It appears as though I’ve taken the concept of summer break quite literally around these parts when it comes to reviewing books. I took a look at my “to review” log the other day and was SHOCKED when I realized how big my back log was. So, apologies for totally dropping the ball and not sharing my thoughts about so many books I’ve read lately.
What HAVE I been doing this summer when I should have been posting reviews? To be honest…not much! Since my husband and I had big international trips planned at the start and end of summer, and the fact that he’s in grad school right now, we’ve been staying close to home and taking a lot of day trips throughout Massachusetts. We’ve explored the trails at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, strolled through the quaint coastal town of Marblehead, caught some gorgeous sunsets right down the road from our apartment and made more memories at the family beach house on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve shared some photo highlights below to give a taste of what summer in New England is like…absolute perfection.
You can always follow along on my adventures, bookish and otherwise, by following me on Instagram (and Twitter). In the mean time, let’s check out my summer of reading!
Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.
Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.
It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Emery Lord? That she’s a wizard when it comes to writing authentic and meaningful friendships. She’s mastered the art of developing a swoony romance. Her ability to develop complex and beautiful family bonds is second to none. She knows how to write a story that gets to the emotional core of what it means to be a teenager. But…you guys know all this. If you’ve read even one of her books (I suggest you read ALL of them), then you know what an amazing author Emery is and can understand why I include her on my list of all-time faves. With the release of her fourth novel (in only three years!!), she’s managed to make me love her (and her story-telling) even more than I already did.
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
BAD ROMANCE is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book from a friend and having finished it last week, I can honestly say, I’ve thought about it every day since then. What Heather Demetrios has done with this novel, is shed a light on a very real and a very dangerous experience for so many people, including teens. Abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, mental or verbal, has touched so many lives and this is the kind of book that so many readers need in their life. Continue reading “Book Feels: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios”→
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure.
And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Ohhhh, friends! This is a GOOD one! Seriously! You’re going to want to add this to your TBR right now! Caravalreleases today (Happy book birthday, Stephanie Garber) and let’s be real, there’s been some serious hype! This amazing debut novel features a magical and dangerous game that leaves its participants forever changed and I’m here to tell you…the hype is real!
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances. It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
Every once in a while you get lucky as a reader and come across a book that, from the moment you start reading, you know it’s going to be special. I had one of those moments when I started reading Emery Lord’s second novel The Start of Me and You, which as it turns out, I loved even more than her debut, Open Road Summer. Which is saying a lot because I really loved that book!
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Mary E. Pearson's Remnant Chronicles.
This book had been sitting next to my bed in a massive “to be read” pile since last September. I didn’t realize it then, but the fact that I didn’t read this book immediately upon receiving it is a complete fail on my part! Like, total and utter life failure! What I should have done is drop everything and read the book in its entirety. I should have made better life choices and devoured it before I did anything else. But, here it is almost the middle of March, a full SIX months since I got the book, and I’m FINALLY here to profess my obsession and adoration for The Kiss of Deception. Continue reading “Book Feels: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson”→
Following your heart can be a crimeA royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Many thanks to Andi at Andi’s ABCS for lending her ARC of The Winner’s Crime! Her generosity in no way affected my review.
Have you ever read a book that frustrated you to no end? The whole time you’re reading it you just want to throw it across the room in a fit of range? You get so annoyed that you just want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into the characters. If you have, then you’ll know how I felt while reading The Winner’s Crime. I was frustrated, angry, sad and heartbroken all at the same time, and I LOVED it!
The Winner’s Crime picks up right where The Winner’s Curse left off, and I was pleased to see that the sequel did provide a little refresh of book one to get me caught up as a reader. I always appreciate it when a book series takes the time to tie the books together, as it not only creates a seamless story, but also gives the reader the chance to settle back into the story.
We find Kestrel, the heroine of the The Winner’s Trilogy, adjusting to her new life while still dealing with the repercussions of the decisions she’s made in her past. She’s so wrapped up in maintaining the lies and deception she’s built around herself, that it’s difficult to really know who or what has her true loyalty. I felt like sometimes even Kestrel questioned what she was doing and if it was all really worth it. I really appreciated this as a reader, because it made the story so much more believable to know even the main character herself questioned her own actions. So often we get characters who blindly make decisions and act on impulse but somehow in the end everything works out. I like how Rutkoski created a character in Kestrel that was flawed, indecisive and ultimately, relatable. I mean, I’m not a general’s daughter forced to make tough decisions in some gorgeous fantasy world, but it was easy for me to sympathize with Kestrel. That’s all I really ask for from a book in the end.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this book was her relationship with Arin, the male lead of The Winner’s Trilogy whose character arc has grown considerably since we met him in The Winner’s Curse. He’s faced with his own tough decisions and deals with a lot of anger, hurt and confusion thanks to Kestrel. For the entire book all I wanted them to do was talk to each other! I felt like if they just took the time to sit down and talk things through all of the misunderstandings and pain would be resolved. BUT…then we wouldn’t have a book now would we? Rutkoski threw SO much at these two characters that it became quite clear that their issues weren’t going to be resolved, and if anything, they were going to get worse. This was such a heartbreaking aspect of this book and my feels were totally destroyed by the end. It’s amazing though, to see two characters with such a huge divide between them, ultimately continue to make decisions that benefit the other. If only they could both realize it. I loved the back and forth, it ripped out my heart and hurt my soul. I know, I’m crazy, but I LOVE it when a book does that. The dynamics were so intriguing and just made me want to read more and more to see how, and IF, things would be resolved.
