A Million Junes – Emily Henry

30763950Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Blurb: In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

My Review:
This is the first book I’ve ever read from the First To Read program.  If you’re a blogger, you should check it out!   Anyhow, anytime I get a book that I am pretty much ‘required’ to review, I get nervous.  What if I don’t like it? What if it’s so bad I don’t want to finish it?  I pretty much enjoy being in a non-committed relationship with books; reading what I want and specifically NOT reading when I don’t want.  So I was a little apprehensive when I downloaded this book and started it.  Let me just say, my fears were 120% unfounded, from the very beginning I was absorbed into this book.

What I Loved:  A Million Junes is one of those books that in its own way, unfolds in multiple timelines while maintaining a consistent current timeline. It’s different than other books like it, because even on those multiple timelines, the time period can be pretty fluid.  You jump in and out of the story at a variety of points.  I’m hoping this isn’t considered a ‘spoiler’ because I wanted to bring it up to point out that there was not one point throughout this story where I was confused.  I find this pretty much amazing!

There is so much to really enjoy about this book, the friendship between June and her best friend Hannah for starters.  Their friendship seemed so real, and exactly how you would expect a senior in high school friendship to be.  It wasn’t too over-the-top teenagery, but they also behaved in a way that seemed appropriate for their age.  Again, I think that this is something that many authors struggle with, the characters tend to end up feeling too over the top in the rebellious teenage direction or way too mature for their age.

I enjoyed June and Saul’s relationship – the way it unfolded naturally, it wasn’t all heat and passion, but a slow moving thing that they felt around and pushed, pulled and formed it into something real.  It was perfect, specifically because of its forbidden element.  The blurb sort of compares it to Romeo and Juliet, but it’s not a retelling at all.  I loved that do not rush headlong into something, but really take time to evaluate each other and make the best decisions they can on their own.

So while all of those things are good, the best part of this book is the mystery, the curse, and the unwinding of information.  The flow of the words coming off the pages is intoxicating in itself.  This was a most excellently written piece of art!

Not So Much:  Some of the minor characters – specifically the creative writing teacher – and their motives I didn’t quite get, honestly.  I can understand, I suppose, needing another antithesis/pushing point, but at the same time I think that goal could easily have been accomplished without the additional character, or attempting to play up her importance.  She was a bit oxymoron-ish as a character as well, she seemed to serve a dual – almost conflicting – purpose in my opinion.  Anyhow, this is about the only kind of/sort of not wonderful thing I can say about this book.  I’d say that’s pretty good!

The Verdict:  I am in love with this book.  It was fantastic…if you couldn’t tell that’s what I thought already.  It’s a YA, very clean and tidy, and yet, nothing more was needed to make it…more.  If you like a lyrical style of writing, and settings that are kind of blurry in nature, very fluid and changing – this book is definitely for you, and if you don’t, I still implore you to give it a chance!

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from FirstToRead.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

233956801Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Buy Link: http://a.co/2fOj0IS

Blurb: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Review:  My friend recommended this book to me, more than once actually.  And not just the book, but the audiobook.  Did I GET the audiobook?  NOPE, I had gift cards to Barnese & Noble, and while I was there shopping I saw these books – took a glimps inside and knew I just had to own them.

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What I Loved: This book was full of action, I want to say mystery, but it’s not a mystery really, it’s just an unraveling of secrets.  I love that.  While it’s going to be listed in my next category, the uniqueness of this book was part of what made it so appealing.  It’s not simply told in a collection of documents – but the format of the book makes them seem legit.  There are little post it notes, and pictures made of words; all sorts of beautiful treasures.

I loved the characters in this book.  Like – pretty much all of them.  I will say that AIDEN (the AI) might possibly have been my favorite character of them all.  Is it weird to want to comment on the character growth of a computer?  Yeah, probably.  I also loved both Katy and Ezra; Katy was defiant and daring, and Ezra was sarcastic and fun.  They made a fun pair.

Not So Much:  It took me some time to adjust to reading a book that was 100% documents.  I miss a lot of the emotion that way.  You get some, but you don’t get the picture created for you like you would in a typical book.  The little touches, or the room descriptions – things that really put you there.  At least….that’s how I felt at first.  But the more I read the book, the more I really WAS there.  I got used to the format and couldn’t put the book down.

