Noteworthy Standalones

A struggle that I often find as a reader is standalones vs series. While I enjoy a good series, I hate having to wait for sequels to come out and ultimately, they’re a pain in my butt. I have to make sure they’re all the same editions and they’re either all paperback or all hardcover. I have to worry about covers matching and what they’re going to look like next to each other on my shelves. They’re way too much trouble. And sometimes, I want to read one book that I know is going to wrap up, and that’ll be the end of it. No cliffhangers, no need to wait for the rest of the books to be released; it’s all right there under one cover. It’s beautiful.

9780143567592One of the more popular, and one of my favorites, is by none other than John Green. The Fault in Our Stars has received mixed reviews, but I ultimately really enjoyed this book. John Green is always so quotable, and TFIOS is no exception. It’s a story about a girl who is fighting cancer and a boy who beat it, but also so much more than that. Green doesn’t always focus on the cancer-ness of our characters, but also doesn’t ignore it. It’s a theme, yes, but the love between them is central. The dialogue and characters are spot-on, and the book is has humor, heartbreak, and poignancy all rolled into one.

Siren_BookCoverA pleasant surprise for me was The Siren by Kiera Cass. After reading The Selection, I was so disappointed by the way women were represented in her stories. I hated that I hated every female character in her books, but I read The Siren because regardless, I still eat up her stories.

I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a beautiful, original, interesting story, and the relationships between the female characters was so heartwarming. For once, I didn’t want to choke all the characters in a Cass book! This was such an interesting, lovely read that I’m actually looking forward to picking up again soon.

71LkLmxqgjLThe next book is a popular Rainbow Rowell read: Eleanor & Park. It took me a long time to pick this up because I was skeptical, but I was so glad when I finally did. This was such a good, simple story about two very complex individuals who fall in love. They both have their struggles but they end up bonding over the things that make each other hurt, and I think that’s beautiful. At times, this was a really difficult book to read, and the ending tears my heart out, but I believe that in the end, the story is very rewarding.

1428026872053That’s not the only Rainbow Rowell selection I’m including here today. Next up is Fangirl, one of the cutest books you’ll ever read in your life. This is much more light-hearted compared to Eleanor & Park and has just a very sweet story. You’ll fall in love with every single character, and anyone who’s ever written or read fanfiction should easily relate to Cath, our MC.

16143347Next up is We Were Liars by E Lockhart, which is a mystery with a crazy plot twist at the end. I really loved reading this because while I love to try and predict the ending to these kinds of books, I love to be surprised. This book definitely surprised me, practically blew me away. It’s definitely worth the read, whether you liked the ending or not, and I’d definitely recommend this.

9781250050748One of my more recent reads was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, which I loved. I was surprised by this book as well, but was so happy to have finally read it. This book deals with suicide and thoughts of it in such a great way that I appreciated. I wrote an actual review of this which you can check out here, but ultimately, this book was incredible and heartbreaking and I would definitely recommend it.

The_Book_ThiefThe last standalone I’ll be mentioning today is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is such an important, wonderful, interesting book that I think everyone should read. It’s so cleverly and brilliantly written and completely enjoyable. The narration was spectacular, and basically I can’t think of enough glowing adjectives to describe this book. Definitely a noteworthy standalone.

That’s all for today, folks. Obviously, there are many other wonderful standalones, but that’s for another time and post. I hope that by reading this, you’ve found a new book to add to your TBR list or at least find that you have a few things in common with me. Mahalo!

Advertisements

SERIES WRAP-UP: Richelle Mead “Vampire Academy”

Spoilers for all Vampire Academy books in the following post. 

Title: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Books: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal

My Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

vampire academy

Admittedly, I didn’t start this series in the best way possible, meaning I watched the movie first. Most who watched the movie would agree that it’s not the most well-made film in history. Still, it piqued my interest in the series, so I read the first book.

Unfortunately, because I watched the movie, I knew what was going to happen. It wasn’t as exciting as it might have been if I had just read the book, but this is entirely my fault. Either way, I wasn’t too terribly impressed with the reading experience, so I decided to give up on it, unwilling to commit to the next 5 books.

That is, until I was gifted a Kindle for Christmas last year. I’ve never really been a fan of e-books because I prefer to own the physical copies, so I wasn’t super excited about the gift, but I figured I could choose books to read on it that I didn’t care much about. This way, it wouldn’t matter to me that I didn’t own the actual book, so the books that came to mind were these.

I may not have been thrilled about the first Vampire Academy novel, but Frostbite got me hooked. Suddenly, I was interested in the characters, excited by the story and invested.

Rose Hathaway is a really wonderful character. She’s so obviously flawed: hasty and impulsive and a little careless; yet she’s also strong and loyal, and she always tries to do the right thing. Not only that, but Rose is funny and sassy and entertaining to read. She was a really great MC and I’m going to miss reading from her POV.

