7/31/13

Point of Retreat - Colleen Hoover

I feel like I'm rather late to the Colleen Hoover bandwagon, but better late than never, right?  I reviewed Slammed last month and enjoyed it, despite the fact that it had that icky student-teacher relationship thing going on.  I immediately put Point of Retreat on hold at the library, knowing that I would continue reading Layken and Will's story, even if I didn't enjoy it as much as Sky and Holder's love story.

Point of Retreat was MUCH better than Slammed.  The story takes place after the conclusion of Slammed, so the teacher-student thing is completely out of the picture.  Plus, Colleen through in some great twists and some heart-wrenching emotional moments.  I absolutely LOVED the vase filled with stars concept.

There's still one thing about these books that annoys me though.  It seems like whenever a character has a little gimmick, it just gets completely overused in the book.  For example, no one knocks at Will's house, and it seems like every time someone came over, he always noticed that they hadn't knocked.  Or the fact that people are constantly throwing french fries at each other.  It made me wonder why they couldn't ever get through a meal without someone throwing food?  Especially when Layken and Will are trying to be parents to the two younger boys -- starting a food fight at each meal seems non-parental to me.  I don't know, maybe it's just me, but some of these little things just irked me.  Like in the Gossip Girl books when Blair "teeters" in every single pair of high heels she wears.  And since the fashion is a huge portion of those novels, her outfit is described numerous times, including which designer heels she's "teetering" in.  After a while, I just started to wish that she wouldn't wear heels if she couldn't stand properly in them.  Am I just completely neurotic???

With those small minor details out of the way, Colleen Hoover DOES know how to tell a story, and tell it well.  I have just joined Edelweiss and my request to review This Girl was just approved -- so look for my review coming soon!  (Especially since I usually read these books in only a day or two -- I just can't put 'em down!)
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7/30/13

Fingerprints of You - Kristen-Paige Madonia

Fingerprints of You is a book of elegant simplicity.  On the surface, it's the story of Lemon, a seventeen year-old teen that gets pregnant unexpectedly and then travels to San Francisco in search of the father than she's never known.  But underneath this plot, it's a story about so much more than just that.  It's the story of friendship, of love, of family and of self-discovery.

I am eternally grateful to Cass @ Books With Cass for leading me towards this book, as we were having a library TBR pile showdown one evening on Twitter.  We couldn't be content with simply comparing piles of actual books from the library, and proceeded to compare how many books we had on hold at the library as well.  Cass told me that she'd put this book on hold at the library, based on Estelle @ Rather Be Reading's recommendation.  So, on a whim, I put the book on hold as well -- I haven't read a book that Estelle liked that I didn't enjoy, and it had been a while since I read one of Estelle's recommendations.

I'm still having a hard time comprehending that this is Kristen's FIRST novel.  The writing is absolutely beautiful, and Lemon's character is loveable.  I'll admit that I had a hard time getting into the book at first, and actually had to return it to the library because I'd renewed it too many times and still hadn't finished it.  Yet there was something about the story that pushed me to borrow it again, and I'm SO glad that I persevered.

Fingerprints of You isn't a page-turner, but it's a story that unfolds at its own pace and takes you along an unforgettable journey.  I'm really, really, REALLY glad that I finished this book because by the end I found myself unable to put it down until I'd savoured the last few phrases of the book.

Book #10 - done!  
And CHALLENGE COMPLETED!

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7/23/13

Wedding Night - Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella is one of my go-to authors for something light, fluffy and mindless.  She never fails to write a story that makes me laugh out loud and cringe at the characters' awful life choices.  Well, until Wedding Night that is.

It wasn't an awful book by any means, since I did enjoy it.  I just didn't enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed her previous novels.  It wasn't as funny as some of her other work, and I didn't find any of her characters to be super memorable.  Perhaps it's the fact that the story is told by dual narrators, Fliss and Lottie, two sisters.  Or it might be the characters themselves, who were struggling with life issues that weren't as funny as some of Kinsella's other work.

