Tag Archive | 3 Stars

REVIEW: Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

GUESS WHAT! In 3 hours I’m meeting my fav author – Richelle Mead!!!

To keep me occupied until then, I’m posting this review for your enjoyment. (I’ve been putting off writing it for a few days now. Along with another review.)


BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS:

Award-winning author Tracy March follows up Should’ve Said No (“Wonderfully quirky . . . a pleasure to read!”—Laura Drewry) with this enchanting novel set in Thistle Bend, Colorado, a magical place where old wrongs are righted, and adventure leads to true love.

Real estate lawyer Holly Birdsong’s hike in the Rockies takes an unexpected turn when a smokin’-hot stranger tumbles off his bike and into her path. Turns out he’s purchasing the abandoned Lodge at Wild Rose Ridge, and Holly agrees to take him on as a client—despite her family’s traumatic history with the previous owner, who shamelessly abused the town’s goodwill at every turn. But when their professional relationship turns personal, Holly must reconcile the past with her hopes for the future.

Adding the rustic lodge to his portfolio of adventure properties isn’t just a business decision for Bryce Bennett. The rugged mountains also offer a killer setting for his extreme-sports camps for at-risk teens. What’s not in the blueprints is finding a kindred spirit in his irresistible lawyer, even if she seems apprehensive about getting involved in the deal. Bryce’s plan to ease her mind just might work, as long as no one discovers his secret. Yet he can’t stand hiding the truth from the woman who makes him want to build something permanent: a happily ever after.


REVIEW

Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

Series: Thistle Bend #2

Read: May 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Last September I had the privilege of reading Should’ve Said No, book 1 in Tracy March’s Thistle Bend series. I was impressed with a romance novel full of likable characters and a mystery to boot!

I was excited when Just Say Maybe appeared on NetGalley because why wouldn’t I want to follow up that fabulous 4-star book 1 with the sequel?

Well, I think I liked book 1 so much that I was let down by book 2. While book 1 featured the mystery as the center plot, this one is very much romance centric. Sure, Holly says she doesn’t want to be with Bryce if he’s not going to stay, but it was barely an obstacle. There was a misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions that had me rolling my eyes as well.

I did like the characters, they were interesting and believable. The hotel storyline was somewhat interesting, but I would have liked this book more if that was the central story, and not the romance.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like the romances to be built around the plot. If that makes sense. And this book felt like the plot was built around the romance.

I think those who like traditional contemporary romances will enjoy this book. I’ll probably read book 3 as well, but I doubt it will live up to book 1.


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REVIEW: Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun

Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun

Read: April 18-29, 2016

Format: ARC Print Book (Goodreads First Reads)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: YA Fantasy


BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.


MY REVIEW:

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program.

 

This is my first Amanda Sun book, and I really wanted to love it. There are so many wonderful things about it.

  • Floating continents in the sky.
  • Monsters
  • Monster Hunters
  • Dragons
  • Royalty

And yet….. Something fell flat. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book, I did enjoy the story, I just couldn’t get completely engrossed in it.

The story starts slowly, with Kali, the heir to Ashra—the floating world—alone in her favorite isolated place on her continent. We’re introduced to her BFF. We learn she is betrothed to a nobleman she feels nothing for. We learn that her people worship the Phoenix, who brought Ashra and the other islands to the sky. She sneaks off to the library and overhears talk from the elders that sounds bad. Blah blah blah.

Then she falls to the earth, and even that felt rushed. We know she’s going to survive, there couldn’t be a whole book told in first person if she didn’t survive. So then I thought, yeah! Here come the monsters! And we do see a couple monsters right away, but it was sort of anticlimactic. Then we meet Griffin, the monster hunter on earth, and… again, I waited for something big to happen, and though they did meet monsters, everything seemed so easy. (Yes, I know, Griffin has been hunting monsters all his life, but still! They’re killer monsters!) There was one particular monster scene (it’s in the water, I won’t say more) that was really awesome. Kali had a chance to really prove her worth there, and it was exciting and dangerous and I was eagerly flipping pages to see what happens. Then more stuff happens, then we get to the big finish.

I think what most prevent this book from being a WOW book for me was twofold.

  1. This book is in present tense. In most cases, I despise present tense. It feels so awkward to read in the present tense, I’m sure some authors use it to give a sense of urgency to the reader, but for me it feels forced. It took me a really long time to look past that in this book.

