Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ContempConvos: Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola’s past be the love of her future?

My Review:

Of the three novels Stephanie Perkins wrote in this series, Lola and The Boy Next Door is my favorite. While I loved Anna and St. Etienne (their love is eternal), it was Lola and Cricket’s chemistry that had me hooked to this author. Also, it does help that I am a sucker for boy-next-door love stories.

Lola is quite an eccentric character- constantly changing her style to represent who she is that particular day. That really struck a cord with me. Most people tend to be very muted in their personal fashion style, a lot of the reason is constricted by society and code of conducts at work. I lived vicariously through Lola and her ever changing identity. She never once apologies for being who she is.

Cricket is the lovable, softly spoken, “nerd” next door who I immediately fell in love with. He truly is the opposite of Lola; and you know what they say about opposites… they attract. You can feel their chemistry right away and I knew they were meant to be together. There were some obstetrical for this to take place- Lola’s scumbag of a boyfriend, Lola and Cricket’s past history, the tension between Lola and Calli. Also, just the general blockage of Lola herself. She doesn’t try to be self-destructive, but sometimes she just can’t help it.

Some characters from Anna and the French Kiss make an appearance or two, which was super fun.

Overall, a fun, quirky, light-hearted read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts

GoodReads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

My Review:

Flynn’s Firsts is gritty, blunt, and truthful. She takes the topics of sex and high school from conventional to out of the box direction.

Mercedes uses sex as a control factor for her, otherwise, out of control life. Her mother is completely negligent, telling Mercedes, from an early age, she has to be skinny and pretty, and treating her like a best friend rather than a daughter. Her father basically abandoned her at the age of eight. Mercedes believes she is helping these guys, by taking their virginity, and giving them direction for their first time with their girlfriends. It isn’t until everything blows up that she has to re-evaluate her life, who her friends are, and what she really wants. This is a true coming-of-age story, one where Mercedes believes she is an adult, making adult decisions, but in reality she is lost, alone, and confused… and still a child in some ways.

When I first read the synopsis for Firsts I was intrigued. The topic of sex, high school students, and virginity is something Americans have a difficult time talking about. Especially when it comes to the pressures put on both guys and girls. Most high school sex-ed programs focus on abstinence only in a society where, more often than not, students are having sex earlier and earlier. I think this book portrays high school sex in the most accurate way possible.

Reading this book really took me back to high school, the pressure of sex from my boyfriend, my first time (and those subsequent times after), and what it all really meant. Everyone has a first time story and it really hit home. Guys are expected, by society, to know how to have sex, and how to make their girlfriend feel good. But in reality, it’s a learning curve, one that lasts for a very long time. And, as a society, we put too much stock into virginity and pureness, so girls believe that they have this precious thing  that has to be protected; that they can only give away at the right moment, right time.  It’s absurd.

“They have the hard part, physically and emotionally. Virginity is supposed to be something a girl gives up only when she is ready and feels comfortable, something a girl discusses at length with her friends and flip-flops over a million times in her mind before actually doing it. A guy is expected to be born ready.”

Above is the perfect description of society’s expectations. This topic is near and dear to my heart and Firsts really captures the truth of sex for teens today.

Rating: 5 out 5

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Reviews, YA Paranormal

Book Review: The Power by Jennifer L Armentrout

The Power (Titan)

GoodReads Summary:

With any great change, there is always strife, and the Covenant University has become the frontline between pure-bloods who want the Breed Order reinstated and the half-bloods who want the right to control their own destinies.

Fate has other plans.

The violence is escalating and war between the races seems inevitable, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Hyperion may be out of commission, but Josie and Seth know they have only earned a reprieve.  Seth must get Josie fully prepared, which means controlling her newfound abilities, and they need to find the other demigods before the Titans do.

But the gods are sensing a greater threat. 

Only one thing is more dangerous than a bunch of starved Titans, and that’s an out-of-control Apollyon. The aether in Josie is drawing Seth in deeper, and when lust mixes with love and gives way to power, he knows being close to her is not only dangerous to her, but to everyone around them, but letting her go requires a level of selflessness that just isn’t Seth’s style.

The paths taken in the past are becoming the roads of the future.

Just as chaos breaks out, familiar faces from the past return, complicating the already strained bond between Josie and Seth, and when the danger from the Titans erupts with devastating consequences, the dark allure of power calls to Seth again, but this time Josie might not be able to pull him back.

