One Paragraph Reviews: The Books & Movies Edition

The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

gr-shadowqueen

While I saw there were mixed reviews of The Shadow Queen, I really wanted to check it out, and was thankfully able to do so through my library rather than having to commit to buying it. Now that I’ve read it I am left to wonder why any YA fantasy fan wouldn’t enjoy it! I really enjoyed the characters, the pacing was mostly good, and while it was a retelling there were some pretty interesting and unique concepts. It’s not my new favorite ever, but I did really like it and look forward to the next book in this series!

The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

gr-thelonggame

Oh Jennifer Lynn Barnes, why do you torture me so?! So I loved this book just as much as its predecessor The Long Game, and it was filled with just as many twists and turns that really floored me. And though I did like Tess, Asher, and Henry in the first book, I grew even more fond of them in this book. And then… ugh, I won’t go there! Major spoiler! Let’s just say I simply need another book for more resolution, yet I don’t see one listed on Goodreads?! I NEED MORE.

kermit-flail

Finding Dory

FINDING_DORY

I love the way Honest Trailers said it best when referring to this movie: the sequel you hope will be more like Toy Story 3 and less like Cars 2. Finding Dory was cute, fun, and yes, emotional. It didn’t have the same magic for me as Finding Nemo, but it was still a good, solid story about Dory where we learn a lot about her and meet a few more fun characters. I will say that there were moments of this movie that felt a little outrageous for Pixar fare and almost more in Dreamworks’ territory (which is not a dis on Dreamworks, they just have a different philosophy for their animated movies), but again, these were minor quibbles I can forgive for the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence-Day-Resurgence-London-poster

I didn’t watch Independence Day in 1996, but at the point where enough years had passed where it seemed more cheesy in our modern age of movies. I have seen it again a few more times since then, and in that time, and especially in this last time I saw it in preparation for the sequel, I have grown fonder of it. In Resurgence, we see Earth has progressed in the 20 years since the aliens attacked, and we get to see many of the same characters and/or their children. There were a few different storylines that were eventually intertwined, much like its predecessor, and several new characters introduced, but I feel this was all well-developed. I especially enjoyed the President’s daughter and her fiance’s good friend Charlie (her fiance was Liam Hemsworth so he was… OK, actually, considering my natural prejudice towards Liam), and the other young, new characters. Overall, it’s not going to win Oscars and I did have a few issues with it, but it was a fun summer flick, and ultimately that was all I wanted from it.

If you’ve read either of these books or seen either of these movies, let me know what you thought of them! What’s been your favorite summer movie so far?

Advertisements

One Paragraph Book Reviews

gr-vicious

Vicious has gotten a lot of praise, but I was a little nervous about reading a anti-hero story, because that’s not my usual thing. This story is darker than what I normally read as well. The chapters alternating between the past and the present put together the story in such a way that helped you see what made Eli the way he was, even if he made some wrong choices. It was compelling, but not for everyone as it was dark and violent. I’m also not sure if I feel the need to continue reading on. The story does end a little openly, but I was satisfied with it.

Rating: 4 stars//Content advisory: Moderate language, high violence, some off-screen sex but nothing graphic

gr-salttothesea

Easily my favorite book this year so far, Salt to the Sea was beautiful and heartbreaking, much like Between Shades of Gray and yet different. The story follows four POV’s, all who meet up by the time they reach the Wilhelm Gustloff, where a maritime disaster worse than the Titanic yet lesser-known strikes. The story was a little confusing at first because we are thrown into the middle of these people’s lives, but you catch up and become wrapped-up the stories.

Rating: 4.75 stars? I’m still waffling between 4.5 and 5//Content advisory: All sexual content/language/violence is mild, though some themes might be a little mature for some younger readers.

gr-twist

After enjoying Loop and feeling the need for more answers, I quickly turned to the follow-up, Twist. However, I ended up disappointed. The plotting felt more convoluted and confusing, and instead of things making more sense at the very end, we get *spoilers in white* a reset button that felt like Fringe all over again, except worse. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it a real low rating, but I would say if you’ve read Loop but not Twist, keep it that way.

