Friday, July 31, 2015

July Wrap-Up


Happy end of July, you guys! And, today, happy birthday to my loves, Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling! I definitely got a lot more reading done this month, and even started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer--which isn't book related (though there are graphic novels) but it's still awesome either way. So let's hop right to it. Here are the books I lost myself in this month:

-My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick- 3 stars

"The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another."

-The Program by Suzanne Young- 4 stars

"Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them."

-The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes -5 stars

"Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess."

-reread To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- 5 stars

"The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbirdtakes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature."

-Bloodlines by Richelle Mead- 4 stars

"Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's an alchemist - one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiences in question, her future is on the line.

When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.

The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside - and within - the school grounds. Now that they're in hiding, the drama is only just beginning."

-Made for You by Marissa Marr- 3 stars

"When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva."


-The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead- 5 stars 
KINDA SPOILER-Y IN THE SYNOPSIS

"Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she's been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California - tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formorly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and her sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi - the fiercest vampires, the ones who don't die. But it's her fear of being just that - special, magical, powerful - that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Braydon, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else - someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney's loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists - or her heart?"

-The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead- 4 stars
ALSO KINDA SPOILER-Y

"In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she struggles to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do.

Then she finally tracks down the elusive, enigmatic Marcus Finch - a former Alchemist who the organization denies exists, and who lives in shadows, on the run. With Marcus's help, Sydney realizes that the group she's been loyal to her whole life has been hiding the truth from her. Is it possible that her golden lily tattoo might have more power over her than she thinks?

As she struggles to come to terms with what that might mean, Sydney is compelled to use her magical powers to track down an evil magic user who is targeting powerful young witches. Using magic goes against everything she always thought she believed, but she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her special blood - or else she might be next.

Forging her own way is harder than Sydney ever dreamed. Maybe by turning off her brain - and following her heart - she'll be able to finally figure out where she belongs."

If you can't tell, I've been speeding through the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. It might or might not be correlated to the whole Buffy thing, too. Either way, I'm now at 45 books, making me 60% of the way to my goal of 75 for the year! Yay! What books did you guys read this month?

-Annie

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I'm not going to read Go Set A Watchman

In the last couple months, all I could think about was the epic release of Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman. Since To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time, I was so excited for its 'sequel'. But after reading reviews from book bloggers and fancy newspapers, I've come to a conclusion: I don't think I'm actually going to read this book.

Now, I did buy the book. It has a gorgeous cover, and as far as yesterday was concerned, I was still going to read it. Then, I saw the reviews.

I'll be the first to admit I like flawed characters. Nobody is perfect in the real world, so why should they be perfect in the literary one? Atticus Finch was not perfect in Mockingbird, he had his problematic moments. But he was a good man who saw the world differently than a lot of his peers. He became the literary character that symbolized justice and equality. He was a hero to many. I also understand that when we see Atticus in Mockingbird, it's through the eyes of Scout as a child. There are going to be some biases in that point of view, of course. But after rereading Mockingbird, I can't help but see Atticus in the same light as I did before, only my love for him grew. Those quotes, you guys, those quotes. He's incredibly articulate and wise and just.

Watchman, however, shows us a different side of Atticus. It's a side that I don't particularly want to see. Not because I don't want to see my favorite character of all time ruined, but because it doesn't fit with who the actual character is. Based on the reviews I've seen, this is a different person. He's a "blatant racist", "white supremacist", and "disgustingly grotesque". Yeah, this isn't for me. I've also heard that the writing itself is kind of a mess, and so really, I don't see a point in destroying my favorite character for something that isn't even well written.

That's not to say that I won't some day read it. Maybe, I just need some time. But maybe not. I just know that reading this book will probably upset me and would like to avoid that as much as I can. Because I love Mockingbird so much, I think I'm going to have to pretend it's a standalone. I'm going to keep my Atticus the way he is.

-Annie

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who Run the World?


Looking back on my childhood, I realize just how many bookish girls influenced my life. I looked up to these fictional characters, and thought they were the absolute coolest because they loved reading and school and 'nerdy' things like that. Hey, I still think they're the coolest. They shaped my reading habits. I wanted to be just like them when I grew up, who cared if they didn't actually exist? It was all about what they stood for. So here are some of those girls who I owe a lot to, thanks for always being there for me. 

1. Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew is my homegirl, for real. I wanted to be just like her growing up. I wanted a baby blue convertible, I wanted to solve mysteries, and my oh my did I want her wardrobe. To me, she is the ultimate Smart Girl. The first book I ever tried to write at the tender age of ten, ended up being some kind of Nancy Drew fanfic. I used to read Nancy's books with my grandmother and I was in awe how she was able to always catch the bad guy, despite the sticky situations get found herself in. Nancy was always thinking one step ahead. She is independent, girly, and intelligent. She was my childhood superhero. 

Fun fact: Did you know that ladies like Sandra Day O'Connor, Sonya Sotomayor, Hilary Clinton, and Laura Bush cite Nancy Drew as a major influence in their lives? You keep good company, Nancy. 

2. Hermione Granger

Where do I even start with Hermione Granger? She has a thirst for knowledge and wants to know everything about everything. What I love most about Hermione is how she always goes straight to the library in times of crisis, convinced that she can find all the answers she needs in a book. That's a good way to go through life, if I do say so myself. She has a kind heart, a passion for equality for humans and magical creatures alike, and a stubborn side. She had to work hard to catch up to kids who had magical tendencies their whole lives, girl was all about studying, but she wasn't afraid to cry. Hermione was so very real. Let's be real here, we ALL want Hermione Granger and a rocket ship...

Fun fact: Hermione is regarded as a top feminist character by many critics for her character development and what she stands for. Four for you, Hermione Granger. 

3. Rory Gilmore

Okay, so Rory isn't a character from a book or anything, but sweet baby Jesus she is everything I aspire to be in life. She's the epitome of the bookish girl. Rory always had a book with her, she sometimes even had two in her purse because what if she finished the first one? Ever since Rory, I've always kept a book with me--even if it is on my kindle on my phone. When I was in tenth grade, I read The Fountainhead because Rory did. That was when I realized that we had different taste in books, but still. She opened my eyes to the classics, and I have her to thank for my love for Sylvia Plath. Like Hermione, Rory was all about good grades and studying until her eyes went blurry. She had to get into an Ivy League school, had to be a journalist. For the longest time, I put myself on the Rory Gilmore path to success. I wanted to go Ivy too (didn't, but that's okay), and ended up majoring in journalism (I also learned our writing style is very different too). I still see a lot of Rory in myself and use her ambition when I find myself getting off track and procrastinating. 

Fun fact: After graduating from Yale, Rory goes on to be a reporter for Barack Obama's campaign before he even becomes president. Coincidence? I think not. In my mind, I like to think Rory had a lot to do with his election, and then she went off to marry Jess and live happily ever after. 

4. Samantha Parkington

Samantha wasn't necessarily a bookish girl, even though she had her own book series, she wasn't a big reader or anything. But she was adventurous and loyal and had one of the biggest hearts. For some reason, whenever I think of Samantha, I think of her at school. Were there a lot of scenes of Samantha at school in the books, or was it just something I created for myself when I was playing with my dolls? Even at the age of eleven, Samantha was progressive beyond her years. She fought alongside her aunt for women's suffrage and rights--to me, she is such a large influence in my feminist ideals. She broke the rules of being a typical girl growing up in the Victorian times. She climbed trees and rebelled against what was proper. She was the rebel I always wanted to be. 

Fun fact: Even though she was retired in 2009 (and let me tell you how upset I was when I found out...she was my very first American Girl doll after all), she was brought back by popular demand in 2014. I guess she wasn't done being a rebel!

5. Jo March

Jo March is another one of those classic bookish girls. Every picture that exists on the internet has her holding a book. Life goals. Not only was she a big reader, but she loved to write too! She was the role model in fiction I needed growing up because that's exactly what I wanted to do too. Jo was a troublemaker with a sense of humor to boot, but she always put her family first. And she was incredibly independent. I mean, she rejected Laurie's proposal (aka the love of her life. Laurie and Jo = OTP forever) because she doesn't want to leave her sisters. That's love right there. 

Fun fact: Jo went to New York City to pursue a writing career. I mean, can you get any cooler than that? Not possible. 

