The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West was such a cute read. I listened to the audiobook version and I found myself running down the road with a cheesy smile on my face and the occasional outburst of laughter. This book was funny, entertaining and heart-warming.

15283043Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

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

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

The thing I loved most about this book was the sarcasm. There were gobs and gobs of witty comebacks, funny “observations” and dry humor. I loved it; this novel had me laughing out loud. Caymen has got to be the most sarcastic heroine that I’ve ever encountered, which is saying something when you compare it to the many take-no-crap Urban Fantasy heroines.

I fell in love with Xander Spence when he gave as good as he got once his relationship with Caymen started. The sipping from the cup before handing it over was too cute. I loved their career days and I thought West captured the uncertainty of a teenager’s future beautifully.

The conflict in this story revolves around Xander’s money and Caymen’s lack of it. At first, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but over time it bugged me that Caymen was jumping to conclusions about Xander. Toward the end, Xander was jumping to conclusions about Caymen so I guess it evened out by the end. Another aspect that irked me was Caymen’s mom and her inability to communicate with her daughter about the doll store, her illness and her parents. However, these issues were the conflict in the story so they were necessary. I guess I just wanted to hear more about Xander and Caymen, and less about the secondary characters and issues.

This book was really entertaining and well-written. It was the first book of Kasie West’s that I have read, and I’ll definitely be reading more from her.

STARS: 4 out of 5

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Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

I want to start this review by saying that Patricia Briggs is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her Mercy Thompson series is hands-down one of the best urban fantasy series out there. Dead Heat is book four of the Alpha and Omega series, a spin-off of Mercy’s world. For some reason, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I wanted to.

18941694 For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

I’ve been in a terrible reading funk. Probably one of the worst I’ve ever had, where I’ve left multiple books unfinished. It’s like I’ve lost all desire to read. So I made myself read Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs because it’s from an author I love so I thought it would zap me out of my funk. Unfortunately, my funk either affected my read of this book, or this book just isn’t as good as I’m used to from Briggs.

I really enjoyed the first three books from Charles and Anna. The most interesting thing about their relationship is Anna’s damaged past and Charles’ cold calculation. Dead Heat follows the pair down to Arizona to buy a horse and paranormal activities just so happen to take place.

There were two big issues I had with this book. First, the horse buying/showing was tedious to read. I found myself skimming and skipping as I realized more and more of the pages were filled with horse jargon and unnecessary book fluff. Second, Charles and Anna’s relationship is basically non-existent. They discuss a few couple issues, but for the most part they could be two friends hanging out. There was no romance in this book. I don’t even think they kissed once. I was sorely disappointed.

However, in true Briggs style, the danger was evident through this story, where a Fae is stealing children and leaving a changeling/fetch in its place. The investigation into finding the Fae was intriguing and the final showdown at the end was well-written. In fact, a major death in the end had me shedding a few tears. The fact that I was still emotionally impacted by a story that was for the most part boring me to death is the only thing that saved this book for me.

I may be in a reading funk, but I still think that Briggs missed the mark on this book. I want more of Charles and Anna’s relationship and less of the history and background. The secondary characters in this book were too far-flung from the main characters to be considered secondary. It was like Charles and Anna were dropped into a completely different story and world. However, I did enjoy the ending and I won’t be giving up on Mrs. Briggs.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

It’s Tuesday!

The wonderful day that books are released to the world. Today, I’m anticipating the release of Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, which will be released on Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

17564519The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

I LOVED Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns series and I love magic and gold, so this book is right up my alley. I love the way Carson creates slow burn romances and awe-inspiring settings. I can’t wait to see what she does with the Gold Rush in America.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken has been sitting on my shelf for months. I finally picked it up after hearing about its amazingness repeatedly. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it.

10576365When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

If I could sum up the good things about this book, it would be the world-building and character development. The society in which the main character Ruby lives is a horrible one; a future where there is basically no hope for those with special powers. The only option is to run. The horrors that Ruby has to go through are chilling and the set up of the camps and the aftermath of the world surrounding them is brilliantly put together.

The characters were wonderfully developed. I had a clear idea about who Ruby was and the secondary characters even if they were just briefly introduced. The writing was clever and straightforward, switching between a somber, sinister tone and light-hearted hopeful dialogue. For example: “Better to stay in the gray than get eaten by the dark” and “Time to carpe the hell out of this diem,” respectively. There was plenty of time to get to know the characters, Ruby especially, because there are 488 pages in this rather large book.

The length, for me, was a problem. Not because it was long, but because a lot happens without anything happening. The best way to describe the book is slow, really slow. Ruby’s trapped in the camp…for pages. Ruby finally breaks out. Ruby meets up with some people and they travel…for pages. It was this cycle of nothing happening but mundane day-to-day things and then bursts of excitement, and that’s how the book continued until the end. I wish some of it was cut out or maybe more dialogue between Ruby and the love interest Liam.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Liam and their relationship was so sweet and honest and a true connection. I was rooting for them as they fought the draw to each other as they traveled to find East River. Just like the book, the romance was slow. It took forever for them to admit their feelings and by that time the book was practically over. Unfortunately, the delay in connection delayed my emotions toward the couple and I didn’t know how to feel.

The last part of the book introduces a whole other tone, where Ruby is learning how to use her power with a certain someone that isn’t Liam. (Sorry, don’t want to spoil anything.) This part was both intriguing and excruciating because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop…and it took forever to fall.

The Darkest Minds is the first book in the trilogy, so I was expecting a bit of a cliffhanger, but the actions of Ruby toward Liam in the end broke my heart. Love can’t grow if you take it away. I was dissatisfied with the ending but it has more to do with the world in the story than the author or the writing. Maybe I’m just in one of those moods where I can’t take the heartbreak. To be honest, this book put me in a reading funk and now I can’t bring myself to read anything else. I pick something up and then put it back down. It’s frustrating!!

Anyway, The Darkest Minds was beautifully-crafted, dark and heart-wrenching, but the slow pace had me exhausted from the foreboding plotline, keeping me on the edge of my seat too long for comfort.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

It’s Tuesday!

The wonderful day books are released to the world. Today, I’m anticipating the release of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which will be released on Tuesday, September 29, 2015.

23437156Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven in this brand-new book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book sounds amazing. I mean, Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven? Can it get any better than that? This is also the book that EVERYONE who went to BEA this year is talking about. Us common folk have to wait until it’s officially released. I never finished Bardugo’s The Grisha series, due to lack of time and access to the sequel, but I’m going to have to remedy that soon.

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen is one of those books that I heard about randomly throughout the blogosphere that people swore was amazing…and they were right.

20896313The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I was immediately hesitant when I read the synopsis. I’m not a fan of “sick  lit” (Like TFIOS), so I didn’t want a depressing read, but this book is anything but. It’s witty, funny and full of snark. I fell in love with Corey, as she honestly and humorously shares the plight of a college student in a wheel chair. There must have been MAJOR research for this book or Sarina Bowen is that good, because this book was detailed. I haven’t checked anything but I’m sure if I did all the hospital procedures and therapy talk would be spot on.

This book was so heartfelt and entertaining. I loved the ease in which Corey and Hartley strike a friendship, and the witty banter between them was so much fun. As their relationship slowly progressed, I was going back and forth between swooning and screaming in outrage as Hartley struggled to make a decision about what was important to him. I felt for Corey, but she was a trooper and I loved her for it. I laughed so hard throughout this story because Corey was just hilarious and she had the best comebacks.

I read this book in one day. It was well-paced and beautifully arranged as Corey and Hartley’s relationship turns into something both of them never expected. This book had tons of feels but never actually made me cry so I can’t give it a full five stars. Definitely the perfect summer read, but clear your schedule because you’ll want to read it in one sitting.

STARS: 4.5 out of 5