Monday, March 30, 2015

Review ~ Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary / mystery
Pages: 368
Publication Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Goodreads Description: 
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other. 
Source: I was given access to an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vanishing Girls was an amazing story focused on sisters and the strong bond between them, despite their differences and disputes. I started loving it from last page and I was crying as I read the last one. There were shocking twists at the end that left me reeling and feeling for the characters.

The POVs were pretty interesting. Most of the time, it was in Nick’s voice. Sometimes, it was in Dara’s. There were chapters told in the present and ones told in the past. There were some journal entries sprinkled in as well as some articles/emails (not told in either sister’s POVs). They were written pretty well! I really liked getting to know the sisters and seeing what they thought of each other while reading their different POVs. They had distinct voices too, which is always a plus.

Dara was such a brat. I hated her sometimes. I didn't like her actions or her attitude. However, I couldn't help but understand her character. Her behavior made sense! I ended up loving her character. Actually...I think I liked her more than Nick. Dara stood out more, though I connected to Nick on a deeper level.

I felt uneasy about the romance because I didn't like the conflict it added to the sisters' relationship. However, I ended up loving its presence and appreciating the place it ended up at.

Nick’s job kinda reminded me of the movie Adventureland--the scenes in Fanlad had a similar vibe. Fanland added some great elements to the story and helped make more special and meaningful. The Snow case did the same thing. The story was connected to a missing girl case, and the girls sister was involved. Having another pair of sisters and another disappearance in the book added another dimension to the book. It strengthened the impact the story had on me too.

Overall, Vanishing Girls was an amazing, sad read with really well built characters and a fantastic focus on sisters. I was very happy with how it turned out. Lauren Oliver has yet to disappoint me!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Sunday, March 29, 2015

15 TV Series I'm Behind In Watching

It's time for this month's personal type post! My previous lists have been Nineteen Random Songs From My Queue19 Random Facts About Me, and 15 Confessions I've Been Meaning to Make. 

I decided on tv shows for this month because I keep saying that I'm behind in this show or that I need to catch up in that one. Being caught up on a show is rare for me. I always go through Netflix to see them (or sometimes I watch them on Hulu) because I never watch new episodes when they're first played on tv.

Without further ado, here's the list!

1. Supernatural
Where I'm At: Season 9, episode 8 
How Far Behind Am I? The show is currently in its 10th season, so I'm not too far behind.

This is my favorite show! Sam and Dean (and of course, Castiel) are awesome and I love the storyline. 

2. Pretty Little Liars

Where I'm At: I've seen the first two seasons, but haven't started the third.
How Far Behind Am I? I believe the fifth season just ended. I think? So, I'm three seasons behind.

I haven't seen this one in a really long time! I think I stopped watching it because there weren't any more disks left to rent from Netflix. It's a really good show, though. Sometimes, the drama annoys me, but it draws me in most of the time. Hanna is my favorite, so I want to continue watching to at least see what happens with her storyline.

3. Game of Thrones
Where I'm At: Same as Pretty Little Liars!
How Far Behind Am I? The fifth season starts in April, so I'm three (almost four) seasons behind.

I don't know why, but I do like this show. I want to know what happens next, especially with Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and Tyrion Lannister. Their storylines are my favorites. I have trouble keeping track of other characters' names.

4. The Big Bang Theory
Where I'm At: I have no idea. I watch it whenever it's on tv, and that's usually reruns.
How Far Behind Am I? Way behind.

I need to start watching the episodes in order. I never know what season I'm watching when it's on tv. This show is hilarious. It's a lot of nerdy fun. :D

5. Gossip Girl
Where I'm At: Apparently I've only seen the first two seasons? Weird. I thought I saw more.
How Far Behind Am I? There are six seasons, so I have four more to watch!

This show is addicting!! I'm not sure why I stopped watching it. I think I lost interest in what was going on at the time, but I really want to go back and watch the rest of the series. (Plus, I asked a friend to tell me how the show ended, so now I have to see the rest of it.)

6. The Walking Dead
Where I'm At: I think I'm in season two.
How Far Behind Am I? It seems to be in its fifth season, so I'm three (?) seasons behind.

I keep track of what I've seen with Netflix, but I think my brother watches the show too because Netflix shows that episodes in season four have been watched (I'm definitely not that far). I lost my place! I'm really into this show, so I'll have to find out where I'm at soon. 

