Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall's first unexpected trip to the past led her into the arms of an 18th century Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser. Now they are happily reunited, but Claire has left someone behind in the 20th century---her and Jamie's daughter, Brianna. Brianna has fallen in love with a Scottish historian named Roger Wakefield MacKenzie, a man who also has ties to the same mysterious stones that led Claire to Jamie. As Roger is helping Bree research what has happened to her parents, he stumbles upon a disturbing discovery he is determined to hide. Unbeknownst to him, Bree has uncovered the information herself. It leads her to the stone circle known as Craigh na Dun, resulting in Bree plunging headfirst into the past to meet the father she never knew, setting off a chain of events that could leave her stranded forever ... or perhaps just where she was always meant to be.

Book 4 in the Outlander series. 880 pages.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

The Awakening (Graveyard Queen #6)The Awakening by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers who enjoy Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse stories will also like this series. I am sad I've read the last book!

416 pages

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since I'm late to this game, I'm not sure what I can add to the discussion on this novel.

In some ways, it's very Tolkien-esque, in that Martin definitely digs deep into the fantasy world building, and it's clear there are many layers of information hidden beneath the story that I will never even see or read. In fact, by the end of a novel by either author, I think I have probably forgotten more than I have learned, because it can be so difficult to file away all that information on a first read.

In other ways, it's nothing like Tolkien, in that Martin writes edgier, darker, bloodier, sexier, and more horrifying scenes and moments than Tolkien ever did. And I both like and hate that, at any given moment.

After I finished reading this, I watched the first season of Game of Thrones, and that worked great. The TV show stuck reasonably close to the book, and it helped me to see all the characters come to life on the screen before moving on to book 2.

Also, it should be noted that I listened to a lot of this on audiobook, and it's a particularly good recording. I think I almost prefer listening to it over reading it, though I did both, depending on what was convenient in the moment.

Last thought: I recommend this to anyone who digs deep fantasy. You have to be someone who can weather the storm of heavy descriptions, in-depth histories, an extraordinary number of characters, lengthy battles, and multiple, complex story lines. If you can tackle that, I think you'll find there's a lot here to love.

Pages: 835

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Kindred SpiritsKindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adorable novella with the perfect combination of Star Wars nerdery, line culture, and unlikely friendships.

Everything by Rainbow Rowell is brilliant. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer.

Pages: 96

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

Summary: "In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you're lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side."

Well, I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It was a somewhat cozy and easy read. It made me laugh a little, cry a little and sigh in frustration a lot. The story is told from 4 different points of view, but they all kind of meshed together. And some of the messages, whether intentional or not, were a bit alarming at times. Actually, the girls' relationships with their boyfriends/husbands were downright disturbing throughout much of the book.

Ultimately, it was an okay read, and I liked the author's writing style. I may give her future books a chance as well.


308 pages

The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

The Visitor (Graveyard Queen, #4)The Visitor by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book in the series unveils more clues regarding the heritage and strange calling of both the series' protagonist and her love interest. Photography and stereoscopy play a key role in the plot.

379 pages.

Better Than New by Nicole Curtis

Better Than New: How Saving Old Homes Saved MeBetter Than New: How Saving Old Homes Saved Me by Nicole Curtis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nicole Curtis's work ethic is admirable. It's what I love about her show. She is willing to clean, repair, and restore old homes. By doing so, she preserves their unique character and reduces the construction waste that would be created by tearing homes down in order to build something new. The way that the book was organized by houses was clever. But the focus of the book was on Curtis's career and relationships.

224 pages.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: "When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, having survived a car accident, she has lost a big chunk of her memory--three years to be exact. And that's not all. Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband--who also happens to be a multimillionaire?"

I couldn't stay away from Sophie Kinsella for long...her books are just so fun and interesting. I loved Remember Me? for the laughs as well as the intrigue. It pulled me in, and I couldn't put it down! 

Even though there were a few plot holes and loose ends, I enjoyed this book very much overall. 

