Wednesday, September 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Someone I Wanted To Be by Aurelia Willis

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Leah Lobermier dreams of becoming a doctor, but it’s hard to stay focused on getting good grades when boys make oinking sounds at her in school and her mother spends every night on the couch with a bottle of wine. Leah’s skinny and popular “friends," Kristy and Corinne, aren’t much better and can hardly be counted on for support. When the girls convince a handsome older man to buy them beer, Leah takes his phone number and calls him, pretending to be Kristy—coy and confident—and they develop a relationship, talking and texting day after day. But as the lie she created grows beyond her control, can Leah put a stop to things before she—or Kristy—is seriously hurt?

Okay, so where do I start with this one? I could kind of relate to the main character with this one and not in a "she is so much like me that I am annoyed by her" way. I did feel for her. Leah is overweight and deals with insults from everyone at school (including her so-called friends) and she has to deal with being poor and having an alcoholic mother. She dreams of being as pretty and as thin as her "friend," Kristy (notice my quotations around the word friend, we'll get to that in a minute). When her and her friends meet this creepy looking guy in his late twenties, they all thought he was so cute (gag me) and Leah gets his number and calls him, pretending to be Kristy. That is supposed to be the main premise, but the author kind of danced around those conversations. I have no idea what they talked about; the author kind of skipped around those parts. 

Let's talk about Kristy. God, Kristy is such a mean girl and she just sucks. She calls Leah names and Leah hates her, but she still insists on being friends with her. I just didn't get it. And when she meets a new girl (Anita) who is super interesting and actually a good person, Leah abandons her pretty quickly when Kristy is around. Oh, and Kristy's mom is dying of cancer so it's totally cool that she treats everyone like crap. And everyone has to put up with it because if you abandon your friend whose mom is dying, you are evil. I don't even care. If that were me, there is NO WAY I would ever be friends with Kristy, regardless of what's going on with her mom. Kristy is just not a good person.

The whole book was just boring and annoying because of all the mean people. And Leah didn't help matters because she just made all the wrong decisions. I know I shouldn't totally hate her for that because she's young and all that, but I do. And I'm not even sure what the point of the book was or what the message was supposed to be. Was Leah supposed to realize she was great regardless of her weight? Was she supposed to stand up for herself and realize who her real friends were? Was she supposed to stand up to her mother? Or learn to deal with her mother? None of those things actually happened so what was the point. I didn't like any of the characters or their decisions. Actually, I did like the secondary characters, Anita and Carl, but they weren't shown nearly enough. And towards the end of the book, I skimmed certain sections and I was ready to be done with it. After the book, I felt very unsatisfied and I'm not even sure I can say why. Maybe it was because there were so many storylines and so many issues that were talked about and I didn't feel great about the resolution to any of them. I would not recommend this book.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Really Want To Read This Fall

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is my TBR for the Fall.

Ahhh . . . . so many books!! Seriously, I am way behind in books on my TBR. Between ARCs and beta reading, I feel like all the unread books that I own are giving me the stink eye for ignoring them. The good news is that I have gotten my reading mojo back or whatever so I actually feel like reading again. For this list, I am not really counting my ARCs or all the many, many books coming out in the next few months that I really want to read. No, all of the books on this list are ones I already own and hope to get to at some point in the distant future.
1. 1. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

2. Little Cyclone: The Girl who started the Comet Line by Airey Neave

3. Raging Sea (Undertow #2) by Michael Buckley

4. Shiny, Broken Pieces (Tiny, Pretty Things #2) by Sona Charaipotra

5. How It Went Down by Kekia Magoon

6. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

7. The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

9. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

10. Down With The Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

11. The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood

12. MaddAdam (MaddAdam #3) by Margaret Atwood 

What books are on your TBR for this Fall? Have any of you been neglecting to read books you own . . . or is it just me?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is October 4, 2016. 

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens. Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

I had never read this author before, but apparently I am missing out. If this book is any indication of this author's talent, then I must read her other books ASAP. 

