Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us

Lily Bloom is a high school student who has grown up in an abusive home.  Her father never touched her, but his drinking lead to a number of incidents involving her mother over the years.  As a way of working through her thoughts and feelings, she wrote letters to Ellen DeGeneres in a journal.  I've only watched Ellen's show a few times, but I loved how Lily wrote as if she were actually sending the letters to Ellen.  It was such an original way for Colleen to share with the readers what was going on in Lily's head.

Atlas is a senior at her high school who also comes from a broken home.  His mother kicks him out of the house when he turns 18 and he ends up living in an abandoned house behind Lily's.  She discovers his situation and starts helping him.  She gives him food, blankets, invites him over to use their shower when her parents aren't home, etc.  They slowly develop a strong friendship and begin watching Ellen together after school.  

Lily and Atlas dream about eventually moving to Boston where "everything would be better."  When Lily graduates from college she does in fact move to Boston and starts a career in marketing, but she has always loved gardening and dreams of owning her own flower shop.  She also wonders what ever happened to Atlas and why he never came back for her.  

Ryle is a neurosurgeon completing his residency at Mass. General.  He is ambitious and can be extremely loving and caring, but there is a dark side to him.  He has an uncontrollable temper that seems to come out of nowhere.  Lily and Ryle meet and eventually start a relationship about a year later.  Everything appears to be perfect until Ryle's temper starts creeping up.

Lily loves Ryle, but she refuses to end up like her mother.  She swore to herself she would never allow something like that to happen to her, but when it isn't as easy as she thought it would be to walk away from the person she loves.

Overall, Colleen did a remarkable job of creating characters you couldn't help but love.  Ryle was even fictional boyfriend material the majority of the time, so I was as conflicted as Lily was when various situations arose.  In the end, I think she made the right decision and I was extremely happy with how things turned out in the epilogue.

This book was based upon real events in Colleen Hoover's life and brings up a difficult topic most people don't want to talk about.  So many people judge others without understanding the full pictures, but Colleen allows the reader to see the situation from all sides.  It certainly isn't as black and white as outsiders often believe it is.

Much like Jennifer Brown's novels, this book is very thought provoking and is not something readers will soon forget.  I have yet to read a Colleen Hoover novel that I haven't enjoyed and this is no exception.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Release Date: November 15, 2016

I know not everyone loved the Twilight series, but I did.  I tried reading The Host, but it was too Sci-fi for me and I called it quits before I was very far into the book.  I love mysteries, so this sounds like another Meyer book that will be perfect for me. 

The ChemistGoodreads Overview:

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she's one of the world's bestselling authors.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

If I Stay has been on my TBR list since September 2011.  I read a number of great reviews, but I always seemed to overlook it whenever I needed to select my next book.  Perhaps it was the vague description?  I think that was a huge part of it.  I really had no idea what this book was about until I started reading it.  I don't want to give too much away, but I was immediately concerned this was going to turn into another The Fault in Our Stars, which required an abundance of tissues.  I am happy to say that was not the case.

Mia is a high school senior who is waiting to hear if she will be accepted at a prestigious music school in New York.  While this is an amazing opportunity for her, she is conflicted because the school is on the opposite side of the country.  She will miss her family and her boyfriend Adam, who is an accomplished musician in his own right.  He is a member of a band that has been gaining popularity and was recently signed by a record label.  They are in the process of recording an album in Oregon and touring the west coast.  They barely have time to see each other while living in the same state, so moving across the country seems like an insurmountable challenge.

If I Stay quickly brings life into perspective.  The petty concerns in one's daily life, which seem like the end of the world at the time, are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  

If I Stay is only 200 pages long and was a very fast read.  We learn about Mia and her family through a series of flashbacks with the occasional glimpse at the present.  As Mia processes the life changing events that have taken place, she needs to decide "if she should stay."  Gayle did a remarkable job of telling this story without the "John Green effect."  Anyone who has read TFIOS knows what I am talking about.  She incorporates several light and happy stories from the past to offset the gloomy aspects of the present.  The mix of emotions allowed me to keep my emotions in check and softened the tragic aspects of the story, which I greatly appreciated.

I would definitely recommend this book and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)

City of Glass is the third book in the Mortal Instruments series.  It is my understanding it was originally a trilogy, which Cassandra decided to expand into a 6 book series.  The ending definitely felt like the conclusion of the series.  Everything comes together nicely and I was very content with how she left each of the characters. 

From what I have heard, that isn't the feeling readers have had that continued reading books 4 through 6.  For that reason, I am going to consider this series complete for the time being and move onto Cassandra’s Infernal Devices series, which numerous people have told me I HAVE to read.

I love the Shadowhunter world Cassandra has created.  The battles against Valentine and his demons added the necessary danger and excitement to keep the pages turning.  I also enjoyed watching the characters grow though out the series.  Simon gains a tremendous amount of confidence in this installment as he comes to terms with being a vampire and embraces his new talents.  I also enjoyed seeing Alec open up about his relationship with Magnus.  Perhaps the greatest revelation was discovering who Sebastian really is and how that news impacts the rest of the Shadowhunters. 

What I enjoyed the most about City of Glass is that it brought the Shadowhunters and Downworlders together to fight for a common cause.  They all have unique abilities, so it always surprised me that the Shadowhunters looked down upon the vampires, warlocks, fae, and werewolves.  If only they would have aligned themselves sooner, a great deal of death and evil likely could have been prevented.  The alliance also makes it possible for all of our favorite characters to live together peacefully, which definitely contributes to the warm and fuzzy ending to this trilogy.

I would definitely recommend this series to any YA fan.  If you have read the last three books in the series, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Should I read them or not?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I loved Divergent and gave it 5 stars.  There were some things I didn't really care for in Insurgent, so I gave it 3 stars and was REALLY hoping the series would end on a solid note the way it started.  I pre-ordered Allegiant, but was reluctant to read it after so many readers gave it mixed reviews.  People seemed to either love it or hate it, with the majority of my friends being on the latter end of the spectrum.  

As part of the COYER (clean out your e-reader) challenge, I decided it was time to finally complete this series.  I managed to avoid spoilers with one not so minor exception.  I did hear that someone significant dies, I just didn't know who it would be until I actually read the book.  All in all, that is pretty remarkable since the book was released almost 3 years ago and sparked a ton of conversation and debate in the blogging world.

I'm not going to give a synopsis like I usually do because I honestly don't feel like I have anything to say.  At just over half way through this book, I sent a message to Book Nerd Flo and said "Literally nothing has happened so far."  She said she felt the same way when she read the book.  Until the last 75 pages or so I felt like I gained next to nothing from the time I had invested.  Then there is a major twist that nobody would have seen coming, which is what lead to all of the debate.  I personally did not care for how the series ended and would not recommend reading beyond the first book in the series.  

I think Veronica could have wrapped things up in two books instead of three.  Readers could have saved their time and money and the majority of people would be able to look back on the series in a far more positive light.