Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance/Sci-Fi

img_0160 Cress is the third installment in the very poplar Lunar Chronicles Series. If you aren’t familiar with these books…they are modern day/somewhat futuristic fairy tale retellings that are simply awesome! All of the lead female characters are kick-ass strong, smart, and self sufficient. There’s just the right amount of fairy tale-like romance to keep it intriguing without going too mushy. Because they are a series…all the books continue the same large story line with each one highlighting a different girl. Cinder (a Cinderella retelling) was the first…and my review of that book can be found HERE. The second installment is Scarlet (a Little Red Riding Hood retelling) and my review of that book is HERE. Cress (a Rapunzel retelling) is probably my favorite book in the series so far!

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”

In this book, the action is pretty much non-stop as we are at a point where universe-wide war is on the brink. This part of the story begins with us finally meeting  Cress, the computer genius/hacker girl, who has spent the majority of her life held prisoner in a Lunar satellite hidden away from civilization. Her orders come from Queen Levana and she has been charged with tracking down Cinder. Cress wants nothing more than to be rescued from her jail and and help Cinder put a stop to Queen Lenava and her evil plans….but she is watched very closely and is limited to netscreens as her sole source of communication with the outside universe.

When Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne plan a daring rescue mission for Cress, she thinks all her hopes and dreams have been answered. But the rescue goes awry and Cress will soon learn all that everyone has risked to try to save her. In the meantime, Queen Levana will stop at nothing to make sure that her marriage to Emperor Kai goes off without a hitch. Cress may not have realized that the world’s safety will rely on her, Cinder, and Scarlet…but she’s about to find that out.

I absolutely loved this installment of the series! In fact, I think it might be my favorite so far. Tons of action, plenty of twists & turns and I just adore how the storyline is unfolding. The characters, the world building, all of it… YA fantasy at its finest! If you love fair tales, fairy tale retellings, or just some cool fantasy world building in general….definitely check this series out!

My Rating: 5/5 fun and entertaining stars

Cress – Amazon

Scarlet – Amazon

Cinder – Amazon

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Review: The City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

The City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) By Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA Ficiton, Fantasy, Romance

img_0006 When fifteen year old Clary Fray heads out for an evening with her best friend, Simon, she doesn’t think that particular evening will end up any different than the average night out. She would never expect that her night would include witnessing a murder…a murder committed by people that only Clary seems to be able to see. Within a short 24 hour period, Clary’s entire life is flipped upside down as she learns that there is a whole other world besides the one we see and experience every day. A world with demons, vampires, werewolves, angels, and fairies. A world with Shadowhunters… a secret tribe of warriors committed to keeping the world safe. These Shadowhunters roam the streets in secret, protecting the rest of the human race from the demons and “down worlders” that intend to cause harm.

After Clary’s mother mysteriously disappears, she is thrust into this secret world full of dangerous demons and all kinds of creatures that she thought only existed in nightmares and fairy tales. Even though Clary is confused about who or what these Shadowhunters are….they are equally confused about Clary (she isn’t supposed to be able to see them at all) but she must learn trust them in order to get her mother back.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! YA Fiction isn’t usually a genre I gravitate towards, even though there are some YA books and series that I have loved over the years. I started reading the book and ended up finishing it by listening to the audio book on loan from my library…and I think I really preferred listening to this one. The City of Bones is a great fantasy story to listen to while doing mindless chores. It’s not really the kind of book that contains some deep and profound message and I wouldn’t call the writing lyrical or anything all that special. BUT…the story is unique, interesting, full of action and quite entertaining. Most of the characters are interesting and well written. The Mortal Instruments is definitely a series I will be continuing (I’m actually almost finished with the second audio book now) and it fits the bill for a fun and entertaining fantasy series if that is what you are in the mood for. The story has villains, heroes, monsters, family secrets, twists and turns as well as a little bit of romance and relationship issues (although nothing too heavy for a young pre-teen to handle). If you are a fan of other YA fantasy series along the line of; The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc…you’ll likely enjoy this series. I know I am!

I am intending to finish out the rest of the series but I think instead of individually reviewing each other book in the series…I’ll wait until I finish and review them all together in one post.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) – Amazon

**Also…stay tuned for my “Favorite Books of 2016” post coming up tomorrow! I still have two more book reviews to write up to be fully caught up, but those will be a few more days. **

Double Review Ahead!

Double Review: Between Here and the Horizons by Callie Hart & Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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For some reason I got a little behind on writing reviews for my last two books. Both books  enjoyable, but neither of them really blew me away…it’s the only reason I can come up with for the delayed reviews.