Emma created some amazing characters with some awesome friendships. Sloane's family just moved to Florida because of her dad's writing block. She has always been a bit of a loner so it is a but of a surprise when she becomes friends with Vera and Vera's brother Gabe and Remy. All of the characters were so well developed and so relatable. There is some flirtation going on between Sloane and Gabe, but it is slow burn and I loved it. Another thing I loved was all the witty banter and all the humor. Sloane is sarcastic, which I love. Some of the conversations actually made me laugh out loud and it's not often that a book does that. One of the best things was how they handled Vera's sexuality. She was gay and had a girlfriend, but guess what? NO ONE CARED! Yep, that's right. Not a single person cared at all. There was no drama over her being gay, no bullies, nothing. Just a girl and her girlfriend. 

But the best, and I mean absolute BEST things about this book was the focus on FRIENDSHIP and FAMILY! Yes, there was a little romance between Sloane and Gabe but the main storyline was about friends and family. And everyone had a normal and loving and supportive family. Sloane's family was going through stuff with her dad's writer's block and it was obviously starting to affect Sloane's parent's marriage, but there was no neglect or anything. Sloane's dad was right there helping her and spending time with her and I loved it. And can I say how adorable Sloane's sister was? Their relationship was pretty special too.

The only thing that maybe prevented this book from being totally awesome was that the author tried to do too much, I think. There were a lot of storylines. There was Sloane and Remy trying to track down the painting, Vera and Gabe still grieving over the death of their mother, Sloane and Gabe's romance, Remy feeling lovesick over his ex girlfriend and trying to figure out why she broke it off, her dad's writer's block and then of course, there was Sloane's problem of not really letting people get too close to her. It was all too much and I think a few of the issues maybe got resolved too quickly because there wasn't enough time for the author to give all the issues enough attention.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one. This was a great book and I would highly recommend it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Wrecked by Maria Padian

I received an ARC from both NetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is October 4, 2016.

Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible--especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.

I have read a lot of books on sexual assault. I think each one is important in its own way. While this one may not be one of my favorites, I still thought it was powerful and a very important read. What made this book a bit more interesting is that we never get the POV of the rape victim. No, this is about the people surrounding both the victim and the rapist and how muddled the truth can get and how there can be more than two sides to a story.

First, we meet Haley. Haley has just been removed from the college soccer team because she suffered her third concussion and it's too risky for her to play anymore. She is also roommates with Jenny, the rape victim. Haley and Jenny really don't interact much prior to the rape. Haley spent most her time with her teammates and Jenny is a premed student, so she is always at the library. Haley doesn't hesitate to offer her support when she finds out what happened to Jenny and she quickly gets sucked in, maybe more than she wanted to. 

Then there is Richard. Richard was not even at the party where Jenny was raped, but he is housemates with Jordan, the guy accused. Okay, Richard was a hard guy to like at times, but I think I sympathized with him. Jordan tells him that he and Jenny had consensual sex and I can see why it would be hard to believe that someone you think you know is a rapist. Richard makes some off color jokes at times, but he said something once that really made me think. He said that since he wasn't at the party or in the room with Jenny and Jordan, no one except the two of them can say for certain what happened. Richard says that it's hard to determine whether Jordan is lying to him or himself or whether he's telling the truth, but that's what the investigation is for and he's not a bad guy because he doesn't necessarily want to take sides and because he wants to let them do their job. I kind of get where he is coming from with that. I mean, I am all for believing the victim 100%. I just think that if a male friend of mine were accused of something so heinous, it would be hard for me to automatically think he's a rapist. Does that even make sense? 

Richard and Haley meet and start up a romance. I probably could have done without that part, but I guess it did make for an added level of drama. And they did have nice chemistry together. But they are on opposite sides of this whole thing. This book did a great job of talking about consent and what it means and they showed the ugly side that can come from rape accusations, manly victim blaming. There was a lot of victim blaming here and it turns my stomach. Richard even made a couple of comments like that and I was glad that Haley put him in his place. I do think there was some character development there though so that was good. 

Now in between the Haley and Richard chapters, there were also snippets of what happened the night of the party. It was kind of an objective, third party account as opposed to being told from the POV of the victim or the rapist. These snippets give us the truth, a little bit at a time. 

I loved the main characters and all the secondary characters as well. There were so many viewpoints in this book and I could see everyone's side in this. This author did a great job of showing the emotions that come about after a rape, not just with the victim, but with the people surrounding both the victim and the rapist. This book will make you think and it will make you angry, but it is such an important one to read. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is October 4, 2016. 

