Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lily's Top 10 Summer Reads

As Summer comes to a close, and school shopping takes over everyone's days I'd like to reflect on the memorable novels I read over the summer.   Most of these (or maybe all) are contemporary love stories, because what else does a single eighteen year old want to read in the middle of July?

10. Hopeless by: Colleen Hoover

      Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

      Of course I had to include a CoHo book in this Top 10.  As one of my favorite authors, I was thrilled to obtain this book since it was the only one I have yet to read.  She certainly did not disappoint.  Every page was filled with that magical Colleen spark we all know and love her for.  She has a knack of those plot twists and just giving the reader an emotional connection to the readers.  This book was definitely a top favorite and will be a story I will forever remember.

9. The Neverland Wars by: Audrey Greathouse
 Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

Ever since I heard the song Lost Boy by Ruth B, I have had Peter Pan fever.  I was lucky enough to be able to get an eCopy of this lovely book in exchange for a review.  I read it while on vacation over the summer and was glued to my screen, my mind wrapped up in the story, rather than paying attention to the actual vacation.  The characters were witty, fresh, and exciting.  It took a whole new turn on the Peter Pan legend and spun it up from it's feet.  I will definitely be first in line for the sequel.

8.  My Life With The Walter Boys by: Ali Novak

My Life with the Walter Boys centers on the prim, proper, and always perfect Jackie Howard. When her world is turned upside down by tragedy, Jackie must learn to cut loose and be part of a family again.

Jackie does not like surprises. Chaos is the enemy! The best way to get her successful, busy parents to notice her is to be perfect. The perfect look, the perfect grades-the perfect daughter. And then...

Surprise #1: Jackie's family dies in a freak car accident.

Surprise #2: Jackie has to move cross-country to live with the Walters-her new guardians.

Surprise #3: The Walters have twelve sons. (Well, eleven, but Parker acts like a boy anyway)

Now Jackie must trade in her Type A personality and New York City apartment for a Colorado ranch and all the wild Walter boys who come with it. Jackie is surrounded by the enemy-loud, dirty, annoying boys who have no concept of personal space. Okay, several of the oldest guys are flat-out gorgeous. But still annoying. She's not stuck-up or boring-no matter what they say. But proving it is another matter. How can she fit in and move on when she needs to keep her parents' memory alive by living up to the promise of perfect?

I had seen all the hype on Wattpad and walked passed the book countless of times at Barnes and Noble so it was only time that would tell when I would finally give in and pick it up. 
I could readily relate to Jackie's "Type A" Personality and understand her culture shock in moving to a whole new situation, one she was not used to.  This novel was beautifully crafted and had lines full of wit, laughter, and 'awe' filled moments.

7.  The Chase: Trusting God with Your Happily Ever After by: Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky

Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky couldn't have dreamed a better love story for themselves had it been scripted by a bestselling novelist like Kelsey's mom, Karen Kingsbury. In fact, if you asked them, Kyle and Kelsey would name God as the author of their story. And they're glad they trusted him to write it for them.
Unfortunately, too many girls hoping for their own happily-ever-after have taken matters into their own hands, chasing after boys when they should be chasing after God. And that inevitably leads to heartache, low self-esteem, and poor choices as girls give in to pressure from media and peers to look and act a certain way to attract guys.
Kyle and Kelsey want girls to know that it's never too late to trust God with their love lives, that wherever they are, there's always hope for the future. Through their own story and the stories of others who long for love, they show girls how to put God first, how to value and protect their purity, how to deal with loneliness and bullying, and how to see themselves as God does--a one-in-a-million girl who deserves no less than God's best.

This book doesn't beat around the bush.  It tells you the truth straight out, through the words of Kyle and Kelsey, and their stories.  Whether it be by personal experiences, their friends, or just pure Godly Wisdom, they take you on a journey through how they found their happily ever after, and encourages you to not give up on it either.  As a girl about to head off to college, this encouragement was much needed.  I loved how I could relate to Kelsey's worries and fears, and I enjoyed the guy's perspective on everything.  This book talks about sex, love, God, and everything in between.  Whether your religious or not, I suggest you pick this up and read it.  You won't regret it.

6.  Isla and the Happily Ever After by: Stephanie Perkins

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

I love Stephanie Perkins ability to tell a true and honest love story.  I had already read her other two books and quickly picked up her last one in the trilogy. I also had gotten back from my trip to New York City which coincidently is where part of this book takes place.
This love was more promiscuous than Perkins other two books which was a surprise, but a pleasant change in pace. I believe readers will be pleased to know that the other characters from the previous novels make an appearance in this last addition (A few scenes with everyone made me squeal with happiness I admit).  But it won't take away from the stars of this book: Josh and Isla.  Perkins has a knack for spinning a good plot twist and making her characters fall in love in real time, which is why she is a top favorite author.

