Archive by Author

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl

3 Apr

Always Emily

author : michaela maccoll

pages :  [hardcover] 296

favorite characters : charlotte & emily 

summary :

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

review :

I’ve only read one book by the Bronte sisters-Jane Eyre. But I’ve heard much about their lives and have been fascinated that such talented writers could all grow up in the same household. While MacColl obviously takes liberties in recreating the lives of this well-known family, the plot really worked for me. I found it gripping, particularly towards the end, and I loved how at the finish of the book there was a detailed explanation of what was historically accurate and what the author placed in herself!

Although the book gets very exciting at the end due to the sisters unraveling the mystery, there are portions of the book beforehand that set up the novel and took a while longer for me to get through. It was almost like the pacing of Jane Eyre and how I assume the other Bronte books would go. I’m unsure of whether that was done purposefully or not; if it was then it was brilliantly done because this novel had the feel of a timeless classic accompanied by modern writing that made it much less of a chore to get through. I know that there are people who don’t enjoy the Bronte writings, maybe because it’s harder to relate to them, but this is definitely a novel that anyone can get behind.

Charlotte and Emily both had traits that frustrated me yet simultaneously made them seem more real. I felt like they could simply step out of the pages of the book because they could be charming and then do something real and human. The sisters had a rocky relationship as well. With their different personalities it’s no wonder that they never got along perfectly, yet when they both set aside their differences wonderful, interesting things happened.

If you’re looking for something different to read then this is certainly a book you should pick up. It was interesting, intense, and painted a romantic Gothic landscape that was incredibly captivating. I do hope that more books about the Bronte sisters will follow; at the very least I’ll be looking forward to reading more from this author!

4/5 stars

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

2 Apr


The Here and Now

author : ann brashares

pages : [ebook] 288

memorable quote It’s wrong, I know, but I play out this dance with him, exquisite and slow. I play it out in my head, because that is the only place it will ever happen.

summary :

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

review :

I’ve been very interested in books about time travel lately and I was eager to read this one written by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But this novel . . . I can’t quite grasp the point of it. Everything was so rushed and squished together to the point where I didn’t care much about any of the characters and wasn’t worried for them or their possible future.

This is another one of those YA novels that falls victim to insta-love. Even before Prenna had had many conversations with Ethan, she speaks about him as the boy she might love, or the only one she can possibly love . . which quickly transitions into what she believes to be actual love. I could have possibly passed this off as some kind of twisted crush because she is told never to connect intimately with anyone outside of her community but it’s clear that she likes to think about being with Ethan forever. Even though they’ve barely honestly spoken with each other.

Things seemed to go a little too easy for both of them as well. I don’t know if I’m just getting used to YA novels like this that are packed with action and suspense. The one point of this book that could have been exhilarating fell flat for me. Some things don’t make any sense because her society is completely based on domination and control and yet once Prenna starts thinking for herself there are barely any consequences for her, only empty threats.

What could have been a more powerful novel warning about a potential future if we continue to ravage the Earth the way we are today is pulled down by unimaginative prose, silly character dynamics, and a whole lot of missing opportunities. I almost didn’t finish this book and I don’t think I got a lot out of it by pushing through it. Interestingly, though I’m glad for it, this book is a standalone when I was afraid that it would be turned into a longer series.

1.5/5 stars

Books to Movies: Divergent!

31 Mar

I’ve been looking forward to the Divergent movie for a while now though I wasn’t sure if I would actually enjoy it or not. While I’m incredibly happy that so many books I know and love are being made into movies, there’s always the chance that what I pictured in my mind won’t end up translating well to what I see on the big screen. But with Divergent . . . I left the theater thinking is was awesome and that Insurgent will only be better.

I have to admit that when I first heard Shailene Woodley was cast as Tris (and then Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars) I was disappointed. I hadn’t seen much of her acting before but what I had viewed didn’t leave me confident that she would be able to carry out this strong kick-ass heroine in the way the world needs to see her. Tris has a vulnerable side, too, and while I was watching that was the first side of her character that left me impressed with how Woodley handled it. As the movie progressed and Tris’ character continued to build, I realized that all of the fears I had held about the leading lady’s ability to hold her own were unfounded.

Theo James, while undeniably attractive (one of the reasons why I immediately bought my friend a poster featuring him when that was released) also left me wondering if I would get the Four I wanted. He was great. There were only a few moments between him and Tris that I thought were unnecessarily corny but for a YA adaptation there was practically nothing for me to complain about on that end. James was great as the attractive older instructor and a love interest.

There were scenes that were perfect for me, just like what I’d seen when reading the book. It was so incredible to see that translated into a different medium. I have to admit that the ziplining scene had me tearing, partially because I kept thinking of Allegiant. 

