Friday, May 16, 2014

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan: Review

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Untold
By: Sarah Rees Brennan
Reviewed by: Kylie Comfoltey

Kami Glass and the beautiful Lynburn boys are back with a vengeance in this second installment of the Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan. 

Having read and loved Unspoken last year, I had high expectations for book two. I love a book that makes me laugh out loud. I love a book with a strong, tangible atmosphere. And I love a book that makes me angry because I'm just so invested in the characters' lives I simply can't help but pine for happy endings.

As hoped, Untold met all of my expectations and more. I laughed out loud FAR too many times as is acceptable in a public setting. I became even more of an anglophile than I already was. And I was mad as all get-out at the cliffhanger ending. Because, the feels. Brennan is all about the feels.

Untold was quite a bit darker than Unspoken. Still plenty of humor, clever quips, and witty banter thrown about, but the plot and characters were more Half-Blood Prince than Sorcerer's Stone. More evil sorcerers, sinister acts, and an epic battle between good and evil take this story to a whole new level. Brennan boosts the magic, mystery, and Gothic atmosphere, and the once-sleepy town of Sorry-in-the-Vale turns darker and creepier by the page.

My one gripe is that there was more teen romance drama in Untold than was needed. I am looking forward to the growth the characters will experience in book three. Kami is such a fun heroine. I'd love to see more focus on her quirks and strengths than her angst. I wouldn't mind more focus on Rusty, either. Wink wink.

Absolutely nobody twists humor into Gothic romance like Brennan and I can't recommend this series enough. Be forewarned: Brennan is the cliffhanger queen. She'll leave you angst-ridden and full of curses. More magic and mystery await us this September, however, so get to pre-ordering Unmade and stock up on good chocolate. Only chocolate can carry us through this stretch.

    

Sexuality: Fairly mild.

Drugs/Alcohol: Mild.
Profanity: Mild.
Violence: Some violence for sure, but no gory descriptions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: Review

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The Geography of You and Me
by: Jennifer E. Smith

It's a sweltering summer day in New York City. The perfect setting for a stuck elevator and chance encounter that throw Lucy and Oliver into each other's paths. After their rescue from the elevator, they spend the evening in the magical place that is NYC during a blackout. But, the stars don't seem to align for the couple. They run in different circles, and circumstances leave them across the globe. But, for some reason, in spite of other relationships, stuttered communication, and geographical barriers, they can't seem to let that one night go.

I've become a huge fan of Smith's work since The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And, I loved This is What Happy Looks Like. As soon as the semester ended, I took the opportunity to dive into this one. Of course, it helped that the book came in a very lovely box.


Honestly, who could resist?

This book has all the trademarks of the things I love about Smith's work:

  • Romances between two people that seem so unlikely but they are thrown together by fate.
  • Sweet dialogue
  • Characters with a past
  • A major theme that takes the book from pure fluff to a serious issue
But one of the things that I thought Smith really brought home with this book was the travel. Oh, the travel. If you like books with a wanderlust theme, you're going to die of happiness. As I read this on the train during my travels to and from work, I closed my eyes and imagined that the train was taking me to Paris instead of the office. And I had a burning desire to send someone a postcard. The descriptions of Lucy's and Oliver's "homes" were rich and tantalizing.

However, The Geography of You and Me was not without faults. I may be nitpicking here, but I really wanted a little more depth from this story. With This is What Happy Looks Like especially, I felt like I needed to read a book with a highlighter to mark all the passages that spoke to me. This book didn't quite reach that level. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite of her novels.

Fans of Smith's other novels will be very satisfied with this newest title. I'd also recommend that fans of Sarah Dessen's work, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Just One Day by Gayle Forman pick this one up. It's a sweet, contemporary romance that I'd recommend for ages 12 and up.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flash Fiction with S. E. Green

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I am so excited to be on S. E. Green's blog tour for Killer Instinct. I've been excited about this book ever since I got this totally rad package in the mail. Complete with evidence bag.


