4.10.2014

Split Second by Kasie West

Summary: Addie has always been able to see the future when faced with a choice, but that doesn't make her present any easier. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. So when Addie's dad invites her to spend her winter break with him in the Norm world, she jumps at the chance. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He's a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. She wants to change that.

Laila, her best friend, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie's memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don't want this to happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

In the suspenseful sequel to Pivot Point, Addie tries desperately to retrieve her lost memories and piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot.

Review: I liked it! I mean, I read it in approximately two days, so clearly.

I like Trevor. He takes the whole Supernatural Abilities thing really well, like we all wish we could, and is basically the most chill guy ever. (Like Oz from Buffy. Anyone remember how super chill that guy was?) I was pretty surprised by how cool he was with Addie's admission about being in love with him in an alternate timeline, but I guess since he already had a thing for her, he was able to take it in stride.

Laila's storyline took me a little more time to get into. Connor's whole Teddy Bear on the Inside thing didn't really do it for me... I feel like a disproportionate amount of angry guys turn out to actually be sensitive sweet guys in books. N'est pas? (And is he in the first book? I don't remember his deal.)

Overall, it was a pleasant way to spend two days or so.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman

Rating

4.05.2014

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Summary: Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

Review: Okay! So... that happened.

So the first half was AWESOME. I LOVED all the crazy hallucinations she has from her PTSD. It was creepy and unsettling, and I really really liked it.

I wasn't really into Noah, though. Lots of "creepy stalker boy" type behavior, although that kind of gets explained later? Maybe? But Mara starts off all kick-a and totally not interested in him, and then all of a sudden... what, he has eyes? He has magical biceps?... and she just kind of loses all her willpower and self-respect and stuff. And was it necessary to indulge in the Rude Boy is Insanely Rich trope? Because that one gets old. Speaking of tropes, though, this book played with the Supernatural/Immortal Boy/Man Falls For Normal Teenage Girl trope in a way I rather liked.

And later in the book... I dunno. It picked up speed, that's for sure, and I liked how the narrative played with my mind -- I knew what was going on, but I could also recognize when something had turned out to be false.

Overall, I like the way the book plays with narratives, and although I'm not sure how I felt about the plot, I like how we got there.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book

Rating

3.26.2014

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Summary: It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Review: I feel like I have to do this in two parts: Not Compared to Persuasion, and Compared to Persuasion.

Part I: Not Compared to Persuasion

So wow. I have to say, I'm a fan of her post-apocalyptic premise. The class system that is created is... interesting. And the concept of the protocols is a logical one, given the history of their world. Of course, I feel like the history as told by the survivors of this story has to be filtered through a big fat reminder that the kind of people who eschewed technology and hid in caves for several generations are probably rather like the crazy uncles of the world who have bomb shelters on their property out in the sticks and are ready for the zombie apocalypse any day now. Survivalist types, ya know? They exist on the fringes of society now, so it can't be a big surprise that even though they start the new society in the future, their way of thinking becomes a little extreme then, too.

I found the resolution a little convenient. Big moral dilemmas that occupy Elliot's mind for most of the book are suddenly swept under the rug because Kai bats his eyelashes at her? Seriously? Oh, the guy who turns out to be a huge villain (surprising no one) all of a sudden gets retribution? Although now that I think about it, that one came about because of deus ex machina, so I'm actually gonna overlook it, because how often do I get the chance to talk about deus ex machina?

I do like the letters they exchange. It's a cute method of establishing their earlier relationship, as well as slipping in some (SUPER useful) exposition for the readers.

Part II: Compared to Persuasion

Full disclosure: Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I have a tumblr called Then He Looked at Me Twice, and there is literally a plot point in Persuasion that centers on the fact that a guy looks at Anne twice. I am not kidding. So yeah, I'm kind of in love with it.