The book as a whole reminded me of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.  The entire book is a series of mishaps that the reader understands, but the characters' in the book are struggling to comprehend.  Wedding Night definitely has its humourous moments, but it didn't make me laugh as much as I had hoped it would.  If you're looking for a light beach read, I'd still recommend that you check out Wedding Night -- it's still your typical light and fluffy Kinsella!

Book #9 - done!

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7/19/13

The Boy Book - E. Lockhart

Back in April, I posted about losing my e-reading virginity.  July has been a somewhat momentous month for me as I have acquired not only an iPhone, but an e-reader too!  I'm still using the iPad for my Netgalley titles, since they're in PDF format, but my sister-in-law bought me a Kobo Touch!  I love how small and light it is, and it's super easy to read while breastfeeding (sorry if that's too much information!)

Upon re-reading my post from April, it's funny to note how I wasn't sure that reading The Boyfriend List on an e-reader would work all that well, due to the footnotes.  In all honesty, I'd completely forgotten that there WERE footnotes in these books until about halfway through reading when I noticed a little superscripted number at the end of a sentence.  I didn't miss the footnotes though, and found the story much easier to read without continually bouncing down the bottom of the page to find out what additional little tidbit of information had been added.  I skimmed through the footnotes at the end of the book (they're all included as endnotes in the e-version), but I'm actually grateful that I read through the story without being interrupted.

I enjoyed The Boy Book even more than The Boyfriend List.  Ruby, although she is still somewhat neurotic, has definitely mellowed out a bit since the first book and is a little less angst-y.  I found several moments in the book that just made me laugh out loud, and I have definitely started to love Ruby as a character.  She's so genuine and sweet that I really can't wait to see where books three and four take the storyline next!  And, if you read my series intervention post last week, you will see that I am SERIES-ously committed to finishing every last series that I've started and let slide!
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7/17/13

The Beginning of After - Jennifer Castle

I first heard of The Beginning of After during Epic Reads tea time, when Aubry gushed about this book and said she was a tearful mess while reading it.  Since it's the summer of standalones, and I love a good messy cry book (*ahem* Second Chance Summer and The Fault in Our Stars), I had a feeling that I would love this book.

And I liked it.  But just liked it.  Perhaps it was my high expectations again?  I don't know.  I think my main issue with the book is that the protagonist is really difficult to connect with.  She's going through an extremely emotional time, having just lost her entire family in a car crash, and dealing with her own guilt that she had stayed home that evening to study for her SATs instead of going out with her family.  Yet, despite the heavy emotional plot, there was something about Laurel's character that I just couldn't identify with.  Sure, there were moments where she described missing her family, and I thought, "Wow, that's sad," but it was like having an emotional reaction to the book from a distance, rather than tears streaming down my cheeks and crying along with the character.  Laurel just didn't quite do it for me.

On the whole though, Jennifer Castle is a good writer and she tells a good story.  This is her debut novel, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll come up with next!

Book #8 - done!

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7/16/13

Good-Bye Chunky Rice - Craig Thompson

I read Craig Thompson's graphic novel Blankets, when I was taking a course on Young Adult
Services during the summer of 2010.  A classmate had raved about the book, and I absolutely LOVED it.  Then, I read Habibi, Thompson's third novel, shortly after starting this blog.  Although I devoured Habibi in one sitting, it didn't wow me in quite the same way that Blankets had.

I was visiting with one of my best friends shortly before Marko was born and noticed that she had a copy of Good-Bye Chunky Rice, Thompson's debut graphic novel, on her bookshelf.  I asked to borrow it, and it sat on my shelf unread for a few months, until I was in a bit of a reading slump and picked it up.

In typical Thompson fashion, it was a one-sitting read, but this one wowed me even less than his other two books did.  Granted, it's much shorter, but the story was lacking for me.  His illustrations are gorgeous and the plot was interesting enough, but I was still left feeling unimpressed.  I have to remember that this was his FIRST book though, so I still have very high hopes for the books that Thompson has yet to write.
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Summer of Standalones - Mid Summer Check In!