Before her older sister, Ginny, died, Carrie was a science nerd, obsessively tracking her beloved Vira comet. But now that Ginny is gone, sixteen-year-old Carrie finds herself within the orbit of Ginny’s friends, a close-knit group of seniors who skip school, obsess over bands (not science), and party hard. Fed up with Carrie’s behavior, her father enrolls her in a summer work camp at a local state park. Carrie actually likes the days spent in nature. And when she meets Dean, a guy who likes the real Carrie—astrophysics obsessions and all—she starts to get to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

Okay, I kind of tolerated this book for most of it and then it just went downhill. I swear this book was average for most of it and then towards the end, I just became annoyed. So Carrie is upset at the death of her older sister, Ginny. Ginny drank and did drugs and of course, Carrie picked up the role of "rebellious child" after her death. Carrie uses Ginny's death as an excuse to push people away and act selfish and generally just act mean towards everyone. But I guess it's okay that she does that because she's grieving, right? She doesn't even acknowledge the feelings of Ginny's two friends who were actually in the car with her when she died. Nope, Carrie is the only one hurting. 

Carrie's mom left soon after Ginny's death because that's apparently what you do: one kid dies and instead of dealing with it, you leave your other two children alone. Makes sense. Carrie's dad was a hard one. I alternated between liking him and hating him, but then I realized that he was kind of realistic. He stuck around, unlike Carrie's mom and he did the best he could to take care of both Carrie and Rosie (Carrie's sister). He got frustrated with Carrie because she stayed out all night and did drugs and made everyone around her miserable. There were times when I thought he could have reached out a little bit more, but he was doing the best he could. The problem was that Carrie did NOT make it easy. I did like that her father was not willing to give up on her and he was willing to set boundaries with her and he tried his best to discipline her. 

Okay, so there is a reason why I thought this book was a bit better than it was for a majority of the book: there was an interesting twist on the whole "acting like a bitch because I'm sad" thing. The author alluded to the fact that Carrie had been diagnosed by a therapist as having impulse control disorder. That got my attention. How often is THAT mental illness talked about? Never. The way Carrie was out of control and the way she would totally overreact to stuff emotionally seemed to fit with that. And I got the feeling that her issues started before Ginny's death, but they just became so much worse after the fact. I was so interested in how that part of the storyline would play out. 

The problem though was that, aside from that one mention by the shrink, there was no other mention of it. With impulse control disorder, the patient needs therapy and medication. Well Carrie had stopped her therapy and there was no talk of medication. There were times when I wasn't sure if the author was trying to portray Carrie as mentally ill or if she was just throwing a temper tantrum. But the worst part, the absolute worst, was that the author made it seem as if Carrie's relationship with Dean was the answer to her problems. Carrie was desperate for a boyfriend; she got one. And once, Carrie felt herself start to overreact and have a "fit," as she called it. But guess what happened? One conversation with Dean and it was gone. Poof. Just like that. So freaking annoying. And she never had another episode again. Okay, I don't know that for sure, but that's definitely the direction the author was going with it. Sorry, but people who actually have impulse control disorder need a bit more help than a boyfriend can provide. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: I would just recommend skipping this one.

Monday, September 19, 2016

DISCUSSION: At What Point Do You DNF A Book?

I have zero problem DNF'ing a book. I used to be a hardcover book finisher . . . that is, until my TBR yelled at me for wasting time on books I hated while there are so many other amazing books to be read.

Why yes, my TBR does yell at me periodically. Doesn't yours?
But my question for you DNF-ers (that's a word because I said so): at what point do you give up on a book?
For me, it's usually around the 10% or 15% mark . . . or fifty pages, whatever comes first. But I was recently reading this book and it was so boring. I just wanted to go to sleep every time I picked it up. I thing the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I thought it would get better. Before I knew it, I was at 70% and my Kindle told me I had a little over an hour of reading time left on it.
Longest. Hour. Ever.
I wanted to DNF it so badly. I went back and forth with myself.

So why did I keep reading? Because I felt like it was way too late to turn back. I was already invested. This was a three hour book (that took me two weeks to read, by the way) and I was at the hour mark. That would be like me running a marathon and then just quitting at the 24 mile marker. (FYI, if you ever see me running then you should run too because someone is probably chasing me.) 
I don't usually feel like a quitter just because I DNF a book, but I would have felt like a quitter with this one because of how much time I had already spent reading it.

