Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Title: A Million Miles Away
Author: Lara Avery
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

I have to admit, I was not planning on liking this book. Honestly, I was dreading reading it. It just didn't sound like a book that I would enjoy. I hate lying and cheating and people's self-brought misery. But A Million Miles Away really surprised me. I actually really liked it! I empathized with the characters way more than I thought I would.

For those who haven't heard of A Million Miles Away:

When high school senior Kelsey's identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn't know about the tragedy is Michelle's boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can't bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can't deny that she's falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn't want.

The blurb doesn't do the book justice at all. Based on the synopsis, I found the book completely unbelievable. I didn't understand how someone could do something so cruel and dumb. I hated Kelsey on principle. But once I started reading, I found that I understood and related to the character's decisions. The rabbit hole that they fall down is actually charmingly realistic.

I know that some people were very skeptical about how Peter could've believed that Kelsie was Michelle. But let's look at the facts. Michelle and Peter spent most of their relationship apart, developing their feelings over email and phone calls. This explained why it was so easy for Peter to mistake Kelsey for Michelle, with brief video calls through poor internet connection. Additionally, Peter was grasping at straws. I don't think he ever really needed Michelle to survive his time in Afghanistan. He just needed someone--someone to make him laugh, someone to hold onto. So he didn't care if Michelle wasn't acting like herself, as long as she was a face and a person for him to think and dream about.

And, yes, Michelle and Kelsey are supposed to be as different as night and day. So how on earth could Kelsey pretend to be Michelle? But that's the whole point of the novel. Michelle's death sets Kelsey on the path toward self discovery. She begins realizing that Kelsey, the person who she's been her whole life, was never really Kelsey; she was just the opposite of Michelle, by default. If Michelle liked art, Kelsey hated art. If Michelle liked hot chocolate, Kelsey liked coffee. Kelsey never really found herself before Michelle's death. She was always just the anti-Michelle. So the novel becomes more of Kelsey's exploration of herself, as she tries to find out who exactly she is now that she's not trying to just be "not Michelle."

I really enjoyed the journey that the story forced Kelsey to take. One of the notes I made at the beginning was, "I wish Avery had developed Kelsey and Michelle's relationship more at the beginning so that I could sympathize more." But the lack of foundation turned out to be crucial. Yes, I didn't know about Kelsey and Michelle's relationship. But it turns out that Kelsey didn't know about Kelsey and Michelle's relationship either! The two twins were living in their own little bubble, so determined to stand out and be their own person that they missed out on something huge--each other. Kelsey realizes that she really didn't know Michelle as well as she thought, which is why we never got to know Michelle either. Because Kelsey didn't know her. I felt like that was really key to Kelsey's development.

One thing I didn't like was Kelsey's all-encompassing relationship with Peter. First of all, she has a boyfriend. I hated that she was fostering these feelings for Peter while she was still dating Davis. That really grated on me. Second of all, she completely abandoned her friends for Peter--who was overseas! I hated how she shut out everyone except for this boy. However, when I contemplated it more, I understood that it was all part of Kelsey's grieving process. Going to school and hanging out with her friends reminded her that Michelle wasn't there. But allowing herself to remain in the little Peter bubble that she created let her stay in a world where she didn't have to let go of Michelle.

Overall, I thought that the redeeming quality wasn't the romance, but rather Kelsey's character development and self-exploration. A Million Miles Away completely caught me off-guard; I was shocked to find that I was completely invested and engaged in this novel! I would give it 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 (since it exceeded my admittedly low expectations). I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who wants to read about self-discovery with a little heart-string-tugging on the side.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Title: Hopeless
Author: Colleen Hoover
Format I Read: Kindle
Pages: 410
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: December 19, 2012
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

Wow, that was a wild ride. I’ve recently been introduced to Colleen Hoover’s absolute mastery when it comes to novels; I read Confess a few weeks ago and am still reeling. Hoover possesses such a fantastic talent, the ability to create a puzzle that leaves you guessing until the very last chapter, the very last page.

Though the beginnings of her novels are often disorienting and discouraging, the ending makes up for the beginning of the book tenfold. Yes, I didn’t love the beginning. Holder just wasn’t a likable character and I didn’t understand his motivations. He was too back-and-forth, which Sky constantly comments on. I was just overwhelmed by the whiplash I got from his mood swings and his actions. But, by the end, I understood why he did what he did. Everything comes together in such an amazing, astounding way. I feel like I’m always whispering, “What just happened? How did she even think of all this?!” after her books. It’s truly an art. I aspire to be able to be such a fantastic story-weaver someday.

For those who don’t know what Hopeless is about:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

I really won’t go into much detail in this review because I’m scared that it’ll be riddled with spoilers. Like I said earlier, Hoover’s books are a puzzle. She utilizes the fact that the reader only knows what she reveals, what she wants them to know. This means that she can blindside you just about twenty times in each book. Because of this, I’m going to tread very carefully and speak very generally.

First of all: honestly, the puzzle! Guys, I know I’m talking about this puzzle a lot, but I’m honestly amazed. I just went on a twenty minute rant (to my mom) about how awing and shocking and disorienting and amazing these puzzles are. I’m shocked at every turn. I feel like every other chapter contains a plot twist that slowly helps you figure out what the big reveal is. This makes the ending so completely and utterly satisfying. It’s like the feeling when you finally finish a 1,000-piece puzzle: that indescribable feeling of accomplishment. Everything finally makes sense at the end of Hoover’s books. That’s the only word to describe it: satisfying.

Second of all: the content. I love that Hoover tackled this subject. I won’t mention what it is because spoilers, but it was really well done. Hoover approached it in an interesting way, enough so that it had an impact but didn’t feel like a book only about that topic. It was truly the perfect mix. I also loved Sky’s reactions to the situation at the end. She’s just such a strong, brave, and inspiring character. I really loved her by the end of the book.

Overall, Hopeless did not disappoint! It was true to Hoover’s M.O., in that it got a little bland and chaotic in the middle but really paid off in the end. A fantastically satisfying read that will leave you itching for more books by Colleen Hoover!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Mini Review)

Title: Illuminae 
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format I Read: ARC (Hardcover--eep)
Pages: 608
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Okay, so this review is going to be a little different... As you can see, Illuminae doesn't come out for three months. This means that it's a little too early to post my real review. However, I decided that I'd post a little "mini review" of sorts.

I did a buddy read with Aila (@ One Way or An Author) and we gushed over every other sentence. I'm not even exaggerating about that. We started it at around 8pm on Friday night, stayed up until 1am, and finished at 3pm on Saturday. We could barely put it down to eat and shower--not kidding.

Because I'm still too emotional to write a coherent review, I've decided to start building the totally deserved hype for this book by sharing Aila's and my emotions! I've screenshotted a bunch of our messages from our buddy read to show just how amazing Illuminae is. Seriously, it was a roller coaster. I recommend that everyone pre-order this book--it's going to change literary history. It's even almost 50% off on Amazon right now!

For those who don't know what Illuminae is about:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

And now... into Aila's and my reactions!! (I've tried to make sure there are no spoilers--just emotions)

Even from the start, we were obsessed and in awe over this damn book. We were literally giddy, even when we hadn't even cracked the spine yet.

The book had such an amazing balance and pulled off something that we didn't think was possible. We were sucked in within the first page.

Notice that Aila soon changed her name to "Aila (Lt Sugarpants)". And notice how quickly things escalated and the caps long turned on (and really never turned off).

In addition to AMAZING action, Illuminae had just about a million swoonworthy moments. There's a fantastic blend of genres!

We've already boarded our ship and we will sail with it until the end. And we're still reeling with how impressive this book is and what an amazing feat it is. Which demon did you sell your soul to, Amie and Jay?

We soon approached incoherent rambling and screaming. I think that my autocorrect is permanently scarred by these conversations.

And then there was the inevitable contemplation of an all-nighter. We were like addicts who didn't even want to stop for sleep.

