City of B

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali NovakMy Life with the Walter Boys (My Life with the Walter Boys #1) by Ali Novak, Fallzswimmer
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Self Purchase

My Life with the Walter Boys centers on the prim, proper, and always perfect Jackie Howard. When her world is turned upside down by tragedy, Jackie must learn to cut loose and be part of a family again.

Jackie does not like surprises. Chaos is the enemy! The best way to get her successful, busy parents to notice her is to be perfect. The perfect look, the perfect grades-the perfect daughter. And then...

Surprise #1: Jackie's family dies in a freak car accident.

Surprise #2: Jackie has to move cross-country to live with the Walters-her new guardians.

Surprise #3: The Walters have twelve sons. (Well, eleven, but Parker acts like a boy anyway)

Now Jackie must trade in her Type A personality and New York City apartment for a Colorado ranch and all the wild Walter boys who come with it. Jackie is surrounded by the enemy-loud, dirty, annoying boys who have no concept of personal space. Okay, several of the oldest guys are flat-out gorgeous. But still annoying. She's not stuck-up or boring-no matter what they say. But proving it is another matter. How can she fit in and move on when she needs to keep her parents' memory alive by living up to the promise of perfect?

I started listening to this book on my work commute, really liked it, got impatient, and bought the eBook so I could read at my own (faster) pace.

The Walter family was too big. I love stories with a lot of siblings, especially boys, because those kinds always end up being super-funny. However, I think that there were too many siblings in this book. I was overwhelmed by there being 12 of them. There were too many to keep track of, their grade, age, and particular interests. I think that this story could have been just as good with a few less Walters.

Jackie surprised me. I totally thought she was going to be stuck-up, or at the least, a little like Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf, because she grew up in an Upper East Side Penthouse, regularly vacationed at the Hamptons, had maids, etc. I thought it was going to be one of those stories where the snobby high society girl gets a slice of humble pie and then has an epiphany. But Jackie didn’t look down on anyone. She was kind, shy, and very worried that her new housemates and classmates wouldn’t like her, because she came from such a different world. She was a sweetie and I liked her immediately.

This book was too short. There was this big moment that happened on the second to last page, and I felt like there was not enough time to digest it. It needed, and deserved, at least a few more pages.

All in all this was a good book and I hope that we might get a sequel some day. 

City of B

Royal Bastards (Royal Bastards #1) by Andrew Shvarts

Royal Bastards (Royal Bastards #1) by Andrew ShvartsRoyal Bastards (Royal Bastards, #1) by Andrew Shvarts
on May 30, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Hands down this is one of the best books I’ve read this year!

Do you like Game of Thrones? Royal Bastards often reminded me of it, because of the scheming, backstabbing, epic fight scenes, despicable people, and terrifying beasts. Royal Bastards is definitely not as effed up as Game of Thrones though. It’s tamer, lighter, funny, and of course YA.

I chuckled a lot! The constant humor in Royal Bastards was one of the best parts of the book. The writing is chill and casual, which really surprised me when I started the book, because most fantasy stories have dense, poetic-like descriptions and dialogue. The informal writing made reading this book easier and more fun.

Tilla is a gem! I loved her immediately. She was always making me smile and laugh with her hilarious inner and outer dialogue. Tilla’s a bastard, which means she’s had the short straw since the day she was born. She’s such a good, brave, and caring person, and it was so unfair how awful she and the other bastards were treated because of a ridiculous label.

There’s great supporting characters! Jax, like his sister Tilla, is also very funny and brave. His jokes helped raise everyone’s spirits during the awful times. Zell is attractive, brooding, and stoic, which meant I fell for him instantly. The princess Lyriana annoyed me in the beginning, because she was super bubbly and naive. Eventually she grew on me when she got smacked with a dose of harsh reality, and started to mature. The other characters were likable enough, I just didn’t like them as much as Tilla, Jax, Zell, and eventually Lyriana.

You need to read this book! It’s entertaining and never boring.

City of B

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Source: Library

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

I’m sad that I couldn’t give Starry Eyes more than 3 stars. So many readers love this book, and I’m over here like “meh”.

Zorie frustrated me a lot, because she refused to acknowledge how awful her “friend” Reagan was. Reagan is a total b*tch, who doesn’t mind hurting Zorie’s feelings, and Zorie just sits there and takes it. Multiple people tell Zorie that she deserves better, but she just ignores them, preferring to live in denial.

Lennon was definitely my favorite character. He’s just a really cool *out there* guy. He doesn’t care about labels. He dresses emo, loves reptiles, horror manga, and all things macabre, and doesn’t care what people say or think about him. I wish that I could be as confident and comfortable with myself like he is.

