Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions, #1)

The Becoming of Noah Shaw is the first book in the Shaw Confessions series, which is described as a companion to the Mara Dyer series.  To me, a companion novel or series can be read independently, which is not the case with this book.  The story picks up after the end of The Retribution of Mara Dyer and assumes the reader has a considerable amount of knowledge of events that took place in that series.  Any of the events that were vital to this story were briefly touched upon to refresh the reader, but I would not recommend reading this book if you haven't already read the Mara Dyer series.

I will be the first to admit that Noah Shaw is one of my all time favorite characters, so I was ecstatic when I heard there was going to be another series from his point of view.  He is just as charming as ever, but we get to see first hand how his "gifts" are impacting his life.  He can not only heal himself and others, but he is able to see the pain and suffering of other "gifted" individuals as if he were in their bodies at the time of the incidents.  There is a sudden increase in the number of apparent suicides of "gifted" teens, so Mara, Noah and their friends begin working with some new gifted characters that are introduced in this book to bring the violence to an end.

Noah and Mara's brother Daniel refuse to believe Mara is involved in the deaths, but another character insists she is behind it.  They not only need to stop the deaths, but also clear Mara of these accusations.

Overall, I thought this was a great start to the new series.  I had no idea what to expect and I was shocked by many of the revelations.  There is a major event that takes place at the end of the book, which completely changes the game for the gifted.  Their lives have been irrevocably changed and I can't wait to see how things will unfold in the sequel.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)

Review:

I really enjoyed Matched, the first book in the series, and gave it 5 stars.  This book, however, seemed to have a much slower pace.  It took forever for things to really pick up, which could cause some readers to lose interest.  I will tell you, the ending was definitely worth plugging through some of the slower parts.

Ky and Cassia alternate telling the story, so we get to see what is happening to both of them through out the book.  Ky was sent to the Outer Provinces, essentially to die, because he is an "Aberration".  Cassia is sent to a work camp to train for her new job assignment, but escapes to look for Ky.  In the process, she meets Indie and learns more about the rebellion.

Ky is leery of the rebellion because his father was one of the leaders.  It ended up getting both of his parents killed, but he no longer wants to live under the control of the Society. He meets another boy who is interested in the rebellion and they decide to escape, taking a young boy named Eli with them. 

Throughout the journey we learn more about the rebellion and how it has infiltrated all levels of the Society.   Xander even makes a surprise appearance and we learn one of his secrets, thanks to Ky.  He doesn't tell Cassia, because he doesn't believe it is his secret to tell, but it could make a drastic impact on how things turn out in Reached.

Overall, I enjoyed Crossed and look forward to seeing how the series will conclude.  I'm not sure Ky is really the best choice for Cassia, so I hope she keeps her mind open to the possibility of Xander.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bookish Goals 2018



In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2018 Goals.

Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

  • Read and review at least 36 books 

  • I am participating in the Try Something New challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for level 2 with 11-20 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.

  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)

    • Read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 45 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  


    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. 

    • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2018. 


    • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 12 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 

    Friday, December 15, 2017

    Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

    Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks, #5)

    Goodreads Overview:

    The finish line is only the beginning...

    Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

    But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind-and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms...and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

    Review:

    My husband is a marathon runner and encouraged me to run for a LONG time.  I ran a bunch of 5K races, but would never really consider anything much further than that.  In 2013 I decided I would try to run a half marathon, so I can definitely relate to many of the things Annie describes.  I have now completed 4 half marathons, but I'm not sure I would ever tackle a full marathon.  

    I was happy to see Annie overcome her physical and mental issues in such a positive way.  She was able to achieve something she never thought she could and allowed herself to open up to friends, family, and a new love after the loss of her long time boyfriend.  She had been blaming herself for something that was not within her control.  The physical act of running, along with the friendships she made throughout the training process, gave her the insight and focus she desperately needed to see life from a new perspective.  

    Jeremiah, her training coach's younger brother, is described as an adrenaline junkie.  He started out pushing himself harder and harder in your average running races and eventually moved on to more dangerous activities in order to achieve the same adrenaline rush.  Personally, I couldn't relate to that situation.  I find running to be exhausting.  Aside from the benefits of staying in shape and receiving a medal and a beer at the finish line, I consider it work instead of pleasure.  

    Annie is definitely attracted to Jeremiah, but she isn't willing to risk losing someone else she loves.  Jeremiah cuts back on his risky behavior in the hopes of convincing Annie to give him a chance.  It takes a minor mishap in a relatively safe event for Annie to realize how fragile life really is.  Anything can happen to anyone at any time regardless of how careful you are.  You need to live life to the fullest while you have the chance.  

    There is a great message to this story and I absolutely loved the characters.  Regardless of your running experience, this is a highly entertaining read that I would definitely recommend.  This book is part of the Hundred Oaks series, but it reads like a stand alone.  You do not need to read the prior books in the series to fully appreciate this book.  They are more like companion novels vs. a series that needs to be read in order to fully appreciate the story.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017


    Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten List on something bookish.  Click on the link above if you wish to participate.

    Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2017

    I've spend the better part of 2017 finishing series and reading older books that have been sitting on my shelves for WAY too long. 