5. Saint Anything by: Sarah Dessen

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

It's Sarah Dessen. That's a good enough reason to read it. Plus I'm a sucker for the Best-Friend-Brother story.

4.  The Hidden Oracle by: Rick Riordan

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Ever since sixth grade I have been a Rick Riordan super fan, and it hasn't stopped, even at eighteen years old.  I believe his books are timeless and you are never too old for an "Uncle Rick" book.  I didn't know what to expect when I read this book, same characters? Will Percy make an appearance? What does Rick have up his sleeves? Hesitantly, I cracked it open and didn't put it down until my mom yelled at me at four A.M that if we didn't leave that instant we would be late for our flight.
Any fan of Percy Jackson will fall in love with even Apollo, the most self centered person to meet, and his little sidekick friend.  You will be on the edge of your seat with this book and gasp at the ending... and curse yourself for finishing it so fast and having to wait a year for the next installment.

3.  Enchanted by: Althea Kontis

It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past—and hers?

Fans of Once Upon a Time will be "enchanted" by this fairy tail.  A;thea completely breaks down the fairy tales and rewrites them in a unique, and never before told way.  I loved Sunday and her love of story telling.  It reminded me of myself and that even a quirky, nerd can find a prince.  If you enjoy balls, fairy godmothers, and fancy gowns, I guarantee you will be wowed by this book.

2.  The Hamilton Affair by: Elizabeth Cobbs

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of iconic characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from tremulous beginning to bittersweet ending—his at a dueling ground on the shores of the Hudson River, hers more than half a century later after a brave, successful life.

Hamilton was a bastard son, raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He went to America to pursue his education. Along the way he became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and unlikely—heroes. Adored by Washington, hated by Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the American Revolution.

She was the well-to-do daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault. When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity. In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.
With its flawless writing, brilliantly drawn characters, and epic scope, The Hamilton Affair will take its place among the greatest novels of American history.

To be honest I only picked up this book because of the cover and my enjoyment of the Broadway musical music. Other than that I didn't really know what I was getting into. There has been a huge rage for Hamilton and so I thought I would join the fun and see what it was all about. 
I've never actually been one for a historical romance but I pleasantly enjoyed this book and certainly learned a lot (considering I didn't pay much attention to U.S history in high school). Even if you don't care for learning, or history, I still recommend this book for displaying the history of Hamilton, while in a romantic and entertaining way.

1.  Anna and the French Kiss by: Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

This book is on my all time favorite and the perfect read for the summer. Set in a romantic country, with a British hottie and a seemingly ordinary American girl, every reader will fall in love with the characters and the magic of Paris.  There are simply not enough words in the English language to explain how beautiful this love story is.  I think I will forever be recommending this book to every single person I meet.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Broken Dreams Series Blog Tour (Giveaway!!!)

Broken Dreams Series
By: by Elodie Nowodazkij

A Summer Like No Other


She’s his best friend’s little sister. He’s the biggest player of them all.

They shouldn’t be together. But this summer’s just too tempting.
Sixteen-year-old Emilia Moretti’s goal for the summer is simple: forget her brother’s best friend—Nick Grawsky—ever existed. It should be easy: He’s spending his summer in the Hamptons, adding girls in tiny bikinis to his list of broken hearts. Guarantee he won’t be telling them they’re like his little sisters. This summer, Emilia won’t stay awake at night thinking about him. She’ll need flawless ballet movements to have a shot at next year’s showcase, and she’s finally ready to search for her birth parents. But when Nick decides to stay in the city, Emilia’s resolve disappears in a pirouette. Maybe it’s the spin they needed to be together. As long as she doesn’t get stuck believing in happily ever after…

Nick is tired of pretending to be the happy, let’s-have-fun guy. His father wants him to change his career from professional dancer to…lawyer. He needs to put all of his focus on dancing to prove to Daddy Dearest he’s good enough to make it big. And he may have a case of the bluest balls in history courtesy of Emilia. She’s off-limits: The bro code with Roberto even forbids the dirty thoughts he has about her. Besides, he’s not boyfriend material. He only has time for flings, for girls who don’t expect much, for girls he doesn’t want to kiss goodnight. He knows he should resist her, but he’s not sure he wants to…

At least for this summer.

It’s going to be a summer like no other.

I love dancing and am very familiar with Ballet and all forms of dance.  So to be able to read a book based on dance? Basically my two favorite things combined! This novel had the perfect amount of drama, romance, and those  cute little moments you wish you could have in real life.

You can feel the electricity between Nick and Emilia in every little pass they have in the story.  Their story unfolds in a unique and bitter-sweet way that I enjoyed. I also was intrigued of Em's longing to find her birth parents.  Two of my cousins are adopted and so I got to go on Emilia's adventure with her as she tried to find herself and where she came from.