And…

  1. Most fantasy / dystopian / etc. YA books of today are not stand alone novels. In most cases they’re trilogies, giving time for a lot of world building and plot development. I really did like the world building in Heir to the Sky. In fact, I could easily picture what was happening, it was just enough detail for me. However, I think the plot could have been fleshed out more. There could have been more death defying challenges. The entire last section of the book, with the rebellion stuff, could have taken an entire book to really pull the reader into it and make us care about Ashra. Even when all was said and done, I think there’s room for another book with the aftermath, but maybe not.

This is still a good book, it’s just not a great book for me. I think younger teens would really enjoy it. Parents don’t need to worry about sex or language, there’s a kiss or two, but that’s it. And the violence is basically all monsters, and nothing graphic. So, I will hang onto this book for my daughter to read in a couple of years when she’s about 12 or 13.

 


 

MEMORABLE QUOTES

“I don’t have a chance to survive, but I refuse to die.”

 

“He looks the way I used to think of myself—invisible—before my fall and pathetic attempt at survival.”

 

“I am the wick and the wax. My life isn’t my own.”

 

 “I was ready to let myself burn for you. But now I burn for myself.”


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REVIEW: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Read: November 16, 2015
Format: Ebook (Kindle)
My Book Rating:  3 Stars
Genre: Dystopian Romance

Confession: I was sucked into this book by the beautiful cover, what can I say? I’m a sucker for girls in pretty dresses. And royalty. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a princess story too.

The Selection takes place in a futuristic world in which the caste system plays a heavy role. Really, the only way to move up a caste is by marriage. The heroine of this story, America— a middle caste girl—is in love with Aspen, but he’s in a lower caste than she is, which is pretty taboo.

Enter THE SELECTION – a contest, similar to TV’s The Bachelor – in which 35 girls are selected from all castes and compete for the chance to marry Prince Maxon. Of course, America want’s no part of this, but to appease her family, she agrees to enter and—surprise! She’s selected. She makes it very clear from the get-go that she doesn’t want to be a princess, but Prince Maxon agrees to let her stay, because there are sparks between them, and every day she stays means more support for her family back home.

What I liked about this story: America, I think she’s an interesting character and I like that she’s not in love with the prince just because he’s a prince. I also love the idea of the story, basically a dating game to pick a worthy princess for the kingdom.

My list of dislikes is a lot longer, however…. First of all, the character depth is pretty shallow all around. I liked America, she was probably the most in depth character. But everyone else fell flat. More importantly, the plot fell flat for me. I love character driven stories, but the characters need to be stronger than these were, and the plot needs to be based on more than a reality TV show. It felt as though the author wanted to write The Bachelor, but with a prince and girls competing to be a princess, then said, “Oh, dystopian stories are in. I’ll just throw a dystopian world in the background and call it good.” The beginning set up was good, but then it was just kind of tossed aside. There were the rebel attacks, but we really don’t know much of anything about them. It all just felt so shallow. I wanted more substance. And don’t get me started on Aspen. I really didn’t care what happened to him. He’s not even worth America’s time. Prince Maxon seems like a genuinely good guy, so I really want him to be the one to come out on top, but….

To add to my list of grievances, this book didn’t even have a proper ending. There are cliffhangers, and then there are books that end so abruptly you flip back to make sure you didn’t somehow miss 50 pages. This is the latter. In my version of a proper cliffhanger, there’s some sort of subplot happening in the story that wraps up at the end of the book, while the larger overall story arc is still going. The author needs to leave the reader satisfied, but wanting more. I didn’t feel that here.

I really struggled with a proper rating to this book. Part of me wants to give it a 2 star rating, because it is so shallow. But, because I will continue to read, just to see what comes next in the story, I settled on a 3. This book is average at best, it’s light and fluffy and lacks any real substance. We’ll see how book two goes.

Would I recommend this book? Only to younger teen girls who want to read a light and fluffy romance. Or maybe to die hard fans of The Bachelor who can’t get enough. For those looking for a book with a complex plot or interesting characters, skip this one.

REVIEW: ‘The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair’ by Kate Bernheimer

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair by Kate Bernheimer
Read: January 2016
Format: Hardcover
My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Books

My 4 year old saw this at Half Price Books and wanted it. As a reward for her good behavior while out shopping, I bought it for her.

This is a cute story about a little girl with long beautiful hair, which she refuses to brush. (Hmm…. sounds like both my daughters!)

What happens when the girl won’t brush her hair? Well, little mice move in of course. The girl, not being afraid of mice lets them stay and before you know it, she’s got a whole colony of mice! The mice however, do not like the water. They demand that the girl not bathe, and since the girl likes her mice friends, she stops bathing. Before long, nobody wants to be around the girl (not even her baby doll!) She has to make a tough choice: let the mice stay and be stinky and dirty, or send the mice packing and clean up.

