Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Forget Me by K.A. Harrington

Title: Forget Me
Author: K.A. Harrington
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: August 7, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.

As some of you may know, other than contemporary stories, mysteries and thrillers might just be my favourite types of stories. Because of that, I was excited about K.A. Harrington’s Forget Me, it sounded like it would be right up my alley. And though the story didn’t end up be quite what I thought it was going to be, I still highly enjoyed it. 

Three months after her boyfriend Flynn’s sudden death, Morgan is still trying to deal with her grief. In an attempt to help her, her best friend suggests she upload a picture of Flynn to FriendShare for closure. But when she does, the site suggest that Morgan someone in the picture, but it isn’t Flynn. It’s Evan Murphy, a boy who looks just like Flynn and lives a in a nearby town. Could it be possible that Flynn isn’t really dead, that he survived the accident that supposedly killed him? Morgan finds herself getting drawn in the mystery, but will she be able to do so without risking her own life in the process.

I love mysteries. At least half of what I watch on TV involves mysteries being solved in some way or another. So books with mysteries are totally up my alley. When I first heard about K.A. Harrington’s Forget Me it had me completely intrigued. The premise felt like something that could actually happen, considering how easy it is to find people online. And when I started reading, the way this all played out actually felt realistic. Granted I was somewhat surprised as to how quickly the story jumped into the mystery. I mean, by the third or fourth chapter, most of what is said in the synopsis had happened. I was a little worried about what that meant for the rest of the book, but I shouldn’t have been worried. The mystery aspect of the story kept me reading and I admit that I didn’t figure it out until it was pretty much all laid out in front of me. My one complaint about the story was that it wasn’t always clear how much time was passing and it sometimes resulted in me feeling like things were maybe happening faster than they actually were. But that was something that could easily be overlooked and didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the story.

I’m unsure how I feel about Morgan. I really enjoyed reading the story from her perspective since she was in the middle of it all. The mystery was not only tied to her directly but seemed to involve everyone in her life. I loved that I was discovering everything at the same time as she was and I honestly didn’t put it together until she did. Outside of Morgan, the other characters in this story intrigued me. I was never sure who I should trust and who was out to get Morgan. Reece and Evan in particular were two characters that I kept changing my mind about, never really knowing what they were up to or if they could be trusted. On the subject of Evan, there’s a lot that I could say. This could just be tied in to the fact that I wasn’t always sure how much time was passing, but it felt like Evan came into Morgan’s life was really fast, especially since he seemed to become a pretty integral part of her life pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Evan and I liked that the story was built in part around him and how he fit into the mystery, but he just seemed to pop out of nowhere. Which I guess was the point of the story and maybe I’m just nitpicking at this point. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading K.A. Harrington’s Forget Me. The mystery aspect of the story kept me turning the pages, trying to figure out exactly what was going on in this small town. If you are looking for a good thriller-type read, then this is the book for you.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books People Have Told Me I MUST Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which bloggers post their "Top Ten" list of books based on that week's theme. This week's theme:

(or, Here are all the books I own that I haven't read yet because I fail at reading books that I know/people tell me I will really like)

I don't normally participate in Top Ten Tuesday but this week's topic came right at the same time as I had Ciara and Jess, two of my awesome blogger friends, over at my house this past weekend. While looking at my bookshelves, because that's what book friends do, they started telling me which books I owned that I had to read. So here are 10 of the books they pointed out.

1 & 2 - Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - This is the part where I tell the world that I haven't read a single Melina Marchetta book. Ever. *Goes to hide in a corner* Now that that's out of the way, I have been yelled at plenty by Ciara for not having read either of these books despite owning them (this will be a recurring theme for this list).

3 - We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han - I fail at finishing series. Like, this is a MAJOR problem for me. I can't even begin to count how many series I've started but haven't finished. In this case, I loved the first two books in Jenny Han's Summer trilogy I just can't bring myself to read the last one. Maybe it's because I was quite happy with the ending of the second book love triangle-wise so I'm afraid of what might happen.

4 - Where She Went by Gayle Forman - Yeah, so I haven't read Where She Went yet. I've read If I Stay and I loved it. I've been told by so many people that Where She Went is even better and even more emotional. Seeing the If I Stay movie this week may just be the motivation I need to finally read Where She Went.

5 - Looking for Alaska by John Green - I've only read two John Green books: Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars. But Looking for Alaska is the one that everyone (aka Ciara) has been telling me that I need to read. But I'm afraid of all the feelings that could possibly come from reading this book. 

6 - The rest of the Soul Screamers series (Specifically books 4, 5, 6 and 7) by Rachel Vincent - A year or two ago I started reading the Soul Screamers series, but I only got as far as book 3. According to some people, I need to remedy that fact. 

7 - Starling by Fiona Paul - This is another case of my inability to finish series in a timely manner. Though admittedly, Starling came out this year, so this isn't too outstanding. But I loved the first two books. And Jess has been telling me that I will love the conclusion. So I really need to get on that.

8 - Midnight Frost (and by extension, Killer Frost) by Jennifer Estep - In my opinion, the Mythos Academy series is one of the most underrated YA series out there. I've loved every book I've read in this series but I can't bring myself to read the last two books in the series. That and, as I've already established, I suck at finishing series.

9 - The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - It took me a while to get around to reading The Raven Boys so I'm not entirely surprised that I haven't read The Dream Thieves yet. And Ciara (anyone seeing a trend yet?) has borderline yelled at me for not having read it yet. 

10 - Origin (and by extension, Opposition) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - You would think that after the end of Opal I would have been dying to read Origin. And I was. But then life got in the way. And so for the past year Ciara and Katie have been asking me if I've read it yet. And now that Opposition is out, they're nagging me even more. But in a good way.

So these are ten of the books people have been telling me I need to read. Believe me when I say that there are A LOT more sitting on my bookshelves. For now, let me know in the comments which one form this list you think I should read first!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dream Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

You know those books that no matter what you know you will love, and then you read them and you love them even more than you thought you could? Combine that feeling with finally being able to read a book you’ve been waiting forever to read and you’ll start to get an idea of how I feel about Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After.

For as long as she can remember, Isla has been crushing hard on Josh but she’s never had the courage to do anything about it. But when she finds herself sitting across the table from him at a Manhattan caf√©, Isla thinks this might be fate. Or it’s just lowered inhibitions thanks to a high dose of painkillers. But after that fateful night, Isla doesn’t see Josh again until they are both back at school in Paris. Starting their senior year, Isla and Josh grow closer, spending more and more time together quickly becoming inseparable. But just when things seem perfect, circumstances chance and the two quickly discover that getting to their happily ever after might not be as easy as they thought. 

I can’t even begin to explain how long I have been waiting for Isla and the Happily Ever After. When I saw that my pre-order had shipped early I practically jumped for joy. And when the book showed up at my house, there might have been loud squealing involved. Once I was done dancing around and hugging the book, I didn’t waste any time and started reading it right away. And I can’t even begin to put into words how Isla and the Happily Ever After made me feel. To say I was completely filled with utter joy and happiness would be a complete understatement. The whole time I was reading, I just had a big smile on my face. But at the same time, I also didn’t want the story to end because then that would mean having to say goodbye to these characters that I absolutely adore. Because I absolutely loved this story, and connected to it in ways that I never thought I would. I’ve always had a soft spot for stories where the characters go to school in foreign countries, because that’s what I did. From grade six to the end of high school, I was in Europe. My school wasn’t a boarding school the way the one in this story is, but there were definitely a lot of similarities. That alone, allowed me to connect to this story, and the one in the other books. But more than that, and with Isla and the Happily Ever After in particular, it was the characters that I connected with. Isla and Josh were so much more than I had hoped they would be and they are in large part why I loved this book so much.

In many other reviews, I’ve said that I’ve connected with characters, or seen some of myself in the characters I read about, but never has that been as true as it was with Isla. The more I read, the more I saw myself in Isla. At first I didn’t necessarily realize it, but the more I saw how she thought and the way her brain works, the more I realized that I was just like her in high school. Hell, I’m still a lot like that now that I’m in my twenties. In a way, seeing all of those thoughts on paper made me realize some things about myself. But beyond connecting with Isla so much, I loved her something fierce. And I loved her with Josh. Josh was someone who was sort of in the background in Anna and the French Kiss and I loved getting to know him more in this book. I really couldn’t have asked for a better match for Isla. These two together were just the most adorable couple. seeing them together, and seeing their relationship grow just warmed my heart and made me so unbelievably happy. And of course I loved the cameos by the characters from the previous books. There were many moments when I had to refrain from squealing out loud while reading in public because stuff happened and it made me SO FREAKING HAPPY AND EXCITED.

As you might have guessed Isla and the Happily Ever After was absolute perfection. I loved every single page of this book. Stephanie Perkins is the master of writing adorable and swoon-worthy romance. I absolutely CANNOT wait to see what she does next.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

Title: A Blind Spot for Boys
Author: Justina Chen
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who’s right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana’s interest. Right as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind.

Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into non other than Quattro himself. 

Even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously…

Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.

A few years ago, I read Justina Chen’s North of Beautiful and I absolutely loved it. Since, I hadn’t read anything more by this author. I don’t know why. But I recently remedied the situation by reading Justina Chen’s most recent release, A Blind Spot for Boys. And as I was reading, I was reminded of just how beautiful this author’s books are.

After getting her heart broken by a boy that was completely wrong for her, Shana went on a dating rampage, never getting attached to any of the boys she dated. When it all gets a little too crazy, she goes on a Boy Moratorium. But just when she makes the decision to swear off boys, Shana meets Quattro, the boy who slams into her life. It all seems like Shana may have finally found Mr. Right, but it all has to be put on hold when her family receives the news that her dad is going blind. Before she knows it, Shana is jetting off to South America so her dad can see Machu Picchu before he loses his sight completely. And just when she’s coming to terms with her boy-less life, Shana finds herself coming face to face with Quattro, thousands of miles away from home. The more time she spends with Quattro, the more Shana begins to rethink her Boy Moratorium. But there’s something Quattro is not telling her. As she sees her life as she knows it come apart, will Shana be able to reach out to the one person who could help her through it all?

I clearly remember when I read Justina Chen’s North of Beautiful years ago, I was deeply affected by the book and it stayed with me for a long time. After that, though, for whatever reason I didn’t go back and read any of her other books nor did I really pay attention to whether or not she had any upcoming releases. But when I heard about A Blind Spot for Boys I knew that I wanted to read this book. As you’re well aware if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I’m a sucker for any and all contemporary story, but I also love those contemporary stories that go deep than just the fun and flirty romance. With A Blind Spot for Boys, that’s exactly what I got. I’ll be the first to admit that I expected there to be more an focus on the romance and the developing relationship between Shana and Quattro, but that’s not really what this story was. And I’m happy about that. This story was very much about Shana finding herself and coming to terms with what is happening to her family. It was about a family having to adapt to a new situation but not knowing how to do it. And all of this was set against the backdrop of the Machu Picchu trail. I’ll be honest, if nothing else, this book made me want to get on a plane to Peru and see Machu Picchu with my own eyes.

Shana was different than I expected her to be. From the synopsis of the book, I had the image in my mind of what she was going to be. But then I started reading and met a completely different girl than I expected. And I really liked the girl I met. I loved seeing how much Shana cared about her family and all she was willing to do and sacrifice for her family, no matter how misguided that could sometimes be. Over the course of the story, I loved seeing her come to terms with what was happening and find out who she really is, other than the girl who takes pictures and who dates a lot of boys. And I loved how her would-be relationship with Quattro helped her learn so much about herself. I wish I could have seen more of Quattro, though. Found out more about him, about everything that has happened to him to make him who he was. As for the cast of secondary characters, I really enjoyed seeing how each one of them played a part in Shana finding herself and understanding who she wanted to be and what she wanted for herself. It really felt like each one had something to add to the story.

Justina Chen’s A Blind Spot for Boys was exactly the kind of book I had hoped it would be. It made me realize that I really need to go back and read Justina Chen’s books that I’ve so far haven’t gotten my hands on.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Blog Tour - Like No Other by Una LaMarche

Title: Like No Other
Author: Una LaMarche
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: July 24, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart?

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. 

Jaxo is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).

They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed…until one day, they did.

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.

Thought heir relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.

Sometimes there are some books that sound really interesting and make me want to read them, without necessarily seeming like they are something extraordinary. But then I read those books and find myself being completely blown away by what I read. Una LaMarche’s Like No Other is one of those books. It completely blew me away.

Devorah has always been seen as a good girl. And most of the time, it’s not just appearances. Never in her sixteen years has she set foot out of line. She has always followed her parents’ rules and lived following the strict Hasidic values of her community. But when she gets trapped in an elevator with Jaxon, things start to change for Devorah. She finds herself wanting to know more about this boy, even though doing so would be going against everything she is and what her family stands for. When he finds himself in an elevator with Devorah, Jaxon wants to make her feel safe. Where he normally gets tongue-tied around girls, Jaxon finds himself talking to Devorah like talking to girls is something he does all the time. The two feel a connection, but can that connection survive outside a stalled elevator? Everything is working against them, but Jaxon and Devorah can’t deny that they want to be together. But will they be able to make it through everything that is standing in their way?

To make a really bad joke, the title kinda says it all when it comes to this book. Una LaMarche’s Like No Other is unlike any other book I’ve read recently. Sure, when your first look at it, it sounds like any other story about teenaged star-crossed lovers—two people who are fighting to be together when everything is trying to stop them from doing just that. But Like No Other is about so much more than that. For starters, this story is about people who don’t often get the spotlight when it comes to YA romance novels. Devorah is form a strict Hasidic Jew community. Jaxon is from a West Indian family. That alone makes the story interesting. But what makes the story so captivating is how well-written it is, and how both cultures are weaved into the story in a way that makes it seems like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. When I was reading, I knew that Devorah was Hasidic and that she lived in a Hasidic community, but it didn’t feel like that was her defining character. It was just part of the bigger story. The same goes for Jaxon being West Indian. What I appreciated was all the elements of the Hasidic culture that were weaved into the story. I am not Jewish (or much of any religion for that matter) and I don’t claim to know much of anything about Hasidic Judaism, but I could tell as I was reading that Una LaMarche really did her research in order to present as realistic a portrayal of that world. Those elements of the story were interesting to read about and even made me seek out more information on that culture. Beyond that, Like No Other was a love story and we all know that I can’t resist a good story. I loved seeing this story play out and though I understand why it had to end the way it did and even if that ending was satisfying and felt right, the hopeless romantic in me couldn’t help but want a different outcome. I love where the characters ended up at the end of the story, but I wanted more. 

It might be obvious given everything I’ve already said about Like No Other, but Devorah and Jaxon were unlike any other characters I’ve read about in YA recently. Beyond being a girl who lives in a Hasidic community, Devorah is a just a girl trying to figure out where she fits in the world, trying to figure out how to make her faith and her desires for her future line up with one another. I loved how she started challenging and questioning everything she had ever been told after she met Jaxon. It made her seem like a real person. And Jaxon was just a hopeless romantic. I loved reading this story from his perspective, seeing the lengths he would go to try and make things better for him and Devorah even if everything seemed to be standing in their way. At the end of the day, I loved that these characters were good for each other. They helped the other realize what they wanted and do something about it. They may not have had the easiest time being together, but when they were, they were good for each other. 

Una LaMarche’s Like No Other was a very different read than what I thought it was going to be. It has the romance that I love in all the contemporary stories I read but it also made me think about everything that can stand in the way of two people who want nothing more than to be together. Like No Other is simply one of those books that everyone should read.

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