6. Anne Shirley

When I was younger, I was incredibly biased towards Anne because when you have the same name as an awesome literary character like her, there's no going back. Anne was a dreamer with a huge imagination. She always saw life in such an optimistic way but she somehow always found trouble. remember that time she accidentally got drunk on wine because she thought it was raspberry cordial? Good times, man. Anne was so feisty and took matters into her own hands, and she was also super competitive in school. She and Gilbert were always competing for the top spot in their class. I loved seeing how important school was to her, even though sometimes it felt like she was only doing it to get under Gilbert's skin. Hey, if it works, it works. 

Fun fact: When she got older, and I mean, decently older, Anne would write poems and short stories. Gotta love those girls who write. 

Did your favorite bookish girl make my list? Who inspired you, growing up? I'd love to hear all about her!

-Annie

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June Wrap Up

June was fun, man. June was really fun, except I didn't get a lot of reading done. It's probably because I went ahead and bought all three seasons of Avatar the Last Airbender, and now I can't stop binge watching like it's my job or something. Yeah, that's the reason reading kind of took a backseat this month. I would apologize, but I'm not really sorry! Hey, the stories in Avatar are so complex and should totally count as reading, right?



Here's what I read in June:

-Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot- 5 stars

"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding—but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia's gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother's leaked "fake" wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?"

-The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau- 3 stars

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same? 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. 

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust."

-Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover- 5 stars

"When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly."

-Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book two in the Raised by Wolves series)- 4 stars
WARNING: SPOILERS IN SYNOPSIS

"There can only be one alpha. 

Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were.  With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone.

Bryn faces both the costs, and the rewards, of love and loyalty, in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves."

-Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs- 4 stars

"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows."
These five books put me at 37 books read this year, which is 49% of the way to my goal of 75. At this rate, according to GoodReads, I'm right on track to completing my goal this year! Whoohoo!What books did you read this month?

-Annie

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Author Spotlight: Meg Cabot


Author: Meg Cabot


Books: The Princess Diaries series, The Mediator series, The Heather Wells series, The Queen of Babble series, etc.

My favorite: It's practically impossible to chose from any of Meg's books, but I'm going to go with the ones that I think are underrated: Avalon High, Jinx, and How to be Popular (that was my very first Meg Cabot book, actually)

Fun Fact: Meg wrote Ransom My Heart as Princess Mia! In The Princess Diaries series, Mia publishes an adult historical book and in our world, it actually exists. 

Story time: Meg Cabot is my number one writing role model. I mean, I could go on and on about how much she's inspired me to read and write, but that stuff's kind of boring. Fact is, I really look up to her and always have. So, after years of wanting to meet her and never getting the chance, fate seemed to be on my side. She was going to be at the RT Booklover's Convention in Dallas and so was I! There was this cool little event that they planned that was an engagement party for Mia and Michael (the couple from Princess Diaries). I had heard before that they were going to limit the number of people let into the event so I got in line as soon as I possibly could. Walking through the doors, nothing could have prepared me for that moment. The room was decorated inTiffany blue and silver--matching the cover of The Royal Wedding perfectly. There was a table of cake pops and popcorn, and a cash bar that served champagne. Best of all, there in the middle of the room stood Meg Cabot. Woah. We got to talk to her about her books and inspirations, and laughed at her crazy stories and it was so amazing. Then, I got to personally talk to her for a bit while she signed my book. Yeah, I was star struck and embarrassing. I said something along the lines of "I feel a kindred spirit-ship to Mia because we have the same birthday and are/were vegetarians". Facepalm moment. Then, we selfied because we're cool like that. 


I know they say never to meet your idols because they'll disappoint you, but I'm so glad that my experience was the opposite of that. Meg was a sweetheart and so much fun to talk to. This was such an amazing opportunity and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. Also, did I mention there were tiaras everywhere?! 

-Annie

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Change is a Comin'

"LeFou, I'm afraid I've been thinking. A dangerous pastime. I know."

So I've been doing some thinking lately, well, a lot of thinking and I have some bittersweet news to share with you guys. I'm going to stop writing book reviews and posting them on this blog. It sucks, and I'm sad about it, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't have my reasons. And I have my reasons.