So that being said, let's compare. Let's start with Elliot. One of the things I love about Anne is that she plays it cool. Like, super cool. Pretty much the entire book, she's in constant agony whenever she so much as thinks about Wentworth, but nobody can tell that they even knew each other before. She's that composed. Elliot, on the other hand, is more of a typical teenager: doesn't mind yelling and glaring at Kai a little. While I like that she's got the "in over her head" thing going on a little, I do wish she were a little more reserved, like Anne. Plus, Elliot kind of whines about how alone she is and how she has to do everything by herself, despite the fact that TONS of the Posts who work for her are fiercely loyal to her and constantly go to the mat for her. Anne actually IS alone, because the class distinctions of Austen's novel are much more rigidly adhered to than this one, AND she doesn't whine about it all the time.

And Kai. So in Persuasion, Wentworth doesn't really actively hate Anne. I mean, he does, but he's in denial about it. So his tactic, instead of being super mean to her, is just to ignore her out of existence. He talks to her as little as possible, looks at her as little as possible, and pretty much just pretends she's not there, all the while watching her out of the corner of his eye to make sure she's noticing how COMPLETELY OVER IT he is. And when he does talk to her, he's SUPER polite, hiding his true feelings behind formality. Kai, on the other hand, is a big fat jerk. He's willing to have one-on-one conversations with Elliot, pretty much for the sake of making her feel like crap. He puts her down in front of other people, and he actively encourages other people to dislike her. It makes his reversal later less believable, even accepting the premise that hate is sometimes an expression of love (an unhealthy one, but still). It also makes me respect Elliot less, when she's willing to forgive everything pretty much at the drop of a hat.

Also, Anne knows Wentworth isn't in love with the Louisa Musgrove. She knows what's going on there. I mean, she thinks he's gonna marry her, but she totally knows he's not in love with her. She also realizes that Wentworth being so flirty towards the Musgroves partly for her benefit, to highlight how cold and distant he is towards her. Elliot, on the other hand, believes that Kai IS in love with Olivia. She doesn't know how Kai really feels until the end of the book, whereas Anne has a pretty good handle on Wentworth throughout (except for his still being in love with her early on, but he was fooling everyone at that time, including himself).

So in conclusion, I'm sorry but it looks like the biggest effect this book had on me was to make me want to read Persuasion again.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, nook-ya

Rating

3.20.2014

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Summary: "Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time."

Review: So... this one was DIFFERENT. I mean, I had expectations from this book. Plot-wise. And this was... unexpected.

The distinction I keep seeing in reviews of this book is that this book is a love story, not a romance. Which is true. But I feel like it's also a book that just happens to have a love story in it. It's more of a meditation on life and death, and on what makes a life worth living.

I really liked how gradually the love story played out. I've been reading a lot of shorter books lately, and short books don't have a lot of time to develop a relationship. So people meet and pretty much fall in love right away. But because this book is longer, it was able to take its time with that and be subtle, so I as the reader was able to catch on to how Lou and Will felt about each other before they did.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, be-proactive, bechdel-test, funny, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking

Rating

3.16.2014

Super Six Sunday: Six Authors on my Auto-Buy List



So this is my first week participating in Super Six Sunday, and I actually can't come up with six items for my list! I'm pretty picky with authors, and there aren't many whose books I'll buy before reading them (especially not at full price...!). But here are four that I'll pretty much pick up whatever they're selling.

1. Lois McMaster Bujold


Although I wouldn't describe my reading taste as heavily sci-fi, my favorite author is a scifi/fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold. I have read everything she's ever written, and I will continue to do so. Until my dying day.

2. Cassandra Clare


I'm not entirely sure where this comes from, I'm not gonna lie. I don't read Cassandra Clare's stuff and think, "Wow, this is the best written book ever!" But I can always count on her stuff to get me out of a reading slump, and I LOVE her wit. So I'll go with that. I'm a sucker for witty repartee.

