Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

 

blonde ops book

“Blonde Ops” by  Charlotte Bennardo and  Natalie Zaman

Quality of writing: 3 out of 5 stars.

My rating: 2 out 5 stars.

Goodreads Summary:

Pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets James Bond for teens, featuring a fashion magazine intern in Rome who uncovers a plot to kidnap the First Lady.

Expelled from yet another boarding school for hacking, sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bec” Jackson is shipped off to Rome to intern for Parker Phillips, the editor-in-chief of one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But when a mysterious accident lands Parker in a coma, former supermodel and notorious drama queen Candace Worthington takes the reins of the magazine. The First Lady is in Rome for a cover shoot, and all hands are on deck to make sure her visit goes smoothly.

Bec quickly realizes that Parker’s “accident” may not have been quite so accidental, and when the First Lady’s life is threatened, Bec is determined to uncover the truth. On top of that, Bec must contend with bitchy models, her new boss, Candace, who is just as difficult as the tabloids say, and two guys, a hunky Italian bike messenger with a thousand-watt smile and a fashion blogger with a razor-sharp wit, who are both vying for her heart.

Can Bec catch the person who’s after the First Lady, solve the mystery of Parker’s accident, and juggle two cute boys at the same time? Blonde Ops is a fun, action-packed romp through the hallways of a fashion magazine and the cobblestone streets of Rome.

I was excited for this book, I really was. I had seen “Blonde Ops” in Barnes and Noble and had wanted to buy it because its description made it sound like a cute, light summer read, but I didn’t end up purchasing it on that visit since I don’t have much cash to just randomly buy books with, unless, of course, I have a great coupon. Eventually, though, amazon had it for a reasonable price and I really needed a fun book to read, so I bought it. Whenever I talk to my sisters about this book and its purchase, I start the conversation with, “In a moment of mental obstruction…” because of how much I ended up disliking this book.

I feel awful for disliking this book so much because it wasn’t technically a “bad” book, but it wasn’t a  good one either. It sounded so cute, but while I was reading it, I was like,

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It just baffled me how a girl could be such a good hacker, yet SOOOO stupid. If you have a hacker of sorts as a main character, shouldn’t they be smart? I’m assuming (since I don’t have a lot of computer skills) that being a good hacker requires a lot of brains, talent, and commitment, especially to become as good as Bec supposedly was. But Rebecca was completely lacking all of those qualities. She was unable to commit to anything (other than hacking), she never seemed to have used her brain cells during this book, and as a reader, I never figured out if she was good at anything (other than hacking, of course).

My complete and utter disdain for this female character made me graze most of the book (I do feel bad about that), and I just wanted to get away from Bec as soon as possible. I couldn’t even enjoy the descriptions of Rome because of how irritatingly delusional Bec was (this made me very sad because I adore Italy and reading descriptions of it)! And Bec wasn’t just stupid in “Blonde Ops,” she was also delusional. I say delusional because there were moments where she would go gallivanting off with boys who were total strangers to her while in a foreign country, and somehow managed to not think that maybe she shouldn’t hang out with these guys because they could be potential kidnappers or killers. *Slow Clap* She also come to a point where both the guys she liked could have possibly been her guardian’s almost-killers. Whoops! her bad! Oh, but even worse is the fact that she continued to hang out with them and sneak off without anyone’s knowledge. Maybe while I was grazing over this book, she did something really smart that justified her actions, but I really don’t think so; plus she didn’t have any character growth, so that’s another downside to this book.

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Another thing about this book was that I never felt endeared to a character. I thought that I might like Dante because he seemed to be nice, but I didn’t have enough time with him in this book to actually care. It made me sad because, given a chance, he would have been a great character to read about. *Sighs* “Blonde Ops” had the potential to be a really fun and cute read, but it just didn’t do it for me.

I am truly sorry for my harsh review, but for me, “Blonde Ops” was not a good fit.

