Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: Holly(Woods) by Naomi Laeuchli

ImageMy Rating: 3.5 stars

Date Read: May 26, 2014

Source: Preview copy from the author

Publication Date: January 31, 2014

Publisher: N/A

Genres: Romance, mystery

Summary (taken from Goodreads): In the first book of the Holly(Woods) series, Holly has moved to Los Angeles in hopes of pursuing a film career. When she's cast in a small role on a popular TV show things start to look up, but she soon learns the world of Hollywood is a difficult one to navigate and not everyone can be trusted.

With the help of Evelyn Martin, a faded starlet, and Peter Glades, a man with a past he's desperate to keep hidden, Holly tries to learn the ropes and deal with the politics of fame that follows her budding relationship with Hollywood heartthrob Alan Ryder.
But just as Holly starts to find her footing, a dark secret from the past threatens to destroy everything she has worked for.

Review: I wasn't too sure what to think of this when I began reading. The plot seemed to be moving quickly and I didn't care for the main character, Holly. It seemed like it would be a quick, funny read, but I wasn't fond of the writing style.

I really think things improved throughout the book. Side characters really held my attention, and after awhile even Holly grew on me. I adored the romance and the side plot with Clint and Nikki. The writing also developed nicely and made the story much more enjoyable. I loved the way all the characters' stories connected, even the ones that never met up in the book.

If the entire story were like the last half, this would be at least a four-star book. The mystery aspect towards the end caught me by surprise, and there were some plot twists that I didn't see coming - it was a nice change, because I found the first half pretty predictable.

The characters also went through some nice development. They were fleshed out a bit through the story and some of them were shown to be much different from what I initially expected.

Overall, I do think this is a great start to the series. I already look forward to the second book, and I'm betting the story will only improve as it continues.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New Reading Habits

I realized just recently that I wasn't very happy with the way I read books.

This is because I put too much pressure on myself. I have a pretty long "on hold" list, and have been pushing myself to read them when there's a reason I put them down.

Now, this reason doesn't have anything to do with the books - if I found them terrible, I simply would have put them down altogether. These are books I picked up when I wasn't in the mood for them, and now here I am trying to get through them all. But, once again, I'm not in the mood.

I feel like the whole problem is that sometimes, I pick up books I feel like I'm supposed to be reading. And then I get stuck halfway through, because I wanted to read a completely different genre in the first place.

I posted about my unfinished series awhile back, and those are part of this problem too.

So instead of bugging myself to read or finish certain books, from now on I'm only reading what I'm in the mood for. I am going to be more carefree and less organized, because honestly: reading is a hobby. It shouldn't be forced or stressful.

(Also, I hate reading slumps. I feel like reading this way will cause a lot less of them.)

You guys should let me know in the comments how you go about reading. How do you choose your books? How often do you put down books that you're in the middle of?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: The Originals by Cat Patrick

ImageMy Rating: 4 stars

Date Read: May 23, 2014

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Genres: Young adult, contemporary, science fiction

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up believing they were identical triplets.

Then they learned the truth... and no one else can know.

Now, to the outside world, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one seventeen-year-old daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, pursuing extracurriculars, and even dating.

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, the one person who can help her realize she's not a carbon copy of the others - she's an individual with unique dreams and desires. Digging deeper into her background and her mother's role in her life, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

Review: This book was a very fast read for me. Usually, stories I am able to read quickly have little meaning or emotion. They feel like they were written fast, too.

I didn't feel this way about The Originals. This story was fast-paced, but not lacking. It was interesting from the start with very few slow points.

The characters were great as well, especially the main character, Lizzie. I enjoyed that, although they were clones, she and her sisters were different from one another. Their mother irritated me, and I never really forgave her through the story. And then there was Sean, Lizzie's boyfriend, who was just so sweet. He was there for her in a way most people wouldn't have been, and it was nice to read that.

Despite my love for this, I did only rate it four stars. This is because, as much as I enjoyed them, I feel like the characters could have been developed further. And while I loved the ending (especially getting to read the song!), I do wish some things had been explained more in depth.

I do recommend this book even with its faults. It tells a beautiful story and I enjoyed every moment reading it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?


In one night, I made it halfway through this book. I definitely look forward to finishing it up as soon as I have the chance! It's a great book and a fast read, too.

What did you recently finish reading?


I finished this one a few days ago. It was a decent read, but didn't quite meet my expectations based on the author's previous books. My review for this one can be found here.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have no idea which book I will move on to, but I'll probably try to finish Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I've been in the middle of this one for awhile and would like my currently-reading pile cleared so that I'm ready for some new releases I plan on reading.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

I decided to do this last week, but held off because it was Wednesday when I saw the post. Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. The main idea is that for each week, there is a topic given and then you write a top ten list of books in that category.

