Mini-Reviews{3}

Mini-Reviews{3}

1. Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

 lady thief

Summary:

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Lady Thief, probably slightly more than Scarlet. I don’t have OVERWHELMING LOVE for this series like a lot of readers do, but I do really like the series so far. This sequel did a lot of things good sequels do. The stakes ramped up, things got real(more real, because they were pretty dire before). There were some absolutely heart-breaking moments, and I thought all around Lady Thief was infused with more emotional intensity than Scarlet was. Also, there were plot twists I did NOT see coming that left my jaw-dropping(which, really, in hindsight, SO MUCH FORESHADOWING was there). I will definitely be eager to see how Scarlet’s story wraps up. 4/5 stars.

2. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick

she is not invisible


Summary:


 The feeling that coincidences give us tells us they mean something… But what? What do they mean?LAURETH PEAK’S father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. When he goes missing while researching coincidence for a new book, Laureth and her younger brother fly from London to New York and must unravel a series of cryptic messages to find him. The complication: Laureth is blind. Reliant on her other senses and on her brother to survive, Laureth finds that rescuing her father will take all her skill at spotting the extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous, connections in a world full of darkness.From acclaimed storyteller Marcus Sedgwick, She Is Not Invisible is a gripping contemporary thriller threaded with unsettling coincidence and a vivid and convincing portrayal of a young woman living without sight.

Thoughts:

I liked this book, but I’m not sure it’s as clever as it wanted to be. She is Not Invisible is the story of Laureth, a blind teenager who travels with her brother to find her missing writer father. That’s what it’s about on the surface. Beyond that, there are all sorts of philosophical musings about coincidence and chance. Some of it is interesting; other parts less so. I really loved the first half of the book, but thought the resolution was kind of lackluster. It definitely made me want to read more of Sedgewick’s novels, but I can’t see myself revisiting this one in the future. I did like how smart and unique it was, though! 3/5 stars.

3. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap

Summary:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

 
Thoughts:
Back at the beginning of the year, I had an e-ARC of Bone Gap, and I just couldn’t get into it. I actually ended up marking it as a DNF around 18%. THEN when it was officially released, I saw so much buzz for it everywhere, so I upgraded it from a DNF to an “on-hold” book, and then eventually I decided it was time to give it a second chance.
I did enjoy this book much more the second time around, but. . . I couldn’t get fully invested in it. I appreciated the themes of this book. Many reviews have called this a feminist book and I absolutely agree. It’s about how beauty can make you invisible as a person with your own hopes and desires while still having attention heaped on you. It’s about how we perceive people differently when we love them. It’s about how we treat people based on how they look sometimes more than how they act. That–all that–I was totally behind. But on a story level, just reading the story of the O’Sullivan brothers and Roza didn’t hold my attention for long. It’s well-written and I would not be at all surprised to see this book win some awards at the end of the year, but I personally only kinda liked it. 3/5 stars.

 

4. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick

Midwinterblood

Summary:

 Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you’ve never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens.In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they’ve lost.

In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon – the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter’s moon, the blood moon – this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

Thoughts:

Totally did not mean to review two Marcus Sedgewick books in the same post! That being said, the two books are so different I pretty much forgot they were written by the same author. Guys, I LOVED this book. Full, 5 star love. It’s a little creepy at times. There are terrible moments of humanity and great moments of humanity and sacrifice. The only reason I’m not doing a full review for this book is because I don’t think I could talk about my feelings without giving everything away. This isn’t a book for everyone. The writing is fairly simple, but it has this sort of oral history quality to it. I can just imagine someone reading this story to me with it’s fairytale quality. The jump between characters and times can be a bit jarring, but once I got about 20% into this book I just flew through the rest. Midwinterblood has definitely earned a place on my favorites shelf. 5/5 stars.

 

 

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The Sunday Wrap-Up{88}

The Sunday Wrap-Up{88}

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My Week

This week felt kinda different because of the holiday weekend at the end. I spent most of the week doing not very exciting things + spending more time outside in one week than I normally do in a month(okay, slight exaggeration. But it’s July in Texas, I try to stay indoors when I can!) The reason was because my niece is playing in her town’s little league all-star softball tournament, and they’ve had a TON of games this past week. Like, one every day. I haven’t gone to every single one, but I have to about half. They lost their last game, so they won’t be playing next week, but I’m glad I got to see some of her games. I have to say, I really am not a fan of my hometown, but the upside to my current living situation is that I do get to do things like that and see my nieces’ activities and such.

And of course, yesterday was the fourth of July. I didn’t do anything exciting this year due to you know, the small town. In the past there’s generally been some barbecue or cookout that my family’s gone to, but there really wasn’t anything this year.

On Book Blog Bake

Monday I reviewed Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Tuesday I shared my top ten books I’ve read so far in 2015.
Wednesday I posted my June wrap-up.
Thursday I talked about books I’ve DNF’d recently.
Friday I reviewed Don’t Ever Change. 

booksread

First & Then by Emma Mills
Rules for 50/50 Chance by Kate McGovern

booksboughtreceived

None!

 Question of the Week:

Inspired by my obsessive re-listen of the new Florence + the Machine album, what was the last song where you heard it and just wanted to listen to it over & over? Mine is “Long & Lost” from the new Florence album.

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Book Review: Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

Book Review: Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

Don’t Ever Change

by M. Beth Bloom

Dont Ever Change

Expected Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Length: 368 pages
Obtained Via: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
Publisher: HarperTeen

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Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can’t “write what she knows” because she hasn’t yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about.


Soon Eva’s life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. She becomes a counselor at a nearby summer camp—a job she is completely unqualified for. She starts growing apart from her best friends before they’ve even left for school. And most surprising of all, she begins to fall for the last guy she would have ever imagined. But no matter the roadblocks, or writer’s blocks, it is all up to Eva to figure out how she wants this chapter in her story to end.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell, Don’t Ever Change is a witty, snarky, and thought-provoking coming-of-age young adult novel about a teen who sets out to write better fiction and, ultimately, discovers the truth about herself.

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Don’t Ever Change had moments of promise, but ultimately after reading I was left wondering where the story was. A random collection of scenes do not a story make, and that’s what I felt like Don’t Ever Change was. Eva, a teen writer, graduates high school and gets a job as a day camp counselor while trying to learn more about the world in order to serve her writing and then has friend and relationship drama on the side. There was rarely progress or momentum and what was on the page just mostly felt strange.

There were many issues I had with Don’t Ever Change, but the main one I think was that the characters never felt grounded in any sort of life. When you pick up a book, you’re starting to see what’s normally a very small section of a character’s life. They have past experiences that affect them and aspirations for the future. A reader gets to immerse themselves in a story for a part of that character’s life, but it’s still generally just a part. And I didn’t feel like Eva really had a life outside of what was presented in Don’t Ever Change. Sure, every once in awhile there would be references to her future college or mentions of things that happened in the past, but it didn’t feel enough to root her to anything. World-building is needed in contemporaries too, and I didn’t think Don’t Ever Change really had a world.

That aside, Eva was just. . . infuriating. I try to be incredibly cautious as to how I speak about female teen characters, because so often female characters get scrutinized to a ridiculous extent. They’re not allowed to be mean or make mistakes or be anything but “nice” or “likable”, so whenever I had trouble with a female main character, I make attempts to make sure my reaction isn’t part of my internal bias. I’ve loved several books with mean or “unlikable” characters before. Likability isn’t a factor for my enjoyment of a book, but my problem with Eva wasn’t that she was unlikable–it was mostly that her character arc didn’t seem to go anywhere.

I had hopes for Eva because of the whole teen writer thing, but Eva is pretentious. She, somehow, manages to be the female, teen equivalent of the Guy in your MFA twitter. I didn’t mind this at first because of course, the idea of a novel is that a character grows and changes over the course of it. . . but Eva didn’t, really.

I also had a LOT of issues with the way the day camp Eva works at was incorporated into the story. I went to overnight and day camps for ten years of my life, was a camp activities counselor once, and a day camp counselor for two summers in a row. I’m aware that camps have different policies, but a camp would NOT have been run like the one portrayed in the book because it was just lawsuit after lawsuit waiting to happen. Eva is really the worst camp counselor ever, but I didn’t have a problem with that because she(and the other counselors) know she’s not very good at it. What I did have issues with was how often Eva and other counselors left their kids alone and there were never consequences for it. They seem to have all the time in the world to go off on their own and make-out. All I could think was “Wow, I hope all these kid’s parents sue this camp for everything they have” because it was so incredibly irresponsible. And I didn’t have issues with the characters being irresponsible as much as I did that it was just way too convenient for them to even have the opportunity for them to be that irresponsible.

Then there was the romance. I’m not the kind of reader who hates love triangles or multiple romantic interest on principles, but the way romance was handled in Don’t Ever Change just felt weird to me. I think part of it was what I mentioned in the beginning of my review about how I felt Eva wasn’t grounded in any sort of world within the novel. I didn’t understand her character motivations, so everything just felt off. Eva has two primary romantic interests and then also considers(and goes on a date with) a third. She makes out with one of her romantic interests while calling the other her boyfriend–even though they have the combined chemistry of a rock and pocket lint. And in the end, while there was resolution in terms of action, it didn’t feel resolved in terms of story.

Really, “didn’t feel resolved in terms of story” could pretty be my entire review for this book. Surprisingly, I actually was loving this book for the first 40%. It didn’t start to go off the rails until about the halfway mark, and then everything just. . dissolved into some puddle of plot and characterization.

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I enjoyed the beginning of this story, but in the end I just had SO MANY issues with it. 2/5 cupcakes.

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A DNF Round-up{11}

A DNF Round-up{11}

DNFroundup

DNF Round-Up is a feature in which I talk about my latest books I marked as did-not-finish and reflect upon why they didn’t work for me.

1. Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin

Dearest Clementine

 

source: Free on Kindle
Where I stopped: page 88

Summary:

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out…in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

Why I DNF-ed:

This wasn’t bad, but it was just SO. STANDARD. NA heroine with a rough past that gives her intimacy issues but oh wait, here’s this super hot guy who will take the time to get to know her. Just not really what I’m interested in reading as far as NA goes. I will say that the love interest was slightly more original in that he wasn’t the growly alpha male type, but I also found him rather boring. Not to mention I didn’t understand their attraction to each other at all.

2. Those Girls by Lauren Saft

Those Girls

source: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my final opinion of the work.
Where I stopped: At 30%

Summary:

 Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

Why I DNF-ed:

I’m a sucker about mean, unlikable girls–it’s why I love Courtney Summer’s novels and Before I Fall. I love when authors pull back the layers on the “unlikable” girls to reveal complex inner lives and powerful writing. That’s what I thought I’d get with Those Girls. The thing is. . . *Those Girls* are mean, but they’re not that complex, and they’re pretty. . . well, boring. The main characters in this book were vapid and shallow. . . by which I mean, they were shallow character-wise, not that they were intentionally written to be shallow. One girl has a lot of sex. One girl has a jerk of a boyfriend. One girl joins a band and smokes a lot, I guess. They’re catty, but there’s no depth. I love dark, gritty, contemporary books, but this isn’t it.

3. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Between the Notes

 

source: I received an electronic advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Where I stopped: 20%

Summary:

 When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

Debut author Sharon Huss Roat crafts a charming and timely story of what happens when life as you know it flips completely upside down.

Why I DNF-ed:

Sigh. I got sucked in by the pretty cover & the fact the main character plays the piano. My brain somehow skipped merrily over the part where the main character has to move to the “bad” side of town after growing up super privileged, which isn’t my kind of story at all. . . or at least not how it’s portrayed here. I know the summary says affluent neighborhood, but I guess I kinda thought this would be more about a semi-comfortable, but still middle class, family having to deal with a stroke of bad luck. Not so. Ivy’s definitely from a *wealthy* family, and the judgements and prejudice she has the entire time just annoyed me. Now, except for my very first job, every. single. job. or internship I’ve had has been at a poverty relief non-profit, so I KNOW this is realistic. . .  but I still don’t want to read about a whiny main character having to “see the light” about her judgements of poor people. And yes, I’m sure she goes throughout the book, but for me I didn’t really care about her journey to that point.

 

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June 2015 Wrap-Up

June 2015 Wrap-Up

lifelately

 WOW was June a blur! First: I got into grad school! I shared that news in a Sunday wrap-up. I’m going to start classes part-time in August to work towards a Masters of Library Science degree!(Also, I realized I never mentioned that my declared concentration is in archival studies). So trying to get that stuff squared away has taken up quite a bit of time. June’s been kinda long.

 

Watched

I was going to say I didn’t really watch anything this month, but you know what I DID watch? Serenity, the movie follow-up to Firefly(which I’ve watched multiple times). For some reason I’ve always had trouble getting my hands on a copy of the movie and WOW. I had been spoiled for one big plot point before watching, but there was a LOT revealed. And once again, it made me weep for Firefly’s short life. So many hints of interesting plot lines that could have happened.

 

Listened

June’s playlist:

 

Some often-played songs:

A Room of Her Own-Life Swimming

I’m slightly obsessed with this upbeat song.

Fall-Cider Sky

I feel like every month I’m sharing another Cider Sky song! Seriously, friends, they’re stuff is GOOD.

 

Hometown-Twenty One Pilots

I think this is my favorite song from the new Twenty One Pilots album.

 

 

 

 

Read

June was a pretty good reading month!(probably because it felt so LONG. I felt like it would never end!) 10 books read and only 1 DNF. Plus, TWO 5 star reads. That’s always exciting.

5 star Reads:

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick

4 star Reads:

Underneath Everything by Marcy Paul Beller
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

3 Star Reads:

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick
The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
First & Then by Emma Mills

2 star Reads:

 

1 star & DNF Reads:

 Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat(DNF)

bloghighlights

I reviewed Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, which I thought was a great book that seems to have mostly flown under the radar.

I also shared some more recommendations for various things(always one of my favorite posts!)

I also had fun putting together my list of 10 books I’m anticipating for the rest of 2015!

 

Snapshots

Eliot has discovered he can reach the bookshelf. #catsofinstagram #booksandcats

A photo posted by Stormy Campbell (@stormydawnc) on

Today’s surprise mail: a signed bookplate for All the Rage! #alltherage #bookmail A photo posted by Stormy Campbell (@stormydawnc) on


Bookmarked

I actually don’t have anything that caught my eye this month–I haven’t been around as much on my normal internet spheres due to busyness.

Favorites favbook      

I’m torn between Midwinterblood & Illuminae! Though, if I have to pick. . . I think I’d go with Midwinterblood just because I think the story “stayed” with me longer.

Midwinterblood

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   If a life can be ruined in a single moment, a moment of betrayal, or violence, or ill luck, then why can a life not also be saved, be worth living, be made, by just a few pure moments of perfection?

From Midwinterblood

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See, this is why I used to keep a journal and I’m trying to get back into the habit–because otherwise, things just become a blur. I have a mostly positive association with June, but for the life of me I’m having trouble remembering specific things that happened. It was a mostly good month, though!

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