Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: August, 2014

Hardcover: 352 pages

Stand Alone or Series:
 While these books can be read separately, it's best if you read them all within the Anna and the French Kiss series.  This is the third, and final, book.

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: I have been waiting for this book for a while.  Ever since finishing Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I was starting to give up hope, feeling like I'd never get to read it.  I even stopped tracking when it would get published.  You can imagine how surprised I was, then, when I was walking through the bookstore last week and saw it just sitting there.  I almost thought I was seeing things.


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.


I loved, loved, loved this book.  From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't stop reading it.  I had to get to the end to see what happened.  I had to see how my other favorite characters from the previous books were doing.  And I was not disappointed at all.

I want to start off by mentioning the cameos we get from characters from the previous books.  Now, we don't see very much of them.  But what happens when we do get to see them is amazing enough that it made their short appearances worth it.  If you weren't in love with the series before (which is doubtful) then you will be now.

I was a little worried when starting off with this book that Isla would seem like I very bland character.  We'd already gotten to read about two very individual and kick-ass characters before, and I wasn't sure that it could be done a third time.  However, Isla came off as very independent within her own story.  She's quiet, but she can break out of her shell.  She's studious and reads comic books.  She has a family situation that is brought up numerous times.  It's all of these things and more that make her very different from the previous protagonists, Anna and Lola.

Now, let's talk about the romance in the story, because that's obviously a big factor as well.  Perkins had a very small time-frame to make Isla and and Josh fall and love, as well as make it believable.  Way too many authors just make their characters "in love", but they don't prove it.  They don't make it a reality.  Perkins made it a reality.  She showed me how Isla and Josh fell in love.  She made me care about their relationship, made me want to root for them.  And that's something that can make a book go from great to awesome.

This was definitely the best way to end this series.  It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May, 2014

Hardcover: 352 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series--this is the second installment in the Selection series.

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: The Selection was an interesting, new, and original novel.  It was something that really freshened up the YA scene.  So when I heard the second installment was coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.


The Selection began with thirty-five girls.

Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.


This series has been refreshing, to say the least.  A reality TV-esque dating game, coupled with a new world and a smoldering romance?  Count me in!  After the end of The Selection I just couldn't wait for more.  I was rooting for Maxon the entire time, and I still am.

Of course the love triangle still exists in the sequel.  But we get to see the character's more one-on-one and learn more about them.  They are put through some trials, and their true selves start to come out.  Now, I think these characters are good, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking.  Let's lot at Maxon for example.  He's tall, dark, handsome.  Oh, and a rich Prince.  What more could you want?  But he can also be a wealthy, entitled brat who throws a temper tantrum.  Sometimes I just want to reach through the pages and smack him!  And America.  Oh, America.  You're smart, funny, and have a brain to think for yourself.  But why can't you make up your dang mind!  You flip flop more than a fish on dry land.

So you're probably thinking, that makes for some annoying characters, right?  Well yes, sometimes.  But it also makes for some true characters.  Not all people are true and know themselves fully.  Sometimes they are annoying and act like brats.  That's what it's like to be human--having imperfections that will shine through.  And for Cass's characters, she completely nails it.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I kept waiting and waiting for Maxon to make his choice, and pick America to be his.  As you can probably guess, it wasn't that simple.  There were some missteps, some rebels rampaging through the castle, and an evil King to deal with.  And it was well worth the read.  If you've read the first novel of the series--do not wait to pick up this installment.  It will leave you dying for more.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date: April, 2012

Hardcover: 320 pages

Stand Alone or Series:  Series--this is the sequel to the novel, If I Stay

How I got this book: Copy from the publisher

Why I chose this book: After reading If I Stay - and getting my heart completely broken - I wanted anything more I could get of the story.  What with all the hype of the book being turned into a movie, I'm sure this series is going to start picking up speed quite quickly.


Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I StayWhere She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam's point of view. Ever since Mia's decision to stay - but not with him - Adam's career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite - with wholly satisfying results.


If you've read If I Stay - and I hope you did, or this sequel would be completely confusing - then you will know just how heart breaking it was to pick up this sequel and see where the characters left off.  Since the story switches to Adam's side of the story, instead of from Mia's, the reader gets a lot more information that was left out of the previous novel.  That background knowledge, coupled with a whole new story-line, led to quite the fascinating book.

I want to make a comment on the setting before I go on.  The novel is set in New York City, but it shows a New York we don't get to see too often.  It's raw, dirty, simple.  It's not hyped up to be the greatest city in the world.  It is just shown simply how it is, through the eyes of two teenagers making an exploration.

Now on to the plot.  It's hard to say much without giving away crucial parts of the story.  What I will say, however, is that if you think that the heartbreak is over, you are completely wrong.  You will be crushed.  You will be sad, you will cry, you will be happy, you will laugh.  You will feel unstable.  And that's exactly how you should feel--since the characters feel similarly.

One issue I typically have with Forman's novels is that they are slow to start.  They eventually pick up, very quickly, but those beginnings!  That wasn't as much of an issue with this novel, however, mainly since most of the backstory was out of the way and we could get right to the juicy bits!

I would definitely recommend this novel.  It's a great addition to the previous novel.

If you decide you can't get enough of Gayle Forman, she has another great novel out, Just One Day.  Look for a review coming soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Title: Silver Shadows

Author: Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: July, 2014

Hardcover: 416 pages

Stand Alone or Series:  Series--this is the fifth installment in the Bloodlines series.

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: I have been a fan of Richelle Mead ever since I picked up the very first Vampire Academy novel and got hooked.  The rest is history.


Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .


One of the things that have kept me reading Mead's novels time and time again is her consistency.  I never have to worry about picking up a new sequel and absolutely hating it.  If anything, each novel gets better and better.

Besides the awesome world that resembles so close to actuality (but with vampires!), the characters are what really make up the series, including this book.  The characters are so lovable, their issues hit so close to home, you can just relate to everything.  And with each sentence you get to love them more and more.  In this novel we get to see the romance and love between Sydney and Adrian expand and become something new.  This blossoming happens effortlessly, a real talent that Mead has.

And the pace!  Once you get sucked into the story, you just can't put the book down.  At the beginning of the novel, Sydney is in re-education, away from the regular gang in Palm Springs.  Each page without Sydney's escape is excruciating, but you get to meet some new, interesting characters along the way.

All in all, I was not surprised that Mead once again knocked this novel out of the park.  It's just as great as each of the installments that have come before this one.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has been keeping up with the series and has been stalling on picking up the latest book.  And to anyone out there who hasn't started the series yet?  Get on it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review: Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz

Title: Amish Vampires in Space

Author: Kerry Nietz

Publisher: Freeheads

Publication date: January, 2014

Softcover: 490 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone

How I got this book: Galley from the author.

Why I chose this book: I was very interested in what this book had to offer.  Obviously the title catches your attention, but the synopsis does so even more.  I knew I had to read this book and see what was in store for me.


Jebediah has a secret that will change his world forever and send his people into space. 

The Amish world of Alabaster calls upon an ancient promise to escape destruction. Then end up on a cargo ship bound for the stars. 

But they are not the only cargo on board. Some of it is alive...or used to be. 

Now, with vampires taking over and closing in on the Amish refugees, these simple believers must decide whether their faith depends upon their honored traditions or something even older.


I wasn't expecting too much going into this book.  I wanted to have my head clear to give this book the chance to prove itself.  And it did, plus much, much more.  I want to say that I was even pleasantly surprised.  With a title and synopsis like this book possesses, it was expected that the book would get a little absurd at times.  How could it not?  However, I found that this book was both sincere as well as entirely plausible.

This book may have started as a big joke, but it's turned into a story that carries a lot of weight.  The plotting throughout this book was brilliant, as well as excellently paced.  I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, without being left on the hook for so long that I got bored and no longer cared.  I didn't think that all these variables - Amish, Vampires, Space  - could fit together so well.  But they did.

I also want to make a point to say that the characterization done throughout the book was very good.  I find characterization to be just as important, sometimes even moreso than plot.  I want to love the characters, root for them, or at the very least understand them.  And I got all of that here.  I understood who my characters were, I could see them clearly, and I knew why they made the choices they made.

Overall, an excellent read, especially for lovers of the sci-fi genre.