First up:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I listened to this selection as an audiobook because I enjoyed Tina Fey’s BossyPants so much. Similarly to Bossypants, Yes Please is a compilation of different stories from Poehler’s life growing up, starting in theatre, working on SNL and beyond. We get personal stories about friendship, relationships, love & sex. We also get Poehler’s experience with motherhood and balancing that role along with her career. Most of these parts, I found incredibly funny and heartwarming. There was also quite a bit in this book about her beginning days in theater working with the Upright Citizens Brigade. It was this section of the book where I felt sort of bored after a while. There seemed to be too much name dropping and mentioning of specific details and scenarios that might have been hysterically funny to her and to others who were there to experience it…but not so much for someone from the outside. Kind of like telling an inside-joke to people who aren’t part of the “inside”.

Overall, the book was funny and enjoyable…and I definitely suggest the audiobook version because, like BossyPants, Poehler narrates this herself and it definitely adds to the humor.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Next up:

Between Here and the Horizons by Callie Hart

img_5174  Ophelia Lang is recently divorced and in desperate need of money. She has just lost her position as a third grade teacher, her parent’s business is quickly losing money and they are on the brink of losing their home.  So, when Ophelia is offered a very well paying private tutoring position by a wealthy man for his two small children, she can’t really justify saying no.

Ronan Fletcher is a recent widower…and he’s young, handsome and very wealthy. He’s also incredibly cold, rude and has a very large mean streak. Ophelia immediately begins to regret taking the tutoring position but decides that the large salary is more than worth dealing with Ronan’s moods and distant personality. But Ophelia soon learns that Ronan is hiding some very dark and deep secrets…and some of those secrets will come to impact Ophelia in more ways than she could have imagined before taking the job.

This particular book came as a recommendation to me from a fellow reader who is trying to get me to love romance novels as much as she does 🙂 This particular book is a strong case of “It’s not you, it’s me”. Between Here and the Horizons has a storyline that had a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed 75% of the book. But at the end of the day, I’m not a huge fan of romance books….especially contemporary romance books.  I don’t mind a romance element if there’s another main theme to the story, but this one had too many cheesy and eyeroll worthy parts for me to give it any higher of a rating. I guess I’m just too much of a cynic. Lol

It was a nice change of pace after a gripping thriller I read previously and that’s usually when I decide to pick up a romance and give one another go. So, it was a good & entertaining read, overall….just not my cup of tea. If you really enjoy a steamy romance with an intense, dark, and brooding male lead…this will be right up your alley. I’m just personally not a big fan of contemporary romance novels….but again, that’s just my personal preference.

***NOTE*** – Between Here and the Horizon does contain some scenes of violence and sexual content, and so is directed at audience 18+

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Between Here and the Horizons – Amazon

Yes Please – Amazon

Review: At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

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Maddie, her husband Ellis, and their friend, Hank decide on a whim to travel to Scotland to find and photograph the Loch Ness Monster…all in the midst of the fighting and bombings of WW2. The trio come from very affluent families and lifestyles in the United States, but when Maddie and Ellis are suddenly financially cut off from his parents…after thoroughly embarrassing themselves with terrible behavior at a social event…they decide that the only way they can get back in his father’s good graces is by proving this monster is real. They take little to no regard to the war that is happening around the world…after all, it doesn’t directly affect them very much in their daily lives in America. Once they make it to Scotland, they realize just how different life is there compared to home and just how much of an everyday impact the war has on the people there.

Maddie, who previously had very little family and really only had Ellis and Hank for a social circle, begins to befriend the staff at the Inn where they are staying. She soon learns the true meaning of friendship and she also begins to see Ellis for what he really is….an unloving, manipulative, spoiled and selfish husband and person. Because of the daily hardships Maddie witnesses all around her, she begins to look at the world in a very different light and her opinion and view of her life back in America also changes. There were things she chose to ignore in her previous life that she could no longer turn a blind eye to. Maddie, Ellis, and Hank’s lives will forever be changed after they make the long and dangerous journey across the ocean to Scotland.

I read this book based on a recommendation from someone in a Goodreads reading group and I’m so glad she chose this for me…because I likely otherwise wouldn’t have picked it up.
Sara Gruen also wrote Water For Elephants and, like that book, this is beautifully written with fantastically developed characters. At The Water’s Edge was easily a 4.5 star read for me. Sara Gruen’s writing style is just so beautiful and flows so well…you really feel for these characters and to be able to witness their transformation on the page is just so enjoyable. I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of the search for the Loch Ness Monster at first… but as the story and history unfolded, I began to understand how that fit into the rest of the story. I also liked how even though WW2 was the setting and part of the focus of the story…it wasn’t the ONLY thing about the story. It set a very dramatic and real backdrop that had a definite impact on the characters and storyline….but the book, as a whole, was more about relationships, understanding, redemption and love.
If you were a fan of Water For Elephants, I think you should definitely give this one a try.

My Rating – 4.5 Stars

At The Water’s Edge – Amazon

Water For Elephants – Amazon

Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes

img_2391  After You is a sequel to Moyes’ bestselling Novel, Me Before You. I absolutely adored Me Before You…it was one of my favorite reads of 2015 (posted about that HERE) and I was very excited to read the sequel.

If you haven’t yet read Me Before You, you should most likely read that before reading this as there are definitely spoilers in this story about the first. Plus, it’s just an excellent book…but be forewarned…get a large box of tissues first. 😉

After You is all about Louisa Clark and her trying (unsuccessfully) to put her life back together and move on from her days with Will Traynor.  Toward the beginning of the book, Louisa suffers a pretty devastating accident and is forced to move back home with her parents to recuperate. While there, she must face some of the memories and people that she had been running from for the past 2 years. Louisa also meets someone from Will’s distant past that will ultimately help her move on and heal.

After You was just okay for me. I’m not really sure if my expectations were just too high since I loved Me Before You so much, but I didn’t love this book nearly as much as the first. However…I’m still glad that I read it and I feel that most people who read and loved Me Before You will likely want to read this sequel. You can’t really compare the two…this book is not nearly as emotional or heart wrenching as the first, but has it’s good points. I really enjoyed the perspective about dealing with grief and how different that can look for different people. After You was a little bit of a slower read for me and I didn’t find myself devouring it like I did the first book, but it was still a nice story.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

img_2271When Tate Collins & Miles Archer meet for the first time, they don’t immediately feel any chemistry or even like each other. As time goes on, they both find that they are physically attracted to the other. However, neither of them are interested in a serious relationship. Miles is emotionally closed off and Tate is far too busy with work and school to pursue anything serious right now. They decide to continue seeing each other and keeping things purely physical….a friends with benefits type of relationship. But Miles has two rules for Tate to follow in order for him to continue with their arrangement. Tate soon finds that abiding by those two rules will be more difficult than she initially thought.

I should probably preface my personal review with this statement: I’m not generally a fan of romance novels or books that revolve solely around relationship angst and drama. This isn’t my usual genre of choice so maybe that’s why I felt the way I did. *sigh* I wanted to like this so much more than I actually did. I was hoping to love this book based off all of the glowing 5 star reviews. I did actually enjoy some (small) parts…but I was feeling more annoyed with the book than anything.

First off, I didn’t care for either of the main characters. I found both Tate & Miles irritating and unlikeable. Miles is an asshole. And, not your typical, seems like an asshole just until you get to know him, kind either. He’s a jerk who treats Tate poorly and uses the fact that he had a traumatic past as justification for that.  As for Tate…. Oh how I hate female protagonists who allow themselves to be treated badly by the men they are physically attracted to and then expect sympathy… *cough*cough* Anastasia Steele *cough*cough*.

Then there was the whole format of the “Miles” chapters. What was that??? Was that Colleen Hoover’s way of trying to make Miles’ perspective seem lyrical or poetic??  All it did was aggravate me and make those chapters feel flat & insincere.

I’ll preface this next part by stating loud & clear, that I am ,by no means, a prude. However… the sex scenes…the multiple, repetitive, overly descriptive sex scenes just became eyeroll-worthy after a while (again reminiscent of Fifty Shades Of Gray). We get it….He’s hot. She’s hot. They both are attracted to each other. They have great sex. The very descriptive, long and overdrawn, repetitive sex scenes just ended up feeling like a page filler after the first one.

The only thing I did like was the buildup of the mystery to Miles’ past. I enjoyed that storyline…just not the format that it was written in. I knew something had happened in Miles’ past for him to be so emotionally closed off, I just couldn’t figure out what it was. There were a handful of times throughout the book where I thought I had it figured out, but I was surprised when it was first revealed. So, if there is one redeeming thing in this book for me…it was that part of the story.

I actually don’t enjoy rating books so low or complaining about them too much. Because, after all…there are plenty of people who adored this book and raved about it. Just because I happen to not care for this genre means I’m likely going to be a little more critical of a particular book. In a way, I feel bad being so critical of a particular book…so if you normally enjoy the romance genre and like books with relationship angst, you’ll probably be in the camp of people who love this book. It just wasn’t for me.

My Rating 2/5 Stars

When you aren’t a fan of romance books…

February is right around the corner which means… so is Valentine’s Day. I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day by any means…after all, my husband did propose to me on Valentine’s Day 🙂 But…we don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day around here, I don’t consider myself overly romantic, and I don’t particularly care for Romance novels for the most part. However, in the spirit of the season of love, I figured I could do a post on the books that I do really like that have a romantic theme to them. You know…romance books that aren’t really “romance books”.

Last year, I completed the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge and one of the prompts was to read a romance book. It took me quite a while to commit to a book for that prompt because I wanted a story that had something other than just the romance in it. I think my problem with traditional romance novels is that they can feel rather flat and boring to me….and they seem like they are all likely the same. Logically, I know this is probably not true and I’m sure you all have a ton of great romance suggestions that don’t fall into that description….so I’d love to hear them!  What are your favorite books that have a romantic theme but aren’t necessarily traditional “romance books”??

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Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

This was the book I decided on to go toward my challenge last year. I absolutely loved it! It’s actually one of my all time favorite books. The characters were fabulous and I could not get enough. Part of the reason I loved this story so much is because it touches on another important issue that I won’t go into so as not to spoil it. This book had me laughing and crying….like UGLY – go through an entire box of tissues – crying. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

 

 

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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

So, this is probably more along the lines of a typical romance novel. It’s the only Nicholas Sparks novel I’ve ever read and I remember only picking it up based on someone else’s recommendation. I fell in love with the young couples love story in this book.  I’m sure most people have seen the movie, if not read the book…but I wanted to include it in my list anyway.

 

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Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I almost didn’t include this one solely because it’s a sequel to another book called If I Stay. But, both can technically be considered romance books…however even though I liked If I Stay, I really loved Where She Went. It’s rare for me to like a sequel as much as, let alone more, than the first book. These are both worth the read, for sure, if you are looking for a romantically themed book that doesn’t have romance as the only story line. But…yes, you’ll need to start with the first book to understand this one.

 

 
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Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read this book…but it’s one that’s stayed with me since. While the story mostly circles around female friend relationships…there is definitely a romantic relationship that is central to the story line. The scenery of Ireland and Irish culture were another big draw for me with this novel.

 

 

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Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

I adored this book…it’s one of my all time favorites. This is another example of a book that has a strong romance element to it without it being the only story line. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction…so I loved reading about the 1930’s and traveling circuses of that time. Water for Elephants is a definite recommendation from me.

 

 

 

 

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Never Never Trilogy by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Yes…I did just review this trilogy a week or so ago, but it deserves to be mentioned again on this list. While it technically is a trilogy (and yes…you’ll want to read all 3), they are novellas instead of full length novels. All three novellas together are under 400 pages…very manageable. This has a mystery aspect added to the romance, but the romantic element here is great.

 

 

Now for a few romantic themed books that I have on my To-Be-Read list (keep an eye out for reviews once I complete them):

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After You by JoJo Moyes

This book is actually the sequel to Me Before You, so I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

 

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One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

This is a book that I haven’t heard much about. But I know I enjoy the author and her writing style so I figured I would give it a try. This book is actually sitting on my kindle ready to read, so review will likely be coming sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover

This book is getting quite a bit of buzz lately and most of the reviews are beyond glowing. People seem to be quickly adding it to their favorites list.

 

 

 

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Yes…same author as the book above, but it’s another book of hers that comes with fantastic reviews. I enjoyed her writing style very much in the Never Never trilogy, so I decided to also add this book of hers to my TBR.

Review: Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Never Never (Novella Trilogy) by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Have you ever had a book hangover??? You know….when a book is so good and just sucks you in so fast that you finish it and just feel….hungover. I’m having a major book hangover after reading the Never Never trilogy. So many feels!

This is the first book I’ve read by Colleen Hoover and I can’t remember exactly how I heard about her novels. But…I started looking at some of her books and I saw that a much anticipated conclusion to a trilogy was just released so I decided to jump in. So glad I did…this was a fun ride!!

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While this series is technically a trilogy, each of the books is a novella instead of a full length novel. So, they are shorter…the first two books being right around 150 pages with the third being under 100 pages.

Now, about the story: There’s not much I want to say because I feel like this is one of those stories that you just need to dive into without knowing too much about what to expect. I went in rather blind, not hearing a whole lot of chatter and I think it’s the way to go with this series.

“Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. Complete strangers since this morning. He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.”

All I’ll say about it is this… it’s fast paced, mysterious, romantic and totally engaging! It’s a totally fun ride and I highly recommend it! Plus, the last time I checked… the kindle version of each book was only $2.99 on Amazon 😉

My rating: 5/5 Stars