7. The Vampire Diaries
Where I'm At: Season 2, episode 15
How Far Behind Am I? It's currently in it's sixth season. Haha, I have a lot to catch up on. :D

I have a love/dislike about this show. It took me a couple tries to get hooked, but then (after binge-watching it for awhile), I grew a little bored of it. But I miss Damon, so I want to back to see what happens with him.

8. Doctor Who (Starting with Ninth Doctor)
Where I'm At: Season 1, episode 9
How Far Behind Am I? There are eight seasons, so yeah, I definitely have a lot of catching up to do (if I continue to watch it).

Ehhh...I'm not really sure if I like this show. The episodes I've seen haven't pulled me in enough to make me care enough for the show. However, since I really want to see the season (seasons?) with David Tennant as the doctor but don't want to skip over the ninth doctor, I will continue watching it.

I want to be able to use gifs like this one and be more familiar with where they came from!

9. Outlander
Where I'm At: I've seen a total of . . . one episode.
How Far Behind Am I? Well, I need to catch up on everything after the first episode.

My Twitter feed always exploded when this show came on and I'm sure there's going to be a ton of excitement when it (finally) starts up again. I saw the the first episode online, but I've had no way to watch the other episodes. I'll eventually watch those and see what all the fuss is about.

10. Criminal Minds
Where I'm At: Season 3, episode 10
How Far Behind Am I? It's in its tenth season, so I'm about six and a half seasons behind.

I love this show!! I liked putting episodes on when I'm blogging or taking reading/homework breaks, but I haven't seen an episode in awhile.

11. Heroes
Where I'm At: I believe I've only seen the first two seasons?
How Far Behind Am I? If I'm right and I've seen the first two seasons, I'm only two seasons behind!

This show is a little hard to follow (timeline wise), so I keep losing my place in the show. It used to be one of my favorites, though! The characters and their storylines were really interesting, though.

12. Arrow
Where I'm At: Season 1, episode 22 (I think?)
How Far Behind Am I? It's in its third season, so I'm not as far behind as in the other shows.

I find it hard to believe that I've seen over 20 episodes of this show, but that's what Netflix says, so okay. I kinda like the show, but I lost interest in what was happening. Sometimes I think of continuing it, but . . . ehh. Maybe someday.

13. Once Upon a Time
Where I'm At: Somewhere in the latest season
How Far Behind Am I? I need to watch the rest of the latest season.
I used to be caught up with this one! But then the recent season came on and the whole Frozen thing started and . . . it just lost its appeal. I grew bored. I want to eventually get back into it, but it'll be a slow process. Season one hooked me, but it's been awhile since I've been really into the show.

14. New Girl
Where I'm At: Season 3, episode 3
How Far Behind Am I? Only two whole seasons (minus two episodes)!

This show is so much fun! And fast, since the episodes are shorter. I watched the first two seasons pretty quickly then took a break from it. It's a good one to watch while blogging or eating, though.

15. Greek
Where I'm At: I'm not sure on the episode, but somewhere in season two.
How Far Behind Am I? Two-ish seasons?

I haven't seen this one in a long time, but I've thought about returning to it for a long time. I like the characters. I always liked seeing what romances happened.

Which of these shows do you recommend I catch up on first?
Are you behind in a lot of shows too?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review ~ How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 528
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Goodreads Description: 
Using Scarface as his guide to life, Adam Higgs is going from zero to high school hero.

Adam Higgs is a loser, and he’s not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate?

Adam searches for the A-listers’ weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam’s popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School’s honest portrayal of high school hierarchy is paired with an adrenaline-charged narrative and an over-the-top story line, creating a book that will appeal to guys, girls, and reluctant readers of every stripe. Adam’s rocket ride to the top of the social order and subsequent flameout is both emotionally resonant and laugh-out-loud funny. 
Source: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

How to Win at High School was a quick read. I know it doesn’t sound like it because it has over 500 pages, but each chapter/section was only 1-2 pages long. It was kinda like reading a novel in verse, but the writing wasn't quite verse-like (not in the way that I've read before). The writing style was really cool! And different. It definitely took some getting used to.

The book was pretty good. Things just got crazier and crazier as time went on. The levels at which Adam (Pizza Man) went to be popular--to be noticed, to be a "god"-were insane. He was such a selfish character. He was out of control and so desperate. He hated being Pizza Man. He just wanted more and MORE and MORE. He eventually became a person that he didn't like--hell, that no one genuinely liked. I sure didn't like him as a person, butI liked the character building. I liked reading his story.

This book was about being yourself and not worrying about what everyone else thinks. If you do that, you'll be happier than being someone else and trying so hard to be popular. That’s the message I received, and it helped me really like the story. I like it when good messages are pulled off well in books. 

The ending went a bit too quick for me. It was a little rushed and didn't seem to conclude the story as well as it should have. Adam’s character growth could’ve been demonstrated stronger in this part.

Overall, How to Win at High School was decent. I didn’t have many expectations at all for this one, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge

Friday, March 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (59) ~ Some Books and Bookish Items

This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we share what books we have recently added to our physical or virtual shelves. I like to use the meme to also give a recap of the week's posts.
(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads.)

In the Mail

Not Books, But Still Bookish
 These are from Society6! I love both of them!
On Reading is My Treasure

I read Ten Tiny Breaths, Liars, Inc. Things We Know By Heart, Play On, and The Fill-In Boyfriend. I'm almost done with Second Position and am in the first half of Twist.

I've been having a great spring break! I was stuck inside a bunch of different books and managed to catch up on reviews (I was behind quite a bit). I also started watching Veronica Mars (thanks for Amber and Taherah) and I'm hooked. That show is seriously addictive. I started it on Thursday and I've already reached season two!

That's it for me this week! How about you? How has your week been?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Catch Up Reviews ~ Exquisite Captive and No Place to Fall

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 480
Publication date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Description: 
Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Exquisite Captive was a bit rough for me when it came to some big parts of the book, but there was enough great elements to make me enjoy reading it.

I liked the characters. Nalia was fiery and determined. Her journey toward freedom was nice to read. I liked Raif's personality and his loyalty to his sister. Zanori was great, too. She was the most delightful of the cast of characters. She had the brightest personality. As for Malek, I liked his role in the story. Nalia's relationship with him was an obstacle for her. She struggled with him in many ways, and it just made her stronger in the end. It made the book more interesting.

The story was a bit slow, yet exciting. Things got a bit more intense as it neared the danger in the end. The ending left me curious about what happens next. I definitely intend to continue the series!

I both liked the romance and didn't like it. The chemistry sizzled in the the early stages of Nalia and Raif's relationship. I really, REALLY wanted the two to happen. I was eager for some kissing scenes! Once deeper feelings came into play, it was like the two fell of a cliff into love. Their feelings went from budding to fully bloomed too quickly for me, which left me feeling a little unsettled. It dampened the chemistry I had felt between the two earlier on.

There was so much world building. It wasn't . . . even. Sometimes, it felt solid. Other times, I was just confused. There were quite a few things that I still don't have a good grasp on--like the Dark Caravan and Nalia's past--and it feels like I should. I liked the ideas, but I wish they were executed better.

Overall, Exquisite Captive was a nice read with some different elements than what I've seen in other paranormal books. It was something fresh. Even though the world building didn't feel very strong, I still liked what was going on in it. This is a series that I'm looking forward to continuing!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Dive into Diversity

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 368
Publication Date: December 9th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Goodreads Description: 
Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I love YA contemporary romances, so I was expecting to really like (if not love) No Place to Fall! Sadly, it didn’t work very well for me. There were a few things that I liked. I liked the bits of romance. It confused me so many times because wasn't sure who exactly the romance was between, but I did like some of the romantic scenes. I liked Amber's passion for music, though the scenes where she sang didn't interest me very much. I also liked the growth the mother went through (I was surprised by that). I liked it better than Amber's because I sensed the mom's growth a whole lot more. Amber grew, but it felt...meh (mainly because I felt meh about her as a character).

The rest of the book? SO BORING. It was bland. Amber wasn’t very interesting, which made me less interested in what was going on in her story. The book also seemed . . . jumbled. My confusion over the romance was part of that, but the book as a whole didn’t seem to be put together well. The only thing keeping me reading was my curiosity about the romance and who (if anyone) Amber would end up with. Near the end, I just wanted to be finished. I was itching to just be done with the book.

