Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel [thoughts]

Second Star coverSecond Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel @| .com
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 13th 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Series: none

 

 

Goodreads description: A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

slight spoilers.

I love Peter Pan, so I was interested by Second Star‘s premise of a modern day retelling. I got a chance to read it now on Netgalley and I was really excited.

Wendy Darling’s brothers have been missing for months, and most people believe their dead. But Wendy can’t and won’t stop hoping that they’re still out there. She searches for them and meets some interesting people.

I am mainly just really confused by this book. Honestly, I think it would be better for the book to not be seen as a retelling at all. It doesn’t feel like a retelling and doesn’t seem to have much in common with what most people are probably familiar with. Maybe as a separate entity, it could just be a story about a girl who misses her brothers and gets involved with stupid and dangerous people.

That is basically what happens. She goes looking and meets Peter, a homeless surfer guy. He’s squatting at an abandoned house on a cliff. He used to be in foster care and ran away from that life. Now all he does is surf and helps kids. They scavenge to live, from the houses of the wealthy. It is kind of ridiculous. Wendy even goes with them and finds this activity glamorous. Peter hates his old friend Jas because he turned to drug dealing. When Wendy finds out Jas might have more information about her brothers, she gets involved with him, and some drugs. It is beyond ridiculous.

Wendy’s hope is easy to care about and in that respect, she’s easy to sympathize with. It’s easy to let sadness sway you and get mixed up in awful situations. But I just couldn’t understand her actions. She’s reckless and after a certain point, I couldn’t pull for her anymore. Freeing yourself from responsibility by surfing might be fun. Stealing because nobody that lives in the house wants to do anything but surf isn’t. Making sacrifices to find your brothers might be strong, but not waiting a damn night and taking drugs to get into the house isn’t. It’s stupid. Not that characters that make mistakes or do drugs can’t be enjoyable, but besides her hope, nothing about Wendy was enjoyable for me. Nothing about the story was enjoyable or meaningful to me, I didn’t feel like she learned  anything or grew at all, which made the story seem sort of pointless to me.

I couldn’t get into any sort of romance, it was all creepy to me. Peter and Jas are both creepy in different ways, but Jas is especially disgusting and I just didn’t understand why Wendy wanted anything to do with him. I was also really confused by the ending but at that point I didn’t even care anymore, I just wanted to be done with it. This didn’t feel like a retelling to me. While books about similar situations might be interesting, I just kept questioning everything that happened and wondering why any of it was happening.

This was not a book for me. But if you really like surfing, recklessness, and some darkness and drug-related stuff, you might enjoy it and should give it a shot!

 Have you read this one? Are you interested in it? Do you love Peter Pan? Let me know!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han [thoughts]

To All the Boys coverTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Goodreads | Twitter | Website
Release Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1

Goodreads description: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sounded cute and fun and love letters! I wanted to read it when I saw it on WoW posts and then I saw some early reviews and my interest grew! I have read Burn for Burn which is co-written by Han, but I still need to read Fire with Fire. I have been slightly interested in the Summer series but I’m not completely sure I want to jump in.

Laura Jean writes love letters to boys when she is over them and puts them away in a box. Somehow(!) the letters get sent and past crushes find out why she stopped liking them and/or things she likes about them. Including one to her next-door neighbor, friend, and sister’s ex, Josh. This causes some awkwardness.

I really, really liked this book. While I was reading it, I kind of kept having moments where I was like “Am I liking this?” and I couldn’t really say “omg yes” but I couldn’t put it down. I was reading it while rereading another book and I snuck it in before my Two Boys Kissing read for LGBT April and finished most of it in one day and hurried to finish the next day. It was kind of different than I expected, but it just left me wanting more.

One huge thing about the letters I don’t understand: why would she address them?? Who puts addresses on letters they don’t intend to send? Just write their name on the envelope. Just write their initial. There’s still a chance they might get passed on to the person but goodness, she made it so easy! To me, it was beyond  obvious what happened to the letters and I felt like she was willfully blind to what happened. But that can happen, I suppose.

That aside, I really liked Laura Jean. I could relate to her in a lot of ways and in some ways not at all. She hates driving, isn’t overly involved. She’s the middle sister. She wants to be helpful and step up while her older sister is gone. She has epic crushes but doesn’t actually date much. Her mom died when she was young, but Laura Jean thinks about her a lot. Their dad is busy but it’s obvious he cares about them and they all care about him and try to make things easier for him. Laura Jean became one of those characters that are really special to me, even though I didn’t always love everything she did (which would be boring anyway, obviously). She learns a lot about herself and growing up, and expectations and pressures in general. I liked reading about the sisters, and I really enjoyed their dad. I also enjoyed how the writing made the family seem realistic. Plus, the sisters are half Korean, and that was really interesting to read about.

And the letters and romance! Well, I wasn’t sure which way the book was trying to lead me with this aspect. I also don’t want to ruin anything for anyone else, in case you’re the type of person (like me) who wants it all to be new-ish. But I was surprised by how it worked out and I liked not exactly knowing what was going on, and I liked where it went. BUT I will say the ending was frustrating because I just NEEDED more. I still need more. I am pining.

4 star rating

I definitely plan on buying and reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before again! I am so glad I read this one. I was originally slightly miffed at the ending, but I think I have enough distance to be more forgiving about it now. BUT I will most likely need to pre-order or at least put the second book, P.S. I Still Love You on reserve at the library (depending on if I wait to buy the paperback version of #1). Laura Jean is such a great character, and I’m also really interested to see what happens with everyone else in the story. Jenny Han is definitely highlighted on my radar list now!  I think if you like contemps, sisters, and interesting romances then you might like this one, too! Added bonus: Laura Jean’s killer wardrobe.

 

DNF: Twisted by Holly Hook and The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Twisted coverTwisted by Holly Hook | Goodreads | Amazon

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I sort of just saw Tornadoes and being from Oklahoma, I was kind of interested. I should have read more carefully (I’m bad about blurbs, guys) because I did not realize that it was about WEREtornadoes. I do not mind were-things. Teen Wolf is one of my favorite shows. However, in my mind, to make sense, things need to be living for this concept to work? And a tornado is just air. This was really confusing to me. But the main character is a girl who is really into science and there are some creepy like hill country wind cult folks that are kind of interesting. This book wasn’t for me, but if it is something that sounds interesting to you, I think you should check it out!

The Here and Now coverThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares | Goodreads | Amazon

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I might have mentioned before that I really love time travel stories. Time Travel is really important to me and it probably has a LOT to do with the Back to the Future movies, which I will always love. So this story about people from the future evacuating to a safer time seemed like something I would love! The people from the future aren’t supposed to get close to anyone in the past or stand out in anyway. Main character Prenna has problems with this and gets in trouble for it a lot. THEN this guy knows something and tells her she must stop something important that has a huge effect their future. It sounds so interesting. But…it isn’t that interesting? It’s slow and the way Prenna and even the way Ethan (a boy from the present that she is friends/more with) doesn’t talk normally. I couldn’t handle it. Some things were also really obvious and others were kind of weird time travel stuff that bugged me. I might skim the end to see what happens with the big event, I only got about half through this one. However, it might be right up your alley. I’d recommend also or rather watching Continuum and reading All Our Yesterdays (my review) because they are excellent.

 

Have you read either of these? Did you like/dislike them? Have anything similar to rec? Let me know!

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan [LGBT April]

Two Boys Kissing coverTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

Published August 27th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 

Goodreads description: New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other

Confession time: I was actually not all that excited about this book once I learned the exact meaning/premise of  Two Boys Kissing. I am, in general, not a huge fan of world records. To a certain point, they are amusing. But mostly I just think they are pointless. So wen I found out that the book had boys going for the world record of longest kiss recorded (at 32 hours, 12 minutes and 10 seconds For some reason, they have to stand up the whole time. What about kissing means you have to stand up? I’m really confused about that point. People can kiss sitting down, obviously.), my interest level dropped considerably. Why would you want to kiss someone for so long? For your name to be in a big book and maybe you get some sense of achievement or recognition, but it just doesn’t seem that amazing to me. BUT I knew there was more to the story than just the kiss. I’ve seen some amazing reviews and for LGBT month, I knew this was one I should pick up. I’m glad I did, weird world record and all. AND that part of the story is based on actual events that happened in 2010, and I had never heard about it, but it was interesting to find out about after reading the book.

There is so much to say about this book and I don’t feel like I can do it justice at all. It was touching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I wanted to know more about the characters, I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye. I actually wasn’t completely sold on the chorus style narration, though I do think it got the point across and added a lot to the story, sometimes it felt distancing for me, which might have been on purpose. I wouldn’t say this is a favorite book, but I enjoyed it and appreciated it. It definitely made me cry on several occasions, but it also made me smile and want to hug it.

