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Alienated by Melissa Landers

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 344
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Romance

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I enjoyed Alienated in the beginning. Cara was fiery and fierce. She really spoke her mind and stuck with her personal beliefs. Aelyx was cute and funny. His ways are so different than ours. His people are very formal, bland and unemotional. It was great following his explorations and budding emotions. I was really digging the slow building relationship between him and Cara.

Unfortunately, halfway through this book the storyline took a nosedive. It just really dragged and I found myself steadily losing interest.

Also, I appreciated that there was no insta-love but when the feelings were finally expressed between the two leads it was extreme (to say the least). They were ready to forget everyone else for each other. Cara is bitter and constantly remarking on the fact that her older brother, barely takes interest in her, or their parents. The moment that Cara falls in love with Aelyx she’s ready to ditch Earth and hop on a ship with him. She herself, quickly forgets her parents and sees only Aelyx. That was a huge 360 for Cara’s character. And a letdown.

I don’t know what else to really say. This book just ended somewhere completely different than it started. I’ve easily become bored with the Cara and Aelyx relationship. Given hints towards the end of Alienated, a love triangle might be on the horizon for book two. If anything, I might read the sequel to see what this new guy is like and if he can re-spark this story for me again.

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I give Alienated 2 stakes for a dash of enjoyment and a lot of disappointment.

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Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming-of-age
Pages: 268

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Being Friends with Boys may be the first book I’ve read by Terra Elan McVoy, but I promise you, it won’t be the last. Besides it’s smooth and fast-paced writing style (which I loved) this is the first time in a long time that I’ve truly adored every aspect of a book. For one, the characters were fabulous. Every single one was well-thought out and interesting because of their individual personalities and the part they played in the overall story. The dialogue was easy to follow and very fun to read. Although at times there was a lot of humor, Ms. McVoy balanced the story out nicely with more thought-provoking ideas and situations. At it’s core, this book is about a teenage girl (Charlotte) whose life suddenly diverges from it’s comfortable and understood path. Like a lot of teenage girls, Charlotte is struggling with accepting and understanding the changes that inevitably come with growing up. I felt a tidal wave of emotions while reading this book including happiness, anger, pride, and confusion (along with Charlotte). This is one book that because I enjoyed so much, I’d definitely consider reading again at some point down the road.

Charlotte is 100% anti-drama. She’s had past incidents involving friends (who I don’t believe were truly ever real friends) who’ve caused her a lot of grief. In the past these “friends” have ignored and shunned her for stupid, non-reasons. Since most girls drive Charlotte crazy it makes since that her close knit group of friends would mainly consist of boys. Although she’s known Oliver since grade school, he along with two other boys – Abe and Trip along with Charlotte, make up a band called Sad Jackal. Charlotte is perfectly content with her life until one day, out of the blue, Oliver announces that Trip is out of the band. This announcement comes at a complete shock to Charlotte, simultaneously starting a domino affect. This is where life (as she knows it) begins to change.

Charlotte has a hard time adjusting. For one, she can’t understand how or why her perfect group of friends and beloved band have been teared apart. Trip whose friendship has been a constant, shining light in her life, this last year and a half, now becomes harder to hold onto. Although she has two stepsisters at home, her sister-sister, Jilly, who Charlotte has always relied on for emotional support, is now away and busy at college. This all together could make a great story line, however that’s not all. Add in not one but two cute, new boys and a quick rise to high school rocker-fame and you’ve got 368 pages of time-stealing awesomeness.

I am absolutely head over heels for Being Friends with Boys. I thoroughly enjoyed following Charlotte’s path to self-discovery. Through humorous, exhilarating, and sometimes, heartbreaking encounters, Charlotte not only learns more about herself but also who her “true” friends are, the ones that she can count on through thick and thin. It was easy to understand Charlotte’s character, feeling sad about a sibling living far away, not knowing how to repair a friendship that is slipping away, and most importantly, understanding what you truly want and then believing that it does matter that you want it.