So my question is this: at what point do you decide to DNF a book? Is there a "point of no return" when you feel like you have to finish it, no matter what?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is October 4, 2016.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

This book . . . oh this book. It was beautiful and enchanting and a little confusing and oh, I just loved it so, so much. I was in a bit of a reading slump when I started it so I didn't have very high expectations that it would be able to capture my attention. But I was just sucked in right away with the characters and the writing.

The diversity in this one was awesome. Sam is Pakistani and he is transgender. He was born as a girl and he is trying so hard to live the life he feels he is meant to, as a boy. The problem is that he is in a bit of denial about his gender identity. I guess in Pakistani culture, there is something called bacha posh. Basically, this is when the daughter in a family with no sons decides to live their life as a boy. I looked it up and it's a real thing. Girls do this so they can live their lives with the freedoms that boys have, but then they go back to living life as women once they pass puberty and are approaching marriage. Sam lives his life as a boy and tells himself that he will grow out of it, that it's a phase, that he will feel more like a girl as he grows up. It's so heartbreaking because he is so confused and so lost. I loved his mom in this. His mom was so supportive and she gave him so much freedom and space to determine what it was that Sam wanted. I loved that. There were so many rich elements about Sam's culture and his identity and how his culture helped shape who he was. 

Then there was Miel. Miel suffered a tragedy and was found in the town's water tower. A local woman, Aracely, takes her in and raises her. There are rumors and stories floating around about both Aracely and Miel. Miel has roses growing out of her arm and there are stories about what those roses can supposedly do. Aracely works to remove love sickness from the brokenhearted people of the town. There is something so freeing about the idea that a spell could remove those feelings of love you have for someone who doesn't feel the same way. That spell could have come in handy a lot when I was younger. 

Miel is the only one who knows Sam's secret. They have been best friends since they were little and Miel tumbled out of that tower. They also love each other. Their relationship is so beautiful and there is so much acceptance there on both sides and it just made my heart happy. They protected each other and accepted each other completely for who they were. The romance and the chemistry and the friendship were all so captivating. 

I will say that the Bonner sisters confused me a bit and there were a few times when the prose confused me a bit. There were also times when I couldn't tell whether something was real or magic. But that did not stop me from loving this book and loving the world that the author created. At the end, the author's note said that the author married a transgender man and she knew him and loved him even before they knew what transgender meant. You can really tell the author respected that struggle and there was so much heart to Sam's story so it didn't surprise me that some of it was based on the author's own life. This book was just so incredibly beautiful and I can't rave about it enough. Just read it already.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Obviously, I am saying that you need to buy this one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace #2) by Erin Bow

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 20, 2016.

Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country's crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path. She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI. If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult. Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.

Sigh. Okay guys, I was trying to come up with something good about this book. I swear, I tried. But I just couldn't. I should have known better anyway because I wasn't in love with the first book. I did like it, but I was bored for the first 30% of that one. So how long was I bored while reading this one? Every. Single. Page. I am not exaggerating. It took two weeks to read this book and it usually takes me a day (sometimes two if it's a longer one) to read a book. Every time I picked it up, I would read a page before stopping because I would suddenly feel the need to sleep. I guess my boredom for part of the first book is what made me keep reading this one. I kept waiting for it to change and have more action and I thought that at SOME point, I would understand what was happening and the book would excite me.

So we start this book with Greta as an AI. Did I miss something in the last book? I don't remember her agreeing to do that, but maybe I missed it. Talis is there and I was just as bored by him as I was by Greta and the other characters. That surprised me, especially since I loved him so much in the first one. But in the first one, he had sarcasm and humor and witty banter. There was none of that here. Sure, he had the occasional quip but for the most part, he was just bland. 

I don't really understand what Greta and Talis were trying to do at the beginning of the book. They were making a journey with some Swan Riders and stuff happened and some more stuff happened and there were a few characters that I didn't know or care about and these characters betrayed Talis and then . . . well, that's it. There was no action, no story. And I was confused by all the secondary characters. I was also confused by all the names they called Talis: Michael and Rachel were his other two names. I didn't get it. Actually, there was a lot of this book that I didn't get. There was no chemistry between any of the characters, no action and no drama and just . . . nothing. The children at the school weren't around and the school wasn't really mentioned, except to talk about Greta's memories of the place. So where were they? I started to get the Swan Riders a little, but I still didn't understand their full goal because they weren't clear on it. This book was just slow and confusing. When I got to the last ten percent of the book, I admit it: I just skimmed. At that point, I just couldn't take the boredom anymore and just wanted to finish it. I would not recommend this one at all.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Nonfiction Reads!

