REVIEW: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

missmayhemMiss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2)
by Rachel Hawkins

Putnam Juvenile, 2015
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installment: Rebel Belle

NOTE: Summary contains spoilers for Rebel Belle.

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

mythoughtsRebel Belle was one of my favorite books of 2014, so obviously I was extremely excited to read the sequel. The summary hinted at lots of action with the mention of the trials Harper would need to complete, but failed to tell me that – unfortunately – this book would be mostly filler, with lots of boy/girl Drama (and yes, that capital letter is “totes” warranted). And yet, I still found myself engaged and interested and curious to see how things would play out. I liked this Harper – someone not quite as put together as we’d come to expect, who is dealing with FAR too much on her plate and also having to face a few of her flaws – and dug the strong female friendship between her and Bee. David and Harper kind of broke my heart a bit (or, okay, a lot I guess), but I liked that this thing – which is so important to Harper – didn’t come easy and wasn’t easily fixed. But mostly, I liked that this book kind of went in an unexpected direction, and while it hurt me as a reader, it also made me extremely interested to see what’s going to come next.

One thing I think this series as a whole excels at is girl power and positive female portrayals. All of the lady characters – from Harper’s classmates to her aunts to the other females featured throughout the book in various places – are treated with respect. There are no slurs, no negative nicknames for anyone, and I actually find that extremely refreshing. Harper isn’t perfect – she’s a meddler and rather controlling and wants things the way she wants them – but she isn’t negative towards the other girls in her life, even if she doesn’t necessarily like them. I also like her strong bond with Bee, the relationship she has with the Aunts, and the regular, normal home life she shares with her parents. Compared to other books I’ve read, that normalcy is just really awesome to see and read about.

Now all that being said, this book kind of felt unnecessary in some ways, because nothing really happens. I mean, the summary hints at the trials Harper will have to go through to fully become David’s Paladin, and yes, things happen to her, but the bigger issue here is the fact that Harper comes to realize some hard truths, and they’re ones she really doesn’t like. You sort of get to see the problems inherent with being in a relationship with the Oracle, and also the issues that come with having your ex-boyfriend be a part of this strange and necessary triangle. Harper doesn’t handle things the way she should, but then again, neither does David. There were definitely times where I kind of wanted to bang their heads together in frustration. Likewise, Bee and Ryan added a whole other dynamic, and I didn’t necessarily like all of that, either. So while I found this book to be extremely readable – once I sat myself down and applied myself, I was done really quickly with it, just like I was with Rebel Belle – there were definitely things that frustrated me, even if the book overall was well written with great characters and wonderful pacing. Ah, well. Can’t have it all, I guess!

Also, I want to warn that folks probably aren’t going to like the ending of this one. I didn’t, that’s for sure, although I probably should have seen it coming. Just be prepared!

All in all, I enjoyed Miss Mayhem, although probably not as much as I did the first book. Harper does some growing and realizing, and I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as completely put together and near-perfect this time around. There is plenty to like here, but also things that frustrated me, as seen in this review. If you liked Rebel Belle you’ll definitely want to read it; the ending is left kind of open and ambiguous, but it helps to know there’s a third book coming. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to seeing what Rachel Hawkins has in store!

4stars

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Bout of Books 13 :: Sign-Up and Goals

boutofbooks13The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Yay, it’s Read-a-Thon time! Bout of Books 13 starts on Monday, and I am once again going to participate. I am going to set a smallish (but more realistic) goal, in the hopes that I won’t be exhausted from work and will actually get some reading done. Here’s hoping! I will, as always, accept any and all cheering on you’d like to give me!

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cress neverfade wondrousandthewicked nomoreconfessions conspiracyofbloodandsmoke beastkeeper winnerscrime valiant

Obviously I am not planning on reading all of these! My goal is to read three of them, plus listen to Cress, which is an audiobook I’ve been working on for a stupidly long time. I won’t finish Cress, but I would like to make a dent in the second half (I’m halfway through as of right now). Never Fade is being read as part of a read-along with a couple of my Tumblr friends, so it will definitely be finished. We’ll see which others strike my fancy when the time comes to choose a new book!

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Since I want this to be low-key, with a focus on reading, I won’t be doing too many challenges or other extraneous activities. As of right now, I’d like to:

  • read [3] books
  • participate in [2] challenges
  • chart my progress on my Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. (Tag will be #boutofbooks for all three platforms.)

So that’s that! Are any of you participating in Bout of Books? If so, please link me to your posts! I’d love to cheer you on!

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State of Merin

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New month, new State of Merin post! How on earth is it already May? I am in the final stretch of the school year – counting today there are only 16 days of school left! This means I am about to become extremely busy with assessing my students – most of them have to be done individually so it’s extremely time-consuming – and also have to start packing up my room for the summer. Hard to believe we’re almost at the end.

I am also one month and two days away from my trip to Disney World and Universal Studios! I’m ridiculously excited about it – Disney World is probably my favorite place in existence – and as it gets closer my excitement just ramps up even more. I am also looking forward to the Bout of Books read-a-thon next week, although I’m not sure how much I’ll actually get read considering the busy-ness of work and all that entails. I will be posting my to-read list and sign-up post for the read-a-thon tomorrow, should you be interested in what I’m thinking of reading.

