Format: Hardcover

Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

Posted June 25, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 6 Comments

Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewFairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel and Friends on January 27, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Retelling, Science Fiction
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3.5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

I’ve never really been a fan of the villain in any story because I don’t usually like the villain! Sure, there have been some exceptions to that rule, but I really wasn’t sure I wanted to learn about Levana and her excuses for being such an awful person. But I love Marissa Meyer and The Lunar Chronicles, so of COURSE I wanted to read Fairest. While I did not love it as much as the full-length novels in this series, I enjoyed Levana’s back story, I feel prepared to read Winter, and I also learned quite a few things about Cinder that surprised me. Bottom line, this book was certainly worth reading! So if you’re on the fence as to whether or not you should, definitely do it. You’ll learn things and more pieces will start to fit into the puzzle.

Levana is EVIL. I mean wow. Pure evil. At times I felt bad for her, but she is seriously a psychopath. I felt bad for her. She went through a lot in her youth, and all of these things helped shaped her to be a ruthless, evil witch she is. She had a horrible upbringing. We hear the heartbreaking story of why she must hide behind an artificial glamour, we hear her experience with being rejected by the man she loved, and her inner feelings and compulsions are brought to light. It’s a very interesting character analysis, and it adds a lot to the story, giving it more of a solid foundation. I do like knowing the why’s and how’s of any situation, and this book gives you that. I’ll never feel like Levana is justified in her actions, but at least I know why she is so crazy.

As always, Marissa Meyer’s writing is flawless and I loved being immersed in this world once again. I’m even more excited for Winter now!

3.5 Stars

Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book Review

Posted June 10, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book ReviewOf Neptune by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #3
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Hardcover
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
2.5 Stars

Emma, who is half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together. Alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean-living Syrena and the land-dwelling, freshwater counterparts. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love, but their ocean kingdoms.

In this stunning conclusion to her bestselling Syrena Legacy, Anna Banks thrills fans with more action and romance than ever.

I really, REALLY loved the first two books in The Syrena Legacy, Of Poseidon and Of Triton. I was excited for this third book because I loved the characters. At the same time, I felt like there wasn’t really a need for a third book. Of Triton wrapped up everything for me, and I felt like there really was nothing left I needed from the series. For this reason, I was also worried I would not love Of Neptune. Sadly, I was right. I almost didn’t even finish it and that broke my heart.

I don’t know if I’m tired of Emma or what, but her little wacky idiosyncrasies really bugged me this time around. I feel like in areas of her life, she has grown and changed and matured. In other areas, though, she’s stayed the same silly little teenager she was before she discovered herself and her family and her destiny. Things I found funny in book one, like Emma’s “ohmysweetgoodness” and “fan-freaking-tastic” and sarcastic quips were not funny this time. I wanted her to grow up a little and show me that she has changed over the years. I didn’t even like her in this book. She’s selfish (SO SELFISH) and inconsiderate and petty. She acted too young to be in a relationship. They both did, really.

I didn’t love Galen this time, and that surprised me. Hs uses of marine words inserted into human phrases is not endearing anymore. He calls Emma “Angel Fish” and that really started to bug me! He has also gotten way too broody. I loved the romance in the first book, but things really fizzled in book 2 and even more in book 3. I’m not sure why, after everything we’ve been through with Emma and Galen, a brand new love triangle was necessary in this final book. Emma goes to a town of Half-Breeds called Neptune and meets Reed, who is immediately infatuated with her. He is immediately in love with her. He immediately wants to break Galen and her up. It feels so forced and awkward. And Emma actually considers this and I’m like, “WHAT!?” How can this even happen after it is decided that Galen and Emma are destined for one another. I don’t even believe their love story anymore if she is so easily swayed to leave him for someone else. And REED? He’s a very weak, rather useless addition to the story.

To be honest, the entire Half-Breed town fell a little short of my interest level.I did not enjoy this new storyline that had nothing to do with the other two books. I wanted the magical underwater romance that I got with the first book, and there is none of that. Galen and Emma don’t even get much time with one another. There’s a lot of pouting, brooding, jumping to conclusions, and immaturity and it just bothered me that it was coming from two people who hold a lot of responsibility and who I have invested so much time into. I missed Rayna, Nalia, Toraf, and Grom. They made small cameo appearances, and I did not get their fun personalities. They were the ones I was so excited to see again! I don’t care about these new Half-Breeds and their hidden agendas. I wanted my Syrena family back!

