2 Adult Fiction Books I’ve Read Recently

Before I started this blog in 2010 I used to primarily read adult fiction (pop on over here if you are interested in my reading history). I clearly went full force into YA but I still do read adult fiction here and there (some I loved recently: here, here, here, and here). I’m definitely craving adult fiction even more these days (I’d love some recs in the comments) so here’s two I’ve read lately.

 

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: 2007
Big thanks to Racquel for recommending and gifting me this book!

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: 14 year old Liberty moves to a trailer park in Welcome, Texas with her single mother where she meets her first love and the guy who is always in the back of her mind as she grows up. Liberty comes of age in that trailer park and is faced with some things that make her grow up faster than her peers. Soon she finds herself in Houston, as a twenty-something, struggling to make the life she wants happen and she meets a older, powerful man named Churchill who changes everything for her — even her understanding of things that happened in the past.

When I first added this to my TBR I thought it was a straight up romance novel (which remember! I like now!). When I let Racquel know I was starting to read this one she mentioned that it’s part romance, part women’s fiction. After reading it I can say it’s a totally apt description. I REALLY liked this one and could not put it down! We meet Liberty as a teenager and the book spans to her early twenties (good one for YA lovers wanting to try out some adult). I LOVED LIBERTY. She is one tough chick and I loved watching her coming of age story. Life has definitely NOT been easy for her (grows up poor, tragedies, etc.) and she grows up way too soon because of some THINGS. My heart just broke for her but I also felt super proud of her for how she handled it. Her story made me super emotional for MANY reasons — everything she endures, how her past finds her years later, the things she learns, etc. OKAY and let’s talk about the romance? (SIDENOTE: Southern men are so swoony).  HARDY CATES. Her first love. Their romantic tension was INTENSE and I felt the heartbreak she feels when he leaves (somehow I missed that part in the summary). Kleypas writes their relationship so well. SWOON. But the romance with another character later on? SWOON AGAIN. I loved how Liberty has to reconcile this first love that she doesn’t want to let go with the prospective of new love. AND THE ENDING. PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. This book was heartwarming even though it made me cry a couple times. And the characters? Lisa Kleypas creates the most wonderful main and secondary characters. I JUST WANT TO HUG THEM ALL.

RATING

 

RATING-loved-it

 

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: March 2014
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: It follows the friendship and lives of a group of guys from a small town through flashbacks and in the now as they are in their 30’s and life has taken them in very different directions as they’ve all made a life for themselves. They are reunited for a wedding and have to face the ways they have changed AND their friendships have changed  despite their attempts to hold on to what they had. Secrets, betrayals, struggles and the passing of time that has changed them all put a strain on what they had.

I liked this one but not as much as I’d hoped! It also may have been that it took me forever to read it because it was on my kindle and my kindle died and I kept forgetting to charge it. The main thing for me that I LOVED about this one is how it explored male friendships. I loved the friendship of these guys from this small town even despite how the dynamics shift through the years as they grow older and their lives get even more complicated. It’s really rare for me to read a book that gives me these tender male relationships and I really grew to love Hank, Ronny, Kip and Leland and their bond even when things get complicated amongst them. I loved learning about their early friendship contrasted with the men they have all become as two have left and two have stayed. Marriages, tragedy, betrayals, financial troubles, shenanigans…they endured it all. It’s definitely a quieter book and I really liked the character development and the prose. Every character captured my heart some way or another as they were all so complex. It was interesting how we see what  success and happiness is challenged in these very different men. They all seem to think they want what another has or might pity another but they learn the grass ISN’T always greener and things aren’t always as they seem (YEP CLICHES FOR THE WIN HERE). Also, such a great book that reminds you GET to pick who your family is and what HOME really means to a person. Plus, the setting and feel of small town life? SPOT ON. It reminded me so much of where I used to live. It’s funny because I KNOW groups of guys from that small town I used to live in that remind me SO much of these guys. My problem? As distinct as the characters were through the eyes of the others, sometimes I struggled with the actual voices of who was narrating and would get confused with the multi-narration and the shift to the past/present.

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

 

Have you read either of these? I’d love to know what YOU thought!! If you haven’t read them, do you think they are something you are interested in?

The Start Of A New Favorite Series. I CAN FEEL IT.

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYYSSSS. As you may in fact know, Melina Marchetta is one of my all time favorite authors EVER. EVERRRRR. I’ve read and loved her contemporaries and I had just been putting off her fantasy books because, at the time, I wasn’t super into fantasy and I was a bit intimidated. I finally decided to read Finnikin of the Rock a couple weeks ago and OH MY GOD. I am a woman obsessed. I cannot stop thinking about the characters. The world. EVERYTHING. It’s every bit of magic that her contemporary books had for me — especially her signature character development. A few people assured me of this and they were so right. SO RIGHT.

Finnikin of the RockGoodreads // Amazon

THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING. (and I’m told it only gets better…and more brutal).

Before I discuss my feels, let me give you the down low on what it’s about if you aren’t familiar: Finnikin of the Rock is from the Lumatere Kingdom. Ten years ago the royal family was MURDERED (he was VERY close with them) and then this awful curse was put on his kingdom that doesn’t let anybody in or out of the kingdom. Some people had already fled but then the other half of the kingdom is still trapped in there and being ruled by an AWFUL new ruler. So, for the past ten years, all the people who had fled the Lumatere Kingdom have been scattered about various kingdoms living in mostly awful conditions. Finnikin and Sir Topher, his guardian, have been wandering around and taking a census of the Lumatere people. Finnikin is called to meet with a young girl who makes a big claim — that the heir to the throne is actually alive. She claims that they need to gather their people and return home with the heir to undo the curse.

WOAH WOAH WOAH. Just thinking about their journey gives me chills. And how complex those characters were.

Here’s just a glimpse of what I loved about it:

The world & history: I was a little nervous that this might be a little slow in the beginning as it set up the history and the world but I was just pretty absorbed from the beginning. I will say I looked at the map so many times, to get my shit straight, that I finally just had to take a picture of it so I didn’t have to keep flipping back. It helped to be able to picture their journey as they went from kingdom to kingdom and truth be told I got so into it that I almost wanted a paper print-out of the map so I could record notes about where things went down. I loved learning about the history of Lumatere and what went down and also their kingdom in relation to the other kingdoms in the land. On the same note, I LOVED finding out about all the kingdoms because they were all kind of known for different things. MAN, some of those kingdoms were brutal though especially to the people in exile. It was a heartbreaking ordeal how some of these exiles were living and being treated.

The “taking back the kingdom” plot and how it played out: I read two books in a row where taking back the kingdom was a thing (the other one is The Orphan Queen) and I love it! I loved as they traveled to the different kingdoms gathering the necessary people and telling the exiles (who have been living 10 years in limbo and crap conditions basically). The excitement just kept building as we got closer and then THE BIG REVEAL as they got closer (did not see that coming truthfully). There was this moment where they are standing outside of the kingdom and I just felt this surge of pride for what they were doing. How it was all orchestrated to get the people back there and all the sacrifice it took to get there. My heart was swelling with joy/sadness/pride/excitement/fear as they approached Lumatere. VERY EMOTIONAL.  I was seriously just doing a whole lot of this by the end.

9XL0vUY

The characters: It’s one of those situations where my love for them just grew to obscene amounts but I didn’t even realize it until we were closer to the end and things were going down. The reunions that were had amongst the exiled and how they worked so hard to get to where they were…MY HEART WAS BURSTING WITH LOVE AND PRIDE FOR THEM ALL. I LOVED Finnikin and Sir Topher and Evanjalin obviously but there were characters who came into the picture in smaller roles that I just loved so much and they made an impact on the story (and on me). I grew to love Froi (who the next book seems to be about?) even if there are still things about him that I can’t reconcile just right now. It’s classic Melina characters who just come alive and impact you in ways you didn’t see coming. I cannot wait to continue on with these characters.

SPOILERY TALK!!!!

* Do not read this paragraph if you want to read this book*

Some rambly thoughts and feels.

I sort of did not understand how the whole blood thing works. Like I *think* I got it but I also was confused?? Like the connection with the dead baby and how Isoboe walked the dreams? I had to reread those parts explaining it. I THINK I got it though. And ISOBOE. WHAT A BADASS. THAT REVEAL. How she brought her kingdom back?!??! GAHHH. Her reunion with Yata. OMG. And then when Finnikin’s dad reunites with his dudes. TEARS TEARS. And then the battle when Lucien carries Saro home. WAHHH. And the exchange between Lady Beatriss and Trevanion. MY HEART. Guys. I hear the next two books are even more feelsy and IDK IF I CAN HANDLE IT. ALSO, that ending was perfect and swoony and AHHH.

BUT BASICALLY…

If you aren’t reading this series. YOU MUST. If you consider yourself a fantasy fan. If you love Melina Marchetta’s books (and aren’t a fantasy reader) you should STILL give them a chance. There’s magic kind of stuff but a lot more of this is political, people in exile and about bringing a kingdom back….AND ALL ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS.

NOW I NEED TO PROCURE FROI & QUINTANA.

Book Talk: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Book Talk: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliSimon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Publisher/Year: Balzer & Bray- April 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, her debut novel!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Sixteen year old Simon is gay and hasn’t yet come out — until a classmate finds an email of his to Blue, a boy he likes and has been writing back and forth to anonymously from his school who might just like him too, and threatens to out him unless he helps him get a girl that Simon is friends with. Not wanting to screw up things with Blue or let someone else tell everyone that he’s gay, he goes along with it all while trying to navigate this growing relationship with Blue and shifting dynamics amongst his closest group of friends.

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a4It’s no secret I gave a little preview telling you all that Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of my favorite books I read last year. I’m so excited to tell you WHY I loved it so much!

1. It made me so INDESCRIBABLY HAPPY. If you know me you know that more often than not I don’t read SUPER happy books. I always seem to be drawn to the books that break me, destroy my life, elicit intense feelings or that tackle tough topics. But Simon made me realize how wonderful it IS to read a book that makes you feel giddy and slaps a goofy grin on your face. How FEELSY it can be. How warm and fuzzy feelings can be just as intense and legit as stab-your-heart-fifty-times type books can be.  Reading Simon was like hot cocoa w/ fluffy marshmallows and warm cookies on a cold day. It just completely warmed my heart from the inside out. AND I REALLY LIKED THAT FEEL. What a high pure happiness can be!

