Book Haul

Bought:

islaanatomy of a misfit bigasylumsanctum

Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins. Already read and reviewed. Definitely a book I couldn’t wait to crack open.

Anatomy of a Misfit – Andrea Portes. Another one already read, as an ARC, but the physical copy came out a few days early and I grabbed it.

Asylum/Sanctum – Madeleine Roux. These two look creepy and I want to stock up on creepy reads for October.

ARCs:

polarisorphan queenLies I toldbetter than perfect

Polaris – Mindee Arnett. One thought: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

The Orphan Queen – Jodi Meadows. Really need to read something by her. This one sounds amazing!

Lies I Told – Michelle Zink. I really liked Temptation of Angels by her and the description reminds me of Heist Society.

Better Than Perfect – Melissa Kantor. The cover of this one caught my eye because I totally do what the girl is doing. Also, I really, really love the whole ‘character’s life is all perfected planned out so let’s mess around with those plans’ trope.

 

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Book Review: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

get even

Get Even

3 stars

Four girls who have nothing in common, Bree, Kitty, Olivia, and Margot, form a secret group called DGM: Don’t Get Mad. It’s a group designed to take revenge against school bullies, no matter if they’re students or teachers. They have strict rules against any kind of contact at school so no one will ever associate them together. Then their latest target is murdered and a bloody card with DGM is left at the scene, making the group the prime suspect. Each girl starts getting anonymous envelopes proving that someone knows about their identity. If they want to clear their name, they’re going to have to find a way for the identity of DGM to stay secret – and catch the real killer.

I’ve seen this book compared to a couple others already, Pretty Little Liars is right in the description, and also Burn for Burn. The closest I’ve come to either of those series is watching a few episodes of Pretty Little Liars on MuchMusic so I’m not going to get into how this book compares to them.

I got sucked into the book way more easily than I thought I would. The plot kept me guessing as to who could be behind the envelopes, who could be behind the murder, was it the same person, was it a group? So many questions.

I really liked that, even though the girls were on the same page about DGM, they weren’t really friends and, in fact, at the beginning it was hard to like them at times. But as the book went on, there was a change were it seemed like they realized they needed each other and maybe, they could be friends. It made for an interesting dynamic as the book went on. They weren’t friends, all they had was their pact that nothing said in a DGM meeting would be revealed, but when faced with murder, they realized they barely knew each other so how could their pact be trusted.

There were a lot of characters in the book. It was told in alternating POVs of the four main girls but there were also their friends, and each girl had her own separate group. There were only a few characters that interacted with all four girls but every character at one point or another made themselves suspicious, maybe they were the murderer.

There were times it felt a little cheesy and over dramatic but I actually enjoyed those parts. They reminded me of old murder mystery movies that I love to watch when they come on TV. There was also a lot of teasing going on in the book. Every time I thought some questions were about to be answered, I was left with more questions. So frustrating! But in a ‘I want the next book now’ kind of way.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Don’t Touch by Rachel M Wilson

don't touch

Don’t Touch

4 stars

Caddie’s starting a new school, one that geared toward the arts, and if starting a new school wasn’t pressure enough, her parents have temporarily separated. This leads to a game Caddie plays, don’t touch. Don’t touch another person’s skin or dad will never come home. Don’t let anyone touch her skin or mom will get hurt. Everything is riding on her not touching and not allowing touch. This interferes with her dream of being an actress, and getting cast as Ophelia for the school play. Peter, auditioning for Hamlet, just might be the person most likely to ruin her game and change everything.

The concept of this book really intrigued me but also made me nervous. Would it be handled sensitively? Would it be pushed aside for romance? Would it have a lasting effect? Once I started, my fears disappeared. It was clear the author knew how to handle the subject of OCD, it wouldn’t be treated as some plot device.

It was impossible not to feel for Caddie. She was this smart, mature, determined young woman who was very aware that the “games” she played and her fear of touch were not common and likely didn’t matter in the end, but there was always that what if in her head. What if she did touch someone then something bad happened? It would be her fault for breaking her rules. Her anxiety any time someone came close to a touch was suffocating. It made my chest hurt. There were many times she could have told someone about Don’t Touch to explain why she would jerk away from a friend or react unfavorably to a surprise touch – even through clothes, but telling was a huge risk and I understood why she wouldn’t take it. Telling could have meant losing her friends, telling could have meant breaking a rule, telling could have meant someone not taking it seriously. I also loved that we saw Caddie make some progress then take a few steps back and all the signs that it wasn’t something that would just go away forever and never come back. I really appreciated the fact that while it was obvious to the reader that Caddie had OCD, it wasn’t the only thing about her that was focused on. She had friends, she had school, she had a family, she had dreams, she had a life.

Friendships were a huge part of the story. In particular, Caddie and Mandy, who were reconnecting after Mandy switched schools a few years earlier and now they were both at the same school again. Mandy was so sweet and supportive but also had her own issues to work through. Mandy’s group of friends welcomed Caddie easily and she fit in really well. Livia and Hank were hilarious, especially together, Oscar took some time to grow on me but he was a good job – just a bit oblivious, Mandy’s boyfriend Drew could be sweet but his anger was also a little scary. Then there was Peter, sweet Peter. The dynamic between him and Caddie was brilliant. I could go from smiling at their banter to panic that he was too close and might touch her in a second.

Throughout the plot, the group of friends were auditioning and then rehearsing for Hamlet. The audition scenes, rehearsals, backstage drama, the play were all part of the book and it was a lot of fun to read.

This was a book that will definitely stick with me and I’m definitely adding this author to my watch list.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

under a painted sky

Under a Painted Sky

Release date: March 15 2015

Goodreads: A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity 
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship
.

Why I’m excited: Uh, because it sounds amazing? I absolutely, absolutely love western and this sounds like it’s not going to shy away from how horrible it could be to be a woman. And it’s going to have diversity! And cowboys! Can it be March now?

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WWW Wednesday

www_wednesdays4

This was started by ShouldBeReading and every Wednesday posters answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently: get even

Finished: rites of passageorigindon't touch

Next: strange and deadly

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is supposed to be Top Ten books I want to read but don’t own yet but I have a huge impulse control problem with buying books. If I want it, I buy it. So there’s not many books I want to read that I don’t own unless they’re not released. So instead I went back to previous topics I never did and am doing top ten favourite heroines.

10. Katniss from The Hunger Games. She volunteered for probable death to save her sister. Even if that was all, that alone makes her one of my favourites.

9. Sam McKenna from Rites of Passage. I like that I’m doing this one now since I hadn’t read this book when this topic was first done. Sam’s determined and strong and shows you can be uncertain or scared without being a pushover.

8. Wren Connolly from Reboot. I loved seeing her go from someone who believed she barely had emotions to someone who listened to them, while kicking plenty of ass along the way.

7. Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series. Snarky, loyal, brave, stubborn, able to kick ass.

6. Allison Sekemoto from the Blood of Eden series. I love that she’s a vampire with morals who still pretty much accepts her dark side and she’s willing to do anything to keep her friends safe.

5. Harper Price from Rebel Belle. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun reading a character as I did when I read Harper. Not only was she learning to kick a lot of ass, she had so many great comments along the way.

4. Aris Haan from The Shattered Veil. She started off a little boy-obsessed and self-centered but she completely grew on me through the book as she learned how valuable her flying skills could be to save lives. And she risked her whole future to join the military.

3. Alina from The Grisha Chronicles. I’ve only read the first one but she was amazing in it. And I loved that it was a struggle for her to connect with the magic instead of being an instant badd-ass at it.

2. Anastasia Drew from The Watchers series. This girl knows what to do to survive a place that would kill most of us. And she can do it while still having friends and keeping them safe.

1. Calaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series. This girl defines bad-ass. An assassin who also loves to read and can be girly and own it at the same time, how could I not love her?

 

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Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

boys i've loved

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

4 stars

Lara Jen Covey has a secret. She writes letters to the boys she’s crushing on, seals them, and hides them away in a box. No one is meant to see them. Until the day her letters get mailed out and she has to deal with the consequences.

This was a light, cute read that left me with a smile. It wasn’t a book full of twists and surprises and the plot was fairly simple, but I really enjoyed it. It was a perfect book for a summer read.

Lara Jean came off as a very young sixteen, naive and a little needy, but it made sense to me. It felt like her older sister Margot had sheltered her from most of the world while giving her jobs to make her feel like she was more of an equal. When it came time for Lara Jean to step into Margot’s shoes, she simply wasn’t ready for the responsibility. Her growth from that young girl into someone who was ready, someone who could be depended on, was really nice and I loved that it was a struggle. She wasn’t suddenly an adult because circumstances needed her to be.

I loved the contrast between the three sisters. Margot was the overly responsible one who acted like an adult most of the time, though she could have her own childish moments. Lara Jean was more immature for her age while Kitty was a mix of the two, she could be a brat at times and others she was very responsible. I also appreciated that their father, a very busy man, was still present in their lives and made an effort to make sure their mother’s Korean heritage wasn’t forgotten.

The development between Lara Jean and Peter was really sweet. First pretending to date due to circumstances, it slowly turned into friendship until the feelings Lara Jean thought she’d gotten over returned. It definitely wasn’t insta-love. There was a small triangle with neighbor Josh and at first, it was hard to choose but Peter won me over in the end.

This book could have stood on its own but there is a second one coming. Unfortunately it won’t be for months. Long, long months.

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Booking Sunday Favourites: Main Couple in a Dystopian

Last week was friendship in a dystopian and now it’s time for main romantic couple in a dystopian. Another category where there were so many to choose from but I went with:

into the still blue big

Aria and Perry from the Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi. They are the embodiment of the saying ‘they’re not perfect but they’re perfect together’. They disagree, they fight, they have their problems, but in the end, they’re always going to find each other because they’re in love.

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Book Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley

rites of passage

Rites of Passage

Release date:  September 9th

5 stars

 

Sam McKenna comes from a military family. Combine that with a love for dares, it makes sense that her oldest brother would dare her to join the first class of female accepted into the Denmark Military Academy. Sam will do everything in her power to make sure she completes this dare from her brother, the last given to her before his death. She thinks she knows what to expect but once on campus, she learns just how far some people will go to make sure no female succeeds at the academy.

This book drew me in right from the beginning and I definitely was not prepared for how emotional I would get while reading it. It was exhausting in a good way.

Sam was one of the most interesting characters I’ve read so far this year. She was bad-ass, she was strong, she was resilient, she was a fighter, she was caring, she was determined, she was everything I expected her to be and so much more. I would have cracked the first day but Sam took everything they threw at her and refused to break even when things seemed so hopeless. I loved that her being so military rules focused and determined not to cave didn’t mean she never showed emotions. The hazing, the harassment, it got to her. Definitely a favourite character.

I also loved that we saw the other female recruits and that none of them were similar, just like the male recruits. They all reacted to things differently, they all had their own reasons for attending, they all found different ways to cope. Another highlight(among many) was the relationships that we saw develop among the Alpha group that Sam was a member of. And I loved how it was hard to tell who to trust, even the people you’d normally think would be on Sam’s side had moments of doubt, any of them could have been a member of the society trying to get rid of her.

There was tension through the whole book, and different kinds of tension. Tension from the recruits always being yelled at, tension from the society trying to break Sam, tension from family secrets and family relationships, and romantic tension from forbidden relationships. So much tension! I loved it.

I thought the pacing was handled really well. It was fast but not overwhelming, and it felt like it was fast because the recruits were always doing something. They were in motion so the plot was in motion.

This book will definitely be on my list of top books of the year.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

isla

Isla and the Happily Ever After

5 stars

Isla and Josh have gone to the same school for years but have never really known each other. That all changes their senior year, after a random meeting in a coffee shop in New York sparks something that follows them to school in Paris.

I would say this was my favourite book out of the series(but I might be biased by how Isla got her name). It took everything I loved about the first two books and combined them into something I spent all night reading.

I liked the little glimpse we got of Isla in Anna and the French Kiss, but now, in her own book, she really stood out as a character I loved. She was shy and a little awkward, protective of her friends, and she had no idea what she wanted to do after high school. I really liked that this was an ongoing issue throughout the book and the school year instead of being glossed over. I loved Josh in Anna and the French Kiss, I felt for him being younger than all his friends and having to do senior year alone. The more we found out about Josh in this book, the more I felt for him.

I really did enjoy everything about this book. The characters had depth and flaws and struggles and all those things were reasons why Isla and Josh worked so well together, and why Isla’s friendship with Kurt was so memorable, why I can remember Isla’s sisters names(besides the cute name story) even though they played pretty minor roles. If Anna was discovering the touristy Paris, Isla was all about the secret spots only locals know about.

This book could easily stand on its own so a reader doesn’t have to read Anna or Lola to understand the story(but should because they’re awesome). Unlike the first two where the struggle was more about the couple actually getting together, Isla and Josh’s struggle was more about the work it can take to make a relationship last, the accepting of other friendships, past relationships, any and all outside forces that wish to keep them apart. I loved it all.

One last note: beware, this book could cause a book hangover. Proceed with care.

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