Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley
[September 30, 2014]

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal".

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Everything about Lies We Tell Ourselves is heartbreaking.

I mean, think about this. Not only is this the story of Sarah and Linda, a black girl and a white girl, during a time when segregation was being forced to end, but it's also the story of two girls discovering their sexuality in a time when you didn't get a choice. 

From the opening pages, I was wrecked by this novel. Robin Talley describes the setting and the reactions with such brutal honesty it hurts to read, but you can't turn away. Especially when you remember it was real. These things actually happened. Kids were treated this way, talked to this way, on a daily basis. I was destroyed. I would've run away. Yet I was also admiring these kids, Sarah and her sister, for getting through it and I had to know how. The rest of the story continued to be painful and honest and so important and well written.

Sarah and her classmates were so remarkable. They were afraid and intelligent and determined. They were brave enough to do this, partially because their parents wanted them to. Talley vividly describes everything they go through without pulling punches and it's such a horrifying yet amazing thing.

Then there was Linda who I alternated on wanting to strangle and understanding. I understood how she could've been taught all that she had and why her twisted had been thinking. Especially when it's your parents. You want to believe everything your parents say and you want to think they're right, and it's a lesson all its own to learn that isn't true. Yet on the other hand HOW COULD SHE NOT GET THIS? How could she NOT get what Sarah was saying? But she was still likable, still trying to learn whether she realized it or not, but ugh. SUCH a well built character. Sympathetic yet fury-inducing.

The perspectives were really key in building these characters. Linda showed Sarah as somebody who was sarcastic and incredible at debating her perspective, but showed herself as someone who was confused and unsure about everything she knew. Sarah showed Linda as stubborn and disagreeable but herself as someone who was quiet and boiling over with frustration, but doing her best to keep it inside.

And have I mentioned it was well written? IT WAS SO WELL WRITTEN. A story like this NEEDS good writing to make sure the racism stays forefront, but the romance is still there and the character development is still there and the character BUILDING is still there because that was an art in itself. 

I'm not sorry. This book gave me all the feels. And I'm trying not to spoil anything major but that's hard but everything in this book is SO GOOD.

It does have some REALLY strong language, so if that's not your thing, cool beans! OTHERWISE GO READ THIS BOOK. GO BUY IT. GO PRE-ORDER IT. GET IT. ACQUIRE IT SOMEHOW. TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT. IT. IS. SO. GOOD.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (12)

On the Blog

Monday: Julie was a bit let down because of self-hype for AFTERWORLDS
Tuesday: Lanna had some major issues with TORRENT
Wednesday: Lanna ranks her Stephanie Perkins books
Friday: Lanna was let down by UNDECLARED

Book Haul

All Fall Down by Ally Carter (ARC from Scholastic)
OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn (hardcover via Penguin)
Atlantia by Ally Condia (ARC via Penguin)

It's really, really great having friends/working in publishing offices, guys.

Books Read

I did not finish a single book this week. It was not a good week.
Upcoming Reads

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison 
Hamlet by Shakespeare
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Winterspell by Claire Legrand

I am, in face, working on all of these. I'm hoping to knock out SoS and Hamlet today since they're both for school and I'm a good way through both. Then Claire and Sara are having their launch party Thursday, so I'd like to be most of the way through those beforehand. THEN I can really sink my teeth into Bad Feminist and Dragonfly in Amber.

Odds and Ends 

It's been a super stressful month and man will I be glad to see the end of September. Who else is ready for October?


Friday, 26 September 2014

Undeclared by Jen Frederick

by Jen Frederick

Summary: For four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson — or any man — ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way — literally — through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet.
I really don't understand my reaction to this book, because...well, I should have liked it. But I didn't and I can't really pin point much about the book that I thought was inherently bad to explain why I disliked it so much.

I just didn't like the characters. The wasn't anything particularly awful about them, but they were all kind of bland.

Maybe that was the problem I had with the book in general...the blandness. All of it, not just the characters. The plot was dull, it seemed to drag on and on in a monotonous sort of way. The romance was totally void of any spark (and at times, things Noah thought were just crossing into creepy, possessive territory), I didn't care whether Noah and Grace got together because there was nothing really interesting about them as a couple.

