Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Pirate's Coin by Marianne Malone

Summary (from Goodreads):
Fans of magic, mystery, and adventure will love the third The Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure—a perfect next step for kids who love the Magic Tree House series, and just right for readers who love Chasing Vermeer, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Wonderstruck. Sixth Graders Ruthie and Jack return to the Art Institute of Chicago's magical Thorne Rooms. During a school presentation, Ruthie and Jack discover that their classmate Kendra is descended from Phoebe Monroe, the young slave they befriended when they traveled to 19th-century South Carolina. Kendra tells them that long ago her family lost their good name and their business selling herbal remedies when mobsters accused them of stealing the recipes! Only Ruthie and Jack know the truth--because only they know about the secret ledger that Phoebe wrote the recipes in long ago! Ruthie and Jack's mission to clear Kendra's name takes them back to the Thorne Rooms, where a mysterious old coin leads them to 1753 Cape Cod and to Jack's own ancestor . . . the pirate Jack Norfleet! But playing with history can be dangerous! Suddenly, Jack's very existence is in jeopardy! Can Ruthie and Jack find the proof they need to help Kendra? And can they fix the past and save Jack's future . . . before it's too late?
I just love these books! I know a big part of my overall love is the connection I feel to Ruthie and Jack. They both love the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute in Chicago, and well I love the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute. I used to go there all the time (growing up), and I would imagine being able to walk inside them. I’m so unbelievably jealous of these two fictional characters for being able to do something I always dreamed of doing. On top of that these books are just plain adorable and so much fun!
I think the books actually get better as the series goes along. The initial magic of the first one was fun, but I like the magic better as the two main characters actually learn more about it. Plus, the characters are getting smarter, braver, and just plain more interesting as the story continues. Less time is spent on the logistics of shrinking and growing and climbing, and more time is spent on bravely taking leaps, running through dark passageways, and taking adventures when they see them.
Things also get a little more serious and complicated with the whole time-traveling business. The two learn the consequences of changing the past –something that was never quite addressed before. It’s also learned too (though not really highlighted), that Ruthie and Jack actually are going back in time, and not just into some magical Thorne Room time loop. Something the two do back in the time of Jack’s pirate ancestor (!) almost erases Jack from history.
There’s more adventures, more history, more mysteries, and more magic. What about that mixture sounds bad? This one was a little more suspenseful than the others were too because Ruthie was racing for time to try to fix Jack from disappearing while simultaneously also forgetting him…And the other story involving slavery and the mob was also rather fascinating. And I have also come to love the series’ formulaic plotlines that always end in helping people. Ruthie and Jack aren’t just about going on adventures or keeping things to themselves. They actually genuinely care about people and want to help as many people as they can with the special knowledge they now have.
This is probably one of my favorite middle grade series out there and the books just keep getting better. The two main characters are believable and so brave. The histories and room stories only get more and more interesting. The way Ruthie and Jack keep using the advantages they have to help others is actually rather inspiring. And I can’t wait to see where else these two sixth graders will go, and who else they will help. I give this one a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (64)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (3/18/14):

Description from Goodreads:
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Why I’m Waiting:
So, I know I have said that I’m so tired of books about kids/teens in the hospital. (No one can write it like John Green can write it though…) However, this one sounds so different. I love that part of the story is revenge. Sometimes books/stories like these can be a little too tear inducing/do-good-y, but by adding the whole getting-back-at-her-ex thing, I have lots of hope that the main character will be believable and interesting. I love the way the romance with the best friend character sounds. I love that the main character will most likely have to deal with the consequences of all that she thought she wouldn’t have to. It just sounds like such a wonderful idea for a YA book. Also, I find the cover adorable.
What are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Summary (from Goodreads):
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this one. On the one hand, I love Melissa De La Cruz and the Blue Bloods series. On the other hand, I’ve read some really terrible reviews for this book. I have this one signed. It’s another ARC I picked up at BEA. I was going to put it for a while and see if any positive reviews came in, but something speeded it up to the top of my TBR pile (maybe a little chaos of moving and not having books organized as they should be?).
Any way, I can see what people didn’t like about this book. I really can. There were a number of things that kind of bothered me. But, as a whole, I found the story to be lots of fun. Mix Las Vegas, a frozen planet earth devoid of almost all resources, a main character marked and in hiding because of some unknown super power, and the ultimate quest to find a world that’s not destroyed by ice, vast amounts of garbage, and really terrible people.
There is a lot going on. There’s kind of a smorgasbord of supernatural creatures. There’s elves, dwarves, people with super powers, and zombies. Add that to the world’s problems, and there is even more going on. Most of the world is frozen. People who are marked are collected for experiments and really terrible missions by the government. The government seems mostly to be about keeping people in their place (with lots of weapons). There’s orphans everywhere, random bombs going off all the time, killer arctic polar bears, mass piles of garbage littering everything, and slavery popping up everywhere you go.
There were a few moments where I had to backtrack, and be like “She’s adding more?” The only thing missing from this world were vampires. Maybe she’s waiting for book 2? There were moments when all of these things were great and made the story super entertaining, and then there were other moments where it did kind of seem like the author were just throwing more in because they could.
Overall, I loved the supernatural party and the crazy dystopia mix-match of all terrible things.  I would have loved them a lot more if they were all detailed a little further. I guess my problem is not in all of the stuff, but in all the stuff that is left out. I feel like if you’re going to throw in so much, you have to explain things a little more.
Like why exactly is it that elves can do? And why exactly were so many supernatural characters dying? And if kisses can work as defense spells, why weren’t more characters kissing? There were just so many questions I had because so many elements of the story and the world’s background were rushed through. Also, if you need a license to have a one night stand, why were so many random characters seeming to hook up without one? Also, what???
I super loved the quest. There were things going wrong at every turn, and much of the book read like a pirate adventure story (on top of all the other things!). It was interesting to see the all the mixings of a classic fantasy quest story with the inevitable failures of a dystopia. Some of the book was also a little terrifying. There’s a scene where everyone I grew to love was entrapped in metal cages, frozen in the brutal elements and being shipped off as slaves, and hearing all the brutal stories of what happens to slaves and what happens to the people bought by priests or even to the people bought for meat, was just pure horrifying.
Overall, I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the adventure, the quest, and all the problems that happened along the way. I found the main character a little weak in moments, but so unbelievably fantastic by the end. I loved Wes and all of his principles and his inability to leave helpless people stranded. There were some loopholes in the plot that possibly could have been avoided with a little more description and world-building (all fantasy needs good world-building!) There seemed to be a few moments where the authors were just throwing stuff in because they could and not because it actually added to the overall story. But, it was also kind neat to see these supernatural characters/elements mixed in with such a futuristic backdrop. I give it an 8/10.