We didn't think that we'd be talking much during this buddy read, but we literally messaged each other on EVERY SINGLE PAGE.

Jay and Amie managed to make you laugh one second and cry the next--it was an emotional roller coaster that you never wanted to end.

We constantly needed someone to vent to because our emotions were overwhelming us. To the right, you can see that we kinda lost the ability to formulate real sentences.

We literally couldn't even type sentences, guys. It was just a series of cursing and crying and death. We were completely overwhelmed by the magnificence.

And then we started reaching the end... And we didn't want to finish. But we also needed to read the amazing words that Amie and Jay wrote...

And then it was over... And we pledged our lives to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and vowed to worship Illuminae for the rest of our pitiful mortal lives.

And now we're trying to figure out how best to proceed.

And there you have it! Our overwhelming emotions brought about by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Seriously, guys, PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK. It got 5 huge stars from me (and that's only because there's a 5 star limit. I want to give it 50000 stars). I honestly think that it's going to change history.

Full review to come--stay tuned closer to the release date (October 20)!

Share in the comments: did you like this type of mini-review? Or do you prefer the traditional reviews?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

At First Sight by Patrice Wilton

Title: At First Sight
Author: Patrice Wilton
Format I Read: Kindle
Pages: 344
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Thriller
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Stars: 2
Goodreads Link

If I’m completely honest, this book felt like a cheap knockoff of Safe Haven, the book by Nicholas Sparks and the movie with Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. It was an underdeveloped, fast-paced, unrealistic, and unbelievable attempt to recreate virtually the same plot. I hate to say it, but I found this novel utterly disappointing and am only giving it 2 stars—which is being generous.

For those who are unfamiliar with At First Sight:

War veteran Brent Harrington, a helicopter pilot who lost his sight when he was shot down in Afghanistan, is now back home in the US and struggling to come to terms with the fact that his sight may never return. Natalie Connors, a beautiful young woman fleeing an abusive relationship and looking for a fresh start, is hired by Brent’s best buddy, another war veteran, as a home health care aide to help Brent adapt to his newly darkened world. Thrown together by fate, they take the first tentative steps toward love…

But when Natalie’s vicious ex tracks her down, can the passion and tenderness she and Brent share protect her?

At First Sight is a highly emotional story about two damaged people and the healing they must go through before they can commit and find their happily-ever-after.

First, the writing. The writing was completely bland. It felt childish. The dog spoke. It spoke. Instead of just saying “Sam barked,” Wilton actually wrote “Woof woof.” In quotation marks. I felt like I was reading a children’s book! It just seemed so silly. I couldn’t get into the writing style at all.

Second, the characters. The characters made no sense. They had no depth. Brent went back and forth so many times that I got whiplash. He wasn’t even remotely believable. I understand the struggle he was going through and I understand how frustrated he must feel. But his emotions and his actions made no sense. As with Natalie! She gave me whiplash, too, with how many times she switched between, “I want to stay, I love him,” and “I need to grow, I can’t stay.” God, make a decision already! And the minor characters were no better. They were completely flat and boring.

Third, the plot. It was all just so messy. Both the “suspense” plotline with Carl and the romantic plotline with Brent were disappointing. The big confrontation with Carl was a complete flop. It didn’t live up to the buildup at all. The romantic plotline, like I said earlier, was just too wishy-washy. The characters went back and forth every second. The romance also just had no development. One second, Natalie was blunt and closed off. Next second, she was making out with him. One second, Brent resented Natalie’s presence. Next second, he was risking his life by crossing the street alone just to get her her morning coffee. It was unbelievable.

I did like some things. I really liked how Brent had a psychosomatic disorder. It was cool that Wilton touched on that because I feel like it’s very unknown. It also has such a stigma on it, just like mental illnesses: the whole “why don’t you just get better if it’s all in your head?” It was interesting to see that come in play. I also liked that Natalie was focusing on herself and her self-confidence and development. That was encouraging. If only she stuck to it and didn’t want to back out for a boy every other minute!

