The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

the-evolution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkinThe Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
Published: October 23rd 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.
She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.
She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.
In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

What can I say about the Mara Dyer series that hasn’t already been said? It’s perfect. Michelle Hodkin keeps you turning page after page until there suddenly are no pages left and you are sitting there with a heavy hardcover book in your hands crying quietly to yourself or cursing Michelle’s name at the top of your lungs because you don’t know how you’re going to go on living until the next book is out. Or in my case you toss the book across the room (gently I promise) and yell at it to think about what it’s done.

All that may make you believe that the book left people angry, or ended in a terrible way, but no… that is not what I’m getting at. This book is nothing short of amazing and I am so glad that I picked it up. In my review of book 1 The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I said “I’ll be starting the second book the moment it arrives on my doorstep, then I’ll be patiently waiting outside the bookstore for the third when it comes out in November.” and that was almost true. I was in the middle of reading two other books when book 2 arrived so I didn’t dive in right away. But once I was free of prior book commitment I was all about Mara Dyer. And I’m not waiting patiently outside the bookstore for book 3, but I am impatiently waiting in my home while burying myself in other books because I don’t know how else to fill the hole in my heart.

Book 1 was amazing. It set up an incredible story, a beautiful love story, and the end left you craving more but also didn’t kill you. Book 2 followed the same pattern as you found out more and more about just what was happening to Mara and Noah, but then there was the end. Yes it leaves you wanting more, but it also destroys you; in the best way possible if that makes sense. I really don’t want to say anything to revealing because I want, no I implore you to read this series! Even if you have to sit and wait with me until the 3rd book arrives DO NOT WAIT! Just start now because it’s too good of a series to wait for. For me it is right up there with Divergent and Shatter Me, and if you know me well then you know that is a good sign.

I can’t stress enough that I recommend this book to everyone and I really hope you go out there and seek it out because you will not be disappointed. The mystery, the romance, the struggle, everything about The Mara Dyer series is so perfect and compelling. I really want to go re-read them right now… so, bye!

Rating

Ky5Star

(actually I give it like a million flames, but since it’s a 5 based scale I’ll stick with 5)

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

anna-and-the-french-kiss-stephanie-perkins-book-cover Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Published: December 2nd 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
Source: Purchased

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

When purchasing books I strongly urge you to check if they are a part of a series. Stephanie Perkins has written 3 adorable books, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and the recent Isla and the Happily Ever After. I had no clue they were a part of a series. I just thought they all had adorabley similar names. So I read Lola and the Boy Next Door first. If you’ve read the books in these series you know that they aren’t 100% linked to each other, but they have elements of each other in them. So in Lola and the Boy Next Door the main character, Lola, works with Anna at their local movie theater. So Anna and St. Clair are in the book, but it’s not like it’s totally based on them because Lola does her own thing and now I’m just rambling, you get the point, moving on.

So since I read Lola first I was afraid that it would’ve ruined things in Anna and the French Kiss for me, but boy was I wrong. This book is beautiful, and amazing, and did I mention beautiful? A Southern American thrown into France to attend her senior year where she meets an amazingly hot boy with a British accent. What’s not to love?

Like I said before, Stephanie Perkins’ writing is just adorable. I absolutely love it! This contemporary romance had me feeling all the feels and I couldn’t put it down. Not even to sleep. I read the majority of it in one day because it was just all I could do, then I finished the rest at work. Sshhh don’t tattle 😉

The way I tell if I know I’m reading a romance that I love is by the amount of “awwws” I say and how many tears I shed. With Anna there was a lot of both. And by tears I of course mean happy tears. I’m a total sap what can I say.

Étienne St. Clair is the perfect book boyfriend (although since I read Lola first Cricket Bell will always have a special place in my heart). He’s charming and totally swoon-worthy, but he’s not perfect either. Perfection is scary in my opinion. But the chemistry between Anna and St. Clair is to die for. And since he has a girlfriend and their romance feels slightly forbidden it makes everything oh so juicy and keeps you craving more.

I recommend Anna and the French Kiss to everyone. If you don’t have a thing for contemporaries, this is the book to change your mind, and if you love contemporaries then voila! Anna is just what you need.

Rating

Ky5Star

Four: A Divergent Collection – Veronica Roth (+ giveaway)

four-a-divergent-story-collection Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent #0.1-0.4)
Published July 8th 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Purchased

Goodreads synopsis: Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

So being that I am a HUGE Divergent fan I was absolutely looking forward to be getting some more Four. I’m the type who loves a good male perspective, so when a novella or companion comes out from the leading man’s POV I pretty much freak out. Especially when I love him to pieces. Plus I wasn’t ready to let Divergent go completely out of my life (book wise, I know we still have films to look forward to).

We got a taste of Four in the re-written knife throwing scene from Divergent – mine was in the back of Insurgent, but I know it’s also an eBook – in Free Four. This was delicious! So then when it was announced that Allegiant was dual POV there were some squeals from this girl. And then to put the sherry on top Veronica came out with FOUR and I nearly had a heart attack.

The Transfer was the first novella released way back when, remember back when the plan was to release them as four separate eNovellas gradually over so many months. So despite having read it upon it’s original release, I read it again (duh…)

The Transfer is great great great back story, and I cannot deny that I began to have feelings for Amar. My favorite part about this one was Tobias at the choosing ceremony and hearing his own thoughts on each faction, then I went back to Divergent and compared them to Beatrice’s thoughts. It was delightful. Plus The Transfer is fantastic because we get to see Four be born! And the tension between Four and Eric is just so perfect. The whole story builds for the greatness that follows, it’s perfect.

Following that we have The Initiate. This was great because we got more of the Four/Eric feud. More of Amar. And just some more of Dauntless Four; which I love! I love the scene when Four gets his first tattoo, it might be my favorite scene in the whole book. We also got a little bit of awkward Four with Shauna, and I thought that was adorable. It makes you appreciate his love for Tris when you can see how weird he is around girls but then how swoon-y he is with her. Soul mates? YES!

The Son was my least favorite of the four. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but I felt there was a lot of info dumping going on. It was all necessary so we could see Four’s transition from from just suspicious of the Dauntless leaders and Jeanine Matthews to full blown distrust. It’s a shame that Jeanine’s crazy had spread to other faction leaders, Dauntless would’ve been so amazing had Tobias become a leader and ran the faction the way it was intended. That’s the kind of Dauntless I would want to be.

Last we have The Traitor, which I feel like is everyone’s favorite. We finally get some Fourtris action in this one and it’s nothing short of delightful. What’s great about it is that it’s not just the same chapters in Divergent repeated from his POV, no we get to see new stuff that was happening during Divergent. We get to see what Four’s up to when he’s not training the new initiates. It’s all really good stuff. But we also still get to see our favorite weak-in-the-knees scenes that we loved hearing the first time from Tris’s POV. For me there’s just something magical about a male’s perspective during romantic times. Hearing from the girl first is great because you get the swoon worthy angst and it’s all rainbows and fireworks, but then having the guy tell the same scene just makes me giddy. That takes a good amount of talent, so you go Veronica!

All in all Four was a great read and I’m painfully saddened that it’s over. There will always be re-reads, and  there are 4 more movies coming, but the fact of the matter is that unless Veronica feels the need for more, Divergent is done. Nothing new will come across our eyes… so I’ll be crying in the corner if you need me.

The initiate in me is giving Four a full 5 star review, or flames in my case. Get the flames now? I’m so Dauntless ;P

Rating

Ky5Star

 Don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a copy of Four: A Divergent Collection. If there’s one thing better than Four, it’s free Four!

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Boomerang – Noelle August

18635166Boomerang (Boomerang #1) by Noelle August
Published
  July 8th 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: purchased

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret. Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

I need more New Adult books that are funny and sexy. So often I find myself reading a New Adult book about a virgin or a girl with traumatic experience in her past and it felt good to break away.  I was able to connect with both main characters for various reasons and both had struggles that felt real. I not only enjoyed the story but I found myself laughing. Mia and Ethan both had a genuine voice.

I loved the focus on family in Boomerang. Mia and Ethan both had strong relationships with their families but they also had real interactions and struggles. Both families brought entertaining characters into the mix. The entire book had great secondary characters. I can’t think of a single character that didn’t serve a purpose or  feel naturally apart of the story. There are many times a side character is thrown into a story for little to no reason but there was none of that here. I know this is a planned series of companion novels and I wouldn’t mind reading more about half these characters.

Something unique to this book is that I connected more with the male character than the female. Don’t worry it isn’t because Ethan is feminine (because trust me he is NOT). First off we share the same birthday, August 11. How often does that happen? Never in my case. He grew up in a bowling, where he learned his earliest soccer skills kicking the ball at pins. You know who else grew up in a bowling alley? Me. My grandparents own a bowling alley and rather than my parents hiring someone to watch us all summer growing up, they let us hang out at the bowling alley with my grandma all day. Ethan also has a strong interest in psychology. I’ll give you one guess what I got my degree in. The final and maybe most important aspect that helped me connect with Ethan is his love of soccer. I played soccer for a majority of my life and to see it so accurately portrayed in a character makes me so happy. Reading about a character who is so genuinely passionate about a sport makes my heart happy. Dear Ethan. I am glad you aren’t real because I don’t think I would be able to handle it if you were.

Overall this was an awesome start to what I’m expecting will be an amazing series. If you are looking for something a little bit different in the New Adult genre I would highly recommend this one. I would also recommend this to anyone who is turned off from the genre because it is “too sexy” because this one balanced it perfectly.

Rating5star

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

Mara1

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)
Published September 27th 2011 by Simon and Schuster Books

Source: Purchased

Goodreads synopsis: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

This book held some pretty high standards for me. I know several book nerds who are absolutely in love with this series; I mean to the point of drooling when it’s mentioned. It’s one of the books that I had on my TBR list for YallFest last year, but never got around to. Lo and behold we of course got pretty up close and personal with Michelle after the YA-Smackdown. So after that I decided I had time til my next opportunity and I sort of swept it under the TBR rug. A few days ago I saw Michelle tweet that Mara was on sale via Amazon Kindle for only $1.99. I would have been crazier than Mara if I had passed up that deal.

One of the biggest reasons I love Goodreads is because of progress updates. I like to look back on them to see how much I enjoyed the book throughout reading, and because I read slowly I tend to have quite a few updates. So to kick it off my first check in was at 21% and it read – “Oh hello Noah Shaw <3”. The allure of the mysterious male lead (and obvious romantic interest since that’s how good YA works) did not disappoint. Nothing about this book was disappointing, in fact. Noah Shaw has that perfect balance of sexy cool mystery dude who you just can’t wait to dive into. And the tension between him and Mara is to die for.

It was 46% in where I wrote – “It’s gotten to that point where I absolutely do not want to put this book down, but alas… I have things to do.”  Unfortunatley life sometimes gets in the way, but you know you have a good book in your hands when you’re at work at thinking about Noah Shaw. Or you’re doing household chores and wishing you knew what was up with Mara. Well that’s just how this book was for me. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and even after I’m done I just keep thinking about it. (I won’t share the rest of the updates cause they’re kinda lame)

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how Michelle keeps you guessing. Is Mara crazy? Are the things she’s seeing real? Is she killing these people, and if so how? I wracked my brain thinking up my own explanations and theories. I even had one theory that Noah was somehow reading her mind and he would do the things she pictured in her head for her. But that of course would be kind of terrible, and I’m glad that wasn’t the case… but it was difficult to figure it all out and that is a good thing! It was especially stumping when it came to Noah being in the picture. What was his and Mara’s connection? At the end none of my questions were left unanswered (aside from the cliffhanging question of “What’s next?”) and that’s a great quality in a book in my eyes.

To reiterate, I was expecting a lot from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Michelle Hodkin did not disappoint. It grabs your attention from the beginning, stays thrilling through the middle, and then the ending smacks you in the face leaving you craving – no, demanding more!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an all around good story. Plus, Noah Shaw redefines the word “swoon”. I’ll be starting the second book the moment it arrives on my doorstep, then I’ll be patiently waiting outside the bookstore for the third when it comes out in November.

Rating

Ky5Star

The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

5thwaveThe 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) – Rick Yancey
Published May 7, 2012 by
Putnam Juvenile
Source: purchased

This book is just epic. I was in love from page 1. The story pulled me in right away and there was honestly not a single moment this book let up. The characters, the world building, the action and even the romances…it was all perfect. I swear this book was so perfect it felt like a gift. This is the new book I will be recommending TO EVERYONE!