My biggest complaint overall is how they altered the ending. I think I would have finished the movie happier if they’d fiddled with some other scene instead of changing the big finish the way they did. I’m not sure who thought that was a good decision but it was a very awkward, confusing section where I spent the entire time thinking about how it was done much better and cleaner in the novel.

I hear a lot about people comparing this to other book to movie adaptations and that really needs to stop. There’s no way to compare it when there are different teams working on each film and each book is unique in the way it needs to be changed to fit the screen. It seems like since the success of The Hunger Games everything is getting compared to that . . but I wasn’t 100% happy with it when that first came out and I loved it despite its flaws, just like I loved Divergent.

Overall I’d give this movie an A-.

Did Not Finish: The Lost Boys by Lilian Carmine

29 Mar


The Lost Boys

author : lilian carmine

pages : [paperback] 522

summary :

An intensely addictive romance novel about girls, ghosts, and forbidden love, ideal for fans of Stephenie Meyer
Fate has brought them together. But will it also keep them apart? Having moved to a strange town, 17-year-old Joey Gray is feeling a little lost, until she meets a cute, mysterious boy near her new home. But there’s a very good reason why Tristan Halloway is always to be found roaming in the local graveyard. Perfect for fans of Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Kate, The Lost Boys is a magical, romantic tale of girl meets ghost.

review :

**I was less than a hundred pages into this when I decided The Lost Boys wasn’t worth my time anymore, thus this will end up being less of a proper review and more an explanation of why I couldn’t put up with the rest of this.**

I rarely mark my books as DNF, especially one like this where I was very happy that my request for this on Netgalley was honored. But perhaps the comparisons to Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Kate should have warned me away. I did enjoy Meyer’s books, more so The Host than anything else, but Lauren Kate wrote Fallen, which was another book I couldn’t get through. Anyway, I usually ignore comparisons to other books and authors because it’s hard to compare these things.

First of all, I was attracted to that gorgeous cover and ended up hoping the title was going to be a Peter Pan reference. No such luck for me but the summary seemed promising, anyway. The problem started with the prose! Every other sentence was an exclamation! I couldn’t tell if Joey was always shouting! Or if she was that enthusiastic! I could get over the quirk of her name, even though everyone in the book needs to comment on it and Joey makes a big deal out of it. But she doesn’t act like a senior in high school. We’re reading this from her perspective and while the exclamation points don’t help, there are also the phrases she uses that seem out of place. Her actions, as well as those of all of the other characters, don’t make any sense.

Simply the way that the story was structured reminds me of how young writers, maybe teenagers, often start out, with simplistic prose and unnatural dialogue and actions. These are the things that are supposed to be improved upon to be made into a publishable book. Not this. I can’t believe that this is an actual book and I can’t believe that it’s supposed to be made into a trilogy. I do not recommend you try out The Lost Boys.

1/5 stars

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

28 Mar


Clockwork Princess

The Infernal Devices #3
Book 1: Clockwork Angel
Book 2: Clockwork Prince

author : cassandra clare

pages : [hardcover] 570

memorable quote Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read.

favorite characters : tessa & jem

summary :

London 1873 shape-shifter Tessa Gray 16 is engaged to Jem Carstairs 17, dying of addiction to demon drug, all bought up by evil Mortmain. The “clockwork prince” controls an army of automatons to abduct Tess, kill the Shadowhunters, and blackmail Charlotte Branwell, head of London Institute. Will and Tessa hide their love, for love of Jem. Plus 2-pg Note on Tessa’s England.

review :

Oh my goodness. I don’t even know what to say about this novel, though first of all I’d like to tell you I’m going to try hard not to include spoilers from the first two books in this review. There definitely won’t be any spoilers from Clockwork Princess.

I feel like I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Cassandra Clare. On the one hand I absolutely love the world she’s built of Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and Mundanes. On the other, her writing style isn’t exactly my type and when I heard she was making this trilogy (and, apparently, yet another spin-off from the original Mortal Instruments) I wondered why she would keep delving into this world instead of writing about something new. Apart from her knowing that she has a large fanbase who’ll eagerly devour anything written by her.

I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this trilogy at the start. Some of the characters were interesting but they felt similar to ones I’d read about originally in City of Bones. But then Clockwork Princess came along. To be honest I’ll recommend this trilogy just so you can get to this last book because, believe it or not . . this conclusion makes it all worth it. What’s set up in the previous two falls together so nicely (and it’s fun to see how things will tie in to the other books she’s written!) and you’ll probably be shedding tears like I did when I reached the end of this book and the epilogue tore my heart in half, then stitched it up a little to make things slightly less painful and bittersweet.

Some parts of this book were predictable but where it counted most, where I was hoping it would pull through, I was surprised and things happened that I never saw coming. And it was awesome. This trilogy ended up being so much better than the original and I’m so thankful my friend convinced me to read it through to the end.

If you’re looking to get into reading Cassandra Clare, I’ve heard the best method is to read the original three books, then this trilogy, and then the next three Mortal Instruments books. But if you’ll take my recommendation and go with my favorites, you’ll stick with these.

5/5 stars

Have you read this trilogy? I’d love to discuss everything that happened (or why you haven’t read it yet) with you!

The Maze Runner Trailer is Finally Here!

19 Mar


I thought that it would translate from page to screen as soon as I read The Maze Runner and I’ve been anxiously following along with news as the movie keeps getting a release date that’s farther and farther away . .

And yet I’m already in love with this cast and we all get to see a pretty awesome trailer. I want more!

These action sequences looked awesome. Especially that ending . . Now I want to reread the novel and get myself pumped to see this in theaters the moment it comes out. Watch the trailer below and tell me what you think of it! Are there other books being turned into movies soon that you think I should check out?

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

19 Mar


author : jodi meadows

pages : [hardcover] 374

memorable quote : “Did you have friends?”
“I’ve read about them, but I don’t believe they exist.”
“Your cynicism is amazing.”

favorite characters : sam & ana

summary :

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

review :

Why did it take me so long to read this book? Maybe I just wanted to wait because now books 2 and 3 are out and I want to get my hands on them as soon as possible. The characters and concept of this story immediately drew me in. What would it be like being Ana, the only outsider on a planet where the same souls have known each other other five thousand years? To know that because you exist, another soul couldn’t be reincarnated?

It was an interesting concept and I was really fascinated by how Ana acted around the other characters and the various reactions among those who met her. Particularly in the first section of the book, after Ana leaves her abusive mother to seek out more information about herself, it was heartbreaking seeing the way she would automatically make assumptions about how others would treat her. That had me rooting for her throughout the entire book, hoping that her life could get a lot better and making me happy whenever she got things that she deserved.

There were a few mysteries surrounding the setting and lingering on the edges of the plot in this book that I hope will be settled in the next one. I’m not sure exactly of what direction the plot will take but I’ll happily read it. This book has made me fall in love with Jodi Meadows’ writing and now I want to get my hands on more! The characters were fabulous in this novel, even the secondary ones, and the plot was unlike anything I’ve had the chance to read before.

I definitely recommend picking up Incarnate. It was a quick read for me and I enjoyed every moment of it. I can’t wait to go on with this series!

5/5 stars

The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector

17 Mar

The Rich and the Dead

author : liv spector

pages : [paperback] 320

favorite character : lila  

summary :

In exclusive Star Island, Miami, money and power can’t protect you… In collaboration with branding powerhouse Alloy Entertainment comes a thrilling new series featuring a former Miami PD detective on the hunt for a mass murderer, who must face the past she thought she left behind.

On New Year’s Day 2015, twelve powerful, wealthy people were found dead—shot in a lavish Star Island estate. In 2018, the murderer remains at large.

As a detective and lead investigator on the case of the century, Lila Day was consumed by her hunt for the Star Island Killer. But that was before she was pushed out from the force, and her life unraveled.

Years later, down on her luck and no longer a police officer, Lila is approached by mysterious billionaire Teddy Hawkins. He has a job for her, he says—solving the Star Island murders. Lila laughs. After all, how do you solve a crime when all the leads have long grown cold? The answer, Teddy tells her, is to be there before it happened. He is going to send her back in time.

With nothing left to lose, Lila travels back in time to 2014, determined to stop the Star Island killer once and for all. There’s one catch: she must gather the evidence to bring the murderer to justice in her own time, without trying to save anyone. Easy enough, until she starts to care for the people who are destined to die. Now Lila must be willing to say good-bye—or risk setting into motion events that could change the future forever.

review :

Who doesn’t want to read a crime novel where the investigator gets to check out the crime before it even happened? I thought this was an incredibly cool concept and take on a regular detective story so I just had to get my hands on this book. Lila Days is an independent, kick-ass cop who’s such a perfectionist she ruined her career when she simply couldn’t let go of the Star Island murder case. Lucky for her, she isn’t the only one still seeking justice and trying to piece together the clues that’ll lead her to the answers she’s been searching for.

