Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy 4th of July!



To all of my US readers, Happy Fourth of July! I hope you have a great holiday weekend complete with good books, good food, and some fireworks.   I'll be celebrating this holiday down the shore with my family.  


I've got three books in my beach bag for this holiday weekend:

 

  • Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally - She writes such adorable contemporary stories and this one involves country music. LOVE!
  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen - You can't go wrong with Dessen in the summertime and although I have read this book already, I am excited to re-visit it and participate in Penguin's The Summer of Sarah Dessen
  • Lastly, I always include an adult book in my beach bag. This time it's Newport by Jill Morrow. The Roaring Twenties in Newport sounds like my kind of read.
What are you guys reading this weekend?  

Happy 4th of July,


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Pages: 456
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal? Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.  As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse."


Imagine the Earth's magnetic poles have shifted and the result leaves us with a dystopian world where people shun technology and revert back to a simpler time.  The world is more like the 1700s than any dystopian future in this science fiction novel.  Sophia Bellamy leads two lives. At first glance she may appear to be a gentlewoman in high society, but she leads a secret life. She is also the "Red Rook" or a hero of sorts who rescues people from the Razor, which is run by the corrupt LeBlanc.  Sophia, her brother, and their friend all work together for a common goal, but what if they are caught? The consequences would be devastating.  To make matters more complicated, Sophia is engaged to Rene Hasard, LeBlanc's cousin, with the hopes that his family's fortune will be of benefit to the Bellamy family.  Sophia's family pretty much needs to be saved from ruin, thanks to her father's mismanagement.  As Sophia gets to know Rene, she realizes there may be more to him than she initially thought.  Sharon Cameron's Rook has so much potential. There were many moments when I was on the edge of my seat and completely enthralled, but there were too many other moments that were extremely slow. Ultimately, this lengthy tome left me feeling indifferent.

Sophia is my kind of heroine in Rook. Right off the bat, I knew I would really like her. She's tough, she's smart, and she's outgoing. I loved her fearlessness and her determination.  The whole concept of pretending to just be a socialite amongst family and friends, while secretly living a different life as the Red Rook is wholly captivating. I was also on the edge of my seat wondering what she was going to do next and wondering if she would be caught.

At first Rene really didn't strike me as a swoon worthy romantic interest, but as Sophia gets to know him more, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about his back story. I also wanted to know what secrets he was hiding as there are many! Plus, his relationship with his cousin, LeBlanc, also kept me on the edge of my seat.

The world building was lacking in Rook. I felt that I needed more of a back story from Cameron as to how the characters ended up living in this future world that is more similar to the French Revolution in the 1700s than a dystopian future.  I wasn't completely buying that.

I also felt the pacing was off in Rook. When a young adult novel is over 400 pages, it is essential that things keep moving, but that wasn't always the case in Rook. The beginning was very slow and then things would pick up, but then slow down again and my interest would wane. This was my main issue with the novel.

Rook is based on The Scarlet Pimpernel and while I am not too familiar with the story, I like the idea of a retelling of a classic set in a dystopian world. Nonetheless, Rook is not for everyone, especially if you like your stories moving quickly with not a lot of downtime.  


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Confessions

Well, this month certainly flew by. I didn't read as many books as I would have liked, but I don't mind as I have been so busy enjoying summer and taking my little guy to the beach. I am so excited for July...more summertime weather and beach days! 

Books Read in June:
1. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck - 3.5 out of 5 stars
2.  Rook by Sharon Cameron - 3 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
3.  Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan - 3.5 out of 5 stars
4.  Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton - 3.5 out of 5 stars
5.  Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas - 4.5 out of 5 stars
6.  Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone - 3.5 out of 5 stars
7.  The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams - 5 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
8.  Ross Poldark by Winston Graham - 4 out of 5 stars (Review to come)


DNF:
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon and Trusting Liam by Molly McAdams - Check out my "It's Not You, It's Me" post as to why this book didn't work for me. 




1.  Favorite Book Read This Month: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams is my favorite book of the month. I love historical fiction and Williams writes such interesting characters. I can't wait to read her latest novel this summer as well. 

