Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chosen~C.B. Stone | Review

Title: Chosen (Absence of Song #3)
Author: C.B Stone
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Length: 182 Pages
Release: April 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This is the conclusion to the Absence of Song trilogy. This was probably the strongest of the three novels. Was it perfect? No, nothing is. But it was really good. Here are some of my thoughts about why. 

In the previous installment we got a dual perspective narrative with first person narration from both Jaelynn and Noah. Here we get even more with the inclusion of Fay and Marcus. I love multi perspective stories. They just work really well. Sometimes having only one main focus just doesn't give you enough of what is going on. I though that the different perspectives was a great touch here. The voices were similar, but distinct, so that was handled really well.

One of the things I enjoyed here was that it delved more deeply into some of the societal problems. Sometimes stories can be too rushed, leaving out detail, so I was glad that this one actually addressed these concerns. And having a view from someone within the Ministry was a nice touch. 

I also thought that Jaelynn and Noah were very cute. The development of their relationship was nice. I hate when things are too rushed and I thought the pacing was done well here. The story also follows a very religious track, which is nice. 

This was a really fun, fast read. It's perfect for a quick read when you need something enjoyable but not too fluffy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

After the Storm~Maggie Dana | Review

Title: After the Storm (Timber Ridge Riders #8)
Author: Maggie Dana
Genre: Middle Grade Equestrian, Sports
Length: 113 Pages
Release: November 2013
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is only the second book in this series that I've read, the other being the first. The thing that I love about this type of a series is that I don't feel like they have to be read in order to be enjoyed because so much of the story is contained within just one book. 

This was a fun, fast read. Maggie Dana obviously has horse knowledge and it's always nice to see that knowledge come through in writing. It can be hard to convey certain aspects of the Equestrian life through a story. This one was done really well and I think would be enjoyed very much by the intended age range of 9-14 year olds, particularly those who are into horses.

In this novel Kate and Holly hit some road blocks in their friendship when Kate feels pressured by Holly to act differently than her relaxed nature requires. After one of the ponies colics and Angela, the leader of the brat pack, blames Kate and calls her a horse killer (because of something that happened and was a major plot point in book one), Holly pushes Kate to stand up for herself. When things go wrong and Kate fires back at Holly, the two fall apart and Kate becomes an outsider in the one place she always felt at home. 
This series reminds me (almost too much, at times), of the Saddle Club books that I read so much when I was younger. It would be nice to see some differences, but it is still an enjoyable read. The only real drawback that I had with this novel was that the ending was too abrupt. I felt like there should have been a little more of a resolution between Kate and some of her friends than there was. I'm sure that more of this continues on into the next book, but it just felt like too much was left in the air. 
Overall I think this was an enjoyable, well written story. I think it would appeal to young, horse crazy readers, as well as those of us who like to revisit those crazy dreams we had when we were younger. 

Taken~ Dee Henderson | Review

Title: Taken
Author: Dee Henderson
Genre: Christian Suspense
Length: 432 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: April 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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

Retired Boston Police Officer Matthew Dane, liven through the most fearful time of his life when his daughter was abducted and missing for eight long years. Turning all of his time and attention to the investigation brought about her rescue, and the next few years focused on getting her healthy and happy again. Life was finally getting back into a routine and rather predictable when Matthew finds a young woman sitting outside his door with one request: "I'd like to go home."

Shannon Bliss is another abducted teen who has been missing for eleven years. Now twenty-seven years old, Shannon, after escaping from her captors, just wants to go home. Proving her identity is easy enough, but getting Shannon to talk about her harrowing experience is not quite as easy, particularly since they know she is protecting someone. 

Matthew elicits help from the FBI team we have all come to love: Ann and Paul Falcon. They join Matthew on the nationwide manhunt to put away a family of kidnappers and thieves. Shannon knows there are others who have been abducted and are still out there. Can they find them in time. And...could someone in Shannon's family have been involved in her disappearance? You're in for an exciting experience!

Dee Henderson continues to prove her skill as a writer in this psychological thriller that is sure to have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  

Tuesday Talks | Cover Design

It's Tuesday! Time for another Tuesday Talks discussion. You can find all of the information for the discussion group on the goodreads group here. You should check it out and join us, it's always a good time discussing bookish topcis!

Book Cover Designs
Book covers are some of the most talked about book related things out there. So many people will buy a book strictly based on how much they like it's cover. For me, I'm not sure I've ever bought a book because of its cover, but I do think a good cover is a very important thing for a novel to have. A bad cover can be the downfall of a good book. 

I like for covers to be related to the story being told in a book. Some book covers incorporate a scene from the book and I actually love that. When I get to that point in the book I'm always really excited to recognize the scene from the cover in writing. It doesn't necessarily have to be that obvious though. I just want something that makes me think about the story being told and not just some random picture that has nothing to do with the story. 

One thing that I'm generally not a fan of on covers are cover models. I'm fine with people being on a cover, but I don't like to see their faces in general (there are some exceptions to this). I'm not really sure why I don't like this, but I would rather have something more abstract than a face. I actually really like feet or hands being incorporated in covers, or profile views of people (particularly when the lighting isn't clear), I just don't want the full view of a person. 

I also really like the use of silhouettes or outlines on covers. I've seen several like this and they always really fascinate me. The use of optical illusions as covers, hidden in silhouettes is also really interesting. I can't think of the book, but I saw one within the past few months that was really interesting because you could see like three or four different things depending on the angle you looked at the picture. And all of them were related to the story (at least it sounded like it from the synopsis). 

I also like a unique cover. I know that covers can be expensive (and since I want to publish my own books, I'm going to have to think about this a lot), but I don't like all of the repeat covers that are used. The shading will change, but the cover art will be the same and I just don't generally like that. Particularly when cover models are used though. I don't want to see the same face on completely different stories. I think in the long run its probably worth the extra money to go with a more personalized cover. 

So now that I've kind of ranted about some of my cover likes and dislikes, let me show you some of the covers that I enjoy. 

I love this cover of Odd Thomas. It's really simple, but it connects so well with the story. I love the person walking through the fog, like it's a dream world. It just really fits the story. And the coloring too. This one is purple tinted, the one I have is more grey, but I love them both. It just works.  
The cover to A Thousand Pieces of You is one of the main reasons I read this novel. You get to see some of the dimensions that are visited in the story and it's just so beautifully put together. I see something new in this every time I look at it. It's one of those books that you can close and just stare at the cover and feel like you're living inside the story. It's wonderful. (The cover to the sequel is great too.)
This cover is actually one that I have seen the design on multiple books, but it can work in this case. I love the feet, because it makes things seem cute. The lightly colored roses are perfect. What I love most though, is the incorporation of math symbols. The title itself uses math symbols and you can't see it well here, but there are also integral, derivative, trig functions, and many other symbols drawn into the cover almost as if it were a blackboard. I love it and it was perfect for the story.

This cover of From The Ashes is another one that I absolutely love. The pathway leading through these dark trees, with a misty quality is just stunning. And the girl, her face lit up but not detailed, from the glow of the necklace in her hands, is just beautiful. It's one of my favorite covers. 

These are not all of my favorite covers. They may not even be my favorite covers of all time, but these are all covers that I love. Tell me in the comments what you like to see in a cover and what your thoughts are on this topic. I would love to hear what you think!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stay the Distance~Mara Dabrishus | Review

Title: Stay the Distance
Author: Mara Dabrishus
Genre: Sports, YA Equestrian
Length: 216 Pages
Release: March 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

July Carter’s world is perfect from the back of a horse. From the ground, everything is a complete mess: her jockey mom ran off for California years ago, her dad always seems more interested in the horses than in her, and the horse July wants for herself will never be hers.

