Tag «Young Adult»

Series Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Prisoner of Night and Fog (from Goodreads):

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

breakdown

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
# of Books: 2 (Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series crossed my radar one day when I was blog-hopping. I’m not sure what blog specifically (this was before I started keeping notes) but I do think this series has been on quite a few over the years.

Anyways, the concept was really what drew me in and that’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge this year.

The Concept:

I’ve only read a few books set in WWII but what I really liked about this book was that it was set before the war started. When it comes to Hitler, I feel like we often focus on what he did during the war (and rightfully so) but not too much on how we got to that point. It’s a fascinating view point and provides quite a bit of insight on why WWII began. I will admit, I looked up a lot of things on Wikipedia to learn more and see how it this story was woven with history.

But that doesn’t mean this series is an easy read. Prisoner of Night and Fog opens with Gretchen’s brother beating a Jewish man simply for being a Jew and the narrator explains the ideology for his actions. And it’s hard to stomach as a reader–not only because it seems so “normal” but also because you know it is only going to get worse.

The Plot:

A Prisoner of Night and Fog started a little slowly as it established the setting and the circumstances Gretchen finds herself in. But once Gretchen starts her investigation, it really picks up. I love a good conspiracy theory and this one delivered. It gave this story a dangerous edge that kept the tensions high and me eager to see what would happen next.

And those tensions continue to be high in the aftermath of a Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. This one had a tone of suspense throughout that had me eager to see what happens next. And trying to piece together how the current events of this novel lead to the start of WWII was such a refreshing experience for me as a reader.

The Characters:

I thought Gretchen had tremendous growth as a character throughout this series. She transforms from a naive and gullible girl into a crafty and caring woman who can see the bigger picture of what is happening around her. I was definitely rooting for her and grew attached to her as a character.

And the rest of the characters do their jobs flawlessly.

The Romance:

I wasn’t going into this book expecting some epic romance and that definitely isn’t what we get. It does its job by keeping things simple and not distracting from the main plot of the story; rather, it enhances the various tensions in the book. It provides some context for the world Gretchen finds herself in but I never felt like this series was a romance set in dangerous times–it’s a story about dangerous times that features a romance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved the audiobook! Heather Wilds is the narrator and she is just fabulous. The accents were perfect, she didn’t sound ridiculous when she did the male voices (one of my biggest peeves) and she conveyed the right tone at all times. And while it was really hard to listen to some of the violence and ideology, I think that just made the book have a bigger impact for me as a reader.

I will say though that a certain character’s name was pronounced one way in the first book and then another in the second. It threw me for a bit but it doesn’t really matter. I just thought it was a little weird.

Series Rating: 4/5

Prisoner of Night and Fog 4/5 | Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke 4/5

overall

If you love historical novels that are lighter on the romance and seamlessly weave history into its narrative, pick this one up!

Read if You Like: historical novels, WWII settings
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with violence or discrimination

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Blog Tour: Fragile Chaos by Amber R Duell

Synopsis for Fragile Chaos (from Goodreads):

A god of war seeking restoration. An unwilling sacrificial bride. Betrayal that could destroy them both.

Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

breakdown

Author: Amber R Duell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mythology, Fantasy
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternate
Publication Date: July 10 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Audible // Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love stories that involve mythology. Greek, Roman, Norse, or completely original, I love the whole idea of it! So when I read the synopsis for this (after seeing that gorgeous cover of course), I just had to listen to this audiobook!

The Concept / The World:

This is a completely new world in terms of mythology. That can be a little daunting since there’s a lot to keep straight (like who Theo’s siblings are and what they are the gods/goddesses of as well as the countries at war) however, I found it all pretty straight-forward, even as an audiobook where you have to listen (I’m a visual learner so I usually do better by seeing the words).

It’s an intricate world filled with everything you enjoy about mythology stories. You’ve got sacrifices; god/goddess siblings fighting and backstabbing; and battles. But what’s really cool is how it’s set in a modern world. It’s an interesting weaving of old and new and I was captivated by it.

>>Fun Fact: Amber R Duell has blog posts dedicated to the history of the world and more if you love immersing yourself in the world beyond the book.

