A School for Unusual Girls – Kathleen Baldwin

SchoolForUnusualGirls
A School for Unusual Girls – Kathleen Baldwin
(Stranje House #1)
Published: 5-19-2015 by Tor Teen
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

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Design – ?

This cover is decent. I love the color scheme and the eerie and misty feeling of the background. I also like that the girl looks like she’s in motion and that we aren’t seeing any defining features other than her hair color. The title treatment is elegant and I really like how the words fit together. Overall, I like this cover, but I think it needs a bit more to differentiate it from all the other boarding school historical books and the other girl in a pretty dress covers.

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I love this book. A School for Unusual Girls is a unique story with a smart, scientifically-inclined heroine. I’ve read a lot of ‘boarding school for special people’ books, and this one is, without a doubt, one of the best. As soon as I finished this book I was online looking for a sequel release date…only to remember that I had read an ARC. I want more of the Stranje House series now!

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  • Georgie – Our heroine, Georgie, is smart. She knows it and refuses to pretend otherwise to fit in. Even when her experiments go wrong, Georgie doesn’t waste time moping – she can’t stop thinking of solutions to the problem. Georgie’s introduction to Stranje House is unusual, and she’s really never given much by way of explanation, so she goes about finding her own answers. I love Georgie’s intelligence, courage, and willingness to do everything possible to help her friends and country.
  • Sebastian – From their first meeting, Georgie and Sebastian’s relationship is deeply interesting. Although Sebastian knows a few unusual girls, he’s never met someone quite like Georgie. My favorite romances are the slow-burning ones, and this one is great. Georgie and Sebastian have a sweet chemistry but are too preoccupied with matters of life and death to act on it. Sebastian is a gentleman, he’s smart, and he respects Georgie. That’s particularly important in a historical society that ignores women.
  • alternate history – This story is an alternate version of what happened following Napoleon’s exile to Elba. Georgie and Sebastian’s work to find a formula for invisible ink is for the army to use instead of codes that can be broken. If their ink formula doesn’t work, it could mean death for thousands of soldiers. I am unspeakably awful at history, so I appreciated the author’s note briefly detailing what actually happened, and I had no trouble following the events of the story. I really enjoy this twist on history that so heavily relies on young adults and science.
  • Tess + Ravencross – We get to see more of Tess than of the other girls, and while I find her running around outside to be strange, I really like her fiery spirit and determination. Although we don’t have all the details about the two men of Ravencross, that aspect of the story is really interesting. Lord Ravencross is very distant and brooding, but he clearly has a heart and it shows in his actions, especially those that involve helping Tess. The sequel is Tess’ story and I can’t wait to read more about Tess and Ravencross. Their relationship was very well developed, especially since they were not the main focus of the book.

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  • Stranje House explanations – There are no explanations given to Georgie about the torture of the other girls until very late in the book. The explanations were too little, too late, and it didn’t make any sense to keep that info from Georgie for so long. The other girls keep putting off telling Georgie what’s going on like they don’t trust her, which is really confusing. There’s no actual reason that she should be left out of the loop, which makes the lack of explanation very annoying.
  • other girls – There aren’t very many other girls at Stranje House, making it more curious when they aren’t given much personality or development. Georgie is at the House because she’s wildly intelligent and won’t conform to fit in. We’re given this reason outright and I assume it’s the same for the others, yet they act like they are there against their will. This may just be related to withholding info from Georgie, but I disliked it. It also seems like one of the girls possesses some kind of paranormal ability, which is very strange given the rest of the characters and story has nothing to do with the paranormal at all.

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Squaring his shoulders, he towered over me. “What I am about to tell you must be kept in strictest confidence. You will never tell anyone.” He grabbed my shoulders. “Anyone. Do you understand me? Lives depend on you keeping silent. My life.”

– Sebastian  Loc. 1380

“Good heavens, Emma, the child might put a torch to our entire neighborhood. We could all be killed in our sleep.”

“In our sleep. Oh, dear. That would, indeed, be a tragedy.” Miss Stranje set her teacup on its saucer. “We really ought to be awake for such a momentous occasion.”

– Lady Pinswary + Miss Stranje  Loc. 1946

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5 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

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My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

MyLifeNextDoor
My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published: 6-14-2012 by Dial Books
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

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Design – Theresa Evangelista

I can’t get past how awkward the couple in the photo look. The barely touching, almost kissing is just uncomfortable looking. I really like the overall layout and colors of the cover. The colors have the perfect sun-drenched filter tone which gives the cover a soft feeling. I love the off-center layout of the title and the way it stands out against the fence but doesn’t overpower the photo.

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My Life Next Door is a beautifully written story about finding love and finding yourself. Samantha’s world is so different from the Garretts’ next door, but the simplest action connects them. And as Jase and Samantha fall in love, Samantha falls in love with the Garrett family and their life, until her mother makes a mistake that could tear both families apart. This story has it all – humor, love, family drama – if you need a good contemporary, I highly recommend it.

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  • the Garretts – There are a lot of Garretts – 8 kids – and while we don’t see a lot of the middle kids, all of them have their own personalities. Each Garrett has their own interactions with Sam and some of them voice their opinions of Jase and Sam’s relationship. The youngest kids, George and Patsy, are adorable and great comedic relief. There are so many kids coming and going constantly that it’s like they all inhabit their own world. I’m really impressed with how each Garrett is developed enough to seem like a real person. Their family is so big and chaotic, yet cheerful – just the opposite of Sam’s small and quiet home.
  • Jase – Jase is so outgoing and full of life. He sees Sam and simply climbs up to her roof to introduce himself. He’s an honest and open person, used to being surrounded by people and never complains about taking care of his siblings. Jase clearly loves his family and it’s obvious that he loves how well Sam gets along with them. Jase and Sam fall easily into an honest and comfortable relationship with each other – no drama, no secrets.
  • Samantha – Sam works hard all the time, giving up the things she actually likes doing just to please her overly controlling mother. The thing about Sam is that even when she sees how loving and free the Garretts are and even when she realizes how closed minded and judgmental her own mom is, she never whines about anything. Even when her mother is treating her as nothing more than a pawn in her political campaign, demanding that she be the perfect child and have no fun ever, Sam doesn’t blow up or get melodramatic. She doesn’t get stuck in self-pity either. Sam just deals by going next door and being with Jase and his family. She’s smart and a bit of a smartass and she wants the best for her friends even when they don’t deserve it.
  • Tim – At first, Tim is a hard person to like. He’s perpetually stoned, rude to everyone, and couldn’t care less about anyone else. He can’t seem to hold a job and has no plan for his future. However, Tim accepts a job from Mr. Garrett that comes with the condition that he attend AA meetings, and gradually becomes a good friend to Sam and Jase. Despite all his mistakes, Tim is an intelligent guy and I enjoyed his journey.
  • plot – Sam’s personal growth sees her transitioning from someone who always follows the rules and colors inside the lines to someone who voices her opinions and stands up for what she believes in. Sam’s mother is truly oppressive – demanding that Sam do everything from re-vacuum the obsessively vacuumed house to get out of the house so she can entertain donors. Sam finds love and acceptance with the Garretts, who, despite having eight kids, pay attention to who their kids are. Sam knows her mom isn’t doing what’s right and she speaks up about it. She goes from being the person her mother expects her to be to being her own person who more openly questions things like her mother’s opinion of the Garretts.

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  • Samantha’s mom + Clay – Clay is clearly a slimy sleaze from the start. He wiggles his way into Sam’s life because of his relationship with her mother, and acts as if he’s someone Sam should listen to. Clay is obviously a villain – a manipulative guy with no morals or ethics to speak of. What’s worse than Clay, however, is his power over Sam’s mom. Because she’s running for political office, Sam’s mom is focused on herself and her career almost 100% of the time. She fully buys into every little thing Clay says, even when it compromises her values or her own relationship with Sam.

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George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point, with green teeth. “I might marry you,” he allows. “Do you want a big family?”

I start to cough and feel a hand pat my back.

“George, it’s usually better to discuss this kind of thing with your pants on.” Jase drops boxer shorts at George’s feet, then sets Patsy on the ground next to him.

