Review: Paper Towns by John Green

paper townsTitle/Author: Paper Towns by John Green
Publisher/Year: Speak on September 22, 2009
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Nope.
Other Books by Author: The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines
How I got this Book: Purchased
Summary From Goodreads: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

My Thoughts copy

 

I’m going to start off by saying that I think that Paper Towns has been my favourite John Green novel to date. I was so absorbed by the content in this book that I had trouble focusing on any other task at hand! The plot moved swiftly, and was paced very well leaving my unable to put the book down for only very short intervals!!!

Paper Towns is centred around a boy named Quentin, or Q, for short, who has been admiring his love, Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar for far too many years. They used to be friends when they were younger, but time has torn them apart. However, on one fateful night in Q’s high school life, Margo climbs back into his life – literally! She crawls through his bedroom window in the middle of the night wanting his help on an epic nighttime revenge adventure. I think that this part may have been my favourite part of the book. Their dangerous, rule breaking escapades had me living on the edge vicariously through their story. It was fun for me, because I’m always the person who never breaks the rules, and never even comes close to toeing the line of rebellion. Anyway, after their super fun night out, Margo has mysteriously disappeared, but not without leaving a couple of clues behind.

Quentin takes it upon himself to look for Margo with all his might. And boy does he take his search seriously. I can’t imagine being able to piece together little tiny bits of information from the past with very, VERY subtle clues in order to find my friend. Even if I really wanted to and was trying with all my might! So props to Q for that one. Throughout the course of this novel, Q grows in so many ways, and is on his way to becoming part of a new person. I’m always a sucker for some good character development! Ben and Radar, Q’s friends are two of the most funny characters in the book, and I was always glad to read about them. As for Margo, she really is a mystery.

One more thing to note about this book is that although it may seem pretty heavy in terms of content, it is laced with humour on every page. Reading this book is easy and fun and interesting and I encourage everyone to do so.

Final ThoughtsLike I said above, this is my favourite John Green book. I don’t really know why, because I also really love Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. Paper Towns just has some sort of intangible amazing quality about it that I cannot describe, but is experienced when it is read. If you are looking for a witty, funny mysterious novel written from a male POV, then this is the book for you!

5 hearts

Favourite Quote

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

Second opinions

Jamie says that Paper Towns is “witty, heartwarming, and quirky.”

Estelle says “READ THIS NOW.”

Talk to me

Have you read Paper Towns? What did you think of it? Have you read anything else by John Green? Do you have any suggestions of books similar to this one? LET ME KNOW! :)

Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

First things first, let me apologize for my absence this summer. I thought I was going to have way more time to blog, but life got in the way, even after I posted my Hiatus is Over post!!! :( I wish I had had more time for blogging this summer, and even my reading took a hit! However, I am back, and I am here to stay! (*fingers crossed*)

I have spent a lot of time getting myself organized for this school year’s classes as well as planning and scheduling a lot of blog posts. I really hope that I will be able to keep this up, and I will strive my hardest to keep this blog up and running. And now, onto the review!!! :D

also known asTitle/Author: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publisher/Year: Walker Books for Young Readers on February 26, 2013
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Genre: YA Contemporary/Spy Thriller/Romance
Series: Yes!
Other Books by Author: Going Rogue (Also Known As #2); Audrey, Wait!; The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June
How I got this Book: Purchased
Summary From Goodreads: Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world’s greatest spies don’t have a mission plan for love.

My Thoughts copy

I will admit, due to falling behind on blogging I am writing this review about a month after I finished reading this book, which is going to be difficult. However, it is not going to be as difficult as it would have been if I were writing a review about a book I didn’t love! So that’s what I going to start off with – I LOVED Also Known As and (mostly) everything about it. It was downright hilarious, had awesome characters (main characters as well as secondary), and had an interesting mystery plot too!

Firstly, how often do you read a book about a girl who grew up in a family of spies?! Not often enough is the answer to that question! I thank Robin Benway for writing a superb spy-girl novel that is as equally hilarious and heartwarming as it is witty and smart. Maggie, the MC of the book, is a teen safecracker who works for a spy agency called The Collective. Her first solo assignment is set in New York City, and involves cracking the safe (who knew? ;P) of a person who poses the threat of releasing the identities of many of the espionage agents who work for The Collective. NO PRESSURE, HUH?

Maggie, who has never really had the chance to be a teenager in the real world before, gets to go to high school! How exciting is that! Well, I guess for most of us it’s not that big of a deal, but for Maggie the opportunity to be around hundreds of peers her age is the most appealing thing in the world. At school she meets Roux, a quirky, rebellious teenager who has fallen from her high rungs on the social ladder due to some relationship drama. They become fast friends, and Roux helps Maggie come out of her shell, as well as helping Maggie out with a little boy trouble of her own.

The boy in question is Jesse Oliver. Doesn’t that just sound like the name of a smart, attractive teenage boy? Although Jesse wasn’t all that special to me, he was utterly fantastic for Maggie! I wouldn’t call their relationship instalove, but I would say that the whole thing was a little fast paced for my own liking. But, I think that had to do with Maggie’s lack of real-life experience and the fact that an apparently perfect boy just dropped out of the sky for her! So, all the power to her.

My favourite character was Angelo, no question about it. He’s like your cool Aunt, or your best friend’s dad who is just totally awesome and gives you great advice and life tips. Whenever there was a scene involving him, I couldn’t help but picture him as Michael Caine in his role as Victory in Miss Congeniality. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know. But that’s how I pictured him speaking and acting!

Final Thoughts

You will want to read this amazingly cute and laugh out loud book all in one sitting. Also Known As has it all! A spy girl, a super awesome best friend, a cute boy, a witty and helpful adult friend, and best of all – a mystery.

5 hearts

Second opinions

Brittany says “it’s super, super cute.”

Alexa says Also Known As is “laugh out loud funny [and] packed with superb characters.”

Judith says that “this book may cause uncontrollable giggling and/or the unability to wipe that smile from your face.”
Talk to me

Have you read Also Known As? What did you think of it? Have you read anything else by Robin Benway? Do you have any suggestions of books similar to this one? LET ME KNOW! :)

HIATUS IS OVER!!!! An update on my life for the past five months + Single Sentence Reviews of all the books I’ve read in that time!

I’m baaaaaaack!!!!

I’m so sorry that I disappeared without a trace, but I am so thankful to all of you lovely people who stuck around with me on twitter and tumblr, and who will pick right up where they left off with me! <3 I love you guys! But my life has definitely not been the same without blogging and the wonderful friends I’ve made through blogosphere. I’m so excited to be back online!

giphy

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to for the last five months! Well, mostly school stuff. Second term was a lot busier than first term, and I had a lot more meetings and training sessions to attend to prepare me to be a Frosh Week leader for September! I successfully completed my first year of university, and discovered where my passions lie. I will be pursuing an English Major degree with a minor in math. These are the two subjects that I want to teach when I become a teacher.

I also just had my first ever student teaching placement, and it was in a full day kindergarten class for two weeks.  It was so much fun, and the little kiddies were so adorable!!! It was an eye opening experience, and I learned a lot. I’m glad that I got placed with such a young group, because it is basically the complete opposite end of the age spectrum of who I want to teach – which is high schoolers.

I also signed the lease on a house with four of my friends that I made at school this year, and I can’t wait to move in and live independently next year. I mean, I was in residence this year, which is independent, but it is no where near as much responsibility as living in your own house where you need to cook and clean for yourself.

Now, let us move on to talk about all of the books I’ve read in that time!

Natalie’s Single Sentence Reviews

OK. OK. They’re not all single sentences… but they’re short.