This week's post is about friendship.

  1. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira - This book focused on so many types of relationships, and two of my favorite side characters in the story were Hannah and Natalie. I liked the way they supported each other and Laurel, and I loved the way Laurel was there for them as well. It was nice to see a friendship that was flawed, but still worked. Honestly, I liked all of Laurel's friendships in this novel.

  2. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - I'm sure this made it to a lot of lists this week, but I can't help but include it here. I haven't finished the series yet, but the friendships have amazed me the whole way through so far. I like the huge part of the plot it takes up and how loyal Ron, Harry, and Hermione are to each other.

  3. The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin - I loved the characters in this book. They were so flawed and of course, so was their friendship - but I liked that they were there for each other. Dinah always tried to do what was best for Skint, even if she was wrong about what the best thing was. They had each other's best interests at heart and that was really nice to see throughout the book.

  4. The Vow by Jessica Martinez - In this book, Mo and Annie have no romantic feelings for one another - and yet, Annie is willing to marry Mo, so that he won't have to leave the country. It's crazy to me how wonderful a friendship would have to be, that one person would go to that length for another. Their friendship is one of the best I've read.

  5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - This is another series I haven't finished yet, but I adore the relationship between Rose and Lissa. The way Rose looks out for her shows true dedication, and it's shown that Lissa takes care of Rose in her own way as well.

  6. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - It was mainly shown through emails, but the friendship between Beth and Jennifer was still strong in this. They were truly there for each other, and I wouldn't mind reading more about the two of them at all.

  7. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot - This isn't a book I thought of right away, but when I was looking through my Goodreads I knew I needed to include it. Mia's friendships stand out so much in this series.

  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - This isn't highly centered on their friendship, but there's one scene that really stands out to me. When Mia is in the hospital, her best friend Kim and her boyfriend Adam are kind of brought together by the tragedy. They take care of each other, even though they weren't fond of each other before. It shows, to me, how strong their friendship is that Kim would help Mia's boyfriend through the possibility of losing her. For their grief to bring them closer, they must really care about Mia and what happens to her.

  9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares - I don't remember a lot from this book, because I read it so long ago - but I do remember the amazing friendship between the girls.

  10. Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott - This book isn't about a perfect friendship, or even a decent one. I included it on the list because I feel like losing friends isn't usually a big deal in books. Reading this in middle school, I could relate to Kate. It helped me through a rough time, because losing a best friend is a difficult thing to deal with. Basically, I really liked the way this was dealt with and although the friendship wasn't amazing, I still think this is a great book that has a huge focus on friendship and loss.

Monday, May 19, 2014

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

ImageMy Rating: 3.5 stars

Date Read: May 19, 2014

Published: April 15, 2014 by Poppy

Genres: Young adult, romance

Summary (Taken from Goodreads): Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

Review: Reviewing this book is hard on me, because I've read two other books by this author. I love her writing style and the way she tells stories, and that's a big reason why I didn't put this down halfway through.

I really enjoyed the first few chapters. We were introduced to Owen and Lucy, who just make such a good couple. They speak easily and the conversations between them were perfect, but then the separation happens.

My real problem is that it happened too soon, I think. They definitely had the start of something, but I'm not sure it was enough. It's a little unbelievable that they wouldn't get over each other in the time they were apart, given the fact that they had hardly met.

I also disliked that they didn't really do anything while apart. Lucy's relationship with her parents shifted slightly, but I didn't see a real reason behind it. I'm not sure what changed to make them different, except the move. I did like seeing her mother's side to that, though.

What I'm trying to say is that the middle dragged on. I didn't feel the need to pick it up and keep reading, even though I did want to find out what happened. I feel like the plot went in a couple circles, and that there was a lot of filler. Although it was the main plot of the book, I do feel the whole long-distance thing is what ruined the story.

That said, the descriptions were great. Like I said before, I love the writing style. I adored the characters, too. It's just the plot that could have used some work.

The end gave another half star to the rating, because I do like the way things turned out. Once Owen and Lucy started meeting again, the plot seemed to pick up nicely and I really enjoyed reading the conclusion of their story.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

My Rating: 4 stars

Date Read: May 11, 2014

Published: February 14, 2006 by Candlewick Press

Genres: Children's, fantasy

Summary: This story follows a rabbit made of China. Edward belongs first to a girl named Abilene, who loves him very much. Every time she leaves she gives him his pocket watch and lets him face the window, telling her the time she will be back and allowing him to watch for her. However, Edward does not return or appreciate Abilene's love. Her grandmother, who gave Edward to Abilene, notices this. The night before they're set to leave on a ship, her grandmother tells a story about a princess who never loved, and how a witch turned her into a warthog because of it. Later, on the ship, Edward is lost and lands in the bottom of the ocean. From there a fisherman finds him and his adventure begins.