Since I don’t really know how to eloquently explain my feelings for this one, I’m going to share three quotes:

 “Love is so painful, how could you wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?”

“But does he see everything, or only what he wants to be seeing? This is always one of the greatest questions of love.”

“We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you’d never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are.”

And also direct you to three reviews that are better than mine:

DanielleChristinaJamie

And one confession for the road: I’m not actually a David Levithan fan. I’ve read Naomi & Ely, Nick & Norah and Every Day and while I liked certain aspects of the last two, I mainly think of them all as being kinda meh. But maybe I will try some of his other work at some point in the future, based on this read. If you’re interested in LGBT books, you should definitely check this one out!

Fighting Dreamer

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg [LGBT April]

Openly Straight coverOpenly Straight by Bill Konisberg
Goodreads | Website | Twitter
Release Date:May 28th 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Series: none

 

 

Goodreads descriptionA funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

 

I was pretty interested in Openly Straight when I saw the description for it when it came out, and I have been meaning to read it ever since. I even saw it at the library a few times and for some reason never picked it up. When I signed up for LGBT April, I knew it was the perfect book to read!

If you read the description, you saw that Rafe has been out since he was young and it’s become a major part of his identity, while he feels like it is overshadowing other interesting aspects. He wants to take a step back from that and be a person without one thing being the focus of his life. So he goes to an all-boys’s boarding school on the other side of the country and decides to not come out there. He just wants to be a boy and make friends and play sports.

I really enjoyed Openly Straight. It was funny, awkward, and endearing. It was heartwarming and wrenching. It made me smile like an idiot. It had good kissing scenes. Rafe always sounded like a real teen, and there were some smart, thoughtful conversations in the book that made me so happy, because teens definitely have those types of conversations.

Rafe is so lovely. I wanted to hug him a lot. He just wanted to be able to see different parts of himself and be free to explore things he couldn’t always experience as openly gay. I was frustrated for him, because it was dishonest and he knew that and had it pointed out to him several times, but he just wanted a chance for something different. I was waiting for the fallout, throughout the whole book. It actually ended up not being as intense as I expected, but it still happened in a believable way. It wasn’t too perfect, it did involve some mess, but it seemed to fit the story really well.

Openly Straight is a genuine look at how labels affect life, even if  they aren’t seen as a bad thing. I loved seeing how Rafe’s parents, friends, and community were supportive, sometimes too supportive by Rafe’s standards. I liked the looks back into his experiences and how they helped or frustrated him. I loved seeing him in his new element and navigating his new persona but also dealing with realistic peer pressures, and how he cared so much about what other people thought and had to deal with that. I liked Rafe’s writing and reading the teacher’s thoughts on his writing, too. That was a really interesting aspect, because you have to wonder how much work that has to be for the author, writing as a teen and as a teacher! I feel like Rafe and several other characters grew and learned a lot in this book.

4 star rating

 

Openly Straight was a fun read without being too light. I can see myself maybe reading it again at some point. I would definitely read other work by Bill Konisberg. I would recommend it to anyone wanting an enjoyable book with an important LGBT message about identity and acceptance!

Fighting Dreamer

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier [thoughts]

Goodreadsfirst published 1951 

Goodreads descriptionOrphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose’s letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin’s widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet . . . might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?

I wanted to read My Cousin Rachel because I really enjoyed Rebecca. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about My Cousin Rachel. Somehow I managed to confuse what the book was about, so it was completely different than I expected. But I liked it!

My Cousin Rachel is a story told by Philip, who is in his 20’s. He is an orphan and he grew up with his Uncle Ambrose. He’s also Ambrose’s heir. He loves his uncle dearly. Ambrose is getting up there in years and goes away from rainy England to sunny Italy and meets Cousin Rachel. Marriage happens and Philip isn’t happy. Then Uncle A dies and. . .what next? Well Philip received letters from Uncle A that made him suspicious. Then Rachel comes to England and Philip is intrigued and drawn to her, but still kind of suspicious, but still drawn to her.

Throughout the whole story, I had an idea of what was going to happen. I was so sure. But du Maurier is tricky and definitely proved me wrong. The ending was a shock.. And it’s frustrating but it’s also really awesome. I’m left wondering and itching to know what happens after the reeling.

Even though sometimes I was screaming at Philip to not be such an idiot, I still felt sympathetic for him. I think Louise is probably my favorite character and she has a relatively small part. I have no clue how to feel about Rachel. I don’t think I liked her, but I can’t bring myself to hate her. I was completely fascinated by her.

And du Maurier’s writing is so lovely. Here are some highlights:

How soft and gentle her name sounds when I whisper it. It lingers on the tongue, insidious and slow, almost like poison, which is apt indeed. It passes from the tongue to the parched lips, and from the lips back tot he heart. And the heart controls the body, and the mind also. Shall I be free of it one day? In forty, in fifty years? Or will some lingering trace of matter in the brain stay pallid and diseased? Some minuscule cell in the blood stream fail to race with its fellows to the fountain heart? Perhaps, when all is said and done, I shall have no wish to be free. As yet, I cannot tell.

 –

 Her hands were clasped on her lap in front of her. I had never seen hands so small before on an adult person. They were very slender, very narrow, like the hands of someone in a portrait painted by an old master and left unfinished.

 –

“No,” she said, “I would have welcomed a pedestal, after my rough life. A halo can be a lovely thing, providing you can take it off, now and again, and become human.”

 

So, I really liked My Cousin Rachel. It wasn’t a favorite, but it was really enjoyable and messed with my mind. Daphne du Maurier is amazing and I want to read more of her work. If you’re interested in Gothic tales of mystery with pretty words, I think you’d like this one!

4 star rating

 

Have you read My Cousin Rachel? Did you like it or no? Have you read Rebecca? What were your thoughts on that? Have you read anything else by du Maurier, have any recs for similar stories?

Let me know! 

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis [thoughts on time traveling historians]

 

Blackout and All Clear cover

Blackout  and All Clear 
 by Connie Willis
February 2010 and  October  2010
Publisher: Spectra

Blackout’s Goodreads description: In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds—great and small—of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide—and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can “catch up” to her in age.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody—from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid—is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.

I found Blackout randomly on Overdrive. I think the cover and title just seemed interesting. When I read what it was about, it definitely seemed like a me type of read. History, WWII, and time travel are things I really enjoy reading about!

About the story: In 2060, Historians go back in time to observe history. This series focuses on three and they each go back to Great Britain during World War Two. There are a lot of complications with the process and they have to figure things out.

Feelings: I really like these books as a whole. The first book ends in a completely ridiculous spot, and it almost doesn’t feel like a complete book at all. However, I enjoyed the whole story. Luckily the second book was available when I finished the first one! In the first book, you get to know the main characters and get familiar with the setting and what is happening. They are time traveling historians. TIME TRAVELING HISTORIANS. I love time travel stories and I love history. This story happens during the Blackout in London during World War II. I also love learning about World War II, because even though horrible things happened, people did try to work together and make it better, and I think this book does a good job of showing that.

The three main characters of the books are all student historians. There’s Polly, who is studying how Londoners kept heart during the Blitz, Merope/Eileen (mostly known as Eileen in the story because it was a common name in WWII, especially since she was “playing” an Irish maid) who is observing the evacuations of children to country manors and Michael/Mike who is supposed to be at a battle at Dover, researching heroes that came on their own accord to save downed sailors. The story starts out in Oxford 2060, with all three of them talking and learning that the lab that’s in charge of sending them on assignments has been in an upheaval and switching orders of assignments, including Mike’s. They’re all sent to separate locations and months in 1940, but they each begin to face unexpected problems with their assignments.

Time travel stories almost always have some issues and this story is no exception:

  • I don’t understand how the future has time traveling technology but they’re letting history students use it? That is like the most ridiculous idea ever. There’s no way governments would just be like “Oh, time traveling technology? Let’s let young people gallivant around through important historical events, no big deal.” Unless the future just has a drastically different government, which is very possible. Maybe they think it’s fine. But even with “slippage,” it still seems crazy to me.
    • There is supposed to be a paradox-safe sort of padding called “slippage”  and the instructors and scientists in charge of the technology and students mostly (there are some that disagree) believe it’s impossible for them to affect history at all.

 

Slippage is basically the cause of a lot of the problems, it’s normal and it causes travelers to get there a few hours after they’re supposed to or maybe in a different place. The team at the lab is supposed to research drop sites so nobody will see anything suspicious. In the prep stage for the main characters, something is obviously starting to go down with slippage, but they don’t know much about it. They only know some things have changed. When they don’t really know what is going on, they begin to wonder if they can really affect history or not. They have implants of some important details, such as certain places hit in the blitz, but they don’t know every single detail. When they take actions and see results, they start to wonder if they might have changed the complete course of the war.

Overall, the book really focuses on small interactions and how little things might have unexpected results. I loved seeing the characters puzzle it out and worry about what was happening.

I loved that the three main characters were dealing with WWII situations with all the knowledge of the future, because it added to the reading experience. Two of many:

  • Londoners had a superstition about the ravens of the Tower of London and when some died during the war, they brought in more so people wouldn’t be alarmed. I had no idea about that before I read this book.
  • Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot and others were on Hitler’s lists and he planned to put them in camps. I am pretty sure I knew this at some point and had not thought about it in a while.

There were a few other issues with the actual story and not just time travel stuff. The main one has to do with Eileen and how I didn’t really like the transition of her character from book one to two. I think the ending makes up for a little bit of it, but not all of it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but she kind of gets pushed to the side a bit and I didn’t think it was fair. There were some time related tiffs I had that weren’t actually about the time travel: some chapters were in the past during the blitz, some were in 2060, some were in other times. It could have actually been my fault because I wasn’t paying attention, but some of the other time chapters really confused me because they either didn’t tie the characters together or I missed the names completely. It took me a few of these chapters to figure out what was going on and once I did I was fine.

I kind of surprisingly fell in love with these books and characters, and became overwhelmingly  invested in their story. It made me cry (not just sad crying), and the kind of crying that I was sort of like “Oh, I love this” because I didn’t expect to like it so much. Also, I love that romance wasn’t driving the story but it was there in different parts of the story and it was heartfelt and lovely. Plus, there was so much other love and just community that it was just great. I think maybe I don’t even love the ending, or “answer” I guess, but I love the story overall and I wanted to know more about the characters, I didn’t feel ready to leave them. I knew Willis had written several other books, but I just now, while writing this review, realized there are other books with historians traveling in time set before these, and I am going to be reading them at some point!  I definitely plan on looking into the rest of her work, also!

Basically: If you’re willing to get through a bit of slowness and you love reading about survivors in World War II and Time Travel, I think these books are worth your time.

If you have happened to have read them, tell me your thoughts! Or, have you read anything else by Willis? Anything similar or comparable? Let me know!

Connie Willis’s website

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks cover
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: March 25th 2008
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Stand Alone

Goodreads description: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

I like E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series and I’m excited about We Were Liars. I’ve wanted to read Frankie for a while but actually happened upon it when I was looking for a book to check out with Not A Drop to Drink.

Frankie goes to a private boarding school and there’s a boys only secret club. After a summer of growing and transformation, she becomes involved with a member of the society, but she can never really be a part of the club. The club seems fun and tightly knit, so she isn’t happy they won’t let girls in. She mischievously becomes a player in the club while still being an observer.

I really liked this book. It was kind of nothing like I expected, and that only made me like it more. Frankie doesn’t hate herself, but she has confidence issues that seem common. She’s pretty but she isn’t exactly a standout, she is kind of in the middle. She’s smart and quirky. She wanted to be a part of something, she wanted more, she refused to sit back and let them tell her she couldn’t. She manipulated the situation and had to face the consequences of it. I liked that the story didn’t really go how I expected it to go, and I felt like Frankie did learn a lesson. I also liked Michael, but I won’t go into a whole thing about him, since it’s Frankie’s story.

There were things about Frankie that were annoying. She had some extreme moments where I wanted to tell her to calm down, and some of them were sort of normalish teen behavior, but some were out there. She might have pushed a few things too far. She wasn’t always fair to everyone, and some of her reasoning behind actions were probably immature. That being said, my annoyances weren’t major and I mainly enjoyed the book.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks isn’t perfect, but I found it enjoyable. Frankie is strong, makes mistakes, and can be selfish. I liked it. I think E. Lockhart is a fun author, and I plan to read whatever she writes (as long as it sounds interesting, anyway). I don’t think this one is for everyone, but maybe if the boarding school and secret group thing sounds interesting to you, you should check it out!

E. Lockhart’s website and twitter!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge [thoughts]

Cruel Beauty coverCruel Beauty by Roasmund Hodge
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe

Goodreads description: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I decided to read Cruel Beauty  because I enjoy retellings and it was getting crazy amounts of praise among bloggers I follow. I don’t think I knew about the mythology factor much beforehand, but that would have made me want to read it more.

