Wednesday, February 24, 2016

YA Wednesday: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few years ago, I read “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and pretty much hated it. I didn’t think I’d ever read anything by this author again, but this was chosen for one of my book clubs, and my library had the audio, so I grabbed it one day. I was drawn in right away by the strong sisterhood element and the lovable main character.

(view spoiler)

Even though the plot is not terribly original, I have to give Han props for completely surprising me. By the time Lara Jean realizes she likes Peter, of course I’d realized it a long time before. But at first, it was the last thing I could imagine. The author does a fantastic job of revealing Peter’s character and slowly revealing Lara Jean’s preconceptions and misconceptions.

Lara Jean was sort of naïve, but strong and spunky, too. She was a good girl who didn’t let people walk all over her—very rare in romances. I liked that she was real, that she liked baking and scrapbooking instead of running around getting drunk. Not that I don’t also enjoy books like that, but it’s refreshing to find a character that is so believable as a typical high school student. So typical, in fact, that you might think she’d be boring. But she wasn’t. She was adorable. Also, I have to say, I loved Peter. I loved that he was just as real as Lara Jean. He was sometimes grumpy, and always running late, and said stupid things. But he was also funny and sweet, and it was equally refreshing to find a book where the popular guy wasn’t a man-whore or a player or a bully. He was a totally normal guy, and I loved that about him as much as I loved it about Lara Jean.

This isn’t a book that will change your life with its profound message or glorious writing. The writing wasn’t noticeable (which means the story is good), and it was just a fun, sweet book. A fluffy read of the feel-good variety I usually find so insipid. I was a little embarrassed by how much I liked this cookie-cutter romance. Like I always say, if I don’t like the characters, I won’t like the book. Well, the opposite is also true. Give me the most overused, Cinderella cliché of a plot, and I’ll barely notice if you can make me fall in love with three-dimensional, real, non-cliché characters first. This book nails it.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kindle Fire Giveaway! + 50 Free Ebooks!

Do you love reading fantasy books? Then this giveaway is just for you! 50 authors have teamed up to bring you the ULTIMATE giveaway -- a Kindle Fire loaded with 50 fantasy ebooks! Even better, this contest doesn't just have one winner, but SIX! One person wins the kindle, and an additional five people will be given one of the 50 ebooks listed in this giveaway -- their choice. PLUS you can earn unlimited extra entries! Click here to enter: 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

YA Wednesday Review: Catalyst, by Laurie Halse Anderson

CatalystCatalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read pretty much everything this author has published, starting with Speak and Wintergirls. Since then, I've been waiting for her to capture (and break) my heart the way she did in those two books. But she hasn't.

I didn't really connect with Kate in this book at all. She was sort of cold, and I didn't really understand her decisions. As she fell apart, I couldn't really sympathize or feel for her. Also, I didn't like Terri, though I felt sorry for her, and that made it hard for me to root for them to end up friends or to care one way or the other what happened to either of them. Terri was a jerk, Kate was a spaz, and they both kind of sucked. I didn't understand Kate's decision about the watch, either. Her mom had given it to her. It seemed cold to just throw it away like it meant nothing.

Overall, I can't really recommend this book. It's just okay, and the author has books that are worlds better than this.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

YA Wednesday Review: Panic, by Sharon M. Draper

PanicPanic by Sharon M. Draper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a long time to finish this book on audio. It was so intense and disturbing that I couldn't listen to it for very long at a stretch. However, it was also exciting and definitely has great suspense that will make you keep coming back for more. It's about a girl who is abducted, so it's very disturbing, even though the most graphic scenes are, well, not very graphic. Everything is very discrete, as much as you can be about child abduction, rape, and pornography.

Sometimes the other characters seemed a little childish, though. Like when one girl thinks "She knew she was being a butt." That's fine for a middle schooler or something, but for a girl who is pretty worldy (abusive boyfriend, dad in prison), I thought she probably would not be afraid to say 'bitch.' The word (and others) are used pretty widely here, so why the sudden coyness? There were several moments like this, where a character's internal dialogue didn't ring true. But overall, it was well written. I did enjoy it, despite the heavy topics.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Two Free Books!

Hey, readers! I have some exciting news.

First, I'm running a free offer for The Superiors, today and tomorrow only! So grab a copy if you don't already have it.

Secondly, because we all love free books, I'm throwing in ANOTHER one when you sign up for my Readers Circle Newsletter.

Grab that one here.

And don't worry, I'll only contact you when I have news (like more free books), and you can always unsubscribe.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

YA Wednesday: Review of Pretending To Be Erica, by Michelle Painchaud

Pretending to Be EricaPretending to Be Erica by Michelle  Painchaud

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ARC received for honest review.

This is one of those that is so hard for me to review. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as gripping as one might hope. Con artistry seems to be a hot little niche topic in YA lately, and this book cashes in on that. To its credit, it kept me reading to the end. I could never predict the ending well enough that I wanted to stop reading, even when I had a guess as to how it would all play out. That guess also kept changing. It is a mystery that you want to solve.

That said, despite the suspense, it wasn't what I'd call fast paced or exciting. It took me several months to finish. The characters were all a bit blah. I wasn't terribly invested in Erika/Violet, but more curious to see if I was right in my predictions. I would have liked more depth, more sympathetic characters who I love and remember and root for.

I think this author has great potential. In a few years, with a few more books under her belt and some more experience, maybe those issues will disappear. As it was, some of the writing (the overly dramatic chapter endings, awkward phrasing, etc) seemed a bit amateur, and the pacing was slow for the genre.

Overall, an interesting read from a promising debut author. Mild content, recommend for ages 14+.

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