Though this book had a lot of potential, it didn’t live up to my expectations at all. For those who like fast-paced romances with a cheap suspense subplot, go for it. It should be a nice, mindless summer read for those who are looking for something to snack on at the beach. But this definitely isn’t a wow book that you’ll devour.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday #5: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that give us those book tingles!

Today's WoW pick is an exciting and wild time travel piece by one of the loveliest authors ever! Unfortunately, like with Truthwitch, we have a long wait ahead of us...

This Wednesday, I'm waiting on Passenger by Alexandra Bracken! It shares a book birthday with Truthwitch and will be out on January 5, 2016.

I have an ARC that I'm itching to start reading. The book sounds like a captivating blend of genres: historical, romance, fantasy, science fiction, you name it! I'm so excited to see what Bracken has in store for us.

Here's the Goodreads synopsis for those who haven't heard of Passenger:

Violin prodigy Etta Spencer had big plans for her future, but a tragedy has put her once-bright career at risk. Closely tied to her musical skill, however, is a mysterious power she doesn't even know she has. When her two talents collide during a stressful performance, Etta is drawn back hundreds of years through time.

Etta wakes, confused and terrified, in 1776, in the midst a fierce sea battle. Nicholas Carter, the handsome young prize master of a privateering ship, has been hired to retrieve Etta and deliver her unharmed to the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the Colonies--the very same one that orchestrated her jump back, and one Nicholas himself has ties to. But discovering she can time travel is nothing compared to the shock of discovering the true reason the Ironwoods have ensnared her in their web.

Another traveler has stolen an object of untold value from them, and, if Etta can find it, they will return her to her own time. Out of options, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the mysterious traveler. But as they draw closer to each other and the end of their search, the true nature of the object, and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, comes to light -- threatening to separate her not only from Nicholas, but her path home... forever.

Just look at that cover... with a cover that beautiful, I can't imagine how amazing the actual book is going to be! I'm so excited for this novel, and I hope I've sucked a few of you into the rapidly developing Passenger fandom.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Top Ten" Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity and/or Diverse Characters

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Each week, The Broke and Bookish host the Top Ten Tuesday discussion. They provide a bookish prompt and  other bloggers are welcome to share their "Top Ten" in the specific topic!

Today is a Tuesday, which means it's time for a Top Ten! Today's topic is "Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters."

I'm hurrying through this off the top of my head so there will only be 8 books today!

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
The Masked Truth features a cast with a wide range of neurotypical characteristics, including PTSD, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, etc.

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Dream Things True includes a romance between Alma and Evan, two characters of vastly different socioeconomic levels. Alma and her extensive Hispanic family also help to celebrate diversity.

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Soundless, though a fantasy standalone, features Chinese folklore. The characters are all Asian, surrounded by Asian culture.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Ten includes two types of diversity: racial and neurotypical. TJ is African American and Minnie has an anxiety disorder (and bipolar disorder, I believe).

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath and the Dawn, as a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, features both ethnic characters and a rich ethnic setting.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Maybe Someday features multiple disabled characters. A few are deaf, while another I believe has cystic fibrosis.

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen
North of Beautiful features an Asian hero to our blonde heroine. He also had a cleft lip, which I think celebrates even more diversity!

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Perfect Chemistry, like Dream Things True, features characters who are of different socioeconomic levels and of different races. However, while the latter features a Hispanic heroine, Perfect Chemistry features a Hispanic hero.

What are your top ten books that celebrate diversity?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Format I Read: Kindle
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Stars: 3
Goodreads Link

You have no idea how much it pains me to say this… but this book was a bit of a disappointment. For the last few weeks, all I’ve heard about this book is gushing—gushing about the romance, the chemistry, the steam, the beauty of this book. Maybe I had high expectations. Maybe this book just wasn’t for me. Either way, it only earned 3 stars.

It was entertaining, sure. I didn’t get bored or feel that it dragged on. It just had no spark. It wasn’t a wow book.