Nyx is a princess type person (I don’t remember her father’s title) and she has been brought up to marry an evil ruler person who is monstrous. There’s a plan for her to murder him and free the land but things get complicated. The Goodreads summary for this one seems pretty spot on.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked a lot of the world building. It was based on a lot of Greek/Roman ideas and I think (I don’t have the book with me right now, I read it on Overdrive) it’s almost like an AU of somewhere in Greece. I loved the house and how it changed, but I wasn’t completely sure about all the seals and magic that was supposed to be used. I loved other magical things, and the use of mythology. I thought it added a lot of depth to the story.

I loved how selfish Nyx was, and that she wasn’t just dying to be the hero. She wanted a life that was her own, and not having a choice really bothered her. She let herself be afraid and she didn’t force herself to be strong at every single moment. I liked that, it was different from some YA heroines. She wasn’t completely hateful and unlikable, she felt guilt and love, but I understood where all her negative feelings were coming from. It’s okay to not be the perfect girl that wants to fall in line and do everything you’re told, well-behaved women and all that. I also liked Nyx and Ignifex’s relationship, it was antagonistic. She was sent in with a mission but it was easily confused. It seemed like it was fun for her to get to know someone that was completely different, and she enjoyed getting to know him and arguing with him, even knowing that he was…evil.

I did not care for how Nyx’s family worked at all. I was on Nyx’s side, and when she started to feel guilty about her selfishness, I wanted to yell at her. Some of the fire in her attitude seemed to fizzle at the first sight of a sprinkle. She was too easily swayed one way or the other, and it annoyed me. There is one big decision in the book that really made me frown and felt disappointing for me. I don’t think it would be as annoying to everyone else, though. The ending was something else I didn’t love, or maybe not what happened but certain circumstances, but again, I’m not sure it would bother anyone else the same way it bothered me.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about Cruel Beauty, but I did enjoy it. It’s a difficult decision whether this gets a 3 or a 3.5 but I think I could possibly want to reread it at some point, so I’m going with 3.5. And I believe, from how the series seems on Goodreads, that there might be more stories in this world but not exactly a series. I’m not completely sure, but I plan to read more by the author. I recommend it if you love retellings, strong girls that don’t just fall into place, and feisty relationships. Goodreads average rating: 3.82.

Roasmund Hodge‘s website and twitter!

Nowhere But Home and Ten Tiny Breaths [thoughts: mini editions]

Nowhere But HomeNowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Goodreads | Book Depository
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Series: nope

Why I read this: This book was getting a lot of positive reviews and it sounded fun.

What it’s about: A woman who had a hard time growing up goes back home to Smalltown, Texas and tries to find herself, more or less.

How I feel about it: It was okay. I thought parts of it were incredibly dramatic and unrealistic. There was one major scene and I think a few others (it’s been a while since I read it) where private things happened in a largely public setting. Stuff like that makes me cringe. I mean, maybe it could happen and I’m sure even the drama can be bigger in Texas, but if stuff like that does happen in real life, I never want to find out. There was also some stuff with the Queenie’s job that was kind of sketchy, I am not sure on the rules of it at all but it seemed unrealistic. Plus, her reactions to some of the events that took place were too easy. The whole book felt too easy for me. The romance was predictable. HOWEVER: Overall it was light and enjoyable. Not a bad read, just not something I loved. It had some heartfelt, warm moments involving family and moving on from the past. I liked Queenie and her family, too.

Would I read it again? No, I don’t see myself wanting to revisit this story.

Would I recommend it? If you’re looking for something that might be kind of silly but with a lot of heart!

Do I plan on reading more by the author? I would read more of her work.

 Liza Palmer‘s website and twitter

Ten Tiny BreathsTen Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Goodreads | Book Depository
Release Date: December 11th 2012
Publisher: Papoti Books
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1

Why I read this: I saw this book mentioned a lot. It seemed like an emotional New Adult book.

What it’s about: A woman and her young sister move to find a new life years after tragedy, I’m not sure how to explain this one well.

How I feel about it: I did not like this book. I didn’t even read all of it, I skimmed the end because I was curious. I feel like Kacey was written to seem so tough that she just lost her reality. She just came off as a caricature of the angry/hurt girl. I didn’t feel anything genuine from her character. The whole story also felt extremely dramatic, it felt like a fanfic. When the “twist” happened, I was just…completely turned off. I skimmed everything after that. Also, taking ten tiny breaths doesn’t seem like it would be very helpful. I don’t get it.

Would I read it again? No.

Would I recommend it? No, but if it sounds like a story you might like, go for it!

Do I plan on reading more by the author? I don’t think so, it’s not my type of writing.

K.A. Tucker‘s website and twitter