Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rachel Rambles About How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
From Goodreads:
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

As the title suggests, this book is about love. But it is not a light and fun romance. How to Love is an emotional and powerful book that I became completely emotionally invested in from the first page. The main character, Reena, captured my heart and didn't let go, even after I turned the last page.

This story alternates between Reena's life Before and Reena's life After, and I think it is such a unique and effective way to tell the story. The reader gets to know the Before Reena and the After Reena at the same pace, and what's so fascinating about this format is how different the two Reenas seem. In the almost three years separating the Before from the After, Reena has changed a lot. She's experienced so many things that have forced her to grow up, and she's become a new person.

Reena's relationship with Sawyer is messy and complicated. The Before is about the beginning of their relationship, when they first start to spend time together and get to know each other. The After takes place years later, after Sawyer has left and then come back, and Reena has to learn how to be around him again. In the After part of the book, Reena is a teen mother to a toddler, and Sawyer is just meeting their child for the first time.

This story is emotional, and it made me shed a few tears as I read about these two confused and complicated characters. There are many ways for a book about teen pregnancy to go wrong, but How to Love handles the topic so elegantly. This book explores the topic of teen pregnancy in such a unique and classy way. It's not your typical episode of Teen Mom. Reena and Sawyer both come from good old-fashioned Christian families instead of any kind of broken home, and the book also explores the importance of family. The relationships Reena has with her family members are complicated and realistic, but at the end of the day, they all care about and support each other. This story is about both romantic and familial love, and how important both kinds of love are.

How to Love impressed me with its beautiful and powerful love story. The characters are not always easy to like, but I still found myself emotionally invested in them, especially Reena. My heart both soared and ached for her, and I was able to completely lose myself in her story. How to Love is not the fun love story I was expecting, but it turned out to be one of the best love stories I've ever read.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
From Goodreads:
Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

I haven't heard that much about this book, but based on the summary, it sounds really good. Especially since it's compared to The Fault in Our Stars. I mean, come on! How can I not be curious?! I'm definitely looking forward to the release of Maybe One Day.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Origin

Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
From Goodreads:
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything. 

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? 

And will they even be together?

Alright, let's be real. If you're familiar with this series, you know how addicting and awesome it is. If you're not familiar with this series, FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE IT'S ADDICTING AND AWESOME. Seriously, go get your hands on a copy of the first book. Do it now! And then come back and read this. :)

This is one of those books that I don't even know how to talk about. am I supposed to put all of my feelings into words?! HOW?! It is impossible! about a GIF review? Sound good? EXCELLENT. *opens folder of GIFs*

(By the way, this will be a spoiler-free review!) (Also, "review" is a very loose term here.)

Well, Jennifer L. Armentrout, what can I say?


When I first started reading the book I was just kind of like:


And then the frustration gave way to a general WTF IS HAPPENING I DON'T UNDERSTAND mindset.

Because seriously THIS BOOK IS CRAZY. (In an awesome way.)

And then exciting things started happening and I was all:




Their relationship is so beautiful and perfect and they've been through so much together at this point and I just can't handle how adorable they are.

It's so interesting to see how far the two of them have come in their relationship together in all the books. They started off as strangers and then there was all that wonderful romantic tension AND NOW LOOK AT THEM. MY BABIES ARE GROWING UP SO MUCH.

For awhile, I was super excited because everything was going really well and the characters actually seemed happy. I thought that maybe things would be sort of okay instead of terrible and painful.

Yeah, no.

All of a sudden EVERYTHING FELL APART and I was just like:



My overall (very mixed) reactions to Origin:

I have to congratulate Jennifer L. Armentrout on writing another amazing book. Even if it did emotionally destroy me.

This series keeps getting better and better with every book!

And now I will wait for the next book.

If you've read Origin, or any of the books in this series, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you haven't picked up the first book yet, what are you doing with your life?! Get thee to a bookstore immediately! (And prepare yourself for lots and lots of FEELS.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Blogger Spotlight Tour: Beauty and the Bookshelf

Hello everyone! Today we're participating in the First Annual Blogger Spotlight Tour hosted by Justine from The Closet Library and Jazmen from This Girl Reads a lot.

We're featuring Rachel from Beauty and the Bookshelf. She can be found at the following places: Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Figment.

Rachel (awesome name, by the way :D) loves animals, Disney, and reading (of course). She is an avid reader and aspiring writer who tends to write incoherent-yet-coherent reviews. Sounds a lot like us! :) Her blog is awesome, and if you haven't already, you should definitely go check it out!

Here's our interview with Rachel:

Why did you decide to start blogging?
You know, I don't really know! I think I just saw this world full of people like me who loved books (people who I didn't have anywhere around me pre-blogging and never got to socialize with, making me a lonely bookworm) and wanted to be a part of it. Now I have all these people I can talk about books with, and it's awesome!

Describe your blog in five words.
Life! Fangirling! Books! Feels! Love! 

What book has surprised you the most? (Whether it's because you thought you'd hate it and ended up loving it, you thought you'd love it and ended up hating it, a crazy plot twist, etc.)
I don't know about the most (that's one thing about me; I say "I don't know" a lot, because I rarely know if an answer is for sure), but maybe The Fault in Our Stars. I didn't think that book--or a book, for that matter--could make me so emotionally distraught. And because of that, I'm wary of books that could make me cry for sad reasons. The aftermath of reading that book was just...whoa.

What's your favorite place to read?
Hmmm, my probably my bed. If I'm in it then I'm at that time of day where everyone else is sleeping and I can read peacefully with no one bothering me. Plus, it's cozy. (Though it can sometimes convince my eyes it's time to sleep when I don't want to.)

What do you use as a bookmark?
A lot of times I don't use anything. But if I do, I just kind of use whatever's lying around, like a receipt or random slip of paper, or maybe my book light. With library books, I usually use the hold slip that comes with them. Which is kind of funny, because I have a bunch of bookmarks, but I never use them!

What's your favorite childhood book?
The Puppy Patrol series by Jenny Dale! I read those in elementary school and loved them. They made me want to have a kennel of my own. (And I still do.) I have 39 of the books, plus a bunch of the dogs; almost all of them!

Name your top three books of 2013 so far.
Ah, hard questionI'm looking through what I've read this year and I don't even know! Okay, how about three favorite standalones? I'll go with The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, and...How to Love? *head hurts from difficulty of question*

If you had to pick one character to be your best friend, one to marry, and one to kill, who would you pick and why?
Best Friend: The Glass House gang from The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. That would be AWESOME.
Marry: I have a LOT of book boyfriends (hence why I call myself a polygamist), but if I have to pick one I think I'll go with Shane Collins, who is part of the Glass House gang mentioned above.
Kill: Wendy from Tiger Lily. Because freaking Wendy. (That's all I say, because I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't read it. If you have read it, am I right?)

What book do you wish would be made into a movie?
This could have myriad answers, but one that popped into my head is Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher. If done right and well, that would be GREAT on the big screen.

What do you like to do when you're not reading?
Satisfy my internet addiction. Daydream. Be lazy.

If you could spend a day with one author, who would you choose and what would you do?
You two are just full of hard questions, aren't you? While I'd like to spend a day with a lot of authors, it'd be really cool to hang out with Tahereh Mafi.

What's your go-to genre?
If I need to be put in a mood, I sometimes try fluffy, cute contemporaries, like Anna and the French Kiss. Or I go for rereads, like scanning my favorite parts of the Morganville Vampires series.

Do you have any book turn-offs?
This is hard, because it just depends on the book. But if an MC has an annoying voice and I can't stand it, I have a hard time getting into the book.

What are the qualities you look for in a book boyfriend?
He gives me the FEELS.

Recommend a book that is one of your favorites, but isn't as popular as you think it should be.
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. That book is so underrated and it is just so lovely. If you haven't read it, my gosh, READ IT.

She's right about Tiger Lily! READ IT NOW! -Rachel
I haven't read it yet so I'm just going to hide..... *ducks* -Megan

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Rachel! And thank you Justine and Jazmen for hosting this tour!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
From Goodreads:
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

I love a good contemporary romance, so of course I'm excited for this book! It seems like something I'll really like, and I can't wait to read it!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Venom

Venom by Fiona Paul
From Goodreads:
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

I don't even know where to begin with Venom. All I seem to be capable of saying about it is: OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Venom is a delightful combination of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. The historical Venice setting is rich and beautiful, and I loved reading about the fascinating details like the gondola rides through the canals. As someone who struggles a little bit with historical fiction books, I was pleased to find that I had no issues at all getting into Venom. The pace is super fast, and the story is so exciting that the historical setting never slowed me down at all. Everything about the history and the location is done flawlessly, and it's clear that Fiona Paul did her research.

