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You are here: Home » Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux

My Last KissMY LAST KISS by Bethany Neal Book Review
Publication Date: June 10th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary:What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal Book Review Overview:

  • Mystery that keeps you guessing
  • Convoluted ending that made it a little unsatisfying for me as a reader

The last thing Cassidy remembers is her birthday party. But when she wakes up, she realizes that she is no longer living. Trapped as a ghost in the living world, Cassidy tries to piece together the events that led up to her death. MY LAST KISS by Bethany Neal is a page-turning mystery about lies and first love.

I wasn’t really a fan of the romance in MY LAST KISS by Bethany Neal. I just have a hard time with the fact that Cassidy cheats on her boyfriend of three years. I don’t think she ever justifies the fact that she cheated, but it was hard for me to like her as a protagonist. I like the chemistry between Cassidy and Ethan, but I can’t forget what Cassidy did. I feel bad for both boys who were affected.

I found the mystery to be really enticing at first. Bethany Neal kept me guessing throughout the entire book. But the mystery got a little too convoluted in the end. I can’t believe I’m saying this but there were just too many twists and turns towards the end, and it got tiresome. I just wanted to know who was behind the murder. I think that the red herrings were too close together, and I think I would have liked them spaced out throughout the book instead of all in one go at the end.

The ending felt a little abrupt, and I would have liked to see a little more resolution. Unfortunately, because the book is told from Cassidy’s perspective, the story ends when her friends solve the murder. The secondary characters are never fully realized and we are left hanging in the middle of their grieving process.

The mystery in MY LAST KISS by Bethany Nealis a page-turner, but the ending left more to be desired.


About the Author

Bethany NealBethany Neal writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. She is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert.

You can find her locked in her Writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun! My Last Kiss is her first novel.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , | Words 923 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiTHE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski Book Review
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy, #1
Publication Date: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski Book Review Overview:

  • Intelligent heroine who saves the day
  • Romance develops at a believable pace

After the Herranis were defeated during the Herran War, they were enslaved by the Valorians. The people are forced into servitude while the Valorians live in their homes. Kestrel is the daughter of the Valorian army’s general, and as the general’s daughter she has the choice of following in her father’s footsteps in the army or marrying. One day, Kestrel impulsively buys a slave at auction. Kestrel is drawn to Arin, a defiant young slave. Soon, she finds herself falling in love with him, but Arin has secrets that will turn Kestrel’s world upside down.

What I love most about Kestrel is that she’s not the butt-kicking heroine that we see so often in young adult novels nowadays. Kestrel may not have the athleticism and survival skills like Katniss from The Hunger Games or Tris from Divergent, but Kestrel is still a strong female lead in her own way. Kestrel knows that her strengths lie in planning and strategy. Despite her father’s years of experience in the military, Kestrel can draw up a better and more successful battle plan. To me, there’s nothing better than a heroine who uses her brains to save the day.

When I hear star-crossed lovers, I’m always skeptical. But much to my great surprise, THE WINNER’S CURSE delivers. The romance between Kestrel and Arin is real. There’s no instant attraction, no insta-love. The romance develops at a believable pace. Furthermore, the romance is not perfect because they have to overcome not only the barrier between classes, but also the divide between their people. Arin and Kestrel are always questioning their feelings and their loyalties. Because they are on two different sides of a war, the romance is complicated.

The combination of the strong female protagonist and the believable romance makes THE WINNER’S CURSE an enjoyable read from beginning to end.


About the Author

Marie RutkoskiMarie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner’s Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , | Words 928 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux

Crewel by Gennifer AlbinCREWEL by Gennifer Albin Book Review
Series: Crewel World, #1
Publication Date: October 16th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin Book Review Overview:

  • Unlikeable protagonist
  • The world-building was enough to win me over
  • Of course there’s a romance, but it’s not heart-melting.

The main problem that I had with CREWEL by Gennifer Albin is the fact that the protagonist, Adelice, is not very likeable. She has a tendency of not knowing when to stop talking, and after a while, it gets really tiresome. How many times must secondary characters tell her to watch her mouth? Her tendency to speak out only gets her in trouble when everyone else is mercilessly trying to keep her safe and alive. She’s not afraid to voice out her opinion, but her rebellious attitude does not get her anywhere.

Usually, an unlikeable protagonist is such a deal-breaker for me, but the world that Albin creates is so intriguing that I let it slide this time. The world of Arras is fascinating: Spinsters have the ability to weave time and matter, which lets them control just about everything from the weather to people’s lives. I love Albin’s description of the weave and the threads of life that keep Arras together. This fantasy element is what sets CREWEL by Gennifer Albinapart from other young adult dystopians.

But of course, a young adult dystopian is in need of some romance. CREWEL by Gennifer Albin is not lacking in this department. There is the inevitable forbidden romance for Adelice. It really didn’t give me any tingly feelings as a reader, but I wouldn’t say that the romance was unnecessary. It was just nothing special. There is a hint of a love triangle brewing, but I guess readers will have to wait until the sequel to see if Adelice will take interest in more than one suitor.

Albin does save a huge shocking secret that she reveals at the end of CREWEL but lets readers squirm in anticipation for the next book by failing to spill the juicy details about the secret. Of course, I figured it out way in advance, but instead of feeling disappointed by the author’s inability to surprise me, I just feel impressed that I was able to figure it out in advance.

I haven’t decided if I want to read the rest of the Crewel World series. My unlove for Adelice might be problematic later on. As much as I love the world that Albin has created, it might not be enough to win me over as a devoted fan of the series. CREWELby Gennifer Albin has a little more than the standard dystopians out in the market, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced that I will be following up on this one.

Other Book Reviews:
The Book Rat
Popcorn Reads
The Reading Date

About the Author

Gennifer Albin holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri. During her student years she served as an editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review, and since then she’s founded the tremendously popular blog theconnectedmom.com.  She lives in Kansas with her ridiculously supportive husband, two small children, and a Tuesday cat.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 1075 words

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