2.  Biggest Surprise: I thoroughly enjoyed Ross Poldark. If you like historical fiction, this book shouldn't be missed. I can see why it is so popular after all these years. Keep your eyes out for my review this month and also an amazing giveaway! 

3.  Biggest Disappointment: Rook by Sharon Cameron really didn't "wow" me. It ended up just being a "meh" kind of book for me. I was able to finish it, but I struggled. My review will be posted next week.

4.  Favorite Post: My 2015 Picks for Best Beach Reads and My Summer Reading List

5.  My Favorite Part of June: My family vacation was by far my favorite part of June. Lazy days at the beach will always be my favorite as well as spending more time with my family.   A perfect combination.

I hope you guys had a great June! Thanks for visiting,

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I've Read in 2015 (so far)

The year isn't over yet, but for this Top Ten Tuesday we are coming up with our favorite books of the year....so far. Here's a combination of some of the best adult novels, young adult novels and some older novels that I've read this year. (Also, I cheated and included twelve novels....sssshhh!)   



1.  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - This is such a powerful novel and one of the best books I've read in awhile. If you enjoy historical fiction, you MUST read this book.

2.  P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han - Jenny Han can do no wrong and her books are perfect for summertime.

3.  Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas- I picked this book up because I was in a reading slump. This YA fantasy series is one of the best I've read. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

4.  The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - This book is so much fun and one of my favorite beach reads of the year. If you love all things Royal Family, then check it out immediately!

5.  The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski - I love the Jersey Shore and this book captures it perfectly. I love that the author incorporated Superstorm Sandy in this novel as well.

6.  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - I'm glad I finally read this book since the paperback edition came out this summer. Wow! It's definitely a powerful read that fans of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy.




7.  The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord - This is one of my favorite YA books of the year. I loved everything about it. It was a quiet read, but I loved how it examined friendship, families, and first love. 

8.  Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - Saint Anything is a little darker than I expected, but very, very good. I'll read anything Dessen writes.

9.  Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby - This is my favorite of Kirby's novels to date. Fans of YA contemporary fiction should check this one out.

10. Vendetta by Catherine Doyle - I loved this YA debut that was a combination of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet. I am looking forward to book two.

11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - This is a suspenseful read and although I didn't enjoy it as much as Gone Girl, I still thought it was an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

12.  The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams - If you love historical fiction, you must check out Williams' novels. This one was just as good as A Hundred Summers.

What do you guys think? Let me know the books that are you favorite of the year so far. This meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 418
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: August 27, 2013
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Throne of Glass
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil. Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart. Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. 

If you read Throne of Glass, you know that Celaena has been named the King's Champion, which pretty much means she is his personal assassin.  He has assigned her a few new "jobs," but Celaena, in true Celaena fashion, is making her own rules as she appears to be playing by the corrupt king's rules.  She knows that if the king finds out what is going on behind the scenes, he will probably kill her along with her friends, but how can she just kill these people on the king's whim? The next person on her "list" is Archer Finn, Celaena's old friend.  This lends it self to some particularly sticky situations.  Meanwhile, Nehemia has some epic plans in the work and Dorian, the Prince, is also is harboring some secrets that could change the future.  Lastly, there's Chaol, Captain of the Guard, and his relationship with Celaena is even more complex in this novel as they still have a strong connection with one another.  Many characters with secrets threaten to destroy everything for Celaena even as she finds out the truth about the king and his new found power.  Crown of Midnight, the second installment in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, is a fantasy lover's dream come true. There's high fantasy aspects to the story, lots of adventure, romance, magic, and more importantly, an intrepid female heroine.  

I know I said this in my review of  Throne of Glass, but I just adore Celaena. She's a fierce warrior and heroine. I can't get enough of her. She's truly a force to be reckoned with. If you love a bad ass heroine, you must read this series. But back to Celaena....readers learn a lot more about who she really is in Crown of Midnight. We learn about her past and how that could impact the future. I loved this aspect of the novel, especially the secrets surrounding her family.

The point of view switches from Celaena, to Chaol, to Dorian and a few other characters, but it never felt choppy to me or confusing. I thought Maas did a great job executing this smoothly.  I liked getting inside Dorian's mind as well as Chaol's and hearing their feelings regarding particular events.

