Friday, September 25, 2015

Six Impossible Things {by Fiona Wood}

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Title: Six Impossible Things
Author: Fiona Wood
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: the NOVL

1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.
Nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving, new-school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to six impossible things…
In this charming story of one guy’s efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.

This was a cute book. It is a little bit of a younger YA than I usually read, as Dan is only 14. And it did show, in the way he talks and acts. But it was still a fun and cute story.

Dan's life has been turned upside down. First his father announces they're broke, then that he's gay, and Dan and his mother have to move and start over. Dan is not happy about this. He doesn't like the house, he doesn't want to start at public school, he doesn't want to talk to his dad. But then he meets the girl next door, Estelle, and becomes fixated on her.

I know people had issues with the romance in here. Dan becomes pretty much obsessed with Estelle, in an almost creepy way. It could also be said that the things he did were unforgivable. But he's fourteen, he makes mistakes, and we do see him grow and actively try to be a better person. He does have his moments of unhappiness, and wanting to throw a tantrum, but he's learning to mature and how to be there for his mom, and I loved seeing that.

I do like how he and Estelle started getting to know each other, and she does get to know him and be his friend, instead of him just pining after someone he didn't know at all. Dan did let himself be used way too often, because she knew he liked her and used it against him, which always bugs me.

The story was fun, sure, but it also had its serious moments, what with everything Dan is going through. He has an absentee father that he doesn't know how to feel about, they have no money, his mom is falling apart. I think the story did a good job of balancing family themes, and more serious themes, but still being fun. It was a cute story, and I did enjoy it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Fiona Wood:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Never Never {by Brianna Shrum}

Never Never by Brianna Shum
Title: Never Never
Author: Brianna Shrum
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling/Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.      
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
Except one.

I loved this story. Peter Pan retellings are one of my favorite kinds of fairytale retellings (yes, says the person who hadn't even seen a version, not even the Disney one, of it until she was 19). But there is something so magical and haunting and curious about the story of Peter Pan. And I'm not talking about the cutesy little boy from Disney. I'm talking the true nitty gritty stories. Which is exactly what we get here.

James Hook is a boy who only wants to grow up. The only childish fantasy he allows himself is his dreams of pirates. Then, he meets Peter Pan, who tells him tales of a land with fairies and where boys never grow up. James agrees to go with him on holiday, only when he gets there, Peter refuses to take him back. And thus begins his descent into the Hook that we know from the stories.

I loved that this was from Hook's perspective. The most interesting ones often are. And yes, this was a story about Hook and his time in Neverland, but it was so much more than that. It was a book about black and white and gray areas, and about morality and what that really means. We saw a different side of Peter, one I think often gets forgotten: that he can be really, well, evil. I think it explores some great thoughts on being children. And even, the descent into madness.

And the story was just beautifully written. It caught my attention from the beginning. For me, it did lag a little in the middle, around 30%, but then picked up again around 50% and hooked (no pun intended) me the rest of the time. I thought this was a gorgeous story, and I loved it. 

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Brianna Shrum:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mini Reviews: Love Takes the Cake, The Perfect Arrangement, Love in the Details

Love Takes the Cake
Title: Love Takes the Cake
Author: Betsy St. Amant
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #10
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: publisher

She’s known for her delicious cakes, but there’s no recipe for dealing with the new man in her life.
Charlotte owns the best bakery in Louisiana, and clients come from near and far for her renowned wedding cakes. And while the wedding scene is Charlotte’s place to shine, her own love life is more dull than ever. After a string of failed relationships—and men who actually were too good to be true—she has decided to throw herself into her craft and leave love and marriage to her clients.
Will is a successful entrepreneur but devotes much of his spare time to caring for his ill mother. He knows he doesn't have much time left with her, so he has done everything he can to guard his heart from relationships. And what girl would understand that he needs to spend all his time with his mother? But when his best friend calls in his help for his September wedding, Will can’t refuse. He's always been there for those closest to him. And when he finds out they don’t have a wedding cake yet, he knows exactly where to go—the bakery owned by the beautiful, mysterious young woman he buys treats from.
Charlotte assumes Will is just another party boy who flirts with all the bridesmaids. But is Will hiding something that explains his behavior? And despite their reservations, will they be able to deny the chemistry between them?

