Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.


The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review

August 11, 2016 Book Review, Young Adult 3 ★★

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson | Book ReviewThe Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3
Also in this series: The Kiss of Deception, The Heart of Betrayal
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on August 2, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 688
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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2 Stars
Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

Alright… This is painful. This is really painful for me, as I have been SO EXCITED about this final book in the Remnant Chronicles. And when my wish was granted on Netgalley to read this early, life was golden. But I’m so disappointed and so sad. This was just not in any way what I wanted for these characters and this ending. I love Mary E. Pearson. But I don’t love this book. I don’t even like it. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was bored. Overall, I was very, very bored with this book to the point where I seriously considered giving up. I couldn’t do it, though, because a small part of me kept hoping things would turn around. We read about a lot of traveling and planning, but very little actually happens for the bulk of the book. And when it does, I felt like someone was telling me a synopsis of what happened rather than reading about it myself. Not sure if that makes sense, but the telling far outweighed the showing. I was never immersed in the story.

2. My beloved characters became flat, shells of themselves.

– Lia. What even happened to her? I’m so mad at who Lia has become. She went from barely understanding her gift to using it as a crutch to get whatever she wants. All of a sudden, it’s her way or the highway because of this random gift that has become a character of its own. When people indicate that they don’t trust her gift (because why should they? It’s not been a big deal at all up until now), she turns into such a jerk and doesn’t care about anyone or what they think. I hate this gift. It was the excuse and the explanation for everything and turned Lia into this pompous, uncaring, inconsiderate person. Yet when times get rough she waxes philosophical and almost cheesy as she strives to save everyone with her words. After everything we’ve been through, words resolve it all.

Lia has also gone from making smart decisions to blindly following Vendan prophecies regardless of anyone’s feelings. My friend Alyssa said it best in her review: “For a girl that tried to escape her fate by running away from her wedding, Lia is quick to jump right back into letting someone (i.e. the book of Venda, and her “gift”) control her.” I remember her feeling so overwhelmed at the prospect of ruling a kingdom, and now one kingdom isn’t enough for her. She’s telling Rafe what to do and trying to rule his kingdom too.

Rafe has completely lost his backbone, blindly loving Lia despite how much of a brat/jerk/idiot she has become. She treats his so badly, and he just takes it. She takes him for granted and doesn’t even care that she might lose him. Yet he continues to save her when she doesn’t even deserve it and shows no gratitude for him doing so. Usually the girl is the doormat in novels, so yay for that finally not being the case… but now the guy is the doormat and that makes me just as mad. You’re a king, Rafe, man up.

I think I’m in the minority, but I’ve always loved Kaden. Where is he in this book? Again, he’s a shell and he gets a happily ever after right at the end (and it comes right out of left field and was not at all convincing). I think he was legitimately forgotten and then the author said, “Oh! Kaden! Can’t forget him! Let’s give him an ending.” He goes through some pretty emotional things in this book, not to mention some life-altering experiences, but I saw no growth and change or development because he was given very little time to go through these things and react/recover accordingly.

3. So much time was wasted on traveling and talking about things that are going to happen that the resolutions were way too easy and way too fast. I don’t know why this book is so long because the parts of it that actually mattered were so rushed and abrupt. 

4. The romance is barely there. Lia and Kaden kind of resolve things between the two of them, but do they? Lia and Rafe have this rift and he actually gets engaged to someone else. Neither of them even seem to care much. Kaden gets a love story of his own, but it didn’t even make sense to me. How do you suffer such betrayal from someone you loved and then fall for someone else right away? I don’t know, I’m just meh about all the romance-ness at this point. I quit caring, to be honest.

5. The ending was so vague, with so many loose ends. Perhaps the author wanted us to assume things or create our own future for the characters, but I just wanted to know. So many books end with a final battle, and this one was just like all the others except Lia gets a new “gift” that… saves everything. So there. Lia didn’t do anything. Her gifts did.

So… I’m not happy. I skimmed some passages out of sheer boredom in the hopes of getting an amazing character moment or an awesome climax of events or something. I wanted a satisfying resolution, but I’m left feeling so disappointed. Would I recommend this book? I honestly don’t think so. Mary’s writing is typically amazing, but it felt tired here. I’m not sure what happened. I wish I had quit with The Kiss of Deception. I loved that book (I also loved The Heart of Betrayal, but this book made me regret reading it.), and considering how open-ended this book’s ending was I think you could easily read The Kiss of Deception as a standalone and move on.


Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

September 29, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Also in this series: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Oh MY gosh. Ruin and Rising is here!!!! Right!? Don’t worry, I read this right when it came out. It has just taken me this long to figure out how to write a review for it. Leigh Bardugo is my hero. Now, I can’t guarantee there won’t be spoilers for the first two books. And I can’t guarantee this review will be anything but a bunch of fangirling with no real point. But either way, here are my thoughts. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Before I even begin, can we all just have a moment of silence for the end of the Grisha trilogy? I am SO sad it’s over.

2. This book broke my heart and then put it back together again. I mean, oh wow. The Darkling. Mal. Sturmhond/Nikolai. I just can’t.

3. I will take Nikolai for myself and not let you have him. He is just so perfect. I have grown to love him so much through each book.

4. Everything I said I loved about the first two books, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, are still valid. Plus I love these things MORE.

5. Leigh Bardugo made some very brave and almost rebellious decisions with how everything turned out and how everyone ended up. People die. And you’ll care about it. Since Leigh owned these decisions, though, they WORKED. She did not go about this halfway. She jumped in the middle of a dark and deep pit of sharks with a bloody paper cut on her thumb and said, “Bring it on.” This lady has GUTS.

6. The writing just slayed me. Oh, the beauty and the dynamism. If Leigh re-wrote the dictionary, I would read it.

7. There was so much action and excitement, and ALL my questions were answered. And the ending was amazing.

I wish I had been more emotionally equipped to write a more thorough review, but we all know that doesn’t happen often with the end of a trilogy. I loved it, bottom line. You need to read this trilogy. And, chances are, you already have since you’re being brave and reading my review. But if you haven’t or if you haven’t finished it yet, just DO it. It’s amazing and wonderful and definitely my favorite trilogy ever.


The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book Review

August 27, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 5

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Body in the Woods by April Henry
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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1 Stars
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

*sigh* Maybe April Henry and I just aren’t the best match? I don’t know! I love mysteries. LOVE them. They are all I’ve been wanting to read lately. And sadly, The Body in the Woods did nothing for me. I thought the idea had potential, but I was also worried that reading about teenage detectives would cause the “you-have-to-suspend-a-lot-of-logic” disease. It did. I felt that the entire story was improbable, and that made me focus less on the story and more on the details that made me go, “Ummm… No, that would never happen.” And I know that this book was inspired by a real teen volunteer search and rescue team, but still. I felt like the kids in this book got into way too much danger, went against the police officers they were working with way too often, and basically took over the entire investigation. I can’t imagine real life teenagers getting into the kinds of situations the teens in this book did.

At times I felt like I was reading an episode of CSI or any other crime drama on TV. I drowned in the endless details of how the characters performed searches, etc. I usually love detail, but the writing was so uninteresting and almost mechanical. There was no fluidity from sentence to sentence, and frequently there wasn’t even continuity between chapters. I liked the idea of the story being told from multiple perspectives (those of the three teens), but they were written in such a way that I never connected with the characters. When they spoke to each other or to officers, they spoke in a way that made them sound like they had memorized their training manuals and were just regurgitating information in the hopes that they were right. This made them come off as immature, leaving me to believe even LESS in their abilities as members of a search and rescue team.

