Tea & Book Chat: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love is a must read for any fan who’s ever attended a convention.  This story really hit home for me because it takes place at my home con, New York Comic Con, over the period of Friday – Sunday.  I thought because the story takes place at a convention I have been attending for years that I wouldn’t be able to put nitpicky things aside and enjoy the plot but Tash’s convention depiction is pure perfection.  She got all of the little details right between methodically planning cosplay and your daily schedule, to avoiding people in larger than life costumes and even to the seating arrangements on the Long Island Rail Road.  I even love how the cover photo is taken outside the Javits Center on 11th Ave because it makes it that much more authentic.  One thing to note is that the diner Tash talks about outside the convention center on 11th Ave was recently closed and is being turned into a high rise building (but that happened after she would’ve already gone through the publishing process) and having eaten there myself I was so happy to see it included.  (Side story: Funnily enough, the last time Andrew (who works for a structural engineering firm) and I walked past it, he said mark my words, that one story diner will never last to the end of this year.  There’s so much wasted sky space and lo and behold, he was absolutely correct.) Also, I could not possibly have empathized more re: line drama UGH.

the geek's guide to unrequited love

Even more important than the setting, Tash also captures the spirit of fandom and young love as told by our narrator Graham.  Graham is the most endearing type of nerd and he’s been harboring a crush on his best friend in the whole world, Roxana.  He decides that NYCC is the perfect place to tell her and he spends a huge chunk of his time daydreaming and planning about how he’ll make a grand enough gesture without potentially frightening her.  I also have to note that Tash mentions the epic upside-down-in-the-rain Spider-Man kiss on page one so you can bet that I was hooked.  Despite the geeky references and the goings on of NYCC, The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love tells a much bigger coming of age story that is not even the slightest bit overshadowed by the amount of pop culture it contains.  I genuinely wish that John Hughes were still around so he could adapt this novel because I think many pop culture nerds would love to see this on screen.  The supporting characters, Casey and Felicia were among my favorites in the story and if I have one complaint, it’s that I would’ve liked to have gotten to know Roxana a bit better because what I did learn about her, I really admired. (Although, I would also love to read a book from college Graham’s perspective.  He really weaved his way into my heart!)

Final Thoughts:  If The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenez Tash is not yet on your radar and you’ve ever been to and enjoyed a comic convention, you need to pick up this book immediately.  It’s such a fun look at how pop culture brings people together and the entire time I was reading, I felt like I time traveled back to high school to hang out with my group of friends.  The book is entirely accurate and you’ll feel the nerd rage that I’m sure you’ve experienced IRL when you join Graham, Roxana, Casey and Felicia throughout certain moments in their adventure.  The story is engaging, the characters will warm your heart and the setting is everything – especially when we’re smack dab in the middle of con season!

Rating 6

John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author ofThree Day Summer.

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy…
Archie and Veronica…
Althena and Noth…
…Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones. (via goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano

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

Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano is a coming of age YA novel that takes place in New York City.  I always love reading about my city through the eyes of other people so I’ve been eager to check this one out since I first heard about it.  I also feel like the cover is an excellent representation of people who live in NYC (their clothes choices are spot on) and I love the outline of the skyline behind them.  The novel follows Sadie, a teen taking a summer photography class, during the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school.  Sadie is at that pivotal point in her life when she over analyzes every situation and the circumstances that she’s faced with does not make it any easier for her to handle.

Summer in the Invisible City

Sadie is a really interesting character to read from the perspective of.  She’s not your typical strong female character but her summer experiences transform her.  Sadie is vulnerable and desperate at times, especially when it comes to handling her less than perfect father.  Allan is an “important” artist who Sadie has been looking up to her entire life.  He’s the reason she became interested in photography and the reason she wants to attend art school for her college education.  She’s spent years of her life trying to impress him but no matter what she does, he remains uninterested.  It’s heartbreaking to read about their relationship because he is just such a disappointing person and it’s for reasons completely independent of Sadie.  As if her father visiting NYC for the month weren’t enough, Sadie is also struggling with her social life.  One of the “popular” girls is in her summer class and they begin to form a friendship but it seems to be coming at a cost to her relationship with her long time best friend Willa.  Willa is probably my favorite character in the book. She’s so certain of herself at such a young age and you can tell how much she cares about Sadie.  I only wish we had gotten more of an ending for her character.  The there’s Sam and Noah but I won’t go into them because it’ll be more interesting to discover as you read (but I promise it’s not a love triangle!).  It’s a combination of the relationships between people and the time period in Sadie’s life that this book takes place that make it special.

