Friday, April 3, 2015

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!

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