Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book review: Meet Cute

Book Summary
Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of "how they first met" from some of today’s most popular YA authors. 

Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants. 

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Flo's Review
This was certainly a cute little anthology! (Sorry for the bad pun! There was really just nowhere else to go.) I enjoyed the 15 stories, though was interested in the format of some of them. I mean simply that some of these stories felt like complete stories in themselves, while others just read like they were a section literally pulled from a larger story. I guess the second method is okay, but the first I found more enjoyable. 

Another thing I noticed about the story set was the variety of main story points. For some, the meet cute was the point of the story; while for others, the meet cute was really just a plot point in the story to get the main character to learn more about herself. Again, I enjoyed the former better, but that didn't mean I disliked the latter simply for what it was. 

Finally, the diversity of settings was great. These weren't all contemporary rom coms. There was sci-fi, there was fantasy, there was magical realism. But they all still had meet cutes! Very cool.

I adored the final story in the anthology, by Nicola Yoon. That is the one I'd like to see expanded out to a full book, or even to a set of stories within that one world. There is just so much that could be done there! Dhonielle Clayton's story as well. My other favorite stories were the ones by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Jocelyn Davies. 

The good thing about an anthology book like this is that it's very easy to read a little at a time. It was so easy to pick up the book and read a story or two at lunch or right before bed. 

Final verdict: Yes, you should meet this cute book. (See what I did there?!? Thank you, folks, I'm here all week! 😂)

Audiobook review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Summary
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Flo's Review
I'm going to miss these audiobooks. What an enjoyable 33+ hours of my life! Even in this book, I still got chills listening to AIDAN. I loved the main analyst's voice. And I even got used to the creepy "Briefing Note" voice. 

Obsidio was a delightful ending to this trilogy. There were several things that had me literally gasping as I listened to them. The twists! The surprises! I was sad at the deaths, teary eyed at some of the reflections of the characters, and always cheering on these great heroes! 

First of all, it almost seems too obvious to comment on the timeliness of reading a book about a group of teenagers who are smarter than the adults surrounding them and are not afraid to stand up to them to save the world. Yeah, I'm just going to leave that right there.

Secondly, I was definitely teary at a few points in this book -- mostly listening to things Kady's dad wrote and said to the main characters. Thanks Mr. Grant! *tears* 😭 But I loved how he wrote to Hanna about how he and her dad would have conversations about these girls they were raising and how they were basically growing up to kick butt and be more awesome than they were. I just loved that.

I want to gush about a lot of things, but I also want to keep this spoiler free, so just know that I finished listening to this audiobook a few days ago and I am still thinking back on it about things that made me swoon, laugh, cry, rage. That's the sign of a good book right there. This series earned my mad respect for sci-fi, a genre that I don't usually read. The audiobooks were great. The books were great. Both were creatively and uniquely done. It's been a good ride with the Illuminae group, and I will be recommending their story to others.

Our other review of the Illuminae trilogy books:

Book review: Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June

Book Summary
From author Christina June comes Everywhere You Want to Be, a modern tale inspired by the classic Red Riding Hood.

Matilda Castillo has always done what she was told, but when she gets injured senior years, she watches her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer slip away. So when Tilly gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with a New York dance troupe, nothing can stop her from saying yes--not her mother, not her fears of the big city, and not the commitment she made to Georgetown. Tilly's mother allows her to go on two conditions: one, Tilly will regularly visit her abuela in New Jersey, and two, after the summer, she'll give up dancing and go off to college.

Armed with her red vintage sunglasses and her pros and cons lists, Tilly strikes out, determined to turn a summer job into a career. Along the way she meets new friends ... and new enemies. Tilly isn't the only one desperate to dance, and fellow troupe member Sabrina Wolfrik intends to succeed at any cost. But despite dodging sabotage and blackmail attempts from Sabrina, Tilly can't help but fall in love with the city, especially since Paolo, a handsome musician from her past, is also calling New York home for the summer.

As the weeks wind down and the competition with Sabrina heats up, Tilly's future is on the line. She must decide whether to follow her mother's path to Georgetown or leap into the unknown to pursue her own dreams.

Flo's Review
Everywhere You Want to Be is the second book by Christina June. A fun thing about it that I was n0t expecting was the connection to her first book, It Started With Goodbye. I really enjoyed seeing Tatum, her hottie boyfriend, and some of the other characters from her first book in this sophomore effort. 

Just like the first book was loosely based on Cinderella, this book was loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood. Tilly's signature accessory is a fun pair of red sunglasses, which I love. Her nemesis is a girl named Sabrina Wolfrick, a play on the Big Bad Wolf. But it felt a little forced. Tilly becomes almost obsessed with Sabrina in an unnatural way. I understand the conflict she brings to the story, but with everything else going on, I felt Tilly stressed and obsessed about it unnaturally too much.  In that aspect, it felt like June was trying a little too hard to match Tilly's story to a fairy tale. 

But this was fun story nonetheless. I enjoyed reading about Tilly falling in love New York City, and her romance played out at just the right level. (Not too much, not too little.)

I finished reading this book on the way to Apollycon, where I got meet Christina June for the first time! She was so nice, and I was delighted to learn that she has another fairy tale based book with a familiar character in the works!

Read our review of It Started With Goodbye here.

Everywhere You Want To Be comes out on May 1, 2018. Thank you to Blink YA Books for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Audiobook review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Summary
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Flo's Review
This book spoke to me on many levels. Mostly, as a poet. It has been awhile since I've done so, but I used to write a good deal of poetry. Xiomara's story took me back to the summer between high school and college, when I finally felt confident enough to actually share my words for the first time. It was slam poetry, but I did read a poem aloud. So as I was reading about The Poet X, the Poet Flo was relating.

 I love poetry because of the beauty in the assembly of words. With a poem, you can have no idle ones -- every word counts. And when you read them aloud, how they come together, the rhythm they make, counts too. This is an entire book of verse and I was here for it for 100%.

Especially the audiobook! The audiobook is read by Elizabeth Avecedo, so I really felt like I was hearing things the way she heard them when she first wrote them down. Want to see what I mean? Elizabeth Acevedo came to my favorite local bookstore Books & Books and I snagged this video of her reading from The Poet X. Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Upcoming Book Release: Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade


Felicity meets Fangirl in this contemporary novel about a young woman who must leave behind her fantasy life—inspired by her favorite WB show from the 1990s—and create a real one at college.

Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

Why you should read Finding Felicity:

I have read almost all of Stacey's books and enjoyed each and every one of them.  She has said on more than one occasion that readers will enjoy Finding Felicity even if you haven't watched the television show, but I felt like I needed to have a basic understanding of the characters if I wanted to fully appreciate the book.  All of the episodes are available on the ABC app, so I watched the first two and was pleasantly surprised.  I had no idea what the show was about, but I found it to be very funny and highly entertaining. Now I can hardly wait to read Finding Felicity!  The timing couldn't be any better because I leave for spring break the Thursday after the release.  Thanks to Stacey I already have a copy of the book downloaded to my eReader, so you can count on a review shortly after my return. 

Links to Purchase the Book:

If you would like to purchase a copy of Finding Felicity here are a couple of links.

Chapter One Excerpt:

Bustle posted an excerpt from the first chapter, which can be found here.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Audiobook review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Summary
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Flo's Review
Obsidio, the final book in the Illuminae trilogy, comes out next week, so I wanted to get Gemina under my belt so I'd be ready. I listed to Illuminae and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to learn that my library had Gemina on CD. 

If you are not familiar with this trilogy, the book is composed of documents and other forms of correspondence. It's a visual experience, so it is interesting to hear it translate to audiobook. Somehow, it is always fantastic! I really enjoyed listening to Gemina! The voice of Hanna sounded exactly as I thought she would, and I always love listening to Steve West (even despite the character he voiced!) And the Analyst, too -- I love hearing his voice! But if I'm being honest, my favorite part of the audiobook was being able to hear "I Wanna Lick Your Lollipop" sporadically throughout the story! (I kid, I kid...kind of.)

Even though the story felt a little long, a common and unfortunate side of listening to more than 650 pages being read to you, it never lagged. Several twists kept surprising me throughout the story. I loved to hate Cerberus. Who knew the word "Bless" could ever annoy me so much?! And, WOW, on the plot twist at the end! So creative and fun. I loved it.

I am very happy that I will soon have Obsidio, so I can how this whole crazy saga shakes down. If you haven't read or listened to any of the Illuminae books, you are coming in at a good time -- you can marathon them. If you have read them, which did you prefer: Illuminae? Or Gemina?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: Invaded by Melissa Landers

Invaded (Alienated, #2)

Jacque's Review:

Invaded is the second book in the Alienated series.  In the first installment, we were introduced to some L'eihr exchange students who were sent to earth to help foster an alliance. We didn't really know why their leaders were interested in an alliance, but it was clear none of the exchange students really wanted to be there.

Things didn't exactly go as planned during the exchange.  As a result, Cara is sent to L'eihr to help establish the new colony that is intended to integrate the humans and L'eihrs.  Her boyfriend Aleyx and his friend Serene must return to earth to repair the alliance.  As much as he hates life on earth, he will do anything to be able to return to L'eihr to be with Cara. Cara, however, is beginning to question her decision to move to L'eihr.  The food is terrible, there is no privacy, their version of gym class is equivalent to boot camp, and someone is trying to set her up for failure.

I enjoyed learning more about life on L'eihr and seeing what it was like for Cara to try and blend into such a different culture.  It is never easy being different, but this was taken to a new extreme.  She was top in her class at her high school on earth, but she is nowhere near as advanced physically or academically compared to her new peers.

Aleyx has his own issues to deal with.  There is an extremist group that continues to jeopardize his safety and the success of the alliance.  We also learn more about Serene and her abilities as an emotional healer.  She does a great job of helping others, but she doesn't have anyone on earth who can return the favor.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and have already started reading the final book in the series.  As you can imagine, a long distance relationship spanning a galaxy can certainly put a strain on a things.  Cara and Aleyx survived this difficult period and it is now time to sit back and relax on their new colony.  Unfortunately, the last few chapters hinted that there may be more drama to come and life on the colony may not be a walk on the beach like they are hoping for.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Love Show by Audrey Bell

Love Show

Goodreads Overview:

Hadley Arrington is the career-driven Editor-in-Chief of her university’s prestigious newspaper. Jack Diamond is a laid back student whose good looks have made things even easier than they need to be. She’s the girl who came out of nowhere and kissed him in the rain. He’s the boy who made her do something crazy.

When the stakes seem too high, they have to decide if they’ll let their love show or if they’ll walk away for good.

Jacque's Review:

I am a fan of Tammara Webber's books and follow her on twitter.  A few years ago she recommended Love Show, so I added it to my TBR list and purchased the ebook.  It sat on my nook for quite a while, but it finally made it to the top of my TBR list when I finished the book I was currently reading at my son's swim meet.

Hadley is finishing up her senior year of college and wants to become a war correspondent.  She is fluent in arabic and is ready to jump into the action.  She refuses to listen to her family and friends about how dangerous her decision may be.  Her job choice also puts a strain on her unconventional relationship with Jack.  From the very beginning she created all sorts of rules for their relationship, which were supposed to protect her from the one thing she fears the most....falling in love.  Her mother has been married and divorced more times than you can count and she is determined to put herself ahead of any relationship, but she may throw away the one thing that has ever made her truly happy.  

Another story line involves her openly gay roommate who is dating someone who "can't" come out of the closet.  We get to see how that changes him emotionally as well as the hoops he has to go through in that type of situation.  The relationship is not a healthy one, but he refuses to see how it is impacting him until it may be too late.

Love Show was an outstanding read.  It is new adult, so there is definitely some adult content/romance throughout.  I loved the characters, even though I found Hadley's decisions to be extremely frustrating at times.  I wanted to shake her and make her see things more clearly.  Until the last few chapters of the book it was like she had tunnel vision and would only allow herself to focus on her career and her job at the newspaper.  She couldn't see what she was literally right in front of her face.  The ending was satisfying, but it wasn't an easy road to get there.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout

Onyx (Lux, #2)

Goodreads Overview:

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Jacque's Review:

Onyx is the second book in the Lux series.  In this installment Katy discovers some new powers she has developed since Daemon healed her at the end of Obsidian.  She needs to learn how to control them before others discover her secret.  She must also learn how to defend herself from the Arum and others who seem to be after her and her alien friends.

In addition, we are introduced to Blake.  He is a new student from California who immediately takes an interest in Katy.  She decides to go on a date with him to distract herself from her feelings for Daemon, which was never going to happen.  She quickly learns that Blake isn't the "normal" boy she was looking for.  His arrival in West Virginia was more than a simple job transfer for his uncle.

This book was a great addition to the series.  There was a ton of action, humor, danger, and romance to keep the pages turning.  I don't think there was ever a true love triangle, since Katy was always hung up on Daemon, but I was happy to see that element removed by the conclusion.  If the series wasn't steamy enough already, I think it will take a step in that direction now that they have admitted their feeling for each other.  In addition, Daemon and Katy make some remarkable discoveries towards the end of the book.  While I will miss one of the characters that was lost, I look forward to learning more about the new characters that arrived unexpectedly.