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Lisa Likes Books

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American Girl On Saturn - Nikki Godwin 3.5 or 4 stars. Not sure yet. Review soon.

The Loop the Loop

The Loop - Shandy Lawson Well, shit! -- Review soon.
In Honor - Jessi Kirby 4.5 stars----------------------------I don’t know how it happened, but it’s like I planned to start reading Jessi Kirby’s books from the most recent to the oldest. I didn’t actually plan it, but that’s how it’s working out. I read Golden and loved it and now I read In Honor and think I might have another auto-buy author on my list.In Honor by Jessi Kirby was one of those books that immediately appealed to me. I totally respect sibling relationships (including my own), so I was particularly drawn to the story because the main character, Honor, lost her brother in the war. But then there was a road trip too! And a possibly swoon worthy boy! Why WOULDN’T I want to read In Honor? Right?For the most part In Honor was everything I was hoping for. There was self-discovery and grief and fun and and and… There actually wasn’t the type of romance I was expecting. I’m not really sure what I was expecting before I started reading the book, because, in retrospect, I don’t think the dynamic between Honor and Rusty could have been any different than it was. There was a bit of tension between them (the good kind and definitely the bad kind too) and quite a lot of history. You could tell these people had known each other for a long time.Honor is about to go into college; she wears dresses and cowboy boots (yes!) and is more naïve than she thinks she is. Honor’s flaws really highlighted how well Kirby is at writing people. Honor is sort of… self-centered, let’s say… but it was always so subtle as not to be a deal-breaker but it’s also obviously a character flaw. The same goes for Rusty. He was by no means the perfect gentleman or even person, but he had some great qualities and I loved him for it.Road trip novels are always a lot of fun. I can’t say I’ve read a whole ton, but I really loved this one because it had a lot of nature mixed into it. It wasn’t all getting to places and other people. There was a lot of character introspection and learning to just be. So wonderful.So what do you think? Are you going to give In Honor a try? I highly recommend it if you like contemporary, road trips, et cetera et cetera. This is basically a blanket recommendation.
The Vincent Boys  - Abbi Glines Not sure what to rate this yet. Either 3, 3.5, or 4.

Pride and Popularity (Jane Austen Diaries)

Pride & Popularity - Jenni James Perhaps 2.5 stars. I'm not sure yet. Review soon.

Pride and Prejudice (The Penguin English Library)

Pride and Prejudice - Tony Tanner, Jane Austen How can this book ever not be loved?

Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy - 4.5 stars. Maybe 5. Still trying to decide.--------------Reading the synopsis for Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, it’s hard to really put a finger on what type of novel this is. It could be an issue book (a mother who’s a prostitute), a mystery novel (mysterious death in the Quarter), or it could be a coming-of-age story (main character who wants to move away and go to college). But which is it? All of the above and so much more.Out of the Easy is a splendid and unique novel with so much going on. The plot is like nothing I’ve ever read before. Josie Moraine has a pretty tough life. As if having only one parent (who’s completely negligent) isn’t bad enough, Josie grew up before her time and now has to deal with the likes of perverted men, angry gangs, personal loss, and so much more. This novel had me twisted up in emotion the entire time I was reading it. I’m sort of wondering how I went so long without it in my life.Josie is my kind of strong character. I feel like there’s a lot of wonderful but far-fetched “strength” going through books as of late. Josie’s character was completely believable.* She crumpled up and cried more than once. She was scared to death a lot of the time, and sometimes I questioned her (actions), but Josie was a fighter. With so much blackness in her life I wouldn’t have blamed her for giving up, but she never did. She always got up and kept going on. THAT’S why she’s strong and why I might have to make a list of “Favorite Characters” just for her.Really, Out of the Easy has a bunch of wonderful, unique characters. Each character had their own personality and history and they were all generally fantastic. I even liked the characters I hated. They were domestic villains of the truest forms and even while I was wishing they would leave I was praising Ruta Sepetys for writing them so well.At the end of the day I really loved Out of the Easy. I was iffy on it at first, but it proved itself as a well written, deep, and emotionally captivating novel. I’m so happy to have not passed this one up and definitely recommend it to everyone. You’ll get invested in it. I promise.--------*I say this with the mindset she’s in realistic fiction (which she is). I’m just saying I know the rules are changed when the world is different and I don’t want people getting mad at me with words about “reality” being different for all books. I know, I know.

This Is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith 3.5 stars

Pandemonium (Delirium Series #2)

Pandemonium (Delirium Series #2) - Blah.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds - Cat Winters Oh my god. I loved this book so much.-----------“I was on a train in my own country, in a year the devil designed. 1918.” When I read this sentence--at the end of the first chapter of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters—I didn’t think much of it. The novel had a strong start, but I couldn’t foresee what a rollercoaster ride it was going to be. Fear not! It’s the good kind of rollercoaster ride. The kind that has your stomach leaping toward your mouth every few moments and you, by the end, nearly hysterical with happiness that you didn’t die, because, let’s be honest… it almost happened. And you loved it. (That got really off topic, didn’t it? Sorry.)Obviously there’s no real threat of death in reading a book, but at times I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. In the Shadow of Blackbirds radiates strength. The story is strong, the characters are strong, even the title of the book is strong, though you’ll never realize it until you read the book. *wink winkIn the Shadow of Blackbirds takes place in 1918, during World War I and the breakout of the Spanish influenza. I was so impressed with how difficult it was to forget the sickness while reading this book. Like someone living in fear of the influenza, the reader is always aware of its presence. It is there breathing down your neck at all times, waiting. It was extremely easy to sympathize and/or empathize with the characters in the novel. I actually forgot a few times that there was no sickness in my present life and pulled away when my family breathed too close to me. I love it when I get so immersed in a book like that, and it happened extremely easily with this one.As if a pandemic isn’t enough, many people died in the First World War as well, so there was a lot of ghost talk in real life and throughout In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Cat Winters’ writing was effortless to read at all times. It was so apparent how much time she put into researching the time period, the sickness, the war, et cetera. I didn’t feel the need to fact check because nothing seemed out of place to me. I was able to put my full trust into Winters’ work, which made the reading process easier. To be honest, I needed that, because the content of the story is a bit… tough to swallow.Mary Shelley, the main character, went through some pretty horrific experiences throughout the time of the book. I loved Mary so much. She is, to me, the perfect “strong” character. She wasn’t always the dictionary definition of “strong”, but she kept trucking on and that’s what stood out to me. Given the situation she was in she had the perfect amount of confusion/hesitation and certainty. I think I could read about Mary Shelley forever.As you can see, I adored In the Shadow of Blackbirds. I found it on Goodreads sort of by accident and thought it sounded interesting. I never thought I would love it so much. In fact, I think it might be up there in “favorites” territory (even though I don’t really do “favorites”). I definitely recommend it to anyone. It’s creepy and weird and wonderful and sad. It’s so good and I hope everyone else loves it too.

Between You & Me

Between You & Me - Marisa Calin When I read that Between You & Me by Marisa Calin was written in a screenplay format I was equal parts intrigued and horrified. Once upon a time I was a cinematography major, so I’m well aware that screenplays are meant to be adapted, not read as a novel. Then I started reading the book and was equal parts peeved and grateful. Let me explain. Between You & Me is not a screenplay. I sort of don’t want to even say it’s written in screenplay format. I’ll settle with: Between You & Me is written in very broken screenplay format. That’s the part that peeves me. The gratefulness comes in because the changes made to the formatting of a traditional screenplay (for this novel) make it much easier to read (as a novel). So that’s the formatting, but there are bigger fish to fry.Throughout the duration of the novel the main character’s (Phyre’s) best friend is referred to as “You”. The reader has no idea of gender or characteristics basically at all. Not knowing anything about that character is/was the most compelling aspect of the story. There was a lot left to individual interpretation when it came to “You” and I found the character’s gender was always changing in my mind depending on the small details we got in Phyre’s narration. I have an idea of what gender “You” is, but who am I to say? I would really love to have a chat with the author and find out for sure… but not knowing is definitely part of the fun and intrigue of the story.Aside from the mystery of “You” I was a little bit underwhelmed with the plot. While I felt Phyre’s crush on Mia—her theater teacher—was very interesting, it was sort of dull. There was next to no action and most of what the audience read was Phyre longing for her teacher, who just so happened to be her first female crushee (You like that? Thought of it myself. Hah.) ever. Nothing was ever acted on or questioned at length and, really, I felt like nothing was going on in Phyre’s life. I did find one quote about Mia and Phyre’s relationship interesting, though. Phyre says: “I don’t know if I want to be her or kiss her but I know my heart is ready to explode.” I won’t elaborate on that because I feel like we’ve all probably admired or liked someone so much we just weren’t sure. (In my case it would be something like a “girl-crush” on another female. I don’t necessarily want to be romantic with them, but I love what they do or who they are as a person and probably look up to them. So much for not elaborating, right?)As something of a side note: Phyre is the main character in a play Mia is directing at the high school. I found it quite interesting (but admittedly a little cliché) that the play parallels Phyre’s life. Honestly, I was looking forward to the play within the book more than I was the book itself. May I read more of that please? Thank you.All in all I liked Between You & Me, but I’m nowhere near in love with it. I feel like the concept had a lot of potential but the execution felt a little forced and unfinished. The whole thing could have used a tad more work. I would have gladly read extra pages to have a better-rounded novel. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more by Marisa Calin. I think she has good stories to tell and I want to be there when she tells them.