I think the disappointment of the romance was the biggest downfall. There was no angst, no passion, no chemistry between the characters, no real build-up it was just... It felt like I'd picked up a mug and took a sip expecting hot chocolate only to find it was filled with warm water. And we were told they felt this way about each other but never shown why really--even Noah's letters he sent her were boring, it didn't seem much like he was talking to her so much as at her in the letters.

Also, the age thing bugged me a bit. Grace is 19, Noah is 23... that isn't too bad, except the story says she was writing to him for 6 years, which would've made her a minor during most of their correspondence. She started writing to him when she was maybe about 14 years old and he would've been about 18, but the way he talked it was like she had been his pen pal girlfriend who stayed faithful to him for 4 years while he was away, and him and the other Marines lusted over her prom pictures which is just--I dunno, something about it just felt kind of wrong.

Basically, it was just a whole lot of dull and boring. The summary made it sound awesome, and it should've been...it could've been, but it fell short in the execution. I wrote a discussion post a while ago on the worst thing a book can be and my answer was boring.

I'd rate the book 1.5 stars out of 5, but if it the summary sounds interesting to you then maybe check it out for yourself and it might work out better for you than it did for me.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins

Summary: Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
Well then. I love this book (more than Lola, but not quite as much as Anna).

Stephanie Perkins is just... I love her writing, I love her characters, I love the way she writes relationships (more on that in a sec) and I really, really love the way she makes the settings come to life and feel like characters themselves.

The relationship in this one... I had some issues with it. On one hand, I loved it. I loved them together and reading about them made me smile so much that my face hurt at times. The issue was how quickly it happened--it was kind of insta-love in a way, they go from not having had a proper conversation to thoroughly obsessed and throwing around I love you's really quickly. The way Stephanie writes it, it works, it didn't feel like I was reading an insta-love relationship but whenever I'd remember/be reminded how long they had actually been together, it bugged me a little how they were with each other because it made it seem more like obsession.

But...I won't say it's unrealistic, because some people do fall that fast and know that quickly. I just enjoy reading those relationships a bit less than the slow burning relationships.

The drama in this one was slightly more frustrating too, because it was Isla and her issues...when all the relationship drama is coming from one of the characters and their own internalised issues, it's more frustrating to read than the kind of drama that comes from external problems (which, I guess, is why I liked Anna and the French Kiss better--it wasn't a rushed relationship and the issues were less frustrating).

...Those are all the negatives I can think of, but I can't really put into words what I loved about the book (which happens quite frequently when a book is awesome, because it feels like I can't do the book justice when I try to explain why it's great). I guess I'm just trying to explain the reasons why I loved it but not as much as the first book (OH! Also, that reminds me, I loved the cameos from the characters of the first two books).

Enough rambling. This series is awesome and they're definitely on my list of all time favourite contemporary romances (and have earned Stephanie Perkins a top spot on my insta-read list). I'd rate this one 4 stars out of 5 (maybe 4.5).


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Torrent by Gemma James

by Gemma James

Summary: She sent an innocent man to prison. Now, eight years later, he's returning the favor...

I’ve been obsessed with Rafe Mason since I was thirteen. The twisted part of this story is that I still want him, even now.

Now that he's holding me captive on an island.

Rafe has his reasons for doing what he's doing, and if I'm honest, I can't blame him. I’m the girl who sent him to prison for a heinous crime he didn't commit.

But now he's free and the tables have turned...now he's the one driven by obsession.
This book has made me thoroughly sceptical of recommendations I see on Goodreads, because it's the second book I've read and had the same sort of issues with. I wasn't even going to review it because I was afraid it would be more rant than review, but I think negative reviews are important too...so...here goes.

I want to start of by saying that I don't have an issue with the author or with the people who loved the book and I'm not judging them for writing/liking the book.

So...I had a lot of issues with this book. There was a warning at the end of the Goodreads summary saying this: "new adult dark romance with disturbing themes and explicit content, including sexual scenes and violence that may offend some" 

Now, the book didn't offend me, but I was annoyed that the warning wasn't more specific.

The book is about kidnapping*...because of that it's easy to think the warning is about the kidnapping aspect and the problematic things linked to a kidnapper/victim relationship. But no, there was a lot of rape and sexual assault in this book--the love interest himself is a rapist, and I wouldn't have read the book had I known that. The warning lists "sexual scenes" and "violence" separately, I wish it had warned specifically that it contained sexual violence.

But, I didn't know so I read it...and didn't like it. Here's why:

To me, "love interest" and "rapist" are mutually exclusive terms in a romance. I'm fine with dark romance, but there's nothing romantic about a man who rapes and sexually assaults a woman, who is violent and abusive and gets off on it.

Anyway...enough about that. As for the book itself, I felt kind of sick while reading it...and yet, I did keep reading it because I wanted to see how it all played out. So while I had major issues with it, it did hold my attention, which is something I guess? The author can write a compelling story, it's just the characters and the subject matter I had issues with.

This wasn't a romance to me, I can't view it as that...I can view it as a book about a horribly unhealthy and disturbing relationship and it's kind of like a train wreck I can't look away from. When I thought of it like that, instead of as something intended to be romantic with a relationship I'm supposed to be rooting for, then it mades it easier to read it.

It ended on a cliffhanger and I hated that. Not just because it was a cliffhanger, but because of the twist it pulled, I hate that kind of twist. But, I will probably read the sequel because it will really annoy me not knowing how it turned out...I guess in that way, the cliffhanger served its purpose.

I'd rate the book 2 stars out of 5, purely because it didn't bore me. If you're okay with stories with the subject matter then maybe this one will work for you, there's clearly people on Goodreads who liked it (loved it even). The main reason I wanted to review the book was so I could explain what happens in the book and you could decide for yourself whether to read it or give it a miss.

From now on, if a book comes with a warning like this one had I'm probably going to just assume it means rape or sexual assault even if the warning is vague and could be referring to many other issues (because this is the second time it has happened).


*I was hoping it would be sort of like the New Adult version of Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Monday, 22 September 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld
[September 23, 2014]
ARC from Teen Author Carnival

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

I was so pumped about this book. A YA book about a YA writer? Hell yes I'm there! Why hasn't this been done before? And it held up to the high expectations I had...kind of.

The book alternates chapters between Darcy, the YA writer, and her move to NYC, and Lizzie, the girl who sees ghosts being written by Darcy. Lizzie's story tackles the traditional paranormal YA trope in a way. She's in genuine danger several times and makes an unexpected choice, so her storyline was interesting. It was thrilling and grabbing and creepy, but it wasn't really what I was reading for.

Then there was Darcy's story which is kind of where I'm torn. Darcy was maybe the most stereotypical teenage character I've read in a long time. She was impulsive and naive and seemed to have NO real experience in the world or idea of what she was doing which just isn't really the case so much with the majority of teenagers at this point. They're not generally that clueless anymore. But there were also aspects of her that were all too real to me. She moves to NYC and makes horrible decision after horrible decision. As I spent most of the summer at my parents' to avoid doing exactly the same thing in NYC, I can obviously relate to that. But it didn't make it any less hard to want to smack some sense into her. I'm still torn on if she had more redeeming qualities or horrible qualities and if that makes her a good character or not.

But there was still a lot of good in this book. It was unique and well written. It didn't pull punches about the reality of writing and living in NYC and being a writer. There were a lot of fantastic, three dimensional characters in both story lines. We also got to see Darcy while she was revising her novel and the editorial commentary she was getting for her revision and how she worked with it in real time, which was a cool experience. And it was a page turner. I really wanted to know how both stories turned out and was addicted.

This was without a doubt a good, well written book and I feel like everyone should at least try it, especially those with an interest in writing or publishing. But I definitely had some issues with it that may not work with you guys.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (11)

On the Blog

Tuesday: Julie managed to throw together a review of STAY WITH ME between finishing a paper and going to work
Wednesday: Lanna's getting mixed signals from BOUNTY


Book Haul

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (finished copy bought at Books of Wonder)
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Walker (finished copy bought at Strand)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (finished copy bought at Books of Wonder)
Zodiac by Romina Russell (ARC via work)
Nameless by Lili St. Crow (paperback via work) 
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (paperback via work) 
Our Song by Jordanna Fraiburg (ARC via work) 
The Fourth Wish by Lindsay Ribar (hardcover via work) 
The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (hardcover via work) 
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (hardcover via work) 
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (mass market via Ksenia) 
Life Sucks by Jessica Abel (graphic novel via Ksenia)
Americus by M.K. Reed (graphic novel via Ksenia)
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (graphic novel via Ksenia)
The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa (graphic novel via Ksenia)
The Cute Girl Network by M.K. Reed (graphic novel via Ksenia)
Solomon's Thieves by Jordan Mechner (graphic novel via Ksenia)
The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason (unsolicited hardcover sent by publisher) 
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (egalley via Netgalley) 
Grace's Guide by Grace Helbig (egalley via Edelweiss) 
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (egalley via Netgalley) 
Pitch Imperfect by Elise Alden (egalley via Netgalley) 
Infinite by Jodi Meadows (hardcover bought at CBC Book Rave)
Deliverance by C.J. Redwine (hardcover bought at CBC Book Rave)
Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley (hardcover bought at CBC Book Rave)
All of You by Christina Lee (paperback bought at CBC Book Rave)

