Even the Darkest Stars

33385230Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

1_stars

They climb a mountain.

The Story– I was really looking forward to this book. When I picked it up I said to myself, “Mountains, Gandalf! Mountains!”No joke, I like to quote LOTR aloud quite a bit. But you know what? That’s all that there really was to this book. Sure there was actual story going on in the background, but in the foreground? Climbing, hiking, snowing, falling, climbing, mountain village, mountain peak, valleys, forest, snow shoes, rope, rocks, etc. THEN at 90% the story changes, you get some answers from the questions that are just danced around through the beginning, and then it’s all “to be continued” in the next book. WHICH I REFUSE TO SUFFER THROUGH. I cannot believe I didn’t DNF this book. It was literally putting me to sleep every night. I would read two pages in bed and would doze off! If it was good, I would have had problems falling asleep because I would be so absorbed in the book. Frustratingly though, it wasn’t!

The World Building-I don’t mind the superficial magical world building that was involved in this book. But I do mind the fact that there were dragons in this book and they were basically just used as lamps. I’m not joking! I thought, ooooh dragons. But they weren’t anything but flying torches!

The Characters– I thought all the characters had really superficial personalities. Everyone had their skill and that was all was pressed upon. Either they were a good or bad shaman, a good or bad climber, or were just there for filler.

The Soundtrack– Mew – Snow Brigade

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Graffiti Moon

7863274Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

3_stars

Lucy is in love with Shadow through the art that he has sprayed all over town. Over the night of celebrating the last day of year 12, she and her friends embark on a mission to find him. When she does find Shadow he isn’t exactly who she had in mind, except that he is.

The Story– Okay, so despite this being a teenage romantic contemporary, it was far from the angsty stuff that we’re all used to. In fact, there are very few scenes were our characters were nervous about being near another, there insides getting all warm and tingly, or were there very few scenes where they boy has twinkling eyes of galaxies and smiles worth a million bucks.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a lot going to drive the plot to the end aside from the ramblings of artsy kids, who thankfully I can just slightly relate to (being married to an artist and all). I think for someone who isn’t very artsy or appreciates poetry might find the book a little convoluted. With that being said, I still think it sets itself apart from the rest since it isn’t the same dumbed down angst we usually get from YA contemporary.

The Characters-What made this book particularly special were that all these kids were from broken/poor homes, but weren’t exactly gripping about it either. They accepted where they were at in the social level without pointing it out. We had these kids that didn’t have any silver spoons, but still saw the world through gilded frames. Look, this book has me writing all metaphorically. Let’s stop that, because I don’t like to come off having feelings and what have you.

The Soundtrack– Elliott Smith – Twilight

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Winter

13206900Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

5_stars

In the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series, the girls and their beaus come together for a final stand against Levana and her rule on Luna and impeding rule on the Common Wealth. Though they all come from different backgrounds, have their own skills, and have their own end goals, they somehow band together against a tyrant that has been destroying their lives.

The Story– I absolutely adore these books, and the last one didn’t let me down at all. If you like a happily ever after, than these retellings definitely have it for you. The best part is that even though we all (probably) know the basic outline for these stories, Meyer has developed them into their own plot, and the story unfolds in such an exciting way that I could just not put it down till I had my happy ending – which at some points I thought was feeble. By the end though, I was happy and giddy and every other feeling a princess story usually gives me

The World Building-This book gave us a LOT more Luna, in fact a majority of the book is spent there. It was interesting to see how the Lunars were apart from just the thaumaturges, as in not everyone was power hungry narcissists.

The Characters– At first I wasn’t exactly sold on Winter & Jason, but by the end I found them just as swoon worthy as the other three princess/prince couples. I love how Levana ended up being the key villain along many platforms, even though there were a few different fairy tales interwoven.

The Soundtrack– Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

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Related Reviews:

13206828Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

 

Siege and Storm

35529904Siege and Storm (The Grishaverse #2) by Leigh Bardugo

3_stars

The second installment picks up with Alina and Mal no the run from the empire and the Darkling, hiding as a deserter and the Sun Summoner. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy to run away. The Darkling is relentless in his search for Alina and Ravka is falling apart. With new friends in tow, Alina learns more about her powers but starts to lose herself and perhaps everything she loves, including Mal.

The Story-It’s a good thing these books read so easily, otherwise I would have given up otherwise the boredom would have dragged this book far too long. Unfortunately, I am bent on finishing these books before starting the famed Six of Crows. A lot happens in this book, but what I remember most was how angsty Alina was towards Mal. You all should know by now, I appreciate love angst as long as it’s in the right element. While some is to be expected in a YA fantasy, this one really made me want to climb into the book and slap Alina for being so dumb. You know, the way a friend would to snap them back to reality. There really was a lot of development in this story, without it really being entertaining. There were a few exciting scenes yes, but unfortunately it was surrounded by Alina being affronted by Mal.

The World Building-I loved all the new folklore that was introduced into this book and how much it affects the character’s actions. I loved how these seemed to be a little more original on their spin offs, as so far there really isn’t a lot of similarity to actual Slavic folklore, despite the obvious continued inspiration for the rest of the world. I was really hoping for more building around the fold, since that is a huge foe (although intangible) aside from The Darkling. However, the development of powers kept me sated as far as that goes…I just wanted more.

The Characters
Alina – Okay, so although it’s really infuriating to watch a girl who has so much power flounder, it is absolutely believable that she would dive back into her self-doubt. She spent most of her life feeling inferior t Mal, and even though she isn’t now, she someone lets him have a hold on her. I loved her slightly darker development in this book, but appreciated how much she fought against it. Honestly, I think it sends a really bad message that it’s totally okay to keep trying to be with someone despite how awful they treat you. Alina would be such a better character if she grew to be strong enough not to need and rely on Mal so much.
Mal – IS THE WORST. So what if he had given up a lot to be with Alina, that doesn’t give him any excuse to treat her like dirt when he is “supporting” her with her decisions. Not saying he should sit back and just tag along, but he could actually be proud of what he can do to help her when she is so clearly struggling. It’s so frustrating because he should be someone she could go to, but he ends up being a hindrance to her.
Darkling – I was really hoping for more of this guy in this book. However, I did love his eerie lingering presence and what it means for his relationship with Alina. While I understand he is twisted and manipulative, there is something to say about how he actually understand Alina and her need use and grow her power.

Soundtrack- Taylor Swift- Call it What You Want

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36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You

3422009436 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

2_stars

Hildy is doing it for the experience. Paul is doing it for the $40. When the two meet at a psychology study where all they had to do was ask a list of questions and answer honestly, Hildy and Paul didn’t expect the relationship they both desperately needed could be found in the other.

The Story-So this was pretty unique. Mostly told in the format of Q&A Hildy and Paul’s banter is pretty endearing. Unfortunately since the majority of it is in this format…it was like reading someone’s chat log >entertaining? yes, but a full story? not really. Thankfully the Q&A is broken up a little with real life story going on in Hildy’s life. However, the story felt unfinished. Through the questioning, we get that Hildy is having some family issues, but they were just lightly touched upon even though they were used as conflicts throughout the book. The book was short, so there was definitely room for this to be explored.

The layout was rather unique since it had some instant messaging intermingled. It gave a realistic example of how you can get to know someone through that channel despite not having any face to face interaction. This was used to add an extra element of humor as Hildy berated Paul on his grammar and use of words. It also helped keep the conversation light while they tiptoed around some pretty sensitive issues.

The inclusion of Paul’s doodles were also plus, it helped break up the monotony of the Q&A format that dominated the book.

The Characters– Even though the entire book was essentially used to learn some intimate opinions and stories out of each character, I felt like I still hardly knew them. I did really like Paul though with his no nonsense attitude, but still willing to just barely open up to Hildy. It took a while for him to warm up to her, which sometimes can be rushed in other books.

The Soundtrack
Elliott Smith – Say Yes
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

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Cress

13206828Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

 

5_stars

Cress has been in her satellite doing the bidding of Queen Levana for many years. But this is her chance to redeem herself for all that she was forced to do. Imprisoned on a Satellite with only the occasional supply visit she has little interaction with the outside world (errr universe). That is until she requests an escape from none other than Cinder, the fugitive she has been ordered to find for the Queen. This unlikely crew of rebels soon find out that they not only need to stay out of the clutches of the Queen but are probably the only hope of stopping her.

The Story-I can’t believe I put this book off so long. These books are just so stinking cute, I don’t even care if they’re cheesy or anything. They just make me feel good and sometimes you just need that in your life. Fairytale retellings in space? Seriously, so much fun. I know I am ridiculously late to this bandwagon, but I don’t even care.

Anyway, the pacing in book three stays steady with espionage, escapes, and even kidnapping. Along with all the sweetness these girls bring, the situations they find themselves in only keeps you on the edge of your seat with excitement.

The World Building-In Cress we start to get a little bit more of the Lunar perspective and it’s quite disturbing. It’s really quite chilling to learn what they are willing to do to hold and gain more as much power as they can. It was really interesting to see more of Earth and how they interact and handle Lunars as well. I am really curious how Earth is going to react in the next book with all that has happened in this book.

The Characters-So since we are starting to really collect a huge cast, I am going to focus on our title heroine, Cress. I am pretty sure she’s my favorite thus far and I think it’s purely for her sweet naiveté. Unlike our other retold heroines, she remains to be the girl you want to save. Not because she is exactly helpless, because let’s be honest, the crew would not be alive without her. It’s because I feel like there is something about her that needs to be persevered. I hated seeing her go through more and more troubles, but her relationship with Thorn is just so stinking cute. Despite the fact that she is the one being “saved” it was incredibly endearing how their friendship developed as he had to rely on her.

The Soundtrack
Anya Maria – Satellite Heart
Justin Bieber – Hit the Ground
The Chainsmokers feat. Daya– Don’t Let me Down

 

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Adorkable

28791088Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

2_stars

“He was my Huckleberry, my Han Solo, my one, but most of all he was my Becks and I was his Sal.” 

Sally Spitz hasn’t ever had a boyfriend, and her good friend Hooker is bent on playing matchmaker by setting her up repeatedly on blind dates – that go pretty bad. In an attempt to dodge more awkward moments with boys she’s not into Sal adopts the plan to use a fake boyfriend as her get-out-of-blind-date card. Fortunately, her best friend Becks would do anything for her. Unfortunately, she has been in love with him since they met in elementary school.

The Story– To start, I’d like to point out I think it’s stupid that her friend and mom are in cahoots to set her up over and over with boys. Like seriously? She’s just 17, let her meet boys on her own. The premise that started the whole book was funny yes, but I just wanted to push her friend down a very long flight of stairs (see below).

Anyway, if you are a cliché trope devourer then this book is probably for you. I love that stuff. But the entire time I was reading this book I was wondering, why did I pick up this garbage?. Super cute popular boy? Love triangle? Misunderstanding? Girl who melts at the touch of said cute popular boy? Happy ending? Yes, it’s got all this and more. I am totally okay with all of this, I especially love the hidden feelings best friend trope that it is centered on. Even though I am okay with all of it, I sort of feel like when you’re doing a same ol’ story you still have to bring something fresh to the table….also those characters. I am not sure how by the end though I thought, dang that was cute. I think it’s the grand gesture….it has to be, because who can get over that?

Another thing that just sort of bothered me on a really small irrational scale. Each character was introduced with a first and last name (except the brothers because duh, they have the same last name). I don’t even know why it bothered me so much why each character’s full name had to be pointed out.

The big problem I had with this book was how it took peoples names and made it a point to make fun of them. MAINLY SPEAKING when my name, Priscilla, was changed to Pisszilla. GTFOH! I’ll never get over that.

The Characters
Sal-So Sal was supposed to be a dork right? She as obviously beautiful without really knowing it, because she is repeatedly told she is good looking throughout the book, but at least she wasn’t Debbie-downer about herself either. But really, the things that made her a dork I didn’t personally think was dorky. Like really, I’m pretty sure guys think it’s pretty cool when a girl can be into things like Star Trek or Star Wars. Liking Harry Potter? Pretty sure that’s not dorky at all – there’s an entire theme park and franchise dedicated to its fan base, what other book series ever got its own theme park?!. This girl is sort of rude though. For example, she’s a Griffindor so she had to go and bash on Slytherin – not cool in my book at all.

Becks-Oh Mr. Perfect? He’s incredibly good looking and just so amazing at soccer. He’s pretty much the prince of the school. What bothered me about this book was that he was making out with half the school, and of course is spared the man whore card, all the while his best friend Sal is judging every girl for going after him. Like I know you’re jealous and all, but quit objectifying the girls vying for his attention.

Hooker-Can we just talk about how much she pissed me off? If I had a friend that acted like this I would bitch slap her to Antarctica where she can set up some penguins. Seriously, screw this chick. No means no doesn’t apply to just sexual situations….so when your “bestie” says to please stop setting up her with blind dates because she’s not interested and only 17…then you should probably stop. She had zero personality and added nothing but premise to the story. She could have easily been taken out of the story all together and been set up by guys her mom randomly bumped into. Really, half the guys that she was sending to Sal was her cast offs. What kind of friend does that? He wasn’t good enough for me, so you can have him. Hooker you are awful.

The Soundtrack-Okay, now since I wanted to punch a hole through this book, I have a few qualms about assigning some good jams to this book, alas, it cannot be helped.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – Can’t Take My Eyes of You (because big gestures in stadiums make me think of Heath Ledge & 10 Things I Hate About You)
Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Jimmy Eat World – Carry You
Civil Wars – Poison and Wine

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Just Friends

25876985Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

5_stars

“Their past might be fake, but their future was real. It was theirs to build. It was real, unscripted and unplanned.” 

When Jenny and Chance are paired together for an assignment for Oral Communication, they end up winging the whole thing and making up lies about how they have basically been best friends forever. After the class is over, they just go with it, pretending to be best friends. As time goes on, they learn to trust and rely each other like it’s all true. The more real memories they create the closer they get until their need for each other by their side is undeniable to everyone.

The Story– Pitcock mentions in her acknowledgements that Reality Bites played a part of inspiration for the book, but I honestly have never seen it. However, the entire time I was reading this I had actually wondered if it was a When Harry Met Sally retelling. Which, I completely adore.

Let me be completely candid here. I started this book last night and read till 2AM, woke up and finished it in bed before getting up for coffee. If you knew anything about me there are two things important to me in the morning – washing my face & drinking coffee. So the fact that I just had to finish before marking these tasks off my morning routine has got to show how much I adored this.

I have to admit that the first chapter or two had me wondering if this was the type of book that would talk about how great Chance is with enough cheese factor to put Tillamook out of business. Fortunately after the initial meet-cute it tempered down a bit to a steady and consistent feel goodness. While the whole story wasn’t just cutesy scenes, I think it’s also important to point out that it did have some familial issues that are addressed though they weren’t a heavy influence to the vibe to the book. The issues were used as a way to reinforce the friendship that was so needed between Chance and Jenny. Other common teen issues are lightly used as well, including rumor mills, double standards, and relationship expectations.

I just loved how this book deals with friendship and how they were there for each other first before their feelings became an issue. That’s to say that sparks didn’t not fly from their initial reaction, it just didn’t quite take off in a steamy or confusing romance. Just read this, it’s a good balance of romance and comradery.

There was just one bit that I felt could have been done just a smidge better and that was how many 90’s or 00’s references that were used throughout the book. I think it really dated the Pitcock’s generation, which was okay, but probably could have been a more relevant if it also included some more recent references. Don’t get me wrong, it is the same era that I reference most, but just saying for the target audience that the book is for…

The Characters-Jenny & Chance were stinking cute. I seriously loved their interactions and the stories they came up for their fake past were super cute too. They made it super nostalgic for my childhood best friend. It was incredibly endearing how Jenny & Chance would put the other’s needs before their own over and over despite their own personal issue.

The Soundtrack– At the end of this book Pitcock had already supplied playlists from Jenny & Chance, so I’m not going to list a bunch here. You just have to get the book to see hers for yourself.
Taylor Swift – State of Grace (this was also on Pitcock’s Jenny & Chance playlist)
Rooney – If It Were Up to Me
Feist – Secret Heart

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Things We Know by Heart

17571215Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

4_stars

“As hard as we both tried, and as much as we both wanted to be otherwise, we are made of our pasts, and our pains, our joys and our losses. It’s in the very fibers of our beings. Written on our hearts.” 

Over a year after Quinn has lost her boyfriend to a tragic accident she is still hurting from the loss. She has reached out to all the organ donor recipients that his life had gifted and all has responded except for one, the heart. In an attempt to get some peace for her own broken heart, she goes behind the agencies back and researches until she finds the donor and sets out to see him. Just to see him. That is until circumstances brings their lives crashing (literally) together and she gets a glimpse at the boy whose life was saved by the one she loved. Despite her original plans to stay away from Colton, her life is slowly transforming from his vivacity for life.

The Story – I picked up this book because I wanted my feelings to get punched in the gut so hard I would about cry. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the feels full force till 90%. But that’s totally okay. To begin we spend the first part of this book with a broken Quinn. What I liked was that it wasn’t a lot of wallowing staring out a window. Like please, no, I don’t read these books to be depressed.

Quinn is merely trying to honor her dead boyfriend’s memory and is ultimately feeling guilty for moving on. I really appreciated how we got to see Colton slowly change her world. I loved how realistic it was for Quinn to slowly adapt and learn to be happy again. The way Colton helps her is just by showing her life. Like, hey there open your eyes there’s this bright world out here, come be a part of it. I love that nothing was rushed, it was a slow, slow burn.

Trent seemed to be such an idyllic first boyfriend. Despite the fact that Colton had his heart and Quinn wasn’t quite over her heartbreak, the book didn’t spend a lot of time comparing the two. Trent is mentioned as a part of her hurt, but never in a way where Quinn expected his soul or personality to be within Colton.

Even though I didn’t appreciate the slow budding feelings till almost the end this book had pretty much everything for me that I expected from it.

The Characters
Quinn-This poor girl! I just love how much love she has for her dead boyfriend and her family. Though her hurt is no way an excuse for what she does to Colton, I understand the desperation she would have had in those low moments. Her bond with her sister is really touching, especially when she reaches out for advice.

Colton-How cute is this guy? You know what I loved so much about this book? The fact that his smile or eyes weren’t repeatedly mentioned throughout the book, as if that is a legitimate reason for a romance. For a guy who has every reason to (now) be smiling it was so refreshing to have his actual reactions, his comments, and his thirst for life so evident without having him continually grinning like a maniac.

Soundtrack
Eisley – A Song for the Birds
Death Cab for Cutie – Your Heart is an Empty Room
Paramore – When it Rains
Banks – Waiting Game
John Mayer – Great Indoors

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Last Star Burning

28797211Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

3_stars

“They say war is no dinner party. Not refined, graceful, courteous, or magnanimous. It’s complete devastation.” 
Years after the fact, Sev is still ostracized and paying for the crimes of her traitor mother. When an attack on the city is blamed on Sev, she is flung into an escape that puts her outside the safety of the city’s walls. In her escape, Sev learns who she can really trust and how deep deception goes.

The Story– I am not going to lie, and just say that I was initially drawn to the cover of this book. That pagoda with the human suspended in it is just chilling. Unfortunately, I was a little let down from this book.

The pacing was all sorts of wack. To clarify, despite the necessity of the information and character building that the first half provides, it had the plot moving at a sluggish pace. You really spend a lot of time getting from one place to another. Granted, there is development in Sev, she makes friendships, and we learn enough about what is happening to keep you going. At about 70% you finally start to get some answers to the questions that have been leading up to that point, 70% is a LONG time to get some information. It’s all ends up being, for the most part, worth it once you hit 80% and the book throws you in a tailspin of action and excitement. We aren’t exactly left with a cliffhanger, but still have the need to find out what happens next.

The World Building-I love the Chinese influence that played into this book. Even though it was kept pretty minimal, it really helped build a unique setting. Sangster did a good job of taking something real (sleep sickness) and warping it to fit this story. I am really curious to see a bit more about the monsters that roam the land, and even to see if there are more than just the one type.

The Characters
Sev-A character with morals that has fallen from grace not by her actions…What I love most about Sev is that she isn’t rebelling, she’s just trying to do what’s right in all the situations she finds herself in. Self-preservation meets a moral compass.

Tai-ge-Sorry, but this guy was sort of boring. I don’t remember anything interesting about him at all, which is just sad since he is Sev’s best friend.

Howl-The entire time I was reading this I hated on him just because his name was Howl. In my head I just kept thinking of Howl’s Moving Castle, and it just ruined it for me. I know that’s not fair to him, but what can I do? I do get the feeling there is more to him than we are really let on.

June-This girl was my favorite, she was the unexpected element that turned the tide for Sev and there is nothing but appreciation for this girl. Even though she had a fairly minor role in the book, as soon as she was brought in, she had a heavy presence in the story.

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