Rating: 3 stars//Content advisory: All language, sexual content, and violence is mild.

gr-therithmatist

The Rithamitist is hard to explain. It’s alternative history, it’s fantasy, it’s a dash of steampunk. While different than Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, it would appeal to fans of it, I believe. At first I was a little confused by this world of chalk drawings and soldiers that use them, but ultimately I just fell in love with the characters, as I usually do with Sanderson’s books. Joel feels like a precursor to The Reckoners’ David, but I liked him more, and dramatic Melody is so much fun to read. At the end, I was ready for more and it is simply a tragedy, as Melody would say, that I have to wait so long for the sequel!

Rating: high 4 stars//Content advisory: Mild violence

gr-calamity

It saddens me to say that Calamity is my least favorite of the trilogy AND my least favorite Sanderson book. The first half or so DRAGGED for me. It probably didn’t help that I had awful book amnesia concerning the second book, so I can’t blame that particular confusion on Sanderson, but I expected him to be able to draw me back into the world and characters and care again, but I just couldn’t get into it for the longest time, and even when I did I wasn’t all in. We are given obvious foreshadowing for what is to come, but it ended up being kind of confusing and not feeling like true closure. I thought maybe I missed something but other reviews on Goodreads have echoed sentiments of the weird plot holes. Maybe I shouldn’t have read this one right after The Rithmatist, but this book just failed to have the usual Sanderson magic. The only thing keeping it together is my moderate interest in David and the series as a whole.

Rating: 3 stars//Some violence, mild sexual content, mild language.

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

Mini Reviews: Sci-Fi Edition

Loop by Karen Akins

gr-loop

Loop is a fun story set in a future where some are known as Shifters, people who are genetically capable of time traveling to the past. Something that really struck me about the book was the rules of shifting (it’s impossible to change the past, you can’t go to the future, etc), the animosity between Shifters and non-Shifters,  and the world in general. Even though the genetic ability to time travel part felt impossible, how things unfolded with it being possible felt realistic, and I felt like the technology was a realistic progression.

There are SO many things going on in the story; I don’t know how Akins kept up with all the plot threads! I think everything tied together pretty well in the end, though there are still some unanswered questions that will clearly be dealt with in the next book.

While I really enjoyed the book overall and was impressed with the story, I never LOVED the characters. I do like them, but they’re not new favorites for me or anything.

The end left me ready to read the sequel, Twist, very soon, and looking forward to more Karen Akins projects in the future!

Rating: 4 stars

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

gr-starsabove

Of course, any addition to The Lunar Chronicles is a must in my book (and now there are going to be graphic novels what what!). I had always meant to get around to reading some of the stories in this collection before, like Glitches, The Queen’s Army, and The Little Android, but never did, so I was happy for them to be all together in print format! I enjoyed most of the stories, but was still feeling a little underwhelmed until we got to the wedding story.

I think part of this was because the stories were isolated incidents of each character’s life (except I noticed poor Jacin was the only one of the major 8 who didn’t get his own story) and I really prefer it when they are all together. Also, The Little Android, late in the collection, really brought me down. I don’t know how to explain why, but it really put a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t think it’s poorly written, and even though the ending is sad I understand its purpose, but I just couldn’t come to care for it.

And then we had Something Borrowed. I won’t spoil any of the details but it was nice to see everyone come together again. I was enjoying but not loving the story though, but then in the last few pages the feels were strong. For me personally, the culmination of the entire series I had been waiting for actually came down to these last few pages of this short story for me. I know not everyone will agree with this sentiment, just because we are all looking for different things, but I enjoyed it more than the end of Winter, honestly.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read either of these? What are your thoughts? 

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! 

Mini Review Roundup

It’s been ages since I’ve written a real book review (November to be exact), so I thought I was overdue to share a few thoughts on some of my reads from December and my first read of the new year.