The Plot:

I find it really hard to pinpoint the plot of this story–and I say that in a good way. I like when a lot of things are happening in a story and that is definitely the case here.

While I felt like the romance was a big focus, you still have the politics of the world and the gods/goddess at play. Everyone is playing a different game simultaneously and I found that to be super exciting as a reader. I just had to know what was going to happen next and what the reactions would be.

The Characters:

I really liked Cassia and Theo as leads. What I liked about Cassia is that she seems very genuine and real. Her reactions to things were exactly what I would feel if I was in her situation. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and she tries her best to see the bigger picture before making a decision. Her personality pairs nicely with Theo’s.

Theo by far has the best character growth in this novel…as he should. He has to come to grips with a lot of things and I liked watching him work everything out. As you would expect, being the God of War means he can have some hot-headed moments but he is still charming and sincere.

The rest of the cast is great too. I would love to explore the realm further and meet some of the other gods and goddesses and get there stories. (And it sounds like one character might be getting a novella so yay!)

The Romance:

This was definitely a highlight for me in the sense that these two had fantastic chemistry from the start. They had these great moments together where everything was building up and just waiting to explode. I loved their scenes together.

However, I wish they talked a little more to each other. I get that everything is amplified given the circumstances but I just wanted that emotional connection highlighted a little more for the romantic in me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I didn’t realize that I was listening to this book at 1.25x–oops! That explains why everyone seemed to be talking so fast…

Regardless, the audiobook production is great! Probably one of the best I’ve listened to lately. I think Bradley Pittman and Jamie Lee-Lewis captured the characters brilliantly. Although, I did find it slightly off-putting that some of the characters had different accents depending on the narrator. Jamie gave Goran an almost Australian accent while Bradley gave him a monotone voice and I found that a little bit confusing when we were switching POVs.

What I really enjoyed about the audiobook though was the sound effects they used in the background. I found they immersed me into the story and brought it to life in way that a straight reading wouldn’t be able to do.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This story reminded my why I love books with mythology! From the passionate romances to the always plotting characters, there’s a lot to like about Fragile Chaos and the world it presents.

Read if You Like: mythology, romance
Avoid if You: dislike mythology, dislike books with complex worlds

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Amber R Duell (Author)

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany and Maine as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Bradley Pittman (Narrator)

Bradley Pittman is a producer and freelance musician living and working in Atlanta. He received a bachelor’s degree in audio production from Georgia State University in 2016. Though he most commonly works on musical projects, he began self-producing audiobook chapters in 2015 as a way to unite his love of studio production with his love of literature.

 

Jamie-Lee Lewis (Narrator)

Jamie-Lee Lewis, aka Jaylew, hails from the island of Jamaica. Since a small child, she’s always had a hyper imagination. She enjoys writing and telling stories, singing and composing songs, entertaining and edifying, playing different characters as well as creating them through drawings, and finding the beauty and fun in everything she does. She is currently a professional and passionate Youtuber.

Fragile Chaos Giveaway: $5 Amazon Gift Card/eBook OR Headphones/Mug/Tea

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Audible // Kobo

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DNF Series Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Magonia (from Goodreads):
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

breakdown

Series: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
# of Books: 2 (Magonia, Aerie)

There may be a novella that is released.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2015 – October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Magonia at 19% (Page 60 of 309; Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it’s obvious the cover is what had me picking up this book. I mean, it’s gorgeous and in person you can easily see all the details on the feather and it’s beautiful.

The synopsis immediately brought the Worldwalker Trilogy to mind: a girl who is (physically) just scraping by in this world due to some immunological reaction to the air around her. But that seems to be the only similarity. Regardless, it’s an intriguing concept and I was curious to see what was really happening.

What I Liked:

–Aza is Pretty Jaded/Cynical–

You have to be in the right mood for a cynical/jaded character and I happened to be when I started this story. I enjoyed Aza’s attitude about life. Her humour is slightly on the darker side which I find funny but I know that is off-putting for other readers.

But I understood her stoic mood. She’s been having a rough go of things and it’s easy to see that her attitude is her coping mechanism. Not everyone would be happy if they have a medical condition that no one can seem to pin-point, so it works for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Plot Development–

This is the main reason why I DNF’d it: I just felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere.