3-59the perks of being a wallflowerallegiantmy life next door image

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

This book was the perfect blend of creepy and alternate universes.
5 hearts

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it was still an okay read.
3 hearts

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

 I really enjoyed how Veronica Roth ended off the Divergent Trilogy with Allegiant, despite what a lot of others have said about this book.
4.5 hearts

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This was one of the cutest books I’ve read in a while, and I loved the twist at the end!  I also fell in love with the entire Garrett family, and would love to have them as my own next door neighbours! I can’t wait to read What I Thought Was True!!!
5 hearts

Anna and the French Kisssmart girls get what they want angus thongs and full frontal snogging the fault in our stars

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss did not let me down after I heard all of my blogging buddies raving about it! I need to find myself a St. Clair. *swoons*
5 hearts

Smart GIrls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

I absolutely adored the main character Gigi, and was able to relate to her and to her relationships with her two best friends.
5 hearts

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

I didn’t find this book as hilarious as I know loads of other people have, but it was still a quick and enjoyable read for me.
3 hearts

The Fault in Our Stars

Let’s just say that when you get to the end of TFiOS you won’t want to be reading it in a classroom full of students… the tears will still come even if you will them to stop.
4.5 hearts

Love and other perishable itemswhy we broke uphopelesssiege and storm

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

This book was refreshingly real–the characters, the plot, and all the emotions.  I devoured this book over one night and one morning. I quite enjoyed how the story was told in chunks by the two MCs because it really allowed me to understand their feelings. All in all this was a really good book, it just lacked the WOW factor for me.
4 hearts

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

This one was a DNF for me. I got about 80 pages in and it was just so repetitive and whiny. I was rather upset because I ADORED A Series of Unfortunate Events.

DNF

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

I literally have no words to even begin to explain how amazingly wonderful this book is. If you take my word, and only my word for just one book, this is the one you should take it for.
5 hearts

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

The second instalment in Leigh’s Grisha Trilogy, this book was just as fantastic – perhaps even more so – as the first!
5 hearts

perfect chemistryhyperbole and a halfcrankthe infinite moment of us

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

This book was your classic “good girl” meets “bad boy” book and it was enjoyable but nothing special.
3 hearts

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

If you want a book that will make you laugh until you cry, and also give you a new perspective on serious issues like depression, this book full of short stories with hilarious illustrations is for you!
5 hearts

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

This book grabs ahold of your heart and doesn’t let you go until you finish the very last page.
4 hearts

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Something about this book didn’t sit quite right with me, and I think it was the writing that was somewhat colloquial at all of the wrong times.
2.5 hearts

anatomy lessondead girls dont write letterssince youve been gonecity of ashes

Anatomy Lesson by Matt Spadafora

(This book is going to get a little bit longer of a review than the other ones.) (Also my review of this book is not biased in any way.) Anatomy Lesson is a book of short stories written by my good friend Matt Spadafora. He took a “Making a Book” class in his last year of university and successfully wrote and published this book! The interesting concept is that each of these short stories revolve around a memory about a part of his body. Some of them are hilarious, some are revolting, and some of them hurt your heart. Also another major selling point about this book is that I’m mentioned ;)
5 hearts

You can purchase Matt’s book online from Amazon, and you can read more of Matt’s writing on his blog, Mathew John Writes.

Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles

This one is a very quick read, but will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and you’ll never know what to think about everything!
4 hearts

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

I can’t get over how amazing this book was!!! I fell in love with the characters and the story and I literally have no bad things to say about this! And the cover is super cute too :)
5 hearts

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

I didn’t love this book as much as the first TMI book, City of Bones, but I still liked it! I’m excited to read the rest of this series, and City of Glass is coming up soon in my TBR pile.
4.5 hearts

the replacementevery dayThe programwhere the stars still shine

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Creepy, weird book that didn’t seem well thought out, and left too many questions unanswered for my liking.
2 hearts

Every Day by David Levithan

The concept of this book is very interesting, but lacked slightly in execution. The writing was beautiful, but the story itself felt repetitive and drawn out.
3 hearts

The Program by Suzanne Young

I literally could not put this book down. The characters and the superbly unique plot had me captivated from the very first page.
5 hearts

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Phenomenal writing and exquisite characters and development = TEARS. In a word? Flawless
5 hearts

Well, there you have it. A complete list of short review of all of the books I’ve read in the time since I let blogged (minus finishing a couple of series that I want to write about in separate posts.) Thank you for sticking with me and welcoming me back into the blogosphere with open arms!!! I’m so happy to be back :)

ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic_HC_JKT_des4.inddTitle/Author: Panic by Lauren Oliver
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins on March 4, 2014
Rating: ✮✮✮½
Genre: YA Thriller/Contemporary
Series: Nope. STANDALONE!
Other Books by Author: Delirium Series, Before I Fall
How I got this Book: ARC provided to me from HarperCollins Canada in exchange fr an honest review. Thank you! Here’s a link the book on their website.
Summary From Goodreads: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

My Thoughts copy

Panic is a game that is played every summer in a town called Carp, where there is nothing else fun to do. It’s a dangerous game – people have lost their lives in the past, or have become seriously injured. Essentially, the game is full of dangerous tasks, and the last few people to complete each on are eliminated. The last man standing wins a pot of $64,000 – enough money to make a new life for themselves outside of Carp.

Heather and Dodge both have their own reasons for entering the game, and both of them are in it to win it. I personally would never enter a game like this!!! Some of the tasks they had to complete are INSANE, and I would never ever risk my life to win some money. Anyway, throughout the story, we discover why each character has entered the game and what they want to use the money for. We also learn secrets about other characters in the story, and where everyone’s true motivation lies.

Lauren Oliver wrote Panic from dual POV, which I am usually not a fan of, but she pulled it off well enough. While not written in the first person, we still got a good glimpse into the mind of each main character. I do think that writing in the first person would have added more to the story for me, and would have allowed for more evidence of character development and growth. And I give Oliver major points for not having the two MCs be each other’s love interests!!! I was delighted when I realized that they weren’t going to fall for each other, and that they were both interested in other people. It was unexpected (especially in the case of dual POV) and I applaud the choice.

Even though I wasn’t completely enthralled by Lauren’s writing this time (which was a shame, because I absolutely adored Delirium and Before I Fall) I was still unable to put the book down because the plot was riveting! I always needed to know what was going to happen next, and what the next dangerous task was going to be. Unfortunately, when I reached the end of the book it just didn’t hold up to the same standards at the beginning and middle. To me, it felt rushed and didn’t pack the same punch as the rest of the book.

Final Thoughts

Panic by Lauren Oliver was an attention grabbing, action packed book, with a slightly lacklustre ending. The writing is not as great as the rest of Oliver’s work, and I don’t recommend this to be your first read by this author! (If only for the fact that her other books are in my opinion better written and more captivating and interesting.) Overall, I still thought this book was an enjoyable read, I just would have liked some more depth and growth in the characters.

3.5 hearts

Favourite Quote

Taken from the ARC:

“It was so strange, the way that life moved forward: the twists and the dead ends, the sudden opportunities. She supposed if you could predict or foresee everything that was going to happen, you’d lose the motivation to go through it all. The promise was always in the possibility.”

Second opinions

Christina says, “It’s fast-paced, high octane, and a definite page-turner,” and gave it 3.5 stars!

Nikki highly recommends Panic and gave it 4.5 stars!
Talk to me

Have you read Panic? What did you think of it? Have you read anything else by Lauren Oliver? If you haven’t read it yet, do you think you’re going to add it to your TBR? And what are your thoughts on the dangerous game of Panic?? LET ME KNOW! :)

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirlTitle/Author: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press on September 13, 2013
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Series: Nope. STANDALONE!
Other Books by Author: Attachments, Eleanor & Park
How I got this Book: Finished copy sent to me from St. Martin’s Press. Thanks!
Summary From Goodreads: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts copy

Wow. That’s the first and only word I can think of to start off this review. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was just perfect in every aspect. Fangirl centres around Cath and her sister Wren and their transition into University as freshman students. Reading this after having only been at university for a month myself, I was able to relate very easily to the feelings that Cath was having. Although I know that I am a much more outgoing person than Cath, I could very easily imagine a person in my position who is not feeling the exact same way, and I thought that was great.

Rainbow Rowell also created extremely realistic relationships in Fangirl. And when I say this, I mean all of them. Cath and her sister, Wren; Cath and her father; Cath and her absent mother; Cath and her roomate; Cath and Levi. In every single situation that each of these relationships were submersed in, the way that they acted and interacted together felt genuine and real. Now, speaking of relationships, this leads me to Levi.

