Romance

The Sea of Tranquility

Five Stars

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books
Length: 426 Pages
Synopsis:

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Overall Review:

This was a beautiful and emotional book. The characters were raw and damaged, which I found refreshing. I feel like a lot of times in YA the characters are very fluffy, but these ones were written so real it hurt. It was so character-driven, which is my favorite kind of writing- so I really enjoyed this book.

This book was a slow build, which worked perfectly for the plot. It wasn’t a boring slow, but more a strategic one that let me in to the story and to the characters in a natural way. Before I knew it, my heart was pounding and I had to catch my breath. The best part is that one of the passages in the book describes EXACTLY how it made me feel.

“When you look at her what do you feel? … Joy, fear, frustration, longing, friendship, anger, need, despair, love, lust.”
“Yes.”
“Yes, what?”
“All of it.” 

I particularly liked Nastya, who was pretty fragile and completely tough at the same time. She was smart and perceptive, even though she was sad and broken. Josh was kind of a loner, but he had the capacity to understand and protect. Between the two of them, they find a cautious romance that gets crazy heated as the story progresses.

The author has talent and it’s obvious through her words. I would love to read more of her work. She’s definitely on my must-read list!

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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A Thousand Salt Kisses

Three Stars

Title: A Thousand Salt Kisses
Author: Josie Demuth
Publisher: Wise Ink
Length: 354 Pages
Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Crystal White is the new girl on Starfish Island. Dragged to the remote community by her environmental activist father, she is eager to find fun that doesn’t involve touching fish guts or listening to local folklore.

During a midnight swim with some new friends, Crystal is pulled out to sea by the waves. Convinced she’s going to drown, Crystal is rescued by Llyr, a handsome stranger. As she searches for him in the following weeks, she finds there may be more truth to the Starfish legends than she thought.

Over a sizzling roller-coaster summer, Llyr introduces Crystal to magic she’d only ever dreamed of. But as Crystal comes to love Starfish Island, it begins to drive her family apart. A nearby power plant is devastating local marine life, and her parents are stuck in the middle. As the magic and mundane parts of Crystal’s life converge, she finds herself risking everything to save Llyr, her family, and herself.

Overall Review:

This was a cute romance story. Pretty charming and very young adult- haha. It had a lot of drama, and it does a decent job of pointing out the reality of being a teenager. It was a fun and easy read, and even though it was lacking in some areas, it’s definitely a fun summer book.

The book focuses on Crystal, who recently moved to Starfish Island. She has a summer fling with a merman…which is an interesting premise, but it was written in a very unrealistic way. Not that a relationship with a merman is totally realistic, but the story was lacking a connection to the world the author created. That connection was also missing between the characters. I didn’t get much spark between them. And while the characters themselves were written well, the relationship was just off for me.

I was also disappointed with the amount of information about the merpeople. I wanted more. For such a different world which was such a central part of the story, more history and culture about this people would have gone a long way.

The ending was CRAZY. It was a huge cliffhanger, which made me pretty bummed. I hate cliffhangers- haha.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Walk the Edge

Four Stars

Title: Walk the Edge

Author: Katie McGarry

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Length: 448 Pages

Synopsis:

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

 

Overall Review:

Walk the Edge was a really interesting read, and it dealt with some really raw and real emotions. I was surprised by how emotionally charged it was. The underlying theme seemed to be sacrificing for those you love, which is a noble and important message for everyone- especially teenagers and young adults.

While I enjoyed the story, it did fall a little flat for me in some places. The motivations behind the main plot seemed a little weak, and there were some inconsistencies with the experiences of the characters and the age range they were supposed to be. A teenager in a rough and tumble biker club, who can fix his bike and carries a gun, but also saves people was a difficult thing for me to picture. Also, a teenage girl who was basically forced to raise her younger siblings and also work mysteriously had plenty of time to spend with her bad boy boyfriend- the idea seemed far-fetched.

The story in general was good. Some parts were intense and the conflict was good. It went fast enough in certain parts that the excitement, but other parts were a little slower. The writing was easy to read and the prose was sophisticated. The relationships between the characters were realistic and sweet. Razor and Breanna had a weird dynamic- like they didn’t know each other but had this random cosmic connection that made them both go against their individual families. All in all, I think it was a good read and I would recommend it.

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Lux Series, Books 1-5

Four Stars

Title: Lux Series: Obsidian, Oblivion, Onyx, Opal, Origin

Author: Jennifer Armentrout

Publisher: Entangled, Teen

Length: About 400 Pages Each

Synopsis:

Obsidian: Starting over sucks.When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.And then he opened his mouth.Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.The hot alien living next door marks me.You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Onyx: Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.Something worse than the Arum has come to town…The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there’s this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that’s possible. Against all common sense, I’m falling for Daemon. Hard.But then everything changes…I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them―from me?No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Opal: The Lux series continues with the third installment of this riveting paranormal YA series.No one is like Daemon Black.When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well… There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

Origin: After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure. All Katy can do is survive.  Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen? Together, they can face anything. But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

Opposition: Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came. She can’t believe Daemon stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred. Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

Overall Review:

I previously read Obsidian and the subsequent books in the series, and I really enjoyed them. I’m doing a series review here since I just recently finished all of them- and I’m happy to report that each book is well written and pushes the plot along. It tugged my heartstrings in all the right way, and the characters were strong enough for me to read all of the books without getting bored. The plot had great twists, the secondary characters were developed well, and it was a really fun read. It’s a great romance series for the young adult audience.

The series had some callbacks to Twilight with Daemon being an alien hopelessly in love with Katy, a mere mortal. Plus Daemon was incredibly attractive. Like, wow. Their dynamic was enchanting, and his nickname for her (kitten…swoon) was adorable. I felt like each of them were strong, stand-alone characters that can protect themselves, but who also protect each other. It wasn’t a story about a girl who was helpless and plain being saved by a Greek god of a man. Katy is feisty and funny and has a strong sense of self, which I really appreciated. Daemon is a total bad boy…and what girl doesn’t love a bad boy?

The sci-fi aspect of these books is fresh. New approaches to the old paranormal love cliché are always welcome, and this series did not disappoint. I definitely recommend reading these for a fun, easy, and fresh take on paranormal romance and science fiction.

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Twilight Series, Books 1-4

Three Stars

Title: Twilight Series

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown

Synopsis:

Book One: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

Book Two: Legions of readers entranced by Twilight are hungry for more and they won’t be disappointed. In New Moon, Stephenie Meyer delivers another irresistible combination of romance and suspense with a supernatural twist. The “star-crossed” lovers theme continues as Bella and Edward find themselves facing new obstacles, including a devastating separation, the mysterious appearance of dangerous wolves roaming the forest in Forks, a terrifying threat of revenge from a female vampire and a deliciously sinister encounter with Italy’s reigning royal family of vampires, the Volturi. Passionate, riveting, and full of surprising twists and turns, this vampire love saga is well on its way to literary immortality.

Book Three: Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will eagerly devour the paperback edition. Eclipse, the third book in Stephenie Meyer’s riveting vampire love saga. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Book Four: When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved? To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs. Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever? The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

Overall Review:

I feel like I need to add my review of Twilight. I read all of the books and watched the movies – and I’m sure other people have, too – but I just needed to voice my opinion. There were a few redeeming qualities, but overall this series was not my favorite.

I admit I swooned over Edward Cullen. After all, what girl doesn’t want a guy that’s totally obsessed with them and wants to protect them from every possible problem? I certainly do. I also liked how it was a fun twist on the Shakespearean love story- except with vampires and werewolves. I liked how the author kind of paved the way for monster stories and paranormal romance, and what she did with character relationships was pretty great. When Bella Swan’s heart broke, I felt like MY heart broke.

Overall, the character development was abysmal. Everything seemed way too easy (that’s a theme with YA books I feel- conflict is a GOOD thing, people), and I’m so over the helpless female heroine who has to be saved by the practically indestructible love interest. It’s so cliché.

Highlights:

  • Relationship development was great
  • Easy to read and fun
  • Plot was unique and had enough twists to keep me interested

Lowlights:

  • Characters lacked strength and were extremely co-dependent
  • Characters were annoying
  • Unrealistic emotions
  • Writing was mediocre

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