Saturday, January 31, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Vivian Apple At The End Of The World By Katie Coyle

This is a book review for Vivian Apple At The End Of The World By Katie Coyle. I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country road trip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivian Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.

Oh man, I really, really, really loved this book. This is such an interesting twist on the usual apocalypse story. This is a book about people who legitimately think the world is coming to an end, mainly due to a religion that spreads like wildfire. I understand that some people think it's a bit unrealistic for so many people to fall for one man's religious beliefs. I disagree. I think the basic theme of this book is that people are looking for something to believe in, something that gives their life purpose. I am not a religious person at all, but I do think this is a reason people believe. It is fascinating that one cult would be able to spread so rapidly and to so many people. 

I thought Vivian Apple was just the most amazing character. I loved her. She is the type of person who never really did anything or made any waves until the impending apocalypse. But then she takes charge and she wants to actually do something. This involves driving cross-country with her best friend and a new ally, Peter, to California to solve the mystery of the missing people and even try to take down the church. Even with the supposed "rapture," Vivian is still very much the atheist. Maybe that's why I liked her so much: I could relate to her. She remained logical in the face of everything and remained determined to find out why her parents disappeared and why so many others went missing. I think somehow she makes the same mistake some atheists make (or even what some religious people think about other religions): she assumed that every single person who believed in God was someone not to be trusted or loved. That was really the main issue I had with her. I would like to think she learned something different, but it was hard to tell. And honestly, with all the stuff the Believers were doing, it was kind of hard to fault her for that opinion. 

The plot was wonderfully developed and thought out. The pacing was on point and there were so many twists and turns in the book. I was just as interested in finding out what happened to Vivian's parents as Vivian. There was a little romance in the book, but not that much and I appreciated that. Vivian had so much going on with her missing parents and just trying to survive so I am glad the romance didn't overshadow everything else. And there was a lot going on. I will say that one issue I had with the book was that it seemed as if the whole world went crazy after the disappearances and it felt a bit unrealistic. I mean, there are millions of people in the world but everyone goes crazy because a couple thousand disappear? To me, that would almost be proof that the Rapture was never going to happen, especially because so many of the so-called Believers were not gone. But people will believe what they want to believe. And the author does give an explanation for how the rest of the Believers rationalized to themselves that they weren't raptured. The ending was a bit open-ended and I was not sure how I felt about that. But apparently this is the first in a series, so I am okay with it. I can't wait to read the next one and find out more about what happens to these awesome characters. Luckily I don't have to wait very long. The sequel comes out in September!

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy! If you love apocalyptic novels, then you will definitely love this one. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Thank you so much Lisa froCaptivated Reader  for nominating me for this award! I really appreciation this nomination.

Here are the rules for the The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their site.
2. Post the award's logo onto your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions you've been asked.
4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and ask them 10 questions.

The following are my answers to the questions Lisa at Captivated Reader asked her nominees.
1. What book series have you read or are currently reading that you would recommend to other readers? 

Hands down, my favorite series of all time is the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. During the last one in the series, I actually had to put the book down because my heart was pounding so fast. Then I had to pick it up again because I HAD to know what happened. If you like supernatural mysteries, READ THIS SERIES. No kidding, READ IT. Haha

2. Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, which one would you highly recommend?

Ahh, unfortunately not. I tried one time but couldn't get into it. Maybe it was the narrator. I am thinking I will give it another try though.

3. What are you reading (or listening to) now?

The ARC for Vivian Apple at the end of the world by Katie Coyle . . . It's really good so far!

4. What's your favorite comfort food and/or beverage to enjoy while reading/listening to a book?

Hot chocolate or tea!

5. What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I love being able to fangirl about all the books I love and push them on others (see #1!). I also love meeting other people and getting awesome book recommendations. Blogging is murder on my TBR pile.

6. Which author would you most like to meet?

Margaret Atwood, for sure! The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books. I have also read a few of her interview quotes and she seems like the coolest lady.

7. What's your least favorite genre to read?

I think that would have to be religious fiction. I am not a religious person so I am just not a fan.

8. Where would you go on your dream vacation?

Hard to say since I am temporarily living in Italy. Until last year, that was my dream vacation! What I really want to do is an African safari. There is also a place in Kenya, called Giraffe Manor where the giraffes roam the estate and even poke their heads in the rooms. How cool would that be?