 Throne of Glasshas a lot of adventure in it, but Crown of Midnight felt a little more action-packed, especially involving magic. There seemed to be a bit more magic in this novel and if you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you'll enjoy this aspect.

The romance, of course, tore me up in Crown of Midnight. I was rooting for Chaol and Celaena to finally have their day in the sun and let's just say the course of true love never did run smooth.  Also, Chaol....*sigh* I am a huge fan! 

The ending of Crown of Midnight sort of opened things up in an epic way and I can't wait to get read the next book in the series.   If you love an epic fantasy, this series shouldn't be missed. I regret not reading it sooner!


Friday, June 26, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me (10)


"It's not you, it's me."  Some books just don't work for me, whereas other readers may have really enjoyed them.  This feature will be showcasing books that I never finished or reviewed; you know…...the dreaded DNF.

 

Trusting Liam by Molly McAdams - Guys, I really enjoyed Taking Chances, one of McAdams' other novels, so I thought for sure this one would be decent and perfect as a beach read, but I just couldn't do it. It felt a little too formulaic for me. Also, there were some moments when the feminist in me wanted to burn it all down, such as when he said to her, "You're mine" and not in the hot Jamie Fraser way, in the creepy overprotective way.

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon - I struggled with this story. It is set in a really unique dystopian world, but the author didn't give me enough background on why the world is the way it is or enough world building. It was really strange. I also struggled with her other novel Entwined.





Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer - I love a good time travel story, but if I don't buy into your time travel methods, then I can't get on board. I just wasn't buying it, which is a shame as I love the setting of summer camp.

Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel - The main character is super quirky and normally that doesn't bother me, but in this book it did. She was just a little too strange for me to the point where I couldn't relate to her at all. In sum, I wasn't invested.

What about you guys? Have you read these books? What are your thoughts? What makes you put a book down for good?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Pages: 448
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 26, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school. Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best."


Imagine a really competitive ballet school in Manhattan filled with some of the country's best dancers. Sounds like a cut-throat place where every dancer is vieing for a place in the New York American Ballet Company, right? It is just how I imagined it and even more so.  Three very different girls all go to school there and have secrets that they are hiding.  First there is Gigi, a recent transfer from California.  She is the school's only African American student and her success angers many disgruntled ballerinas, especially when she is casted the coveted roll of Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker.  Bette, a former favorite, usually gets her way and doesn't take Gigi's success well.  She is coniving, scheming and backstabbing. Then there's E-Jun, otherwise known as June, and her mother, a former ballerina, has been threatening to take her out of ballet school and send her to a regular public school where she can get a better, more well-rounded education unless she starts getting lead roles. This sends E-Jun over the edge and she puts even more pressure on herself.  All three girls, although very different, share the desire of success which always comes at a high cost. Sonia Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton's debut, Tiny Pretty Things, despite its length, was a real page turner that fans of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and Black Swan will enjoy.

I can't say I really liked any of the characters, although I sympathized with Gigi the most. Despite this, I was completely absorbed with the story. Bette and June were the most interesting to me, because they are so morally corrupt at times and tragically flawed.  Bette is addicted to pills and can't handle life's ups and downs, especially when Gigi takes over the best roles and even starts seeing her ex-boyfriend.  Then there's June, who is obviously anorexic, and has a rivalary with her ex-best friend who downright harasses her at school. I mean cue all the mean girls in 
Tiny Pretty Things. They are pretty horrible to one another in this book, but I think the competitive nature of the school cultivates this sort of behavior and brings out the worst in some people.

Tiny Pretty Things is a glimpse into the competitive ballet world and I was completely addicted. The violence, the back-stabbing, the gossip, the parental pressure....it was all really fascinating even though mean girls really aren't my favorite.

What I enjoyed most about 
Tiny Pretty Things was the cast of multi-cultural characters from various backgrounds.  It wasn't just about Caucasian ballerinas with trust funds as one might expect.  I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse group of girls; simply put, we need more of this in YA.  

Even though I didn't fall head over heels in love with 
Tiny Pretty Things, I still can't deny how entertaining it was despite the mean-girl antics. If you love Pretty Little Liars and want to be thrown into the cut-throat world of competitive ballet, then you should definitely check out this book this summer.  It would make for a great poolside read.


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