389 pages

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Thing About Love by Julie James

Summary: "FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting."

The Thing About Love is Julie James' highly anticipated next installment in her wonderful FBI/US Attorney series. 

That being said, I think I was anticipating this book just a little too much and thus set my expectations way higher than they should have been. The premise is juicy, but the story just didn't live up to its high potential. I loved the entire FBI Training scenario, as well as the enemies-to-lovers storyline, but the actual case/plot of the story significantly lacked action and excitement. It never quite made my heart race or had me eagerly turning the page. Usually, the plots of James' books are intense, but this one just fell a little flat. I'd still give the book around 4 stars...just lower your expectations.

384 pages

Monday, May 1, 2017

All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

All the Best PeopleAll the Best People by Sonja Yoerg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I drug my feet while reading this multigenerational adult novel, because it’s so gorgeous and intense. Yoerg has a style that’s beautiful, simple, and subtle. She says powerful things that really sit with me.

Actually, she rarely tells me what to think. Instead, she shows the story in a way that makes me think knew things, different things, or forgotten things, which is what I love best about her stories. She has a real talent for storytelling, and nothing ever feels forced or false. It’s always truthful, raw, and introspective.

I confess, I was almost afraid of where this was headed--not that it might be bad--just that it might hurt to get there. But it doesn’t hurt, not any more than it should. There were moments when this story could have gone in 10 different directions, and I remain fascinated by the direction it chose. It took me time to wrap my head around the characters and the way their stories wove together across time, but it was so well done, with each generation and voice contributing another layer.

Also, I love the subtle interchanges between magic and reality, luck and choice, good and bad. There are so many fascinating contrasts in this story, and the historical elements were a nice touch, as well. It’s clear Yoerg did her research, and she approached the history of mental illness in a way that is honest, accurate, and sometimes disturbing.

Now, I’ve said plenty, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lake-dwelling people of Vermont, who were endlessly fascinating to me. I’d read a whole story about these “pirates” if one existed.

Pages 368

PS: The release date for this book is tomorrow, May 2, 2017!

The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

The Prophet (Graveyard Queen, #3)The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amanda Stevens introduces a dynamic new character and increases the romance in the third book in the Graveyard Queen series.

347 pages

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

The Morrison family lives in an isolated Northern Ontario rural community. There are four children; two older teenage boys, a younger girl, and an infant. Education is very important to the family, and the oldest son, Luke, has just been admitted to university. When the parents go to town to buy him a suitcase, they are hit by a farm truck and killed, leaving the four children to fend for themselves.  Luke gives up going to university to stay home and take care of the girls.

Matt, the second son, is more scholarly anyway, and Luke plans for him to be the one to get the education. Matt plans to work and save money for college, and then help Kate to go to college, who in turn will help Bo, the baby girl.

However, plans go awry, and what follows is years of non-communication that keeps the siblings from keeping the close bond they once had.


306 pages

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quinlan

Rebecca is a world renowned photographer. However, that isn't much consolation to her. Right now, she is in a small, dilapidated cottage in upper New York State, wondering what the racket is in her attic. Turns out, it's a raccoon, but finding that out isn't much consolation, either, although that's definitely better than some things it might be..

Only Rebecca knows that sales of her photographs have dried up, and the money she is spending to take care of her elderly parents have driven her to near-poverty. So she has rented out her lovely New York City apartment, and moved to the country to live cheaply while she tries to figure out how she is going to earn enough to recapture her former comfortable life.

She really hates this small-town life and all the inconveniences she experiences. But slowly the eccentric people and slower pace begin to seep into her soul, and she finds inspiration for a new photo series that  bring her back to the attention of the New York art world. Does she want to go back to that world?

263 pages

Thursday, April 27, 2017

United by Melissa Landers

United (Alienated, #3)United by Melissa Landers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable series. I'm happy I read this trilogy. It's sci-fi, but it somehow still manages to be light. It's fast paced and easy to read with memorable characters.

Pages: 317

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Did You Ever Have a Family: A Novel by Bill Clegg

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

June Reid is the sole survivor of an unbearable tragedy that grips the entire town of Wells, Connecticut. Shortly before her daughter’s wedding, a gas leak leads to an explosion at June’s house, leaving a bereft June and gossiping townspeople to make sense of it all. Directionless, June leaves Wells to drive across the country. Those she leaves behind whisper about what happened and if Luke, June’s thuggish boyfriend, was really responsible. With poetic language and through multiple perspectives, Clegg slowly reveals the narrative of a town touched by tragedy and the truth about those at its heart. Readers should note the novel contains drug references as well as language.

293 pages   


A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

A Step Toward FallingA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Belinda's POV was well done. It was nice to read a perspective of someone with some developmental disabilities. I especially enjoyed the audiobook version of this story.

This books was a reminder for me, not in how to treat those who have some kind of challenge be it physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above, but instead, in how to think of people. I don't know if that makes sense, so now I'm going to ramble as I try to process that comment. If you're not in for some existential rambling today, this is your cue to check out now.

What I think I'm trying to say is that I get that I should be kind, patient, and understanding with all humans. Am I always? Nope, not at all, and least of all with myself.

However, kind, patient, and understanding behaviors are really not enough. People don't just want me to behave politely. Most of them also want me to take them seriously and check my snap judgments at the door, even the quiet, internal judgments that are never spoken aloud.

Do I always do that? Nope.

Do I know I should? Yep.

Do I feel guilty when I pretend to be a better human on the outside than I actually feel on the inside? Definitely.

This book reminds people to be a good human on both the inside and the outside, and it shows you how to both succeed and fail at that, based on your every day choices. That's what I like about it.

Pages: 384

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing is pretty, and the story is imaginative. The problem for me is that the characters are just a bit too flat and underdeveloped to be truly interesting. It's not that I'm not interested at all. It's just that I wanted so much more from everyone. They needed to be a little less "caricature" --like, the good girl, the bad boy, the pretty flirt, the abusive father, etc. I also really wanted the relationships between characters to be deeper and more faceted.

It does remind me a bit of Night Circus, which definitely isn't a mark in its favor, as I had similar complaints with that story. I could have done with less fancy sentences and just a bit more depth in characters and relationships. I needed more than just the surface level stuff and the major plot points.

Also, despite the overabundance of description in this story, I felt like it was light on actual world building. I had a lot of description but not enough about the actual world and how everything within it worked and why.

Again, I still gave it 4 stars, so I found many other things interesting and charming about this story. It just didn't live up to its full potential, at least, not for me. I'm not sure if I will continue on and read book 2 or not. I guess I have a year to figure that out.

Pages: 407

Monday, April 24, 2017

Roomies by Sara Zarr

RoomiesRoomies by Sara Zarr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a YA novel based around emails exchanged between 2 soon to be roommates the summer before their freshman year at college. The concept is fun, and the story is easy to consume.

Pages: 279

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss ListNaomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a 3.5, that after careful consideration, I decided deserved to be rounded down, instead of up. I like both authors, but this didn't come together to create a story I loved. It was just okay.

Pages: 230


Saturday, April 22, 2017

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was just as sweet, naive, and hopeful as book one. I liked it.

Pages: 337

Friday, April 21, 2017

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Summary: "Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak-to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name."

After reading Becky's review, and also falling in love with the gorgeous cover, I had to read this book. 

It was wonderful and unique in a breath-taking (pun-intended?) way. It was a special book, the kind that you're always on the hunt for but aren't sure if you'll ever find.

309 pages

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of UnrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Becky Albertalli is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

First off, she has a fantastic name, which is completely irrelevant to people not named Becky.

Second, this book was so much fun to read that my face aches from smiling so much.

Third, Simon was one of my favorite 2015 reads, and I didn't think anything new could touch that adorable, huggable book. But I was wrong. This story was so enjoyable and relatable.

Fourth, a lot of YA gets heavy, regardless of genre. Albertalli's books have a way of tackling real issues in a way that's fresh and easy. It doesn't take anything away from the seriousness of a topic, but she also doesn't try to pulverize my heart, which I appreciate.

Fifth, the characters are authentic and delightfully teenagery. That should be a word. Just roll with it.

Sixth, the writing is funny.

Seventh, the pacing is solid.

Eighth, the parental units, actually most of the adults in the story, are decent, layered, and running the show as is typical of the real world.

Ninth, the depictions of neurotic first love/crush behaviors are amusing and spot on.

Tenth, Molly's voice is so earnest and honest, even when she's being unreasonably hard on herself. It's nice watching her grow, but it's realistic in showing that people change and grow slowly. It's more about the process, and evolving, not about achieving perfection.

Pages: 338

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nothing I say in a review could do this story justice.

It’s well-written, full of voice, current, relevant, timely, insightful, and heartbreaking. I think everyone should read it. Right now. And then we should all sit down and discuss it. Everywhere. In every library, school, and home across the nation.

Goodreads Blurb: (Contains spoilers!!)
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."

Pages: 464

You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart

You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

My rating: 4.0/5 Stars

Mamrie Hart describes herself as “a drinking star with a YouTube problem,” and this does indeed appear to be true. Hart is the founder of the YouTube series You Deserve a Drink, and she has compiled her best drinking stories into a novel. The book is set up to be a drinking game and a cocktail recipe starts off each chapter. Every time she references an old TV show, mentions a food product that can be found at 7-Eleven, or refers to a reproductive organ by a slang term, the reader is meant to take a swig. With stories ranging from a spring break spent at a gay nudist resort to celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico with her friend Maegan, where a group of swingers mistake them for a lesbian couple, boozy misadventures abound. As Grace Helbig notes in the forward, “None of what you’re about to read is exaggerated, fabricated, or G-rated.”

288 pages

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wait for You Series by J. Lynn (6 books/3 novellas total)

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)Wait for You by J. Lynn (Book #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's well-written, as is everything by Jennifer Armentrout. The characters are well-developed, and for romance, it's not too fluffy.

I like her YA supernatural/paranormal stories, which has led me to read some of her previous works, including this NA contemporary romance series.

It was nice to read something with depth that still flows easily and is hard to put down. The characters are flawed and have difficult back stories, but the heaviness is tempered by sweetness.

Pages: 332


Trust in Me (Wait for You, #1.5)Trust in Me by J. Lynn  (Novella #1.5)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Wait For You (book one), from Cam's perspective (the guy). It's fun and sometimes funnier and more lighthearted than book one. While it's not totally necessary, it is totally enjoyable and has enough difference and variety to keep you attention, despite being basically the same story.

The real difference is that you get everything from Cam's perspective, which is interesting, since as the reader, you are often just guessing what is going on in his head in book one. Sometimes, I was guessing wrong, which makes this even more enjoyable.

If you liked book one, you're going to like this.

Pages: 352


Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)Be with Me by J. Lynn (Book #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 is also good and about a different set of characters, which I enjoyed. While reading this series, I have frequently found myself hoping a certain character will be at the heart of the next story. Usually, my guesses/hopes are wrong, but this is one of those times when it felt good to be wrong.

It's another story with characters with dark pasts, and it's nice to see them change and grow.

Pages: 365


The Proposal (Wait for You, #2.5)The Proposal by J. Lynn  (Novella #2.5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short bit of fun, available for free online, for those who truly enjoy the series/characters.

Pages: 6




Stay with Me (Wait for You, #3)Stay with Me by J. Lynn  (Book #3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting change of pace. It's longer than the other stories but felt shorter. Some of the drama stays surface level, but I kind of prefer that in this instance. It helps keep a book with heavy topics still light enough that it reads quickly and you come out of the experience feeling good and not just miserable.

Pages: 448


Fall with Me (Wait for You, #4)Fall with Me by J. Lynn  (Book #4)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one falls hard towards adorable, with a very creepy subplot.

Pages: 389




Forever with You (Wait for You #5)Forever with You by J. Lynn  (Book #5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally. A love story for that girl who is unfairly categorized as the unlikable side character (sometimes even the enemy/frenemy/villain) in every single other romance novel. I'm happy she got her own story, and I like it as much or more than some of the others.

Pages: 370


TOTAL BOOKS: 7

TOTAL PAGES: 2,263


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen)The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While restoring a private graveyard in upstate South Carolina, Amelia uncovers dark family secrets. I was disappointed with this book after devouring 2 others in the series. There was less of the local history that I enjoyed in previous books, and the paranormal events were less realistic - if that's possible.

376 pages

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical HeartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this story a lot, but it totally gutted me.

This book is about the fallout that occurs when love finds you at the wrong point in your life, and you aren't able to handle or accept it (due to grief and guilt in this case). If you've ever been on either side of a situation like that (or perhaps both at different points in your life), then I think you'll find something to relate to.

Even if you haven't, there are a lot of good comments about love and relationships here that aren't commonly heard opinions in YA, especially in the contemporary genre. Also, the characters have fresh voices, and I particularly adore the side characters.

(view spoiler)

Pages: 320

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is about Norah, who has agoraphobia (which keeps her inside), OCD (to extremes), and very severe anxiety, which leads to some self harm. Living inside Norah's skin and world for the duration of this story was both painful and eye opening.

I would probably lean towards 4.25 stars on this, and while I don't love it quite as much as Everything, Everything and/or OCD Love Story, I think it's a great YA read for helping people understanding these different disorders better, including how differently they manifest in each person.

Also, the voice is captivating, and it's well-written. I'd recommend this to anyone, as I think that not only is it an interesting read, it's also very informative. I especially appreciated the fact that Norah's mental illnesses were not spurred on by any specific tragedy or event. They just crept up on her unexpectedly in her early teens until they were unmanageable, and not being able to explain to people why she was so severely anxious (other than that's just how her mind functioned), was a real challenge for her.

I spent a large chunk of the book feeling incredibly sorry for Norah and wishing there was something someone could do to make life easier for her. I mean, her mom and therapist both helped with that, but the sad part is that there was no perfect solution or magic cure. If she was a real teenager, she'd probably struggle the rest of her life with these disorders, and I couldn't help wishing it didn't have to be that way for her. I wanted a better and faster solution, even though I was fully aware that doesn't exist.

Pages: 320

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

Summary: "When her mother enters her and her twin sister as debutantes for this year's deb season in Dallas, soccer star Megan McKnight is furious. She has no interest the dress-filled life of a socialite deb, but her season turns out to be one full of twists and turns - and more than one dashing suitor!"

I do love a good Pride and Prejudice retelling, and this one was dang near perfect. I appreciated Megan's spirit and spunk, much like Lizzie Bennet's. Her humor and sass were right up my alley. Her story was so strong, that I actually wasn't as invested in the love interest as I usually am. The end of the book was a bit rushed, especially since the first half had such great substance and build-up. I didn't want it to end!

344 pages

Monday, April 10, 2017

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We StayAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nope. This is just not for me on so many different levels. This book would have been a DNF (Did Not Finish) if it hadn't been so short, and if I hadn't been listening on the airplane to try to pass time.

I just have these 6 quick things to say, then I wish you the best of luck, if you decide to read anyway. I hope you fare better than I did.

1. Pronunciation matters. And this story has a mispronounced word that is repeated (intentionally) so often it makes me want to peel my skin off. With a spoon.

2. It lacks real depth. Very heavy topics are handled in a flip manner that takes away from the intensity of the events, in a very uncomfortable and indifferent sort of way.

3. The characters are all bland and shallow and don't grow or develop into something deeper or more interesting.

4. Plot: snooze-fest

5. I love poetry, particularly Emily Dickinson, so this should have been an ideal book for me. But nope. The poetry tie in feels so at odds with the story, world, and characters...like everything is disjointed in the most uncomfortable and awkward sort of way. Somehow, this story made poetry annoying and boring, when the truth of the matter is that I absolutely love poetry, both reading and writing it, which should have made me the perfect reader for this book. But again. Nope.

6. You know how the adults on the Peanuts talk? Wa-waaah-wa-wahh-wah-wa. That's what almost every chapter felt like to me. A few pretty sentences just doesn't fix a story that lacks real depth and emotion.

I don't recommend this to anyone. Instead, I'd point people at better stories over the same complex topics (school shootings, suicide, abortion, etc.). And now that I just wrote that and read it back, I've realized this book shouldn't have tried to tackle so many big issues in so few pages.  It didn't handle any of them well or thoroughly.

Pages: 240

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1)The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is like Gossip Girls meets Sci-Fi, but not the wickedly cool, fast paced, action-packed kind of Sci-Fi (like Illuminae, The Lunar Chronicles, or The Diabolic) . It's more like a bunch of wealthy people with a ton of incredible tech who feel continually sorry for themselves about their misfortunes and complicated lives.

If you love brainless drama, this isn't too bad, except for the fact that the Sci-Fi edge doesn't allow you to read brainlessly, which disrupts the glee that comes with a fluffy book that is easy to devour. I listened on audio and found myself getting frequently distracted and sidetracked (because the story just wouldn't hold my attention). I rewound a lot, and at one point, I almost gave up, but my love for the genre forced me to trudge onward, in the hope of something better.

In about the last 8% of the book, something dramatic finally happens (though I'm not sure how happy I was to see the story move in that direction, when there could have been so many other interesting options). That's probably the point at which the book should have begun, but unfortunately, it's the point where the book ended. Since the story finally got started, right at the end, you would think I would be interested in reading on to book 2, but I guess I'm not. I think I'm done with this series.

It's probably more of a 2.5 for me, but I rounded up on behalf of the interesting tech/world. I really did appreciate that element of the story (and wished there had been more of that), even when everything else started to become boring. I guess there's only so much wealthy teenager drama that I can read and watch before it all starts seeming the same.

ALSO, I almost forgot to mention the multiple POVs. It has a lot, which I would normally love, but I found it very difficult to settle into the POVs for the first 15-20% of the book. So the POVs are rocky at the get go and don't transition smoothly, but that does get better as the story progresses.

In conclusion: it's not terrible. I just don't love it, and I wish I had buried myself in a Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Veronica Rossi, Pierce Brown, or Marissa Meyer book instead. They create far more intricate worlds and faster-paced plots.

Pages: 448

Saturday, April 8, 2017

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had so much potential, so the fact that the last 1/4 of the book was so unfathomable unacceptable has shocked me to my very core. I was sure this was going to be a 4 star book with occasional, sparkles of 5. Everything about it showed a depth and sweetness that drew me right in. The writing was solid, and it had some things to say that I haven't heard very much in YA.

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS MAY OCCUR IN THE VAGUE RANTINGS THAT WILL FOLLOW. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

Then blamo. The most ridiculously out of the blue incident occurred. That was okay, because these moments occur in every contemporary romance, and it gives the characters a chance to rise up and overcome obstacles to become stronger people and/or couples. Blah, blah, blah.

But nope. That's not what happened here. Instead, characters behaved in ways that are so uncharacteristic of themselves that I couldn't even recognize them for the characters I had known and loved for hundreds of pages. Also, to make matters worse, really big, overwhelming issues were resolved, after extended periods of ugliness, with just a few sentences and a kiss. . . or hug? Can't even remember. BECAUSE NO. JUST NO. Teenage lust does not resolve life-altering events.

Finally, the resolution is weak, unsatisfying, and reeks of mistruth. For realistic fiction, it definitely misses the realistic mark in a disappointing and frustrating way. Then la-di-dah, everyone lives happily ever after, except all the side characters and the reader who invested way too much of her time caring about what happened to all of the characters (which she'll never known, because none of their subplots were resolved. NONE OF THEM).

AND MAJOR SPOILER:
A completely inhumane and intentional criminal act (okay, technically 3 criminal acts, because that's how bad it was) perpetrated by what should be a responsible adult is completely brushed under the rug, after the selfish individual throws a sum of money at the issue, that in my opinion was quite pathetic and not nearly enough to account for the damage that was done, both financially and in terms of quality of life and life expectancy, especially considering this villain showed a complete lack of believable remorse.

Basically, I'm leaving the book angry, offended, and extremely disappointed in everyone. The whole heart of the story was sacrificed to this unnecessary and unsatisfactory plot twist. Due to the extremely poor resolution of both the plot twist and the story, I might hesitate to pick up another book by this author, even though I like her writing style overall. She creates interesting characters and really develops the world, but there's something lacking here in terms of story structure, particularly in the way she fails to wrap up so many of the subplots. If all you want in the ending of a romance novel is for the two characters to be together, then this delivers that, just nothing else that you spent hundreds of pages wondering about and/or hoping for.

Pages: 394

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

A Little Something DifferentA Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I guess this is kind of NA, but it definitely reads like YA...

It's either bizarre or surprisingly unique, with way too many POVs in first person narrative, including a squirrel and a bench. While that is quirky and sometimes amusing, the extra POVs are overwhelming and confusing in the beginning, and the non-human POVs are completely unnecessary to the storyline. I'm a reader who loves multiple POVs (just throwing that out there for a baseline). This kind of works but could be better. I think perhaps this was written in the wrong perspective, and the story could have been better accomplished in some form of 3rd, maybe 3rd omni.

If you like to drown in endless existential angst and enjoy tediously drawn out romantic drama, while seeing very little forward motion or character growth, through many different perspectives, you'll probably love this. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, take a slow step backwards, don't make any sudden moves, and quietly slip into the darkness before this book hooks a claw in you.

This is basically a "will they ever get together" story with the two shyest, slowest moving, and most oblivious characters ever. Some will find that endearing, while others find it epically frustrating. I land in the middle of the spectrum, finding it both frustrating and a bit endearing, the same as I find the writing choices to be unexpected in a way that is both interesting and perhaps a bit misguided.

Pages: 272

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Summary: *SPOILER "Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets--a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world."

Crooked Kingdom is the follow-up novel to Six of Crows, and it was a roller-coaster of the very best kind. The intricate plot and the well-rounded characters twisted up my emotions to where I didn't know right from wrong, good from bad or joy from grief. 

546 pages

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Girl Mans UpGirl Mans Up by M-E Girard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just when I was starting to feel like all the books I've been reading lately have blurred together, this one stands out in the best ways.

I've read a lot of LGBT YA in the past few years, and this one pointed out all these subtleties to gender identity that I still wasn't aware of or didn't quite understand. The story has a refreshing angle (Pen, the MC, is a girl who fully embraces her masculine side, despite the displeasure of her Portuguese parents).

I also enjoyed that Pen was Portugese-American, as it was an interesting look at the differences between two cultures, as well as what it's like to grow up caught between cultures.

As an added bonus, it was great to see a healthy relationship play out between two girls. This definitely offers something new and more to the YA LGBT Contemporary category.

Pages: 384

Monday, April 3, 2017

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Daughters Unto DevilsDaughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This would be the book baby of Laura Ingalls Wilder and William Peter Blatty. Bizarre, creepy, and demonic meets the prairie.

Pages: 231


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Galgorithm by Aaron Karo

GalgorithmGalgorithm by Aaron Karo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is sweet, adorable, predictable, and yet still satisfying and unique. I enjoyed the characters and all of their quirks.

I also appreciated seeing a male character who is obsessed with love, matchmaking, and helping others be their best. It's nice to see a "regular guy" with so many nurturing instincts in a YA novel. It quietly defies some of the common gender stereotypes, and I really appreciate that.

Pages: 320

Friday, March 31, 2017

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Phantom LimbsPhantom Limbs by Paula Garner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is truly a wonderful YA contemporary, coming of age story with a solid dose of the expected diversity, tragedy, grief, and romance. It's well-written, with characters that show a lot of depth and growth. Perhaps the most interesting part is the complicated relationships between different characters.

The reason I can't give this 5 stars is that I feel like I've read a hundred other different versions of this story, in this genre and category, in the past 2 years. That does not take away from the fact that this was still a beautiful and heartbreaking story, but it does raise the bar for stars.

I recommend it. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't pick it up and read it again. So 4 stars.

Pages: 368

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Summary: "Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map, the key to a legendary treasure trove, pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies. Now the only thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden."

Um, can I have the next book right now...please?! 

Daughter of the Pirate King is exactly the kind of book I would have loved in high school. The adventures are grand and the love-hate main relationship is charming and swoon-worthy. I liked the fast-paced plot and pirate-lore. For once, I actually was craving a little more backstory and world-building, which is very unusual for me.

The ending is incomplete which leaves me hungry for the next book!

311

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cross the Line by James Patterson

 Alex Cross is back, and chasing the latest serial killer(s). This time he is working two cases simultaneously; the murder of his very own Chief of Detectives, and a team of murderers killing drug dealers.

The two cases seem to have no connection, and yet....do they? As with all Alex Cross novels, the usual murder and mayhem ensue on the streets of Washington, D. C. - and around the country.


401 pages

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Books 1-4)

Summary: "Becky Bloomwood is bored to death writing for Successful Saving. So, with a handsome credit line from her bank, she liberates herself the best way she knows how -- by shopping! Think of it as an investment, she tells herself. But, soon she is buried in bank notices and cursed VISA bills."

I had previously seen the Confessions of a Shopaholic movie, and wasn't sure if I'd like the book series. Turns out, as usual, the book series is much better than the movie! :) I'm so glad I picked these up, as they put a big goofy smile on my face no matter what.


310 pages












Summary: "With her shopping excesses in check- for now at least-and her new career as a TV financial adviser. But now Becky's business minded boyfriend needs to move to New York and he wants her to move with him!"

Becky's spirit, creativity and imagination are often the best bits of this series. Becky's daydreams are vivid and wild and most importantly, something we can all relate to! 

However, Becky can be a very frustrating character as she often lies to her loved ones and continues to make repeated mistakes. But in these books, the good ultimately outweigh the bad!

323 pages







***SPOILERS***


Summary: "Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) returns from her honeymoon only to discover she has a half-sister-who hates to shop."

Surprisingly, this is my favorite of the series so far! It had more drama and heart in it than the previous two installments. Becky faced down some tough situations with grit and determination. I could hardly put it down!


352 pages










Summary: "Becky is pregnant! She couldn't be more overjoyed, especially since discovering that shopping cures morning sickness. Everything has got to be perfect for her baby. But when her must-have celebrity obstetrician turns out to be her husband Luke's glamorous, intellectual ex-girlfriend, Becky's perfect world starts to crumble."

I enjoyed this installment of the Shopaholic series, but it wasn't as good as Shopaholic & Sister. Becky's foray into the baby shopping world was funny, but alarming. I enjoyed certain parts very much, and found others to be frustrating and upsetting. I did not enjoy Luke's storyline at all because he is such a great character who deserves much better treatment!

358 pages

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fans for this book series are wild and devoted and fill up my twitter thread on a daily basis. I wanted to love this to the extremes that they do, but I’m not quite there yet. It’s possible it is something that will creep up on me in time. I'm hopeful for that.

I do adore the story and characters, and the world is fascinating. I listened to this on audiobook, and I think perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read this book (maybe to read any book), as I was continually distracted and had to rewind a lot. That might have curbed my overall enjoyment, so I’m willing to suggest that if I reread this in print, my stars might increase.

I’ll definitely read the next two books, once I get my hands on those.

Overall, this is a good YA fantasy with creative magic, solid world building, and quirky, lovable characters. Two thumbs up and four sparkly stars.

Pages: 400