Allegiant by Veronica Roth [thoughts]

Allegiant cover

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Goodreads
Release Date: October 22nd 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Divergent #3

To be honest, I wasn’t as excited about Allegiant as most people due to a lot of mixed feelings about Insurgent. I was hopeful that Veronica Roth could pull it together and wrap it up nicely, but like a lot of people, I was a bit disappointed with the last installment. I haven’t been reading any reviews, so I’m not sure if it’s for the same reasons, but I kind of think it might not be.

I feel like it’s been long enough since the book came out, and most people looking at reviews at this point have probably read it already or want to know what happens. So, I’m going to include spoilers. Reader beware: spoilers ahead!

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Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill [book review]

Meant to Be coverMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill
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Release Date: November 13th 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Series: none

Goodreads description: Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Meant to Be was on my Summer TBR list, and I finally got around to reading it!

Meant to Be is the story of Jules going to London on a school trip and maybe finding love. She miscalculated the dates of the trip, and none of her friends are able to go. The buddy system attacks her with a loud guy that she doesn’t really care for. His name is Jason. She believes in fate and that you’re “meant to be” with someone, and she clings to that idea.

I thought this book sounded sweet and fluffy, and it might make me happy like Anna and the French Kiss. But I was pretty annoyed through the whole thing. Jules is smart and determined, she’s excited about London, but she doesn’t have friends on the trip. She kind of just acts really ridiculous. She tries to take chances and make sure she’ll have fun. She does take some chances, but she also did things I just rolled my eyes at. The romance could have been cute, if predictable, but I thought there was a lot of contrived drama that didn’t feel realistic to me. The end seemed very bam! it’s over and unsatisfactory.

Jules and Jason were the only characters the reader gets a chance to know, and neither were very likable. Jules tried too hard and clung to ridiculous idea. Jason was almost a caricature of an annoying teenager. He had hidden depths, but they weren’t deep enough to compensate for the annoying surface he flings at the world.

two star rating

Meant to Be didn’t work out for me, but I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t read it again. Shout out to Alli at Little Birdie Books because she didn’t like it much either, and her review is better than mine! I wish I’d paid more attention =) I’m still interested in reading Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill because ice skating = yay, but I’m a bit worried about the romance in it. I will see! I think a lot of people did enjoy this book, so if you think it sounds like something you might like, you should give it a shot! You might like Meant to Be if you like class trips to London, arguing, and questioning fate!

Check out Lauren Morrill‘s website and twitter!

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater [book review]

The Dream ThievesThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads | Book Depository| Amazon
Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #2

Goodreads description: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

The first Maggie Stiefvater book I read was The Scorpio Races, and I really loved it. When The Raven Boys came out, it sounded like something I would love, and I already loved her writing, so I picked it up and devoured it (and rambled about it here). I had been waiting patiently (ha!) for The Dream Thieves to come out. It did not disappoint me. Probably small spoilers for The Raven Boys.

The Dream Thieves is insane, but in only the best way. It is packed with emotion, so much emotion that it’s hard to get the book shut. It made me giddy to read it, I actually did silent screams of joy when I read something really great. It took me a bit longer to read than it normally would have because I didn’t want to let go. And when I was finished, I still wasn’t ready to let go. I just wanted to start over again. I read it when it came out, then I read it again last week, and it’s my favorite read of 2013 so far, and I think it will take a lot to top it.

“Why is the tea so good here?” “I spit in it.”

The characters feel like real people. The relationships between the characters seem true. The friendship between four prep school boys from different backgrounds work so well. The arguments and the feelings all seem real. Blue’s interactions with all of them feel real, too. Her feelings and confusion feel real and lovely and painful. Things like Adam’s past with his family, how Ronan interacts with his brothers and thinks about his parents, Gansey’s family in general, and Blue’s extended family, especially talking to her mom about life stuff, really make this book stand out in YA. These kids still do their own thing, but they also have families that (mostly) care about them. I also really love that it’s not in first person, and you get to sample different characters’ thoughts and feelings. I think it might be uncommon for YA readers (from what I see people mention on blogs), but I don’t particularly like first person. I am greedy and want to know everything.

“There might be girls in Henrietta who’ll let you talk them like that, but I’m not one of them.”

And the romance, ahhh the romance. The romance isn’t the central focus of the story. Blue and the boys have other things to worry about. It is always in the background, and when it’s brought to the front, it’s slow and confusing. There’s a bit of a triangle, but I think it’s done well. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, yearning, and it all feels genuine. I don’t want to say too much, but I really loved everything that happened it in the romance department and I’m excited to see what else happens with it in the series! Plus, there’s a small added element of maybe for something else, and it makes me even more excited. So. Much. Excitement.

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged to, Gansey clearly wished he had one.

The story is intense. They’re still looking for a lost king. Things go wrong. Ronan’s reveal at the end of the first book comes into key play. They find out that they’re not the only ones looking, and the search seems more complicated. They face new problems and enemies. They search, they sort of fight, they have psychic readings. It’s a good ride.

“Guys,” Matthew pleaded. “Be holy.”

I had small problems, but I love the book enough that things that bother me in other books don’t matter as much. Some of the Gray Man stuff was a little weird. Some of the dream stuff and Kavinsky was almost too much, but I think it the rest of everything made up for it. There was one part where Blue talks about college and I don’t feel like it would be as impossible for her as she thinks it would be.

 5 stars

I love The Dream Thieves, and I’m really excited for the rest of the series. This review probably doesn’t do it justice, but at least my love is stated! I will probably reread this at least once, but probably more, just in the time before the next one comes out. Some books are almost better on the reread, because you know what is coming, and you understand things better while you’re reading it. I’m not sure about the new Sinner book, but other than Shiver related things, I am pretty sure I’ll read almost anything Maggie Stiefvater writes. I’m trying to make my sister read these, and I will gladly recommend them to anyone that wants to talk books. I can’t imagine anyone actually not liking this book (although I’m sure there are some that don’t), but if you like snark, great friendships, realistic families, dreams, mysteries, magic type stuff, tarot, you might enjoy The Dream Thieves!

Check out Maggie Stiefvater‘s websitetwitter, and tumblr!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell [book review]

Fangirl coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: September 10th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Series: none

Goodreads description: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind

I spent a while in a pretty big fandom. I wish it had been Harry Potter, but unfortunately, it was a bit more embarrassing than that! It was after I had dropped out of college and was having a rough time. I met people from all across the country and world. I made really good friends, many of whom I still talk to all the time. I read fanfiction, but I never wrote it. So, Fangirl book seemed like it might be something I could connect with. I wasn’t really a fan of Eleanor & Park (and I’ve seen other reviews that have confirmed I’m not the only one, so please don’t gasp at me) but I still felt optimistic about this one.

Cather is the main character and narrator of the book. She’s a twin, and her sister’s name is Wren. I actually kind of liked the name thing. Like other twins I’ve read about and some I’ve known (I’ve never actually known identical twins. I’ve met some, but I’ve been friends with sets and singles of non-identical twins), the twins are pretty different. The twins are going to college for their freshman year, and they have different plans. Wren plans to party and doesn’t want to room with her sister. Cath doesn’t understand and wants things to stay the same.

Cath is quiet and shy. She’s very anxious about making new friends. She’s too nervous to go to the cafeteria. She feels weird about her roommate, Reagan and her maybe-boyfriend Levi. There were some levels that I could really identify with Cath on, but I never grew to love her. I could relate to a lot of her anxiety issues, and some of it felt painfully close to things I’ve been through.  I loved the family interactions, and how difficult it was, it felt realistic. I really liked Cath’s roommate Reagan. A lot of the college experiences seemed realistic, and some of them were fun to read about.

Cath uses fandom to cope with things that happen in real life. She writes fan fiction, and she’s hugely popular. It’s obvious that Simon Snow = Harry Potter. I can completely understand using fandom or any online community to get away from real life. I didn’t really care enough about any of her fanfic to read it in the book. Cath did have a tendency to hide from her problems, and she definitely made some mistakes. She clung pretty stubbornly to things, and I think she knew she was making a mistake. I liked that she was able to deal with her problems and she had, support, plus she was able to give support to others when it was needed. I do feel like she learned a lot and made a lot of progress.

I’m not sure how I feel about Levi. But something about him just felt weird to me. Maybe it’s the cowboy thing that a lot of people seem to love. I’m from a small town in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived on a farm and knew tons of FFA kids, ropers and other kids that grew up on farms. There isn’t anything inherently better about them. They aren’t always nice. They’re just people. Sometimes they are really nice and charming, but it isn’t a given. In books, sometimes it feels like a given and that feels weird to me. Levi seemed genuinely nice to me. He was sweet to Cath, and there were some swoony moments. I never felt very attached to him, though.

3 star rating

I liked Fangirl. It was entertaining, and there were pieces I really enjoyed. I didn’t think it was groundbreaking. I actually think I might want to read it again at some point, maybe if I read it later and it isn’t uber-hyped anymore I might be able to enjoy it more. Even though I haven’t loved either of the Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read, there’s still something about the books that draws me in, and I want to read more of her writing.

Check out Rainbow Rowell’s website and twitter!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson [book review]

Tiger Lily coverTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Tiger Lily was on my Summer TBR List, and I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. I love all things Peter Pan, even though I’ve never actually read the original, oops. I do own it and plan on reading it! I saw from a lot of people that it was good and sad, so it seemed like something I definitely needed to read. After not getting it from my library, I was extremely happy to win a copy from Emily at Reader Rising!

We all know about Peter Pan and Wendy, and that Tiger Lily is in the background somewhere. This book tells Tiger Lily’s side of the story, and it’s told through Tinker Bell’s perspective, which is weird and interesting at the same time. In this adaptation, Neverland is a new world, apart from civilization instead of two stars from the right. They have tribes and tribal hierarchies. They have an agreement with the pirates. They fear Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and they stay as far away as possible. In the tribe, Tiger Lily is an outsider, a wild and untamable girl. She’s the adopted daughter of Tik Tok, the town’s shaman/healer, who is also an outsider because he dresses and feels more like a woman than a man.

Tiger Lily is such an amazing character. She’s an outsider, and she’s drawn to other outsiders and they’re drawn to her. She’s fierce, but she’s also vulnerable, and the way this is portrayed felt so real to me. She struggled with the expectations for girls in her tribe, but it didn’t feel like she was anti-feminine. She is curious and wants to do things that aren’t normal for anyone in the tribe to do. She acts fearless, but you can see that she isn’t. She isn’t always good, and she makes mistakes.

“There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had bests in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

In the beginning, Tinker Bell warns that it’s a love story, “but not like any you’ve heard.” Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan, a villain and madman in the eyes of her tribe. He isn’t like they say at all, (but he isn’t exactly a harmless, innocent creature either) and she finds something in him she wants and doesn’t understand how to grasp and keep.  Peter and Tiger Lily’s relationship is intense. Of course, he’s forbidden, and tribe politics are making her life more difficult all the time. Plus, there are pirates who want to kill Peter and the Lost Boys, and eventually a ship of Englanders brings Wendy and other problems. The story is complex

There are important characters that are difficult for me to include in this review, but I loved so many of them. Pine Sap, Moon Eye, and Tik Tok were so important to Tiger Lily, and they were characters I wanted to keep. The villains of the story were creepy and worrisome. All the characters felt real to me.

Some pieces of the story were frustrating for me, and I think it’s a realistic look at how life can be. There were times when I wanted the characters to act a certain way, and it seemed like it would be easy for them to take certain steps to change situations, but in actuality it probably wouldn’t have been that easy. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and the circumstances, and you can’t always act exactly how you want to act. In some cases it would have upset the status quo, and the tribe was just a different machine dealing with situations that were completely abnormal for them. I wanted there to be easy outs, and maybe in a nicer, less realistic place, that could have worked. The way it happens in the book might hurt, but I think it’s important and written really well.

A lot of mistakes were made, and at the end of the story Tiger Lily has to face her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. “She kept trying, in her head, to make someone right.” This book told the story in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the ending was especially lovely to me. The writing was lovely, and there are so many quotes that made me love the book even more. It definitely made me cry, I closed the book and kept crying for a while.

I really liked seeing from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It was really different. It could be frustrating because sometimes I wanted to dig inside Tiger Lily’s mind, but overall I think the distance was perfect and a clever way to tell the story. Plus, it also opens up a wider scope because she can observe a lot more as a fairy, and you get her own feelings about Peter.

“As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

4 star rating

Tiger Lily is a lovely book that made me sad and happy at the same time. I loved Tiger Lily, I loved her flaws, her rage, and her unexpected softness. I loved the ending. I am so glad that I won it and have my own copy, because it is definitely a book I will want to read again! I plan on sharing it with some real life people so they will (hopefully) love it and discuss it with me. I will also look forward to more of the author’s work. I always feel bad at reviews because I never know how much to share or not, but I just loved this book. It’s probably not for everyone but I think Tiger Lily might work for you if you like retellings, honesty, hopefulness and a bit of heartbreak. 

Check out Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s goodreads and twitter!

Just One Year by Gayle Forman [book review]

justoneyearJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: October 10th 2013
Publisher: Dutton Children’s
Series: Just One Day #2

Goodreads description: When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

Just One Year was high up on my Fall TBR. I am a huge Gayle Forman fan. I liked Just One Day a lot, but If I Stay and Where She Went are two of my favorite books. I had so much hope for Just One Year and reserved it at the library before it came out, then they didn’t get copies in so I luckily got it on Overdrive!

Just One Day is Allyson’s story of how she does something unexpected and makes a connection, then is left feeling lost and confused when it’s severed without warning. She spends a year in a funk and learns a lot about herself. She is determined to at least try to reconnect with Willem, the boy she spent a day with. She also learns a lot about herself and what she wants from life. Just One Year is Willem’s story and begins shortly after they were separated. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the book, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

This story follows Willem throughout the year and shows how the events in Just One Day affected him. He met a great girl that he connected with but knew nothing about, and they were separated. He tries to find her, but he also has other things to deal with. He has a lot going on with his family and friends. Plus, like everyone, he’s trying to learn who he is and what he wants to do. His travels were interesting and his time in India was fun to read about. There were friends we met, his mom, and his uncle that were interesting and brought a lot to the story and to Willem’s character. There were a few things I was kind of apathetic about, but I can probably chop that up to my general grumpy/picky feelings.

The thing about this book is, I actually liked it. I like Willem, he is a cool guy. He has an interesting perspective. I liked seeing what he thought and how he felt about Allyson, or Lulu to him. I liked that he didn’t think he was in love, and he wasn’t obsessed. He just knew she made an impression, and it was a feeling he couldn’t shake. It was important. He grows, he learns. But through this whole book, I was waiting for what I wanted. I was hoping. I was so incredibly invested. At about 80% in the book, I finally had to accept that I was not going to get the story I wanted. It wasn’t a total bust, and I’m glad I read it. If you’ve read Just One Day and haven’t read this book yet, I’m not telling you to forget about it. It’s not bad book at all, and I understand it was the story that needed to be told. However, I was sad and I’m still sad thinking about what it could have been. I’m greedy. I think a lot of people were more content with the journey, and I think a lot of readers won’t necessarily be looking for the same things I was.

3 star rating

Just One Year was a good book, but it was probably the most disappointing book of the year for me. That being said, it still got 3 whole stars!! Isn’t that saying a lot for Gayle Forman’s work? I like the characters, I like the growth, but I wanted so much more. Even one more chapter could have made a huge difference for me. I think I might try to read this again, after a while, to see if I can appreciate it more when I’m not expecting everything from it, but I don’t think I’ll ever love it. I will still faithfully read Gayle Forman’s work. You might like Just One Year if you like traveling stories, hope, and charming Dutch narrators!

Check out Gayle Forman’s website and twitter!

The Archived by Victoria Schwab [book review]

The Archived coverThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1, followed by The Unbound

Goodreads description: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption

I won my copy of The Archived from Liza Weimer at WhoRuBlog. She is really nice, so be sure to check her blog (and Twitter) out! I have been interested in The Archived for a while, but I wasn’t completely sure what it was about. I just knew it was paranormal-ish.

Mackenzie is a Keeper, which means she hunts Histories and puts them back in The Archive. She inherited the job from her grandfather. Histories are sort of like ghosts, but they’re technically a record or log of a person. When people die, they go to The Archive. The Archive is basically a library of the dead. Everyone is “recorded.” However, sometimes Histories get out into The Narrows, which is an in between world, and Keepers have to capture them and take them back.

I liked the world, but there was a lot I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t really sure why the dead were kept like logs. Do they just hang around, in case someone else that’s dead needs to see what happened? Like with any version of the afterlife, there are questions. I didn’t understand the why, but it didn’t bother me. This book was interesting and engaging, so while my brain was all “hold up, why are they doing this?” I was still able to enjoy the story!

I really liked Mackenzie. She has a really tough job, dealing with the dead isn’t exactly cheerful. She has to deal with disoriented Histories and try to calm them down and lead them to where they need to go. She also has to deal with the losses in her own life, the changes her family is going through, and just being a teenager. That is a lot to deal with! She doesn’t always have it all together, which makes her all the more interesting to me. She makes mistakes, and she does the wrong thing.

Mac and her family move to a new building. It’s an old building with a lot of character and a lot of stories. For some reason, there’s a lot of abnormal behavior with the Histories and she works with another keeper, Wes. She also discovers that there’s a story behind the building, and someone’s trying to keep it hidden. She has to take care of the extra histories and try to learn who is covering something up and why. The mystery kept me wanting more, and I was surprised when everything was revealed.