While I liked Aza’s narration style, it did wear on me a bit. I swear, the first 3 chapters were her just moaning on about her circumstances. And while that is necessary to establish her character and to see what sets her apart from the rest of earth, it just got monotonous to me. I felt like we were repeating the same notion over and over and not getting any further in the plot.

I could see the inklings of the plot emerging through when I stopped reading. We were starting to get some context for what the ship might be, but by that point I was over it.

In a book that is 300 pages, I want the plot to start before the 20% mark to make it worth my while.

Will I Finish It?

No. No matter how beautiful that cover is, I have no plans to finish this series. I even read the synopsis for Aerie (because I had taken it out from the library as well to binge the series) and it sounded even duller to me.

Series Rating: DNF

Magonia DNF | Aerie N/A

overall

If you like slower moving stories with unique worlds and characters, this is probably the series for you. Otherwise, there are better Sci Fi and Fantasy combo novels out there.

Read if You Like: slow stories
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines
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Single Sundays: Haven by Mary Lindsey

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Haven (from Goodreads):

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

(Former title: Hide from Me.)

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Author: Mary Lindsey
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I read a YA paranormal read so I was long overdue. What drew me to Haven (originally title Hide from Me when I requested the copy) was that you don’t know what is happening in this town. What is so unique about Friederike? I loved the anticipation of finding out.

I also liked that it’s the female lead who is the “unknown”. Lots of paranormal reads have the male lead as the intriguingly mysterious interest and it’s the everyday, regular girl who finds herself thrown into this new paranormal world. But here, Rain is your everyday person and Friederike is the mystery.

The Concept / The World:

I really enjoyed that this book took its time with revealing everything. While I did find it a little slow, it does build nicely by giving you bits and pieces at a time. I had a lot of fun trying to put everything together before the big reveal.

I don’t want to go too much into the specifics of the world because it is a spoiler (to me) and half the fun of this book is figuring out what the paranormal aspect truly is. What I will say is that for a standalone the world it is pretty full and complex. I never found the history of the world to be overwhelming (I thought the mechanics of it all worked well) but all the characters were a little much. There’s a lot of names (and relationships) to remember.

The Plot:

Like I said, this was slow to start. It’s a very long book so it takes its time to get to the action. You also get introduced to a lot of characters so you are trying to sort everyone out in your head. I thought it reached a bit of a lull in the middle where not a lot was happening as well, but it picks up near the end which is great.

What I did like is that the true nature of the town and Freddie is a mystery. I liked not knowing what was happening or why things were happening in a certain way. It’s been a long time since I read a novel where I didn’t know the paranormal twist so I enjoyed that. (I recommend not reading any reviews on Goodreads because they seem to spoil it if you want to be truly surprised).

I don’t like to compare books to other books in my reviews but I have to say that at times this book reminded me of Beautiful Creatures–in a good way. Not that these have similar plots but they have a similar archetype. You’ve got this nice boy who gets intrigued by this mysterious girl and learns that the town he lives in (nor his family) is anything like he thought. This story made me very reminiscent of that.

I wish there was a little more action though. It was a lot of talking at times with vague conversations because no one wants to let Rain in despite his best efforts. But in the meantime, I enjoyed him building his relationship with his Aunt and him trying to uncover the various mysteries of the town.

The Characters:

One thing I liked about the characters was that you didn’t know who to trust. That always makes for a more suspenseful read. However, there are a lot of characters to keep track of so perhaps that is why I didn’t know who to trust…

I liked Rain as a character. It was nice to have this story told solely from his perspective. He has great character growth from start to finish. But nothing particularly wowed me about him.

The same can be said for Freddie who I liked but never loved. What I did like about her though was that she wasn’t this perfect being like the paranormal love interests usually are (or at least were back in the day). She had her flaws too and it was intriguing to learn why.

The Romance:

This was definitely a weak point for me. While I loved the passion between these two it was a little too “unexplained” connection (almost insta-love) for me. It’s a shame in a way because I liked how Rain and Freddie worked as partners and balanced each other out as the story progressed. But the start was a little to BAM! for me.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

In the end, I really enjoyed how this book came together. It took its time to get there and it was a little overwhelming at times but I was definitely entertained. It has a lot of the features I love about YA paranormal and so it reminded me why I enjoy this genre when it’s all said and done.

