Thursday, June 29, 2017

Audiobook review: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

sarah dessen, once and for all
Book Summary 
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Flo's Review
Sarah Dessen's novels are like a warm hug. Seriously, that is the feeling I get when I read them. Like, "yes, life is crazy and sometimes sad, but you are warm inside this friendly embrace. And here, have some chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven."

Once and For All particularly spoke to me because it is about a family that runs a wedding planning business -- and I am in the middle of planning my own wedding. But along with that, it addresses the questions of forever and second chances. Louna was a little too reticent and inflexible to me at times, but she was realistic based on the trauma she experienced.  I adored Ethan and Ambrose: Ethan for his perfection, and Ambrose for his imperfection. They were both amazingly lovable characters. Also, can I hire William to run my life?! I love him!

I listened to this one on audio and the narrator did a wonderful job. Seriously, I can't love on this book enough. All the warm fuzzies! If you love Sarah's other books, this one won't disappoint. And if you've never read any of hers, this wouldn't be a bad one to start with.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me with the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff

grace and the fever, zan romanoff
Book Summary
In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can't imagine what she'd do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it. 

Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream's world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.

Flo's Review
I am obsessed with the New Kids on the Block. And the Backstreet Boys. Basically, boy bands: I love them. So when I heard about this book, I was excited to lose myself in the world of fandom. 

The main character, Grace Thomas, is secretly a Fever Dream fan. She goes for a run one night and happens upon one of the members. So starts this whirlwind of parties and clubs and paparazzi and more. Unfortunately, I never connected with Grace. I don't know...I kind of feel like this book did a lot of "tell" and not that much "show." I never really deeply felt Grace's love for this band. And throughout the book I felt like I was reading a story, not like I was engrossed or involved with it.

I did like Jes, and it was interesting to see this take on what is the reality of celebrities' images and personalities versus what their fans create for them. And I appreciated the honest and realistic ending. 

Thank you to Random House for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book review: Ghost Attack (Monster Itch #1) by David Luber

monster itch, david luber
Book Summary
This was one monster of an itch . . .

When Alex and his cousin Sarah are visiting their grandparents, Alex gets terrible red, itchy hives. Yikes! He's allergic to a ghost! Even worse, the ghost won't leave him alone -- he wants Alex and Sarah's help. Can they solve the ghost's mystery and get rid of Alex's awful rash before it ruins everything?

Flo's Review
Well, this book was simply adorable! I loved that it was a little mystery and ghost story rolled into one. The plot was really well done. Even though this was a children's book, it was still a very sophisticated story. It was long enough to really tell a full, good tale -- but short enough to hold a child's attention. I would definitely recommend this one for your long as they're not afraid of ghosts!

Thank you to Scholastic for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Audiobook review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

a crown of wishes, roshani chokshi, audiobook
Book Summary
An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Roshani Chokshi is so sweet! And can we talk about these awesome boots she has on?!
Flo's Review
I adored this book, y'all. Adored. This story was everything I wanted in a magical competition. My favorite part of The Star-Touched Queen (TSTQ), the predecessor and companion novel to this one, was the beautiful, rich, lyrical writing. I'm so happy to say that A Crown of Wishes (ACOW) had this as well. Alaka was so unique and creative, and reading this story had me feeling like I was just walking around with my mouth agape, taking everything in.

But what was missing for me in TSTO was delivered in ACOW. A story that drove me forward and made me want to know its conclusion. I wondered how Vikram and Gauri would would get past the trials put before them, and I cheered them on when they did. 

My absolute favorite part of this story was the romance. Vikram and Gauri had such delicious romantic tension. Their feelings for each other felt alive in a way that Maya and Amar's never did to me. Throughout this novel I was smiling as Vikram and Gauri traded barbs back and forth. Their banter was everything. So well done! And their characters complimented each other perfectly: Gauri with her physical strength and Vikram with his mental strength. But both similar in their driven personalities. The two of them together made perfect sense.

I listened to this one on audiobook and the narrator did a great job. Vikram calls for a tone that is always slightly teasing in its cadence, while Gauri needs to be passionate and direct. The narrator, Priya Ayyar, did a fantastic job delivering both of these.

The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes came to me at the same time, with the explanation that they are companion stories and that I didn't need to read TSTQ in order to understand ACOW. This is true, but I'm so glad that I did. It was so great to see characters and refer-backs in ACOW to TSTQ and understand them.

I'd also read several reviews where people who liked TSTQ preferred ACOW, and I too fall into this category. I like TSTQ. But this book was so well done on so many levels. I adored it.

Review of The Star-Touched Queen:

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing me with this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book review: Internet Famous by Danika Stone

internet famous, danika stone
Book Summary
High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

Flo's Review
I was super excited for this. As you recall, I simply adored Danika Stone's first release All the Feels. So I was definitely on board with reading her sophomore release. In the beginning, I was enjoying it immensely. Laurent is super hot, and I really enjoyed reading about Madi's relationship with Sarah. (As a aunt of a child with special needs, I love that Danika included the character of Sarah in the story. And I love even more the Author's Note she included at the end of the book about Sarah. Thank you, Danika!)

So, there was family drama, online drama, school drama and a cute boy. All that was great. I think the story could have just been about those and been complete and fun. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling the troll story line. Maybe because I've never (thankfully!) had an experience with a troll. But the troll just seemed too extreme. To the point of being ridiculous. And there were a few characters in the story, 2 in particular that I can think of, who seemed underdeveloped to me. One was only shown for his personality trait and that was all we got. (It was extreme, of course.) The other seemed to be in the story -- her actions and all -- only so Maddie could wonder, "Is this person the troll?" Once she was eliminated from contention, that was it. We never got any explanation for her behavior. Mrs. Preet also seemed to me too extreme. She ended up reading to me as a character, a plot piece, and not a fully developed human being. Maybe if we got to understand her a little bit more, and maybe if we got to see her act differently at some point, she would have seemed more real to me.

The way this story was written, including texts, pictures, Tumblr posts, etc. complimented the story nicely and also made this a quick, effortless read. I enjoyed Madi and Sarah's, as well as Madi and Laurent's relationships. 

Thank you to Swoon Reads for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Obsidian (Lux, #1)

Jacque's Review:
I bought a copy of Obsidian at the 2013 RT convention to have signed.  Mary and a few others told me I had to read it, yet it has remained on my TBR shelf ever since.  In fact, I didn't have a clue what it was about until I started reading it a couple of weeks ago.

Katy Swartz is originally from Florida.  After the death of her father her mother decides to relocate to West Virginia for a change of scenery.  Jennifer Armentrout is from WV, so she is clearly giving her home state a little love, but I can't imagine how that would impact a high school senior.  In addition, her mother chose to live in a REALLY small town filled with "strange" people.
Katy is a book blogger, so it was funny to hear her geek out about her In My Mailbox or Waiting on Wednesday posts.  A shipment of books would arrive and it was like Christmas in July.  She was also worried about getting a new library card, which I'm sure would be at the top of my to-do list if I moved, so Katy should definitely appeal to most readers.
Living next door to Katy are the Black twins, Dee and Daemon.  They will be starting their senior year as well and Katy quickly becomes best friends with Dee.  On the other hand, her relationship with Daemon is very hot and cold to say the least.  He can be sweet one minute and a complete ____ the next.  Katy can't figure out why Daemon and his friends think there is something inferior about "her kind" until she begins to notice some unusual things.  Daemon and Dee seem to move faster than humanly possible at times.  Daemon can swim under water WAY longer than he should be able to.  After witnessing several more dramatic events, she take the news that they are aliens pretty well.  The fact that there are beings known as Arum trying to kill her Luxen friends, and now her due to her association with them, is a different matter. 
Overall, I thought this was an action packed and tension filled start to the series.  Once we got past the whole "you aren't one of us" issue and the truth was out there, the story really began to flow.  Katy must guard their secret with her life and she is forced to do so on more than one occasion.
The only issue I had with the book was the word choice.  I'm sure everyone has seen the posts about why moist is the worst word ever and shouldn't be used.  She didn't use that word, but there was another cringe worthy word used on at least two occasions that needed to be removed.  If you have read the book and would like to guess the word I'm referring to, please leave a comment and I will be sure to reply.  Maybe it is just me, but I'm guessing not...
There are 5 books in the series, so it is a bit of an undertaking if you want to start this series.  I can tell you that the ending of this book left me wanting to jump right into the next book, but  I'm committed to reading the books on my spring TBR list first.  I will be sure to include Onyx on my Summer TBR list!

Oh, hey! Remember that time I met Daemon Black at Apollycon?! 
Flo's Review
Literally, multiple friends have been bugging me to read this series, basically since this first book published in 2012. I even own the entire series already, in the Lux volumes and on audiobook. Several times it made it close to the top of the TBR pile, but it just never pushed through. Until now.

Like Jacque said, I love that Katy is a book blogger. I was totally understanding her activities and feelings towards her book blog. This book definitely had a Twilight feel to it: "we're obviously attracted to each other, but you're fighting it -- why?" and "what are you? I don't think you're human...?" Luckily, I do love Twilight so I was all on board. I also bring up this similarity because I think this series has the potential to get better as we get more into the story. Obsidian had to cover a lot of the exposition, so from here on out I'm looking forward to seeing the situations these characters are put into and how they'll react. I don't know that I'll be able to jump into Onyx right away, but I do think I'd like to slowly make my way through this series. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Review: Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter.

Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)

Out of Sight, Out of Time is the fifth book in the Gallagher Girls series, which is about a group of students attending an all girls boarding school for spies.  At the end of the previous book, Cammie set out on a mission to complete an investigation her father started before his disappearance.  The Circle has been after her for an unknown reason for over a year and she is finally going to take matters into her own hands.

Her first error; however, was not taking anyone with her.  I'm sure any good spy would agree that backup is essential.  She doesn't want to endanger any of her friends when the only person they are after is her.  The problem is, when she wakes up in a foreign location having no recollection of her entire summer, she has no one to help jog her memory. 

The majority of the book involves Cammie and her friends trying to piece together clues to uncover where Cammie went last summer, what she discovered, and where things went so terribly wrong.  

I have enjoyed this series from the beginning and can't wait to dive into the final book in this series.  The girls started their senior year at the beginning of Out of Sight, Out of Time and graduation is quickly approaching.  They will soon be out in the real world, but I'm not sure the real wold will be any more challenging than the missions they have already completed.

The Gallagher Girls and Cammie's boyfriend Zach, who is also a spy, have learned that there are moles in the highest levels of government all over the world.  People they thought they could trust have been working against them, but they now have the upper hand.  They can finally take the offensive to bring the Circle down once and for all.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

You Say It's Your Birthday!: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

sofi snow, mary weber, thomas nelson

I couldn't be more excited about the release of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber! I enthusiastically read and reviewed Mary's Storm Siren trilogy (links below), so I was thrilled to hear about her next book. Here's the description:

Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi's dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth's corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth's Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi's the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she's convinced he's been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth's charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight's bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he's a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

Do you plan on picking up Sofi Snow?

Storm Siren Love