Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Between Us and The Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Title: Between Us and The Moon
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 30th, 2015
Pages: 384 (eGalley)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon Author 

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett. 

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

The start of Sarah's summer isn't ideal.  In fact, she's blindsided by her boyfriend's decision to break up.  Suddenly, her annual escape to Cape Cod is much more needed than she could have imagined.  She's always known that she isn't like most other girls, especially her older sister Scarlett.  Scarlett is the type of girl that guys want and girls dream of becoming.  Sarah just studies meteors through the lens of her telescope.  Over the summer, Sarah decides to take some tips from her sister just to see what happens.  She never imagined falling for an older boy because of it.

Sarah had her summer all mapped out.  She was going to focus on her studies, but when she meets Andrew, her plans get away from her.  Although she's dressing more like her sister and giving off more confidence than she normally would, what keeps him interested in her is the fact that she's everything most girls aren't.  She's nerdy, quirky and different, and it's very clear from the start that Andrew is interested in that.  For the most part, Sarah doesn't lie to him, but what lie she does tell is a big one.  She's tells him that she's about to start college, when in reality, she's only 16 and he's almost 20 years old.

Sometimes it's hard to read books where relationships are formed from a lie, but I actually really loved this story.  Sarah was smart, but she was still immature and insecure, which is pretty realistic for someone her age.  She grows a lot over the course of this story, not only in accepting herself, but by taking responsibility for her actions.  Looking past her lie, the bond that forms between Sarah and Andrew is a great one.  He's everything you hope for in a summer romance and the connection they had made me hold onto hope, even though I had an idea of how things would end.  It's complicated and messy, but there was something there that had great potential.

Between Us and The Moon is an awesome summer read.  One of my favorite things about this book is that the author doesn't shy away from making the romance as realistic as possible, including passionate scenes between the couple that will make your own skin tingle.  While I don't think that this book will be for everyone, it's great for fans of wonderfully written coming-of-age stories.

Review: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Title: A Million Miles Away
Author: Lara Avery
Publisher: Poppy
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: July 7th, 2015
Pages: 320 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon Author 

When high school senior Kelsey's identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn't know about the tragedy is Michelle's boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can't bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister. 

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can't deny that she's falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn't want.

Michelle is wild and passionate.  When she brings another stray home, Kelsey rolls her eyes.  She doesn't even need to meet Peter to know that her sister will end up heartbroken again until she moves onto the next.  Kelsey realizes that she misjudged the situation, because it becomes very clear that they care for each other deeply in a way that she's never seen before.  Peter ships out to Afghanistan first thing in the morning, but Michelle never returns home after driving him to the airport.

When Kelsey receives the news that her twin sister has passed away, one of the first things on her mind is Peter.  He needed to know, but she had no way to contact him.  She didn't know where his base was, and she didn't even know his last name.  Her parents dealt with their grief in a completely different way, so although Kelsey still had them and her friends, she began to feel completely alone.  That is, until one night, Peter contacted her.

I liked Kelsey.  I could relate to her when it comes to losing a loved one, but I can't imagine how painful it had to be to even look at herself in the mirror and be reminded of what she's lost.  It's very easy to understand why she would do what she did and lead Peter to believe that she was Michelle.  She didn't want to let her sister go, either.  Soon, he became the only person that she could truly connect with.  He admits that she's what's giving him strength, and she decides that the best time to tell him would be when he's no longer in danger.  Unfortunately, the entire situation spins out of control very quickly and Kelsey begins to lose her footing.

A Million Miles Away is about the struggle of losing a loved one and losing yourself.  The grief that the family went though and relationship between Kelsey and Peter were both very realistic.  Although there's so much deception within these pages, you can't help but root for them, because it's clear that she's not lying to be malicious.  This is a quick, yet wonderful, read that will leave you with many emotions.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Wrap-Up and July TBR

I'm not doing very well when it comes to following a schedule!  I just keep picking up books that I didn't put on my TBR, so this month I'll try to be more flexible.

Anyway, June was a good month for me!  I turned 23 on the 16th and I was able to finish some great stories.

The books I managed to read in June:
-Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
-Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
-The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
-Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
-The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
-A Million Miles Away be Lara Avery

I've been reading books faster than I can review them. which has become a bad habit, since I'm pretty far behind at the moment.

