead!

Goodreads summary:

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

My thoughts:

I need more Adrian/Sydney adorableness!  They're one of my favorite fictional couples, and after the way The Fiery Heart ended, I'm dying to find out what happens next!

What's your WoW pick?

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Top 5 Books of May 2014

Thanks to the fact that I'm taking the SATs next weekend, I've been going crazy studying and haven't been reading as much.  But the good news is: I'm done with school!  Once the SATs are over, I will finally be done with studying and I am SO excited to dive back into the many books I'm dying to read.  Here's what I read in May:

- United We Spy by Ally Carter
- The Warrior by Victoria Scott
- All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
- Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
- The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
- Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
- The One by Kiera Cass
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
- Avalon by Mindee Arnett
- Infinityglass by Myra McEntire
- Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
- My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
- Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
- Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
- Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

My top five books:

1. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi.  It's been two and a half years since I started this trilogy, and I've gotten so much more critical as a reader since then, so I was afraid that I wouldn't love this book as much as I wanted to.  But it totally exceeded my expectations.  Veronica Rossi is an insanely talented author.  This was one of the rare books this month that I absolutely couldn't put down.  Creative and thrilling, it's the perfect conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy.

2. The Warrior by Victoria Scott.  This is another trilogy I'm going to miss, and The Warrior was easily my favorite out of the series.  There were moments that made me laugh as well as moments that made me want to cry.  The cast of characters is so endearing and memorable, and I'm still blown away by a couple of the great twists and the action-packed battle at the end.  Love this series!

3. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead.  SQUEE.  This book was basically nothing but Adrian feels.  We finally get his point-of-view as well as Sydney's, and ohmygosh I just love him so much.  He and Sydney are so wonderful as a couple, and as always, Adrian has some of the best lines ever.  And that cliffhanger ending was brutal.  I'm dying for the next book to come out.

4. My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal.  I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book, but it ended up being way better than I thought it'd be.  It reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars, with all the high school drama.  The writing was perfect, with just the right amount of description, and the main character's voice was so distinct.  I was also surprised that I didn't predict all the twists.  I had my suspicions on several different characters, but I couldn't guess for sure which one was guilty.  Definitely a suspenseful and engaging read!

5. The One by Kiera Cass.  This series is such a guilty pleasure of mine.  I wholeheartedly admit that it's full of flaws, but Maxon and America are adorable and I can't help shipping them.  I liked that this wasn't just focused on the romance, and that we also got to see some more action.  And the author surprised me by actually killing off a couple characters. *sniffle* Overall, an entertaining and fluffy read.  I'm going to miss this series!  

Honorable mentions to Landry Park and Infinityglass!

~ Kaitlyn