Friday, August 21, 2015

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

This picture of me and Josephine Angelini from back in 2012 is one of my favorites. So cute!
Book Summary
Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

Flo's Review
As usual, I have to start off my review of Josephine Angelini's book talking about how much I and the other Book Nerds love her. It's like a habit now. Lol! But we do. What a sweetheart! 

Here's our review of Trial by Fire.

Firewalker is interesting in that it addressed the issues I had with Trial by Fire, but it also didn't at the same time. My main thing with Trial by Fire is that I felt that while the concept was cool, it took a lot of explanation that detracted from the action in the story. I figured that now that the world -- or in this case, worlds -- have been established, Firewalker would just be action. Well, yes and no. A lot of things happened, but it still felt like we were getting a lot of exposition. Some new characters take on central roles in the story and need to be taught. This was a useful refresher for me, as it's been over a year since I was in Lily's world, but it brought the same slower feel of the first story into this one.

Another thing I wanted from this book was to learn more about Lillian and why she did what she did. My wish was granted. We get the full story and, without giving anything away, it's not black and white. Lily explains in frustration to Lillian that she has to know the full story because they are the same person and she (Lily) wants to know whey she (Lillian) would make the choices she made. This idea of Lily and Lillian being the same person is explored from many different angles in the story and that was pretty cool. This also extended to other characters, and I really liked reading about it unfolding in different ways. 

Speaking of other characters...we see a lot of "the other side" with many of the major players in this book. As in, we saw them one way in Trial by Fire, but now we are seeing another side of them in Firewalker. Sometimes this is good (yay!) but sometimes it is not (sad day!)

Now that Lily is not simply learning what she is and who she is, she can take the next step in character growth: she can start really becoming her true self. She grows a lot in this book as a leader and is confronted with difficulties because of it. How she handles these situations is what sets her apart as her own person and is leading her to her full potential.

So, there's Rowan and there's Tristan...but can we talk about Breakfast?! #TeamBreakfast! I absolutely adored his character. If I didn't think Una would kick my butt in .2 seconds, I would be all over that.

Of course we are left at the start of something new and (what looks like) big at the end of the book. I have no idea what book 3 will be about, but I am looking forward to where it will take us and how everything will be resolved.

Thanks so much to Macmillan for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon


Book Summary
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Flo's Review
What I loved about this book? Everything, Everything. Let's start with the cover. Look at the pretty up there!! I was lucky enough to get this ARC at BookCon, where I also had the chance to meet author Nicola Yoon. It was quick, but I told her that my friend insisted I get her book because she thought it was really good. Nicola was really sweet and grateful. 
Everything, Everything was just a fun book to read. The pictures, IMs, and short chapters made it easy to just breeze through in no time. I finished this book in a day. I have been coming off of a few books that just haven't hit home with me, so reading Everything, Everything to me was like what being Outside felt like to Maddy. (So many thoughts, stimuli, emotions!)

Maddy is smart -- she does very well in her classes and is very well read. What a coincidence that we just gave away a copy of The Little Prince on the blog because it's such a great story, and it ended up being a big part of this one. The way Nicola integrated the spoiler alerts for books that perfectly fit along with what was going on in Maddy's life at each point was so great. The lessons in the story about really living your life and what that means, about taking risks, and more, were conveyed in a simple, inspirational fashion. They were mentioned and acted upon, but they weren't pounded on the reader like, "This is the Very Important Lesson of this story." Like I said, I closed the book with a smile on my face because it was fun to read. And it's a book about all of these deep things, but not put forward in just a heavy fashion. And the reader can still see and reflect on these things. 

Most of all, I loved the love. I loved the way Maddy loved. She loved her Mom. She loved Carla. She loved Olly. And that is Everything, Everything. 

Thanks Penguin Random House!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Book Summary
From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchmanperfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.
 

Flo's Review
Okay....here we go. I've been putting off writing this one because I know I have a lot to say and I'm worried that I'll just end up rambling and not sharing good, coherent thoughts on this book. Because this book definitely made me think. But, as with any writing, the only way to get it going is to get going -- so here we go!

When I heard earlier this year that a new Harper Lee book was going to be released, I was excited, as many bibliophiles seemed to be. I put a hold on a library copy as soon as I possibly could. Then the book came out...and the reviews were not that great. There was talk that a bookstore was offering people refunds. All these details about how the story came to be published were being put forth. Honestly, I don't know what's true and what's not. (You can Google "how go set a watchman was found" on your own time to see several versions of the story.) A few things that stuck with me -- again, I don't know what's true and what's not, but you should understand that I carried these points with me into my reading:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Finding It by Cora Carmack

Finding It (Losing It, #3)

Finding It is the third book in the Losing It series.  While I would definitely recommend reading all three books in order, Finding It can be read as a stand-alone.  I did not feel like that was the case with the second book in the series, Faking It, which carried over quite a bit of content and tension from the previous book.

This book  focuses on one of the secondary characters in Losing It, Kelsey Summers.  She recently graduated from college with a degree in acting and decides to travel across Europe before settling into real life back in the states.  She is from a wealthy family, but contrary to her father's belief, money can't buy happiness.  She has had a difficult past and is trying to cope in not the most positive of ways.

Kelsey meets Jackson Hunt in a bar and is VERY interested in him.  He doesn't seem to show the same level of interest, but we quickly learn that he is battling his own demons stemming from his time in the military.  We don't learn much more about him or the events that caused him to take some time off to find himself, but these two lost soles seem to gravitate to each other.  They spend a week traveling and having the time of their lives until something is revealed that could tear them apart forever.

I don't think this book was nearly as good as the first two in the series, but I did enjoy the story.  The characters were interesting, but I wish Cora would have revealed more about Hunt earlier in the story.  I would have liked to have connected with his character a little more.  I also couldn't relate to the way Kelsey was trying to drink and party her problems away.  It must be nice to have your parent's credit card to travel Europe for as long as you want, but it didn't seem realistic to me.

By the end of the book, Kelsey did change considerably.  She began to take responsibility for her life and became an independent character one could actually admire.  I felt like Jackson and Kelsey were a great source of support for each other and brought some much needed light back into each other's lives.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Book Summary
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Flo's Review
I wanted to love this one. I really did. I even composed an Ode to Jennifer E. Smith post because she's that awesome. But the truth is that I am lukewarm on this one. 

I think the beauty in Jennifer E. Smith's writing comes in her description of falling in love. It's almost magical the way Hadley and Oliver fall in love over their 24 hours in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And I never wanted to leave the summer of Ellie and Graham in This Is What Happy Looks Like. Hello, Goodbye was as much looking back as it was looking forward, and maybe that's why I had a hard time getting into it. We weren't moving the plot forward at a good pace because we kept having (necessary) flashbacks. It's like this book wasn't written in past tense or present tense -- it was written in nostalgia tense. (Yes, I know this isn't a real tense, and yes, it is different from past tense. Nostalgia tense doesn't just tell what happened in the past. It immerses you in the emotions of the time with a wistful tone.) 

I did like that Jennifer E. Smith took a common problem that many teens face and devoted a novel to it. What to do with the relationship after high school just isn't represented enough, I think, for how often it happens and how big of a decision it is for the parties involved. I also appreciated how the book ended.

I've seen a lot of people love this one, so if you are curious I'd definitely encourage you to give it a read. For me, I just didn't feel the magic, sweet romance in this book that made me eagerly and breathlessly want to keep turning the pages that I did in her others. 

Thank you to the folks at Little Brown for sending me a review copy.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Book Summary
For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.
 

Flo's Review
Wow. Where to start with this book?! Well, as soon as I heard about it, I wanted a copy. I have never read anything else by J.R. Ward, so I cannot comment or compare in any way. But I know a lot of people love her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so that already says a lot about the quality of the author and her writing. 