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Contemporary/Thriller YA

gr-killerinstinct

I read The Naturals more than a year ago and I was slightly worried about remembering enough about Cassie and company after so much time away (yay book amnesia), but I had no problems getting back into the swing of things! I enjoyed this one even more than the first; I thought the pacing was spot-on and I was engaged the whole time. I hated the love triangle in the first book and I thought I had read in a review that it was even more pronounced in this one, but it actually bothered me less this time. She does choose someone at the end, but since there are at least two more books I’m a little curious if this is her final choice or not. I don’t have a strong preference between the guys but I’d hate for her to go back and forth. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one!

4 stars/Content advisory: some violence

My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

Holiday Young Adult – Some Contemporary, Some Magical Realism

gr-truelove

I finally got to read this anthology this past holiday season and it was definitely a mixed bag for me. You can see my Goodreads review where I broke down my thoughts on each individual story, but I did not finish two of the stories, while a couple of others really stood out to me. My favorite overall turned out to be Stephanie Perkins’ story, which felt appropriate since it’s her anthology, and I was excited to find out that in her upcoming summer anthology, Summer Days and Summer Nights, we’ll get follow-up with the same characters!

3 stars overall/Content varies by story

In Between (Katie Parker Productions #1) by Jenny B. Jones

Contemporary Christian YA

gr-inbetween

I had gotten the e-book of this one for cheap or free a while ago and let it sit in my Nook for a long time. I had read one previous book by Jenny B. Jones and liked it but didn’t love it. I was also nervous because I feel that most Christian books are either not as well edited or they’re a little on the cheesy side, but I always want to find good Christian literature so I pick up something from the genre every now and then. I wouldn’t really recommend this book to people who are not familiar with church or Christian culture, even though Katie herself is not familiar with many of the terms used by others in the story either, however, I didn’t think it was cheesy at all.

The main character, Katie, has a great voice, and she made me laugh quite a few times! There were several great, quirky characters who felt natural and made the story fun, even with some serious elements thrown in. There was no romance for Katie in this book, which I missed a little but was OK with under the circumstances, but it looks like there will be in future books. There are three more books in the series and I definitely intend to continue!

4 stars

Quidditch Through the Ages (Hogwarts Library) by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling)

gr-quidditch

I love quidditch, but learning about it wasn’t quite as fun as I hoped it would be. There were some interesting tidbits though, and it was a fast read.

3 stars

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab 

Young Adult

gr-thearchived

This was my first Schwab book! And it was very different from what I was expecting. I knew this book wasn’t a typical fantasy, but I thought it was going to be more fantasy rather than the contemporary/urban fantasy?/magical realism?/I have no idea what the heck to call this genre it was. That wasn’t bad though, just very unexpected. I had a hard time really grasping the idea of the Archived and Keepers and all that. I mean, it was explained well enough, but I never felt like I really understood why everything existed and why everything was the way it was. Maybe – probably – I was just supposed to accept it as it was, but it didn’t make sense to me.

I liked Mackenzie well enough but she also drove me crazy with how she would never tell anyone anything. The whole thing with Owen was kind of creepy and I did not like it. I did really like Wes though, and he’s pretty much the main reason I want to read the next book.

4 stars/Content advisory: Some language, violence

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

Quick Thoughts & Quotes from Three Recent Reads

stormsiren-quote

Storm Siren is a beautifully-written fantasy set in an intriguing world, but left me just a little wanting. While I liked the characters, I never felt a true emotional connection. However, the ending definitely leaves you at a cliffhanger so I believe I will try to continue with the series.

rook-quote

Rook was an enjoyable read with scheming, action, and romance. It didn’t quite grab me the way Across a Star-Swept Sea, another Scarlet Pimpernel retelling did, but I liked the characters and the story, and the world was interesting. If I gave out quarter stars, it would be a 4.25.

hunger-games-quote

I’m enjoying my Hunger Games trilogy reread. The last chapter of the first book still killed me with feels when I read it, though I did feel less anxious knowing how it all ends. When I finish the series I will probably post more on my thoughts on reading all three books again.

