Shine by Lauren Myracle

The cover of this book is what drew me in at first, but the amazing writing is what kept me reading from the first page to the very last.

This book deals with several hot-button issues, namely homophobia and what it can do at its worst. But even more than that, it deals with many other problems that exist in society. While the main focus is the horrible hate crime and its aftermath, you see abuse, alcoholism and how fear can turn into hatred and its ability to destroy.

I loved the slow build Myracle used to tell the story. You got enough information to make you turn the page, where you’d get just a tiny bit more before you hit the peak and it all came into focus. It made the ending much more powerful.

This is definitely a book people need to read. It’s powerful, and yet the message comes across in such a wonderful way, you can help but walk away feeling a little bit different.

LIE by Caroline Bock

This was an intense book. Bock took on a hard subject and handled it in such an impressive way that this book will be sticking with me for a while. This is a book that will get people talking.

This book was extremely realistic and that makes it all the more shocking. To think that this book, while a work of fiction, is true in many ways was extremely powerful. I felt so much for Skylar, the shy girl who doesn’t want to lose another person in her life. She knows if she goes along with the lie, she will be able to keep the people around her. But if she tells the truth, she will be losing several people important to her.

I know some people might have a hard time with the multiple points of view, but I found them extremely helpful in understanding how this hate crime affected the town. You see the truth eating Skylar and Sean alive, and how Lisa Marie can delude herself. You see into the mind of the town and how this one event can disrupt the lives of so many not directly involved. I only with there had been Jimmy’s point of view, even if it was only a short little blurb.

I think this is a book that everyone needs to read because it opens your eyes and makes you think. It’s a powerful book that I will definitely be recommending to anyone that will listen to me.

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

I’m mixed on this book. I liked some parts of it and other parts I could do without. It just didn’t feel as developed as it could have been.

Gurtler wrote a book about issues that need to be addressed, but I feel like some of them were put in the book to make the characters flawed and dysfunctional, instead of actually serving a higher purpose. This book dealt with racism, prejudice and the ability to forgive others, and all these other issues just seemed a bit too much. I can understand not writing perfect characters, but to add so many heavy issues in a book already about a tough subject just seemed a little over the top. It made it hard for me to feel for the characters.

This wasn’t a bad read; there was just way too much happening in it. It made it difficult to connect with any of the characters and it’s hard for me to fully enjoy a book I can’t connect with. However, I do believe this is a book other people can find themselves in and don’t discourage anyone from reading it if the premise interests you.

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

While there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with this novel, I just couldn’t get into it. As someone who greatly enjoys history, I usually know quite a bit about the people typically written about. What I find most enjoyable is when those facts are told through new and interesting ways, and there wasn’t much of that in this book.

It seemed very, “and then this happened, then this and then this followed,” without really building up the story. It felt more like a biography than a novel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

This book was a very well-written, factually correct book about the earlier years of Marie Antoinette, but if you’re looking for something on Marie that reads more as a novel, I’d consider something else.

Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

I’m a little confused after finishing this book. I liked parts of it and couldn’t wait for other parts to get over. Mostly, I’m a little annoyed with the deception I felt while reading this book. I got no warning about what the majority of this book would be about and I feel like I could have saved myself the read.

Most of this book was great, and it was a very well-written book that did an amazing job of showing character development. The growth and maturity the main character exhibits throughout the book was fantastic, and if you don’t mind religious themes, then this is a great character-driven book for you to read.

It boils down to me having faith, but not practicing a religion. And religion is a large part of this book. I don’t look down on others for what they believe, however, I tend to avoid books that rely heavily on religion to get a point across because it makes me very uncomfortable and occasionally frustrated. Despite how amazing the writing was, it was hard to look past the religion, especially when it started to get into the hell and damnation and greatness of Christ and God. I didn’t like how Phillip started his search for religion because of a girl and tried so hard to completely cover himself in it all that he started to lose who I thought he was.

Basically, this is a wonderfully well-written book about something I can’t really handle reading about. If you don’t mind the reliance on religion to drive the plot, give this book a read. However, if you’re like me and prefer a more secular book, I’d pass on this one.

Legacy by Molly Cochran

The idea behind this book is a good one, and I feel like the book could have come out better than it did. I really wanted to like this book when I started, and I did end up enjoying it, but not as much as I hoped I would.

Mainly, this book just seemed choppy. I could get over the clichéd aspect of the novel because it’s rare to find a book that doesn’t contain some sort of cliché, however, the book seemed to jump all over, and some it was hard to connect certain times, places, relationships because they just didn’t seem to add up or make sense.

Throughout the entire book, I felt like I was missing pieces of information that would have brought sense to the story. For example, how Katy goes from knowing something is different about her but not knowing what exactly to suddenly performing spells with Hattie, without much of a transition between the two. Parts of the book just seemed to jump around and it made it hard for me to enjoy the story as much as I wanted to.

I did like this book, I just feel like it could have been better if there had been a little more flow to it.

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

This book was much better than I thought it was going to be. I was a little worried when I started that this would not only be yet another dystopian fantasy book, but feel younger than the young adult genre it fell under.

I’m very happy I was wrong. This book might have started out a little weak, but it quickly recovered and drew me in, keeping me awake much later than I should have been and was the first thing I picked up when I woke up. While a few parts of it felt a little clichéd and predictable, most of it was different from everything else I’ve read. Separating the classes through language was an ingenious idea for Derting to make, and really set the tone of distrust, fear and caution for the rest of the novel.

Charlie was a fantastic character to read about. She was a strong female, and although she liked the secure feeling she felt with Max, she was able to stand on her own and fight for herself. She used her own motivations and those things important to her to gain power and strength, and I love reading that.

Max was a swoon worthy character. His devotion to Charlie was sweet and amazing to read, and I fell in love with him almost immediately after one important development.

Overall, this was a fantastic book, and worth a read. It’s a little fast-paced, and some parts were a touch cheesy, but as a whole, it’s an interesting and worthy take on the dystopian genre.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Wow. This book was wow.

When I started reading this, I didn’t think it would be as intricate and interesting as it was. The imagination and essence are amazing and I could hardly put this book down.

Humanity plays a huge role in this story, and Taylor uses this as the starting point of her characters and weaves their story through it. Karou maintains her humanity through the entire story, never losing the thing that makes her real. She goes from being a semi-normal 17-year-old girl to something else entirely, and the one thing that remains true is the emotions that tie her to her humanity. Akiva is made beautiful not through his looks or strengths or abilities, but his powerful connections to love and the love story wrapped around him and Karou.

The feelings I had reading this book were indescribable. My heart was beating faster, my mind was spinning and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The writing was beautiful and made the story what it is. I can’t wait to hear the rest of this amazing love story.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I think one of the the reasons I enjoy young adult romance books so much is there’s such a wonderful, first love quality to them that’s hard to find some days in real life. The reader feels as head over heels about the characters and the characters feel about themselves. Yes, there’s a bit of a struggle, but there’s not of the adult “real life” involved. There’s no kids, no house, none of the typical “adult” things to overcome. It makes it easy to fall in love with the love.

I absolutely loved Lola. I’m not sure there’s an adequate word to express just how much I swooned through the entire book. Not only over Cricket, but the little piece of Anna and Etienne that were in there, too. Perkins has such a fabulous way for writing completely wonderful, swoon-worthy, perfectly imperfect guys that I’m not sure my heart could handle much more. Of course, that will never stop me from rereading Anna and Lola and eagerly awaiting Isla.

The huge difference I loved between Anna and Lola was the realness of Lola. Anna was amazing, but there was this special feel to it. It was set in Paris, with amazing English boys, living the life almost every girl dreams of. Going away to the city of love and finding it. Lola was set in San Francisco, with a delightful, tall, slightly awkward American boy. It was what could happen to almost any girl.

My heart hurt from all the happiness and love I felt reading this book. It was so amazingly sweet and wonderful and I fell in love with it several times over.

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

This book took me a little longer than usual to read, not because of the quality of the writing, but because this was a part of Tudor history I didn’t know much about and I found myself constantly looking up the characters and places Gregory mentioned in the book.

I think writing this book from 3 different first person perspectives gave an interesting view of the time period. Three different people have three very different views of the same event. I found myself constantly thrown for a loop by Mary. She never thought twice about lying and it was interesting to see how she would portray an event to others, and then how she actually thought of the same event.

Bess is one of the best historical fiction characters I’ve read in a long time. From Gregory’s book, as well as the researching I did on my own, I’ve come to really love her strength and determination. She was a smart business woman and used that to her advantage. She worked her way up and earned the things she had, even if it was through marriage, and worked hard to keep herself safe and secure for the future. I think more women in books should be like her.

Yet again, Gregory has me thinking about the little things in history and how one simple decision can change the fate of a country, and the world. While not my favorite book (The Queen’s Fool has that title), it was a great read and sheds more light onto the Tudor era of history.