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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
"Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart."- summary from Amazon

I cannot tell you guys how much I was looking forward to reading Isla, pretty much ever since it was first announced. And actually, my amount of excitement for this book is probably equal to that of pretty much everyone else in the YA community anticipating this book. But whatever. So I was so excited when it was finally released, and when Magan of Reading Gals was kind enough to buy me a copy of it, I was even more excited (and extremely grateful- thanks again!!).

Perkins did not disappoint. I absolutely loved the concept of this book, focusing more on working on and staying in a relationship than about the steps to getting INTO that relationship. It's definitely something different from most YA out there. I really enjoyed reading about Isla and Josh's relationship- their ups and downs, obstacles to getting together (the first fourth of the book they are not together), their adventures, and so much more. I will also admit that the last 50 pages had me squealing in joy as we get visits from Anna and St. Clair, and Lola and Cricket (as well as some other friends whose names I can't remember, lol); it makes for the perfect ending to this companion trilogy.

Overall, if you haven't checked out Perkins yet and you're into romantic novels, she is definitely the author for you. She writes such realistic, compelling, and poignant relationships and really understands teens at their core.

FTC: Received hardcover copy as gift from Magan of Reading Gals (thanks!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
"Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own."- summary from Amazon

If you enjoy fantasy, go get this book right now and don't bother with the rest of the review. It is that good! I absolutely loved Raasch's debut, from her world-building to her amazing characters to her compelling writing. I flew through this book when I read it the other month and always had such trouble putting it down. I did see a certain reveal coming early on, but that didn't necessarily dampen my reading experience.

Meira is a fantastic heroine- strong and flawed, and her rapport with Mather (as well as the other guy in the love triangle, Theron) is a joy to read. And yes, there is a love triangle but this is a triangle done right- both of the guys are extremely likable and awesome, and there's definitely a tough choice to be made here. There isn't a clear one good, one bad sort of thing, or another guy thrown in for the hell of it but you know it's not going to last thing. These two gentlemen are clear winners.

But the book is not all about romance (a lot of it is secondary). There's the complex relationship between Sir and Meira, which does get explained toward the end of the book (and is very emotional). There's also a lot of action and fight scenes going on in this novel as well- it is a fantasy book, after all- which Raasch handles very well and creates some edge-of-your-seat compelling scenes.

Overall, a terrific high fantasy debut that I'd recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah J. Maas. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, October 17, 2014

On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor

On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor
"On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what she doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges—including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love—and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined."- summary from Amazon

This book was really good. Toor does a wonderful job with Alice's emotional journey throughout the story, as she deals with multiple changes in her life. I also think that Toor wrote the developing relationship between Alice and Miles very well and I enjoyed reading scenes between them. There's a lot of different changes going on in the book for Alice between family, her friends, her pet rat Walter, the looming future of college, a new hobby and job, and of course, Miles. Toor handles them all very well; I do think that the book may not be for everyone as Alice is very self-absorbed and a bit callous at times but at the end of the book, she is consciously working on changing that. But for readers who may not enjoy spending a lot of time with that kind of character, you may want to steer clear of this book.

Overall, a very interesting book and I'm eager to read more from Toor!

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
"Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first."- summary from Amazon

I loved Fiore's debut and this follow-up is just as awesome, romantic, and hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the dual perspective between Marijke and Lily, firmly planting the reader right into each of their lives and witnessing the emotional journey each goes on throughout the course of their pact and the novel. Readers will definitely be able to relate to one or both of the girls. The concept too of the book is really interesting as well, and I liked reading the different ways they went about putting that plan into effect.

Overall, another great book from Fiore and I'm excited to see what she writes next!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bleed Like Me by C. Desir

Bleed Like Me by C. Desir
"Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers—even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks—until he poses the ultimate test."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book from Desir; she did a fantastic job portraying Gannon and Michael's toxic relationship and all of their flaws so well. And being in Gannon's mind, you can kind of see how she would fall for a guy like Michael, but you can also see all of the warning signs from him too. It was different reading a love interest that way, and made for an intriguing story. There's a lot going on in this book, but Desir handles it all extremely well and provides enough backdrop for why Gannon is the way she is.

Overall, an amazing new book from an up-and-coming author. Check it out!

FTC: Received e-galley from Edelweiss. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.