Friday, October 18, 2019

REVIEW: Living Violet by Jaime Reed



Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles, #1)
He's persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most--and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb's secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.



MY THOUGHTS
This just wasn't my kind of book. I kind of knew that after reading the synopsis, but I decided to give this book a chance for three reasons. 1. The book has a high average rating and very positive reviews. 2. The MC is biracial and that is so rarely seen in paranormal YA (even rarer at the time of this book's publication) 3. I owned copies of the entire series. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of this book.

Samara, or Sam, is a bit suspicious of her coworker, Caleb. He has a revolving door of ladies and when Sam catches him making up with a customer in the shelves, she's not surprised. But then the woman turns up dead. She wants to get to the bottom of this and she ends up sort-of going on a date with Caleb. When more women turn up dead and Sam starts noticing how oddly women act around Caleb, she starts finding up that there is more going on.

I downloaded this ebook in 2012. In 2012, I was still devouring YA paranormal. I don't read much in YA paranormal anymore, and if I do, I am looking for unique ideas. Maybe with some spookiness, and I am not so much interested in the romance. This book starts with the plotline that I've seen so many times, in which the main girl meets a guy who is secretly a paranormal being. As I said, so many things about the synopsis were off-putting to me. I don't like it when a synopsis makes it clear that a boy is changing a girl's life. It bothers me when it pays certain attention to the guy's eyes and how women are so attracted to him. "From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him". Caleb's eye color turns out to be violet and, yeah, that's in the title, but I hate seeing violet eyes in books. For some reason, it's so common in paranormal YA and it's always used as a symbol for a character being special.

I will say that while the general premise (girl meets secret paranormal boy) is not new, there are new ideas here. The paranormal entity is this book is not one I've seen much of in YA and I do think Reed did a new take on it. But, not much seemed to happen in this book. Eventually, the plot picked up near the climax of the book, but looking back at the book now, not a whole lot happened. There is the progression of Caleb and Sam's relationship, and Sam figuring out Caleb's abilities, but most of the book felt like filler. For instance, both Sam and Caleb work at a bookstore and the bookstore employees meet every so often to pick a staff pick. Staff members summarize a (fictional) book and give their opinions on it so everyone can vote. We see two of these meetings and there was no reason for it. I'm not kidding, we hear full plot summaries for books that don't even exist. The only reason we see these sessions is because the author wanted to make fun of Twilight. One of the staff loves a YA paranormal book similar to Twilight, which Sam makes fun of. I don't like Twilight, but it didn't sit well with me that this was put into the book. I think it was supposed to be funny that Sam hates this Twilight-esque book when she is involved with a paranormal boy, but it didn't come across as funny to me. It also bothered me that she makes fun of adults who read YA books.

Sam was an okay character. She does have some witty lines, but sometimes it rubbed me the wrong way. Like her sarcastic comments at the adults liking YA, or the fact that she used the word "retarded". She is a strong character in spirit, standing up for others at times. I also like how the book tried to showcase her family life and her interactions with her family. Sometimes I feel like parents get pushed around in YA paranormal. Sam is shown as a bit special and different, though. She's not as susceptible to Caleb's charms. This is explained that it's because she is closed off and is a virgin.

I wasn't really a big fan of the romance. I'm really picky about romance in books and I don't really go for romance in books anymore. The romance in this book made me cringe. I admit it was sweet at times, but the romance was very quick. Sam went from being annoyed with Caleb, to liking Caleb very quickly. I love hate-to-love romances, but it has to be a slow one. I also don't like lust-based romances and because of Caleb's abilities, there was more lust involved in the storyline. I mentioned how I don't like books featuring love interests that every other girl wants. In other books it makes me sick because it shows girls as only wanting a boyfriend and competing with eachother. Thankfully, this book didn't do that. It did not read as very toxic examples as girls and it's explained that the "attraction" is due to Caleb's abilities, not any uber-hotness. Still, I thought it was odd that every girl would be interested (besides Sam).

IN CONCLUSION
Overall, this wasn't my cup of tea. I should have known that before reading it, but I was hopeful. There wasn't anything really new in YA paranormal to me, the romance made me cringe, and not enough happened in the story. I think there are people who may enjoy this series, as evident from the ratings, but it was disappointing for me. I won't be continuing the series.

I hereby give this book
2 Stars
Meaning: It was okay

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cover vs Cover: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This week's pick is...

Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1) VS.  Little White Lies (Debutantes, Book One)
Original                           Redesign
 I'm not real wild about either cover. I understand what they were going for with the redesign. This book is about debutantes, so I think it was trying to make that more clear, but the light colors makes me think of light contemporary, not mystery/thriller. I see that the girls are holding things behind their backs, but I don't remember enough of the book to understand the meaning behind that, which means someone who has yet to read the book certainly wouldn't. The original looks more like a mystery/thriller cover. The shattering roses look strange to me, but I think it catches someone's eye more than the redesign.
Final Verdict: Original
What do you think? Give me your thoughts on which cover is the best!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where we talk about the books we're waiting (a bit impatiently) for!

This week I am waiting for...


The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)
He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.
Release Date: October 15th, 2019


Why am I waiting?
I know this is a super popular series, but I finally got around to starting the series last month! Now I'm with everything else waiting for this book!
What book are you waiting for this week?

Monday, October 14, 2019

REVIEW: Crossed by Eliza Crewe



Crossed (Soul Eaters, #3)War is here.

Full-scale war has erupted between the Crusaders and demons and even Chi has to admit isn’t going well. Like any sensible rat, Meda’s eager to abandon the sinking ship but, unfortunately, her friends aren't nearly as pragmatic. Instead, Meda’s forced to try to keep them all alive until the dust settles.

As the Crusaders take more and more drastic measures, the tables turn and Meda suddenly finds herself in the role of voice of sanity. No one is more horrified than she is. When old enemies reappear as new allies and old friends become new enemies Meda has to decide—again—whose side she’s really on.

And then the Crusaders decide that Meda should go to Hell. Literally.

Can’t a monster ever catch a break? 

NOTICE: This is the third book of a series. See my review for book one here and my review for book two here.

MY THOUGHTS
I remember loving the previous books in the series. For some reason, it took me four years to get to this book. I was worried that my memory would fail me (as my memory can be terrible) and I would find that my tastes have changed. Thankfully, I didn't have any issues getting into this book. This book didn't get a full five stars like the last two books, but I can still say this is a great series.

War has broken out between the Crusaders and the demons, and the demons are winning. Countless Crusaders are dying and they're getting desperate. While Meda would love to leave and take her friends with her, her friends' loyalty to the Crusaders prevents her from doing that. The Crusaders, though, have a plan for Meda (one she definitely doesn't agree with) and worse still, Jo seems to be willing to do anything. Now, Meda will have to literally go to Hell.

Meda has such a strong voice in this book, and in the whole series. She is certainly different than other MCs. Her way of thinking is so different than what is considered "normal". She has a morbid sense of humor, she relishes in killing, and doesn't feel bad about thinking for herself. At the same time, she has loyalty towards her friends, especially Jo. While I don't remember everything from the last two books, I can tell that Meda has changed a lot since book one. She has very different feelings towards humans, yet she still feels very Meda.

While book two focused a lot of Meda, Jo felt like a stand-out character in this book. It's difficult to explain what Jo does without spoiling things, but in Jo's desperation to help the Crusaders, she undergoes a personality change. Again, since my memories are vague on details in the last books, I don't know how much her personality changed, but enough that it makes it difficult. Friendship is such a big deal in this book, and in the whole series. Very rarely do I see YA book focus on friendship rather than romance and this book does such a great job of it. As odd and dark as the story gets, Jo and Meda's friendship feels real. I also like how they don't take crap from each other and understand each other's sense of humor.

The ending of the book did confuse me. I wasn't really sure how things were resolved. Maybe that's because I didn't quite understand how the demons worked, that information must have been lost from my memory. I did like how the climactic moment, while about saving/destroying the world, was also about Jo and Meda.

IN CONCLUSION

Overall, this is a fantastic series! I wish I would've read this final book earlier when things were still fresh in my mind, but I'm glad I picked up the series in the first place! The series has really interesting ideas and really interesting characters, with morid humor, but I overall loved the focus on friendship!


I hereby give this book
4 Stars!
Meaning: I really liked this book!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

New Releases in YA! (October 15th-21st)

Every week I list all (or almost all) of the YA books (and the occasional MG) that are coming out within that week!
There's not much coming out this week, but here's what you get to look forward:
P.S. Click on the book's cover for the Goodreads page!