For those curious about the exercise front that I mentioned last month, I have been riding my exercise bike, although not as consistently as I’d hoped. It’s difficult when you’re balancing evening events (I’ve been to two Cardinals games, and also had some evening school functions that made it impossible to get in any exercise), but I don’t think I have anything else planned over the next month aside from an eye exam, so hopefully I can fit it in each evening.

In other news, I got a hair cut! This is big news for me, because it’s been a long time since I’ve chopped off a significant amount. I still have what’s considered long hair, but I did get 7 inches taken off, so. Here’s a picture!

haircutNow I just have to figure out how to style it, since I don’t have the weight holding it down anymore.

And that’s about it for me this month! I will be back in June with another State of Me post. Happy May, everyone! ♥

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REVIEW: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

whenyouweremineWhen You Were Mine
by Rebecca Serle

Simon Pulse, 2013
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

mythoughtsWhen You Were Mine has been on my to-read list for a really long time. I finally broke down and purchased a copy via Book Outlet, and then proceeded to ignore it for several more months. However, when May 1st rolled around, I decided it would be a great book to read for the #tbrdays challenge hosted by tea-books-lover over on Tumblr, and am really glad I finally decided to pick it up and actually read it. I loved that this was a retelling, but was told via an outsider point of view. The story we’re reading is Rose’s, but it showcases the story of “Romeo” (aka Rob) and Juliet, through the eyes of a teenager whose heart has been broken. I wasn’t sure going in if I’d enjoy the story or not – I’m not a fan of the original Romeo and Juliet at all – but am very happy to say that I did.

What I liked about this book was that it felt authentic. The characters are all in high school, so they’re not yet mature (even if they think they are). The whole “do I or don’t I love him” thing felt extremely realistic, particularly when the boy in question is your best friend and someone who knows you inside and out. I liked Rose’s initial reticence to get involved romantically with Rob because she didn’t want to mess up what they already had. And then, of course, it turns out that she was right to be cautious, when she pretty much immediately gets set aside in favor of Juliet. Her internal monologues about how she was feeling – betrayed, humiliated and hurt – were spot on and really made me feel for her. There were several times that I was reading that actually brought me to tears because I just FELT for her, and it was these moments that kept me reading; I basically devoured the last 85% of this book in almost one sitting.

I also absolutely adored Len, Rose’s sarcastic and yet extremely emotionally intelligent Biology lab parter. He’s introduced as the school bad boy, he’s quirky and witty and definite outcast material, and yet you know from the instant he’s introduced that he’s going to be important. I think Len was the perfect balance for Rose because he helped her figure things out, even though she got some of them wrong. He wasn’t perfect – he made mistakes, too – but he was there, and just what she needed. I loved how gentle and patient he was, while still being realistic and blunt when necessary. And the hidden aspects of his character that came out throughout the book just made him even more awesome. He’s definitely a favorite.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the amazing female friendships in this book. Rose has two other best friends, Charlie and Olivia, and while they were somewhat flighty and silly, that, too was realistic. I particularly liked Charlie, who’s a spitfire but also dealing with her own goings-on. She was a best friend I could get behind, and I loved that she was always there when Rose needed her. Girl power, for the win!

All in all, When You Were Mine was a really great read. It’s a retelling whose focus isn’t actually on the story it’s retelling, but it works because the story its portraying – and the depth of the characters and the emotions they’re dealing with – is compelling and intriguing, even if it isn’t necessarily new or unique. I’d recommend it not only because of the Rose, who turns out to be pretty awesome herself, but also because of the great cast of supporting characters who make Rose’s life worthwhile.

4stars

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April Book Haul

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[Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews]

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Purchased:

Library Loans:

April’s Owlcrate Haul:

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  • Tote bag
  • Author Swag from Moriah McStay
  • The Fault in Our Stars necklace
  • Candle from From the Page
  • Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Other Items:

IMG_20150430_222551My awesome student teacher gave me a book of puns, a cute owl bag, and a bag of Airheads as a thank you gift. I clearly had the best intern ever! ♥

And that’s all for me this month! Please make sure you link me to your Book Haul posts so I can see what you’ve picked up!

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March & April in Review

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Since I took a hiatus in March, I never made a wrap-up post for that month, so this shall be a combined affair. However, things have gotten extremely busy at work – we’re in the home stretch with only 4 weeks left – so my reading and blogging has necessarily been placed on the back-burner. Paying job’s gotta come first, you know? But here’s my two-month wrap-up post nonetheless.

BOOKS READ IN MARCH/APRIL:

conspiracyofus burningkingdoms mytruelovegavetome

REVIEWS POSTED:

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Burning Kingdoms (Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano
My True Love Gave to Me [edited] by Stephanie Perkins

CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO:

cress

OTHER NEWS AND/OR POSTS OF INTEREST:

Because there are two month’s of posts to wade through, I’m going to do this in bullet point fashion to keep things concise.

