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 √Čtienne 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