Monday, September 29, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. -
Summary from Goodreads
      I had no intention of reading Isla and the Happily Ever After until I had finished one more book for school, but then I got home and... there it was... waiting for me. I pretty much read it in one sitting. Stephanie Perkins has somehow found the recipe for great YA contemporary romance. The characters, the dialogue, the setting, the relationships, and the DRAMA! come together to make this book special and a joy to read. I am in awe of her talent. 

     The main character is Isla (EYE-la), who we met in Anna and the French Kiss. She's a shy, intelligent girl, who has been in love with Josh since she was a freshman. I loved her character from the first line, where she said, "It's midnight, it's sweltering, and I might be high on Vicodin, but that guy--that guy right over there--that's him." The first chapter continues to be full of sweet and awkward dialogue, and the book goes from there.

      It takes place mostly in New York and at SOAP in Paris. Because Isla is a duel citizen she is familiar with both cities and sees then as a local, not a visitor, would. A lot of the places visited in ANNA are mentioned in passing in ISLA which made me feel nostalgic. Isla also visits Barcelona which is a more of a touristy experience because she is seeing it all for the first time.

     I would say that ISLA can be read on it's own, but the characters from the previous books do make an appearance. If you haven't read the other books there's nothing that would confuse you, but meeting the characters would be like, "Well, these are pretty cool characters that I would like to know more about." instead of "MY OLD FRIENDS! HOW GREAT TO SEE YOU! *HUG*" which was totally my reaction.

      ISLA is different from ANNA and LOLA because the majority of those books focus on the main characters getting together, while ISLA focuses on keeping the main characters together once they become a couple. There is plenty of drama, plenty of ups and downs, and at a certain point I actually closed the book in pain because I didn't want to see what was coming... and then I forced myself to open the book again because I HAD to see what happened. Sometimes I wanted to yell at the characters, but I really couldn't because I empathized too much. A lot of problems that come up deal with the character's own insecurity, and I just can't blame them too much.

     By the end of Isla and the Happily Ever After, the characters that we fell in love with have grown and matured. All the drama and angst that they went through had a purpose because they became stronger and better people as a result of it. As a reader, that made it all worth it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On Our Fall TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books On Our Fall To-Be-Read List

Sarah’s List 
1) The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
It's been sitting on my shelf for a few months (which really isn't that long for me) and I've heard great things about it so I want to try it out soon.
2) Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard
Final book in the most awesome series! I can't wait to get my hands on it!
3) Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1) by Josephine Angelini
Another one that's been sitting on my shelf for a while. I think it involves Greek mythology so I'm really excited read it!
4) The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan
I kinda lost steam for this series after HOH but I still am ready to see how it all ends.
5) Lullaby (Watersong #2) by Amanda Hocking
I think I mostly want to read this for Daniel... :)
6) Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
I keep trying to read it and I get a few pages in and stop for a bit. I really need to read it cause, hey, it's Captain Hook!
7) Deception (Defiance #2) by C.J. Redwine
I own an ARC of the third book so I really need to read this.
8) The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson
This totally sounds like my type of book and the cover looks awesome. Hopefully it will come in the library soon.
9) Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
It's Kiersten White. Duh.
10) Eve (Eve #1) by Anna Carey
Collecting dust on my shelf for over a year. I really should check it out.

Christina’s List
     *Half of these books I already have in my possession, but with all the reading and writing I have to do for school, I just can't get to them right now, and that just irks me! Come on, School, give me a break!
1) Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke
    - Alternate realities are my guilty pleasure... only I don't feel guilty :)
2) Lullaby (Watersong #2) by Amanda Hocking
     - I had trouble with the writing style of the first book, but once things got going it was pretty good. I'm excited to see where the story goes, and I just want to read more about Daniel.
3) Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard
     - THIS SERIES IS SO AMAZING!!! I can't wait for the last book!
4) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
     -  I really hope I like this book. I'm usually not one to read contemporaries, ANNA was an exception. I hope this book has the same magic.
5) Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
    - I was kinda nervous about this book. I'm the type of person who loves creepy things, but am scared to pick them up... figure that one out. But I've read a lot of great reviews for this, and I loved Paper Valentine by Yovanoff. This sounds like a great Fall read.
6) Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones 
     - It's got superpowers and a thief. Need I say more?
7) Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Steifvater
     - I love Stiefvater's style and characters, but I'm really nervous about where this series is going. I just don't know. But I am a loyal reader and will pick it up.
8) Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
     - Kiersten White has been one of my favorite authors since I first read Paranormalcy. Mind Games and In The Shadows really cemented that love. I've read so many great reviews for this. It's going to be great!
9) Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
     - Another book that sounds creepy and awesome.
10) On the Fence by Kasie West
      -  I just got this from the library. I've seen so many great reviews for this that I had to get it. Again, contemporaries are not my thing, but I live in hope.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Title: Wake (Watersong #1)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: August 2012
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.
- Summary from Goodreads

            A fun summer read to finish off the season with. Wake is a mixture of cuteness, creepiness, and drama. I picked this book up at a flea market because of the awesome cover, but I bought it because of the sirens. I’ve never read a book with such a heavy presence of sirens before, and while it had a bit more of a contemporary feel than I like to read, it was an enjoyable read. 

            You would never guess it from the summary, but this book actually follows two main characters, Gemma and her sister Harper (sister book!) who takes the role as “overprotective big sister” very seriously. They both are struggling with change as Harper is about to go off to college in the fall and Gemma is falling for Harper’s best friend Alex, who will be leaving soon as well. There's also tension as Harper's mother hen-ing get's more intense and Gemma is sick of it. However, the real trouble comes when three mysterious girls start to show some interest in Gemma and not in a good way.

