Sweetly by Jackson Pearce Review

I’m so sorry for this review being so late compared to other ones, but I forgot how long it takes me to read Jackson Pearce novels. They just have so much content in them and I have a need to take in all of it and analyze it, so it takes me forever to read them. But I’ve finished now, so on with the review!


 

Started: February 2, 2016

Finished: February 17, 2016

Rating: 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): As a child, Gretchen’s twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch’s forest threatening to make them disappear, too. Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They’re invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion. Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past — until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn’t gone — it’s lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak’s infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is. Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.


I was so excited to read this book. I loved Sisters Red, and I knew I would love this one as well. And it didn’t disappoint.

I will say, however, that at first I was kind of bored. I love Jackson Pearce’s writing, but the story seemed to drag with details and content and over-characterization.

When I got to the end, though, I was proven wrong. All of those things that I thought were unnecessary and tedious were actually some of the most important things in the novel. I was reading this book for two weeks and I read over 200 pages in one day because I became so engrossed in this book.

The story was phenomenal. It had me on the edge of my seat once I got invested in it and I didn’t want it to end. Every plot point was resolved, everything had a resolution, and everything was so well developed that I can’t have any complaints about it.

The characters were just beautifully developed. Gretchen and Ansel’s relationship developed over the course of the book and gave me so many feelings. Sophia made my heart hurt several times out of sympathy for her, and Samuel made me almost giddy with happiness because I liked him so much.

The only thing I didn’t really like (and I don’t say this very often) was the romantic relationship. I really enjoyed Samuel and Gretchen as a platonic relationship, and I could definitely see it advancing into a romantic relationship further along in their timeline, but it just seemed so quick and a little forced. I didn’t mind it as much toward the end of the novel, but it seemed so quick to me that it just didn’t sit right.

The relationship didn’t change the quality of this book though. I loved it, and the Fairytale Retellings series is one that I’m going to keep reading, and one that I will keep recommending for a long time.


 

NEXT READ: The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty

 

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January Book Favorites 2016

Hello, readers! I realize this post is about 14 days late, but the beginning of February for this blog was swamped with posts, so I waited to make this one. Hope you enjoy it!

I read (and really liked) a few books in January 2016, and I thought it would be fun to make a post of my favorites.

I’ve chosen my favorite character, favorite cover, favorite title, and overall favorite book for the month!

Let’s get started!


Favorite Character:

Audrey from Finding Audrey

I loved Audrey, and she was a character that I connected to almost immediately. She wasn’t perfect, and she was a refreshing change to many characters I had already encountered in young adult literature. I saw myself in her so many times, it almost seemed like I was her at some points of the novel. For this reason, she was my favorite character of January.

Favorite Cover: 

Fiction - How to Save a Life front cover

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This cover jumped out at me in the library, and I knew I had to check this book out. It’s a beautiful cover, and quite representative of the story. This is why this is my favorite cover of January.

Favorite Title:

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

This title just has a great sound to it when saying it out loud, and I just loved the title so much. It just rolls off the tongue so easily, and it’s one of my favorite titles ever.

*Note: This one has an honorable mention, because I loved All the Truth That’s In Me almost as much as this title, but ultimately, Go Set a Watchman won out.

And finally, my favorite book of January was…

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

I went on and on about this book for a solid week. I love it, and I love every character in it. There was no competition when it came to selecting this book, because to me, it was very close to perfect. I love this book with all my heart, and I hope that everyone reads it.


 

That’s it for my January 2016 book favorites! I look forward to seeing what books February brings me (even though we’re halfway through the month already)!

 

 

How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr Review

Started: January 27, 2016

Finished: February 2, 2016

Rating: 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one. Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too? As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.


Can you choose your family?

This is the main question that seemed to sum up How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr. And for the majority of the novel, the answer seemed to be a resounding no.

It was the classic opposites story: Mandy had nothing, Jill had everything. Mandy had a tough life, and Jill had one filled with happiness. And then, after Jill’s father dies and Mandy comes into their lives, it seems as if every signal in this book was screaming that you can’t change where you came from and who your family is.

But then as I delved deeper into Jill’s story, and especially Mandy’s, I found myself thinking about this question. As Mandy grappled with the insecurities caused by her eighteen years of being raised under her mother’s “guidance”, I found myself grappling right along with her. And again and again, that question rose in the back of my mind: can you choose your family?

After reading this novel, I have to say the answer for Mandy and Jill is a definite yes. You can choose your family, because family is who loves you unconditionally.

This book was fantastically written and it kept me interested the whole time I was reading. Mandy was by far my favorite character, and I kept seeing something of myself in her. I loved her, and I wanted to cry out of pure happiness at the ending of this novel. The rest of the characters were rich in characterization and I wanted to dig deeper into each and every one of them.

Overall, it was a great read and I applaud Sara Zarr because I greatly enjoyed it. I plan to read her other novels in the future, and hope that you’ll give this one a chance.


NEXT READ: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

 

Valentine’s Day Book Recommendations!

Ah, the month of February. The month for cold weather, Valentine’s Day, and cuddling up with your significant other…

Or, if you’re like me, cuddling up with a mug of hot chocolate and a good romance novel for a book date.

I love romance novels. Cheesy, not cheesy, dystopian, not dystopian, I don’t care. I love romance novels more than most other books. So, naturally, for my first book rec post, I thought a romance novel recommendation of my favorites would be perfect.

The books that I’m going to recommend all have some of my favorite love stories of all time. Some of them aren’t necessarily romance novels, but the love stories are highlighted often in the books and they’re some of my favorites of all time.

So pick up a mug of your favorite hot drink, grab your cozy blanket, and find a nice spot to curl up with a great novel, handpicked by me from my personal favorites!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


 

In alphabetical order:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book is fluff to the max, until you get to the last quarter of the book. It’s a sweet romance with a decent amount of substance and amazing characters (Etienne St. Clair stole my heart for a solid month after I read this. I still love him so much). It’s great and written in a beautiful way, and this book is probably one of my essentials for Valentine’s Day.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

A recommendation from a friend, this paranormal romance follows the story of Ethan (a human from Gatlin, South Carolina) and Lena (a Caster belonging to an ancient, powerful family). I love the movie, I love the book, and I highly encourage you to read it because Ethan and Lena’s romance completely overwhelmed me and made me feel so emotionally drained after I finished. I haven’t read the other books in the series, so I can’t speak for them, but this first book is absolutely dazzling.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Let me say something about this one: I love Ellen Hopkins. I love every single book she’s written, I love the free verse poetry style of her novels, and the stories are just so riveting. This is the only book on this love story recommendations list, but there will be plenty more on future recommendations. This is my favorite Ellen Hopkins novel by far, and its story sucks you in quickly for a read that will stay with you long after you finish it. Trigger warning, though, for anyone who’s sensitive to child abuse. If you’re not one of those people, then I highly recommend giving this book a try.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by  Sophie Kinsella

Becky Bloomwood is a character made from the same soul as me. I’m not exaggerating. I love her, I love her story, and I love this book. This book is the first in a series that chronicles Becky’s adventures, and even though the romance is not the main focus, it’s definitely a loveable part of the books and part of what makes these books so fun to read. If you’re looking for a fluffy romance, definitely come to Kinsella’s most famous novel.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

For me, this is one of the essential young adult romance novels. Rowell is a master of words, and this book is some of her finest works. It’s absolutely breathtaking. I read this on a recommendation from a friend, and she did not disappoint. This book is one that will not quickly fade from the public eye, and it will likely stay as one of the best romance novels for years to come.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

One of my absolute favorite books ever! This book is haunting. I read it years ago and it is still the first book I recommend to people who ask me for a book to read. The narration is unique, the characters are fantastically portrayed, and best of all, the romance is top-notch. This book is amazing, and even if it isn’t exactly your cup of tea, I would highly suggest giving this book a chance this Valentine’s Day.

Every Day by David Levithan

Another haunting romance is found in this novel. The romance is definitely not the absolute main focus of the novel, but it is a big part of it. It’s been a while since I read it, and I haven’t read the sequel yet, but I remember loving this book (another recommendation from a friend!), and I think anyone interested in an unusual love story will love this book too.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

In the same way that Becky Bloomwood and I share a soul, Cath Avery and I are the same person. Seriously. This is my favorite Rainbow Rowell novel, and she writes such good romances (the reason why she’s making two appearances in this book rec). If you’re craving a realistic fiction romance, Fangirl may be the one for you.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher

I don’t even know how to explain this book. I loved it, but I’m not sure how to explain why I loved it. It’s a futuristic-ish romance between two high school friends in the nineties who receive a free AOL internet disk that allows them to see their futures and alter them–all on Facebook. It was a pretty unique read and it was entertaining. I would recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a romance that doesn’t quite fit the usual YA mold.

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

This book is one of my all time favorites. I love it. I read it because of the movie that came out last year starring Sam Claflin (*heart eyes*) and Lily Collins. Movie was fantastic, and the book is even better. It’s full of sweet friendships and family relationships, and a love story that is as entertaining as it is infuriating at times. Definitely give this one a try if you enjoy novels that are written in a format that’s atypical of a normal novel.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

An oldie, but a goodie. I adore this novel. It’s one of my favorites of all time, and I never get bored reading it. The romance between Noah and Allie is one of the classic love stories in all of literature, joined in the ranks by couples such as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (more on them in the next rec). So if you’re in the mood for a classic romance with a touch of sadness, The Notebook is your book date this Valentine’s Day.

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Okay, let me get something out of the way: I can’t stand Pride & Prejudice. I hate the story, I hate the characters, and I can’t stand the writing style. But I love adaptations of Pride & Prejudice. And this adaptation by Elizabeth Eulberg is probably my favorite. It’s cute, it’s sweet, and its characterization delves deep into the brains of the characters. If you want a book that revolves around a cute and fluffy romance, then think about giving Prom and Prejudice a try.

Renegade by J.A. Souders

There are no words for how much I love this book. This book is wonderful. The characters are wonderful and relatable, and their romance is beautifully written. This is the first novel in a dystopian trilogy about an underwater world called Elysium (I still haven’t read the third book, though–I’m a bad fan.) I love this book and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys dystopian literature.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I really thought I could get through a Valentine’s Day book rec post without talking about Nicholas Sparks multiple times. Well, I was wrong. Safe Haven is a book for any of you book lovers who are looking for all of the romance and emotion of The Notebook, but with  a bit more drama and a little bit less sadness.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the queen of YA romance, but this is the only book of hers that I read recently enough to recall enough details to recommend it. Saint Anything is a romance that asks important questions. One of them being, how do you deal with guilt for something that you didn’t do? And does family come from something stronger than blood? The characters are amazing, and I related so well to the protagonist. This is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen novels, and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

What’s better than the romance between a prince and his chosen girl? Well, this story is made a bit more complicated by the fact that the chosen girl is competing for his love against thirty-four other girls. Oh, and she doesn’t really want to be there. I’ve loved this book for a while now, and it deserves all of the hype that it receives. It’s a great read for anyone who likes a little substance with their fluffy romance.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My absolute favorite series. Ever. In addition to being a fan of romance novels, I love paranormal romances. This one is the best by far. The first book in a trilogy, it follows the story of Grace (a human girl obsessed with the wolves who live in the woods around her house) and Sam (a boy who becomes one of those wolves every winter) and their fight to overcome Sam’s increasingly morbid fate. I read this book a long time ago when it first came out, and I’ve read it so many times since that my copy looks like it’s about to fall to pieces. I encourage everyone to give this one a try, even if you’re not a fan of paranormal romance.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

A bit of a sadder pick, but such a good one. This book is delightful. The writing is poignant and descriptive, and the illustrations are beautiful. I picked this book up because of the colors on the cover and the weight of it because I wanted a bit of a longer read. It’s such a good read, and a wonderful romance despite the title.

Happy reading!