The mystery seemed very thinly weaved. I knew who the culprit was almost immediately. His chapters were the most interesting, and I wished I had been more in his head than in the heads of our manual-reciting teenagers. The why’s were not given much attention, and I was never entirely clear on the motives of the culprit. I found it odd that the mystery would not have been solved if these kids had not been involved, yet they caused so many additional problems for the police that they seemed useless at times. Are the police really supposed to be that dumb? They arrested someone early on in the story with no actual evidence, and then closed the case. They had nothing on him except that he was making drugs. Drugs does not equal serial killer. When I think of all the times I’ve heard of the bad guy getting away on a technicality or a screw-up regarding the handling of evidence, I have NO idea why this guy was arrested at all. I just did not believe it.

Maybe I am just too old and skeptical to enjoy this book. Maybe I possess too much common sense, have read too many intricate and nail-biting mysteries, or have watched way too many crime dramas. Perhaps a younger audience would love this. Perhaps someone capable of suspending their disbelief would enjoy it as well. I just could not stop thinking how unbelievable this story was, not to mention the endless technical details and play-by-plays had my gasping for air. I felt completely disconnected from the story, and I’m super disappointed about that. I would not recommend this title to potential readers.


The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

August 18, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!


The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + Giveaway

July 15, 2014 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 31 ★★★★★

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + Giveaway

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + GiveawayThe Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Also in this series: The Heart of Betrayal, The Beauty of Darkness
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

People. I do not know what to do! I have no idea how to review this book, because I really, really loved it. There were a few slow moments, but I became so enthralled and excited about it as the story went on. By the end, I was just dying to get my hands on the second book! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book grabbed me from the first sentence, which does not happen. Ever. “Today was the day a thousand dreams would die, and a single dream would be born.” How great is that? Don’t you want to read more?

2. The Kiss of Deception has a really complex plot that I totally was not expecting. It was a pleasant surprise, because this book is LONG and we need that complexity to keep us going.

3. I think my absolute favorite part of the story is Pearson’s ability to weave things together in a way that keeps you guessing and/or questioning everything you think you know. When two men show up in Lia’s new hometown, she has no idea that one of the men is the prince she was supposed to marry and the other one is the assassin who was sent by her father to kill her. And the best part? The reader is not entirely sure which man is which either! And as Lia begins to feel things for one of the men, the reader agonizes over whether she fell for the prince or the assassin. It does not get better than this.

4. I love it when an author can blow my mind. She DID. I mean, I might have screamed.

5. Lia is a wonderfully spunky character. I love that she fled an arranged marriage, and I love that she cared more about finding the right man and falling in love than marrying the wrong one for wealth, recognition, and prosperity. She knew betraying her father would have extreme consequences, but she did it anyway. She’s also amazing at standing up for herself. I wish I could tell people off like she can!

6. The assassin and the prince, even though we do not always know which is which, have very unique and separate personalities. I found this to be incredibly important because these men HAD to not blend in to one person, or Pearson’s story would not have worked. Pearson did a wonderful job painting a mysterious pair of characters.

7. There’s a hint of a love triangle, but mainly because you don’t know which man is which. Again, this was done so well! I loved the mystery of trying to figure out which man she fell for!

8. In addition to the main story of Lia’s fleeing her kingdom, two men vying for her attention, and tons of deception… there’s side stories of Lia figuring herself out, kingdom politics, treks across barren lands, gypsies, adventure, and supporting characters you’ll fall for. AND it all takes place in a world you can’t wait to learn more about. It’s the total package.

9. I love the writing. It’s beautiful and funny and I loved immersing myself in it.

You know an author has done a wonderful job with their book when it takes me over FOUR MONTHS to write a review. I was so spellbound and captivated by The Kiss of Deception that I was seriously rendered speechless. I’ve already decided that I need to go read Pearson’s Jenna Fox trilogy, not to mention I’ll be moving mountains and slaying dragons to get my hands on The Heart of Betrayal, which comes out next year!


Thanks to Macmillan for providing a giveaway for the readers of That Artsy Reader Girl! Make sure you enter for the chance to win a hardback copy of The Kiss of Deception. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada.

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Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (Mini Book Review)

October 14, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (Mini Book Review)Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #3
Also in this series: Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on October 8, 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

I loved this conclusion to the Ruby Red trilogy! I’m not used to books getting better and better as a series continues. Usually the first book is the best, the second book is pointless, and the third book is a major letdown. Not so with Emerald Green! I grew to love the trilogy more and more as the series continued, and now I am so sad to be finished with it! I’m doing a mini review of this book, just because most of what I loved about it I already mentioned in my reviews of Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue.

I read this trilogy almost back to back, but I still appreciated the recaps we were given on what had happened up to this point. The time traveling is a little confusing, but readers are kept on track with these subtle reminders. The writing is so pretty, and full of funny conversations and elaborate descriptions. I always love seeing where Gwen and Gideon will go, what they will wear, and what they will do. In this book, Gwen and Gideon get to go to a ball and they also go on some secret missions for answers. I loved it!

Gwen is still spunky and is not going to let anyone keep her in the dark. Rather than sitting down and being content with only being able to see a small piece of the large picture she’s a part of, she goes off in her own world and in past worlds to find answers to all these different mysteries. Her grandfather plays a huge role in this book, and I loved that she was able to have a strong relationship with him in some capacity. Lesley, Gwen’s friend, plays a larger role this time around as well, and I really like her. She’s the researcher, and I loved hearing about the information she dug out of the Internet. Raphael, Gideon’s brother, is a fun new addition to the group, and I liked his snarkiness. Charlotte bugged me more than ever, and Xemerius was even more endearing and funny.

All our questions get answered in Emerald Green. What’s up with Lucy and Paul? What happens when the circle is closed? Who is Count St. Germain? What’s in store for Gwen and Gideon? We learn a LOT. Gwen learns about her past and her future, which was so exciting. We learn all about the count and the Guardians. We get to fill in various time travel holes, and piece together different things that have happened across the rest of the trilogy. It was all very satisfying.

I kept this vague and short, just because I know not many people have even read the first book. My point with this review is to get you all excited about the trilogy. If you enjoy time travel, a little humor, adventure, great characters, and history then you will definitely enjoy all three books! And if you quit with Ruby Red because it was not for you, give Sapphire Blue a chance! You’ll love it. :)


Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Mini Book Review)

October 11, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 3 ★★★★

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Mini Book Review)Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Ruby Red, Emerald Green
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on October 30, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 362
Format: eBook
Source: Christmas Present
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4 Stars
Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

I’m so proud of Sapphire Blue for not suffering the second book syndrome! I actually liked this book much more than Ruby Red. It was full of twists and turns and witty banter between characters. There was quite a bit more time traveling, and now that Gwen is getting used to it, the visits to the past have a purpose. I was always excited to see what year she traveled back to, and what she was going to do. She has started to really question this time travel business, and so she’s breaking some rules to do some investigating in the past. She gets into trouble, and meets some new people.

Gwen and Gideon do a lot of traveling together also, and I love their conversations while they sit in a locked room doing homework while they wait to travel back to the present. They also get to go to a soiree in this book, and I loved the descriptions of the gorgeous costumes that they get to wear, and the pretty candlelit rooms. Gwen gets a little drunk on a “secret” punch, and makes a fool out of herself. I loved it!

At the end of Ruby Red, we met a small little gargoyle demon named Xemerius who is very excited that someone can finally see and hear him after so many years of being invisible. I really did not like his constant presence at the beginning of Sapphire Blue. I was annoyed with his interruptions. I grew to really love this little guy, though! He is quite funny, and adds a lot to the story. I looked forward to having him show up.

We learn a lot more about time travel, and what role different characters play in it. We learn more about the past, and why certain things have happened the way they have. Finally, we also get to form a lot of new questions that I’m hoping will be answered in Emerald Green, which I really can’t wait to start! Definitely read Sapphire Blue, even if you were not the biggest fan of Ruby Red. It’s exciting, a little romantic, and full of rich historical elements that will have you dreaming of elaborate balls and poofy dresses.


Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Mini Book Review)

October 9, 2013 Book Review 3 ★★★

Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Mini Book Review)Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.

Famous Last Words is a cute, light, contemporary read that made me smile. I loved the idea of a newsroom setting, which reminded me of the Mary Tyler Moore show on TV, and I was very excited to read about a quirky teenager who writes obituaries. What a unique idea, huh? While I did enjoy it, there was nothing extremely special or memorable about it.

Sam is a pretty funny girl. She’s an aspiring journalist who lands a job at the town newspaper writing obituaries. I had fun learning right along with her, how life in a newsroom is and what it’s like to be a journalist. It was also fun hearing about the stories of the people she got to write obituaries for. Probably my favorite thing about Sam is that she would write obituaries for people who annoyed the crap out of her, and for herself when she did something stupid or embarrassing. Of course, she would delete them, but her venting was endearing and it made her unique. She’s also clueless when it comes to guys, which I could not help but adore about her. As she wrote about dead people, she figured out how she wanted to live. I liked watching her transition from a silly little girl to a somewhat less silly girl. Haha.

I really liked the guy Sam works with, A.J. He’s nerdy and quirky just like she is, and they’re pretty great friends. He looks out for her, gives her rides, and helps her with her feature obit stories when she needs it. His snarkiness and desire to protect her from the jerk of the office, Tony, was really cute and I ended up liking him a lot. I would have liked to learn more about A.J., as he was my favorite character in the book. Sam’s boss, Harry, reminded me so much of Lou Grant (from Mary Tyler Moore) that I had to laugh about it. And the fact that the copy editor called Sam Moronica was perfect.

All in all, Famous Last Words was a fun little read. I enjoyed it while I read it, but am already forgetting some of the details. Definitely read it if you’re an aspiring journalist and want to see what the newsroom is all about.


Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)

October 7, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Also in this series: Sapphire Blue, Emerald Green
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won in a giveaway
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4 Stars
Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

You know a book is bound to be awesome if it was translated from German to be published in the USA! I was really excited about Ruby Red when I found out, and even more excited when I discovered it’s all about time travel. As alway, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I was really impressed by the translation. We all know how easily wittiness and the beauty of descriptions can be lost in translation. Not so with Ruby Red! The writing is beautiful, the characters witty, the current way of speaking taken into account without seeming out of place. I can only imagine how amazing the writing is in German, if it is this good after translation. I applaud the translator, and I applaud the author for writing a story that is amazing even in another language!

2. I’ve got this thing with real people in history being woven into fictional stories. It brings a completely different kind of awesomeness to the table, and makes a story so much more believable if people like Sir Isaac Newton are brought into the story. He plays a significant role in Ruby Red, even though he is not a character in the book. It made things really interesting.

3. I loved the clever, witty dialogue between the characters. Lesley, Gwyneth’s best friend, is particularly fun to read. She knows all about Gwyneth’s ability to travel through time, and watching her drink it all in is pretty great. Gwyneth’s ghost friend, James, is also highly amusing. He died years ago, but does not know it. So he hangs out around the school and teaches Gwyneth about how things are in his time, mostly regarding manners and how to be a proper lady. I love that Gwyneth can see and talk with ghosts. It allows for a lot of side stories to come into play, like with Robert, the little boy who hangs around his dad all the time.

4. The entire cast of characters is great, but I really like Gideon. He’s a snarky, experienced time traveler who is a complete nuisance to Gwyneth. At the same time, though, she blushes when he’s around. She hates that. Hopefully we get to learn more about him in the next few books.

5. The approach to time travel is pretty cool. Across history, there are 12 time travelers (all born with a time traveling gene), all of whom are called a different precious stone. Gwyneth, the ruby, is the 12th and final stone in the circle of twelve. The main goal of the characters in this book is to go back in time to get a blood sample from each time traveler so they can read it into the chronograph (their time machine, essentially) and unlock a secret. Some people want to unlock it, and some feel it would be very dangerous to do so. Gwyneth and Gideon get to travel back together, meet old ancestors, try to figure out what’s true and what’s not, and deal with some obstacles. It’s really exciting, mysterious, and full of history that is totally believable.

Basically, Ruby Red blew me away in a subtle way. The more I think about it and let it marinate in my mind, the more I discover I really liked it! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. :) Definitely read this if you’re looking for a unique spin on time travel. I see romance in this series’s future as well, so that’s another plus for it!


Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

June 14, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Also in this series: Shadow and Bone, Ruin and Rising
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 4, 2013
Genres: High Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 435
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Oh. My. People, Leigh Bardugo is my hero. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Shadow and Bone. I thought for SURE there was no way to top it ever. BUT Siege and Storm is perfection! I was over the moon when I received my ARC, and I dropped everything to read it. Honestly, I have no idea how to even review this one. No idea. My brain wheels are spinning so fast, but then I type and nothing makes sense! I just loved it, and that’s that. I will do my best, but basically it all boils down to the fact that you just HAVE to read this even if you think Fantastical futuristic Russia, sexy male leads, a kick-butt heroine, and feeling is not for you. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Everything I loved about Shadow and Bone showed up in Siege and Storm. I was flooded with feels, swoons, and gasps. OH MAN. It’s like I’m reliving it.

2. The World. We learn so much more, and we are introduced to new places! Like the OCEAN. And there’s a sea monster and privateers! Need I say more?

3. Alina is SO much stronger! I didn’t think it was possible, but she’s just crazy nuts now. She’s more powerful, and she knows it. And I love watching her struggle as she tries to keep this power in check without succumbing to the darkness. She’s beginning to identify more with The Darkling, which puts a bit of a rift between her and Mal. And I totally understand why she’s drawn to him, as he is still just as alluring in that dangerous bad-boy kind of way. But oh, is he scary. But then he’s not… because he can be so understanding towards Alina. He totally gets her, and this softens me a bit. It’s kind of romantic. He’s like a drug. I kinda love him, but he’s just not good. I’m so torn.

4. So, we have this new guy Sturmhond. I LOVE HIM. He’s one of those suave sailor guys who can’t say anything wrong, and he totally steals the show. He’s just so dashing and cocky that you can’t help but flutter your eyelashes. The things he comes up with had me laughing. He’s so dynamic, that even though he’s new to the scene he makes a place for himself and makes sure he’s not overlooked. He brings out a lot of great things in Alina, as he coaches her and sticks by her side. And he’s really mysterious and hard to figure out because he’s a privateer. Who is he looking out for? Which side is he on? Gah, the complexity. I’m already planning our winter wedding.

5. Mal… I feel like he’s fallen to the back of the pack a little. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a soldier among Grisha and royalty, if he’s not supportive enough of Alina and her place in this world, or if he’s just got a lot on his mind. Whatever the case may be, I’m totally ok with this because we’ve got more room for action and craziness. Rather than focusing on him and Alina, Leigh has chosen to showcase other characters (like my future husband), as well as the ongoing battle between Alina and The Darkling. I love that this entire trilogy has SO much more going on than love triangles.

6. Leigh’s writing is still gorgeous. She can go from writing deep feelings to crazy battle scenes to detailed descriptions of Grisha powers. I mentioned it in my review of Shadow and Bone, and I’ll mention it again: if Leigh’s writing was not so amazing this book would be just another fantasy novel.

7. And… again… everything happens! There’s no mindless dialogue or details nobody cares about (I really hate needless details). Everything written on these pages is written for a purpose. Events are strung together so fast, but with transitions that do not cause whiplash. I was always on my toes wondering what was going to happen next, and I was completely engrossed. Siege and Storm really reads like a movie.

OH MAN. I want to go back and read S&B and S&S all over again for the first time! I just love this series. Leigh really has jumped to the top of my most beloved authors list. I will follow her and her books to the ends of the earth. Just read them.