Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

gr-thefixer

I’ve read and enjoyed the first two Naturals novels by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, so I was eager to see another contemporary from her, The Fixer. I expected to enjoy it. What I didn’t expect were some of the twists and most of the feels! There was one twist that literally just had me so shell-shocked. And I love that Jennifer was able to do that to me!

I loved the pace of the story and the D.C. setting. And while I liked Tess and other characters, I never completely loved them, but I am looking forward to seeing them again in the next book. If you have any interest in contemporary/thriller stories in the YA format, I’d definitely recommend this one!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Content advisory: I don’t recall any specifics, but I remember it was pretty clean. Some violence and possibly some mild language.

See How They Run by Ally Carter

gr-seehowtheyrun

I had a couple minor issues with the previous Embassy Row novel, All Fall Down, but was quite excited to read the follow-up. I thought Grace was an interesting character and really enjoyed her new friends and the storyline as well. This book jumps right back into things and amps everything up to an 11. The pacing was fast, the stakes are raised, and the tension between Grace and Alexi along with it. The end left me with a gut punch that was almost as compelling as The Fixer‘s plot twist, and I was not happy to finish and then learn that the next book doesn’t come out until next year (when this book was published last year!). *Shakes first at the injustice of it*

I do have some issues with this one as well though, which will be reflected in the rating. This is my third Ally Carter novel, and she’s published about a dozen or more books, so I was surprised to find the writing, from a technical aspect, lacking a little. The narrative felt extremely disjointed a lot of the time, and I have never experienced that with Carter before. I don’t know how to really explain it, but people would enter or exit scenes or move across a room without clear transitions, which left me confused many times, things like that. I think it could have been because Grace is so out of sorts herself that she isn’t always entirely aware what’s happening, but I feel like there could have been a better way to portray it.

But needless to say, I NEED THE NEXT BOOK.

Rating: 4 stars

Content: Some violence and mild innuendo, no language.

(Also, I still really want to see a Jennifer Lynn Barnes-Ally Carter collaboration.)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

gr-everythingeverything

I decided to do this one last because there are spoilers, so don’t scroll on if you haven’t read it yet, or scroll on quickly to can leave a comment. 😉

A list of everything, everything that didn’t make sense in Everything, Everything:

  • That Carla couldn’t figure out that Madeline didn’t have a real condition a lot sooner. Because seriously, I saw it coming miles away.
  • The fact that Olly reaches out to Madeline by providing his email address. No 16 year old in 2015 would do that ever. It’d be a Snapchat or Instagram or some other username. I understand the author not wanting to be that specific, but she could have found a way to communicate that it was something along those lines. NOT an email address.
  • That Madeline never once gets reprimanded for opening a credit card and spending RIDICULOUS amounts of money on it that her mom will have to pay back. (Sadly I can believe she was able to open said credit card though it shouldn’t be that easy.)
  • That Madeline is able to fly to Hawaii WITH NO PHOTO ID.
  • That after a five hour flight to Hawaii, Madeline and Olly still have the whole day ahead of them. Hawaii is two hours ahead of California in time, so they gained two hours back, but still, it’s not like they left first thing in the morning.
  • They went on a five hour flight to Hawaii and weren’t served a meal. I mean, I’ve never been on a five hour flight before, it’s always been longer or shorter, but I feel like that’s a reasonable time frame to expect a meal.
  • That Madeline and her mom live in LA when her mom is a doctor who can live literally anywhere, their house has these crazy additions to add on to the already ludicrous pricing of LA living (this is somewhat explained by the fact that there was a settlement from the accident, but still), and since Madeline’s mom only seems to go out for work, she gets zero benefit of living in LA in terms of things to do, plus the traffic is horrendous and wouldn’t she be home late like all the time? It would make so much more sense for them to live somewhere more affordable and more low-key.
  • Maybe it’s because by the time everything comes to light Madeline is technically an adult, but I seriously think that doctor at the end should have been calling somebody about Madeline’s mom’s egregious child rearing.

Now here’s the thing – I understood, to a point, why Madeline’s mom did what she did. And maybe at the end I was supposed to be as freaking mad at her as I was. But this book did not carry that tone at the beginning. It was light and fun, and then it ends on a very dark note that did fit the overall tone of the book.

But I didn’t dislike everything about the book. I liked Madeline’s voice and enjoyed the various ways her story was communicated, but the end and the issues listed above left a meh taste in my mouth.