The biggest reason being that I unfortunately can't keep up with writing reviews anymore. As much as I've loved doing this, it's beginning to stress me out because I'm trying to read as quickly as I can and it's starting to ruin the whole reading experience for me. I'm finding I'm not reading for pleasure anymore and that makes me sad. With life being so busy, I don't have a lot of time dedicated strictly to reading, and I don't want to rush a good story.

I sincerely hope you guys can understand. Especially since I have no plans of shutting down this blog at all--if anything, it's going to undergo a content makeover. It's kind of exciting, actually! This is still going to be a book blog, I'm just going to post different bookish things. Here are some of the things I'm hoping to post: author spotlights, posts about my visits to local bookstores when I travel, character and theme analysis', monthly reading round-ups (with a companion BookTube video maybe), etc. And I still promise to post every Thursday, so really, not a lot is changing even though *everything* is changing!

I've had a blast running this blog, and I can't wait for its future. I can't wait to bring new posts to you guys, and I appreciate all the love you've given me. Seriously, my readers are the best. If any of you guys have any type of post you'd like to see on my blog, please let me know--I'd love to hear your ideas and give you content you actually want to read!

Thanks for your love, support, and brilliance,

-Annie

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Wondrous and the Wicked by Page Morgan

(4/5 stars)

"The Waverly sisters must save themselves before all is lost.

Since the Waverlys arrived in Paris, the streets have grown more fearsome by the day. As Ingrid learns to master her lectrux gift, she must watch Axia's power grow strong enough to extend beyond her Underneath hive. By all indications, the fallen angel's Harvest is near-and the timing couldn't be worse.

Targeted by vengeful gargoyles, Gabby has been exiled to London for her own protection. Meanwhile, the gargoyle castes are in disarray, divided between those who want Luc to lead them and those who resent him and his fondness for humans. The Alliance is crumbling from the inside as well, its members turning against one another, and possibly against the Waverlys, too.

Axia has promised that the world will burn. And now, unable to trust the Alliance, separated from Luc, Gabby, and her twin, Grayson, Ingrid is left to face the demon uprising alone."

You guys remember my reviews of The Beautiful and the Cursed and The Lovely and the Lost, right? So it seems that with every book in this series, I like the story more and more. I really liked this one, guys. It was a great finale to the trilogy and I'm glad I kept reading.

What I liked: Two things that I've repeated with its predecessors. 1) This series has become its own beast and has broken away from all the other things I kept comparing it to in my brain. 2) I still want more gargoyle books. There's gotta be a market for it, and somebody's gotta write them! Now onto the new stuff. The ending was an epic battle and made me like Ingrid for like twenty pages--small victories. Mostly, I still love this dark and dangerous world that feels so much like our own but with some paranormal twists. I'm glad that their mother gets semi-involved, especially towards the end, and I loved seeing how much she stuck up for them and didn't dismiss any of their crazy ideas. Supportive parents are always a pleasure to read about. Gabby is still my forever favorite and her relationship with Nolan is swoon worthy. Seriously. She's also become such a fighter, and her character development is off the charts. I loved seeing scenes in Grayson's point of view because they're so rare but so interesting. He doesn't ever feel fully human to me, even in this one, and it's a refreshing glimpse at the situation through his eyes. I also liked Luc's fate at the end. He kinda grew on me through this book and I found myself weirdly rooting for him and Ingrid. 

What I didn't like: I still didn't care for Ingrid's little love triangle. It still felt forced and I didn't believe she believed she had enough grounds to reject anybody. Because, when the time came for her to say no to so-and-so (no spoilers), she still told him she loved him. It all felt fake to me. It could all come down to the fact that I can't stand Ingrid as a character. I don't see her develop and she stayed super weak and passive for 90% of the book. She was only super cool in the last 20-30 pages and that was only because something big happened to push her that way. I guess I just find Ingrid too naive. She's always walking into a trap or getting herself caught because she thinks she knows exactly what she's doing--or because she's not thinking at all. It's hard to read a series and not like the main character. 

All in all, I'm glad I gave this series a chance because in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives. It was worth the read and had that 'something different'. 

-Annie

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis

(3/5 stars)

"Back on Earth, Ariana is caught in a dangerous crossfire between clandestine rebel organization Clementia and the power-hungry government. Refusing to divulge the location of the secret information entrusted to her by her late father, she desperately tries to bargain for her Mom, Lily, and Cal’s rescue. She’s fighting a losing battle, and the clock is ticking.