The Verdict:  When describing this book to others, I’ve sort of mentioned Star Trek, but mostly the show Firefly – with the different plants and such.  I mean that only in a ‘setting’ sort of way.  I normally wouldn’t read a book about space travel, but I am so glad I started this series.  This book was clean, very YA appropriate.  A 5-star read for sure.

Book Review: Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B015QMBYD8

I received Everland in the May Steampunk Owlcrate. I decided I wanted the box because of the advertised Infernal Devices inclusion in the box. I was extremely excited to discover the book was a steampunk version of Peter Pan, as (if you read my reviews you already know) I’ve been reading a lot of Peter Pan retells lately.

What I Loved: This wasn’t so much a retelling of Peter Pan as it was a reimaging. All of our favorite characters, and their personalities were present and accounted for. I really enjoyed that about this book – it was it’s own story throughout the entire book, but it was also very much Peter Pan!

In some of the retellings I’ve read lately, Peter is cast as the bad guy while Hook is really our hero – in this book the characters are put back into their rightful places, and Pete was perfect and made me fall in love with the kid Peter Pan was, but also with the teenager and guardian he was in this rendition. He was playful and sarcastic yet he bore the weight of burden but not without its scars.

It was awesome that this was steampunked. I’ve read a few steampunk books, but I think I like this one the best so far. And Pete’s tattoo…I really would love to see that for real. However the best steampunk element was most certainly Belle’s wings!

Not So Much: Truthfully, Hook was completely unstable in this book, but I was sort of confounded by this character. At times I felt like he wasn’t really such a bad person, other times he was the worst. I kind of felt like the two sides didn’t come together very well, but perhaps that is as it should be when someone isn’t quite right in the head.

I also would have loved to have had an Epilogue of this book. It was pretty well wrapped up, but not completely…..aaaaand as I was typing this I looked it up, and it appears that this is a series. Now I’m really wondering where this is going to go…..

The Verdict:
This is my favorite Peter Pan Retelling so far. I loved it. I loved the setting, and the characters. I do want more and am very intrigued to know how this is going to be as a series. Hopefully it does not disappoint.

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/0545424984

Blurb (from Goodreads):  For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

My Review:  
The very much anticipated series finale has been bought, received, and read. And I must say, Stiefvater does NOT disappoint.

What I Loved: So the last book of a series that you’ve shouted from the rooftops from the beginning that you love is not the easiest kinds of books to review. Why? Because I am predetermined to love it. Well..maybe not..but this isn’t Divergent. Anything that has, can, or will happen in this book is pretty much out on the table in the ways of endings, so getting mad at this series would be a moot point. So, I’ll lay it out here right here and now; I loved this series. I loved this book. It’s a 5-Hearts…and probably would have been since The Raven Boys was released way back when.

So what do I say beyond that? Well, there are a few things I’d like to say regarding Maggie Stiefvater’s books, and hopefully if there are any remaining that haven’t jumped on the Stiefvater train – they will be convinced to do so…

I have always loved Maggie’s writing. I have LOVED every single book – and they were not all happy ending love stories either. I can quite honestly say (and here I go all hipster) I read Maggie Stiefvater prior to her becoming overly popular with The Wolves of Mercy Falls. In fact, when I picked up Shiver I didn’t realize at first it was by the same author that wrote Lament and Ballad, back when I was on a Fae kick. But her writing has always captivated me. She writes lyrically and draws clear pictures, not unlike her actual art. But it’s more than that. See, we book lovers love to latch on to characters, and in the groups I ‘hang’ with, we tend to want to two main characters to fall in love, and we expect a story that is entertaining but mostly based around them no matter what the circumstances they are trying to overcome are. What Maggie has done more than once is this; she has given us the couple we want – but since that ‘story’ has been written a million times over, she makes them background noise. Oh, she gives us what we want; we get the falling part of the falling in love, we get shy kisses and passionate kisses, and all the feelings that the characters have no idea what to do with…we get it all, but all the while she’s building this other thing that takes center stage. I believe The Raven Cycle  was the master class of this tactic.

The Raven King was such an awesome conclusion in that when it ended it was just….right. All the individual story lines started to come together and more than once I found myself thinking ‘of course that is how it happens..” or “ well, that makes perfect sense now,” while yet at the same time not expecting these things at all.

I will finish with this, and I’m going to leave it alone (as there is not a “not so much” this time), Maggie wrote a post the day before the book released, and in the end she basically said that she wanted her readers to ‘want.’ I can honestly say she has achieved her goal. I want so much more, while at the same time feel like this conclusion was perfect.

The Verdict:        

The Raven King was darker than the other three novels, but it was necessary to the story line. I highly recommend this series. It is clean, some mild cussing.

Book Review: How to Hook a Bookworm – Cassie Mae

Author: Cassie Mae
Synopsis from Goodreads:   
Getting kissed for a birthday present should not be a big deal. Especially for Brea Mason, who doesn’t think of her best friend, Adam Silver, in any way other than… well, a friend. But after the liplock she can’t seem to get him off her mind. And she has to, because Adam is a senior while she’s stuck in high school for another two years.

Then BAM, the perfect distraction comes along in the form of a new, hot sophomore who actually seems interested in Brea, despite her anti-social personality. And with the stress at home, stress at school, and ignoring the reality of all her friends leaving come June, Brea welcomes the distraction.

But when she sees four fat Fs on her report card, Brea needs a study buddy, and the best candidate is Adam, book nerd and math whiz. So she enlists his help, hoping the birthday kiss was just a fluke. After all, she has a boyfriend now. It should be easy to ignore the butterflies and fizzy feelings that arise with the bookworm… right?


My Review:
How to Hook a Bookworm is book 3 in Cassie Mae’s How To series, a series I have absolutely adored from the very beginning.  This book was my favorite though, which is surprising since I thought Band Geek would totally take that spot since I, myself, was a band geek.  There was just something about Brea and Adam I fell in love with; perhaps it was the best friend scenario, or the building tension, or just Brea’s personal growth in general.  I also am always a bit thankful when a learning disability (no matter the form) is thrown into these books, because my son is dyslexic and struggles with things like test anxiety.  I feel like maybe someone who struggles with the same issues will pick up a book such as this one and feel like they aren’t alone.  Another favorite part of this series is that all of the couples have put the sex issue on the other side of marriage for reasons that include “because I want to,” and because they “stopped making decisions based on how popular they (the decisions) are.” These are qualities I completely respect!

And, for all the How To fans out there – this book includes a certain wedding that you simply don’t want to miss!! 

Rated:  5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult – Romance
Rating:  PG-13 – Teenage appropriate talk of sex, mild cussing

Book Review: Ignite Me – Tahereh Mafi

Author:  Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Dystopian, Fantasy
Series:  Shatter Me – Book 3
Synopsis (from Goodreads):   Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

Review:  I’ve been meaning to write this review for a while now.  I probably finished the book a month ago, and you know…life.  Anyhow, first off, let me just say I really do love this series.  I’m about ready to go ahead reread all three again, just for the fun of it.  The story, and the characters were just so good.  I loved the premise; I mean dystopian meets X-Men, who wouldn’t?  I found myself drawn to read Ignite Me in a way that I haven’t really been experiencing as of late.  You know how it is…you put down the book because it’s been at least an hour, and you have kids and a husband to pay a little attention too, but twenty minutes later you find yourself right back in the same spot with the book again.  It consumed me more than I consumed it.
So yes, I loved Ignite Me.  Just loved it.  I love Tahereh Mafi’s writing style, and the characters she created.  I love the world – well, that’s relative; I love reading about the world, I wouldn’t want to live there though.  I especially loved learning a bit more about Warner, or Aaron rather.  It felt so indulgent to get so much background on him after the first 2.5 books, but I soaked it all in.  I loved that there was some emotional rollercoastering going on as well.  There were parts where I, myself, felt near to tears.  That’s good.  I like that.  As long as the main character didn’t die.  Then I don’t like that!  😉
There were, however, parts that I didn’t love so much.  It was more an aftertaste than anything.  Like when you start to drink something and it’s so wonderful that you finish it in that first taste, but then after you’ve sat there for a bit you discover that it wasn’t quite as good as you thought it was?  Hmm…that sounds a little harsh.  Let me elaborate….but first a warning, if you haven’t read this book and don’t wish to know details about it…stop here.
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So typically I’m all for the first guy that is presented as the love interest in a triangle such as this.  Perhaps it is because it is the first person that the author makes me fall in love with, and I hate the idea of this conflict of emotions.  However, after their encounter in Unravel Me, I knew Warner was the guy.  There was just something about him in that book, not to mention Destory Me,  that makes you just want him to win.  And then you start reading Ignite Me, and it is just reaffirmed over and over again.  Tahereh Mafi is an expert at writing these wonderfully delightful and passionate kissing scenes, and these tense moments between boy and girl that make your knees weak and your heart thump.  I’m sure this is a large part of her appeal as an author…(plus the superhumans!).  But then there is Adam.  Adam who was so wonderful in Shatter Me, and patient and loving.  And that shower scene!!!  He loved Juliette, that is so hard to forget.  When you start to read Ignite Me this is what you remember; the Adam who loves Juliette.  But what you get is a very angry, unrelenting, careless person.  I kept waiting on some kind of reconciliation (not for he and Juliette to get back together, but an acknowledgement of their behavior and the love that they did share).  I waited on him to be reasonable.  I waiting on his own happy ending. Something!  And you get tastes of things.  Maybe a new love interest?  (But no details.)  A fresh start with his new family?  (But no details.)  I felt so, incomplete without the second half of this book (at least I felt like he was the second half of this book from Shatter Me getting some kind of closure too.  It sort of drove me a bit crazy.
The other thing that kind of got to me was the ending.  Here we’ve worked up to this battle.  It’s been 2 (and then some) books now, and the struggle has been long and harsh.  So the time for the final battle has arrived, and not only does everything go almost exactly as planned, but Juliette walks in and although she does get lost on the ship, and has to battle with an unknown secret weapon, she easily takes everyone down and it’s done.  I was sort of waiting on the other shoe to drop.  Surely something is going to happen…nope.  Warner comes climbing up out of a pit, and they all live happily ever after.  The end. 
In short;  I think, maybe perhaps…the third book was rushed. 
Would I recommend this series?  Yes. I loved it.  For your teenager?  Eh, probably I don’t know.  The scenes are right on the edge.  And there is some sexual content….think Twilight, they work right up until that moment and…fade out, next scene.  So, that part of it is all implied.  But it’s still a mature book.

Book Review: Unravel Me – Tahereh Mafi

Author Site: Tahereh Mafi
 Form:  eBook, Nook
 Genre: Young Adult – Dystopia, Romance, Fiction

Synopsis (from Goodreads):   
tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

My Review:  I just finished reading this book literally 5 minutes ago, and I can tell you that I have a myriad of emotions to go along with it.  I devoured this book.  I can’t believe I held off as long as I did to read it, except I was hoping it would end up on the libraries downloadables (since Shatter Me and Destroy Me are both there).  So while waiting, I re-read Shatter Me, then read Destroy Me, waited another week and finally bought Unravel Me.

So one, teenage angst + mentally unstable = a little bit much for me.  Adam was WAY over the top with his feelings, but it seems to be the theme of these books.  Everyone FEELS every little word, emotion, thought as if they were taking some kind of “feelings steroid.”   It makes for good reading though, I suppose.  I mean, if my husband would confess to the type of love as Adam…and Warren apparently have…well, geez, I’d be a puddle of goo on the floor too.

So, here we go with the love triangle, which I think is horribly unfair.  Tahereh Mafi sort of has me going for the underdog in this one, which is unusual for me.  I’m usually pretty straightforward.  However, the unfair part is this; you CANNOT have your characters say things like “I’ve loved you forever,” and “I’ve always loved you,” and have these heart wrenching encounters, and then turn around and have mixed feelings.  (Well, I guess you can, I mean..here it is.  She did it.  It’s definitely possible.)  But you all get what I’m saying, right?  I just..I can’t…I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I guess I like the big red bow.  And I’ve already admitted to a desperate hate for love triangles.  NEW THEME AUTHORS…PLEASE RELEASE US FROM THIS STUPIDITY!  🙂

Why am I being so mean to this book?  I love it.  I already said I devoured it.  Every word.  Okay…one more complaint.  I really hope Juliette does not go back to wishy-washy in book three.  This back and forth is giving me mental whip-lash.  Do you want to fight, are you strong, or do you want to cower in a corner and cry and feel guilty about every little last thing in your life.  Again…teenage angst.  Arg!

Okay, so despite the angst, and the back and forth, and the triangle….I have to say, I think I just must love Tahereh Mafi’s writing.  It seems like too much, but I find myself wanting more.  I find myself just wanting to eat it up or finding a spot to hide and just live there.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Another bonus for me, I think the last book that made me flush was Clockwork Prince – and it’s been over a year since that came out (even though I’ve read it 5 times – the first time is always the best).  The book just barely stayed on this side of decent…but again, I was gobbling up ever last drop!

Thank you, Ms Mafi, for your words and your story!  Despite my complaints, you still earn the full 5 stars, I mean…really.  I imagine I’ll be re-reading these again before book 3 is released.