I wasn't expecting the romance between Cass and Falco to be so damn steamy, but WOW IT TOTALLY WAS. The best part about their relationship is that, while there is definitely chemistry between them from the first time they meet, their relationship progresses naturally and gradually. It is not a case of insta-love at all, for which I'm very grateful. There are quite a few steamy scenes between the two of them, and the time period makes them very scandalous and exciting. :D Falco is totally joining my (very, very long) list of book boyfriends because OH MY GOSH I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

Venom surprised me with just how creepy and mysterious it is. The book has an overall dark and sinister tone, which is mostly awesome but also kind of not awesome because it really freaked me out at times. Each chapter opens with an excerpt from something called The Book of The Eternal Rose, and the excerpts were really weird and gross. Venom has a lot of science in it, and I'm talking the dissecting-human-bodies kind of science, which is not always pleasant to read about.

Gah, I don't even know what else to say about this book! I JUST LOVE IT SO FREAKING MUCH. I don't think I've done a particularly fangirly kind of review in awhile, but this book is clearly making me brush off the dusty caps lock key and let my inner fangirl take control. :) I just can't handle how awesome this book is! 

If you haven't read Venom, I highly recommend that you give it a chance! I seriously can't think of a single bad thing to say about it. It's brilliant and amazing and it makes me want to dance around my room singing a song about how much I love it. I'm so glad to hear that it's a series, and I will definitely be getting my hands on the second book as soon as I can!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (27)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
From Goodreads:
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

This is a book that I'm sure most of you guys are waiting on, too. (Unless you haven't read ANNA and LOLA yet, in which need to fix that immediately!) This is also a book that has had quite a few changes with the release date. The release date kept getting pushed back, and Stephanie Perkins told her readers that she was having a difficult time writing Isla and the Happily Ever After. I respect Stephanie Perkins so much and I think she's really brave for sharing such personal parts of her life with her readers. I don't mind waiting for this book. I'll wait as long as it takes for her to feel like she's ready to publish the book. 

But when it does get published, I'll be standing in line at the bookstore at the crack of dawn, waiting for it to open so I can get my hands on a copy. :)

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rachel Rambles About How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
From Goodreads:
From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

The one word I would use to describe How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is fun. This book isn't going to change the world or anything, but it will definitely provide a few hours of entertainment to the reader. I mean, just look at the summary above. Doesn't The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World just sound so entertaining?

The setting of this book is actually not Disney World, but Fairyland, a theme park based on fairy tales. There are the standard princesses: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, etc. as well as characters like Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame), Puss 'n Boots, and Hanzel and Gretel. The characters are played by aspiring actors in high school, at the theme park for a summer internship program. Putting a bunch of teenagers in a situation where they have to dress up as fairy tale characters and entertain kids everyday is, of course, going to result in shenanigans and drama, which is an absolute delight to read about.

The main character, Zoe, is given the most important role of the internship program: the Queen's assistant. The Queen runs Fairyland, and is...high-maintenance, to say the least. Zoe is sent on a long string of crazy errands as she attempts to please the Queen, which is where The Devil Wears Prada comes in. I was disconnected from Zoe enough to find her situation humorous, rather than stressful. With some books, it's so easy to get lost in the mind of the protagonist so that the character's problems become the reader's problems, but with this book, I was able to just enjoy the book and watch the story unfold. A big part of that was the way Zoe handled the situations she was in. She always remained optimistic, and she told the story in a funny way, which made this book cheerful and hilarious.

While I didn't absolutely adore this book, I enjoyed my experience reading it. There are no dull moments in How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, and I especially love the little mystery of the Prince Charming's identity. This book is a loose retelling of Cinderella, and Zoe encounters a guy who, because of the circumstances surrounding their meeting, she can't identify. There is also a little taste of romance, which is cute and charming. This book is filled with humor, fairy tales, adventures, cute boys, and friendship, with a bit of a mysterious edge. 

If you're in the mood for a light and fun book, I recommend picking up How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True. It's short and sweet and entertaining, and I dare you not to enjoy it!