 I love summer romances and what better thing to do while in the middle of summer, single as a pringle? Read about it.  This book was the right pick. 

Always Second Best

Sometimes being first isn’t what you expected. Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first. 

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He's going to prove he's meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love. 

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

The words in this story have the power to crush the life out of you, then slowly build you back together.  You read through the book and think you have it all figured out and la dee da when you trip and the twist hits you.  This story was read in the matters of a plane ride; I could not put it down.  It includes every single element you know and love from Modern YA and I will forever re-read it, and remember this story.


Many Thanks to YA Book Bound Tours

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Anomalies Review

By: Sadie Turner and Colette Freedman

In the future there is no disease. There is no war. There is no discontent. All citizens are complacent members of the Global Governance. But one summer is about to change everything. Keeva Tee just turned fifteen. She’s about to make the trip to Monarch Camp to be imprinted with her intended life partner. But in her happy, carefree life in the Ocean Community, she hears whispers about “anomalies”—citizens who can’t be imprinted. When Keeva arrives at Monarch Camp, her worst nightmare becomes a reality—she is an anomaly. She beings to doubt everything she’s ever believed. What if freedom and individuality have been sacrificed for security? When Keeva finds a warning carved under a bunk bed she begins to understand: nonconformity will be punished, dissent is not an option, insurgents will be destroyed.

At a first glimpse I was afraid this book would be the typical dystopian series: oppressed people, controlling government, innocent girl, and a revolution.  But as I continued to read, I found it to have many surprising layers that adds to the story, ultimately much more than any other dystopian I've ever read.

Keeva s a normal teenage girl of the Ocean Community who just wants to meet the guy she is meant to be with forever: the boy with the blue eyes, so when she gets the label as an anomaly, she's shaken. 

Half of the story takes place at Monarch Camp, where the anomalies have to be trained and analyzed to re-match them with someone.  The other half is where the action occurs, where Keeva learns that all is not what it seems. Then a little chunk is spent on the dictators' son, and his training to take the place of his father.

Although the love-interests weren't that apparent in my opinion, I still enjoyed the characters and the chemistry between everyone.  I hope the relationships continue to grow stronger as the second book comes around and that we will see more of Keeva and Kai.

To me this book was a great introduction to what is to come; its always fast paced and not a second is wasted on mindless banter.  The storytelling is phenomenal and the plot twists are un-predictable. I am truly excited for the next book and to see what the authors bring to the table.                                                                                     

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Neverland Wars Review


The Neverland Wars
By: Audrey Greathouse

Magic can do a lot―give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though―and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

Going into this book I was excited.  I've had a crush on Peter Pan since I was seated in front of the television screen to distract me so my mother could rest (I was a very rambunctious child).  So to get to relive Neverland in a whole new way? Sign me up. 

I was whirled into this whimsical and fascinating world of magic, fairies, and lost boys.  I could deeply relate with the main character Gwen and her seemingly childish and mature personality. 

There is no time for slow beginnings or background stories in this book; instantly within a few chapters I was thrusted into Neverland and got to experience the day-to-day life in Neverland.  Of course there were mermaids, lost boys, fairies (when you learn their names you will die of adorableness), and the redskins (of course Gwen doesn't feel comfortable calling them that... but whatever).  There were no pirates but I was delighted to hear the stories Peter recounted.... maybe in book 2?

Peter Pan is portrayed with a playful, yet maybe, dare I say it, mature (?) personality.  He looks about 16 (due to flying in the real world he ages slowly in our realm, something I never even stopped to think about).

In my eyes, he is quite handsome and throughout the whole book I wanted Gwen to forget about Jay and go for Peter.  Because.... Peter Pan!!! I still think the two had some chemistry throughout the story and especially at the end.  So book 2 I am begging, and praying for something... cause this ship has sailed.

Although, I absolutely loved the concept and plot, I found it ended a bit suddenly.  To me, I was still in the introduction stage to the whole plot and we hadn't reached a huge climax before I suddenly reached the last page.

Every author has a different style and maybe it's just my impatience to want to read more in this world that brings out these negative feelings in me.  All I know is I will definitely be waiting anxiously for the sequel.


While reading The Neverland Wars, I actually listened to the Peter Pan score on Spotify.  The music fit the book quite well and provided a little something extra to the text. 

Songs I suggest for the book playlist are:
- Lost Boy by: Ruth B
- Little Soldier by: Lily Allen
- Fairy Dance by: Peter Pan Score (Original Movie)
- Flying  by: Peter Pan Score (Original Movie)
- Main Title  by: Peter Pan Score (Original Movie)
- Ships in the Night by: Mat Kearney