Friday, December 20, 2013

#BIR2013: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey and Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

By: Mary Lindsey
Published By: Philomel
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make a wager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial — and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem Annabel Lee, Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

From the very first page I was transported to the mystical island where the love story of Liam and Anna unfolded. There were Poe quotes at the beginning of each chapter that set the stage and told the story in their own way, and out of them grew a wonderfully tragic narrative. The writing is both lyrical and vivid, and everything about the island came to life in a story that I didn't want to put down. Despite everything that happens, there is always an undertone of hope, reinforcing the idea that love never dies. I hated turning the final page, because even though I knew that the story was over, I still wanted more.

By: Miranda Kenneally
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

In this book, through Kate, Miranda Kenneally tackled the tougher issues about how to decide who you want to be - not just who, but what kind of person, questioning long-held beliefs, and the self-discovery that can only come when you're in a different environment from that in which you were raised. Kate's time at camp reminded me not only of my own summers spent at church camp as a child but also the first time I was away from home and surrounded by people with vastly different backgrounds from myself, and how I changed as a result. I enjoyed watching her journey and was glad to see her find something that worked for her. Of Miranda Kenneally's three books, Things I Can't Forget is a definite favorite.

"Does being in love mean forgetting everything you know? Or is it about folding that love into your life? Because right now, I have no idea how to balance that.

Love weighs a million pounds."

Be sure to check out the Best I've Read blog to find more amazing books featured this week!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#BIR2013: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

By: Katie McGarry
Published By: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Series: Pushing the Limits (#2)
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does...

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

"How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we're not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?"

Dare You To was packed with emotions, making the read quite a journey. I loved peeling away the layers of the characters and of the story to get to the beautiful essence underneath. Beth’s character absolutely broke my heart, but Ryan mended it. Katie McGarry has a knack for writing real, gritty, but ultimately unforgettable love stories. This book made me think about the course of my life and the nature of love all while reading about characters that came to be like friends.

"That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn't care as long as you had that one person standing beside you."

Be sure to check out the Best I've Read blog to find more amazing books featured this week!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#BIR2013: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

By: Tahereh Mafi
Published By: HarperCollins
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Series: Shatter Me (#2)
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.


It's like a drop of honey, a field of tulips blooming in the springtime. It's fresh rain, a whispered promise, a cloudless sky, the perfect punctuation mark at the end of a sentence.

And it's the only thin in the world keeping me afloat.

When I finished Unravel Me, all I could think is that there aren't enough words to describe this book. It took me a long time to compose any kind of coherent thoughts on the book, and it isn't often that I read something that leaves me so speechless. If you can think of good adjectives or adverbs, chances are that they can describe Unravel Me. Just like in Shatter Me, the writing is beautiful, the characters are complex, and the story is compelling. I was amazed by all the emotions that Juliette was able to give voice to throughout the story. More than once I found myself reading something and having to pause to reread and absorb the words on the page because a feeling had been captured in writing so perfectly.

"Because sometimes you see yourself - you see yourself the way you could be - the way you might be if things were different. And if you look too closely, what you see will scare you, it'll make you wonder what you might do if given the opportunity. You know there's a different side of yourself you don't want to recognize, a side you don't want to see in the daylight. You spend your whole life doing everything to push it down and away, out of sight, out of mind. You pretend that a piece of yourself doesn't exist.

You live like that for a long time.

For a long time, you're safe.

And then you're not.

Be sure to check out the Best I've Read blog to find more amazing books featured this week!

Monday, December 16, 2013

#BIR2013: Golden by Jessi Kirby

By: Jessi Kirby
Published By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

So much for normal.

"Where so many sunset paintings look peaceful and calm, melancholy is woven into every brushstroke of this one. It's a twilight image of the familiar dark razor peak silhouettes of the Minarets, looking icy and stoic. The only warmth in the painting comes from a barely visible sliver of golden light behind the mountains. The last of the sun. Above that the sky pales, then deepens to violet, faintly lit by a delicate wash of stars and the tiny sliver of moon. It's a skyline I've fallen asleep looking at most nights of my life, but the feeling in it is so lonely and sad it's hard to believe it's the same one."

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" This question, a quote from a poem posed by Parker's English teacher, resonates throughout the book. As the story unfolds, Parker is constantly confronted with this question, almost like a challenge - from her mother, who expects a certain answer, from her best friend Kat, who wants Parker to take a chance, from the pages of Julianna's diary, as Julianna begins to find her own path in life, and finally from herself, and she realizes that she doesn't have to have her life set in stone already. Parker is such a relatable character. Throughout the book I felt like I was reading not only about my high school self but also the person that I am now. Golden made me think in a way that few books do. I loved everything about this story, from the Frost quotes and references at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the story to the diary entries from Julianna. Orion is definitely swoon-worthy, and Trevor adds some humor to an otherwise deep and poignant story.

What makes Golden so moving isn't just the story itself, but how it is written. Jessi Kirby writes scenes and interactions that are beautiful, heartbreaking, sweet, touching, and just perfect. Between her way with words and the descriptions she gives, she manages to evoke all of the feelings. Once again she's written a book that will make you think, make you want more, make you cry, but in the end make you smile. This book will be one that I recommend to everyone.

Be sure to check out the Best I've Read blog to find more amazing books featured this week!

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