            I thought the sirens were interesting and well done, but we didn’t actually get a lot of them besides the surface “pretty yet dangerous” vibe. There was one section in the book that focused on their mythology which was interest, but it’d be nice to see more depth to them later.

            While I thought the writing style lacked a bit in the beginning, the story caught my interest enough that I didn’t notice it as much after a while. This definitely felt like an introduction to the rest of the series, but is had some high-stake, intense parts as well and I thought that the relationships (or sometimes lack thereof) were really cute. Gemma and Alex were cute, but I love the Harper/Daniel chemistry. It’s probably because he seems like a heart-of-gold/scoundrel and she is not impressed. But there is something about him as well that is a mystery and I can’t wait to find out what the explanation is.

            Overall, I wouldn’t say that this was a great book, but it has an interesting premise. I am definitely hooked on the series and ready to read on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1)
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: May 7th, 2013
Rating: 3 Stars
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. - Summary from Goodreads

I was really impressed by how realistic The 5th Wave was. I feel like this line sums up the book pretty well, “In the 4th Wave, you can't trust that people are still people. But you can trust that your gun is still your gun.” It isn’t just about the alien invasion, it’s about human survival and what one has to do just to stay alive. Cassie is alone when the book begins and stays that way for a really long time, not only because there are not any humans alive nearby, but because she can’t trust them anyway. The Others can disguise themselves as humans so that makes trust really hard on both sides. The only company that Cassie has is her M16 and her little brother’s teddy bear.

I had some trouble getting into the book. The beginning is told from Cassie’s point of view and since she’s alone the majority the time it is just flashbacks. While they were interesting and set up the plot, I wanted what was going to happen next not what had happened before. It changes points of view a couple of times and then I came across this line: “Call me Zombie.” Not only is it an awesome reference it was when the book started getting interesting for me.

Zombie was my favorite POV to read probably because he had the most interaction with other characters which I found more interesting than Cassie’s isolation. While Zombie is at an alien fighting boot camp, Cassie FINALLY comes across another person. I have mixed feelings about Evan. I feel like he was there only for the dash of romance he added to the story and for plot. He was a flat character.

I can’t say that I fell in love with any of the characters, but all of them were interesting enough to carry their own chapters and had unique and interesting voices. I can’t say that I fell in love with the story, but I liked it well enough that I definitely will continue the series. Part of my apathy comes from school I think. I don't have as much time as I used to and this is a long book. I just wanted things to happen a faster than they did. But if things went faster I don’t think the story would have messed with my mind as much. That would have been a shame.

Information about the Others is introduced slowly and teased. As the reader you have to start putting together the different pieces of information given from the different POVs. I had a pretty good idea of what was going on, but I was constantly doubting what I thought I knew because when you’re reading the book it is hard not to believe whatever they are telling the main characters, even if you are pretty sure they are being lied to. I really love books that make me question what I know.

Overall The 5th Wave is worth reading. It is a scarily realistic book about human survival and the costs of it. Even if the main characters are still alive will they still have their humanity? That is the question which I look forward to finding the answer to in the sequel.


Friday, September 12, 2014

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Title: A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2)
Author: Susan Dennard
Published: July 2013
Rating: 5 Stars
Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

In this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard delivers a thrilling mix of intrigue, romance, and revenge, all set against the wonderfully enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris
-Summary from Goodreads

            In this amazing sequel, Susan Dennard takes us to Paris where circumstances are darker, grittier, and more stressful for all of our characters. The dead are ravaging, something is chasing Eleanor, and the Spirit Hunters are spending more time engaging with Parisian elites than finding a solution to the ever growing number of hungry dead.

            The Something Strange and Deadly series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Not only is it well written, but the plot interesting and engaging, and the characters are so real that you can really connect with them and their situation (I kind of find it odd when I say it all ‘feels real’ when talking about a zombie Eleanor struggles a lot in the book because not only does she no longer have a life in Philadelphia but her necromancy powers are coming on strong and she doesn’t know how to control them. It gets her into trouble with the Spirit Hunters who believe necromancy is evil. As a reader I was struggle between shaking my head at Eleanor and telling her to “listen to Joseph” and then going “Shut up, Joseph, Eleanor has the right idea.” You could feel the confliction in Eleanor and I felt like I was struggling right alongside her, not knowing what the right answer was.

            The slow burn romance builds more in the book, but, like I said earlier, there’s a lot more frustration. Daniel is trying to transform himself into a proper gentleman and Eleanor just wants to smack him for it. All the formalities makes it harder for her to recognize the boy she had begun to fall for back in Philadelphia. Daniel doesn’t even show up on the page until almost halfway through, but it wasn’t overly noticeable as I was too engaged in the story to notice.

            We are introduced to a new character in this story named Oliver. Right at the beginning I was fearing a love triangle but, thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m not really sure what to think of Oliver. He’s mysterious but occasionally appears to play the honest man, and he encourages her to practice her necromancy but to what end? What’s his true motive? I guess I’ll have to find out in the last book because I have no idea, which is another thing I love about this book. So many of my reads lately have giving me no surprises or real mysteries or have left me confused (in the good way), which doesn’t really bug me but sometimes you want those things, you know. This book has given me all of the above and I love it for it!

            This book was amazing and I can’t wait to read the last one which I am impatiently waiting to come in at the library. It you haven’t picked up this series yet, now is the time.