Secondborn

Secondborn

by Amy A. Bartol

*** (3 out of 5)

Secondborn

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Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

It was incredibly hard to choose a star rating for this book.  While reading the book, I loved it and was super hooked.  I was thinking it was going to be a 5.  But once I finished it, it sort of pissed me off and I wanted to give it a 1.  So I am going to split it and give it a 3.

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Since my feelings towards this book are all over the place, I am going to try and break my review up into two parts.  The Good and The Bad:

The Good

Roselle is awesome.  She is a badass, ass kicking, strong female.  She can literally fight, and has been training her whole life. In her society, firstborns rule the world and secondborns are sacrificed into the workforce.  Roselle is a secondborn sword, meaning she is trained as a fighter.  She is unique though, because she comes from an aristocratic family.  As a secondborn aristocrat she is elevated almost to firstborn status.  She doesn’t welcome the fame though.  She would rather just do her duty.  That is until she sees all the injustices that seconborns have to endure.  She embraces her fame in order to help save her fellow secondborns.

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Its not just another rebellion story.  A unique thing about this book is that Roselle doesn’t join the rebellion.  She knows that when the rebels attack, seeking to liberate the secondborns, they are really attacking  the seconborns.  (because the lower ranks of the military are filled with seconborns) It doesn’t make sense to attack the people you are trying to save.  So she doesn’t join the rebellion.  Instead she works on outfitting her fellow secondborns and teaching them how to protect themselves so they can survive the war.

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The Bad

The book randomly skips a year.  You follow Roselle as she leaves her family and is sent to the military.  You are with her when she makes acquaintances and makes rocky friendships. Then all of a sudden a year passes and they are all best friends and nothing bad has happened.  I feel like you miss a lot of character development in that time.

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Next, there really isn’t a plot. The story was engaging, but there was no climax, no conclusion, no beginning, middle, and end.  It just sort of went on and then ended.  I have a feeling more will happen in the next book, but you still have to have some sort of structure in the first books in a series.  I hate when books don’t end.  Cliffhangers are one thing, but its awful when nothing really happens.

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Finally, the relationships are weird.  The group of “Best Friends” disbands ish.  Two people have to be evacuated for their safety.  One is forcibly removed. And the last is just forgotten about? He isn’t mentioned at all when the group is separated.   And when Hawthorne (Roselle’s lover) is taken away he doesn’t try to find a way to be with her and leaves her completely in the dark.  Based on what you know of the rest of his character, this makes no sense.  He isn’t the type to just bow down and accept his fate.  Also, when you first meet Clifton, he is made out to be this sexual deviant and that Roselle needs to be careful around him, but then he treats her with respect and doesn’t make any advances.  Is his reputation wrong? Or is he just different around Roselle.  The two pictures painted of his personality don’t match up.

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The more I think about it, the more I dislike this book! Which is sad because it had so much potential! Roselle is awesome, and the universe is unique and different.  Its not your normal repressed rebellion story.  I really wanted to like this book, but there was just too much that bugged me.  I am not going to read the second book.


Random shout out to Book Basset.  If you have never heard of this blog, I highly suggest that you go visit it!  They let you know about kindle sales where the books are free or really really cheap.  I got this book for free! (I love free books) Book Basset is awesome!

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

***** (5 out of 5)

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Stepsister

If you liked Fangirl then you will like this book!  It was awesome. I got this book from NetGalley.  I thought it was an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) because NetGalley says the publish date is 12/26/17, but you can buy it on Amazon right now, so I don’t know.  Either way, it was a great book and I highly recommend it!

Mattie and Ella are stepsister’s in their senior year of High School.  The story is told through the eyes of Mattie (who considers herself the ugly stepsister). I can totally relate to Mattie.  For starters her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.  That right there makes her awesome!

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She is also insecure, awkward, nerdy, smart, funny, artistic, passionate, emotional and sassy.  The whole enchilada.  Her nerdom of choice is Manga, which I don’t read, but that didn’t distract from the story at all.  No matter what your nerdom is, you can relate to how deeply she feels toward Manga, and how it gets her through the tough parts of life.

This is a coming of age teenage romance, and I know some people think that trope is overused, but I really liked it.  I got completely absorbed in this book and time flew by.  I read waaaaay past my bed time to finish it.  I cried and laughed and just loved the whole book!

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If you couldn’t tell by the name, this is a Cinderella spin-off, but its not overly cliche.  It is unique in the fact that its told through the eyes of the stepsister (who isn’t actually evil).  Also its not Ella’s love story.  It is Mattie’s.  So it only loosely follows the Cinderella structure.  I love Cinderella spin-offs but this was a fun new way to take the story!

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There were two issues I had with the book.  The first was a couple comments that belittled emotional distress. The first time Mattie cried she seemed surprised she was crying because apparently she rarely ever cries.  Then later, her love interest comments that she didn’t seem like the kind of girl to cry.  The rest of the time crying was treated as a normal, acceptable response for the stress in Mattie’s life.  Crying is perfectly normal!  I don’t like it when books portray emotional girls as weak.  Crying does not equal weakness!  Other than those two comments, this book handled emotional distress very well.