Read if You Like: YA paranormal, mysterious towns, romance
Avoid if You: dislike paranormal, want more action

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Series Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Leviathan (from Goodreads):

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

breakdown

Series: Leviathan Trilogy
Author: Scott Westerfeld
# of Books: 3 (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2009 – January 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore anything Steampunk so I marked Leviathan on my TBR years ago but never got around to it. Like most “I’ve been meaning to read this forever” novels I’ve read this year, I started this series because I needed a new audiobook to listen to for my commute to work. This series was available and so I instantly downloaded it and dove in.

I was looking forward to learning about the setting (I’ve never read a Steampunk that takes place during WWI before) and I wanted a fast-paced adventure to keep my attention.

The Concept / The World:

I’ve totally fallen in love with this world in every aspect. It’s so rich and well researched that you can’t help but be enthralled by it.

One of my favourite aspects of steampunk is that no world is the same as another and I’ve never encountered a world like this. The scientist in me, particularly one who studied biological science, adores the blend of biology and mechanics in this trilogy. Most steampunk novels focus on the mechanical revolution and inventions so it was refreshing to see the biological evolution front and center. And using that clash to amp up the danger of the world was brilliant.

But I also liked the alternate history aspect as well. Parts of this story are rooted in actual historical events but other moments are elaborated to allow the story to go down a different path. The afterwards in each novel where Westerfeld explains how he crafted the world is just plain awesome.

The Plot:

I found Leviathan slower than I anticipated. I blame the synopsis a bit on this one because it gave me the impression that Alek and Deryn would meet sooner rather than later and have an adventure together. But the fact of the matter is that they have two completely separate storylines for half of the novel and I really craved that interaction. I wanted more high impact action and to see the chemistry of the characters interacting. So that first half was a little tougher for me to get through but I enjoyed watching the world grow and develop in the mean time.

Behemoth was more what I thought Leviathan was going to be. It always seemed to be moving and there was great character development and moments.

Which in turn, makes Goliath seem a little slower in comparison but it has some much needed character resolution.

The Characters:

It’s easy to love Deryn as a character I think.  Her spirit, drive and loyalty are things that make a great heroine in an adventure novel. Her motto is definitely: anything a boy can do, I can do better. Gotta love that.

Alek has tremendous growth throughout the series. He really embraces everything that is thrown his way and that was a lot of fun to watch.

The Romance:

The definition of slow burn I think. I almost wonder though if I would have appreciated it more if the relationship was kept as platonic? Regardless, it plays such a small role here that it shouldn’t be your main motivation for reading this.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was read by Alan Cumming who is an actor I’m very familiar with and I have to say he did a great job. The accents were great and he did the female voices very well. It was a fabulous performance and I highly recommend the audiobook.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

Leviathan 3.5/5 | Behemoth 3/5 | Goliath 3/5

overall

This book had a bit of a younger feel to it so I might have enjoyed it more 5 years ago but it’s cleverly crafted and impressive for readers of any age!

Read if You Like: alternate histories, WWI setting, steampunk
Avoid if You: dislike adventure
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Single Sundays: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Rest of Us Just Live Here (from Goodreads):

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…

breakdown

Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 27, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Patrick Ness is one of those authors bloggers RAVE about. I don’t think I’ve heard a negative thing about his works. So I’ve been keeping my eye out for his novels at my library.

I didn’t pick The Rest of Us Just Live Here for any particular reason other than the fact that the audiobook was available and the title grabbed my attention. It didn’t hurt that I saw Patrick’s name on it. When I read the premise, I absolutely loved the idea and couldn’t wait to dive in and see what all the Patrick Ness hype is about.

The Concept:

I’ll admit that I didn’t realize the start of each chapter was a summary of the “Chosen One”‘s story until I was a few chapters in. I blame the audiobook because I couldn’t visually see the change in narration. Anyways, I absolutely loved the idea that Mikey and co. are just living their mundane lives while this crazy paranormal stuff happens to their town.