Rating: 3 stars

Content advisory: Some language, mostly mild. A mostly off-screen sex scene.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? 

Also, while not a contemporary book review, be sure to check out my review of Between Shades of Gray on Val’s blog if you haven’t already! 

Advertisements

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season Three: My Top 5 Fave Episodes

As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite episodes for each season. To compare, see her favorite episodes of DS9 season three.

Things are slowly picking up for DS9, and nearly all my favorite episodes reflect that, no surprise. I did want to give an honorable mention to The Adversary, which almost made this list. The changeling’s last words to Odo were certainly ominous. On to the top 5…

5. Visionary

ds9-3-visionary

O’Brien keeps having hallucinations of himself, that turn out to be glimpses of the future. When he finds the station and his life will be in danger in the future, he must find out what’s happening before it’s too late. O’Brien always seems to get the brunt of these psychologically traumatizing episodes, but it’s definitely interesting to watch him consider his choices and make the decisions he needs to in order to save the day.

4. The Die is Cast

ds9-3-thedieiscast

Garak + Odo being tortured by Garak + changelings. That’s all you need to know to clue you in that things get real in this episode.

3. The Search Parts 1 & 2

ds9-3-thesearch

So during these episodes you’re like, “What the heck, Star Fleet?!” but then there’s a big reveal in the end that changes everything. This one had stayed with me from my original watch, and for good reason.

2. Second Skin

ds9-3-secondskin

When Kira wakes up in a strange place with Cardassian skin and told that she is Cardassian, she refuses to believe it and seeks the truth of what’s happening. This was another one I had really remembered from my first time watching, as I tried to imagine what it would be like to grapple with being told you are someone else entirely.

1. Past Tense Parts 1 & 2

ds9-3-pasttense

Sisko, Bashir, and Dax are accidentally sent to Earth’s past , where they become part of a nasty chapter in history. It’s not anything we’ve actually experienced here yet, but what’s scary about this episode about how it feels like something that really and truly could happen. These are definitely a couple of very thought-provoking episodes.

What are your favorite episodes of DS9’s third season?

The Top 10 (Or 11) Songs I Wish Were Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is  books we’d give theme songs to or 10 songs I wish that were books. I decided to make book covers based off of ten eleven songs (I was going to do 10 but had one more I really wanted to add and didn’t want to cut anything…) that I thought would be interesting YA books. I will warn you that my taste in music is pretty limited and not very hip, though I tried to list a couple artists outside my usual go-to. I also initially didn’t want to repeat artists but ended up repeating a few anyway. I created a playlist on Spotify with these 11 songs if you want to listen through them; hope you enjoy!

Also, with the exception of the image for the Renegades cover, which comes from Unsplash, all photos are from the super talented Wyn Wiley Photography.

1. Silhouettes by Of Monsters and Men

silhouettes

It’s so hard letting go/I’m finally at peace, but it feels wrong

2. Tell Her You Love Her by Echosmith

tellheryouloveher2

When she says she needs you/Tell her you need her, too/You tell her clearly/Speak what your heart wants you to/Tell her she’s lovely/Always tell her the truth/When she says she loves you/Tell her you love her, too

3. A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay

skyfullofstars

‘Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars/I’m gonna give you my heart/’Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars/’Cause you light up the path/I don’t care, go on and tear me apart/I don’t care if you do/’Cause in a sky, cause in a sky full of stars/I think I saw you

4. Closer to Me by The Fray

closertome2

Have you ever done something so wrong?/Won’t you come a little bit closer to me?/Come a little bit closer

5. Washed by the Water by Needtobreathe

washedbythewater2

Daddy was a preacher/She was his wife/Just trying to make the world a little better/You know, shine a light/People started talking/Just to hear their own voice/Those people tried to accuse my father/Said he made the wrong choice/Though it might be painful/You know that time will always tell/Those people have long since gone/My father never failed

6. Hazel by Phillip Phillips

hazel2

But I know that they sun will shine for me/Even when the skies are gray/But I feel like I’m missing something/But the bridges built narrow ways

7. Souvenirs by Switchfoot

souvenirs

I close my eyes and go back in time/I can see you smiling, you’re so alive/We were so young, we had no fear/We were so young, we had no idea/That life was just happening

8. Renegades by X Ambassadors

renegades

Run away with me/Lost souls and reverie/Running wild and running free/Two kids, you and me/And I say/Hey, hey hey hey/Living like we’re renegades

9. Paradise by Coldplay

paradise

When she was just a girl she expected the world/But it flew away from her reach/So she ran away in her sleep and dreamed of/Para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise/Every time she closed her eyes

10. Haley by Needtobreathe

haley2

If you don’t know just how you feel/Don’t say those sweet things/That you know I’d wanna hear/If you don’t know just what to think/Then put your thoughts away/And keep them out of reach/Haley don’t hurt me, if you don’t know/I could of moved on a long time ago/You’re undecided, your eyes still show/Haley don’t hurt me if you don’t know

11. Up To You by Echosmith

uptoyou

Want you to come back to me/Oh ’cause you wanted to, not ’cause you needed to/You’re all that I need/Oh and I love you/Yes I love you/I wear my heart on my sleeve/It’s just what I do/But if there’s too much to leave/Won’t hold it against you/It’s all up to you

Which is your favorite song on this list? Which is your favorite cover? 

3 Years of Blogging!

Holy cow, where has the time gone?! I’m writing this post the day of instead of earlier and scheduling it so it clearly sneaked up on me! Since I’m doing this last minute I don’t have anything elaborate planned, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has stuck with me… through my hiatus, my sporadic posts since then… the support of my readers is truly what keeps me chugging along. I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite posts from the past year by month, as I have done for my two previous blogversaries…

February 2015: The Confirmation I Needed: TN Writer’s Workshop and Live Long and Prosper: An Ode to Leonard Nimoy & Spock

March 2015: Bookish Wedding Inspiration: Magnolia

April 2015: My Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

May 2015: Thoughts of The Deathly Hallows and the Harry Potter Series Overall

June 2015: The Top 10 Books I’d Love to See as Movies/TV Shows

July 2015: On hiatus

August 2015: Why You Should Watch Deep Space Nine if You Love Mistborn, And Vice Versa

September 2015: Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Start of Me and You (Emery Lord and her agent both saw this post and loved it!!!) and It Will Happen When It’s Supposed To

October 2015: Bookstore Tourist: Starline Books in Chattanooga, TN

November 2015: The Top 15 Quotes from Books I Read in 2015

December 2015: Character Study: Kaz from Six of Crows

January 2016: Am I Not Merciful? (Illuminae Review)

Once again, to all my loyal readers…

Thank_you-pusheen

The Top 10 Swoon-Worthy Book Couples

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a Valentine’s Day themed freebie! Two years ago I did the top 10 book romances that make me swoon, but I have several new favorites now so I wanted to do it again. In no particular order…

lizziedarcy

vinelendheroofages

startofmeyouquote

mockingjay-part-2-katniss-peeta

Emma-Knightley

cress-thorne-winter

liesel-rudy

(Excuse me while I go cry my eyes out now.)

seraphina-quote

(Though Rachel Hartman proceeded to crush my heart in Shadow Scale.)

starsweptsea-quote

cinder-quote

All photos that are not from movies are from Unsplash

Who do you feel are the most swoon-worthy book couples?

Star Trek Voyager Season One: My Top 5 Fave Episodes

As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite episodes for each season. To compare, see her favorite episodes of Voyager season one.

The first season of Voyager is a short one, so I was going to do a top 3, but then I found it was actually pretty easy for me to come up with a top 5. After the huge significance of the pilot, not a lot happens in this season; the best is yet to come for Voyager.

5. Heroes and Demons

voy1-heroesanddemons

This is the Doctor’s first real episode and first time experiencing life beyond sick bay. It was good to see him wrestle with, and then embrace, this new experience.

4. Prime Factors

voy1-primefactors2

This hedonistic planet (that is not Risa) is interesting to me, but what gets me most in this episode is the end! I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say a character makes a surprising decision!

3. State of Flux

voy1-stateofflux2

This is another plot twist episode where you find out someone isn’t all that he or she said they were. Dun dun DUN!

2. Caretaker

voy1-caretaker

Now that I have rewatched every Star Trek pilot except Enterprise’s, which bored me to tears the first time, I think I can stand by my opinion that it is the best pilot in Star Trek. I don’t love everything about it, but it raises the stakes a ton and really sets the tone of the show from the get-go.