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I give Being Friends with  Boys 5 stakes because it was perfect in every way. Except for sleep, which eventually I had to give into, I for the most part didn’t part with this book until it was finished.


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The Crown (The Selection #5) by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 278
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

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Let me start by saying that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the whole Selection series. I adored book one, read it in one sitting. But then the three that followed, including The Heir, were major let downs. HOWEVER, The Crown totally redeemed the series for me. I couldn’t put it down! I read it in less than 24 hours. I also teared up at some points because the emotions became too much.

One of the reasons that I didn’t care much for The Heir is because I despised Eadlyn. She was cold-hearted and entitled. She loved her family but made sure her needs were met before theirs. Eadlyn’s character finally began to evolve in The Crown. Not only does she admit that she’s taken advantage of many of the people in her life, but she actively tries to right those wrongs. She makes a lot of personal sacrifices in The Crown.

The Selection series has never been very dark. Yes, there’s a tad of violence and people do get injured and sometimes killed, but the series has never really focused much on those parts. It’s always been about the characters in a sort of soap opera way. This doesn’t mean it isn’t as compelling; it’s just a different type of dystopian than the others out there.

For instance, Eadlyn is a force to be reckoned with, but not in the way that Katniss and Tris are. She doesn’t kick butt with her hands or weapons, she kicks butt with her words and wisdom. It’s refreshing to have a strong female character who doesn’t physically beat up the bad guys to save the day.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with this last book…? I think it’s the last book/I hope it is because I’m extremely satisfied with how it ended. Sacrifices are made, but in the end Eadlyn makes decisions that end the series on a happy note. There’s some worlds that I want to keep revisiting like Mead’s Vampire Academy series *hint hint*, but The Selection is one that I really hope doesn’t get returned to. I think that it ended with a bang and I’d hate for another spin-off to reverse its progress.

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4 stakes! For above expectations and because I couldn’t put the damn thing down! Haha.

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Starling (Starling #1) by Lesley Livingston

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 341
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural

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It started with a broken window, a hoard of black-bluish beasties and a *hot* naked guy with a case of amnesia. Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning.

Starling caught my attention right away but unfortunately it couldn’t hold it. I may have started out with a high opinion but towards the end my happy feelings tapered off leaving me very let down. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to love about Starling, but there was also a lot to dislike.

Mason Starling is extremely likable as the main heroine. She’s very gentle yet totally kick-ass. Mason can basically be your best friend or your worst enemy. When paired with a sword, you best hope that she’s your friend because she can be downright deadly. Heather was also a great female character. She starts out as Mason’s frenemy then quickly become one strong, loyal and protective “true” friend. Two other standout characters were Rory and Roth… two Starling brothers and two complete opposites. I REALLY hated Rory. (We’re totally meant to… at least I hope). He’s entirely self-absorbed, petty, and downright homicidal. If it would help advance his status, Rory would literally kill his own sister. As far as I know it there’s nothing reputable about Rory. Then there’s Roth, edgy and mysterious and regarded as the “golden” Starling child. He basically can do no wrong. Especially compared to Rory, Roth is placed on an extremely high pedestal. And finally the fifth character that I found rises above the rest is Fennrys Wolf a.k.a. Mr. Amnesia. It was hard getting to know him mostly because he doesn’t know himself (LOL). But his protective and sweet-natured ways do shine through the confusion and memory loss, especially around Mason.

There’s also quite a few other characters but I don’t feel they’re entirely worth mentioning. Many times I actually asked myself – Why do we need to meet this character or what purpose do they play?

Starling featured 3rd person multiple POVS. “Oi vey.” I don’t know if it’s because I don’t read many 3rd person POVS or it was Livingston’s style but half the time I was utterly confused, not knowing who was saying or doing what. I had a very hard time keeping track and distinguishing between multiple characters. Many times I had to re-read a section. I also found the sheer number of POVS overwhelming. Just about every character introduced was spotlighted either frequently or periodically. There was just too many people to keep up with.