The folks at NAL/Berkeley really stepped it up, including a special Bourbon Kings folder chock full of information when they sent me the book for review. There was a Cast of Characters sheet (which proved handy), 8 Things You Didn't Know About Bourbon (like that its name derives from the House of Bourbon, who were French royalty), Kentucky Facts & Trivia ( like that the song 'Happy Birthday to You' was created by two sisters from Louisville in 1893), and more! Very cool.

This book ended a reading slump for me. I had just been through a few books that I DNF or slowly and painfully finished, and this was a breath of fresh air. I didn't want to put it down. J.R. Ward succeeds with this story for me where others have failed. I've said it over and over again that I struggle with books where I don't like the main character, or any of the characters. This is what turned me off from big names like Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl. With the latter, I remember a friend describing it to me by saying that basically all the characters are horrible people. And when I read it, I found I didn't care what happened to them, because I didn't care about them at all. The Bourbon Kings wins here. While I wouldn't say all the characters are horrible people, I will say that they all make horrible, horrible choices which lead to them doing bad things. One of two of the characters I want to be like, "They're not bad!" But then I remember how they got to where they are in the story, and it's a bad choice leading to a bad action. I can't salute anyone's actions here. The exception is "Mama" -- Miss Aurora! She is the good, warm Dumbledore figure that is needed in the household of crazy. And maybe Greta too. She has a good heart.

Of course, some are more evil than others. I won't name names, but two characters come to mind whom I think of and inwardly cringe because I am appalled at how low they will go to get what they want. This book was like a train wreck -- everything was falling apart, but I couldn't look away. I couldn't put it down. I mean "train wreck" in a loving kind of way, by the way. I described the drama as "delicious" in a tweet, and it is. Book 2 is going to look different in a big way, but from the teaser at the end of this one, new drama will be added to the already sloshing pot. I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#ARCAugust -- we're in! You in?

I (Flo) discovered on Twitter via the hashtag #ARCAugust that Read.Sleep.Repeat is hosting an event this month dedicated to trimming down the ARC pile. Great idea! I realized that there are a few books releasing September 1st that I'd like to get read before then. So I'm jumping in! Here's what I'd like to have read by the end of the month:


 
 




Do you have any ARCs you're trying to read this month? Comment & let me know if you do. Good luck to everyone participating! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Beach Reads In August Giveway Hop


The theme of this hop is a book I couldn't put down, and I'm taking it back. The book I'm giving away is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. What a magical little story! I was thrilled to find out that they were doing a movie. I mean, look at how cute this looks?!


One of my favorite quotes of all time is from this book -- you might have heard it before:

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

I was fortunate enough to snag an extra copy of the YA edition so I'm giving it away. Enter via the Rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Done here? Then by all means, hop on:

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally


Jacque's Review
This is the first book by Miranda Kenneally that I have read and I absolutely loved it.  Jesse is an eighteen year old country music star and Maya is a high school senior who is an aspiring musician.  Her musical taste is more towards the 80's, so getting paired with Jesse for a job shadowing assignment by her principal was not nearly as appealing as it would have been for most girls her age. 

Jesse and Maya have a very awkward first encounter, but their day of shadowing turned out to be one of the best days of either of their lives.  Picture Ferris Bueller's Day Off... Nashville style.  Maya realizes how talented Jesse is and begins to really appreciate the musical advice he gives her.  For Jesse...Maya is a breath of fresh air that he has desperately been needing.  Life in the music business has caused him to isolate himself from everyone except his immediate family and managers.  He has been burned so many times by his supposed "friends" that he has a hard time trusting anyone.  Maya manages to show him that he can still have a life while maintaining his career.

I haven't given a book 5 stars in a while, but this one was definitely worthy.  I was completely engaged and actually finished the entire book during a lengthy travel day with my family.  My husband even commented that I needed to get my head out of the book.  Once I was finished...I still couldn't put it down.  I was flipping back through to reread some of my favorite scenes and quotes. 

Flo's Review
Jesse's Girl was on my "Must Get" list at ALA Midwinter earlier this year. I loved Breathe, Annie, Breathe and was looking forward to this one. Well, Jacque and I have both agreed that we need to take a trip to Nashville because of Jesse Scott. It's been awhile since I've met a boy worthy to add to my Book Boyfriend List, and I feel like Jesse definitely earns a spot. This was a quick and breezy read -- I read the whole thing over the course of a few flights. It also made me want to read Miranda's first book that takes place in the same town, Catching Jordan.

I had an interesting relationship with this book. I didn't love Maya because I thought, "Okay, she wants to be a singer, but she doesn't want to sing in front of anybody?! How does that make any kind of sense?!?" But then I realized why I was so perturbed by this: because I am doing the exact same thing. I bet even my fellow Book Nerds don't know that I am currently writing a book. It's a YA contemporary and I'm in love with my main characters. It's about halfway done right now. But I don't really talk about it, and no one else has even read parts of it. Maybe I need Jesse Scott to come to my house and threaten to fail me if I don't finish it and give it to my friends to get their feedback. Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea...

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Lunar Chronicles Read Along


The Book Nerds decided that our August Book of the Month is going to be Cinder by Marissa Meyer. None of us has ever read it, and it's been on all our TBRs. We were finally spurred to action by the fact that Flo found the audiobook at the library and started listening.

Fast forward to a few days later when we stumble upon this post on The Book Addict's Guide about a Lunar Chronicles Read Along! It's going August through December and reading all the books...which means that they are also reading Cinder in August! Coincidence, much?! It only makes sense for us to join in and read them all! Here's how's we start:

CINDER | August 1st – August 31st
  • 8/1 – 8/7:  Chapters 1-9
  • 8/8 – 8/14: Chapters 10-21
  • 8/15 – 8/21: Chapters 22-30
  • 8/22 – 8/28: Chapters 31-38
  • Week of 8/30/15: Post review and/or recap
We'll also be tweeting from @booknerdsblog with the #TLCReadAlong hashtag. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Paper Towns: Night On The Towns Locket Giveaway!


We had the chance to attend Thursday night's Night on the Towns event for the Paper Towns movie and had a blast! The movie was fantastic, and I definitely recommend it. Don't know what it's about? Check out my review of the book here: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2012/05/paper-towns-by-john-green.html.

They were giving away posters and these super cute lockets at the event, and we were able to snag one for you guys! Want to win it? Visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BookNerdsAcrossAmerica and leave a comment on the giveaway post.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Trials by Stacey Kade

The Trials (Project Paper Doll, #3)

Jacque's Review: 

The Trials is the third and final book in the Project Paper Doll series and resumes pretty much where the previous book left off.  Zane is missing and Ariane is back in her quarters at GTX after being captured by her creator, Dr. Jacobs.  She believes Zane  is dead and feels she has nothing further to lose in the trials.  She is willing to sacrifice herself to ensure that no future alien/human hybrids are produced.  She continues to hone her skills while devising a plan to wipe out all of the major players in the trials.

Everything is going as planned until she discovers that Zane is alive and is now a part of the trials.  What???  How can a human become part of this competition?  You will need to read the book if you want to find out :)

The majority of the book focuses on the trials, which are held in Chicago.  My step-sister lives in Chicago, so I have had the chance to tour and see many of the landmarks, museums, etc. that are mentioned throughout the book.  Using real locations helps to more accurately visualize the setting.  It also allowed Stacey to focus on the plot and character development, which is definitely a plus.

The pace and action continued to escalate as the stakes increased throughout the trials.  The contestants realize not everyone is going to come out of this competition alive, but there is more on the line than they ever imagined.  They will need to work together if any of them wants to walk away from this alive.

Overall, this was an excellent conclusion to the series.  There were several surprises and a few new characters to keep the story interesting.  The relationship development between Zane and Ariane was very believable and the characters remained true to themselves.  I also loved the tie in between the the first book and the conclusion.  While "The Rules" may have changed, there will always be rules to follow as long as GTX and similar corporations are in existence.

I thoroughly enjoyed both her Project Paper Doll and Ghost and the Goth series and would definitely recommend them to any YA fan.

Monday, July 20, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE
By Taylor Jenkins Reid

ABOUT MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE:
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.
Hannah hesitates.
What happens if she leaves with Gabby?
What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.


MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books/Washington Square Press Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN:  9781476776880 | July 7, 2015 | $16.00

eBook: Atria Books/Washington Square Press | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776897 | July 7, 2015 | $11.99


ASSETS:
Grab the high-res cover here

FIND TAYLOR ONLINE:

ORDER:

Click on the arrow to read Flo's review of Maybe in Another Life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

United We Spy by Ally Carter

Book Summary
Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever. 

Flo's Review
I made it! I started my Gallagher Girls journey two months ago with the first book, and now I've finally finished out this series. I think my problem with this book came with the fact that I was listening to the audiobook. And maybe listening to all 6 of them back to back with no breaks was a bit of overload. All I know is that this book dragged a little for me. I was ready for the wrap up. I wanted the girls (and Zach) to complete the mission and end everything.

There were a few little juicy reveals in this one and the introduction of a new little character who I loved.

Overall, this was a fantastic series! I enjoyed the time I spent at the Gallagher Academy, and yes -- my favorite parts, I think, were the ones that took place at the school. It was nice to see all the girls growing up, especially Cammie, Liz, and Macey. Ally left the characters in a good spot, and I was felt happy and sure about all their futures as I bid them adieu like a proud big sister.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One Moment in Time by Lauren Barnholdt


Book Summary
The second book of Lauren Barnholdt's exiting Moment of Truth series: three books, three girls, one life-changing senior trip.
When the email arrived in Quinn Reynolds's in box on the morning of her flight to Florida, she sent it straight to her trash folder. The last thing Quinn needed was to be reminded of the pact she made with her ex–best friends—the one where she promised she would do something crazy before graduation.
But that was before everything on the trip went wrong.
Now, after a lifetime of playing it safe, Quinn figures that she might as well get a little wild…after all, what does she have to lose? When Abram, a local boy she met on the beach, asks her to hang out, she says yes. But while a vacation romance could be the best way to fulfill the pact, it might be the worst thing for her heart.…
Each book in this trilogy is told from the perspective of a different girl—Lyla, Aven, and Quinn—former best friends who, back in freshman year, wrote emails to their future selves about the one thing they hope to accomplish before they graduate. Over the course of the series, each girl will learn about life, love, and the truth about the fight that ended their perfect friendship.

Flo's Review
I basically knew as soon as I finished Heat of the Moment that I was in for all three of these books. I just think it's a really neat concept to have these three girls stories happening on the same trip and release them all around the same time. (Yay, no yearlong wait!) And my favorite part of this book was the scenes where Quinn's path crossed with Lyla, Aven, or both. They made me want to go back to Heat of the Moment and read them again from Lyla's point of view, so I could remember what she was thinking of the situation as it happened. Unfortunately, like with Heat of the Moment, I didn't like the main character. Quinn was quite judgmental of others, and I'm not sure if that aspect of her personality was much changed by the growth she underwent throughout the novel. I did enjoy Abram, though. 

We've got one book left. I can't comment on Aven's character yet, but she has the potential to be my favorite of the three. And I'm looking forward to seeing the conclusion that it just beyond the final scenes of these last two books. I hope it's a good one.


Armada by Ernest Cline

Book Summary
Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.
And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. 
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Flo's Review
Sheng-lee for Armada! Sheng-lee means "victory" and look for it in the book -- that's all I'll say about that :). No wait -- one more thing. I'm calling it that there is totally going to be Sheng-lee! swag and memes surrounding this book. Calling it right now. 

I have to start off by saying that I have never read Ernest Cline's other famous book Ready Player One. Although I have been told by numerous friends and even one of those online quizzes that I need to do so. Based on everything I have heard about it, I believe it is a good book and that Ernest Cline is a good writer. So when I saw the description for Armada, I was intrigued. When I saw the author, I was even more intrigued. Secondly, I have to say that I am not a gamer. The closet I've gotten to identifying with gamers is playing Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo. (Dang it! Just aged myself.) And I couldn't even beat it, guys. The highest I got was level 8.2, or maybe even 8.1. And if I heard "The princess is in another castle" one more time...

Okay, on to the book! Armada is divided into 3 phases. Basically, I thought nothing happened in the first phase, the second phase was amazing, and the third phase was rushed. Let me break it down:

Phase One -- My problem here is that it was all information dump. We needed the information and the background, but in giving us the information, I didn't feel like Cline was telling a story and moving it forward. Part of the reason was because a lot of what he had to tell us took place in the past. Then he had to describe the game in detail in order for Phase Two to make sense. And in all that, I didn't really feel like I was reading a narrative as much as I felt like I was reading a summary or background report.

Phase Two - This Phase ROCKED. This is the story right here. Phase Two was where the action, the drama, the romance, the emotion, the suspense -- all of it! -- happened. Cline threw a big surprise at us that I honestly probably should have seen coming, but I totally didn't. We met a ton of awesome new characters who I came to know and love. There's a love interest and a bad guy, revelations, and killer action. The writing was tight and suspenseful, and I eagerly kept turning the pages to see what was going to be thrown at us next. I loved this Phase. 

Phase Three - So after all that awesomeness, I felt like this phase was more of a, "Oh yeah...we should probably end up the story somewhere. Um.....let's do this? And how about this? And maybe this? But not explain anything, just mention it. The end." Cline's strength in this book is writing the action, battle scenes of Phase Two. This Phase felt like an afterthought, like it was added because someone suggested that it be added. It didn't have the emotion and the heart of Phase Two.

Armada comes out July 14th, and though it had it problems, it's worth picking up. Also, check out the website: http://earthdefensealliance.com/. It's a countdown clock right now, like in Phase Two. I can't wait to see what it will become.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)

Jacque's Review:

Aly is the one person Brandon connected with after his father died three years prior to the start of this book.  Since then, they have become best friends, but dating has been out of the question.  He is the star of the baseball team and is part of their school's A-list.  He isn't interested in a serious relationship and chooses to casually date a variety of girls.

Aly is friends with some of the elite, but doesn't consider herself part of that group.  With only her senior year remaining, she decides it is time to get noticed.  She buys all new clothes and makeup, gets a new hair style, and begins to step out of her comfort zone with one goal in mind.  She wants to land a date to homecoming with the hottest guy in the school, who is none other than Brandon's friend Justin.  What better way to get Justin's attention than to pretend to be dating Brandon...Right?  WRONG!!! Aly and Brandon's entire plan backfires when they begin to realize there may be more to their relationship than either of them is willing to admit.

This was a cute and entertaining story, but I felt like the drama dragged on a lot longer than it should have.  The reader, as well as all of Aly and Brandon's friends, could see what was going on, but Aly and Brandon were too stubborn or afraid to propel the story forward.  I felt like I was stuck in a rut for the longest time, but when I finally broke free....it was over.  The ending was what I expected, but after all of the drama, there should have been a few more chapters to cap things off.  Perhaps that is part of Rachel's plan with the companion novel that is scheduled to be released in 2016.  It will focus on Justin, but hopefully there will be some updates on Aly and Brandon to provide some sense of closure to their story.

I ended up giving this book 3 out of 5 stars because it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals (The Naturals, #1)

Jacque's Review: 

The Naturals is one of those books that I noticed on several Stacking the Shelves posts a couple of years ago.  I picked up a copy, but it wasn't really at the top of my TBR pile until now.  I'm participating in the COYER scavenger hunt and needed to read a book written by an author with three names.  I scanned all of my unread books and this one practically jumped out at me.

I can't believe I didn't start this series sooner.  I have been reading the Stephanie Plum, Women's Murder Club, King & Maxwell, and Kay Scarpetta murder mystery series for years, but this is the first time I have come across a YA version.

Cassie is a seventeen-year-old girl with a natural ability to read people.  Her mother was murdered five years ago and her father is overseas in the military.  When she is asked to join an FBI program for teens with various natural abilities, she jumped at the opportunity.  The program is supposed to sharpen their skills while helping the FBI solve cold cases.

Dean is the only member of the group who is a natural profiler like Cassie.  Michael is a natural at reading emotions, Leah is a walking lie detector, and Sloane is an encyclopedia who can spit out facts and statistics on just about anything.  One day, The Naturals stumble upon an active murder investigation their supervisors are working on.  Cassie is immediately drawn to it because of the similarities with her mother's case.  They begin working the case and are pulled further into the killer's world than any of them could have imagined was possible.  I was completely shocked when I discovered who the killer was and couldn't believe the lengths he/she went to.

Overall, this was an excellent start to the series.  I was completely captivated throughout the book and I loved the characters.  I gave the book 4 stars and I can't wait to see what happens next in Killer Instinct.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Book Summary
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Flo's Review
I gave the first book in this duology, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, 3 stars. And I think that rating will stay steady for this book. I got all caught up in the rush of excitement for this release that what I forgot for awhile was that while I liked the first book, I didn't love it.

Then when I started reading this one, I remembered. Again, it was cute. This is a cute story. Lara Jean is cute and her family is cute. It's kind of hard to describe, but even though there were things happening in the story, I kind of felt like there weren't. I felt as I was reading through it that I was just reading Lara Jean's diary or seeing a snapshot of her day to day life. Which is okay, I guess. But it didn't really hold my interest. This book took me a long time to get through. I never felt like I had to pick up to see where the story was going to go. In the end, what motivated me to pick it up was that it was due back to the library.

All the above being said, I enjoyed many things about this book.  It has an overall safe and homey feel to it. Lara Jean reminisces a lot with other characters, and it's to happy, carefree childhood days. I loved hearing the stories from her and John Ambrose McClaren. Speaking of John Ambrose McClaren, he's the best. And there is a line from Peter at the end of this book that still makes my little heart swoon just thinking about it.

Conclusion: Not a page turner, but a smile bringer. And that's good, too :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Book Summary
When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.
As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?
Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

Flo's Review
On the whole, I'm enjoying this series a lot. I already have the next audiobook in my car and ready to start listening to, and Book #5 is in the mail. This story was a great one for learning more about Macy -- we got to really see more into her character and I really enjoyed that. Also, the love between the best friends is great.

But, honestly, this book bugged me. I just could not with Cammie. I think I'm getting old, because my main issue was that she BROKE EVERY SINGLE RULE BASICALLY. REPEATEDLY. And then -- she NEVER got punished for it! Basically, the book went like this.

1. Cammie is told specifically not to do something.
2. Cammie does it anyway
3. Cammie is caught and then brings up how her dad is dead and cries so she is consoled and not punished.
4. Repeat.

Sometimes in there she is given a talking to from her Mom and/or aunt. Which is basically like, "That was bad, Cam. Okay, moving on!" Of course she is going to keep breaking rules if she is never punished for doing it. (Listen to me: I'm not even a Mom yet and I sound like a Mom! Lol. But for real though...) There is one particular instance where her Mom was like, "If you do this again, you won't be able to do X." So what does Cammie do? The same thing again! And does she still get to do X? Yes, she does! 

I understand from a literary standpoint that Cammie can't be stuck at school for the action of the story to move forward, but I also think it's very unrealistic that she basically just breaks rules left and right with her roommates and whatevs, that's cool. 

Let's see how I feel in Book #4.