Thursday, July 23, 2015

Early Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Boy Most Likely To
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Read: July 11 - 14, 2015
Published: August 18, 2015 by Dial Books
Source: First To Read
Category: YA, Contemporary, Boy Narrator

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. 

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle. 

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.

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The Boy Most Likely To is about three things: Tim Mason's growth as he deals with backlash from his wild past, The Garrett's continued struggles after the events of My Life Next Door as narrated by daughter Alice, and a building romance between Tim and Alice. For me, all these elements worked together brilliantly, but it's important to know going in that this isn't just a love story. 

Here's my 5 point breakdown of The Boy Most Likely To -  

1) I was worried about starting this book. I loved Tim from My Life Next Door, but he also was a complete disaster. However, immediately, I found Tim's voice to be clear and feel very honest. Despite all the mess Tim's made of his life, he's incredibly sympathetic and relatable, as well as funny. I loved being inside of his head. 

2) This book splits the narration between Tim and Alice Garrett. I found Tim's voice to be the strongest, but I enjoyed Alice's addition. Partially because I liked getting the Garrett side of things, but I also enjoyed the balance within the challenges and changes they both experience. However, there were a few times I didn't find it to be necessary to switch to Alice's perspective (I wanted more Tim!). Also, sometimes, I found it a tad confusing when the point of view switched mid scene. They have distinct voices, so it was more about me needing to quickly move from one mental space into another. Thankfully, each narrative is written in a different font, which helped visually. 

3) Of course I loved hanging out with the Garrets again. They are so vibrant and the dynamics and dialogue between them was a favorite part of this book. I wish I could visit the Garrett's kitchen too! The chance to see Jase and Sam again was also a treat. They make my heart flutter. 

4) This book has a slow and swoony romance between Tim and Alice. I loved watching them open up and make their way to to each other. It doesn't happen quickly and there are misunderstandings and fights along the way, but all of that made it more real and sweet in the end. Don't worry, this book has no love triangles! 

One slightly spoilery thing I wanted to mention about a plot thread concerning Brad that I wish had been addressed more: 


5) Even more than a romance, this book is all about Tim, and his growth is amazing to watch. He goes through some tough stuff along the way and sometimes I was afraid that he - and I - would be completely weighed down by it all. But Tim continued to surprise me again and again, though I shouldn't have underestimated him. I especially loved the moments when Tim realized he couldn't do it alone. Or when others around him realized it for him and came along side him. It made my heart happy to see Tim begin to surround himself with people who could truly see him, and not just all of the times he's screwed up. We all need people like that in our lives. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone - Will we hear from another Garrett again? Probably wishful thinking, but I'm so sad to say goodbye to them!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Blog Most Likely To...


When considering what to do for this tour, I almost went with the tried and true: The blog most likely to hate love triangles. Discuss love triangles at length etc. etc. 

But then I decided to pick something different that is a little less obvious. Let's change things up a bit. So without further ado, I'm



The Blog Most Likely To Edit Published Posts

Here's how it goes. I will spend hours writing a post, feel like it's "ready," set it up to publish at midnight (could be the next day or weeks in the future), and then wake up the morning after the post went live and decide to edit it even more. It doesn't matter if I previously thought it was as good as it could be, there's something about the urgency of knowing a post is already live, that makes me see it a little bit differently (more clearly?). I don't usually make drastic changes to a post, but even small things seem really important for me to fix ASAP!

I've always worked best as the pressure is building, and editing a review last minute fits right into that. Pretty much the only way for me not to do this is if I don't re-read my post in the morning, or ever be tempted to look at older posts. 


Do you ever edit your posts after you publish them? 
Sometimes I think I could tinker with mine forever if I didn't make myself let them go. 
(And yes, I edited this post after it was published.)


A few more general thoughts on my post/review writing:

1) When I started blogging, I spent 2-3 hours minimum writing each review. It took at least half the time that reading the book did - sometimes more. Part of this is because I wanted to include my thoughts on everything, the longer the review the better. I've never been a quick writer, either. Breaking down my feelings about a book into coherent points and then forming those into paragraphs feels overwhelming sometimes. But I'm working on it!

2) I've been trying to be less neurotic about reviews these days. Writing them out (or at least a quick listing of thoughts) as soon as I finish a book, helps a lot. I actually like shorter to the point reviews, and I'm less afraid to attempt them than I was a few years ago. Although, they're not a strength of mine.


3) To me, anything that expresses personal thoughts on a book is a "review." I don't really understand why people say their book reactions aren't reviews, and how that differs from people who claim their thoughts are reviews. Maybe I just don't get the nuances. I'm not sure what mine are, in any case. But that's not something that worries me greatly. 

4) Every time my husband reads through one of my posts he finds a grammatical error (and I am very grateful when he kindly lets me know). Usually a missed word. No matter how often I read through them, I always miss something!  If there's time, I'll have him read my posts before I publish them. 

Don't miss the book that inspired this post coming August 18! 

I've already read and loved The Boy Most Likely To.



About the book: 
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular NowNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Silver in the Blood
by Jessica Day George
Read: July 7 - 9, 2015
Published: July 7, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Galley from publisher (Thank you!)
Category: YA, fantasy, shape shifting, Vlad, Bucharest
Series: Silver in the Blood #1

New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare.

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate... or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.
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I'm a great fan of historical fantasy, and the idea of this book excited me right away - Romania, Vlad and Dracula references as well as shape shifters. Plus the 19th century setting was a plus for me. However the character voices and tone of the story read much younger and lighter than I expected for the setting and themes, and that affected my enjoyment of the story. I wished for a lot more atmosphere and mood in these pages, which is one of my favorite elements of this genre. But even though this overall story read young to me, there are some more serious, darker events that happen near the end of this book that make definitely a YA read.

Dacia and Louisa (Lou) are 17 year old cousins from wealthy New York families - on their fathers' sides. Their mothers are sisters from Romanian, though the girls don't know much about that part of their family, since they've never been to visit. That is until this summer when they are to travel to Romania to stay for several months and meet their relatives at last. The book begins when both girls are in-route to Bucharest. Right away strange things begin to happen and the girls realize that their heritage is much different than they ever imagined. 

I liked Dacia and Lou from the start, though when we meet them, they are silly society girls, more concerned with their social standing, gowns and getting husbands than anything else. Dacia is the feistier of the two, while Lou is quieter and much more of a rule follower. I liked seeing them both come into their own in this story, though Lou especially has a bit of a personality change with her first transformation, that I didn't quite understand. But I did enjoy the new Lou. I also liked the letters and diary entries we got from each girls at the beginning of the chapters. As the story was written in third person, it was a great way to hear from each of them in their voices. 

Each girl gets her own romance and both are sweet and slowly developing throughout the course of the story, though not heavy on the swoon (or physical activity, which follows historical customs). At first it appears that Dacia is going to have multiple suiters, but only one of them goes anywhere, and I never worried about a love triangle developing. She only truly falls for one of them and there isn't any wavering once that happens.

I never really felt strongly convinced about the mission of the Florescues (Dacia and Lou's family), the villains were one dimensional, and I started to feel like the drama building at the end was all a bit silly. 
I'm not sure if I enjoyed this book enough to continue the series if it became one. But Silver in the Blood read quickly for me and I enjoyed it as a palate cleanser. 

Love Triangle Factor: None (maybe very mild in the first 1/3)
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. 
The end of this one wraps well, though there are some lose ends that could be developed in the future. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink & Bone 
by Rachel Caine
Read: June 25 - July 5, 2015
Published:  July 7, 2015 by NAL
Source: Netgalley (Thank you Penguin!)

Series: The Great Library #1
Category: YA, fantasy, libraries, alchemy 

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…
 *

*Ignore the last paragraph of this book description. It's not accurate. 
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I'm not always sure why some books are 'fast paced' and others are not, although I thought about that question a lot while reading Ink and Bone  This is a story that I would not consider to be a quick read, though it is one that is absorbing and a recent favorite. I read it while on vacation when I didn't have a ton of time for sitting, but still it took me over a week to read, which is unusual for me. I'm not exactly sure why that was, but I definitely don't regret the time I took to experience Jess's world and this story.

I love libraries - what reader doesn't? - and I was fascinated by the setup of a story where it is a Library that runs the world instead of governments and politics. Especially, the legendary Great Library of Alexandria, which has survived in Ink and Bone's version of the world, and then proceeded to spread it's influence everywhere. This setting is richly developed and this story engaging. But there is also a darker, frightening aspect to the Library that increased the tension. The stakes are high and narrator Jess learns that the danger to him and his fellow students is very real. 

Jess Brightwell's family are book smugglers, a highly illegal and highly secretive black market trade in a world controlled by a master Library. It has not been easy for Jess to grow up in the business - or as his father's son, though it has put him in contact with rare original copies of books that he has learned to treasure. When Jess's father sends him to train for the Great Library's service - as a spy for the family - Jess is thrilled to escape his family (at least immediately) and get closer to this organization and especially the books. But working for the Library is not what Jess anticipated and he learns that those who control it will do anything to keep a hold of the knowledge and power they've obtained.    

I became quite attached to Jess throughout this story. He goes from a difficult home life to a difficult school life without much of a break, and there was a strong undercurrent of danger that followed him through these pages. But he does grow up, experience love and make some great friends and allies along the way. I enjoyed Jess's companions in this story so much - especially the different relationships between him and Khalia, Thomas, Morgan and Dario. Jess has a twin named Brendan, who plays a minor roll in this story that I'm hoping is going to grow in future books. Brendan and Jess have an interesting dynamic and seeing that explored further is one of the elements I'm most looking forward going forward.  

This story has a romance that is slow and sweet, but also fraught with tension that makes it even stronger. It doesn't begin until partway into the story, but I was very excited when it did - and also whom it was with. I'm very anxious to see more if it, and I think it will play an important part of the next installment. So far there are zero love triangles, and I don't anticipate there being any (crosses fingers)!!

Obscurists and alchemy are a key aspect of how the Library keeps their control. However, I never really grasped alchemy as it is in this book. Or rather, to me it seemed like it was basically magic created through energy and mathematical formulas. Maybe that's the point? But I don't understand why some people are Obscurists and other's aren't. I'm curious to learn more about this part of the Library in the future, and I have a good feeling we will.

I wouldn't consider the end of Ink and Bone to be a traditional cliffhanger, in that no one is in immediate danger and this section of the tale completes itself. However, all of the characters are in danger in the future. Let's just say the terror alert level is High, though no one knows when the threat will strike next. The story also sets up situations for future books, and left a bit anxious. Though I should have expected it, because endings like this are par-for-the-course in series these days. 

In conclusion, I definitely recommend Ink and Bone. Jess's world with the Great Library at the center of it was richly developed and this story engaging and fascinating, but also eerie and frightening. I can't wait to find out what's next for Jess and his friends. 

Love Triangle Factor: None 
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal
by Mary E. Pearson
Read: June 4 - 19, 2015
Published:  
July 7, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Macmillan (Thank you!)
Category: YA, fantasy, 
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
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The Heart of Betrayal is the sequel to The Kiss of Deceptionand it is a good follow-up. I had mixed feelings about the first book because of the love triangle that wasn't. You all know how that worries me! And while there were a few "it's not really a love triangle elements" that were a struggle for me in this one (which won't bother most people btw), overall this was a stronger and more solid read for me. Two of my favorite elements of the first book were Lia herself, and the complex political situation brewing between three countries, personified in Lia, Rafe and Kaden, all of which we got much more of in The Heart of Betrayal.

Lia remains one of the best parts of this series. In the second installment, she is fierce and determined despite all the angsty situations she's thrown into. She will do anything she has to to protect herself and especially the people she loves. Some of those choices were hard for me, but I respect her so much for her perseverance. If you remember at the end of The Kiss of Deception, a captured Lia was taken into Venda by Kaden. In this next book we see the foreign country for the first time. Venda is a very different place than Lia's home. But I loved that we were able to see the beauty of the land and its people through Lia's eyes, despite her being trapped there against her will. Though I didn't find much beauty in the Komizar. He was frightening!

Rafe and Kaden are still present and vying for Lia's affections, but thankfully, I thought her romantic choice was clear throughout this book. We also got to see the true romance build more, which I enjoyed a lot. Kaden, especially, became more complex in this story, as we see him in his homeland and learn more about his past. And of course, I loved getting to know more about Rafe now that we and Lia knows his true identity. However, deceptions still abound in this book. Although we know who everyone is this time, Lia is playing a very careful game of survival and one wrong step could spell destruction. I admire her so much for keeping her head straight and her goals in mind despite it all.

While in Venda we learn more about this history of this world and the magic in it, but though a lot of pieces were shown to us, I'm still not certain how they all fit together. I'm not sure that I understand Lia's Gift, or the secret role we discover some other nations are playing in this book. I'm definitely eager to make it to the finale and get more information about everything that is going on behind the scenes, as well as how the past and Lia's Gift works into this story. 


The end was thrilling and tense, though I have mixed feelings about the cliffhanger. It's not my favorite type (If you want to know more about why, check the comments under my Goodreads review.) but I'm definitely eager to follow these characters into the final installment. The story has been set up quite nicely for a huge explosive ending!

Love Triangle Factor: None - highlight for spoiler: But at least mild in practice. Lia is forced to kiss other people to keep up appearances. I'm not gonna lie, this was tough for me. But it is done out of necessity. Lia wasn't confused about who she wanted. 

Cliffhanger Scale: Medium/High - Highlight: This one didn't stress me out as much as some others, though it is a traditional cliffy in that a characters are in danger. But the romance felt much more settled by the end, which helped a lot! 

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Hello Readers! 

After two weeks off from blogging when I traveled to Atlanta sans my computer, I'm back! The summer is going to be a bit slower for me blogging wise, as I have less free time overall and have been choosing to spend it reading instead of online. But I'm still around on Twitter, Goodreads and Instagram, and will hopefully be posting more regularly here from now on. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to stop by for a visit. Love you all! 

Here are two of my Instagram pictures from my recent trip to Georgia: 


Drinking a Frosted Orange at The Varsity, an Atlanta staple 
(Simon also orders from there at the end of Simon vs.
Running 6 miles in the rain on July 4 with my sisters and 60,000 other people. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
by Andy Weir
Read: June 11 - 18, 2015
Published: 
February 11, 2014 by Crown 
Source: Kindle/Audible purchase
Category: Adult, science fiction, Mars, space, survival

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
_________________________________________________________________________

Personal reflection: 
I am not overly militant about reading the book before seeing the movie. A book is a much bigger emotional investment to me than a movie, and I have a lot to read all the time, as well as a good sense of what I like and don't like. Sometimes I'm interested in the movie but don't want to commit to the book, and sometimes it is the movie that convinces me to pick up the book. For instance, I saw the first two Harry Potter movies and those hooked me into reading all the books, which I did before seeing any more movies. I'm not sure I'd ever have read the series otherwise, so thank goodness for those early movies! 

That is all to say that I've seen The Martian around the reading world for a while and never felt compelled to pick it up, until I watched the movie trailer and became OBSESSED WITH READING THE BOOK IMMEDIATELY. I bought it right away on kindle and audio and started reading with my friend Asheley who felt the same as I did after seeing the trailer. That was the best decision ever, because this book is awesome. 

While reading I switched between print and audio, which was fantastic, and something I've never done before. The reader was great and brought the story to life even more. I also convinced my husband to listen to it, and he loved it too. My husband usually reads nonfiction these days, so it was fun to share this experience with him. It reminded us of earlier times before kids (I sound so old here guys!) when we read more books together. 

Thoughts on the book:
Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. Part of a mission of 6 astronauts on a 30 sol* visit to the red planet, he gets stuck there during a storm that forces his team to evacuate. Believing Mark was killed during the trek back to the MAV (aka the ship), they follow protocol and leave his body behind to save themselves. Only Mark didn't die at all, and now he has to figure out how to stay alive until he's rescued. The problem is that it's going to be four years before another ship gets to Mars and he's in a facility that was built to last 30 days. The odds are great and the planet unforgiving, but Mark is smart and extremely resourceful, although even that might not be enough to save him. The Martian splits the narrative between Mark's log entries, the scientists and officials on earth trying to rescue him and his crew in-route home.  

This book was incredible. Mark's harrowing journey came to life for me, and I felt like I was a full spectator, just as obsessed with him as the rest of his world was. Mark's narrative gets technical in places, as he details the science behind his fight for survival, but that made his story and Mars feel even more real. Those sections are also balanced out well by Mark's snarky voice, which made even the most sciencey parts engaging. I also loved how the author split the narrative between his tale and what was happening on earth. The whole story was amazingly well constructed to pull at both my heart and my anxiety levels. 

The Martian is truly a magnificent story of survival, hope and the amazing things that can happen when people work together, despite being faced with ridiculous odds. I cannot recommend it enough to everyone.** 

Mark Watney, you're my hero. 

Love Triangle Factor: None - N/A (very little romance, only featuring some side characters)
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

*sol is a Mars day, a bit longer than an earth day.
**My only hesitation is for my friends who dislike cursing. There is a good amount of it in this story. It fits in perfectly with Mark's voice, but if that is an issue for you, be warned. 


Here's the official trailer that inspired me so much
(From the trailer it looks like a strong adaptation) 



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