ARC Review: The Chapel Wars

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Title/Author: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Publication Date/Publisher: May 6, 2014/Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Series: No
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 2 very generous stars
From Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money–fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.

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Instalove + overly quirky MC. If either of these bother you as much as they bother me, I would say this is not a book for you.


Holly is the most speshul snowflake. She has short hair, understands sports, and isn’t friends with girls…except that one girl who she is constantly hanging out with. She only wears white, black, or gray…when she’s not wearing frilly yellow dresses. When he grandpa dies, he leaves her the family wedding chapel and apparently Las Vegas doesn’t have any labor laws that prevent a 17 year old from owning and running a business. She is a “numbers girl” and loves the business classes she takes at her speshul snowflake school (that she never attends) and she is constantly counting EVERYTHING. Seriously annoying.


The Chapel Wars is half about saving the family wedding chapel and half about the instaloviest relationship between Holly and Dax, who is the grandson of the owner of the rival chapel across the parking lot. I get that inside jokes make the relationship look “stronger” and “more realistic”, but I can only take so many mentions of moths and sweaters with clouds. By the fourth time they hang out (that we see – there are a few makeout sessions we’re spared, thankfully), Dax is professing his love.


The Chapel Wars might have been better for me if there was a whole different cast of characters. Or if it was about two feuding wedding chapels trying to one up each other for business (there’s a little bit of that but the romance gets in the way of it going too far). Or if it was about two buildings attempting to shoot each other as conflict resolution. Really, anything else but this.

ARC Review: After the End

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Title/Author: After the End by Amy Plum
Publication Date/Publisher: May 6, 2014/Harper Teen
Series: Yes, After the End #1
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 3.5 stars
From Goodreads:
She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

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I was just minding my own business, thinking that After the End was okay but I probably wouldn’t continue the series when BLAMMO crazy cliffhanger ending that ensures I will want to read more!
Juneau and her clan have been living in the wilderness of Alaska since World War III in the 80′s. They have a connection to nature called the Yara, that allows them to Read and Conjure. Children are better at this than adults, and Juneau is poised to take over as clan Sage. Until her entire clan is clannapped and she has to re-evaluate everything she’s ever been told.


Miles Blackwell is the mildest of bad boys. Kicked out of his fancy school for cheating (when he doesn’t need to) after already being caught with pot and alcohol, his dad decides he will work in the mailroom and then go to Yale (even though he didn’t finish high school?). There is no further mention of drugs or alcohol after this bit of backstory. He drives a BMW and calls it a beemer, which is the least bad boy thing you could possibly do. He lives in Los Angeles and has never heard of World War III.


Told from dual perspectives, we learn what drove Juneau’s clan to live cut off from society and watch her struggle and grow. Miles does basically nothing but learn how to put up a tent and build the world’s worst campfire. You may have already guessed that I wasn’t really a fan of the “romance”, luckily it’s a very small part. I really wish they had worked harder on the friendship and trust part before all the ~feelings parts because I just don’t buy it.


The cover is a girl and her dogs, and I wish that had been more of the story. After the End was mostly interesting, but any time a story has a group of people living cut off from society like this – especially when lies about the outside world are involved – how does no one realize it’s not true? Like, “Here’s the boundary. We’re safe in here, but one step out of it and you’re eyeballs will instantly melt out of your head from radiation poisoning.” Melting eyeballs is a pretty strong deterrent, but is an inch or two of imaginary boundary line really going to keep that from happening?

Readathon!

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I’ve decided to take part in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon on April 26. I’ve managed to get a little behind on review books and need to clear up some space in my reading schedule for a full Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy binge so I can FINALLY read Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

I’m hoping to get through any amount of the following books:

  • Persepolis
  • Life by Committee
  • The Art of Lainey
  • Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
  • Noggin
  • Jessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness, & Perfection

Is anyone else taking part? Let me know so I can send some support your way!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Should Be My BFF

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Characters Who (X) – and I chose Top Ten Characters Who Should Be My BFF.

  1. Karou and Zuzana from The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy: I’ve mentioned this before, but they are perfection and I still want to force myself into their friendship.
  2. Scarlet from The Lunar Chronicles: She’s my favorite, and I guess I would let her have Wolf.
  3. Queenie from Nowhere But Home: Age appropriate! Plus, she likes to cook and I like to eat. We’re a match in BFF heaven.
  4. Reagan from Fangirl: I love her.
  5. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series: Obviously she’s the best friend ever and our cats could all be BFFs too!
  6. Lucy From Graffiti Moon: Actually, I’d love to be in this whole group of friends.
  7. Daenerys Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire: Mother of Dragons, Queen, and all-around butt kicker? Yes, we should be BFFs.
  8. Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: This would work especially well in my favor if he looked like Mos Def (who played him in the 2005 film that I enjoyed and everyone else hated).
  9. Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: Can I just be BFFs with all the extremely cool girls?
  10. The Cat from Coraline: I’m letting my Crazy Cat Lady show here, but are you saying you wouldn’t want to have a talking cat around?!

ARC Review: We Were Liars

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Book Title/Author: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publication Date/Publisher: May 13, 2014/Delacorte Press
Series: No
Source and Format: Received e-ARC from publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 5 stars

From Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

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Sometimes you just have to say SCREW ALL THOSE OTHER BOOKS, I’M READING SOMETHING THAT COMES OUT IN 5 MONTHS INSTEAD. And it is so worth it.

I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks several years ago, and I read The Boyfriend List very recently to get an E. Lockhart refresher. Of course, We Were Liars is nothing like either of those – I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to the Ruby Oliver series and enjoy it in the same way after reading this.

I can say absolutely zero things about the actual story in We Were Liars, other than to go in knowing as little as possible. Do you like gorgeous writing? Do you like other things? Then you will love We Were Liars. Read it. Then read it again. If anyone asks you about the ending, lie.

Audio Review: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Title/Author: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Publication Date/Publisher:
Series: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King
Source and Format: Audio CD
Rating: 3.5 stars
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I’ve tried to read these books before and given up every time. Even after watching the movies. So when we moved 3 hours further away from my husband’s job, making his commute something like 4 hours, he wanted to get some audiobooks.
Before we met, these were the only books he’d ever read. The CD version we got is performed by a full cast and my whole review is pretty much NO ONE TOLD ME THE OTHER HOBBITS ARE CHILDREN. I feel incredibly lied to. Though I did like that they didn’t sing all the songs that are in the book because that would drive me crazy. I think they sing like two songs.
This was the first audiobook I’d listened to in years, and it really made me realize how much I space out while driving. I also earned some weird looks, since orc fights are not what people expect to hear when they pull up to a stoplight (it’s been hot and I prefer windows down over AC, so I have to turn the volume up very high in order to hear).


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ARC Review: Tease

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Title/Author: Tease by Amanda Maciel
Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/Balzer + Bray
Series: No
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 stars
 
From Goodreads:
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.

At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.

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Right away, it’s very clear that Tease is not a book everyone will enjoy. Some early reviews and the subject matter even led me to believe it might not be the book for me, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised because I very much enjoyed it from beginning to end. Tease could have come off as offensive or distasteful very easily, but the story is presented in a way that feels real.
Tease is told from the bully’s perspective, with past and current timelines. We see Sara’s actions and what happened leading up to Emma killing herself. Sara gets kind of swept up in the name calling and “pranks” as they call them – her best friend, Brielle, has the more dynamic personality and is the one to kind of spur things on. At least, until Emma is caught (by Sara) making out with Sara’s boyfriends, and then things really escalate.
No character really comes off as sympathetic. Sara does seem to have a change of heart – she wants to look like a nice girl as she tries to win her boyfriend back.
The “past” timeline is all the bullying events. The “present” timeline is Sara preparing to go to trial for Emma’s death – she’s finishing her junior year in summer school, taking care of her little brothers, meeting with lawyers and therapists. She doesn’t get to see Brielle or her friends anymore. Now the only person that will talk to her is the weird boy who maybe called in a bomb threat to the school a few years ago.
Social media just wasn’t a thing like it is now when I was in high school. We had livejournal and AIM, and Friendster for a brief moment. “Social Media” was you away message.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Things I NEED to Own

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Bookish Things I Need to Own.

1. A wall of books that requires a ladder.

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2. Neil Gaiman’s library would also be acceptable.

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3. The most perfect couch for reading. Any reading position is possible!

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4. My mother in law gave us some wolf bookends as part of our wedding gift. A few days later, on our honeymoon in Reno, we bought some kitten bookends. Since then, it’s become a thing we do for our anniversary or when we take a trip – look through pawn shops for bookends. This shark set would be perfect for us.