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is about favorites. By this point, I have told you guys my favorites in so many categories (all time favorites, WWII history favorites, favorite sad books, dystopian favorites, etc.). This week, I will talk about my favorites in a rarely talked about category: nonfiction. 

I'll admit that I don't read nonfiction that often. More often than not, I find it dry and boring. But I do try to branch out every once in a while and I have found some nonfiction books that I love. Some are funny, some are serious, but all are amazing.

Do you read nonfiction very often? Have you read any of these? What are a few of your favorite nonfiction reads?

Friday, September 9, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Girl On A Plane by Miriam Moss

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 13, 2016.

After a summer spent with her family, fifteen-year-old Anna is travelling back to her English boarding school alone. But her plane never makes it home. Anna’s flight is hijacked by Palestinian guerillas. They land the plane in the Jordanian desert, switch off the engines and issue their demands. If these are not met within three days, they will blow up the plane, killing all the hostages. The heat on board becomes unbearable; food and water supplies dwindle. Anna begins to face the possibility she may never see her family again. Time is running out.

This story is based on true events experienced by the author. Yes, she changed a few names and added a few interesting characters but for the most part, everything here actually happened (at least, according to the author's note). It's kind of hard criticizing someone's story, but I just wasn't in love with this one. I expected to feel the main character's fear and desperation. Mainly, I just felt hungry because the character kept talking about food. I do get that because the people on the plane were being starved and so all they could think about was the food they craved. So I started craving it. The author also did a great job of describing the heat of the desert so I could feel that. 

But I never really got a sense that she was afraid. I mean, yeah there was some fear, especially since there were guys with guns. But all the people on the plane were being optimistic. They were all talking and reading and even sleeping. And sometimes, there was a little laughter. Anne has conversations with the two boys in her row. One of them is a young boy named Tim, who has a pet terrapin (a turtle). Tim is adorable and he is your typical little boy who thinks he's immortal and isn't really that scared. Tim brought some levity to Ann's experience on the plane, but again, that levity just added to the fact that no one really seemed scared. I guess even though people were afraid of the guys with guns, no one REALLY thought they were going to die. Anne even starts up a conversation one of the terrorists and it seems like she starts to empathize with him a little bit. I didn't realize until the end of the book (reading the author's note) that the author was the main character, so I had no idea how this story would pan out. I went into this story blind and I expected some suspense about whether the terrorists would blow the plane up, but I never felt that. So that lack of suspense and lack of urgency took away from the enjoyment of the book. It just felt predictable.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 20, 2016.

When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

This was such a beautiful book. Four years ago, Ethan was kidnapped. Caroline's brother, Dylan, was kidnapped several months ago and they are able to find him and Ethan. Dylan is autistic and can't communicate about what happened. Meanwhile, Ethan gets so much judgment from the press and he feels guilty because he thinks he should have been able to escape at some point. Caroline and Ethan meet because Caroline wants to try to get some information on what happened to her brother so she can help him. Instead, they actually become friends. The chapters are split into Caroline's POV and Ethan's. The chapters also start with exactly how many days it's been since Ethan and Dylan were rescued so we can see the progression and the changes they go through.

Ethan was a very sympathetic character. There was so much guilt with him: guilt for not trying to escape, guilt for what his captor did, guilt for not helping Dylan enough. His parents were the most loving and awesome parents. When Ethan comes back, his mom is crazy overprotective and doesn't ever want to let him out of her sight. Make sense though, right? Ethan kind of puts up with it because he doesn't want to hurt her any more than he thinks he has. My favorite part of Ethan's chapters were his therapy sessions. His therapist was AMAZING!! The therapist even has a Golden Retriever that routinely sits at Ethan's feet during his sessions. How cool is that? Dogs just make everything better. Ethan's therapist was so patient and calm and he seemed to know exactly what Ethan needed to hear. Some books just don't do the therapy relationship enough justice, but this author did it very well.