    Where She Went by Gayle Forman

    The sequel to If I Stay

    Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

    Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

    Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks, #5)

    Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
    Book 1 in the series

    Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)

    The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
    Book 4 in the Raven Cycle Series

    The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

    Unhinged by A.G. Howard
    Book 2 in the Splintered Series.  I'm currently reading Ensnared, which is the final book in this series.

    Unhinged (Splintered, #2)

    Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
    Book 1 in the Bloodlines Series

    Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

    United We Spy by Ally Carter
    Book 6 in the Gallagher Girls Series

    United We Spy (Gallagher Girls, #6)

    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    Thirteen Reasons Why

    One Paris Summery by Denise Grover Swank

    One Paris Summer

    Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade 

    Bitter Pill

    Monday, December 11, 2017

    Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

    One Paris Summer

    Goodreads Overview:

    Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

    Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

    Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become  the best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

    Review:

    Sophie grew tremendously as a character throughout this book.  She started out as a teen who was afraid of everything.  She was in a foreign country where she couldn't speak or understand the language, which was definitely a disadvantage.  Add in the wicked step-sister, Camille, who repeatedly set her up for failure and it was destined to be the longest summer in history.  

    On the plus side, she was in a beautiful city full of places to explore.  I went to Paris a few years ago and loved reading about many of the places we visited.  The catacombs, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and Versailles... just to name a few.  

    When she meets Mathieu she hopes her luck has finally changed.  Unfortunately, she discovers he is one of Camille's friends, who were all instructed to make her life as miserable as possible.  Fortunately, Mathieu is not under Camille's spell and offers to help her learn French.  He even offers to let her use his piano to practice.  A cute love story develops between the two, but Camille is determined to sabotage any thoughts Sophie may have of wanting to move to Paris permanently.  

    Overall, this was a fun summer read with an entertaining YA love story.  I loved Sophie, Mathieu, and Sophie's brother Eric, but Camille and Eric's friend Dane were obnoxious.  I can somewhat see where Camille was coming from, but I felt like her actions were well beyond realistic.  I detested both of those characters and often wished I could delete them from the story.  I think the overall impact would have been much better without some of their antics, but I still enjoyed the story.  

    Friday, December 1, 2017

    Bookish Goals Status Update: December 2017



    In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2017 Goals.

    Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

    • Read and review at least 40 books 
      1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
      2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
      3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
      4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
      5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
      6. The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
      7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
      8. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
      9. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
      10. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
      11. The Death Cure by James Dashner
      12. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
      13. Matched by Ally Condie
      14. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
      15. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
      16. Elegy by Tara Hudson
      17. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
      18. The 6th Target by James Patterson
      19. United We Spy by Ally Carter
      20. In Too Deep by Jude Watson (39 Clues #6)
      21. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
      22. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
      23. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
      24. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
      25. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
      26. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
      27. The Viper's Nest (39 Clues #7) by Peter Lerangis
      28. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
    • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for 12-15 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
      1. Three Dark Crowns - New Series and New Author
      2. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout - New Series and New Author
      3. Matched by Ally Condie - New Author and New Series
      4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - New Series
      5. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt - New Author
      6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - New Author
      7. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - New Author
      8. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank - New Author

    • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
      1. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
      2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
      3. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready 
      4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
      5. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
      6. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
      7. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
      • Last year I read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 46 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 more of them this year. 
        1. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

      • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. ***Challenge Completed***
        1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Cycle Series
        2. This Girl by Colleen Hoover - The Slammed Series 
        3. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton - Everneath Series
        4. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready - WVMP Radio Series
        5. The Death Cure by James Dashner - The Maze Runner Series
        6. Ensnared by A.G. Howard - Splintered Series
        7. Elegy by Tara Hudson - Hereafter Series
        8. United We Spy by Ally Carter - The Gallagher Girls Series

      • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2017. ***Challenge Completed***
        1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
        2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
        3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
        4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
        5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
        6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
        7. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
        8. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
        9. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
        10. The Death Cure by James Dashner
        11. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
        12. Matched by Ally Condie
        13. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
        14. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
        15. Elegy by Tara Hudson
        16. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
        17. The 6th Target by James Patterson
        18. United We Spy by Ally Carter
        19. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
        20. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
        21. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
        22. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
        • Achieve a Professional level in the 2017 Prequel and Sequel Challenge hosted by Novel Heartbeat with 76 - 100 points. You can click on the link for the sign up. ***Challenge Completed***
          1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #4_ - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
          2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
          3. This Girl by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3) -12 pts (finished series + sequel)
          4. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
          5. The Black Circle (39 Clues #5) - 2 points for a sequel
          6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
          7. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready (WVMP #4) 12 pts (finished series +sequel)
          8. Unhinged by A.G. Howard (Splintered #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
          9. The Death Cure by James Dashner (Maze Runner #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
          10. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #5) 2 pts sequel
          11. Ensnared by AG Howard (Splintered #3) - 12 pts finished series +  sequel
          12. Elegy by Tara Hudson (Hereafter #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
          13. The 6th Target by James Patterson (Women's Murder Club #6) - 2 pts sequel
          14. United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6) - 12 pts completed series
          15. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta #4) - 2 pts sequel
          16. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum (After the End #2) - 2 pts sequel
          17. The Viper's Nest (39 Clues #7) - 2 pts sequel

                                                            Total Points = 112
        • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 12 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 
          1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee- Released 6/27/17