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review 2016-11-04 08:47
Rambling Review: P.S. I Like You
P.S. I Like You - Kasie West

P.S. I Like You

by Kasie West

**Collective Updates for P.S. I Like You

 

 

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk.  The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her.  Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer.  Only, who is he?  As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…



Okay.  So here are my thoughts:

I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book.  In fact, I'm actually quite pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  To be honest, the past two Kasie West books I've read have been a little deflated, and a little bit of a step down from what I'd associated with Kasie West based on the first two books I'd read of hers: Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us.  Up to last year, The Distance Between Us was my favorite of the Kasie West books currently published.

The rest of the books I've read since The Distance Between Us have been enjoyable, but just never on that same level of squee-worthy love.

Until now.

I'm not the type to go hardcore fangirl too often.  Okay, maybe I am.  But I often see a lot of reviewers tout a recent release by a favorite author as "the best of so-and-so's work," and I often wonder if that's not too exaggerated.  I mean, maybe you love it that much because it's new and older works are a distant memory, you know.  Then again, everyone has their own preferences, and I can understand why people would make such an absolute declaration.

Because I'm probably about to do the same... or at least something similar here.

Kasie West is an author I follow and love.  She may not be an all-time favorite, but I do, absolutely enjoy the wit and humor she infuses into her books, when that particular quality is present.  I'm not going to lie:  On the Fence and The Fill-In Boyfriend were two enjoyable books on a superficial level; but both books seemed to lack that dry sarcasm and nonsensical, charming appeal that I'd long ago associated with Kasie West based on her first two works, Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us.

It had actually been because of the Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us combo that had me automatically dishing out more money than was necessary for each following Kasie West book.  But with two not-as-squee-worthy books in a row bought, I ended up a little hesitant of West's work.

So instead of automatically buying and jumping into the next of her books (this one), I put myself on a hold request wait list for a library copy.  And now I'm a bit conflicted, but with P.S. I Like You, everything that I loved about Kasie West has returned... and now I need to decide whether it'd be worth it to spend ten dollars on my own Kindle copy to add to my Kasie West collection.

Because, to date, I am fairly certain that P.S. I Like You is my favorite of all the Kasie West books written.

Quirky characters, quirky main character, quirky friendships, quirky family... a sweet, fun, and cute little love story...  P.S. I Like You was so enjoyable that I found myself finishing the darn thing before I realized that I should probably get some sleep.

I only get Book Hangovers for books I really, really got into.  I only get Book Hangovers with books that I truly want to continue reading once I've reached the end, even if they are just random scenes for the sake of cute.  Because between Lily and her mystery man (no spoilers), there was definitely a lot of cute!

I wish I could talk about who Lily's mystery pen pal is, but I don't know if that would end up being a big spoiler.  I'm not sure if the identity of this guy is meant to be a secret or not, because honestly, the moment he's introduced in the book, I already figured out how the entire story would go down.

And you'd think that, with the predictability, it would take away from my enjoyment of this story.  Instead, the way in which the story was presented, coupled with all the wonderfully created characters, and the awesome character interactions made the journey from beginning until the end very, very enjoyable.  The moment that Lily discovers who her mysterious pen pal is and the new conflict happens was wonderfully presented; all the new interactions between Lily and mystery pen pal were sweet and sweet and so darn sweet.

I really wish I could talk about Lily's mystery pen pal without spoiler tags, if only because he's present from the start and I want to talk about his development.  Because I loved how West played up their relationship.  Then again, like I said, it's quite obvious from the way he's written in who the main love interest is--it's a Kasie West book after all, and all the signs are there.

There are quibbles, of course.  I had my doubts about the love story in the beginning, but I'm actually quite okay with how everything worked out.  And I had a slight problem with how the ending dragged out.  And I think that the entire book could have done without the whole "Mean Girls" angle--it felt highly unnecessary.

But then you have best friends who squee at creating a morning routine tradition, an older sister who keeps walking in on you talking to yourself, a crazy family who is more likely to scare away new acquaintances just by being their normal selves, and a pet rabbit who pees on your blind date's sock...

If anything, I'm just absolutely in love with Lily's entire family, as well as Lily herself.  I'm in love with the craziness of Lily's family.  I'm in love with all the character interactions, whether good or bad.  It's just all very lovable, really.

On a side note, aside from the passion for song-writing, and the whole getting-a-boyfriend thing, I can totally related with almost everything else in Lily's life.  Lily's socially awkward, introvert personality was essentially me during my teens.  Lily's tendency to be more eloquent on paper as opposed to in-person is so similar to how I've always been my entire life.  Even down to her off-trend sense of fashion and her dislike for P.E.

I just really, really enjoyed this book.  And I truly hope that the next Kasie West book will be just as excellent!


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/rambling-review-ps-i-like-you.html
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review 2016-10-16 13:00
Meandering Thoughts: Crooked Kingdom
Crooked Kingdom: A Sequel to Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom

by Leigh Bardugo
Book 2 (final) of The Dregs

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive.  But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.  Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope.  As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties.  A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.



So I really, honestly have no idea what to say about this book.  I could post another set of .gifs announcing how much fun I had reading this book.  I could post a poster declaring the book hangover that hit me.

But I've already done that when I sort of squee'd about the first book in this series.

The thing is, though, that Crooked Kingdom was everything I wanted it to be... but at the same time NOT QUITE everything I wanted it to be.  If that even makes any sense.

I loved this book and I loved this duology as a whole.  But if I had to be honest with myself, there certainly were some things in this conclusion that I didn't really like, as I figured there would be.  Authors can't please everyone, right?  And while certain events were pretty awesome, others, I felt either dragged a little or broke my heart.

One thing is definitely for sure, though:  I would definitely recommend this duology over The Grisha trilogy that was Leigh Bardugo's debut YA fantasy series.  In comparison, overall, this one had a more thought-provoking story line, deeper and darker characters, with the same awesomely witty quips and humor that had been peppered throughout The Grisha trilogy.  Bardugo is an excellent writer with excellent ideas and a knack for bringing her characters to life.

And you'd think that it would be hard to handle so many characters, but all six of our heroes (or non-heroes, whatever you want to call them), were managed wonderfully.  Crooked Kingdom brings forth much more of the meat of all our characters' histories while progressing them forward in present day.

While Kaz, Inej, Matthias, and Nina were the forefront in the first book, this time around we get to see much more of Wylan and Jesper.  I'm happy to get to find out more about these two boys who kind of sat in the background in the first book.  And I overall loved what our author did for all six of these characters... well, except for one little snafu at the end of which I'm still not certain about how I feel (no spoilers), because it was unexpected and almost felt a little forced.

Side tangent--there was one thing I noted a few times that stood out for me:  At least three different instances, one character or another made mention of the fact that our six-person crew were no more than young teenagers--kids.  Jesper's father is even brought into the mix, which really DOES emphasize the fact that Kaz and company are really all just kids.

It made me wonder if Bardugo had included those instances on purpose for reasons.  Because when I really think about it, sometimes while reading about the extraordinary things that these characters do throughout the book, you DO sometimes forget that they're really just a group of teenagers who have all been dropped into their hard times, and had to learn how to survive on their own.

As was also brought up in the book, these kids didn't really have anyone to protect them, or to run home to if or when things got too bad.

Just a thought, really.

Anyway, Crooked Kingdom is a pretty well-rounded conclusion to The Dregs duology.  On a personal level, I absolutely loved it.  But that doesn't mean that there weren't a few things in the book that didn't work for me.  I could readily ignore said issues, but I really couldn't bring myself to do as such.  So overall, while Crooked Kingdom was pretty awesome, I think I still preferred Six of Crows more... especially after you realize that Kaz is really a super-powered, all-knowing God in this one--that was a little harder to follow.

As a series, The Dregs, I feel, is definitely a step up from The Grisha trilogy.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/10/meandering-thoughts-crooked-kingdom.html
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review 2016-09-28 04:30
Thoughts: Slow Burn
Slow Burn: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Slow Burn

by Pamela Clare
Book 2 of Colorado High Country


Let's be frank here:  Pamela Clare is an auto-buy author for me.  She's an auto-buy author as well as an auto-read author.

At least the contemporary stuff she's written so far has been quickly added to my library and devoured--I haven't exactly gone back over her historical back list yet.  And while her books have the tendency to get a little overly cheesy and overly schmaltzy sometimes, Pamela Clare has sentimental value.

Her I-Team series was the very first set of Romantic Suspense series I truly fell in love with.  And with that, it got me catapulted into the entire genre, finding myself a sweet little comfort zone for my reading life.

But that's not all.  Pamela Clare books are auto-buy for me because I've always found I love the characters she creates and the suspenseful situations she creates.

Slow Burn doesn't prove too differently.  Although Slow Burn also proves the power of a beloved author versus average presentation of a potentially fun and sexy contemporary romance.


The Blurb:

Victoria Woodley is done with men.  Fresh off a dating nightmare, she flies from her home in Chicago to Scarlet Springs to take part in her best friend’s wedding.  Who picks her up at the airport?  Eric Hawke.  Of course.  She made a fool of herself over him last time she was here.  He’s cocky, charming, and sexy as sin.  But the fact that she’s attracted to him is all the proof she needs that he’s bad news.  She would ignore him if she could.  But he’s the best man, and she’s the maid of honor.  She can’t just tell him to jump in a lake—especially not when her lips are locked with his.

Eric isn’t looking for a relationship.  Between running the firehouse and volunteering for the county’s search and rescue team, he has enough on his plate.  He doesn’t need to get tangled up with a woman from the big city, especially one whose idea of roughing it is going without designer coffee.  Yet from the moment he looks into Victoria’s big brown eyes, the attraction he feels is too strong to deny.  Faster than he can imagine, the spark of desire that has smoldered between them since the first day they met will flare into full-blown passion.

But can Eric convince Victoria to set aside her doubts and trust him with her heart before their time together runs out?



My Thoughts:
Slow Burn is written well, easy to read, and fast-paced, as Pamela Clare is wont to present.  The premise is a cute one with a lot of potential between Victoria who has a really bad incident occur in her life recently, and Eric who just naturally wants to take care of everyone in his life even if he won't admit it.  It's a typical hero and damsel story, but with a modern twist and lots of sexy times involved.

And also, Victoria's a pretty cool Mary Sue of epic proportions... y'know, for a Mary Sue.  Except for that little miscommunication and jumping to conclusions deal in the short first chapter back story of one year ago, Victoria's alright.  She and Eric end up having an excellent, chemistry-laden relationship wherein they are extremely in lust with each other, but are both trying to hang on to that "we're just friends" lie.

I'm sure everyone--readers and our main couple--were both relieved when the two finally gave into their carnal desires and jumped each others' bones.

Anyway, as far as romances go, this wasn't the most unique story in the world, nor did I expect it to be.  Victoria and Eric are both good people, and the little community of Scarlet Springs is a wonderful place for any small town love story to take place.  So I liked it.  It's a typical tried-and-true formula from a beloved author.

And sometimes that's enough for me.

To top it off, while a little outrageous, Lexi and Austin's "One Week of Pre-Wedding Festivities" sounded like a whole lot of fun.  I don't know anyone in my life, personally, who'd be able to afford all of that fun, but I guess it would be akin to just having a vacation in one's own home considering there's so much to do around the area: white water rafting, mountain hiking, a night out on the town, a climbing gym in a bar, etc....

One of the little quibbles I had were the forced "extreme situations" that kind of happened near the end.  I'm hesitant to say that Pamela manages better with her romantic suspenses, because I DO still enjoy these contemporary romances set in little Scarlet Springs, as there seems to be plenty of action going on a mountain town without needing to factor in a serial killer or terrorist attack.  I don't know if we need to include these extreme situations, though I suppose stuff like getting shoved in front of a moving vehicle CAN happen in real life without the premise being specific to romantic suspense.

Peaceful is kind of nice, sometimes.

The schmaltz that is standard Pamela Clare, however, seems to have resurfaced after being kind of absent in the last three books publish of hers that I read.  It's not in full force, but it's tell-tale signs are there.

Anyway...

"Firemen are my favorite color."


Yes, Victoria. They most certainly are. =-)


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/thoughts-slow-burn.html
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review 2016-07-18 13:00
Thoughts: The Last Star
The Last Star (The 5th Wave) - Rick Yancey

The Last Star

by Rick Yancey

Book 3 (final) of The 5th Wave

 

The enemy is Other.  The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere.  They want the Earth, they want us to have it.  They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed.  So has Ringer.  Zombie.  Nugget.  And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet.  Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.



I'm going to be totally honest and admit that I went into this book expecting... well, I don't know what I was expecting from it other than a struggle of a read.  When I first read The 5th Wave, I was completely drawn into it and loved the entire book through.  I loved Cassie and her snark!  I really did.  I was looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.  Then came The Infinite Sea, and I don't know whether it was just my reading mood or the book, but things just didn't work out--mainly, I felt like the book was just more repetition of the same things from the first book, but in a more dragged out, boring narration.

No offense to Ringer or any Ringer lovers out there, but her POV was difficult to follow--she was just so boring.  When we got around to Cassie, or even Zombie, I was a bit more placated.  So I had kind of been dreading the concluding book of The 5th Wave, worried that it wouldn't live up to the hype of the first book.  I wanted to finish this trilogy, but I wasn't as excited going into The Last Star as I probably should have been.

The Last Star, however, came back around with an enjoyable, well-rounded, even if open-ended, resolution.  Sure, a lot of the book DID drag out, and I felt like there were some side tangents that seemed unnecessary.  Also, a lot of the time, there were events that were either WTF moments... or just didn't make any sense to me at all.

Cassie's snarky POV was very welcome, except I feel like maybe she went a bit overboard with some of it and got annoying at some points.  Still, I once again welcomed her narration more than the rest of the characters.

And speaking of POVs...

--Side Tangent Rant Warning--

I've mentioned before that I'm not exactly the most thrilled with first person POV.  A lot of times it works, but I like being able to see what other characters are thinking or doing as well.  When you get a first person POV, the story and it's world are subjective to the one character who is telling it.  It's a popular POV used in young adult books, I've noticed; and I suppose it serves the purpose of letting the reader feel like the main character is more easily related to.  So I can usually read first person without problems even if it's not my preferred POV.

But then you get books like The 5th Wave where, you not only get a first person POV, you get alternating first person POVs... and then you get random third person, as well as third person present tense, and then some.  A lot of others might be fine with this, but I personally find the flip-flopping POVs a little confusing and frustrating, especially when Cassie's and Zombie's voices aren't that much different from each other.  Ringer's voice was much more unique and I never had a problem knowing it was her first person, but I got confused a few times and had to flip back a few pages or make a guess based on context if I had to put the book down for one reason or another in the middle of a chapter.  The third person POVs were even more out of place and made me wonder why we didn't just write the entire book in third person to begin with.

 


Anyway, aside from the whole POV thing and the other little quibbles I mentioned, I found The Last Star actually quite enjoyable and easy to read.  The ending had a sudden hit of FEELS I hadn't been anticipating, and despite the strangeness and the chaotic cluster of the entire adventure and journey surrounding these kids, I really DID feel like the ending was quite well-rounded.

Just don't get me started on the romances in the book--it might not be a good outcome.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Two | Square O12 -- Post Apocolyptic

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/07/thoughts-last-star.html
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