Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Perfect Scoundrels

I'd just like to apologize for my absence from the blog lately! I was sick for about a week, and then I had a ton of homework/tests/projects to make up for school. But I'm back now and should be posting somewhat regularly again. :)

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
(Heist Society #3)
From Goodreads:
Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting--or stealing--whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir--this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.

You know how sometimes you come across a series that is so wonderful that you have nothing bad to say about it? For me, that series is the Heist Society. If you haven't read it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Get thee to a bookstore/library immediately and read it!

So I suppose it's no surprise that I adored Perfect Scoundrels. In fact, I think it might even be my favorite book in the series so far. Perfect Scoundrels is, to put it simply, all about Hale. You know Hale, right? The super rich, super cute boy who you can't help but fall in love with? I think he's such an amazing character, so I was obviously very excited to read a book all about him.

But even though Perfect Scoundrels is all about Hale, it isn't all about Hale-and-Kat's-relationship. I'll admit, I was worried that this book would turn into The Kat and Hale Show, a book that focuses on their romance, with some other plot stuff on the side. (Admittedly, their romance is adorable and perfect, but I still didn't want the book to be centered around it. :D) There are some cute moments for all the Kat&Hale shippers/fans out there (Kale? Hat?), but the book was definitely NOT about them and their little relationship problems. 

Perfect Scoundrels was about Hale and his family. Basically, Hale finds himself in a situation where he gets even MORE money, and things get a bit chaotic when his incredibly rich family gets involved. There is such a stark contrast between Hale's family and Kat's family. Hale's family is made up of a bunch of wealthy people who all dislike each other/are in competition with each other/don't know each other well/etc. They have money and private jets and huge mansions, but they don't have the support of their family members. 

Kat's family, on the other hand, is a family of thieves. They steal things. The entire Bishop family routinely teams up to steal something they probably shouldn't be stealing. But they all support each other and help each other and love each other. The characters in Kat's family are hilarious and quirky and intelligent and compelling, whereas the characters in Hale's family repeatedly did things that made me want to reach into the book and slap them.

The way Ally Carter shows the difference between these two families is completely brilliant. ALL THE AWARDS TO ALLY CARTER.

While Perfect Scoundrels is mainly about Hale's family, it still has everything I loved about the first two books. There are things to steal and plans to make, and somehow Kat and her teenage cohorts find themselves smack in the middle of all the heist action. Gabrielle, Angus, Hamish, and Simon are all right by Kat's side, and though I didn't think it was possible, I fell in love with each of them even more. There's also this new character Natalie who is introduced and I think she's pretty fascinating. I'd love to read more about her in the future!

Wow, I could ramble about this book FOREVER. I cannot even handle how much I loved it. This series is brilliant. BRILLIANT I TELL YOU. Seriously, get thee to a bookstore, pronto! You must read this series!


P. S. How is it that the entire book is about Hale but WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT HIS FIRST NAME IS?!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Document Your Life- January (Rachel)

So I kept seeing all these really awesome Document Your Life videos floating around Youtube. And it seemed pretty fun, so...
I decided to make one.

It was a decision that I made in like two seconds and I randomly started editing this video and then when I was done I sent it to Megan and I was like LOOK AT THIS THING I DID. 

This is kind of weird, because this video is way more personal than what I usually put on the internet. (Books, books, and more books.) 
Also my IRL friends are all in it, so hopefully they don't get mad at me if they see it? :P

Anyway, I love the idea of having these little videos every month, so I think I'm going to make it my goal to continue this Document Your Life project for a little while.

It's kind of amazing how beautiful and memorable your life looks if you edit a bunch of clips together and play a great song in the background.

So, yes. Expect more of my super exciting life (and Megan's because we basically do everything together. :P) in the future. Unless you don't care about my personal life. Then...don't watch.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Megan Rambles About Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
From GoodreadsRed-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

It's no secret that I love Catching Jordan. All of my friends that have read it love Miranda Kenneally's realistic characters just as much as I do. Rachel even declared that Jordan was basically me in book form. So I think it was pretty safe to say that my expectations for Stealing Parker were extremely high.

I'm really happy to say that this book met every single one of my expectations for it. I think my favorite part was how Miranda Kenneally so easily made it believable that both of these stories were taking place at Hundred Oaks High and not that far apart from each other. There were multiple appearances of characters from Catching Jordan and Sam Henry was actually a pretty big part of Stealing Parker since he was on the baseball team. 

I love when books tell their own stories but continue the story of characters from a different book at the same time. It's like having a sequel without seeing all of the drama that would have to happen between the characters in order for there to be a sequel. (Think Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)I got to see some happy moments for my favorite characters and I was really glad that Miranda Kenneally did that. It was like seeing a different side of Hundred Oaks High with some of the same characters but a focus on baseball and softball instead of football. 

This brings me to the sports. If you are worried that these books won't make much sense to you because you know nothing about sports and you are in the group of people that say "Why exercise when you could just....not?" I encourage you not to worry about that and read them anyway. Miranda Kenneally makes sure that you can understand what is happening in her books with very little to no background knowledge of the actual sport necessary. I don't like baseball or softball at all, and the only reason I even kind of know the rules is because I played an insane amount of kickball in fifth grade and I'm told they are kind of similar? But I still understood everything that was happening.

Now, on to Parker. Oh Parker. I loved her as a main character for this story because the poor girl just had so much going on. She's dealing with the fact that she can't decide whether to hate her mom or not, basically her entire church hates her family because of something her mom did, and her life is basically falling apart. Parker had to make a lot of tough decisions during the book and I understood everything she did even if I didn't always agree with her. I also loved the way she handled managing a baseball team of high school guys. The sarcastic comments and witty comebacks she used were funny and entertaining and I'd like to think that I handle the guys on my soccer team half as well as that.

All of the other characters in this book were excellent too. I loved Drew! He was Parker's best friend, who was there for her when everyone else abandoned her. He could have easily become a side character who was just used for comic relief but that definitely wasn't the case. Drew had his own problems, character development, and his own story while still playing an important role in Parker's. Another favorite of mine was Corndog a.k.a. Will. By the end of the book Will had totally won me over and he was definitely my favorite of the guys in this book. Brian, the flirty baseball coach mentioned in the summary, also had his sweet moments, but ultimately, I'm Team Corndog all the way! 

There was also a rather unexpected element of religion in this book. One of Parker's biggest struggles is dealing with how judgmental all of the people in her church are being towards her and her family. Then with everything that is going on in her life she starts to question her ability to stick to the Christian values that she has been raised on. Personally, I'm not a very religious person at all, but I thought that element of the book was handled really well. It wasn't overpowering or really in-your-face, Parker's religion was just a part of her and I thought her struggle was handled really well without making the whole book about religion.

This book was everything I expected from Miranda Kenneally with great appearances by Jordan, Sam Henry, JJ, Carter, and new characters that I fell in love with. If you haven't read Catching Jordan or Stealing Parker yet, you definitely need to seriously consider reading them and then anything else Miranda Kenneally ever writes. I know I will be reading all of her other books. I can't wait until Things I Can't Forget!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Pivot Point

Pivot Point by Kasie West
From Goodreads:
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.



I cannot even handle how freaking EPIC this book is. I was not prepared to become absolutely obsessed with this book, BUT OH WHOOPS I BECAME OBSESSED ANYWAY.

*calms down slightly* Okay, I need to stop fangirling for a second so I can explain to you guys just how amazing this book is.

Addie is a Searcher, which means that when she's faced with two choices, she can search the future to see both outcomes. The chapters of the book alternate between a chapter about one possible outcome and a chapter about the other possible outcome. It's a very complicated and potentially difficult way to tell a story, but Kasie West NAILED IT. At first, I thought this format would make the book confusing and hard to follow, but it wasn't. Not at all. I had no trouble keeping up, and I was incredibly impressed with Kasie West's storytelling.

The main character, Addie, was someone I wasn't sure I was going to like at first. But once I got a few pages into the book, I realized that I really liked her. She doesn't fit into any kind of category that's typical for a protagonist of a YA book. She's just...normal. When I was reading about her, I felt like I was reading about a normal teenage girl. I understood all of her actions--even if I didn't always agree with them--and nothing about her annoyed me or made me dislike her. She was a protagonist who I became emotionally invested in, and I loved reading from her point of view.

I'd say the second most important character in Pivot Point is Laila, Addie's best friend. What can I even say about Laila? I love her! She's not a sidekick or the comic relief or a side character. She's an actual main character with layers and character development and her own story. It was so refreshing to read about a best friend who was treated as someone extremely important in the book, even more important than the Cute Boys.

Ahh, the boys. Yes, there are two. One of them is a [BLEEP] who I disliked pretty much since the first few pages. The other one is someone I grew to love as the story went on, and I just have SO MANY TREVOR FEELS. <3 Both guys were compelling characters who surprised me in countless ways throughout the book, and I loved getting to know each of them, even though I may not have liked one of them. :P They were both really cool characters with lots of secrets that Addie gradually uncovers as the book goes on. At first, I wasn't sure how well romance would fit in with a book like this, but I was proven wrong. The romance fit perfectly in Pivot Point, and Addie's relationships with these two guys proved to be very important to the plot.

This book was so complex and CRAZY. There are so many plot twists flung at you as you're reading, and you can never know what to expect next. Pivot Point was an addicting read that I couldn't help but finish in a matter of hours. It was so well-written and simply amazing. Kasie West is a genius.

Also, hey, that ending? Yeah, I'm not really cool with that. I need the sequel NOW please. 


Monday, February 4, 2013

Megan Rambles About Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
From Goodreads:It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who's just walked in to his band's show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City;and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be;and where the next great band is playing.

Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you'll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.

Up until recently, I hadn't read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and I still haven't seen the movie. I really should now that I've read the book and thought it was pretty good. I think it would be really interesting to see how the story plays out in a movie, especially since the copy of the book I bought has a couple of stills from the movie in it. 

Nick and Norah are both having a hard time when the book starts. They have recently gotten out of relationships and have exes that they don't quite know how to deal with. Nick is still kind of in love with his ex-girlfriend, who broke up with him specifically because he was in love with her. And Norah's ex-boyfriend is basically a first class jerk. 

I loved the way Nick and Norah met. I thought it was a funny, original way to set them off on their adventure. Nick's band mates were also really entertaining characters. Actually, my favorite characters of the whole thing were probably Dev, Scot, and, Thom. 

During their really long date, Nick and Norah explore all over New York City. I love NYC and I could picture some of the places the characters went because I've been in the city before, but even if you haven't, the settings are described really well. You don't have to live anywhere near New York City to fall in love with the version that Nick and Norah explore. 

I thought this book was a pretty good read, but I do have some mixed feelings. There were a lot of music references in this book, and some of them were pretty cool, but a lot of them went over my head. I have a feeling that if I knew more about music that wouldn't have been a problem though. 

On the other hand, I really liked the alternating perspectives were handled. Sometimes when there are two narrators that alternate telling the story it can get kind of boring and repetitive, but that didn't happen with Nick and Norah. They just sort of picked up where the other left off and it worked well. 

Basically, this was a book that I had a few problems with, but I liked it enough to enjoy the story anyway. By the end of the book I was happy for the characters and satisfied with the ending. If you need a quick read that doesn't retire too much emotional investment, then I recommend picking this one up.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Just One Day

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
From Goodreads:
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

I think it's safe to say that most of you reading this review have read If I Stay and Where She Went, two of my favorite books in the entire world. If you haven't read them, um, are you living under a rock?!

I kid, I kid. But seriously, you should seriously read them immediately. I have a funny feeling that you're going to love them.

Anyway, if you've read Gayle Forman's other books, you're familiar with her beautiful writing style, characters you can't help but fall in love with, and emotional story that breaks your heart a little bit more with every turn of the page. Just One Day had all of these things, and more. As the biggest fan of If I Stay and Where She Went EVER, I was extremely impressed by Just One Day, and it even managed to exceed my super high expectations.

Just One Day made me want to hop on a plane to Europe immediately. There is absolutely no way you can read this book and not want to go to Paris and England and all the beautiful places where the characters find themselves in this book. Just One Day also made me want to go watch Shakespeare being performed. In a park, in a theater, in a classroom...wherever. I just want to experience Shakespeare's plays like the characters in the book experience them. The setting and the focus on Shakespeare are such important parts of the book, and I absolutely loved them.

The main character, Allyson, is someone that I didn't always love. She did a lot of things that annoyed me or that I just didn't understand, and at times it was hard for me to relate to her. But she is a compelling character with so many layers to her personality that you get to see more of as the book goes on. Willem is...well, a cute Dutch boy. Need I say more? 

The day these two characters spend together is nothing like the insta-love I was expecting. The way the two characters interact with each's easy to believe that something important is happening between them. Their relationship just works. It doesn't feel forced; it doesn't feel unrealistic. Gayle Forman has yet again created a couple of characters who are so in love that their relationship just leaps off the page.

But this book isn't a romance. Not exactly. Just One Day is more about the effect that meeting Willem had on Allyson. It's about her journey as she struggles with her first year of college and her parents and life

I feel like Just One Day kind of...changed my life. I don't know exactly how, but I just get the feeling that I was a different person when I turned the last page from the person I was when I first cracked open the spine. That might sound ridiculous or crazy, but it's really how I feel. This book had an effect on me that I don't know how to describe.

Just One Day is beautiful and emotional. It made me feel things and it ripped my heart out, and I enjoyed every second that I spent reading this book. I know that this is something I'll be rereading again and again.

Also, can Just One Year please come out right now? I NEED TO KNOW WILLEM'S SIDE OF THE STORY.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

January Wrap-Up/February TBR (Rachel)

So I made another vlog. And guess what? VLOGGING IS REALLY HARD. And I'm a really awkward person. And I don't know how to make videos that are not ridiculously long. And let's not even talk about the editing.

But, hey, I tried. So yes. Here is a video of me rambling about all the books I read in January, and all the books I plan to read in February. :D

Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge Information