3. Jill Mansell


Speaking of getting out of a reading slump, Jill Mansell is my go-to for that. Normally I would criticize someone severely for this, but I LOVE that her books are pretty much all the same. Always a spunky main character, hunky main man, supportive best friend who has a side romance of her own, and a parent-age couple who finds love late in life, one of whom is usually famous. I LOVE THEM. I actively try not to read too many all at once, because I want to savor them. True story.

4. Sheila A. Nielson


I know her!! Back when I used to work at a library, I was friends with a children's librarian who kept getting asked about mermaid books. She found that there just weren't enough, so she wrote one! Sheila, when is your next book coming out?? I WILL buy it.

Just to make it to six, I'll throw out a couple of bonus authors:

Bonus 1: Jane Austen


I've read them all. (Well, all six that are "cannon," as it were. I'm not a true fanatic until I've read the lesser-known works, such as Lady Susan and Sanditon. I know this. Let's move on.) You can get me to read or watch pretty much anything if you throw in that it's based on Jane Austen novel

Bonus 2: Stephenie Meyer


I enjoy hating her books. I enjoy it a lot. So much so that I ALMOST even enjoy the books themselves. Almost. Anyway, if she's written it, I'll probably give it a shot.


Edited to add:

Oh, I just thought of two more!! I don't buy all their books, but I HAVE read them all.

5. Michelle Jaffe


Have you read Bad Kitty? Why not? It's HILARIOUS. It's the funniest book I can think of. I don't usually laugh out loud when I'm reading books, but I laughed out loud at this one. Many, many times.

6. E. Lockhart


Frankie Landau-Banks is my hero, and if I thought my husband would let me get away with it, I would name my next daughter Ruby after Ruby Oliver.

3.11.2014

Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

Summary: "Lori Shepherd thought Aunt Dimity was just a character in a bedtime story...Until the Dickensian law firm of Willis & Willis summons her to a reading of the woman's will. Down-on-her-luck Lori learns she's about to inherit a sizable estate--if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters in Dimity's English country cottage. What begins as a fairy tale becomes a mystery--and a ghost story--in an improbably cozy setting, as Aunt Dimity's indomitable spirit leads Lori on an otherworldly quest to discover how, in this life, true love can conquer all."

Review: So I finally got around to giving these a try. I've gotta say, I liked it. I like Lori and how she's not afraid to be prickly with people. She's going through a big loss, and she needs time to recover from it.

I like that the mystery isn't a murder mystery; my friend who likes these books likes them for that reason. Even though it's a mystery that you're trying to solve, it's not terribly scary or nightmare-inducing.

I think I'm gonna try to keep reading this series.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman

Rating

3.03.2014

Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

Summary: "Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined."

Review: So I had written a review that I got really really worked up over, and it was a little more… passionate, as it were… than I wanted to be. So here’s a summary of the problems I had with the book, and just know that I feel fairly strongly about them.

-I think Daniel needs a little more self-respect. Being willing to be with a girl even though she keeps telling you she doesn’t love you is kinda pathetic.

-I think the benefits of therapy get downplayed in books like these. Yes, God can heal you, but He also created things like therapists and depression medications, and those heal you, too. And sometimes the notion that God will heal you “if you just have more faith” can make emotional distress worse, because when you don’t get better, you assume you are the problem and get even worse.

In a nutshell, those were my big issues.

That being said, the book was cute enough.  I liked the big family Jade is part of, and how supportive everyone is of her pregnancy. I liked that the religious aspects of the book are subtle; it's not preachy or anything. If anything, it could have used a little bit more; Jade's loss of spirituality is mentioned, but it's not a big plot point or anything. This book is more about the healing power of love than the healing power of God, for the most part. I like Jade and Daniel, as people. And in general, I like their relationship; it's really natural and sweet, and the sort of relationship I would want for them.


Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book

Rating

**I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Dancing with Fireflies comes out on March 11.**

2.17.2014

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Use Grammarly for online proofreading because only you can prevent metaphorical forest fires of grammatical ignorance! 

Summary: "• Pride and Prejudice was only half the story •
If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them. In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice,the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own."

Review: So my first exposure to this novel came from this, my reaction to which was along the lines of, "haven't we had enough of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice? Except, apparently, combining them..." followed by a weary sigh. In addition to my amazement that the movie had ALREADY been optioned, despite the fact that the book wasn't finished being written yet...

That being said, it turns out to be a pretty good book. I like seeing the day-to-day operations of the house and understanding the sort of work that goes into keeping a house like that running. It's interesting to see the Bennet family from the servants' point of view, and to understand that even though they consider themselves "poor" as compared to their peers, they're still firmly upper-class as compared to their servants.

The plot is interesting to me; at the time, it's fascinating and engrossing, but looking back at it, it's pretty straightforward and simple. Which is rather Austen-esque, now that I think of it. You get caught up in it, and then look back and realize not much happened.

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking

Rating

2.10.2014

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Summary: "'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view .. until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'

Tomboy Scout Finch comes of age in a small Alabama town during a crisis in 1935. She admires her father Atticus, how he deals with issues of racism, injustice, intolerance and bigotry, his courage and his love."

Review: I can't believe I hadn't read this one until now. Most people read it in school, and I guess my class read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn instead?

I really liked it, though. I like Atticus, and how he's a good solid moral compass, not just for Scout and Jem, and not just for the book itself, but for the reader to look up to and admire. I like that he's human and makes mistakes, especially one like assuming that people are not going to be cowards (spoiler: sometimes people are cowards).

I like Jem's journey, and I feel like the author did a good job capturing "teenage boy". Even when Jem wants to be a good kid and do the right things, he's still a little harsh towards Scout while he figures himself out.

I'll probably be rereading this one from time to time.

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, i-feel-so-smart-now, is-a-movie, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking

Rating

2.03.2014

The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans

Summary: "Bestselling novelist Richard Paul Evans has met hundreds of thousands of people and heard many of their stories in his travels over the past two decades. Most of the people he meets are hungry for inspiration; they love his novels because his characters are also searching for meaning and understanding.

The Four Doors is Evans’s message to those who seek inspiration in their lives. It began as a talk he gave on the spur of the moment, and over the course of ten years, it has evolved into a message he has shared with successful business people, students, and even addicts and prisoners. It includes stories his readers have told him, stories about great achievers who overcame hardships, and stories about his own struggle growing up in a large family with financial difficulties and a suicidal mother, and about his diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome later in life. These inspiring stories are woven through his identification and careful explanation of the four doors to a more fulfilling life:

BELIEVE THERE’S A REASON YOU WERE BORN

FREE YOURSELF FROM LIMITATION

MAGNIFY YOUR LIFE

DEVELOP A LOVE-CENTERED MAP

Evans believes that we all want to know the meaning of our lives. In The Four Doors, he shows how even the most quiet life can be full of purpose and joy, if we choose to take that first step over the threshold."

Review: So I've never read anything by Richard Paul Evans, and to be honest, his books always struck me as being kind of cheesy. (Pretty much anything that can be described as "heartwarming" does; it's just a prejudice I have.) I might have to start reading his fiction, though, because I really liked this one.

This is a pretty great book. It's short, which means there isn't much to it, but what IS there is really good stuff. Just a few pieces of advice for ways to make your life what you want it to be, instead of what it is. If you feel like you don't have control over the things in your life and like you don't like where life has brought you, you should give this book a shot. It might be the little nudge you need to get yourself somewhere you'd rather be.

Lately I'm really loving books that motivate me. I've been having motivation problems in my life, so I really like books like this one, that make me want to DO things to make my life (and MYSELF) better.

Goodreads Shelves: be-proactive, i-feel-so-smart-now, thought-provoking

Rating

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