Caroline's family life and her parents were a bit of a contrast to Ethan's. First of all, Caroline's family didn't have much money so they couldn't afford therapy. Second of all, while Caroline's mom had the best of intentions and while it was obvious that she loved her kids, her way was to try to pretend nothing had happened and hope that Dylan just got better. Maybe that was made easier by the fact that Dylan was nonverbal, so he couldn't really talk about his experience anyway. But with all of the attention that Caroline's mom was putting on Dylan, she kind of neglected Caroline a bit. I kind of hated her dad though. He just worked all the time and there were hints that maybe he was more disappointed that Dylan was autistic than anything. That was a bummer. He neglected both of his kids and basically ignored Dylan, so Caroline and her mom had to do everything for him themselves. Caroline also carried her own guilt, just like Ethan. Caroline felt responsible for the fact that Dylan was taken at all.

I was afraid that the author would go for a romantic relationship between Caroline and Ethan, but I am SO GLAD that did not happen. Neither of them needed anything romantic. I loved how easy and comfortable their friendship was. They just played music together and got to know each other and it helped. This story of how two families were affected by this kidnapping and the different ways they deal with it and how it changes everyone and everything was so incredibly moving. It's so hard for Caroline and Ethan to try to move past what happened and try to overcome this huge trauma. But there is so much character development here and there is a lot of hope at the end of it. This is a must read!

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.

This book had so many great things: magic and great friendships and this amazing, crazy, twisted fantasy world that is part wonderful and part horror. So many things to love! 

Alex doesn't want to be a bruja. Her sisters and her family have been wanting Alex to find her power for years. Little do they know that Alex has already found her power and she blames the fact that her dad left on it. She doesn't feel that being a bruja is a blessing like everyone else does, she sees it as a curse. I kind of had to roll my eyes at the whole "chosen one" thing because that part is a bit cliche. But what isn't cliche is that she doesn't WANT to be chosen. She just wants to be "normal," whatever that means. So she decides to use her Deathly celebration as a day to try and get rid of her powers once and for all. But it backfires when her entire family disappears and she has to go to Los Lagos (the land in between) with Nova, a brujo boy she doesn't trust.

I recently read a book that had magic in the premise, but the actual story was a bit lacking. That was not the case here. The author painted such a vivid picture of Los Lagos. There was so much magic and so many interesting characters. Some were good and some were not so good. She has to find her family, but there are people after her power and Alex must learn to channel that power without her family around. There was a little bit of a love triangle and you know what? I didn't mind it! It was also a bisexual love triangle. Alex is torn between Nova and her best friend, Rishi. I absolutely loved Rishi and maybe the reason why I didn't mind this love triangle is because I loved both characters. Truthfully, I would have loved to know more about Nova and his story, but maybe that will come in the sequel. I also loved the diversity and I loved that no one really cared about Alex's bisexuality. It was treated the same as if she were straight, which is to say that no one cared or made a fuss about it. Love that!

I think my only main issue with the book was that the story dragged a little at times. And even though Alex was trying to rescue her family, I didn't really feel a sense of urgency. I never really thought anything bad would happen to any of them, maybe because the world was just so out there. Maybe the author was focusing so much on the world building because it is the beginning of a series. But there were still a lot of twists and turns and I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It wasn't a cliffhanger, but it did set the characters up for more stories.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - The one where I talk about TV instead of books!

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is a TV related freebie. I decided to post my favorite TV shows. A few of these are older and have been canceled and a few of these are still on the air. But all of them have one thing in common: I ADORE THEM!

What are a few of your favorite TV shows? Any on this list that you love??

Monday, September 5, 2016

DISCUSSION: When Do You Abandon A Book Series?

I admit it: I have a hard time abandoning a book series. When I start one, I just feel the need to read the entire thing. I have done that several times. And each time I ask myself: why do I do this to myself?? Mainly, it's because I just feel a need to read more and see how the characters turn out. It's like they're real people and I won't rest until I know how their life turns out.
Lately, I have been getting better about abandoning a book series when I'm not happy. It seems like this urge came about after blogging. I think it's because there are just so many books out there, begging to be read, that I can't read more books JUST to see how the characters turn out. Also, it seems like every new book is the start of a series. I just can't add more books to my TBR if I didn't even like the first one.

So what makes me decide to abandon a book series?

