Category Archives: Series

Loving Dallas

Finished Loving Dallas by Caisey Quinn.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the second novel in bestselling author Caisey Quinn’s Neon Dreams series, a country rock band and its members embark on the rocky road to fame and find love along the way.

Dallas Lark is so close to achieving his dream of making it big in country music that he can taste it. Arriving in Nashville after signing with sexy, successful manager Mandy Lantram, his life goes from tragedy and turmoil to one lucky break after another—except it isn’t really luck because Dallas has sacrificed everything for his career, leaving behind his band, sister, best friend, and high school sweetheart, Robyn, in the pursuit of fame.

Robyn Breeland is a successful marketing coordinator and promotions specialist for a thriving liquor distributor out of Texas. She loves every aspect of her job: coming up with new ideas, traveling, hosting promotional parties and exclusive events—until it brings her face-to-face with the man who broke her heart, prompting her to erect a steel cage around it.

When their paths collide and they’re forced to work together, Dallas and Robyn realize that the old spark they thought they’d extinguished might still be a burning flame.”

Okay, so I am officially obsessed with this series. (I loved Leaving Amarillo, the first book in the series, and this one was even better.  I cannot wait for the third/last book, Missing Dixie.  It’s out in October, and that is so far away.)

I didn’t get much of a sense of Dallas in the first book (not surprisingly, because it’s Dixie and Gavin’s story) and what I did see of Dallas, I didn’t particularly like.  Fortunately, he overcame that almost immediately in this book.

And I LOVE ROBYN.  It’s so obvious that they’re meant to be, and that circumstances (pride and a refusal to talk openly with each other—which makes sense, because they were so young at the time) kept them apart.  And now they’re older and wiser and better…and, yes, hotter.  So basically, OH THIS BOOK. :)

I also want to point out that this book is basically a bridge between Dixie and Gavin’s story, and there is a development for them in this book that I do not like. I’m trying to give Gavin the benefit of the doubt, but I just want this new book so I know what’s going on.

Highly recommended.

Brush Back

Finished Brush Back by Sara Paretsky.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Chicago’s V. I. Warshawski confronts crooked politicians and buried family secrets in the gritty new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Sara Paretsky.

No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she’d be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that’s precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help.

For six stormy weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo was an angry, uncooperative prisoner and did a full twenty-five years for her daughter’s murder.

Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. V.I. doesn’t want to get involved. Stella hated the Warshawskis, in particular V.I.’s adored mother, Gabriella.

But life has been hard on Frank and on V.I.’s other childhood friends, still stuck on the hardscrabble streets around the dead steel mills, and V.I. agrees to ask a few questions. Those questions lead her straight into the vipers’ nest of Illinois politics she’s wanted to avoid. When V.I. takes a beating at a youth meeting in her old hood, her main question becomes whether she will live long enough to find answers.”

If you’ve ever spent any time on this blog, you’ve probably heard me speak of my love for Sara Paretsky and VI Warshawski.  (If not, just trust me: they are two of my favorites.)  It seems like a new VI Warshawski novel shows up just when I need it most, and this time was no exception.

I love how these novels are political.  (Warning: if you are conservative, you will probably not appreciate this as much, but our politics align nicely, so…)

It’s not exactly a secret that VI’s family is a major sore spot for her, for lack of a better term.  She loved her parents and cousin fiercely and the best way to get her to do something is to attack them.  (So the fact that Stella Guzzo basically slanders all three is a majorly dumb move.)  I don’t want to discuss the plot too much, but it was really nice to hear more about her hockey-playing cousin Boom Boom.

My favorite part, though, is how the most recent novels are definitely set in the present but also give us a major glimpse into VI’s past or Lotte’s past.  I love Lotte too, and more time with her is a great thing.  Maybe we can get more Mr. Contreras next time; he was largely absent in this book.  (That is literally my only complaint.)

Here’s hoping the next two years fly by; I miss VI already.

Highly recommended.

 

Jessica Darling’s It List #3

Finished Jessica Darling’s It List #3 by Megan McCafferty.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Book 3 in New York Times bestseller Megan McCafferty’s realistic middle grade series, perfect for fans of Dear Dumb Diary, The Popularity Papers, and Wendy Mass’s Willow Falls.

Crazy teachers; best friends turning pretty overnight; “The Unbreakable Laws of Cafeteria Line Cutting”…. Junior high is rough, and Jessica Darling needs help! Enter older sister Bethany and her “It List,” meant to help Jessica uphold “The Darling Domination of Popularity.”

In Jessica Darling’s It List 3, Jessica faces the potentially mortifying outcome of the Top Secret Pineville Junior High Crushability Test. Plus, she’s kind of stuck in the middle, as smarties and skaters unite to collect signatures on a petition to bring back the school’s annual dance. Will the dramarama of seventh grade be Jessica’s downfall? Not if she can help it.”

It’s not a secret that I absolutely love Jessica Darling.  This is my favorite of the middlegrade prequels to her YA/adult series.

If, like me, you are a huge fan of Jess and Marcus Flutie, this is going to be your favorite, too. :)  The two of them are circling around each other for most of this novel, too, but there is a pretty fun development toward the end.  (Still no kissing, but still.)

I also love the fact that we see Hope and Jess really starting to click as friends, and I love seeing that.  (We also get to know Hope’s brother Heath; that’s less fun because, as we learn in Sloppy Firsts, he dies of a drug overdose.)

I love Jessica Darling and I just want more of her life.  (Can we get sequels, maybe? I want to know her as an adult, too!)

This ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope that there’s at least one more of Bethany’s lists floating around somewhere.

Recommended.

The Good Girls

Finished The Good Girls by Sara Shepard. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes the shocking sequel to The Perfectionists—with an ending you’ll have to read to believe!

Mackenzie, Ava, Caitlin, Julie, and Parker have done some not-so-perfect things. Even though they all talked about killing rich bully Nolan Hotchkiss, they didn’t actually go through with it. It’s just a coincidence that Nolan died in exactly the way they planned . . . right? Except Nolan wasn’t the only one they fantasized about killing. When someone else they named dies, the girls wonder if they’re being framed. Or are they about to become the killer’s next targets?”

This is the sequel to The Perfectionists and is the last book in the duology.

The interesting thing about this book is that it moves past The Perfectionists and other people the girls disliked start dying or having accidents.  This obviously makes them look like even bigger suspects.

This book and series was incredibly fun and definitely vacation-worthy, but not really a must-read.  It’s a little forgettable.  And the reveal has definitely been done before.  (Although I would argue that the ending was still pretty chilling, at least for me…and, of course, it leaves things open for another book.  I hope Sara Shepard doesn’t do one.)

The Perfectionists

Finished The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series Pretty Little Liars comes a thrilling new novel about five perfect girls who are framed for a murder they didn’t commit.

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.”

This is an incredibly fun novel, one that is very similar to her Pretty Little Liars and Lying Game series.  (Unlike those two, this is only a duology—a wise choice, considering that both of those seemingly dragged on forever.)

I like the concept behind this.  Who hasn’t thought about getting back at the people who are mean to you, and who hasn’t jokingly wished someone dead?  Obviously, most people never mean those thoughts…except in this case, someone clearly did.

Things are also creepy, as we have no idea exactly who the killer is, and if it’s one of the girls or if it’s some random person.  As in her other series, everybody’s a suspect.

I enjoyed this book and was very excited that I could read the second one immediately.

365 Days of Wonder

Finished 365 Days of Wonder by RJ Palacio.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared in Wonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.”

I love this book and it appealed to me for the same reasons that Postsecret does: these sentences and thoughts all affect me.  Some are applicable to my life now and some aren’t but they’re all worth thinking about.

For people who aren’t sure this is something they’d enjoy, each month is also bookended by thoughts from Mr. Browne (the teacher from Wonder who solicited these precepts).  There are also notes from students in those chapters (including Auggie, the hero from Wonder).

This book is a fun stocking stuffer, especially if you pair it with Wonder.  I read that when it first came out and this makes me really want to re-read it.

Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me

Finished Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin.

Summary (from Goodreads):

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks… but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.”

This book was so sweet and fun!  At the same time, though, it’s incredibly good and surprisingly deep.

There are two different ways to enjoy this novel.  The first, obviously, is as a travelog, something that makes me absolutely desperate to visit Greece.

And the other way is the fact that Zona is heading to Greece at least in part to spend time with her maternal family, people that she doesn’t know and actually has never even met.

Because her Greek relatives were so bitter that Zona’s mom married her dad, they stopped speaking to her…which means they didn’t know that she died.  It’s a lot to deal with, especially since she doesn’t even want to leave her life behind to begin with.

I was happy to see that there’s a companion novel and I hope to be reading that soon.

Recommended.

Witch Hunter

Finished Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.”

Oh, you guys, this book.  It’s incredibly smart and fun but also just a really great book.  I had all these theories about what was going to happen, and I had a 0% success rate.  This is the only time that makes me happy. :)

I love Elizabeth and the fact that she’s a witch hunter who ends up becoming friends or at least allies with a group of witches and wizards and a pirate.  And I can’t talk too much about it, because there is a lot going on here, but it’s an amazing book.

The best thing? Apparently this is the first book in a series (or at least a trilogy; I’m not sure).  I can’t wait to learn what happens next, though!

Recommended.

Ink and Bone

Finished Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…”

I am generally a huge fan of books about books, but this left me cold.

I didn’t connect with Jess or the danger he was in.  This book should have left me incredibly tense, but for some reason none of it worked for me.

The concept is great (of course I understand the desire to own ALL THE BOOKS and can’t imagine if actually owning a book were illegal) but the execution was not—at least not for me.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Finished Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great – her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…”

This book was adorable.  :)  I immediately loved Kelsey and her determination to make her freshman year the best year yet, and even though things keep refusing to go her way, she won’t give up.  EVER.

As many people have noted in their reviews, this book is almost guaranteed to make you laugh out loud if you have anything even remotely approaching a sense of humor.

I think I preferred Sophomore Year is Greek to Me (a companion novel, not a sequel) but both are excellent.

I hope Meredith Zeitlin has a new book out soon.  I love her books. :)

Recommended.