Top 10 Tuesday: Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I think this might be one of my all-time favorite Top 10 Tuesday topics. I made my choices based on several criteria: hotness, survival skills, and potential to entertain me/be my friend.

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1. Nash from Nash: Pure hotness factor.
2. Katsa from Graceling: I mean, her whole thing is survival, why would I pick anyone else?
3. Aria from Under the Never Sky: She has a knack for survival, plus I think we’d be good friends.
4. Lynn from Not a Drop to Drink: Again, survival.
5. Julian from Stir Me Up: Yummm, hot ex-soldier.
6. Regan from Fangirl: How funny would that be?
7. Anna or T.J. from On the Island: They did it once they can do it again, yeah?
8. Ansel from Sweet Filthy Boy: Hotness and humor. Plus the bike trip probably taught him some survival skills.
9. Jenny from Why Can’t I Be You: I think we would be besties.
10. Danny from When You Were Here: I just love him.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Topics That Make Me Not Want to Pick Up a Book


Book Review: The Piper’s Son

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Title: The Piper’s Son
Author: Melina Marchetta
Release Date: 03/08/11
Genre: Adult (new adult?) contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Piper’s Son is a special book, one of those special books that’s so special that whatever I say about it will not be able to do it justice. Seriously, you should just go and read this book right now.

Tom, who you’ll know if you’ve read Saving Francesca (which I don’t think is vital to read before The Piper’s Son, but certainly helpful for the Tom portion of the story), is now in his early-20s and not in a very good place. He’s taken a leave of absence from college, lives off the Australian welfare equivalent, has terrible, sketchy roommates, and has fallen out with the crowd of friends that had developed by the end of Saving Francesca. His downward spiral started after his favorite uncle was killed in a terrorist attack in London and Tom’s family fell apart. His father started drinking more and more and his mother left, taking his sister with her until Tom’s father can get his life together. At the start of the book Tom hasn’t spoken or seen either of his parents in over a year. Tom also hasn’t seen or heard from Tara Finke since his uncle died and he essentially blew her off after they spent a few amazing nights together.

Tom’s story is all about putting his life back together and getting his family, both blood and not blood, back together. As part of doing that Tom stays with his aunt Georgie, who, at 42-years-old, is pregnant even though she refuses to acknowledge it to those around her. After Tom’s uncle died Georgie was the one who went to London to get him and years later she is still very much bogged down in grief. She also feels guilty because, for reasons that are explained in the book, she feels she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get pregnant if her brother didn’t die. The father is an ex-boyfriend of hers who she still loves, but she doesn’t feel like she can take back, despite both of them obviously wanting to be together, because he betrayed her years ago and she’s trying to save face. At first I was skeptical of the Georgie storyline, I wanted to read about Tom, Francesca, Will, Tara, Siobhan and all the other great characters I remembered from Saving Francesca, but in the end I liked Georgie’s story as much, if not slightly more, than I liked Tom’s.

The thing about The Piper’s Son is that it’s such a complete story. Melina Marchetta completely immersed me in these characters’ lives and I came away feeling like I knew them and their world so intimately. Much of Tom and Georgie’s stories overlap because the family Tom wants back together is also Georgie’s family and having both of their perspectives on Tom’s parents and grandparents and uncle just made the story so much richer. This is a book where there are so many characters, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused by any of them (except maybe Georgie’s group of friends). I also really felt like I knew all the supporting characters. It’s somewhat easier because I already knew a handful from Saving Francesca, but new ones, like Tom’s parents and grandparents each had their own story and personality come through.

Since the story is about a family that’s fallen apart, death, loss of friendship, and a lot of other serious themes it would be easy for it to be depressing, but the feelings I took from this book were hope and joy, but even as I was reading it I never felt saddened. Honestly, as I was reading the primary emotion I felt was humor. Tom and Georgie as both smart, funny, witty people and even in their sadness and depression and tough times, all of that intelligence and wit really came through.

I originally picked up The Piper’s Son for the romance. At the New York City Teen Author Festival Gayle Forman recommended it, and I can’t remember exactly what she said, but she mentioned the amazing romance or story of first love. The biggest surprise for me was how much of a backseat the romance took to the rest of the story for me. Tom’s pursuit of Tara Finke was fantastic and his desire to show the woman he loves how he’s changed and how he’s sorry is definitely up there with Adam for me, but I honestly think I liked The Piper’s Son more for the stories of family and friendship than I did for the romance.

All that said, I did have my moments of swooning over the emails Tom sends to Tara, who’s working abroad. He spends a good amount of time thinking about her, but it’s through his emails, which are all included in the book, that Tom and Tara really start to reconnect and he starts to win back her trust. I loved Tom from pretty much the moment I started reading, but his emails just took him to an entirely different level. Georgie’s relationship with her ex, Sam, was a totally different kind of relationship. While there was betrayal in both relationships Georgie and Sam are both older and less impulsive and more realistic (and negative) about love and their ability to be together. Georgie had up a lot of walls and at times it wasn’t easy to like her, but her emotions and actions were so raw and real that watching her knock down the walls and figure out what she wanted with Sam was made even better.

Bottom Line: The Piper’s Son is a complete joy to read. Every single character in this book has their own story and is allowed to shine through and will wiggle their way into your brain and heart. It’s not only one of my favorite books of 2014, but one of my favorite books of all time. I can’t recommend that you read it (and Saving Francesca if you so desire) fast enough.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Audrey, Wait!


My Week in Books

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Welcome to My Week in Books!

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Finished:

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The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: I loved this so much. I’m going to try to review it this week but it’s one of those books where I really question if I can say anything intelligent.

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As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguire: I was really into the first half or so, but then it kind of lost me. I wish it had been more focused. Review to come closer to the release date.

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Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally: This is probably my favorite of the Hundred Oaks series and that’s saying something. Review to come this week.

Started:

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Better When He’s Bad by Jay Crownover: This is a case of it’s not you, it’s me. The whole bad boy, rough and tumble neighborhood is so cheesy to me so I find I have to read this in small doses, but I do think that, for what it is, it’s quite good.

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Facing the Music by Andrea Laurence: This is cute, nothing extraordinary, but it’s fun to read between the seriousness of Better When He’s Bad.

Added to my TBR List:

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Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers
I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre
The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre

Downloaded from NetGalley/Edelweiss:

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In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins
HIIT It! by Gina Harney

Borrowed From the Library:

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Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Have a great Sunday, everyone!


Book Review: Graceling

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Title: Graceling 
Author: Kristen Cashore
Release Date: 10/01/08
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I know I sound like a broken record, but reviewing fantasy books is a difficult thing for me because I don’t read many of them. How do I know if it’s good or not when I have very little to compare it to? Since I can only go by my own instincts I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Graceling is a damn good book. It’s also a book I never expected to read. It came up when I was talking about books with two former coworkers and neither of them could believe I hadn’t read it, but I wasn’t 100% sold on it. About a month later, I mentioned it to two good friends and both of them screamed at me that I had to read it. Four very different people telling me I had to read a book? Well then I guess I did.

The highest compliment that I can pay Graceling is to say that it reminds me of epic stories from my childhood. Not epic used like the slang (although it is that), but epic like long and winding and lots of things happen. The strange thing is that even as a kid I never expected myself to like those stories, but I always did. Which is kind of what’s happened with me and fantasy now. I didn’t expect to like a story about a girl who’s been graced with the power to kill, but I did, very much.

I’m not going to recap what Graceling is about, since by now everyone should know. When I first met Katsa I immediately liked her, despite her power and her insecurities about her power, her voice was strong and her observations about the world around her were smart and also funny. Cashore did a great job of introducing us to Katsa’s world by showing us, rather than telling us and despite my fears when I saw the the map at the beginning of the book, I quickly orientated myself to the different kingdoms and leaders in Katsa’s world.

A kickass girl character will always be one of my favorite things and Katsa is one of my favorites that I’ve come across. It’s easy to see why she thinks of herself as a monster, her incredible power to harm is something that, when we meet her at the beginning of the book, she’s still trying to figure out how to harness. While she is often forced to use her powers for bad by her uncle, King Randa, she also helped to form something called the Council which secretly does good deeds throughout the kingdoms. Although Katsa doesn’t always see it in herself it’s easy to see that she’s really a good person, despite all of her power.

