Friday, April 17, 2015

Review of The Pretty App by Katie Sise

Title/Author: The Pretty Ap (App #2) by Katie Sise
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, April 14th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Poor Blake Dawkins! She's rich, she's gorgeous, and she's the queen bee of Harrison High. The girls want to be her; the boys want to — okay, enough said. But it turns out Blake’s life is not so perfect — just talk to her dad, who constantly reminds her that she's not up to par, or to her ex-bff, Audrey, who doesn't even look her in the eye.

Then Harrison — and every other high school in America — becomes obsessed with posting selfies on the ubiquitous Pretty App. Next: Leo, an adorable transfer student, arrives at Harrison and begins to show Blake that maybe being a queen bee doesn't mean being a queen bitch. And though Audrey suspects somebody’s playing foul, Blake finds herself catapulted to internet fame after being voted one of the prettiest girls in the country. She's whisked away to star in a reality show — in Hollywood, on live TV. But she doesn’t know who to trust. Because everybody on the show wants to win.

And nobody is there to make friends.

So I'd heard good things about The Boyfriend App and when I came across this companion, I thought well, why not? It sounded pretty cute and I am a big fan of America's Next Top Model and this sounded sorta like it mixed with a beauty pageant, so...

Well, let's just say that The Pretty App wasn't all I'd hoped it would be. I mean, Blake was ok, she's a flawed character, but she owns it and I kinda respected her for that. I also respected that she wanted to change, but just didn't know how. And I liked reading from the Queen Bee's POV for a change. We're pretty much always seeing things from the not-so-popular, not-really-ugly duckling side of things and I liked that Katie Sise switched it up. I also really felt for Blake with her family situation. I mean, she basically gets NO support whatsoever. Her dad is just plain hurtful, her mom doesn't stand up to him and her sister cut her out of her life 4 years ago. How is a girl supposed to cope with this?

I did sorta feel like I was missing things because I hadn't read The Boyfriend App first. The history between Blake and Audrey is mentioned and sort of gotten into what happened, but maybe I'd have more of a backstory if I'd read The Boyfriend App? I can't be sure of course, but it felt like there were some missing pieces that I should have been clued into if I'd read the companion.

And ok, don't kill me for saying this, but the whole Pretty App thing and the show around it felt so American to me! I mean, not in a bad way, but like, I'm not sure that would have gotten this kind of response in Holland. I kinda liked how Blake handled herself during the reality show, but I could also get how people aren't all that eager to forgive her for years of ruthlessly ruling Harrison High. You can't just erase all of that. So it also sorta felt off to me how easily the Trogs accepted her in their circle. Also, the Trogs seem like awesome people.

I couldn't really get behind the romance part of it. It all felt a little too iffy and all the lying or not fully telling the truth and then Blake totally got blindsided and it was just pretty awful. But mostly, I just wasn't feeling it. There was something off about the guy and I was never really sure if he was faking it or not and that bothered me.

Mostly, The Pretty App was an ok read, but it wasn't exciting or cute or fluffy or funny or any of the things I was expecting. And for a tagline that says it has a big-time romance, it fell pretty flat for me. I am however very curious to read The Boyfriend App!

My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review of A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Title/Author: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Landmark, April 7th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal's cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal's reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn't hold the secrets Sara expects.

It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.

When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary's tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take... to find the road that will lead her safely home.

I read and adored Susanna Kearsley's The Rose Garden a couple of years ago, it was SO amazing. And since I have pretty much been eyeing all her other books, but never found the time to actually read one. Until now. And it was awesome.

I love how Susanna Kearsley takes an unknown, normal woman in history and weaves a story around her. It makes my heart very happy. And in A Desperate Fortune, I loved both the story set in the present and the one in the past.
Mary Dundas has been left behind by her father as a child, and was taken in by her aunt and uncle. Who, while being good guardians, are not her own parents and she misses her father and brothers. But Mary's personality has not suffered because of it, she's strong and determined and works through whatever gets in her way. And also, I love how she cares for her little dog. I mean, she took him in when he was left behind by his 'family' and I can totally get how she relates to this. She's smart and I loved her storytelling abilities, she's pretty amazing.

Sara Thomas also totally stole my heart. She's been diagnosed with Asperger's and while she's not always the most socially adept person, she manages very well and I just loved her. Someone told her that she's not capable of being in a relationship and it's hurtful and I totally adored how the man in her life gets her to give him a chance by using logic. When she tells him it won't work because her other relationships didn't work, he reasons that in those other relationship the man wasn't him and therefore it may work this time. I loved how he's really in this and is actively chasing this woman that is wonderful and intelligent and has a lot of heart. And I loved that with the right person, it doesn't have to be a struggle to be in a relationship for Sara, she doesn't have to prove herself or be anyone other than herself.
And I also totally adored her bonding with the little boy, who was pretty darn cute himself.

So basically, there are also two lovestories and I loved both of them! There's the strong, protective man in Mary's story that I just wanted to hug and yell at him to tell her how much he cares about her. And to Mary herself as well! OMG, these two communicate in the end and I get how it wasn't normal in that time period to talk about your feelings for each other, but WOW I just wanted them to get together and KISS ALREADY. It was pretty sweet seeing them fall for each other.

I loved disovering along with Sara what happened to Mary and I'm glad we got more details than Sara did from the diary. I wouldn't have survived not knowing what happened to Mary and Hugh and the little dog. But mostly I just loved Susanna Kearsley's amazing writing that totally sucked me in and made me want to keep reading and then after finishing it, hug my e-reader to my chest and breathe a happy sigh.
This book was amazing. Go read it.

My rating: 5 stars

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review of Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

Title/Author: Dream a Little Dream (Silber #1) by Kerstin Gier
Publisher/Date published: Henry Holt and Co, April 15th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yep, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys perform dark magic rituals.

The really weird thing is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where’s she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But they seem to know things about her in real life that they couldn’t possibly know, which is mystifying. Then again, Liv could never resist a good mystery...

So this was actually the first book I finished in 2015 because I hadn't noticed that the publication date had been moved to April. So. Daisy fail. But as I was very much excited to read it, I didn't mind so much. And guys, it was SO GOOD!

I've never actually read anything by Kerstin Gier before, I do own her other series, but I haven't actually gotten around to starting it, but I immediately fell in love with her writing! There's just something so fresh and fun about it and I found myself just wanting to keep on reading. And as I had struggled a bit with the two books I read before Dream a Little Dream, which were also pretty gloomy, this was just what I needed.

I think what I loved most about this book were Liv and Mia. Those two are just so amazing and I wanted to hug them and be friends with them and they are just my kind of girls. Their reactions to the things that got thrown at them because of their mother's incompetence in communicating and just being more than a bit selfish in my opinion, were just so genuine! But mostly I loved how they were sisters. There's just something about that sibling bond and it was beautifully done here.
There were many things I could love about Liv, she's funny, intelligent and has a backbone. Also, I loved the way she described things and her view of the world and everyone in it made me giggle a lot of times. And I firmly believe that she has a good heart.
And you've got to love Mia for making sheep-noises when she sees her sister join the tons of girls who've gone crazy over a boy.

And let's talk about the boy. Because the boy was very nice and I could definitely ship those two together. They were so sweet! I could also potentially ship Liv with one of the other boys, but I'll let you figure that one out yourself. But at the moment I'm happy with the situation with Liv and The Boy. They're very much alike and I liked that he appreciated her for the things I loved about her. Also, it was just a whole lot of cute.

I'm very much intrigued by the whole dream and demon situation and I don't think it's quite over yet! Which is fairly obvious when you remember it's a book series, but still. I loved how the different doors to people's dreamworlds matches their personality and how they can be locked and secured with riddles and passwords and such. LOVED it. Also, I loved the dreamworld of Henry's little sister. I wish my dreams were like that! I felt that basically anything is possible in the dreamworld Kerstin Gier describes and it was just so lush and amazing! I would have been drawn to it and would want to know everything about it like Liv.

Basically, if you're looking for a fantasy that is a whole lot of fun with a loveable main character, I'm saying you should read this. Because it was awesome and I'm dying to find out how Liv and everyone else is going to get in trouble in the next book. And I also want to know whether or not Lottie (the au pair) will have HEA of her own, cause I didn't mention her before, but she's the best kind of person there is.

My rating: 5 stars

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Daisy Update (59)

So a LOT has happened since my last update, but not all of it's interesting ;)

At the moment, I'm recovering from my night shift week of DOOM, I worked 5 nights in a row and while that may not sound like much, it adds up to over 50 hours and now I have a really tired and am slowly adjusting to being awake during the day instead of at night. I'd flipped my rhythm around so well that I wasn't even all that tired yesterday morning when the day shift people came, which is not really a good sign. But the kitty has been cuddly and I have a soft blanket, so I think it'll be ok :)

We had another book club meeting, we went out for sushi, which is YUM and talked about anything and everything and scared other visitors of the restaurant again. Which is always fun :D I love these girls, and book club night is one of my favourite things each month! I love how we can share our love of reading and fangirl over things together and also rant about other things, even if we don't always agree on everything.

Last week I went our for lunch and shopping with two of my friends, who I hadn't seen in a while and it was lovely to catch up with them! One of them is having a tough time and I'd been checking in on her by phone, but it's not the same as seeing how she's doing in person. Also, these two are the best shopping buddies! One of them is the same size as me, which can be unfortunate if there's only one size left, but our body types are different enough that it's not really a problem and it was especially fun when she handed me one of the dresses she had tried and didn't really like on her and I bought it and then we did the same thing in reverse at the next store.

We had a bit of a scare Friday evening, the kitty runs around the backyard when the weather is nice, but we thought we'd kitty-proved it so she couldn't get out, which as worked so far. But then she was suddenly nowhere to be found and it turns out she'd escaped and was gallivanting about with some of the other kitties that live on our street near some houses they are building right behind ours. Which wouldn't have been such a problem, if only she came back when we called and tried to bribe her with treats and such. But she hid in one of the houses and then we couldn't find her anymore and OMG I was so worried! In the end she came home, but she was all jumpy and just a scared little kitty-cat and now I'm in overprotective cat mom mode and saying she's not going out ever again. Maybe I'll change my mind, but this first experience with kitty out of the yard wasn't a good one.

This afternoon the boyfriend and I will probably head out to get some new flowers and other plants for the backyard. The weather has been getting better over the last week and we should start making our little garden look nice again. I love shopping at this kind of store, so I'm always good with plans like this :)

I hope you're all having a great week!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review of 101 Essential Tips: Cat Care

Title/Author: 101 Essential Tips: Cat Care by Andrew Edney
Publisher/Date published: DK, April 21st 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

So I requested this book a little while after we first got our cat. Who is obviously the cutest kitty in the whole world, but that's beside the point. The point is that we'd never had a cat in our home before and aside from the obvious stuff, I didn't know much about the pretty felines. And if you are like me, this book is a good basis to build from!

I really liked how the tips are all accompanied by a photo or another visual, because it makes it fun and easy to read and I like looking at cute kitties when I'm reading a book with tips on their care. It's a short book and very easy to get through in a short amount of time, and they get to the point, which is a good thing.
I'm actually more of a fan of some other books on cat care I've read that go into more detail and deal with background about the how and why of things, but if you read 101 Essential Tips: Cat Care, you get a good basis on which to interact and care for your cat.

My rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review of The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Title/Author: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Publisher/Date published: Feiwel & Friends, April 7th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine... until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again...

I feel like a bit of a black sheep scrolling through the Goodreads ratings of this book, but I didn't like it as much as other people have so far.

I was all set to go for the cute and swoony read, but it never got there for me. I mean, I was ok with Sage at first, it's pretty cool that she's leaving positive messages on people's lockers and just trying to be the best version of herself, but it also felt REALLY forced. I mean, I was never entirely sure if what she was showing the outside world was actually who she was with all her causes and do-gooder attitude or if it's just something she's playing at. And she has this big dark secret (that we don't get to find out until about 75% through, which really annoyed me) and the mention of Shadow Sage which got tiring pretty fast for me. I mean, honestly, we're never really told exactly why Shadow Sage would know what to do with bullies and how to get back at them and everything. I wasn't that impressed.
It did feel pretty realistic that she was constantly being on her best behaviour around her aunt, who took her in, because she was afraid she would get sent back into the system if she wasn't the perfect kid. I do very much get this, because that would be scary.

There's the potential for a love triangle here, but it doesn't really happen, basically because Sage ignores the guy's feelings for her and instead dives into a relationship with Shane. I mean, the other guy has been her best friend for years and when he tells her he's in love with her she gets mad at him because of lying to her (about something that was pretty much a big NO-NO) and then they never really talk about it after. WTF?
Also, the start of the relationship with Shane felt off, it felt a bit stalkerish from her side to me and I was just not really into it. And for me it felt like insta-love, I mean, there's an actual quote in chapter three that says "Until this moment, I didn't realize I was walking around all this time with a Shane-shaped hole inside of me". I mean, SERIOUSLY??? SO much cheese, which I'm usually ok with, but it was way over the top in here.
Towards the end she does this big gesture thing to help him get out of a sticky situation and I just didn't believe it. To begin with, I didn't buy into the biking for 11 hours in one day. And obviously Shane's dad is a bit of a douchebag, but basically stalking and harassing him? I'm not sure that's ok.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things does deal with important subjects, like bullying and dealing with grief, but I'm not sure I think it's handled in the best way. And I still can't get over Sage's saintly front, which felt a bit fake to me. Her aunt was pretty awesome though, a strong independent woman who truly cares for Sage and handles being the guardian of a teenager really well in my opinion. And I also liked the friendship between Sage and Lila, because they were truly bonding.

It's possible that this is a case of it's not you, it's me, or that Ann Aguirre's romance just doesn't mesh with me. A lot of other people did love it though, so see for yourself whether you fall more towards my spectrum of viewing it or not.

My rating: 2 stars

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mini-Reviews (7): The Body in the Woods, Making It Count, The Once and Future Duchess

So ever since June of 2014 I've been failing at writing reviews for the books I read. I know. And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf.

Title/Author: The Body in the Woods by April Henry
Publisher/Date published: Henry Holt and Co, June 17th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

So I read this book on the airplane on the way to Morocco and so much of it was read in one sitting. If I hadn't been on an airplane, this probably wouldn't have been the case.
The premise was interesting, though having teenagers be part of a field search for a body seems sort of inappropriate, I mean evidence sure, but if there's a chance you'll come across a deceased person, I personally feel that you should only use professionals. And obviously the authorities don't approve of the main characters' quest to discover the killer themselves, DUH.

But hey, they do it anyway and find themselves in danger and one of them becomes the target of said killer and towards the end I was like, OMG, SERIOUSLY??? You should really know better than to walk right into this trap that's being laid for you!! Wow, you've been trying to find a killer and then it's like, yeah, ok, I'll go with this strange person, that totally makes sense.
The Body in the Woods was ok, but it wasn't a very exciting read.

My rating: 2 stars

Title/Author: Make It Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson
Publisher/Date published: William Morrow Impulse, June 3rd 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

So I'm always looking for that next awesome NA read, and while Making It Count was a decent read, it wasn't that next great thing. The main character Kat is ok at first, but then she blows stuff way out of proportion and does the 'I'm not going to tell you what's wrong, you should be able to read my mind and figure it out' thing and it's ANNOYING. I mean, seriously, just tell the person you're in a relationship with what's bothering you! If we could all read minds, life would be way easier, but we can't ok? Also, I thought she had a shitty reason for staying in a relationship with a guy who was treating her badly at the start of the novel.

Alec was ok, he seemed like a good guy, but I didn't really swoon over him, which I would have expected, cause I like my men hot and nerdy. I thought their relationship could have been developed a bit better, because now it felt to me that they mostly had a physical attraction and that's it.
I did like that Making It Count deals with dyslexia, which is not something that you see a lot in YA or NA and I appreciate this being brought up, because a lot of people have it!

My rating: 2,5 stars

Title/Author: The Once and Future Duchess (Royal Entourage #4) by Sophia Nash
Publisher/Date published: Avon, May 27th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

I liked The Once and Future Duchess, one thing I particularly enjoyed is that the heroine, Isabelle, is a duchess one her own, having inherited the title, which is pretty awesome, as that basically never happens in historical romance. I mean, there's always an abundance of dukes, but duchesses who are not married to said dukes are pretty hard to come by.
And I liked Isabelle because she is strong and intelligent and isn't afraid to go after what she wants. Our duke is also likeable in that he is loyal and just a good man, but this loyalty also got majorly in the way of the romance. I mean, so he promised her deceased father that he would make sure she married a man close to her own age and he's what, a decade her senior? It seems to me that this was pretty much the norm back then, but ok. So even though they love each other, he decides that he can't because of said promise.

And while this makes for some real complication in their lovestory, it also made everything move incredibly slow! OMG, it took forever for him to start taking action and in the mean time it wasn't extremely exciting, though they did have wonderfully romantic moments together. I just would have liked for the pace to be a little faster.
But it was a pretty sweet story and I enjoyed reading it!

My rating: 3 stars