The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Publication Date: January 1st, 2017
★★★☆☆ (2.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s 25546710investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?

Initial Thoughts – I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In short, this book confused me. I felt like the book was confused too.
Plot – ★★☆☆☆ The “theory” that Hawthorn comes up with is simply ridiculous. I did not believe it for a second. However, I hoped that Hawthorn would be right in the end and add some twist, but she wasn’t. This book was similar to many that I have read, in which the MC believes the goddess popular girl couldn’t possibly have emotions and then they find out that (gasp) they do.
Characters – ★★★☆☆ I really did not connect with Hawthorn at all. A girl has gone missing, but Hawthorn makes insensitive and rude comments about her with no respect for Lizzie or the people mourning her. She uses Lizzie’s disappearance for her own entertainment. I understand that she was lonely, yet it sickens me.
Story world – ★★★☆☆ I think the story world added a lot to the confusion with the book. I felt like it wanted to be a fantasy novel, but wasn’t, so it chose something between the two.
Style – ★★☆☆☆ Hawthorn’s voice irritated me. I think Sedoti  was going for a personal and honest narrative, but I just found her insensitive.
Closing Thoughts – This book left me unsatisfied and unimpressed.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of quirky fiction, unpopular heroines, and confusion.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)
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The Romantics by Leah Konen

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Publication Date: November 9th, 2016
★★★★★ (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big 29917071relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

Initial Thoughts – I received this ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m so glad I requested this book because it was positively adorable.
Plot – ★★★★☆ The plot was simple and well paced. I took one star off because it dragged in just a few spots.
Characters – ★★★★★ I connected incredibly well with Love, who was hilarious. I wanted Gael to fall for his chosen love so badly it hurt.
Story world – ★★★★☆ The story world isn’t described often in this novel. While it worked without a lot of background, I could have used just a few more details.
Style – ★★★★★ The style was probably my favorite part of this novel. The narrator, Love, is witty and intelligent. I loved seeing her cause “coincidences” that brought lovers together and her classifications of different lovers.
Closing Thoughts – This book was so cute and now I want to fall in love. It’s perfect for those in need of a fluffy read.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of narrators with a different perspective, hard to find love, and humor.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

(This is the third book in the The Grisha Trilogy. You can also  find my review of the second book, Siege and Storm. Spoilers may be found below.)

Summary –  The capital has fallen. 14061957

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Initial Thoughts – This series has been absolutely amazing adventure. Everything was near perfect, from the lovable characters to the intense plot.
Plot – ★★★★★ Once I sat down to read this book, I could not stop. I never expected the plot twist halfway through and Bardugo tied together everything perfectly. I was (heartbrokenly) content.
Characters – ★★★★★ Alina has an amazing character arc throughout this series of acceptance and confidence. I loved all of the other Grisha we grew closer to in this novel and, of course, Nikolai.
Story world – ★★★★★ In this novel, we learned more about the surrounding nations and the rocky alliances between them. We also discovered more about the powers of the Grisha and how the lines between them can be blurred.
Style – ★★★★★  Bardugo has one of those styles that is so clean that you don’t notice it. It’s not super flowery, yet she somehow describes everything well.
Closing Thoughts – This book was everything I wanted and more for the end of the series. Now I just need Crooked Kingdom. (*cries for days*)
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of wild adventures, amazing friendships, and difficult decisions.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

(This is the second book in the The Grisha series. Spoilers may be found below.)

Summary – Darkness never dies.14061955

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Initial Thoughts – I loved the first book and I loved Six of Crows, so I simply could not wait to read this book. And this book did not disappoint.
Plot – ★★★★★ I opened this book late at night planning to read for half an hour or so. I read it for three. It was full of ups and downs and unexpected twists.
Characters – ★★★★★ As Alina’s power grows stronger and darker, she struggles to remain the girl she was. Mal remains dreamy, while we are introduced to a variety of new characters, my favorite being Nikolai. His sarcasm had me laughing on nearly every page.
Story world – ★★★★★ We are introduced to more of the ridiculous politics of the  country. We also learn more about the complex rules of magic and how they can be twisted for darker use.
Style – ★★★★★ Bardugo’s style flows smoothly and beautifully. Her sense of humor shines through the pages, constantly making me smile.
Closing Thoughts – This book didn’t suffer at all from Second Book Syndrome, which I admire greatly. It was everything I wanted and more.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of complicated love, beautiful magic, and wild adventures.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (4.75)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

Summary – “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell 22544764outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Initial Thoughts – If you are in need of a classic fantasy novel, this is the one for you. It has the princesses and princes, wizards and witches, good and evil, and anything else you could want in a fantasy novel.
Plot – ★★★★★ Once we got past the introduction of the story, there was never a point in the book where Agneishzka and The Dragon weren’t in a battle against the Woods. This novel had bloody battles, intense magic, and brave explorations. It was terrifyingly exciting.
Characters – ★★★★★ I loved Agnieshzka’s bravery and loyalty. Though she was a little dumb or clueless in the beginning, she grew as she better understood the world around her. The Dragon was an asshole for the only purpose of being an asshole, yet somehow I still loved him too.
Story world – ★★★★★ The story world was amazing in this novel, specifically the Woods. It was haunting, but intelligent, making me feel like there was someone watching me as I read the book.
Style – ★★★★☆  Novik’s writing style is perfect for fantasy, with the beautiful prose and detailed descriptions. I thought some of the descriptions were just a little long, but other than that, it was perfection.
Closing Thoughts – While reading this novel, you will realize that this is the fantasy book you have been waiting for. It is everything the genre needs.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of the medieval age, haunting magic, and intense battles.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Fire by Kristin Cashore

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

(This is the second book in the Graceling Realm trilogy. Spoilers below.)

Summary – It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his 6137154throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Initial Thoughts – So I was stupid and didn’t read the summary of this book before reading. I spent the first half of the book trying to connect this story to the vague memories of the first one that I had read a year or so ago. However, the stories aren’t related, only written in the same world. Once I finally read the summary and understood, the book got a lot better.
Plot – ★★★★☆ The intensity of this book kept me interested for the entire novel. I was never not worried for Fire and the characters she grows to love.
Characters – ★★★★★ Fire has an amazing character arc to acceptance from others and, most importantly, from herself. Archer was another favorite due to his unapologetic temper and adorable love.
Story world – ★★★★★ I wish I could live in this story world. (Without, you know, all the danger and death…) The monsters and Gracelings entranced me with their magical powers and beauty.
Style – ★★★★☆  Cashore has a nack for explaining unnatural things as if they were completely natural. I loved how she explored how closely adoring obsession and hatred are related.
Closing Thoughts – I wish the  Graceling trilogy followed the same characters, because I would love for Fire and Katsa to meet each other. However, I am looking forward to reading the last book in the trilogy.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of enchanting lands, mystical monsters, and slow love.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Historical Fiction

Summary – San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break26192915 from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Initial Thoughts – This book covers so many important issues, especially the racism and sexism of the past. I learned so much from this book about discrimination and the horror of the earthquake in San Francisco.
Plot – ★★★★★ The plot is pushed forward again and again by Mercy’s bravery. She refuses to be cheated from a good education and a happy future just because of her skin color and gender. When tragedy strikes, she gets up and faces it head on. Her bravery was infectious.
Characters – ★★★★★ Mercy isn’t afraid to do what’s necessary to gain her education, even if it’s slightly illegal. The friends that she gains along the way captured my heart, especially Francesca.
Story world – ★★★★★ Lee clearly did her research while writing this novel. On every page, there was a little mention of culture that taught me so much without being overwhelming or info dumping. I felt truly connected to Mercy’s world.
Style – ★★★★★ The style of this novel just might be my favorite part. Lee has a talent for creating beautiful metaphors that steal your breath away.
Closing Thoughts – This might be one of my favorite books. Though I don’t often venture into the historical fiction genre, Lee always manages to capture my attention with her novels.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of breaking down expectations, impossible bravery, and going back into time.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)