Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

23492282 Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 5/26/15.

Katie McGarry has done it again…drawn me into something that I would usually have zero interest in.  She has done it with boxing, racing, and now motorcycle clubs. This author has the uncanny ability to tell a story of real-life first love while teaching you all about different kinds of lifestyles. This particular book is about Emily and Oz, told in alternating viewpoints. Emily comes from a safe home in Florida, living with biological mom and a dad who adopted her at a young age.  She has only spent a handful of hours with her biological father in her 17 years and that usually only involved shopping and a barrage of questions thrown at her about her life. She learns of the death of her real father’s mother, Olivia, and travels to Kentucky with her parents to attend the wake.  Little does she know, Olivia is not dead…she is sick and wanted to have her own party before the cancer really set in. While in Kentucky, Olivia comes across some scary members of a rival motorcycle club and is put under the protection of Oz.  Oz is a year older than Olivia and is coming up on his time to finally become a member of the motorcycle club that he has grown up around.  He is not blood-related to Emily’s family, but considers them his own. Eli, Emily’s real father, convinces her parents that it would be safest for her to stay with them in Kentucky for a while until this all blows over, and to spend time with her grandmother before her passing. Emily is somewhat horrified by this lifestyle, but slowly starts adjusting with the help of Oz and a few others near her age. She starts to uncover secrets about her past and wants to know more, but Olivia is weary about opening up to her since she promised Eli a long time ago that the secret would never come out. In the process, she and Oz are trying not to fall for each other, as it would only complicate things more. We all know the classic good girl falls for bad boy story, but Katie tells it in such an endearing and relatable way.  Her research into various lifestyles and interests is extensive and her writing is impeccable.I can’t wait to recommend yet another of her books to my students!

My rating: 5/5

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

22609317 Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

**This review is based on an ARC provided by Netgalley, release date is 5/12/15.

Though I was impressed with the snarkiness of the main character from the beginning of this book, I have to admit I almost gave up on it not even three chapters in because I just couldn’t get into it much. The chapters are super long, which kind of irritated me, but the story did get much better as it went on. TifAni switches back and forth between her present day life and high school in telling her story. She has transformed herself after a tragedy that occurred her freshman year and has become Ani in her adult life (wouldn’t you?!), a writer for a popular women’s magazine. She is engaged to a wealthy man and living the life she thinks she always wanted. In the first several chapters, you keep hearing about a documentary that she is participating in that is about this horrible thing that happened to her, but you don’t find out what it is for quite a while. When I did get to that part of the book, I was hooked and very tense while reading. If someone had walked into my office during that lunch, I would have probably screamed because I was extremely engrossed. I definitely enjoyed the chapters that were about her younger life more (possibly because I work with high schoolers?) than I did the present day stuff, and I didn’t think she was very likable as an adult.  She seemed very hard to get along with and pretty shallow, but who knows what I would be like if I had lived through something like that. There were some pretty funny lines and quips that come out of her that made me laugh, which is always a good thing in my world. Overall, I would probably recommend if someone asked me about this book, but I don’t know if it is one that would just come to me if someone just asked for something good to read. Make sense? To me, it does! 🙂

My rating: 3/5

The Heir by Kiera Cass

22918050 The Heir (The Selection Series #4) by Kiera Cass

*****SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES*****

Well, being that I am a princess ;), my love of this series is probably not surprising to most. I ordered The Selection for my school library when it first came out and I have been hooked since. I like to describe it as Divergent meets The Bachelor franchise. This particular installment focuses on the life of the daughter of King Maxon and Queen America, named Eadlyn, who is expect to ascend to the throne fairly soon for her turn as Queen. As we know from the previous books, Maxon and America were striving to eliminate the Caste system that was used to “rank” people in their society. Since they worked so hard and achieved their goals, they have endured a lot of stress in their time of ruling the country. People are starting to get agitated again and still don’t feel that the society is operating the way it should. Outside of the caste system, people have been told they can do whatever they want in life, choose whatever career makes them happy; but that has not necessarily been happening. The people also do not see Eadlyn in a pleasant light—the fact that she is female, thinking she is too young, and that she is a bit standoffish or spoiled. To try to rally that support of the country and lift their spirits, the royal family decides it would be a good idea to hold another Selection, this time for the future queen. She is not interested in any way, shape, or form in finding a suitor but comes to an agreement with her father, planning on making it through a certain amount of time and hopefully driving the boys away on her own. Of course, she doesn’t expect that there will actually be some decent guys among the group and finds herself confused when she starts to like some of them. Through some important events and discussions with family, she decides she should probably take this a little more seriously instead of seeing it as just entertainment for the masses.

Though I hated the way this book ended, I do realize that we have to be kept wanting and waiting for the next book in the series, so I do understand the ending. I did like several of the characters in the book, particularly Hale and Henri….Eadlyn was okay, but I thought she was a bit melodramatic (a spoiled princess, perhaps?) and seemed to make life harder for herself. I thought her brothers were fun, well thought out characters who I can see having more prominent roles in future books (maybe?). This is a fun, quick read that is as interesting as the rest of the series was.  I have to say I’m glad Kiera Cass decided to keep it going! I am hoping to see Eadlyn grown into a more personable character that appreciates all she has.

My rating: 4/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, released on 5/5/15.

I am still a little bit unsure how I feel about this book. I haven’t gotten around to reading her other popular series, Throne of Glass, though it is on my TBR list; so I thought I would try for an advanced copy of this one to see if I liked it. I enjoyed the premise of the story and some of the characters, but did have to force myself to keep going a few times, just felt like it was a little slow.

Feyre (pronounced Fey-ruh) kills a wolf at the beginning of the story who turns out to be a member of the High Fae court in a nearby town(?) that is considered the opposition to humans in her world. In order to atone for her sins, she is forced to live with the Fae for the rest of her life in accordance with a treaty from many years before. Since she is not being held as a slave, her time with them turns out to be not so bad, pretty lavish in fact compared to her pitiful life before. Though she doesn’t want to, she ends up developing a deep attraction to one of her captors. This, in turn, leads to a battle with “her”, not referred to by name until fairly far into the story. She, Amarantha, has forced the other Fae to live in fear and according to her will for many years and Feyre is their only hope. She is forced to complete tasks or solve a riddle in order to free them from Amarantha’s hold. Along the way, she finds help in unexpected places.

I felt the relationships in this story were very dysfunctional, but then again, they are in many of these fantasy stories. It is very reminiscent of the romance in a lot of other books I have read, in my personal opinion. As usual, there is somewhat of a love triangle going on, and I found myself actually rooting for the “bad guy” a few times. I did like the book enough to make me want to try others by the author, so I guess it was a success in that manner. Though many of the characters did despicable things at one point or another, it was still easy to like them and hope things turned out well for them. I just wished all of the action in the last 25% of the book could have been spread out somehow. I have purchased this for my high school library and know it will get some circulation, especially among Sarah’s already established fans.

My rating: 3/5

Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

22749847 Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 5/5/15.

This book was interesting…I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it.  It did keep me reading though, which is important. Had I not been a lover of fashion though, I’m not sure this would have been the case.  The story is set in the future (?) and kids are “tapped” at the age of 13 to go into a creative field, or not tapped at all and considered an Adequate…which means they have to become a doctor or lawyer (gasp, the horror!). Those that are tapped are placed into a field and assigned a specific job. The main characters, Marla and Ivy, told in alternating viewpoints, were both tapped to big-time careers that were their dreams. Marla was assigned to one of the Big Five fashion design companies and Ivy became a pop star. Though the story is also about Ivy, I felt it was more geared towards Marla’s story, though they were integrated well.  Marla’s time is pretty much already up in her dream gig at the ripe age of 16 and she is assigned to a lowly position within the company after being demoted from one of the most prestigious jobs. She and the other unhappy employees decide they would like to strike and they try to work with big people, like Ivy, to help them accomplish their goals.  Of course, there is a bit of romance involved, but it does not overtake the real point of the plot, which is basically about learning to be happy with what you have and not striving for fame and perfection. My main complaint with the book was that it just ended without much being resolved…the characters were basically in the same place as before, there was no resolution for me at all.

Overall, I guess I would give this book 4 stars for creativity and idea, but only 2 stars for execution, development, and world-building. I never really knew why the world ended up this way or when it started, anything really. I will most likely purchase for my library, but not sure how much I will recommend it.

My rating: 3/5

A to Z for book nerds like me!

I borrowed this from YA Book Nerd:
Average number of books you read in a year? 110
 
Best sequel you’ve read recently? Chasing Sunsets by Karen Kingsbury (love her so much)
Challenges – do you participate in them? Yes, I do a Goodreads challenge every year and I keep track of my progress outside of my office door so students can see where I’m at and what I’ve been reading.
 
Do you eat and read at the same time? Not usually
 
Ever stay up all night reading for fun? ALL night? No, but very late sometimes
 
Favorite childhood/teen book? Love me some Sweet Valley, this is probably my fave ever
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Genre you read the most of? Contemporary (YA and adult)
 
Happy, sad, or realistic ending? Happy or realistic, I don’t always like when things wrap up too nicely
 
Interested in nonfiction too? Ehhh…usually only if it reads like fiction, like a Memoir
Just one genre – or do you hop around? Hop around
Keep track of your reading stats? On Goodreads, it saves me!
 
Last book you read and Loved? All of them?! Okay….Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill 
Made you cry? That doesn’t really happen, but closest to making me cry was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Number of books you read at one time? Try to stick to 1, but sometimes 1 at work and 1 at home
 
Out of order in series books or sequential? Sequential, don’t be silly!
 
Place you read the most? Bed
 
Quiet necessary when reading or can you read with noise? I prefer quiet
 
Reviews – positive, negative, or in between? Mostly positive
 
Start with the ending to see if you like it or read the book front to back? OMG, who are you?! Never ever start at the end
 
Take your time reading that book you’ve been waiting to read or rush through it find out what happens? Umm, I just read it
 
Underdog – do you root for these characters? Sure
Vocal about books you love? Yes, on social media and among my friends/coworkers
Winning books – do you enter contests on bloggers’ sites? Not really
Xtra excited about meeting a favorite author or totally calm? I would totally be excited!
Yacking about book – who do you yack with the most about books? Students or a few select others
Zappy read (where after you close the book, you smile with happiness and maybe dance around a bit.  Oh gosh, I don’t know I don’t really do anything after I finish a book except for start a new one.