Friday, September 20, 2013

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Summaryt (from Goodreads):
"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
So, I need to mention that my copy of the book looks so different from the final copy. I have an ARC and apparently this ARC’s cover does not exist on Goodreads…Weird, right? Not that you’re missing much because the cover is weird and makes no sense. But still. The finished cover looks so boring and done before. Oh well.
Any way, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I got it at BEA, after listening to various publishers super hype their favorite books of the upcoming season. Needless to say the publisher did not do this book justice. She actually kind of made me not want to read it, and I almost didn’t even take a copy. I thought it was going to be all about this classic romance story that crosses ages.
I was so so, thankfully wrong. This book was loaded with political assassinations, shootings, torture, escape, prison, and hope. There was literally never a dull moment. The suspense and the mystery are good enough to keep anyone up till 4am reading. Seriously, I had to know who the Doctor was. I had to know why Em had to kill him. And I absolutely needed to know if all 14 attempts to save the world would actually amount to something.
I can’t talk too much about the plot without giving some fun twists away. Just know that Em and Finn are beyond awesome for two main characters/heroes. They go through so much in order to hopefully prevent the worst from happening. And I love how strong they are, and how smartly they put together the pieces that their past/future selves couldn’t accomplish. I know that sounds weird, but I just can’t explain it further. I really can’t spoil this because the twists are so much fun to get through.
I also ended up really loving and believing in the doomed romance in this one. It was something that built up over time. It wasn’t forced. Yes, it was doomed from the beginning, but it was just so well put together. It was so much better than what the publisher was able to put to words at the conference.
However, there were a couple of things I didn’t love. For starters, there was no world building. One storyline focuses on the world much as it is now. But Em’s and Finn’s story in the future was never aptly detailed. I get that the world falls apart. The invention of the time machine apparently triggers really terrible things. But besides from one quick, summed up conversation in a bathroom, I never really know how messed up it is.
So much detail went into the characters and the suspense. But nothing was given to the world. I did get to know the main character’s cell that she was trapped in for months. But, I never truly got to know the long-term negative effects of time travel. And because of this, I wasn’t as obsessed with the two main characters succeeding as I should have been. Also, there’s one character that basically had no development at all. How on earth did the doctor become so bad? I needed to see more gradual change. I need to see something. Clearly, he once was good. Why is there no explanation? I’m wrong. There is some explanation, but it comes nowhere close to cutting it for me –just like one hurried conversation in a bathroom didn’t come close to covering the state of the ruined world for me either.
All in all, I did read this in one sitting. I loved Finn and I loved Em. What they kept working for was just so honorable it was hard to not love them. The suspense and mystery were insane –I was really impressed by how the author kept me on my toes. However, the setting needed some work. And one character really needed some further explanation as well. I just couldn’t really believe the doctor’s motivations without more detail into his change. I’m still going to rate this super high because I did really love it. It gets a 9/10.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Summary (from Goodreads):
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.
So, I absolutely loved McGarry’s debut: Pushing the Limits. It was one of my favorite books of 2012. I saved this one for the week my parents were up visiting me. I figured it would make a good vacation/beach read. And it did.
I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first one. There wasn’t as much mystery surrounding Beth as there was Echo. Not everything about Beth was revealed right away either. But, it’s pretty easy to tell what her backstory is. And it’s pretty easy to tell what her mother is into. But, it’s not even really the lack of a suspenseful mystery that made it not quite as good. I guess it’s more the believability factor. What are the chances that everyone in this motley crew is going to find their soul mate in high school?
This motley crew has foster kids, kids abused physically by their parents, kids who have been victimized, subjugated, and violated. And they all find each other. And they all find love? It’s just a little hard for me to believe. I kind of love when authors do companion novels and old friends make cameos. But, I feel like this actually would have been stronger without that aspect. It would have at least been a little more believable.