And when the struggle between power and love becomes the deadliest battleground, there may be no salvation.

My Review:

So, we know this is the follow up to The Return, a spin-off series of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Covenant Series. In the first book we meet Seth again, the Apollyon, one year after the events of the Covenant Series take place. He is charged with protecting Apollo’s daughter, Josie, a demigod. The second book picks up where he first left off. Josie and Seth are the Covenant University in South Dakota training so that Josie can gain control of her demigod powers.

I was underwhelmed with this book. Maybe my expectations were too high? Or maybe because the characters need to grow, it wasn’t as exciting? I am not totally sure. The writing was still very good. And Seth was still the jackass… nothing changing there. I mean, we even got to see Alex and Aiden, my baes from the Covenant Series. But this book was less about the action and more about the relationships- pure-bloods vs. halfs and the Breeding Order, Josie and Seth, Josie and Apollo. And I guess I wasn’t expecting that; maybe that’s why I am underwhelmed.

I still really enjoyed reading it, but not as much as The Power, or some of Armentrout’s other novels.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Paranormal

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

My Review:

Truthwitch is such a refreshing read in the YA Fantasy genre. There are a ton of different novels written about witches, but this felt completely original. A witch whose only power is to discern truth from lie. A witch who can smell the blood of a person- specifically what that blood represents. A witch who can see the colorful life threads around her.

The story revolves around a friendship between Safiya and Iseult. I think it’s important to emphasize that because you have a lot of novels that would use a F/M love relationship to drive the plot, but Dennard doesn’t do this. This friendship is everything to these two girls and they would do anything to save the other. And you see this constantly happening throughout the book.

There is also the theme of personal growth and the realization that selfishness can cause a lot more harm than people realize. At the start, Safi is quite a selfish character, only thinking about herself, and Iseult. She doesn’t think about how her actions impact the lives around her- her uncle’s, her teachers, etc. And because of this thought process, Safi and Iseult are launched down a path they never would’ve chosen given the choice.

Merik is a great character and doesn’t put up with Safi’s crap. ❤ Character development over the course of the book is steady and marks the important decisions each character is faced with.

I do think Dennard’s world building could’ve been better. If it weren’t for the map in the front of the book I wouldn’t have understood where all these countries were located in respect to each other. She does give great attention to clothing detail.

Also, I wish there was an index so that I could have the proper pronunciations of the different words Dennard uses, as well as, the definition of them because while in the real world they mean one thing, in this fictitious world they mean something else entirely. But these few items don’t take away from the the story.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, ya romance

Book Review: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

The Love That Split the World

GoodReads Summary:

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review:

The Love That Split The World is an enchanting read about young love and time travel. Natalie can see two different versions of her hometown, Union, and meets an intriguing guy, Beau, when she slips into the alternate town. Her grandmother, a “spirit”, tells her at the beginning of the book that she has three months to save “him”, but Natalie doesn’t know who “he” is. She spends the summer trying to discover who this guy she is supposed to save is, but also who she is and what she wants.

I found this book to be very interesting. There are stories within the overarching story itself. These stories come from old Native American tales passed down through generations, but also stories out of the bible. For Natalie, these stories have meaning because she is part Native American. Natalie is a complex character trying to find out who she is and where she fits in with the world. Since she is adopted, and one half Native American, she finds it difficult to determine where she fits in. When she meets Beau, who is an equally complex character, she is certain she has found someone who understands her circumstances because he is having a difficult time determining where he fits into the world as well.

Grandmother is a curious character. She tells stories that you don’t fully understand until the moment the Natalie understands them. She is an odd duck, only appearing to Natalie during the nighttime speaking in riddles.

Beau is my favorite character. He is chivalrous and benevolent. He is, generally,always there for Natalie when she needs him the most. And the bond that is formed between them is unbreakable.

Emily Henry’s writing is wonderful. I loved her use of the story within a narrative. As a reader, we are being told that these tales are important to the character in her quest to save a boy and discover herself. They play a major part in the plot and are a kind of foreshadowing, though at the time of reading them I didn’t know what they were foreshadowing.

I enjoyed the book, but I am not a fan of the ending. I was left with questions and wasn’t fulfilled. I need closure from my characters.

**SPOILERS** Don’t read below this point if you haven’t read! **SPOILERS**

If you have finished The Love That Split The World, great! I truly did love this book, HOWEVER, I did not love the ending. I was left with so many freaking questions and it made me angry (Veronica heard all about how angry it made me).

