Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: Puddle Jumping

Title Puddle Jumping

Author Amber L. Johnson

Release Date June 24, 2014

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

This was such an incredibly sweet book. It filled my heart with so much love and joy to see Colton and Lilly's relationship grow and change.

I was surprised at how much story was packed into so few pages. In general, I prefer longer books. I always become so invested in characters and stories that I love that it's always mildly disappointing when a book ends. However, Puddle Jumping was an exception. Though it's relatively short (~125 pages), it doesn't skimp on anything. These are real characters in a real, developed story. It was a pleasant surprise, especially since the more I read the more worried I was that I was going to be left with a half ending. No worries there. We're treated to a full ending with no unanswered questions.

If you're looking for a sweet, beautiful love story then I recommend this one. It was such a great story (even though I did tear up a couple of times).


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl

Title Fangirl

Author Rainbow Rowell

Release Date September 10, 2013

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

So, I read a book last year that center on fan fiction (4 to 16 characters) that I thought relied too heavily on the fanfic aspect and, in turn, didn't care for very much. I was worried about that here, but since I've absolutely loved everything else I've read by Rainbow Rowell, I bit the bullet and decided to read Fangirl. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had absolutely no reason to worry. Fanfic or not, I was going to love Fangirl.

There are so many things to love about this book. The characters are full of awesome and they all fit so well together. Cath is relatable. She's nerdy, introverted, socially awkward, and exactly the type of person I could see myself being if I had went away to college. Wren is the more extroverted, carefree twin sister. Reagan is the reluctant, but funny roommate. Levi is the perfect book boyfriend. All of the characters make up the perfect cast for this fantastic book. The writing is nothing less than anything else you'd read by Rainbow Rowell. It's the perfect length. The story continuously moves forward without unnecessary drama. It's a sweet and fun read, but also realistic and with a hint of real life sadness. It's the perfect combination of everything you'd like in a coming-of-age story.

About the fanfic since I mentioned it made me nervous to read this story... don't let it stop you from reading this awesome book. While fanfic plays a rather significant role in Cath's life (and in the story), it doesn't seem off putting. It works here. The stories resemble Harry Potter, but have their own differences. And, as a bonus, instead of turning me off to fan fiction, it made me more interested in seeing what's out there.

As always, I definitely recommend this wonderful book by Rainbow. And I look forward to reading more by her in the future.


5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars

Title We Were Liars

Author E. Lockhart

Release Date May 13, 2014

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

If I had one word to summarize We Were Liars, I think I'd pick boring. The whole thing felt rather pointless. The book didn't have much of a plot other than Cadence understanding what happened during Summer Fifteen. So, we trudge through this book (and trudge feels like the only appropriate word) to find out the big secret and... okay. That's it. Here's the secret and here's the end of the book. It wasn't interesting. I didn't develop any sort of emotional attachment to any of the characters, so by the time the "big revel" happens... I don't care.

The writing was odd and felt disjointed. I didn't care about any of the characters. I certainly didn't understand why they were called Liars. And by the end of the book, I was happier to move on to other books.

It seems there are many mixed reviews (I'm still not sure where the raving reviews come from), I'd vote to skip this one. There's better books to enjoy out there.


2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: In Her Wake

Title In Her Wake

Series Ten Tiny Breaths, book 0.5

Author K. A. Tucker

Release Date September 1, 2014

Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision…and loses everything.

When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.

Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.

And there’s only one person who can give that to him…

This is the prequel to the Ten Tiny Breaths series. However, it is recommended that you read this after (at least) the first book.

While we know what happened to Kacey before Ten Tiny Breaths, we don't know the entire story of what happened with Trent... until now. In Her Wake tells the heartbreaking story of how one simple mistake can change so many lives. That being said, I was surprised at how many encounters Trent and Kacey had with one another after the accident and before the first book in the series. I think it's safe to say that Trent's grief and desire to make amends with Kacey lead him down a stalkerish path. I was also surprised that Kacey seemed completely oblivious to all of these "chance" meetings with Trent. I suppose that it's easy to explain them away as she was in a period of deep grief. I guess I just wasn't aware of how crafted their meeting in Ten Tiny Breaths actually was.

As always, I absolutely loved Tucker's writing. In Her Wake was the perfect ending to Trent and Kacey's story.


5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Review: Morning Glory

Title Morning Glory

Author LaVyrle Spencer

Release Date 1989

On the eve of World War II, two people are brought together by fate and discover an unexpected passion.
Will drifts into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, dragging his lonely past behind him. All he asks is for a chance to love. Then he sees Elly's classified ad for a husband, and when he steps across Elly's cluttered yard, Will knows he has come home at last.

