Thursday, May 31, 2012

Insurgent (Divergent, #2) by Veronica Roth


This is book TWO in a series. You HAVE TO (seriously, HAVE TO) read the first book, Divergent and then follow up with this review. 

Read my review of Divergent by CLICKING HERE.
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Since my gushing review of Divergent last fall, I have been anxiously awaiting this, the second book in the series. And when I say "anxiously", I mean in the bad way. Divergent completely, one hundred percent BLEW. MY. MIND.  .......   TWICE. (Figuratively, of course.) So as I twiddled my thumbs and counted down the days until Insurgent's release, I went through every possible scenario of how it would be. I've talked about this before- the "second book syndrome" (or SBS for short). It seems like the majority of the time, when I absolutely love a first book, the second book tanks. There have been very few exceptions to this rule (Catching Fire, The Golden Spiral, and The Exiled Queen come to mind as exceptions to that rule...) It seems like the "popular" thing to do with a "book two" is tear apart the couple who spent all of book one trying to get together, boo-hoo about it in the follow-up story, and then hook them back up for book three and act like it's a happily ever after. Or when said-couple are totally hardcore in the first and last book but act like pansies for most of that "somewhere in the middle". I HATE THAT!!

Lucky for Veronica Roth (or maybe lucky for me, you, all of us....) THIS BOOK DOES NOT HAVE SECOND BOOK SYNDROME! 

I can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that I've read this. It was just as awesome as the first, but for slightly different reasons. I still love Tris. If I ever got in a bar fight (I don't even go to bars, so this is highly unlikely), I'd want Tris on my side....

And Four on my arm. (Wink, wink)

There are so many things I want to say about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for any of you. The conflicts are different in this book. Definitely harder-fought, just in a less point-and-shoot way, and more of a holy-crap-our-lives-are-falling-apart-and-few-people-care-enough-to-help kind of way. And, as always, there's a twist at the end that will make your head spin. It will be spinning already though. There were A LOT of unexpected twists in this, and I won't lie, some of them were downright heartbreaking. So grab your tissue box, lock yourself in your room and get to work. You've got some reading to do! This book was just as amazing as the first, and this series is still one of my most highly recommended reads. Enjoy!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Perfectly Hopeless by Holly Hood

Every summer, when the willow trees blow lazily in the breeze Maven Wilder goes back to Portwood. At one time she was sure she knew what love was. She thought she was in it, but not anymore.

Maven never expected to meet Henri Levitt that summer. A brown-haired, brown-eyed guy that keeps to himself and is always working odd jobs, Henri lives with relatives and comes off a bit depressed. He’s happy to stay busy, and if that means little social life, that is fine by him.
Nobody in Portwood thinks twice about Henri. And it’s only after an embarrassing accident happens at The Yogurt Hut that Maven even notices him. After meeting Henri that day, Maven’s life changes in ways she never counted on.
Spending the summer with Henri shows Maven there is more to life than heartbreak, and that some people do change you for the better. Maven learns a lot over the summer. And after meeting Henri, her life will never be the same.
I don't want to be a jerk, so it may be better if I don't review this at all. But since I must, I'll try to be gentle.

This book was so obviously written by an amateur. I borrowed it for free through Amazon Prime this month, which means I am two for two on crappy book selections for my monthly free book. The story sucked, the grammar was terrible, and I don't think the author had anyone else even look it over to help edit before posting it on Amazon for the whole world to pick apart.

All the reviews for this book said something similar to "Grab tissues! This is a tear-jerker!" And yes, I did want to cry. I wanted to cry because of the time I wasted reading this when I could have been reading something infinitely better--like a story written by a child. In fact, my four year old consistently tells me more interesting and better thought out stories than this.

I think if I didn't get so caught up in grammatical errors when I read, it wouldn't have been *as* bad. Would I have liked it? No. The story was still terrible. However, it is what it is. Just know that this is not one to waste your time on. You'd get a more intriguing read from the back labels of your household cleaning products.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

Oh how I loved this book. I kind of want to scrap all the books in my "To Be Read" pile and just read this again. And again.

I can't think of a single thing that I DIDN'T like about this book. It had romance, it had adventure, it had intrugue, it had romance.... Oh, did I mention that already? This book had everything I love in a Regency novel. I loved Marianne. I thought she was sassy and endearing and completely wonderful. She seemed like someone I would like to be friends with. And the twirling! You'll laugh out loud. :) 

I am so happy I heard about this book! I just read a book set in the same time period, and it wasn't nearly as well-written as this. I thought there was superb character development and the story flowed ridiculously well. This is one to DEFNIITELY buy. I bought it on my Kindle because I was too anxious and wanted to read it *RIGHT NOW*. I didn't want to wait two days for it to be shipped to my house. I'm pathetic. But now I'm sad that I didn't buy it in hard copy, and I'm going to have to buy it again to add to my bookshelf. So save yourself some money, be patient, and buy the actual book! Unless you want to be cool like me and own two copies.