The books I plan to read in July:

Keeping the list so short, I'm not setting myself up for failure and I actually have the room to pick and choose books from my shelves or anything I might get in the mail!  Maybe I'll even get around to reading some books I never got to in June!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 16th, 2015
Pages: 304 (eGalley)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author 

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life. 

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan. 

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of. 

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

One summer night, Ella meets a boy who turns her world upside down. They share 12 hours together that they'll never forget, a night that sparks a romance between the two that lasts for months, but then Matt leaves without so much as a goodbye.  Everyone who grew fond of Matt feels his betrayal, but not like Ella.  Without closure, she can't move on.  When Matt returns, everyone struggles to forget the past 6 months and the pain they were put through when he disappeared, so they decide to relive the night that they said yes to everything.

This book takes place over the span of one night, but the chapters alternate between Then and Now.  Seeing how the characters have changed now that so much has happened between them kept me interested.  I wanted to find out why Matt just left and cut off all contact with his friends the way that he did, because I could definitely relate to Ella.  As for the characters, I felt that most of them were just a little immature for me to really connect with.

The Night We Said Yes took me almost a month to get through, despite being a shorter book.  When I picked it up, nothing stood out.  Once I finally finished it, I felt that it was a good story, but there are just more exciting books that I could have been reading instead.  While Ella and Matt were the sweet couple, Meg and Jake were the most interesting to read about.  Their relationship wasn't the healthiest, but they had the kind of romance that you hope the best for.

Overall, this was a nice story about four best friends, second chances, and a night of fond memories.  Saying "yes" to everything is what originally brought them all together, so when they're given the opportunity to relive the best moments, they see if it helps them remember what they'd forgotten.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #97

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Boy Most Likely To
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house 

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters. 

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. 

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.  
And Alice is caught in the middle.

I was a huge fan of Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door.  Finally, readers get a companion novel and its release can't come soon enough!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Pages: 320 (eGalley)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads |AmazonAuthor

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. 

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Aza has struggled to breathe her entire life.  For her sixteenth birthday, she gets the only thing she's ever wanted; she gets better.  The only problem is that she isn't home anymore...at least not the home she's always known.  She's taken by an airship that no one else seems to see, learning that these strange people are her real family, and that the reason she couldn't breathe on earth is because she was never meant to.

I was so incredibly intrigued by the sound of this story that I had to drop every other book and read it as soon as possible.  The writing style is very different from what I'm normally used to, and for the first half of the book, that put me off a little.  It's very odd, yet it really matches the fantasy of Magonia.  The author made each character stand out and it was so easy to imagine all of the details, which is what made me push through the story, although I didn't quite connect with any of the characters the way I hoped to.

Aza isn't the most likable character, but to be fair, she goes through so much in such a little amount of time.  She dies and comes back as an otherworldly creature, trying to fit in with a ragtag group of bird-people in a completely unfamiliar place.  She loses her family and gains another.  Her two worlds collide and she has to figure out who to stand by.  There was so much happening by the end of the story, I couldn't help but get immersed in this book.

With a rather slow beginning, it's easy to see why many would stop before Aza's story really develops, but I am very happy that I continued.  I loved the magic of it all, I just wished that the readers could have learned more about this new land.  Magonia is still a bit of a mystery, which is a little disappointing, but I will gladly continue the series in hopes of more information.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June Book Haul

-What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
(ARC from Sourcebooks)


-Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
-Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier
-A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
(eGalleys from Bloomsbury, Sourcebooks Fire, and Harlequin Teen)

-Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
-Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
(eGalleys from Little, Brown and Poppy)

-A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
-Another Day by David Levithan
(eGalleys from Poppy and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)


-Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
-Future Perfect by Jen Larsen
-Very in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore
(eGalleys from Greenwillow Books and HarperTeen)

-Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
-Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
-The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
(eGalleys from Balzer + Bray, Simon & Schuster and HarperTeen)

-Light of Day by Allison Van Diepen
-Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius
(eGalleys from HarperTeen and Simon Pulse)

I read What You Left Behind and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between as soon as I got my hands on them, and I have a feeling that I won't be able to wait long before I read Another Day, seeing as that's one of my most anticipated books of 2015!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #96

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Madly
Author: Amy Alward
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn. 

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? 

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then.

I was interested as soon as I read the first sentence of the summary.  A girl who falls in love with her own reflection by mistake?  Madly sounds like it'll be pretty funny and different from some of the books I normally like to read.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review: The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath & The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy/Retelling
Release date: May 12th, 2015
Pages: 395 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. 