The mythology aspect was pretty interesting and entirely unique. Before Starling I’d never read any book featuring Norse gods or myths. From the synopsis I figured we’d just be dealing with Norse, but surprisingly we also get some Egyptian and Greek god(s) interfering in the story. I personally love whenever an author features multiple mythological beliefs and paths because I’m a firm believer that all gods stand on equal footing.

I know very little of Norse mythology so luckily Livingston provides us with the inside scoop to get u
s familiar with the Norse “tales of old”. There was also a downside to these scoops. The majority of the time I found myself waist-deep in information overload. As a newbie I was fed a bunch information regarding Ragnarok (Norse version of “the end of the world”). Many times I was confused when a character would act a certain way because of Ragnarok, especially when it came to the other gods. I felt like I was given a lot of information but couldn’t actually utilize it fully.

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Overall Starling was a decent book. It was an entertaining yet difficult to read. Although the story and characters we’re imaginative and detailed; I just found too much fault when it came to the mechanics.

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance

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If you could live forever with just one stipulation, would you? What if that stipulation was the death of a person, would you feel that it was worth it? Could you live with yourself knowing you sacrificed someone else for your own ability to live longer?

As an incarnate, one who has the ability to detach a soul from a body and then jump into said body, Seraphina has had to struggle with this decision for over 600 years. In the year 1349, after a brute attack by two drunks, 14 year old Sera is left bleeding to death in the arms of her crush and admirer, Cyrus, the apothecary’s son. By the miraculous powers of a alchemist potion brewed by Cyrus himself, Sera awakes in the body of one of her would-be attackers. In that moment Sera makes the decision to pledge herself to Cyrus by running away and living out their immortal life together and in love.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and you’ve got quite a different story. After 600+ years of taking human lives, (turns out about every 10 years at the latest an incarnate needs to hop into a new body) Sera is fed up. After taking many lives and succumbing to the sadistic, cruel and obsessive loving tendencies of Cyrus, Sera devises a plan to break away. Although she originally decides to truly die, in a bizarre twist of fate, Sera accidentally ends up in the dying body of a teenage girl. Breaking away from Cyrus and the “coven” (group of other incarnates) was the hardest thing Sera has had to do, that is, until now. In her new body, surrounded by a loving family, friends and a potential new romance, Sera struggles with ending her existence. After centuries of wishing she was dead, Sera’s now realizing that there’s so much to live for.

The Alchemy of Forever completely blew me away. The synopsis sold me instantly. Who hasn’t wished they could live forever? Or even, who hasn’t wished they could be someone else?

I loved Sera SO much. Out of all the incarnates she is truly the most caring and thoughtful one of the bunch. The others could care less when it comes to body switching, a past time they do quite frequently although it means taking the life of another. After witnessing the cruelness both the world and Cyrus has to offer, Sera has remained remarkably staunch. Although she at first appears fragile, deep down her will is incredibly strong. I found Cyrus to be downright tragic. I don’t doubt that he once sweetly and purely loved Sera, but through the years he has become twisted and power-hungry. He’s the leader of the incarnates, controlling who does what and when. He especially controls everything that goes on in Sera’s life right down to the new body she’s forced to take every 10 years.

I was so incredibly happy for Sera when Noah enters her life, well, Kailey’s life. As a kind-of friend and lifetime next door neighbor, Kailey Morgan never really gave Noah a second glance. However this all changes once Sera becomes Kailey. She recognizes the goodness in Noah and is completely enraptured by his sweet-natured ways. The romance between these two is innocent and warm and completely unlike anything Sera has experienced before.

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I give The Alchemy of Forever 5 stakes because it is one of those incredible books that still sticks in your mind days after you read it. Williams is a fabulous writer, able to weave a story full of originality and fill it with vivacious characters.


