Year End Review

2012 is ending and it’s time to take a look back. After doing the 52 Book Challenge in 2011, I had finally figured out what I wanted to do for a living. I started working on getting my degree this year and can’t wait until I finally get there. It will be a good feeling.

I read 80 books last year. I wanted to try for 100 this year.

I read 125.

Books have always been my way of escaping my real life. Having the ability to read a few words and be transported to somewhere else is why I love reading. I get fully engrossed and the real world fades away. It’s the best feeling in the world.

I wrote a book this year. It’s about the summer trips my grandparents used to take my sister, my cousin, and me on. It’s only for me and my family, but still…I wrote a book. Reading all these books throughout my life has given me a love of words and I finally feel comfortable enough to try my hand at writing the book I want to read.

So in 2013, my goals are to keep doing well in my classes, read 100 books again, and to write my own book. Those are pretty lofty goals, but I’m up for the challenge.

Thank you all for reading my reviews and I hope you all have a fantastic new year.

Review: Easy by Tammara Webber

Title: Easy
Author: Tammara Webber
Rating: ★★★★

I am definitely glad I didn’t let my lack of enthusiasm for the last book of Webber’s I read get in the way of me reading Easy. It is, obviously, a very different type of book, but Webber does an amazing job of handling a tough situation and she does it in a way that feels incredibly real.

Jacqueline followed her boyfriend to college instead of pursuing her own dreams for after high school. Everything seems fine until partway through her sophomore year, he dumps her. She still goes with her best friend/roommate to a frat party, but when she is attempting to leave, she is sexually assaulted.

This book is about her coming to terms with what happened, finding a way to empower herself to not be afraid, and a little romance.

To me, the most important part of this book was the parts that dealt with the aftermath of the assault. One thing constantly repeated in the book was “it’s not your fault.” It should be a simple concept to understand, but Webber demonstrates perfectly how society tries to make excuses and look at everything else except the truth. It’s unfortunate and needs to stop.

The other part of the book was the romance. It was sweet and unforced. I figured out the twist almost immediately, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Lucas is a wonderful, sweet nerd who works his hardest to overcome his past. I wasn’t exactly head over heels for him, but he was still wonderful.

Erin, the best friend, is one of the best written friends I’ve read in a novel. She is supportive and always there for Jacqueline. She even signs up for and attends self-defense classes with Jacqueline. She’s the best friend everyone needs.

Easy deals with an extremely tough topic, but in a sensitive and realistic way. It doesn’t shy away from what needs to be said. There’s even a little love in there to make hearts smile. If you don’t mind the tough subject matter, this is definitely worth a read.

If Easy sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

Title: The Edge of Never
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Series: The Edge of Never series
Rating: ★★★★★

I love books that make me cry because of how good they are. Books that really reach in, grab your heart, and twist it every time they can. The Edge of Never is one of those books.

Camryn is stuck in her life. She had dreams and plans, but things fell apart. Instead of getting away from people’s expectations and traveling the world with her boyfriend, she works at a department store, hasn’t gone to college, and has to be practically forced by her best friend to even try and put herself out there. So when she’s finally reached the end of her rope, she buys a bus ticket to anywhere, just to leave.

It’s on her bus ride across the country where she meets Andrew. He’s using the bus ride to prolong the trip to Wyoming to see his dying father. From the beginning, it’s easy to tell this trip isn’t going to be what either of them thought it would be.

Cam’s depression is something that I can understand. She’s at a point in life where she just wants to feel something. Anger, sadness, happiness…she doesn’t care which, she just wants to feel. Being with Andrew makes her feel again, both the good and the bad things.

I’m glad they didn’t have that “insta-love” because that wouldn’t have felt real. Both Andrew and Cam needed to work through things before they could get to place where a relationship is something that wouldn’t be destructive. The easy-going feeling of their first interactions really sets up the rest of their relationship. For them, laughter is what helps heal their wounds.

For as happy as the novel made me feel, there was always a storm cloud waiting in the background. I was waiting for it to hit because I knew it would be the heart-twisting moment. And boy, did it hit hard.

The Edge of Never is a book that you can’t put down. Your heart will be in your throat the entire time. It makes you think about life, love, and finding a way to live your life for the moment instead of focusing on what has happened in the past or what is coming in the future. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

If The Edge of Never sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood

Title: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Author: Sarah Gristwood
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve only recently become interested in the time of the Cousin’s War, and mainly because of Philippa Gregory’s latest novel series. So when I came across this book dealing with the women of the time, I knew I wanted to give it a read.

Not a lot can be known for certain about the women discussed in this book. The records are spotty and not always reliable to begin with, but women weren’t usually considered important enough to have much written about them. It truly is a shame, because it seems as though these women played a huge part in getting England through this crazy time.

Each of the women has an interesting story, but some played a greater part than others. Margaret Beaufort worked nearly her entire life to get to her final position of mother of a king. Elizabeth Woodville came up from a low position to become queen. Her daughter saw how easily fortunes could change, but still made it through it all to become one half of the marriage that united a country divided.

Sometimes, books such as this one can become a little boring and textbook-like. There were parts of the book I glazed over, mostly because the material being discussed wasn’t all too interesting, like how much money was spent on what things, but overall the book kept me interested enough that I really took my time to read this. I wanted to gain a bit of knowledge from this book that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

If you’re interested in the history of the Cousin’s War and want to learn more about it, this is definitely a good book to pick up.

If Blood Sisters sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Possess
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Rating: ★★★★

The first few chapters of Possess did not draw me in. They felt a little rough around the edges and I was worried this was going to be another book that got high praise from others and left me baffled.

Once the book got introductions and explanations over and could settle into the actual story, it got better. So much better.

I was expecting a book that relied heavily on religion to make a point. For the first few chapters, it seemed like that would be the direction the book took. Thankfully, the religion aspects of the novel were secondary. The story focused more on Bridget as she came to terms with her father’s death, her seemingly new power, and a possible love interest.

Bridget has the power to banish demons. She only recently discovered this power and it’s giving her a lot of self-doubt. She wasn’t looking for anything like this. She hasn’t really come to terms with the death of her father, plus she’s just like any normal teenage girl trying to find her way through the maze that is the high school years. She was a little immature at times, but that fit her character. I was happy she wasn’t some perfectly put together fifteen year old; she was a fifteen year old that had to grow up a little too fast, but she was still 15.

Matt was sweet. He isn’t my favorite Young Adult love interest, but he was nice enough and made me smile. He works hard to get Bridget to see him as more than the annoying son of a cop and I’m glad he got through to her. I can see him being her strength when she needs it.

The story wrapped up nicely, but left it open for more. It’s clear Possess is its own story, and I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful the ending was left open for more.

Possess is a book that surprised me. It got off to a slightly shaky start, but as soon as the action and mystery kicked in, it became a page-turner.

If Possess sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder series
Rating: ★★★★

The Body Finder is a book that has been on my radar for a while, but I was always a little worried about reading it. The book description was unique and I was worried it would fall flat and I’d be left feeling a little let down.

The Body Finder does none of this. It is just as good as the description sounds. Both aspects of the novel, the suspense and the romance, are developed well and blend together. It never felt like one was taking a hit so the other could flourish.

This was a page turner. The serial killer parts of the novel were fantastic. There’s a lot of mystery there, and it’s done well. It gives the entire book a creepy feel. I was afraid to look over my shoulder; it felt like the creepiness had oozed of the novel and was standing right behind me. I love it when a book can make me feel that way.

The relationship between Jay and Violet was wonderful. This is the kind of “insta-love” I’m okay with. It’s insta-love in the scope of the novel, but not in the characters’ lives. Sure, Jay and Violet realized their feels early on in the novel, but they had a foundation of friendship to build upon and that’s what made it work. Their relationship works perfectly to balance out the serial killer roaming around town.

The other secondary characters, Violet’s friends, are also well-written. They aren’t placeholders; they actually act and behave like friends. Maybe it’s just the novels I pick to read, but this trait seems to be a little lacking in a lot of Young Adult titles today.

The Body Finder is a fantastic novel. It has just the right mix of creep and love to keep me turning the pages, anxious to find out who the killer is, but to also read more swoon-worthy moments. This is a series I’ll definitely be sticking with. I can’t wait to read more.

If The Body Finder sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Title: Breaking Beautiful
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Rating: ★★★★

Breaking Beautiful has one of the most heartbreaking characters I’ve ever read and it has nothing to do with the accident that took her boyfriend’s life.

Going in, I knew this story would be tough. To see the contrast between the life everyone thinks Allie has and the one she’s truly living is astonishing. To the world, Allie is the perfectly happy, spoiled girlfriend. Trip gives her everything she could possibly need, acts the part of loving boyfriend. Sure, she has some enemies in town because Trip dumped the popular girl in favor of Allie, but that’s a minor problem. What everyone doesn’t know is what happens behind the scenes, what Allie is too ashamed to face.

Trip’s abuse has left Allie paranoid and broken. She doesn’t think of herself as worth anything because that’s what Trip beat into her. It’s all her fault and if she would only change, then everything could be perfect. That’s the mindset Allie has, even after the accident. She’s broken in nearly every way she can be.

This book could have easily become depressing, but it didn’t. Even as you read about how hurt Allie is, her strength comes through. She is still going on with her life, trying to find a new way to live. She hides away at times, but that’s only because she doesn’t know how to be Allie; she doesn’t know if just being Allie is good enough.

Blake. I loved Blake. He knew enough about Allie to try and find her whenever she’d lose herself to her own thoughts. He plays the tough, bad guy, but he’s got a couple soft spots. Both he and Allie have skeletons in their closets when they start their relationship, but they work together to make it work. Blake finds a way to give back to Allie the pieces of her life she needs and shows her it’s okay to let other pieces go.

Breaking Beautiful is a heartbreaking story while being heartwarming at the same time. It shows that you can make it through the toughest times and come out stronger on the other side. It says that it’s okay to become lost sometimes; you can find a way out. I’m incredibly glad I decided to read Breaking Beautiful and it’s definitely a must read, if you ask me.

If Breaking Beautiful sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

I got this book because one day, there was a notification on my Facebook wall about a free book and I am almost always incapable of turning a free book down. There was really nothing about the book summary that made me think I’d fall in love.

I didn’t fall in love. This isn’t a book that is made to be fantastic, a classic, something that tears at your heart. It’s supposed to be a “reality” show in book form. It definitely fit that bill. Unfortunately, I don’t watch reality shows and I’m not a huge fan of reality show books.

There’s nothing really wrong with The Ivy It’s just not my cup of tea. There wasn’t really much character development or much of a plot. It was like taking a peek into the lives of a few Harvard freshmen as they try to tackle the academics and social areas of college.

The guys are written to be swoon-worthy, but I’m only feeling lukewarm on them. The outside may be impressive, but I’d like a bit more substance. You can only stare at a pretty face for so long before you start to get a little bored.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the break from my usual type of books to read The Ivy, and I’ll probably read at least the sequel the next time I’m looking for something quick to read. Just because this book isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s bad, in any way, shape, or form. It just means it’s not for me. If you’re a fan of the reality shows that just follow the lives of a group of people, or books like the Gossip Girl series, then you’ll probably enjoy this book a lot more than I did.

Where You Are by Tammara Webber

After finishing Between the Lines, I decided to give Where You Are a try, if only for a continuation of Graham and Emma’s story. To be honest, the plot didn’t really appeal to me. I’m not a girl that goes for the twisted, manipulating revenge kind of story. In the end, this book was about what I thought it would be. I loved the parts that dealt with Graham and Emma and loathed the parts that were about Brooke and Reid.

This is written from four different points of view. Brooke, Emma, Graham, and Reid all get to tell their own story. It did feel a little bogged down at times, but it wasn’t too bad. I think all sides were necessary to know everything going on, even if Reid and Brooke’s views got a little repetitive and overworked at times.

Graham and Emma are perfectly sweet. They’re a wonderfully written couple in the early stages of a relationship. There’s a little bit of confusion rolled around with a lot of happiness. If the story has simply been about them, I think I would have enjoyed it more. A book about trying to find their footing in a new romance while one starts college and one finishes and enters the next stage of life, not to mention Graham’s daughter, would have been a syrupy sweet read.

The problem comes in with Reid and Brooke and their “plan” to win back the relationships they never had. Brooke starts everything, coming to Reid with a plan to help him get Emma back. From there it just spirals. It felt too childish for me to actually enjoy. It took away from what could have been a good story.

There’s not a lot of secondary character action. Emily shows up occasionally, but there wasn’t enough to make up for Reid and Brooke. They were extremely secondary and I wished there could have been more.

Overall, Where You Are was a bit of a let-down from Between the Lines, even if I was kind of expecting it, based on the novel description. I’m glad I got to read a little bit more of Graham and Emma, but I could have done without the backstabbing pettiness of Reid and Brooke. Unfortunately, I think this is where I’ll bow out from the series. Emma and Graham were the people keeping me reading, and even with Reid’s slight redemption at the end, it’s not enough to keep me reading this series. I’m not ready to give up on Webber, though, so I will give her other book, Easy a try.