It’s also rather formulaic. But what romances aren’t? I kind of need these stories sometimes. The stories you know will have a happy ending –where the characters who have suffered and been through it all, finally get some inkling of hope. And I particularly love romances between two unlikely candidates. Beth and Ryan are so not what I thought they would be. And never in a million years would I have thought that they would work well together, but they do.
I love that McGarry is able to write romance between two such opposing characters.  And I love that the romance is defined by so much more than a love-at-first-sight moment. The characters’ messed up lives influence each action they take so immensely. Beth would do anything for her friends and family. And Ryan just needs to get away from his family. Neither of them have it easy (no matter what appearances make it seem like), and I loved that they could confide their problems with each other.
I super enjoyed this one. I read it very fast. I loved the two main characters (who were both a little hard to love at first). I loved the baseball elements. I loved the slow-building, realistic romance. It was missing a little of the suspense of McGarry’s first novel. It was also just a little too hard for me to believe that every kid from a messed up background in this town can find their soul mate in high school. I give it a 8/10. And I definitely am looking forward to Isaiah’s story, even though I think I might have a very similar reaction to it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (63)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (4/22/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I absolutely devoured The Diviners. But more than that, it’s Libba Bray. She is my favorite YA author. I will buy, wait for, pre-order, and devour all that she writes. The way she wrote book 1 was just beautiful. I can’t wait to get back in the heads of all the characters I grew to love.  But on a side note, what’s with they terrible new cover? I kind of loved the first book’s cover, and it’s so upsetting when publishers change the art midway through a series, particularly when the newer version is cartoony and wrong-looking. It doesn’t matter for me too much because I will read all this woman has to say. But, I don’t see a lot of new readers picking up these new covers on a whim. I just don’t; which is sad because Libba Bray is the best!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
This is my first Brandon Sanderson novel. I’ve been told by a friend that I absolutely need to read his books. And I kind of happened upon Sanderson’s line at BEA by accident, and got an ARC of this signed. I also brought back an ARC for the same friend. I’m glad I listened because this was such a fun book!
I’m a bit of a sucker for superhero stories. And I’m even more of a sucker for story arcs about super villains (I’m still waiting for a Magneto movie). To have an entire YA book revolving around the villains was pretty amazing. In David’s world there are no superheroes (though some people keep believing that one day, they’ll show). Those who developed super powers the day calamity struck, are all evil. Cities have been taken over. Battles for ultimate power and control between the epics (aka: super villains), have left thousands or possibly more than thousands dead.
After loosing his father as a child, David has been on a mission of revenge. He’s spent every spare second of his time growing up, learning about epics and how to defeat them. There aren’t many people willing to go up against an epic (Plenty of them are bulletproff and rather indestructible). And David knows he needs to find the only group of humans willing to go up against them (The Reckoners) in order to truly get the revenge he seeks.
This book is jam-packed with explosions, car chases, gun fights, and battles. When the main characters aren’t in the middle of the action, they are planning more action underground. The book reads like a dystopia. Instead of the terrible state of the world being a direct result of catastrophic weather, economic depression, or political unrest, this dystopia is because of super villains. It’s a world of orphans and poverty. There’s no sunlight and there’s a lot of steel because of the powers of the epics in charge.
I found the whole world so interesting! I loved learning about the underground tunnels. And it was just so fascinating to see a world of Jokers, Green Goblins, and Lex Luthers with no good counterparts. Their powers and their weaknesses made this story what it is.
I did call a lot of the major plot twists, but who doesn’t in superhero (or villain) stories? There are some great side characters in here. And David makes for a pretty awesome main character. Yes, he’s on a revenge mission, but he’s also so willing to learn. He respects the people he’s working with, and just wants to feed on their knowledge like a sponge.
There’s a lot left wide open, but I know Sanderson will get to it later in the series. I’m interested in seeing how people react in this world, to the ending of book 1. I will certainly be reading the rest of this suspenseful series, and more of Sanderson’s work in the future. This gets a 9/10 from me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Good Week in Books (59)