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And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Psychological, Horror, Macabre, Mystery, Thriller

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Let me start by saying, with the exception of classic macabre like Lovecraft and Poe, I do not read horror. It’s just not my thing. I’m also a wuss, so there’s that. However, here and there I watch horror shows like American Horror Story and Stranger Things. Weird! I know! I’m not sure why I watch but don’t read. But anyways. I kept seeing And The Trees Crept In popping up everywhere. I was also on a Stranger Things high and wanted MORE. That’s why I picked up And The Trees Crept In. What the heck? Ya know.

So here are my thoughts on And The Trees Crept in, one of the most unique, nail-bitey and terrifying books I’ve read in a long time.

Initial thoughts right after I finished And The Trees Crept In: What the heck did I just read? Not really sure. But it was O.O and has my mind spinning like crazy. I’m still trying to make it work in my head. It’s not what I thought it would be but it’s just as good as I wanted it to be? I sound almost as mad as Silla! Poor poor Silla. She and her little sister Nori run from an abusive father right into a sinister mansion with a terrifying creature in the woods. Poor Silla has nothing but her sister Nori. Her aunt Cath who she thought would take care of her is “looming the wheel”. And the mansion, La Baume, is not a magical and safe fortress like Silla’s mom always said it was. It’s musty, rotted, decrepit, and sick. It’s rundown, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

This book had me tantalized. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. At one point my fiancé said something to me and I looked up with crazed eyes. Then he guiltily looked away. I was that absorbed! I just needed to know what was coming next. I guessed but was never right. This author rocks! I really don’t like horror and rarely psychological. However, this book has gotten me curious and curious-er about other horror-rific YAs. Maybe I’ve discovered a new interest? Regardless, I REALLY enjoyed And The Trees Crept In.

It was unique and captivating. My only quip was that sometimes I would get very confused. I understand that it was the author’s intention to confuse us because Silla was slowly going mad. However, at times I was beyond confused and had to reread passages to try and understand. I wished it was a little more reader-friendly.

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4 stakes for giving me a Stranger Things fix and nightmares. HAHA. Just kidding about that last thing.

{Mini} Book Reviews: What I Thought was True, The School for Good and Evil

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 422

My Life Next Door, Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, was amazing. It’s easily one of my top 5 contemporaries of all time. I was hoping that What I Thought Was True would make it up there too, but unfortunately, it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I liked What I Thought Was True, I just didn’t love it. 

I felt like there was too many characters introduced. A lot of them never amounted to anything, or at least, I felt like without their addition, the story could have continued on regardless. I couldn’t even draw much sympathy for our MC Gwen. She was quick to judge others, which is an injustice she and the other permanent islanders battle against the “rich” vacationers every summer.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Pages: 488

The School for Good and Evil is one of the most creatives books I’ve read in a long time, perhaps even ever. It’s also one of the funnier books I’ve read because I found myself LOL-ing A LOT. Unfortunately this book is about a 100 pages too long. Especially towards the end, I found myself skimming the pages. A lot happens, back-to-back-to-back and without any time to ruminate I found myself forgetting things that *just happened*. You know it’s bad when you keep hoping a book will finally end. Regardless, I’m very interested in what happens next so I’m sure I will read the sequels.

{Bookish Gush} Cynthia Hand & “The Afterlife of Holly Chase”

Welcome to the first and maybe not last? Bookish Gush! I basically decided to create this post because one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Hand, has a new book coming out November 7, 2017. ZOMG. Soooo long from now! 

I fell head over heels in love with Cynthia’s Angelic trilogy Unearthly about 5 years ago. I’ve also met Cynthia in person at a book signing. She’s so sweet and super funny!

So besides wanting to help spread the word about Cynthia’s new book The Afterlife of Holly Chase, I also wanted to gush about the new cover that was just revealed. I love it! It’s dark and mystical and totally fits the description of the book.

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Have you read any books by Cynthia? What books are you currently gushing over??