Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Abbreviations #12: June Minis

Here's the June batch of mini-reviews! I'll be sharing brief thoughts on all the books that I've read in the past month that I haven't yet reviewed or don't plan to write a full review for. 

The Hidden Prince book cover
The Hidden Prince by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #0.1
Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-book

If you read and loved The Orphan Queen, then The Hidden Prince is the novella for you. This is also the novella for you if you're curious about the book, but don't know if you want to commit yet. It gives you a glimpse at the world and the characters that you'll be encountering, with a particular focus on the wonderful Prince Tobiah. He's certainly a charming character to read about, from his personality to his interactions with his best friend and cousin James. This first installment gives you a taste of what he's currently experiencing, as well as sets up a mystery that will be covered throughout the rest of the novellas. Never fear, however, for the ending is decidedly satisfying for this first part, even though you will most likely be wanting more. I know I did! (PS - There's a sneak peek at The Mirror King.)

Never Always Sometimes book cover
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source/Format: BEA 2015 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Never Always Sometimes, set in California, is the story of Dave and Julia, two best friends who created a list of high school cliches they promised never to do as freshman. They've successfully managed to avoid most of them, but as the restlessness of the end of senior year settles in, Julia convinces Dave it would be a good idea to cross the entire list off. Translation: They're about to make every cliche they wrote down a reality. This journey is equal parts fun and ridiculous, and Alsaid narrates the pleasure, the terror, and the awkwardness with no holds barred. It took some time for the abruptness of the writing style and the constantly moving plot to make sense in my head. But overall, it's impressive how Alsaid chronicles the story of these two individuals - their history, their present, their future - and how he manages to really make the reader feel like they know a little more about who Dave and Julia are by the end of the novel. Though Let's Get Lost is still my favorite Alsaid novel, this one is a pretty good follow-up.

Fables: Legends in Exile book cover
Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
Series: Fables #1
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Paperback (rec from Macky!)

I'm a huge fairy tale junkie, and have been all my life. It always fascinates me to see alternative takes on characters that I know and love, which is pretty much the reason that Macky recommended the Fables series. (It's also his bid to get me to read more graphic novels.) And I was seriously surprised by how enjoyable it was! I liked all the references to old favorites, but I really enjoyed seeing the roles they were assigned in this story. The more human Fables can be in the real world, since they don't easily betray their origins; the others have to remain underground, hidden away. This first volume tackles the mysterious disappearance of a Fable, and readers follow along as it's solved. While I figured it all out halfway through, I still enjoyed the experience. The illustrations are great, the dialogue snappy and fun, and the plot itself is pretty strong. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series! (P.S. There are adult situations in this tale, so younger readers, be warned!)

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

I am one of those people who does occasionally like to think about "what ifs", how, if I just changed one thing or did something differently, my whole life would be going in an entirely different direction. It's a concept that's always intrigued me, and is primarily why I was drawn to The Status of All Things. Kate is faced with the heartbreak of being dumped before her wedding, but is then given the opportunity and power to change things to make them go her way. This power is a pretty hefty responsibility, and it was fascinating to see how Kate wielded it and what the consequences ended up being. More than a story about romance, it's the story of one woman learning to make conscious decisions, accept the twists and turns of life and finding a certainty in her own self, which I really enjoyed. I love that this story doesn't hold back when it comes to honest confrontations or self-realization, even though certain moments were corny or preachy and took me out of the tale. All in all, this novel was quite enjoyable - and also happens to be a quick read.

Under the Lights book cover
Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Series: Daylight Falls #2
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Source/Format: NetGalley || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

I was a little nervous going into Under the Lights, considering I didn't really hit it off with its predecessor. But I'm happy to report that it's fluffy contemporary young adult fiction at its finest! There's friendship, there's individual growth, there's romance; Adler does a great job mixing it all up in a story narrated both by Josh Chester and Vanessa Park. It helps, I suppose, that I was predisposed to like both Josh and Van. Josh appears to be just your run of the mill party boy/player/slacker; Vanessa is a good girl who aspires to continue pioneering the way for minorities in Hollywood. But in both their cases, there is definitely more to them than one would suspect. The reveals, the development of these characters, the swoony stuff - everything was just written in a way that felt so natural. Plus, readers will be happy to get more of Liam and Ally in this one too! I enjoyed this novel and would definitely recommend it.

Written in the Stars book cover
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Source/Format: Gifted by Dahlia (Thanks!) || Hardcover

A few years ago, I'd read a news article that described the reality of girls forced into arranged marriages as part of their culture's practices. It was a terrible situation to read about, and I felt deeply horrified, sad and angry about the fact that there were girls out there who experienced this - and had it considered right and normal. (I personally don't believe that anyone should be forced into a relationship that they don't want to be in.) Written in the Stars is, without a doubt, one of the most honest young adult novels I've read this year. It tells the story of a girl named Naila who is forced into an arranged marriage, utilizing a style that is simple and straightforward. Yet each twist in Naila's story keeps the tension up and emotions high, culminating in a tale that ultimately showcases the reality of the situation really well. It broke my heart that the extreme circumstances Naila finds herself in are, in fact, not exaggerated; these things still happen to young women in this day and age. Saeed succeeds in narrating a story that, while fictional, has its basis in fact, a story that will open your eyes to a reality that will break your heart. It's definitely a novel that deserves to be read.

