What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Monday, September 22, 2014

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

What does this cover remind you of? If you're thinking Ally Condie's Matched series, you're on the same page as me. I think that's why I picked up this book in the first place. But once I read the summary I was intrigued.


Here is the summary from Goodreads: Perfection comes at a price. As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury. Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating. But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

What I Liked: 1) I thought it was very creative. It's hard to talk about the things I liked about this book, because there is so much of it that I found appalling. Not appalling in the sense that it made it a bad book, but appalling in the sense that it happens (in the book, not in real life.) But it's often the books that have elements that are just so....unbelievable like this that are the most creative. And that made it a very interesting read. 2) Well-written. This is the first novel I've read by author Kate Jarvik Birch, but she is obviously no stranger to writing. Everything about the story was well thought out and presented. 3) The story itself was very 3 dimensional with several story arcs that held my interest easily.

What I Didn't Like: I had a hard time with the characters. For as well-rounded and three dimensional the story line was, the characters were a little flat. Flat isn't quite the right word, I just didn't like their personalities. They were all a little whiny. Even Penn, the gentleman of the story. I think the real issue is that there was too much similarity between the characters. In a great book, there is a mix of personalities, strong and not so strong. That's what this story was missing. Someone to be strong and counterbalance the others. It was also a bit....generic. Similar to other books that have the same idea.

Overall Thoughts: I feel as if the YA market is getting a bit saturated with books like this. Where women are bred to be property, and stuff like that. Am I wrong? They're becoming the vampire books of a few years ago. I don't even know really how to categorize this one. It's not really dystopian, but it is set in the future. In a bizarre world. Birch's Perfected was an interesting addition to the group of books around this concept. It was well written and thought out, but was lacking something to really make it stand out. I'm not opposed to reading a follow-up should one come out, but I'll be hoping for something more.

My Rating: 3 Shots


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The One by Kiera Cass

So it's no secret that I have loved this series so far. I've read it several times, and it never gets old. So I dove into it as soon as I got my hands on it. Here are links to my reviews of both The Selection and The Elite if you are curious about those before you read this review!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

What I Liked: 1) I love these characters. I have from the beginning, although in book 2 I had some issues with America. I guess I'll start with her. Author Kiera Cass has done an amazing job showing America's growth throughout the the series. It is so easy to believe that her participation in the Selection is making changes in her because Cass shows us with every chapter just how much America's thoughts and desires shift. 2) The relationship the final girls form. I was truly surprised at how close the girls get in the final weeks. I appreciate that Cass took the time to fully explore and develop those relationships when she could have easily ignored it and just focused on America's relationships with Aspen and Prince Maxon. They spend a lot of time together as the weeks in the castle stretches on, and it gives the reader a chance to really get to know them and see how they become friends. 3) I love Maxon. Actually, Maxon has grown a lot throughout the series. I've always thought he was a sweetheart, but he gets a lot stronger as the books progress. He gradually begins to take on some of the qualities from the girls he's getting to know, and growing into someone who could be a leader. 4) We changed up the setting a little bit. That was unexpected, and I don't want to go into detail because I don't want to give anything away, but after spending so much time at the castle between the first two books, it was a nice change of pace. 5) The ending. When I finished this book, I called my sister (who had already finished it) and just said "Oh my gosh, I don't think it could have ended any better!!" Okay, there were some things that I wish hadn't had to happen, but I think that they ended up being necessary to the story. Every question was answered, every story line tied up with a nice little bow. This book was like a present for me.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing!

Overall Thoughts: I LOVE THIS SERIES! It's funny, because I think it's similar to the show The Bachelor (obviously there are some differences) which I have never really gotten into. The character development is excellent, and the plot lines kept me engaged from book one all the way through the final page of The One. Kiera Cass's ability to bring the characters to life is probably my favorite part of the story. I've heard a rumor that we may get some more stories from this world, and I for one can't wait to see what else she'll come up with!

My Rating: 5 shots

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (95)

Fall is just around the corner! Actually, we had some Fall weather ourselves down here in Texas over the weekend. Back up into the 80s and 90s for now though. I'm super excited to be participating in WoW posts again! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that highlights the books that we are anxiously awaiting!


This week my WoW is..........