Levi. Ohhhhhh Levi. What’s not to love? He loves coffee… and I don’t really want to say too much else about him, because learning all about him and how his relationship with Cath evolves is one of the best parts of the book. I’ll leave that part for Rowell to take care of ;) But one thing that I especially love about the romance in this novel is that although it is a main part of the book, it doesn’t ever really take centre stage, and it shares the spotlight with other important aspects of the story.

Fangirl touches on a lot of different topics, and does it well, never going too much overboard with one and forgetting about the other. There is a perfect balance between all of them. This book has it all: a girl who had a perfect, easy time in high school thanks to a great relationship with her twin sister/best friend and all the perks that brought about, but who needs to break out of her shell now that she’s in university and on her own; a father who has raised his two daughters wonderfully, despite experiencing worsening depression; and a wonderful relationship that slowly develops between to people who are so different and yet so alike.

Final ThoughtsI have nothing bad to say about Fangirl at all. Cath was a wonderful, relatable character who I would love to be friends with. Levi was, well, Levi. Rainbow wrote a book that I will love for years and years to come, and that became an immediate favourite once I was finished.

5 hearts

what monica thoughtY’all remember Monica, right? Well she had her first guest post here on Books, etc. just a few days ago! Anyway, I thought it would be fun if she shared some of her thoughts on Fangirl with the rest of you too, so here they are:

I cannot think of one major thing that I disliked in Fangirl. My favourite part was how relatable it was.  Since I’m a first year student at university too, I could really relate to what Cath was going through with a new school.  I could just picture this story happening as if it was happening at Queen’s, maybe even to the girl down the hall from me.  Also the way that Rowell created the relationships between the characters was realistic and relatable too.  Oh and Levi. He was definitely one of my favourite parts about this book, hands down, for many reasons. ;) This book also gives me hope that me and my own fangirly, flailing arms will one day be accepted and appreciated.

Favourite Quote

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

Second opinions

Lauren said, “the characters were outstanding.”

Yasmine says Fangirl “is a very good book so reading it is definitely something everyone should do.”
Talk to me

Have you read Fangirl? What did you think of it? Have you read anything else by Rainbow Rowell? Do you have any suggestions of books similar to this one? LET ME KNOW! :)

Guest Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers

I’d like to introduce to you my very first guest reviewer on Books, etc.! I met Monica this year at Queen’s, and she loves to talk books as much as I do. We always chat over coffee after our Wednesday morning class about our latest reads, and give each other book recommendations! So, one day I offered her the opportunity to write some guest reviews for the blog, and she took the opportunity. Here’s Monica, to introduce herself to you a little bit :)

Hey I’m Monica and I’m a student here at Queen’s in Con-Ed. I’ve always loved reading books, especially YA ones and it was great to meet Natalie and talk about all the different ones we’ve read! I loved the opportunity to write a review for the blog! Aside from reading I love history and watching Netflix. Hope you guys like the review!!

Grave MercyTitle/Author: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 3, 2012
Rating:  ★½
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Yes! (His Fair Assassin Book 1)
Other Books by Author: Dark Triumph (sequel!!!)
How I got this Book: Purchased
Summary From Goodreads: Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

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

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

My Thoughts copy

I absolutely loved this book.  At times I got confused with all the characters that were involved, but thankfully there was a cast list at the beginning of the book that cleared everything up for me!  I had no problem figuring out who the important characters were, and keeping track of the nobility was tough but totally worth it. I could easily figure out who I intensely disliked and who became my favourite minor character.  As soon as I finished this book I waited incredibly impatiently for the sequel to come out, even though you don’t technically need to read it.  I just grew so attached to the minor characters as well as the major ones that I had to see where they all ended up after Grave Mercy.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was the setting. I’m a huge history fan so the fact that it was set in Medieval Europe and introduced the intricacies and backstabbing plots was one of the best parts of the book for me! I found myself really rooting for the Duchess and playing detective myself trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

And Ismae is one of my favourite female heroines; I mean the fact that she was such a badass during a time where women were basically nothing was fantastic. Plus there was the whole, she can kill you if you cross her, which was pretty hardcore.  Despite all this, she has such strong loyalties and is an interesting combination of someone who can handle herself fine in some situations, but can be completely unsure and insecure about herself in other situations. It made me really root for her, especially when she throws herself into her new life at the convent and loves it simply because she was accepted as is.

And then of course there’s Gavriel Duval who is part of Ismae’s cover when she goes to the high courts of Brittany.  Both of them were so suspicious of each other and it was so easy to see their dislike of each other from the beginning.  So it was even better when they begin to trust and befriend each other instead of being at each other’s throats.

Final Thoughts

It was really nice to read a book that made me really root for the main characters and want to sneak a peek of the ending before I got there (I stayed strong though!). Grave Mercy kept me up reading all night as I tried to figure out what exactly was going on – all the twists and turns kept me guessing right up to the end.  I’ve already read the second book in the series, Dark Triumph, and am now eagerly awaiting the third!!

4.5 hearts

Favourite Quote

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

Second opinions

Giselle said “Sign me up!”

Christa said “Amazing book” and “Really well crafted story.”

Brittany says “Buy it. NOW.”

Talk to me

Have you read Grave Mercy? What were your thoughts on it? Do you like the cover? If you haven’t read it, do you think you will? LET ME MONICA KNOW! :)

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

the promise of amazingTitle/Author: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Publisher/Year: Balzer + Bray on December 31, 2013
Rating:  ★½
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Series: Nope!
Other Books by Author: None yet
How I got this Book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thanks HarperCollins!
Summary From Goodreads: Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

My Thoughts copy

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine was not as amazing as the title leads you to believe. Sadly, there wasn’t much amazing in there for me at all.  Wren Caswell was a likeable character, but she wasn’t anything special. She was too typical for me. You know, the indecisive, average at everything, middle of her class (socially and academically) kind of girl. Wren works at her family’s Banquet hall, and while working one night, she saves a hottie teen boy from chocking to death on a cocktail weenie. And then BAM! Instalove hits you right in the face.

We learn that this boy Wren saved is Grayson Barrett, a bad boy who wants to change his ways… maybe? He manages to land a job working for Wren’s family’s business to, you guessed it, be closer to Wren and spend more time with her! Told from dual point of view, this is where the book took a turn for the worst. From this point onward – and even a little bit before – all we ever got to read about was the internal banter of Wren and Grayson each wondering if the other one liked them (which they obviously did) and what they should do about it.

We also got to read about Grayson and all of his past term-paper-pimp antics, and his band of miscreant friends and all of the trouble that they like to get into. Which to me, just didn’t seem realistic. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ve never heard of a group of young teenagers doing things like that before. But even Grayson alone didn’t do it for me. He just didn’t seem like a good person, even though he was trying to change.

Final Thoughts

All in all, The Promise of Amazing started out kind of okay. I’ve got to admit, the moment that Wren saves Grayson from choking was kind of cute. But after that it all went downhill for me. I found the characters underdeveloped and unrealistic, and therefore I couldn’t connect with any of them. And I also found the plot (/lack of a real plot other than their internal bantering?) mind-numbingly boring. But, it has a really cute cover!

1.5 hearts

Second opinions

Diane said The Promise of Amazing “had so much potential but lost its steam.”

Amber said it was “bland.”

Debby said “It wasn’t a completely terrible read.”

Talk to me

Have you read The Promise of Amazing? What were your thoughts on it? Do you like the cover? If you haven’t read it, do you still think you might, or is it a no-go? LET ME KNOW! :)

*Spoiler free!* Review: Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (and a mini review of Burn for Burn!)

fire with fireTitle/Author: Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on August 13, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Yes! Burn for Burn
Other Books by Author: Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1)
How I got this Book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thanks Simon and Schuster!
Rating: 4.5 stars
Summary From Book Flap: When sweet revenge turns sour. Book two of a trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn”t exactly go the way they”d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.

Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it”s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie”s meaner than she ever was before.

And then there”s sweet little Mary.she knows there”s something seriously wrong with her. If she can”t control her anger, she”s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it”s not just that Reeve bullied her-it”s that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They”ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It”s the only way he”ll learn.

It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn…

My Thoughts copy

I had never planned on reading this series until I got sent an ARC of Fire with Fire in the mail from Simon and Schuster. I decided that I had no good reason not to pick up the first book, Burn for Burn, and so I did and then I moved on to read Fire with Fire! I can tell you that I am soooo happy they sent it to me, and that they got me to read the series.

Since I never actually got around to writing a full review of Burn for Burn I figured I would include a mini one here for you all. I’m going to start off by saying that I only liked Burn for Burn. I thought that it was a good story, but it just didn’t sit entirely well with me. The main plot is that there are three girls (Kat, Lillia, and Mary) who have had some not too great things done to them by some mean people, and so they band together to get revenge on them. Now, when these girls say they want to get revenge, they SERIOUSLY mean it. The things that they do to the people who were mean to them are AWFUL! In fact, this was one of the reasons that I was not a huge fan of Burn for Burn. The revenges were too awful for my liking, however I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a story if they weren’t. For these girls it was kind of a “go big or go home” situation. Anywhoooo, the book ends on a huge cliffhanger, and so naturally I had a desire to see what was going to happen to Kat, Lillia, and Mary in the next book!

So when I finally started Fire with Fire, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked loved it! The majority of the acts of revenge had taken place in the first book, so there was a lot less focus on that, and more on the effects that their revenge had on people.

I am seriously impressed with Jenny and Siobhan’s writing in this book. Each chapter is written from a different girl’s perspective, and yet the transition from chapter to chapter is so fluid. I especially enjoy how conversational the prose is. They things the characters say, and they way lines are delivered are exactly how I talk with my own friends and so is very believable.

My favourite character out of the three girls would have to be Lillia. I love her so much, and she actually seems a lot like me in some ways. She is definitely someone I could see myself being friends with. The authors also described a lot of Lillia’s outfits in detail, and they’re awesome! She has great fashion sense :P

As for the guys in this book, I really like Alex, and I like Reeve too! I can’t decide, so you can’t make me!!!!

Now, there are so many spoilery things that I would say about this book, but I’m not going to. I will say this though: There is a lot more focus on Mary in this book, who we really didn’t see a huge amount of in Burn for Burn. Also, THE ENDING!!!! That sh*t cray! I seriously need to get the third instalment – Ashes to Ashes – in my hands right now!!!

Final Thoughts

Y’all need to trust me on this one when I say push through Burn for Burn, even though there will probably be times that you want it to be over already, and then rush on to Fire with Fire because this book makes it all worth your while!!! SO GOOD!

4.5 hearts

Second opinions

Amber says that Fire with Fire is “Essential” 4.5 stars

Lauren says it was “unforgettable for me.” 4 stars

Rachel recommends it!

Talk to me

Have you read Burn for Burn? Did you like it? What about Fire with Fire? Do you think you’ll give it a shot, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of Burn for Burn? Let me know!

ARC Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

asylumTitle/Author: Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Publisher/Year: Harper Children’s on August 20, 2013
Rating:  ★★½
Genre: YA Paranormal/Horror
Series: Nope!
Other Books by Author: Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, Sadie Walker is Stranded (both adult books)
How I got this Book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thanks HarperCollins!
Summary From Goodreads: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

My Thoughts copy

Asylum by Madeleine Roux was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013. Unfortunately, I was let down :( I had wanted to get my greedy little hands on this book ever since I read the synopsis of it months and months ago, and you have no idea how excited I was when I got it in the mail!!! But, the excitement quickly drained from me after I began reading this book…

The synopsis of this book sounds great. In fact, the premise of Asylum isn’t half bad! However, the execution of said premise is slightly lacking… The blurb says it all, right? Dan shows up at his summer college prep program at New Hampshire college, all excited to have the time of his life and make new friends and blah blah blah. He and his two new besties Abby and Jordan start hanging out, and then they realize that their summer dorms used to be an asylum for the criminally insane!!! :O

Now, the blurb mentions something about how they realize it was not a coincidence that they all ended up there together, however, this was not touched upon in the book. In fact, I noticed that this book left many things to be desired in terms of actually following a storyline through until the very end. It doesn’t really seem to be anything more than a coincidence that Dan, Abby, and Jordan all ended up at this summer program.

