Friday, October 19, 2018

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Narrated by Karissa Vacker
Synopsis (via Goodreads): As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
“The dead aren't the only ones who vanish: you, too, can disappear in plain sight if enough is taken from you. I was still missing, in many ways. And I wasn't sure I wanted to be found.”
When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Dessen books. Just Listen is one of my favorites, and I also really enjoyed The Truth About Forever. It's been awhile since I've read one of her books, but it felt like something was missing from Once and for All. I didn't love or hate Louna, and I thought she was extremely hard to relate to.

Louna has suffered a great loss, and the experience has tainted her outlook on love and relationships. She can't talk to another guy, or go on a date without comparing them to her first epic encounter. What happened to Louna is truly terrible, and I can understand the devastating impact it had, but I also thought she fell too hard too fast. It was definitely an insta-love situation, but then it grew into something more. However, I was a little annoyed when they confessed their love for each other after a few short hours.

I understand that some teenagers fall in love hard and fast, though it felt unlikely that Louna would have committed herself so deeply and so quickly. I wish they had developed their attraction over time, but instead it keeps the same intensity from their first meeting. There were more confessions of love, the boyfriend and girlfriend labels were applied, and they consumed each other's lives. It felt like the author took something sweet and romantic and turned it into something frenzied and all-encompasing. 

I immediately liked Ambrose and his unique way of viewing the world. "I just can't light a candle without making a wish and blowing it out. It's some kind of birthday neurosis." His outlook on life was always positive, even when he found himself in awkward or stressful situations. Ambrose is someone that enjoys living in the moment, and wants to help others whenever he can. I fell in love with him a little when he met Ira. He has a huge heart that is bursting with compassion.

I also enjoyed the various weddings, and how different they could be!

Louna had a really amazing best friend, and I wish their friendship had been more of a focus. They occasionally go out together, but there were usually other guys involved (or a lot of siblings). I wish there had been more one-on-one time for the two. This was their last summer together before college, and they chose to spend it with strangers. It didn't feel right.

In the end, Once and for All didn't meet my expectations for a Dessen book. I had trouble relating to Louna, which left me feeling disconnected from the story. Honestly, I kind of hated her at the end. She was being ridiculous and obstinate, which was incredibly frustrating. Additionally, it felt like there was something missing from the overall experience. The story lacked a certain oomph

I was listening to an audiobook, so I apologize if the quote isn't exactly right.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

My Weeky Pull [42] & Can't Wait Wednesday [12]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Marvel Zombie #1 by W. Maxwell Prince, Stefano Raffaele, Juan Ferreyra
Runaways #14 by Rainbow Rowell, David Lafuente, Kris Anka

Jacob's comics for the week!
Optimus Prime #24 by John Barber, Andrew Griffith, Kei Zama
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #87 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Hit-Girl #9 by Rafael Albuquerque, Bengal, Rafael Scavone
Daredevil #609 by Charles Soule, Phil Noto, Yoon Lee, Jong-Ju Kim
Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #311 by Sean Ryan, Juan Frigeri, Philip Tan
Venom Annual #1 by Donny Cates, Tigh Walker, Bill Sienkiewicz

Last week I was insanely sick, and this week I feel really blah. Please excuse my delayed post! I'm still recovering and haven't gotten my energy back. I seriously think I could sleep for a week without waking up! It's one thing to be sick, but it's infinitely more difficult when I'm sick and taking care of sick kids. There's no time to rest and recuperate. Personally, I think it's the weather. One day it's hot and in the 90s, and the next it's raining and below 50. I'm hoping it stays cold! I've finally unearthed my hoodies and sweatpants, and I refuse to give them up!

Back to comics... I decided to add Marvel Zombies to my list! It's the perfect time of the year for spooky, and I really liked the synopsis for this one. 

"Years after an incurable zombie virus ravaged the world, a small colony of survivors is protected by the Marvel U's few remaining heroes, including Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Falcon. But when their last chance at salvation arrives, will they be willing to sacrifice their own humanity in the process?"

Doesn't that sound awesome? I love the team of survivors, and I want to see how the group has been working together to stay alive. Plus, it has a The Walking Dead vibe that's always appealing. I used to watch the show with my husband, but we stopped around S7, I think. It was right after the incident with Lucile. We just didn't have time after the girls were born. We're slowly getting back into our shows.

As for Runaways, I have questions. I'm not familiar with the group outside of this specific comic, so there are a few references I haven't understood. My confusion could also be from starting this series in the middle and not at the beginning. Not having the specific details doesn't impact my overall understanding of the story, but there are little things that I know I'm missing. For example, someone new (to me) popped up in the last issue, and he's someone they all know, but I've never heard of him. He's clearly familiar with the group, and it's obvious they have history.

It's still a comic I'm enjoying, but one I think I would like more if I had the full story. The last issue was pretty intense, too. There's a lot happening at once, and I'm curious which direction the story will go in now.

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Meet Me in Outer Space by Melinda Grace
Expected publication: March 12th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn’t visible, it isn’t obvious, and it isn’t something she likes to advertise. In fact, she’s successfully hidden it from nearly everyone in her life, including her college roommate and best friend, Serena.

And for the first half of her freshman year, she has managed without assistance. Edie thought she was in control of her disability, until she meets her match with French 101 and a professor unwilling to hear her out.

Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn’t looking for an easy out. Luckily for her, Hudson, the badly dressed but undoubtedly adorable TA in her French class, ambles in to help her out… 

I think it's great that this story is going to focus on a learning disability!

What are you reading right now? Is it any good?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Shadow of The Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (via Goodreads): One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


I received an ARC from a friend, because they're awesome! My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Damn that was good! I cannot wait for the next book in this series, and I'm bummed that I have to wait so long. Shadow of the Fox was perfection, and exactly what I expected from Julie Kagawa. The Iron Fey series is one of my all-time favorites, and I've enjoyed her other books, but this one is in a league of its own.

You might not know this about me, but I love anime! Inuyasha is a show that I really enjoy, and one I've seen multiple times. Shadow of the Fox reminded me of this show, but only because of the terminology and the content. Both have yokai, kistune, demons, etc., and the time periods are similar. I really liked immersing myself in the culture and customs referred to throughout the book.

Yumeko was an amazing character! She's half kitsune and half human, and she's constantly balancing the two versions of herself. The monks that raised her encouraged her to use her magic productively, and even trained her. Yumeko frequently played small tricks on a few of the monks (they really needed to lighten up), which would result in hours of chores. I think being raised there was good for her in the end, because it taught her compassion and understanding. The world isn't fond of yokai, especially kitsune, and I think she would have become jaded if left to her own devices out in the world. 

Yumeko was always kind and considerate of others. She doesn't really understand sarcasm at first, and tends to take everything at face value. I believe that's why she and Tatsumi get along so well, because he isn't one to say something without a reason, and jokes really aren't his style. Yumeko's personality is what turned their duo into a small group, and kept their journey lively and interesting. It was really great to have an honest, good-hearted character to read about. She wanted to help everyone no matter what was going on in her personal life.

Tatsumi is a wonderfully complex character, and I enjoyed trying to figure him out. He is literally battling with himself every second of every day, and allowing others to get close to him can be dangerous. Yumeko might be his one and only weakness, and I liked watching him sort out his thoughts and feelings. He was an admirable character, though his actions weren't always good. He was raised to be a weapon and nothing else, which is why the constant concern and compassion from Yumeko was able to breach his impenetrable walls. Her actions weren't something he understood or had experienced for himself.

One thing that irked me about Tatsumi... he is constantly referring to himself as nothing but a weapon. I grasped the general concept after he mentioned it the first time, but it's something he repeats fairly often. All of the following were said back-to-back, in like two pages:

"I was an empty vessel, a weapon for the Shadow Clan, and my only requirement was to complete my mission."

"...because my life was not my own."

"I was the Kage demonslayer; this was my job."

"I was simply a weapon. A weapon did not question the intention of those who wielded it."

"The clan had demanded his death; I had simply been the instrument to carry it out."

"It wasn't my place to ask questions; all that mattered was completing the mission."

Dude, I get it. He says it a few more times throughout the story, but waaaay too many times at the start.

Speaking of the story, it's fantastic! Everyone is after the Dragon's Scroll, and there are so many moving parts. A few people are only mentioned briefly at the beginning, but we learn later that they play a larger role. Some are connected in ways I never would have expected! Then there are those that haven't revealed themselves yet. Everyone is vying for the same thing, but we never really know who is doing it for the right reasons. 

I really love the way Julie Kagawa thinks, and how she wrapped this story around itself. Everything overlaps. Everything has a purpose. Everyone plays a role, whether large or small, and you should never dismiss someone as simply a secondary character. Each person is important and controls some aspect of the story and how it progresses.

I want more! I cannot wait to immerse myself in this world again. It was an incredible experience, and one I'm still thinking about days after turning the last page. There are small fights, large battles, unexpected friends, and surprising enemies. It's hard to know where everyone stands, even the people within Yumeko's own group. Her little circle kept growing as the story continued, and I'm really happy with where it is now. They all have something unique to offer, and their skills really compliment one another. Their personalities are all drastically different, but that makes it fun!

In case my raving review wasn't obvious, I loved this book! It will be one that I give as a gift for the holidays, because I want to share what I love. I think a lot of people will be able to enjoy this one! The characters were well-developed and layered, the story was engaging and captivating, and the villains were people you just love to hate. Shadow of the Fox is easily one of my top reads for 2018!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mini Reviews, Blog Tours, and Giveaways

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for The Halves of Us and The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on these book with you! My tour dates for these posts happened to fall on the same day, so I thought it would be fun to combine them in a single post.

Title: THE HALVES OF US (The Halves of Us Trilogy #1)
Author: Sydney Paige Richardson
Pub. Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 480
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks

Twin Sisters: one destined to rule, one cursed to destroy.

Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood.

After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil residing in a neighboring region, Aura uncovers a family secret: she is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago.

While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister. 

As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: save her sister, or protect their world? 

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

Pro: Twins! I love books that focus on twins and their relationship. Despite its ups and downs, I thought Aura and Addie had a very special and unique bond. I wish Adie had been a little more forthcoming from the beginning, but I can also understand her secrecy.

Con: I liked one sister more than the other. I really wanted to like them both, but one sister is incredibly frustrating and makes horrible spur-of-the-moment decisions that have serious consequences. 

Con: Insta-love! I enjoy romance in books, but I'm not a huge fan of love at first sight. There was something that needed to happen in order for the story to progress the way that it did, but ugh. She "just knew" it was love, and I wish that had been done a little differently.

Pro: There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns that kept me on my toes! I enjoyed being tossed around the story without knowing where I would land. 

Con: It was more tell than show, and I like being able to see the story for myself without feeling like every little detail is being described. Being able to use your imagination is part of the experience!

Con: The Halves of Us had underdeveloped characters and an overdeveloped world. The villains were basic baddies and were lacking a clear motive to drive their decisions. As for the world, there's an entire glossary at the beginning that explains different creatures and places, but none of that information stayed with me as I read through the story. I was reading an electronic copy, and didn't like swiping back to the beginning when I was confused about something.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I wish some of them had been fleshed out a little more, but I'm hoping they get more attention in the second book. There were some unbelievable moments, like when the sisters slipped past guards in the beginning (they totally would have gotten caught), and I wish those scenarios had been more realistic. 

About Sydney:

Even before I could hold a pencil in my hand, I was making up stories in my head. I wrote my first book in the second grade, Girls [sorry Lena Dunham], about me and my best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8] who went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with our super powers. My second grade teacher was so impressed with me, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment I dreamed of holding a copy of my own book and placing it on a shelf.

Now all grown up, my head still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and my best friends are fairies. My characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white. I am represented by Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary.

I have a three book deal with The Parliament House with Book One of my current trilogy, The Halves of Us, scheduled to be published in 10/9/2018.

Giveaway Details: 
1 winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
10/8/2018- BookHounds- Interview
10/9/2018- Popthebutterfly Reads- Review
10/10/2018- Shortie Says- Excerpt
10/11/2018- Random Bookish Banter- Review
10/12/2018- Oh Hey! Books.- Interview

Week Two:

10/15/2018- Do You Dog-ear?- Review
10/16/2018- Ace Reads- Excerpt
10/17/2018- Rockin' Book Reviews- Excerpt
10/18/2018- here is what I read blog- Excerpt
10/19/2018- Two Chicks on Books- Excerpt


Author: Don Zolidis
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 352
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD

Janesville, Wisconsin (cold in the sense that there is no God) 1994

The worst thing that's ever happened to Craig is also the best: Amy. Amy and Craig never should've gotten together. Craig is an awkward, Dungeons & Dragons-playing geek, and Amy is the beautiful, fiercely intelligent student-body president of their high school.

Yet somehow they did. Until Amy dumped him. Then got back together with him. Then dumped him again. Then got back together with him again. Over and over and over.

Unfolding during their senior year, Amy and Craig's exhilarating, tumultuous relationship is a kaleidoscope of joy, pain, and laughter as an uncertain future-and adult responsibility-loom on the horizon.

Craig fights for his dream of escaping Janesville and finding his place at a quirky college, while Amy's quest to uncover her true self sometimes involves being Craig's girlfriend, and sometimes doesn't.

Seven heartbreaks. Seven joys. Told non-sequentially, acclaimed playwright Don Zolidis's debut novel is a brutally funny, bittersweet taste of the utterly unique and utterly universal experience of first love.


I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

Pro: I really liked Craig and thought he was a wonderful perspective for this story!

Pro: I thought the high school experience was authentic and made me remember a teenage version of myself. I remember falling in love and not being able to see when a relationship wasn't working. 

Pro: I loved the setting! I felt myself nodding in agreement to things that teenagers today might not understand (like not being able to use the phone after a certain time). It was very nostalgic.  

Con: There were a few times I found it difficult to follow the story. I would have to stop, flip back, and then try to read it again before it clicked. I don't know if it was Craig's way of thinking, or the writing.

Con: I didn't appreciate Craig's outlook on college -- it was narrow-minded and unrealistic. There are always options and choices, even if they aren't easy or enjoyable. 

The author warns readers that this book will not have a happy ending, but it's hard not to wish for one anyways. It reminded me of They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Its title tells you they both die, but you hope for the best until the very last page.

In the end, there were a few things that irked me, but I enjoyed it overall. Craig was funny and viewed the world in an unorthodox way, but one that would make sense to a teenager in the 90s. As for Amy... she wasn't a horrible person, but she did do horrible things. I thought it was a very realistic portrayal of high school, love, and heartbreak.

About Don: 

Originally from Wisconsin, Don Zolidis is a novelist and one of the most-produced playwrights in America. 

His 102 published plays have received more than 12,000 productions and have appeared in every state and 64 countries.

His first novel, The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, will be published by Disney-Hyperion in October 2018.

He currently splits time between Texas and New York and aspires to owning a dog.

Giveaway Details: 
3 winners will win a finished copy of THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY & CRAIG, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
10/8/2018- YA Books Central- Excerpt
10/9/2018- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
10/10/2018- Abellafairytale- Review
10/11/2018- Jena Brown Writes- Review
10/12/2018- A Gingerly Review- Review

Week Two:

10/15/2018- Do You Dog-ear?- Review
10/16/2018- Patriotic Bookaholic- Review
10/17/2018- A Bookish Dream- Review
10/18/2018- The Pages In-Between- Review
10/19/2018- Bookish Wisps- Review

Week Three:

10/22/2018- The Clever Reader- Review
10/23/2018- Life of a Literary Nerd- Review
10/24/2018- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
10/25/2018- We Love and Breathe Books- Review
10/26/2018- Fangirl Fury- Review

Week Four:

10/29/2018- Riddle’s Reviews- Review
10/30/2018- Twirling Book Princess- Excerpt
10/31/2018- Sweet Southern Home- Excerpt
11/1/2018- The Desert Bibliophile- Review
11/2/2018- Cindy's Love of Books- Review

Week Five:
11/5/2018- Novel Novice- Review
11/6/2018- BookHounds YA- Review
11/7/2018- Owl Always Be Reading- Review
11/8/2018- Two points of interest- Review
11/9/2018- Book-Keeping- Review

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

“What kind of a woman greets the Beast Lord with 'here, kitty, kitty'?”
Firstly, I think the cover is a misrepresentation of the story. Yes, she's a strong female woman with a sword, and there are shapeshifters, but it doesn't really capture the essence of the story. I love the Ilona Andrews duo, which is what led me to this series after reading their Hidden Legacy books, but I wouldn't have chosen this one on its own. Also, Curran isn't a lion per se... he's much more than that, so I think putting a lion on the cover was a little misleading. The descriptions for his beast form describe him as massive and imposing, and unlike any creature she's ever seen before. I believe she mentions him being gray with faint stripes.

Despite my issues with the cover, I enjoyed this book immensely! Stories like this are my kryptonite -- magic, snarky female characters that kick ass, shifters or shape-changers, and other paranormal creatures. I also really liked the mystery surrounding the Kate, and the subtle threads that were woven into the larger story. Kate is someone or something special, and she is adamant about keeping her blood a secret. If she is injured during a battle, everything has to be destroyed before she can leave. For some reason, Kate cannot leave a single trace of herself behind, and she's also unwilling to share that secret with her companions.

While we don't get definitive answers about Kate and what she is, there are clues and conversations that address the mystery. I'm curious to see what's so special about her, and why her blood is so powerful. Her secret is going to come out eventually, obviously, but I liked that it wasn't the main focus of the book. She's trying to figure out who killed her guardian and friend, which leads her all over the city and puts her in contact with the different factions.