Summer of Yesterday book cover
Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Source/Format: Gifted by Estelle (Thanks!) || Paperback

As someone who loves Disney, it's always fun to read a novel that gives a nod or two to Disney - whether the movies, the characters, or the parks. When Estelle mentioned in her review that this one is set in River Country, a Disney water park that is no longer open, I was intrigued. And I'm happy to say that Triana nails it with her details of the place, making me wish I could have experienced the place for myself. Apart from the fun setting, Triana blends time travel and teen growth into Haley's story. It's fascinating to see how her experiences in the "past" she time travels to help Haley come to a few important realizations about herself and her relationships. (And speaking of relationships, the one she has with Jason is admittedly pretty cute) Even though I wasn't necessarily keen on a couple of things, I liked this story.

Magnolia book cover
Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source/Format: Bought || Paperback

Honestly, just the thought of Magnolia brings a gleeful smile to my face. It's such an adorable novel, one that's basically my idea of fluffy, happy, contemporary perfection! The combination of the setting (which was really brought to life, terrible weather and all) with a fun, well-paced plot and sweet romance was absolutely wonderful, and I seriously can commend Kristi Cook for writing an A+ story. I loved Jemma, with her excellent shooting skills, love for film and struggle to find her own path versus her parents expectations; I loved Ryder, with his brains, with and all around nice, boy-next-door persona. And together, well, I fell head over heels for these two and their relationship! It just progresses so well, complete with romantic tension and misunderstandings making it difficult, and I cannot deny the amount of swooning I was doing. (I may have also been yelling at them to work their issues out...) Basically, I adored Magnolia. If you're looking for a book that will have you floating on a cloud of warm and fuzzies when you finish, then this is definitely the book for you!

Nightborn book cover
Nightborn by Lou Anders
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks)! || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Even with a slow start, Frostborn was a read that pleasantly surprised me. I immediately grabbed the opportunity to read the sequel, curious to see where Anders was going to take this story. And friends, Nightborn was fantastic! It moves at a much faster pace than its predecessor, which is something I really appreciated as my attention was caught and held from the get go all the way to the end. The story stands on its own, but still ties in with some of the details from the previous novel. Plus, it's definitely fun to be reunited with Karn and Thianna, who have changed somewhat considerably since their first adventure and yet still remain the same at their core. I also fell hard for new character Desstra; her particular arc is so fascinating and incredibly well-done. With nods to Roman culture, a brand new setting, exciting action scenes and an entirely new game being played (and Karn does love his games), Nightborn is a spectacular sequel that has me looking forward to what comes next.

Focus on Me book cover
Focus on Me by Megan Erickson
Series: In Focus #2
Publisher: InterMix
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Honestly, what Megan Erickson writes, I will happily read. I finished Focus on Me with a tremendously large grin on my face, a surprise considering the difficult, emotional circumstances of this story. Colin is easily one of the most likable characters I've read about, an easygoing guy with a heart of gold; he's basically someone I'd want on my side in a pinch. And Riley, oh poor darling Riley has a lot going on, not all of it good, and yet, it's so easy to be charmed silly by him. These boys meet under unexpected circumstances, but to watch as their friendship and romance unfold is such a treat. Erickson handles her story well, getting these characters to a realistic, well-deserved ending, even with the heavy issues that threaten to drown out the good. I'm so pleased I enjoyed Colin and Riley's story, excited about the nods to Trust the Focus and happy to report I enjoyed yet another Megan Erickson novel.

7 comments:

  1. Under the Lights and The Status of All Things sound really good to me!

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  2. Under the Lights and The Status of All Things sound really good to me!

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  3. Fables is such a great series! It loses a little steam around volume 13 when the major story arc ends, but it picks up again around volume 17!

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  4. Ah so many of these are on my TBR! You already saw my glowing review for Under the Lights, so you know how much I loved that one... I'm also excited to see Fables on here.. I randomly saw it at B&N the other day and it looks really interesting. I'm trying to get more into graphic novels.

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  5. Leigh (Little Book Star)July 8, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    I enjoyed Fables, too! I read the second book first though because it was assigned to us (for my college English class). I think I'll read the first book some time. It was fascinating to see the author's take on these characters and how different their personalities are from the original fairytales.

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  6. I seriously need to read The Orphan Queen asap. Just got an ARC from a friend so hopefully I"ll get to it soon. I've got Never Always Sometimes for review too. I'm hoping I like it. I wanna give Megan Erickson another try too as I've only read one book by her and it was ok.

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  7. Nicole @ The Quiet ConcertJuly 12, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    Let's Get Lost is also my favorite Alsaid book but i really admired what he did with Never Always Sometimes and loved the honesty of it. I also adored Magnolia! And I can't wait to read Written in the Stars - it doesn't sound like an easy read but a very relevant and powerful one! Great mini reviews!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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