Life After Theft

Life After Theft - Aprilynne Pike 3.5 stars

Golden

Golden - Jessi Kirby Wow. What a wonderful book.-----“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary OliverHave you ever gone into a book knowing it was going to change you somehow? Not necessarily in some huge way, but maybe it made you think about a specific topic in a way you never had before. Perhaps it became one of your favorite books that you always refer to and recommend. That’s what happened with Golden by Jessi Kirby. I had never read anything by Kirby before, so I went into Golden completely unprepared for the story, her writing, et cetera.I’m going to focus on characters in this review, because really, Parker basically ran the show. There weren’t very many outside forces deciding what would happen (maybe except for Kat. I’ll get to her in a second.). We got to read Julianna’s journal when Parker wanted to read it. We went into the woods when Parker decided she wanted to explore. We talked to people (or didn’t talk to people) depending on--you guessed it!--Parker. That’s not to say there wasn’t a plot--there was. But there were some pretty amazing characters in the story and I can’t help myself from gushing about them.Parker Frost was seventeen and one of those people who never took chances. She stayed on the straight and narrow at the urging of her mother. Parker has amazing character development in this story. I remember noticing how rational she was at the beginning compared to the end. By the end of the book she was taking chances because they felt right or her instincts were telling her to go ahead. I loved Parker for how emotionally and mentally strong she was. She wasn’t perfect, but she was able to change the path of her life when she realized it wasn’t working out for her anymore. She’s one of those characters that you feel sort of proud of by the end of the book.Kat, Parker’s best friend, is a wonderful example of the type if person you want to be friends with. I loved how much trust she put into Parker. Even when she knew she was being lied to it wasn’t a big deal because, to her, Parker was just not ready to explain yet. I did get annoyed with Kat for a little bit of the book, but things straightened out and I loved her again.I loved basically all the characters in Golden. Parker, who was brave and afraid at the same time, and above all--strong. Kat, who put every ounce of trust and faith she could into her friends. Trevor, who was loyal and funny and completely golden-hearted. Gah, I can’t help but gush over all these characters and the story itself. It was so, so good. Through the entire book I felt so torn with my feelings. On one hand I was sad for everything that happened, but on the other I still felt hopeful that the future could be better. I think that’s one of Golden’s greatest strengths: there’s always hope. Even during the saddest parts of the story there’s a little voice in the back of your head saying “This can’t be it.”What can I say? I loved Golden so much. It’s one of those books you can’t really explain in a 500-word review. I have so much to say and no idea how to tell you guys any of it. I loved reading every page of Golden and hope you all will give it a try. It’s totally worth it. You’ll love it (I hope!).

Confessions Of A Blabbermouth (Minx Graphic Novels)

Confessions of a Blabbermouth - Mike Carey, Louise Carey, Aaron Alexovich I didn’t hate Confessions of a Blabbermouth… I didn’t. But I can’t say I really liked it either. I feel like I was rolling my eyes for a lot of the book. What it really comes down to is the main character. I didn’t like her. She was annoying and rude from the very beginning. And she was supposed to be quirky, but… It seemed like the writers were trying way too hard to make her an “independent” and “angsty teenager”. (Though I don’t know why that’s in quotes. They didn’t say that. You get what I mean.) I wasn’t feeling it and I’m very happy it was a graphic novel that didn’t suck up too much of my time.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June - Robin Benway 2.5 starsWell, what to say about this book…. I can’t say I had high hopes for The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway, because I didn’t. I didn’t have any expectations at all, really, for two reasons: 1) It was the first book I’ve read by Robin Benway. 2) I didn’t really read the synopsis, so I was almost clueless about the story from the beginning. I know Audrey, Wait! is, like, the bomb-diggity… or so I hear, so I was excited to read anything by Benway. (Don’t ask why I didn’t just read that one. I don’t know.)The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June fell short for me. I liked it well enough to finish it, but I don’t know that I would ever read it again. The plot was interesting, but it didn’t read like anything new to me. My sentiments can be largely described in one sentence: “Oh, another story with people that have mysterious powers….” That was something I basically ignored because story ideas are being recycled all the time and there are more important things to consider in the case of this book. (And honestly, I have no problem with stories about people who have powers. It all depends on how the story is presented.)I found myself a little perturbed with various plot holes throughout the book. I feel like I have so many questions that haven’t been answered. Why do the powers seem so inconsistent? Is this character supposed to be important, because she shows up a lot? Why is this girl acting like that again? It almost felt like The Process was rushed through. This is a short book (not even 300 pages), so it’s not like there wasn’t room to explain things more fully. I definitely would have liked it more if there weren’t so many strings left untied.I was sort of lukewarm about the characters too. I was on a rollercoaster with them… liking them sometimes and having trouble standing them other times. I like the dynamics of the three sisters. Having siblings myself, I know sometimes you’re fighting nonstop and other times you’re the best of friends. I wish April, May, and June would have gotten along more often than they did. I feel like there was fighting all. the. time. Again, that’s true to life with siblings, but the fighting does subside sometimes, and it just… didn’t in the book until the very end. Though, I was able to see the love all three sisters had for each other. If there was one thing that was unwavering in Benway’s novel, it’s the love the family had for each other at all times. They were a very realistic unit in that sense.All in all, I didn’t love The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June, but it wasn’t completely terrible either. It had what it took to keep me reading, but it was also very patchy and seemingly incomplete. I think the story could have been improved upon, therefore I think I would only recommend it to Benway fans or, maybe, really fast readers and/or people with a lot of time to read.

Pivot Point

Pivot Point - Dude. I mean… man. Holy moly.Pivot Point by Kasie West was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013. I love it when new authors blow my mind or make me love them from the very beginning of their careers. I say that because West’s novel totally exceeded my expectations. Pivot Point is one of those novels that can be classified as a lot of things: some Mystery, some Romance, a lot of Paranormal/Sci-Fi… and a lot of awesome.Pivot Point is literally two stories in one. Addison has the ability to “Search” the different outcomes of decisions she has to make, which is what the novel is: one big Search. The audience reads two stories: 1) Addison if she chooses to live with her father and 2) Addison if she chooses to live with her mother. I was quite surprised with how West played the story. No matter which path was chosen there were still events that overlapped. So in one path if Addison goes to a football game, she’s most likely at a football game in the other path as well. It sounds weird, but West set the story up so well that it’s hard to notice there could be any other way for things to happen. It all unfolds very naturally. It’s apparent how much thought went into every part the story. Aside from the mechanics I just really loved the plot. I couldn’t put this book down and did that whole “Just one more chapter!” bit for so long while I was reading.Addison… I’m not really sure what to say about Addison. I enjoyed reading about her, but I don’t feel like I was connected to her in some strong way. Then again, I was too busy swooning over Trevor to really notice much else. Both Addison and Trevor were complex characters with a ton of layers (like onions!). I feel like there was the correct amount of backstory for each character and no fluff at all. Not that fluff is always bad, but the absence in this novel was good considering it was highly plot-driven. I love Addison’s tendency to word vomit, though. Who starts a conversation with (with a complete strange, mind you) “Your eyelashes make mine want to commit suicide from shame."? Addison does, apparently. I feel you, Addison. I can’t help the things I say either… sometimes.I’m a really big fan of all the main characters throughout the story, with emphasis on the “Norms”. Addison’s group of friends in the normal world seem so fun, like the people you want to hang out with. Sure, having an “ability” would be cool, but so is playing things like the Dessert Game. (Is that a Thing? Because I’m pretty sure we don’t do that here. Why NOT?) All in all, they’re super fun loving and passionate, and it’s awesome. (I’m looking at you, Rowan!) We don’t really get to see many of Addison’s friends from the Compound. The ones we do see are clearly the “bad guys”, with the exception of Laila, Addison’s best friend. It totally worked for the story, but I hope to see some of the people from the Compound in a better light in the next book. (Or maybe just more of them in general. I’d love to get to know Laila better.)Pivot Point was a very strong and interesting debut novel. I loved it from beginning to end and will definitely be waiting very impatiently for the second book in the series to release. I can’t wait to read more by Kasie West and strongly urge you to check this book out. Go, go, go! Do it.