For those who don’t know what Breathe, Annie, Breathe is about:

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

It was a great concept. I personally don’t run, but I admire people who use exercise as an escape. I loved that this book was exploring that, exploring the therapy behind running. And I loved how the book tracked her progress as she approached the big day, her marathon. I also enjoyed how the physical progress reflected her mental and emotional healing. That was really interesting to see! It was also really cool how Kenneally included Annie’s workout calendar at the end of every few chapters. That was a cool way to track the timeline and it really made the book more cohesive. I thoroughly enjoyed the running aspect of the book!

Unfortunately, it was the romance that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It just didn’t click with me. I liked Jeremiah and Annie’s scenes together, but I didn’t feel any undeniable chemistry or any steamy sexual tension. Sure, I aww’d a few times. Don’t get me wrong, they had cute scenes. I liked their relationship. But I didn’t feel the electric charge, the sparks that I was promised. There wasn't enough development for me to get totally invested in their relationship. It was just too sudden and too forced to me.

Also… can we talk about their hookup? (This may be a mild spoiler, though it happens early on in the book. Tread carefully) They hookup on one of Annie’s early runs in her training. Out of nowhere. He takes her to the shade of some trees to cool down, they end up by a river, and suddenly their clothes are flying off. It literally had no foundation, no lead-up. I actually had to double back and reread the last few pages to see if I missed something. I felt like Kenneally just pressed the jump-start button to get the romance rolling; it just wasn’t natural.

Overall, Breathe, Annie, Breathe just didn’t strike a chord with me. It was a nice, light read that went by quickly, but nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, I recommend it for anyone looking for a relaxing read on the beach this summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Title: How to Love 
Author: Katie Cotugno
Format I Read: Kindle
Pages: 389
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Stars: 2
Goodreads Link

Okay, so I know I was warned about this book… But I still didn’t expect it to be this ugh. All of the reviews ranted about what a disappointment this book was, how unlikable Sawyer was, and how difficult the book was to get through. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try. I borrowed it from Overdrive on a whim right before going away on my trip to Europe. To my consternation, the reviews were correct.

For those who are unfamiliar with How to Love:

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

Basically, the book alternated between two time frames: before the baby and after the baby. Or essentially before Sawyer left and after Sawyer left. These two time frames were both terrible in their own way. I’ll tackle this review with two prongs: my complaints about before and my complaints about after.

Before: Every one of these chapters left me wanting to slam Reena’s head against the wall. I could not, for the life of me, understand why she was still with Sawyer. She had the brightest future ahead of her: Northwestern, traveling the world, writing about her adventures. Yet she allowed herself to be trapped by Sawyer. She allowed herself to be turned into a wretched person, someone who lies, someone who skips school, someone who goes behind her family’s backs. All for a boy. I couldn’t handle watching her destruction. I wanted to rip my hair out, honestly.

After: These chapters also made me want to slam Reena’s head against the wall. She built a good, solid life for herself after Sawyer left her. Sure, her life wasn’t perfect. She’s stuck at a community college instead of Northwestern. She’s still waiting tables at her dad’s restaurant instead of traveling the world and writing about it. But she still has a good life. She has a reliable, kind boyfriend. She has a best friend she can rely on (Shelby, the only good character in the novel). And she’s a great mother. Her relationship and her care for Hannah, her baby, was one of the few good things about this book. Yet she nearly throws it all away for Sawyer. Again. This book was just such a broken record. She didn’t learn from her mistakes at all. She had no strength, no backbone. One second she’s insisting that she’ll never forgive Sawyer, the next second she’s betraying her boyfriend and jumping Sawyer’s bones. It was like watching a fire rip through a forest, watching this destruction of the life she created.

Yeah, there were a few good parts to the book. I liked the travel writing idea. I loved Shelby, as she was the only rational and good character. The ending was somewhat satisfying. But this book really dragged on. If I wasn’t traveling myself (and in need of something to occupy my time), I probably would’ve DNF’d it. The few good qualities weren’t worth the pain of reading this.