Presented with evidence of her fiancĂ© Cal’s apparent betrayal, she loyally defends him despite her concerns. With her emotions in turmoil, matters become even more complicated as she grows closer to her ex-boyfriend Zane.

When the stakes are raised, a succession of shocking revelations rocks her world, setting her on a path that will not only change her destiny but the fate of humanity.

Confronted by a memory so abhorrent comes a truth she would do anything to forget.

But some things just can’t be undone."

*I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

When I finished True Calling, I was desperate to read its sequel right away. The cliff hanger was too much to bear, but I thought I'd be safe once I started and finished this one. Wrong. Nope, my emotions are even more all over the place and I have so many questions because...

What I liked: Siobhan Davis is a cliff hanger queen. She knows exactly how to build up tensions in a scene and drop a bomb that leaves you wanting more. And it's not like random things that you won't care about; it's actual game changing moments that leave you feeling unsatisfied in a good way. So in Beyond Reach, Ari's world get a million times bigger and the line of who to trust blurs like no other. I enjoyed seeing just how convoluted the government was and how everything related back to Ari and her gang. I also love Zane. Like a lot. Big fan, here. 

What I didn't like: I'm going out on a limb here and posting a spoiler, so WARNING SPOILER AHEAD. I was annoyed with the fact that Ari was pregnant. There, I said it. I don't like reading about teenage pregnancy if it's only something added in to cause further drama. I just kept thinking she shouldn't be taking so many crazy risks if she had a baby inside her. She was also way too obsessed about the fact that she was so sure the baby was Cal's. It was almost a bit naive considering she was on so many hormones and the government was doing all these experiments involving fertility etc. Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest Cal fan. He was just way too obsessed with her (and admits to stalking her house) and it feels like teenage lust instead of real love. 

I feel like I'm always pickier when it comes to sequels. Maybe I just get high expectations. Regardless, I'm still really looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. I feel like there's so much that's about to go down and I can't wait to see how it all turns out. 

-Annie

Thursday, May 21, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention


This past week was the Romantic Times Bookslovers Convention in Dallas, and even though I couldn't go for the whole week (hey, a girl's gotta work and stuff), I hung out at the conference for Friday and Saturday's events. I'd never been to a conference this big so to say it was a bit overwhelming would be an understatement. There were so.many.people. Authors, readers, bloggers, industry professionals, they were all there and it was so cool interacting with them all! Also, there was merch galore, and during the signings on Saturday, I spent wayyyyy too much money on books. But I'm not even sorry about it. Here's what I was up to during the conference (all the panels I went to were YA):

Friday:

  • Panel: After the happily ever after--sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and e-novellas
    • Richelle Mead, Alyson Noel, Kathy Reichs, Abbi Glines, and Kami Garcia
  • Panel: Happily ever after, with a dash of sex and a drop of angst
    • Kiera Cass, C.C. Hunter, Stephanie Perkins, Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent
  • Mia and You- A Meg Cabot salute to her Princess Diaries readers
    • Yes, you guys, I actually met Meg Cabot and got to talk to her and this was literally the best moment of my life, no big deal. Don't worry, there'll be a whole post on this experience in the future...
  • Panel: Welcome to the dark side
    • Susan Ee, Kami Garcia, Melissa Marr, Kimberly Derting, Brendan Reichs
Saturday:

So the only thing I got to do on Saturday was the book fair/signings because I had other plans for the day, but I got to meet so many amazing authors and buy too many books. It was great! Here's who I saw:
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Claudia Gray
  • Sara Raasch
  • Victoria Scott
  • Melissa Marr
  • Tessa Gratton
  • Kasie West
  • Meg Cabot
  • Page Morgan
I had an absolute blast and it was such a fun experience. If you love books as much as I do, this is a convention that I definitely recommend--even if you only go for a day!

-Annie

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

(5/5 stars)

"When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!"
Can I give this book more than 5 stars? Because I totally would if I could. It is amazing, phenomenal, absolutely stunning. It is, without a doubt, the best Beauty and the Beast retelling I've ever read.

