Tag Archives: romance

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

8 Aug

This Lullaby

author : Sarah Dessen [also wrote: That Summer, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key,
What Happened to Goodbye and The Truth About Forever]

pages : [paperback] 345

memorable quote :

“Wherever you will go,
I will let you down,
But this lullaby goes on.”

favorite characters : dexter & remy

summary :

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

review :

I love Sarah Dessen and her books! This is a reread for me, but I’d completely forgotten everything about the plot and characters apart from what I saw on the back of the book. That’s what I like about these novels; I can return to them time and time again with a fresh outlook, the newest version of me, and still take something great away from it.

Above all else, I love the characters. Remy doesn’t think that love exists, she’s convinced most of her friends of this, and when she might start changing, she stops that right in its tracks. Dexter is just as stubbornly set in his personality, two parts goofy, two parts sweet, all parts clumsy. For the most part they’re complete opposites and I love seeing characters like that clashing in books like this.

While there was nothing spectacularly original about the setting, I’m still loving the fact that all of Sarah Dessen’s books intertwine. I like looking for the little similarities and seeing what might be the same as something in another book or what background character might play the starring role in another book. It’s like a young adult scavenger hunt.

While I don’t think that This Lullaby is my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, it’s still one of the top ones and I love it so, so much. I think now it’s a given for me to read at least one of her books during the summer. Although it does have the typical romance that usually fills such books, it also has a more serious note, isn’t such a lighthearted story, and bears a great message within its pages.

5/5 stars

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

20 May

Gilt

Author:
Katherine Longshore

pages: [hardcover]: 398

favorite characters:
kitty & cat

summary:

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free–
and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

review:

Gilt is a historical young adult book filled with danger, intrigue, and endless drama. Kitty finds herself keeping secrets that anyone could lose their head over-literally. I was immediately wrapped up in learning about the 16th century class system, where most people would do anything to advance their status. This book shows just how insignificant a woman’s role was in that time and also how easily those in power can lose favor with the king. I came into this knowing nothing extra about the historical bacjground and now want to read even more about this time period. With wonderful descriptions of the setting, dialogue that is both as to the point and cutthroat as the class system, and a well defined cast of characters, Gilt is a book that I will turn back to again and again. It has everything a person could want in a historical novel: kings and queens, romance, suspense, and an ending that you’ll never forget.

This review is also posted over at i heart daily, an amazing daily newsletter that features a different amazing thing every day.

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

14 May

Gone, Gone, Gone

Author:
Hannah Moskowitz

Pages: 288

memorable quote:

favorite characters:
lio & craig

summary:

In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.

It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives. Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody. Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable…and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

review:

This is my first Hannah Moskowitz novel and I can’t wait to look at her other two novels, which look positively fabulous. I’ve already fallen in love with her wonderful writing style, ability to draw forth her characters and present them for better or for worse, and accomplishments in twisting a plot into something both moving, suspenseful, and addictive.

Lio and Craig were awesome and frustrating and unique and full of problems and quirks and little things that made them them. I like it when characters are out of the ordinary and express them in ways that people would normally steer away from, like Lio with his hair and Craig with his animals. I loved how each was obsessed with their respective thing for their own personal reasons. Random traits weren’t just thrown at them in an attempt to make them better. They just were.

 I think the pacing could have worked better for me because there were moments when I was so drawn into the story I couldn’t pull away and others where I was sitting back, itching for something else to happen. Everything was in clusters of action, for practically the entirety of the novel, and though most of the time that worked well enough, it needed a bit more . . . oomph.

But, that said, it’s the only negative thing that I can come up with to say, really. All of the important elements were right on target. I don’t usually read LGBTQ material-not by choice, just by fault of availability-but this is one of my favorites. For anyone who is looking to branch into that, enjoys reading it, wants a good book, likes great characters, or wants to fall in love with another author’s writing, this is the book for you.