I love the artwork in this book. It’s a CG style, very much in line with current cartoons like Tangled, about another girl with long beautiful hair. The pictures are bright and vibrant, the mice are adorable. Both my girls (4 and almost 9) enjoyed the story and looking at the pictures.

I had high hopes that this book might encourage my girls to let us brush their hair, alas, those dreams were crushed. They both still cry when it’s time to brush their hair, but at least they don’t have mice living on their heads!

Mina picked this book out at Half Price Books as a reward for good behavior while running errands.

Mina picked this book out at Half Price Books as a reward for good behavior while running errands.

REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Hey readers! Don’t forget to enter to win the ebook copy of Jill Bisker’s sophomore novel ‘The Way Forward’ over HERE! One part (clean) romance / One part ghost hunting fun!


 

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: Caster Chronicles #1

Read: Nov – Dec 2015

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

 

Things I liked about Beautiful Creatures: The small town southern setting. The fact the book is a YA romance told from the boys POV. The lore surrounding the family curse. Ridley and Link.

Things I did NOT like about Beautiful Creatures: The pacing. The fact that the book is told by the boy, who is actually an outsider looking in on the action. Lena… for the most part.

I really wanted to like Beautiful Creatures. I wanted to love it. I somewhat enjoyed the movie, though it was a little confusing, I hoped the book would bring some clarity. It cleared up a little bit, but not a lot.

If you don’t know what it’s about, Lena is a Caster (basically a witch, but they don’t call themselves witches.) When a Caster turns sixteen, he or she must choose to become Light or Dark. Due to a long ago family curse, Lena’s family does not get to choose – the choice is made for them; they are claimed. Lena’s cousin Ridley was claimed by the Dark, as was Lena’s mother. So, Lena is super depressed and convinced she’s going to be claimed by the Dark. When she moves to the small town of Gatlin, SC to live with her uncle, she meets Ethan Wate. And he is obsessed with her from the first time he lays eyes on her. They soon discover they have a connection neither can deny.

As I said above, I love that this book is told from the hero’s POV instead of the heroine, as is typical in YA paranormal romances. However, the story is Lena’s. Ethan is an outsider looking in. We as the reader are limited by what Ethan knows, and it really wasn’t enough for me. When Lena shuts Ethan out, we the reader are shut out of the story because the plot surrounds Lena.

Lena was cold and standoffish. If I could see in her head, maybe I would like her more. But as is? I didn’t really care what happened to her. She was honestly pretty boring. She had cool powers, but she was so depressed about her pending claiming, it was really hard to like her.

The best characters in the book were Ethan’s BFF Link and Ridley’s Dark cousin Ridley. They had the spark that kept the story moving for me.

When I read this, I really was hoping to experience more details about the ending. The movie ending. Yes, I saw the movie first. (I got it dirt cheap on Black Friday a couple years ago, not having seen it before.) I was disappointed with how different the ending was. Rarely do I find movie adaptations to make changes for the better, but Beautiful Creatures was an example of just that. This ending was more confusing and left more loose ends.

Will I continue the series? Probably not. I did start reading the second book, but I gave up early on because, even more than in Beautiful Creatures, Ethan was the outsider looking in.

So, would I recommend this book? Again, probably not, unless you want to see how the book is different from the movie. Overall it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t memorable.

REVIEW: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1

Read: October 12-13 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Narrator Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal Romance YA

 

I’m writing this review for Shiver a little over a month after listening to the audiobook… and I had to look at the Goodreads description to trigger my memory. Not a good sign for a book.

Shiver is the story of Grace and Sam. When Grace was a young girl, she was attacked by a pack of wolves, pulled from her backyard and dragged into the woods behind them. Sam, a wolf at the time, saved her. Years later, Grace is obsessed with the wolves. Despite them having nearly killed her, she loves them with all her heart, especially one wolf. The wolf she will learn is actually Sam.

You see, Grace’s wolves aren’t regular wolves, they’re shifters. When the cold weather comes, they shiver from human to wolf.

This was actually a really interesting take on werewolves, but it was just lacking something for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It didn’t leave me desperate to read the next book in the series.

I did like that it was set in my home state of Minnesota. Not enough books set here IMO!

At times things moved really slowly, especially while Sam and Grace were apart. I wanted a romance, not a tragedy. I think I remember the ending being satisfying, but at this point I honestly can’t remember.