Did I miss any books?
What books, if any, do you plan to read?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Short and Simple Reviews: The One and Only Ivan, Planet Earth is Blue, and Sadie

This is a place for books that I didn't fully review.
Maybe I listed my likes and dislikes, had a little short paragraph, or a few sentences to convey my feelings on the book, but whatever the "review" is, all of them are short and simple. (hence the clever name)


The One and Only Ivan
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository


Review
I listened to this book fully on audiobook and, while I missed out on the wonderful illustrations, I absolutely loved this book. The audiobook was wonderfully narrated and through the narration, I could clearly tell how wonderfully written the book is. It gave a voice to Ivan. I loved hearing about his love for painting, and I loved hearing his story, even though it was heart-wrenching at times. This is not the happiest of stories, but I loved all the animals at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade (and Julie), and I felt such a connection to them. This is the first book I've read by Katherine Applegate alone (I've previously read Eve & Adam , which she wrote with her husband, Michael Grant). I own Crenshaw and Wishtree and they have definitely moved up on my TBR list. Overall, this was a fantastic book, and I recommend it to all ages.
 I hereby give this book
5 Stars
Meaning: A new favorite!




Planet Earth Is Blue
A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space
exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger--it's the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.

While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can't express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova's new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she's counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she'll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, "No matter what, I'll be there. I promise."

To decode the list and find the Big One, June and Indigo enlist the help of some new friends in Red Bank and turn the town upside down in their search. But the most surprising mystery of all may be what brought June to Red Bank in the first place—and what is most valuable to her in the end.

  
  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository



Review
This is such a wonderfully written book, but also a very hard book to read. I've never read a book that takes place during the Challenger tragedy. Reading this book, it hurt to see Nova counting down to the Challenger launch because we all know now what happened to Challenger and I did not want Nova's heart to break. This book does have so much more to it. There's the fact that the main character is autistic and nonverbal, something I've never seen in MG/YA, but I was glad to see it because we need the representation! The copy I had included a note that mentioned that the author wanted to show a positive foster home. That was one of the few happy things about this book. Nova and her older sister have been in not-so-great foster homes, but now Nova is in a foster home by herself. Her foster family does their best to include Nova and they don't force her to do anything she doesn't want to do. Besides her sister, they are some of the first people to recognize that just because she doesn't speak, doesn't mean that she's not smart. I also loved Nova and her classmates. This book overall is a heartwrenching read, but you do get those bittersweet moments. 
I hereby give this book
4 Stars
Meaning: It was amazing!


Sadie

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page. 



Review
When this book first came out, I kind of ignored the hype, but now that I've gotten a chance to read it, I'm glad that I picked it up. This is not an easy story, it discusses a lot of difficult subjects, but it discusses subjects that aren't always discussed. Namely, this book focuses on a missing girl, but it's more than a story about a missing girl, and the girl is not just "another runaway". Sadie's story is intertwined with a podcast that is trying to find out what happened to Sadie. This was such an interesting narrative style and it worked perfectly for the book. The ending is very open-ended, but that also worked with this particular story. We don't always get answers and don't always find out what happened. Overall, this was a great book and fantastically written.
 I hereby give this book
4 Stars
Meaning: It was amazing!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Cover Lust: We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler

Cover Lust is something that I do every other week where I feature a book cover that I absolutely love!


42729349A stunning, multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later.

In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home, flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways--the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.

Fifty years later, Victoria's sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can't imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie's mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria's death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.

Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family's days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie's age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother's life, Callie decides to use Victoria's circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.

Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.


Why did I pick this cover? 
This cover made me want to read this book! It's beautiful and it made me wonder what this book was about. After reading this book I can say that it fits the theme. The book features two different perspectives, fifty years apart. Both are tightrope walkers, but one has just joined the circus and one has just left. I think this is a gorgeous way to show these two perspectives and the colors, from the dark, almost sephia, to the bright blue, are so eye-catching.
What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

REVIEW: Darkhouse by Karina Halle

Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)

Enter the world of the highly-acclaimed Experiment in Terror Series by visiting...the Darkhouse:

There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts.

Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.



MY THOUGHTS
In 2012, when I first downloaded this book, this book had a lot of hype surrounding it. So many blogs I followed were recommending it. Like a lot of other ebook freebies, it ended up sitting in my Amazon library for seven years. I finally got around to reading it, and while I liked the spooky plot, it wasn't the amazing ghost story I expected.