P.S. I know I didn't give much information on this one,  but I wanted to be as vague as the book description so I don't spoil any of the story. Just trust me when I say that YOU WANT TO READ THIS!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Destined (Wings #4) by Aprilynne Pike

This is BOOK FOUR (the final book) in the Wings series.
And yes, there are spoilers!
You have been warned.

Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear.

He hesitated for an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn't kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching.

She hated how much it felt like good-bye.

Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful—and deadly—of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

Well, it's officially over. I have to say--there have been a few series that completely surprised me with the final book, and this was actually one of them. I don't know if it was "surprised" in a good way or not. Maybe neither. Maybe it was just an unexpected change of pace. It was literally ALL war, not much romance. It was still a great read though.

I remember last year when I read Book 3, Illusions, I was very confused about where the story was going. Every book in this series has a new villain and I was never quite sure who to hate. In this installment, all those villains joined up and waged war on Avalon. I would say that (tied with Book 1), this was the most important book in the entire Wings series.

I thought this was a fitting ending. The war was realistic in that A LOT of people died (unlike some books where the characters are ALL TALK and NO ACTION. Cough, cough.... Lame Twilight conclusion...) There were some unexpected twists and I was really pleased with how the story was resolved. At the end of the book, the author added a note that was a kind of epilogue. I'm glad she did. I think it was needed.

I'm so sad that this series is finally over, but I'm also excited to move on. I can't wait to see what's in store for us next from Aprilynne Pike. I'll be anxiously waiting. If you haven't read this series, (and you cheated and read on despite my Spoiler Alert Warning), you HAVE to read these. It (as a whole) is one of the best "fairy" tales I've read.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Sorry Book Club gals! I couldn't wait for the end of the year to read this. And I'm so glad I didn't. It would have been like when Divergent by Veronica Roth sat on my friend's bookshelf for half a year before she actually read it, and then she kicked herself for waiting six months to pick it up (because Divergent was AMAZING!!). I just couldn't let that happen with this book.

I loved this book. It was different than I was expecting, but it was in a GOOD way. In my head, I pictured this book being set in the past or at least having more of a fantasy feel to it, but it was actually closer to dystopian than fantasy. It's set in the future and has "castes" that reminded me a little (just the castes and VERY LITTLE) of The Hunger Games. The lower the number of your caste, the less privileged you are. For example, Ones are royalty and Sixes are servants. Eights (the lowest caste) are degenerates and criminals. As the book opens, you find that a questionnaire was sent to all the young women of a certain age in the country(?) about their interests and accomplishments. From there, thirty-five of them are chosen "at random" to take part in The Selection-- basically a royal version of The Bachelor.

Really, that's where the story became unique for me. I loved America, and I couldn't help but root for her and Prince Maxon, even when there wasn't much between them to root for at first. I thought their first meeting was hilarious and embarrassing and it was when America became really endearing to me. I love that she was so adamant about staying true to herself throughout the book. There was the little hiccup in her love life (ASPEN) that I didn't much care for, and I am anxious to see what happens next in the story. 

Like I said, I loved this book. I was disappointed that the story had to end, but I am excited for the next installment, even though this one was just released! As much as I hate to admit it, I am relieved that this book is not a stand-alone novel. It would have made things too rushed and I am happy that I don't have to say goodbye to America just yet. This is definitely one to add to your "TO BUY" pile. It was another favorite this year. I'm on a roll! ;)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Enchantment by Charlotte Abel

Sixteen year old Channie Kerns leads an idyllic life of seclusion and magic deep in the Ozark Mountains ... until her family is forced to flee for their lives.

They leave everything and everyone behind to start over in Louisville, Colorado. Magic is forbidden while they are in hiding, but Channie can't resist the temptation to enchant a group of local boys. When her overbearing parents catch her flirting with these "sex-crazed, non-magical delinquents," they slap a chastity spell on her to protect her virtue.

The spell is triggered by lust, so just navigating the halls at her new school is an ordeal. She can't even touch a boy she's attracted to without blasting him with a jolt of magical energy that feels like a taser.

When Channie falls in love with Josh Abrim, a BMX racer with dangerous secrets of his own, she rebels against her parents and turns to dark and forbidden magic to break the chastity spell ... with disastrous results.

Since Amazon happens to be one of my very favorite things, it's no surprise that I am an "Amazon Prime" member. One of the perks of a Prime membership is picking one Kindle book a month to read for free. This was the first book I got. It sounded pretty funny-- a curse that will taser anyone that has "impure" thoughts about the main character? Definitely amusing.

Unfortunately it wasn't really actually that funny. And while it wasn't a horrible book, I am disappointed with the spike in lusty YA books being released. It seems to be happening at an alarming rate. I think that there is (or SHOULD BE) a very bold line between what is okay for a teen book and what is not. To me, an "anything-but" scenario just doesn't work as so-called abstinence. That said, do I like a good makeout scene now and then? Hello! I'm a GIRL. Of course I do. But do I think girls need to drop their pants or rip of their tops every time a hot guy walks by? I most certainly do not. 

In all honesty, this book wasn't as bad as some that I've read, but for some reason, I think this book was just the last, frustrating straw for me. There is a HUGE difference between lust and love and between romance and sex. They are not all one and the same, contrary to what authors are force-feeding teenagers these days. I have had enough! And I apologize-- I didn't mean for this to turn into a soap-box rant, but the more sex-filled YA books I read, the more angry I become about it. Can no one write a good book anymore without lust dripping from the pages? It's disgusting. 

Anyway, not one I'd recommend. The overall story wasn't bad, but I'm so mad about the constant trying-to-rip-each-others-clothes-off, I could spit. Argh.

Happy Reading!

P.S. The cover is super lame, by the way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Release Date: May 8, 2012
A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy.

Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor, Libby is just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor is haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

When I first started this book, I thought (Sigh) Oh boy. Here we go. Not in a Hello-My-name-is-Megan-and-I'm-a-drama-queen kind of way, but in an I'm-pretty-sure-I've-already-read-this-story-minus-the-corsets kind of way.

I was ten kinds of wrong.

I loved this book. Honestly, even with it being a tad bit predictable, I loved it from cover to cover. I could most definitely relate to Libby in that I too often feel born out of time. I thought she was a hilarious and endearing heroine. I have to say though, as much as I enjoyed just about every character in this book, Dev stole the show for me! From his fashion obsession to his frantic sobbing phone calls to his ice cream diet, I thought he was a great character. I laughed through every appearance he made in this book.

As for the story, I was pleasantly surprised. As I said, I dove into this book with a not-very-sunny attitude. I was REALLY hoping for something new and different, and Ms. Strohm delivered. I really liked all of Libby's day-camp girls and their enlightening and funny input about Libby and her love interest, Cam. I also liked the idea of the haunted ship and I really liked where it took the story. I finished this book last night and when I woke up this morning, my first thought was to pick up this book and continue the story. I was actually really bummed out when I remembered I finished it. I can't wait to read more from Stephanie Kate Strohm though!

I don't want to give too much away, but just know that this is definitely one to buy. And what do you know? It just so happens to come out TODAY. Yay for you!

Happy Reading!

**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden

When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformation from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

I'm sure you are all aware of this by now, but I love Marcia Lynn McClure books. If you are not familiar with them, they are CLEAN romance novels (which are hard to come by these days!). Imagine my excitement when I discovered a new author, Sarah M. Eden, who also writes clean romance. This book happened to be our book club pick for this month, and I was so excited to read it!

Now that I have, in fact, read it.... I was a little bit disappointed. I liked the story, and it had the romance factor, but I really struggled with the story being told from both perspectives. Normally it seems like these kinds of books are told from the damsel-in-distress's point of view. It was a strange to have an insight into the "hero's" insecure thoughts and his doubts about Catherine's ability to fend for herself. In fact, I was a little annoyed at the fact that he thought Catherine was in constant need of rescuing.

Other than that, I quite liked the writing style and would read more from Sarah M. Eden. And I would highly recommend her books (along with Marcia Lynn McClure novels) to anyone seeking a good love story without the heaving bosoms and bodice-ripping and such. :)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers

Release Date: April 3, 2012
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I started this book as a skeptic. Nun assassins? Really?? I had to admit it though-- it was an original idea. Have you ever read about a convent that trains young women to kill people? Surprisingly enough, I loved it. LOVED. Was it a long book? Heck freaking yes it was. Did it drag in brief moments. Yep. Would I read it all over again right now? I sure would. And I'd love every second of it. Again.

As the book begins, you get an immediate sense of Ismae and her situation. She's being thrown into the arms of an abusive pig of a husband by an equally abusive father who never loved or wanted her. The truth of this statement is borne by Ismae every day of her life in the form of an angry scar that runs the length of her back--the result of a poison meant to kill her while she was still in her mother's womb. The fact that she survived the poison was evidence of her true father- the god of Death. When Ismae's new husband sees the mark on her back and flees to find a priest to take her away, Ismae, with help, is able to escape to the convent of St. Mortain. Once there, she quickly learns that, should she choose to stay at the convent, she will become a servant of the god of Death and do his bidding by assassinating those who bear his mark. 

I thought that the story would go into a lot of detail here and bore me with the logistics of her learning to kill people. Again a surprise: it didn't. In fact it cuts to three years later (thankfully) and Ismae's first assignment, which subsequently lead to her next assignments and a very uncomfortable arrangement with a noble man in a city Ismae had only ever heard stories about. From here, the story slowed in places, mostly (for me) when it was about politics (snore.). Luckily, it was relevant to the story and easy to wade through, or I may not have liked this book as much as I did.

As it were, I'm a bit nervous to admit that this may be one of my favorite books of the year so far. (Gasp! I know. First one!) I would recommend buying this, in fact. And in case you're worried, if you hate it, it doubles as a doorstop! Yes, all 549 pages of it. I highly doubt you'll hate it though. I will gladly give it high praise! Especially since all the plots and plans and people to blame seemed glaringly obvious and I was wrong on ALL COUNTS. I love books that can keep me guessing and this one hit the bulls-eye. Enough from me already though--just read it! Whether you're a fan of historical fiction or not, you'll be glad you did.

Happy Reading!     

**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.