Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Duels and Deception {by Cindy Anstey}

Title: Duels and Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: YA Historical
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.
Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants… 

This book was, in a word, adorable. I don't read regency romance a lot, but this one was so cute and fun and I absolutely enjoyed it.

I loved our main characters. Lydia was an interesting character. On one side, she is very much the model daughter, putting away her wants and wishes for the good of the estate and her family. One the other hand, she is outspoken and independent. She has decided to marry the man of her father's choosing to protect the estate and honor his wishes, but she also has to stand up to her uncle, whose greed is close to ruining her estate and wealth. She was such a fun and enjoyable character to read about, even if sometimes she was a bit too hard-headed.

Robert was so sweet and adorable. He realizes pretty quickly that he's fallen for Lydia, even though he knows he can't do anything about it. Still, he was kind and gentlemanly, and I love that we also got to see his perspective. I feel that the secondary characters were not fleshed out well, they existed for their purpose in the story, but in this case, it worked to not distract from our MC's. I wouldn't mind a spin-off story about Cassidy, though.

Although the summary makes it seem like such a huge part, the kidnapping was not actually the bulk of the story. That part in itself was over pretty quickly, and the rest of the story was spent dealing with the aftermath. I do think the story lagged for a bit in the middle, but by this point, I was so invested in our characters that I didn't mind. While it was pretty easy to guess who was behind it all, there was still a sense of intrigue and mystery.

I loved the romance between Lydia and Robert, as it blossomed slowly and sweetly. These two were just a lot of fun to read about. They kept me laughing, and the whole story was a fast read. I loved it and I will definitely be checking out more of this author's work.

Cindy Anstey:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Wrap Up

Hello again! March was a pretty good month. April is going to be slammed, though, preparing for finals and such, so I'm sure this is the last in a streak of good reading months.


Like I predicted, I had quite a few graphic novels and more comics, which is why I read so much. Plus I tried to cram a lot in during spring break (although I still didn't finish ACOL ahhh). titles linked to Goodreads as always


5-Star Reads: A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows
Other Notable Favorites: Norse Mythology, Doctor Strange vols 1&2, Milk and Honey
Rereads: A Darker Shade of Magic

Movies: Of course I saw Beauty and the Beast and I loved it!!! I didn't have the same high expectations going in because I wasn't as emotionally attached to the original as every else seems to be, but it was so stunning and beautiful.
TV: So I started that new show on NBC called Powerless (a new comedy from DC) and I honestly kinda thought it was going to be dumb but now I am actually SO OBSESSED like I love it so much. Hopefully, it stays that way.

Hope everyone has a lovely April!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Goodbye Days {by Jeff Zentner}

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Can a text message destroy your life?
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

This book. Wow. I almost don't know how to review it. It was utterly heart wrenching and emotional, which are the only kind of books Jeff Zentner writes apparently. The story follows Carver as he navigates his life after a texting and driving accident took the lives of his three best friends. He has to deal with his grief, his guilt, and how to move on.

Pros:

  • I think death isn't explored so much in YA, so I did like that this book focuses on that. Teenagers lose people too, and I can't imagine losing all your best friends at once. It's also good awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
  • The positive portrayal of therapy and getting help when you need it was also super important.
  • I think this book also did a good job in showing all the different ways grief can manifest, and how important it is to grieve in your own way. Carver does three different Goodbye Days, and each family was different in the way that they were shown.
  • Carver and Jesmyn go to a School for Arts, and I like how their art (writing and piano respectively) was such an important and integral part of them. (Also! A spoilery thing about Jesmyn that I feel was added almost randomly but I liked. It was cool representation of something not seen that often.)
  • The writing is beautiful, and heartbreaking. Zentner really got us into Carver's head, and the grief and emotions he feels. 
  • Carver's family (parents + sister) are very involved in the story, and I liked that added dynamic. I think it's because I also relate to Carver and his relationship with his parents almost exactly.
Cons:
  • I was a little wary of the relationship. While I understand that the only two left would be bonded deeply by their shared loss, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. However, I am okay with the direction Zentner went and how he chose to leave things.
  • The boys, as a group, just felt...very immature. I understand that Carver's flashbacks often went pretty far back, but even the ones where they were in high school still felt that way. I mean, I know teenage boys can be dumb, but I just still wasn't very convinced.
  • I'm not sure how accurate the court stuff was? It definitely added a lot of emotional turmoil to the book, though.
Again, this book was very heartbreaking and emotional and lovely. I loved it, and would absolutely recommend it (with the disclaimer of be prepared to have your heart ripped out).


Jeff Zentner:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life {by Benjamin Alire Saenz}


Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? 

Oh man. Where to even start? Ari and Dante will always have an extra-special place in my heart, and I knew going in that this wouldn't live up to that, so I tried very hard not to hold it up to that level. But this book was still amazing in its own right and I adored it.

Pros:

  • there was no romance! I loved that. This is a love story--between family, and between friends. Sal and his friends stayed friends, and I LOVED that. I thought the relationships showcased here were beautiful, and I think we definitely need more stories like that. I was honestly expecting one at any moment, and so was pleasantly surprised.
  • actually present parent figures?! Well, kinda. Sal's father is a huge part of the story, and I loved how present and involved he is not only in Sal's life, but in the lives of his friends Sam and Fito. (The same cannot be said for any other parents in the story, dead or alive.)
  • the story was very character driven and I loved that. Saenz is a master at crafting real and raw characters, and this story was no different.
  • I loved the family that they create for themselves (Sal and Sam and Fito and Vicente and even Marco and Maggie the dog) but also just seeing the normal, healthy friendship between Sal, Sam, and Fito was super refreshing to see.
  • Sal is a white boy adopted into a Mexican family, and I thought it was showcased beautifully. Sal is Mexican because his family is Mexican, end of story. 
Cons:
  • there was...no plot? I was half expecting something to happen, but it really is just a book about Sal's angst. He's starting to have questions about his birth father, why he's suddenly punching people, and then the grief of his Mima getting sick. But hey, I think being an angsty teenager is perfect understandable.
  • Saenz's writing style isn't my favorite. I don't think I noticed it as much with Ari and Dante because I listened to the audiobook, but his way of writing short and choppy sometimes made me feel like I couldn't completely get into the flow of reading.
All in all, this was just a beautiful story about life. It dealt with big issues like love and life and death and grief, in the beautiful, haunting way that Saenz is known for. Can you tell I loved this book (like jeez how many times can you say that word)? 



Benjamin Alire Saenz:

Twitter | Goodreads