I will admit that I loved the epilogue. If this epilogue had been placed at the end of Of Triton, I would have been a happy girl. If you enjoyed Of Poseidon and Of Triton and are looking for a little something more, definitely read the epilogue because it is very sweet and wraps things up nicely. Of Neptune is not necessary, though, and it pains me to say that more than you might expect.

2.5 Stars

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book Review

Posted January 12, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book ReviewThe Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 13, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

I’ve always had this weird interest in conspiracy theories. Now, I’m not some paranoid theorist, but I find these theories very entertaining to read about. So naturally, The Conspiracy of Us had me very intrigued from the get go. And when I read that is was being compared to The Da Vinci Code, I was even more excited! I ended up LOVING this book, and am so excited to read more from debut author, Maggie Hall! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I learned very quickly that I would need to suspend a little disbelief in order to immerse myself in the story. Avery is 16 years old, so I found it to be a little unbelievable that she was so valuable and in so much danger, with so many people out to kill her. We’re not given a ton of details in the beginning, so just roll with it and Maggie Hall will convince you. The story ended up being pretty fantastic, and I believed all of it.

2. The world in this story is amazingly secretive and interesting. The Conspiracy of Us is contemporary, but with this underlying mystery that is believable and unbelievable at the same time. Basically, The Circle of Twelve is a group of twelve families who rule the world. They have family members in every government system, in every country, and in pretty much every facet of life. You think you know why WWI happened, but you’re wrong. It was because of dueling families. And these families go all the way back to Alexander the Great and Napoleon. I loved learning about all these secrets and mysteries of the world. Everything fits together in a really complicated puzzle that was so much fun to try and put together.

3. The Conspiracy of Us is FILLED with action and excitement. I flew through this book because there was never a good stopping point! Crazy things happen back to back to back, and I barely had time to catch my breath.

4. I loved the travel aspect. We bounce around Paris and Istanbul, and I loved it! Things happen in Notre Dame and at the Hagia Sophia. I’ve been to Paris, so I loved revisiting, and now I want to go to Istanbul super bad.

5. The romance is pretty perfect. Jack is so swoony and perfect. Plus, he has a British accent. I mean, really. There is the one chapter that just had me melting. It was the sexiest, most tender, most romantic moment that I’ve ever read in young adult fiction.

6. Maggie’s writing is beautiful, and I just know she is going to become a strong facet of the young adult community. I was truly intoxicated by some of her passages, not to mention her vivid imagination.

7. I loved the characters, but Jack has stolen my heart. Holy swoonfest.

8. The Conspiracy of Us is fun and light, but also has some serious elements. The characters are flawed, and we get to learn about those flaws. I tend to love and connect with characters for their flaws because it makes them more real.

All in all, The Conspiracy of Us was my perfect book. I love the secrets, the mystery, the puzzle, the romance, the travel, the characters, the writing. I really can’t come up with a complaint, except that it’s not a standalone and I’m DYING for the next book! I recommend this to all fans of YA. There’s a little something for everyone. I’m so excited for Maggie, and hope she plans to stick around the YA scene for a long time.

5 Stars

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted January 5, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 38 Comments

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Book Review + GiveawayA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Published by HarperTEEN on November 4, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

This book sounded amazing before the cover image released, but once the cover was revealed I was even more excited about it! For once, the book lived up to its beautiful cover. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. As much as I loved this book, I had a very hard time getting started. The pacing across the first 100 pages or so is very slow and cumbersome. I actually set this book down back in November because I just could not hang in there, and I was so sad it would end up being a DNF. I’m so glad I gave it another chance, though, because it ended up becoming a new favorite!

2. I’m not usually a fan of parallel universes or alternate dimensions because books that contain them are usually repetitive and the differences between those worlds are never exciting or unique enough to hold my attention. In this case, however, I could not wait to see where Marguerite and Theo traveled to next.

3. My favorite parallel universe was Russia, and is where the bulk of this book takes place. Even though the characters never change time periods, this particular universe feels like it’s a couple hundred years behind ours. Marguerite is the daughter of the tsar, and lives in a candlelit castle. Lieutenant Markov (a.k.a. Paul Markov, suspected murderer of Marguerite’s father) is Marguerite’s personal body guard, and oh wow is he swoony! I loved getting to see so many sides of Paul, but this one was my favorite.

