Reading Rewind: The One, Everything Leads to You, The Dress Shop of Dreams

Reading_Rewind-01I’ve been a little stuck with my writing, so I’ve been binge-watching all five seasons of Fringe, because it’s Fringe and utterly brilliant, and reading. Not to mention getting ready for the holidays! Here are the books I’ve read since early December.

OneGoodreads Summary:

The highly anticipated conclusion to Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is the perfect finale for fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began–and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen–and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

My Thoughts:

This series took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do, but it’s one of those love stories that I can’t get out of my head. From the beginning I’ve been pulling for Maxon. Aside from being sweet and swoony, he also brings out a really strong, confident side of America. I loved that she was constantly getting in trouble with the King for fighting for what she believed in and that Maxon was still willing to fight for her despite what his father would do to him because of it. I was also really interested in the rebellion and the new characters that came with that, and wanted a little more oomph from that storyline. I know it’s a love story, but I thought that sidetrack was really cool and wanted more. While this ending isn’t perfect, it was definitely the HEA I was looking for.

EverythingGoodreads Summary:

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

My Thoughts:

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Everything Leads to You and was so excited to read it. But while it is a sweet love story, I never really got into it. Maybe it’s because I’m not that into movies so the focus on production design and how much Emi loved her job didn’t hold my attention. Or maybe’s it’s because I wanted to see more of Emi’s family, especially Toby who felt like he could’ve been important but wasn’t. I loved the little moments between Emi and Ava that didn’t revolve around the movie or Caroline’s death (the cherry picking scene and eating tacos in a barely furnished apartment). I wanted more of that and less of the other stuff that took the focus away from these two girls falling in love. It’s a well-written book with unique characters and plot, and I liked it. I just didn’t love it.

DressGoodreads Summary:

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:

The Dress Shop of Dreams offers a number of sweet, quiet love stories. Walt with his bookishness and shy nature, and Cora with her closed-off heart and analytical nature. Etta with her magical dresses and long-lost love, and Sebastian with his vows to God and guilt over loving and then leaving Etta. And Millie with her desperation for a husband and babies, and Dylan with his good intentions and questionable actions. It was fun to see so many people get their happily ever after.

The book is repetitious in some places, almost as if the author thought the reader couldn’t keep all of the facts and characters straight with the many POVs used throughout the story. And though I liked most of the characters, a few of them didn’t seem like they needed their own POV (i.e., Henry and Francesca). I enjoyed how all of the stories were intertwined, but I wished they had been more integral to the dress shop and the magic there than the mystery of what happened to Cora’s parents. Overall, it is a well-written, easy read, with just enough magic to make it stand out.

*I received an ARC of this book from Ballantine Books and NetGalley fr an honest review.

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Fangirl Reads in 2013

If last year was my epic rock concert year, this year was my YA novel love affair year. I read some seriously amazing books this year. Books that inspired me. That made me cry. That invaded my sleep and caused me so much anxiety I could barely function for days on end. Books that I pushed on friends and co-workers and my sister because I needed people to talk to about them.

Not all of the books on this list are from 2013, but this is the year I found—and fell in love with—them. And there are dozens of other books that I read and loved, and dozens more that are still on my TBR list, because even though I managed to read 3-5 books/week on multiple occasions this year, I still had to do things like work, and talk to my husband, and, you know, write my own stories. All things I love, so sacrifices had to be made.

But for the books I did make time for, these were my favorites…

MaraDyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (2011) and The Evolution of Mara Dyer (2012), Michelle Hodkin – Why I love it: A phycological thriller/paranormal romance series that is so expertly crafted you don’t know what to believe. Oh, and Noah Shaw, my favorite book boyfriend ever.

GrishaBooksShadow and Bone (2012) and Siege and Storm (2013), Leigh Bardugo – Why I love it: An epic fantasy series that sucks you into the world in the first few pages and refuses to let you go. There’s on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, and super swoony moments with multiple boys, and a girl who kicks serious ass. Also, the Darkling.

UnspokenBooksUnspoken (2012) and Untold (2013), Sarah Rees Brennan – Why I love it: Jared. He’s the ultimate bad boy who would do anything for the girl he loves. You know, except tell her he loves her. (Warning, these books may make you want to throw them across the room in agony.)

PivotPointPivot Point (2013), Kasie West – Why I love it: It’s like Sliding Doors but with teens with abilities and super swoony Texas boys and a little murder thrown in to complicate things.

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss (2010), Stephanie Perkins – Why I love it: All the feels. This books captures friends falling in love so perfectly, it made me fall in love with my husband all over again.

Imaginary GirlsImaginary Girls (2011), Nova Ren Suma – Why I love it: The writing is so f-ing gorgeous and the bond between the sisters is so powerful that it I’m pretty sure that if I went to the reservoir I would actually find Chloe waiting by the water for Ruby.

ShatterMeShatter Me (2013) and Unravel Me (2013), Tahereh Mafi – Why I love it: A girl, who can’t touch anyone because her skin kills them, meets the one boy who (seemingly) isn’t affected by her. I’m not even going to talk about the other boy. Even thinking about him makes my anxiety flare up, which is part of the brilliance of Tahereh Mafi.

AcossTheUniverseAcross the Universe (2011), A Million Suns (2012), and Shades of Earth (2013), Beth Revis – Why I love it: This sci-fi series set (mostly) on a spaceship felt like I was reading in a world based on so many TV shows I love. It’s this awesome mix of Futurama, Firefly, and Doctor Who with some teenage angst and love thrown in.

Devil_SeaBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (2013), April Genevieve Tucholke – Why I love it: It’s creepy, and dark, and not at all what I normally read. But River is another (redeemable) bad boy I just couldn’t resist. And because of his powers, neither could Violet, which made it a whole helluva lot of fun.

SelectionBooksThe Selection (2012) and The Elite (2013), Kiera Cass – Why I love it: It’s a love triangle that made me switch which boy I was rooting for partway through. That NEVER happens.

TFiOSThe Fault in Our Stars (2012), John Green – Why I love it: The humor and frankness in a story about kids with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s heartbreaking, but So. Damn. Lovely. Also, the diagram of virgins vs. 17 year old guys with one leg.

FangirlFangirl, Rainbow Rowell – Why I love it: It’s about a girl who would rather live in a fictional world than deal with the people around her. Enough said. (Well, not quite. Also, Levi.)

AllegiantAllegiant, Veronica Roth (2013) – Why I love it: Veronica Roth wasn’t scared to do what was right for the character of Tris, even if it did break my heart. It’s not the ending I wanted for Tris or Four (or for me, for that matter!). But as a writer, I have to respect how much guts it took to do what she did.