Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Biggest Flirts

Biggest Flirts
Author: Jennifer Echols
Published: May 20th, 2014
Paperback, 336 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Tia just wants to have fun. She's worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she's ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can't get enough of his Midwestern accent and laid back swagger. 

As sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia's seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn't interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it's no big deal... until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will's new relationship - and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated.

After finishing a very depressing book, I knew I needed to find something light and fun. Everything about this book and cover screamed a feel good read that would make me feel good inside. Echols has captured the lives of teens in a Florida school perfectly and this series seems like it will be a fun little adventure following different friends. Tia is a girl who isn't ashamed of how she rolls. She doesn't want a boyfriend, but she likes having fun. She's known as the life of the party and no one judges her for that. It's a nice relief not to see slut-shaming, and instead just having everyone accept her for who she is. The minute Will transfers to the school and meets Tia at a party, they hit it off. Before they know it, they are back in her room and could be getting into mischief but are interrupted. Suddenly Will is asking her to be his girlfriend and Tia wants to run in the opposite direction. And things only get more complicated from there. Hijinks and awkward moments follow suit.

The characters really stand out in this one. Tia is a no holds bar kind of girl who does what she wants and doesn't care what people might think. Will is her polar opposite, he is very calm and collected and just wants to find someone to love. Tia's friends, Harper and Kaye are always there to support her, and I can't wait to read their stories in the next books in this series. The dialogue and situations were realistic and fell into the story quickly, ready for the drama to start between Tia and Will. It felt like real high school moments, especially the parties and late nights on the beach. Tia's family life stands out. Her dad works a lot and all three of her sisters left in their teens to have babies and get married. I can totally see why Tia would be the way she is about boys, after seeing everything her sisters have gone through.

It was a quick read and certainly did what I wanted it to do and made me feeling happy and in love by the end of it. I love a cute story like this and this one was no different. I can see why Echols is one of the big names in YA Contemporary. This one stood strongly along side Miranda Kenneally and Sarah Dessen books. I'd definitely recommend picking this one up if you like a cute high school read with a bit of drama thrown in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6th, 2015
Hardcover, 384 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. 

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduations, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

This is an intent, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA. 

If there's one word to describe this book, it would be beautiful. Beautiful because two characters find each other when their lives are anything but great. Beautiful because of the things they see, sights they explore and poetry they recite. Beautiful because of the words Niven has used and the way she has described everything to make me feel like I was there the whole time, from heart-wrenching beginning to end. She made me fall in love with Finch and his broken ways. She made me wish Violet would find her writing voice again and be able to move on after her sister's death. She took me on an adventure through Indiana, showing me places that are simple in their beauty but still made me want to go see them in real life. It takes a special person to make you fall in love, break your heart, and still leave you loving the book when it's all over.

Finch is the kind of guy I always fall for. He's a totally different person around Violet, someone he trusts and loves to be around. Outside of being with her though, he is suffering like crazy and nothing and no one can fix him but himself. He dreams of death, keeps records of ways people have killed themselves and constantly plans his own suicide. It broke my heart reading his chapters, not knowing if there wad any way for him to get past his depression. It's not easy and falling in love won't fix it, but I kept hoping he would get the help he needed. Violet just wants to graduate and get out of Indiana, but the accident that stole her sister is always on her mind. She can't seem to move past it and become the person she needs to be, a girl without a sister. She's alienated all her friends, but finds solace in Finch, a guy who quotes Sylvia Plath to her and takes her to these wonderful places. I could see how hard Violet was trying to fix things, and I wanted to help so badly.

There's no way to sugar coat this, this story will break your heart but in the best kind of way. Niven writing swept into a world of deep longing, of wanting a way out, of finding someone to love in a world where everything seems hopeless. Finch and Violet share more in a small amount of time than some people experience in a life time. I found myself dog-earing almost every page, wanting to remember how I felt, what I read, what I experienced throughout those pages. There were so many lines to quote, so many moments to capture. I want to make my own wall of quotes, write my own story, explore my own city and see things I haven't seen that could be magical. There was so much hope in this book, it filled me to the brim until I burst. Hope and death and pain and above all love. Seriously, just go pick this up, you will not regret it. Though, I suggest a box of tissues close by.

"I leaned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me, and that a 1,257 bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you're standing next to the right person."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4th, 2014
Hardcover, 355 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave for auction. Arin's eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him - with unexpected consequences. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagines new world, The Winner's Curse is a story of deadly games where everything is a stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Let me start by saying that the cover of this book is what first caught my attention. A beautiful dress and amazing font made me desperately want to see what was inside. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. We've come into this world years after a war that left the rich society of the Herrani enslaved to the war-ridden Valorian. Kestrel is the general's daughter and she quickly makes a choice that may ruin everything her father has been working toward. She buys a young slave while at auction, a man who has spoken to her without speaking and someone she knows she must be near. But having her own slave is not what she expected and she treats Arin like her fellow Valorian and soon the rumours of a love affair begin. Just because the rumours aren't real doesn't mean that's what Kestrel wants. But Arin knows more than he lets on and Kestrel's love eyes blur her vision to his devious plans.

This book blew me away in the most subtle way. It was slow moving and there wasn't much action and that is what I loved about it. The characters were vibrant and I fell in love with Kestrel and her spirit and need to be different from the rest of the Valorian. Her best friend Jess is a typical rich girl, ready for gossip and pretty dresses, but I loved everything about her and never saw her as less than Kestrel. Arin was dark and dangerous and could very well have turned into the bad guy, and I loved reading his point of view and the way he saw Kestrel. He loved her even after what her people did to his people. And we could see how badly Kestrel wanted to make things better between the two colonies because of her love for Arin.

The world intrigued me. I loved the war that happened and how realistic it all seemed. It was like Rome taking over Greece and we all know how easily something like that could happen again. I loved the small hints at the different fashions between the Herrani and the Valorian. I'm excited to see what else Rutkoski has in store for the rest of this trilogy as I can see so much more happening. Then tension between Kestrel and Arin was perfectly executed and I need more of the two of them in my life. This reads almost like a period drama and it would be good for anyone who likes a book set in a different world without too much action. I'm a big fan of the small things and this book gave me everything I could have asked for. I think those who read These Broken Stars would love this one.

"Arin smiles. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

My WoW this week is:

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
By Ann Aguirre
Hardcover, 328 pages
Expected Publication: April 7th, 2015

From Goodreads:

Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won't peer beyond the

surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She's learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it's working just fine... until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He's a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to lay guitar and work on his music. He's got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn't expect to be happy; he only want to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn't mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again.

Sounds like my kind of emotional contemporary that will hopefully be as amazing as it sounds! What book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Debuts of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we discuss bookish topics in the form of lists (one of my favourite things to do!)

This week's topic is:

Most Anticipated 2015 Debuts

1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (January 6)
2. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark (January 6)

3. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga (February 10)
4. No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss (February 24)

5. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach (March 31)
6. Love, Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberely Karalius (May 12)
7. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra (May 26)

8. Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (June 2)
9. The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi (June 16)
10. After Hours by Claire Kennedy (June 16)

Holy debuts, Batman! This is going to be a good year for YA Contemporary! So excited to get my hands on these lovelies. Let me know what you're anticipating this year!

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