Her relationship with Dimitri was also really wonderful to read. Rose and Dimitri are my OTP, and even though I loved Adrian, I knew that he and Rose would never stay together. Rose was meant for Dimitri, and vice versa. Dimitri turning into a Strigoi was obviously heartbreaking, as was Rose’s journey to kill him. As was Dimitri turning back into a dhampir and rejecting Rose. The whole thing was a roller coaster, and I loved it.

I liked that Rose was able to check in on Lissa and see whatever she saw and read her thoughts. Not only was it an interested aspect of the story, Rose and Lissa’s bond, but it was also a really good way for readers to see what was going on wherever Lissa was while remaining in Rose’s POV. I found it really clever.

I liked Lissa, even though she seemed a little flat to me. She remained loyal to Rose throughout all her crazy ideas and plans. I also enjoyed her relationship with Christian, but mostly because I liked Christian. He was brooding and bitter and angry (*cough* just like me *cough*) but he loved Lissa, which was adorable.

My biggest complaint about the ending was where things left off with Adrian. He was one of my favorite characters and I was really disappointed to see things going south with him and Rose. Even though I didn’t want the two of them to date, I had always enjoyed their friendship and really hated the way they spoke to each other in the end. It seemed like everyone else got their happy ever after: Rose got Dimitri, Dimitri got Rose, Lissa became queen, etc. But Adrian was left with nothing and it was a real downer, honestly. I really hope that I see more of him when I read the Bloodlines series and that his story turns out okay. I want him to find happiness.

This bit of vampire lore was interesting and I really enjoyed the world of Moroi and dhampirs. I’m sad to see it come to an end, but excited to see what happens in the spin-off Bloodlines series.

 

Richelle Mead: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Hyped Books I Wasn’t Impressed With

We all know the feeling of reading a highly acclaimed novel that just didn’t live up to the hype. It’s disappointing and frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re the only person in the world who didn’t enjoy it and everyone else is giving it raving reviews.

16101128The first book that comes to mind for me is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I remember reading this book and giving it an absolutely scathing review on Goodreads because I was so angry. Rick Yancey is a wonderful writer and The Monstrumologist series is one of my favorites (as you can see here). I had read the first Monstrumologist book before The 5th Wave was released and I was so excited to read more from such an amazing author. I expected gorgeous writing, complex characters and a unique story, and all I got was teen angst and a predictable, unoriginal alien invasion tale. I didn’t like any of the characters and I thought the writing was far inferior to that of his previous works. Now, I since have read The Infinite Sea and thought it was a little better, but that’s only because I lowered my standards. I have yet to read The Last Star¬†and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Script_Book_CoverAnother ridiculously anticipated novel that I thought was garbage is The Cursed Child. This book doesn’t deserve to exist, and that’s me being nice. I loathed this. I’ve read Harry Potter fan fiction that was better than this. No, seriously; way better. The Cursed Child is about Harry Potter’s son, Albus, and his years at Hogwarts… and it spat on everything that the Harry Potter series was about. It made Harry out to be a horrible father, which makes no sense. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t have been more understanding of his son. None of the characters were true to the original story. It was a horrible mess and I refuse to accept this as a part of the series. It’s a piece of trash. That is all.

99561I love John Green, don’t get me wrong, but I never really saw the appeal of this book. And maybe that’s just me and I needed to be in a certain place in my life to appreciate the story. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get this. It was slow and boring and I didn’t really like any of the characters. I didn’t really get any deeper meaning it was trying to convey and I didn’t relate to it on any level. It all seemed sort of pointless to me.

City_of_BonesThe next one I feel is a series that everyone I know is in love with, and I just don’t understand it. I can’t stand Cassandra Clare or The Mortal Instruments. Whenever I hear anyone talking about what a great writer Clare is, I almost want to gag. I totally don’t want to offend anyone and I know that this is a well-beloved series. I just can’t see what’s so great about it, and it honestly grossed me out. It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book so the details are fuzzy, but I just remember being very unimpressed with the writing in the book and thinking it was quite subpar.

41rEe4pc3yL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’m just going to say it: I thought If I Stay was really unoriginal and I did not see what all the hype was about. I’ve seen/watched so many other things with the same premise that I just wasn’t blown away by this at all. I kept waiting for something new or exciting to happen, but nothing did. However, I read the sequel on a whim and was taken very much surprise by it. I absolutely loved Where She Went. It was heartfelt and emotional and beautiful and I was so blown away. So I guess you could say that ultimately, I’m happy that I read If I Stay because I liked seeing what happened afterwards.

29749085One of the bigger disappointments that I’ve experienced recently has been from Queen Leigh Bardugo, and that was Wonder Woman: Warbringer. You can read my full review for all of my thoughts on this book, but let’s just say I expected so much more. The book was boring and the characters were stale and it felt like a less fun version of a Percy Jackson novel. I was just as excited for this book as the next person; I preordered it and I followed Bardugo’s book tour online and everything, but the book just fell short for me. I know that many people enjoyed it and I’m so glad they did. I wish I could have found that same enjoyment, but alas, I did not.