Before I go though: one thing I admired about the book was the way it dealt with Shelby’s sexuality. She was a lesbian, yeah. But she wasn’t a stereotype. She was just another character. Her sexuality was just one of her many characteristics; it didn’t define her. That was really, truly refreshing.

Unfortunately, I still have to give this book 2 stars. It would’ve been 1 star, but Shelby and the ending allowed it to scrape by with 2 stars. If you enjoy turmoil and watching people self-destruct, feel free to check this book out. I, personally, have a very low tolerance for that, so I didn’t enjoy this novel. It reminded me of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, in the way that Reena and Sawyer’s relationship was just so unhealthy and destructive. If that type of romance (and book) is your cup of tea, definitely pick this novel up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday #4: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that give us those book tingles!

My past few WoW books have been ones that I've already read ARCs of. Today's post features a book that I have not read yet. So I'm just as clueless and eager as all of you!

I'm totally dying to read this book. I have a copy but haven't picked it up yet because it doesn't release until January. Yes, you heard that correctly: January.

Today's pick is Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. The release date is January 5, 2016, so buckle up for a long wait!

 Though I'm not an official Witchlander (I sadly didn't get picked for the street team), I'm a Witchlander at heart! So I'm super excited to share this book with you guys. The virtual support for Truthwitch is absolutely insane. There's an official Twitter account for it (@Truthwitch) and there's always someone gushing about it, no matter what time or day it is. Welcome to the fandom!

Here's the Goodreads synopsis for those who haven't heard of Truthwitch:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Though I haven't read Dennard's other books, I absolutely adore her. She's one of the sweetest authors that I've ever met. Despite everyone's excitement over getting a copy of Truthwitch at BEA, she was still humble enough to doubt that people would show up to her signing. She's so down to earth and genuine. I can't wait to read what she's cooked up for us in this highly anticipated fantasy!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Top Ten" Tuesday: Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Each week, The Broke and Bookish host the Top Ten Tuesday discussion. They provide a bookish prompt and  other bloggers are welcome to share their "Top Ten" in the specific topic!

Today is a Tuesday, which means it's time for a Top Ten! Today's topic is "Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession."

This is going to be a bit of a repeat from my "Stacking the Shelves" posts, but I shall post nonetheless. The last ten books that came into my possession are as follows:

From #booksfortrade:
1. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
2. Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland
3. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
4. Pivot Point by Kasie West
5. Zodiac by Romina Russell
6. The Jewel by Amy Ewing
7. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
8. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han
9. In Honor by Jessica Kirby

10. Chasing Impossible by Katie McGarry*

*Chasing Impossible is an exclusive offer that came with the preorder of Nowhere But Here that I'm super excited about!

What are the last ten books that came into your possession? Share in the comments!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! It is hosted every week (typically on Saturday) by Tynga's Reviews.

This week's books are all from Ollie's, a stellar bargain store. I got 5 books (4 of which are hardcovers) for only $12.99. That's less than the cost of one hardcover at a normal retailer! Is that amazing or what?!

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Virals by Kathy Reichs
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Legend by Marie Lu
Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Fire by Kristin Cashore

Have you read any of these? Which ones do you recommend?

Have you been to Ollie's?

What did you stack your shelves with this week?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #3: Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that give us those book tingles!

In case you didn't see my WoW post last week (featuring The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong), I'll give you a recap. I'm going to do a little bit of a twist, since I've been reading so many books that don't come out until the fall. I'm featuring books that I've already read in my WoW posts to help build up the hype and do some pre-review gushing. I'll be including some excerpts from my upcoming review!

This week's pick is Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall. It comes out October 20, 2015, and I'm so pumped. It's such a cute and fun read.

Here's the synopsis:

Jane, a superstitious fangirl, takes an anonymous babysitting job to avoid an unpaid internship with her college-obsessed mom. The only problem? She’s babysitting the siblings of her childhood friend and new crush, Teo.