Top Ten Tuesday:

Waiting on Wednesday:

I also shared post #10 and #11 of my Week in Bookstagrams feature, my February and March Book Haul posts, and my TBR list for the Trees of Reverie Read-a-Thon.

You can also read my March State of Me post HERE and my April version HERE.

ANTICIPATING IN MAY:

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Other Things I’m Anticipating: The end of the school year! Even though I adore my class – my kiddos are really fantastic overall – I am SO ready for summer break! Only 19 days left!

Hello, May! ♥

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Waiting on Wednesday #114

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for Dance of Fire (Dance of Shadows #2) by Yelena Black (Bloomsbury):

danceoffireAll dancers dream of the chance to try out for the Royal Court Ballet Company. Only two dancers from the elite New York Ballet Academy will have this honour. Vanessa is one of them. She dances with grace and elegance, and a fury that is unmatched. Justin – strong, sexy and caring – will be her partner. But the thrill of travelling to London for this once-in-a-lifetime competition is shrouded by their past and the demands of an ancient organisation.

The Lyric Elite needs them to win the contest and to infiltrate the Royal Court Ballet in order to seek out a dark society of Necrodancers. Vanessa will dance like she has never danced before, but not for them. Vanessa is there to find her missing sister, Margaret, and she won’t let anything get in the way of that…

Fierce rivals, dark forces and hidden motives weave together in a gripping thriller for fans of Black Swan and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

I am one of the few who thoroughly enjoyed Dance of Shadows, and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. This book is sort of a conundrum, though, because as of right now it doesn’t have a US release date – just a UK one, where it’s already been released. I am hoping that the US gets on the ball and releases the book as well, but I guess we’ll have to see. Might just have to go the UK paperback route just to see how things come together!

Release Date: Already Released (in the UK)

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

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Oops!

Sorry guys, no Top Ten Tuesday post this week! To be honest, I got sidetracked and completely forgot to type one up. Clearly there’s just too much going on in my brain!

I’ll be back to posting TTT next week! ♥

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REVIEW: Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano

burningkingdomsBurning Kingdoms (Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installment: Perfect Ruin

Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

mythoughtsBurning Kingdoms leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, I got through it fairly quickly, so that meant it was enjoyable. On the other (and more prominent) hand, I couldn’t help but feel that literally NOTHING happened almost the entire 312 pages. So that makes this book really hard to review, because there really isn’t anything TO review. Does that even make sense? Considering that I finished this book nearly two weeks ago, I am still as confused as to what I actually think about it as I was upon getting that 100% complete message on my Kindle. So here’s some basic – and fairly brief – thoughts.

  1. This series is slow. Like, SLOW. Book one contained a lot of world-building and introduction of the various characters, and not a lot of action. Book two continues this, although there’s more character “growth” than introductions, since we already know most of them. I use quotation marks because I honestly feel like hardly anyone underwent any important growth or change; they all seem pretty stuck in the same place they were at the start of the book, even if something horrific happened and should have effected change. But I just didn’t feel it.
  2. Morgan kind of irritates me. She’s the main character, so we’re seeing this entire story through her eyes, and we’re also privy to her thoughts. However, she doesn’t really know what she wants, so that makes the reader kind of uncertain as well, and just makes for a rather messy narrative. I also don’t like the “special angel” vibe I get from her at times; the others all think she’s amazing and that gets kind of old really fast. Just like with the book itself, I just really don’t like her like I want to.
  3. It took until 60% or so for something worthwhile to HAPPEN. That’s just TOO LONG to drag your reader along. And yet, it wasn’t that the book was boring; it just wasn’t very action-packed. Again, conundrum!
  4. Lauren DeStefano has a gift for writing really beautiful prose. She does NOT have a gift for writing edge of your seat excitement. This book could have easily been cut down and combined with the upcoming third installment for all that happened.
  5. Even though I felt like the book took too long to get to a point, I am now too invested in the overarching story line to give up on it. So I shall be reading the final part of the trilogy when its released. After two books I’m fairly certain I know what to expect, so hopefully the third time will be the charm.

If you enjoyed Perfect Ruin, you’ll most likely want to read Burning Kingdoms, even though the plot drags. Morgan and company definitely have themselves in a bit of a mess, and I’m curious to see how everything’s going to shake out!

2.5stars

An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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A Week in Bookstagrams

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A Week in Bookstagrams is an original feature here at Read and Reviewed, in which I’m going to share my favorite Book Photo Challenge posts from my Tumblr with you all.

[NOTE: Click the pictures to see them at full size!]

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Row 1: Newest Purchase
Row 2: Currently Reading | Spring Time
Row 3: Favorite Cover | Edition
Row 4: Magical

[Book Photo Challenge Prompts for April are HERE.]

So those are my favorites! If you’re curious, you can see all the rest of my Book Photo Challenge posts – dating back to July, which is when I started participating in the challenge – by checking out my tag HERE on my Tumblr!

Which one do you like best? Do you take part in any bookish photo challenges? If so, please link me to your entries!

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