Final Thoughts:  Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano is an enjoyable coming of age story taking place is the greatest city in the world, New York (not that I’m biased or anything).  It blurs the lines between fluffy beach read and raw contemporary, exploring the positive and negative relationships in Sadie’s life and how they’re altered throughout her summer as she figures out who she is.  I would recommend this book to anyone who’s ever felt a little bit lost in their life and is looking for a character that displays a different type of strength in her own time.

Rating 5

A sparkling coming-of-age story about self-discovery, first love, and the true meaning of family, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie Bell has this summer all figured out: She’s going to befriend the cool girls at her school. She’s going to bond with her absentee father, a famous artist, and impress him with her photography skills. And she’s finally going to get over Noah, the swoony older guy who was her very first mistake.

Sadie wasn’t counting on meeting Sam, a funny and free-thinking boy who makes her question all of her goals. But even after a summer of talking, touching, and sharing secrets, Sam says he just wants to be friends. And when those Sadie cares about most hurt her, Sam’s friendship may not be enough. Sadie can see the world through her camera, but can she see the people who have loved and supported her all along?

Set against a glamorous New York City backdrop, this coming-of-age romance is a gorgeous summer read—one whose characters will stay with you long into the fall. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Movie Chat: Finding Dory

Andrew and I had the pleasure of seeing an early screening of Pixar’s newest film, Finding Dory, last night and I have to say that I loved every minute of it.  Often sequels are nowhere near as good as their predecessors and one of the most challenging obstacles is to turn a side character into a main character, and harder yet is to do it well.  Finding Dory excels on all of these points.  As we all know from Finding Nemo, Dory is an optimistic fish that suffers from short term memory loss.  She’s endearing and her constant confusion leads to plenty of laughs for the audience but in Finding Dory, her songs and rhymes adapt a deeper meaning.  Dory begins having memories of her parents and story takes off from there.  She, Marlin and Nemo set off on another cross ocean adventure as Dory tries to piece together the few memories that begin to resurface.

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My favorite character is hands down Hank the octopus who is voiced by Ed O’Neill.  Hank is desperate to avoid being released into the ocean and he begrudgingly assists Dory in her search.  He perpetuates a tough guy exterior but it’s clear he has a lot more heart than he lets on.  And his constant camouflaging to evade humans is extremely comical.  I also loved Destiny, the mostly blind whale voiced by Kaitlin Olson who is super friendly and positive despite always bumping into walls.  Oh and I have to say that Dory is the cutest fish baby.  Her flashbacks of her parents teaching her about her memory loss are heartwarming to the max.  I wanted to reach into the screen to hug her and tell her that everything would be okay.

Overall, the message that Finding Dory tackles is so important.  Just because Dory is different, it doesn’t mean that she’s incapable of solving problems in her own way.  Sometimes, thinking outside the box is necessary!  Dory proves that different is good and she will no doubt be a role model for anyone living with any type of ailment that’s made them feel inadequate at some point.  There were quite a few moments where I found myself tearing up whether it be out of sadness or joy for the lovable marine life.  To get personal for a moment,I always found Dory to be hilarious in Finding Nemo but in the past year my grandmother has been suffering with Alzheimer’s so Dory’s memory loss as portrayed in this new installment really hit home for me.  I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be to know something or someone important but be unable to recall what / who it is.  I felt a deep emotional connection to Dory and I was rooting for her all the way.

Rating 5

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Tea & Book Chat: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses which is the first book in the trilogy by Sarah J. Maas, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas is the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and it was my most anticipated read of 2016.  I can also confidently state that it will be my favorite book of the year (despite the fact that it’s only May and we still have 7 more months of reading to go – The Raven King is a very close second).  I know that most people seem to either love or hate SJM and these books but I fall on the former side.  I didn’t think I could possibly love one of her books more than I loved ACOTAR but alas, A Court of Mist and Fury proved me very wrong.  The number of emotions I felt so intensely while reading this book left me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve ever experienced (to the point where it’s been a week and I am still not finished with the book I picked up next which should’ve taken 2-3 days to complete).  Everything in A Court of Mist and Fury shifts and the love interest I was rooting for becomes the main character I felt he was destined to be so to simply say I loved it is something of an understatement.

A Court of Mist and Fury picks up after the events that occurred Under the Mountain with a very broken Feyre existing alongside Tamlin in his Spring Court.  It’s clear that the traumatic experience effected everyone in a different way and I loved that Feyre did not just completely revert back to normal.  As a result of her time being tortured by Aramantha, Feyre evolves into a much stronger character than we see in the first book.  She is no longer willing to be controlled and caged by Tamiln despite his promise of protection.  I had picked up on hints of this behavior while reading ACOTAR and I have been solidly on Team Rhys since the ending so this book was pretty much everything to me.  (please note, ACOMAF includes some of the steamiest scenes I’ve ever read and they are so so perfect)  I have to say that I was not expecting to fall in love with all of the members in Rhysand’s court but I could not imagine a better band of characters.  Their group dynamic is something I live for in books and I wish I could sign up to be part of their team.  One character disappointment is the path the Lucien ended up on.  He saw everything that was happening to Feyre and all of the signs that she was unwell and unhappy and chose to ignore them.  He has a lot to make up for in book three.  We also get to see more of Feyre’s human sisters which was a pleasant surprise.

A Court of Mist and Fury

Now for the worldbuilding! We spend the majority of A Court of Mist and Fury in the Night Court and it sounds incredibly breathtaking.  You may remember that Amarantha had modeled Under the Mountain after Rhysand’s Court of Nightmares but it turns out that there is much more than meets the eye.  I wish I could go for a stroll through the  streets of the court during the night when it is intended to be viewed.  The descriptions were breathtaking and I can’t wait to revisit them in the future.  We also get to see the Summer Court which I enjoyed as well.  I’m glad that we’re getting to branch out and explore much more of the Fey world than we were given the opportunity to see in ACOTAR.  I also love seeing the different types of powers each High Lord wields and how it relates to their domain.  At 640 pages, I felt like ACOMAF could have double in size and I wouldn’t have wanted a single detail cut.  I can only hope that the final book will be well over 1,000 pages!

Final Thoughts:  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas is the outstanding second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy.  I’m sure you’re familiar with second book slump when reading a series and I am thrilled to say that ACOMAF is the complete opposite.  It’s like, a second book spectacular.  Feyre and Rhysand’s character development hits new heights in this book and readers are delighted with the opportunity to explore more of the Fey world.  The stakes are still high despite Amarantha’s demise in ACOTAR and all of the events that occur will play with your emotions until you feel like you have nothing left to give.  Some breaks may even be needed while reading because woah.  My verdict: Read it. Then re-read it. Then repeat.

Rating 6

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Map of Fates by Maggie Hall (The Conspiracy of Us #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Conspiracy of Us which is the first book in the trilogy by Maggie Hall,will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

Map of Fates by Maggie Hall is the second book in The Conspiracy of Us trilogy and while I hadn’t been as invested in the first book as I had hoped, the cliffhanger ending left my interest piqued enough to continue reading.  Plus, the cover of Map of Fates is one of the prettiest of the year in my opinion!  I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed Map of Fates much more thanThe Conspiracy of Us and while it still wasn’t a 5 star read, I am genuinely looking forward to the conclusion because the story has really upped its game.

One of the elements I took the most issue with in the first book is the love triangle between the main character Avery and two of the guards from the twelve ruling families, Jack and Stellan.  I’m not a huge fan of love triangles in general but if they’re done well I’m able to get behind them.  In The Conspiracy of Us I didn’t quite understand or ever get the feeling that Avery and Stellan could potentially be interested in one another but Hall did a much better job of making it believable in Map of Fates.  In fact, I ended up liking Stellan a whole lot more than I ever expected to.  I suffered a bit through the beginning of the book, having read The Conspiracy of Us within the week it debuted last year because I couldn’t quite remember which character was which and it took me some time to acclimate to each’s demeanor once again.  If you’re in the same boat I would suggest a book one re-read or to read your past review / Goodreads so you’re able to jump right in and avoid any confusion.

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My favorite part of The Conspiracy of Us is the amount of travel the characters undergo because it allows the reader to experience new places without ever having to leave their couch.  The travel aspect remained one of the driving forces of my interest in Map of Fates and I cannot wait to see where they’ll be exploring in book three.  The revelation at the end and the new pieces of information the characters were able to ascertain from the clues have left me craving the conclusion.  The stakes are high, the structure of the twelve ruling families is inevitably going to be evolving and Avery West is at odds with many leaders in the Circle.  I couldn’t have asked for a more exciting installment!

Final Thoughts:  Map of Fates by Maggie Hall is a much better installment in The Conspiracy of Us trilogy than book one.  I had very minimal complaints this time around (although I’m still not very invested in Avery’s character) and I found myself flying through this quick paced YA thriller.  If you enjoy media involving espionage and have a case of wanderlust, Map of Fates will leave you feeling satisfied.  If you had mediocre feelings about book one, I can promise that Map of Fates will draw you in further.

Rating 3

Two weeks. 



That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny. 



Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day despite her best intentions, making her question what she believes at every turn.
 


But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #4)

**Warning! If you haven’t read the first three books in The Raven Cycle quartet by Maggie Stiefvater, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of The Raven Boys (book one), The Dream Thieves (book two) and Blue Lily, Lily Blue (book three) if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater is the fourth and final book in The Raven Cycle series and it is one that I could not get my hands on quick enough (seriously, I preordered the hardback AND the kindle versions).  Having fallen madly and deeply in love with Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah, I couldn’t wait to spend more of my time in Henrietta and Cabeswater while the gang tries to navigate the mystery of Glendower.  It’s long and sometimes slow moving journey but I have truly savored every moment.  The Raven King is now my favorite book in the quartet and I can absolutely foresee myself re-reading this series for years to come.  I also have to note that I was so nervous going into this book because it’s the end of an era but after reading the prologue I was confident this couldn’t warrant anything less than 5 stars.

One of the top three reasons I keep returning to this series(as I’ve stated in my reviews of the past three books) is the characters.  I cannot let go of them.  Stiefvater created such an intricate group of friends who’s bond with one another is stronger than anything else.  They love each other deeply in the way that only real friends can and in typical high school fashion, theirs is the most important relationship in their lives.  The lengths that they’ll go for each other and the way they feel each others pain is truly inspiring and griping.  Gansey remains my favorite Raven Boy with Ronan as a close second.  I also must note how swoonworthy all of the romance in The Raven King is.  It’s the sweet kind of slow burn that’ll have you begging for more.

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The stakes are at their highest in The Raven King as the search for Glendower draws to a close.  It’s so heartbreaking to see Gansey wonder what he’ll have to live for after the search that consumed the majority of his life ceases to continue.  Plus there’s that whole event that’s been foreshadowed since The Raven Cycle that my poor heart would never be ready to contend with.  All of the characters see a balanced amount of story time in The Raven King although we see more Henry Cheng and the jury is still out on him for me.  I think I may enjoy him more during a re-read but I didn’t want him to take any page time away from my precious Raven Boys and I can honestly say that is my only complaint for this book.

Final Thoughts:  The way I felt while reading The Raven King is something that I cannot accurately describe.  I feel so attached to this series, to these characters, and to the world of Henrietta and Cabeswater that I know this is a series that will be lurking around in my heart forever.  The Raven King is a book that I hugged multiple times while reading it and after finishing it.  If you can’t decide whether this series is for you or you’ve tried to read the first book but had trouble with the slow pace, I would urge you to give it another try.  I cannot sing the praises of The Raven Cycle high enough and I want everyone to share in this bookish treasure with me!

Rating 6

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn which is the first book in the duology by Renee Ahdieh, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Rose and the Dagger is the second book and conclusion to The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh.  It was one of my most anticipated books of 2016 and I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint! While it wasn’t perfect, The Rose and the Dagger definitely held my interest and ultimately left me with a satisfying ending.  The book picks up where The Wrath and the Dawn leaves off, with Shazi and Khalid in their separate places.  Shazi is set on breaking Khalid’s curse but since she is residing in a camp of his opposers, she must defend him to those who were closest to her prior to her time in the palace.  I wish these two would’ve had more time together in The Rose and the Dagger but I digress.

Because of the distance between our protagonists, we spend a portion of the novel delving deeper into the side characters introduced in The Wrath and the Dawn and some new additions as well.  One particular character that I was not pleased to see more of is Tariq, Shazi’s childhood love interest.  Spending time with her father also made me feel horrible for everything she’s had to deal with but I really enjoyed getting more insight into her sister and Rahim.  My favorite side character who was new to the story is Artan Temujin, who Shazi turns to for training and understanding of the magic she possesses.  I only wish he could’ve played a part in book one or that he gets some type of spin-off story.  And Despina, my favorite character from The Wrath and the Dawn has her own incredible subplot going on which really kept me on my toes!

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Much of the worldbuilding in Ahdieh’s story was explained in The Wrath and the Dawn but I still would’ve liked to have gotten more out of The Rose and the Dagger than we did.  Especially since it is in book two that more magical elements are introduced.  As always, Ahdieh’s writing is simply beautiful which led me to highlight a number of passages.  I fell in love with so many of the new quotes I discovered and I will definitely read any other books Ahdieh publishes going forward.  There were unexpected twists and turns that I did not see coming while reading The Rose and the Dagger and I can honestly say that the plot kept me 100% engaged the entire time.  My only complaint is that the resolution among all of the characters seemed to come too easily and I would’ve liked to have seen them endure more of a challenge in completing their goals.

Final Thoughts:  The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh provides a lovely conclusion to The Wrath and the Dawnduology.  Ahdieh’s writing style is beautiful as ever and the story evolves from an Arabian Nights retelling into something of its own.  The plot is action packed and will hold your interest until the very last page as you continue the tale of the primary characters and become invested in some new faces. If you read and loved The Wrath and the Dawn I would urge you to continue your reading with The Rose and the Dagger.

 Rating 5

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Ever since I read and loved Pivot Point and Split Second, I knew I had to read all of Kasie West’s other books, past and future.  I started with The Distance Between Us because I happened to have a copy on my Kindle but I was later told that was the best thing I could have done because some of The Distance Between Us characters show up in On the Fence.  I ended up loving this one and I can honestly say I am a full blown Kasie West addict at this point.  The Distance Between Ustells the story of Caymen, a sarcastic girl who lives above a struggling doll shop with her single mother, and a boy named Xander who happens to walk into the shop one day.

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I have to start by saying that Caymen is one of the funniest main characters I’ve read about.  Her sense of humor is very dry and her sarcasm is on point.  I can totally see her enjoying British television.  Caymen is the kind of girl who uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism since she’s stuck helping her mom in a creepy doll store that she has no interest in inheriting but it’s also just her sense of humor.  She even takes half days at school so she can spend more time working and she does it all without complaining or ever asking for the chance to have a social life of her own.  Then in walks Xander and the slow burn romance commences.  Xander is tall, dark and handsome and he comes from a family with a ton of money.  Caymen and Xander don’t initially hit it off (especially from Caymen’s perspective) but the evolution of their relationship is one I really connected to.  They’re the cutest couple and I was rooting for them throughout the whole book.  Xander is being groomed to take over his father’s hotel business which is something he’s not interested in so the pair start having career days where they try to figure out a future for each other.  It couldn’t have been cuter! There’s also a whole subplot going on with Caymen’s mom and the doll store but what really hooked me is the romance.

Final Thoughts:  The Distance Between Us by Kasie West is a witty contemporary romance that’ll have you swooning.  Caymen and Xander are some of my favorite YA characters and their slow burn romance really speaks to my heart.  I loved the banter, sarcasm and each character’s journey to self discovery.  If you’re looking for a love story with a funny lead, The Distance Between Us should be on your list!

Rating 5

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

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

Summer of Supernovas is Darcy Woods’s debut contemporary YA novel. It follows a girl named Wil as she tries to live her life according to the stars.  Her deceased mother was very interested in astrology which is why Wil feels such a strong connection to the zodiac and she becomes involved in a love triangle where she’s torn between her perfect astrological match and what could be her worst astrological downfall.  I have to say that I seem to be the odd woman out when it comes to this book.  There were aspects of it that I enjoyed but overall I took issue with the story and I never found myself excited to pick up and read from where I left off.

Summer of Supernovas

My first gripe is the sibling love triangle.  I’m rarely a fan of love triangles but when the triangle involves siblings (brothers Seth and Grant in this case) it’s even harder for me to get behind.  Wil is torn between the two after being “saved” from a tower by Grant and meeting Seth at a club the next night.  Grant and Seth come from money but while Seth is flashy, Grant is more down to Earth and in tune with the world around him.  Both guys seem sweet enough but it’s obvious that Wil has feelings for Grant.  She soon learns that his brother Seth should be her perfect astrological match and that dating Grant is destined to be a disaster so she decides to follow her star chart instead of her heart.  This is my second issue.  It was really challenging to get behind Wil’s decisions (despite the deceased astrology buff mother) when she had to convince herself every single time she saw either brother that she should be with Seth.  I’m not someone who puts much story in astrology so it was probably harder for me than it may be for other people.  Now for the elements I enjoyed; I loved Wil’s relationship with her Gram and her best Irina, I love Wil’s retro 1940’s style and the fact that her Gram bakes gourmet cupcakes for work, and I especially enjoyed Darcy Woods’s writing.  I wouldn’t be opposed to reading a future book of hers since I enjoyed her storytelling skills but unfortunately this book didn’t resonate with me.

Final Thoughts:  Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods is a contemporary romance about a girl named Wil who trusts the stars over her own instincts.  She finds herself in a love triangle with two brothers who compete for her attention and while she clearly has feelings for one, she sticks with the other because of her star chart.  I’m not one for sibling love triangles or astrology so I struggled with this story as I read.  I would read another book by Darcy Woods because her writing has so much potential but this story just wasn’t for me.

Rating 3

As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that the truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a rare planetary alignment, she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear – The Fifth House of Relationships and Love. But Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy, when she falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the chart.

Debut author Darcy Woods explores love in all its complexities and how to best honor the loved ones who have passed before us, in a novel packed with both humor and heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

**This lent to me in exchange for an honest review – thanks so much Andi for lending me your ARC!**

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider was one of my most anticipated contemporary releases for 2016, largely because the plot synopsis reminded me of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Who can resist a complicated YA fiction book set in Hawaii?! I know I couldn’t! I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Summer of Sloane in January thanks to Andi who attended ALA and sent me her ARC to borrow (Thanks again Andi!)!  I really enjoyed reading Summer of Sloane despite the terrible situation the main character finds herself in within the first two pages of the novel.  This is one book that hooked me right away and held my interest until the very end.  I even think reading Summer of Sloane in January enhanced my experience since I was craving the beaches being described while I read on the train in my winter coat and scarf.

Sloane McIntyre is a character that it’s impossible not to feel empathy for right off the bat.  Within the first two pages of the book we find out that Sloane’s best friend is pregnant.  Then we find out that the father of her baby is Sloane’s boyfriend of a year, Tyler.  Within a moment Sloane loses the two people closest to her in her life and she’s forced to handle her feelings and the situation without having a best friend to confide in which is something I could never begin to imagine.  Lucky for Sloane, she leaving the next morning with her twin, Penn, to stay with her mother who lives in Hawaii for the summer.  Sloane gets to put off her problems a bit by decreasing her proximity to them, but as you’d imagine, she can’t completely leave them behind.  I have to say that I loved Sloane as a character.  She is a lot more mature than an average teenager would be in her situation and with all of the betrayal she’s faced, her instincts still lead her to put others before herself.  I found myself rooting for her from page one.

Summer of Sloane

I also really loved how prominent Sloane’s relationships with her mom, dad and brother are.  I wish she would’ve spent more time with her Hawaiian best friend Mia but since the book is heavily about her romantic relationship, it’s understandable that her friendship took a backseat to her new love interest.  And speaking of love interests, Finn is such an awesome guy! He definitely has his flaws but the positives outweigh the negatives in his case.  Again, he has a great relationship with his little sister Luce and Sloane even forms a relationship with her as well.  (I feel like inserting the ohana means family quote from Lilo and Stitch here).  Summer of Sloane has classic instances of miscommunication between characters and in some cases, the deliberate lack of communication altogether.  There was a slight predictability throughout the novel, especially one half of the ending (the other half, I did NOT see coming) but I still managed to be surprised at other points.  For the most part, everything wrapped up nicely at the end so a sequel isn’t necessary although I would love an epilogue of some sort or a short story told in Tyler or Mick’s POV.

Final Thoughts: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider is a cute, beachy contemporary with it’s fair share of drama.  The main character loses the two people closest to her within the first couple of pages and she spends the remainder of the novel trying to find herself in Hawaii while visiting her mother along with her twin brother.  The Hawaiian setting had me wishing for a beach visit of my own and the characters worked their way into my heart.  If you’re a fan of Gayle Foreman but appreciate a bit more humor, I would suggest reading Summer of Sloane.

Rating 5

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself. (via Goodreads)

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