This book bored me for 200 pages, I loved it for 150, and then I got bored again. I think that it had far too many pages, and that the whole *Lennon and Zorie are alone in the woods* thing should have happened sooner than it did.

Even though I thought this book lacked some luster, I plan on reading other books by this author. I think she’s a good writer, and that this book just wasn’t for me.

City of B

Save the Date by Morgan Matson [Blog Tour] Review & Fav Quotes

Save the Date by Morgan Matson [Blog Tour] Review & Fav QuotesSave the Date by Morgan Matson
on June 5, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

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My thoughts

When I came across Save the Date on Goodreads, I immediately knew I wanted to read it, because it gave me major Sixteen Candles (one of my favorite teen movies) vibes. And guess what, my suspicion was correct. Like Sixteen Candles, there were a lot of hilariously disastrous events that took place before, during, and after Charlie’s sister’s wedding.

Charlie is going through an emotionally tough time because she doesn’t like change, and a lot of changes are quickly approaching her. She has big decisions she needs to make, but keeps putting them off. I didn’t like Charlie for most of the book, because she was often immature, selfish, and sometimes, inconsiderate. She kept envisioning this perfect weekend with her “perfect” family, and when things started getting in the way of her plans, she angrily lashed out at her family and best friend. I felt a lot more compassionate towards Charlie once she started to reflect on some decisions she’s made in the past, ones that she realizes could have, and should have, been better. On another note: I also really loved following her around as she frequently, and frantically, tried to stop her older sister’s wedding from completely falling apart.

Charlie’s mom is a famous author/artist of Grant Central Station, a widely known, and beloved comic strip that is based on her big, wacky family. Throughout Save the Date, we’re treated to actual Grant Central Station comic strips. I loved each and every one!

There were so many things to love about Save the Date, the awesome 80s movie and music references, the hilarious wedding snafus, and especially, the entire Grant family, and their interactions with one another. No Grant faded into the background, because they all had their own memorable personalities and moments.

Save the Date is a charming and fun contemporary that made me smile and laugh-out-loud a lot. I know I’ll reread it sometime down the road.

A few of my favorite quotes

I took a breath, then lay down, staring straight up at the ceiling, trying not to think about how close our heads suddenly were. I found myself aware of every movement he was making and how loud my breathing suddenly was. Why had I never thought about how intimate it was, just sleeping in the same room as someone?

But if I didn’t move from this spot – the same place I’d been sitting before the world had ended – maybe this would turn out to be just a very realistic dream, one I could still wake up from.

It felt as though we more like equals now and, in a weird way, getting to know each other for the first time.

About the author

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked as an editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.

Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired by her love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.

Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.

Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in 2014, and was a Publisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.

Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, was published May 3rd, 2016.

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Murphy.

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City of B

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina Pérez

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina PérezSweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez
Published by Imprint on June 5, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

So I’m a complete mess right now. I’m stuck between wanting to scream or cry. Maybe I’ll just cry very, very loudly, because I’m angry and so intensely sad. The ending of Sweet Black Waves shattered me. This book is loosely based off of Tristan and Eseult, a story that I’m not entirely familiar with, except for the fact that it’s a tragedy. I knew going into Sweet Black Waves that it wasn’t going to end with sunshine and daisies, but ugh, I still didn’t expect it to hit me so harshly.

Branwen is a complex character, who I loved immediately. She’s got a huge heart, always giving, and putting everyone, especially Essy, first. Sometimes I was mad at her, because she kept harmful secrets and made dubious decisions. I wished that Branwen had been more forthcoming sometimes, and let herself lean on others, instead of always letting them lean on her. But that’s not in her nature. She wants to fix everything, and everyone, herself, and her constant love and sacrifice made me love and care about her even more.

The Tristan and Eseult connection wasn’t what drew me to Sweet Black Waves. I immediately knew I wanted to read Sweet Black Waves, because it was described as being a book that fans of The Mists of Avalon – a huge favorite of mine – would love. I’m also obsessed with the Mabinogion, which some of the characters and their stories in Sweet Black Waves, are loosely based on. I loved Pérez’s new spin on this beloved literature of mine! You can tell that she also really loves the Mabinogion.

I thought the story was dragging a bit during the last third of Sweet Black Waves, but then thankfully two hugely significant things happened. One that thrilled me, because I never ever expected it, and I’m really excited to see how it plays out in the future books. The second thing completely broke my heart. Even though I knew something of the sort was coming, it still caught me unawares.

I read an ARC of Sweet Black Waves, but fully plan on buying a finished copy for myself.