(Note: This does not include some ACTUAL work books as in books I am working on)
Things I Learned This Week: 
1.) Penguin has some pretty epic take shelves. I won't be talking about any of these while I work here, but. Penguin-o-Rama in the spring. 
2.) Ksenia is the greatest. She didn't want me to be deprived of Jamie, so she got me book 2 in the Outlander series and a whole bunch of graphic novels so I can further delve into my graphic-novel education. Also we had tea and custard together this week.
3.) I can't be trusted at book festivals. Which is why I'm at Brooklyn Book Festival today, obvs. 

Books Read
Stay with Me by J. Lynn
My True Love Gave to Me
 Upcoming Reads

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
A Shakespeare Play I Don't Remember
Wild by Sophie Jordan
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy
Hijacking the Runway by Teri Agins

Two for school, two for work, and two for me. I know this seems super ambitious, but these are all things I'm currently reading and will probably be reading for at least another week. Although, I DO have two days off this week and I want to spend one of those days sleeping and reading and doing laundry. The other day will be for tackling ALL THE THINGS. Or more sleep because man I miss sleep.
Odds and Ends 

I mentioned a couple things in this post you may be interested in!

1.) Book Festivals - Yesterday was the CBC Book Rave in New Rochelle, which is a 25 minute train ride out of NYC. Normally, I'd have refused BUT C.J. Redwine, Jodi Meadows, and Joy Hensley were going to be there and they don't make this trip often. Of the three, I've only met Jodi one other time. And all three are important enough to me I decided it was worth it. I also met/got to see several authors I've known on twitter and in real life and it was a lot of fun. Today, I'm at Brooklyn Book Festival. I'm a volunteer, so I'm acting as an author escort until the afternoon, then I'll get to go browse. I withdrew money and that's my budget for the day, no exceptions. I need to pace myself with all the other book events coming up! (Huntley Fitzpatrick, Christina Lauren, Marie Lu, Heather Demetrios, NYCC...it's a busy time, y'all)

2.) My lack of sleep - You're probably not interested in this but too bad. I'm currently working two jobs (internship + freelancing), taking 5 classes, 4 of which are reading intensive and 1 of which has really long homework assignments each week, as well as attending all these book events and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. I think I've gotten more than 5 hours of sleep twice in the past week and a half. Fortunately, my campus is closed Wednesday-Friday for the Jewish holidays, so I only have one day of class and two days of work (which are WAY less exhausting than school, honestly) and two days to try and catch up on sleep and assignments and reading and relax. I'm...really not sure how it's gonna work when I keep remembering all that has to get done.

And...that's it. Should I push any of these books up my TBR? Anything else you wanna hear about? Let me know how your week was!



Book haul

These are books I've gotten over a few weeks, because I suck at doing the weekly wrap up thing on a weekly basis.

For review

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton - Amazing cover, awesome title and from what I've read so far, probably a fantastic book.


Outlander/Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon - I may have included this in a previous book haul, but the first time I ordered it I got an email saying the seller made a mistake and it was actually out of stock, so I had to re-order it.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Heir of Fire and The Assasins Blade by Sarah J Maas - Already read an e-galley of Heir of Fire and loved it, needed a physical copy.

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi - Ever since reading and loving A Thousand Splendid Suns, I've been looking for more books set in Afghanistan that I'll love just as much...hopefully this is one of them.


After Math by Denise Grover Swank
Asher by Jo Raven
Bounty by Elise Sax
Every Little Piece by Kate Ashton

Rules of Protection by Alison Bliss
The Protector by Gennita Low
Undeclared by Jen Frederick
Family Magic by Patti Larsen

Land by Theresa Shaver
Rogues, Rakes and Jewels by Claudy Conn 

So I kind of stupidly signed up to this site that sends you emails with e-books offers (either they're free or on sale) and you can choose which genres and things you want to be emailed about...anyway, I ended up downloading a bunch.  If any sound interesting, maybe check on Amazon because they might still be free/on sale.

