Book Review–Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 76th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13) by Sara Shepard
Published June 4th 2013 by HarperTeen

 In the thirteenth Pretty Little Liars novel, the secrets are more crushing than ever…

It’s springtime in Rosewood, but while everyone else is searching for the perfect prom dress, Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a different kind of hunt: They’re looking for A…

Hanna puts her campaign for prom queen on the back burner to volunteer at a burn clinic, where one of A’s victims is recovering. Emily digs into Ali’s past at the mental hospital with some very crazy consequences. Spencer contacts an amateur private eye to help her stalk her stalker. But when their sessions get a little too private, they may forget to keep their eyes on A. And Aria’s worried that A is even closer than she thought. When her dark secret from Iceland comes to light, she discovers that maybe, just maybe, the one person she’s been trying to hide the truth from has known all along.

The liars are finally taking the fight to A. But no matter what they do, A’s always one step ahead, ready to crush the girls completely.

 

——

This one was hard to get into at first, but I was wrapped up in the story about a third of the way in. I’m still ready for the final reveal of A. I’m also getting annoyed with the predictability of the storyline, though a part of me was convinced that this time the pretty little liars might be right.

That was one hell of an ending, though. My two favorite couples also ended up splitting though a new romance has some possibility. This is probably one of the more gruesome of the books. I hope all will be revealed in the end.

 

 

 

3halfstars

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Burned (Pretty Little Liars #12) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 74th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

 Burned (Pretty Little Liars #12) by Sara Shepard
Published December 1st, 2012 by HarperTeen

 It’s spring break, and the pretty little liars are trading in Rosewood for a cruise vacation. They want nothing more than to sail into the tropical sunset and leave their troubles behind for one blissful week. But where Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna go, A goes, too. From scuba diving to tanning on the upper deck, A is there, soaking up all their new secrets.

Emily is smooching a stowaway. Aria’s treasure-hunting partner is a little too interested in her booty. Spencer’s going overboard trying to land a new boy. And a blast–or rather, a crash–from Hanna’s past could mean rough waters ahead for everyone.

The liars better tighten their life jackets. A perfect storm is brewing, and if they aren’t careful, A will bury them at sea. . . .

 

——

Pretty good, though we’re still not much closer to figuring out who “A” is–aside from marking out the usual suspects. The entire “A” suspect thing is getting really predictable, but I enjoyed the plot and setting of this one. The romances–mainly Spencer and Emily’s–were also cute.

I think if the remaining books are like this one and the one before it, maybe I’ll be able to enjoy them long enough to find out who “New A” really is.

 

 

3halfstars

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Stunning (Pretty Little Liars #11) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 71st book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 9893355Stunning (Pretty Little Liars #11) by Sara Shepard
Published June 5th 2012 by HarperTeen

 Now a hit ABC Family TV show, Sara Shepard’s #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series continues with Stunning.

In the eleventh novel, A is still out there, lurking in the shadows and digging up the liars’ latest secrets…

Emily’s reconnecting with an old flame, one baby step at a time. But is she headed toward true love or another bundle of heartache? Spencer’s learning about the highs and lows of campus life on a trip to Princeton. Aria’s seeing a whole new side to Noel’s dad—and it could drive a wedge between her and Noel. And, for better or worse, Hanna’s getting in touch with her inner A.

Secret by secret, lie by lie, the girls get tangled in A’s dangerous web. Soon A will have enough ammunition to pull the trigger and end the pretty little liars, once and for all….


 

——

I like this one better than the last one. I’m not crazy about the entire baby storyline, but it kind of worked in this one. I kind of figured the girl’s guess for the “new A” was too obvious, just like last time, but the ride was fun.

I also really like Reefer and hope he’ll make another appearance in the books.

Hanna was really hard to like in this one.

Interested to see what happens next, though I’m sure the identify of New A will be dragged out until the last book. -Sigh-

 

 

3stars

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 68th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10) by Sara Shepard
December 6th 2011 by HarperTeen

 

Sometimes bad things happen to bad girls. . . .

Aria’s love life is on the Fitz—ahem, fritz. Emily’s exploring her wild side. Hanna’s kissing the enemy. And someone from Spencer’s past—someone she never thought she’d see again—is back to haunt her. But none of that compares to what these pretty little liars did on their last spring break. It’s their darkest secret yet. And guess who else knows?

I haven’t forgotten, and I certainly haven’t forgiven. These pretty little liars better watch their backs because they’re about to get exactly what they deserve. . . .