I loved Kate's snarky personality, and that she spoke with bravado even when she was scared. She chose to use sarcasm and humor to get through dicey situations, but she could also back up her words with actions. She might not be as strong as Curran and some of the others, but she could hold her own in a difficult situation. She was such a fun perspective!

I read a few reviews for this one, and I noticed that people didn't like the romance, but I honestly never thought she was romantically interested in anyone. She enjoyed the company and companionship of someone, but he didn't challenge her or understand her world. It was obvious Kate didn't have deep feelings for him, but I'm looking forward to her future possibilities…

Bonus: I wasn't able to solve the mystery before everyone else -- yay!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I wanted, and it took me no time at all to get through the audiobook. I stayed up late and cleaned the house (more than I usually do) just to listen a little longer. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, and I'm happy there are so many!

Question: For those of you that have read this series, are all of the books from Kate's perspective? Do they switch POVs at some point? Thanks in advance!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Words We Don't Say by K.J. Reilly
Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Words We Don't Say hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I was supposed to review this book for the tour, but there were warehouse issues and my copy didn't arrive on time. This is just a spotlight post, which highlights information about the book and the author, but with the added benefit of a giveaway!

Author: K.J. Reilly
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 288
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send. 

As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain. 

About K.J.: 

I am the author of the (contemporary social issue) Young Adult book, Words We Don't Say (Disney Hyperion Oct 2, 2018).

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will win a finished copy of WORDS WE DON’T SAY, US Only.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer

Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.
“Right now, a kiss is the going rate for near-death experiences. It's kind of a point system.”
Warning: review may contain spoilers for other books in this series. 

When I first started listening to Winter, I thought there was a glitch on my phone, because Libby (my library app) said it would take twenty-four hours to listen to the entire book. After doing a little research, I discovered the physical copy has 827 pages, so it made more sense.

Despite the length of the book, it never felt like the story lagged. It kept a nice pace, and there was always something new happening to one of the characters. They were constantly splitting up, so the perspective and the place would often change. I think it gave a broader view of the world and the different issues the characters were dealing with.

I adored Winter and Jacin! He has loved her since they were children, and not once did he think she was broken. He didn't chastise her for refusing to use her gift, and he was always trying to be there for her when it mattered. Even when he's away, he's thinking of her and trying to return to her side. I really enjoyed their relationship, and how selfless they both tried to be for one another.

I also liked Winter's interactions with Scarlet. I thought the two of them shared a special relationship, even if Scarlet was locked in a cage for most of it. Winter did everything she could to ease Scarlet's suffering, and she thought of her as a friend long before Scarlet felt the same way. When Scarlet called Winter crazy, or referred to her delusions, it was an endearment and said with affection.

I thought Meyer did a wonderful job adding new characters every book. Each new book would focus on someone new, but characters from previous books still played a large role. It made the story more complex and interesting. I loved viewing the story from multiple perspectives, and not always knowing what everyone was thinking. I felt like it added a little more mystery and suspense to the overall story.

I liked the fairy tale connections, and was relieved when they didn't overwhelm the story. Meyer has created something that's entirely her own, while still dipping her toes in the stories we've heard our entire lives. I loved the twists she added, like the spin on Snow White's apple, and how they applied to her books.

Thorne was a little unlikable when he was initially introduced, but he quickly grew on me. Especially after he met Cress! I really liked that Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and even Iko, were strong female characters that depended on themselves. They knew when to ask for help, but they didn't wait around for someone to save them. They fought for their friends and the people they loved, they were smart and innovative, and they took the initiative to improve the lives of others.

I thought Winter was the perfect culmination of the other books, and really enjoyed how the final book in the series played out. I was curious how the author would end things, and if everyone would survive, and I'm pretty satisfied with the ending. I was left feeling hopeful and imagining new lives for the characters. They may be on separate paths now, but they've forged friendships that will last a lifetime. I think everyone got the ending they deserved, while still leaving things open for the future.

I'm looking forward to reading Fairest next. I know some people recommended reading it before Winter, but I decided to wait before learning about Levana's history. I'm sure it would have helped me to understand why she was the way she was, but now I still have something to look forward to!

I highly recommend this series to everyone. Rebecca Soler is one of my favorite narrators, and I thought she did a marvelous job with these books! The Lunar Chronicles was such an enjoyable series, and one that I cannot wait to read again. The characters were fantastic, the world was incredible, and the delivery of the story was perfection.