I may be forgetting some, but that's all I remember.

Other non-bookish stuff

It's been an odd week. On Thursday, my country (Scotland) had a referendum and we got to vote on whether or not we wanted to leave the UK and become and independent country which is a pretty huge deal (and I think there was like a 90% turnout, which is a record amount...people as young as 16 were allowed to vote too, which makes it more impressive and may even make the government consider lowering the voting age for general elections too).

The No side won with 55% of the votes. But, considering nearly half of my country voted yes to independence, it pretty much forces Westminsters hand meaning they have to deliver on the promises (more power to control our own country) that they made... So, yeah, changes should--hopefully--be happening.

...And I'll shut up about that now, it's a big deal for Scotland (and the UK) but probably not interesting to most people outside of that (poor Julie had to put up with me rambling on Skype throughout the night as the results came in). =P

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bounty by Elise Sax

by Elise Sax

Summary: Abby Williams has got it made: First a new job as magazine editor in London, and now a trip to an exotic island to review a five-star resort with poolside service. Unfortunately, on day two of her vacation, Abby finds herself bound and stuffed into a burlap bag and dragged across two continents. And worse than that? Her hottie abductor has got her distracted. Maybe escape is overrated.

Iain Brodie is a muscle-bound mercenary. He just helped a despotic dictator take over an island. He's also Abby's kidnapper, and he has his own problems. Framed for a murder he didn't commit and a boss who’s out to get him, he has to face facts: Early retirement is out of the question and Abby Williams looks damned good in a burlap bag.
This book kind of took me by surprise, because I actually really liked it and finished it with a smile on my face. The reason that's surprising? I pretty much hated almost the first half of the book.

In the first half, the main character was annoying beyond belief, she was just immature and awful. And the humour--I could tell that I was supposed to be finding things funny, but it just wasn't, it was trying too hard. And the story itself was just utterly ridiculous...to the point where I couldn't tell what was bad for comedic value and what was just plain bad (at times, it felt like I was reading a parody of kidnap stories instead of just a romcom type book).

But then...the second half, it changed. It actually got pretty funny at times and while Abby still had her annoying and immature moments, she wasn't nearly so bad (either the second half was just better or she started to grow on me, I don't know which). There was still a lot about the story that was ridiculous, but it didn't bother me like it did in the first half.

Basically, I went from hating the book to being hooked and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I really liked the relationship between Brodie and Abby (even if at times I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he'd even like her) and I actually liked that it never felt like I was reading a story about Stockholm Syndrome, because it made it easier to root for them.

I'd rate the book 3.5 stars out of 5 (may have been higher, if I didn't factor in the first half), I don't recommend it if you want something serious, but if you're looking for something fun then you might like this.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

New Adult on the Block: Stay With Me by J. Lynn

Stay With Me
J. Lynn
William Morrow Paperbacks
[September 23, 2014]

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You and Be with Me comes a daring tale that pushes boundaries . . .

At 21, Calla hasn't done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should.   She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn't give them her mom.
I'm a huge fan of J. Lynn's books and very eagerly signed up for this review tour. I even put off reading until this past weekend because I knew it would keep me up way late if I read it during the week and that would not be good with my new all-early-morning schedule. And it was the right call.

I loved Calla and her story. I'm usually not a big fan of the uber tragic backstories, but Jennifer just makes it work every time. And I loved the person who Calla was despite of and because of what happened to her. Watching her develop and grow was amazing and I'm so glad we got to go on that journey with her.

Jax. Mmmmm, Jax. This is another thing I'm usually iffy on in NA books, the super protective, alpha male? Because a lot of the times it just gets kinda gross and starts to feel a bit abusive, but never with Jennifer's books. Never. She has it down so well and knows how to write guys who are strong and stubborn but only when it's really important. Otherwise, they will back down. And he was just...*happy sigh*

And, of course, the writing was as addictive as ever. J. Lynn always gives me "Just ONE More Chapter" syndrome and it's kind of terrible, but I love it. I hang on every word and wait to see how she'll bring in old characters and how things resolve themselves. I think that's especially true of this novel which probably had one of the more suspenseful main plots going on that I've seen in NA. It was very dominant in the story that they were actually in a dangerous situation and that never really went away. So instead of just wanting to see the journey that would bring our main characters together, I also really wanted to know how the actual plot was going to unfold as well.

All in all, this is another amazing novel from J. Lynn that reminded me to go add all her books on goodreads. And you should do that too. Then you should preorder STAY WITH ME. Pronto.

Buy Links:



Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (10)

On the Blog
Tuesday: Julie gushes about RITES OF PASSAGE
Thursday: Lanna had quite a road with HEIR OF FIRE
Friday: Julie's at a loss about I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
Saturday: Lanna's revisiting an old beloved genre with LABOR OF LOVE


Book Haul

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The Spy Who Loved by Clare Mulley
Queen Victoria: A Life of Contradictions by Matthew Dennison
Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I bought ALL the books this week. Stephanie Perkins had a signing and I bought all of the new covers and then embarrassingly gushed at her. Then I went to the Strand and went on a non-fiction binge-grabbing spree this weekend. It's the first time I've bought books not for a signing/really good ebook deal in MONTHS and it felt kinda nice.

I also got a bunch of books involving work stuff, but I'll probably not talk about those until my internship's over.

Books Read

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

I had mixed feelings on Magnolia, but I LOVED The Start of Me and You and cannot wait to read it again and then have all of you read it.
Upcoming Reads

...Pretty much the same as last week. Same school reading. Finishing up my blog tour book and the anthology. Working on some work books. I don't see much fun reading coming this week.

How's your week been?


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Labor of Love by Rachel Hawthorne

Labor of Love
by Rachel Hawthorne

Summary: To Do:

Investigate the French Quarter
Buy new hammer
Stop worrying that hard hat is going to ruin my hair
Stop thinking about ex-boyfriend. No guys this summer!
Find some cool jazz clubs to visit later
Get psychic readings with Jenna and Amber
Get Jenna and Amber to stop talking about psychic readings, the cute guy the psychic said I would meet, and the cute guy I just met. No guys this summer!!!
Throw self into work. Stop thinking about the cute guy!
I used to read these types of books all the time when I was younger--the tiny romcom type ones with infuriatingly awful illustrated covers, that type of book. They were the perfect quick reads to make me smile.

This is the first one I've read in ages and I only really read it because it was one that's been in my TBR for a while...but enough rambling, the point is this: I used to adore these books. They didn't measure up to my favourite books but they were perfect for what they were--cute summer reads (or, in some cases, winter as there's plenty of snow-themed ones).

I don't know if I've outgrown them now, or if I've just read too many good books that tick the same boxes that these used to (e.g. cute, fun, romcom/chick lit-y), or if maybe this particular one just wasn't my cup of tea...but yeah, I didn't like the book much.

It was okay, just okay.

The first half of the book, I just didn't like at all but it picked up more in the second half (considering how short the book is though, not liking half of it is not good). The characters were kind of annoying and Dawn's thought process is very repetetive (I like him. I don't like him. I don't want to like him. But I like him. But I don't. etc.)...the second half was better, purely because it was cute and I did think Dawn and Brady were sweet together. One thing I really did like was the New Orleans setting though.

But I dunno...there was just no spark. Nothing to make me love it, even the end was just... it was predictable, which is fine because that's expected in these books, but it was in a really underwhelming sort of way.

Like I said, I'm not sure if the problem is the book or if the problem was with me, but I'd only rate it 2.5 stars out of 5 (but if you want to check out this sort of book, I recommend one of the authors other books, Snowed In, which I remember loving when I first read it).


Friday, 12 September 2014

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson
Dial Books for Young Readers
[September 16, 2014]
ARC from BEA

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
This was my first BEA read. I knew I was desperate for it - desperate enough to be in her signing line 45 minutes early - but I hadn't realized how desperate until it called me over all the other books in my BEA pile. I mean, maybe I should have. This book's been on my goodreads shelf for like 3 years under 2 or 3 different titles. But thank God it clicked.

I didn't love it at first. Jandy Nelson's writing is undeniably gorgeous, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was a little bit confusing and the story wasn't sucking me in.

And. Then.

Just a couple chapters in, I was utterly enthralled by the story Jandy Nelson was weaving. These two perspectives were several years apart yet painted this incredibly full picture. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time to watch Jude and Noah grow into themselves and grow back into close siblings. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and read the last half of it in one sitting.

The characters in this book are all misfits that mash together at different times in different places to create families. They're all different and wonderful in some way or another and I fell in love with the whole cast and how they interacted. They all had amazing chemistry.

And the writing. OH the writing. It's so beautiful and rich and incredible. I love it so much. Jandy Nelson could write a textbook on economics and I would probably love every word. I could go on and on about it but seriously, nothing is going to do Jandy Nelson's writing justice, for the love of God just go read one of her books.

I just...I have no words for what happened. I don't want to spoil anything but this book is absolutely amazing and mind blowing. Jandy Nelson is without question one of the most skilled writers out there and you're only hurting yourself if you're not reading her books. She wove this intricate story with amazing, flawed, remarkable characters. It's a slow start where you wonder WTF is going on and if you should really be reading this, but TRUST ME. You should be. You absolutely should be. You'll look back on those chapters and think you're silly for ever doubting Jandy. 

Go. Pre-order. Buy it if you can find it. Buy The Sky is Everywhere if you can't. Enjoy having your eyes opened.


Disclaimer: This review was written and scheduled before I was employed at Penguin. My opinions are my own and do not reflect on the company, nor does my employment play a part in my opinion on this book.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Note: This is the third in the series...the review is spoiler free for the first books, but the summary won't be.

Heir of Fire
by Sarah J Maas

Summary: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
So... I really loved this book (like it would already be sitting on my favourites shelf if it wasn't an e-galley I read--that kind of loved it) but it wasn't easy getting to that point.

It took me about a month to get through the first 30-40% of the book...and then two days to speed through the rest. That first chunk of the book was torturously slow and pretty boring at times, and the POV switches bugged me (but that's just a general book pet peeve, it wasn't that it was badly done in this one).

But then, once I pushed through that drag in the beginning, it just clicked. It got interesting and then it got awesome, and then it got really awesome and now I pretty much hate Sarah J Maas for writing such a good book and leaving me pining desperately for the sequel (except not hate, more like adore).

Celaena is a fantastic character. I've liked her from the first book, but she's one of those characters that can be frustrating. She was really frustrating at times in this book...for reasons I can't explain without spoilers...but she grows and changes and becomes this really awesome character and because getting there wasn't easy for her, because it was a struggle and she is flawed, it made me like her character her even more. And I loved that we got to know a bit more about her history and the reasons she is the way she is.

I can't wait for the rest of the series now because while I went into this book thinking I wanted her to stand up an announce to the world who she is and fight right away, I know now that this book was so necessary because she needed that journey as a character before she was ready for that.

And then there's the other characters, especially the new ones. Rowan is just awesome and I love the bond that forms between him and Celaena, that was the highlight of the book for me...I could happily read a book of just those two hanging out and annoying each other.

I really liked Aedion and Manon too (her POV's were weird, because most of the time when I put the book down and didn't go back to it for a while, it was when it reached her POV's... and yet when I was actually reading those chapters, I got totally caught up in them--I think the issue may have just been my aversion to alternating POV's and because her chapters strayed a lot from the rest of the story, getting to them always bugged me more even if I did enjoy them once I got into them).

I think that's all I can say about the book without giving spoilers really, but if you're like me and you're struggling through that first bit of the book, stick with it because all the 5 star reviews aren't exaggerating how awesome the book is. Consider this another one--I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage
Joy N. Hensley
[September 9, 2014]
ARC gifted by Nicole
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
I love contemporary, but I'm rather fickle about my contemporary. I like light contemporary - happy stories, or at the very least, stories heavy on the romance. This book does not fall under those categories. But I like Joy and my trusteds were all super into it and forbidden romance is my thing so of course I was going for it.

It was an excellent decision.

I loved Sam. I loved how loyal she was to herself. She wanted to do what was best for her, even if it was technically her brother's dare - fulfilling that dare was important to her, more than anything else. And I loved watching her develop under the challenges she faced while still remaining herself in all the best ways.

I also really loved how it became a mystery. It's clear there would be some aspects of it, but I didn't expect it to become quite as intense and page-turning of a mystery as it was. It almost felt like a political drama at times trying to figure out alliances and who knows what and what's really going on. It really hooked me and was rather unexpected on my part.

It was also incredibly raw at times. The hazing and the drills were thoroughly written and left out no detail. It hurt to read at times the things some of the students, mostly the girls, were going through and how others reacted to it. It was vividly written and painful and I think pulling that level of honest hurt takes a lot of skill.

There was an incredibly complex set of side characters, from Drill to Sam's brother Jonathan to her parents to Matthews. They all had very easy to see personalities. None of them were just cutouts or simple characters. Each one had a huge range of emotions and motivations and complicated relationships with Sam. I love when a book can balance a larger cast of characters so well. It's one of my favorite things to see and this was really done brilliantly.

Now, remember how I mentioned I like my contemporary to be romance heavy? Well, it may not be super heavy here, but there's very much romance in RITES OF PASSAGE. It's not the main plot, but it is pretty significant and wonderful and so adorable and oh my Gooooood it was lovely. And swoonworthy. Our love interest inspires all the swoons and it's forbidden and *sigh*. I loved it so much.

Then there was the ending. It's not going to work for everyone and I can understand why some people wouldn't like it, but I felt it fit the book. I really liked it because as fun as happy endings are, I really want endings that are honest to the story and the characters and, especially in contemporary, to the world it's set in. And Joy pulled it off really well.

Overall, I loved this book. It's a bit of a longer book, but I still flew through it and loved every page. I was totally hooked and I really want to see more YA like this. And NA. I'm super here for it now, so gimme moooooore but first go buy this one/get it from your library today.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (9)

On the Blog


Book Haul

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (hardcover purchased at Books of Wonder for signing)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (hardcover purchased at Books of Wonder for signing)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (hardcover purchased at Books of Wonder for signing)
The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell (ebook purchased from Amazon)
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (ebook purchased from Amazon)
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (egalley from publisher via Netgalley)
Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (egalley from publisher via Netgalley) 
Stay With Me by J. Lynn (egalley from publisher via Netgalley for blog tour)
Plus all these for school

Shockingly enough, the only physical copies I had of the Throne of Glass series were the original hardcover of ToG and the ARC of Crown of Midnight, so I went ahead and bought all the pretty, matching hardcovers at her launch party. Someday when my room is neater and I can dig the books back out, I'll show you how she signed them.

Then there was an epic romance ebook sale (that's still going on) and some REALLY old review requests approved and STAY WITH ME. Y'ALL. I NEED ALL THE J. LYNN BOOKS ALL THE TIME.

Books Read


Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren
The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
The Jewel by Amy Ewing

I was able to borrow a copy of DIRTY ROWDY THING from a friend, but had to give it back the next day. You all should pre-order it though. And I'm still working on my feelings for The Secret Sky and The Jewel.

Upcoming Reads

Stay with Me by J. Lynn
My True Love Gave to Me
Magnolia by Kristi Cook
As You Like It by Shakespeare
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Stay with Me will probably be later in the week since I usually have a hard time putting J. Lynn books down. My True Love Gave to Me is an anthology I've been picking my way through this week. I stopped myself before my most anticipated story so I'd get all my work done, but then I can continue picking and I'll probably finish this week. Magnolia is a library book that's due soon-ish, but fortunately it's a quick read.

As You Like It and The Bluest Eye are for my Shakespeare and Toni Morrison classes. We're supposed to read one book for each class about every two weeks, so I'll be making my way through those. All my other readings are actual textbooks or...I don't have the book because the bookstore sold out and I only just realized how much I needed THAT one. Oops

Odds and Ends 

School has actually started now. It's probably the most reading-intensive semester I'm going to have, but all my professors seem at least decent and the material manageable. I had some issues getting textbooks that are still being sorted out and I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with the whole food situation since 9 hours is a LONG time to be on campus and not eat. It's only gotten worse now that so many professors (4 out of 5) have asked me to bring books to class PLUS all my stuff I need (notebooks, pens, folders, wallet, keys, headphones, chargers, etc.) PLUS food. There's no bag big enough. Also my shoulders might break. But you know, no big deal.

I also saw Begin Again on Monday and man, guys. It's instantly taken over my favorite movies. It's probably my favorite of the year and definitely in the all times list. I bought the soundtrack within a few hours of seeing it and it's all I've listened to this week. HIGHLY recommend you see it if it's still in theaters near you and definitely buy the soundtrack. Then delete all the gross Cee Lo songs from it.



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