4. I really liked Marguerite. I liked that she was willing to take the less popular road and give Paul a chance to prove that he did not kill her father. I liked her tenacity and her crusade for truth. And I loved her relationship with her dad. So sweet.

5. I’m not going to try and explain the ins and outs of how they travel between dimensions and everything because that’s for you to discover as you read, but I found the “science” fascinating.

6. The focus in this story is primarily on romance, but there’s also this quest to find out if Paul killed Marguerite’s dad or not, a battle against an evil corporation looking to use the Firebird for evil, and the fight to stay alive and return home. There’s a lot going on, and there’s so many twists and turns and revelations. What you think is going on is not what’s going on.

7. The romance is super unique. You’ve got Theo and Paul. They make up the love triangle. But then there’s Lieutenant Markov, who is Paul but not really Paul. He’s Paul from Russia. And Marguerite loves Lieutenant Markov, but maybe not Paul. So basically it’s a love square with Theo and Paul from two different dimensions. By loving Paul is she cheating on Lieutenant Markov? So yeah. Complicated.

8. I could have done with fewer flashbacks to what happened before Paul supposedly betrayed Marguerite’s family. Those were kind of boring and took me out of the suspense of what was going on then.

9. There were some pretty romantic quotes. I just loved the romance!

All in all, I really enjoyed A Thousand Pieces of You and can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Somehow I ended up with an extra hardback from the publisher, so I’m giving it away to someone who thinks they might love it as much as I did! I’m feeling generous so I’m willing to ship internationally, and I’m currently publicizing the Debut Author Challenge so you get extra entries if you sign up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Stars

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

Posted September 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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.

5 Stars

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni | Mini Book Review

Posted September 15, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni | Mini Book ReviewThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
Published by Clarion Books on May 14, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.

One of my friends recommended The Caged Graves to me after loving it so much. I’ll be honest, I was worried it would not be my thing. At the same time, though, I was very intrigued by the story, which was inspired by the author’s discovery of a pair of caged graves in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Dianne K. Salerni could not find the answer to why these graves were caged, so she wrote the story she imagined might have happened. I decided to give this book a try, and I ended up really loving it. The Caged Graves did not hit me like a ton of bricks in the beginning. It was only AFTER I finished, and realized that I was thinking about it days later, that I discovered how much I enjoyed it.

I really love Gothic literature that incorporates mystery, history, and romance. The Caged Graves combines all of these things with a little suspense and hints of the paranormal. Ever since I read The Crucible by Arthur Miller I’ve been very intrigued by the history of witches that were heard of in the Northeastern states. This is a pretty substantial theme in The Caged Graves, which gave me yet another reason to pick it up. I quickly began to discover all these elements I so love reading about, and grew more and more excited with each page turn.

Verity is not your typical 19th Century girl, who sits by submissively as men plan out her life and tells her what to do. She’s got this modernized personality that was so refreshing to read about. She does not take no for an answer, she does not sit idly by and wonder, and she is far above the cattiness that frequently surfaces among southern belles in literature that covers this time period. She is stubborn and brave, and will not hesitate to put her nose in things others wish she would leave well enough alone. She’s not always prim and proper, and I love that about her. I’m pretty sure I’d be a lot like her if I lived in 19th Century America.

Nate, Verity’s husband-to-be, is your typical Southern gentleman. He’s sweet and chivalrous, and always seems to say the right things. That’s why I was not especially fond of him at first, though. I felt like he said everything he said because he felt it was the right thing to say, not necessarily because he wanted to say it. He did grow on me because I realized that that was how he was brought up. And he’s so NOT the smooth talking romantic. I laughed as he tripped over himself. I much preferred Hadley, the blunt doctor who had no problems going outside the societal norms, much like Verity. His concern and friendship towards Hadley in a town where everyone gave her odd glances and spoke to each other in hushed tones when she was around, was very endearing. As much as this situation sounds like a love triangle, it was a very realistic one. So often, today’s love triangles are self-inflicted either because the heroine can’t choose who she likes better, one of the heroes can’t accept that the heroine is taken, or vice versa. This love triangle is understandable, though, as Verity is torn between who she should like (because her dad wants her to) and who she wants to like.

I liked quite a few of the secondary characters as well, including Verity’s father who has no idea how to raise a teenage girl but is trying really hard to, as well as Beulah, Verity’s crotchety housemaid. Each character was very well written and stood apart from the rest. There’s a couple sweet moments where the idea of segregation dissolves and African Americans and whites come together to help and look out for one another. I was so happy to see this, especially during a time where racism was rampant.

The romance is very sweet and tender, yet understated. It was certainly not the entirety of the plot. I loved that it played a side role to Verity’s quest for learning the truth about her mother’s past. I liked that this book was not riddle with historical facts. There was just enough to allow me a sense of the time, but not so much that I felt bogged down by a history lesson. I really, really loved this story and would recommend it to anyone looking for something outside the normal equation of young adult literature. The Caged Graves reads like adult fiction but is centered around young people, making it a book that transcends age groups and can be enjoyed by all.

5 Stars

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell | Book Review

Posted March 17, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 3 Comments

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell | Book ReviewWelcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Published by Harry N Abrams on May 1, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 299
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

This is an Epic Recs review! Racquel from The Book Barbies is my partner, and she recommended this book to me because I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. It had not been on my tbr at all even though I had heard about it before. It just never really grabbed me enough to even read the summary. I am so glad Racquel pushed it on me, though, because I ended up really enjoying it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. At first glance, this book looks bright and cheery. I was expecting a light and fluffy book as a result. While there are some very sweet, cute moments, this book tackles some major issues. I’m not usually a fan of issue books, but the author was able to do it in a way that made me hopeful instead of depressed. I can handle that.

2. Chloe is so much fun, and I love her snarky sarcasm and bluntness. She likes to be funny, and she really cares about people. And she is in love with vintage shoes, which made me love her. Because, really? I will talk about my beloved shoe collection with anyone. She is just real, and she is figuring herself out. Being a teen is tough, but I feel like she has risen above all the typical teen drama and knows what’s important. I would have loved a friend like her in high school.

3. I felt like the radio aspect gave us a larger opportunity to get to know Chloe. Rather than reading descriptions of her, or seeing what other people think of her in the story, we got this window into her thoughts through “listening” to her talk show. Teens giving teens advice does not always work out so well, but I really liked her genuine sensitivity and desire to help.

4. Speaking of the radio, I LOVED the characters who ran the radio station. They are all social outcasts for one reason or another, so they found each other and created this super close family. I particularly loved Clem, who is this hardened grump but ends up becoming a really sweet person. And I can tell she is so loyal. She and Chloe have a really entertaining relationship.

5. Duncan. I loved him so much. He’s super sensitive and caring, and he comes from a broken home, which I feel adds so much to his personality. He is always looking out for people and paying attention to them because that’s what he wants for himself.

6. Everything, and I mean everything in this book came about as a result of deep friendships. I loved that this book focused on friendship instead of romance. And these were not superficial friendships. They were stronger than some familial relationships, and I just drank it all in. Can I hug all of these people?

All in all, Welcome, Caller, this is Chloe was a darling contemporary that was fun, yet serious at the same time. I love the group of characters, and how they helped each other through their tough times. This book is so underrated, and I hope more people discover it and fall in love with it as I have. :)

4 Stars

Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book Review

Posted October 18, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book ReviewJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I loved Just One Day SO much. It is one of my favorite books ever! Just One Year was probably my most anticipated release this fall, and I was dancing around the house when my hardback arrived in the mail. I guess I was expecting something completely different from it, because I am so disappointed. I was hoping for a sweeping romance like the first book, which is not at all what I was given in Just One Year. Anyway, my main points are bolded.

1. This book was not a bad book at all. In fact, it was wonderful. Granted, there were a few passages that moved slowly and caused me to skim a page or two here and there, but I really enjoyed learning about Willem and what happened to him at the end of Just One Day. If I had not gone in with such high expectations, I know I would not have been disappointed. Gayle is a wonderful writer, and she creates amazing stories. Just One Year was great! I just wanted something completely different than she gave me with this book.

2. I connected with Allyson so much in Just One Day, and did not realize until I read Just One Year just how much I liked her. I missed her so much in Just One Year, and found I did not like Willem as much without her around to bring out the best in him. I think that was the point, though. We are meant to see Willem’s struggle, and who he is without Allyson in order to make us want him to find her. I longed for their reunion just as much as he did.

3. I liked the new characters we got to meet. Willem’s mom was endearing, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into their tumultuous relationship. I liked Willem’s friends, particularly the one who went on part of Willem’s journey to find Allyson. I honestly can’t remember how to spell his name. Haha.

4. I was not the biggest fan of everything Willem did while he was looking for Allyson. I guess I had built him up as Mr. Perfect in my mind, so when he started sleeping with different women and doing drugs, I was so disappointed in him. My heat broke a little as I learned who Willem really is.

5. I enjoyed traveling with Willem on his journey, and I most of all enjoyed watching him learn so much about himself while he was gone. I’ve said it once, and I will say it again: traveling is the most magical way to discover yourself. I loved his happenings in Mexico, his return to India and the reasons behind that, and the string of events that brought him back to Holland. He went through a lot during this year, and even though I had a hard time with some of his choices, I could not help but cheer for him as he figured out what’s best for himself.

6. The ending made me really mad. Haha. I had originally been hoping that Just One Year would pick up right where Just One Day left off. Perhaps Willem would open his door, see Lulu standing there, hug and kiss her like crazy, and then tell her about his year. I would have loved to hear her input on his journey. I would have loved to see a ton of romance. I quickly discovered that would not happen, so I started hoping that the book would be long enough to have some time devoted to their reunion. I was at least hoping for an epilogue! There’s no after. I kind of feel abandoned now. Just as Willem left Allyson with no explanation, these two left me with no explanation.

I finished Just One Year almost a week ago, and I’m still having a hard time processing it. I almost decided to not even write a review. I figured I needed to, though, so I can come back to it someday and remember how I felt and see if I feel any differently as time goes on. I’m not giving it a star review, though, since I just don’t know how I feel. Honestly, my expectations were way too high. It’s like going on a date to a fancy restaurant with the love of your life and thinking he’s going to propose, but instead he dumps you. If I had gone into this book with no expectations, I would have been able to appreciate it for what it is rather than be disappointed in what it isn’t. Really, the only criticism I have is that it was not what I wanted, and it is not what my heart wanted.


Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)

Posted October 7, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
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!

4 Stars

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton (Mini Book Review + Giveaway)

Posted September 4, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Giveaway / 11 Comments

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton (Mini Book Review + Giveaway)Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton
Series: Two Lies and a Spy #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding. Because when your parents are superspies and your dad declares a Code Black, it can only mean something bad. Very bad.

Kari soon discovers that her parents have been disavowed and declared traitors, and she’s determined to clear their names. Breaking into the Agency seems like a reasonable plan, especially with the help of a team that includes her longtime crush, Luke, as well as her two best friends—an expert hacker with attitude and a master martial artist—and Luke’s popular, vindictive twin sister. Oh, and a new guy, who’s as cute as he is complicated…

What a fun book! I love spy/thriller/espionage type books, and so I was really excited when I was sent a copy of Two Lies and a Spy for review. It was a delightful, quick read and I loved every minute of it.

My favorite part of this book is Kari’s brother, Charlie. He’s seven years old, but he’s a little Einstein. He loves to research things and spout off random facts. He absolutely loves Kari, and she loves him. This has got to be the cutest brother/sister relationship I’ve ever read. After they discover all the trouble their parents are in, they go into hiding together–Charlie dressed as a little girl, and Kari disguised in whatever costume she has at the moment. Kari enlists the help of her friends, and together they decide to break her parents out and clear their names in the process.

Kari’s friends made this story amazing. The plot itself has been done before, but these characters made it unique. Kari is spunky and sarcastic, which I love. Luke, the dreamboat, is so sweet and concerned. Rita and Kale, her two partners in crime were so much fun, especially the zingers they shot back and forth at each other (they kind of hate each other). Rita’s this quirky fashion guru with all the techie gadgets that get things done, and Kale is a computer whiz. Lacey, Luke’s sister, is the bodacious blonde with a major attitude. I liked her, though, and actually enjoyed her prissiness. And then we have Evan, my love. He’s the snarky British bad boy wannabe who drives Kari absolutely nuts with his antics. Aside from Charlie, he is definitely my favorite. I hope we get lots more of him in the next book, because he has a personality you can write novels about. It’s not just the characters I love, but their interactions with one another had me giggling. They are so funny, and I really enjoyed their dialogue. Together, they create this dynamic force you can’t help but root for.

The plot is rather unrealistic at times, but I didn’t even care. There was no eye rolling or muttering from me as I read. It was pure and utter entertainment. The ending made my jaw drop in a twist that was pretty exciting. I love how it ended, and left the door open for more. I can’t wait to read more from Kat!

Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for providing two hardback copies I can giveaway to my readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win. U.S. entries only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 Stars