The satire of YA paranormal reads was fantastically on point. The story basically pokes fun at every trope YA non-contemporary reads have and I couldn’t get enough. Especially as someone who feels as though she has outgrown the YA paranormal scene, I enjoyed the jabs.

The Plot:

The irony of this story is that Mikey has the typical YA contemporary story: an unrequited love, a sticky family life and the pressures of growing up. Mikey’s situation isn’t anything new. Other than the fact that he is the bystander to the situation at hand and the sidekick to his demi-god BFF, Jared, it’s your typical coming of age story and that’s not overly exciting–but I guess that’s the point.

The Characters:

Mikey is the sole reason this book is not a 5/5 or even a 4/5. He wasn’t very likeable to me. Sure, he’s a great brother to his sisters and I can sympathize with his family situation. He has his “flaws” and he is pretty diverse (as is the rest of the cast) and that’s great, but he is just so self-centered to me! I get that he was under various pressures (family life, romance, the world blowing up) but I wish he was just more aware of what was going on around him (and that does get brought up in the story as well).

Again, I don’t know if this is because I was listening to the audiobook and (what sounded like) Mikey’s perpetual whining just got to me.

The Romance:

Meh. This played a slightly bigger role than I expected (Mikey pines after Henna for 85% of the book–and he doesn’t let you forget it) but I wasn’t really shipping it either.

The Audiobook:

Despite making me confused about the “indie kid” main storyline (aka the paranormal story), I really did enjoy the audiobook. As is so often the case, the humour and sarcasm was much more apparent to me as I listened to the novel. It’s definitely entertaining as an audiobook.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A fantastic concept but I wanted more from the execution and lead.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, male POV YA
Avoid if You: want that “OMG Patrick Ness” read–I think it’s elsewhere

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Fresh Fridays: The Songs in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Songs in Our Hearts (from Goodreads):

High school junior Charlie Blake has never seen anyone quite like Micah Jacobs in her small town of Grand Lakes. With his carefree spirit, rough-around-the-edges personality, and handsome grin, Charlie is transfixed.

But Charlie’s been burned before with her first crush, at the hands of an ex-friend and a cruel joke. Because of those scars, Charlie keeps her guard up when it comes to boys. But a class project – that may or may not involve kissing for the camera! – forces her to not only confront Micah, but her true feelings.

While prepping for the assignment, Charlie finds herself in Micah’s car accompanied by the music of Journey, Elvis, The Cars, and Peter Gabriel. Between slushies, burning rafts, pizza, and great music, Charlie and Micah bond as she learns the importance of letting go of the past and opening herself to new people.

When their project comes to an end, Charlie wonders if she should finally confess everything she’s been denying before she loses the chance. When words fail, will the songs in her heart be enough?

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Series: Songs
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 2 (The Songs in Our Hearts, The Songs We Remember)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Songs We Remember is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Chantal Gadoury!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge music fan of the 70s and 80s so when I saw Journey and the Cars listed in the synopsis for this book, I was totally on board! I love when books incorporate something else and music especially. After all, most songs are a story of some sorts so they just seem to go hand and hand to me.

But I also love when school partners fall in love and the coming of age vibes in the synopsis had be curious to see what would happen between Charlie and Mica.

What I Liked:

–The Music Soundtrack–

What drew me to this book was the music. I loved the way that music was incorporated in the chapter headings to parallel what was happening within them. You could definitely make this a super interactive experience by listening to each song before the start of the chapter just to get that little bit more from it. (I recognized most of the songs by heart so I immediately got the connections which was awesome)

Truthfully, I thought the bond over them listening to music would play a bigger role than it does but that’s ok. They bond in other ways which works well for the story and strengthens their relationship. The music does play a substantial role though just know that it isn’t only about the music between these two.

–Charlie’s Family–

One of the biggest highlights for me was Charlie’s family. It was so nice to have such a positive, real family in a YA read. She has a super close relationship with her older brother that I found to be charming and realistic. I also liked that her parents were supportive but stern when they needed to be. It was just refreshing to me to see a family actually get along and support the lead.