GOING, GOING, GONE. 4.5/5 stars

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

5 May

Hereafter

Author: Tara Hudson

Pages [hardcover]: 404

memorable quote:
Not the kind of unconsciousness that torments the dead, but the kind that kills the living.

favorite characters:
ruth & amelia

summary

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life–or her actual death–she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but “will” him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, “Hereafter” is a sensation you won’t want to miss.

review:

Hereafter is amazing, addictive, awesome, and leaves you craving more! I started this book yesterday . . . Last night, actually. Then when I woke up this morning, I kept on reading until the very end. I certainly didn’t expect to push everything aside just to get in a few more pages . . . which quickly turned into the rest of the book . . . but I couldn’t resist finding out more about Amelia, Josh, and Eli.

I loved the entire concept of the hereafters, Amelia’s ghostly ways, and her nightmares. I liked Josh’s appearance and importance as well as his grandmother Ruth’s-though, really, after a while I was busy screaming at Amelia and Ruth to USE YOUR WORDS. I feel like so many more problems could have been solved if everyone just sat down for a chat. Goodness.

Usually I don’t like novels where there’s the instant and super fast attraction/romance between main characters, but it makes sense, at least in Amelia’s case. She hasn’t had anyone so much as glance her way for years, really, so she knows she can’t just let this guy get away from her. He, on the other hand . . . Well, I can understand his interest, but there are some things that just don’t add up. Not enough to especially bother me, but enough to make me want to see what’s going on in his head.

The bad guy is great! Two parts creepy, one part pitiful, all parts desperate and willing to do anything to get his horrible plots to work . . . Finding out more and more as the story progresses, some of which is easily predictable, other parts that are more of a surprise, was a preferable change to the classic information dump. Sure, Amelia only has a few sources of information, but the wording remains believable and conversational, not like paragraphs of info read from a textbook.

For people continuously annoyed by love triangles, there isn’t one in this book. So far. Not really..

I was looking for a bit more ghostliness in Hereafter, a little haunting, maybe. But I liked the balance between life and death and the little things added together are really what made this book so catching and lovely for me. I really, really recommend it; I was reluctant to start because it seemed like another typical YA paranormal book, but look at what happened to me. I’m hooked.

HAUNTING. 5/5 stars

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

16 Mar

The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Pages [paperback]: 456

memorable quote:
Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

favorite characters: inigo & fezzik

summary:

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini-the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik-the gentle giant; Inigo-the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen-the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

review:

I’ve wanted to read this book, badly, ever since I first randomly caught the movie on TV. I loved the humor of it, and the adventure, and the romance . . . And I’m happy to say that I loved the novel just as much. Maybe more, because there was much more to offer. The details, a writing style until any other I’ve come across before, the little quips the characters make . . . Is it possible to be in love with a book?

What always grabs me about any favorite book of mine is that it’s different from the norm. ‘Different’ can be an entire range of things, from out of this world characterization to insightful ideas to, what caught me in The Princess Bride, a unique narrative voice and a story that held both a satirical and fairy tale quality to it. I think anyone who can pull that off is pretty awesome.

This is a book that actually made me want to read the introduction. I know. Usually those are only included in things I need to read for school, are dull and droll and dry. Basically the last thing I need to do is make myself hate the story before it’s even begun. Completely different case here. I expected to read a page or two, get bored and skip to the actual story. Didn’t happen. It actually made me look forward to the story more, like the author a whole lot more, laugh at loud and make everyone around me think I was crazy . . .

Well. Not everything can be perfect.

This is a book where you can like the minor characters as much as, and more than, the major ones. In the beginning, I thought I wouldn’t like Buttercup at all because, well, she can be a real idiot. But she’s funny. And that makes all the difference. Once I got over her (about ten pages in) it was easy enough to accept everyone else. I particularly loved Inigo and Fezzick, their rhyming together, and generally amazing abilities to not die.

This is a book I’ll read again and again and again. And I really want to watch the movie right now. It’s been a while, but while I was reading I could see clearly which movie scenes fit in where and which lines had been put directly into the film. That was fantastic as well. To anyone who’s watched the movie, go read the book. Please. If you haven’t done either, do both. And if you’ve just read the book . . . Go watch the movie already.

A NEW FAVORITE. 5/5 stars

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

3 Mar

So Much Closer

Author: Susane Colasanti

Pages [paperback]: 241

memorable quote:
It’s unbelievable how you can affect someone else so deeply and never know.

favorite characters: jack & sadie

summary:

When Brooke’s crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner…

review:

Why, why why did it take me so long to start reading books by Susane Colasanti? I’ve had so many people recommend them to me, and just kept pushing it off. Now I regret that, because although I didn’t agree with some of the things the main character, Brooke, did, the writing style was absolutely captivating and pulled me right in.

The plot was simple, but frustrating. What sane person would move just to possibly be a little closer to a boy you say you love but who you’ve actually talked to twice? Uh, no one. I can understand gigantic life chances for someone closer, but . . . This. It was repaired, significantly, by Brooke’s insistence that she would have moved there anyway, because she’s always wanted to live in the city. This was just what pushed her over the edge. If there wasn’t that reassurance, I’m not sure if I would have gone through with this . . . Which would be really disappointing, because I enjoyed the book besides Brooke’s crooked sense of logic.

I flew through this book. It’s not too long, but that’s not the only reason why. As I said before, the writing style was really something I could get into. Not that I want to keep comparing Colasanti to Sarah Dessen-because I’ve heard so many people make that comparison before-but it’s true. They can both capture unique young adult voices that, thrown into what could potentially be bland plotting, still catch my attention and refuse to let go, even after the book is finished.

Because I usually read fantasy or other genres that aren’t sticking plainly to reality (because, really, I get enough of that already), it can take me a lot to like a book in this vein of writing. Which might not be fair to some great authors out there, but it really makes me stand behind the fantastic ones I come across. Susane Colasanti is one of those, and I can’t wait to pick up another of her books. (Hopefully with a better premise. Must read summary before buying.)

RADICALLY ROMANTIC. 4/5 stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

21 Feb

 

The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green [also wrote Paper Towns]

Pages [hardcover]: 318

memorable quote:
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

favorite characters: augustus, isaac, & hazel

summary:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

review:

 Oh, John Green. You really need to stop making me fall in love with your characters.

The Fault in Our Stars is as depressing, heart-wrenching, lovely, wonderful, and well-thought as I’d imagined it would be. Hazel and the supported cast of characters combine to make a horrible situation, albeit one that’s been written about before, into something unique and not entirely hopeless. While not everyone will get what they’re looking for if someone’s searching for a perfect plot or ending, I think every bit of this fit in perfectly.

First off, I have to say that the characters made it what it was. Augustus, Isaac, and Hazel were definitely my favorites, but I also loved all of the parents, those random characters that popped in for two sentences, Isaac’s little brother (and I can’t remember his name). Each had their own quirks, exaggerated features, personal hopes and shortcomings and flaws. No one was perfect. Thankfully. They were as real as a reader can hope to get.

While at some times I had no idea where the plot was going or what was going to happen next, I didn’t really care. I just wanted to learn more about this budding friendship, about Hazel’s health problems, and what life could bring her. There’s no sweetening of the details here, or brushing over of the more technical or depressing parts. I liked how the reader is there with her through thick and thin.

If you want to read this, don’t bother trying to prepare yourself. Dive right into it, and let it take you on a ride you’ll never forget.

DEVASTATINGLY DELIGHTFUL. 5/5 stars

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

11 Dec

Shift

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Pages [hardcover]: 367

Shade #2
Book 1: Shade

Favorite Characters: Dylan & Zachary

Summary:

Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

Review:

I was so excited to read this sequel to Shade! The first book was wonderful, and I think I put off reading this for so long because I knew the third and final book in the trilogy wouldn’t be coming out for a while (and past-me was right: It won’t be released until summer 2012. Can I wait that long? No.) Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, I think I may have built up my expectations far too much.

