Sunday, August 31, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {83}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been good! I'm training at Barnes & Noble, which is not especially thrilling, but I will be a master coffee maker in due time. :) I also got a job at our local Disney Store! So I'm gonna be busy between the two, but at least I'll have money--to buy books! Without school or anything to do, I'd rather have a lot of work anyways. Otherwise, I'm leaving for Disney World on Tuesday!!! That does mean I'll be MIA on commenting back, but I will have posts going up as they should be. I'll be back home Saturday, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up then. On to the books!

For review:

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Thank you, thank you to HarperTeen, Greenwillow, and Edelweiss for these! :D

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2) by Leah Cypess
Thursday - Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}
Friday - Blog Tour: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {Guest Post + Giveaway}

Books I read this week:
Storm Siren by Mary Weber
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen
Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood

I'm currently reading:
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

So that's been my week! Note that self control over the books from HarperCollins on Edelweiss! I'm pretty proud of myself. Now, nobody tell me how good any of the others sounds so I won't go get them! :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {Guest Post + Giveaway}

I'm so excited to have the Starry Night blog tour stopping by today! This is Isabel Gillies' debut YA novel, which releases on September 2nd. I've got lots to share with y'all, including a really lovely guest post from Isabel and a giveaway for a finished copy!

About the book:

Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

First Love?

I was going to write about first love for this piece, but two days ago I heard about something so upsetting I must write about it because it’s haunting me, and in my mind the very opposite of what I think falling in love for the first time is. A friend who has a teenage daughter told me about a trend (I guess trend is the correct word, maybe behavior) that has swept the nation, or at least some high schools she knew of. Here is how it goes: A kid in her child’s school, a girl, will get a text from a boy, it could be a boy she knows -- or one she only knows of. This text will give a location within the school, like “the downstairs utility closet” or “The equipment shed” that serves as the meeting place, and there will be an appointed time. Then the two kids meet and without speaking, a sexual act is performed. Apparently it’s typically the girl who performs this act, again without speaking, and when it’s done, they leave each other. Again, without speaking. At this particular school it’s called, “scorning”.

Saddened and in disbelief, I have spoken to a number of other mothers-of-teens I know about this phenomenon, hoping that it was a one off, that it wasn’t true. They all knew of it –some of the mothers believed that their daughters may have already done this thing, so it must be true, at least in these parts.

Maybe I am naïve, but the alarm I feel about this is so real, I have tears in my eyes at as I write this. What has happened? Where did we go so off track that the uniquely slow, gentle, childlike and beautiful act of falling in love as a young person is in jeopardy? Are kids not writing each other love notes and shoving them in lockers? Have adolescent hearts stopped beating out of their chests at just the thought that they might hold hands with their crush at the football game? Are communications of love not being passed along by friends? What has happened to the sentence (said with excitement and anticipation), “Molly/Mark/Susan/Joe, is sweet on you.”

Is it the smart phone and texting that have endangered the natural and wonderful progression of two people falling for each other, talking all night, kissing at the door after a date -- writing love letters? Because if it has, I beg the companies to stop making those horrible devices. I pray for time to stop so we can look at this blight and arrest it. I call to the schools to assemble and bust this open, and urge students to read Romeo & Juliet, or watch Sixteen Candles by John Hughes.

I am not going to get into the perplexing idea that the feminist movement has had no bearing on these young people, someone smarter than I can handle that. What I am undone by, is that if this is true, that it could be the end of something I have always treasured, romance.

My friend said that sometimes relationships can come out of these silent, and in my opinion degrading hook ups. But I have to ask what chance does this “relationship” have if it started in such an unceremonious way? What kind of relationship starts like that? I don’t want to sound condescending, but before it does become normal to get so intimate with a boy without speaking to him at great length first, can I protest? Can I raise my hand high and yell stop? I cannot imagine how both children must feel afterwards – it must be excruciatingly lonely. Do these kids want something else? Do they long to be courted, asked out respectfully and with reverence and then appreciated for who they are? Do they even know there is another way? Do they know about romance? It seemed like when I was a teenager all we thought about was romance, and there was romance to be had! But if I wasn’t surrounded by it, and if I was in the same position as these young girls seem to be in, would I do the same? I bet I would.

My fear is that it’s gone. That technology has finally gotten the best of us, and our beloved children who can’t or won’t speak to each other, will miss out on the most beautiful of processes. Falling in love for the first time involves intangible magic, but it also involves diligence, work, and effort. And it requires romance.

If what I am hearing is true, I resolve right now to talk to my burgeoning tweens openly and frankly to warn them that there is a dangerous pitfall waiting for them that they must try with all their might to avoid. If I don’t and they miss out all the blissful, sometimes painful steps you take in falling in love for the first time, I will never forgive myself.

About the author:

Isabel Gillies, known for her television role as Detective Stabler’s wife on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has published two memoirs, Happens Every Day (a New York Times bestseller) and A Year and Six Seconds (both Scribner). She graduated from New York University with a BFA in film. Isabel lives in Manhattan with her family.
Find Isabel online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

A huge thanks to Isabel for stopping by today, and for being so open and heartfelt. Also, big thanks to Macmillan Teen for letting me be a part of the tour!

Learn more about Isabel Gillies and Starry Night.
Add Starry Night to your to-read list on Goodreads.
Join in on social media with #StarryNight!

Isabel’s Upcoming Public Events 
Saturday, August 30                       Decatur Book Festival- Map of My Heart Panel (Decatur, GA)
Tuesday September 2                    Barnes & Noble Upper West Side- Launch Event with John Searles (New York, NY)
Sunday, September 14                   Books of Wonder- Debut Author Panel (New York, NY)
Saturday, September 27                The Voracious Reader- Reading/Signing (Larchmont, NY)

Starry Night Blog Tour Schedule 
Tuesday, August 26                          Fiction Folio
Wednesday, August 27                    The Compulsive Reader
Thursday, August 28                        Green Bean Teen Queen
Friday, August 29                              Paper Cuts
Saturday, August 30                        Love is Not a Triangle
Sunday, August 31                           Gone With the Words
Monday, September 1                    Mac Teen Books
Tuesday, September 2                    Jenuine Cupcakes

Thanks to Macmillan, I have a copy of Starry Night to give away to one lucky reader! US/CAN only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}

I'm excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Amy Ewing's The Jewel today! I've been excited about this one for a long time, and I've got a TON of stuff to share with y'all! There's my review and playlist I created inspired by the book, the book's awesome trailer and an excerpt for you to try out, PLUS a giveaway to win one of three copies of the book. So, scroll away!

Release date: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 358
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
I've been excited to read The Jewel since I read the intriguing synopsis and saw the gorgeous cover months and months ago. The novel starts off really strongly, and while it veers off in certain elements, I found it to be an addicting read that left me dying for more.

In the world of The Jewel, for an unknown reason, the nobility of the Jewel cannot produce healthy children. Instead, they use Surrogates, girls from the poorest sections of their society, who, for some reason, can carry their children and they are born healthy. Surrogates can also perform Auguries, manipulations of items to change their color, shape, and even make them grow. Violet is a Surrogate, taken away from her family at age 12 to be trained and then sold to a noble family to keep their line going. What struck me about Violet, and what I so liked, from the beginning is her unwillingness to be a a part of the system she's a pawn of. Unlike other girls, she is not pleased to be given the "honor" of being taken away from her family and sold to strangers to bear their children. She wants to help her family, though, so she goes along with the forces, even as she puts in little bits of resistance here and there. It is not the introduction of a love interest that spurs her disillusionment with the system she's a part of and that is not when she starts wanting to escape. She values her own life and the validity of making her own choices, which I just loved.

I know, if you've read a review of this book at some point, you've heard about the instalove. Yeah, it's there, and yeah, it's a problem. Instalove isn't something, however, that bothers me terribly, so it didn't affect my reading experience as heavily as it did for others. I do think, though, that it wouldn't have affected the story terribly for Ash to be introduced sooner and given more moments with Violet to establish a real relationship before it got to the mention of love. Nonetheless, I found Ash appealing as a character. While obviously not in the exact same position as Violet and theoretically free, he is subject to the whims and wishes of the same people she is, stuck in a position he can't get out of for love of his family. I really would have liked to get to know him better, both for the sake of their relationship's development and simply because I liked him.

My only real qualm is the worldbuilding. It's vaguely dystopian, yet there's little information as to what led society to form in the way it did (a story, but it doesn't tell much). How big is this city? Where are the rest of the world's people? No mentions. The whole setup is still very compelling and I felt like the dangers of the world were real, but I just wanted a clearer picture of it.

I flew through The Jewel. I haven't read a book in a single day in a long time, but The Jewel called to me when I wasn't reading and its development kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The ending is a surprise and a terribly cruel cliffhanger that only made me more excited to see how the series develops. It's one that may start out roughly for a lot of people, but I think The Jewel's got a lot of potential to be the start of a highly addictive series.

As part of my stop, I'm sharing a playlist I made for the book! It's got a mix of songs I feel fit the mood of the book or Violet's mindset, plus several cello pieces that I quite like and could have imagined Violet playing. ("Royals" just felt all too appropriate.)

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the FFBC The Jewel Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Win (1) of (3) copies of The Jewel (Us Only)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2) by Leah Cypess {59}

Title: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2)
Author: Leah Cypess
Release date: March 3, 2015
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.
After the ending of Death Sworn, I need to know what happens next! Plus the cover is so preeeeetty! :D

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {85}

Title: Starry Night
Author: Isabel Gillies
Release date: September 2, 2014
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

My teaser, from 20% in the egalley:
"I saw that," Farah said, as she screwed the lip gloss top back on and put it in her clutch. "He's into you. Let's go." My heart leaped with hope. Farah may like inappropriately older guys, but she's smart about looks and the vibes people give.

"Wait," Charlie said, not hearing what Farah had said to me, "to keep body and soul together"--he pulled a small brown paper bag out of his blazer pocket--"Swedish Fish."
The blog tour for this one stops by on Friday with a guest post, so I'm starting this today! Hopefully it's good. :)

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Release date: August 19, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 320
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
Storm Siren is, without a doubt, an addicting read from page one. Beginning with a bang and virtually never letting up in excitement, I devoured the pages until I was left desperate for more at the ending.

Nymeria is powerful, yet broken, plagued by guilt for the lives her power to control the elements has claimed over the years. She believes she is only a danger to others, desperate to control a power she cannot understand. She has been sold and resold as a slave fourteen times, but her new owner offers her a chance to control her power, in exchange for helping to save her country--the country that has kept her enslaved and virtually wiped out Elementals. But once Nym begins working with Eogan, her trainer, she learns to exercise control over what she can do and finally see the beauty in her gift. It's through this hard work and the friendship she gains with Colin, who trains with her, and his sister that Nym grows exponentially. She is no longer the damaged girl who tattooed herself in guilt for those she killed, but instead becomes a true Elemental, confident in her abilities and willing to fight for those she's come to love. It's wonderful to see her wrestle with herself and whether or not she was born to do evil or if what seems evil to her can be used for good.

Eogan, Nym's trainer and love interest, is deeply fascinating in his own right. It's frustrating as we see him open up to her in small amounts, only to close back up again, but his eventual story is a surprise and adds a lot of depth to this character. Their relationship is lovely as well, because it's a balance all the way through. Nym also meets Colin and Breck, twins, who offer her friendship and love, no holds barred, and these relationships prove vital.

My only detraction (and it's small, really) is that the world-building, while definitely present and makes complete sense, is rather...sparse. I love a book that presents the world slowly, as you read, but I never felt a full picture. I got the information I needed to understand the moment, but the nuances I see in a lot of other fantasy novels weren't there. I was never confused, yet I'd liked to have seen more.

Storm Siren is deeply engaging, beautifully written (seriously, some of those passages were exquisite), and rife with characters you'll miss as soon as you close the book. Many of the fantasy novels I've read this year have been technically good without even capturing my heart or sense of imagination--but that was far from the case here. It'll be a long, hard wait for book two.

About the author:

M. Christine Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. She lives on the breathtaking California coast with her three homeschooled children and an engineering husband who looks strikingly similar to Wolverine.

Her writing experience includes card copy for Hallmark, articles and short stories for newspapers and e-zines, and educational curriculum for a non-profit, although she can also type a mean grocery list when necessary. On her days off, you can find her penning book reviews or conducting silly interviews at amid drinking lattes and instructing her kids on the finer aspects of world domination.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {82}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been...weird. We had some shocking news about a former teacher of mine come out, and it's just kind of thrown me off all week. It's one of those things that just kind of sits in the back of your mind and stews there. Otherwise, my week was good! I got the job at Barnes & Noble, so I did orientation and started training! Yay job! Yay money! Also, did I tell y'all I'm going to Disney World the day after Labor Day? Because I am!! It's been more than two years since my college program ended and I've been dying to go ever since. FINALLY! Anyways...

For review:

Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram
This sounds so cute, so I jumped at the opportunity to be on the blog tour in October! My stop is on Halloween! I can't wait to read it! :)


To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt
I want to try historical romance! Plus, that's my last name! And she lives in New Orleans, SO CLOSE.


Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
SQUEE! And the tote! It's now my bag for work. :) Also, my book is flawed--in a good way. There are two signed pages! Tee hee. (Alas, still can't find my camera...)
The Snake Charm by Laura Lam
I LOVE Laura Lam's Micah Grey books and these stories are all set in the same world, so I snatched up the first one while it was free. I plan on buying the rest soon!

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Blog Tour: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Sorceress (Spellcaster #3) by Claudia Gray
Thursday - Review: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Friday - Feelings Upon Finishing: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Saturday - Seven Deadly Sins Tag

Books I read this week:
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I'm currently reading:
Storm Siren by Mary Weber

So that's been my week! Odd mix of books, huh? :) I'm going to be exercising much restraint in not buying every book in existence at B&N--at least till I've gotten paid a couple of times... Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins Tag

Thanks to the lovely Kirsty at Studio Reads for tagging me!! This should be fun... (Insert evil grin.)


What is your most inexpensive book? 

(I also saw that the beauty tag asks for most expensive too, so I'll share that as well!)

Inexpensive is hard! Um... I've got a lot of books from the friends of the library store, which ran me $2 each? I tend to buy new books, though, so most aren't especially cheap. As for most expensive, this may be cheating, but my copy of These Broken Stars cost $30 because of the shipping costs from Malaprop's--for I HAD to have the signed copy and signed cover art they were offering, non-negotiable.


What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Er. Um. Ah. I mean, I guess I'll say Marissa Meyer? There's no real hate, only deep, prolonged sadness that Winter isn't coming out for so long. But I love her books so much I'd wait any amount of time to get to read them. So. Does that count?


What book have you read over and over with no shame?

Easy! One day, y'all are going to tire of listening to me talk about Ella Enchanted, but until that day (and after, really, even if I'm just talking to myself) I will spout litanies about how wonderful this book is. I loved a lot of books when I was younger, but I've never read a book over and over and over again. I would literally finish Ella Enchanted, flip back to the front, and start again. Six or seven times in a row. I even dressed up my American Girl dolls and acted out the final scenes with them, because I just loved the book so much and could not get enough of it. I reread it not that long ago, and it was just as good as I remembered.


What book have you neglected due to laziness?

There are too many books that I could put here! Out of pure laziness, though, because I don't want to dedicate myself to a longer book, I've passed Alexandra Duncan's Salvage too many times. (It's not even that long!)


What book do you most talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

Luckily, having an English degree, I can hold my own in most literary conversations. I tend to switch between naming obscure things I read for school ("Cloud 9", The Lonely Londoners, The Conformist) and waxing poetic about loving Anna Karenina. (I do really love it.)


What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?

I'm not a reader who gets swept up in bad boys. (In real life, either.) A sweet guy is always going to win over the "dangerous" one in my mind and heart.


What book would you like to receive as a gift?

Oh, one specific thing comes to mind! THIS MASTERPIECE THAT IS $225. Just click over and look at the pictures of the books and the illustrations. I'm drooling at how beautiful they are. This is one of my favorite series, as well. (Any of the Folio Society's books would be wonderful, but I'd probably pass out if someone gave me this.)

And that's it! I'm going to be all-inclusive and tag anyone who wants to do this! I had a lot of fun. :) If you participate, please leave me a link so I can come see what your sins are, or just share with me here! :D

Friday, August 22, 2014

Feelings Upon Finishing: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins {1}

I've decided to try something a little different from my normal reviewing style. I often read books (generally my "fun" books--books that aren't for review) that I enjoy and want to talk about, but don't wish to write a full-blown review about, for whatever reason. That's where this idea came from! Instead of a normal review, I will just share informal thoughts and feelings (which will probably include GIFs) about whatever book I've just finished. :) So, here we go, and when I'm done, share how you felt with me! :)

About the book:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Last night, I finished Stephanie Perkins' Isla and the Happily Ever After. Even if you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of it. I was behind on the bus for these books in general, but I devoured Anna and Lola a couple of years ago and have been dying for Lola ever since. I picked it up as soon as I could. Luckily, Stephanie Perkins did not disappoint. She delivers the same heartwarmingly sweet romance that she did in the first two and she left me with the happiest grin on my face and just a few tears.

Time and time again, I was reading and could just feel the smile come upon my face at some adorable moment. I read a lot of books that make me happy, but I don't think any do the trick the way these three do. The awkward moments aren't quite so awkward because they're so sweet. The heartbreaking moments aren't so heartbreaking because you know the ending you want will come, even if it takes that sadness in the middle to get there (though those moments are always paramount).

My feelings upon finishing? I'm so sad it's over, but my heart is so warm.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Release date: August 26, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 352
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.
I Want It That Way is a double-edged sword for me. On paper, I really liked a lot of individual parts, which should have led to me really liking this. But in reality, it's just one that didn't jump off the page for me. Objectively, I liked I Want It That Way. It just didn't make my heart patter or my world rock.

There's a lot of focus in I Want It That Way on characters pursing what makes them happy. Hoorah! I'm a definite believer in the idea that the same kinds of paths aren't going to work for everyone. Some people just aren't suited to college, for example, and what they dream of doing doesn't require it. Subscribing to other people's ideas of how you should live your life is for the birds. I think Ann Aguirre did a fantastic job showing this, and it works so well in a college setting, since everyone there is searching for something that will make them happy for the rest of their lives. And in turn, she does a great job encouraging her characters to make hard decisions and fight for what they want, rather than letting people tell them things are just going to happen a certain way. Her characters struggle realistically and it makes the most of the new adult designation in that way.

I really liked Nadia and Ty as well. Nadia is hard-working and driven to make her parents proud by doing well in school and earning her degree so she can teach special needs students. She's admirable in her dedication and her obvious love of teaching. Ty is just as likable. Though closed off at first, he's got a lot more going on under the surface, but he's absolutely and completely committed to his son. He hasn't given up on pursuing his own dream, albeit more slowly, but his rapport with Sam, his son, is so endearing.

So what's the problem? On paper, like I said, I was rooting for Nadia and Ty. Completely. In reality, I wasn't feeling chemistry. I wasn't swooning. I wasn't reacting at all, really. When the happy ending came (as you know it had to), I was glad, but not feeling especially enthusiastic.

I Want It That Way is a nice read. It's quick and there's a lot of great things going on in terms of a focus on finding yourself and pursing your passions, but the romance was rather meh to me. I'm absolutely going to continue the series, however, because I know Ann Aguirre can write swoon-worthy romance and I can't wait to hear Lauren and Max's stories.

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.