This is an incredible book. It far exceeded any expectations I had.

Morning Glory is a beautifully written historical romance. It made me feel. It made me feel a lot.

This isn't a light and fluffy romance. It's intense (and not in that over-dramatized, unrealistic way) and full of emotion. There's a slow-burning and passionate love between two broken people that learn to heal together. It's imperfect and beautiful. There's nothing that I could possibly say that hasn't been said in a hundred different reviews before mine. Just know that I believe this book is a piece of perfection.

I recommend Morning Glory to those that enjoy romance. It's truly my favorite romance of the year.


5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: The Swan and the Jackal

Title The Swan and the Jackal

Series In the Company of Killers, book 3

Author J. A. Redmerski

Release Date March 5, 2014

This is not a romance in any sense of the word. If that's what you're looking for, don't read it.

Fredrik Gustavsson never considered the possibility of love, or that anyone could ever understand or accept his dark and bloody lifestyle—until he met Seraphina, a woman as vicious and blood-thirsty as Fredrik himself. They spent two short but unforgettable years together, full of lust and killing and the darkest kind of love that two people can share.

And then Seraphina was gone.

It’s been six years since Fredrik’s lover and sadistic partner in crime turned his world upside-down. Seraphina went into hiding and has eluded him ever since. Now, he’s getting closer to finding her, and an innocent woman named Cassia is the key to drawing Seraphina from the shadows. But Cassia—after sustaining injuries from a fire that Seraphina ignited—suffers from amnesia and can’t give Fredrik the information he desperately seeks. Having no other choice, Fredrik has been keeping Cassia locked in his basement as he not only tries to get her to recall her past—because she and Seraphina share it—but also to protect her from Seraphina, who clearly wants her dead.

But Cassia is a light in the darkness that Fredrik never believed existed. After a year subjected to her kindness and compassion, he finds himself struggling with his love for Seraphina, and his growing feelings for Cassia—because he knows that to love one, the other must die.

Will light win out over darkness, or will something more powerful than either further destroy an already tortured soul?

I was excited when I started this book. After all, learning more about Fredrik is exactly what I wanted. Well, The Swan and the Jackal certainly didn't disappoint. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that this is my favorite book of the series. There are twists and surprises that I certainly didn't expect. And after everything was said and done, I just love Fredrik that much more.

Now, here's the thing with this book. It seems that (from the reviews I've read) The Swan and the Jackal is one of those polarizing books. There are those that absolutely love it (like myself) and then those that hate it. While I don't agree with those that hate it, I can understand why they do. This book shows Fredrik in a different light than he has been previously portrayed in. It may be jarring for some to see him so absolutely different than what they've come to expect and hence they don't enjoy this book nearly as much. However, I say give it (and Fredrik) a chance. It's worth it.

So, if you haven't started the series yet, what are you waiting for? It's fantastic! And a new book should be out soon (in less than a month!).


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: My Life After Now

Title My Life After Now

Author Jessica Verdi

Release Date April 2, 2013

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

I'll admit that I knew what the story was about before I decided to read this book. The blurb is vague, though, so you can fully go into this book without spoiling anything for yourself (if you haven't read any of the other spoiler filled reviews, that is). My review will contain the not-so-secret spoiler so avoid it if you're looking to read My Life After Now without knowing beforehand.

For those that don't want the spoilers, I do recommend this book. It has an important message, but doesn't come off as preachy or condescending.


4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: Game

Title Game

Series Jasper Dent, book 2

Author Barry Lyga

Release Date April 16, 2013

Billy grinned. “Oh, New York,” he whispered. “We’re gonna have so much fun.”

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

Thankfully, unlike numerous second books in a series, Game holds its own against the first book in the series. It starts off strong and keeps going. The story is solid and moves steadily along. It is just as good and possibly even better than I Hunt Killers. The biggest difference between the two books is how they end. I Hunt Killers ended in a place where that could have been the end. Game, however, ends on a rather large cliffhanger. It's one of those cliffhangers that demands you read the next book ASAP! Unfortunately, the next book isn't due out until September 9. (Hey! I don't have to wait too long.) It's certainly a book that I'll be reading and soon.

As I said with the previous book, those that enjoy the mind of a serial killer or those that enjoy the thriller/crime genres will likely enjoy this series. In my opinion, it's only getting better.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *