Tea & Book Chat: The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

The Selection by Kiera Cass in the first book in the Selection trilogy.  It’s also the first book I started reading as part of BookTube-A-Thon to fulfill the challenge of reading a book with blue on the cover.  It’s a very quick paced read that’ll keep you just as hooked as your favorite garbage reality show.  To be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to like it nearly as much as I did.  Were there flaws?  SURE, but sometimes I’m just in the mood for those quick, fun, short reads.  The Selection follows America Singer who is one of 35 girls chosen from all of the castes in Illea to move into the Palace and take part in a competition to woo and eventually marry Prince Maxon, also known as The Selection.

The Selection is a Cinderella story of sorts and while the quality of the writing is not the best (seriously, this not an earth shattering read by any means), the story itself is an addicting one.  It’s not a spoiler that America gets chosen to partake in The Selection because obviously the book series is about her so anyone who picks it up should see that coming.  While the story is engaging, I feel obligated to address the love triangle which I am not so fond of.  America is torn between her forbidden childhood love Aspen and Prince Maxon whom she quickly begins building a relationship with (I’ll say right now that I am Team Maxon).  Maxon is completely opposite from what America had expected and I think he will be a great King when his time to rule comes.  He’s compassionate toward his people, he truly cares about the well-being of others and he’s already doing what he can to make changes.

The Selection

The aspect of The Selection that I enjoyed most is the worldbuilding.  The story takes place in a future dystopian America and the population is broken in castes ranked One through Eight, One being the most wealthy and Eight being the most impoverished.  It’s difficult to marry outside of your caste and the only opportunity anyone has to truly advance their place in society is to be The One to win The Selection.  I enjoyed hearing about life within the Palace and the extravagant parties, dresses and pastries the Selected girls were being treated to.  Speaking of pastries, one of my favorite characters (besides Maxon) is America’s younger sister May.  She’s adorably enthusiastic and she’s so obviously hoping that her sister gets a happily ever after.

Final Thoughts: The Selection by Kiera Cass is an addictive futuristic Cinderella story.  It takes place in a dystopian version of America in which 35 girls compete to marry Prince Maxon and join the monarchy.  The characters are very frustrating at points, but the descriptions of their dresses and the silly squabbles the girls get into will keep you from putting this book down.  If you enjoy binge watching reality television, this is a series for you!

Rating 5

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: July Wrap Up

Hello fellow bookworms! I read a total of NINE books in July (go Kristin!) and here is my video so you know what I thought of them!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1)

I have to start by saying that The Final Empire which is the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy far exceeds the hype surrounding it.  It’s THAT good.  After months of watching my favorite BookTubers rave about this book and after reading and loving Steelheart (review here), I knew it was my time to dive in to this series.  Mistborn is a magical novel about a band of thieves and it’s heavily politically driven.  I hadn’t been expecting that part (I thought it would be pure fantasy) but I couldn’t help loving every word as I learned more and more about the world.

The main characters Kelsier and Vin are everything<3  Kelsier acts as Vin’s magical mentor and their relationship with each other is a pleasure to read about. Kelsier is somewhat of a father figure to Vin and she reluctantly grows to trust him after growing up in an environment that destroyed her beliefs in the general good of the human race.  Kel teaches Vin all about how to use the magic she has within and he integrates her into his band of thieves which is unlike any other Vin has ever seen.  It’s easy to see how much Kel and Vin care for each other and their friendship warms my heart.  I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, particularly Elend, from the moment they appeared on the page.

Mistborn

A big part of what makes this story so magical is, well, the magic.  Brandon Sanderson crafted such an intricate system of magic which can be used by certain people with the ability to burn a specific metal.  There is also a very rare race of people called Mistborns who are able to burn multiple metals.  He consistently explains which metals do what throughout the novel and there’s also a handy guide in the back of the book.  In addition to the magic, I loved the political system within the world and the description of the Lord Ruler is chilling.  The way that Kelsier, Vin and crew plot to overcome a ruler who is a self proclaimed god is fascinating.  It’s a dangerous adventure which resulted in a thrilling read.

Final Thoughts: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson is a magical adventure story that is full of political intrigue.  The characters are perfectly complex and feel real and the system of magic within the world is thoughtfully crafted and explained in depth to the reader.  The main villain is bone chilling and the sense of camaraderie between Kelsier’s band of thieves is heartwarming.  Mistborn is an underdog story and I cannot wait to continue with the trilogy!

Rating 6

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals. (via Goodreads)

Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Dorothy Must Die which is the first book in the trilogy by Danielle Paige, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige is the second book in the Dorothy Must Die trilogy.  I’ll admit that I picked it up before I became aware of all the drama surrounding the author, but after loving the first book so much I felt like I should continue.  Plus, at 293 pages it’s a really quick read.  Unfortunately I wasn’t ever able to get into this book like I had the first one.  The story was not anywhere near as engaging and there were changes in storytelling that took away from the overall enjoyment. Womp womp.

The only reason I didn’t give this book 1 stars on my goodreads rating is because I didn’t see the ending coming and there’s potential for the third book to save this series if goes back to the style of Dorothy Must Die.  The story continues in Oz with Amy Gumm searching for the missing members of The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked while plotting to steal the remaining assets (the Scarecrow’s brain and the Lion’s courage) from Dorothy’s inner circle of henchmen.  Throughout the book, Amy becomes increasingly afflicted and controlled by dark magic.  Some of her allies even speculate that it’s the same dark magic that corrupted Dorothy. Amy lost some of her sass from the first book and she also gets little too boy crazy.  We do get to see more of Ozma who still doesn’t make much sense.  My main issue with this book is that it didn’t feel like anything really happened until the last chapter.  The characters were mostly mosying along through Oz without any events furthering the story.

The Wicked Will Rise

What drew me to this series initially is my love of Oz so the setting of the story is appealing.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the rainbow area and the bubbly ruler within it and I loved how she had a faux unicorn as a pet.  I also enjoyed the Island of Lost Things and I thought that was a fun addition to the world.  I’m not positive if it exists in previous Oz lore but it felt like it belonged in the world.  The end of the story is a completely unexpected twist but it led to some pacing issues in the early stages of the story and hindered its development.

Final Thoughts:  The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige is the continuation of Dorothy Must Die.  The story is not as likable as the first and the plot drags until the last chapter.  While the ending is an unexpected twist, it’s not enough to make up for the lack of story development in the first 90% of the book.  The main character Amy reads differently than she did in the first installment and we see much less of her original allies and the characters she’s trying to pursue so she can take down Dorothy.

Rating 2

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestsellingDorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die…

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked? (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord gave me a serious book hangover.  I felt so invested in Dee, Reagan and Matt that I physically couldn’t bring myself to start anything else for a good half a day after finishing.  Seriously, my heartstrings almost couldn’t take it.  Open Road Summer is the first book that was released by Emery Lord even though her second book, The Start of Me and You was actually written first.  I debated about where to start but I figured I would trust the publishing industry and read them in the order they were released in.  I’m just so happy this book came into my life!  I also feel obligated to admit that I’m super into Taylor Swift right now and I’m pretty sure Lilah Montgomery is the fictional version of her (except with less boyfriends).

Friendship is the most prevalent theme in Open Road Summer and I just can’t deny my love of reading about really strong female friendships.  Our main character Reagan has been burned so many times and through every awful relationship she experiences, her bond with Dee (Lilah Montgomery) remains constant and unwavering and it is anything but typical.  Dee is actually a famous country star who goes by Lilah Montgomery.  Reagan and she set out together on a road trip complete with tour buses for Dee’s summer tour across the country.  At first I was unsure how I felt about Reagan because of her brash demeanor but as the story progress and I learned more about her past and her desire to change for the better, she really grew on me.  I loved Dee from the start.  She’s the perfect role model who sticks to her morals no matter how tough that might be in her industry and I felt terrible for her when her personal life gets exploited.

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And then there’s Matt Finch.  He just may be the most perfect book boyfriend of all time and I wish I could go into depth with all the spoilers about him because he really is everything.  Matt is a musician who’s using the tour to find his place in life.  He seems like a lost puppy at times but in the most endearing and boy-next-door kind of way.  He’s not afraid to put all of his feelings out there and there’s a certain undeniably charming vulnerability that goes along with a man who bears his soul on stage.  I also loved that relationship Matt is involved in had zero insta-love.  It’s a sweet slow burn all the way and it’s so so satisfying.  Oh! And we get to read some of Dee and Matt’s song lyrics!

Actually, my only complaint is that even though the girls were constantly moving between cities on their road trip, the story mostly took place in gas stations and on the tour buses.  There was not much sightseeing involved so it’s a totally different kind of road trip than the one in Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.  But, I can forgive that because I felt like the progression to new places symbolized the progression and development our three main characters were experiencing in their own lives. It also felt authentic because any celebrity who’s traveling and spending such a short amount of time in one place probably doesn’t have a huge opportunity to sight see.

Final Thoughts:  Open Road Summer by Emery Lord is a near perfect contemporary that captures unconditional love in the form of a powerful female friendship, the most swoonworthy romance (seriously, look out Etienne, you have some serious book boyfriend competition right now), and such satisfying character development for everyone involved.  If you’ve ever been interested in learning what it’s like to be a touring musician or if you want a story fueled by raw emotion, you should absolutely check out Open Road Summer.

Rating 6

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The eternal Peter Pan fan in me is kicking myself for not reading Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson earlier but I’m so happy to have enjoyed my time with this story these past few days.  I decided to read Tiger Lily right before my birthday because Andrew had purchased tickets to take me to see Finding Neverland on Broadway and I wanted to get into the Peter Pan spirit.  Tiger Lily is a YA novel inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and it’s told entirely from Tinker Bell’s point of view.  It tells Tiger Lily’s story and it captures the relationship between Peter Pan and she prior to Wendy Darling arriving in Neverland and essentially ruining everything between them, but it is so much more than just that.

Tiger Lily examines relationships such as those between family, communities, enemies and the stuggle to identify oneself in addition to the romance.  Tinker Bell becomes fascinated by Tiger Lily once she realizes what an atypical girl she is and begins following her around and conveying her observances to the reader.  She narrates Tiger Lily’s relationship with Tick Tok, the head of the Sky Eaters tribe, which is simultaneously complicated and easy.  Tick Tok is Tiger Lily’s father figure and because she was taken in as the tribe leaders daughter, the people in her community tolerate her but she never truly fits in.  This is why Tiger Lily ends up finding herself when she meets Peter and his Lost Boys.  Peter doesn’t show up until much later in the stotry after we truly have a handle on Tiger Lily’s sense of character.

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I loved the traditionally swapped gender norms between Tiger Lily and Tick Tok.  Tiger Lily is described as masculine and seemingly unfeeling, especially in comparison to Wendy Darling, while Tick Tok has longer hair and tends to wear dresses.  Later in the book, there is a huge issue that the town faces with Tick Tok after an outsider points out his feminitiy and it’s explored so well.  I was nearly in tears during that part and I don’t want to give it away but trust me, it’s powerful.

There are less magical elements present in Anderson’s novel than there are in the classic Peter Pan tale but it really worked for the story she told.  There are still mermaids and fairies and I love the character development she provides for Tinker Bell.  It helps explain why Tinker Bell resents Wendy so much and how she and Peter’s interactions began.  Anderson reworked all of the characters to be slightly older than they are in the traditional tale and it allowed for an emotional comig of age story documenting the challenges one faces when transitioning from young adulthood into adulthood.

Final Thoughts: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson is an emotional coming of age story that draws inspiration from Peter Pan focusing on Tiger Lily’s journey from young adulthood into adulthood.  The story is narrated by Tinker Bell who struggles to make sense of the complicated relationships Tiger Lily has in her life.  The book is rife with body image, societal and social issues and the end results will be impactful.  Expect less magic in Neverland and more magic in the nuances and relationships that make characters human.

Rating 5Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is the first book in the Remnant Chronicles.  I decided to wait until now to read it because I have seen so many of my favorite book bloggers and BookTubers go through the agony of having to wait until book 2, The Heart of Betrayal, which is now currently in bookstores!  While I definitely enjoyed the book and I appreciated the clever style of storytelling, I wasn’t as in love with it as many other people seem to have been.

I love the unique storytelling style that Mary E. Pearson uses throughout the first book.  It’s told from multiple viewpoints, (one being the Princess who decided to flee on her wedding day, one being the Prince she was supposed to marry who journeys to find her and the third being an assasin sent from another kindgom to kill her) but it isn’t until you’re about 75% through the first book that you find out which male is the Prince and which is the assasin.  I thought the way Pearson decided to do this is very clever but I’ll admit that it was confusing at times.  I also felt as though the pacing was a little bit off.  The book starts out really strong with the adventure of Lia fleeing, but it plateaus in the middle for a while before it picks up again toward the end.  I did however love the ending and I think it is a great foundation for the series.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the second book.

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I think Lia is a great character and I admired her decision to run away from her kindgom instead of being forced into a marriage that she didn’t feel was right for her (don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler!). I understand that the Princess may have been deprived of men for the majority of her life, but I wasn’t into the love triangle.  I felt like it was too insta-lovey and in general, it takes a lot for me to be able to get behind any love triangle.  I do ship Lia with one of her suitors though!  Overall, I really would have loved this book more if we were to learn more about the world the story is set in and the secrets hiding within it.  I found that for me, the most interesting parts were those dealing with the documents Lia stole from the Chancellor’s secret collection and I expect that will be explored further as the series continues.

Final Thoughts: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson takes an innovative approach at storytelling but it can get slightly confusing (even if you’re devoting all of your attention to it).  There were pacing issues in the book and there could have been some more worldbuilding, but it lays an interesting foundation for the rest of the series.  Warning: this book contains a love triangle.  If you enjoy fantasy and you can devote the time to reading the entire series, I would say to go for it!

Rating 4A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Oh boy, what a page-turner!  Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan was described to me as Titanic meets Revenge and while I haven’t seen Revenge, my interest was definitely peaked!  I read The Count of Monte Cristo YEARS ago and ever since then I’m always craving a well done revenge story and this one definitely fit the bill.  The book follows Frances May, one of the only three survivors from a tragic cruise ship accident.  Frances is found in the shipwreck and assumes the identity of her best friend in an effort to uncover the truth.  The two other survivors are completely lying about what happened the night that the Persephone went down and Frances wants answers.  She spends several years crafting her plan for revenge and she returns to the town where the other survivors dwell but nothing is as simple as she thought.

Frances is a character who is hellbent on revenge and she has a ironclad will to survive in any situation.  She has meticulously planned out all of her actions but she didn’t take into account some of the variables she would be facing.  For instance, she moves back “home” as Libby and is tasked with convincing Libby’s childhood love that she is a changed version of her old self.  Part of Frances’ decision to become Libby is that she lost her entire family that night.  It also just so happens that the two other survivors are the Senator and his son, his son being the guy she fell in love with aboard the Persephone four years earlier, so emotions!  Reading about Frances struggle with suppressing her real self while trying to become more Libby is heartbreaking but it leaves you rooting for her.  Ryan’s main character is much more complex than your typical highschooler.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.35.32 PM

Flashbacks play a huge part in Daughter of Deep Silence as we are constantly reliving Frances’ memories aboard the Persephone and immediately afterward.  Sometimes the flashbacks are haunting and come in the form of nightmares and other times they’re lovely with a terribly sad overtone.  The way that Ryan describes being shipwrecked and left out on the open sea for days before being found paints an unforgettable image for the reader. I still find my mind wandering back to it sometimes.  There are some other important elements of the book that add to the complications Frances faces but this story is best told by Frances and I would hate for anything to unfold for you before you’re supposed to learn about it!

Final Thoughts: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan is a story of sweet revenge that’ll keep you up past your bedtime because you will be incapable of putting it down until you get some answers.  The complex issues that Frances faces coupled with her methodical plan for revenge in pursuit of the truth will have you completely engrossed in the story of the Persephone.  You may also feel slightly apprehensive about going on any future cruises.

Rating 5

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

With all of the fantasy I’ve been reading lately, it was nice change of pace to settle in for a summer contemporary.  I’ve always wanted to read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson but it wasn’t until Maureen Keavy (one of my favorite BookTuber’s and fellow Disney lover) declared June the Month of Matson that I realized it was the best possible opportunity to pick it up and read it at the same time as plenty of other book lovers.  While there is a definite fun factor in Amy and Roger’s cross country road trip, this is not your typical light and fluffy contemporary.  You will feel LOTS of feelings and that is my official warning on that front.  I loved this book to pieces and Amy and Roger’s story has stuck with me ever since I finished it.  Amy & Roger’s is the second Morgan Matson book I’ve read (see my review for Since You’ve Been Gone) and I can honestly say she’s my favorite contemporary author.

Amy is a typically obedient teen who is dealing with a family that has slowly fallen apart due to the aftermath of losing her father.  Her mom has already moved across the country and she sets up a pre-planned road trip for Amy and Roger to follow in order to get their car from California to Connecticut.  After some initial awkwardness (because YA swoon) Amy and Roger realize that they haven’t seen much of America and they decide to set out on an epic detour, plotting their own route.  The trip quickly becomes a transformative journey for both characters who confront the issues they’ve been neglecting head on.  If you’re into slow burn romances, you will love the progression of Amy and Roger’s relationship.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

I love that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is interspersed with playlists from their journey because if you’re going to be spending that much time driving, music is a pretty important element of the journey (unless you’re into podcasts I guess).  There’s actually a few Spotify playlists set up based on the ones you can find in the book.  Another option to pass time while traveling is to play games.  Amy and Roger often opted for 20 questions and I adored Roger’s obsession with explorers because it made his desire to explore all the more meaningful.  And probably most important are the snacks you stop for along the way to give you the fuel to keep going.  Amy and Roger both had very distinctive tastes in snack food and I also loved reading about some of the local cuisines they tasted along the way.  Roger’s breakfast choices never failed to make my stomach rumble.

Final Thoughts: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is the heartwarming journey which Amy and Roger embark upon during their cross country road trip from California to Connecticut.  Both characters are struggling with some major issues but the slow burn relationship they develop provides the strength, courage and support they both need to face the music.  Speaking of music, the book is filled with epic playlists curated by Roger, photos and mementos from their journey, and all the feelings.  If you’re looking for a deeper contemporary and you crave adventure, you should absolutely give Amy & Roger a read.
Rating 6
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way. (via Goodreads)
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Armada by Ernest Cline

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

It feels like forever that I’ve been waiting for Ernest Cline’s second book after having loved Ready Player One so very much.  I was immediately drawn in by the synopsis of the book which promised to pay homage to the best extraterrestrial pop culture of decades past because if there’s one thing Cline is known for, it’s his ability to saturate a story with references to our favorite fandoms.  The plot may initially read like that of Ender’s Game and while the beginning does draw some similarities, it is different as the plot progresses.  The novel focuses on video game aficiando Zack Lightman who is one of the many Americans obsessed with the online flight simulation game Armada.  On a seemingly normal day in high school, he’s sitting in class when he notices on the alien ships from the Armada game hovering around outside the window.  Initially he thinks he’s going crazy, but there ends up being more to the story.

Since everyone is going to be specifically waiting for me to compare Armada to Ready Player One, I’ll tell you right now thatReady Player One is a better story but Armada is still enjoyable.  If you are partial to space movies and all things alien,Armada will deliver the type of story (and the allusions that go along with it) that will please you.  The plot felt formulaic and there wasn’t enough character development for the story to make any kind of significant lasting impression but that does not detract from its pleasure factor.  You just cannot go into it hoping for Ready Player One in space.  The ending of Armadadoes leave the possibility for a sequel and if Cline does intend to write one, I would be eager to find out what happens next and I am confident that I would love the second installment more than the first.

Armada

I like that the main character Zack Lightman is your typical high school kid who becomes tasked with saving humanity.  He’s your average teenager with a wealth of pop culture knowledge which he puts to good use.  There are several plot twists that throw Zack for a loop, but overall, he is quite adaptable to change and he handles the curveballs life throws him in a very mature way.  Especially considering that he has less than 24 hours to digest everything.  My favorite character in Armada is Lex, the brilliant female gamer and programmer who can hack any system.  She, along with several other females, (some ranked within the top 10 high scorers of Armada) represent the female gaming community in a realistic way and I was thrilled to see that Cline did not fail his female audience because tbh I was slightly worried in the beginning.

Final Thoughts: Armada by Ernest Cline is your typical alien invasion story that is jam packed with references to past space franchises. It follows Zack Lightman, a typical teen with an affinity for video games who is recruited to help protect the Earth from impending doom.  If you’re looking for a classic alien invasion story, Armada will satisfy you but it does not stand out from others in its genre.  There is potential for a sequel in which case, Armada would lay the perfect groundwork for an original story.

Rating 4

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

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