I realize that everyone has different tastes and preferences, and I totally respect that. Let me know which selections you agreed or disagreed with. Or let me know if there are titles that you yourself were disappointed in that should have been on this list. Mahalo!

BOOK REVIEW: Rick Riordan “The Red Pyramid”

51iXg+CcMcLTitle: The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Carter and Sadie are siblings, but you wouldn’t know it. They don’t look or speak alike, and they hardly even know each other. In fact, for the past several years, they haven’t even lived with each other. Carter travels with his father, the famous Egyptologist Julius Kane, and Sadie lives in London with their grandparents. It’s a system that’s been in place since their mother died.

When Julius Kane releases some Egyptian gods by accident and is banished, Carter and Sadie must learn to band together and save him. While setting out on their quest, they learn things about themselves, each other, and the Kane family that causes them to pause and question everything that’s ever happened in their lives. They’re thrust into a world of magic and monsters with little knowledge or training and one goal: saving their father.

My thoughts:

Percy Jackson is one of my favorite characters, and his are some of my favorite books. He’s a timeless character that I think anyone of any age can relate to, so even though I no longer read other middle grade books, I would reread Percy Jackson & the Olympians in a heartbeat because it’s so near and dear to my heart.

So maybe I just waited too long to read the Kane Chronicles, but I’m just not as eager to jump into this world. I felt that The Red Pyramid was too long and I struggled to understand the mythology and the magic. The thing that Percy Jackson had going for it is that many people are already at least partly familiar with Greek mythology. Egyptian mythology, not so much.

It was incredibly interesting, don’t get me wrong. You’ve never met a bigger fan of archeology and the discovery of new and mysterious things than me. I love reading about and seeing pictures of old tombs uncovered and information come to light. It was just hard to grasp all the magical concepts and to be honest, I was kind of bored for the entire book. A book about Egyptian mythology and all the other cool stuff included here shouldn’t bore me, but there I was, struggling to turn every page, wishing for it to be over already.

I didn’t hate everything about this, obviously. It’s a Rick Riordan book, of course I’m here for the silly, corny humor. If you can’t handle the cheese, stay away. The books are full of short quips, teasing, stupid jokes, etc. Many reviews I’ve read have mentioned this and considered it a negative, but I think they forget that these books are geared toward 12 year olds. Come on, it has to include jokes about poop and other childish things. And honestly, the kid in me finds enjoyment in the banter between the siblings.

The relationship between Carter and Sadie started off rocky, as to be expected, but I love the way that it develops and they grow closer. It’s very sweet, and it makes me want to call up my own little brother and tell him what a butt he is. Lovingly, of course.

The sequel, The Throne of Fire, is also on my TBR for this month, but I dread picking it up. I hope that it improves on the mistakes that The Red Pyramid made and that I enjoy it much more, but let’s say my expectations are low. I’ll stick around for more corny jokes and the sibling love, but I’m hoping that Riordan comes through and delivers a better sequel.

 

Rick Riordan: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Kasie West “P.S. I Like You”

814LFWmOXKLTitle: P.S. I Like You

Author: Kasie West

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Music-lover Lily likes to spend her time doodling and writing song lyrics during class, but her Chemistry teacher is having none of it. He takes away her notebook, leaving her with only the desktop to doodle on. She’s surprised to find that someone has finished the lyrics she scribbled onto the desk the next time she goes to class, and so begins a friendship between her and an unknown desk mate.

They begin to exchange notes that they leave under the desk and have deep conversations about music, family, and life. Lily enjoys the comradery they have but finds that she’s developing feelings for her secret pen-pal.

My thoughts:

When I was taking college classes, I took an Anatomy lab course and I hated it. The teacher was annoying and all the students made fun of him and the class was difficult. Still, I would have rather done anything else besides listen to his lectures, so I doodled.

There was a boy who sat across from me who was interested in my doodles, so I showed them to him. I passed my sheet of paper across the table and he added his own doodles and pictures to it. These doodles turned into little messages, which turned into longer notes, until he and I had almost filled up a notebook’s worth of writing by the time the class had ended. Of course, we were also dating by this time.

That boy ended up marrying me about a year and a half later. Although he and I weren’t secret pen pals or anything like Lily and her unknown friend in this story, it’s still testament to the fact that sometimes the mixture of boredom and opening up to another person can cause you to catch feelings. I mean it’s basically inevitable.

So to say that I related to this story is a bit of an understatement. I adored this. The story was adorable and the characters were so easy to like. I loved the realness of Lily’s family and the pacing of the story, and basically everything. I ate this story up.

This was my first experience reading a Kasie West novel, and I’m really glad I enjoyed it. I had heard many good things about her stories, but I admit I was skeptical. I hate to say it, but I judge books by their covers, and I’m not a huge fan of any of West’s covers. Either way, it doesn’t matter because this book was beyond sweet. If it was a person, I would hug it.

What are some other Kasie West books that y’all have enjoyed? Shoot me some titles in the comments so I can add them to my TBR!

 

Kasie West: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads