New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

In 2018 I had the idea to have readers and friends read my favorite books from years past. I had 20+ amazing people sign up and read some of my all-time favorite books. They took the time out of their busy lives and reading schedules and read books I love and shared what they thought on my blog. It was a lot of fun and I got to see some new takes on old favorites. It actually was a fun experience. If you are interested in the reviews HERE.

This year I decided to give back in a way and asked everyone that signed up to tell me their favorite book (that I have not read) because in 2019 it is time to do NEW TO ME.

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New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey JayPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: December 9, 2014
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three-stars

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Stacey Jay’s book, Princess of Thorns came out December 9, 2014. How long have I owned it? It has been on my shelf since December 30, 2014. Yup, I was so excited for this book I had it mere weeks after it’s release. So to say I was happy to see it as a New to Me suggestion and then a New to Me read I was thrilled. It was about time I read this backlist book I ran out and bought. Sadly though I didn’t end up loving it like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but I really struggled with a lot of it which outweighed the good for me.

The story is about Aurora, a princess without a throne. She is on a quest to save her brother and the throne that rightfully belongs to her family. But in order to stay hidden and safe, she has to hide in plain sight as a boy. While on her journey she meets Prince Niklaas, a prince with a secret of his own. With an unlikely ally at their side, these two make a dangerous trek in order to save the kingdom, themselves, and maybe find love.

In theory, I should have loved this. A hidden identity book? A book with danger and intrigue and magic? There for it. Sadly the first 50% of the book was really hard to get into. It dragged a lot and the pacing was a little slow. And as much as I loved Aurora and Niklaas’ connection, it took a really long time for me to feel it. Truthfully I think that is really where my struggle was. I was missing something in those first 200 pages and I don’t know what it was. And then after all that build up, I didn’t feel there were enough pages to deal with everything that was left so the end felt a little rushed.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book. But I just didn’t love it. By the end, I was reading like crazy to find out what happened, but I just don’t think there was enough for me to be satisfied. There are plenty of people that loved it though and you may be one of those people so don’t rule it out because I was just so so on it.

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And there you have it, June’s book selection for New to Me. I wasn’t sure I would finish in time but I made it work!

Looking for more books with a character in disguise? Check out this list on Goodreads.

 

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Blog Tour: Review – What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Blog Tour: Review – What to Say Next by Julie BuxbaumWhat to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: July 11th 2017
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five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Admittedly it took me a long time to read What to Say Next, a book that is under 300 pages. I started it at the wrong time (right before a book I was dying for was released) and after I put it down and got sucked into other books it sat waiting. Because of this when I picked it up I struggled to get into the book. I was really sad about this because I had heard such great things. But the more I read the more I just fell in love with Julie Buxbaum’s story of Kit and David. And by the time I was done I was so sad there were no more words for me to read. To keep it simple…the book was fantastic.

What to Say Next is told from the perspectives of both David and Kit in alternating chapters. What I love about this format is that you get to see what is inside each of their heads. Sometimes this can take away from a book, but in this case I think it actually added to it. Knowing what Kit was thinking and feeling was really important. She is popular and has friends but after the feather of her father things changed and now she wants quiet and understanding. David, who is on the spectrum, is a loner. He sits alone and uses a notebook to help him determine who is well meaning and who to stay away from.  When Kit sits down with David though everything changes for both of them and soon feelings have forming and friendships are made and everything is changing.

It is hard to say at what point this story turned around for me.  According to my Goodreads updates it was around page 80. But honestly I think it was before that. There was something so endearing and magical about Kit and David’s friendship forming and blossoming. On paper Kit and David couldn’t have been more different, but from the start of the book something about their differences really just clicked. You could almost feel how they made each other whole and I loved that. I loved that this seemingly random twist of fate, the death of Kit’s dad, lead them to find their person. And I 100% believe they are each other’s person. The honesty they show one another is like nothing I have seen in a book. And to see their trust and relationship grow I was done for. Also David is 100% crush worthy.

What to Say Next is a great follow up to Buxbaum’s YA debut, Tell Me Three Things. It has heart and amazing story telling and characters you will love from the depths of your soul. I was honestly blown away by how much I ended up loving Kit and David’s story and I think you will too. I highly recommend this one for your TBR.