And of course, what is a book about an Asylum without a love interest??? Well… an attempt at writing some sort of love interest into the story. *** SPOILER ALERT*** Dan and Abby end up going on a little date sort of thing, and then they have a falling out for a very brief period of time, and then they end up back together… sort of. This is another area where the author failed to wrap things up for us! This is only a summer program after all, so I think we deserve to be told whether or not Abby and Dan decide to keep in touch or keep things going long distance!

As for the main character, Daniel Crawford, there just isn’t anything that special about him. To be honest, he was kind of boring. He wasn’t an amazing MC in the slightest. Sadly, I can’t say much more for his friends either. Abby was your classic arty girl, and Jordan was your typical teen boy who has to keep his parents thinking he is at Camp Come-Home-Straight-Or-Else (that was not the actual name BTW). These characters were all very two-dimensional, and don’t really show any growth or chance throughout the book. I couldn’t connect with any of them.

Finally, the ending. I’m not going to give anything away, but I’ll say this: it just didn’t do it for me. It was predictable – for the most part – and AGAIN left things a little too ambiguous for my liking!!! But of course, not ambiguous enough to require a sequel or anything. One thing I did like about this book though, was the incorporation of pictures from real asylums, and creepy edited photos of people. I’ll give you a few points for that there.

sarcastic thumbs up

Final Thoughts

Like I said above – Asylum just didn’t do it for me. I was expecting a really creepy book (which I did get) with an amazing twist/explanation for everything at the end (which I did not get.) But yay for the pictures :P

2.5 hearts

Second opinions

April says “Asylum is an okay read…”

Talk to me

Have you read Asylum yet? Do you think you will after if comes out? How about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? I haven’t got around to reading that one yet, but I hear amazing things about it! Do you enjoy mixed-media books such as these? LET ME KNOW!

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girlsTitle/Author: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (a.k.a Abby McDonald)
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse on July, 2013
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Series: Nope!
Other Books by Author: (Written under her real name: Abby McDonald) Getting Over Garrett Delaney, The Anti-Prom, Sophomore Switch
How I got this Book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thanks Simon and Schuster!
Summary From Goodreads: It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined…

My Thoughts copy

Dangerous Girls = WOW. Abigail Haas brings us a novel with a great plot reminiscent of the Natalee Holloway and the Amanda Knox cases, yet makes this story her own completely. Anna has gone with a group of her friends to Aruba for Spring Break of her senior year. Everything is running smoothly and they are all having the time of their lives until Elise (Anna’s best friend) is found brutally murdered in her room. And the main suspect? Anna.

Anna is now awaiting trial in a country that is not her own where the justice system is completely different. Abigail tells this story in such a unique way by including police records and interrogation transcripts, flashbacks to the beginning of Anna and Elise’s friendship and how it grew, and then flashing forward to the trial and Anna’s time in jail. The novel also really allows you to gain  perspective on the role that media plays in a case such as this one. To them, it is all a game and they are just trying to paint the picture of the suspect that will get them the most views and high ratings. It’s disgusting really.

As I am having trouble forming coherent thoughts about this book, I’m going to keep the rest of this review short and sweet. About 3 or 4 times reading this book I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what had happened and who had killed Elise. Every time I began to compose a new thought about MY suspect, there would be something new thrown at me from the plot that would change everything. AND THEN THERE IS THE ENDING. If you are anything like me, you will go back and read it about a bajillion times over to make sure that you read it right; that your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you. If you’re like me, you still won’t be able to comprehend the WTFery that occurred a full 24 hours after you finished the book and are sitting down to write the review. You will not be able to stop thinking about this book.

harry potter shocked

This was me when I read the ending…

Final Thoughts

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas is a truly amazing mystery, and it will keep you on your toes for the entire time that you are reading this book. If you have ever read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, this is definitely the YA equivalent in terms of suspense and the psychological thriller aspects of it. You will not be let down if you read that book, and I feel confident enough in this book to PROMISE you that.

Second opinions

Estelle says buy it!

Justine says WOW!

River gave it 5 stars!

Talk to me

Have you read Dangerous Girls? If you have: what did you think of the ending? If you haven’t: does it sound like something you might want to read?