Emergent by Rachel Cohn
Release Date: October 7th, 2014


Here's the summary from Goodreads: Zhara, the First. Elysia, her clone. On the surface, they are identical. But looks can be deceiving. When Zhara plays, she plays to win. She thought she had escaped the horrors of Doctor Lusardi's cloning compound. But the nightmare is just beginning. Elysia has taken everything from Zhara-a softer, prettier version of herself and an inescapable reminder of all she's failed at in her life. Now the man Zhara loves has replaced her with Elysia. Zhara will get her clone out of the way, no matter the cost. Elysia has finally learned the truth: she has a soul. Her First is alive. She knows it hurts Zhara to see her with Alexander, but she can't give him up. The genetically-perfected Aquine has chosen as her as his life mate, and their days together are limited. Elysia can't remain in the Rave Caves off the shores of Denesme forever. Revolution is brewing on the island paradise. Hundreds of soulless clones remain imprisoned like Elysia once was, slaves to the whims of their owners-wealthy human inhabitants of the island. As a group of clones and humans, led by Alexander, plot an insurrection that will turn Denesme's world upside down, Elysia knows her place is fighting by his side. Terrible sacrifices must be made to defeat Denesme's twisted regime. But even the greatest losses cannot prepare Elysia for the ticking time bomb built into her own programming...

I really loved Beta by Rachel Cohn, the first book of this series. You can read my review of it here. I feel like I've been waiting forever for Emergent, and now finally, it's less than a month away!! What are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

So the summary describes this book as X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven. I was hooked right there. Two of my all-time favorite movies, heck yes!! It was a no brainer that I was going to read it.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: The X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of "super" criminals. When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief. After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't? The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.
What I Liked: 1) Okay, a better movie comparison of this book I think would be Now You See Me. Although the characters all have "mutant-like" abilities. Either way, there are aspects from all three of the mentioned movie comparisons that I love that make an appearance in here. I'll start with the magic aspect of it. The "abilities" these characters have are more like magic to me than mutant abilities like X-men but they were impressive and very interesting. I thought the addition of these qualities made the story pretty unique. 2) The way they acquired their special abilities was interesting. It wasn't a "born with it" kind of thing like on X-Men. I swear I'm going to stop with the movie comparisons. But it definitely changed the way that I thought about the characters, knowing why they were this way, and why they lived the way they did. 3) I don't know why stories with THIEVERY aspects to them fascinate me. Not just books, but TV shows to. I love White Collar. And this one was no different. There are varying story arcs in this book about the criminal activities of the characters, and instead of feeling rushed and convoluted, it created a gripping and exciting story. Author Emily Lloyd-Jones doesn't go to heavy on the details, but gives you enough for your imagination to follow along with the story.

What I Didn't Like: The only thing I wanted more of, was more relationship development between the characters. Main character Ciere has relationships with several of the other characters, but while I was told they existed, I never really....saw them come to life. It was as if someone handed me a blue square and said "this is the sky." I'm all, okay.....it's the sky. Prove it. That's what was missing from Illusive.

Overall Thoughts: Illusive is a fun and fast-paced novel with some twists that I didn't expect. The characters individually were built pretty well, and the story line was gripping and entertaining. I hope that in the future, say for the next book in the series, Emily L-J will develop the relationships a little better. I like to be shown things in a story, rather than just told. She may have told me that these relationships existed, but I found very little proof of them as the story progressed. There is a follow up novel due out in 2015 that I'm willing to check out.

My Rating: 4 shots

Monday, September 15, 2014

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


I thought long and hard about what book to choose for my BIG RETURN to book blogging. Finally I settled on Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before. I haven't read a whole lot of Jenny Han before, though I've met her a few times and she is a sweetheart. She's know for her Summer series (The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first) and the only other book by Jenny Han I've read was her joint effort with Siobahn Vivian book Burn for Burn (check out that review here)
Here's the summary from Goodreads: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
What I Liked: 1) Something I've noticed with the two books I've read in which Jenny Han's name graces the cover is that her characters are unique. Their personalities crawl through every page, and Han is loyal to those personalities to a fault. Never once did I feel that Lara Jean, Margo, or Kitty drifted from the personalities that were developed through out the book (though at times I wished they would.) 2) The concept. I can't imagine if, as a teenager, all of my secret thoughts to crushes were suddenly sent out of them to read. Ouch! I knew immediately from reading the summary that I was going to want to find out how MC Lara Jean would handle that. 3) Peter. This surprised me, because I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like him at all when I first started reading the book. But he grew on me (and Miss Lara Jean) as the book progressed, and I ended up really appreciating the amount of character development that went into him. 

What I Didn't Like: 1) Okay, I just have to say that the Song girls, the sisters around which the book is written, act very juvenile, especially Lara Jean, the MC. They were just written a little young for their age, and it began grating on my nerves (think nails on a chalkboard here) after a while. I didn't notice this in the other Jenny Han book I've read (Burn for Burn) so I can't comment if it's a theme throughout her books and Siobahn Vivian's influence in Burn for Burn prevented that, or what. But this made Lara Jean a little unbelievable as a 16-17 year old. 2) Question: Who wouldn't try to figure out who did this (mailing out her private letters)? The fact that Lara Jean barely even speculated about it kind of made the story a little....flat. There was a great opportunity for another story arc to fill the story out a little more, but it was left largely unexplored until the culprit just blurted out a confession at the end.

Overall Thoughts: I think Jenny Han has a creative mind and does a very good job with dimensional storytelling. She remains true to the characters she creates and doesn't deviate from their personalities, which is something that's very rare and probably hard to do. There are definitely some problem areas with To All The Boys I Loved Before, especially within the main character (and since I"m a character over plot reader, it's kind of a deal breaker) that caused me to not just fall head over heels for it. I do know there is a sequel coming out sometime next year but I have no other information about it, and I don't think I'll be checking it out unless I just find myself in a mood for it. But I know some have loved it, so don't just take my word for it, let me know what you think in the comments!

My Rating: 3 Shots

Friday, September 12, 2014

Missing for a while....

Hi friends! So it's been...almost a year since I've ventured into the world of cyberspace to discuss books. Not that I haven't been around, I've been semi-active on Goodreads and my personal Facebook page. But a few things went on in my life around the holidays last year that made me unfit to blog!

So around in October of last year, my grandmother, my beloved Nana was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Most of my time after that was spent with her, and on December 16th, she took her final breath. Her loss hit me hard. I stopped doing a lot of the things that gave me pleasure - such as reading, much less blogging. To pull myself out of that feeling of....being underwater, I started doing some new things, including being more active, walking miles every day, registering for my first 5k and taking a cardio barre class. As a side note, Cardio Barre has become one of my favorite things, and I go 4-5 times a week now.

In June, I finally started reading again with any degree of regularity, and paying attention to book releases and other bookish type events. And now, September, I think I've finally got ahold of my schedule well enough to start blogging a bit. It probably won't be as frequent as it used to be, at least not for a while, but you can count on starting to see a post or two a week!

Also, I will NOT be running the Big Halloween Event that I've done for the past two years this year, because it's almost mid September, and I usually have to start working on that in August to be fully prepared. But hopefully I can do something fun for December!

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around. I'm glad to be back and anxious to hear about how your lives have been while I've been absent!


Courtney

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Revealed by P.C. and Kristin Cast

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The big day is here! I hope you all have the costumes and the candy ready! I'll be handing out candy tonight, and hopefully getting to see my cutie pie nephews in their costumes! Today, I chose to review P.C. and Kristin Cast's Revealed, the penultimate book in the House of Night series. As many of you know, I've been with this series since the beginning, but have started to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. I was pleased to see in the last book, Hidden, that things were starting to look up.




Here's the summary from Goodreads: Drastically altered after her fall at the end of Hidden, Neferet is now more dangerous than ever—and her quest for vengeance will wreak havoc on humans, as well as Zoey and her friends. Chaos is loosed in Tulsa and the House of Night is blamed. Can Zoey stop Neferet in time to keep her anger from escalating to full-on war? Or will someone else have to step in to take the fall?

What I Liked: 1) Surprisingly, I actually liked the story coming from multiple perspectives. The story has become much more focused in Revealed, but if it had stuck with just Zoey, I think it would have been very flat. I think the multiple POVs were very important, because it was important for the reader to see how Zoey's behavior was affecting those around her, and what they saw when they looked at her. 2) Aphrodite and Shaylin. Aphrodite has been around for a while, and I've really grown to like her brutal honesty. I feel like she brings a level of maturity to the story that Zoey is SORELY lacking. True she isn't very nice, but after eleven books, her arrogance has grown on me. Especially because we get those little glimpses that she does believe in what they are all fighting for, and her genuine gentleness and vulnerability that shows up every once in a while. Shaylin is newer to the group, and because she is she has a little bit of a different perspective of things. It's nice to see things through her "fresh eyes" and get a sense of what is going on inside their group from someone who is new. I also like her loyalty and how she cares about everyone. 4) The focus. Like I mentioned before, the story has become much more focused and I sincerely appreciate that. For a while these books just seemed to be chaotic. But we've finally got some more focus to the story, a clearer sense of what needs to happen. I'm so glad that there is some method in the madness that we can see now that we're finally coming close to the end. 5) I liked the way it ended, because I think it set up some great things to come in the final book of the series. I'm really looking forward to finally having an ending.

What I Didn't Like: In my review of Hidden, I talked about the passage of time being glossed over. I still have an issue with not knowing that. But it's mostly because Zoey still talks like a six year old. For crying out loud, she's seventeen years old. She needs to grow up and use her words. And I'm not talking about "four letter words" because there is plenty of that floating around this book. But the word "potty" is, in my opinion, inappropriate to use after the age of six, unless you have a child under the age of six.

Overall Thoughts: I'm glad to have read Revealed and learned what all has been going on with the House of Night. The multiple perspectives really made this book a good read, because you can see the events happening from all angles. I think this was one of the best additions to the series, and with the set up at the end, I can't wait to see how PC and Kristin finally wrap everything up.

My Rating: 4 candy corns

Once again, I just want to say Happy Halloween and I hope y'all have a lot of fun celebrating!