The book takes place right after the 4th wave. All of the characters have lived through the first 4 waves and are currently impatiently waiting out their days until their death or for an unknown 5th wave. This is a bit of a mash-up of alien invasion and dystopian, which means there were some elements that have been done before but a lot of it still felt unique and new. One thing I loved about this was that all the characters lived before the invasion happened so they all know what Earth “used to be like”. Too many times the setting is in the near future so the characters don’t know what Earth used to be like and I am glad these characters have something to hold on to.

There is a fair amount of mystery to this book simply because the characters do not know who to trust. Some of the aliens have taken form as humans, so there is always the chance you second guess if this person is human or alien. There were so many points in the book were I flipped on the some of the characters!

I did not know when picking this book up that it featured multiple POVs. The first POV shift doesn’t happen for quite a bit so it confused me at first but once I got into the flow it totally worked. I did find myself craving Cassie’s POV but the other characters added well to the story. All of the characters are unique but one thing that shines through is their will to live. The population is almost nothing at this point so it was important to show why each character is currently alive. Yancey does a magnificent job of making the characters hard but also compassionate at times. Overall each character is rounded out nicely, containing the perfect mix of attributes to  make them real.

Cassie is my new favorite heroine. She is strong, brave and independent as well as quite the entertaining narrator. There were a few “serious” moments she would make a funny comment and as weird as that can be, it totally worked! Everything Cassie said (and thought) felt incredibly natural. At one point she says “Are pervs only pervs if you don’t find them attractive?” and I absolutely lost it. She has some amazing one-liners both internally and externally that make the story not feel so dark.

Quick note about the romance(s) in this book. The romance is there but it is not dominant in most scenes that it is in. Yancey wrote the romance in this wonderfully. I say this because there was some importance to the romance but I ultimately think Book 2 is where to real sparks are going to fly. I can say I was satisfied with how much romance was in Book 1 but I will be needing more in Book 2.

You can read an extended preview here! I am warning you in advance, this is going to make you want to pick up the book ASAP.

Rating

5star

The Elite – Kiera Cass

the eliteThe Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
Published April 23
, 2013 by HarperTeen
Source: purchased

The Selection was pure candy for me and The Elite was its darker, richer cousin. The Elite still had its fluffy romantic moments but Cass delved deeper into the world where such things as the Selection are necessary. The Elite had much more world builder that I never realized The Selection lacked. There is not only more information about the caste system but more about foreign lands, as well as their problems or successes.  On top of this information there is also a great look into what life is like being a royal (and I will tell you it is not all pretty dresses and tasty food). America and the other Elite get put to the test not only to prove they are worthy of Maxon’s love but being called a princess.

I read multiple reviews and saw that many people had a problem with America’s character in this book because they felt she was not as strong as she was in The Selection. I agree and disagree with this. America only bothered me when she would get wrapped up in being with one of the boys and then completely forget about the other. She has a problem with trusting Maxon. He would constantly tell her to trust him and the next second she would be upset with a choice he made. This would then push her towards Aspen and thus love triangle. Other than that I felt she was a strong, fierce character who stood up for what she believed in and stayed true to herself. Yes she has her flaws but what character doesn’t?

This is one love triangle that I love! At this point in the series I trust America (and Cass) to pick correctly in the end. In my eyes there is not a wrong choice. That being said I am still totally team Maxon. First off he is a prince and secondly he is just a good guy. I will say there was one scene in particular between him another member of the Elite that upset me though. Oh Maxon why can’t you be real!

Favorite Quote – It wasn’t like I made his world better. It was like I was his world. It wasn’t some explosion; it wasn’t fireworks. It was a fire, burning slowly from the inside out.

Kind of spoiler-y but a few book three thoughts…I found out the title to books three (The One) before reading The Elite and I thought it was spoiler-y but it is totally not! I also (accidentally) saw on Twitter that he picked Kriss and I was like “WHAT, he picks someone in book 2 and its NOT America!?”…alas that was incorrect. Does anyone else feel that Kota (America’s older brother) is going to play a role in The One?

Rating

5star

ALSO! Kiera Cass and company are coming to Chicago area soon so keep an eye out for a giveaway this month for some wonderful stuff!!