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review 2015-01-18 20:10
Great conclusion to a fantastic series (I seem to be running out of original titles)
Willowgrove - Kathleen Peacock

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Because I didn’t review the previous two books in the series, this review is especially hard to write since I have to say everything I get only one shot to say everything I want to about this amazing seris. Can a review ever be sufficient to express one’s love for not just one book but for an entire series? I don’t think so but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

I put off reading Hemlock for a very long time. I had had my eye on the series for a long time (since 2012 to be precise) but I was too scared too pick it up because of the supposed love triangle (emphasis on the supposed bit). Nick, being lovely, assured my poor nerves that I had nothing to worry about and while that soothed me some, it wasn’t until I saw the final book on Edelweiss that I decided that it was finally time to dive in.

Boy, I had NO idea what I had been missing out on. This series is the PERFECT comfort series. It reminds me of a couple years ago when I went through the paranormal phase and encountered so many great series. The Hemlock books remind me of the Darkest Powers books in particular what with the secret testing and conspiracies.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Let’s start at the beginning, with Mackenzie. Mac is a fabulous character and I adore her to bits. She is a strong female lead who won’t back down and is stubborn. Sometimes, her stubbornness is dangerous but I, for one, never felt as though her stubbornness lead her to do things that made me want to shake her. Sometimes, I did think she was a little too selfless but then again, when it comes to the ones you love, you’re going to do whatever you can to keep them safe. I did like that she didn’t push them away though. She didn’t think she could do this all on her own. She asked for help when she needed it. She wasn’t too scared to ask it and let her friends make the choices instead of making them for them and telling them it was too dangerous for them to do something.

Kyle, our love interest, was fabulous throughout the first two books and while he was just as swoon-worthy in this one, I felt like he just didn’t get as much of an opportunity to shine. I would definitely have liked to see a LOT more of him and perhaps see him and Mackenzie function as a couple. This book was definitely Mac’s book and it was more about her than it was about Kyle or Amy or Jason or anyone else.

Going back to the romance bit, you can tell that Mac and Kyle are very much in love and I love that there is very minimal drama in their relationship. There was a certain event that didn’t  do much for me (*secretly rages*) at the end of Thronhill but I feel like there is a certain strength in their relationship because they both know they are the one for each other.  What made me sad was that there relationship wasn’t explored as much as it could be. Considering how fantastic their romance was in Hemlock, I kind of wanted to see more over the course of the books. We had a lot of tender and sweet moments but they didn’t really ‘work together’. The worked to protect one another instead of towards a common goal.

Peacock definitely takes her time developing the plot over the course of the three books and none of the books ever were rushed or developed too slowly. Peacock paced them just right. I never really saw that twist coming when the truth was revealed in this book. It didn’t feel like it was unpredictable, it just never occurred to me that the author might decide to take her story down that road. If there had been a little more clues in the previous two books, it might not have felt so sudden but it definitely worked in context of the story so I didn’t feel like it was out of place which is important.

This book is brutal. There are deaths and we don’t like deaths. They are mean and sucky and I am going to go curl up underneath my bed (that’s my favorite spot if you guys haven’t realized by now).

I was a little disappointed by the epilogue. It felt nice to know where the characters were after the events that would have followed the ending but at the same time, there were still some questions I had and considering there had been a two year jump, a lot more questions so the epilogue, instead of making the series feel complete did just the opposite. 

In the end, this was definitely a great conclusion to the series and if you still haven’t started the series and ventured into the world of Hemlock, I have no idea what you’re waiting for. Get on it and remember, Kyle is mine.

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review 2014-10-07 23:14
Worth it
Trial by Fire - Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire was exactly as I had hoped it would be but more. That sounds a little contradictory, doesn't it? I suppose the best way to explain it is that I knew I would love this book but I had no idea how much. Angelini never fails to surprise me.

I remember when I first read Starcrossed and now, reading the first book in her new trilogy, I feel the same way as I felt then. I feel that excitement. I feel the thrill. I feel everything. Yet at the same time, it's obvious how much she has grown as a writer. Angelini knows what she is doing.

This book does not start off lightly and if you're like me and don't deal well with anticipation, the first chapter and a half is going to be HARD to read through but once you're past those hard bits, it gets a lot better, I promise.

Lily is a fantastic character. She is strong and her strength never fails to amaze me. When 'her' Tristan is a jerk to her, she doesn't just curl up into a ball. She's heartbroken but also realizes that what he did to her, the way he treated her, was wrong and she doesn't just let that go away, she tells him that he was a jerk. That's just one showcase of the strength she possesses. She has to adapt to a whole new world yet she does it realistically. Even though she is quick to understand the mechanics of the new world, she continues to hold the ideologies of her own. She isn't just going to change who she is to adapt to this new world, instead she tries to understand these differences and the reasons behind them. That's what makes her such a likeable character.

The secondary characters are just as well developed. I want to start off by mentioning the brilliance that is Lillian. I have NO CLUE how Angelini does it. Lillian isn’t your typical villain and I have to say, I find it incredibly hard to hate her. Her actions are inexcusable yet Angelini still develops her character in a way where it’s possible for us as readers to empathize with her. Okay, so I know many won’t be enthusiastic about empathizing with a villain but just trust me. It’s important to the story. Juliet is a wonderful addition although to be honest, throughout the entirety of the book, I found myself missing Lily’s Juliet. That does speak volumes about Angelini’s character development skills, especially if you find yourself missing a character you knew for 1.5 chapters.

Let’s not forget Caleb and Tristan though. I think we get to know more about Tristan (the other version who is a lot nicer) more but I kind of connected to Caleb after a certain event. That said, they are both wonderfully developed as well and I cannot wait to see more of them in the sequels.

Speaking of, I still haven’t mentioned Rowan, the love interest. I am all about the romance and while I genuinely enjoyed the romance in this book, I also felt really uncomfortable at times. Knowing that Rowan had loved Lillian in the past and was hurt so badly by her made me uncomfortable. It makes me wonder if Rowan actually has genuine feelings for Lily as an individual or if he sees her as a nicer version of Lillian? Those kinds of questions kept on bothering me as I read the book so it made it harder to enjoy their romance, no matter how sweet it was.

What takes the cake is the world building and I am not the least bit surprised by that. If you’ve read Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy, you’ll know what I am talking about. If you have not, you should go get started on that. Moving back to the world building, I have always loved the idea of parallel universes and this book explores the idea in an interesting way. It’s not a brand new idea but at the same time, Angelini manages to make it original. Angelini does an original take on magic but she also creates an interesting power hierarchy. There isn’t much in-depth world building and we learn more about the differences between this world and our own than we do about the history of this new world, but I think we’ll find out a lot more in the sequels.

The plot was so well paced although that’s to be expected in this kind of book. The pages flew by and before I knew it, I only had 30 pages left in the book and had to take a quick break so I wouldn’t die of thirst.

The way this book ends has me dying to read the sequel and all I can say is that anyone looking for an interesting book featuring magic, you need to check this out.

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review 2014-08-22 14:32
A GOOD New Adult Novel
I Want It That Way - Ann Aguirre

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

It’s so hard to describe this book because, while it isn’t particularly special and will probably not blow your mind away, it’s also a fantastic read and something that combines youthfulness, young love and the difficulties one faces when you have to grow up, and it is done in such a fresh manner. There is something great when a book manages to merge those elements together--and I Want it That Way is that kind of great.

The New Adult age group has become known for tons of sex and plenty of bad points, such as not having enough character development. A lot of the NA books coming out lately are starting to change how we see these kinds of books and are starting to really explore the potential this demographic holds. I Want it That Way is one of those books. It’s why I ended up adoring this book in spite of the handful of problems I had.

For starters, the characters are fantastic. Both the main and secondary characters (Lauren aside) are well developed, are easy to like and have depth to them.They all have their own sets of problems, yet they aren’t really a depressing bunch. Even Ty, which is surprising considering what he’s been through. He may come off as somewhat bitter in the beginning, but it’s more of a "once bitten, twice shy" kind of thing. He doesn't mope around and whine about how life isn’t fair.

Nadia was such a likeable female lead and was SO relatable. I loved how in spite of all the heartbreak that was in it for her, she never really gave up on Ty. Even when they had their ups and downs, she wasn’t tempted to go run and jump the first guy she came across. She handled a lot of the situations she found herself in like an adult and was mature, but at the same time, she also acted like her age. What I loved more about her, though, was how she was around Sam (Ty’s kid) and her friends.  She is the kind of friend anyone would want and is just all-around likeable. What really sold me on her was, when after hearing Ty’s story, she didn’t take his side. She didn’t take any side, for that matter. She neither condoned nor condemned his actions and just understood him instead. A character who doesn’t just butt into everyone’s business and just lets people talk, just LISTENS and offers comfort (instead of lies) is bound to be a good character.

Ty was just swoon-worthy and he also complemented Nadia perfectly. He needed someone who could help him get outside the solitary circle he had created for himself--someone who would push him to do things--and in that manner, they worked well together. That aside, what really made Ty endearing was how much he loved his son. He never saw him as a burden or someone that stopped him from living more. There were obviously things he missed from "before", but at the same time, he never really blamed his son. He was also a sweetheart and definitely not a jerk. He was always straight with Nadia about how far they could take things and never really tried to lead her on. He cared enough about her to know that at that point in life she might not be ready to give everything up and he knew that being with him wouldn’t just be about him because he also had Sam to think of.

Their romance did have the insta-love vibes, and while that should have disturbed me me, I wasn’t all that bothered since the two complemented each other. Their relationship wasn’t purely sexual and there was so much going on. The two took their time to actually talk to one another. They talked about their favorite things, dreams and aspirations, etc. Plus, there is the fact that we, as readers, weren’t privy to all their interactions. In the end, they made a good couple and were very easy to ship--isn’t that all that matters?

What stopped me from absolutely loving this book was Lauren, and then the Lauren-and-Max drama. I felt like the whole issue between the two was unnecessary, not to mention painful to read about! It would be a great build-up for the third book and would probably add to Max’s tortured-ness but… is it really Lauren’s fault that she didn’t fall head over heels for him (even though I happen to think he is fabulous)? I just feel like, in Max’s book, Lauren might be seen in a negative light for "breaking his heart", and I don't like that. All that aside, I wasn’t even a huge fan of Lauren in the first place. I absolutely hate it when people hide secrets from their best friends. The fact that Lauren spent such a huge chunk of time hiding stuff from Nadia--and ended up only telling her when necessary--didn’t really make me like her. They're supposed to be best friends--she shouldn’t be scared to tell her things, no matter how Nadia might respond! What are you doing, calling yourself her best friend when you cannot even do that?!?!

With all that said, this really is a story worth reading. I might have had some problems with the book, but I was thoroughly invested in it and wasn’t let down in the least. It may not have blown my mind but not all novels are meant to. Sometimes, for a novel to be something we can relate to, it doesn’t have to be totally amazing. It just needs to be down to Earth. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good NA novel to read.

FUN FACT: The first song I listened to after finishing the book was NOT in fact I Want it That Way by Backstreet Boys... it was Bye Bye Bye by 'N Sync.

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review 2014-07-28 22:56
Final reveal a HUGE let down
The Broken - Shelley Coriell

***This mini-review has also been posted on The Social Potato

The Broken was a thoroughly entertaining read to say the least, and I probably would have rated it higher had the actual revelation behind the mystery not been a complete buzzkill.

Aside from the revelation, another issue I had was the multiple POVs, but in the end I got used to them since the two main characters did remain in the spotlight.

I think one of my favorite things about this book were the secondary characters. I had so much fun reading about them. There was a large variety amongst them and even the ones who didn’t play a huge role in the book as a whole were interesting to read about.

The main characters were well developed, and I really enjoyed being inside their heads. Kate has a messy past which has made her into a person who doesn’t trust easily, but she had found a place for herself in the world by working hard. Of course, being attacked changed that and she has been in hiding for the past couple of years. Her fear is palpable and she is such an easy character to get behind. You cannot help but cheer for her.

Hayden is an equally intriguing character who in spite of being somewhat of a cliché is characterized wonderfully. He is a hard worker and believes in justice and goes to great lengths to make it happen. This, of course, doesn’t leave much room for a personal life and of course, the kind of work he does has caused him to toughen up to the point where people have called him "soulless".

This, obviously, changes when he meets Kate, and I have to say, the romance between the two is satisfying. It is slow burn in a weird sense and while there is attraction from the get-go, it morphs into something more as the two spend more time in each other’s company. The reason I say weird sense is because this whole book takes place over the course of mere weeks so… one could claim that their romance is a case of "insta", but I never felt that way.

The mystery itself wasn't an issue but when things unravelled, I felt seriously let down. All the running around in circles and red herrings had been for nothing and I was just really disappointed.

Aside from that, even though the book is seemingly long, it is a rather quick read and the pages fly by. It’s entertaining and will definitely keep you on your toes trying to solve the mystery.

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text 2014-05-16 18:10
So so cute.
Fan Art - Sarah Tregay

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato


“We aren’t some fictional couple you can slash together. We’re people. Real people!”

I came across this book while randomly scrolling through Edelweiss and it felt like I had hit the jackpot. Before we carry on, I think it’s somewhat important to explain what I just said. I once saw a video on youtube that got me thinking. The video had me hooked on to the idea of a guy trying to come out to his best friend and trying to tell him that he loved him. Suddenly, I wanted to know the story. I wanted to know what would happen. Would a happy ending occur or would things go down the drain and when I found this book it felt like a dream come true. I immediately downloaded it and I must say, this book did not disappoint. AT ALL. It was cute and fluffy and just all around sweet and it gave me the HEA I so desperately craved.

Jamie was a joy to read about and I don’t think I’ve been this happy to meet a character. It’s like going on a blind date (not that I would know) and then finding the person to be of your liking.  He has one thing most of the other teens in their final year of school I've read about don’t have. HE ISN’T OBSESSED WITH COLLEGE. This is important to me since it’s my last year as well and I am glad to have come across a character who understands my deal with college. He wants to go to college, he looks forward to it, but he isn't OBSESSED. But that isn’t all. Jamie is all around relateable and a delightful character. I love his awkwardness, I love his fears, I love his modesty and I love how he strives to do the right thing even if it scares the crap out of him. Most of all though, I just love how he can be oblivious. And really, it's was just so FUN watching him finally settle into his skin.

Jamie is hiding inside the closet. His parents know but he is too afraid to come out to everyone at school for the fear of messing up his relationship with his best friend. He doesn’t want things to become awkward between the two of them because he doesn’t know what he would do without Mason. The problem with that is that almost everyone knows that he’s gay (not that Jamie knows this). Or at least those girls in his art class do. This book turns into a slow journey of Jamie finding people who understand him and him finally letting go of his fears and embracing who he is.

Mason was adorable. He is a nerd, he is cute and he is also the bestest friend ever. He never pushes Jamie but instead gives Jamie the space he needs. Sadly though, Mason doesn’t play as big of a role as he could have. Mason is almost in the sidelines for large chunks of the book because this book isn’t about Mason and Jamie. It’s about Jamie. It’s about Jamie finally finding the courage to be who he is and so it has a large focus on the people Jamie meets on his journey to self-acceptance.

Like Eden and Challis. He becomes friends with the first and tries to smuggle in a LGBT friendly art piece for the art magazine the latter created. I actually loved his relationship with the gang. I loved watching him become friends with Eden and opening up to her. Jamie is always so confined because he has a secret to keep so it was a relief to see him finally relax a tad-bit.

The relationship with his family was great and realistic in some ways. His step-dad tries too hard and sometimes Jamie is annoyed by the fact that his mom had the twins but in the end he loves all of them and that is that.


Thou shalt not check out thy best friend.”

Well unless you’re sure they like you back but in Jamie’s case that’s not true. Hell Mason is probably straight and even if he was bi or gay, Jamie cannot be sure that Mason would like him back. A couple pages in and it’s kind of obvious which direction their relationship was headed in. The obviousness could have been annoying but it wasn't. These two characters aren't your usual cliches and neither was their relationship.It unfurled in a realistic manner. It was fun to lay back and watch everything unravel. Admittedly there were times where I just wanted to shake Jamie and tell him to stop being so blind but it all worked out in the end so it's all good.

The plot of this book revolves around an art magazine and a certain LGBT friendly piece. The committee rejects the piece and that is what jump starts Jamie’s own journey of self-discovery. He becomes enraged at how people are close minded. It pisses him off that people could so easily waive off the idea because the community won’t accept it and because of this the LGBT community of his school won't get a voice. The idea behind the art magazine was slightly weak but in the end it worked well with what the author was trying to achieve. Some of the art pieces were actually featured in the book and I enjoyed reading the poetry presented. Also it was fun seeing the gang trying to push the two together by dropping subtle hints (that Jamie was too scared, with good reason, to pick up on).

This book isn’t without some clichés. Obviously. But somehow they work. I didn't feel like I was reading a completely unrealistic book. Yes sometimes it did border on unrealistic but it worked for me. I found it to be a thoroughly entertaining read and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read something chick-lity and light.

Note that all quotes have been taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change

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