–I Got The DUFF Vibes When Reading–

The relationship dynamic between Charlie and Micah reminded me of the relationship between Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF. It’s slightly antagonistic and full of banter at the start but evolves into something more as they get to know each other. They take their time getting to know the other on a deeper level just by listening or doing everyday things together and I loved that.

Charlie and Bianca have similar stories too in the sense that they are working on becoming confident in themselves and learning to not care what others think.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Development from Micah–

For me, I just wanted a little more character growth. This is a story about the characters since there isn’t too much going on in terms of the dramatic plot as it is a coming of age story. In particular I would have liked Micah’s character to develop a bit more than he does. I know the focus is on Charlie and her getting over her fears but I think it would have added some depth to their relationship if we learned a little more about Micah. We get little tidbits that maybe there is more to his character and I wish those were elaborated on a little more.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

What I’m really looking forward to is the character growth of these two moving forward. Navigating their feelings, friends and everyday with the change in their relationship has me intrigued to see what will happen next.

My Rating: 3/5

The Songs in Our Hearts 3/5 | The Songs We Remember TBP

overall

This is a charming and cute read that YA fans will enjoy. In particular, if you enjoy books that incorporate music or have a soundtrack to them, this is definitely the perfect read for you!

Read if You Like: music, YA contemporary, girls getting their confidence
Avoid if You: want soap-opera like drama

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Single Sundays: The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The First Kiss Hypothesis (from Goodreads):

Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.
Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

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Author: Christina Mandelski
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think the H.BSc that I can attach to my name and the hopeless romantic in me requires that I read any novel that uses a scientific term in its title. I’m a fan of the best friends to more trope, especially in YA, and the promise of a scientific theory to back up why that might not be the case for these two? I was excited to see how this experiment would play out.

The Plot:

This story definitely felt like it was more of a coming of age novel than straight romance–and I really liked that. Eli and Nora have a lot going on in their lives now that they are seniors in high school. They’re beginning to feel the pressures from family and friends when it comes to deciding what’s next. Throw in their long buried crushes on each other and the mutual agreed upon love of pies and you’ve got a bit of a sticky situation.

This book had me at the start. I loved Eli’s goal to make Nora see him as more than a friend and I liked how Nora was unknowingly trying to counteract that. It made from some sweet moments between them. However, it started to lose me in the middle when everything just seemed to repeat itself with nothing completely new to add to the story. It rounds itself out in the end with some solid character growth but my interest did start to wane.

The Characters:

I’m really glad that we got both Nora and Eli’s POV in this story because it does shed some light on why they act like they do. They have their moments of immaturity but I did find that they grew up as the story progressed. I wasn’t blown away by either of them but they worked well for this story.

I do have to give a shout-out to Eli’s autistic brother Ari. He was fabulous and a breath of fresh air in this story. He really grounds the story in a way that benefits everyone.

The Romance:

These two are super cute together, no denying that. I liked that they always had these feelings bubbling up at the surface–I love the type of tension that brings to a story. It’s a touch cliché but these two have enough quirks to keep it interesting.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy cute coming of age stories where best friends fall in love, this perfect for you!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, best friends to more, coming of age
Avoid if You: high school romances

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Series Review: Starbound by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Broken Stars (from Goodreads):

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

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Series: Starbound Trilogy
Author: Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner
# of Books: 3 (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light)

There is a novella: #1.5 This Night So Dark (free on most eBook Stores)

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2013 – December 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: After finishing These Broken Stars, I opted not to pick up books 2 and 3 of the series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been searching for a great science fiction “thriller” since I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis years ago. You know, that science fiction novel that has a mystery element to that gets slowly revealed the deeper you go. I have yet to find a book that compares to Revis’ stellar trilogy, but I had high hopes for the Starbound Trilogy.

Of course, the beautiful cover of These Broken Stars (TBS) drew me to this series but the synopsis kept me around. Add to that, is the fact that Kaufman’s Illuminae Files Series is probably the closest thing I have come to finding something comparable to Across the Universe (ATU). This one seemed like a no-brainer for me to pick up. TBS and ATU have similar premises: a hero and heroine who should never cross paths yet somehow find themselves as the sole survivors of some mysterious phenomenon and are left trying to find out why. So, needless to say, I had high expectations for These Broken Stars.

