Monday, August 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (35) ~ Characters I Had Trouble Clicking With

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and a weekly meme where we simply make a top ten list for the week's topic.

Ten Characters You Just Didn't Click With

I'm including characters that I neither liked nor hated. I felt mostly apathetic towards all of them. Some annoyed me, but for the most part, I don't have much of anything to say.

Edit: I gave all of these books between 1 and 2.5 stars besides Falling Kingdoms (which had a lot of other characters in it). Clicking with characters are a big deal for me.

I wish I clicked more with Will Caynes from Cut Both Ways, but *shrugs* It was tough. Melissa from Talker 25 annoyed me because I couldn't connect to her emotions. Amber from No Place to Fall was boring. I didn't click with Eveny from The Dolls because she didn't feel fleshed out enough to get to know.

I couldn't connect to Taylor from A Taylor-Made Life, which made it tough to connect to the book at all. Caggie from The Edge of Falling, Alex from Where Silence Gathers, Lucia from Falling Kingdoms are all ones that I don't have much of anything to say about. 

And lastly . . . characters from books I've DNFed
Amelia from Bleed Like Me felt very flat to me. I couldn't sense any emotions from her. And Lailah from Lailah just bored me. 

Did you have trouble clicking with any of these characters?

Review ~ Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Series: standalone
Genre: YA historical fiction
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Goodreads Description: 
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
I'm adding a new section to my review posts! It's not part of the review since these are thoughts I'm only sharing on this blog. It's pretty straight forward. I'm just going to explain why I picked this one up in the first place.

There was so much excitement for Vengeance Road that when I saw it on Edelweiss, I made an impulse decision to request it. That's . . . pretty much it. It wasn't because I liked how it sounded or have read the author's other books (because I haven't) or even the cover (at least, I don't think). It other people's excitement that piqued my interest.

Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Westerns have never been something I’ve been super into. The Mask of Zorro and Back to the Future Part III (movies) pretty much sums up my experience with them, and that satisfied my interest. Reading Vengeance Road made me want to spend some more time with the genre, though! 

There was so much action, which was expected! The gun fights and chases gave the book a pretty quick pace, so it read quickly. There were also a lot of moments of downtime (or calmer parts). Talking. Traveling. It wasn’t all danger (though that was something everyone was alert of), which was nice.

I loved how vengeance was handled. It guided Kate, but didn’t destroy her. It made her even more determined. It also made the book pretty interesting because the fights were more anger fueled. Vengeance was just one focus. There was guilt, loyalty, family, and morals. How far do you go before you’re just like the person that you’re vengeful towards? There was also a focus on lust for gold.

Indians had a role in the story. They were in a big conflict of the time, so it definitely fit into the book. I like how the conflict was handled. The white characters and the Apache weren’t buddies. There was conflict between the groups, yet they did show some respect towards one another. I liked that positive light.

I felt a little iffy on the romance. The two characters had great chemistry, but I didn’t love the guy. He didn’t grow on me enough. Some of his actions made it hard to believe he was good enough for Kate.

Kate was an awesome heroine! She was hardheaded and determined, and I LOVED that. She also learned a great lesson in the end, which is something I always like to see as a character grows.

Overall, Vengeance Road was a really neat, action packed YA western that many readers will have fun reading. If there were any dull moments, I sure don’t remember them. If you want to read something refreshing and exciting, look no further. Vengeance Road has you covered.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Shorter Review Round Up

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Goodreads Description: 
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions. 
I requested and read this one because it looked like a cute read! I liked The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and I had been meaning to check out more of Jennifer E. Smith's books.
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My first impression of Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between was really bad. It felt clinical. As I read on, that vibe continued—and became even more than just clinical. I sensed zero chemistry between two characters that were a couple, so that mixed in with the vibe made the book feel very bland. Then there were the flashbacks. I love these when they’re done well (and when they’re well balanced with the present). There was so much emphasis on the goodbye and the past at the very beginning of the book, and not enough on the present to make it interesting. Even though I love flashbacks as a literary device, I also like living in the moment in books. That was something I didn’t think I would get from this book. That, the lack of chemistry, and the clinical vibe made me DNF the book before hitting 25 percent.

The Wanderers by Kate Ormand

Series: standalone
Genre: YA paranormal
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Goodreads Description: 
A Unique Twist on Shape-Shifters with Fast-Paced Action, Thrilling Adventure, Mystery, and a Bit of Romance

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most? 
I liked Dark Days, Kate Ormand's debut, and I was curious about another book by her. I featured her and the book for Sophomore Spotlight in June. Doing features like that tend to make me really excited for the author's books. Plus, circuses and shapeshifters are two things I love to read about!
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Wanderers had nice, interesting ideas to it, but it didn’t blow me away. I liked the elements. The Circus setting (though there wasn’t a strong circus feel) was really cool. The characters had no roots, no real home. They were shifters (one of my favorite paranormal beings), but there was a variety. The main character was a horse shifter! There were also bears, elephants, lions, monkeys, and more. The romance was between characters that started out as best friends, so there was a strong bond in place before the book even started. The plot was also decent. I liked how the story went. It started out at the circus (which was more secure to the heroine, though she was aware of danger), then got more and more dangerous.

Despite those great elements, I didn’t form an emotional tie with the book. Events that were meant to be emotional or shocking didn’t hit hard for me. They feel flat instead. As a result, the book as a whole fell a little too short for me to love it. My other big complaint is about the family. I wish there was stronger evidence of the family and the bonds within it. I wanted more from the relationships in the small community the characters lived in. If there was more, it would’ve made certain turns of events more shocking. 

Overall, The Wanderers was decent, but it could’ve been a lot better. It was a cool read with awesome parts. All those parts weren’t put together in a way to pull me in and make me feel for the characters, though, so the book didn’t reach its full potential for me.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review ~ Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator

Series: Jillian Cade #1? (No confirmed series name)
Genre: YA mystery
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Soho Teen
Goodreads Description: 
Jillian Cade doesn’t believe in the paranormal. But her famous professor father does, and now that he’s gone, she decides to milk his reputation—and all the suckers who believe in the stuff—to open a private investigation firm. After all, a high school junior has to take care of herself, especially if she’s on her own.

Ironically, it’s when she takes on a case that might involve a totally non-paranormal missing person that things get strange. Particularly when Sky Ramsey—a new boy at school and an avid fan of her father’s—forces his way into becoming her partner and won’t shut up about succubi, of all things.

Before Jillian knows it, she finds herself navigating both her growing feelings for Sky and a sneaking suspicion that the poor saps she’s been scamming know something she doesn’t. Yet.
I go into this a bit in my review, but basically? It was an impulse decision.
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t know much about this book when I went into it. I got an email from Soho Teen with four options. There was one that I was definitely interested in. I wasn’t very familiar with Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator, but I saw the words “Buffy meets Veronica Mars” and that’s all I needed to know. I picked this one up on an impulse and now I’m glad I made that decision!

I’ve never seen Buffy, but I LOVE Veronica Mars. Jillian and the vibe of this book did remind me of Veronica Mars and that made me so happy. I actually spent a couple days binge watching the show shortly after reading this story. It was an entertaining read with some darker elements. The sarcasm and banter were GREAT. And the mystery was interesting.

It wasn’t really a twisted Whodunnit tale where you constantly changing your mind about the identity of the culprit. It was more of a mystery of what was happening and what truths characters were hiding. There was some good twists that I wasn’t expecting! The mystery kept me engaged.

Lies and fakeness were everywhere. Jillian grew up believing everything was a lie, so she turned out to be very skeptical. When she started confronting the truth, she played it off and came up with other explanations. She was a smart character. Her skepticism helped her think things through logically. She approached people and places with caution. This is a flaw as well as a strength. She didn’t get close to many people, which affected her relationships, but she did think things through. She has a lot of room to grow.

The romance was okay. I feel very iffy when it came to Sky. His chemistry with Jillian was great! Their banter wasn’t too bad, either. His actions were a big turn off, though. He has a lot of growing to do before I start really liking him.

I was really happy with the ending. It showed evidence of character growth. It also showed what a sensible character Jillian was. It was a good place to end for the mystery, characters, romance—everything. 

Overall, Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator was very easy to enjoy. The mystery started out as a small case and gradually grew bigger and more complicated. I’m really interested in reading a sequel so I can see what happens next! As for the “paranormal” side of this book . . . well, that’s part of the mystery!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Summer Blogger Promo Tour Wrap Up

The Summer Blogger Promo Tour is coming to an end! Thank you to Amber and Jessica from The Book Bratz for hosting.☺

So . . . a reflection. I kinda suck at blog events. I will join with enthusiasm, but that attitude usually fades quickly after the event actually starts. Readathons, blog hops, etc. Every time I join a new one, I do remember that I suck at them, but then I think "this is going to be the exception! It looks like so much fun!"

I would like to say the SBPT was the exception, but unfortunately it wasn't. I'm not entirely sure why, but I didn't participate as much as I wished. Maybe it's the weird mood I've been in for the last month or so. Maybe big, collaborative events aren't my thing. Whatever it was, it was me, not the event. (The event was great.) I just . . . didn't get into it as much as everyone else.

On to positivity! I liked meeting a few new bloggers and getting to know a few familiar faces more. I loved the opportunity to feature them because, even though it's a really cool thing, I don't do it very often. I also liked the challenge it made me face. I almost never write guest posts, and this made me write seven of them. 

Lastly, here is a review of who I featured and what they wrote about!

Ana shared her thoughts on the Shadowhunter TV show. 

Jaclyn, who obviously loves quotes, shared five quotes she loves and explained why she loves them.

The other Kaitlin wrote about five books she believes are underrated. (I don't know about you, but I need to start in on the recommendations.)

Giselle talked about her favorite book cover elements (and shared a GORGEOUS photo of amazing looking books).

Preethi (a fellow romance lover) talked about her favorite types of romance. She also included some books as examples.

I had Stephanie make some quick lists for her post!

Jessica discussed what she likes when it comes to genres.

And last, but not least, the event hosts each wrote about a book character they admire!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (80) ~ Practicing My Resistance

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.


Bought: Bounce

Freebie: Wicked Luck

For Review: Blood and Salt (Thank you to Penguin Teen!)

Somehow, I've been able to resist the Harper titles that were added to Edelweiss this week! I want to download them closer to when I would actually read them, which won't be for another month or two. I added a bunch to a section of my ARC spreadsheet, though. 

SBPT ~ Characters Amber & Jessica Admire
Review ~ Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Waiting on Wednesday (62) ~ Fantasy Series Conclusion
Review ~ Finding Center by Katherine Locke
I finished Fangirl, Catching Jordan, and The Wrath & the Dawn! I also read some of Your Voice is All I Hear, but I haven't finished it yet. Next up is The Dead House and Violent Ends

I'm getting over my slump! Twitter break + a binge watch of Veronica Mars then Orphan Black + great books = me feeling much more like myself. 

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review ~ Finding Center by Katherine Locke

Note: The book description is spoilery, but the review is not.☺

Series: District Ballet Company #2
Genre: NA contemporary
Publication Date: August 17th, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press
Goodreads Description (spoiler alert)
Zed and ballet are my two greatest loves

It took all of Aly's strength to get them back after a tragic accident ripped them from her six years ago. A long road to recovery led to her return, dancing full-time for the District Ballet Company and carrying Zed's child. But Aly is slipping. Each day becomes a fight to keep her career from crumbling under the weight of younger talent, the scrutiny of the public eye and the limitations of her ever-changing body. A fight she fears she's losing.

I'm scared Aly is broken to her core

Zed recognizes the signs, but he doesn't know how to fix her. The accident left him with his own demons, and while he wants nothing more than to take care of the woman he loves, it's getting harder the farther downward she spirals. When Aly's life is threatened and Zed's injuries prevent him from saving her, he's never felt so useless, so afraid he's not capable of being the man Aly and their child needs.

With new life comes new hope. And with their fractured lives already hanging by a thread, Aly and Zed must discover if they have what it takes—both together and apart—to rebuild and carry on.
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love Aly and Zed so much! Second Position was an emotional roller coaster, so when I found out about Finding Center, I was scared. What pain would they go through next? Thankfully, this book wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. The things that happened were fitting for the couple and I’m happy this conclusion to their story was written.

There was more character growth! Aly dealt with new roles and changes in her life. As for Zed, he felt like something was missing from his life and he wanted to fix that. I feel like there wasn’t as much character growth in this book, but that’s probably because the changes weren’t as drastic.

Aly and Zed were a whirlwind at times. They both felt so deeply for one another and sometimes it became too intense for them. However, I loved the love and support the two gave each other. Even though they said they weren’t that great at communication, it still felt like they had an open and honest relationship. In Second Position, I sometimes found their relationship to be unstable and a little unhealthy, but the characters worked so hard to change that. They adapted. They grew. They paid attention to one another. I saw many healthy qualities in their relationship in this book!

Zed and Aly were so personal, so intimate, yet most of the sex scenes weren’t very detailed. That went well with the couple. It suited this book because more focus was put on feelings and touches and glances and thoughts and emotions than on the physical stuff. There was a good balance.

I should mention at least one thing besides these characters, huh? I Loved the dance aspect. It made certain scenes so wonderful and beautiful—just like a great piece of choreography.

Overall, Finding Center was a wonderful conclusion to Aly and Zed’s story! They went through so much. Reading their ending made my heart swell with happiness. It made me cry, but every tear was from joy.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Review Challenge

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (62) ~ Fantasy Series Conclusion

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What am I waiting on?

Endure by Sara B. Larson
December 19th, 2015 by Scholastic Press

Goodreads description (SPOILER WARNING):
The remarkable third novel in Sara B. Larson's bestselling Defy series!

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.
Why am I waiting on it?

I really like this series! Book one was a little rocky, and two was really good. I'm hoping that book three is even better than the second one! I have high hopes for this one.☺

That's my WoW this week! What's yours?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review ~ Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte
Goodreads Description: 
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was also gifted a print ARC, which is the copy I read.

Let me start off by saying that I can't fully express how utterly amazing Everything, Everything is. How beautiful. How captivating. I kinda just want to say "READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT'S AMAZING" and shove you towards it and be done with it, but this is a review. I guess I have to explain why, just in case you won't take my word for it.

From the moment Madeline and Olly's eyes met, I was in love with the romance--the journey that was beginning in that instant. Don't take that as instalove. They didn't fall for each other at the same time I did. (That came much later.) Anyway, these two characters were absolutely adorable together. They connected so well, and their interactions (both online and offline) were a lot of fun to read. 

This book destroyed me and made me incredibly happy at the same time. Here's the progression of my feelings and reactions from beginning to end:

Happiness, giddiness, laughter
Oh no! despair, sadness, worry
Joy, dread, heartbreak
ANGER, disbelief, shock, hope

Somewhere along the line, I think my bookish feels exploded (probably at the "heartbreak"). I was emotionally exhausted. I cried hard, and I don't even know why, really! Madeline's journey just . . . pulled at strings connected to a bucket of tears. This book spoke to me and pulled me so far into it that I truly felt for the characters. 

I loved how colorful the book was--just like its cover. Madeline's life was stark white until she met Olly. He was the catalyst. After she met him, she started wanting more from life. Her new experiences were like bursts of color against the stark white background of her life before.

The drawings that accompanied the words were so cute and fun! Those and the short chapters made it really easy to get sucked into what was happening. The book moved quickly. I believe I finished it in one day. 

Even though I absolutely LOVE this book, I did have one gripe. There was a part where Madeline just drove me up the wall with her behavior. She didn't seem to fully appreciate Olly, who was incredibly sweet. He did SO MUCH for her. I can't say what exactly because that's spoilery, but you'll see it when you read it. But he did a lot and fell for her, but I never got the sense that Madeline understood that she wasn't the only one who had strong feelings for the other. (Keep in mind that I read an ARC, so changes may have been made. I plan to read the finished copy someday to see if I feel differently). However, I did understand this happened (considering Madeline's situation growing up), so it didn't affect how much I loved the story. 

Overall, Everything, Everything was phenomenal. It shattered my heart and pieced it back together by the end. It was both beautiful and sweet. It was also an emotional rollercoaster. If you cry often while reading, then this one will probably make you emotional. For others, it may just be a really sweet read. It just depends on how you react to the story. Whether it's emotional or not for you, though, the story will speak to you. I recommend this to everyone, especially fans of Jandy Nelson's writing (which is also beautiful).

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge