Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Summerlost by Ally Condie

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It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar. 

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy. 

I think that Ally Condie did a fantastic job with Summerlost! I think that she thrives in middle grade books. I thought that her Matched series was okay but this book really grabbed me. I was crying by the end which I didn't expect to happen. She captured the emotions of the story and the mindset of a preteen beautifully without sacrificing anything in the story. I don't read a lot of middle grade so I wasn't sure if I would like this because I thought that it might come off as too juvenile for me. I was wrong. I really felt for Cedar and what she was going through. She suffered such a devastating loss and didn't seem to know what to do with herself. She makes mistakes along the way but there was a beauty in those mistakes. I loved seeing the family dynamics play out and how the members of her family seem to do different things to cope with their loss. I liked the friendship between her and Leo and how they learn and grow together. Summerlost  packs an emotional punch that you won't see coming so bring your tissues and enjoy immersing yourself in Shakespeare and summertime!

Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars #1) by Sara Shepard

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Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back? A strong launch for a suspenseful series.

I watched the Pretty Little Liars TV show  before I even thought about reading the books. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy them as much after having them spoiled for me. Someone told me who A is in the books and when I am told such a huge spoiler, I usually don't read the books at all. I decided that I would give it a chance and was surprised to find quite a few differences from the show. This book was just as intriguing and addicting as the show was and I am excited to continue reading the series. 
The books seem to be written for a younger audience but that didn't really bother me all that much. I was surprised that some of the issues that the girls go through in the book were not featured in the show. I would think that it would be a chance to talk about difficult topics and shed light on them. 
I enjoyed the pacing of the book as well as the different points of view of each of the girls. They each had a unique voice that was interesting to read from Spencer who takes on too much in order to outshine her sister to Emily who seems perpetually nervous and tries to follow everyone's rules so she doesn't make waves. I didn't feel as if their voices were as unique in the show so I felt the book was better to highlight their differences from one another. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

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On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. 

This book really packs a punch! I knew that it would! I have loved all of Jay Kristoff's other books that I have read and when he described it as being "Romeo and Juliet meets Bladerunner, while Fury Road plays a guitar solo in the background" I knew that I had to read it. I think that Lifelike may be my favorite book of his thus far. It was action-packed but didn't skimp on the emotional punch either!

I know that the description may make it sound like there is too much going on but I promise that is not the case.  Some may be turned off by the Romeo and Juliet reference but it doesn't play into that side of things as much as one might think. I know because I am tired of those kinds of stories because I feel that they have been played out. Eve and Ezekiel are each very strong characters in their own right. They are trying to figure out where they fit in the world and/or how the world could be changed to fit them. Everything begins to go haywire once they meet and the fast pace doesn't let up throughout the book. I enjoyed all of the characters. I found that they each had a purpose in the plot of the book and each had some kind of background to them that was revealed. I appreciated this because it could get messy to flesh out so many characters but Jay Kristoff found a way to organically do it so that the book was fluid and packed with description. I love the world that the author created. It was very different and I'll admit that the slang tripped me up a bit. I did find the language a little annoying at times but you get used to it and everything else in the book more than makes up or it!

There were some things that happened that I had guessed would take place but others that I found a little confusing. I think that everything will be explained in book 2. I have a feeling that things are about to get bonkers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Geekerella (Starfield #1) by Ashley Poston

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Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

*ARC provided through Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I loved all of the geeky elements that were thrown into the mix with this Cinderella re-telling. Can I just's about time?! This is the Cinderella story that I was waiting for! I feel like this is every fan-girl's dream! I thought that this version of Cinderella was fresh and new for the geeky girl of today. I loved Elle. She just wanted to get away from it all and be accepted for who she was not unlike Darien who was a geek of his own right. I found him adorable and wanted to pinch his cheek so many times!
My only issue with the story is that I wanted the author to venture further away from the original. I feel like I've seen so many of the same elements over and over having to do with Cinderella. It gets tiresome. I did love the tweaks and changes that the author did make. The pumpkin food truck was genius! I would just say push it even further! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

By Your Side by Kasie West

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When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

I thought that this was just going to be a fun romance read. I didn't really expect anything other than that so I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading and found out that one of the characters has a bad reputation and the other struggles with anxiety. I related to Autumn's struggles because I used to care too much about what people thought of me and put others happiness above my own. I felt for her and wanted her to stand up for herself and be honest with everyone including herself about her anxiety. I wasn't sure how I felt about Dax at first because he seemed like a real jerk. I warmed to him as Autumn did and saw that there was more to him than met the eye. I enjoyed seeing them in a contained environment but also in the real world where they were forced to face the issues of their lives again. I was surprised that neither one of them seemed to be book lovers considering that they were both stuck in a library together but I got over it. I loved that they challenged each other and the beautiful friendship that came out of them being trapped together. 

Church. (Church, #1) by Stylo Fantome

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A broken girl.

An unusual boy.

A beautiful face that hides a dark secret and an ugly past.

Sealed lips which hide wicked words and dangerous thoughts.

She would kill for him to love her.

He just wants to kill.

Maybe, if Emma Hartley prays hard enough, Church Logan can make both their wishes come true.

Fuse, meet match.

warning: if you have triggers - this story will touch on a lot of them. This book is a psychological thriller, 65,000+ words. 

I bought this book on a whim when I was looking through new books and stumbled onto a review of this book. The tagline and the synopsis of the book hooked me right away and I had to read it. I love novels that are dark in nature especially if the characters are unusual. Church was definitely an unusual character and diving into his mind was an interesting experience. I was happy that the author chose to have his point of view in the book although I would have liked to have had his point of view more often. I also liked Emma because she was a tough girl who tried to push the world away in a sense, It never gave her any favors. She had been treated poorly in her life and was still suffering the consequences of the actions of others on her life. There were times when I wasn't sure who was coming out on top in the battle of manipulation and wills between the two of these characters but I enjoyed the ride. It is a psychological thriller for sure and the author did a fantastic job of showing the decent of both of these characters into their darker selves. This is definitely not a love story so if you are looking for that you will be disappointed. This story focuses more on what it takes to push someone over the edge and obsession.  I'm excited for the second book and hope to explore each of the characters even more. I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last or the worst of them yet.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd

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Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

I've been afraid to read The Madman's Daughter for a while because it is based on the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. I saw the movie when I was younger and it freaked me out. I don't typically watch horror movies but my family watched it and I ended up having nightmares for months afterward. I finally decided to pick it up because I seem to be able to handle a lot more when it comes to books and I've been in a "I'll read anything" kind of mood. 

I actually really enjoyed this book! There is a creepy tone to it and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that has a weak stomach due to the graphic nature of some scenes in it. I think that Madman's Daughter was more psychological in nature than the movie adaptation (I haven't read the original book) which was more violent. I appreciated this and it was interesting to think about animals and humanity. Juliet's father had a very skewed view of what was acceptable in the world of science and what was not. He had clearly lost touch with reality and it was interesting to see the affect that this had on Juliet. I enjoyed the characters and thought that Megan Shepard did a great job with the love interests especially. They were each flawed men and it really came down to whose darkness she could accept and what parts of herself she wanted to shine a light on through them.