Well, I'm doing GREAT at reading standalones so far!  I've already finished 8 books, and I had only set a goal of reading ten for the summer:

1. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
2. Burning - Elana K. Arnold
3. Eleanor + Park - Rainbow Rowell
4. Love is a Mix Tape - Rob Sheffield
5. Slammed - Colleen Hoover
6. The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult
7. Losing Hope - Colleen Hoover
8. The Beginning of After - Jennifer Castle (review coming soon!)

(The titles above are all linked to my reviews!)

I haven't followed my summer TBR list very closely though; I've only read 3 of the 10 books that I had PLANNED to read (but I'm halfway through a fourth).  I'm almost through my massive library pile (and will be taking a library hiatus for a little while!), so I'll be tackling some of the books that I already own off the list soon.
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7/12/13

Losing Hope - Colleen Hoover

I read, and loved, Hopeless.  It was the first book that I'd had the pleasure of reading and reviewing from Netgalley.  So, when I saw a flutter of excitement on Twitter over Losing Hope, I quickly requested a copy and was thrilled when my request was approved.

I liked Losing Hope, but not quite as much as Hopeless.  I think it's because it's the same story as Hopeless, but just told from Holder's point of view.  Hopeless was such a great story because of all of the twists and turns that I just didn't see coming, whereas this book was almost like reading the same story a second time.  I like re-reads, but I always find that I don't love the story as much the second time around.  I suppose it's because there's a certain type of magic in discovering a story for the first time, and the second read through just lacks a little of that magic.

With that being said, Losing Hope is still really, really good.  In Hopeless, I found that I was a bit worried about the beginning of the book, because I felt like Sky and Holder were developing a dysfunctional Edward-Bella type relationship, where he treats her like crap but she still worships him.  In Losing Hope, we really get into Holder's mind and, although I still find Holder to be a little over the top in his emotional and physical reactions to the events around him, I liked him better now that I've seen the world through his eyes.

If Holder is one of those bad boys that you hate to love, you'll definitely want to check out this companion novel.  It's a quick, easy read that I polished off in just two days.  Perfect for the beach!

Book #7 - done!

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7/11/13

In All Series-ousness

We all love to hate them.  You know, that feeling when you just finish book one or book two, then dash to Goodreads to find out when the next installment is. Next YEAR?  I can't wait that long.  Must have the next part of the story in my hot little hands NOW!  For me, that feeling usually sticks around for, oh, a week or two, at least until I've read another great book and that unfinished series just hangs around my TBR list.  Sometimes, I'll pick up book two or three in a series and it'll just sit unread on my shelf, collecting dust, usually because I either can't remember what happened in the previous book(s) or just forgot what had me so excited about the book in the first place.

I recently realized this when I borrowed some highly anticipated sequels from the library ... only to return them unread.  I also picked up some raved about book ones for some new series, and also returned these to the library unread.  When I have SO many started-but-not-yet-finished series, I'm hesitant to add more to that teetering stack.

Instead, I'm giving myself a series intervention.  I've resolved to finish all of the series that I've started but haven't finished, and to postpone starting any new series unless all of the books are out.  This will give me a chance to get caught up, as well as plan for when I'm going to series binge in the future.

Here are the series that I'd like to FINISH:
  • Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa (Iron Daughter, Iron Queen and Iron Knight)
  • Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess)
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (books 2-6)
  • Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen (Envy & Splendor)
  • Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godbersen (Beautiful Days & The Lucky Ones)
  • Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (I've only read the first two books)
  • Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke (Inkspell & Inkdeath)
  • Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver (Requiem)
  • The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (Fever)
  • Nightshade Trilogy by Andrea Cremer (Wolfsbane & Bloodrose)
  • Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart (books 2-4)
  • Birthmarked Trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien (Promised)
  • Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson (Crown of Embers & The Bitter Kingdom)
  • Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Angel's Game & Prisoner of Heaven)
  • Sea of Trolls Trilogy by Nancy Farmer (Land of the Silver Apples & Islands of the Blessed)

Series to binge-read because all the books are out:
  • Graceling Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
  • Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
  • Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
  • Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
  • Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angellini
  • Covenant Trilogy by Jennifer Armentrout


2013

October:
  • Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin (The Evolution & The Retribution of Mara Dyer) 
  • Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (Allegiant)
November:
  • Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu (Prodigy & Champion)

2014

January:
  • Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
  • Everneath Series by Brodi Ashton (Everbound & Evertrue)
February
  • Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Scarlet & Cress)
  • Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott (Burn)
  • Article 5 Trilogy by Kristen Simmons (Breaking Point & Three)
  • Final Book in the Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
March:
  • Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire)
April:
  • Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
  • Dust Lands Trilogy by Moira Young (Rebel Heart & Raging Star)
October:
  • Unwind Trilogy by Neal Shusterman (UnWholly & UnSouled)

Series that I plan to binge-read when all of the books are out:
  • Shadow & Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (2014)
  • Unraveling Trilogy by Elizabeth Norris
  • Grave Mercy Series by R.L. LaFevers (2014)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (2016 -- although I may read book 1 earlier, since I own it)
I'm going to keep this list under my reading challenges so that I can stay on top of this series intervention.  What are your thoughts on series?  Are there any of my pending series that you have yet to read?  Which pending series should I start with?  Please leave me a comment below -- as you can see, I series-ously need help!!!!!
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7/2/13

Top Ten Most Intimidating Books


It's Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is about intimidating books and I'm choosing those books that are HUGE.  That I totally want to read one day, but just haven't because of their sheer size.  Jaime @ The Perpetual Page Turner wrote a great post a few months ago about chunky books, and I had to agree with what she wrote.  I get caught up in the number of books that I'm trying to read per year, and therefore always go with shorter books.  Anyone else think that Goodreads should add a page number challenge?  I'd be SO down with that, and more likely to actually knock some of these bad boys off my TBR list if I could count the number of pages read towards my annual challenge!

1. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
One of my best friends recommended this book to me YEARS ago, but it's just been sitting on my shelf.

2. World Without End - Ken Follett
I loved Pillars of the Earth, but haven't read the sequel yet.  Why not?  Probably because I bought it in hardcover and it's heavy and far too big to tuck into my purse.

3. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
Even my mom has read this one.  And I still haven't, even though I thought I'd do the Outlander challenge last year and read the whole series.

4. Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
I adore the TV show, and have heard such great things about the books.  I've lent my copy to a friend, but still haven't read it.

5. Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
I started this one while I was camping years ago, but never finished it.  And I love Atwood.

6. Inkspell - Cornelia Funke
I think I'd have to reread Inkheart first, and that was a long book.  Or maybe just see the movie?  If it's at all similar to the book?

7. The Forbidden Game - L.J. Smith
A friend recommended this one to me, and I found a copy on sale at Chapters.  It's three books in one volume, but still a hefty read.

8. 11/22/63 - Stephen King
I probably shouldn't put this one on my list, since I bought it for my husband for Christmas last year and he hasn't read it yet.  Would it be tacky to read it first?  In any case, I've heard that this is one of his better newer books, but the size of the thing!  Yowza!

9. Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry
My husband has been pestering me to read this book since we moved in together in the summer of 2005.  Perhaps it's the size of the book that's putting me off, or the fact that it's a western, but he swears it's one of the best books that he's ever read!

10. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
This is probably one of the shortest books on this list; however, it's fantasy and therefore makes me a little nervous.  But the bookseller who recommended it to me said that he loved it as much as The Shadow of the Wind, and we had bonded over our shared adoration for that book.  So I will give it a chance ... at some point.

While perusing my shelves for this week's top ten, I realized that there are some big books that I have read and loved.  In addition to Pillars of the Earth, I have also loved all of Wally Lamb's books (and they are all LONG), all of Anne-Marie MacDonald's work, as well as Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance.  And I still plan to finish Shantaram one of these days.  Honest.  I think I just need a larger purse for all of these massive books!

What are your intimidating books?  Have you read any of the ones on my list?  Please leave me a link to your TTT post and I'll stop by!
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