So, I’ve been super good at not buying new books these past couple of months. I have received a few for review recently. And I will be making a big book order on Amazon come October (as a birthday present to myself/new apartment gift). I’m moving again! And on top of saving money, I just can’t justify buying more books that I will have to move with me. I am so giving myself a pat on the shoulder right now.
Any way, I just had to share the few I’ve received for review recently because they are all so pretty (thank you, Macmillan!):

by C.J. Hill
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Tumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Did you receive anything great this week?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (62)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (4/1/14):

Description on Goodreads:

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Why I’m waiting:

Does this not sound completely amazing and epic? I love the cover too. I love that the covers all kind of work together. And I love just how totally awesome this description is. I pretty much devoured books 1 and 2, and I have been anxiously waiting for book 3 since I put down the last one. The world Taylor has created is so magical, dark, and enticing. Her books are like nothing else I’ve read before, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.
What are you waiting on this week?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
I absolutely loved the first book. There’s just something kind of magical about a coming of age story about a girl traveling Europe, figuring out clues from her much loved –already deceased aunt, searching for mysterious artwork, and falling in love. Seriously, this book was a recipe for wonderful. It had such an epic ending as well. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a cliffhanger ending from a contemporary YA book ever. It was rather genius.
(I’m about to spoil book 1)
The first book ends with Ginny on the beach in Greece, enjoying a swim before bringing herself to reading the last letter from her aunt. The previous twelve letters have taken her literally across Europe, and can you blame a girl for not wanting the letters, the mystery, and her aunt to really end?
Too bad for Ginny though because her bag is stolen and with it all of the letters, including the last one, which she has yet to read! She has to fly back home to America, knowing that there will forever be a letter out there from her aunt that she has never read. This book begins with an email from someone in England who has found her bag (and letters).
Oliver, the boy who has sent the email, is only willing to give Ginny pieces of the letter at a time though because he wants to go with her on her last adventures and then get a piece of the profit at the end. He knows that the last letter will take Ginny to three more places, require her to put together three different pieces of art, and then auction the piece off. And he wants half of the money.
Ginny sees Keith (love interest from first book) immediately upon coming to England and fills him in on what is happening. Unfortunately, Keith has a new girlfriend. And a lot of the adventures in this book coincide with Ginny needing to get over Keith, and actually befriending his new girlfriend.  The four of them go to Paris, to Amsterdam, to Ireland, and then back to England. Along the way Ginny receives tidbits from the last letter, creates her own art, says goodbye to her aunt, recovers from a broken heart, and truly learns to see beauty in everything. There’s also the beginning of something new with a new boy, so Ginny wasn’t completely lonely.
The story was just as compelling as the first one. It was, if anything, slightly more suspenseful because Ginny was only getting pieces of the last letter at a time. And I loved that the last letter was so big, so important. It was kind of like in Harry Potter when you realize that on top of the 7 horcruxes, there’s also 3 deathly hallows that should probably be found. Ginny’s deathly hallows introduce her to more artist culture, allow her to play tourist again, and help her come to terms with what exactly it is that she wants.
I loved the characters. Keith kind of became a bit mean. However, all of his witty British humor was still there. And all of his flaws made him more realistic to me. I actually loved Keith’s new girlfriend, and I loved that Ginny was willing to accept her. I also adored Oliver (the boy with the email and the slight blackmailing). The way he took all of Keith’s bullying was just so noble and kind. And watching the four of them travel together, get drunk on New Years together, and fight it out together (even in the seriously award moments) was just so amazing.
And just like with the first book, the pages were layered with independence, with tough life questions, with grief, with love, and with living. Ginny is a slightly different person. She’s not the naïve, scared American tourist from book 1. She’s a little darker, a little more sarcastic, and a little more confident. I loved that there were things more important than money for her. And I loved how seriously she took the words from her aunt’s letters. Her aunt told her to picture a painting in NYC, and she would pause in her letter and think until she had the painting remembered just right, before continuing with her reading.
Ginny is also braver. She wants to see what the drug-ridden cafes of Amsterdam are like. She pushes herself forward at the site where her aunt’s ashes have been spread. She instigates a kiss at New Years, in Dublin. And she fights every step of the way for what she wants, even when she doesn’t know what that is.
I loved this book, possibly more than the first one. It’s all about how adventures never need to be over. Nothing stays the same forever. And no matter how scary change is, it has so many possibilities for greatness. I wish there were more books for me to catch up on Ginny’s life, but I also wish for no more books about her. I kind of loved the ending (again). I could always read more of Ginny, more of this great story, but I love how it ended. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (61)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (1/28/14):

Summary from Goodreads:
The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.
Why I’m Waiting:
Well, how could I not be waiting? Doesn’t this sound amazing? I loved the first two books. I love that it sounds like it’s going to be a lot to do with learning to work together. I can’t wait to see the two groups of people working together for a common goal! I also feel like there is finally this little inkling of hope for the people of this remarkably well thought out world. And I kind of love too that it’s not about revolution or good people fighting against the bad. It’s more about a race to survive than most other dystopias I’ve come across. And it’s such a fascinating race! Also, I love the covers. There’s nothing that super stands out about them, but the color schemes and the cohesiveness between them all just is so appealing.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

Summary (from Goodreads):
Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.

When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing—winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love—seems beyond her reach.

But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn’t. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven’t even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.
I had such high hopes for this one. For starters, besides the creepy angle of the girl on the cover, the book is gorgeous to look at. It’s every shade of the prettiest of blues, and I’m like still looking at, wishing the story were as intriguing as the cover. Also, the premise just sounded so cool.  What doesn’t sound cool about a girl waking up from a coma, after five years? Or an Olympic athlete making the biggest screw up of all screw ups? Or all of a sudden having supernatural abilities after loosing five crucial years (years that make an athlete or define the person you will eventually become)?
I guess I was hoping for a little more supernatural and a little less recovery/grief story. The book was definitely more about Bryce realizing how drastically people can change in five years and how much loss and grief can affect a family, than it was about the Olympic trials or about her new ability to see things. The book is about Bryce getting her strength back and finding her old friends, only to realize they are nothing like who they used to be.
Her best friend from high school is engaged to her boyfriend from high school. She feels betrayed because to her, it feel like no time has passed. But, her friends had to keep living without her, knowing that she most likely would never wake up. Bryce’s parents look like they’re steps away from a divorce (a messy one). And Bryce’s little sister stays out all night, comes home most nights drunk, and completely disrespects everyone.
There’s also some things that are clearly still wrong with Bryce, though no one seems to notice (besides her new hot med school love interest). Her test results weren’t good and her parents knew this, but no one forced her to go back to the hospital.
Spoilers are about to happen!

Normally, I would never go as far in a book review as to ruin an ending, but…I have to here. Because a large reason I ended up not liking this book as much as I could have was because the whole last quarter of it was about Bryce realizing she was going to die. By this point I understood that the book wasn’t really going to have much in the way of supernatural elements, and I was even growing to accept that it was a story about grief and recovery. But then, there is no more recovery!
Seriously, this book that had such a promising, uniquely done start, ended with the most cliché Life Time Original type finish. I was just getting into the somewhat sappy recovery story, and I was so angry to find out the book was turning into a goodbye story. This just ruined it for me.
It was interesting seeing Bryce adapt to her new, more adult body. It was fun getting to watch her interactions with her sister. I loved that she could see the future a little bit, and even remember things that happened from when she was in a coma. The love triangle drama with the ex-boyfriend and the best friend was a little rushed and not that great for me. I believe something like that could happen. I just feel like all the characters involved behaved/acted in a way that wasn’t that believable. Like if the boyfriend was really still clinging to the past, why propose to someone else at all? And I can’t believe anyone’s best friend would break such news in such a terrible way. And then the best friend just gets over things with no real resolution. I just never believed her as a character. Though, the flawed, kind of jerky boyfriend/fiancé did seem a lot more real.
I also loved the romance between Bryce and the med school student. It was kind of adorable, and I wish I got more adorable date scenes with him. I loved Bryce too. I wanted her to recover, to find new dreams, to dive again, to fall in love again. I wanted her to go to college and meet new people. And frankly, this book wasn’t bad at all. I was really interested in it. I just kind of wish I stopped ¾ through.
This book had a great main character. The premise and the story were definitely interesting. I wished there was more in it about Bryce’s Olympic motivations. I wish there were a little more supernatural bits. And I really wish the author didn’t cop out with such an overdone ending/theme. And it’s not even a good overdone theme; it’s one that can turn a somewhat sappy/motivational book into an extremely sappy/not so motivational book. I give this one a 6/10.