What's exciting about this tour, is that you will have the opportunity to help write S. E. Green's next short fiction in the Killer Instinct world. Here's how it works and the prizes you could win:

Every day you'll visit these blogs: 

Monday the 5th- Novel Novice

Tuesday the 6th- EllizieBooks

Wednesday the 7th-  Emily's Reading Room

Thursday the 8th- Reading Teen

Friday the 9th - Good Choice Reading

The first EIGHT chapters are available on KILLER INSTINCT's Wattpad. Get to know Lane and her predicament if you dare.
  • Shannon will post some opening lines to a short story involving Lane, KILLER INSTINCT’S main character and her adventures. If that's what you want to call them. 
  • Readers and aspiring writers will be invited to add the next few lines in the comments section of the blog, which will close at 9 pm EST every night on the blogs participating.
  • Shannon and her editor, Patrick at Simon Pulse will pick their favorite and add it to the original opening lines.
  • This will then get passed to the next blog and the steps repeated. 
  • By the end of the blog tour, an entire short story will have been created by Shannon and the fan base.
  • This story will be published on Wattpad and Shannon’s website.
  • Winners will receive surprise giveaways, ebook of KILLER INSTINCT and a KILLER INSTINCT t-shirt.
** THINGS TO KNOW**

Lane has secrets and uses her mother's connections to keep tabs on the bad guys. She seeks justice. She seeks truth. Lane's distance and the ability to observe what others can't is both her blessing and a curse.

Check out the book trailer for a sneak peek into who Lane is.



Our story begins . . .

S. E. Green: I crouch in the darkness, eyeing the alley. Two people climb from a car—one guy and one girl. They each already wear dark jeans and black hoodies.
The guy says something I can’t make out, and the girl nods. Then they both slip on black ski masks and gloves. They’re now dressed similar to me.
The girl slides a knife into a holder strapped to her thigh. The guy wedges a gun into the waist band of his pants. Together they take off down the alley. They get to the end, the girl goes right, and the guy goes left.
I step from the shadows. Which one do I follow?

Winner Christina: I decide on the girl, because they’ll most likely meet up again soon. And besides, if the guy does fire his gun, I should be able to keep track of him without too much trouble. Ahead of me, the girl’s clumsy footfalls are fading, and I remind myself not to fall too far behind. Before I’ve taken more than a few long strides in her direction, a guy’s voice, teasing, cuts through the dark.
“So, Slim, is this what you do every night?"

Winner Sera: Zach steps out from an alcove, stopping me in my tracks. My eyes dart past him, but the girl’s already out of my sight. I take in a few deep breaths like I’m trying to catch my breath when really I just need a good excuse. The way the shadows of the night dance across his face he looks more like his brother, and I can’t help but blush. My breathing evens enough for me to whisper, “The real question is, why are you stalking me?”

How do you think it continues?
Add your thoughts in the comments (no more than five sentences) and we'll pick a winner tonight at 9 pm EST!

Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner: Review

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These Broken Stars
by: Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Tarver is a war hero. A true rags to riches story. When he meets Lilac on the Icarus, going toe to toe with security, her boldness (and beauty) spark his interest. Of course, he doesn't know that she's THAT Lilac. The heiress to the formidable LaRoux empire. And that she's going to make sure that he knows his place. But, when the Icarus has a mechanical malfunction that causes it to careen to the planet, Lilac and Tarver are going to have to stick together to survive.

When I first heard about this book at BEA, it was pitched as a "titanic in space" science fiction novel. I said to myself, "Self, this could either be really good or really bad." But, either way, I was intrigued. Of course, I had hoped that it was more like actual Titanic, and less Rose and Jack.

"These Broken Stars" began with one of the best opening sequences that I've ever read. Lilac and Tarver's first meeting, his humiliation, and the subsequent EPIC SPACE CRASH were spot on. I couldn't put the book down, and the detailed descriptions really had me. Hook, line and sinker.

But for some reason, after that initial spark and flame, it just burned out for me. It felt like there was a lot of walking, a lot of verbal sparring (some really well done, some forced), and just not a lot of action. The development of Lilac and Tarver's relationship was not insta-love but it felt like it. Or rather, I felt like a very creepy observer of their intimate moments. Instead of wanting to root for their relationship, I kind of wanted them to take it off the page.

Things picked up significantly at about the 3/4 mark, but in some ways, it was too late for me. I was supposed to be invested in Lilac and Tarver (Larver? Tarlac? Man, no good ship names there), and I just wasn't.

Will I read the sequel? It's a possibility. I liked it enough to finish, and even enough to say that I enjoyed it. So, put me in the maybe, leaning yes category.

A few little content notes. There isn't much cursing, everyone is starving so no underage drinking (har har), but there is a fair amount of sexual stuff. It's not explicit, but it's frequent innuendoes. So, it may be better suited for a little older teen.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson: Review

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Blackmoore
by: Julianne Donaldson

this review was written by my good friend Julie Pullman, the best English teacher on the planet.

Hello! I'd like to thank Emily for allowing me review Julianne Donaldson's newest book, Blackmoore. I'm a high school English teacher and I'm always recommending books to students to keep them reading. But last year, a student passed me Donaldson's first book, Edenbrooke, and I couldn't put it down. Emily must have known, because she sent Blackmoore my way.

First, a confession for you all: I had a serious regency romance phase back in the day (and I still can't turn down a good one). I am definitely predisposed to like this type of book, but this means I also go in with high expectations. I've read enough that the tropes of the genre annoy me pretty easily. Thankfully, Blackmoore avoided the pitfalls of the typical romance and fulfilled *almost all of my reader's desires.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead--if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate's meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured--and rejected-- three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Review:

Kate is an interesting female lead. She has some strong opinions of her own and a backstory that leads her to make a few decisions that readers might not understand at first. Donaldson weaves the backstory in with the main plot in ever increasing chunks as the story moves its way to the conclusion and it works to build interest and pace as we near the end. While Kate is a different type of personality than I am and makes some choices that could have annoyed me as a reader, Donaldson has done such a solid job of making her a complete and realistic character that I understood Kate's motivations. Her emotions and choices stay true to the type of girl she is and lend credibility to her character. And call it some early pregnancy hormones, but I did find myself tearing up quite a bit at some of the heartache poor * endures throughout the story. (My husband may or may not have come upon me sniffling over a scene in the book, taken one look at me, and promptly retreated…)

We can't discuss a romance without discussing the male lead. Henry. Oh, Henry. Besides being everything that is good and sweet and, let's face it, rather dreamy, Henry is also a very well-developed character. All of his actions lend themselves perfectly to creating exactly the sort of lead I wanted in a book like this. He came off as a realistic, sincere, and genuine young man who was sometimes confused and frustrated by Kate but supported her nonetheless.

The rest of the cast of characters, while minor in their influence in the story, were mostly believable. The mothers were a little overdone and the bargain Kate and her mom made was a bit forced, but some of the other minor characters ended up surprising me in good ways.

One of the things that Julianne Donaldson does so well is to develop the relationships between her characters. Every moment that Kate and Henry were together, every conversation they had, was so satisfying and fulfilling. Their emotions and the way they interacted felt true to course and realistic; they didn't follow a shallow path of a developing relationship that you often find in run-of-the-mill romances.

I do have two complaints with the book, and the first is very minor: once the characters arrive at Blackmoore, the whole story happens in a very short span of time. This means that there are not many dull moments in the pacing, but looking back on the reading, it seems rather quick for so many developments in the characters and plot. Again, this is just a minor issue and doesn't affect a reader's enjoyment of the story much in the moment.

My second complaint is a bit more substantial: the ending. Don't get me wrong, I loved the actual ending itself. It was different than I expected and not a typical 'suddenly everything is good again' ending. What left me feeling a little lacking is HOW the ending came about. The last major scene between Henry and Kate is just too short. Their other scenes were so strong and developed and satisfying, that in comparison, the last scene wasn't as deeply felt as I expected it to be. To be honest, I felt a little cheated. However, the overall impact of the book left me very happy.

Despite those small hiccups, both of Donaldson's books satisfy the romantic in me and I expect they'll do the same for many of you. If you generally like this type of story, pick up a copy and you really won't regret it. If you've not tried anything like this, these would be a good place to start to get a feel for the genre. I'm already passing around my copies to all of the women I know who might possibly like it.