9. Do you like novels with predictable and/or happy endings?

Depends on the book. The short answer is yes I do love a happy ending. But I don't go all crazy when a book I love has an unhappy ending (well, not always).

10. What's your favorite color?


Here are the bloggers I am nominating. These are just some of the bloggers I visit on a regular basis. 

1. Born and Read
2. Breana at Our Thoughts Precisely
3. Joy at Joyous Reads
4. Lisa at Books in the Burbs
5. Nereyda at Mostly YA Book Obsessed 
6. Nobody at The Story Goes . . .
7. Claudia at My Soul Called Life
8. Kwizgiver at What if this is as good as it gets
9. Giselle at Xpresso Reads
10.Miz B at Should Be Reading

Here are my ten questions:

1. If you were a character in a book, who would you be and why?
2. What are you reading right now?
3. Who is your favorite author?
4. Describe your favorite reading spot.
5. What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?
6. What do you like most about blogging?
7. Which book do you recommend the most and why?
8. Do you prefer coffee or tea?
9. Fun fact about yourself!
10. Rough estimate, how many books are in your TBR pile?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

This is a book review for The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne. I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book was originally scheduled to be released for publication today. Looking on Amazon, however, shows the new publication date is scheduled for May 15 of this year. A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down once again. As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past--what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

This was such a gripping story. It was also very creepy. Am I the only one who finds identical twin children just a bit on the creepy side? Maybe it isn't all twins; maybe it's just these. I guarantee that you will be as creeped out as I was. The book begins approximately fourteen months after one of their twin girls dies in a tragic fall from a balcony. Sarah and Angus believe that the girl who died was Lydia, until one day when she says "Why do you keeping calling me Kirstie, Mummy? Kirstie is dead. It was Kirstie that died, I'm Lydia." And with that statement, Sarah's life comes crumbling down and the mystery begins. Because the girls were identical twins with matching DNA, it's impossible to do a scientific test to know for sure. So Sarah is plagued with questions. What if she made a horrible mistake?  What if Kirstie is trying to deal with her grief by becoming her sister? How well does she actually know her children Now it is tough to write the surviving twin's name because there is so much back and forth and so much confusion. I don't want to give away any major spoilers, so I will just stick to calling her "Kirstie" in my review. 

Sarah makes some questionable decisions when Kirstie makes this statement such as ignoring it. Then she tries to placate her and give her what she wants, even if she doesn't believe Kirstie is telling the truth. I can forgive these decisions though because of all the grief and shame that she is feeling. Meanwhile Sarah and Angus move to a remote island in Scotland for a fresh start and the creepiness factor increases by a thousand. Suddenly, Kirstie starts seeing her dead sister's ghost and Sarah becomes even more disturbed and more convinced that her daughter is losing her mind. But this was such a well written mystery that it was hard to figure out who was going crazy: Sarah, Kirstie, or even Angus, who is hiding some secrets of his own. The mystery of which twin dies unravels to its climax, where a bigger mystery is revealed: the mystery of what really happened the night Lydia died. The author writes of the unpredictable, ferocious Scottish winter and the isolation of the island with such vividness and intensity that I could swear I was right there. The remoteness of the island just adds to the creepy factor. This is an amazingly haunting, suspenseful mystery that will keep you up just so you can find out what happened. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy, but be prepared to be creeped out!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

This is a book review for The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and far exists side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does . . . As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

This was not my first book by Holly Black, but it was my first experience with the faerie world. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I should have known anything by Holly Black is gold. The world building in this book was just magnificent. It reads like a fairy tale. She was able to describe the faeries and their magic so well. I was both in love with the faeries and terrified of them (much like the citizens of Fairfold). Good combination, I think. Holly Black did such an amazing job blending the fantasy world with the real world. Hazel is such a bad ass; I think she is my new favorite character.

I didn't find the love triangle nearly as annoying as usual, mainly because it wasn't a typical love triangle. Hazel and Ben were both in love with the horned prince, but who could blame them? I loved the unusual twist on the love triangle of a brother and sister liking the same person. Luckily the love triangle didn't even last for very long because soon a choice was made and I was very happy about that. Hazel and Ben both ended up with the right people, in my opinion. The only issue I had with the book (if you could call it that), was that there was almost too much going on. There was a faerie king, a monster, the horned prince, the knights, Jack's issues, missing tourists, the scared townspeople and so much more. There were a few points where I got a bit overwhelmed with everything that was going on, but I still loved the book.

Buy, Borrow, or Skip: If you like the fantasy genre, I say Buy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

This is a book review for I Was Here by Gayle Forman. When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cosy is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything -- so how was there no warning? But when Cody travel to Meg's college town to pack up her belongings left behind, she discovers there's a lot Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can't open -- until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend's death gets thrown into questions. 

It is hard to put into words how I feel about this book. Maybe underwhelmed would be the best one. The book starts right after Meg's suicide, with Cody trying to make sense of why her best friend would do what she did. When she discovers a mystery computer file that indicates there was more to Meg's life than Cody knew. The good thing about this book was that it dealt with suicide in a realistic way, in my opinion. I recently had someone who I used to be close to commit suicide. This person was a big part of my life growing up and we had chatted and kept in touch through Facebook over the years. I understand the feelings Cody was going through: the grief, the anger and the question of whether it could have been prevented. I even understand wanting to believe that someone else was responsible because suicide seems like such an unbelievable choice for someone to make. The mystery that Cody throws herself into is a result of her grief. Cody wanted someone to be angry at, someone to blame besides herself or Meg. Even though this mystery was fairly predictable, I think it was important to allow Cody to get to a point where she could properly grieve. 

One thing that was hard in this book was that I couldn't really connect to Cody. Yes, I understood what she was feeling but I think that is because I had been through something similar. But because the book was about Meg's life and her suicide, I knew more about Meg than Cody, even though Cody was the one telling the story. I also think the addition of the romance was unnecessary and it was a bit cliche. There were a couple of points during reading in which I wanted to stop just because it was getting a bit dull. I am glad I held out though because the ending was where Forman packed the most emotion. I won't give away any major spoilers, but Cody was finally able to grieve and forgive Meg 

Buy, Borrow, or Skip: Borrow. It is a good read by Forman and she handles a sensitive topic well, but it lacks the depth of If I Stay.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Musing Monday - How Necessary are Negative Book Reviews?

Musing Monday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! This is when we speak about bookish rants or issues, among other things.

I just read an article that really provoked a reaction (those are the best kinds, right?). It was posted by the New York Times and the title was "Do we really need negative book reviews?" The article has an opinion written from both sides. On one side, there is an author who stated that people should not write negative reviews. Ever. And on the other side, the author makes the point that negative reviews can be helpful.

Now I do know just how hard writers' work on their craft, so I really hate it when I dislike a book. Negative reviews are not a sign that readers don't have respect for the craft or for their work. The truth is that not everyone is going to fall in love with your work. Some of the criticism will be helpful and some won't (I do really hate negative reviews that say "the book sucks" because it doesn't offer up anything constructive). Personally, when I write a negative review on my blog I try my best to offer constructive criticism. And I do talk about what works for me, if anything. I think the only time I don't do a full review of a book is if I mark it DNF. I do feel that if I didn't read the entire book, I can't really offer a complete picture of what did and didn't work. 

Not only can negative reviews be helpful to the author, but they can be helpful to readers. I know I am not the only book blogger to talk about the large number of books on my TBR. It is getting out of control! I just read a book and published a review for Seeker, a book I was very interested in at first. But if I had read other bloggers' reviews beforehand, I would never have made the request through NetGalley and that would have been one less book on my TBR. If people who dislike books refuse to write about those books, I lose some trust. If there are things about a book that don't work, then readers should know before they waste their time. And the writer should know. Maybe there is some constructive criticism that could help them with their next book.

Maybe this is a topic for a separate blog post, but I actually find it much easier to write a negative review of a book than a positive one. Last week I finished I'll Give You The Sun and I still haven't written the review. Why? Because I am finding it so hard to put into words just how much I loved the book. There are only so many ways that I can tell you guys: "I love this book!!" and "Read this now!!!" (But in all seriousness, that was a freaking amazing book.) When I write a negative review, however, it is much easier to tell you guys what I didn't like about it (like my review of). It is easy to say what didn't work for me (plot, characters, etc), but not so easy to say what did work. 

Do you think negative reviews are necessary? Does anyone else find it easier to write negative reviews than positive ones?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

This is a review for Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my review. The publication date for the book is scheduled for February 10 of this year.

