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!


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.


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. 


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!


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