1. Eye of the Needle

voy1-eyeoftheneedle

I really like this episode and I don’t know how to pinpoint why. I mean, you know they’re not actually going to make it home, but there’s the angle of hope that maybe they’ll get to send out messages. I won’t go any further about the plot, but will also add that I really like the Romulan character in this one. Everything in Star Trek was often overblown with Klingons, or in DS9 Ferengi, but I always want more Romulans (thanks Enterprise for finally indulging me). They fascinate me.

If you’ve seen Voyager, what your favorite episodes of the first season?

Top 10 Tuesday: In Another Time…

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Historical Settings You Love/ Ten Historical Settings You’d Love To See or Top Futuristic Books You Love/Ten Futuristic Societies I’d Love To Read in Books. I wanted to do a mix of historical settings and futuristic ones, so I wasn’t sure how best to sum this up in a catchy title. But here are ten settings I’d like to see from other periods of time in books… be it past or present. And if you know of something in said settings, please feel free to recommend them to me!

1. The 1950’s

50steensimg-1

Source

Thanks to a fifties dress up day at school once upon a time, I fell in love with poodle skirts and become obsessed with the 1950’s for a while. While my love for it isn’t quite as strong now, I still find it an interesting time period and would love to read a YA novel set in 1950’s America!

2. Future a la Gattaca

gattaca-theredlist

Source

There are two things I love about the movie Gattaca in terms of its futuristic setting. One, it’s about a time in which society only views those who have been genetically engineered as capable of taking on the larger roles of society, while those who have not been engineered are doomed to a life of servitude. It’s a fascinating concept and Gattaca only scratches the surface with it. The second is that it has such a classic, timeless feel to it even though it’s set in the future. It’s a mix of, ironically, a 1950’s classic style with the sort of sleek/steel looks we often associate with the future. I don’t want to see a book completely rip off Gattaca and I’m not looking for a novelization of it either, but something that draws inspiration from it would be interesting to see.

(FYI, if genetic engineering and its consequences fascinate you I would recommend the YA duology For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. It’s set in a different world and the consequences are surprising!)

3. French Revolution

lesmis-revolution

Source

I never had an interest in the French Revolution until I watched the movie Les Miserables. Something about watching Marius and these other young men and boys risking their lives for their cause in such a ragamuffin way was really interesting to me. Now I would love to see a YA book where the French Revolution served as the backdrop of the story.

4. Space Station/Spaceship Living

spaceship-life

I have read a couple of books with spaceship living, and my WIP actually has a space station setting for part of the book, but I want to see more YA books that feature families living in space.

5. World War II

ww2books

There are already a lot of WWII books out there, but it’s period in time that fascinates me. And with these three books above, they explore three very different experiences and there’s so much more to be told.

6. Alternate History of any Time

LeviathanGrandMapBIG

The only alternate history I have read so far is the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld and it was interesting! It’s fun to explore “what if” scenarios when it comes to events in our past.

7. Spy Story 1960’s Style

60s-spy

I presume because of the Cold War, spy stories were big in the 1960’s. Last year I randomly wanted to see/read some spy stuff a la the 1960’s, though I never got around to seeking it out (I would have probably watched The Man from U.N.C.L.E. but I wasn’t pleased with how it looked like the woman’s role was going to play out). I still would be intrigued to see something of this nature in YA format.

8. Clones

orphan-black

Source

I know there have been books with clones, but very few have actually appealed to me (though if you have any recs, please share). This is another interest I have had for a while in science fiction though and would love to see it well-done in the YA world, something probably akin to Orphan Black (though I haven’t actually watched the show so I can’t say for sure, but the idea seems right)!

9. American Revolutionary War

felicity

Source

Any other American Girl fans out there who remember Felicity? She lived during the Revolutionary War, and I think it would be interesting to see a YA novel set during the time period. There would also definitely be a forbidden romance between a Loyalist and a Patriot.

10. A Future of Technology Dependence

gr-free-to-fall

This is a theme that has been explored before, and in this day and age I think it’s worth continued exploration. We live in a time where toddlers can operate smart phones. How will this affect them as they grow up? What will future generations glued to their screens mean? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology (clearly since I have a blog), but it’s important to consider the ramification of technology with moderation. Free to Fall did a pretty good job of this, and I’d be interested in more YA fiction with similar themes.

What time settings, past or future, would you like to read about?