Mac seems to be on bad terms with the actual Archive. She does have a friend in Roland, a librarian there. I really liked Roland, he was entertaining. The Archive seems like a scary and interesting place. The end gives an idea of what Mac might deal with in the sequel, and shows that things aren’t neatly tied up.

4 star rating

I really enjoyed The Archived! I wasn’t completely sure what was going on all the time, it was unique, and I didn’t figure everything out! I think it’s a book I would like to read again at some point, and I definitely want to check out the sequel. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Near Witch, but I’ve heard so many great things about Vicious and I want to bump it higher on my TBR list! If you like a different take on ghosts and the afterlife, exciting writing, and

Check out Victoria Schwab‘s website (which is pretty cool) and twitter!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth [book review]

The Miseducation of Cameron Post coverThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 7th 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules

I chose The Miseducation of Cameron Post randomly (like I choose so many of my reads) because it was a really hot day and I was tired of looking at the library. I had no clue what it was about.

I am really not sure how to review this book, and I feel like I say that all the time lately, sorry. There were moments in this book that I really enjoyed, and there were moments that were angering and painful. I felt so much for Cameron, and I was extremely invested in her story. I didn’t love the book, but I think it was important.

I liked Cameron Post as a character. She is dealing with the loss of her parents, the introduction of a new family system, the development of her personality and sexuality, and school and friends all at the same time. When her parents die, she’s relieved because they won’t know she likes girls. After that, she lives with her aunt and her grandmother. She kind of gets away with a lot for a while. She hangs out with a group of guys, she swims and she runs track. She watches tons of movies and connects with a girl from out of state who kind of helps her learn about certain things.

Her aunt, her main legal guadian, is extremely religious. She makes Cameron go to church with her, which leads to even more confusion and a lot of guilt. Cameron has to worry about people finding out about how she feels and not knowing if it’s right or wrong. She goes through different stages in dealing with her own acceptance of her sexuality.

Cameron faces some really heartbreaking things, and I just wanted to hug her. She’s already lost her parents, and then she has to face a lot of shit with her family and friends. She definitely gets an ugly glimpse of how awful some Christians can be about anything different, which is really disgusting. Cameron does learn a lot about herself and I liked learning with her. She was such a great character. The book has an open ending, and while I would have loved to know more about Cameron’s life, I think it fit the book pretty well.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a haunting look at how GLBT/LGBT teens can be treated. It is upsetting and uplifting. There were parts I enjoyed and parts that were difficult to push through. It wasn’t exactly an enjoyable read for me overall, but I’m glad I read it! I definitely think it’s a worth a read. I wouldn’t really want to read it again, but I’d happily read anything else by Emily M. Danforth in the future. You should check out The Miseducation of Cameron Post if you like a realistic look of what GLBT (or LGBT?) teens deal with in intolerant families and religions.

Check out Emily M. Danforth‘s website and twitter!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [book review]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be

I went into Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe with limited knowledge. I knew it was about friendship and GLBT subjects. I had seen some good things about it and I wanted another book for Bout of Books so I picked it up.

Aristotle or Ari is 15 and unhappy. He lives in El Paso, Texas. He is Mexican American. He speaks English and Spanish. It’s 1987. He doesn’t have many friends. He meets Dante, who also does not have many friends. They become friends and grow and learn things.

I will be honest: I almost didn’t finish this book. There was something about the writing and the beginning felt so slow to me. I’m so glad I didn’t stop reading it, because while it’s not a favorite, I really enjoyed it! It took me a while to get into the flow of Ari’s head and for me the writing didn’t feel lyrical (as the description states). Once I got used to the voice, I got more into the story and it flowed a lot quicker, which made me more interested in what was happening.

The whole story is in Ari’s point of view and it’s first person. Ari is lost, lonely, and confused. In other words, he’s a typical teenager. He has issues with his father, a quiet Vietnam vet with his own problems. His mother is always worried about him and he wants space. He misses a brother he doesn’t know. A lot of the story focuses on his relationship with his father and brother. I loved seeing how much his father loved him even though it was an obvious struggle for him to be open about his experiences and feelings. When they do open up to each other and talk about things, it’s so lovely and heartwarming. I liked Ari’s mom, too. She is a teacher and she has already lost a son to prison, so she’s worried about Ari’s teenage angst and wants the best for him. Ari’s relationship with her was reluctantly sweet and I loved it.