What I liked: My, my, my that Sarah J. Maas is a pro at world building. This world was so alive, it practically leapt off the pages. It was complex but simple enough to understand, especially since it stayed true to the retelling for the most part. For as similar as the plot was to Beauty and the Beast, everything else was unique. Feyra is practically the opposite of Belle. She's such a strong character who isn't afraid to love and hate. There's so much complication in her life and relationships, and she handles it all with fierce fight and grace. Tamlin has that dark mysterious thing down to a science, and the fact that he's High Fae just adds to it all. I also want to mention that the curse of the masks was a cool touch and it really helped solidify their relationship for me. Besides all that, whew, this book is sexayyy...

What I didn't like: That it eventually ended? I mean, I guess, If I'm being picky, I could have used a bit more development between Feyra and Tamlin. Like maybe we could have seen them fall in love more, but really, that's not even a complaint because I still liked it the way it was.

I highly anticipated this book and had a lot of expectations from it (as I do with all of Maas' books at this point) and I'm so please to say it didn't let me down. If anything, it created another obsession. I can't wait for the next installment!

-Annie

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Angelfall by Susan Ee

(5/5 stars)

"It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain. Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back..."

This book. Thisbookthisbookthisbook. I had read a lot of fallen angels books back when it was the super big thing to do, and was always disappointed by them. None of them were anything special. So when I started Angelfall, I was nervous. All for naught because it was that one special angel book. For real.

What I liked: Penryn is the queen of all queens. The world hasn't been kind to her, but she continues to push through without doubt. She takes care of her schizophrenic mother and disabled sister even after the apocalypse has begun. Penryn is loyal, relentless, funny, and a Badass with a capital "B". The fights scenes in this book were my absolute favorites. Penryn fights every chance she can get, there's no way you could ever call her passive. She's knowledgeable in martial arts and it shows, especially when she can take down a fully grown man. Get it, girl. I love the premise of this book. The concept of angels have always interested me in books, especially when it doesn't get preachy religious. This one puts us in a world where angels have taken over. They're the enemy, no question, but yet, they're fascinating. I especially love Raffe because duh. He's not fully bad boy, cocky, jerky, but he has a bit of those tendencies. He's still a good guy who's very protective over Penryn even if he pretends he's not. Their chemistry leaps off the page. You feel the feels. 

What I didn't like: I have no complaints. That is all. 

So now I need to download the next book right away. If anyone needs me, I'll be in a corner reading World After.

-Annie

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

(4/5 stars)

"To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all."

I seriously wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I actually did. I consciously remember cringing through the first couple chapters, but then suddenly, I was obsessed and couldn't stop reading. 

What I liked: Cuteness overload. The whole aesthetic of the book was adorable. From the characters to the settings and the conversations. Relationships are obviously a big deal in a contemporary book like this, but this wasn't solely focused on Lara Jean's romantic relationships, but it also went into depth on her familial relationships. Specifically, we saw Margot be controlling and overbearing and Lara Jean going along with it until she realized she needed to be her own person. It was great character development. And Kitty was sassy and puppy-obsessed and totally reminded me of my sister when she was younger. I loved the humor, I loved heart felt moments, and I loved Peter Kavinsky. 

What I didn't like: Guys, I don't think I've ever had so much second hand embarrassment from a character than I did from Lara Jean. There were scenes where I had to put the book down and remind myself that it wasn't actually happening. Basically, she made some silly decisions. Mostly though, I found it hard to relate to Lara Jean. She was almost too naive, like she had no idea how the world actually works. That doesn't mean I didn't like her, I liked her a lot, but it took me some time to adjust to a character like this. The main reason I took off a star was because the climax of the book seemed kind of stupid. It didn't seem like a big deal to me and it literally could have been solved if she had a simple conversation and/or didn't take it too personally.

I definitely recommend this book. Especially if you're in the mood for a funny and happy romance novel that'll make you feel all cutesy inside. This is perfect for those days!

-Annie

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page

(3/5 stars)

"I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission"

There were a couple of things I liked about this book, but unfortunately, the things I didn't like outweighed the things I liked. 

What I liked: I'm a big fan of the idea of retelling The Wizard the Oz. Like huge fan. And it's hard to get Oz right, but this was really well done. The world building was stellar and the descriptions were so vivid. The different organizations in Oz were clear and had their important roles without being confusing. I also really liked Amy. She was a cool character who had a great arc. It was great watching her grow and really become herself. That was definitely my favorite part. Especially when she was learning magic and training, it was a whole new side of Amy that was strong and fierce and it was fun to see.