The second to last chapter leaves us with Natalie making the choice to try and change history, the accident’s that left both her and Beau dead in their own worlds. GREAT! I love that idea. However, the last chapter is another story, telling us how a girl had never met a boy but she had missed him. I get the continuity with the story, and metaphorically, we can draw our own conclusions- Natalie succeeded in saving them both and they live happily ever after. I am not one to assume these things. I enjoy solid closure. I like to know FOR CERTAIN that she changes their timelines and they end up together.

This is why a star was knocked off for me.

**End Spoilers***

Rating: 4 out of 5

NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews, Special Review

Book Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Scarred

GoodReads Summary:

“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Review:

Scarred is about Sloane Munster, who suffers from a tragic accident in her life, leaving her physically and mentally scarred. Due to the trauma, she spends almost a year in hiding, finishing her junior year with private tutors. But through the help of her therapist, Sloane attends a new school for senior year, where she runs into old faces, new faces, and has to come to terms with the actions of her mother as well as herself and how she will move forward with her life.

Joanne Macgregor’s writing is a graceful look at the physical and emotional aftermath of a tragedy in a person’s life. It is evocative. It doesn’t push aside the effects mental illness has on a person. Or how, through the support of friends, family, and love, a person can move forward in their life- move past the tragedy and see there is a bright future ahead of them.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Sloane Munster felt very one dimensional- she was focusing on how she looked and how her life used to be. She was beautiful. She was popular. “I didn’t used to get called anything nasty about my appearance, I used to be pretty. The GG’s- short for Gorgeous Girls- that’s what our clique was called, in my old school.” However, after moving further into the book, Sloane becomes more than a one dimensional character. The scar is just a representation of her emotions. By the end, I fell in love and didn’t want it to end.

Sloane is a truly tragic, and complex, character who has to adjust to her life A.S.- after scar. The girls at her new school taunt her looks, which shows just how juvenile and immature teenage girls can be. It also is a reflection of our society and how much pressure we put on young girls when it comes to physical appearances. She has to deal with boys staring at her. She has to acquiesce the lose of her family and guilt of ruining another family.

I truly enjoyed when Luke, Sloane’s love interest, was given a chapter. He is a central character, not only to Sloane’s development through out the book, but to the story itself. Seeing his point of view is vital to understanding his involvement in the accident and how he develops as a character. As a side sub-plot, the book also address the treatment of others in general, whether it is a student-student relationship, a student-teacher relationship, or a child-parent relationship, and how that can impact a person’s life, positively or negatively.

Joanne Macgregor is a counseling psychologist who specializes in victims of crime and trauma. It is very apparent that she knows what she is writing about; it is captivating and emotional and clearly understood from a psychologist’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a gripping story of tragedy, loss, and survival. I think an anthem to this book is Scars to You Beautiful by Alessia Cara. Go listen to it during/after reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for the opportunity to read Scarred in return for an honest review. Receiving this book for free doesn’t influence my opinion.

Reviews, Special Review, YA Paranormal

Novella Review: Proposal by Meg Cabot

Proposal (The Mediator, #6.5)

GoodReads Summary:

The last place Suze Simon expects to find herself during Valentine’s Day is a cemetery. But that’s what happens when you’re a mediator – cursed with the “gift” of communicating with the dead.

That’s how Suze has ended up at the graves of a pair of NCDPs – Non-Compliant Deceased Persons – whose drama didn’t end with death. It’s Suze’s job to make sure they move on—for good.

But the NCDPs aren’t the only ones with problems. The reason Suze is spending her Valentine’s Day with the undead instead of her boyfriend, Jesse, is because he’s having so much trouble adjusting to life after death . . . not surprising, considering the fact that he used to be an NCDP himself, and now his girlfriend busts his former kind for a living, while he tries to cure his kind of what used to ail him.

Can Suze use her mediating skills to propose a mutual resolution, and bring all these young lovers together – including Jesse and herself – especially on the night Saint Valentine declared sacred to romance?

Or will she end up alone—and possibly undead—herself?

Review:

First of all, I am so so so so so excited not only for this novella, but the book that comes after this novella. I didn’t think we would EVER get another Mediator series book. The series seemed so finished, but I always hoped and dreamed that we would get something. And we did.

Meg Cabot’s Proposal is a spectacular way to dip you toes back into the The Mediator Series. It is full of the usual NCDPs and Suze’s own throw a punch first, ask her questions later mentality. Of course their is a ghost who needs her help and the only way to help him is to punch her way through. And by her side is the ever swoon worthy Jesse de Silva.

Before jumping back into Suze Simon and her mediator ways in Remembrance, check Proposal out first. You don’t want to miss what happens!!

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Book Spotlight, Bookish Thoughts

My Year in Books on GoodReads

Looking back, 2015 has been a great year for books. I read a bunch of new authors I’d never heard of before. There were some great sequels to books I had previously read. And I was able to meet a few of my favorite authors in person. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store (a trip to YALLFest?)!

Img totallargel 2x61 books read/21,165 Pages read Img totallarger 2x

Img ruler 3x

Shortest Book…Longest Book

80 Pages…824 Pages

Average Length: 371 pages

Average Rating for 2015. 4.6 Stars

   

   

      

                 

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NA Paranormal, NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Iniquity by Amy A. Bartol

Iniquity (The Premonition, #5)

goodreads summary

I gasp as my body curls toward Brennus like a flower to the sun, for the pleasure of it. He holds me close to him. His nose grazes the length of my neck. He breathes me in. I feel the roar and rush of my heartbeat. I’m his toy; his energy streams into me. He winds the invisible key in my back and the euphoria ratchets and coils inside of me: tick…tick…tick…

Another wicked surge of energy flows from him into me. Pain. Pleasure. Bliss. My jaw unclenches as my lips part. I make a small, breathy sound as we dance. Brennus responds with something close to a growl. “Ye’re killing me, mo chroí,” he murmurs. His hand moves down my back infusing me with a golden glow of power. My wings punch violently from me, tearing a hole in my day dress. They spread wide, like a red stain beyond my pale skin. I’m dancing now for the thrill of it. I follow his lead.

As the song comes to an end, Brennus kisses my throat. He whispers in my ear, “When ye get back, come find me, mo chroí. I’ve healed ye…now wake up and banjax whoever banished ye here…”

review

The basics

Evie is a half-angel/half-human being who has mission on earth from heaven. She doesn’t know what that is but she does have help- Russel, her soulmate,  Reed, her aspire (angel soulmate),  Buns, Brownie, and Zypher (her family), and  Brennus, her Gancanagh King. They are constantly moving and fighting with creatures, all the while Evie gets these premonitions in her dreams of things that are going to happen. Lots of love, hot guys, and yes- sex. But also lots of kick ass female characters. Evie isn’t one for cowering when life gets tuff. 

**Spoilery**

So this is the 5th and final book in The Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol. The others are Inescapable, Intuition, Indebted, and Incendiary.

Bartol has defined herself as a pantser (writes by the seat of her pants), but she has plotted this series so well. The twist and turns come when you least expect them to. Iniquity is no different. The story weaves through Evie’s past and present, finally explaining to us why she is on earth and what her heavenly mission is- to destroy her inescapable and choose a love of her own.

Bartol’s writing is as strong as ever. Lots of details. Lots of steamy scenes. Lots of action.

One thing that drives me nuts, and has nothing to do with the writing, are the male characters, specifically Brennus, Tau (Evie’s father), and Xavier (Evie’s guardian angel who was in love with her). They don’t respect what Evie wants.  She’ll make a statement like “I don’t want to be with you” and they will ignore her completely. And this kept happening throughout the book. The only person who knows what is best for Evie, is Evie herself. Ugh, male egos.

Overall, I feel sort of indifferent about the book… and the ending. I was so worried the entire time that Evie, or Reed, or Brennuss, or Buns, or Russle, or Brownie, or Zypher was going to die that it took away from my  focus on the story.  I couldn’t care less about the fate of Tau or Xavier. And the ending was okay. Evie ending up where she belonged… they all ended up where she belonged.

I think in the end the book was lack luster. However, I enjoyed it as much as the previous ones. I could’ve used more kick ass Evie and less everyone else.

rating: 4 out 5

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Tuesday Meme

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

TopTenTuesday

Thank you to The Broke and The Bookish for this wonderful meme! If you want to learn how to participate, click here and check it out. Promise you won’t regret it.

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

Liz’s Picks

I have read so many books by so many author’s this year that I hadn’t heard of before 2015. Each author is perfect in their own way and their own writing. I am so looking forward to these author’s releases in 2016!

Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity (Covenant, #3)

Marie Lu

Marie Lu The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Amy A. Bartol

Amy A. Bartol Inescapable (The Premonition, #1)

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