Dante is a fun character. He’s smart and he’s freer and more open about how he feels. I love that at first Ari wasn’t sure if the friendship was worth it, because he’s so sour. Dante is just a positive and hopeful person, which is refreshing. He’s crazy about his parents, which is so nice. He’s different and he knows he’s different. I like that Ari knows that Dante is different and while he thinks about it, it never gives him pause. I enjoyed when Dante was open about anything awkward and it kind of weirded Ari out.

Aristotle and Dante together are fun. Their story developed a bit differently than I expected. There’s a big emphasis on friendship, and I loved their friendship! There were a few things that felt off to me. I liked what happened in the end, but what led up to the ending was kind of weird to me. I also wanted a bit more from the ending, but it still left me happy!

The book does deal with difficult subjects and I think it deals with them very well. Fitting in, family, sexuality, growing up, and so much more.  It was heartwarming and heartwrenching. I had a few issues, but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy!

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For a book I almost didn’t finish, I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I had issues with pacing and a few other details, but overall I think it was a lovely book. I don’t see it being a book I’d read again, but I definitely think it’s a book worth reading! If you like discovery, growth, well-written families, friends and more, you will probably enjoy this book. I think most people will enjoy it!

You can learn more about Benjamin Alire Sáenz here!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys [book review]

Out of the Easy coverOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 12th 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

I knew Out of the Easy was set in New Orleans, but I didn’t know much else about it. I saw something about a murder on the jacket flap. It was sort of a random pick.

“My mother’s a prostitute” is such a great first line. Josie has grown up with a neglectful and hateful mother. People have judged her for her mother’s choice of occupation. She’s worked hard at two jobs and school to be something better and different. She has hopes and dreams to change her life and make it better. She wants more out of life than the same old dirty life where nobody really gets ahead honestly.

Josie is familiar with the mean and dirty side of the Big Easy. She grew up with a mom who cared more about the money and desire that came from prostitution than her child. Her mother resented her and blamed her for changes in her body and the decline in desire. Josie grew up interacting with whores and a low class type of people. She’s close-ish with Willie, the madam or lady who runs the brothel where her mom works. Willie is a businesswoman, she sells sex but she also deals in information. She knows what happens in her area and she has scouts watching for information on the street. She’s closer to Cokie, Willie’s driver.  Cokie is the warmest person in Josie’s life.

She loves books and works at a bookstore. She also lives above the store and is close with the owner and his son. The owner is sick and she helps the son take care of him. When she meets a wealthy girl who goes to Smith in the Northeast, she starts wishing for that life. She’s always wanted out, but now she has a more specific goal.

The setup of the book was lovely, getting to know the city and the people in Josie’s life. Throughout the story the reader gets to know Willie, Cokie,  along with some of the prostitutes pretty well. There are some pretty fun stories about the crazy things that go on in the house. Some are cringe-worthy and some are entertaining.

There was the murder mystery that Josie was very interested in. Along with the seedy parts of New Orleans, there was organized crime and Josie’s mother is dating a creep of a crook. Josie was left in some lurches and had to figure out how to handle some things. I thought some of the drama was almost overdone. I get that it’s a dangerous life and dark times, but it was just a bit much for me.

Jesse was my favorite character and I wanted more of him! He was charming and Josie expected the worst of him. Like a lot of things, Jesse wasn’t what she expected. She thought he was low class and wouldn’t amount to much, and she was surprised to learn he too wanted more from life.

Josie misjudged a lot of people in her life, which is a realistic mistake. A few times, I was frustrated and wanted to tell her to go with her gut instead of hiding everything away and being isolated. She made mistakes, but she definitely learned from them. She was such a likable character because she had such realistic motivations and responses to her mistakes. I think she learned a lot in the story.

I loved the completely unique subject. I haven’t read a lot of books set in Louisiana and not in this time period. It’s a difficult time in a difficult place, which is unique and fascinating. It’s a look at the side of society people look down on, even Josie looked down on them sometimes and she was a part of it. It’s not easy for people that are in ruts to get stuck, to not be able to work their way out. But sometimes, with enough hard work you can find a way out.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Out of the Easy is a good read! I don’t think I would ever read it again, but I will definitely read more by Ruta Sepetys and plan on reading Shades of Gray. This book has an average rating of 4.07 rating on Goodreads, so if it sounds like something you like, you should definitely check it out! I think Out of the Easy would be great for you if you enjoy descriptions of old timey New Orleans, some crime and risque walks of life, and a girl finding her own way even when it’s difficult.

Check out Ruta Sepetys‘s website and twitter!