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
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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. 

three-half-stars
City of B

When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It’s Real by Erin WattWhen It's Real by Erin Watt
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 30, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 413
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?



I borrowed When It’s Real from Scribd, because I was already a fan of Erin Watt’s book Paper Princess, and I wanted to see what else she had to dish up. I’m so glad I did because it was fabulous! I couldn’t put it down! I had originally borrowed an audio-book of it, but I can be a fast reader when I’m really into a book, and the narrator was not going fast enough for me. I wanted more, more, more! Plus, it was clear early on that there was going to be some moderate swears, and sexual content, and I felt weird listening to that during my work commute.

Oakley has a huge ego, is possessive, occasionally rude, and very often makes impulsive decisions, but even with all that, I still hearted him. I’ve now read a couple books where there’s a male movie star/musician/famous person, who starts a “fake” relationship with a “wholesome” girl to clean up their image. In the other books that I’ve read, the guy appears to be rude, dismissive, cocky, etc., but then deep down it’s all an act. Nope. Not for Oakley. I mean, he’s not a total a-hole, he can be generous, sweet, thoughtful, and kind, but he’s also occasionally all those other things too. I liked that his character was truly flawed, and that at the end of the book, he wasn’t completely cured of his unappealing qualities. He was real and relatable.

Vaughn also had her faults. I loved how she was super sassy and didn’t put up with Oakley’s bullshit. But unfortunately when it came to her boyfriend W,  she was very gullible and unwilling to acknowledge how much of a jerk he was. She should have dumped his ass way before Oakley entered the picture. I was so happy when Vaughn started to drift away from W and towards Oakley, because she finally started to realize that she deserved so much better than W.

The pacing for When It’s Real was spot-on, and the constant sass and sexual tension between Vaughn and Oakley had me frantically flipping pages.

This was a borrowed book, and will soon be a purchase of mine. I could definitely see myself reading it again in a year or so.

four-half-stars
City of B

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura SebastianAsh Princess by Laura Sebastian
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 24, 2018
Genres: High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


It took me longer than usual to finish this book. I picked it up and put it down multiple times, not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because  other books came along that I wanted to read more, like A Court of Frost and Starlight. I’m glad I finally sat down and finished Ash Princess, because it was a good start to what I think could be a great series.

Here’s two things I liked about Ash Princess, and one thing I didn’t.

I liked:

The love triangle. I know, I know, bleh love triangle – but hear me out! This one wasn’t so bad. I think I was easily able to get on board with it, because it didn’t drive the story. Ash Princess mostly focused on Theo’s journey to rising from the “ashes”. Theo had been beaten down (physically and emotionally) for ten long years, and in the process, lost sight of her true self and her true purpose. Once a fierce will is rekindled in Theo, she constructs a plan to reignite her people’s will to rebel against their conquerors, the Kalovaxians. Theo’s not a bad-ass warrior like say, Throne of Glass’ Aelin, but she’s incredibly clever, and knows when to verbally push, and when to back off. Strengths come in all forms, and it was nice to see a new type of heroine kick ass with words instead of swords.

The magics. Yes, it was the commonly used elemental-variety, but it was also achieved in new, unique way. There’s some individuals who have the innate ability to summon elemental powers, and the others who can’t, can still accomplish some magic by holding special gems that have been imbued with elemental power. I loved this new take on magic!

I disliked:

The first third (maybe closer to half) of Ash Princess. The brutal opening with Theo being forced to harm one of her own people, was shocking and made me want to dive right into the story, but then what immediately followed was pretty boring. I didn’t really get into the story until Theo started plotting her people’s rebellion, and when she started spending time with the swoon-worthy Soren. So far Soren is my favorite character in this series, and not just because I’m #teamThoren. He’s complex, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where his story is headed in the future books. 

Overall I thought Ash Princess was a solid first book. I’m eager to read book two, because the ending of Ash Princess had a huge WTF moment and I think it’s gonna make book two even more intense and high stake.

three-half-stars
City of B

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1) by Soman Chainani
Published by HarperCollins on May 14, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 488
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
four-stars

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?


I read The School for Good and Evil many years ago, and had always meant to continue on with the rest of the series, but one thing led to another, and I sort-of forgot all about it. Well, after spending some time removing books from my Goodreads TBR list, ones that I knew I’d never actually get to, I came across book two in the The School for Good and Evil series. I recalled enjoying book one, so then and there I decided I wanted to finally continue with the series. However,  first I needed to re-read book one, because it had been so many years, and I definitely knew I didn’t remember enough to read books 2, 3, and so forth.

And, wow! It only took about 50 pages, before I remembered that I loved The School for Good and Evil. This series is a delicious, magical dish, concocted with clever, hilarious, heartwarming, and at times, very dark ingredients. It explodes with creativity and magic, and I hated having to put it down for silly things like work, sleep, etc.   

The School for Good and Evil is a shining example of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. You have two girls, one dark, sullen, and macabre, and one who’s vivacious, bright, and constantly called extremely beautiful. You’d think it’d be obviously as which girl belongs in which school, but not so fast! Looks can be extremely deceiving, and in a surprising move to everyone in this book, the melancholy girl is dropped into the school for good, and the angelic-looking one, the school for evil.

I loved how this book was all about shades of gray.  There’s no such thing as perfect. Everyone has their own strengths, flaws, and weaknesses, and hard choices to make, and those choices are what defines you, not your appearance and/or personality. Being beautiful doesn’t make you good, and being ugly doesn’t make you bad.

I’m so glad I reread this book! It’s got magic, budding romance, and lots and lots of fairy-tale characters and creatures. Plus, it’s all about sisters before misters. *high five*

four-stars
City of B

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4) by Tahereh Mafi

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4) by Tahereh MafiRestore Me (Shatter Me, #4) by Tahereh Mafi
Published by HarperCollins on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian, Supernatural
Pages: 448
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
three-stars

Juliette Ferrars thought she'd won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she's still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she's got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?


 

I wish that the Shatter Me series had ended at 3 books, because Restore Me left a bad taste in my mouth. This book felt like it belonged to a completely different series. The original three books had always been a bit dark and scary, but Restore Me took it a step further. It morphed into a horror story. The last part of the book especially shocked and disturbed me.

Restore Me didn’t feel right to me, not just because it stepped into the horror genre, but also because I didn’t recognize the characters anymore. Except for Kenji, who’s still that fiercely protective, lovable goofball, with a good heart, I didn’t recognize Warner or Juliette. It felt like their characters reverted back to their book 1 versions. I thought Juliette and Warner made all this remarkable progress with themselves and their relationships in books 1-3, but then it all went to hell in this 4th book. I mean, yes, Warner still had some issues to work through, which I understood, but Juliette just reverted back to that scared, low-confident, little girl trapped in the darkness who we were introduced to in book 1.

The last book, Ignite Me, was left a bit open-ended, so we were left to imagine what the future held for Juliette, Warner, Kenji, and all the rest of our favorite characters. At the time I was bummed, because I was dying for more, but now I wish that the series had ended there. I felt like book 3 had a great send-off.

So how come I gave this book 3 stars when I’ve only talked negatively about it so far? Well, because it was still a decent read. Like I previously mentioned. Kenji was still awesome, which was a relief, because besides Warner, he made books 1-3 for me.  What I also liked about Restore Me, is how we learned more about the other sectors, and their leaders.  It was great having the world and cast of characters expand.

So yeah…The ending of Restore Me was insane and creepy, and I’m not a big fan of where the story seems to be headed, but regardless of my disgruntle-ness, I’ll still be reading the books to come.

 

three-stars