Shift gave me everything I could have wanted-romance, ghosts, running from law enforcement. Yet I expected to have the actual plot, the full mystery of the Shift, furthered much more than happened, instead of the book’s main focus being on the love triangle. Sure, it is an important part of the book, and I can’t say I disliked every aspect of it. But when Aura is supposed to be facing life or death situations, and figuring out her past and future, she’s busy moping because either Logan or Zachary is angry with her. And both boys ended up annoying me at different parts of the novel, something that neither really redeemed themselves from, so that wasn’t helpful, either.

But, other than that, there were really great scenes in there that captured my interest, and other points that hooked my curiosity and dragged me in for good. Now that I can assume that all of the parts that had me doubting whether I would actually enjoy the novel or not were probably solved before the third book, I’m doubly excited to read it. I desperately need to know what is going to happen!

I recommend this book if you like a good paranormal romance, but if you’d like more action and ghosts than love and gushy parts, it’s probably not for you.

DISAPPOINTING BUT WORTHWHILE. 3.5/5 stars

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

30 Oct

Steel

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Pages [hardcover]: 294

Favorite Characters: Henry & Cooper

Summary:

It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate’s life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

Review:

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. There were some points that I really, really loved, and others that I could have done without. Overall, I loved the entire piracy idea, and the plot kept me wanting more.

I’ll start with the negative, because there’s less of that, and it’s good to get it out of the way. I don’t think there was any one point in the story where Jill actually considered the fact that she’d traveled through time to the past. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d have been freaking out about that, instead of immediately accepting it as it was and hiding it so others wouldn’t think I was crazy. Her reactions didn’t make much sense. She kept talking about ‘going home’-but never acknowledged that home was three hundred years in the future, except for one point in the last few pages.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll move onto fencing. To be honest, I’ve never really thought about the sport, either way, except that it looks like it’d be a fun thing to try. But Jill is good at it-better than good, because she might be heading for the Olympics. This is one of my favorite things about her. It makes her unique, and also like anyone else-she hates to lose. Plus, it makes her adventures in piracy seem more realistic, because if she hadn’t had this training and picked up a rapier, she’d have been dead in moments. Not much of a story there.

And, see? I learned, without even realizing it. I couldn’t have really told you about what a rapier was before, or a beat, or any fencing terms. The chapters are all named after things and moves in fencing, and there’s a nifty glossary in the back that defines all of them.

The supporting characters were all wonderfully defined and I loved hearing their back stories as they emerged. Jill felt a little bland compared to them at times, but I never stopped rooting for her. Besides, who can really compare to pirates and come out on top?

A FUN, SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURE. 4/5 stars

Everfound by Neal Shusterman

23 Oct

 

Everfound

Author: Neal Shusterman

Book 3 in the Skinjackers Trilogy
Book 2: Everwild

pages: 512

favorite characters: Jix & Mikey

memorable quote:
“Because,” said Mikey. “the Dancing Bear wants us to suffer.”

summary:

While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.

review:

I’ve been in love with this series ever since I picked up book one, Everlost, a few years ago, and I didn’t even think then that it’d turn out to be a trilogy. Neal Shusterman is an awesome author-I’ve read other books by him like Full Tilt and Unwind, both equally creepy and fantastic. That’s how the Skinjackers Trilogy turned out to be: Horrifying and exciting.

I love the world of Everlost, down to the vapors of Afterlights and the odd items and buildings that have happened to cross over. Yet Mary, main antagonist in the books, is a great character to read about, while being completely controlling and insane. She’s great in her own way, though I wouldn’t hesitate to sink her into the earth, given the chance. I love a book where even the characters I hate can be completely explored and not just left in the flat bad-guy status.

Every moment I thought I’d figured out exactly where the book was going, it took a completely different direction. These plot twists, coming out of nowhere, kept me on the edge of my seat, hooked until the last page. Every part was filled with action, suspense, humor, romance, tears, laughter . . . I especially liked the “High Altitude Musical Interludes”. Those were hilarious!

The ending…I dreaded. I never wanted it to come to a stop, to have to say good-bye to a bunch of wonderful characters and an invisible world that I can’t say I’d want to visit. But I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it all to conclude. Every minute of it was perfect.

BEST IN THE TRILOGY. 5/5 stars

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