Outcast by C.J. Redwine (Defiance #0.5)

outcast by c.j. redwine

“Outcast” by C.J. Redwine

 5 out of 5 stars.

Link to Goodreads Summary of “Outcast”:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18652243-outcast

 I found out that C.J. Redwine was coming out with this novella soon after I finished “Deception,” and I had REALLY wanted to read it because, well, I love this trilogy. The only problem was that I had to wait from September until now (July) to get my hands on it. Waiting for it felt like this:

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It felt like an eternity!!! But the wait is now over, and (God bless her) I got to read it on my sister’s ipod touch a few days ago. Once it was downloaded onto the ipod and I got to touch it, I was like…

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It was a magical feeling, and this novella is also magical.

I had really liked Quinn in “Deception,” so I was curious to see his life before he met Jared, Rachel, and Logan, and before he and his sister, Willow, got cast out of their Tree Village. Thank God, this was one of those times when curiosity didn’t kill the cat!!

What I liked about this novella was that it made me love Quinn as a character even more than I originally had. Quinn is such a fantastic character to read about, and I wish that this was a full size book instead of just a novella because I wanted to get to know Quinn as a person, not from Rachel or Logan’s point of views, but from his own. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE Logan and reading from his point of view and I enjoy Rachel’s too, but I just really connected with this character and I wanted to continue with his story as long as possible. I am just hoping that he is in “Deliverance” a lot and that (crossing our fingers) C.J. doesn’t kill him off at the end of this trilogy.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about “Outcast” was that it helped me to appreciate Willow as a character more because I now understand the circumstances that shaped her into the girl we see in “Defiance” and “Deception.” Willow has a more harsh and cynical personality than Quinn does, and so he’s the one who’s been carrying around the burden of a heavy conscience. I also liked seeing how they were before they got cast out, and what events caused them to be removed from the only home they’d ever known. It was awful how their father had treated them, and I was glad that Quinn and Willow got to break free of that, but it was also sad because they had to leave everything that was familiar behind them.

I really liked reading this novella because not only was it fantastic, but it got me excited for “Deliverance,” which is coming out in August. Oh, and after you finish the e-book, there are four chapters from the third book available.

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I’m going to say it again: MAGICAL! I want to read the rest of it, but I also dread the time when it comes out; a reader can only take so much. I’ve had lot of authors who’ve ripped my heart out (not in the good kind of way), and a lot who’ve been really good to me. I’m just hoping that C.J. is a part of the latter group because this trilogy is very dear to me. Here’s to hoping…

Overall, “Outcast” is a must read for any C.J. Redwine fan. Loved it!!

 

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

A while ago I had heard that Cynthia Hand (one of my favorite authors) was coming out with a new book and that it was going to be a standalone. 

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Some people like standalones, some people don’t. I, however, am cool with both, but I do love the fact that I won’t have to wait another two or three years before the story wraps itself up. Oh, and I am also glad to announce that said novel now has a cover.

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As happy as I am that the cover came out for this book, I am a little perturbed that I have to wait until February before  I can actually get a copy of “The Last Time We Say Goodbye.” Alright, enough talking/writing, here’s the cover…

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“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: February 10, 2015

Publishing House: HarperTeen

Format: Hardcover 400 pages

Goodreads Summary:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

 

jenny han to all the boys i've loved before book

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

4-4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with a broken heart. Some eat chocolate or ice cream, some watch endless amount of romantic movies, and some listen to love songs, wallowing in their pain. The options are practically limitless, but the way Lara Jean Covey prefers to ease the pain of a broken heart is by writing a letter to the boy who broke it. She holds nothing back while writing the letter, and once written, it is to be placed it in her teal colored hat box. No one will ever read the letter but Lara Jean; somehow, writing about what she felt while she was with that person helps her to let them go. Why should she dwell on a relationship that was only ever in her head, on someone who will never feel the same way that she does? Why not write a goodbye letter, and move on in life?

Her letters always seemed harmless, but when they get sent, Lara Jean has to decide how to clean up the mess she made in writing them. The problem with tidying up her mess, though, is that she doesn’t know where to start! Lara Jean has a long journey ahead of her if she is to resolve this catastrophe that has affected everyone she cares about. Can she protect herself from getting hurt while she tries to fix things with her family and friends, or will Lara Jean end up with another letter in her hat box and a broken heart?

I really liked “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It was one of those reads that you’ve heard about from people or seen on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, but you just never thought to pick it up on you own. I probably wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for my sister; her description of the characters and story made me want to read it, and I am very glad I got the opportunity.

Lara Jean is in my top five favorite female characters (America from “The Selection” is #1 at the moment) because of how real she was. A lot of heroines that I have read about are so unrealistic, and I guess a lot of times I don’t connect with them. I may like the book, but it’s like there is something holding me back from really liking the main female character; they’re not someone (usually) who I would want to be friends with in real life. Lara Jean, however, would be an awesome friend to have. She’s funny, sweet, smart, and a little quirky, and I could imagine her being a real high school student just trying to survive after something REALLY embarrassing had happened to her. If I was in her shoes, I would have crawled under a rock to wait it out so I wouldn’t have to deal with the humiliation.

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Lara Jean, though, took the situation in stride (granted, she’s fictional) and it made for some very funny situations. They were so funny in fact, that I would actually burst out laughing (at inopportune times, I might add). I tried to stop myself from laughing out loud, at least while I was hanging out with people, but it could not be contained.

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I haven’t had a book do that to me in a long time and I forgot what it was like to have one make me burst out laughing like this one did.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is worth a lot more than laughs, and it deals with some pretty big topics that I think a lot of teens/people eventually deal with in life. I also loved that this book didn’t ended up being one of those awful, empty, vain books where the characters’ minds are so vacant that there is no potential for character growth. I was so proud of Lara Jean for how much she grew as a person in this book. Jenny Han didn’t compromise her character’s (unlike a lot of authors I’ve read) personality, making her someone she wasn’t, she just helped Lara Jean grow up a little and moved her in the right direction. It was cool to see that happen in a more realistic way. Now that you know a little about Lara Jean (I can’t tell you too much because it will ruin the story), let’s talk about some of the other characters.

Josh, Josh, Josh…

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At first, I kind of liked his character and I wanted to know more about him and his relationship with Margot, but the longer I read this book, the more I came to dislike his character (you’ll understand why I disliked him once you read this book).  In the beginning I felt bad for Josh, and I wanted Margot and him to resolve their issues because you knew that they wanted to get back together, but then he started to get all moody towards Lara Jean (kind of unintentionally, but still), and it was really irritating. I felt like he didn’t deserve to have Lara Jean as a friend and that she was way too good for him. The final nail his coffin (for me) happened in the last couple of chapters; it was just SOOOOO selfish of him, and what he did put a lot of other people in bad positions.

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I was done with the character long before that scene had happened, but it made me dislike him even more.*Sighs*

Josh and his awfulness aside, I felt like Jenny Han did a really good job of creating believable situations between friends and siblings, especially between the Song sisters. Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty all love each other, but that doesn’t make things easy, and I liked seeing their dynamic as they went about life. I do have to say that Margot was a bit cold for my taste, and the scene that really made me dislike her attitude was when she came home for Christmas break. Something happened and she treated Lara Jean really terribly when it wasn’t even her sister’s fault. I get that people lash out, but that was unwarranted! I do have to give props to the author, though, because after all their fights, the sisters decide to mend their broken fences and forgive one another. It reminded me of the last epic scene in “Frozen.” I’m always up for a story about sisters sticking together!

