Monday, September 7, 2015

Abbreviations #15: August Minis

A new month has just started, and you know what that means... a whole new set of mini-reviews! As always, please check out what I thought of the novels I've read in August but haven't reviewed yet.

The Royal We book cover
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

Honestly, I love a good love story. The Royal We delivers on many fronts: fun characters, strong relationships, a lovely romance and just the right amount of drama. I really enjoyed reading about Rebecca and Nick, from their easy beginnings to the complexities of their relationship in the public eye. I never doubted for a second that their feelings for each other were true. But it was definitely really interesting to see how their relationship goes through the entire spectrum of ups and downs, particularly because Nick just so happens to be a prince. It's definitely a story that reminds me of other tales - The Prince and Me, as well as the real life love story between William and Kate. But with such a colorful cast and witty repartee, it definitely managed to make a unique mark. I obviously enjoyed The Royal We, but I do have one reservation - the pacing at the start of the book was slightly too slow. Still, the book recovers gracefully, and managed to reel me in! I'd happily recommend this.

North of Beautiful book cover
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 1, 2009
Source/Format: Borrowed from Rachel || Hardcover

The only thing I knew about North of Beautiful before I started reading it was that Rachel considered it one of her favorite contemporaries. It is a quiet novel, one that start off slow and stilted, filled with chapters where Chen presents the lay of the land, also known as Terra's current situation in life. Terra has been defined all her life by very few things - her complicated family dynamics, her collages and the birthmark on her face. As this novel progresses, Terra's world grows larger - new relationships and adventures leading to her self-awareness, her "terra firma", or the solid ground on which she could stand. It unfolds beautifully, with the excellent integration of map-making terms and art, and I'm incredibly in awe of what Chen managed to accomplish. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this story, and it's one I'd highly recommend to other readers.

Civil War book cover
Civil War by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines & Morry Hollowell
Publisher: Marvel
Publication Date: April 11, 2007
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Paperback

Before I even began reading Civil War, I was already familiar with some of the basic plot points and main players, thanks to my husband. I was eager to check this story out for myself, particularly knowing that this is the next installment of the Captain America films that will be released. And it was well worth the read! It was really compelling to see how these writers visualized this surprisingly plausible superhero civil war. Each side is standing for what they believe is right when it comes to the Superhero Reform Act, which asks superheroes to register with the government. I liked reading about how it all played out; it was impressive and smart and well-done. I'm curious to see which elements will be integrated into the film!

X-Men: Days of Future Past book cover
X-Men: Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont & John Byrne
Series: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1
Publisher: Marvel
Publication Date: June 7, 2006
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Paperback

Unlike more recent comics I've read, X-Men: Days of Future Past was a little harder to read because there was so. much. text. And honestly, if I weren't even just the barest bit familiar with these mutant characters, I'd find it difficult to be interested in reading this at all. But I did like reading about these mutants, since I'd known their stories (from the films and Macky's recall of their histories), and it was definitely fun to see the comic version of the latest X-Men film. I think it's fascinating to witness the many changes in the X-Men, particularly with the Uncanny ones, and I think I might just keep on reading this particular arc.

Truest book cover
Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Even now, days after I've finished it, Truest is still a contemporary novel that I find myself thinking about. Westlin Beck is a pastor's daughter who has lived in her small town of Green Lake all her life, comforted by what she is familiar with. That completely changes when the Hart family moves into town, and West becomes entangled with the teens of the family - Silas and his twin Laurel. The time that West spends with them certainly changes her life, and it all builds up to a crescendo that, though I knew it was coming, made my heart hurt. The novel offers a candid look at small-town life, everyone knowing everyone and their business no matter how you try to hide it. It also inspires some interesting reflection on faith, family, friendship and romance, in no big part due to the secrets the characters are keeping. However, the plot felt a little underdeveloped, with parts thrown in that didn't quite fit so smoothly. And I honestly wish I'd been able to form a deeper connection with the characters, which would have potentially strengthened the book's impact on my heart. Still, the novel is unique and the writing is good, so I look forward to reading more from Sommers. (Bonus points for a Filipino character and characters who love poetry & literature!)

Chasing Impossible book cover
Chasing Impossible by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #5
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: July 1, 2015
Source/Format: Received for pre-ordering Nowhere But Here || e-book

Abby and Logan! Logan and Abby! Honestly, there was no way that I was going to start talking about Chasing Impossible without mentioning these two intense, stubborn, beloved characters that appeared in previous novels (Dare You To | Crash Into You). I really enjoyed getting to know more about their respective situations in life, and I definitely enjoyed their undeniable chemistry. The banter, the friendship, the understanding - it all worked out so well for these two, even when they were faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. While it did take me a little longer than I liked to get really invested in this tale, I still really enjoyed it! It doesn't hurt that it has all the marks of a McGarry novel - intense drama, sweet moments and a lovely resolution. And it really doesn't hurt that readers get a glimpse of the entire gang from the series in some pretty awesome scenes. All in all, I'm so glad that this book exists, and anyone who enjoyed the series and loves these characters will enjoy reading this one as much as I did.

Tatiana and Alexander book cover
Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons
Series: The Bronze Horseman #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 29, 2010
Source/Format: Owned || Paperback

I have no idea why I waited as long as I did to read Tatiana and Alexander, the follow-up to The Bronze Horseman, but I finally picked it up one day when I was inexplicably craving more of these two title characters. It was, to put it simply, one of the best sequels I've read this year. Simons nails it, yet again, with her story, setting, characters and romance, and I fell head over heels in love with this brand-new tale about these two lovebirds. The novel alternates between Tatiana and Alexander, with each one offering a different impression of this historical era. What I appreciated most was getting the opportunity to learn more about who Alexander was, the man he had been shaped into by his history and emotions. Also, there was considerably less angst, though that didn't mean there was a lack of pain, anger, sorrow and guilt. This novel is a triumphant addition to the series, a truly emotional and engaging chapter in the lives of Tatiana and Alexander. And it has the perfect ending too!

4 comments:

  1. It was such a nice surprise seeing you mention North of Beautiful here! Justina is one of my favorite YA authors and one of the first ones I began reading when I discovered YA while working at my local library as a teen. I've thought about this a lot and I'd have to say of her earlier novels (before she dropped the Headley) my favorite is probably Girl Overboard. I read it years ago but it's one I still think about all the time. I'm so glad you got the chance to read a backlist favorite :)

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  2. I love mini reviews! And I love your blog header, it's so prettyyyy. Just had to mention that haha. And I really need to read my copy of The Royal We already, it sounds so wonderful. I haven't read the Pushing the Limits series but it sounds like I should try it out! You read Civil War!!! Since you thought it was so great, I might get it at the library; I want to see what could make it into the movie too :) Chris gave me Winter Soldier for Christmas which I still want to read as well.

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  3. Yay! I'm so happy to hear you not only enjoyed North of Beautiful but that you'll be recommending it to others too! :D

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  4. I LOVE THAT CIVIL WAR IS HERE. I've just recently been interested in comics so I'm researching all that I can and soaking it all up, hehe. I'll have to give Civil War a read before it comes out next year! Are you planning to read any of the tie-ins?

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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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