Even though the New York racing circuit has taught her not to get attached, July can’t help connecting with Kali, a hopeless filly that refuses to run when it counts. When bankruptcy rumors start swirling around the barn, the future is murkier than ever. July can’t stand losing one more thing, and Beck, the barn owner’s son, knows more about the rumors than anyone else. July will get the truth, even if she has to pry it out of him, for Kali’s sake and her own.

You can purchase this novel through Amazon (in the US) here
I'm always worried, picking up a horse book. Being a horse person, it's always hard to determine which ones will be worth your time and which ones will make you cringe. This one I am happy to say, was excellent. 

Mara Dabrishus obviously knows her horses. I went through a phase where I was obsessed with Thoroughbred horse racing, so it was nice to test out that knowledge with this novel. The explanations about the tracks, the races, the horses, the training, everything was just spot on. And the writing was really beautiful. I was expecting this to read more like a middle grades book geared toward teens and adults (and don't get me wrong, I love well done middle grade books), but it didn't read like that at all. It read just like I would expect a YA novel to read when set in a horse world. I haven't had much experience with authors getting this to balance out well, but here it was excellent. 

July was an extremely likable main character. She was very mature for her seventeen years and her personality and situation were very easy to relate to. I found myself immediately drawn to her. Her love of horses was a refreshing thing and I loved reading about her time in the saddle and how much she enjoyed it. She handled so many stressful situations with just the right mix of teen angst and mature levelheadedness. 

The relationships in this novel were beautifully depicted. July's mom left four years before to chase her riding dreams across the country and hasn't been back since. The way this was handled was brilliant. Her mom just irked me, but I thought the resolution to the situation was very satisfying. And her relationship with her sister and dad were perfect. Communication is hard, even when you care about the people around you. Talking is hard to do when all you've known is silence. I know from personal experience that it's much easier to talk with my horse than with my family. July and Beck were also rather adorable. He was just the right amount of annoying to make me love him. Bri, July's best friend, was a nice touch as well. 

The interactions between July, her family, the horse owners, the horses, and the stable crew was brilliantly depicted. This is an excellent novel for any reader, but I think that teenage, horse crazy girls would fall in love with it. It's just the book I was always searching for when I was that age. I don't know if there will be any more books written about July Carter, but I will definitely read them if there are.    

Friday, April 24, 2015

Keeping Secrets~Maggie Dana | Review

Title: Keeping Secrets (Timber Ridge Riders #1)
Author: Maggie Dana
Genre: Middle Grade Sports/Equestrian
Length: 176 Pages
Release: February 2012
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Kate blames herself for the death of Magic, a valuable show horse, and swears of riding. When Kate gets a summer job helping out a wheelchair bound teen, she doesn't realize that horses are part of the package. Now she has to face her guilt if she's going to help Holly. And when one of the girls gets injured and is out of the competition, Kate has to decide if she can step in to fill the missing gap. 

I really enjoyed this story. It reminded me of all of the horse reading I did when I was younger. Being an equestrian myself, I always enjoy a well written horse related read. This one fit both of those requirements nicely. 

The story is rather predictable for anyone who's read a lot of these types of novels, so it may not appeal to all readers. Personally I don't find that to be a negative aspect. If the story is well written and enjoyable, I will like it predictable or not. This is kind of a coming of age story. Kate has to accept things in her past that she wishes she could forget, all while dealing with her new job and snobby girls who want everything handed to them. 

The characters here were likable. Kate and Holly are the main characters we get to see and they become friends immediately. Angela, the brat whose mother tries to run the stable, is both easy to dislike and easy to feel bad for. When you see her with her mother it's easy to understand why she might be the way she is. At fourteen I would hope she might be able to outgrow some of that, but it's not the easiest age to overcome such things. 

The main thing that I found too extreme here, was the fact that everyone from Kate's old barn automatically blamed her for Magic's death. While it was a terrible occurrence, accidents do happen and treating a child so cruelly was taking things too far for me. 

The horse event was nicely described. A little over the top at points, but that just makes it more exciting for young readers. It was nice to see some development with the characters and where they were headed next. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy easy to read horse related stories.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Daughter of Glass~Vicki Keire | Review

Title: Daughter of Glass
Author: Vicki Keire
Genre: YA Paranormal
Length: 198 Pages
Release: March 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sasha Alexander has a powerful ability.

Either that, or she’s dangerously mad. She isn’t always sure which.

Her father shrouds her in isolation, convinced he’s protecting her from the same madness that took her mother. But the seven impossible guardians that only she can see insist she’s gifted. Her companions since her mother’s suicide a decade ago, they protect her from hurt, pain and fear.

They also keep her from feeling love.

Sasha doesn’t know how to react when Noah explodes through her defenses. This strange young man with the scarred hands suddenly makes her feel again. And she wants more. More of Noah, of his wakening touch. But the guardians don’t want to lose their decade-long hold, while her father despises Noah on sight.

Sasha risks exposing Noah to a world that would cheerfully see him dead.

But unless she can learn to control her own emotions, the biggest danger to them all may be Sasha herself.

The concept of this novel is very interesting. Basically, Sasha is guided and protected by guardians who represent the seven deadly sins (or a version of them). Each of these guardians prevents Sasha from feeling the emotions they represent. Sasha is gifted and can manipulate emotions, so the guardians keep her in check to protect her from herself. 

I find the use of these "aspects" of her personality and their damping of her emotions to be extremely fascinating. It reminds me of a couple of novellas that I read not too long ago and the concept has fascinated me ever since. I was very intrigued to see this idea again. I loved the interaction between Sasha and these guardians. The way she described them and how she was the only one who could interact with them is really well depicted. 

The main thing that I found lacking in this novel was depth. The concept could have been expanded and developed to make a more compelling read. As it is, I really enjoyed it. I just didn't think it was great. I also felt that things were too rushed with Sasha and Noah. I appreciated that this was mentioned in the novel, but again, a little more development here would have been nice. 

One thing this novel has going for it is that cover. It's really intriguing. That was one of the first things that drew me to the novel in the first place. And the title is equally intriguing. 

Overall this was a fun, fast read. I would recommend it to those interested in YA novels with paranormal aspects.  

Soaring Through Stars~Rajdeep Paulus | Review + GIVEAWAY

Title: Soaring Through Stars (Swimming Through Clouds #3)
Author: Rajdeep Paulus
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 257 Pages
Release: April 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“I live in the in between. Between holding on and letting go. Hurt clings to me. Hope teases me. Home. I can’t explain it, but sometimes, I just want to go home.”

Talia and Jesse Vanderbilt have escaped a childhood full of abuse, and when they have a chance to put their father behind bars, setbacks arise from every direction. The siblings can't help but consider the option to walk away and move on with their lives.

Then someone unexpected brings his own secrets, forcing the Vanderbilt teens to revisit their pasts and rethink their plans. Through it all, Lagan and Talia’s Post-it love story blossoms, while Jesse and Summer hit roadblocks.

From the award-winning author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones comes a powerful story of freedom and belonging in this final book of the young adult trilogy that began with an invitation on a little Post-it note.

What is there to say about this book? It was a perfect conclusion. The characters were as beautiful as ever and the story just as compelling. So let me share a few of my thoughts. 

What I love about this book is that there isn't just some easy fix to all of Talia and Jesse's problems. They've finally gotten out from under their abusive father and are working to build lives of their own, but the scars he's given them are far deeper than the ones on their skin. Their is a lot they have to face, together and alone. But through all of this you get to see them have hope, develop dreams, test themselves, and grow. 
Talia and Lagan were just as adorable in this final installment as they were in the previous two. I just love the way their relationship began and here it was continued just as beautifully. Talia was so lost and alone before Lagan and his devotion to her is heartwarming. He doesn't ask her to change or share herself all at once, he lets her open up in her own way and in her own time. Watching their love grow was one of the highlights of this story. It was this love and acceptance that gave Talia the courage to finally break free to begin with and it made me so happy, even through all of the painful points. 