 

——

 ***WARNING: This review may contain slight spoilers from the previous books. You’ve been warned. ***

Although I now believe the series would have ended better after Wanted, I enjoyed the last book quite well. This one, not so much. This is probably my least liked book out of the series.

It felt dragged out, the way the plots were woven were a bit confusing at times, and I really couldn’t stand Spencer and what she’d done. Sorry, I felt bad for Kelsey.

This book just seemed pointless. It also took another character that I previously liked, Ezra Fitch, and made him into a complete douche–he didn’t even really act like himself. There better be some explanation for THAT.

I didn’t hate it, but I kind of had to force myself to keep reading. My hopes for the next few books aren’t too high, but I want to finish the series since I’ve come this far. I sincerely hope that the next book is better.

 

 

2stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter

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This is the 67th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter
Published February 26th 2013 by Bloomsbury

 

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

 

——

 

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at all. Evie, the main character, was hard to relate to, though I found the overall story intriguing. However, as I read on, I grew to actually like and be able to relate to Evie. I loved her relationship with Mary, the woman at Planned Parenthood, as well as that with her aunts and little cousins. I felt bad for her situation with her parents and her pregnancy. I was ready to support any decision she wanted to make.

I felt this book explored teen pregnancy and the hard decisions that must be made very realistically. It was nice to see a realistic and non-biased look at all of the options. I also like how religion even played a small role.

This book really played with my emotions. My heart about broke for Evie toward the end. While I don’t believe she researched her option as well as she should have, I also know that young women like Evie make rash decisions and end up feeling much like she did toward the end.

If you want a realistic teen pregnancy book that doesn’t demonize any options (abortion, adoption, or keeping it) that also might play with your heartstrings, this book is definitely for you.

 

 

 

4halfstars

 

jncname

Book Review–Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

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This is the 66th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin
Published August 15th 2014 by HarperCollins

 

In this compelling and compulsively readable memoir, nineteen-year-old Paige Rawl tells the story of how she was mercilessly bullied in middle school…and how she overcame the ordeal to change her world for the better.

In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply with the thousands of children and adults whose lives have been touched by bullying.

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth…but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. It never prevented her from entering beauty pageants or playing soccer or making the honor role.

On an unremarkable day in middle school, while attempting to console a friend, Paige disclosed her HIV-positive status—and within hours the bullying began. She was called “PAIDS,” first in whispers, then out in the open. Her soccer coach joked that she was an asset because opposing team members would be too afraid to touch her. Her guidance counselor told her to stop all the “drama,” and her principal said she couldn’t protect her. One night, desperate for escape, Paige swallowed fifteen sleeping pills—one for each year of her life to date. That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.

The gripping first-person account of Paige’s life will pull in even the most reluctant readers of nonfiction, and her call to action to choose compassion over cruelty will stay with them long after they turn the last page.

 

 

——

I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. Many thanks to the publisher/author for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

Memoirs aren’t usually my favorite kind of books, but this book has definitely made that list. I guess I just didn’t expect this book to make such an impact on me. I can’t remember the last time that I cried so much while reading a book, either.

I knew very little about HIV, or even AIDS, before reading this memoir. My heart broke when Paige’s parents discovered that they were HIV positive–along with little Paige. If that wasn’t bad enough, Paige’s best friend decides to tell the entire school about her, which results in years of bullying. Then it gets worse–the school blames Paige for her own bullying. It was incredibly mortifying.

I’m no stranger to schools with this type of behavior–my family has experienced similar instances–but this school’s reaction just took the cake. I sincerely hope that things have improved at that school and that the administration who ignored the bullying were fired.

Despite the bullying, health problems, and inner turmoil, Paige found a way to turn all that negativity into something good. She is truly an inspiration not only for fellow HIV positive people, but all children who have been bullied for who they are.

Thank you, Paige, for sharing your story. I wish you all the success in your future endeavors and activism. I highly recommend this one. I hope one day that all schools will have a no bullying policy and that kids like Paige will never feel alone.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

 

 

5stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry

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This is the 65th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry
Published January 1st 2000 by Laurel-Leaf Books

 

In her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

As she did in The Giver, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, and what will be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

 

——

Gathering Blue is a companion novel to The Giver.

While the world and characters in this book are greatly different from the ones in The Giver, the themes concerning control and choices were similar. I loved the main character, Kira. I have always been fascinated by the art of fabric dyeing. I also enjoyed her funny friend, Matt.

I was a little disappointed that Jonas and Gabe from The Giver aren’t in this one, but I hear they’re in the next. I liked the “twist” at the end. The characters were well defined, the world fascinating, and the plot interesting.

 

 

5stars

 

 

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