Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (ARC)

A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepherd
Balzar + Bray (an imprint of Harper), 400 Pages
US Release Date: January 27, 2015
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.
-------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
“I want to know that this life is the only one that matters. When you can never die, do you ever really live?”
I’m feeling a little empty, knowing that Montgomery is no longer in my life now that this trilogy has ended. My love for him ran deep, and it was true, and I’m absolutely distraught there’s no more.


I really do love him though.

Moving on. Guys, I can’t even with this series. I. Can’t. Even. It’s rare for me to find a series that I love all of it, but…this is it. I mean, sure—I had my problems with Book 2 having a bit of the Book Two Syndrome. And A Cold Legacy wasn’t perfect. But together, looking at the series as a whole, as a story arc with the twists and turns…it’s so fantastic and original. A Cold Legacy was decidedly less dark than the first two—which I was a bit sad about since you expect that from a book that takes after Frankenstein. But it actually kind of…fits. The tone of it, the overall feel flows so well with the action and story, and I enjoyed it quite a bit by the end.

One of the best parts was how much happened in this book. I’m not saying all of it was exciting and gripping and had me furiously flipping pages (some of it did!), but I felt like there was so much evolution, so much that happened overall. There were more questions, answers given, more questions raised, some bloodshed, lots of secret passages and tension…it was pretty fantastic.

I do have to admit that one of my disappointments was the traveling troupe and that character that…”reappeared” in the middle. I wanted so much more, I felt like there was so much more potential with him and his friends. The same with Edward and what happens to him…it felt very safe, very small what happens, and I kind of wish it had been at touch more dramatic and chaotic.

But the character I still love? Lucy. She’s flighty and hilarious and such a great friend. She’s also a little crazy, and actually pissed me off quite a bit at some points…but I still think she’s one of the best best friend characters in a book so far. She’s still so much more essential than Book 2 made her seem, and it was brilliant.

And of course Balthazar. Tried, true, so tender and amazing. I have no bad things to say about him, and only wish I had him in my life.

A Cold Legacy is one of the best endings to a series I’ve ever come across. It stands on it’s own as fantastic, with a plotline that moves in ways I’d never expect and still retains all the characters, confusions, and challenges I’ve loved forever. And together, all 3 of the Madman’s Daughter books create this terrifying, amazing, brilliant story about your nature versus your nurture, about discovering who you are and shaping who you want to become. It’s about your choices, what is inevitable, and what is created in between.

And it is bloody fantastic.

4.5 stars
Read my review of Book 1: The Madman's Daughter and Book 2: Her Dark Curiosity.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (ARC)

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider
Now titled: The Beginning of Everything
Katherine Tegan (an imprint of HarperTeen), 335 pages
US Release Date: August 27, 2013

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.
-------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
Imaginary prisoners are still prisoners.
I feel like this book is my kindred spirit. I feel like it’s the missing piece of me I’ve always been yearning for, that extension of myself that I hadn’t realized was lost until I found it. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts feels suspiciously like home.

Probably the best word I can think to describe this book is “unexpected.” Not surprising , and nothing was horribly improbable, but there were some very unexpected twists and revelations. They were all done perfectly and with the best treatment, but still: unexpected.

When I say this book is my kindred spirit, it’s because I feel like every single character has elements of me in him or her. Toby, Cassidy, Ezra, absolutely everyone was a little bit of the confidence I have and a lot of the questions and indecision and existential crises I go through daily. I remember all these feelings so well in high school, and even now. There’s so much complexity and depth to each one, and seeing how they all intertwine and affect the other just makes it all the better. The characters are so complementary to each other, I absolutely adore it.

More passages were marked in this book than I have in any other this year. It feels like there’s so much wisdom and guidance in these pages, I feel like there’s so much to learn between the lines. About love. About friendship. About family, and relationships and happiness and accepting a direction you feel forced to go in. Probably the best part about this story as a whole is that it’s about the changes that happen in someone’s life, whether we make them by choice or consciously or without reason. That it’s a story that focuses on living through the changes and tragedies, rather than fighting or resenting.

I also love how cool-nerdy this book is. All the references, the “smart” situations and words, how it’s about the debate team – and yet, all the characters are completely normal as well. They have friends, there’s drama, there’s schoolwork and projects and some family problems and secrets. Sure, it feels a little exaggerated sometimes between the “cliques” and the divide in high school, but it has to be so in a book (and maybe it’s not, I just didn’t experience a high school like this!).

Perhaps my only disappointment? The title change! I guess I get why the title is now The Beginning of Everything, but I absolutely ADORED Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. And it’s just so much more fitting!

Also, this will only be understood by anyone who has already read it: COOPER <3
5 stars

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal (ARC)

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal
Harlequin Teen, 319 pages
US Release Date: April 29, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.

Some work at the mall.

Becca Williamson breaks up couples.

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca's older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple's relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they're second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca's best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team's star player, Steve. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars...not to mention sneaking back into Huxley's good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val's new boyfriend.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.
-----------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
Why do my classmates believe that saying those three words automatically protects a couple? They’re not relationship insurance.
I’m having a hard time writing this review because I’m so “meh” towards the book. There were parts I liked, some I really liked…and there were parts I didn’t like, and definitely parts I really DIDN’T like. Everything kind of cancels out, so I’m left with just a neutral feeling towards it.

I like the concept of The Break Up Artist. I feel like it’s been done a few times, but there are certain elements that still make it feel unique. I like that it’s one person as the Artist, that she’s working alone (mostly), that she hides it from everyone. I like that Becca has a reason to believe something, I like that she has to work through some things.

I did not like how extreme some of the situations were. I definitely called Becca’s sister and her and a few others “bitter old hags” in my head more than once. I may have even said it out loud at one point.  I felt like I had to suspend my reality, kind of forget a lot of the things I’ve learned about humans and humanity and think people really were as dense as they were coming across in the book.

I liked Val and the friendship she had with Becca. I thought the idea behind this book, that those in relationships treat singletons differently was a pretty good one, if not a bit exaggerated. I’ve been single all my life (only recently have I been realizing that perhaps some of it has been by choice) and I have my fair few memories when people treated me differently for it. People who thought I was sad or pathetic for not having someone, people who thought I must be lonely or excluded me because I wasn’t paired off. Some of that is real, and I appreciated it in this book. Especially when it came to Val and her boyfriend and how that friendship slowly changed.

Becca’s school is definitely the exaggeration. I appreciated the attempt to justify it with the boy-to-girl ratio, but I won’t buy it. I found Steve and Huxley’s relationship cute and sweet, but also a tad unrealistic. Most of the ones in here are slightly so.

I most certainly did not like Diane, nor did I like Val’s boyfriend. I liked that Diana gave a reason to Becca to do a lot of the shenanigans she partook (is that a word?) in, but Diane was just…ugh. I want her to grow up and get a grip. Yes, of course, have a mourning period, but don’t take it out on friends and just…UGH. Horrible. And I’m not talking about Val’s boyfriend—not just because it would spoil some things. He’s a cliché, he was easy to read as what he would turn into, and I was not impressed.

Ultimately, what saved this story for me were the friendships. I liked the nerd boys at Becca’s table, I liked Val and Becca when there wasn’t a guy standing around them, I liked Becca’s relationship and friendship with her sister. I even liked Huxley (probably best of all the characters). When she wasn’t spouting some crap about needing a boyfriend, she actually made a lot of sense and felt the most rounded of everyone.

The Break Up Artist was definitely hit-or-miss with me, and so much so that I just can’t seem to make up my mind what it is. For every part I hated, there was a part I liked.  If it sounds like something that intrigues you, give it a whirl.
3 stars

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Weekly Wrap-Up (33): So many books!

I have a lot of huge life things happening right now. Some aren't so great, like a few health problems and a ton of dental work (root canals and crowns woooo!) -- though the silver lining that deserves much gratitude is that none of it is life-threatening. Life changing, yes--but not life threatening.
And then there are some really great life things happening, but they're all kind of…up in the air right now, and I don't want to jinx any of it. Just trust me that while it is a little stressful and a lot time consuming, I think it's going to improve my life SO, SO much. And I'm so excited.

In case you missed it...
Coming up...
Reviews of Boys Don't Knit by TS Easton, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal, and Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (now titled The Beginning of Everything) by Robyn Schneider. I've been cooking up a few fun discussion posts too, so I hope to post those soon -- and of course, March is my birthday month, so some celebrations have to happen!

Onto the books!
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

From Around the World Tours:
Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
Heat of the Moment by Lauren Barnholdt
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

From NetGalley
Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

Traded (thanks Cindy!)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Looking for Alaska 10th Anniversary Version by John Green

Non-Fiction Purchases
because I'm trying to be a grown up
The Girl's Guide To Being A Boss (Without Being A Bitch) by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio
Discover Your Optimal Health by Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson
300 Writing Prompts Mini Book

What books came into your possession recently?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top Ten YA Contemporary Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!
Top Ten YA Contemporary Books
I Can't Believe I Haven't Read Yet

If you know me, you know YA Contemporary is my jam. My cup of tea. My shit. My thang. It is the genre I will always, always love, and the one I am guaranteed to feel like home in.

Which is why these are so surprising! I'm almost ashamed to admit these, really.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
All Sarah Ockler books

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Ask the Passengers by AS King
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The List by Siobhan Vivian
All Miranda Kenneally books

What books are still shockingly on your TBR?
Leave your TTT link and I'll hop by!