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Monday, March 27, 2017

My Thoughts: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.


Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.


I did it! I read this book. There has been quite a bit of buzz surrounding Nina LaCour's latest novel- We Are Okay, people seem to be loving it. So I decided it read it as one of my 2017 reads. One of the first things I noticed when I first picked this book up from the library was how small it was- not only is it short at just over 230 pages, but it's overall size is itty bitty. I absolutely loved the cover, I want to own this book just for the cover alone.

We Are Okay is Marin's story and basically it's her trying to figure out her like. Where she came from, where she's been and where she's going now. She fled her hometown very suddenly and the end of a very eventful summer and didn't tell anyone. Now, it's three months later, Christmas time and Marin is finally ready to share why she left. So, Mable- the BFF is coming and Marin is a mess.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I struggled to connect with the story and the characters. I didn't think there was anything particularly special about anyone. Honestly I thought it was kind of boring. A lot of the book was Marin worrying about Mable's reaction to her story. I think Marin's emotional struggles were important at the beginning on the story, but three quarters in, it got to be a little tedious and borderline whiny. I found there was very little gross in the first couple sections of the book.

We Are Okay is told from both the past and the present. The past is the summer before Marin flees. She's home with her grandfather, who had been her sole care provided since her mother died when she was very young. The present is the abandoned campus with both Mable and Marin and their awkward interactions. I much preferred the stretches of the book that were sharing the back story- the past. I think it revealed a lot of Marin's character and where she was coming from (as it was meant to). The present, as I said before, was little tough for me.

 I really appreciated the relationship Marin had with her grandfather, they loved one another and respected one another and it was lovely. It wasn't a perfect set up, they had these rules and boundaries that were a little odd- which are explained and are kind of a key element to the story- I really liked their little unconventional family. I also really appreciated Marin and Mable's "past" friendship. They were your typical high school friendship. Marin's second home was with Mable's family. They did everything together, you'd think nothing could tear these two a part.

While We Are Okay wasn't an amazing book, there are elements to it that are incredibly important. Both Marin and Mable are LGBTQ*, however this isn't a key feature of the story- it's just there. Mable's family is a Latin American family and their culture is rich and diverse, and again, this is not a big deal, I think Nina LaCour did a great job incorporating these little elements of diversity and making them just a normal, every day thing- because that's exactly what they are- normal life.  

Overall, I didn't love We Are Okay. It was a fast read, and it had some interesting things to talk about. But I didn't find it mind blowing. In all honesty, I find this story to be pretty forgettable. I think it had a lot of potential, but something got lost. I would suggest you read it- particularly if you've been curious about it, or you like contemporary, otherwise, I think there are better stories out there.

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter



The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.


Hi everyone,

Sorry for my absence lately. I moved recently and my apartment now looks like a disaster zone. I’ve been spending all my free time making it slightly livable (mostly so I don’t kill myself trying to walk down a hallway). I’ve very accident prone, so when I first moved in I for sure thought I’d hurt myself. Instead all I’ve done so far is burn my arm on the oven door and I did indeed trip over some of the boxes (of books nonetheless).

I did get to finishing Take the Key and Lock her Up by Ally Carter (it's been the only book I've finished since I moved). All I can say is, it was the biggest disappointment of 2017. I love Ally Carter, she is one of the five auto-buy authors I have (the others being Meg Cabot, Maria V. Synder, Tera Lynn Childs and Beth Kendrick) and I always know I’ll get at least a trilogy from her. That means a solid three year commitment of awesome action packed novels!

Embassy Row series, not so much.

Take the Key and Lock her Up was more of an OK. The first book wasn’t as good as her previous novels but I was still interested throughout. Book two I remember nothing about it and after reading this one, well I don’t know what really happened and I’m saddened to say I honestly don’t even care that I have no idea what happened.

To me this entire book felt like Grace (Our protagonist) was just complaining and whining about her life. It was full of choppy short sentences that drove me crazy. I’m not sure if they were that short to create tension or rising action, but it just annoyed me. I won’t quote any of the sentences, but some of the sentences were just so dumb; one of my biggest pet peeves was the use of some of the silliest adjectives I have ever read.

The adults read like they were carbon copies of one another; maybe I’m just saying that because I felt so old reading this book, but it felt like all the adults were the same person just given different names.
Plus the teen angst, holy cheese, was this filled with teen angst. It felt like I was back in high school, but worse. If the characters were going off in their private planes and saving the day, they were complaining. I think that actually might have been Grace’s secret weapon, not the whole secret society/royal family plot they had going on. I didn't even feel there was much action/adventure going on either.

After these three books I just realized, nobody could catch one teenager?…… I mean I get that’s the whole point to the story but really, not one adult caught her or when they had the chance, nobody did anything. Brings me back to the incompetent/carbon copy adults thing from my previous paragraph.

I never thought I would say this about an Ally Carter series, but I’m so glad this one is over. This doesn’t hold anything to Heist Society or Gallagher Girls.

A sad little star for this one and an extra one because I finished it, for a complete two stars out of five.  I'm hoping during the next week I can get everything unpacked and finished so I can get back to reading, I've missed it.


Happy reading,


Stefanie

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR



Hey-ooooooooo- it has been a minute since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday- Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and Bookish. I don't think I participated at all in 2015 or 2016. I found that I was being super repetitive with my lists so I needed a break.  Anywho... here we are, this week's question is a good one.


Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR




1) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo- So excited for this one. My housemate read it and really enjoyed it (as have many of you). Therefore it's moved it's way up my list. I also really love the Grisha and I am eager to see more of their world.

 2) I Found You by Lisa Jewell- This is a book I need to read for review, but honestly. I am SO excited for it. It's a mystery novel that sounds pretty twisty. 

