Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King
Series: The Raven Cycle, #4
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


I bought The Raven King when it was originally released. Several factors kept me from immediately picking it up and reading it like I wanted to. One of those factors was that I wasn’t quite ready to be done with The Raven Cycle. Blue, Gansey, Adam, Noah, and Ronan are some of my most cherished characters. I didn’t want to say goodbye yet. It took me over a year to pick it up. I’m happy I finally devoted the time to say farewell to the gang.

I really enjoyed The Raven King. The story from the previous books was continued, but everything still felt fresh. There were new discoveries to be made, and so many “ah ha” moments to enjoy. The complexity of it all was a little overwhelming at times. I had to take my time reading to really examine what each revelation meant to the story.

While I loved the journey The Raven King took me on, there were some things that struck me as strange and left me wanting more explanation. Blue’s father is the first one. The whole tree thing was just plain weird and I didn’t get what it meant for Blue. The second one was Piper, Henry’s mom, and Mr. Gray. Their last scene together left everything feeling really up in the air. The big ones, though, were Glendower and the Gansey-Blue kiss. Those two things left me wanting more.

Despite feeling a bit confused and possibly let down by the end of the story, I did appreciate the epilogue. I liked knowing what possibilities were ahead for my favorite characters. I did wish that we had been privy to what the ladies at Fox Lane had in store for them.

Overall, The Raven King was a strong ending to a great series.

Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

After the Game
Series: The Field Party, #3
Author: Abbi Glines
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?


In the last Field Party novel, Under the Lights, I felt bad for Brady. He was on the losing end of a love triangle. I was excited to learn After the Game was going to be his story and chance at love. What made me even more excited was that Brady’s love interest was going to be Riley. I liked what I learned of her in book two, and was excited to get to know her character better.

After the Game wasn’t simply a love story. It was a story about growing up. For Brady, that meant dealing with the harsh realities that some things in life might not be what they seem. The things Brady had to deal with were a slap in the face to a boy who had lived a charmed life. For Riley, After the Game was a story of redemption and moving on. She had been falsely accused of lying and lost all of her friends in that moment. Now, she was getting a chance at not only friendship, but love.

I loved that Riley and Brady first found friendship. They rekindled their relationship just when they both needed it. They were a support system for each other that no one else could have been. I loved that Brady wasn’t put off by Riley’s teenage motherhood. In fact, it was just the opposite. Riley’s determination and dedication to her daughter impressed him. That was very mature for a high school senior. I also loved that Riley was willing to forgive Brady and those who had thought poorly of her. The peace she offered Brady in his time of need was special. I loved that all of this lead to a romantic relationship between the two of them.

After the Game was a great addition to The Field Party series. Brady and Riley’s story was one I really enjoyed reading. I hope there are more books to come in the series.

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.


Genuine Fraud was an interesting tale. E. Lockhart continued to give the reader the unexpected with it. Genuine Fraud began in the present and each chapter went back in time. The effect was that I felt like I was reading the story backward. The story continued that way all the way until almost the end. It made for a great guessing game. Each chapter divulged just enough to make me keep reading.

I have to admit that I got a bit bored in the middle of the book. I think it’s because I was frustrated. I just wanted to know what the deal was with Jule and Imogen! Once I got to that part, the story flew again for me. I loved the ending, and thought it was very clever.

Overall, Genuine Fraud was a fun read. It was a darker read, but light at the same time. It had great foreshadowing and a cool set up. It was the perfect book to read on my vacation.

Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?


Earlier this summer, I read Alex, Approximately. It was my first book by Jenn Bennett and I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I absolutely adored that book. It’s what lead me to read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.

I didn’t immediately fall in love with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart the way I did with Alex, Approximately. It took me longer to get into. I didn’t connect with Beatrix or Jack the way I wanted to at first. I’m not exactly sure why. My best guess is that I personally dislike getting in trouble, and Jack had trouble written all over him. Beatrix’s connection to him and his secrets made me nervous for her. It wasn’t until about half way through the book when I started to get a better understanding for the characters and the importance of the story.

From that point on, I was in love with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. I loved that it wasn’t simply about Bex and Jack connecting through art and falling in love. It was about what made them who they were. It was about family relationships, and how their lives were shaped by them. There were so many great learning moments between all of the characters. I loved that!

While The Anatomical Shape of a Heart may have started off slow for me, it ended up pleasantly surprising me. It was a heartwarming young adult novel that was well worth reading.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved As a Teenager

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Throwback Freebie! I decided to go with Ten Books I Loved As a TeenagerI refuse to admit how long ago this was, but you can probably guess from the book choices. You’ll probably notice I was really into YA horror back in the day. I’ve come a far way from that.


1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I don’t remember much about this book now, but I remember I read the entire series. I loved it. I can’t wait to reread it and see the new movie.


2. Remember Me by Christopher Pike

 

This was my favorite book back in the day. I loved it so much. Heck, I loved all of Christopher Pike’s books.


3. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

 

If you grew up in the decades I did, you remember the faces on the milk carton. I think we were all a little bit fascinated with them. This book took it to a new level.


4. Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver

My first tear jerker, I believe. I adored this book so much.


5. Double Love by Francine Pascal

My older twin neighbors gifted me a bunch of Sweet Valley High books growing up. I was too young to read them at the time, but luckily my mom held onto them for me until I could graduate from Sweet Valley Twins to High.


6. The New Girl by R.L. Stine

After falling in love with Pike, I found Stine.


7. The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Stine lead to Smith. I can say that I read this series WAY BEFORE it became a major TV show hit.


8. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Obviously, I read this one in my late teenage years.


9. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

All those Pike, Stine and Smith books lead me to discover this gem. Another book I read before it became a major motion picture with some famous stars. Even that movie is super old now! 🙁


10. Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

I could have inserted any Nora Roberts book here. In my very late teens, my mom introduced me to her books. I was hooked and read pretty much all of them I could get my hands on.


Did you read any of these books as a teenager or am I just too old?

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.                                                                                                                                                                         After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.                                                                                                                                 While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.                                                                                                                             An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

Amazon US | Amazon Aus | Amazon UK | iBooks US | iBooks Aus | Kobo | Nook

My Review:

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Hmm…This was one of those books that’s hard to rate. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and yet, there were some things that bothered me about it. I’m going to break this review into things I loved about Trust and things I didn’t.

Things I loved:

  • I’ve read one other contemporary romance from Kylie Scott, but this book was way different from that one. It was way more raw and emotion filled. I don’t think I would have realized the two books had the same author if her name wasn’t on the front of the cover. I liked this darker novel more.
  • The explosive beginning of Trust was a great way to set up the entire book. The descriptions of everything that went on and Edie’s thoughts throughout the whole event were amazing. I loved how the incident changed Edie and set her on a different path.
  • Edie’s transition to public school opened so many new doors for her. I loved the new friends she made, and how it allowed her to reconnect with John. The friendship they developed slowly morphed throughout the story and I liked that path it took.

Things I didn’t love:

  • Edie was a “bigger” girl. She described herself as being flabby around the middle with thunder thighs. I could understand her body consciousness and thoughts relating to her body. I thought they represented true thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl who was larger in size than her peers. I appreciated that, but I also wanted more. If a writer’s going there with an overweight main character, I like to see some self-realization for the character. Maybe her body isn’t “perfect” in societal standards, but she comes to realize her body is just as beautiful as everyone else’s. I wanted something teenage girls who read this could learn something from body wise. I didn’t get that with this book.
  • It was a little weird was John’s character was a drug dealer. He was super popular and wanted by all the girls — for being a hot drug dealer??? That blew my mind. I get the cute part, but are drug dealers really super popular in high school these days? I don’t remember girls lusting after drug dealers in my high school years, but maybe I was oblivious to who was dealing drugs. Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in this book, and weren’t really a big deal.
  • Some moments I wasn’t sure I believed John’s attraction to Edie. It had nothing to do with her weight and everything to do with not having his point of view in this book. On one hand, John did a lot of sweet things for Edie. On the other, his only tell that he might have wanted more than friendship was the couple of times he checked out her boobs. Having his point of view included would have helped clear up John’s feelings a little better.

Overall, Trust was a book I truly enjoyed reading. It was dark, mature YA romance with a great cast of characters. I would love for this book to lead to a series. I was really interested in Anders and Hang’s relationship, and would love to learn more about them.

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Excerpt:

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/.

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.


Alex, Approximately has been on my radar since prior to its release. First, it was the adorable cover that caught my eye. Then, it was all the amazing reviews it was getting. Almost every blogger was raving about it. I knew I had to read it, so I requested it from the library. It only took two and a half months for my hold to come through, but I finally got to read it.

The book blurb pretty much gives the story away for Alex, Approximately. That should ruin the story, but it doesn’t. It only adds to the fun of it. While you know who Porter and Bailey really are, they don’t. Their relationship progresses naturally from enemies to friends to more. It was cute and sweet and oh so much fun to read.

This book is the perfect summer read. It’s set in a beach side town filled with great destinations, shops and the beach itself. Even Bailey’s accessories are somehow perfectly fitting for the scene. The setting adds so much to this story, and made me crave a trip to the beach.

Bailey has personality. She had her own style, her love of old movies and an evading tactic that made her stand out. Despite being an introvert, she shined the most in social situations. Maybe it was her awkwardness in them that made those moments so much fun to read. The best ones were with Porter. He brought out the best and the worst in Bailey.

Porter was a gem. I couldn’t help but love him. He could be a jerk, but it was in a slightly cocky way that felt perfect for a teenage boy. There was also a softer side to him that came out around Bailey. I loved how he was always trying to protect her. He was just so dang charming!

Alex, Approximately had more going for it than just Porter and Bailey’s romance. It was filled with important friendships and family dynamics. Bailey quickly made a new friend in Grace. They really clicked and I loved watching their friendship develop. Bailey was also rediscovering her relationship with her father, and each moment they spent navigating it was fun. I did wish I got to see a little bit of her mother, but her father more than made up for that. Porter’s relationship with his family was also included and I loved meeting all of them.

I loved everything about Alex, Approximately. If you’re looking for a cute summer YA contemporary romance, this is one you shouldn’t pass up.