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor. As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she'll be with the boy she loves--who's also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it's too late to walk away.

In the Amazon synopsis, this book was compared to Marie Lu's Legend, Veronica Roth's Divergent, and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. I loved every single one of those series so I had high hopes for this one. I was very interested in this book for the first two or three chapters. It told of Quin's training and her desperate desire to become a Seeker. I thought that the author would reveal what a seeker was at some point. Once Quin completes her training, there is a very mysterious task they have to complete right before actually taking oath. No one knows that task (even Quin) except for current seekers. I thought the author would reveal what that was at one point. I was wrong on both counts, although later in the book they do hint at what they had to do. But never do they say why they had to do it.

The chapters bounced between Quin, John (her love interest who wants to become a seeker at all costs) and Shinobu (another trainee who takes the oath with Quin and also is in love with Quin). Later Maude is introduced. Maude is the Young Dread. What is a Dread and what is their purpose? After reading the book, I am still not sure. But judging by Maude's chapters, I don't think even she knows what the purpose of the Dreads are. Later in the book, they start talking about the athame. What is that? Like everything else, I have no idea. I gathered that it is a royal dagger. But the author never explains why this is so important. What we do know is that everyone is after this dagger and some people are willing to kill to get their hands on it.

The author does try to introduce a love triangle, but it isn't well done. First of all, the romance is very minimal. Second of all, I have no idea why Quin continued to have feelings for John even after all the horrible things he did just to get his hands on the athame. Another reason why this love triangle was not well done is because I just didn't care about any of the characters. The character development was just as minimal as the romance. And maybe it's the way the chapters were structured and all the questions the author never answered. There were so many unanswered questions that I had a really hard time figuring out the motivations behind anyone's actions. I think this is only series I have ever started in which I have no interest in reading the other books.

My recommendation for this book: Skip it. There are just too many questions in this book that are never answered. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Beginnings Friday!

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader where we share the first sentence (or so) of a book we are reading.

My beginning is for The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. The book comes out on March 24. I have finished the book and I will be publishing the review closer to the publication date (spoiler alert: I loved it!).

"We went wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed. We were girls -- some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen -- but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cell gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men."

Does this beginning pique your interest and make you want to read more? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TBR Tag!

The wonderful Olivia over at Brewing Up Books has nominated me for the TBR Tag! 

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Believe it or not, I have an Amazon wish list that remains private to everyone but me. Since I read mostly ebooks, it works out perfectly. Every month I have a "book" budget so I just pick what I want from the wish list! 

Is your TBR mostly print or ebooks?

Mostly ebooks, I love my Kindle Fire!!

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

A combination of things, I guess. If I start reading a series, I will finish that before anything else. Sometimes it's just my mood, whether I am in the mood for something sad, funny, or scary. I have been known to scroll through my Kindle books and just pick one at random, even if I don't remember what it's about.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest?

Probably Jane Eyre; it was one of the many free books I downloaded on my Kindle when I first got it. 

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The Last Orphans by N.W. Harrie

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen; It won't be released until June but I knew I wanted to read it when I saw the cover. It also has an interesting premise though so that helps!

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Well I don't know about never because what is the point of having TBR if you don't plan on reading it? But I think the one book I will put off the longest is War and Peace.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited to read?

I Was Here by Gayle Foreman

Number of books in your TBR?

ebooks on my Amazon wish list - 260
print books on my Amazon wish list - 7
print books that I own and want to read - 5 (I think)
ebooks on my Kindle that I own and want to read (including ARCs) - 88

So the total amount of books on my TBR list is . . . 360. I guess that's not so bad, especially since I can read between 100 and 150 books in a year. The problem is by the time the year is over, I will have added five books to my TBR for every one I read. I exaggerate (slightly), but really that is a problem!

Who I'm Tagging

1. MizB at Should Be Reading

2. Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies

3. Joy at Joyous Reads

4. Cleo at Cleopatra Loves Books

5. Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer

No pressure to the nominees and I am sorry if you have been tagged before!

Feel free to answer one of these questions for yourself in the comments. How many books are on your TBR? What book do you think you will hold off on reading the longest?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Movies I Have Seen Without Reading The Book!

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is a freebie so I thought I would talk about the movies I have seen without reading the book.

Typically, I make it a point to read every book before I see the movie. But sometimes that isn't always possible for one reason or another.