So basically, if you stumble upon the book give it a chance, but don’t go out of your way for it. My two cents.

REVIEW: Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Mystery YA

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

I actually didn’t think I was going to like Dead Ringer at all when I first started reading it. The point of view started with the new girl in school, Laura, then started jumping to other characters and I’m honestly not a real big fan of that. It has it’s moments, and it has to be done right. I forced myself to keep reading and I came to appreciate the multiple POV’s, ultimately they did work, I just wish the transition had been smoother.

As I said, Laura is the new girl at school and she looks eerily similar to Sarah, the girl who died almost two years prior. As Laura adjusts to live in her new school she begins digging around the past, trying to figure out what really happened to Sarah.

We also get into the head of Charlie, he’s the schools star soccer player. He has his own secrets to hide about Sarah and he’s also getting close to Laura. I really liked Charlie, I liked how his character was developed. I was able to sympathize with and root for him.

The third character from whom we see a POV is Sasha. She’s also out for answers to Sarah’s death and an enigma herself for much of the book. We initially don’t know her motivation or how she even knows about Sarah. I think she was a great addition to the story and added a nice extra layer of mystery.

All of this was great, except…. details were given in the beginning of the book don’t match up with the end game. I really can’t say a whole lot or else it will ruin the book for those who have not yet read it. The ending is fabulous, minus the terrible cliffhanger the author leaves us with. But, the motives and inner thoughts from the beginning of the book do not fit with the character after the big twist. There’s suspension of believe in fiction, and I’m pretty lenient with what I’ll let slide, but this stuff was big. Like the author changed the ending as she was writing it and didn’t go back to change those earlier details.

The characters were likable though, and trying to solve the mystery was fun, but I’m a stickler for the details and I’m just really irritated with this one

Will I read the next book? If NetGalley offers it up to me, I will happily take it to see if the resolution to the cliffhanger will make up for the details in this book that didn’t make sense.

Ultimately, I’d say this book is average. It had a lot of potential but it needed some reworking in order to make the pieces fit together properly. If you’re less of a stickler for details and are just looking for a nice mystery with some interesting twists, this may be the book for you.

 

 

REVIEW: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Read: September 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Narrator Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Time Travel Romance – Young Adult

 

First things first, can we talk about how beautiful this cover is? So soft and romantic, the blues and pink. Him, so close to her yet so far away. And the longing on her face. Love the cover. Love, love love.

The book itself….

Time Between Us – or as I call it, “Twilight, but with time travel” – is the story of Anna and Bennett.

Anna is a high school girl who falls for the new guy in school, Bennett. The day he started school, she was sure she saw him that morning watching her run on the track of the local college. She was sure he knew her, somehow, from the way he watched her so intently. Yet, when they meet each other at school, he denies being at the track and seems legitimately confused. However, upon learning her name is Anna, something sparks within him.

You see, Bennett has the power of time travel. He has limitations to his time travel that we learn in the book, and his own set of self-imposed rules. Additionally, Bennett meets Anna in the prologue – before the events of the book take place. He meets Anna in HIS present time, before they meet her in HER present time. (That’s confusing…)

Anyway, as I stated above, I lovingly call this book “Twilight, but with time travel” because it follows many of the same themes. New at school (Bella/Bennett), falls for the boy/girl (Edward/Anna) even though “we can’t be together” (because he’s a vampire/time traveler). There’s the moment of the big reveal where he saves her life and she discovers he’s a (vampire) time traveler and it’s revealed over dinner at a restaurant. Oh yeah, Bennett is also filthy rich. Just. Like. Edward. Cullen.

I did enjoy this book, but it was very difficult to look past all of the Twilight parallels. I liked the romance between Anna and Bennett, the build was done pretty well and I believed they really cared for each other. They were both pretty well developed.

Aside from the Twilight parallels which had me rolling my eyes (and I would like to point out that I do enjoy Twilight) the only other problem I had was the flimsy reasoning behind why Bennett has the power of time travel. SPOILER ALERT – there is no reason. One day he just thought, “I wonder if I can time travel”, tried, and it was a success. I didn’t buy that for one second. It felt like a cheap cop out by the author. Like, she really wanted to do a time travel book, but she didn’t want to think past the romance.

I did like that upon losing Bennett Anna actually did learn to move on with her life, unlike Bella who was catatonic for months. Sure Anna was sad, but she could function as a normal human being.

In all, I’d say this is a pretty average read. If you’re a huge Twilight fan you’ll probably love this book, unless the similarities drive you batty as they did for me.