Monday, August 29, 2016

Pocket Book Reviews {August 2016}

Good reading months are the best! I was on a book-reading-roll! I devoured nine books that ranged from "oh, this is super awesome!" to "okay, this isn't bad" to "what the holy hell no." Let me know if you've read any of these or if you've been thinking of reading one of them. 

Kindred Spirits
♥ (4 hearts)

Written by Rainbow Rowell; If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people.

Star Wars! Awesome nerds! Fangirling! Cosplay! This little novella is right up my alley and it's cute too boot. I've never waited days to see a movie, but Elena's concerns (strangers, sleeping in the street, where to pee in the middle of the night) would be the same as mine. I like that the story was simple and not over-done or too romancy. I also liked how the "fake geek girl" and "fake geek boy" conversation went. I hear about this too often; if you like something enough to geek out over it then in my opinion you're a true fan and that's that. Overall, this is worth a read and I would've loved to read more!

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A Whole New World
♥ (4 hearts)

Written by Liz Braswell; This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie? When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. 

This Aladdin retelling is like the Disney movies meets Mission Impossible and The Lunar Chronicles. That sounds far-fetched, but hear me out. In this alternate story, Aladdin never makes it out of the cave with the lamp; instead it ends up in the hands of Jafar. And what does he want? To break the rules of magic and get everyone to love him like mindless zombies. Sound familiar-ish? Hello Queen Levana! The Mission Impossible bit comes in when Aladdin and Co. try to stop Jafar. I really enjoyed this and for a book by Disney this was pretty dark, darker than I expected, and I think that's a good thing. And the ending! It changes everything!

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P.S. I Like You
 (5 hearts)

Written by Kasie West; While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? 

How do I even express how much I liked this book? It's simply too cute for words! I liked it right from the beginning because of the fun premise and the quirky characters and the cliche but adorable misunderstandings. There's not much character development, but c'mon we all know why we're reading this: the adorbs love-to-hate romance! I also really liked the strong friendship between Lily and Isabel!

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Paper Princess (The Royals #1)
 (4 hearts)

Written by Erin Watt; Ella Harper is a survivor and alone after her mother's death. Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. All of the Royal boys want to send her back to the slums she came from, especially Reed.

Based on the pretty cover, you wouldn't expect this book to be teen erotica, but it totally is and it's HOT! *waves hand in front of face* The whole premise is slightly ridiculous and the drama is over the top, but it's the type of book where you don't even care because it's so fun to read. I like Ella and that she doesn't take shit from anyone, and the Royal brothers are tough and moody and care for their own.

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Broken Prince (The Royals #2)
 (4 hearts)

Written by Erin Watt; Reed Royal has it all—looks, status, money, but Reed never gave a damn about anyone but his family until Ella Harper walked into his life. But when one foolish mistake drives her out of Reed’s arms and brings chaos to the Royal household, Reed’s entire world begins to fall apart around him.

The first thing I need to say is: OMG THAT ENDING!!! This book starts right where the first one left off, but now we get glimpses into Reed's mind as well as Ella's, which adds an extra element that the first one didn't have and gives us some insight about the pressures of being a Royal. 

The good: This book is crazy intense, super dramatic, you don't know what going to happen next, and the ending is so unexpected and makes me want to read the next book immediately. The drama is definitely taken up a notch and I approve! 

The bad: The way Reed is so overprotective of Ella makes me cringe sometimes. He tells her things and it's not a request. It just is and she accepts it even though she doesn't have to and in the first book never would have. Gives me some Edward and Bella vibes that I don't like.

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The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase #1)
 (4 hearts)

Written by Rick Riordan; Since his mother’s mysterious death, Magnus Chase has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits until one day he's tracked down by a man he's never met who tells him that Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true and the gods of Asgard are preparing for war. 

A solid start to another series by Rick Riordan. Magnus is a chill guy and not your typical fight-first-ask-questions-later hero; he's more thoughtful and wants to know what the Helheim is going on. I love Sam because she's the fight-first kind of person and she's smart and her and Annabeth needs to be friends. I think at times the witticisms got in the way of the action and I was like yeah yeah humor let's get to the action and what's happening. But that's typical from a Riordan book. The story is all about preventing Ragnarök and I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.

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(Haven't read the books pictured yet, but they're on my TBR)

Vinegar Girl
 (2 hearts)

Written by Anne Tyler; Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Dr. Battista has other problems. His research could help millions, but there’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. 

RANT TIME: So this wasn't horrible, but I found everything about this book annoying. None of the characters are likable, the story feels unemotional and choppy, and it just falls flat for me. Kate bothered me so much. She's an intelligent person and yet she keeps getting in trouble at work because she doesn't know how to talk to the kids or their parents. I get that she's honest and a bit coarse, but nowhere else does she seem obtuse except for at work. Pyotr is the only one I found moderately interesting, but most of the time he's a jerk and verges on being completely sexist. And Kate, who is supposed to be brutally honest, for some reason just goes along which this. Really? And Bunny was so infuriating I wish I could reach into the pages and slap her. 

I'll grant that this book has a bit of humor and the characters do get better by the end...a bit, but the story has no depth or emotion, so it didn't feel like that much changed. Which makes the story feel almost useless. And the fact that Anne Tyler hates Shakespeare, especially The Taming of the Shrew angers me so much. Why would you redo a story you hate? (Obviously in her eyes to make it better.) But I feel to truly create a good retelling you should appreciate (and like!) the original tale.

Sorry but this was a dud for me. *goes off to watch 10 Things I Hate About You because it's a better retelling*

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Lock & Mori 
 (3 hearts)

Written by Heather W. Petty; Before Sherlock and Moriarty were mortal enemies, they were much more. FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes are out crashing a crime scene. FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted. FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

If you like your Sherlock Holmes with a side of romance then this is for you. Sherlock and Mori make an interesting pair because they're both highly intelligent, complicated, and socially awkward. I think they are good together, but for two people who are so awkward it wasn't entirely believable how quickly they got together. 

The first half of this novel focuses heavily on the romance and moves a little slowly, but the second half is ALL about the murder mystery, so the pace picks up and the book gets a whole lot more interesting. BUT I had one big issue with the murder mystery: it wasn't a mystery at all who was killing all those people! ITS SO FREAKING OBVIOUS WHO'S DOING IT! Like come on! How does no one see this?! How does Sherlock, who's so good at deducing, not see it? It boggles the mind. Despite that, the book is a solid-ish read.

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Welcome Back, Vol. 1
 (3 hearts)

Written by Christopher Sebela and Jonathan Brandon Sawyer; Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. Mali becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt.

I really liked this because the story grabs you right from the beginning with its interesting, moody characters, tons of action, and fascinating premise. However, I only gave it 3 stars because I found it confusing at times because nothing is explained and because the art completely changed halfway through. I know comics are drawn by different people sometimes, but the art is very different and I preferred the art at the beginning. I would read keep the series though because I want to know what happens.

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What did you read this month?

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~Sara ♥

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