1. American Sniper - Just saw this movie and it was very, very good. I loved it way more than I thought I would. Not sure I would want to read it, despite how good the movie was though. Books that focus on the military tend to read very dry and somewhat technical. Highly recommend the movie though!
 2.  Charlotte's Web - Yeah, I know this is a children's book but can you ever be too old for Charlotte's Web?
3.  Gone With The Wind - I absolutely love this movie. Vivian Leigh is probably the most beautiful actress ever. But the book is kind of long so I haven't had the energy to try to read it. Blasphemy I know! Here's the weird thing: I did read the sequel, Scarlett. How weird is that?
4.  The Princess Bride - One of my favorite movies and I will be honest: when I saw this movie about twelve years ago, I had no idea it was based on a book. I have this one on my Kindle and I am going to make it a point to read it this year!
5.  Silver Linings Playbook - Another very good movie. It's probably no coincidence that this is the second movie on the list with Bradley Cooper in it. I kind of love him and he is amazing.
6.  Julie and Julia - I love this movie because of how much I love food! Ha. The book gets mixed reviews though so I have been unsure about it. Maybe I will ignore the reviews and give it a chance.
7.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - I did start this book before I saw the movie, but I just couldn't get into it. I didn't even have plans to see the movie, but my husband kind of dragged me to it. I was surprised to see that it was really good. I am thinking I may give this one another try also.
8.  Misery - Can I be honest here and say that I have never actually read Stephen King novel. I know, I know. I need to do that! But alas, he is not at the top of my list.
9.  Fried Green Tomatoes - I did read the first paragraph of a Kindle sample but I just couldn't get into it. Okay, I know that I should really give it more than a paragraph before I give up on it. But with so many other books on my TBR, who has the time?
10. Precious (the book this movie was based on is actually Push) - This is a phenomenal movie and I think I want to read this book more than any of the others.

Are there any movies you've seen without reading the book?

BOOK REVIEW: If I Fall, If I Die

This is a book review for If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and loving, full of art, experiments, and music—but confined to their small house. But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  With the help of an artistic loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedom of skateboarding, Will is pulled far from the confines of his closed-off world and thrust headfirst into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.    

This was an interesting book that started off really well. Will's mom Diane started feeling afraid of the Outside when Will was just a baby. The deaths of Diane's mother, her father and her twin brother all deeply affected Diane and also caused a huge amount of guilt. Diane felt she needed to protect Will from everything that could possibly happen. She makes Will wear a helmet at all times of the day. He wears a helmet and a wetsuit to change light bulbs. The only kitchen appliance she uses is the slow cooker because it makes everything so soft that the risks of choking are very small. Will takes on a parental role with his mother. He is very sensitive to her needs and her condition. He even has a name for her fear: Black Lagoon. The author did a great job of describing the Outside and what was happening to his mother from the perspective of a child. 

The book did bounce a bit between Will's POV and Diane's. Will was so enthusiastic and energetic and I loved seeing the world through his eyes. One day he actually ventures Outside. Eventually he realizes that things aren't as scary as he thought they were. He gets really mad at this mother because she made him think bad things would happen or he would die. But Will goes out, he makes friends, he starts skateboarding, he even falls down but he doesn't die. So he gets braver and braver, even while his mom is terrified of what will happen. Diane's POV was the most poignant. Her chapters told of the gradual progression of her illness: she went from not being able to drive herself to not being able to take public transportation to not leaving her yard and then to not being able to leave her house. The author describes Diane's loneliness from her illness and her fear so well.

My issue with the book was that it was longer than it needed to be. The prose was beautiful, but at some point there were just too many words. Will got involved with a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a boy Will met once, but considered a friend. The circumstances surrounding the mystery was just boring to me. There were quite a few chapters in the middle of the book where I had to force myself to keep reading. It wasn't a book I wanted to quit. I did feel satisfied with the ending though it was kind of predictable. 

My recommendation for this book is that it is worth borrowing. It is an interesting read, but I wouldn't purchase it myself. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Musing Monday - To Rate or Not To Rate

Musing Monday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! This is when we speak about bookish rants or issues, among other things.

For this week's topic, I thought I would talk about the rating system for my books on this site. I have only been blogging since November so I am still new to the blogging community. When starting this blog, I decided to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, much like Amazon or Goodreads. But lately I have been thinking that maybe a rating system is overrated. It is so hard to think of a specific number to rate a book. There are books I have rated a 5 in the past that I wouldn't necessarily rate a 5 now. And then there is the question of half stars, which I have never given.