One of the things that brings out the best in Katsa is Po, the Lienid prince who comes into Katsa’s life when Katsa helps to rescue Po’s grandfather. There’s a part of me that thinks Po played too much of a part in Katsa figuring herself out and coming into her own, but perhaps I’ve just read too many bad YA/NA books where the guys saves the girl. This is not that case though, even though Po helps Katsa and brings out a different side of her, ultimately it’s Katsa who challenges herself to think about her power and how she wants her life to be. Po helps, but Katsa comes into her realizations and does amazing things on her on her own.

There were parts of the book that seemed self-indulgent on Cashore’s part, like Katsa and Po getting so much alone time together on their journey to figure out what happened to Po’s grandfather, but ultimately I thought it really worked. Throughout the book Cashore did things, like putting Katsa and Po together or putting Katsa in danger that were familiar to me, but also felt different and strong and maybe that’s because, since it’s been a while now since Graceling came out, Cashore originated some of these now familiar tomes and story lines.

Part of Graceling being long and winding meant that I really had no idea where it was going to go and how it was going to end. There were twists and turns that made me nervous, but in the end Cashore always managed to take me somewhere I liked or introduce me to new characters who I immediately wanted to know more about. Ultimately, as much as I liked Katsa and Po, it’s really the amazingness of the story that makes me a fan of Graceling and forces me to mull over whether I should be reading more fantasy.

Bottom Line: This non-fantasy fan is a big fan of Graceling and I’m so happy I listened to my different friends and former coworkers and finally picked it up. Kristin Cashore created amazing characters, built a full and rich world, and told a complicated, lengthy story beautifully. The only thing I was left wanting was more Katsa!

One Year Ago: Book Review: Rules of Summer


Book Review: Saving Francesca

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Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Release Date: 05/09/06 (in the US)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Saving Francesca has been on my TBR list for a while, but the reason I picked it up is The Piper’s Son, the companion book. At the New York City Teen Author Festival in March some brilliant member of the audience asked the authors on a panel which books they would recommend. Gayle Forman (who is obviously amazing) said The Piper’s Son and it immediately shot to the top (top meaning I read it three-and-a-half months later) of my TBR list. But I wanted to go in order and read Saving Francesca first which was 100% the right decision. I then made a 100% wrong decision in reading The Piper’s Son immediately after Saving Francesca and before I wrote this review so now, even though I very, very much enjoyed Saving Francesca all I can think about is how utterly and completely brilliant The Piper’s Son is (review coming next week).

Because of this error on my part I’m going to cheat. In the Goodreads description for Saving Francesca it says it’s “a compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart…” so I’m going to talk about the romance, family, friendship, humor, and heart, but not in that order.

FAMILY. The best part of Saving Francesca is the family. Francesca’s mom is this slightly embarrassing activist who Francesca loves very much, her dad is great and the love he had for her mother was really touching, her younger brother is adorable, and her extended family was also great. At the start of the book Francesca’s mother, who’s always been a go-getter and unable to sit still, suddenly sinks into a deep depression and can’t even get out of bed. Her mother’s illness shakes her entire family to its core and Francesca, who needs to pick up a lot of the slack for her mother, is angry at the way her father handles it and makes it her mission to figure out what caused the depression and figure out a way to help her mother out of it. If I can get personal for a moment my mother went through similar spells of depression fairly often as I was growing up and, even though it was at times difficult for me to read about, I really liked and respected the way that Melina Marchetta dealt with Francesca’s mother’s depression. And the closeness between Francesca’s entire family was as great.

FRIENDS. In addition to her mom’s illness Francesca is trying to settle into a new school. She’s started at what used to be an all-boys school but has recently opened to girls. She’s one of only a small number of girls at the school and there are issues like no sports for girls and no parts for girls in the theater productions. All of Francesca’s friends from her other school, who were really kind of crappy friends, ended up at a different school so Francesca is all alone with a bunch of gross, fairly misogynistic boys and a group of weird, outcast girls. There were times while reading where I wished Francesca would make friends faster, a lot of the book takes place in her head, and I liked it, but there were moments were I wished for more action. Eventually she does start to make friends and it was really great to get to see her make friends and also see different sides of some of the characters as Francesca got to know them better. It’s really brilliant how Melina Marchetta introduced us to some of the characters and painted them as annoying or really weird, but then still managed to have Francesca’s eventual friendship with them make sense and make them likable (this is especially true going into The Piper’s Son).

HUMOR. This book is hilarious. I can’t even tell you how many times I laughed out-loud while reading it. Francesca is a smart girl with really sharp, witty observations about the world and people around her. Plus, the supporting characters are unique and nuanced and also lend quite a bit of humor to the book, humor that’s definitely needed given the seriousness of Francesca’s mother’s illness and her lack of friends for a big chunk of the story.

HEART. So. much. heart. From the closeness of Francesca’s family and their desire to save her mother to the way she slowly starts to make friends to Francesca’s earnestness and just plain goodness the book is seriously overflowing with heart. This might actually be the best part of the book but it’s so hard to explain I feel like I couldn’t put it first.

ROMANCE. There is a romance in the book and while I certainly liked it, it took a back burner to the rest of the story. It’s a big part of the book, but it’s not a big focus of the book, if that makes sense. At first Will, the love interest, seems like an unlikely choice for Francesca, but as we get to know him it becomes clear what a good couple they would make, even though there are obstacles standing in the way of them getting together. It’s a strong romance and the perfect romance for this story since it doesn’t take up too much focus, but still has its swoony moments.

Bottom Line: Silly me for waiting to read this book for so long. Saving Francesca is a fabulous story about all of the things I mentioned above and any fan of contemporary YA should absolutely read it. And, bonus, once you’ve read Saving Francesca you’re all set to read The Piper’s Son which now one of my all-time favorite books.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Orleans


Book Review: One Past Midnight

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Title: One Past Midnight
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Release Date: 7/22/14
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about One Past Midnight it was as the Australian version called Between the Lives (much better title for this book). People who follow my reviews know that science-fiction, world travel, etc. etc. thing isn’t my normal cup of tea, but there was something about Sabine’s story, being stuck between these two worlds for 18 years and then suddenly having a possible solution, that really intrigued me. As I was reading I realized that One Past Midnight has a lot in common with another book that I loved that was also a departure from what I normally read, Parallel. They’re different books, but they both do a great job of telling the story of a very normal girl stuck in a very abnormal situation.

I’ve never read any of Jessica Shirvington’s other books, but I was so impressed by what she did with One Past Midnight. Going in I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for the whole “shifting” thing that Sabine does at midnight. The way it works is that Sabine has the two separate lives, one in a fancy Boston suburb and one in a kind of down-and-out area of Boston, and at midnight each night she does this shift between the two and lives the same calendar day all over again before being able to start on a new day. So she lives July 16, 2014 in Boston and then at midnight shifts over to the suburbs and lives July 16, 2014 all over again. I was going to say that the world building here is strong, but then I realized stuff like Sabine’s control of world events isn’t really ever explained. Like if she lived September 11, 2001 in her Boston life wouldn’t she wake up September 11, 2001 in her suburban life and immediately try to do something? It seemed to be implied that she couldn’t change those kind of macro events, but I didn’t come away with a really complete understanding of it. BUT, I actually didn’t mean to call out something negative when I started this thought, the micro part of the world dealing with Sabine’s life is handled really well.

The idea of shifting, even after 18 years, terrifies Sabine and that fear really came through while reading. If she’s awake at midnight, which she pretty much always was in the book, she has constant panic attacks leading up to midnight, not being able to breathe and throwing up, that it almost leaves her unable to function. Just reading that fear made it really clear why Sabine was so desperate to find a way out of living two different lives.

One of my favorite parts of the book was how there wasn’t a real problem with either of Sabine’s lives, the problem was just that she was living two of them and that, at 18-years-old she had lived the life of a 36-year-old. Neither of Sabine’s lives were perfect, in her Boston life she family struggles to make ends meet and her father has a drinking problem, but she also has an amazing little sister who she’s crazy for and a bright future away at college. In her suburban life she has a very wealthy family, but distant older brothers and complicated relationships with her friends and boyfriend. After living two lives for so long Sabine is kind of at the end of her rope, she feels like she can only have a boyfriend in one life because otherwise she’s cheating and she always has to watch what she says. Sabine actually develops very different personalities for each life, in Boston she’s kind of a rebel and in the suburbs she’s a goody-goody, to be able to cope.