2. I loved the romance: Simon and Blue have been talking anonymously through emails — all they know is that the other person goes to their school and they both are gay but not out yet. I love how they get to know each other through the emails and talk about anything and everything and they leave out all the main details that would give them away (friends, classes, extra-curriculars etc). The suspense for WHO Blue is was definitely there and I became on high alert with every interaction. ARE YOU BLUE? ARE YOU? I loved how they wrestled with how they would go about finally meeting because it would change things and because neither of them were out yet. There was a certain comfort to their relationship as it was but they were definitely falling for each other in a deeper way. Their exchanges made me have a goofy grin on my face. What a sweet, sweet romance! AND HOW THEY FINALLY MEET/THE BIG REVEAL? The most swoony thing ever and I reread it like 5 times.

3. The blackmail storyline was really interesting: Simon isn’t ready to come out quite yet but he also doesn’t look at it as such a big deal. BUT when he gets blackmailed by a opportunistic classmate who threatens to expose it that definitely concerns him because he knows what he and Blue has is fragile and it could mess that up. I liked watching him wrestle with it all — not wanting to give in because it’s HIS thing to tell, not wanting to betray a friend who this classmate wants to get closer to and wanting to preserve what he and Blue have. I think the particular classmate who does the blackmailing is interesting himself — you just want to punch him for being a shithead but also you see him as a PERSON.

 4. THE FRIENDSHIPS: This book had such a great example of a realistic friendship group with all the ebbs and flows they tend to endure — probably one of the best I’ve ever read. I loved the dynamic of the group and seeing how it has been shifting and changing as newcomers were introduced (and how threatening that can be), how crushes within a group impact it, how to handle all the growing and changing even among the “core” members of the friend group who have known each other for years and years. All the nuances of friend groups and long-time friendships vs. new ones were just perfectly done.  I loved Simon’s friend group and it made me miss having a GROUP like I did all throughout high school and college. I just really appreciated how strong the friendships were but they were also susceptible to being caught in the wave of change and not knowing how to adjust.

5. Simon: Simon is just an unforgettable character and I really felt like I KNOW him… and it’s one of those cases where I’m sad he exists only in the pages and in my heart. You’ll know what I mean when you meet him. He’s smart, funny and thoughtful but humanly flawed. So humanly flawed. He makes me smile and I think everyone would be better off having met him.

6. These quotes: I loved the writing in this book in general but I loved these were some of my favorite quotes (just to note, they ARE taken from the ARC so subject to change):

     ” But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

     “As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

     “People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ plot, writing, characters, romance, humor, relationships explored, how it made me think, THE FEELS
NOTHING.

Re-readability: YES!!!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? YES!!

a5EVERYONE. Yep.

a8I think a good indication of how much I loved this book was that, in writing this review, I went to find one quote from it and got absorbed reading almost the whole book again (I read it in December for the first time and I’m not much of a re-reader though I like it in theory). It’s one of my favorite romances I’ve read in a while that in addition also perfectly explores the always evolving nature of friendships (and people), the idea of ‘coming out’ and how people, even the ones we’ve known for forever, will always keep surprising us with the new dimensions and the numerous “vast room and tiny windows” as Simon puts it. This book made me indescribably happy and I’m not going to shut up about it.

review-on-post-itsimonvsthehomosapiensagenda

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Book Talk: The Orphan Queen by Jodi MeadowsThe Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Publisher/Year: Katherine Tegan- March 10, 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Incarnate series (which book one is only $1.99 for Kindle right now)
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

As a child Princess Wilhelmina watched as her kingdom got overtaken by the Indigo Kingdom and her parents and the rest of the nobility were killed. The children of the nobility, like Wilhelmina, were taken as orphans to live in the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. They broke out of the orphanage and for years have formed a group called the Ospreys who intend to take back their kingdom and give Wilhelmina her throne. The next phase of the plan becomes more dangerous and includes infiltrating the palace to gain more information which is a task for Wilhelmina and Melanie. With the wraith that has been destroying kingdoms moving closer to the kingdoms, the stakes are even higher.

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(plus a whole lot of F BOMBS in a text to Alexa)

a4OH MAN. Fans of action-packed and exciting YA fantasy with kickass ladies? Check this one out for sure!! I could NOT put it down. I’m usually pretty strict about getting to bed on time but I kept saying “just one more chapter” like 10 times before I finally could pry myself away from it (and that was only because of necessity to be functioning in the morning).

What had me up reading it so late??

1. ESPIONAGE & vigilante justice: I love espionage, you guys. I loved watching Wil and Melanie (who are badasses) infiltrate themselves into the palace posing as refugees of nobility from a kingdom that has been destroyed by the wraith. I loved watching them carefully learn what they needed to know and carry out tasks that would help them take back their kingdom all while in the comfort of their enemies home. There were those hold-your-breath type moments because there is ALWAYS the high risk of being caught. I also liked how she did begin to see some of her enemies as people as she got to know them. I think she understood that not everything was as black and white as she thought before. In addition to the espionage there is a character named Black Knife who is a complete unknown but this person goes around catching people who use magic and turning them in. Wil and her gang have crossed paths with him but she ends up face to face with him again. I love how his character is slowly unraveled and become more complex. Plus their relationship is interesting especially since he catches people who use magic and she USES it! If you haven’t read Orphan Queen yet… MAYBE skip this sentence if you want to go in 100% blind. (I TOTALLY CALLED WHO Black Knife was!!)