The novel is told in dual perspective again, with us getting to see from Jesse and Talia. Jesse faces some tough consequences for past actions and questions his friendship with Summer. Seeing him grow, feeling his pain, knowing his insecurities, it was a perfect way to make the story come to life. Because we all feel these things at some point in our lives and they were depicted beautifully here. 

The relationship between Talia and Jesse is one of the best sibling relationships that I have ever read. Their devotion and love for each other was brilliantly depicted. When people go through the abuse these characters suffered, it can destroy them. What I appreciate here is that Paulus has done such a beautiful job showing that Talia and Jesse have survived for each other. Without each other their worlds probably would have fallen apart, but together they can soar. 

If you haven't read this series, go read it. It really is beautiful. Heart wrenching, but heartwarming too. One of my new favorites. 

Since I loved this series so much, I wanted to give you the chance to fall in love with it as well.  That's why I'm offering a giveaway for a kindle copy of one of the books!
*You must be 18 or older or have parental consent before entering. 
*There will be two winners.
*Once winners are selected, each winner will choose one of the three books in the Swimming Through Clouds (Swimming Through Clouds, Seeing Through Stones, or Soaring Through Stars) series as their prize.
*The prizes will be given as kindle gifts, so keep that in mind when entering.
*Winners will be contacted at the end of the giveaway and must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. 
*Now to the giveaway! Just earn as many entries as you like by entering the rafflecopter and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Seeing Through Stones~Rajdeep Paulus | Review

Title: Seeing Through Stones (Swimming Through Clouds #2)
Author: Rajdeep Paulus
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 240 Pages
Release: February 2014
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

"I live in the in between. Between yesterday and forever. The way forward haunts me. The gap I must cover daunts me. And hope beckons, 'Run to me,' but I just learned to walk."

After a lifetime of abuse, the Vanderbilt siblings flee their home, finally free to pursue new dreams while running from yesterday's nightmares. Once bed-ridden Jesse navigates the Chicago streets, concealing his identity and planning revenge. A chance encounter in the rain introduces a girl who offers Jesse a glimpse of a sunnier future, but how will he weather the growing storm inside himself?

Separated from her Post-it note prince, Talia hides at a safe house for survivors of domestic violence while her father turns the city upside-down to find her. Surrounded by women fighting their own demons, Talia faces her past at every turn.

This novel picks up right where the first one left us. Talia and Jesse have fled home and are now separated for the first time. Each of them is fighting their own internal battles as they try to come to terms with what happened to them growing up and how they will ever face their father again.

In the first novel the story was told entirely in first person from Talia's perspective. Here we get a dual perspective narrative with chapters narrated by Jesse and others by Talia. I love dual perspective stories, so this was an added bonus for me. 
For Jesse's portions of the novel we follow him as he learns to make his own way in the world and fights his demons, trying to decide what to do about the hatred he carries for his abusive father. Through all of his struggles Jesse meets Summer, a girl with a bright personality and a love for churros. The two begin a friendship that will either make or break Jesse as he runs from the father that has always seemed two steps ahead. 

Talia is dealing with her own demons as she adjusts to life in a women's shelter. Through group sessions, art therapy, and the other women, Talia begins to open up to the possibility of breaking free once and for all. She feels isolated since she is unable to see the two people that matter most in her world-Jesse and Lagan. But she has high hopes that she and Jesse can find a life together and Lagan sends her post-it not messages every chance he gets. 

Jesse and Talia are beautifully written characters. I love that they each have their own distinct voices. There are similarities between the two (obviously, they are siblings after all), but they are most definitely their own characters. Their fear of their father is heart wrenching, but exactly what I would expect. They are such courageous characters. 

The relationship between Lagan and Talia was just so sweet. This novel is so beautiful and Paulus's writing of this relationship is perfection. One thing that people who suffer this kind of abuse need to understand is that there really are people out there who will love you for you, no matter what you've been through. It just made me so happy. 

Jesse and Talia are one of the best sibling pairings I've ever read. When you grow up like they did you're either driven apart or driven together and it's inspiring to see them cling to each other and want to protect each other from everything, even when it's out of their control. It's just a gorgeous story. 

I highly recommend this to everyone who wants to read a story about the hope that you can find even through heartbreak. We're never truly alone.

Driven to Date~Susan Hatler | Review

Title: Driven to Date (Better Date than Never #7)
Author: Susan Hatler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 244 Pages
Release: February 2014
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jill is a hardworking, career-driven, attorney who's about to get her big break. Until she doesn't. When the promotion she's been working for is handed to someone she's never met, Jill decides she's going to seek out better opportunities.
At a friend's wedding Jill meets Ryan, the best man. In order to impress a potential employer, Jill asks Ryan to pose as her boyfriend. The ruse plays out perfectly. In fact, Jill and Ryan nearly fool themselves. 
Jill's fantasy romance falls apart when she learns that Ryan is the man who stole her promotion. Now she has to keep him out of her hand-and heart-if she wants to stay on track. 

These books are so much fun. I'm not generally a romance reader, but I tried these out and I really enjoy them. This is my third book from this series (I've read books one and six) and I'm not sure that it's my favorite, but there were definitely things that I liked best here. 

One thing I love about this book (and the series in general, from what I've read), is how clean they are. They are well written, clean fun. You get sweet kisses and happy endings, but the love never goes further than that. I'm not one to read any steamy romance novels, so I really appreciate this because it doesn't turn me away. 

Jill and Ryan probably aren't my favorite of the couples I've read in this series, although they are cute, but the thing I do love about them is that there is a bit more development in their relationship. They meet and things take off from there, but it's over several weeks of them working together, not just a week or a handful of meetings. I like that there is a bit more to the whole romance here. 

I also really enjoy Jill. She's a workaholic, but I loved seeing her grow. We get to see her step out of her comfort zone (work) and start enjoying just hanging out with friends, volunteering, and just having a good time. 

This is a really cute and super fast read. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a light, happy, fun, romantic read.   

Tuesday Talks | My Favorite Genre

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion group created by Janie and Janelle. You can find more information about the group and start participating in discussions by visiting the goodreads group here.

My Favorite Genre and Why
Today's topic is all about our favorite genres and why we love them so much. Let me start by telling you that I read almost anything. If the novel sounds interesting, I'll pick it up and give it a try. I do have a favorite, however, and that favorite is fantasy. Particularly high fantasy (fantasy set in its own world), but I enjoy other kinds as well. 

It's hard for me to explain exactly why fantasy is my favorite and what really draws me to it. I love to read. If I'm enjoying a book then I will get really into it and just fall in love with it no matter the genre. But then I pick up a fantasy book and it's like what I felt for that other book was nothing compared to my reading experience with this fantasy novel. It's like I didn't know what constituted a good book before picking up that fantasy novel (even though I still love the other books as well). I just get something completely different from fantasy. Part of it might be that it's set in its own world and is so different that it fascinates me, I'm honestly not sure. But fantasy has always been my favorite. 

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. I recently read Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I thought it was a phenomenal book (and I highly recommend it if you enjoy YA contemporaries). It was a great read and I just fell in love with it and the characters. It made me think, it made me happy. All those emotions you associate with a good reading experience. Then, a couple of weeks later, I picked up Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. It was like I had forgotten how much I love to read until I picked that book up (even though I was really enjoying the books I read right before it). All of the same emotions were there, but multiplied by one hundred.

It's probably like thinking about your favorite book when you were a kid. Looking back you still really enjoy the book, but when you compare it to your favorite book now it just doesn't match up. A lot of that has to do with the experiences you've had since first reading the book or your tastes having changed, but the books are obviously different for you even though you really love both of them. That's how I feel going from any other genre into a really great fantasy novel. Even if I read them back to back. 

So fantasy is hands down my favorite genre. I will probably be doing a post in the future to recommend some of my favorite fantasy reads, so check for that if you're interested in my thoughts on the subject. 

What is your favorite genre? Why is that your favorite genre? Has it always been your favorite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Swimming Through Clouds~Rajdeep Paulus | Review

Title: Swimming Through Clouds (Swimming Through Clouds #1)
Author: Rajdeep Paulus
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 250 Pages
Release: May 2013
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I live in the in between. Between what if and what is. It’s how I manage. It’s the only way I know. Everyone has their way. This is mine.
Senior year kicks off when a Post-it note sparks a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Hoops and homework occupy Lagan Desai until something moves to the top of his list: befriend the new girl. 

One Post-it note at a time, Lagan moves past Talia's caution-taped heart, revealing a world where hope seems to lie around the corner...she never turns.

This novel is simply beautiful. I absolutely adored it. Talia and Jesse, her younger brother, suffer extreme abuse at the hands of their father. They aren't allowed to talk to people, have friends, use the internet, get jobs. But then Talia meets Lagan. And the story starts to change.

This novel was equal amounts heart wrenching and heartwarming. It's very emotionally draining to read about the abuse that Talia and Jesse face, but there is always some ray of hope breaking through. The sweet parts come in during Talia and Jesse's interactions as well as the growing relationship between Talia and Lagan. 

Lagan is one of the sweetest characters I've ever read, but he seems so real. The sweetness was never overdone for me. And seeing Talia begin to respond to his pleas for friendship was so cute. I loved that the novel was building this relationship from beginning to end, nothing was rushed.  And the use of post-it notes added a cute, but not cheesy feel to their new relationship.

Talia and Jesse's relationship as sister and brother was adorable. It was fraught with extreme anxiety, fear, and suffering, but they still loved each other. Strong sibling relationships are always something that I enjoy and it was perfect here.  You get to see flash backs to when they were younger and some of the hardships they faced throughout their younger years.

This novel was brilliant and I adore it. I highly recommend it to any and all fans of emotional contemporary love stories with beautiful relationships and complicated situations. It will tear you apart, but hopefully it will also put you together again.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The High Priestess~ P.D Kalnay | Review

Title: The High Priestess (The Arros Chronicles #2)
Author: P. D. Kalnay
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: April 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I had the opportunity to beta read this novel thanks to the author.

After returning with the life essence stolen from their father, the six princesses and their trusted friend Allan have set out in search of a mythical dragon far away from the Sky Kingdom. The dragon is their hope waking their father from his perpetual sleep. But unexpected obstacles and unforeseen destinies await the sisters as they race against time.  

I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, but found the introduction of the princesses rather distracting in the beginning. Here that wasn't a problem. Already knowing each princess and having an idea about their individual personalities, I was prepared to jump right into this story. 

This story picks up right where the previous novel, The Spiders of Halros, left off. The princesses are traveling to the birthday party of another noble lady that they've been avoiding for years. After the party they set out to their mother's homeland in search of the dragon that can wake their father. 

This series is great for some lighthearted fantasy. It doesn't delve as deeply into the characters as I generally like, but the story is very fascinating and so much fun that I don't mind this very much. Each of the princesses does develop further from the first to the second novel, which is great. 

This story introduces some new and interesting characters that are very important in the stories of the princesses. Much of this story focuses around the story of Princess Alexandra, who gains new and interesting positions within the various societies of which she is a part. There was so much going on with her throughout this novel that was insane. Let's just say it involves prophecies in dreams, men in the woods, being stranded on an island, and gaining a connection to a goddess. I can't go into too much detail without giving away all of the best parts. 

Each of the princesses gets some time in this novel, as they did in the last. There is more of a focus on Alexandra and perhaps Kristina than any of the others, but we still get some time with Sophia (and Allan), Laura, Julia, and Catherine. I am really looking forward to delving more deeply into Catherine's story later in the story. I find her very interesting. 

The story has a very satisfactory conclusion and doesn't leave you with an extreme cliffhanger as so many novels do these days. There are certainly unanswered questions and many things to be considered. Some huge revelations regarding the Ballantine family. 

The first novel in this series could definitely be considered a middle grade book, but this one branches more into the YA world. The characters and situations are far more grown up. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fun, fast fantasy reads. I am really enjoying this series. I had to rate it five stars because it was so much fun to read that giving it a lower rating just wouldn't have made any sense.  


License to Date~Susan Hatler | Review

Title: License to Date (Better Date than Never #6)
Author: Susan Hatler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 198 Pages
Release Date: January 2014
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel through Netgalley and the publisher Hatco Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

After breaking up with her cheating fiance, Kaitlin has sworn off men. Instead she's throwing herself into her newest project: her new house. When her friends start pressuring her into dating again, Kaitlin agrees to go on five dates in exchange for help with her remodeling project. What she doesn't expect is bartender Paul, who makes her feel everything she doesn't want to. 

I've read the first of this series and now this, the sixth novel. What I love about these stories is that they are clean, cute, fun romances. The writing is really nice and easy to follow and I can connect with the characters really well. 

I really loved the relationships in this story. Both those that were already existing and those that were developed. Kaitlin and her friends are fun to read about and play off of each other really well. I also loved how she and her sister Melanie got along. It was a really nice sister relationship to see, particularly in a novel of this length. 

Paul and Kaitlin were really cute together. I completely bought into their attraction to each other, although this was one of the sore spots of the novel and the main reason I only rated it three stars. While I really loved them as a couple and thought they were completely adorable, I don't like how things were rushed. The entire story took place over about five days, which was just too fast for me. Spreading out their interactions over a little more time might have improved my overall opinion of the story, although I do really enjoy it as is. 

Another thing that seems to be a trend with these novels are the relationships between the women and their mothers. In the two that I've read the leading woman has a very overbearing mother. They are always really close to their mothers, which I love, but there never really seems to be a complete resolution to their conflicts. 

These stories are such fun, clean, romances and they make me feel really happy. I also love that they are about women finding love without making the women weak. They are always really strong. The only thing, aside from the fast paced love, that I find rather disappointing is that the guy is never really what the woman thinks to begin with. I would just like to read a story where it's completely ok to fall in love with someone and for them to be exactly who you fell in love with, not some famous person or really rich guy (not exactly what happens here, but you get the point). 

Overall I think this is a really fun read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fun, clean, feel good romance stories. I will likely read more of these novels in the future. They are the perfect read for a rainy day. 

Becoming~C.B Stone | Review

Title: Becoming (Absence of Song #2)
Author: C.B. Stone
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Length: 165 Pages
Publication: March 2015

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Jaelynn and Noah are caught after awakening the dead valley that surrounds them. New revelations are made concerning the Ministry and their mission. Family bonds are tested. Lives are threatened. And people starve in a drought ridden land. 

I really enjoyed this novel. This is my fifth novel by CB Stone and I really enjoy her style and the worlds she imagines. They are different than many other dystopian worlds I've read about in the past. Here are some of my thoughts. 

I really like Noah and this is the first novel where we get his perspective on some of the events. I love dual perspective stories, so this was a great surprise. I was also happy that Noah and Jaelynn's voices were easy to distinguish. That's usually the low point of multi perspective novels, when the voices are too similar. 

Some of the points of the story were very interesting and I really enjoyed the little bit that we delved into the world of the ministry and their views. It wasn't much, but it was interesting. 

I also like the use of God. These are religious novels and Jaelynn discovering God is an interesting touch to the story. She starts to gain faith. Much of the spiritual connection the characters have with God comes through song, which was outlawed years ago. 

The only low points for me were really that the story was somewhat slow in parts and that the characters didn't always seem consistent. I feel like more information could have been delivered in some scenes to make them matter more. Also a little more consistency in the thoughts of the characters and their reactions, particularly Jaelynn, would be nice. She seems to have very different thoughts within a single paragraph that don't really follow each other. Her decisions seem kind of sporadic at times. 

I think all of this could easily be fixed, however, and improve this story greatly. As it is, this story was really fun and fast to read with interesting characters and a fascinating world.   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Challenging Yet Rewarding Books

Tuesday Talks is a group created and hosted by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here if you're interested in joining in the discussions.

Challenging Yet Rewarding Books
This topic has taken me a lot of time to consider. There were no books that immediately came to mind when thinking about this topic, which was odd because I'm sure I've read some challenging books that I really enjoyed. There are many different things that make a book difficult or challenging. Sometimes it may be the length, the subject, the writing style. There are so many factors at work here.

I decided to go with a book that I absolutely loved. That book is All Good Deeds by Stacy Green. This isn't my favorite book of all time, but it is one of my favorite books. I had the opportunity to review it a few months ago. It's a thriller and it was a really fast read, so that wasn't the difficult part. Oh no, not for me. The hard part was the subject matter. 

Lucy Kendall (this is the first in the Lucy Kendall series) used to work for Child Protective Services until she decided that what she was doing wasn't helping enough people. Her desire to help suffering children was spurred by the suffering of her sister when she was a child. So when she decided her work with CPS wasn't doing much good, she decided to take matters into her own hands. With the help of a few trusted friends Lucy goes about killing pedophiles. 

The novels are told from Lucy's perspective, so we get to see into her thoughts and feelings. There are some heartbreaking situations throughout this book and so many questions raised. It wasn't that the book was excessively difficult to read and I really enjoyed it, it was more that it brought out some really deep questions about human nature and society. 

It's a really fascinating book and I will likely read it again one day, but it's emotionally taxing. I love thrillers. There is always so much going on. This is probably the heaviest thriller that I've read in regards to subject matter, which is saying a lot because thrillers often have some deep concepts imbedded in their pages. This was definitely an emotionally and psychologically challenging novel, but it was definitely rewarding because it forced me to consider things that I might not have otherwise. Lucy is complicated, dark, and twisted. She does a lot of good, but does that justify her actions? 

This was a short post, but there are some of my thoughts on a challenging yet rewarding read.  

So what are some challenging or difficult novels that you've read and enjoyed? What did you get out of them? Why were they so challenging? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!   

Words of Radiance~Brandon Sanderson | Review

Title: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 1087 Pages (Hardback)
Publication: March 2014
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Pure brilliance. That's really all that needs to be said about this book. This and the previous novel The Way of Kings are two of my favorite books of all time. They are just beautifully crafted stories. So let me tell you about some of the things I loved about this novel. 

The characters. This novel has a large cast of characters, with some getting more attention than others, and I feel that every single one of them is important. In this one we get to see more of Shallan's history. There are flashbacks that outline her journey toward the woman she becomes in this novel. And we get to see so many of the characters from the first novel finally come together. It's beautifully done.

The story itself is brilliant. Sanderson has written many novels that are all set in the same universe but on different planets. What I love about this novel is that as it moves from character to character, further developing the story and giving the reader new connections between places, people, and events, it also connects more of these other stories to this world. It's just brilliantly done and I cannot wait to see where he takes this next. 

Kaladin and Syl: This human/spren bond was one of the things I loved most about the first novel. The bond is tested here and is so heartbreaking yet beautiful that I couldn't get enough of it. And they are so hilarious together. I just loved their dialogue. 

Kaladin and Adolin: These two as friends is just something I love. They are two of those characters who kind of love to hate each other, but love each other more. There were some perfect moments between these two in this novel. They are so different and yet so much the same. 

Kaladin and Shallan: These two together is more hilarious than anything else. They are so much alike, with so many of the same demons, and watching their relationship unfold is fascinating. I was always prepared for a shouting match when they were around each other.  And there was so much growth to each of them for being exposed to the other. Their story lines progressed so far here and I feel like they were a big part of that progression for each other.

The bridgemen: Being able to see all of Bridge Four together and overcoming their pasts and their demons was perfect. Just perfect. And they are so funny. I love humor in Sanderson novels.

There was so much going on in this novel and I have so many questions that I cannot wait for the next book in the series to answer (hopefully)! I don't feel like I can go super into detail here without major spoilers for The Way of Kings and even some spoilers for this novel. Just know, if you love fantasy with an intricate and detailed plot and marvelous characters, this is definitely for you. 

I'm always happy to discuss this or any other Sanderson novel with a fellow Sanderson fan, so comment with your thoughts! This is a beast of a book, but a brilliant one. Definitely worth the read. I do believe I will be re-reading these two in the not too distant future. I may be back to add more to this review once I've let my thoughts settle more. It's a heart wrenching and beautiful tale. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dare to Dream~Carys Jones | Review

Title: Dare to Dream
Author: Carys Jones
Genre: YA Dystopia
Length: 260 Pages
Publication: February 2015
My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Maggie Trafford has a hard life. Between school, where she doesn't fit in, and home where she stands out even more, she just feels lost. When she starts having nightmares about red lightning destroying the world around her, her world changes. And when injuries sustained in those nightmares follow her into the waking world, she knows they aren't just dreams. Then Stonehenge begins to fall and she knows the two things are connected. What if the fall of the monument is a timer counting down to the end of society as we know it?

The concept of this novel was really fascinating. In general dystopian stories are written about the aftermath of some event that wiped out society. They focus on the new society and its problems, which can be very interesting, but this was kind of a story leading up to the destruction, so I was intrigued. 

The story is told in third person, from various perspectives, focusing mainly on Maggie. I thought this worked really well, although I do think the writing could use some more polish to improve the overall flow of the story. We see most of the events through Maggie's eyes, but on occasion we get scenes from other characters, which was interesting. 

The first half of the novel focuses mainly on the dreams and Maggie's life leading up to the outcome of those dreams. While I enjoyed some aspects of this portion of the story, it never really reached its full potential. The dreams themselves were kind of glossed over and the family issues seemed to just get deeper and deeper without much resolution for my liking. This first half was kind of slow and repetitive in many instances. With more focus on the dreams and maybe even some more development into Maggie's family life, this would flow much more smoothly. 

The second half of the novel focuses on what happens in regards to Maggie's dreams. I won't give too many details because I don't want to spoil anyone, but we mainly follow Maggie, her best friend Dawn, and friend/classmate Andy. I was hoping that once we hit this point the story would pick up and become faster paced, but it stayed at pretty much the same pace throughout this portion as well.

The fact that this is kind of introducing a dystopian world instead of taking place in an already functioning dystopian society is one of the main reasons I think this story is as slow as it is. The author is trying to set background as to why what's happening is happening, which I understand. I can also see why most authors choose to focus on an already established society rather than introducing one.  

The story ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, hinting at a sequel. I don't know if this is intended as a series, but that's what it looks like. 

This story has lots of potential. Overall it was fun, but not brilliant. A very imaginative concept that would appeal to many readers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Talks | My Favorite Authors and Why

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion created by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here and join in the discussions. I'm really excited about this weeks topic and hope that my post doesn't become an impossible to follow ramble about how much I love certain authors and their works, but it may just do that. So here goes.

My Favorite Authors
I've read books by many authors in my life, but only a few of those have become absolute favorites. So let me tell you about those select few and why I love their work as much as I do.
  • Dean Koontz
I first started reading Koontz in 2011 when I was taking a semester off from school. I hadn't done much reading for the previous two years since starting college and really wanted to get back into it. I picked up Life Expectancy, one of Koontz's books that my mom owned and absolutely loved it. Soon after that I started reading as many of his books as I could get. I've only read 24 of his novels, but I've enjoyed every single one of them.

Koontz was a break from anything I had read before, so I was not entirely sure what I would think when I picked up that first book. Up to that point I had mostly read young adult novels or classics. This was my first real step into the world of thrillers. Even now I don't read many other thriller authors. I just haven't found any that compare to Koontz.

One of the things I love most about reading Koontz's novels is his writing. His writing is simply beautiful. His descriptions are vivid and imaginative. His characters are flawed and human. And he is just so funny. People think I'm crazy when I start talking about all of the horrible things that happen in these novels and how much they made me laugh. Then I have to explain that it's not the horror that makes me laugh, but how the characters present a bleak situation. No matter how dark, there is always some humor in there. And I absolutely love that. There is just a beauty in his writing that always leaves me wanting more.

If you have never read a Koontz novel and are interested, these are some of my favorites: Life Expectancy, Odd Thomas (the entire seven novel series), Relentless, The Face, From The Corner of His Eye, The Good Guy, and The Husband. All of these are excellent and Life Expectancy is the perfect place to start.
  • Brandon Sanderson
I love fantasy novels and one of my best friends from school recommended Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy to me. I am rather ashamed to admit that I did not pick these books up for a few months. Once I did though, I was hooked. I've now read 18 of Sanderson's novels and novellas and will soon be completing a few more. And he's only been publishing since 2006, so I'm excited to see if I can keep up with all of his releases in the coming years.

So why, you may ask, do I love Sanderson so much? Well, part of that is the genre. I love fantasy. But mainly it's his writing. His style is beautiful, but not overly done. His characters are always so well developed that I cannot keep myself from feeling what they feel. And his world building is phenomenal. I've yet to read anyone that I think compares.

Sanderson was another break from the norm for me. Although I already loved fantasy and had taken my steps into the realms of novels catered to adult readers, my experience with fantasy was mostly limited to the young adult age range. Aside from The Lord of the Rings, which I guess would be classified as more of an adult fantasy series. Since then I've found several other authors that I enjoy, but none quite live up to what I experience when reading a Sanderson novel. I just feel so much while reading his books. I laugh, cry, scream, and cheer when reading his stories. They really are brilliant. Sanderson has the ability to pull me into any world he creates and once I'm there I rarely want to return.

Some of my favorite Sanderson novels include: the Mistborn trilogy, The Rithmatist, The Way of Kings, Warbreaker, and Steelheart. I've never read a Sanderson novel that I did not love, however, so if you enjoy fantasy you can start anywhere. They do tend to be rather long, so prepare for that if you decide to check him out.
  • Eoin Colfer
Colfer writes mainly middle grade novels, but I've loved all those I've read. The Artemis Fowl series is one of my favorite series of all time. I started reading them when I was around twelve or thirteen I think, so it was fitting. Who doesn't want to get lost in the world of a twelve year old criminal mastermind?

His stories are always so much fun to read. Although they are focused toward a younger audience, I never find them too simple. And his writing style is so much fun and easy to follow. His characters are great as well. I continue to read his books when they come out and will continue to do so. I also recommend them to my nieces and nephews.

Although I have many other favorites, these are the main ones I want to mention. Koontz and Sanderson are my absolute favorites and Colfer is one that I've loved for a long time. As I'm writing and thinking about this I realize that character development is one of the biggest things that makes or breaks a story for me. There has to be a character that I feel I'm connecting with.

I want to mention a few other authors that I've read and reviewed for recently. I have not yet read many novels by these authors, but I can see them quickly becoming favorites.

  • Stacy Green- The author of the Lucy Kendall series. I reviewed the first two in the series a few months ago and am really excited to see where the next book leads. These are thriller novels with deep and thought provoking subject matter. I loved both the books so far. She also has another series that I will be reading very soon. 
  • Shelby K Morrison- I received an ARC of her young adult fantasy novel From The Ashes and absolutely loved it. I could definitely see her being a favorite if her novels continue to impress me as they have thus far. 
  • P D Kalnay- I recently reviewed his novel The Spiders of Halros and am a beta reader for the sequel The High Priestess. This is the main one that doesn't meet the norm. These are character driven, but the characters are not extremely developed. In some cases that can work and I actually really enjoyed both of these novels. If they continue to improve as they have, I believe this will be a new favorite.
I'm sure there are many other authors that I could mention, but this list will do for now. I'm sure I will continue to write about the authors that I love. And I will continue to write reviews for their novels, so you're sure to see more about these authors in the future.

So who are your favorite authors and why? Is there something that all of your authors have in common? Are all of your favorites generally known for the same genre? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Solace~Therin Knite | Review

Title: Solace 
Author: Therin Knite
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Time Travel
Publication: January 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Corina hates the father that she's never met. The father who has been working as a doctor with the Red Cross in a war zone on the other side of the world. The father that everyone else loves. And now her father has come a body bag.

When given the chance to meet her father-to know her father-Corina accepts and is thrown into the past. She is given a chance to understand the man she never knew in life. And to get home to her heartbroken mother and loving friends, Corina must come to understand who her father is and why he did what he did. 

This novel was kind of hard for me to get into for a while. It's not that I wasn't enjoying it, because I was, but I had a hard time really connecting for a while. The novel starts with action and doesn't let up much as it continues, dragging the reader along on an emotional ride. The beginning is somewhat slow in comparison to the rest of the novel. Corina has to be properly introduced and it takes time to get to know her and why she feels the way she does. So while it seemed slow, I think it was also necessary. 

Knite's writing excels in action scenes. This novel is packed with dramatic fights, fires, wars, you name it. And Knite can write a good action scene. I always felt like I was there, in the moment with the characters, not just being told about what happened. That is a skill many authors wish they had and Knite has it. Emotions are also very well depicted. This novel made me feel so many different things all at once that it could sometimes be overwhelming. The further I got in, the more I emotionally invested and could really feel what the characters were feeling. 

Some of the sentence structure was not my favorite. I thought that the use of fragmented sentences was a bit choppy at times and hindered the flow of the novel. I think this can be utilized effectively for emphasis and to convey feeling, but it was overdone at times here. Overall I thought the writing was very nice, it could just use a little more polish to make it exceptional. 

The characters in this novel were phenomenal. Corina was easy to relate with and I loved her travels through time to meet Lu, her father. The relationship that developed through interactions was just so interesting. I loved his character. I thought he was brilliant. There were few other characters that played a large role here, since Corina was learning about the father she never knew, but all of the supporting characters were well done compelling. 

This book nearly had me in tears on multiple occasions. Emotions run high and the action is fast. This is definitely a book that I'm going to remember. I really enjoyed the way time travel was presented here and being able to tag along with Corina on her adventures was heartbreaking and exhilarating all at once. A really good book. Particularly if you want something with a heavy focus on parent/child relationships, because that was beautiful.   

March Wrap Up and Reading Challenge

As you may have noticed, my blog has been considerably less active throughout the month of March. I still managed nine posts, but that was low in comparison to January and February. This was mainly due to a reading challenge I was participating in on the goodreads group YA Buddy Readers' Corner. Generally I write a review for every book I read, but this month I was trying to read a lot of books and didn't have the time to complete written reviews on my blog.
So here's a wrap up with some mini reviews for you. My reading month was crazy. I read 48 books! Some of them were short, yes, but still. It was a crazy amount of reading for me. So here goes. These are the books that I read in the month of March 2015.

1) Where She Went by Gayle Forman     4/5 Stars
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I was not expecting to like it very much because people told me they didn't like it as much as If I Stay and thought that Adam was annoying. Personally, I liked this one more and much preferred Adam's narration over Mia's.

2) Avant Nation by C.D Verhoff     4/5 Stars
This is one of the few books that I did write an entire review for since I had it for review purposes. You can find that review here. It had a slow start, but was overall a fun read.

3) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Steven Chbosky    4/5 Stars
I had seen the movie version of this novel previously and was very impressed with how closely they matched. I rated this four stars, but I'm not sure I really liked it quite enough to warrant that. It did have some great social commentary and I really liked Charlie's character overall. It was definitely an interesting story and I'm glad I read it.

4) The Prince and the Snowgirl by Simon Cheshire    4/5 Stars
I picked this book up at the library one day because it looked like a fun easy read. Not generally what I normally read, but it had a cute story line that seemed funny. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. The story was silly, the writing was good, and the characters were surprisingly well developed for such a short novel. It was fun, as I suspected it would be.

5) Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen     5/5 Stars
This was my first Sarah Dessen novel and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I loved the way that complicated relationships were handled and the character development that happened with Ruby throughout the story. It had some beautifully written characters and I really like Dessen's writing style. It deals with some tough subjects, but it was a really good book. 

6) The B-Side Diaries by Brian Joyce    3/5 Stars 
This book was actually a fairly enjoyable read. The main thing that I did not like about it was the dialogue. When we were inside of Rory's head, hearing his thoughts about the death of his friend and his life in general, the story was really enjoyable. Then people started talking and the writing slipped from being enjoyable to making me cringe slightly. The author definitely has potential though and I enjoyed the memoir style used here, although it was fiction. 

7) From the Ashes by Shelby K Morrison     5/5 Stars     *GIVAWAY*
This book was brilliant. Such a well written fantasy novel. I will have a full review for this novel going up on its release date of May 3rd, but in the meantime you can read an excerpt and enter the giveaway I'm hosting on my blog here. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

8) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl      3/5 Stars
I loved this movie when I was younger, but had never read the book. While I really enjoyed the writing style, the chracters (mostly), and certain aspects of the story, this book really wasn't one of my favorites. It had its high points and I'm definitely glad I read it, but I didn't think it was anything particularly great. 

9) 1984 by George Orwell     4/5 Stars
This is the classic dystopian novel. I had never read it, so I joined one of my goodreads groups in reading this novel. It was really good. I loved being able to see how this novel has shaped current dystopian stories. I really enjoyed the writing and the story, although heavy in politics (which is a downside for some readers) was really good. It definitely left me with lots to think about. 

10) Dreamland by Sarah Dessen      3/5 Stars
My second Dessen novel. I still really enjoyed the fact that you get thrown right into the story and that there are difficult relationships explored, but this one fell short for me. I didn't ever find myself particularly interested in the story and the depression and abuse that the main character suffered was difficult to read at times. The ending was much better than I anticipated and I really liked how everything was concluded, so overall it was an enjoyable read. 

11) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde    4/5 Stars
I've wanted to read this novel for a long time. The concept of a person's portrait aging and taking on their greatest sins while their body stays the young, beautiful body of youth has always fascinated me. I really enjoyed the writing in this novel as well. For a long time I thought I would rate it three stars. The story started out well, but the middle lacked in detail. We were told some of the events that happened, but I wanted to see more of them. The last bit of the novel was beautifully done, however, so I was not disappointed overall.

12) The Mystery of Hollow Inn by Tara Ellis    5/5 Stars
This is a middle grade mystery that took me back to all of those mystery ghost stories I loved so much when I was younger. I think this is perfect for middle grade aged kids who like mystery. It's well written, the story is compelling, the characters are likable, and it's not overly predictable. Such a fun read. 

13) The Spiders of Halros by P. D. Kalnay    4/5 Stars
This is a really fun fantasy story that follows six princesses as they set out to save their father from the poisonous venom of a spider. The beginning was a bit confusing and the characters could use more development, but the story was so much fun. I found myself really drawn into it and loved where it ended up. I'm really excited to read the sequel (which I currently have to beta read!). I highly recommend this if you like fast, fun, easy to read high fantasy stories that could really be targeted at any age group. (Well, maybe not really young kids). It's definitely worth a read. 

14) That Summer by Sarah Dessen      2/5 Stars
Another Dessen novel. This was her first published novel, and from what I've seen she has definitely improved. This wasn't poorly written or anything, it just lacked substance. The relationships that I generally love her for weren't there, the characters were hard to relate to, and the pacing was just really slow. It was not a fun read. 

15) Coraline by Neil Gaiman     5/5 Stars
I had seen the movie version of this when it came out a few years ago and was not particularly impressed. The story seemed interesting, but I just didn't find myself that interested once I started watching. I really enjoyed the book, however. Gaiman's writing is very beautiful and I found this just the right amount of creepy for the intended audience. It was definitely a good read. 

16) Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen   3/5 Stars
Yes, this was my fourth Dessen novel of the month. While I didn't think this one was brilliant it definitely restored my faith in Dessen's ability to portray complicated relationships and realistic situations. The characters were actually complex and easy to relate to and there was a lot of emotion packed into the story. Not brilliant, but worth the read. 

17) Love, Life, and Texting by Kai Michaels    3/5 Stars
This was a book that I got for free on kindle and read with some other participants in the reading challenge. It was silly and stupid situations that the characters found themselves in could have easily been avoided. That said, I do believe this was rather true to life in many instances. Texts can be taken way out of context. I still don't feel like there was a good conclusion. It was too neatly wrapped up and the main character didn't really seem to learn anything from his foolish texting.

18) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum    2/5 Stars
Another book to movie that I loved as a child but had not read. I was not a fan of the writing style and the story was not my thing. I loved the movie (but I haven't seen it in years, so I'm not sure what I would think now), but this was just not for me. It was so light hearted and then suddenly they would be hacking wolves to pieces in the woods or snapping the necks of crows. The two just didn't mix. 

19) Into The Deep End by Leesa Freeman     4/5 Stars
Another novel that I had for review. A really good story about some tough subject matter. There was a really nice love story and friendship story and sibling story all in one book. Really good. You can read my entire review here.  

20) The Flirting Games by Stella Wilkinson     2/5 Stars
Another kindle freebie. The writing was pretty good and some parts of the story were alright, but overall I found it rather ridiculous and annoying. The characters were so petty and focused only on themselves. I didn't feel that any of them really gained anything from the experiences in the story. Not a big fan. 

21) Forever by Eric Marier     1/5 Stars
Another free kindle book and I was very disappointed in this one. The story sounded fairly promising, but it did not live up to my expectations. The main character was just an obnoxious brat and would flip flop from being niceish one minute to a complete psycho the next. The story was not very compelling either. 

22) Murder and Moonflowers by Leslie Leigh    3/5 Stars   
This was a nice little mystery read. Very predictable, but still enjoyable. Some of the characters and situations were a bit farfetched, but I still really enjoyed reading it. It's a short book and was fun for a quick read. Not brilliant, but enjoyable.

23) Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan    2/5 Stars
I was not a fan of this novel. I was not a huge fan of the writing and I did not really enjoy most of the characters. I was hoping for more interaction between the two Wills, but that was not the case at all. There were a few parts that I did enjoy. I really liked the little bit that we saw of lowercase will with his mom (once he started trying to feel things) and I also enjoyed capital Will with his parents. Also Will and Tiny being best friends and how they had their issues but were able to work through them was nice (even though I didn't like how this was basically a book about Tiny, the title was very misleading). I also thought that Will and Jane were adorable together. Still, overall I was not a fan of the novel. I had a hard time connecting and these parts that I mentioned were very small portions of the novel.

24) Austenland by Shannon Hale    3/5 Stars
Being an avid Jane Austen fan I found this novel quite interesting. Jane's obsession went a bit far, but I thought she was kind of hard on herself at times. There were some really funny parts in this novel and I found that I enjoyed it overall. I was not crazy about the writing and some of the story was a bit irksome, but it was fun anyway. Now I want to watch the movie and see how they compare.

25) Emma and Elsie Meet Fitwilliam Darcy by Maddy Raven and Monica Leonelle   1/5 Stars
Imagine every Jane Austen character in modern day Louisiana, crammed into 100 pages and you get this story. Maybe every character is a bit of a stretch, but nearly all of them. It was not good. Cringe worthy in most parts. To easily understand it you need to have read Austen's novels and most Austen fans would not enjoy this.

26) The BFG by Roald Dahl    4/5 Stars
I actually really enjoyed this novel. I enjoy Dahl's writing and I liked the characters. Some of it was a but out there, but it was really fun. A fun kids book.

27) Love at First Date by Susan Hatler   3/5 Stars
Another free on kindle book. This story was very silly in parts, but I did enjoy it. The characters were kind of fun and the story, while silly and predictable, was at least interesting. The ending was a bit fast, but still cute. A funny little book.

28) Breakaway by Lindsay Paige   1/5 Stars
This book was terrible, in my opinion. The main character had no reason to act the way he did and yet everything seemed to work out for him. He treated women like they were just play things and even when he said one was worth more than the rest he ended up treating her the same way, but the author tried to make it seem like he wasn't. Just not a fan of this at all.

29) True Love and Magic Tricks by Becca Ann and Tessa Marie    3/5 Stars
This is a prequel book to a series that I have not read, but this was adorable. It was really cheesy and parts of it were annoying, but I just thought it was so cute. The main couple were adorable and I it was just so much fun to read.

30) The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines by Tara Ellis    5/5 Stars
This is the sequel to The Mystery of Hollow Inn and everything I said for that one applies here. It was fun and introduced some new characters for our main girls to get to know. Such a fun middle grades mystery. I love these kinds of books.

31) Summer Unplugged by Amy Sparling     2/5 Stars
This story just kind of annoyed me. I don't think it was the worst book I've ever read, but I didn't like it a lot either. The main character, Bayleigh, was really annoying to me. She overreacted to everything and never seemed to realize that she was overreacting. And she was completely depended on having a guy in her life, even when he was a jerk. I wish she would have grown in here, but she didn't change a whole lot for me.

32) We Were Liars by E Lockhart     3/5 Stars
I thought it was fairly obvious from the beginning where this novel was headed. Not sure I saw the ending exactly how it happened, but I had already guessed at most of the outcome. I still thought it was a really interesting book. Definitely different. Although, I feel like I've read a book very similar to this before. I just can't place what it was. The style was interesting and although I didn't particularly enjoy the characters I did find the story compelling.

33) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman     3/5 Stars
Neil Gaiman's writing is brilliant. I didn't find this novel to be spectacular, but his writing was gorgeous. The story was rather interesting and super creepy at parts. I feel like there are many different ways to interpret this story and I have enjoyed considering multiple angles. It was definitely enjoyable.

34) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson     5/5 Stars
I did not expect much from this novel. I thought it might be an alright book and fun, but I loved it. The writing was great. The characters were super fun. The plot was interesting. I just loved seeing Sloane's progression throughout the novel. And the relationships were handled really well. I was worried about the whole Frank thing, but I like how it was handled. And the ending was great. Such a fun read. Pretty sure my summer is now going to be spent completing my own list.

35) Paper Towns by John Green    2/5 Stars
Not a fan. The first thirty pages of this were really promising, but to me it never reached its potential. There were parts scattered throughout that I really enjoyed, but I think it could have easily told the same story in half the length. It does not need to be 300+ pages. 150 or so would suffice. I just didn't connect with the main story. I wish there had been more relationship building between Quentin and his friends, but it was all just focused on Margo. And I understand that, to an extent, but I thought it was too narrowly focused. Oh well. I had really hoped to like that one too.

36) Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes   4/5 Stars
This is a prequel novella to The Art of Lainey, which I will be reading in the next few weeks. I really loved Micah as a character and his relationship with his sister Trinity was just adorable. I was pleasantly surprised by this novella. I'm excited to see more of this character in the novel.

37) The Island by Jen Minkman     2/5 Stars
I liked this...until they started basing their society around a Star Wars book. Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars. But the way it was used here just detracted from the story. What would have been a nice, interesting dystopia turned into a silly mess to me.

38) The Time Machine by H. G Wells    4/5 Stars
I really enjoyed this novel. It reminded me a lot of Gulliver's Travels. Not exactly sure what about it that made me think along those lines, but that's all I could think about. And the stories about time travel were super interesting. And the ending was great. A really fun book.

39) Untouched by Melody Grace    1/5 Stars
This book...Not really sure what to say. It was rushed, all over the place, and with little character development. If given more time to develop the story it might have worked out, but it just fell short. Not a fan.

40) Talisma by Marie Mahn   2/5 Stars
I had this novel to review as part of the buddy reading group. The synopsis was promising, but I found the story lacking. It was translated from German and the translation was somewhat rough, so perhaps that had something to do with it, but the world and characters lacked development. I also did not enjoy where the love story went. I think this could definitely be improved, but I was not a big fan in its current form.

41) The Recruitment Trip by Lexy Timms    2/5 Stars
This story was a bit silly. I felt like the main character was kind of contradictory. I never felt that there was any chemistry between the two main leads and the story was just very rushed. Not the worst, but definitely not the best.

42) BeSwitched by Molly Snow    3/5 Stars
This was a really cute and fun story. All about a witches cat trading bodies with a lonely girl. There were some parts that irked me, but I thought it was really cute and fun.

43) Out of the Storm by Jody Hedlund   3/5 Stars
This was a fun little Christian type romance story about a shipwrecked guy and the daughter of the man in charge of the lighthouse. I believe it's a prequel to a novel. I thought it was fun and cute.

44) Reich by Drew Avera    2/5 Stars
This was all about a world where German's were placed inside a holographic shield after WWII in order to keep the world at peace. The people from other countries who maintained order were not great though. The story mostly follows a woman who is the leader of a rebellion group. When the people find out that their world isn't real they start fighting. I felt like with more characterization it could have been an alright story. And if the end weren't quite so abrupt.

45) Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover    2/5 Stars
Another prequel to another book I have not read (nor am I likely to read it). This novella just was really not great to me. Parts of it were cute, but the beginning was just out there and there was too much bizarreness going on for me to ever really appreciate it. I also didn't really enjoy the conclusion.

46) Shirley Link and the Safe Case by Ben Zackheim   3/5 Stars 
This was a fun middle grades read about a 14 year old girl who has a Sherlock Holmes kind of thing going for her. I didn't find Shirley to be all that likable personally and the story was kind of rushed and predictable even for middle grade readers, but it was still kind of fun.

47) Champion by Marie Lu    5/5 Stars
This was a re-read for me and I loved this book even more the second time around. June and Day are just perfect together and I loved seeing their struggles and how they had to deal with all of the personal hardships as well as keep the country together as best the could. It was just a brilliant novel.

48) When We Were Dragons by Brandon Berntson    3/5 Stars
This is a story about the collision of two worlds and some of the crazy stuff that happens in the aftermath. Definitely an interesting view of dragons and an interesting fantasy story. I didn't think it was great, but I did really enjoy it.

So there are all of the books I read this past month! Not sure I want to repeat, that was a bit much for me and now I'm going to get back to writing my own novels and reading only a few others. Tell me what you read in the comments and what you plan to read this month!