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The second issue I had with the book is with the model on the cover.  I really like the purple background with the green dress.  The contrast is great.  The title font is bold and catches your attention.  But the more I look at it I can’t figure out what is going on with the girl.  She looks super uncomfortable and unnatural.  What is she doing with her hand on her face?  Give her a normal teenage girl stance instead of that half seductive weirdness and it would be perfect!

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So I highly recommend this book.  I loved it! Go read it! Right now!

 

Fangirl

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

***** (5 out of 5)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fan

This book was awesome.  I loved it.

I don’t normally do synopsis’s but I want to write one for this book.  In my own words, here is a brief description:

Twins Wren and Cather (pronounced Cath) are going off to college.  Until now they have always been inseparable, but Wren wants to meet new people and experience college life.  They don’t room together and Cath is thrust into a scary new world.  As Wren goes out partying, Cath struggles with crippling anxiety.  One of her coping mechanisms is to write fanfic.  Unlike in her real life, online, Cath is wildly popular.  Her fanfic has won awards and has tons of followers.  Cath finds new friends in unexpected places, as she learns a lot about herself.  This coming of age story follows Cath through the twists and turns of going to college.

Cath and Wren go to University of Nebraska which is home to my BF’s favorite college football team.  I have actually been to a couple games there so that was cool.  Another random awesome thing was that there was a Suite Life of Zach and Cody reference.  I loved that show as a kid so its always fun to see it referenced.

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I loved Cath so much.  I could totally relate to her.  Her anxiety is a lot worse than mine, but its so realistic.  You don’t read a lot of books where the main character has anxiety like that.  She is strong in her own way and its awesome.  She is also awkward around boys and I was super awkward my freshman year.

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My favorite part of the whole story was her first kiss with <boy’s name> (I’m not gonna spoil who it is!).  It was so awkward and cute and the way it described was absolutely perfect.  When reading romance novels the first kiss is always so strong, but not so realistic.  First kisses with someone new are always a little different, you are still learning how to work together.  First kisses are special.  I don’t know how to describe it but there is something wonderfully innocent in an actual first kiss.  I thought Rowell did such a good job writing that scene.

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In the book Cath writes a lot of gay fanfic.  Rowell actually published a book that is the fanfic that Cath is writing throughout Fangirl.  Its called Carry On.  I think that is really cool, but I am not sure I am going to read it.  I have absolutely no problem with gay people but I don’t really have any desire to read about a gay relationship.  I like to imagine myself into the story and it helps if I can relate to the main character and I just don’t see myself relating to a gay male.  (I’m a straight female.)  Then again, I might read it because I liked Fangirl so much that I want more.  Also its about mages and dragons which are always cool.

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Coincidentally this book related back to the last book I read (The Simplicity of Cider).  In both books the mom left suddenly when the girls were very young.  Then they had no contact until suddenly, in college the mom makes an attempt to re-unite.  I thought this was kind of funny that both books had this exact same scenario.

The relationships in Fangirl are so realistic.  Cath and her Sister, Cath and her roommate, Cath and her dad, Cath and her crush.  Every single one is believable and unique.  There are no generic players.  Everyone has a role and it comes together beautifully.

The only issue I had with the book was that the ending left a decently major loose end.  I got the feeling it was done on purpose, to let the reader decide, but I hate that, I want straight answers.  Other than that one loose end the book was perfect. I laughed and I cried and I couldn’t put it down.  I’m sad that its over but I am super glad I read it.  Its a really good book.

 

 

 

The Summer I Became a Nerd

***** (5 out of 5)

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

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I’m not gonna lie, I needed this book.  I have been soooo stressed and busy lately I could feel myself start to spiral.  Two weekends ago we went to Nebraska, last weekend we went to Oregon, this weekend we are going to Vegas, and 4 days after we get back, we leave for Germany.  Its an understatement to say we have a lot going on.  On top of that I am procrastinating writing a review for Lion Heart, because I don’t know what to say, and Astrologer’s Proof because I haven’t even read it yet.

Yesterday, while hiding from my to-do list, (i.e. procrastinating) I was skimming through some blogs when I found a post about The Summer I Became a Nerd by Book Princess Reviews.  I read the first paragraph of the synopsis, skipped the second (because they usually reveal too much) and then read Mandy’s first paragraph:

Mandy

I didn’t even bother reading the rest of her post.  Those two paragraphs were all it took to ensnare me.  I downloaded the book and started reading it immediately.  I was leaving work so I read for the two minutes it took me to get to my car then I had to wait till I got home.

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Its a good thing this book is short-ish because I could not put it down.  I stopped reading only for dinner and my softball game. I even read while we hung out in the parking lot, drinking beers before the game.  I read until 1 am, when I finished the book.  So I pretty much read from 4 to 1.  Its been a while since I binge-read that hard.

The Summer I Became a Nerd is about Maddie, who is a closet nerd.  She fears the rejection of her peers if they were to find out about her nerdiness.  On the outside she is your typical cheerleader dating the quarterback, but on the inside she is all about comics.  It makes me sad to think that there are girls that feel like they have to hide who they are because it isn’t socially acceptable, but I get it.  I have never completely hid that side of me, but I don’t usually flaunt it either.

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I have two groups of friends; my sports buddies and my nerd buddies.  With my nerd buddies I can be whoever I want.  We play D&D and they don’t care if I watch the big game at the same time.  They accept both sides of me.  But my sports buddies aren’t as open.  They know I’m nerdy but they don’t know the extent, and they tend to make fun of me if I get too intense about it.  They don’t make fun of me in a mean way, more of a big brother sort of teasing way.  They will watch all the new Marvel movies, but they don’t understand how people can enjoy reading.

This is why I LOVE e-readers.  For some reason it is socially acceptable to play on your phone and ignore everyone while watching the big game or getting beers before our league games, yet if I pull out a book, everyone accuses me of being anti-social and makes fun of me for reading.  But if I read on my phone no one says anything.  They just assume I am playing games, texting, or whatnot.  Its awesome!

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This book not only appealed to me because I was able to relate to it, but it appealed to me because it was a light, fun, easy read.  When I am spiraling I tend to gravitate toward romance novels and cliche teenage novels.  The Summer I Became a Nerd definitely falls into the later category.  Its got all the cheesy, classic, teenage-summer-love tropes you could ever want.  And I absolutely loved it! Like I said before, I could not put it down.  It was the absolute perfect book that I needed yesterday.  I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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Thank you Mandy for your post! I needed this book so much ❤ I can see why it is your favorite contemporary of ALL TIME. (and I did go back and finish reading your post after I finished the book)

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Amazon

The Fairytale’s Daughter

**** (4 out of 5)

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I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway.  If you have never been to GoodReads its an awesome website where you can keep track of all the books you have read, and the ones you want to read.  Its also great for getting info about books, series and authors.  In other words I am a huge fan.  They also have this section for giveaways where you can enter to win free books (Yay!!).  In return they ask that, if you win, you write a review. (easy peasy).  So checkout the giveaways page, and remember to only enter for books you are actually willing to read!

Anyway, back to my story. I won this book in a giveaway.  Usually when you win a book they send just the book, but Carolyn Swanson went way above and beyond. In addition to signing the book, she also wrote me a nice little note and gave me a $15 gift card to Starbucks. (Yum!) Nothing is better than curling up in a snuggley blanket and drinking hot chocolate while reading a good book.  Or, in this case, the second best thing is reading sprawled out on the back porch, enjoying a slight breeze and drinking some passion fruit tea (cuz 90 degrees is too hot for a blanket and hot chocolate).  It was super nice of Carolyn to include that, and I hope her book does really well because, she seems like the kind of person that deserves it.

I debated giving this a 3 instead of a 4 so really its like a 3.5 and I rounded up (I promise it has nothing to do with the gift card and everything to do with the goods outweighing the bads.) Overall I really liked the story but there were a couple things that bugged me.

Lets start with the good:

I LOVE fairy tales!!

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And this book nailed it! It has all the components needed for a fairly tale; princes, princesses, villains, love, friendship, curses, jewelry, and fights. But Carolyn did not just retell the same old fairy tale, she created a brand new one!  She found a way to incorporate all the classics (with her own twist of course) while creating a completely unique tale.  I could not put the book down, I got hooked! I just had to find out what happened next! (I read waaay past my bedtime)

I love Aylan and Garrick, they felt so real.  Their relationship was super believable even in the midst of a fairy tale (however, like all fairy tales, they fall in love very quickly, though that is not a negative against the book).  All the other characters were great too.  Gala’s internal struggles made her particularly relatable.  The fight between doing the right thing and doing the thing you feel compelled to do is a very real issue that people deal with an a daily basis.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to everyone (children, young adults, adults, old adults, etc.) who needs an easy read with a feel-good story.

Now for the bad

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The beginning was slow and confusing.  I had to re-read a couple sections to figure out what was going on.  If you are going to read this book PLEASE stick with it past the beginning!  Its worth it, I promise.

And the ending left too many questions. Specifically: WHAT HAPPENED TO GALA?!?!?! Cliffhangers are fine, but this is not really a cliffhanger.  (I am trying really hard to not include any spoilers so I can’t express exactly what I am feeling. ) But the last time you see her its unclear what happened and then she is kind of forgotten for the rest of the book.  I would have also like some more details on the ship.  For starters, who was on the ship? Was her brother there? How did they react? You know Gunner is there, but it sort of glosses over everything, and I would have liked to know what went down, and WHAT HAPPENED TO GALA?!?!?!

If you are thinking about reading this book, don’t let these negatives deter you!!! The story is worth it! I really really enjoyed this book!  I can’t wait for the sequel.

P.S. I can’t figure out how to pronounce “Aylan” which really isn’t a big deal but I am still trying to recover from the whole “Hermione” debacle.