I’m going to try not to focus too much on the actual time machine aspect of things because it’s never really explained how Teddy of all people came to acquire this device because he definitely isn’t the scientist who created it. I was a little dubious about how he just so happened to have it to use to send Lila back. But that needed to happen for the plot to work and I really enjoyed the entire concept. When she first goes back, Lila thinks that this investigation will be easy, though she’s quickly faced with an assortment of challenges including love, loss, and wondering if she could prevent this tragedy from ever occurring.

This book kept me guessing which is always awesome in a crime novel. As soon as I thought that I had things figured out, the plot would twist in a different direction. At times when Lila thought she had the case solved but there were still a hundred or so pages left in the book, it was easy for me to say that she was wrong, but there were so many other aspects and mysteries to the plot that I was never bored. These rich socialites all have their secrets that Lila uncovers slowly.

It looks like this book is building up into a series. I hope that it is because not only would I like to read more from this author, I’d love to read more about these characters. I think that there’s much more about Teddy that needs to be shown and there are parts of Lila’s life mentioned in passing throughout this novel that I think could be explored further. If there’s going to be a sequel, I’m definitely game to read it.

If you’re looking for an easy but suspenseful read, The Rich and the Dead is for you!

4/5 stars

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

14 Mar

The Beginning of Everything

author : robyn schneider

pages : [hardcover] 335

memorable quote And I realized that there’s a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.

favorite characters : ezra & toby

summary :

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

review :

I started reading this book because I had the privilege of meeting Robyn Schneider while she was on the Story Crush tour. I have to say that this book is as remarkably quirky and maybe a little awkward, reminiscent of the author in all of the best ways. Contemporary young adult literature isn’t something that I always reach for on the shelves; the storytelling nearly always needs to rely on the characters and their development. I think that this is something that The Beginning of Everything did nicely. At some points the characters could become so eccentric the novel took on an aura of absurdity, though in the end it definitely recovered from this and turned into a book that I’ll definitely need to read again.

Ezra Faulker. Not exactly a normal name for a guy who isn’t very normal. He experiences his personal tragedy in the beginning of the book (and, being a tennis player myself, some of what he experienced afterward pummeled my emotions). He basically realizes that his life can never return to what it had been before his tragedy but it’s the only way he’s known of living so he can’t even begin to fathom how things can still work out alright for him.

Enter his new group at school. I definitely think a lot more could have been done with this supporting cast of diverse characters. I wanted to see more conflict and things that would make me incredibly interested and attached to these characters. Usually this group was only pulled in for little bits of amusement, quirky details, or to stir up a little drama that tended to peter out once that conflict was no longer necessary to the plot. This was one of the stronger objections I had to some part of this novel.

Otherwise, it really entertained me and once I got going it only took me two days to read through. At that point I was so overwhelmed by what I’d read that I needed to sit on it for a little while before I could write this review. I couldn’t help but feel proud of Ezra at the conclusion of the book . . which made me realize how emotionally attached I’d gotten to him. The other characters, even Cassidy, were good to me but not great. I’m glad that the focus of the novel really had the chance to shine.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you need a good contemporary read. It might take a little while to get into but it’ll leave you satisfied at the end.

4/5 stars

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

9 Mar

Burial Rites

author : Hannah Kent

pages : [hardcover] 322

memorable quote : To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.

favorite characters : agnes & margret

summary :

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

review :

I was very fascinated by the idea for this novel and nearly as soon as I began it I couldn’t put it down. Historical fiction for me can either be a hit or a miss. Burial Rites for me was a fantastically enjoyable read, set in an unfamiliar setting with struggling characters I couldn’t help but feel for. The book really explored how the thoughts and stories of others can affect how one’s life turns out and throughout the entire novel the reader is shown several perspectives. The characters speculate as to what could have truly happened the night of the murders and you’re left to wonder and read on to see if Agnes will take the opportunity to tell her side of the story or die with the truth still unspoken.

Agnes was a very complicated woman and I absolutely loved that. Flawed characters abound in this novel, making it more realistic so that I really felt like I was reading a historical account of what had happened. Adding to the effect were the letters and other documents posted at the beginning of every chapter. The author explains that these are translations from original sources. That’s noted at the end of the book, which makes me want to read through everything again so I can really put myself in the mindset of the times.

I can’t imagine what it would be like, being sentenced to death. Although at a few points in the novel Agnes seems very passive and I grew frustrated with her, I think this only added to the story. She chooses to deal with or ignore her problems as they come and we’re right there alongside her, viewing the days of a convicted murderer.

If you’re looking for a fascinating historical read based on actual events I highly recommend this novel. It’s very captivating and I flew through the pages, though the content was weighty enough that it will stick with me for a while. This is definitely a book that I’ll need to read again.

5/5 stars


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