1. A plot that is confusing or unrealistic or it just downright makes me mad.
2. Boring characters
3. A book that moved too slowly and didn't really excite me
4. Annoying plot devices like insta-love. That alone isn't necessarily a driving force in my decision to abandon a book series, but when there is insta-love AND zero chemistry between the couple, it's just too much for me to handle.
5. Lack of world-building to the point where I have no clue what is happening or even the time frame where the story takes place

Do you have a problem abandoning a book series? What makes you decide to stop reading one? Anything that needs to be added to the list?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

August Wrap-Up

I am linking up to both the Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and the Sunday Post @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

August was up and down a bit. I kind of lost my reading mojo around the middle of the month, but I have been able to get caught up with my blogging stuff over the last couple of weeks. I love seeing those posts scheduled ahead of time. It makes me feel like superwoman! (Yeah, I know scheduling some blog posts ahead of time doesn't exactly make me a superhero, but just work with me on this one.) I also only took a week to respond to blog comments and I have been able to spend some time reading blogs I love. Yay! I'll get my reading mojo back . . . eventually. 
I have also been miserable because it's been so freaking HOT!! Seriously, I am so over this warm weather. 
As for right now, my parents are in town to visit my husband and me in Italy! I am so excited to show them this beautiful country. So I probably will be out of touch with everything blog related for the next week and a half. The only thing that sucks is that it is still crazy hot. Sightseeing in Rome and Florence during this heat can be exhausting, but it will be worth it. Actually, having houseguests (even my parents) will be exhausting too. But again . . . it's worth it. My husband and I are traveling to Norway in November and I am dreaming of cold weather and sweaters and lots of snow. 

I have read fifteen books this month (plus a couple of unpublished manuscripts for beta reading). This was a really slow month for me, but I am sure things will pick up. 

Favorite book of the Month:
No contest.
Most disappointing book of the Month:

Ugh, I can't even deal with this one. I'll just say this: mental illness is NOT a plot device!

Reviews Posted

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva 
You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross and Mark Perini
The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges
The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow 
The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

Top Ten Tuesday Posts

Gift Card Wish List
Favorite Books This Year
The One with the Mixed Bag
Top Books on my TBR after Two Years
Top Books for LGBTQ Class
The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

Other Posts

Olympics Book Tag
DISCUSSION: Can a Character be too Relatable?
DISCUSSION: Bring On The Tears!
DISCUSSION: I've lost my reading mojo!

How was your month? Do you have anything planned for September? What was your favorite book in August?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 6, 2016.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows. She is covered in ash and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a New York City detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. B

This is a book about the days immediately following 9/11. There were a few things I liked and a few I didn't. I thought the portrayal of everyone's despair and yet, hopefulness during those days was really accurate and moving. I thought Kyle was an awesome character. I loved how he responded to the girl on the bridge and how he wanted to take care of her and mostly, just how he didn't want to be alone. I loved his family and I teared up a couple of times when he talked about his dad. Kyle's dad worked on the Terrorism Task Force, so he was with the first responders, digging through the rubble that was the Twin Towers. I can't even imagine what that must have been like. I also loved Kyle's Uncle Matt. Matt used to be cop until an accident made him a paraplegic. So Matt is in a wheelchair and he can barely speak. Kyle was so good with him and I loved that the girl Kyle rescued actually looked Matt in the eyes and talked to him, instead of acting like he wasn't there. 9/11 changed everything for everyone and I felt like 9/11 made Kyle realize just how important his family was, not that he didn't before, but it just became more clear I guess. 

The girl was a hard character to pin down, but I liked how the author told things from her POV. Her POV included little snippets and they were in verse. It was an interesting way to have a second POV and I thought the author did a great job with it.

So why didn't I love this one more? That's a hard question to answer. I didn't feel like the book was as emotional as it could have been, especially considering the subject. I'm not really sure why it wasn't a tearjerker. Maybe it was because most of the story was kind of Kyle's observations about the news and his friend and what his dad tells him, but he really isn't involved in the events of 9/11 themselves. And I never really felt the sense of urgency about who the girl was or what happened to her. I guess I had a feeling that things would work out with her. I won't spoil the ending about who she was or what happened to her, but I was satisfied with it. It was a pretty good book, but it just wasn't as good as it could have been. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one.