Teo doesn’t dislike Jane, but his best friend Ravi hates her, and is determined to keep them apart. So Teo’s pretty sure his plans for a peaceful summer are shot. His only hope is that his intermittent search for his birth father will finally pan out and he’ll find a new, less awkward home. Meanwhile, at Jane’s house, her sister Margo wants to come out as bisexual, but she’s terrified of how her parents will react.

In a summer filled with secrets and questions, even Jane’s Magic 8 ball can’t give them clear answers, but Signs Point to Yes.

Such a great read--I definitely recommend preordering. At the top of the list of books I'm waiting on!

Some excerpts from my upcoming review:

"I laughed in almost all of the scenes! If I wasn't laughing, I was definitely grinning like an idiot. Signs Point to Yes was just one of those feel-good books that makes you want to skip around in the sunshine and chase rainbows."

"The writing style, the dialogue, and the characters just really clicked for me."

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Top Ten" Tuesday: Top Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Each week, The Broke and Bookish host the Top Ten Tuesday discussion. They provide a bookish prompt and  other bloggers are welcome to share their "Top Ten" in the specific topic!

Today is a Tuesday, which means it's time for a Top Ten! Today's topic is "Top Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read."

I've gotten super behind on my reading due to school so there are a bunch of these. I'll try to limit the list. Here are the ones I can think of off the top of my head:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaar Tahir

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (I've only read Throne of Glass, none of the subsequent books)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (or any of the other books by her)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

The Knife of Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Legend by Marie Lu

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

...and soo many more! I actually owns a lot of these. Like I own Alexandra Bracken's entire series and two (!) copies of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I just need to buckle down and finally read them!

Which of these books do I absolutely have to read? Which of them is the most egregious offenses?

Which books haven't you read that are super hyped?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! It is hosted every week (typically on Saturday) by Tynga's Reviews.

Today's post is going to feature all the books I recently traded for. I've been completely addicted to the #booksfortrade tag on Twitter for the last few weeks. Last week, I finally buckled down and traded. Though I haven't received all of these books yet, I'm going to throw them in here anyway. These are all the books that I will eventually own thanks to trading!

Traded with #booksfortrade (but haven't arrived yet):
Pivot Point by Kasie West (thanks, Miranda @seguined!)
Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (thanks, Casey @littlered630!)
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia (thanks, Ryan @ryanbada)
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han (thanks, Jacklin @jacklinu)
Zodiac by Romina Russell (thanks, Jocelyn @novelsandnecklaces)
Every Day by David Levithan (thanks, Sandy @faeriexflash)
Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini (thanks, Maryssa @towesandpeeks)
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (thanks, Raquel @bsweetreads)
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (thanks, Raquel @bsweetreads)
Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland (thanks, Raquel @bsweetreads)

Have you participated in #booksfortrade? What's the best book/ARC you've gotten through trading so far?

By the way, happy 4th of July to all the Americans in the audience!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #2: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that give us those book tingles!

So I'm going to do a little bit of a twist on this "Waiting On" Wednesday post. You see, I've been reading a lot of ARCs that won't be released until the fall. I've written the reviews, and I've queued them up for the month before the pub date. I did the drill.

But it makes me so sad to have to wait so long before I can share my feelings about these books with the world. So I've come up with a solution! I'm going to feature these books in my WoW posts (since technically I'm still waiting on them) and slip in a couple excerpts from my review to start building up the hype.

That means that this post is essentially going to be a pre-review gush session for The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong. I read the ARC last week and absolutely fell in love with the book. If I'm completely honest, I still have a book hangover. It's such a fantastic concept and it's so well-done.

Here's the synopsis:

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to find out that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

This book comes out October 13, 2015. Everyone should preorder this amazing novel. You won't regret it! Definitely at the top of the list of books I'm waiting on.

Some excerpts from my upcoming review:

"And the plot... wow. The Masked Truth was the perfect example of a hold-your-breath, grasp-your-chest, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller."

"It both started and ended with a bang--truly captivating, page by page."

"It was so amazing to read something so spot-on. Armstrong dealt with the mental illnesses in the novel in the most real and open way, starting such a serious discussion about such an important topic."

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below!