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

The Wrath & The Dawn is one of the most beautifully written books I've read in a long time.  When Sharhzad's best friend is taken and murdered in cold blood, she does the only thing she can think of to get revenge.  She volunteers to be the Caliph's next wife so she can be the one to put an end to the man who murdered so many other innocent women before her.  If she can make it to dawn without being executed, Sharhzad will be the first woman to ever do so, thus gaining Khalid's trust.  Once she has his trust, it's all over.

Quite honestly, this isn't the type of book that I would normally reach for.  By just the description, I was intrigued, but not enough to dive in headfirst.  One night, before I knew anything about the book, I had a dream about it.  Upon waking up, I didn't look into it, because I wasn't able to catch the title or the author, only it's magnificent bright red cover.  A few days later I was invited to join the author for dinner while she was in town, and I knew I had to preorder a copy.  I'm so, so glad that I did, because The Wrath & The Dawn is one of my absolute favorite books now.  I became so engrossed, I forgot about the world around me for the few hours it took me to finish Sharhzad's incredible story, which doesn't happen often.

Sharhzad is such a strong character, and she holds everything together so well for someone so hell-bent on getting revenge.  Actually, it was hard not to feel for everyone involved, even Kahlid, the supposed monster.  Each night, she tells him a story before bed, and over the time they spend together, you begin to see a different side to the Caliph that no one else has ever seen before.  The romance that blooms in front of your eyes is incredibly satisfying.  Some scenes were absolutely written to make you tingle.

Though I'm not familiar with A Thousand and One Nights, which this story is based off of, I found it very easy to get lost in.  I fell in love with everything, from the forbidden romance to the enticing reason behind why Khalid must marry a new woman each night and have her executed by sunrise.  The Wrath & The Dawn is the best book I've read this year so far, and it's an incredible start to a new series that you won't want to miss!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

Title: The Cost of All Things
Author: Maggie Lehrman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Magical Realism
Release date: May 12th, 2015
Pages: 416 (eGalley)
Rating: 2 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

What would you pay to cure your heartbreak? Banish your sadness? Transform your looks? The right spell can fix anything…. When Ari's boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember. 

Told from four different points of view, this original and affecting novel weaves past and present in a suspenseful narrative that unveils the truth behind a terrible tragedy.

Everyone in town knows that when you have a problem, it can be fixed for a price.  Unattractive people turn desirable, lonely people turn popular, and hekamists can even make you forget the very thing that haunts your dreams at night.  When Ari's boyfriend dies unexpectedly, she feels that her only option for a happy future is to wish him away.  She pays for a permanent spell to make her forget that he ever existed, and she ignores the warning that if she's had spells put on her before, the magic will cause bad side effects.  To her, anything is worth getting rid of this pain.  Suddenly, her life is turned upside down.  The only other thing she's ever known is being ripped away from her, and because of the spell, she can't even remember a good reason as to why this is happening.

The Cost of All Things is written from multiple perspectives, which I typically love, but I felt that none of these characters had anything to offer me.  The premise was enough to keep me interested, and I wanted to learn more about Win's untimely demise, but it was difficult to empathize with anyone, which is the most important factor in storytelling for me.  Quite honestly, I could see myself making a snap decision like Ari after losing someone close to me.  No one wants to be in pain.  I just didn't care for the way she lied to all the people she loved afterwards.

As a matter of fact, it wasn't just Ari that struck a nerve.  All of the characters were pretty selfish, which disappointed me.  They weren't there for each other when they needed friendship the most.  Kay tried to make that happen, but she did it in the worst way possible.  She spelled them unknowingly so they couldn't leave her, even if they wanted to.  Again, I can understand why she would feel the need to do that, but it made me like her character less and less as I continued to read on.  Aside from the characters and their own slew of personal problems, I thought that this book had an interesting take on magic and what can happen if you don't use it sparingly.

I love magical realism and it's not a genre that I find very often, so I was really quite excited to read The Cost of All Things.  Unfortunately it took me over a week to get through all of it, because the story just didn't grab my attention the way that many others tend to.  I thought about putting it down for good a few times, but I stuck with it just to see how things would turn out.  While it had some good messages about making mistakes and holding onto the ones you love, I just didn't find this story very enjoyable.