What I didn't like: I just didn't care. It all felt too corny with the PermaSmiles and scarecrow experiments, and I couldn't take the book seriously. I think I mostly skimmed the first half of the book, really read the middle, and then skimmed through the end. For some reason, I couldn't attach myself to anything in this book, and even though it didn't take long for me to read, I just wanted it to be finished. I know that's not a good explanation of what I didn't like and why, but it's all I've got for now.

I don't know if I want to read the sequel. Yeah, I'd like to know what happens, but I don't know if it's worth it to me. It sounds harsh, I know. Maybe I'll pick it up at the library some day or something like that. I'm not in that big of a rush.

-Annie

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

(4/5 stars)

"Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life."

Okay, I'm about to get really Southern up in here, but seriously y'all, I love this series! It's so darn cute and charming. And the characters. Y'all, the characters. 

What I liked: I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I love Harper Jane Price. She doesn't take crap from anybody but she's perfectly polite behind all that Southern rage. She's basically all kinds of fierce. The challenges she had to go through were trying--physically and emotionally--but she manages to come out stronger than ever and full of grace. I love the culture presented in this book because it feels so small town. You've got the town festival and Miss Pine Grove pageant, which of course we all know are going to fall to pieces of Ephor evil. 

What I didn't like: Okay, so this book was kinda anticlimactic. Like for all the things Harper and David have to go through, I feel like the end was such a let down. And speaking of endings, I'm not a fan at how Harper handled the end (no spoilers, obvi). But this one left me wondering who the real evil is and what the series arc actually is, and y'all, these are things I just need to know.

That being said, there better be a third book and it better come out tomorrow because I need it. Now. It's a fun, fast, light read and I can relate to Harper on so many levels. Even though I'm not a Southern Paladin, Junior Class President, or Head Cheerleader. Minor details. 

-Annie

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

(5/5 stars)

So I have to just start this off by saying I read this book in two hours. Two freaking hours. Yes, that's how good it was. 

What I liked: God, all of Jennifer Smith's books make me want to drop life for a second and travel the world. Reading this book, I felt like I did get to travel. The details in the writing made me feel like I was in London, Prague, San Fransisco, New York, etc. Those cities flew off the page and felt so alive, it was amazing to read. This was such a fun read, and the romance was adorable. I loved Lucy and Owen, and I liked how their relationship progressed. Sure, there were times when it felt fast and maybe a bit too much, but there were moments that were also filled with doubt and realism. Also, I super respected the fact that they were determined to communicate with each other, even when they were in separate countries. The emails, the post cards, it was all so cute and made my little heart swoon. 

What I didn't like: There were no friend characters, which I always love, but then again, this book focused mainly on the romance. It was about Lucy and Owen defying the odds and trying to make their relationship work. So yeah, friends didn't play a bit part of it, but family did so I'll take it. There wasn't much I didn't like about this book, obviously. 

I just really loved reading this book, you guys. It was cute and happy and wonderful, and my heart sang all the love songs. Boy, can Jennifer Smith write a good romance book!

-Annie

Thursday, April 2, 2015

True Calling by Siobhan Davis

(4/5 stars)

*I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

So I saw this book being compared to a lot of other books; we've got some Hunger Games stuff, The Selection bits, and pieces of Divergent, but it all meshes into something of its own. It takes the things we love about those books and places them in space with psychics and lost memories. Yeah, exactly, I was intrigued too. 

What I liked: There were a lot of things I liked about this book. Even though I saw some themes I'd seen before, they felt different and captured my attention from the very start. I was hooked. The world building is interesting, and it's a concept that I really liked reading about. You've got super-screwed-up Earth and pretend-utopia Novo, and their contrast is really well done. I'm super Team Ari. She's very real. She's not afraid to show emotion and she's shallow about clothing, but she's still tough and isn't afraid to stand up for herself. Hello, well-rounded and relatable female protagonist. The fact that familial relationships play a bit part in this book is super important considering a lot of the plot revolves around the Bachelor-style marriage pageant. You don't actually see a lot of the competition itself, so it focuses more on the relationships around Ari and what's important to her. I know there's a love triangle of sorts going on here, but I actually like reading about this one. I guess Cal and Zane feel so separate in her life so it's easy to see why she loved/loves/will love them. 

What I didn't like: Okay, so yes, some of the plot was incredibly predictable. It happens. Gotta move on. But I think the thing that kept me from giving this a full five stars was the language. Not in graphic or offensive language or anything like that (please, have you met me?), but mostly I couldn't imagine Ari or Cal or any of them talking so properly or stiffly. Their speech patterns seemed a bit flowery and over-intentional, and it pulled me out of my suspension of disbelief. It doesn't completely take away, but still, they use words that people don't use in daily conversation. They could loosen up a bit and talk more like normal teenagers. 

Still, I'm hooked on this series and I can't wait for the next book. After a cliffhanger like that, I need to know what happens right.now.please. 

-Annie

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

(3/5 stars)

A huge thanks to my good friend Lisa for sending me this book for Christmas! I'm so glad I got the chance to read this, because I'm not sure I would have picked it up on my own if someone hadn't suggested it to me. 

What I liked: This idea fascinates me. Like forget all the ways this concept couldn't be physically possible (especially for him to remain exactly the same), this is so freaking cool. It also makes you question a lot of things about life and death. And the writing was great with doing just that. There were some really poignant moments that stuck with me, and I could really sympathize with Travis at times. Mostly though, my favorite part was watching this poor kid keep up with the times, even though it was only five years later. Just think about how much has changed in the last five years, and if you can't think of any, this book will point them out. It's funny but sad, and really makes the book.

What I didn't like: Oh boy... I was incredibly frustrated by Travis for the whole book. Dude, I understand that it feels like you just woke up from a nap, but things are completely different from when you were last alive. Some behavior is just not acceptable. Like, he is obsessed with getting his girlfriend back even though she's ENGAGED to someone else. He acts annoying, ridiculous, and so immature and it really bothered me. That's not okay. There come a point when you have to just accept the facts and move on with life, but throughout the whole book, he refuses to do that. It's childish, and it made me not really like the book. I just couldn't get past it. Especially since he absolutely refuses to respect Cate's decision and doesn't listen to her at all. Not cool. 

So that was annoying and I had a hard time liking the book because Travis himself was so unlikeable and selfish. For someone who was given a second chance at life, I really expected much more from our main character. He's kinda lame. There's not even a lot of character development for me to change my mind. There was never a point where I saw him change and mature, which is sad because I liked the idea of this book so much. Bummer. 

-Annie

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

(4.5/5 stars)

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I had heard a lot about this book before it was published, and the premise itself intrigued me to the extreme. I mean, who doesn't want to read a book about jumping through parallel universes?! And since I've always been a fan of all things Claudia Gray, I knew (or at least I seriously hoped) I could add this to my list of favorites. After reading, I can definitely say I'm staying a fan!

What I liked: So, I touched a little on the premise, but it's so much more complicated than you could anticipate. After the murder of her father, Marguerite teams up with her friend Theo to find her father's killer. All while bouncing around different universes. The parallel universes thing was the most fascinating because it's explained in a way that actually makes sense. I mean, I'm no physicist, but I believed it. The worlds that Marguerite visits are for the most part so different from our own, and they are fascinating to read about. It's so vivid and the writing is absolutely stunning. Now, the romance is also really well done. Especially since it revolves around the question of soulmates and whether or not that idea exists. And science is kind of involved in the theory of soulmates and that was fun! Anyway, the romance is gushy and cutesy, and will make you feel all warm inside. 

What I didn't like: Okay, so plot line wise, it was a bit predictable. A few chapters in, I already could figure out what actually happened and what was going to happen: betrayals, death, bad guy stuff. I also had a bit of a hard time relating to Marguerite. There were a lot of things about her that I loved but I couldn't get past how easily she trusted and believed people. Like so and so says something that contradicts everything she's learned thus far and she's all, "yeah, okay, you're right". No questions asked really. That bothered me a bit. Especially since she's risking her life and jumping through dimensions, I wanted her to be tougher and less trusting of everyone, even herself. 

Overall though, I loved this book and had such a hard time putting it down. I can't wait for the sequel and I definitely recommend it if you're a big scifi fan!

-Annie