Anyone else re-reading The Hunger Games to prepare for Mockingjay Part 2? Have you read Storm Siren or Rook?

Sherlock Holmes-ish & Late Night Chats

AKA, mini-reviews of Jackaby and On the Fence.

Jackaby by William Ritter

gr-jackaby

What I expected: a book inspired by Sherlock Holmes. What I didn’t expect: paranormal. Apparently I didn’t read the synopsis very closely. I spent the first bit of this book adjusting to the paranormal creatures that existed in this world, and once I was able to accept that, I was able to enjoy it for the most part. The narrator, Abigail, is discovering everything about this world along with the the reader, and is a good sidekick for Jackaby, like Watson is for Sherlock. Jackaby was eccentric, as expected from the book’s description, and I enjoyed him.

However, I felt there could have been further character development for Abigail, Jackaby, and Charlie, the latter being one of the more prominent secondary characters and potential love interest for Abigail. She is quickly attracted to him, which was fine for me, but I didn’t get enough interaction between the two of them to properly ship them. And Charlie seemed like a nice guy, so I wish I could have gotten to know him better. Hopefully in the next book there will be a little more of him.

The story moves pretty quickly, which I can appreciate, but the pacing and tone almost felt more young YA or maybe even middle grade. I didn’t have a real problem with this. but it was confusing since I never got a good feel for the characters’ ages, but Abigail can’t be younger than 18 (and she feels more like early 20’s), and Jackaby feels he could be any age between 22 and 35ish.

Overall, this was a fun and quick read for me, and I’m definitely interested in reading more. However, I would have liked an additional 50ish pages to flesh everything out a little more, especially the characters.

Rating: 4 stars

Content Advisory: Pretty clean. Some violence, no sexual content, and I don’t recall any language.

On the Fence by Kasie West

gr-onthefence

After enjoying The Distance Between Us, I immediately put On the Fence on hold at my library, ready to enjoy more by this author who is quickly becoming a go-to for me. Out of all of West’s books I’ve read so far (which is everything she’s published except The Fill-In Boyfriend), this one is easily my favorite. I enjoyed Charlie’s relationship with her brothers, her late-night chats with Braden, and her time at work. I also really liked that this book takes place in the same town as The Distance Between Us and we get some cameos from those characters!

I think in comparison with the romances in Kasie West’s other books, this was the romance that felt the most natural. I did like Addie and Trevor, though much better in Pivot Point than in Split Second; Lyla’s romance in Split Second came out of left field for me (I don’t even remember her dude’s name); and Cayman and Xander were cute but it did feel unrealistic for me, or at least I should say it felt unrealistic that it would last. Of course, I do have a deep love for the best-friend-turned-romance trope, and if you do too, I think you’ll enjoy this one as well.

I don’t have any real complaints about the story, it just didn’t blow me away to a 5 star level. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, and was surprised in the end by the twist of Charlie learning more about her mom.

Rating: 4 or 4.5 stars (I’m indecisive, I know)

Content advisory: Clean – no violence, only a little kissing, and I don’t recall any language.

Have you read Jackaby or On The Fence? What are your thoughts?

Mini Book Reviews: The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Edition

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Young Adult Sci-Fi/Contemporary

gr-allouryesterdays

I read several reviews for this book and knew of all the hype, but I still didn’t fully know what to expect from it. As you can see above, it blends genres, which I love. The book follows two timelines, a previous timeline that reads like a contemporary-turned-thriller, and a later timeline that reads like a sci-fi with just a taste of dystopia (but don’t let that scare your dystopia-weary soul, because I promise it’s not like another rehash of Divergent or anything). The plot was great, the characterization interesting, and I just loved seeing how everything weaved together. And the way time travel was handled in this book was well-done. I will say that while I thought the ending was really great and fitting, it made me raise my eyebrow a little like the Fringe finale, where I was questioning how exactly that could have happened that way, but I do forgive it because I think it was the right ending.

I really enjoyed this one and only had a few minor issues with it. However, for some reason this one doesn’t really stick to as a favorite that will stand the test of time, so it’s not quite a 5 star read, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Young Adult Fantasy

gr-winners-crime

I really enjoyed The Winner’s Curse, and while I didn’t love this one as much, I still enjoyed it a good bit! I admit, I’m suffering a bit from book amnesia on this one since I have waited a while to review it, but I do remember the twisty mind games that I enjoyed in the first book continuing through this one, though it did play out a bit differently. It’s more of Kestrel trying to tiptoe around the emperor and not reveal her hand to him, rather than her manipulating situations.

My biggest complaint about the book is that I wanted more of the emperor’s son, who I actually really liked and would have liked to have seen more friendship between him and Kestrel. I was also very sad about how things turned out with Jessi and Ronan, but I’m not saying Rutkoski made the wrong choices about them because sadly, I don’t think she did. I just liked them in the first book and hated to see how they acted in the second.

I think I found the romance between Kestrel and Arin a little more interesting this time around, but I’m actually still not a super hard shipper for them. But the ending definitely left me intrigued for the last book and to see how it all plays out.

Rating: 4 stars

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

High Fantasy

gr-theheroofages

I don’t know what I can say about this book. There is so much heartache, so many surprises, an adorable and perfect dance scene with Vin and Elend, and the ending is just… WOW. I think Brandon Sanderson is a master when it comes to endings (well, writing in general really). I was so floored by how it all played out, how it simultaneously ripped my heart out and crushed me and made me kind of angry to being so perfect and what it needed to be. I mean seriously, how does that happen?! Also, I think every question I had about this world and the characters was answered. So yeah, if you have any interest in these books, read them.

Rating: 5 stars

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Science Fiction

gr-hitckhiker'sguide

I enjoy the movie adaptation of this book, but I did not expect for the book to actually line up with so much of the movie! There are a few things I like better about the book, and a few things I like better about the movie, but overall this book is a fun romp through the galaxy that makes you think of improbable possibilities. I will say that the book ends much more abruptly than the movie, without a really nice wrap-up, and is clear you are supposed to continue on with the next book, which I imagine I will do one day!

Rating: 4 stars

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

Mini Movie Reviews: Inside Out, Ant-Man, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Inside Out

inside-out

I have not been happy with Pixar’s sudden shift from creating brand new, original stories to CRANKING OUT ALL THE SEQUELS, though admittedly, I had also not been happy with their last original offering, Brave. My expectations for Inside Out were cautiously optimistic. Thankfully, I really enjoyed it! The main character, Ryleigh, is about 11 or 12 when her family makes a big move from Minnesota to San Francisco, and I was really able to relate to it with the big moves I’ve made in my life. I really enjoyed all the characters and, as a movie about emotions should do, it gave me all the feels. Definitely recommended.

Ant-Man

ant-man

With Ant-Man, the latest offering of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (note: do there is a difference between Marvel’s cinematic universe and other Marvel films that are being released like X-Men, the new Fantastic Four, etc.), I was again cautiously optimistic. The marketing department had not done much to convince me this would going to be better than an average superhero movie (because I expect better these days), but I also hoped it was probably going to be pretty good because, well, Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully, it was quite enjoyable, maybe not profound or earth-shattering, but very funny. I think this movie for me is what Guardians of the Galaxy was for a lot of other people, with just a little twist in the typical superhero image and fun. Paul Rudd really sold the show for me. Recommended.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

rogue-nation

I like the first MI movie. I kind of liked the second and third ones for a while… and I still think the third one is a pretty strong movie, but man does Phillip Seymour Hoffman chill freak me out in it… but recently I have grown a little less interested in them. Probably because they’re all overshadowed in my mind by the fourth one, Ghost Protocol. Brad Bird did an amazing job with the direction, I liked the addition of Jeremy Renner to the team… I don’t know, it just hit all the right notes for me. It’s got to be one of my favorite action movies. So my hopes were high for Rogue Nation and THEY WERE MET. This movie was twisty and left me guessing constantly. This is definitely going to be one I will want to watch over and over again like Ghost Protocol. Highly recommended!

Have you seen any of these movies yet? What are your thoughts?

Mini Reviews: The Contemporary Edition

I have been reading a lot more YA contemporary lately, and wanted to share my thoughts on my four most recent contemporary reads.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

gr-distancebetween

I know this will mean nothing to most of you who read through your books much faster than I do, but I read this book in two days. It was just a fun, quick, easy read. It didn’t change my life and I had a couple minor issues with it, but overall I just really enjoyed getting to know Caymen and Xander and watching them interact. It was definitely worth the $1.99 I spent on it!

Rating: 4 stars

Content Advisory: Pretty clean. I don’t recall any language; some kissing.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

gr-thelasttime

Believe it or not, this is probably actually the first really heavy issue book I’ve read, at least in the YA contemporary genre. I was hooked right away with Alexis’ voice as she wrote in a journal provided to her by her therapist, bemoaning the idea of writing out her feelings and comparing it to bleeding out with leeches. But the book definitely gets heavy, with Alexis constantly wishing she could go back and change the night she found out her brother killed himself, trying to deal with her mom and others in her life, and worrying that she is seeing the ghost of her brother. The ending was very emotionally satisfying, and I’m very glad I read this book to gain more insight about the aftermath of a suicide.

Rating: 4 stars (If I gave quarter stars it would be 4.25. I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s just not quite to 4.5, but almost!)

Content Advisory: Moderate language; some kissing.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Teresa Toten

gr-unlikelyhero

I impulsively borrowed this from the library because I knew it focused on characters with OCD, and there are secondary characters in my WIP with OCD. This was a very interesting read for me; there were many things I liked but many I wasn’t crazy about as well. First, despite the fact that he struggles with OCD at a level I doubt I will ever understand, Adam is the most realistic character in this book, aside from maybe his stepmother and neighbor. His dad, therapist, Father Rick, Ben, and the other OCD kids felt real sometimes, and Sweetie and Adam’s mom NEVER felt real. (Sweetie is for real the strangest 5 year old ever. I don’t think a single kid on the planet talks like that.) Sometimes the characters and the dialogue took me out of the book (Adam and some of the kids constantly say stuff like, “That’s superior!” and other things I have just never heard anyone ever say).

Yet the book is quirky and full of humor, and I really did feel empathy for Adam. I enjoyed Robyn too and enjoyed their friendship-turned-relationship. And also yet again, this book was often awkward and hard to read, which I think was part of the point, because these characters are struggling with very real issues and disorders and it does hurt, but the added layer of Adam’s mom’s craziness was sometimes too much for me to bear. The ending was very unsatisfying as there is very little finality, but I know that doesn’t bother everyone, and it doesn’t always bother me, but I didn’t feel I got the full arc from Adam that I wanted, though we do see it going in that direction.

Rating: 3 or 3.5 stars (I really can’t decide.)

Content advisory: Moderate language; some kissing.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

gr-thestartofyouandme

I saved my favorite of the bunch for last. I mean, where do I even begin?! I ADORED Max. I loved him so much at first I couldn’t properly ship him and Paige because I didn’t think Paige deserved him. But when she starts to come around and really understand her feelings towards him, I felt for her and definitely got all aboard their ship! The last chapter was such perfection that I can’t even. I LOVED all the nerdy banter and just about everything really. The friendships were so spot-on!

My only complaint about the book really is at Max’s birthday party when they played Spin the Bottle and I was like, really?, but even the characters knew it was juvenile, and it was what gave Paige the push she needed to confront her feelings.

So seriously, READ THIS. I have never loved a YA contemporary to this degree.

[Side note: I’m terrified of Open Road Summer because the characters don’t sound as likable and this book was so perfect for me, but I think I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for future Emery Lord books.]

Rating: 5 stars!!! (I borrowed this from the library and then immediately ordered the hardcover from Amazon because I LOVED IT THAT MUCH.)

Content advisory: Sporadic and mostly mild swearing (though I believe there was one f word).

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