Review: Edward's journey through this story is incredible. He's given so much personality and I think anyone could identify with the ways he loved and lost. It was hard enough for him to learn to love, but even worse learning to love again and again, overcoming loss and disappointment.
I loved all the characters Edward came to face with, from the fisherman and his wife to the hobo and his dog, but especially the little girls. And the message of this story was so clear and wonderful.
At the beginning I expected this to be a three-star book, but the writing and characters really set it apart from others. And I absolutely adored the ending.
Overall, this was a quick read for me, but it was beautiful. It was filled with love and written truthfully, and I like the fact that readers can relate to Edward - which is important, even though he is a toy rabbit.

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

My Rating: 4 stars

Date Read: May 10, 2014

Published: April 1st 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

Summary: Laurel's sister is dead. She is going to a new high school, where one of her first assignments is to write a letter to a dead person. She writes to Kurt Cobain, but never turns it in. She does, however, keep writing to others who have passed away. This is her way of coping, of writing out her life as she moves on from May's death and really accepts what happened.

Review: This started out slow for me. Actually, I think it stayed slow. The plot wasn't very eventful, and a lot of the letters consisted more of Laurel's memories and thoughts, than what was currently happening. Further into the story, I was okay with this.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the character flaws. Laurel wants to believe May was perfect, but it's clear that she was so far from it. She was struggling. Her mom left for an entire year after May died, and her dad seemed quite disconnected at times. Despite this, none of them were made out to be bad people. I think a great part of this book is that the characters gave up, or walked away when they shouldn't have, or unintentionally hurt the ones they loved - but that's how people are. It's what they do, and it doesn't make them horrible.

I also enjoyed the character growth. Laurel was so scared at the beginning, timid and trying to be like May. At the end of the story she's so much stronger and more sure of herself. She grew up and it was wonderful to read. A side character that I especially loved for this was Hannah - she was so brave and strong. I can just imagine what a difficult past she had, losing her parents and dealing with her brother. But through the story, she really learned to accept love. She learned to be herself and overcome her fears.

If it hasn't already been made obvious, I really love this book. It's truly beautiful and I fell in love with the characters and the writing. I highlighted a lot of quotes as I was reading.

Recommending it is tricky, though. I feel like some people won't enjoy the slow storyline. If you're a patient reader and enjoy stories that are about character development, rather than action, I think this one is for you.

Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

My Rating: 4 stars

Date Read: May 4, 2014

Published: April 2, 2013 by Headline

Genres: Young adult, romance

Summary: The book begins when movie star Graham Larkin mistakenly emails a girl named Ellie O’Neall. They begin talking, each of them finding comfort in their daily talks. When Graham needs a new location for his newest movie, he demands they film in Maine where Ellie lives.

Ellie had no way to know she was emailing Graham Larkin. Due to her own past, there are big reasons she should not be involved with a big star like him - but she can’t seem to stay away.

Review: I really loved these characters. Graham is a movie star, but before talking to Ellie he spent most days inside his house with his pet pig. And Ellie just has so much courage; she’s so strong through everything that happens to her. The side characters were just as great, too. I loved the roles of the parents, both Ellie’s and Graham’s, but especially Ellie’s mom. She really does want what’s best for Ellie and it’s nice to see that. I loved Ellie’s best friend as well; she was just so understanding.

Overall, this was a very light read but I enjoyed it a lot. I feel everything that happened was very realistic, which is nice given the slim chance that Graham and Ellie would meet in the first place. I feel everything was paced nicely, and the ending was just perfect. I really recommend this one, especially if you're looking for a light romance book!

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My Rating: 5 stars

Date Read: April 25, 2014

Published: September 10, 2013 by St. Martin's Press

Genres: Young adult, romance

Summary: Fangirl is about Cath, who is a huge fan of a series called Simon Snow. She and her twin sister Wren used to be very close, even writing fanfiction together, but in college Wren wants to meet new people. This puts some distance between them and causes problems for Cath, who has anxiety issues and is not great at socializing.

Review: Early on we meet the cast of characters: Her roommate Reagan, Reagan's friend Levi, and a boy Cath writes with in the library named Nick.

I loved the characters. The main character, Cath, was realistic and easy to relate to. It was nice to read her thoughts and watch her grow throughout the story. At the beginning I expected a love triangle with her, Nick, and Levi, but I'm very glad there wasn't one.

The writing style was great, too. The little bits of the Simon Snow books and Cath's fanfiction were a great addition, although I wasn't too sure about them at first.

Another little thing that I liked was that Cath was a writer - and she thought like one. Whenever she began to overthink words or anything similar, I couldn't help but smile.

This book is definitely a favorite for me. It's one of those books that, right after I finished, I wanted to re-read. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.