Meant To Be

First Lines: There are certain things in life that just suck.  Pouring a big bowl of Lucky Charms before realizing the milk is expired, the word “moist,” falling face-first into the salad bar in front of the entire lacrosse team…

My timing for reading this was actually really ironic.  See, this book takes place over spring break, and I just started mine.  Totally accidental, I swear.  I hadn’t read the synopsis for this book in so long, I couldn’t even remember what it was about, but I knew I wanted to read it.  That was a funny coincidence.

Julia has always known that fate will bring her the right guy.  She just has to wait for him.  For straight-A, rule-following Julia, it’s a wait she doesn’t mind.  And she just knows her Meant-T0-Be is Mark, her childhood neighbor and crush.  But this Spring Break will throw Julia for a loop when she’s paired with Jason Lippincott on their class trip to London.  Jason is the annoying class clown who does whatever he can to be the center of attention.  After Julia starts getting flirty texts from a mysterious admirer, Jason promises to help her find out who is sending them…as long as she agrees to break some rules along the way.  And so begins the goose chase through London that is leading Julia closer and closer to what she didn’t expect to find: love.  Because sometimes the most surprising things are the most meant to be.

I thought this was really cute.  And when I started reading, I didn’t realize this was a debut novel either.  That was kind of impressive.

Alright.  Down to business.  I thought Julia was really relatable, but part of that might be because we are practically the same person.  So much of what Julia did or said is the same kind of thing I would do.  The other characters in the story were well-written too.  It was nice getting to know them along the way.

What I really liked about this book was the setting.  I’ve always wanted to visit London.  This had really nice descriptions of the city as well as little facts interspersed about the locations the class visited.  (Julia’s kind of a nerd.  Jason calls her “Book Licker.”)  I really enjoyed seeing London through Julia’s eyes.

I know I don’t normally talk about this much in my reviews, but the figurative language was really great in this.  Julia has a very dry wit that comes out in metaphors and other figurative language.  Like once, she says that people had to move out of the way of the S.S. Inconsiderate [Jason].  That really stuck with me afterward because it was so funny and unexpected.

This book was really cute.  There are some good themes throughout about love and friendship and self-discovery, but that’s about it.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth otherwise, but I didn’t expect it to.  It was a cute spring break read and got my break started off right.

Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #2)

First Lines: I feel such a fraud.

This is one book that eventually got moved up to the top of my to-read list.  Why?  Eh, I felt in the mood for a magic book, and the need to catch up on a series I was a little behind in.  That’s always a good thing.

*Potential Spoilers Ahead*

Life in New England under the Brotherhood is far from easy, even though Cate is now part of the Sisterhood.  The Brothers are determined to move mountains in order to get what they want: dead witches.  It doesn’t help that the Sisterhood is impatiently waiting for Cate to come into her prophesied powers.  Cate doesn’t want to be used as a weapon, but her options are running out.  With her friend Sachi in prison for using magic, Cate needs a plan.  She didn’t want to involve Finn, but his offers of help do much to soothe her as her sisters, Maura and Tess, join the Sisterhood for protection.  But Maura is convinced she will be the next oracle, and she’s not afraid to forcefully push Cate out of the way.  Even if it means war for everyone.

Alright.  So I’ll admit right now that I don’t remember a whole lot from the first book.  I mean, I remember the main characters and the whole Brotherhood=evil thing, but not a whole lot of the plot.  So I was relearning that as I went.

We’ll start with the good.  I think the characters are well-written.  I could relate to Cate, even when there was some seriously dangerous stuff going on.  And there are certain characters you want to protect because Cate wants to protect them.  That was a good thing.  (Until like, the last chapter, in which case it was just horrid to feel that.  But more on that soon.)

Another note: I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I read this, and I didn’t know it until I was over halfway through it.  I struggled to get into it due to my busy schedule and then I was more focused on my life than what was happening in the book.  But by that point, I couldn’t just give up on the book.  And this seriously colored my feelings for this book.

I really felt that this book was a transitional book.  It didn’t have the same introductory stuff that the first book had, but it also didn’t have the action I was expecting out of the second book in a series.  It was kind of bland, and I think it was because it was just the bridge between the beginning and the last book.  The “climax” takes place roughly 30 pages from the end, and it wasn’t built up much.  There wasn’t a whole lot of suspense or action.  It was the falling action that killed me.

And that falling action kind of killed the book for me.  As I said, I was already in a bad frame of mind, but that day I was in a good mood.  And then the ending came and I fell into a bad mood, one I had been seeing too much of in the days before.  I didn’t want to be in a bad mood, and I didn’t like that the ending would do that to me.  I can respect an ending like that if it had more reasoning to it, but this seemed to come for shock factor rather than being really built into this book.  (It’s gonna be big in the next one, though.)

Overall, I thought it was an ok book, but it could have used more action and excitement rather than trying to pass some of the political insecurities as action.

Spotlight Friday (103)

Hello everyone!  It’s the start of my spring break, so I’m really hoping I can spend some quality time this week reading and catching up on books!  Sounds like a great spring break, right?  Yes.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

What’s To Like: I’m really drawn to mysteries.  Always have been.  And I can relate to feeling misunderstood and not having anyone listen to you when you know you’re right.  That’s part of why I want to read this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a romance in there somewhere, but it’s nice to just have a novel of self-discovery, of finding answers, of being yourself.

My review of Far From You

The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

Release Date: April 10, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.

What’s To Like: I really liked Wendy Wunder’s first novel, The Probability of Miracles.  It was touching and funny and everything I could have wanted out of a YA novel.  So I’m looking for something similar with this one.  I expect it’ll be funny while being heart wrenching at the same time.  And I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

My review of The Museum of Intangible Things.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Release Date: April 10, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

What’s To Like: Here’s, appropriately, another novel about finding answers and discovering who you are as a person.  That seems to be today’s theme, doesn’t it?  As a dancer myself (mostly like…show choir/Just Dance stuff), I’m really interested from that standpoint.  I really want to know Donovan’s story though.  Kidnapped for 4 years and trying to return to normal life?  How heartbreaking is that?  I already want to give this kid a hug.

All That Glows

First Lines: The sickness hits even before I reach the outskirts of London.  A slow-burning nausea descends on my gut and claws through the intestines of my human form. I kneel by the side of the road and wrap my arms around my stomach.  The first wave is always the worst.

It’s really kind of cool how faeries are coming back into popularity.  It’s only been in the past 3-4 years that I’ve started paying attention to these trends and I can already see a shift happening.

As part of the Faery Guard, it is Emrys’s job to see that the British royal family is kept safe from supernatural threats.  For about 1000 years, this has been her duty.  But it’s gotten harder with the rise in technology, which makes Fae sick.  And this isn’t just any assignment for Emrys.  She’s sent to protect Prince Richard, the notorious party boy, whose careless ways and royal blood make him an easy target for darker fae.  When an old, ancient force begins preying on the royal family, it is up to Emrys to battle through the Fae Underground to find answers.  If she doesn’t, Richard will be lost…and so will Emrys’s heart.

Alright.  So as I said, faeries seem to be just starting to make something of a comeback.  And I’m kind of excited about that because variations are being made on the trend.  This book, for example, didn’t have the old and super overused Seelie/Unseelie court plot.  I mean, I enjoy it to an extend, but having something different definitely doesn’t hurt anything.  This still stays true to some of the traditional fae stories (Herne and the Hunt, for example, makes an appearance).  So I liked that it didn’t follow the typical background.

I also liked the idea of fae guarding the royal family.  It was a nice change of pace, rather than having fae trying to really just destroy the world for their own gain.  While Richard was somewhat stereotypical of how we expect royalty to act, Emrys was a good force for his life.

Even though I liked these things, there were still a lot of issues in the story.  There are times that Emrys does seem a little unreasonable or immature, especially given her age.  And there’s some insta-love to start our story off on a *lovely* note.  (I had someone in another review point out that some of the stuff Emrys does would be considered “stalking” if a man was doing it…and they weren’t wrong.)

What I had a bigger problem with was the ending.  It took an unusual and unexpected turn, at one point, which was nice.  I was a little confused and unsure of how the story would recover from it, but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.  And then it had a pretty big (but not unexpected) twist that made me lose some respect for it.  I really just attribute that to this being a debut novel.  The author hasn’t learned yet how to craft a really good ending.  I’m willing to read more of her stuff to see if she grows.

Overall, I thought this was a decent read.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.

Resisting Atlantis (Atlantis, #1)

First Lines: Branches reach for me like gnarly, wooden hands, grabbing at my hair and clothing.  Clinging to me.  Holding me back.  It’s a struggle to break free.

I was contacted by the author to read her new book and be a part of her blog tour for it.  So, yay!  Here it is, the kickoff to her tour!

When she asked me to read this book, I jumped at the opportunity.  There aren’t nearly enough books about Atlantis to sate my curiosity on the topic, nor my fascination with this mysterious island.

Cora is your average freshman in college.  At 18, her biggest concerns deal with the too-hot-to-handle neighbor of hers and not falling asleep in boring classes.  That is until Kaden shows up.  He insists that everything she knows about her life is false.  Her parents, her friends, her childhood memories are all false.  Even her name isn’t right.  She’s not Cora but Cameron.  And she’s not from New York, but from Atlantis.  Who would believe this guy?  But trouble starts to follow the two of them around.  Soon, Cam finds out that Kaden may be right; things aren’t exactly what they seem…

Alright.  So when I started this, I was immediately drawn in.  False memories?  Just a bit cooler than plain old amnesia.  And Kaden?  Sweetheart.  (Atlantis itself was pretty cool too.)

I thought that this was a pretty good story.  Cam was a good heroine for it and Kaden was the kind of hero that didn’t see himself as a hero.  I’m pretty drawn to those.  It’s a humble thing, I guess.  Also, the action of the story moved at a really consistent clip.  That meant there were times when it was really hard to put down.

However, I did start to have some issues with the book by the end.  First, Cam was pretty self-depricating in a way that started to rub me the wrong way.  Sometimes when people who reference who she was before her memories were changed, she’d say things like, “Yeah, I’m probably stupid enough to do that.”  To me, these things she said were “stupid” were actually strengths in her character.  It made me question Cam a little every time it came up.  What was so wrong with these qualities that it made her label herself as “stupid”?

Also, even though I really enjoyed Cam and Kaden together, they got incredibly annoying by the end.  Think of it this way.  Have you ever been out with another couple and they spend the whole evening saying cute things about each other?  At first, it’s adorable.  But four hours later, you’re ready for them to knock it off.  That was me with this book.  It was cute, absolutely, but almost sickeningly cute by the end.

Overall, I did think it was a good read.  Like I said, the action was good and I enjoyed the plot and characters.  There were just a few things along the way that just drove me crazy, though.

Interview with Shari J. Ryan!

Hey everyone!  I’m pleased to be sharing with you an interview I did with Shari!  Enjoy!

coverSchasm – Chloe Valcourt drifts between two worlds: the dark reality of her domineering mother and feeble father and the vivid fantasy of her imagination. With her condition comes the harsh observation of doctors who intend to cure her of it. But a chance encounter with a handsome and vaguely familiar young man in her dream world hints at the possibility of hidden truths—and a life she can’t remember. As her drifts become a greater escape from the cruelty of the real world, Chloe finds herself lost between what is real and what is imagined, questioning her very existence. Can she remain in the lush new imagined landscape to find happiness in a realm of her own invention? Is she doomed to return to the harsh reality of the outside world forever? Or will she become trapped somewhere between the two…unable to return to either?

Shari J. Ryan, author of Schasm


Belle: Chloe seems to drift between two worlds: reality and fantasy. Have you ever found yourself caught between two different worlds?
Shari: I’m a daydreamer, and whenever things get too stressful in life, I try to imagine myself somewhere better. For me, that’s usually the beach. It’s the one place that always takes my stress away. As much as I wish I could get stuck there sometimes, reality usually pulls me back in with a screaming child. 🙂
Belle: What do you think Chloe would think of you if she ever met you?
Shari: She might think her personality is eerily similar to mine. Plus, I’m confident she’d be happy to meet her creator ;).
Belle: What or who influenced you to be a writer?
Shari: Life changes have influenced me to write. I suffered from a bout of postpartum depression after my first son was born, and I found writing to be very therapeutic and somewhat healing. Because I felt the improvement within my mental health every time I sat down to write, I continued writing. One day, I realized I had concluded the end of my first book, and it was then that I realized I had turned something bad into something amazing.
Belle: Is there anything you haven’t written about yet that you’d like to in the future?
Shari: I’m really fascinated by psychological conditions, so I’ll probably continue to delve into this genre for as long as I can. And the ideas just keep coming.
Thanks Shari!
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