2. I love books where characters rise up to take back their kingdom: I’ve read 2 books in a row somehow where this was this case (Finnikin of the Rock was the other) and I LOVE IT. Wil’s family was killed. All the nobility was killed. Her kingdom was taken. She and many other children from the nobility families were spared but orphaned. I love how they broke themselves free and have been plotting FOR YEARS to take back their kingdom and give Wil her rightful place on the throne. I love the dynamics of the Ospreys — especially the one between a character who has become a leader within the group even though, when the kingdom is theirs, that Wil will be queen. At times I wondered how the orphans, being so young and cut off from the people that they are hoping to gather up to rebel with them, were going to pull it off but I think their resourcefulness from surviving all these years made them quite smart and cunning. Though at times I was confused with how many THINGS/missions they were involved in at the same time vs. how many people there were in the Ospreys. It seemed like they bit off more than they could chew and were stretched thin? Or that was my impression as of right now?

3. The magic element: Okay so the other side of this whole situation, besides taking back the kingdom, is that there is this wraith that is DESTROYING kingdoms and causing chaos and havoc. And it’s getting WORSE and closer to them. Some believe using magic is what causes it. This is why Wil’s kingdom was taken over because they wouldn’t sign the treaty that would cease the use of magic in their kingdom. To be honest, the wraith thing is a little confusing — I don’t really understand how it works or what causes it — but neither do the leaders of the kingdoms. Nobody TRULY understands it which makes it SUPER terrifying and detrimental to figure out how to stop it. There is a whole lot of unknown that they have to piece together to even have a chance. Wilhelmina magic is super interesting and I loved how as she used it, she begun to realize even MORE about her own magic and if somehow she can help stop the wraith.

4. THINGS that happen at the ending: I will not say anymore than MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER but basically I did a lot of THIS toward the end:

 

skyler-crying-gif-breaking-bada6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ plot, page-turning abilities, twists
LIKED the characters but didn’t feel that surge of LOVE for them YET

Re-readability: I would maybe revisit as a refresher before book 2.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Maybe!

a5YA fantasy fans (esp maybe those who are newer to the genre or those who aren’t wanting a more DENSE  fantasy series…this one is a duology plus novellas, I believe), people who like espionage and saving kingdoms, readers who like magic in their fantasy

a8The Orphan Queen was one I could NOT put down. There was so much to catch my interest and keep me reading — espionage, mystery man practicing vigilante justice, orphaned princess wanting to take back her kingdom, a bit of romance, magic, betrayals and shocking moments galore! It was an exciting read and I can’t wait for the second book. Think it’s totally the perfect book for newer fantasy readers because the setup isn’t AS slow or dense as some can be (from my experience thus far).

review-on-post-it

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows book review

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
On a scale of 1-10 how much did you just lose it at the ending??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- March 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, it is his debut!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

When Mim’s mom and dad split, Mim finds herself suddenly uprooted and living with her dad and his brand new wife all the way in Mississippi while her mom, whose correspondence has become less and less frequent, is in Ohio. When she finds out that her mom is sick, she hops a Greyhound bus to get to her which leads her on a journey where she’ll encounter people who leave a mark on her and be forced to confront some tough things.

a2There’s no way I’m going to be able to explain this book!!

a4What an experience reading Mosquitoland was! I know I’m not going to be able to adequately describe this book or the experience and that’s okay. I’m just hoping you’ll see that beautiful cover or my interview with David Arnold and will want to just rush right to pick it up!! It’s one of those one in a million kinds of books. The kind of book that doesn’t FEEL like anything else you’ve ever read. I really have a hard time comparing it to anything I’ve ever read before, truly. I love experiences like that.

Here’s what I loved about it:

1. ROAD TRIP: I’ve read lots of road trip books but none quite like this. Mim truly goes on quite the adventure as she leaves Mississippi to get to her mom in Ohio. It was like a road trip hopped up on extra shenanigans. I don’t want to slip in too many of the situations she finds herself in but it was quite the wild ride. I kept turning the pages like WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!

2. MIM: You guys, YOU NEED TO MEET MIM. There’s no one way to describe Mim — I’d say quirky or eccentric but I’m not sure either of those words fully encompass Mim’s personality. I could tell you about her personality or the things she likes but it doesn’t present the whole picture.  She’s Mim. That’s the only way you can describe her. MIM. I’ll assert it as an adjective. Mim in all her Mimness.  That’s all I can say. And when you meet her you will know what I mean. She’s a voice that echos louder than most in the recesses of my readerly mind. She made me snort-laugh unattractively. She made me cry inconsolably. She made me want to shake her but then hug her at the same time. She made me think. She seeks answers and her journey to find them is one you don’t want to miss as she really has to confront some tough things in her past and present. I could go on and on about Mim and her growth and how much of an amazing heroine she is but the takeaway here is….THERE WILL NOT BE ANOTHER VOICE LIKE MIM. She’s an anomaly (but, like, not written in that annoying way in which the author is like LOOK AT MY CHARACTER ISN’T SHE SO QUIRKY AND DIFFERENT). She’s Mim through and through.