3) Unseen World by Liz Moore- This one snuck up on me. I haven't seen a lot of people talk about this book, but still, I am pretty curious about it. I don't know all that much about it, However,I think it's a good thing. 




4) We Are Okay by Nena LaCour- I absolutely love this cover. It's stunning. I am curious about this story. I have heard it's heartbreaking and hopeful. It's also a lot shorter than I thought, and I think I'll power through it.

5) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas- I need to get his read. Like now. 

6) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas- I am SUPER skeptical about this book, even with all it's praise- I just don't know- I feel the need to give it a try for myself. 

7) The Chosen by JR Ward- This is book number 15 in this series. I am invested, and I will certainly be reading this one. These characters are like family now. 




8) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab- With the final book in this trilogy recently released, I think I am finally ready for this one. I've heard it's epic and I can't wait. 

9) The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty- Another review book, but another one I am looking forward to. I have really been digging fantasy these days (although, I don't know if this is fantasy or not). 

10) I See You by Clare Mackintosh- I adored I Let You Go, and I am eager to read this one. Soon! 


There you have it, my first Top Ten Tuesday in 2+ years.

~Happy Reading Everyone



Monday, March 6, 2017

Sara's February Recap





Well, hello.

If I thought January was low key... it was nothing compared to February. I don't know what happened to the month, what did I do? Cause I certainly did not read very much, and I don't think I watched that much TV- I don't know. I did go to the movies a few times this past month (which is a lot for me).  

I saw Lion, Fifty Shades Darker and La La Land




I actually enjoyed every single one. They were all so different from one another and entertaining in their own right. I think La La Land was my favourite. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such amazing chemistry. The music was great. However, Lion was heartbreaking, and Fifty Shades, well it was what it was. 

Other than that, a pretty uneventful month. 




The Books:

Number of books completed 

5 
Physical books 

3


Audiobooks 

2
Physical Books: 
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (2 Stars)
Three Simple Rules by Nikki Sloane (4 Stars)
Three Hard Lessons by Nikki Sloane (3.5 Stars)


No Favourite of the month- or none that really stood out for me as being great. Although I did enjoy the two Nikki Sloane novels- they aren't to everyone's taste. So, I am going to leave it this month. 

Audiobooks: 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (3 Stars)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (5 Stars) 

Favourite Listen of the Month





I am finally done the Harry Potter reread that I started back in late 2015. What a magical adventure it has been. Rereading The Deathly Hallows was special to me, as it was the first time I reread this book since I first read back in 2007. It was a beautiful and emotional experience it has been. 



2017 Resolutions Update:
For a recap of my 2017 "resolutions" go here
I did not read very much in February, I don't know what the heck I was doing. It's like my goal to read 2500 pages really freaked me out, and I set myself up for failure. Oh well. As of the end of February, I was still on track for my 100 book goal, and I read more books than I listened to. However, any of my other goals, including the 2017 release I failed at. However, I did start a 2017 release in February with every intention of finishing, but I got distracted. And both audiobooks I listened to, were from the library. 
Anywho, February, kind of was a write off for me. I anticipate March to be better, because I gave up TV for Lent, not only TV, but I also deleted the Facebook and Youtube app from my phone. I literally have eliminated all distractions form my my life for the next 6+ weeks. All I can do it read.  Wish me luck. 
This Month on the Blog: 


That's it for February, happy March everyone!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale


These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.


**ARC received from Simon and Schuster Canada for my honest review**



Hi everyone,

Turns out I lied to you when I said I would be reviewing Take the Key and Lock Her Up; I will get to that one though. Turns out I was given an ARC of The Beast is an Animal and have decided to review that instead. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing the ARC for this!!

I can for sure say that I have never read a book like this before. The closest book I can think about comparing it to would be The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich; both were extremely atmospheric and at one point within the forest setting I felt so claustrophobic and I loved it.

I don’t know how I felt about this story. I really enjoy books that are written in first person and this one was in third. I think that threw me off, because of this it took me a long time to get into the story. When I finally did, I realized I had no idea what was actually happening. Even after closing the book I wasn’t actually sure what the plot was.

My favorite part of the whole thing was the atmospheric feeling of the story; I can’t praise that enough. I don’t watch horror movies because I’m too much of a chicken, but I love horror-ish books. That feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen and you desperately need to know by turning that page, only to find out it’s the end of the chapter. I love creepy as well and this was full of that starting with the cover. Have you seen that cover? Holy Soul Eaters Batman!

The opening chapter really sets the creepiness and made me feel like I was put inside a Grimm fairy tale (I mean, those were so darn creepy. I think that’s why I love traditional fairy tales so much). The only downside- the first chapter was the best chapter of the entire book. The pacing of this story was so slow, to the point where I wanted to close the book, yet there was something that really made me want to keep reading and to learn about the mystery of the Soul Eaters. However, I feel like nothing was really explained and as though I was expected to know the backstory of the characters and the setting.

Alys was an interesting main character, in the point that I couldn’t figure her out. In parts of the story I liked her and in other parts I didn't. I feltlike she had the best intentions about her fellow townspeople, but it fell pretty flat. Don’t ask me about any other characters because I can’t name them and they were all pretty forgettable.

I can see people totally loving this story, because of the Gothic creepiness. This book should have been for me, but the pacing was too much of a drag (see what I did there!) for me to be fully engaged and excited to read it. Maybe it’s the Soul Eaters that appealed to me and kept me reading it. I don’t know why I kept reading it, but I guess I’m happy I did; I always get a weird, almost guilty feeling at times when I mark a book as DNF.

I’ll probably check out the author’s next book when it’s released. Give me more creepiness and a faster plot and I’d be all over that! 

This is a two out of five star read.

Happy reading,


Stefanie
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl