Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Book Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA Mystery
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

“Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on.” — E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I think this is where Lauren Oliver and I will have to break up. As a whole, her books just don’t work for me. That makes me sad because so many other people love all of her books and I wonder why I can’t love her books. 

I actually really enjoyed Panic, so I was hopeful that Vanishing Girls would be another fabulous read. Unfortunately I was let down in a big way. At first it starts off interestingly enough. I wasn’t totally invested by it, but I wasn’t totally bored by it either.

The problems start to rise to the surface when I realize that this book is written in dual POVs and it goes from past to present. Now I don’t have an issue with either of these things separately, but when they all come together in one book, I get a little twitchy. I worry that it’s going to be hard to follow or that the voices will sound the same. 

Sometimes this format works, but in Vanishing Girls it did not. I kept getting confused when it would switch to past or present and then, since the girls’ voices sounded too similar, I’d be confused as to who’s POV I was reading.

That damn twist was obvious for me very early on and the only reason I kept reading was that I was hoping I’d be wrong. It seemed like it was too easy to figure out the twist, and I was massively disappointed by it. It seemed like Oliver just went for the easiest twist to do and she didn’t even try to make it less obvious.

Both sisters were very flat and it seemed like there was very little in the way of character development. It was often hard for me to distinguish who was who. The secondary characters were equally flat and underdeveloped. I was woefully unimpressed by this book and by the characters in this book. I’ll be giving this book 2 stars and unless you want your twist to be really obvious, I’d skip this book.

Review of None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

Book Title: None of the Above
Author: I. W. Gregorio
Published Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Middlesex meets Mean Girls in this one-of-a-kind YA debut.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant? 

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him. 

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s world completely unravels. With everything she thought she knew thrown into question, can she come to terms with her new self?

Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

There is definitely a shortage of YA books that deal with this issue, and that really bums me out because I feel like this issue is more common than we know. For the people dealing with this condition, having more books on the subject would be awesome, and it would make these kids feel less alone.
From the beginning, we’re introduced to Kristin who has friends, and a boyfriend she is madly in love with. They haven’t taken the next step, but Kristin is realizing that she is ready for that next step. But nothing goes as planned that night, things are even more painful than she expected them to be. Going to the doctor- her first trip to the gynecologist is tough. She is being raised by a single dad, so that adds another layer of awkwardness to this whole thing.
One of the biggest questions for me at the beginning of the book was how did she not know? And that was answered in different ways, and it made sense to me why she would not know. I do wonder if it would have been found out sooner if her mother had still been alive. I’d like to think it would have been.
After she finds out the truth, she loses everything. Her friends & her boyfriend turn against her, they bully her, they taunt her. That was so heartbreaking, and I could feel Kristin’s heart breaking as she lost every single high school friend that had liked her before this all came out. I was so angry at all these people for just abandoning her when she needed them most.
What I did love a lot, was her relationship with her father. We don’t see much of that in YA, so I was excited to see it in this book. They loved and supported each other through Kristin’s mom’s cervical cancer diagnosis, illness and death. Now that Kristin was dealing with something scary, her father tackled it with the same fervent obsessiveness that he had brought to his late wife’s illness. He was the one person that she knew she could count on.

I did enjoy this book, and it was written well, but I can’t say I loved it. I’m not sure why I didn’t love it, maybe it is the simple fact that, although I loved Kristin as a character I couldn’t really relate to her. I do recommend this book, and I am going to give it 4 stars.

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Book Title: Things We Know By Heart
Author: Jessi Kirby
Published Date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

This review is likely to be chock full of gibberish because I loved this book. Very rarely does a book hit me this hard, but when it does, I know it’s a special book. 

There are so few books about organ donation, and I am really bummed about that. It’s a cause I believe in completely, and it’s one that I may face at some point in my future. I have a bad heart, have had it since birth and if there’s ever a point that they’ve done all the surgeries, procedures et cetera for me, then I’ll be in Colton’s position. Sick, and desperate for a heart.

I related to Colton better than I have ever related to a male character before, and it’s because of what he’s been through. Even though I haven’t been through the emotional & physical roller coaster of getting a heart transplant, I’ve been through 5 heart surgeries, I’ve been tied to medication since the day I was born. So many times I wanted to just stop taking my medication and just forget that I have a bad heart. Sure it’s great that I haven’t needed a transplant, but being tied to medication really isn’t fun at all. 

I related to Colton, he wanted so much to just move on and not think about the simple fact that someone had to die in order for him to live. That is such a heavy thought, and it’s one I know so well. He also deals with survivors guilt. It wasn’t mentioned in the book, but I knew the feeling and I knew that was part of the reason that he never answered Quinn’s letter. He felt guilt that he was alive while someone else was grieving the boy she loved.
Was Quinn perfect? Of course not, she made mistakes, but I can’t fault her for them. She just wanted to meet the boy who had received Trent’s heart. Should she have followed him? No, that’s stalking, and ordinarily, that would piss me off, but she was grieving and she was not coming from a malicious place at all, just a curious place.

The way things came to light was completely relatable, Colton’s reaction was understandable, I am pretty sure I would have had the same reaction if I were him. I did feel crappy for Quinn though. She had finally allowed her heart to open up to the possibility of falling in love again, and then in an instant, he was gone, possibly forever.

This book was about taking risks and learning to love again. Quinn needed to believe that she could fall in love again, and Colton helped her heart open up to love. It was a slow burn, which I absolutely loved. Colton knew without asking that Quinn had suffered some heartbreak, but he didn’t rush to get the information out of her. He waited patiently until she was ready to tell him the story.

This book was very personal to me and it was very special. Kirby did an amazing job with this subject matter. She clearly took the time to research the topic, which really excited me. I loved this book and it’s getting 5 stars from me.

Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Book Title: Denton Little’s Deathdate
Author: Lance Rubin
Published Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been morbidly curious about death. I gotta say that if I got to find out when I was going to die, I’d be relieved. I mean as of right now, we don’t know when our time will come. So, in that way, I was envious of everyone living in Denton’s world. They all knew when they’d die.
The beginning of the story started off really interesting. We meet Denton the day before his deathday where he will attend his funeral and then the sitting, where everyone basically sits around and waits for the person to keel over.
Quickly, we realize that there’s a lot of drama going on. Apparently Denton had sex the night before, for the first time. That in itself isn’t drama filled, but the fact that it was with his best friend’s sister is. Denton’s been dating the same girl for awhile, but she isn’t the one he had sex with. So there ya go, typical teenage drama right from the start.
Denton is quirky and unique, but as the book goes on, things continue to go from just odd, to absolutely outrageous, and inconceivable. Normally reading books about how shit hits the fan unexpectedly is at least mildly interesting to me. But this time it was just too much and too fast. I barely got over one surprise in the book before another one showed up. 
I liked Denton, his girlfriend and his best friend, they were usually pretty funny, and to be honest, they saved the book for me. The other characters felt very flat to me, which really bummed me out because that tells me the author didn’t flesh them out enough.
The pacing was very uneven. Sometimes things would be going at a decent pace and then shit would hit the fan and it would speed up, only to slow back down a chapter or two later. I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, but I was overall very indifferent to it. So I’m going to give this book 3 stars. I’m not sure I’d recommend this book.

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Book Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published Date: March 9th, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Disclaimer: Library book.

To be honest, I don’t know if I am going to be able to keep this review in any kind of order. This book was indescribable in the best way possible. I had already DNFed it once before, but on the advice of Bekka, a blogger and one of my favorite people, I decided to give it another chance to dazzle me.

And it did dazzle me.

Normally I am not very patient, so the idea that I had to read 125+ pages before I really got into it, initially turned me off. I mean that’s a long time to read something before it gets really good. A lot of people don’t want to wait that long and I totally understand that. But with Jellicoe Road, it is so worth it.

There were two major storylines that were going on and then there were several other subplots. I was never sure how it would all play out, but I’m thrilled how it actually played out. I was a bit confused by the storylines and the subplots at first, but I finally was able to sort them out in my head. The secondary characters were every bit as fascinating as the main characters. Very rarely does that happen, so I was excited to see this.

JONAH GRIGGS! I think I fell in love with this guy quicker than I’ve ever fallen in love with any other book boy. He was hilariously funny one minute, and then sweet and kind to Taylor in the next minute. He wasn’t perfect of course, but he was pretty damn awesome. I now understand why everyone was always telling me about this guy.

I want to keep talking and talking about this book, but I have to be careful as so much of it could be considered spoilery. Make sure you have buckets of tissues for the ending because you will use them a lot in the final 50 or so pages. I wish I could give it the full 5 stars, but since it took so long to really get into it, I’ll be giving it 4.5 stars.  I recommend this book to everyone.

Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne Blankman

Book Title: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
Author: Anne Blankman
Published Date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Historical
Series: Book Two in Prisoner of Night and Fog series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I was worried that this book wouldn’t deliver as amazingly as the first one did. I had loved the first book so much and I think I had Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke up on a pedestal. While Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke wasn’t as amazing as its predecessor, I still enjoyed it a lot. Blankman has this ability to weave a tale with gorgeous writing and filled with characters that people will love.

Gretchen and Daniel have been able to live a different life for the past seventeen months. Gretchen has been living with the Whitestone family, and she’s found love, acceptance and kindness with them. They know her story, they know Daniel’s story and they support their relationship.

Everything changes when Daniel is accused of murder. Suddenly Gretchen and Daniel’s quiet life is turned upside down. Now they must find out who actually killed Fraulein Junger and why they framed Daniel for it. Gretchen suspects Hitler and his cronies, but finding out the truth will test her and Daniel’s relationship in ways that neither of them ever expected.

The first half of the book was a bit difficult for me to get into, despite the storytelling and the lush descriptions being so fabulous. I was happy to be back in this fascinating world, but for some reason it took me awhile to fall back in love with this story. By the time the second half of the book began, I was falling back in love with it. The second half seemed much stronger than the first half, and I think it’s because more stuff was going on.

I still absolutely adore Gretchen and Daniel. They were my favorite bookish couple in 2014 and as of right now they are in contention for my favorite bookish couple of 2015 as well. Their strength as a couple improved as did their individual stories. We actually got more of Daniel’s story in this book, which really excited me. In Prisoner of Night and Fog, we didn’t get as much of Daniel’s story as much as I wanted.

I did enjoy this book a lot, but I didn’t love it as much as I loved the first book. I do recommend this boo to anyone who is fascinated by the Hitler era like I am. I am giving this book 4 stars, and I will read anything Blankman writes. She’s got a flair for vivid storytelling and complicated and interesting characters.

Review: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow

Book Title: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
Author: Matthew Crow
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads
A poignant and unexpectedly funny novel about Francis – one of the best and bravest teenage boy narrators since Adrian Mole. This is an emotionally honest story about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad things can be.

Francis Wootton’s first memory is of Kurt Cobain’s death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection – and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who’s at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, 

Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There’s the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn’t reckoned on meeting Amber – fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber – and finding a reason to tackle it all – the good, the bad and everything in between – head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Sometimes gorgeous covers are a hint that something even better is in those pages, and sometimes the cover is doing it’s best to hide a book that is lacking certain things. With this book and it’s gorgeous cover, it was definitely the latter. This book looked like something I’d love. It’s no secret that I love the “tough subjects” contemporary books. Unfortunately this one was a big disappointment.

I was expecting to love Francis and Amber, I was expecting to root for them as a couple as they battled their illnesses. I was expecting to laugh and cry right along with them. However, all of my expectations were unmet. I found Francis and his family all very tedious and one dimensional, which is not a good thing. Amber was okay, but she was also really underdeveloped. She was supposed to be this funny, sarcastic girl, but I didn’t get any of that from her.

The book itself was very slow, and in fact we didn’t even meet Amber until the book was a quarter of the way over. I was very close to DNFing the book then as well because Francis was so boring, but when Amber showed up, I decided to keep reading it and hope that this book would improve.

The character development was severely lacking in this book, and I think it would have been so much better if Crow had fleshed out the characters more. I wanted them fleshed out because it seemed like they were very flat, and to me, flat = uninteresting. The pacing was even, but it was also incredibly slow. It felt like I could skip a chunk of this book, and I wouldn’t miss anything. 

I wasn’t excited to pick it up whenever I could, and in fact, I dreaded picking it back up. No one wants to have that feeling when they are reading. Because of the slow pacing and the underdeveloped characters, I’ll be giving this book 2 stars. It could have been so much better than it was. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Book Title: Everything That Makes You 
Author: Moriah McStay
Published Date: March 17th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I was really looking forward to this book. It was one of my most anticipated reads for the first six months of 2015. I was eagerly awaiting the perfect time to read this. I went into this book excited and hopeful that it would be everything I wanted it to be.

Unfortunately it wasn’t. The pacing was weird. It was sort of jerky and I found myself totally uninterested in Fi Doyle’s life. I thought she was a snit and I really couldn’t stand her. Whereas Fiona was awesome. I really liked her and how she dealt with everything. Fiona was actually enjoyable and reading about her was fun too. Fi was such an irritating individual and more than once I wanted to scream. The pace was jerky because while I flew through the pages of Fiona’s life, Fi’s life bored the heck out of me and it would take me awhile to finish her chapters.

This book also lacked significant character development for the secondary characters, and after I had read the book halfway through, the secondary characters seemed to melt together. There was no distinctive voice for any of them and I grew to really not care about any of them. I think if there had been fewer characters, their character development could have definitely improved.

I love the idea of this story, it’s actually one of my favorite types of stories. Unfortunately this one was poorly executed. I didn’t get excited to pick this book up whenever I could. It felt more like pulling teeth to get me to pick this book up. Even reading Fiona’s parts of the story couldn’t really excite me.

The ending was very underwhelming and it made me wonder what the heck had I just read? That’s really a crappy feeling to have after reading a book. No one wants to feel like that. I had that this book let me down so much, but I am going to give this book 2 stars.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

Welcome to Adventures in Reading. Today, I am participating in a blog tour for Positively Beautiful. Generally I don’t do blog tours anymore unless I either read the book and adored it or I haven’t read it, but am very excited for it. Positively Beautiful fell into the former category.
Book Information:
Book Title: Positively Beautiful
Author: Wendy Mills
Published Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma – and the love story that springs from it

Erin’s life is taken up with her best friend, Trina, her crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had a knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer and even worse, the cancer is linked to a rare gene mutation. The chances that Erin has inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to get tested and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with the terrible dilemma, her life spirals downward, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. She also finds solace in Ashley, a girl she meets in an online support group. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair—but ultimately, to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty and love.

My Thoughts:
I actually posted a review last month and I’ll link to it here, but what I really wanted to talk about was Erin’s relationship with her mom. It’s such an important part of the book and it was my favorite part of the book. I don’t see a lot of positive mother-daughter relationships in YA, so I was happy that Mills chose to write a positive mother-daughter relationship. I related a lot to Erin’s relationship with her mom because I have always been very close with my own mom. Watching Erin deal with her mom’s illness was absolutely heartbreaking and I kept thinking about how I would have reacted if I was in her position with my mom. It was a beautiful book that made me so thankful that my mom is in decent health. I just couldn’t imagine going through what they went through.
Author Biography:
WENDY MILLS was born in Virginia and spent several years in North Carolina, but now lives with her family on the tropical island of Bokeelia, off the south-west coast of Florida where she spends her time writing and dodging hurricanes. She has published adult mysteries with Poisoned Pen Press, and Positively Beautiful is her first young adult novel.  Visit her online at or on Twitter @WendyMillsBooks.

This is a US only giveaway for 1 hardcover of POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL by Wendy Mills. Entrants must be 13 years or older.

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Review: The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

Book Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book One in The Orphan Queen duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a fellow blogger.

My number one goal this year is to read more YA Fantasy novels. I’ve read a few already this year, and was excited to read this one as well. This was to be my first Jodi Meadows book, and I fell in love with the cover, long before I cracked open the book. I was nervous because so many people loved it. I really didn’t want to be the black sheep.

It started off on the slow side, and I was nervous once again. I was so afraid that it wouldn’t pick up. I knew I had to allow for the story to be set up before I totally ruled against this book. Normally, I’m not patient, but for this book, I was curious enough to keep reading despite the slow pace in the beginning.

I liked Wil immediately. She was a total badass and I loved seeing that. I loved seeing her commitment to her people, I was quite jealous of her fighting talents. It would be totally awesome to have that kind of talent.

I never trusted Melanie. She always seemed to be hiding something, and she didn’t seem all that loyal to Wil, which pissed me off. Weren’t they supposed to be best friends? I constantly questioned her actions, especially towards the end of the book. To me, it was clear where her loyalty lay and that drove me insane. I was irrationally furious with Melanie by the time the book finished.

Oh Black Knife. SWOON! I seem to have a thing for the “darker” characters in fantasy novels. It’s definitely strange, but Black Knife was mysterious, sexy and captivating. He was actually quite a surprise as I didn’t expect to fall for him quite as hard as I actually did. Well played Jodi, well played. I cannot wait to see more of him in the next book.

The world building just got better and better as the book went on. In fantasy novels, the world building can make or break a book, and in this case, it definitely positively enhanced the book. I kept wanting to know more and more about this world that Wil, Melanie, Black Knife and the others were in, and that right there, is awesome.

There’s a freaking cliffhanger that will probably kill you like it almost killed me.

I’m so glad I got to read this book. It was so good, and I’m thrilled that I pre-ordered it last month. So I’ll have a shiny finished copy on my shelves this week. I am giving it 4.5 stars. I wish I could give it the full five stars, but the slow start moved it down a half star. Aside from the slow start, I’m telling you all to go read it ASAP.