– George, Samantha, Jase  pg. 32

I look into Jase’s eyes and tell the only truth I have. “I don’t know. I didn’t have that choice. But I know what’s happening now. And I’m choosing to stay with you.”

– Samantha + Jase  pg. 351

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

V is for Virgin – Kelly Oram

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V is for Virgin – Kelly Oram
Published: 12-11-2012 by Bluefields
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?

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Design – ?       Photo – ?

I really like this cover’s simplicity. Using Val’s ever-present V necklace as part of the title is genius. I’m not sure that I like the font “Virgin” is in, and the pearls on her hand are a bit too much. Otherwise, the color scheme is great and it’s clear that it’s a contemporary story.

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V is for Virgin is a highly enjoyable story about Val, who has been dumped for choosing to be a virgin until marriage. Val’s choice is not for religious reasons, and only one secondary character is portrayed as religious. Val’s story is about being famous for declaring herself a virgin and dealing with a rock star determined to take care of that pesky virginity for her.

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  • Val’s reasoning – I cannot stress enough how much I love that Val’s decision to remain a virgin until marriage is not religiously motivated at all. Especially because our culture assumes that the only reason to wait until marriage voluntarily is religious. Val made this decision based on something else, and it totally makes sense for her character. The only religious touch in this book is one of Val’s friends who is also waiting, but this person doesn’t preach about their choice and rarely mentions their faith at all.
  • Val – While Val certainly doesn’t expect to become internationally known as a virgin, she handles the notoriety extremely well. She is immediately faced with critics and difficult decisions. Instead of burying her head in the sand, Val decides to start an abstinence challenge at her school. Even when her close friends are skeptical, Val makes the tough decision to become a spokesperson for an abstinence organization. Val pushes forward and turns her experience with unexpected fame into something positive and charitable. She even plays along with Kyle’s teasing to make his fans happy. Val doesn’t take the easy way out and she doesn’t back down.
  • Kyle + Val – Yes, Kyle’s a cocky jerk, but he and Val have crazy chemistry and I really like reading about their confrontations. They argue every time they’re in the same room, but occasionally Kyle will do something nice just to help Val and they’ll have an actual conversation. Those times when Kyle is truly trying to understand Val are sweet, and the times when he’s daring her to admit her attraction to him are hot.
  • struggle – Val struggles with some of her new responsibilities as the new face of virginity. I really like that her struggles are realistic, and that she pushes through them. Also great is how Val is portrayed as an actual human being who has trouble saying no in the heat of the moment. Sometimes, Val makes a tough decision that doesn’t end up being the right choice and that’s awesomely realistic.

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  • Kyle’s attitude – While there’s no lack of chemistry between Val and Kyle, there’s also no denying that he’s acting like a jerk in nearly every scene he’s in. Kyle’s attracted to Val because she refuses to worship him like his rock star ego thinks he deserves, but once he hears about the whole virgin things, Kyle makes it his goal to convince her to sleep with him. This is a guy who has decided that Val’s promise to herself – which she takes very seriously and is important to her – is stupid solely because he doesn’t agree with her views. I don’t understand how Kyle thought he could convince her to change her mind by constantly insulting her decisions about sex and telling her that there’s no way she won’t give it up to him. There’s nothing sexy about knowing that a guy only sees you as a challenge, that he’ll be gone as soon as he gets what he wants.
  • A-list friends – The only aspect of this story that I found dull was Val being sort of accepted into the “A-list” group of popular kids. Some of them seem nice, but none of them are all that interesting and they’re only paying attention to her because she’s dating one of them. None of them were snobby or mean, but they didn’t really seem like best friend material for Val.

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Isaac didn’t say anything for a long minute after that. He just sat there staring into my eyes. I could see him contemplating the possible repercussions of what I was asking him to do. After what felt like forever, he leaned in close to me, completely intense, and asked, ” What if I’m not a virgin?”

– Val + Isaac  loc. 705

Kyle didn’t give me the chance to reply. He pulled my face to his and kissed the hell out of me in front of everyone from my boyfriend to CNN.

