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The Fault in Our Stars

FaultThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Pub: 2012

Hazel and Augustus meet at a cancer support group and quickly fall in love.

Opening line:

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

This is one of those books that has been on my TBR list for long time, and I kept putting it off, mostly because I knew the subject matter was two teens dying of cancer and I’ve found it hard to talk myself into immersing myself in that particular topic. I finally picked it up when our book club decided to read it this month.

What I liked: Despite my expectations, this book wasn’t as emotionally difficult to read as I thought. There were elements of humor that kept it lighthearted enough to keep reading despite the tough topic. Even the mock-eulogies that Hazel and Isaac wrote for Augustus had a kind of dark humor that made you smile even as you felt sad. The tone of this book reminded me a lot of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – fans of that would enjoy this (and vice versa)

What I didn’t like: First off, I was disappointed that the book that Hazel recommends to Augustus isn’t real — it sounded interesting.

Certain aspects of the characters bothered me. It may just be a personal thing, but they just seemed so precocious, going around quoting poetry and using inflated vocabulary and rambling about philosophy. And Augustus’ cigarette “metaphor”? Sorry, I just didn’t get it. Also, other little things that just rubbed me the wrong way… (*SPOILERS* kissing at the Anne Frank house just seemed weird to me and the fact that he waited until AFTER they were intimate before he told her that his cancer was back really rubbed me the wrong way, too)

Also, I’m not really sure if it was because of the MAJOR HYPE surrounding this book or because I already knew how it ended, but I felt kind of let down. It was sad, sure, but I didn’t cry. The end just kind of fizzled out without the emotional punch I was anticipating.

Heads up: Contains sexual content and references, mature language


Guarding Angel

GuardingNEW this week!

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

I am so excited to be able to finally give my congratulations to author & friend S.L. Saboviec on her debut novel! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, then this story of good and evil, heaven and hell, angels and demons, fate and free will, and the sacrifices we make for those we love is one for your ‘to-read’ list. Look for it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Amazon paperback!

What I liked BEST about this novel…

  • I love how the author weaves Enael’s story through real-life historical times and places. Each of Enael’s Wards (the humans she’s protecting) live very distinct lives in very distinct places in time.
  • The relationship between Enael and Kaspen is very realistic. It grows and changes throughout the book, developing naturally over a period of time and fluctuating as the characters face challenges.
  • The ending. I’m going to try not to spoil anything, but even though this book is planned as the first of a series, the resolution was very satisfying.

Heads up: contains some scenes of graphic sex & violence (including rape), demonic possession, and a few instances of strong language

Second Star



NEW this week…

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Wendy Darling goes searching for her missing surfer brothers and finds herself in a mysterious cove inhabited by runaways.

Opening lines:

I can smell the bonfire before I even get out of the car. It’s dusk, and the sun is low on the water.

I picked up this book because, well, hello, Peter Pan! I was really interested in a modern-day retelling w/ Peter and the lost boys as surfers. Very cool premise, and lovely cover (though it is eerily similar to We Were Liars‘ cover)

What I liked: I loved the nods to Peter Pan, from an orphan boy named Peter who flies on his surfboard over the waves, to his ex-girlfriend tagalong Belle with blonde hair and major attitude, to a great big dog named Nana. The setting is fabulous; I loved how the whole story engrosses the reader in the life of a coastal surfer.

What I didn’t care for: A large amount of the plot revolves around a love triangle and a drug dealer who specializes in a new kind of drug, dust. The MC spends a good chunk of the story doing things that don’t really make sense as she tries to find her brothers. I don’t really understand why she makes some of the decisions she does, and the whole last part of the book goes off in another direction which makes you question if this is really an unreliable narrator (a la We Were Liars). The ending didn’t feel resolved to me at all, and made me wonder if this was intended to be a series.

Overall: A beautiful setting, cool Peter Pan references, but the unresolved ending made me unable to ‘think happy thoughts’ about it.

Heads up: Teen drug use

Me Before You

MeMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Pub: 2012

A twenty-something with a quiet life becomes a caregiver for a wealthy quadriplegic man who hates how small his life has gotten since being injured in a motorcycle accident.

Opening lines:

There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.

I’ve had the ARC for this book sitting on my shelf for months, but have trouble talking myself into reading books that I know are going to be sad. When our book club suggested it, though, I jumped right at the opportunity, glad to have someone “force” me to read this book that I’d heard so many good things about.

What I liked: Unlike most books that deal with end-of-life issues, disabilities, and depression, in this one, the author inserts a certain amount of humor that keeps the book away from the cliff-edge of despair. Although I did have my qualms about the main character, at least her point of view was interesting to read, and kept the book more lighthearted, despite the heavy subject matter.

I also thought it was really interesting to step into the world of people with disabilities and learn — through the narrator’s eyes — just what it means to have a disability, and how society really treats them as somewhat less-than-human, even in today’s world.

What I didn’t like: I have no idea where in England this story was supposed to have taken place, but the main character doesn’t know how to use a computer? The man she’s caring for has never used computerized dictation devices? Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, but it made the story seem out-of-date.

But my biggest issue of the book was the ending. It left such a bad taste in my mouth, and sent a contradictory, even hypocritical message.


So Will hates how everyone’s been making decisions for him, how he isn’t able to live his life as he wants to? So what does he do — then proceed to make all sorts of decisions for Lou, berate her for wanting to live a quiet life close to family (which what’s wrong with that? what’s wrong with WANTING to work in a cafe, if that’s what she enjoys?), and convince her, basically, that life isn’t worth living if it isn’t big, exciting, full of world-travels and money. And she buys into it — yay, he saved her! Um… what?

I love sad endings. This one wasn’t sad; it was just frustrating. I felt like any sort of potential character growth was reversed — Will did what he wanted to regardless of anyone else, just as he always did, and Lou was content to let someone else tell her what she should be doing with her life.