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About Julie Buxbaum

The author of the New York Times bestseller Tell Me Three Things, her debut young adult novel, as well as the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two young children.

 

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Blog Tour: Review – The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill (Giveaway)

Blog Tour: Review – The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill (Giveaway)The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte
Published: December 8th 2015
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four-stars

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I love Lauren Morrill’s story telling style. She has a way about her writing that reminds me of the teen late 90s/early 2000s movies I loved. She did it with Being Sloane Jacobs and Meant to Be and she did it again with The Trouble with Destiny. I mean I found Trouble to be predictable but it made me smile in that predictability just like all those movies did so to me that’s a win.

The Trouble with Destiny is about Liza the drum major of her high school band. She is the leader, the one keeping things together, the one in charge. So when the band is in trouble of losing their funding Liza gets them on a cruise for performing high school groups in hopes of winning $25,000 and saving the activity she loves so much. But as all Liza’s plans start to fall apart and the cruise is nothing as expected Liza starts to learn sometimes you can’t be in control of everything. Sometimes life just has to happen and when it does miraculous things can do…maybe even falling in love.

When you have a bunch of high school kids on a boat, shenanigans will go down. There was a lot of stuff that happened to these kids and situations they put themselves in that kept the story fun and interesting. The boat being stuck with limited power was a fun way to keep all the main characters in the same place without having it seem unnatural. And the music/performances made sure to keep everyone in the same orbit.

I took a cruise a few years back and because of that I found the setting for The Trouble with Destiny to be perfect. It brought back all the memories I had from my trip and made me want to go back. TO be honest I actually pictured the boat I was on as the Destiny was described (minus the pool. Our pool was teeny tiny). The setting was perfect to have a bunch of kids up to hijinks and worked really well. It also made me wish I was on another cruise so Morrill nailed it.

This is where I had a little trouble. Liza super annoyed me. I think she was a little too much a lot of the time so I had a slight bit of trouble connecting to her. But as the book progressed I liked a lot how she changed. Lenny was another one that I had trouble with. I wasn’t crazy about his behavior a lot of the time and that annoyed me. Now Russ I LOVED. He was the fun, comic relief. He was the Pacey Witter of the bunch and he just made me smile, especially with his dealings with Liza, his polar opposite. All in all I liked the characters as a bunch but there were just some flaws to each of them that did bug me a tad.

The Trouble with Destiny was adorable and fun. That’s what the whole thing came down to. Was it perfect? Nope. But I enjoyed it and it made me smile and brought me back to a few of my favorite movies. Not to mention the whole cruise thing. I look forward to what Ms. Morrill has in store for us next.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

About Lauren Morrill

Lauren Elizabeth Morrill is many things, including, but not limited to, a writer, an educator, a badass roller derby skater, a former band nerd, an aggressive driver, and a die-hard Mac person. She also watches a lot of TV, eats a lot of junk food, and drinks a lot of Coke. It's a wonder her brain and teeth haven't rotted out of her head.

Lauren is the author of Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs, The Trouble With Destiny, and the forthcoming My Unscripted Life (October 2016), all from Random House.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
11/26 – Andi’s ABCs (Review)
 
Week 2:
 
Week 3:
 
Week 4:

 

 Giveaway:


One winner (US or Canada Only) will receive a Lauren Morrill prize pack of signed copies of all Lauren’s books and swag!

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Review: We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

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Title: We Were Liars [Amazon]
Author: E. Lockhart [website]
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Netgalley/Digital ARC
Stars: 5 of 5

Publisher Description:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Thoughts:
So Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner read this book and couldn’t seem to say enough how much she loved it. When it popped up on Netgalley I was equal parts nervous and excited because really, what if I hated it. But when I was approved I knew it would be my next read regardless of my fear. I jumped in with both feet and I didn’t drown. I came out of the water singing and dancing and yelling for joy. Because simply put, We Were Liars was FANTASTIC!

We Were Liars is the story of the Sinclair family, but more accurately, Cadence Sinclair and her two teen cousins Mirren and Johnny and Johnny’s brother-like friend Gat. Every summer the family travels to an island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and for every summer since they were 8, Gat has been joining them.  Only the summer the four are 15, everything is different and nothing will ever be the same. An accident happens that changes the fate and the lives of the four known to everyone as The Liars. The problem is Cady can’t seem to remember what happened to her and what the real truths of that summer are and if what happened to her really was an accident.

Okay, so, I’m going to start with the writing style. At first, I will admit, it was a problem for me. I’m not usually a fan of the straightforward style where it feels like the author is dumbing everything down by saying ‘first we did this, then we did that, then I felt like this, then I felt like that’. It isn’t my favorite so I was a little taken aback as I started to read We Were Liars. But the fantastic thing about this? The more I read the more I liked and understood Cady’s voice and why it was written that way. I didn’t feel like Lockhart was talking down to me. Instead I felt like it was just Cadence’s voice and I actually grew fond of it as it added to the uppity quality that the Sinclair family all seemed to have.

Speaking of Cadence, I actually found myself liking her. She was different from other main characters I read. She had a spark to her that had to be dulled down by her family, but it was there. And I liked her interaction with the other Liars. As a group they were exactly how I would imagine a group of over privileged, rich kids would act with too much time on their hands. They were all pretty fascinating characters and I wanted to know just a little bit more about them every time one was mentioned. I mean Gat, Mirren and Johnny were definitely secondary characters used to back Cady, but they were the kind of characters that you invested yourself in because they added to the story and weren’t background noise.

Now you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned much about the plot in this review and that is on purpose. The plot is the most magical part of the book and I fear anything I say has the potential to give it all away and I can’t do that to you. Know this…you will be blown away when it all unfolds and left thinking about what you just read and what really just happened for a long time. Basically that’s all I can tell you besides saying it is fantastic. It will make your brain hurt and make you book hungover after, but it is worth it. We Were Liars was my first E. Lockhart book and I can tell you right now it won’t be my last. Now stop reading what I’m saying and go read the book. 😉

Other books by author:
disreputable boyfriend1boyfriend2 boyfriend3 boyfriend4

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Review: The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

Review: The Here and Now – Ann BrasharesThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Published by Random House Children's Books
Published: April 8th 2014
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two-stars

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I kept waffling on whether it not I wanted to read this book. I’m not always a fan of time travel books, but I’m a fan of parallel life books and they sometimes can be the same. And I was a fan of All Our Yesterdays so I took a chance. Sadly this is one of those times that my gamble didn’t pay off. Basically I was really disappointed in this story and I was disappointed for 2 reasons which I’ll explain shortly.

The Here and Now is the story of Prenna, a girl from another time that has traveled to our time for a better life with a group of people. In the America that Prenna and her family come from the country is ravaged by disease and death and plague. Thinking life will be better they travel to 2010 and learn our ways. By 2014 they are living by a set of rules they are told they must follow to insure their safety and they mostly do. That is until Prenna and Ethan, a boy from 2014, start to get close. As Prenna starts to learn some things she starts to realize what she has been told may not all be the truth. But with knowledge comes a danger Prenna and Ethan never saw coming. Suddenly everything and different and it is possible left to the two of them to change things and make the US safe once again for future generations.

Like I said, I had two major problems with this book which made it hard to enjoy because of. The first problem was Prenna and Ethan’s relationship. From one page to the next they went from zero to 60 without there being any build, any real backstory, and connection. I didn’t believe them to be anything more than friends which made it a really hard sell for me since their romance was a huge part of the book. I wasn’t at all invested in them as a couple. I was intrigued by what they would uncover and how they would accomplish anything, but that was where it ended for me. I just didn’t find them or their actions for that matter believable which was a problem I just couldn’t ignore.

My other problem was the lack of finality to any part of the story. I mean I get that authors like to leave books open in case they want to create a series (or this could be planned as one already and I don’t know it). But for a book that had a lot going on in terms of backstory and side stories and the main story, I didn’t feel like I got one single solid answer for some of the problems. It just did t connect from point A to point B so by the end I was left completely unsatisfied and wondering if I missed half of the book.

In the end The Here and Now just didn’t work for me. We didn’t mesh well and that’s okay because I know for a fact that it did work for others, that there are people that loved it and that awesome for them. Basically my issues were just too much for me to ignore and I just wasn’t 100% pleased with the book. And the great thing about reading? That’s okay.

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