Overall, I was disappointed with No Place to Fall. It sounded like one I would enjoy, but it didn’t turn out to be very interesting.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Reasons I Start a New Book . . . When I'm Already Reading Another

I seem to write multiple books at once quite a bit. Until recently, I don't think I've read just one book at one time (and finished it before starting another) all year. There are a lot of reasons for that!

(These aren't in any particular order.)

Reason #1: I'm bored.
Sometimes a book is just so slow and I want something quicker--something more exciting. If I'm bored with a book, it usually takes me longer to read it because I don't feel like reading something boring. Reading something more entertaining at the same time keeps me out of the slight slump that a boring book could put me in.

Reason #2: I don't have the book with me.
I go to community college and I don't drive. No buses come anywhere close to my house and carpooling is tricky. Therefore, I'm stuck on campus from around 8am to somewhere between 2 and 3 pm (depends on when my mom gets off work). I haven't had a really heavy load of homework (yet), so what do I usually do when I don't have class? I read. A lot. Sometimes I'll have my Kindle, but I won't have the print book I'm in the middle of. So, I start a new book because I don't want to be dreadfully bored.

Reason #3: I don't feel like writing a review.
This happens when I'm close to the end of a book. I usually don't write my reviews immediately after finishing a book, but I do write out all my thoughts in note form. Sometimes I just don't feel like going through the process, but I do feel like reading. Therefore . . . *looks for a new book to start*

Reason #4: I'm almost done with the book and I'm in public.
The last quarter/20 percent of a book usually plays with my emotions the most. Lots of big twists happen in this area of a book. I want to fully feel all the feels during that part, and I don't really feel comfortable doing that in public. I can react to the book more--through tears or yelling at the book--where no one can see me.

Reason #5: I'm scared.
This is what prompted this post! I'm around 80 percent in a book and . . . I'm nervous about how it's going to end. There's a possibility that the next 20 percent will hurt. So, to put off the possible hurt, I have decided to just read another book for a little bit before continuing to read my current one.

Reason #6: I need to post my review of a book soon.
Sometimes, release dates and blog tour dates sneak up on me. I have to put whatever else I'm reading on pause when that happens.

Reason #7: I'm in public and . . . things have gotten awkward.

By awkward, I mean either a sex scene or just a really romantic part. It feels weird. It's like watching a movie with your friends (or your parents because that's more awkward) and two of characters start having sex. Even though I'm the only one reading the scene when it's a book, it's still weird when other people are around. I usually start a new book to avoid feeling awkward.

Reason #8: My mood pushes me to another book.
This has happened a lot lately! I'll be reading one book and I'll feel like reading another genre or a certain book that I've had my eye on. 

Reason #9: Just because.
Sometimes, I don't have a reason other than just feeling like starting a new book! 

I believe those are all my reasons! Now, I have some questions for you:

Do you ever read multiple books at once?
Why do you start a book when you're already reading another?
Do you share any of the same reasons as me?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review ~ Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 368
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Description: 
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are. 
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Bone Gap was weird--in a really good way. There was a normalness to the book, yet at the same time, it didn't feel normal. The author did a great job melding the normal and not-so-normal elements to create something convincing and magical and, like I said, weird.

I really liked the cast of characters. They were quirky. There was Finn with his awkwardness and his inability to describe faces well. He was called “Moonface” by a lot of people. His friend, Miguel, had really long arms. Petey was oftentimes said to be a beautiful girl with an ugly face that resembled a bee’s. Charlie Valentine had a lot of chickens that he let roost inside his house. There were a lot of odd characters! 

An element of mystery when it came to Roza’s kidnapping. It was . . . a bit dark, actually. The person that took her was a creep (which was demonstrated in the first Roza chapter). He wanted to make her love him. That’s all I’ll say on this matter, though. It’s best to go into this book mostly blind. It’s more surprising that way.

I had an issue with the time frame of the book. It got odd and hard to follow at times. There were flashbacks for all the characters that had their own chapters. Sometimes, flashbacks for one character included a scene that was in another flashback. The transition into and out of past events wasn’t always easy to detect, so I got confused a few times. 

Overall, Bone Gap was a great read with quirky characters and weird elements. For me, the book was about what it means to really know someone (or be familiar with him/her). There's more to people than face value. That’s the biggest theme I paid attention to. The story can definitely be interpreted in different ways, though, which makes this book even better. I highly recommend reading this one if you’re up for something weird and interesting.