I forgot about the cameras. I forgot about my parents. I forgot about my campaign. I forgot that I was supposed to be a role model. In that moment the only thing I could think about was Kyle.

And how much I wanted to kill him.

– Val + Kyle  loc. 2551

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5 Robots

Acquired: freebie (ebook)

The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

DreamThieves
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Cycle #2)
Published: 9-5-2013 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

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Art – Adam S. Doyle

I love the art on these covers. Adam S. Doyle’s style is perfect for these stories. But there’s just something about the cover that I don’t like. I’m not sure what it is though. I think it might be that it just feels very crowded to me. I think the illustration needs more room. I like the placement of the title, but it bothers me that it changes color. I just don’t know what’s off about it.

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Aah, this book! The Dream Thieves is absolutely wondrous. The writing is beautiful, the story has so many layers, everything is so atmospheric, and the characters are all deep and multi-faceted. The Raven Cycle is an addicting series that is hard to put down. If you haven’t started reading it, I can’t recommend it enough.

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  • Ronan – Ronan’s main characteristics are angry and loyal, but his story is the backbone of this sequel and we get to see that there is much more to him. The secret about Ronan’s father is revealed, as is the full extent to which that secret has shaped Ronan’s life. Ronan is angry over what he’s lost, kicking himself for not seeing the truth sooner, and dangerously desperate to get everything back. The fine line that Ronan walks with Kavinsky is interesting for a few reasons. Kavinsky is a threatening guy but his time spent with Ronan shows that he’s just looking for something fulfilling. Kavinsky’s constant jokes and suggestions about Ronan being gay are annoying, but what’s interesting is the way Ronan doesn’t refute them, only says his relationship with Gansey isn’t like that. I really liked seeing deeper into Ronan’s head. Seeing the differences between how Kavinsky did things and how Ronan did things, and Ronan coming face to face with his nightmares really showed a different side to him.
  • Blue – I still really like Blue. She’s really the only one of the group that seems to have no ability or anything special related to their quest for Glendower, as well as the only non-psychic in her house. Blue loves the boys and is happy that they’ve fully accepted her into their group and their quest, but she’s still wary to be seen with any “Raven boys.” Blue is ever-aware of the whole kissing=death prediction, something she’s only told Gansey. This further strains her fledgling relationship with Adam, even as she realizes that she might like Gansey after all. But Blue is wonderful and fiercely individual, never mooning over any of the guys when she can be taking action in the search for Glendower. Blue is very clear that she is not something to be owned and she does not suffer any mere suggestion that she belongs to anyone.
  • Gansey – Oh, Gansey, our tragic hero. Gansey relies on his public image mask less and less as things in the search for Glendower get farther along but also more complicated. There are many more people who are somehow connected to their search than they originally imagined, and they aren’t exactly offering to work together. Gansey likes to be in control, but it’s increasingly clear to him that he can’t control much in the group’s quest. Noah’s practically gone, Adam is more and more distant since Cabeswater, Ronan is suddenly fending off his nightmares during his waking hours, and Blue is off-limits.
  • plot – The plot of this book, and the whole series really, is so complex and layered, and so are the characters. Gansey still has no idea that he’s fated to die within the year and Blue is tortured with the knowledge of his impending death as she grows closer to him and all the guys. The members of Blue’s family are becoming more integral to the search for Glendower, and the search itself is something involving death and dreams, timeloops and questionable psychic rituals.

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  • Adam – Adam feels like much more of a main character here than he did in the 1st book, probably because there was no need to pretend Noah was human. I have mixed feelings about Adam. His journey is great, but I’m not sure I like him as a character. I’m glad Adam has moved out of his parents’ place, but it seems like he likes to maintain a buffer between himself and the others by living alone, even if I can kinda understand his pride. Adam’s method of dealing with things, whether it’s his sacrifice to Cabeswater, his relationship with Blue, or his friendships with the guys, is just to avoid everything. I want Adam to stand up for himself more.
  • the Grey Man – It’s always difficult for me to get into a new character’s POV, especially when it’s not immediately clear how they relate to the plot. The Grey Man is an outsider, and while I don’t know how else the threat of others searching for the Greywaren could’ve been handled, I found the Grey Man’s chapters to be boring. His perspective just took so long to matter to the main plot and I thought there could’ve easily been less time devoted to his POV.

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“What care is it of yours,” Gansey asked, “what I think of Orla?”

This felt dangerous, for some reason. He possibly shouldn’t have asked it. In retrospect, it wasn’t the question itself at fault. It was the way that he’d asked it. His thoughts had been far away, and he hadn’t been minding how he looked on the outside, and now, too late, he heard the dip of his own words. How the inflection seemed to contain a dare.

Come on Gansey, he thought. Don’t ruin things.

Blue held his gaze, unflinchingly. Crisp, she replied, “None at all.”

And it was a lie.

It should not have been, but it was, and Gansey, who prized honesty above nearly every other thing, knew it when he heard it. Blue Sargent cared whether or not he was interested in Orla. She cared a lot. As she whirled toward the truck with a dismissive shake of her head, he felt a dirty sort of thrill.       – Gansey + Blue   pg. 195

“He’s not alone when he leaves the car behind.”

There was something chilling about the phrase ‘Leaves behind.’ It could have just meant ‘parked the car.’ But it didn’t sound like that when Calla said it. It sounded like a synonym for abandon the Pig.

“When does it happen?”

“It already has,” Calla replied. Her eyes opened and fixed on Blue. “And it hasn’t yet.”     – Calla + Blue    pg. 340

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Published: 1-2-12 by Poppy
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father’s second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again?

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Design – Liz Casal       Photo – Oleg Oprisco      Rating – 5/5

I really like this cover, and all of the covers for Smith’s books. The quirky hand lettering is perfection and I love how it’s the focus and takes up most of the cover. The black and white photo with red accents is so striking, especially the way there are just blurs of people rushing by. The high contrast is beautiful. I don’t love how the couple is kissing, especially since Oliver and Hadley are just not really like that together, but I tend to dislike kissing on covers.

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a wonderful story about false starts and knowing in your gut that doing something is important. It’s a Sarah Dessen-esque look at defining yourself within your family and discovering something unexpected. If you’re looking for a contemporary love story that’s deep and meaningful, this is it. It’s sweet and cute, emotional without being mushy or too heavy.

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  • Oliver – Oliver is the kind of guy who’s mysterious but also friendly and sweet. He’s kind, funny, and lonely. Oliver knows there’s something special between him and Hadley, but his head’s in a weird place and so is hers. I wish there were more of Oliver in this book because he’s smart, charming, and understanding. He’s going through something but he’s not looking for sympathy, he’s giving Hadley comfort instead.
  • Hadley – Hadley is immediately likable. She doesn’t want to be in the airport, hates that she’s going where she’s going, and her 1st instinct is to go it alone and avoid the random guy in the waiting area. Hadley doesn’t need Oliver help to get through her flight and her claustrophobia, but spending a long flight talking to him is better than both of them being alone. Hadley follows her gut and says what she means.
  • ending – I think it’s great that things are worked out but not all tied up in the end. Hadley’s dad and stepmom kind of understand why she left, and her mom doesn’t hold a grudge. Hadley talks to her dad and they get to know each other’s point on view a bit better. Hadley and Oliver aren’t together forever but they’re not nothing. Everything works out but it’s not all worked out, if that makes sense.
  • reconnecting – Against all odds, Hadley and Oliver find each other again, and that’s part of what makes them great. Each of them knows that the odds are against them, but they have a connection and they do what they can to find each other. A chance meeting turns into more, but only because both Oliver and Hadley wanted it to and pursued it.

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  • maybe baby – I think that there possibly being a baby for Hadley’s new stepmom was an unnecessary subplot. Hadley already felt that her father was leaving her behind and starting over. She felt as if she was up in the air, between the places she belonged, and while Charlotte was perfectly nice to her, Hadley needed to feel accepted.  
  • flashbacks – In the middle of Hadley’s flight with Oliver, the smallest thing sends her off into her head to give us backstory on her parents. There are pages and pages of introspection in the middle of the witty banter I wanted to read. It was a bit too much back and forth between the present and the past during a short amount of time.

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Nobody here will understand; she knows that much is true. She’s not even sure she understand herself. Yet there’s an urgency to the decision, a kind of slow and desperate momentum. Each time she closes her eyes, he’s there again: Oliver telling her the story of the night-light, his eyes distant and his voice hollow.      – pg. 141

For the millionth time today she wishes she could just go home, but she still has the reception to get through, and a dance with her angry father, everyone staring at them; she still has to wish the couple well and suffer through the cake and then spend seven hours traveling back across the Atlantic beside someone who will not draw her a duck on a napkin, who will not steal her a small bottle of whiskey, who will not try to kiss her by the bathrooms.     – pg. 183-184

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought

Unbreakable

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
(The Legion #1)
Published: 10-1-2013 by Little, Brown
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

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Design – Dave Caplan      Rating – 2/5

This cover bothers me because there’s so much going on, between the textures and the giant ‘U’ covering everything, but it still manages to tell me very little about the story. To its credit, it does scream horror/supernatural.

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Reading Unbreakable is like marathoning a season of Supernatural, but with way more females surviving. It’s creepy, it’s dramatic, it’s angsty. But it’s also full of action, teamwork, and wit. I was hesitant at first because Kami Garcia is one of the authors of Beautiful Creatures, a seemingly endless series that I find has soap opera levels of angst and romantic declarations. Thankfully, Unbreakable is darker than that while still managing to be great entertainment.

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  • fast paced – Unbreakable starts out with a bang and never slows down. There are no boring scenes, no wandering side plots. The action starts and just keeps going and I loved it. Even the parts when everyone is hanging around in a safe place to regroup – it’s like bam! action! not safe anymore! The plot moves quickly and keeps you completely engrossed.
  • Jared + Lukas – What can you do to make the rivalry between 2 brothers even more intense? Make them twins. Jared and Lukas have some kind of long-standing grudge or argument going on. Lukas is more positive and encouraging, while Jared is quiet and hesitant to let people in. Then 2 of them trade insults constantly and there’s clearly something huge that happened in their past. I prefer Jared.
  • Kennedy – So, Kennedy knows nothing about demons or ghosts or any of the other things the Legion deals with, but she doesn’t hesitate to jump into the action. Yes, Jared and Lukas do obviously try to protect her, but she’s right there breaking down doors and rushing into creepy places to help them. Kennedy’s doubts about her abilities and membership in the Legion are so understandable, especially since everyone else knows so much more about the history of the Legion and how membership is passed down through families. Overall, I found Kennedy’s balance of fear and badassery completely believable.
  • Alara + Priest – The other members of the Legion, Alara and Priest are awesome. Priest is the youngest, building incredible weapons but feeling like the other treat him like a child. Alara is the rare kind of female character that doesn’t fall into the usual clichés. She’s not romantically interested in either of the twins, she’s not jealous of Kennedy in any way, and she’s genuinely only interested in making sure Kennedy knows enough not to endanger them and to become part of their ass-kicking team.
  • danger/twists – The five characters we follow get themselves into some pretty dangerous high-stakes situations. It’s not like Supernatural, where people continually die but not for good just kidding guys. However, everyone is in constant life of death danger throughout the book. These new members of the Legion are young and learning as they go, especially Kennedy. I love the high stakes and I love the twists.

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  • Jared vs. Lukas – It was easy for me to decide I liked Jared more. As soon as the twins meet Kennedy, Lukas seems to be flirting with her and expecting to be more than friends. Jared takes longer to warm up to Kennedy while still being kind and offering support, just not in a way that was loaded with expectations. It bothered me that Lukas seemed to instantly like Kennedy, because…why? Yes, she’s willing to jump into the action, but other than that she’s just scared and uninformed of all the supernatural stuff.
  • Hearts of Mercy Children’s Home – I’m fine with all the supernatural creatures having killed people who are then vengeful spirits – things like that. When it comes to storylines like the one that resulted in a group of dead children at Hearts of Mercy, I become less able to handle it. If it’s monsters doing the killing it’s fine by me, but when it’s humans inflicting pain on others it makes me so uncomfortable – just a mix of upset and angry and all that. I also wish that Jared had shown more anger and disgust at Hearts of Mercy, like he did later at the prison.

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“How long have you been out here?” I couldn’t believe I’d spent the whole day trying to find him and his brother, and they were sitting in front of my house.

Jared shrugged sheepishly. “Awhile.”

Lukas leaned forward in the passenger seat, rolling a silver coin over his fingers. “Glad you’re happier to see us this time.”                – Kennedy, Jared, Lukas    Loc. 499

Alara watched the crows, transfixed, as though she saw something more than their glossy black feathers and sharp eyes. “I have a bad feeling.”

“Of course you do,” Priest said, checking the pocket of his hoodie for batteries and ammo. “We’re about to break into a prison where hundreds of criminals died. This is the definition of a bad feeling.”             – Alara + Priest     Loc. 2779

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5 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

Timepiece

Timepiece by Myra McEntire
(Hourglass #2)
Published: 6-12-2012 by Egmont USA
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples – cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan landers, the man who tried to murder is father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?

In the wake of Landers’ return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he’s stolen on the people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered – with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough…

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Design – Alison Chamberlain     Photo – Lissy Laricchia      Rating – 5/5

I love this cover. The colors are beautiful and I love how the shadows are coming in from both the top and the bottom. These photos are amazing and the perfect choice for this book series.

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So I was surprised that Timepiece was from Kaleb’s POV and not Emerson’s, but I liked Kaleb in the 1st book and it was cool to see inside his head. Things get crazy and complicated really quickly in this book. I mean, there’s a murder in Chapter 2! I found Kaleb to be a surprisingly wonderful narrator and I adore this series.

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  • Lily – It’s so great that Lily got to be more of a main character instead of just being shoved into the best friend role. Lily is smart and sassy. She doesn’t hold back with anyone. She and Kaleb butt heads often because they are both pretty forthcoming with their opinions, but I enjoyed reading about the two of them getting to know each other and getting closer.
  • Kaleb – In Hourglass, we only see a bit of Kaleb, while he’s drinking and crushing on Emerson. Now we get to see what’s going on in Kaleb’s head since his dad’s back from the dead (and so is Michael) and Emerson’s life is spiraling out of control. Kaleb’s power is sensing the emotions of others, but he’s got more than enough going on in his own life. Kaleb starts out drunk and hitting on a stranger while being moody about Emerson being with his best friend Michael. But Kaleb reveals himself to be a deeply caring person, especially in his interactions with Lily and Emerson.
  • twists – The timeline is completely screwed up ever since the events of Hourglass, and Kaleb and his friends are trying to figure out how to fix it. Everyone with the time travel gene, including Kaleb, is seeing ripples from the past now, and they aren’t just a person anymore – they’re entire scenes from the past now. Jack Landers is playing with time and taunting the group. Kaleb doesn’t need provoking since Jack killed his dad, and now there’s the mysterious and deadly Poe who gets on Kaleb’s bad side really early on. The stakes are intense in this book. 

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  • other characters – While Ava had a pretty large part in the 1st book, I feel like Nate and Dune have done nothing important in either book. I don’t remember what their powers are or really anything about them. This is worrying for me because the final book is narrated by Dune. Kaleb had an important part in the 1st book before becoming the narrator of this book, but I don’t have much interest in dune and I’m not sure if he can carry the epic conclusion of this trilogy. 

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“Stay here and stay down. Don’t take any chances. He can’t see you from the stage.”

“He has a gun,” she said from behind me, her voice choked with terror. I could feel it coursing through my fingertips to my brain. “Have you lost your mind?”

“A long time ago.”             – Kaleb + Lily   Loc. 204

We entered the building and approached the science department. I took Em’s arm. “Walk behind me.”

“Kaleb Ballard. That hurts me in my feminism.”

“It has nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with the fact that a girl is sitting behind the counter,” I whispered, reaching for the doorknob.       – Kaleb + Emerson  Loc. 1609

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)