Here are the ratings I use know and my barometer for each number:

1 - Hated the book totally or marked as DNF
2 - Had potential, but I really, really didn't like it
3 - Only okay/nothing special
4 - Really awesome book; really liked it
5 - Couldn't put down; awesome; loved it

Do you see the problems with those ratings? They are very subjective and also very similar. I mean, there is a very fine line between 1 and 2 or 4 and 5. Lately I have been giving a lot of fours, but I actually struggle with why I should give them a four of five. I am probably over thinking it way too much though. One example is that I gave The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon a 5, but looking at my Goodreads shelf I also gave a 5 to Wild by Chery Strayed. If I were to rate that book again today, it would not warrant a 5

Obviously I do have to give it a number when I am on Amazon, Goodreads, or NetGalley. But I was thinking about changing how I rate them on the blog. Instead of doing it by the numbers, I can rate them based on whether I think you should buy it or not. I have a feeling that would be a much easier system. I could do a recommendation based on whether I think you should buy the book, borrow it, or skip it. There are some books that I only feel so-so about and I regret spending money on them. Or maybe I won't have any system and I'll just tell you what I think about the book and that will be the end of it.

What kind of ratings system do you use for your blog? What do you think about not using one?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, where we show off books we recently added to our TBR list or books we recently purchased, borrowed, etc.

I got approved for several eARCs through NetGalley this week so I thought I would share those. I am really excited to read these!

1.  If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie - a story about a boy who has never been outside and has never known anyone except his mother, who is agoraphobic.

2. Seeker by Elys Dayton - a new dystopian novel that has been compared to Hunger Games

3. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma - This one is being described as a ghostly suspense story told from the POV of two people, one living and one dead.

4. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George - Not going to lie, I requested this one based solely on the title. It is set in one of my favorite cities and it is about a bookshop! But it also has an interesting premise: the owner of a bookstore uses his intuition to prescribe the perfect book for each of his customers. I can't wait to read this one!

Have you found any new books this week?


This is a book review of The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward. I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach. Carla is a strong-willed young girl who’s had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla’s grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands—and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, facing great peril for the chance at a better life. In this novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. 

I am going to start with what I liked about the book: any chapter where Carla was speaking. Carla's story of growing up in Honduras and trying so hard to make her way to her mother in the States was profoundly moving. She had so much faith, way more than even I have right now, and she just kept going despite every obstacle in her way. I admired her for that. The last chapter from Carla's point of view just broke my heart because it was so sad.

If the book had been told entirely from Carla's point of view, then this book would get a much higher rating. But alas, the author had to give us Alice. Alice had cancer and chemotherapy when she was younger so she is unable to conceive. The book opens after the baby they had adopted was taken back by the mother because she changed her mind. I thought I would be able to connect with her more than anyone because of her struggles with fertility and wanting a child. Just a note that my husband and I have actually been trying to conceive for over two years now. But instead of connecting with her, I disliked her. She yelled at her husband because he was sad. She actually told him to stop wallowing. She did that for most of the book, except for one chapter where she became sad and her husband was the angry one. Maybe the author was trying to give the reader some sympathy for Alice. It did not work. I also didn't like how she treated her husband. She took in a wayward teenager (Evian) after Evian's mother kicked her out, despite the fact that Jake repeatedly asked her not to. Jake told her he thought they needed some time to recover alone, but Alice completely ignored his feelings. I do understand that she just needed someone to take care of (and in case I didn't, Alice continuously reminded me), but she just ignored Jake's feelings and did whatever the hell she wanted to do. It seemed very disrespectful to her husband. 

There was one line that really bothered me in the book. During Carla's perspective, she made the comment "This is hard for an American to understand." Carla actually said that a couple of times. I think maybe the author forgot that she is an American. And I am not sure how accurate it is that twelve year old girls from Honduras often think about why stuff is hard for Americans to understand, at least not without any context. I cannot take that statement seriously from someone who is an American herself. Maybe that's just me, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

I give this book a 2/5.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Vanishing Girls

This is a book review for Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. I received the ARC for this book from Edelwess in exchange for an honest review.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late. 