Had Will died when he got pneumonia, there would have been the opportunity for a message about how life is precious, how even when we think we’re in control, that we’re not, and to life each day as our last. It would have been sad, but then Will’s gift to Lou could have been seen as a true gift, rather than a “consolation prize.”


Heads up: Sexual content (including a rape), some minor language

Guarding Angel

GuardingGuarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

Pub: May 19, 2014

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

Full review coming in May!

Overall: An intricate paranormal romance about trust, destiny, and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

The Guard

GuardThe Guard by Kierra Cass

Pub: Feb 2014

The events of The Elite as told by Aspen. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably not going to care about this book.)

Opening lines:

“Day off,” I mumbled, pulling the blanket over my head.

I figured if I’m going to finish out The Selection series (if nothing else, to see Celeste get her comeuppance), I’d better keep up with the novellas along the way. Let me tell you right off: there’s really no need.

What I liked: Seriously, I didn’t hate this novella. It was a quick read, and probably would be a really good catch-up for anyone who’d read The Elite right away and wants a quick recap before The One.

What I didn’t like: That’s all it was. I can’t think of a single thing in this novella that hadn’t already been established in The Elite. I was hoping for some sort of inside info — WHY he says Maxon is a good actor, for instance or what REALLY happened when the king and prince were supposedly in New Asia, even more about what happened when America ran away from the rebels. Something! Anything! Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.

The Elite


The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass

Pub: 2013

Of the 36 girls invited to the palace to compete for the prince’s heart, only six remain, and America struggles with questions of whom she loves and where she belongs.

Opening lines:

The Angeles air was quiet, and for a while I lay still, listening to the sound of Maxon’s breathing. It was getting harder and harder to catch him in a truly calm and happy moment, and I soaked up the time, grateful that he seemed to be at his best when he and I were alone.

What better weekend to get absorbed in a YA love-triangle romance than Valentine’s? If nothing else, it made me appreciate being in a secure, committed relationship and NOT having to worry about any third (or fourth) person in the equation. Yeeesh.

What I liked: I did like that we got a bit more world-building in the sequel, got to learn a bit about what came to pass to get the country to that point.

What I didn’t like: Um… the characters?

So, our main character tells the prince that she likes him. You know, likes him likes him. What does he do? IGNORES HER for the next two weeks while spending time w/ the other girls! No, no, no, no.

So, (slightly spoilery) one of the girls gets kicked out and physically punished for the treason of being caught secretly meeting with another guy while part of the Selection. So what does Aspen do? Almost IMMEDIATELY arranges for America to come meet him in secret so they can talk about it! No, no, no, no.

And these are the options that America spends 80% of the book going back and forth about. Every time Maxon does something she doesn’t like, she runs to Aspen. Every time Maxon does something she DOES like, she completely forgets about Aspen. And then she has the gall to get mad at Maxon for kissing someone else when she’s been doing the same thing w/ Aspen the whole time. Seriously, Maxon, pick someone else… America has some major growing up to do before she’s ready to be anyone’s wife.

Heads up: Some [non-graphic] violence

Overall: If you’re a fan of love triangles, this book’s for you.

The Prince


The Prince (The Selection #0.5) by Kiera Cass

Pub: March 2013

A novella set in the world of The Selection, which retells the first part of the novel from Prince Maxon’s point of view.

Opening lines:

I paced the floor, trying to walk the anxiety out of my body. When the Selection was something in the distance–a possibility for my future–it sounded thrilling. But now? Well, I wasn’t so sure.

Describing The Selection series as “The Bachelor” meets The Hunger Games isn’t really too far off, and though it’s been awhile since I’ve watched any reality TV shows, this novella recently caught my eye on my to-read shelf, possibly because I’d recently read that the final book (with this gorgeous cover) is coming out in May.

What I liked: As someone who hasn’t read the first book in awhile, this one really did a great job pulling the me back into the world and reminding me of the important elements. It was kind of interesting to get another character’s perspective as well.

What I didn’t like: I don’t feel that it really added a lot. The teaser hinted at a prior relationship between Maxon and a girl named Daphne, but this comprised of only a small part of this novella, and in the big scheme of things, was rather insignificant.

Overall: A quick little recap of the early events of The Selection from another perspective. Take it or leave it, and you probably won’t miss a whole lot.

Second Star


Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Expected Publication: May 13, 2014

Wendy Darling goes searching for her missing surfer brothers and finds herself in a mysterious cove inhabited by runaways.

Opening lines:

I can smell the bonfire before I even get out of the car. It’s dusk, and the sun is low on the water.

Full review coming in May!

Overall: A beautiful setting, cool Peter Pan references, but the unresolved ending made me unable to ‘think happy thoughts’ about it.

Why We Broke Up


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Pub: 2011

Going through the box of mementos of their brief time dating, Min writes a letter to Ed about what went wrong with their relationship.

Opening line:

In a sec you’ll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It’ll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it’s so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she’s cooking.

I don’t know why I liked this book. I think it’s because it’s incredibly realistic and honest when it comes to high school relationships.

The main character, Min, has an obsession with old movies which is downright irritating (especially since the movies she references are made up by the author), but which everyone seems to think is clever and special. Her boyfriend, Ed, is from a different crowd and is kind of a jerk and always manages to know how to say something that sounds sweet at the time, but you know through the whole thing that he’s going to break her heart. And then he does.

And I think that’s what makes this book so powerful, so relate-able, because even if the reader’s situation was  nothing at all like Min & Ed’s, s/he can relate to that feeling of knowing that someday it’s all going to come crashing down, and yet being absolutely heartbroken when it does.

Heads up: Underage sex & alcohol use

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