The Winner’s Crime ends on a crazy cliffhanger that totally ruined me! Rutkoski closes this novel with a perfect mix of hope, loss, deception and heartbreak. I can only imagine how epic the third book, The Winner’s Kiss, will be. With a name like that it has to end well right? RIGHT?!
The continuing story of Kestrel and Arin is more intense and anxiety-inducing than ever in the Winner’s Crime.
It was absolute perfection and I can’t wait to see
how their story finally ends.
A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy.16-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies -- a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
Many thanks to Jaime at Fic Fare for lending her ARC of The Sin Eater’s Daughter! Her generosity in no way affected my review.
This book has been on my radar for quite some time, so I was pretty pumped when I was able to borrow an ARC…thank you Jaime! Now that I’ve read the book and had a few days to process it, I can say that it definitely lived up to expectations but wasn’t quite what I expected. Does that make any sense? Listen, I really liked this book…a lot! It was just soooo much darker than I anticipated and that threw me for a total loop at first. But once I got past the initial few chapters and readjusted myself for the book I realized I would be reading, I found myself totally immersed and invested in this dark and wicked tale.
A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz's English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson's poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy. In an emotionally taut novel that is equal parts literary and commercial, with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls fighting for their lives.
I went into this book expecting to be thoroughly depressed and ,to be honest, this kind of story is not normally one I read. But something about the summary spoke to me and I decide to give it a try. I’m so happy that I did because this book was so beautiful. Yes, it was sad and definitely had its moments where I felt so upset for the characters, but when I finished the last page I was left with such a sense of hope. Hope for life, that it can be beautiful, if only we reach out to those around us. When Reason Breaks proves, through such heart-wrenching emotion, that the power of love is unstoppable, if only we allow it.
In the tradition of New Adult superstar Jessica Sorensen, Ellie Cahill's debut novel is a charming friends-with-benefits story . . . with a twist! What if after every bad breakup, there was someone to help "cleanse your palate"--someone who wouldn't judge you, who was great in bed, someone you were sure not to fall in love with? "Sorbet sex" could solve everything--as long as it never got too sweet. Joss and Matt have been friends since freshman year of college, meeting one night after Joss is dumped by her boyfriend. After a few drinks, Matt humors her with a proposition: that he'll become her go-to guy whenever she needs to heal a broken heart. In return, she'll do the same for him. The #1 Rule: They'll never fall in love with each other. People scoff at the arrangement. But six years later, Joss and Matt are still the best of friends . . . with benefits. Through a string of boyfriends and girlfriends--some almost perfect, some downright wrong--Joss and Matt are always there for each other when the going gets tough. No strings. No attachments. Piece of cake. No problem. After all, since they wrote the rules, surely they can play by them. Or can they?
When I started this book, I was looking for a fun read that had lots of swoon, but also had lots of heart. I love when a book can achieve the delicate balancing act of appealing to my need for steam and swoon, but also my need for a little substance. I’m here to say that When Joss Met Matt was exactly what I was hoping it would be and I LOVED it!
Joss and Matt meet at a party their freshman year in college after Joss is dumped by her long time boyfriend. What begins as a chance meeting turns into an almost decade long friendship that turns into something more than either one of them could have anticipated. What I loved most about the story of Joss and Matt was the way in which their friendship developed, and by the end of the book you could really tell how deeply they care for each other. It’s so refreshing to see a male and female character support and love one another through thick and thin.
The friendship between these two definitely has its benefits though! Their elaborate “sorbet” plan is so far removed from anything I’ve ever experienced in life, but it felt authentic for this story and true to both Joss and Matt’s personalities. Through an ever-growing list of the rules, they each become the one the other goes to for a “reset” when they’re coming off a bad relationship or break-up.Through the years they are there for each other as a physical comfort when they’re feeling down, but what they don’t realize is how they are also there for each other emotionally. Joss and Matt are so focused on what they do wrong in their respective relationships that they don’t see what is RIGHT about the relationship they have with each other. I appreciated how messy and honest their friendship is, and felt really connected to them as a couple and individually. I was rooting for these two for the entire book!
The format of the book jumps back and forth between present day and flashbacks that are perfectly matched and paced. The flashbacks were such a great way to get to know Joss and Matt, and better understand their motivations and history with each other. Even though the story is told through Joss’ POV, I still felt like I got to know Matt so well. It would have been kind of fun to see a dual POV in this one, but I felt like it still worked well just getting Joss’ side of the story. There’s one section of the book that deals with a really heavy subject matter View Spoiler »(the death of Matt’s father) « Hide Spoiler that I felt extremely connected to. I was so blown away by how well the subject was dealt with and how authentically the characters navigated through it. It just made me love the story even more because it just felt so true to real life.
Bottom line…I LOVED this book! It was the perfect mix of swoony, silly and sexy, but with a lot of substance. pick this one up and fall in love with Joss and Matt.
About Ellie Cahill
Liz Czukas is the author of fun YA romances like ASK AGAIN LATER (HarperTeen '14) and TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS (HarperTeen '14). She also writes fun New Adult romances like WHEN JOSS MET MATT under the name Ellie Cahill.