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan of Lauren Oliver. I first fell in love with her Delirium series and I was also a fan of Before I Fall and Panic. I have loved everything she has done . . . until now. That is not to say that I hated the book, but I didn't love it either. The book did not hook me immediately. The pacing was extremely slow. The premise of the book suggests that a major plot point was that Dara vanishes on her birthday. However, this did not happen until more than halfway through the book. My Kindle does show percentage read and I looked at it when Dara vanished. I had read 53% of the book when it finally happened.

So what was going on up until that point? Not a whole lot. It mainly bounced around between Nick and Dara's POV's, before and after, along with clips of news articles online and excerpts from Dara's journal. Sometimes Oliver wouldn't even specify whether it was an event before or after the accident; she just gave a date. This made it even more confusing. Maybe it was all this switching between time frames and POV's that prevented me from fully connecting with any of the characters. I didn't really care that Nick and Dara were't talking after the accident. And I didn't care that much about Madeline Snow. She was a secondary character and her disappearance didn't seem to effect any of the major characters for a large part of the book. I basically spent the first half of the book waiting for something, anything, to happen.

When Dara finally did disappear, that's when I was hooked. Nick started piecing the facts together about why Dara had been acting so weird since the accident (a mystery I didn't even know existed until Dara's disappearance) and what connection she had to Madeline Snow. The pacing picked up pretty quickly at that point and I was on the edge of my seat. And two words about the big reveal: BLOWN AWAY. I am not kidding when I say that I did NOT see it coming. I will not give away any spoilers, but I will say that a lot of stuff clicked into place for me once I knew what was going on. Even though it was a pretty big reveal, I still couldn't get over the first half of the book. And then immediately after the big reveal, the pacing immediately slowed down a bit and dragged. That is mainly a result of the fact that the author decides to show emails between a few of the characters and news articles instead of personal reactions and emotions by the main characters. Once again, this huge thing happens and I found it hard to care because of a lack of connection to anyone in the book.

I struggled with a rating for this book. I was only mesmerized by the book for about half of it. I decided to give this book a 3/5.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


This is a book review for When by Victoria Laurie.

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father's premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one. Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she's unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie. Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

"I'm not exactly sure when I started seeing the numbers." And with that opening line, this gripping, suspenseful story begins. The resulting mystery was so compelling that I couldn't put the book down. I had preordered it in Amazon and read it within a few hours. This book wasn't just about a compelling mystery. It is also about a family trying to cope with grief and it's about fate and destiny. If someone knows when they are going to die (but not the how), can it be changed? I thought Maddie did a great job dealing with her "gift" the best way she could. I loved the pacing of this story. I thought the storyline moved very quickly, which kept me glued to the page. There was also a surprise ending. I thought I knew who the killer was, but then I found out I was wrong. There was a twist to who the killer was that I honestly didn't see coming. Now sometimes I can be clueless about things so perhaps others would have predicted it. The only issue I really had with the book was that the crush on Aiden seemed forced and out of place. There really wasn't a focus on romance, there was just a sprinkling of it here and there. It seemed like more of a distraction to me. I had never read this author's work before but I intend to read more of her stuff.

I give this book a 4/5.

Top Ten Tuesday - 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't Get To

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic: Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn't Get To.

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

3. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

4. Us by David Nicholls

5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

6. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

7. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

8. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

9. Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

10. Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

I do have a few of these earmarked for my challenges so I am hoping to knock some of these out in 2015!

Are there any books you meant to get to in 2014, but weren't able to? Are there any on this list that you have read?

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Monday. What are YOU reading??

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to share what you have read over the past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week.

Since this past week was the Bout of Books, I got a lot of reading done! Here are the books I read over the past week:

  1. The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
  2. Sweetmess #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark (click here for my review)
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 
  4. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall (click here for my review)
  5. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (click here for my review) <------ My favorite!!!
  6. Meet Me in Venice: A Chinese Immigrant's Journey from the Far East to the Faraway West by Suzanne Ma (click here for my review)
  7. Infinity + One by Amy Harmon
  8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (click here for my review)
  9. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (click here for my review)
Currently reading:

An ARC by Lauren Oliver called Vanishing Girls. I only just started it but it is pretty good so far.

Next up on the TBR:

A new book being released tomorrow: When by Victoria Laurie

Did you read anything good this past week? What are you reading this week?