3. The writing: There was something so hypnotizing with David Arnold’s writing. The way this story was told was just so VIBRANT. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. It was dream-like. Surreal. Half the time I was like “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?” or is it one beautifully constructed hallucination?? Or maybe it’s a movie reel in my mind?? It was just told in a different way. He spins some sentences/thoughts that just make you pause before moving on. I dog-earred the crap out of this book for many reasons — profundity, humor, a certain turn of phrase that delighted the cockles of my heart, a heart-warming moment, etc. I also love how the story is revealed with the trip narration and then with letters to Iz. We get slivers of the past that has brought her here mixed with this surreal road trip. Also? How David Arnold explored mental illness in a powerful way. I don’t want to say too much on it because I want people to experience it purely how I did.

4. The cast of characters she meets along the way: There were sooo many excellent characters she crosses paths with who change her and help her along her journey. Every character she crosses paths with come to life so vibrantly in a way that is just SO impressive.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ plot, characters, writing, uniqueness, themes
Nothing really.

Re-readability: Yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5contemporary YA fans looking for something a little different, people who like offbeat indie movies like I do (seriously, it’s so cinematic and I kept picturing it shot like some of my favorite indie flicks), readers who like a wild road trip,

a8Mosquitoland was just delightfully offbeat in the most charming of ways. Mim is a heroine which no adjectives can quite pin down the essence of Mim. She will test your patience but you cannot help rooting for her on her journey. And the writing?! It made me up my dog-earring game! Gut-bustingly funny at times, punches you in the gut at other times. David Arnold is a brilliant author who DEFINITELY brought out the big guns with his refreshing and vibrant debut. What next, David, WHAT NEXT? I cannot wait to see what else he can do.

review-on-post-itMosquitoland by David Arnold

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

A January & February Release I Enjoyed!

I’ve got two mini reviews for you today! Just trying to get caught up — that ever so elusive achievement for me!

 

Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

 

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: January 2015
Received a copy for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: One day Avery think she is a semi-normal teenager and the next she’s being whisked away to Paris and told she has a secret, powerful family who has had a hand in a lot of the world’s history. And then she finds out that she might just be part of the key to decoding an ancient prophecy that has alluded people which makes her a pawn for the people who want to use her to figure out this mystery and also those who want her dead because of the power she could hold.

This one was fun and had me racing through the pages as the stakes kept getting higher and the conspiracies kept getting more layered. I’d heard it described as a YA DaVinci Code (also reminded me of National Treasure) and I can see that totally! You’ve got to suspend some disbelief obviously and forgive Avery for things, as a reader, you see pretty clearly (I totally guessed some things or called bad decisions) but it didn’t detract from my experience. I loved getting to know this dangerous and powerful family that Avery discovers that she has and seeing how lavish their lifestyle is and the secret hand they have in a lot of the world’s history (so much historical goodness). It was exciting and truly mysterious as danger seemed to lurk at every corner and plots to use Avery were a plenty. The only things I didn’t love: the romance (I don’t really feel it in any REAL way) and also I just struggled with the characterization not being as strong as I typically like. I will be continuing on with this series because I love a good, fast paced conspiracy thriller and I’m so interested in decoding this mystery right along with them (hopefully with even more whisking away to foreign countries)! Super entertaining!

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

My Heart & Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: February 10, 2015
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: The main character has spent much of her life plotting her suicide because she doesn’t want to end up like her father — a man who committed a violent crime that has made her a pariah amongst her peers. She realizes that she won’t carry it out on her own so she finds a website that helps you find a suicide partner which leads her to Roman — a boy so haunted by a tragedy in his family.

I named this as one of my favorite 2015 books I read in 2014 so you may have already seen how much I loved this one! This one was heavy and super emotional but also so full of life and hope despite the sadness crying out from the pages. Reading it made me feel the weight of all the books I own (a lot) on my chest. The two main characters both have some awful things that have happened to them and they feel the burden is just too much and that transferred on to me as a reader.  It’s so hard to read as they plot their mutual suicide and, as the countdown until the day it is supposed to happen, you just so desperately want them to find that one shred of hope to turn back from the plan especially as they start to truly form a bond. Warga deftly explores depression and suicide in a way that just haunts you. I really loved Aysel’s voice — it was just so REAL and honest and her personality was just so vibrant even amongst all the darkness she felt. *kind of spoilery* I was nervous when this book started going into romance territory because I was like “NO. THIS IS SO GOOD PLEASE DON’T SCREW THIS UP” but I thought Warga handled it pretty delicately and realistically and rather than handing us this “LOVE CURES ALL” story I think it was more that Roman became this mirror to which Aysel suddenly could see herself more clearly. Would I honestly have preferred it just to be a friendship? Yep. As a personal thing I think it could have shown it just as clearly how important their connection was in how it sparked some more life-affirming thoughts within them. *end spoiler* Hauntingly beautiful this one was and I dog-earred so many pages because, man, Jasmine Warga can write!

RATING

RATING-loved-it

 

 

 

Have you read either of these? I’d love to know what YOU thought!! If you haven’t read them, do you think they are something you are interested in?

Book Talk: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Book Talk: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Unearthly series
AmazonGoodreads

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

The last time Lex can remember being happy is before her brother killed himself. Now she’s haunted by ghosts that keep her from moving forward — the ghost of her brother, of the guilt and of the life she had before everything happened (like a family that wasn’t broken, a boyfriend, friends). While the grief is shared, she alone carries the burden of knowing about a text Tyler sent that night that could have made everything different.

a2*weeps*

a4

Oh man, you guys. Recently it seems I’ve been reading a lot of books about suicide or the grief experienced from losing a loved one from suicide. My heart, I think, was beginning to look like Swiss cheese and Cynthia Hand just obliterated whatever was left of it with The Last Time We Say Goodbye.  I really super loved her Unearthly series for MANY reasons (seriously that series is AH-MAZING if you dig paranormal) but I loved how skilled Cynthia was in writing some of the heavier stuff in that series and the way, as a reader, she made me feel it. Some of the most moving parts of that series, for me, were her exploration of loss and grief. So I KNEW she was going to make my heart take a beating if she wrote a whole book exploring that. AND SHE DID. OH SHE DID — so poignantly and heartachingly well.

It’s hard to talk too objectively about this book because I feel it TOO MUCH. The way Cynthia Hand wrote Lex’s grief makes me get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. I read A LOT of grief books (for reasons) and this is just so authentic in the way it portrays it not only through Lex but her family. If I hadn’t already known that, in fact, Hand HAS lost someone (her brother) I would have been sitting here just KNOWING that she had because there’s just this intangible quality about the way she writes grief that I just don’t think a person who hasn’t experienced grief and loss truly can do.  Lex’s brand of grief felt a lot like my own after I lost my mom — especially the shutting people out. There were just these little nuances and small moments that Hand just gets right. So right that it hurts. Also, THAT GUILT SHE HAS SURROUNDING THAT NIGHT? A friend of mine had almost the same exact thing happen when a mutual friend of ours committed suicide and I know how intrusive that guilt was.

I loved that we meet Lex months after everything happens. It’s the time, I think, in my own grieving experience where I felt the worst. The house is more quiet because less people are coming over. The phone rings less. You are forced to be alone with your thoughts more because the distractions of death (the logistics, the funeral, the social calls, etc. etc.) are gone and the world expects you to get back into your normal routines and habits….except…you know..like with this person-shaped hole missing from your life. Hand captures that weird limbo where the “formal” grieving happens and the “back to real life” happens SO PERFECTLY. You are still thinking and feeling it so deeply but with that “I AM PRETENDING TO BE FINE” mask on and trying to pretend to give a crap about Normal Life Things/also really caring about those things.

I know I’m focusing on the grief aspect of this book but it’s what made this an excellent read for me because of how intricate Hand made it! I will say the romance is SO WELL DONE. It was sweet and realistic and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. To be honest, I really did love a lot of the relationship explored and how your grief impacts those and changes the dynamic — from friends who mean well but can’t totally understand to the guilt-ridden parents who feel just as wrecked as you do. I think Hand did a great job showing those relationships and how they fracture and change with the weight of grief but mean so much.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, portrayal of grief, EMOTIONS
just a TAD slow at points

Re-readability: MAYBE. It’s heavy, so I’d really need to be in a mood to tear my heart out.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5fans of Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series that enjoy contemporary, readers looking for books that deal with loss and grief, readers that want to cry or have their heart torn out, readers who can handle a heavy topic such as suicide, fans of quieter novels

a8I really enjoyed Cynthia Hand’s foray into contemporary YA! It was a HARD book to read. I mean, a clear-your-reading-schedule-because-your-heart-needs-time-to-repair-itself kind of read. It may have been a quieter novel in terms of plot but the way Hand explores loss/grief/guilt/suicide/relationships impacted is just LOUD LOUD LOUD in your heart.

review-on-post-it

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Also, have you read her Unearthly series?? If not, GET ON THAT. I’m not even a paranormal gal and I loved it so much!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: No Parking At The End Times by Bryan Bliss

Book Talk: No Parking At The End Times by Bryan BlissNo Parking At The End Times by Bryan Bliss
Publisher/Year: Greenwillow Books- January 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, this was the debut!
AmazonGoodreads

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Two teens and their parents sell their house and drive cross country with all their belongings across country to follow a doomsday preacher named Brother John. When the end times don’t happen as the preacher said, the family continues to live out of their car since they gave all their money to Brother John and the family is falling apart and fracturing from the bad mistakes and dissent when it comes to what they should do next.

a2*sings It’s The End of the World As We Know it*
(R.E.M was in my head the whole time I read this)

a4No Parking At The End Times was an interesting read for me –I didn’t feel like it really moved me or that I felt much for it but at the same time I hadn’t ever read anything like that and I REALLY loved how Bryan Bliss explored themes like a crisis of faith/religion and homelessness because he did it so well.

1. From page 1 I knew this plot was going to be unlike anything I’ve ever read:  A family is living basically homeless in their van because the parents decide to follow this doomsday preacher who ended up being very wrong about the day that it would happen. It’s evident from very early on that doomsday did not happen like this guy predicted and, like the main character, I’m sitting here going SO WHY ARE WE STILL LISTENING TO THIS GUY? They gave him all their money and they basically thought there would be no WHAT NEXT because they thought they wouldn’t be here on earth anymore. So now, after it doesn’t happen, there is this “what next?” question they are left with because they sold their house and belongings and gave all their money to this guy.

2. The parents in this book = RAGE CITY: Oh man, the parents. I wanted to scream at them as they continue to act like, “NBD let’s just all live in this van together”!! As a reader you are on the same page with the main character, like COME ON WHAT ARE WE STILL DOING HERE WITH THIS PREACHER GUY?? THIS IS A CROCK. But the parents aren’t on the same page. And they keep making some awful decisions. But I was thinking about it, and as FURIOUS as they made me, I almost empathized with them (ALMOST). They left everything and made this decision because they believed it. They never thought there would be anything after that. So now they are left with the “what now?” question. Do they continue to believe this guy even though he was wrong? Do they go home and how because they have no money and no house? And then how do they face everyone who told them this was a bad idea? I think the dad especially just wanted to so badly cling to hope and bought into this guy so much that he was just so blinded to everything.

3. I loved how the main character was forced to explore her faith: The main character grew up as a Christian and knew what she believed in as she actively lived her faith. The family was never into this doomsday, cult-like religion prior to this. As we meet the main character, she is really struggling with her faith after all this happened and now as they are in this situation. She feels betrayed and like this guy has taken advantage of her family. I couldn’t tell whether or not she BOUGHT this stuff with Brother John but I know she had faith before. After all this happens, she’s having a hard time understanding how God would let this happen. She feels doubts she hadn’t really felt before and doesn’t feel connected to her faith in a way she did before. I loved the way Bliss explored this and it felt very  true to the crisis of faith I’ve experienced in my own life but not trying to be preachy/convert people. I

4. I haven’t read many books dealing with homelessness and this book portrayed it in such a raw way: I’ve seen books about homeless teens (and we meet some in this book) but never about a family living together in homelessness. You can feel how uncomfortable and humiliating they feel with living in the van and relying on other people’s good will for food — from the soup kitchens they visited to how they handle brushing their teeth and bathing to parking the van somewhere they can safely sleep. This is all NEW to them and you can see how hard of a transition it is and how sometimes they don’t necessarily feel like they are one of the homeless…until they very much DO. It’s uncomfortable as a reader to see how the parents try to act like this is normal and okay…like it’s a grand adventure. There were these just absolutely raw moments that made my heart ache for them and for all people in their position.

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ plot, themes explored & how well it was done
no real emotional connection

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it isn’t a fave or one I’d re-read, I’d say no.

a5contemporary YA fans, readers wanting to explore things like homelessness or faith

a8No Parking At The End Times was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever really read in YA. I appreciated how it explored homelessness and a crisis of faith and how it did it WELL. I just wished I had more of an emotional connection overall. That’s where it missed the mark for me personally.

review-on-post-itno-parking-at-the-end-times

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

 

A Smattering Of Mini Reviews

Here we are again…I’m woefully behind on talking about books I’ve read and I’ve been reading faster than I can write about them. I mean, that’s  all true. But mostly I’ve just been a little lazy. So let’s DO THIS:

 

 

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

About In A Sentence (ish): An epidemic. Zombies. Kids. I’m not telling youuuu anything. GO IN BLIND.

Thoughts: This one was one of our book club picks! To me, it was like a cross of Station Eleven and The Walking Dead so I REALLY enjoyed it. Perfect blend of action/zombie stuff and the thought-provoking humanity type stuff I like. I was intrigued by the science of the disease and also the humanization of it through Melanie’s POV and her relationship with her teacher. Her humanization makes all the testing for a cure to take back the world seem so morally grey because SHE IS LIKE A HUMAN. And holy CRAPPPP that ending you guys! I was standing up giving a slow clap when I was able to get my shit together.

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

18249312

There Will Come A Time by Carrie Arcos

About: Mark is grieving the loss of his twin sister’s death and, after reading her journal with the help of her best friend, he embarks on a journey to complete a list of things she wanted to do as he tries to reconcile with the parts of his sister he never knew.

Thoughts: Okay so this was one of those times where I thought this book was BEAUTIFUL, well-written and SO WELL DONE — but my emotions kind of stayed at a relatively low level considering this was story dealing with grief which normally SLAYS me. So I don’t know what really happened THERE (maybe my emotions were in check for once) but I just felt like even though I was dog-earring all these beautiful and heart-wrenching passages I just wasn’t FEELING them so much as I was understanding them. She just NAILED so much about grief — especially how one pulls away and how you feel like NOBODY in the world understands you. Watching him work through his grief as he tries to complete Grace’s list was a bittersweet journey. Overall I really liked it and highly recommend, I just didn’t feel as emotionally connected as I would have liked to be.

Rating

 

RATING-reallyliked

22571771

Love By the Book by Melissa Pimentel

About In A Sentence: A twenty-something expat in London decides to embark on an experiment to date according to the advice from a new dating guide every month.

Thoughts: I wanted to love this one more! I mean, I enjoyed it to some degree but I DON’T KNOWWW. I was hoping for more. I loved the premise because I thought about all the lols and hijinx  that would occur if someone tried to follow dating guide books to the T. And they happened! They just weren’t AS funny or entertaining as I had hoped to be honest. Sure, they entertained me enough (especially the beginning) but I just had hoped for so much more. I also weirdly did not really feel very much for the main character — never felt like I got a grasp of her outside of her dating life. Overall I was entertained enough, especially considering this was loosely based on the author’s own similar experiment, but it wasn’t the amazing laugh-fest I thought it would be.

 

Rating:

RATING-OKAY

 

18667862

Like No Other by Una LaMarche

About In A Sentence: Two teens from vastly upbringings meet by chance and, even though it is forbidden, they forge a connection and their eyes are open to so much beyond what they’ve always known which causes them to question it all.

Thoughts: This was definitely a very underrated book of 2014. It was such a refreshing storyline and romance. I always love forbidden kind of romances and I loved this one to pieces. I loved learning about Devorah’s religion and culture as a Hasidic Jew and I loved even MORE watching her question what she believed to be right for her life and her future after meeting Jaxon who opens her eyes to a lot of things. AND THAT ENDING WAS REALLY SUPER SATISFYING TO ME. *slow claps for THAT* Couldn’t stop reading this one and I want more people to! My heart was totally wrapped up in Devorah and Jaxon’s story!

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Book Talk: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Book Talk: I’ll Meet You There by Heather DemetriosI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publisher/Year: Henry Holt & company- February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Something Real, Exquisite Captive
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Skylar has been planning her way out of her small town and the future that would await her if she stayed. She’s gotten into art school and has been working her minimum wage job as summer starts to ensure she gets there — until her mother loses her job and starts slipping back into some bad habits making her wonder if she’ll ever be able to leave her and head off to art school at all. At the beginning of her summer she’s reunited with Josh, a boy she used to work with who is back from Afghanistan after his leg gets blown off, and she encounters a different Josh than the one who has left and they find an unexpected friendship despite their differences.

a2I WANT TO TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

a4Here’s the thing, my little bookworms. When I like books, I have a varying degree of liking them. I can really like them and I can really love them but it is RARE that I add a new book to my favorites. I’ll Meet You There? When I finished it in November, I felt like it shook me to the core like that of a colossal earthquake to the heart — just rearranging and shifting my heart in the way a truly powerful book will. And as I sit here putting the final touches on this review in January, I feel like I’m still feeling the emotional aftershocks of I’ll Meet You There. I’m making room for this book on my FAVORITES shelf. (I feel like there should be a ceremony for this because I REALLY don’t do this often — no matter how many books I can REALLY love).

So let’s get down to it:

1. The whole book reading experience is what I hope for when I start a book: It was just that perfect storm of a great plot, dynamic & flawed characters (even the secondaries!!) whose pulses I could practically feel as I held the pages, an intense emotional connection, writing that makes me dog-ear a lot and this immediate “I need to read this book again real soon.” I’ll Meet You There just had it all. It’s as simple as that. Everything that I need to make a favorite book was in this. That formula might be different for everyone but I truly believe this is going to be a winner for a lot of people because it objectively has the makings of a great book. Everything Heather Demetrios DID she did it SO WELL.

2. I loved the diversity of the characters: I really loved that Skylar and Josh were just a different POV from what I typically read. Socioeconomically they come from a really poor background which is rare in the YA I’ve encountered. The town feels bleak and dead end and I believed it and their struggles just seemed so real. Before I moved in middle school I grew up in a town sort of like that and Heather just NAILED what it felt like in all its complexities from the charm of it to also the things that make you want to GET OUT. In addition to that, Josh lost his leg in Afghanistan and is now an amputee. Obviously I don’t know what it REALLY is like, so take what I say from that perspective, but it really did feel like Heather Demetrios went to great lengths to write Josh’s perspective with care. I felt his struggles and his insecurities as he gets used to not having his leg as well as PTSD.

3. THEIR ROMANCE: You know those slow-burn romances that builds the tension to the point your heart is just pounding and you are like just all “OMG YOU GUYS KISS ALREADY”….that was this experience. It was the perfectly unraveled relationship that I couldn’t get enough of! AND IT WAS SEXY.

4. EVERYTHING?: I just loved everything okay?? There is not one thing I didn’t love. I loved the setting (especially the quirky motel where they work), I loved their individual storylines. I loved the quotes I dog-eared. I loved how it made me feel and what it made me think about. I loved the dual POVs. I loved how Demetrios portrayed Josh’s PTSD and how raw it felt. I loved how that made me want to help all the veterans in the whole wide world. I loved how it destroyed me in the best possible way but then had me soaring with hope. SO MUCH HOPE. AND LOVE. And God, I just love everything. EVEN THE AUTHOR’S NOTE/ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ARE MOVING!!

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ EVERYTHING. The whole package. I don’t hand out “favorite book” ratings often so it’s EVERYTHING.
NOTHING. It’s perfection.

Re-readability: OH YOU BET.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? OH YES I AM!!

a5EVERYONE! Especially contemporary YA lovers!

a8I’ll Meet You There was just pure perfection. It’s rare that I find a book that I can call a new favorite and I’m just so moved by it. I love everything about it and highly recommend it. It broke my heart a million times, emotionally captivated me and was ultimately so uplifting. I love these characters. I love their stories. I love this book. I want YOU to meet them.

review-on-post-it

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

PS. Other great reads you might like: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller or The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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