I loved this story. I'm a sucker for stories that take place in bakeries to begin with, and this one was the cutest.

Charlotte is a single mother, just trying to keep her business afloat. She already made a mistake involving a man, and isn't about to repeat that. But she can't help her attraction to the customer who comes in every Tuesday at 5:40. Will, too, gave up the dating scene to take care of his sister (the GR description is wrong), but something about Charlotte is making him rethink that.

I think this story was going for a Mr. Darcy vibe with Will. Although I could kind of see that, I didn't really think it fit. Although the misunderstandings did abound, P&P style. But I loved seeing them get to know each other, and work through their reasons, and learn to trust each other.

All in all, this was a super cute and fun story. I think it's one of my favorites from this series.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Betsy St. Amant:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

The Perfect Arrangement
Title: The Perfect Arrangement
Author: Katie Ganshert
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #11
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: publisher

Meeting Nick was truly an accident—but Amelia finds that he’s one of the few people she can count on.
Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower who inherited her grandmother’s flower shop. Despite her success in business, her love life has ground to a halt. And then her temptation to spy on her ex-boyfriend’s wedding leads her to a horrifying fender-bender—with Nick, the groomsman who happens to be her ex’s new brother-in-law.
Meanwhile, William, Amelia’s younger brother, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiancée is not who she says she is. How can she be supportive and yet be the protective big sister too? It seems Nick is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he’s pretty good at it—and pretty fun to talk to. Amelia and Nick continue online conversations about everything, but always lingering in Amelia’s mind is the fear that he’ll realize who she is and what she was doing at the church that day of the accident.
As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people—including a ninety-year-old “fairy godmother” named George—she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nick still be interested when he learns who she is?

I loved this one. It was fun and cute. I am more than ready for fall to come, and this one perfectly sets the tone for fall. I love stories set in flower shops (almost as much as bakeries) and so this was just perfect.

Amelia owns a flower shop in a quaint little town. She's quite happy with her life, until she rear-ends a guy... while spying on her ex's wedding. She quickly flees the scene, but this starts up an email exchange with the guy, who is cute and fun and just great to talk to. But she hasn't told him who she is or what she was doing that day.

I loved Amelia. She was fun and spunky and totally honest about the fact that she was a young cat lady, more than content to spend her days with her flowers and her nights with her cat and Netflix. I loved the email exchanges. They were fun and cute and I loved their interactions.

I will say, I feel like a big deal was made out of the brother's fiancée thing, and then it was dropped with no resolution. I mean, there was kinda, but not really. I also felt like the whole ex's wedding thing was drawn out too much. But other than this was a super fun and cute story and I loved every minute of it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Katie Ganshert:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Love in the Details
Title: Love in the Details
Author: Becky Wade
Series: A Year of Wedding Novellas, #12
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: NetGalley

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.
Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

I loved this one. I thought it was such an interesting premise, different than anything else in this "series". I thought it was such a good story.

Holly and Josh were high school sweethearts, but Holly broke it off when Josh went to MIT to secure his future. Now, Josh is back in town for a friend's wedding, but Holly never stopped loving him. I liked that we get both point-of-views, as I think that added another depth to the story. We get to see how both characters feel, which really helps us get to know them better.

I was rooting for Josh and Holly the whole time. They both have gone through much hurt in the years since they've been apart, but they both realize they still have feelings for each other. Understandably, they aren't sure what to do with those feelings since it caused so much hurt the last time.

Even though this is only a novella, I thought this was a pretty fleshed out story. I loved getting to know both of these characters and walk through their feelings with them. All in all, I loved this story.

 This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Becky Wade:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Whole New World {by Liz Braswell}

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Title: A Whole New World
Author: Liz Braswell
Series: Twisted Tales #1
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?
When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.
What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

When I saw this announced, I was so, so excited for it. A retelling of one of my favorite Disney stories? Yes, please. Unfortunately, this one did not really live up to my expectations.

As I've seen some people say, the beginning (and most, really) of this story was exactly like the cartoon. I had the exact story playing out in my head, and cartoon characters for images. There wasn't really any new world-building. I didn't really get a feel for the city or the world. Some things weren't explained fully. The "twist" was that Jafar summoned the genie before Aladdin, so the only difference from the movie that Aladdin never became "Prince Ali" and all that jazz. It goes straight to Jafar making his evil wishes.

The characters also fell flat. I was excited to see a different depth to one of my favorite Disney characters ever, but that wasn't there. I've always had a dislike for Jasmine, and this version was probably worse. The characters were not fleshed out. They were bland and there was never any depth, to any of the main characters or secondary ones.

Still, this was interesting enough to keep my attention long enough to finish it. I think I kept hoping that it would pick up and "wow" me. I did like the ending, and think it was done well. This book had a lot of potential, but sadly, I do not feel like it lived up to it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Liz Braswell:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Project Inspired {by Nicole Weider}

Project Inspired
Title: Project Inspired: Tips and Tricks for Staying True to Who You Are
Author: Nicole Weider with Kristin Billerbeck
Genre: Religious Nonfiction
No Rating
Source: publisher

Nicole Weider is on a mission: to help young girls avoid the traps that culture sets. The trap that baits you into thinking you must sacrifice your self-worth in order to be beautiful and popular. Nicole launched Project Inspired in 2010 (, a website for teen girls that analyzes pop culture and explores ways girls can live in their authentic beauty.
In Project Inspired, Nicole shares tips for you to stay true to yourself--to how you were created to be--as well as how to dress modestly yet fashionably, how to make a positive difference in the world, and how to enjoy your teen years while standing firm in your faith. With photographs, real behind-the-scenes stories from inside the fashion world, and an honest look at living a life that looks great on the outside and feels great on the inside, Project Inspired is a book you'll turn to time and time again.

Okay, so yeah, this definitely isn't the kind of book I usually pick up. I remember this website when it was just starting, although I haven't been on in years. I've kept up a little with it, though, seeing how much it's grown and how it's evolved. So when I saw the founder had a book out, I decided to give it a try.

Now, I am probably not the target audience for this, as it is aimed more for preteen and teen girls. But I thought it was interesting. The writing is a little simple, but I thought there was actually good information in here. The book covers a variety of topics from fashion and makeup to boys and friends to faith.

There was some, I guess you could say, bias. It is filled with a lot of Nicole's opinions more so than just facts. I felt some things were a stretch (like the Esther analogies in the fashion section... um, what?) but other than that, I think this would be a cute and resourceful book for preteens and young teens. I mean, it basically just is a giant ad for their website, but that's sort of obvious going in. I didn't rate this one because I wouldn't really know how to. I think it would be good for the intended demographic. That's just not me.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Nicole Weider:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Everything, Everything {by Nicola Yoon}

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I'm certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this book, including an option for film even before release. And let me tell you, the hype is totally deserved. I usually don't say that about book, but I get it with this one. This was so touching, unique, emotional, and beautiful. It was an amazing story, one that is sure to stick with you for a long time.

Madeleine is allergic to the world. She is confined to her house, where everything is white and pristine and sterilized. She takes classes online, has a home nurse, and can never go outside. Then, some neighbors move into the house next door. Their teenage son's window looks right into Madeleine's, and soon the two strike up a friendship. And soon, the life that Madeleine isn't enough for her. She wants more, even at the risk of her life.

Although Madeleine is a sick girl, this book isn't only about her sickness. It's about life, and learning to live, and finding out who you are. I will say, at the beginning, I was annoyed and thrown off, because Madeleine becomes the cliché over-obsessed girl who's "in love", and I can't stand those kind of people. There's also the point that Olly the first boy she's really gotten to even be friends with, so it in inevitable that she would be "in love" with him?

But this book does tackle bigger issues such as life, and living. Madeleine soon realizes that she isn't really living life. And I loved that point, I loved that theme throughout this book. I think that it really resonated with me. And although this is a love story, I think there is something here that can resonate with everyone.

And there is a twist, that I did not really expect. There comes a point in the story where you do realize that it's coming, where you can predict that it is going to happen. But from the beginning of the story, I did not realize it was coming. But all in all, this is a beautiful book, one that I think everyone needs to read.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Nicola Yoon:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | tumblr | Goodreads