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Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 9

On account of getting out of school early every day this week, I have four books to share with you this week. All of these were solid reads, but I found Under the Rose-Tainted Skies to be absolutely spectacular.
I thought my favorite Kate Spade notebook summed up these books lovely protagonists. 


Under the Rose- Tainted Skies by Louise Gornoll (https://www.amazon.com/Under-Rose-Tainted-Skies-Louise-Gornall-ebook/dp/B01912OSG4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494770309&sr=8-1&keywords=under+the+rose+tainted+sky 
This was such an amazing book I wrote an article entirely dedicated to it. You can view that here: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/05/standout-book-under-rose-tainted-skies.html

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (https://www.amazon.com/Always-Forever-Lara-Loved-Before-ebook/dp/B01GD9DP08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494770360&sr=8-1&keywords=always+and+forever+lara+jean
Overview: For the last installment of Jenny Han's Laura Jean series, she takes us through Lara Jean's senior year at warp speed. We see her relationship with her sisters and with Peter again as well as her baking obsession that has been taken to a new level. The readers get to go through all the important senior year highlights from college acceptance letters to prom to the senior trip to graduation to beach week along with another very surprise. Fans of the series will be thrilled to have one final chance to enjoy Lara Jean and her family and watch her make the transition to adult life. Overall: 3.8

Characters: 3.6 These are the same characters we have met in books one and two with their stories continued. Unfortunately, this time around I felt that the characters were a little flat and lacked a bit of continual development. It seemed like Han tried to give Lara Jean the chance to grow with the idea of splitting up for college and facing the world, but it didn't seem all there yet. Peter's storyline with accepting his absentee father's attempt at a closer relationship runs much the same course. I did like getting to see more of Kitty and her and Peter's relationship, but I felt Margo was entirely flat this time and only used as a device to combat Trina (or Ms. Rothchild). Speaking of which, I thought that Trina's development and her place in the family was nicely tied together in this final book. Last thought on the characters: Where in the world was Gen? She was such a central part of the last book, and she was only mentioned in passing maybe twice.

Plot: 3.7 The plot felt like Han just jumped from one big senior event to another. The book didn't carry the same flow and that the sequel had. Not getting to see the normal rhythm of life and just cutting from one major moment to the next really took away the genuine feeling I loved about Han's books. While the plot did seem a bit stale and forced, there were some good scenes that felt more like the old books. Really, the end of this book made me question more what happens next than the last one.

Writing: 3.5 Unfortunately, Han didn't nail the smooth transition like the last book.  Perhaps it was because there was a longer period of time between the last two books, but it really took a little over half the book to find her groove. But when it got there, the book reminded me why I loved the Lara Jean books. Until then, though, there is a bit of oddly stilted language and reliance on the old, basic character patterns. Overall, I'm not going to be disappointed about getting one last Lara Jean book, I just had high expectations based on the last book.
Here are where you can find my reviews of the last two books: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/03/reading-reviews-and-recommendations.html and http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/04/weekly-book-reviews-and-recommendations.html

Wanderlost by Jen Malone (https://www.amazon.com/Wanderlost-Jen-Malone-ebook/dp/B0151VATPS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494770398&sr=8-1&keywords=wanderlost
Overview: This is the story of Aubree who gets pulled into leading a group of six senior citizens around Europe after her older sister Elizabeth who had the job gets arrested at a party. Because it was Aubree's party and Elizabeth's future job is on the line based on the tour, Aubree goes in her place. As Elizabeth. Despite losing her binder and cellphone, realizing the bus driver doesn't speak English, and realize the company's owner's mother is on her tour, Aubree actually starts to enjoy herself. It only gets better when the boy she checked in with on the phone from the tour company winds out on her tour. The only problem left is that Sam thinks he's in love with Elizabeth. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 The cast of tour geriatrics, bus driver, and two teenagers make a fun cast to travel with. Of course, you get romance between Aubree and Sam, but I find the more satisfying characters and stories among the unique senior citizen characters. You can tell where Malone tries to add a bit of depth and internal struggle with the characters, though the premise didn't really lend itself to much internal depth or struggle.

Plot: 4.5 This is what makes the book fun. The reader gets to enjoy all the places that the tour travels over their month long trip and the craziness that ensues at each tour stop along the way.

Writing: 4 This was a fun story with simple writing and fast paced action. This was definitely one of those just for fun reads that is perfect to get out of your reading rut. It has all the elements of a fun, action packed YA novel. Not every book needs to make you cry.


This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp ( https://www.amazon.com/This-Where-Ends-Marieke-Nijkamp-ebook/dp/B0108GOLTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494770427&sr=8-1&keywords=this+is+where+it+ends)
Overview: Nijkamp's story takes place at Opportunity High School during the few minutes before during and after a school shooting. Through the eyes of five high schoolers, each with their own unique connections to each other and the shorter, Nijkamp shows us the panic, terror, and questioning that goes on when each student, all in different parts of the school, hear the opening shot. This unique book about a very topical subject in society right now brings a good narrative, I just don't feel it reached it's full potential. Overall: 3.8

Characters: 3.5 I honestly enjoyed Nijkamp's characters. I found many of them interesting and different from many characters I'd read about before. The problem was that because this story takes place over about and hour and a half, you never get to really know the characters despite the authors best efforts. I found Ty's character fascinating and would have loved to have that explored a bit more. It seems that she tried to build depth and bring the characters to life through flashbacks, but they, though they were interesting, stayed flat. 

Plot: 4 This is where the book excels. Given what is happening in the news, this is a unique exploration that seems very honest and true. The action is fascinating and keeps the reader reading. 

Writing: 3 Unfortunately, this story that had limitless potential fell flat for me. The characters seemed a bit cardboard and lacked depth. The writing followed this as well where the book was never able to carry the level of intensity and emotion a story like this deserves. It felt very removed from the immediacy of the plot. Also, getting introduced to so many POVs was very confusing at the start of the book, and I felt that Nijkamp missed out on an opportunity by not including one from Ty. Overall, it was an interesting, unique, quick read, but I felt like it didn't excel as much as I thought it would.

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