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5. Another thing we’ve started collecting is mugs. We have a Reno one from our honeymoon, a windmill one from our anniversary in Solvang, and a general, some Sharks ones we found. When we buy a house, I’d like to have them out somehow, or in a cabinet without a door or something so I can see them – and get to them even more easily since I drink so much coffee.

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6. A book nook!

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7. This sweatshirt with a cat reading!

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8. Pretty much everything from the Frostbeard store.

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9. These book clutch purses!

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10. My Hogwarts Acceptance Letter. I just realized I should have done this list completely different. TOO LATE NOW!

ce41ec4ef2d16d6479d5fd1ade322fd8What are the bookish things you NEED to own?

 

ARC Review: The Taking

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Title/Author: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/Harper Teen
Series: Yes, The Taking #1
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

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The first half of The Taking saves the second half, but it’s not enough to make it more than “I liked it, but…”. I wanted to DNF several times, but I had already invested so much time and I wanted to see if it got as good as the first part again. I still wanted to know what happened – it’s a series, so basically just a cliffhanger – and it wasn’t really worth it to me, in the end. This is a series I will not be continuing without hearing from several sources that book 2 is amazing.


Kyra disappears one day while in the middle of an argument with her dad. She wakes up behind a dumpster five years later, though literally no time has passed for her. She goes home, but strangers are now living in her house. She goes across the street to her boyfriend’s house, and is so relieved to find him…until she realizes that’s actually his twelve year old little brother – all grown up now.


The relationship switcheroo didn’t bother me, but it was kind of weird when you think about how quickly Kyra adjusted to it. Like, Kyra just saw him as a twelve year old and now he’s like an even hotter version of her boyfriend and is her same age now so it’s okay. My younger brothers are 4 years apart from each other and in their twenties, but I still think of them both as being 12. But they’re not super hot guys already in love with me, so I’m sure it’s not the same.


Kyra’s relationship with Austin was infinitely better and more interesting than her relationship with Tyler, so I’m sad we only get to see a glimpse of it. In fact, I wish we had spent time in Kyra’s before life, if only to make the more enjoyable Part One longer.



I couldn’t figure out if Kyra was pronounced like eye-ra or like ear-a. I had to assume it was ear-a, because everyone kept calling her Kyr, and that doesn’t make sense if it’s eye-ra. If this is the case, I believe her name should be Kira.
 

ARC Review: The Break-Up Artist

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Title/Author: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

Publication Date/Publisher: May 1, 2014/Harlepquin Teen
Series: No
Source and Format: Received an advanced copy from publisher via Netgalley.

Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the mall. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.  

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they’re second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca’s best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and the football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley’s good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val’s new boyfriend.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

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Hmmm, where to begin? While I did enjoy The Break-Up Artist, there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure if it’s because I was perpetually in long-term relationships in high school or what, but Becca’s inability to let it go didn’t seem right to me.

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We all want to believe our friendships will last forever, but there’s nothing that say’s Becca and Huxley would have remained BFFs all though high school. On the first day of 7th grade, my best friend completely ditched me for a whole new crowd. I spent quite a few lunches sitting with a group of girls who only spoke in Spanish for the whole 30 minutes. In 8th grade, a boy asked me out but I didn’t really know him. The next day when I was going to agree to it, he was already dating that same girl who ditched me – and she was the one who told me he wanted to go out with me. We got over it (she went on to date his best friend for a while and we all went on a double date).

Even before the part where Becca is supposed to break up Huxley and her boyfriend, she is weirdly obsessed with the couples in her school. She is weirdly obsessed with couples in general, including her parents and her older sister who got dumped on her wedding day a year ago. Becca claims that love is so stupid and horrible, yet has some pretty strong ideas about what it’s supposed to look like.

A thing that I really like in books is footnotes that contain humorous asides. The Break-Up Artist starts using these…and then stops for like 98% of the book and then starts again. It’s possible that the galley I had just didn’t have these in the formatting – the humorous asides continue, but in chunks of text that make them feel kind of weird. Like, what is the point of Becca noting that she is notorious for forgetting to get cards for people? It never comes up before or after that one mention.

The Break-Up Artist is going to be a great, summer-y read. It’s light enough and a fast enough read that it’s perfect for a day or two at the beach.