What I Liked:

–The Covers–

Ok, I just have to say that these covers are gorgeous. It almost makes me regret reading the eBooks because I didn’t get to see these covers in person.

–The Character Development–

Both characters had great growth throughout the novel. They learn to adapt and learn to appreciate the other person and its beautiful to watch. It really is the primary focus of this novel–besides the slow burning romance–and it works well.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Inspiration for Illuminae?–

Am I the only one who feels like this series is eerily similar to The Illuminae Files? Both series are three connected novels, each focusing on two different leads, and by the end, everyone is linked together. Even the interview briefings before each chapter with Tarver talking to whomever were reminiscent of Illuminae. It just didn’t seem as fresh to me as I expected.

It is a nice concept though. I think I would be bored watching the same two characters in this world and I like the 360 degree it provides of the overall world.

–The Almost Supernatural Science Fiction Elements–

I really enjoyed the anticipation of figuring out what was happening on this planet Lilac and Tarver find themselves on. But the reveal kind of disappointed me. It really wasn’t what I was expecting and it was a bit of a let down. I think I wanted a more logical explanation than what we got.

–Very Slow Plot–

This could have easily been 100 pages shorter if you ask me. It felt like it took forever to get to the main plot or get anything new happening. It’s reads like an adventure novel–and if you’ve read previous reviews, you know I don’t enjoy adventure novels for this reason. I wanted this novel to be more of a mystery/suspense read and instead, it’s a slower paced novel about two people learning to adapt to their surroundings.

Will I Finish It?

I contemplated back and forth about picking up This Shattered World. After I finished TBS, I marked it as a “pass” on Goodreads. But then, I thought I should give the next two leads a shot–they might be different so I thought I should read it. And then a couple days later, after reading some friends’ reviews on Goodreads, I changed my mind once again and decided that I wouldn’t be continuing this series.

I get the impression that the rest of the series is similar to this first installment and so I don’t think I will enjoy the next 2 novels.

Series Rating: DNF

These Broken Stars 3/5 | [This Night So Dark] 3/5 | This Shattered World N/A | Their Fractured Light N/A

overall

I’m definitely in the minority for this one so maybe look elsewhere for a review. I think if you want a science fiction story that slowly builds its science fiction plot and keeps its focus on the characters and the romance, this is a great one. but it’s not an action packed story by any stretch of the imagination.

Read if You Like: more romance based YA reads, supernatural-esque SciFi
Avoid if You: want action
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Blog Tour: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Saving It (from Goodreads):

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR (Netgalley)–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it goes without saying: if Monica Murphy writes it, I’ll read it. I always enjoy her works and this one sounded like such a cute one that I couldn’t say no!

The Plot:

I found it to be super refreshing to have Josh be the one who is the one primarily focused on losing his virginity. Most of the time, books look at this from the female perspective so it was really cool for me to get the teenage boy viewpoint. I know I forget the pressures that are put on boys in regards to sex because I am a girl so I really enjoyed that aspect.

The situation Eden and Josh find themselves in could happen to anyone anywhere in the world. Their fears and hesitations are so true for anyone who has ever found themselves in the same situation of realizing you may like your best friend as more than a friend.

I kept waiting for something over dramatic to happen as it often does with this genre but we get nothing of the sort. I liked that the focused stayed on the main plot of these two working out their feelings.

The Characters:

Eden and Josh are a great match and their connection and friendship is apparent from the start. They are great, true friends to each other and I loved that about them. The fear of ruining a life-long friendship, the pressures from their tight-knit group of friends; everything they go through is extremely relateable.

The Romance:

While I totally supported these two as a couple, I did want to see a little more romantic chemistry between them. Part of the reason this is somewhat neglected that is that it takes these two a long time to come to terms with their potential feelings. But I wanted more than just a few comments here and there about how attractive the other looked in their clothes. For a couple that had such a strong emotional connection, I just wanted those “swoon” moments to happen a little more often than they did.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
Fans of the BFF to more trope will truly enjoy this refreshing and genuine romance.

Read if You Like: BFF to more trope, high school romance
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon// Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

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