Perry is a recent college graduate with a job as a receptionist that she doesn't care about. When she goes over to her Uncle's for the weekend, she decides to explore the defunct lighthouse on her Uncle's property. The lighthouse is properly spooky and it bears resemblance to recent nightmares of Perry's. While there, she runs into a man named Dex, who is exploring the lighthouse. Perry doesn't think anything of it and she posts spooky footage of the lighthouse online. Her posts become a hit and she gets a call from Dex. Dex is starting a new ghost hunting show and he wants Perry to help.

Even though I frighten very easily, I like reading ghost stories. I find them incredibly intriguing, and terrifying. Darkhouse has the perfect set-up of a ghost story. We start by seeing Perry's nightmare and while I usually hate it when books start with a dream sequence, I like how it tied in with the creepiness of the book. The lighthouse is absolutely terrifying. Halle does a fantastic job of building up the suspense in the lighthouse scenes and building up the mystery. What was a disappointment to me, though, is that the build did not go anywhere. We do get an insane scene in the lighthouse that feels climatic and was likely intended to be climatic, but I didn't get answers. I understand that this is meant to be the first book in a series, but each book (as far as I can tell) has a different ghost story. This one did not feel complete. Everything we know about the lighthouse is speculation. No one knows what really happened and usually, that's what ghosty books explore. There was also no explanation as to why the ghost was haunting the lighthouse.

I went back and forth throughout the book about whether I liked Perry. I think she is somewhere in the middle. She was relatable at times. That's one of the good things about me taking so long to read this book because I'm now around the same age as Perry, so I understand how awkward the time after college can be. Other times I felt like the book was trying too hard to show that she's different from other girls (She wears black! She doesn't like pop music!), which always worries me in books. Overall, though, she was a decent MC.

Dex was a problem, though. I really didn't like Dex which greatly impacted my feelings towards this book, and maybe that also impacted my feelings towards Perry because I couldn't understand what she saw in him. She was annoyed by him, but she also liked him. Dex is a butt, to put it lightly. He is thirty-three years old and acts like a twelve-year-old. He is constantly mean and annoying to Perry. There is one time he stands up to his boss after his boss calls Perry fat, but it felt out of character for him. Dex uses the words "retarded" and "gay" to describe things he doesn't like. Dex also calls Perry kiddo all the time. That may not sound like an issue, but based on other reviews, Dex and Perry eventually become a thing. There may not be a big age difference between them, but if Dex considers Perry a kid, then the idea of them becoming romantically involved makes me uncomfortable. Thankfully, there was no romance between them in this book.

IN CONCLUSION
Overall, I liked the spooky elements in this book and it was a great way to kick-off the Halloween season, but there wasn't closure to the ghost story. I also really didn't like Dex. There were some mysterious elements that intrigued me. I wanted to know more about Perry's history with ghosts and why the clown lady kept showing up. I get the feeling that this will be addressed in the next books. I've heard that the books will get better, but I don't think I will be continuing. This is mostly because while there was no romance in this book, I know it will happen at some point in the series and I really don't want to see that. I can't stand Dex. There are other creepy ghost books I can read that will have characters I like.



I hereby give this book
3 Stars

Meaning: I liked it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where we talk about the books we're waiting (a bit impatiently) for!

This week I am waiting for...
A Constellation of Roses


Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.
Release Date: September 24th, 2019


Why am I waiting?
I haven't read the author's first book, but I always want to read YA books that take place in Kansas! Also, I'm a sucker for books with magical realism.
What book are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Stacking the Shelves/September in Review



Hosted by Tynga's ReviewsStacking the Shelves is where all the booknerds can post about the lovely (or not so lovely) books that we've read, acquired, or discovered.

This post is going up a bit late! I originally wanted to post this the last weekend of September, but I had LASIK that Friday, so I thought it was best to put some blog stuff on hold (I did listen to a lot of audiobooks though). The first week of this month I ended up with a cold. I'm sort of better now (I still have a bit of a cough). Anyway, here's my September in books.

Books Read


Books Bought


Trade


Books Reviewed

Short & Simple


New Discoveries
I DID NOT RECEIVE OR BUY THESE BOOKS. I only added them to my TBR list.

How was your September?