When Sabine breaks her arm in her Boston life she expects it, like everything else about her, to carry over into her suburban life, but, much to her surprise, it doesn’t. After that Sabine starts doing different experiments to see if she changes her hair in one life or cuts herself in one life if it carries over into her other life. Prior to breaking her wrist it always did, but if things have changed she might finally have a way out. Maybe I’m just dense, but it wasn’t immediately clear to me what her way out would be and once I figured it out (it didn’t take me that long) it was just so heartbreaking. To stop living two lives Sabine has to live just one, but then means giving up an entire life and the people in it. The way that Jessica Shirvington handled this decision was so well done and so easy to relate to despite it being such an odd situation. I shed a lot of tears while reading this book and I say that in the best possible way.

I’m not going to say much about how the book actually plays out because I don’t want to ruin anything, but I started this book, read a chapter or two, went to bed, and pretty much woke up the next day and finished it. The story completely sucked me in and I was absolutely dying to know what was going to happen. Since the story alternates between Sabine’s two lives there were moments were I wished I could have stayed with the Boston life or the suburban life, but really both were so well done and interesting that I didn’t mind the shift and it just made me more eager to keep reading.

There is a romance in the book that at first I was really into, but then I lost steam with it towards the later parts of the book, it seemed a tad inappropriate to me and a touch creepy, but I will say I was back on board with it at the end. Speaking of the ending, I didn’t totally love it, but I also don’t know if it’s possible to have this book end in a way that would really please anyone, let alone everyone, so I’m going to call it a win.

Bottom Line: I had a small handful of tiny problems with One Past Midnight, but really they don’t matter much when I look at the big picture of the book. The story that Jessica Shirvington came up with was compelling, relatable, and interesting and she told it beautifully. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2014 and I highly suggest picking it up, even if it isn’t your normal thing.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Fault Line


Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite TV Shows

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

Last month I wrote a post called How Reading Ruined My Attention Span. I know it sounds weird, and it’s weird to me, but the more I read the more difficult it is for me to be able to pay attention to television. I used to be a big TV watcher, I probably watched 15-20 shows regularly. Now I’m lucky if I watch five regularly, but these are the ones that I either have stayed with or that are eternal favorites.

1. Mad Men: You watch an episode and nothing happens, but then all the little things come together so amazingly over time. Plus, the scenery! The costumes! The antiheroes!

2. Friday Night Lights: If you don’t like this show we probably shouldn’t be friends. If you don’t like this show because you think it’s about football then we definitely shouldn’t be friends and you should probably just stop reading my blog. The characters and the relationships on this show are probably some of the best that have ever been on TV. There are moments from this series that I still can’t think of without crying. TIM RIGGINS! Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. (Also, I tried to read the book once and just couldn’t which I still hate myself for.)

3. Orphan Black: This is one I just started watching and wow, it’s good. In many ways it reminds me of vintage Alias. Plus the acting by Tatiana Masany is just mind blowing.

4. The Americans: I still have a few more episodes from the second season to finish, but I really like The Americans. It’s kind of like Homeland if Homeland hadn’t gotten completely ridiculous.

5. The Daily Show/The Colbert Report: Jon and Stephen are pretty much everything right about the American media. I’m pretty much blown away by every single episode.

6. House Hunters: I have been a House Hunters fan for years, like maybe since high school (which was 11+ years ago). I know it’s fake and formulaic and the people are really annoying, but I still love it.

7. The Voice: My favorite thing about The Voice is the banter between the coaches. My second favorite thing is that I can watch it without really paying attention to it. I love the blind auditions, but then I tend to lose interest. I’ve probably only really watched to the end of maybe one or two seasons.

8. How to Make it in America: It only aired for two seasons, but I absolutely loved this show. I think it’s also one of the most accurate depictions of what it’s like to live in NYC in your 20s.

9. The Simpsons: I haven’t watched new episodes in years, but seasons, let’s say, three to ten, are brilliant television. I’ve probably seen some (most?) of those episodes 10+ times. The fullness of the town and characters and the wittiness of the humor and social commentary just blows me away.

10. Sportscenter: When I check into a hotel and want something on in the background or need something on to work out to or just want background sound I put on Sportscenter. Yes, I am a huge sports fan, but I also think it’s (for the most part) a smart, funny show as well.

Shows everyone loves that I just can’t get into: Breaking Bad (watched the first season and just wasn’t at all interested), Game of Thrones (watched the first season and a few episodes of the second and it just does nothing for me)

Show I want to try: House of Cards

Shows I used to watch that I’d like to catch up with: The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation 

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Authors Who Deserve More Recognition


Book Review: Shattered

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Title: Shattered (Book #3 in the Slated Series; my reviews of Slated & Fractured)
Author: Teri Terry
Release Date: 5/1/14
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This review is going to be divided into two parts, first, my argument for you to read this series if you haven’t which will have no spoilers for any of the books in the series, and second, my review of Shattered which will have spoilers for the first two books in the series, but absolutely not spoilers for Shattered.

From my review of Slated: “I liked the main character, I liked the idea for the story, and I liked the pacing, but the world building was really terrible and that took away from the parts of the story that I enjoyed. I wouldn’t not recommend this one, but I also wouldn’t be rushing out to read it.”

From my review of Fractured: “The world building issues, although still there, were easier to move past in this one and Kyla, who I connected with and liked immensely in the first book, only got better. I tore through the perfect pacing in this one and I’m excited to read the third installment in May. If the third is anywhere near as good as the second I will definitely be making an effort to get more people to read this series.”

Which begs the question, am I making an effort to get more people to read the Slated series? Hell yes. Lots of people, myself included, like to complain about how series lose steam or how the second book in a trilogy is the weakest, or how an author clearly didn’t know how to let go. But what about the opposite? What about when the first book in the series is the weakest? Maybe this is rarer because people are less inclined to give the rest of a series a chance when they struggled with the first one? I still can’t exactly explain why I felt compelled to pick up Fractured after all of my problems with Slated, all I can say is that even though I struggled with many things in Slated the story and the characters stayed with me enough that I wanted to find out what happened to them, problems and all.

Here are my top three reasons why you should give the Slated series a chance:

1. The Main Character: It’s hard to love a blank slate, but I fell hard for Kyla. At the beginning of the series she’s so helpless and clueless, but there’s always this spark about her that really comes through. As the series goes on she really comes into her own, even if she might not feel like it, and I really admired her sense of right and wrong and duty to those around her. If you read this series for one reason read it because of Kyla.

2. The World: How ironic is this? My big issue with the series is the world building, but I’m recommending you read the series because of the world. You will have questions. You will be frustrated. BUT, a lot of what made this story compelling/believable/scary is that the world where it takes place, in the 2060s or 2070s I think (SEE?! I don’t even know! —->poor world building), is so similar to our world. I don’t know about anyone else, but when a fake world ties so closely into our own I find the story much more urgent and interesting.

3. The Intricately Woven Story: This is a complicated story and one that you really need to pay attention to. I think it would be good to read all three of the books together to really be able to dive into the story and remember all the details. But I read all three over the span of a year and that certainly worked too. This is a series where people go away and come back and things over the course of the three books will tie together, which are all things I really like to see in a series.

That’s my plea for you to read the Slated series and especially to keep reading if you’ve read the first one and didn’t like it or read the first one and don’t like it.

Below is my review of Shattered which has spoilers for the first two books in the series so if you haven’t read them you probably want to stop reading here.

This will be relatively short. Shattered picks up pretty much where Slated left off, Kyla having escaped from the AGT and Lourders and she’s now officially dead, but in fact alive and eager to find out more about her past. Unlike the other two books in the series this one has much less action, much less suspense, and is much more about Kyla figuring out who she is/growing up/coming into her own. Since Kyla is pretty much my favorite part of this series I absolutely loved the chance to get to spend this time with Kyla. And that’s kind of all I’m going to say about the story because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But, don’t worry, there eventually is action and the book does a good job of wrapping up all of the loose ends of the series.

My two issues with the series all along have been the less than stellar world building and the romance. While I wouldn’t say the world building improved in this installment there were things about the world that were eventually cleared up and I was left feeling better about the world in general. However, there is something new introduced, a medical-like procedure called IMET that is like a really advanced form of plastic surgery. I was bothered by this because of how similar the rest of the world is to ours. The crazy technology that can so drastically alter how a person looked seemed out of place to me and incongruous with the rest of the story.

If you’ve read my reviews of the first two books in the series you’ll know that the romance with Ben did nothing for me. I think I even called Ben something like a wet Slated rag in one of my reviews. I didn’t get the romance, to me it was very instalove and young, but after reading Shattered I came away with a better understanding of it and respect for it. To me these books are about Kyla and the romance, even though it was so prominent in the first book, was just a background story that I didn’t love.

Bottom Line: The Slated series is one that really built over the course of the three books and I am so happy I stuck with it after not jiving with the first book in the series. They’re probably not books for everyone, but I really came to like and respect them and I hope that people will give them a shot because in the end it’s a strong story with a really great main character.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Left Drowning


My Week(s) in Books

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Welcome to My Week in Books!

I did not finish a book for 12 days and it was fucking fabulous. I picked up a few books to try to read and it just wasn’t working for me. So I let it not work and even though it meant not reading things I wanted to read or “should have” read and not publishing blog posts for over a week it was glorious. So glorious in fact for a while I seriously started to think I may never read again, but then I came to my senses, picked up a book, and dove back in. And that has also been glorious.

responsible

I don’t know why I’m about to tell this story, it doesn’t fit at all, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately and I want to get it out somewhere. When I was in college I was heavily involved with the Student Government Association. At the beginning of the my senior year I was having a hard time, my brother was in the hospital, I had had a falling out with my childhood best friend, and I was generally freaking out about where I would be in a year. As part of my Student Government responsibilities I had told one of the other executive board members that I would help her pick up things from different stores for a training we were doing. She had asked me, but the choice was completely my own. Later, when I met with the Student Government Association adviser, I was complaining about how stressed I was and how I “had” to go help Sarah pick stuff up earlier that day. The adviser, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and probably the person responsible for me getting through college somewhat sane, had the best answer to my complaining. She said, (and I’m paraphrasing), “It was your choice to help Sarah, right? And it went exactly how you expected it to? So then you don’t get to complain about a choice you made. If you didn’t want to help her you should have said no.”

It’s such a simple thing to say and I don’t think she really meant it as a lesson I’d take with me for the rest of my life, but it’s probably among the best advice I’ve ever received. We have choices in life. When we make a choice we have to own it and going back and complaining about it isn’t helpful to anyone. I’m not saying this isn’t something I am perfect at, but it’s something I’m very aware of and try to live by. And also, and this is why I’m telling this story because I have to get it off my chest, something so many people struggle with and the reason I have like five good friends and then other people who probably consider me friends but I mostly try to ignore (<—true story).

Anyway, here’s my last two (because I skipped last week) weeks in books.

Finished:

americanduchess

An American Duchess by Sharon Page: Fun book, not brilliant or really historically accurate, but I enjoyed it. I’ll post a review, probably on Goodreads, closer to the release date.

sincelastsummer

Since Last Summer by Joanna Philbin: Sadly didn’t live up to Rules of Summer. I reviewed it on Friday.

thegoodgirl

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: Wouldn’t really call this a mystery. I enjoyed it and it was very well done, but I’m still not really certain of the point…I’ll review it in the coming weeks, probably on Goodreads.

shattered

Shattered by Teri Terry: I had some of the same issues I had with this that I have with the other books in the series, but I still liked it. This is a series that really built well for me. I’ll review it on Monday.

onepastmidnight

One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington: I liked this a lot, one of my favorites of 2014 for sure, even if I struggled with the ending (that I definitely saw coming). I’ll review it this week.

savingfrancesca

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: Loved it! So happy I finally read this one. I’ll review it this week or next.

Started:

thepipersson

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: Pretty much had to start this after I finished Saving Francesca.

DNF:

conversion

Conversion by Katerine Howe: I wanted to finish this one, but I just couldn’t do it. As someone who loves mysteries and historical fiction I so wanted to be really into this, but mostly I just found it mind-numblingly boring. I was interested in what was happening in the school, but, after 25%, the story just never went anywhere and I got tired of waiting. The historical fiction parts were fine and maybe on their own would have been ok, but they took away rather than added to the story for me. Maybe if I had found either story line compelling or interesting or had connected with any the characters I could have finished this one but sadly that just wasn’t the case.

breakable

Breakable by Tammara Webber: I read 92 pages and I just couldn’t go on. It makes me angry because I loved Easy and now I feel like my love of Easy is wrong and it makes me angry because, companion to Easy or not, it’s just a crappy book.

love

Love Me by Rachel Shukert: I renewed this library book three times. I started it two months ago and never could make it through more than page 60 or so. I had no desire to pick it back up so it was just time to let it go.

Added to my TBR List:

Nada! That’s what happens when you disappear from the Internet for two weeks (I may or may not have misplaced my laptop for 13 days).

Downloaded from NetGalley/Edelweiss:

cantlookawaysuffragettescandalperfectcouple

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Borrowed From the Library:

Nothing! My card expired and I was lazy about getting it renewed.

That’s it for this week. Here’s to getting back on the reading horse!


Book Review: Since Last Summer

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sincelastsummer

Title: Since Last Summer (Sequel to Rules of Summer)
Author: Joanna Philbin
Release Date: 06/3/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I make no secret of my love for Joanna Philbin’s Rules of Summer, if you are looking for a great, fun, interesting summer story I still highly recommend you give Rules of Summer a read. But Since Last Summer? As much as I wanted to like it, and I didn’t dislike it, it just didn’t do for me what Rules of Summer did and that’s a shame.

The entire time I read reading Since Last Summer I just kept thinking that it’s a poor man’s Nantucket Red. Which isn’t to say that Joanna Philbin ripped off Leila Howland in any way, it actually never occurred to me to link Nantucket Blue and Rules of Summer outside of the obvious summer setting, but really, I think that is what Since Last Summer is.

Like in Nantucket Red we have a character I really liked and connected with, Rory, back for another summer in a place she doesn’t quite fit into, the Hamptons (more on the setting later). We also have her friend Isabel, the rich daughter of the family Rory worked for last summer, whose perspective also plays into the story. In the first book I felt it was more evenly divided between Rory and Isabel’s POVs, but Rules of Summer seemed more about Rory to me. Anyway, Rory is back in the Hamptons, reunited with Conner, who she’s been dating long distance since last summer, staying with the Rules once again, but interning at the Hamptons Film Festival. Like Cricket in Nantucket Red Rory’s life is a little askew, now that her and Connor have been reunited their relationship doesn’t seem quite so great, her job comes with strings attached, and her friendship with Isabel has its share of rocky moments.

There were two things I really loved about the first book that I felt were lacking in Since Last Summer: the romance and the setting. In Rules of Summer there were two romances, Rory’s relationship with Connor Rule and Isabel’s relationship with Mike, the blue-collar local. As I mentioned, in the second installment Rory and Connor’s relationship is in a rough patch and not really going anywhere good or fun. In fact, Joanna Philbin seemed to give Connor a bit of a personality transplant in order to bring some tension into their romance. It’s been a while since I read Rules of Summer, but the Connor in Since Last Summer isn’t the Connor I fondly remembered. While I can’t say I loved Isabel’s relationship with Mike in the first book it did seem authentic and it was steamy and interesting. Isabel has a new love interest in this book, but he never felt right for her and the relationship seemed forced and headed for a slow burn out.

The depiction of the Hamptons in Since Last Summer wasn’t bad or inaccurate (I’m from the area, for those that don’t know), but it also wasn’t as dynamic or authentic as it was in Rules of Summer. The first book was filled with fun Hamptons insider knowledge, cameos of well known Hamptons places, and even mentions of other places on Long Island (like Isabel taking her driving test in Riverhead), but those just weren’t a part of Since Last Summer. I suppose that’s not really a negative, but it was still something that disappointed me. I will say that there is one thing that bothered me. Rory’s fellow intern is from the North Fork of Long Island and she drives to East Hampton every day for the internship. Although it’s probably only a 30 mile or so drive that drive, in the summer, it would, no joke, probably take the poor girl about two hours each way. I just can’t imagine someone doing that for an internship.

There were other parts of the story that also fell flat for me. I was hoping to learn more about the Rules’ big secret that was revealed at the end of the last summer. We learn a little more about it and get to see some of the aftermath the revealing of the secret caused, but mostly it’s kind of brushed under the rug. I also thought more would come out of the whole Isabel’s dad wanting to buy Mike’s family’s land, but, besides a brief mention, that storyline was no where to be seen. I did however really enjoy the whole Rory/Mrs. Rule relationship that developed in this book, it was weird, but oddly believable and sweet.

Bottom Line: Sadly the thing that Since Last Summer suffers from the most is how good Rules of Summer is. Sequels are tough and sadly this one just didn’t live up to the original. While I still enjoyed reading about Rory and Isabel the fun of their romances, the interesting setting, and the intrigue of last summer were all fairly nonexistent in Since Last Summer. I’m hesitant to say to skip Since Last Summer, but really maybe we should all just try to enjoy Rules of Summer for the fun story it is and just pretend there isn’t a sequel.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Criminal