The last person I want to discuss in Peter. In the beginning of the book you know that he’s the popular, super good-looking guy at school. Peter’s the kind of guy that everyone either has a crush on, or they want to be like him. He was a good guy character, but when I first started this book, I didn’t like or dislike him; I guess you could say I was neutral when it came to Peter. I didn’t care whether he was in a scene or not, I was just reading “To All The Boys I’ve Love Before” because of how much I liked Lara Jean. But the more he was in the book, the more he endeared himself to me. His character snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention, and once I finally took a moment in the middle of the book to absorb what I liked and disliked, that’s when I realized how much I loved his character.

I don’t  know all the reasons why I ended up liking Peter so much, but I do know that I loved that he got along so well with Kitty and how nice he was to her and Lara Jean, and I also liked that he fit in with the Song/Covey family so well. It was really cute and sweet, and I liked what his character brought to this story. Lara Jean’s and Peter’s fake relationship was also quite funny at times (there’s a scene that involves a car, antiques, and competitive spirit. I was laughing so hard I almost cried!), and I really loved that Lara Jean brought out the best in him.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han ended well, but it was on a bittersweet note and it even made me tear up a bit.

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This was a beautifully written and sweet book. I so enjoyed Lara Jean as a character, and I loved seeing her grow into a young woman. This is a really great coming of age story. Loved it!!

 

Winter by Marissa Meyer: Release Delay

This morning I read something about Marissa Meyer’s book, “Winter,” being released nine months later than it should be. It was supposed to come out in February of 2015, but now it is set for November. My reactions to this discovery:

shockedI was quite shocked since it was supposed to come out in February,

jack sparrowthen I started to calculate how long my wait from “Cress” to “Winter” will be, and I started to scream internally…

frozen disneythen I was like, what the **** is happening to make her delay it so long?!

sheldonCrap, it’s sinking in (again) that it’s a year and five months until this book comes out.

Supernatural blahI am also wondering why Marissa had enough time to write a novella if “Winter” is so delayed? We want “Winter” not another novella/miniature book. We don’t have time for this!!

angstI miss Thorne already…

schmidt new girl 1If “Winter” is delayed into 2016, I am gonna be really angry.

not funnyI wonder if they (authors) find our pain funny, or something? Well, it’s not.

little mermaid 2I wonder if authors know what we go through for them?

Please forgive the rant, but I can’t take this from authors anymore.  I love Marissa Meyer dearly, but I find this to be cruel of her and her publisher to make us wait so long, and I hope that by the time “Winter” comes out I’ll still be into this series. Tastes change a lot in a year or two, and I hope for Marissa’s sake (and mine) that we’ll all still care about the story that has yet to be finished.

“Chasing Shadows” is Finally Coming Out

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I am so proud of my sister for getting her second book published!!!

Originally posted on Ashley Townsend:

It’s finally happening! “Chasing Shadows” is being released this year. . . . In PAPERBACK! That’s right people: my precious sequel to “Rising Shadows” (and my favorite overall storyline of the trilogy to write and read) is coming out in September of this year in ebook AND physical formats. Can you smell the enthusiasm? I am already envisioning that moment when I get to hold and sniff and—yes—more than likely lick it. But, hey, I’ve waited for what feels like forever to hold my precious in my hands. I might even strap it in a car seat, pop it in a perambulator, and take it for a stroll around the park, laughing all the way. . . . You think I’m joking. -_- When I unwrap my arc copies, I’m going to be like this old lady and go all “My precious!” on them.

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A long, long time was spent holding…

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The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2): Take Two!

Alright, so this week I have really been trying to improve my blog and make it more professional while still being pretty and fun. Sadly, that means I have to go through all of my old reviews (I have this aversion to reading old posts because they tend to make me cringe). As I was looking at some of them, I saw the need for them to be edited (as expected), and “The Elite” was one of the ones that just needed to be completely rewritten. *Sighs* I was reading over it I began to wonder just how delusional I had been to write the things that I did. The reason I am so embarrassed with that old review because my perspective has changed so much over the last year! So, here is take two of my “The Elite” review, and I hope it is far better than the first.

 

the elite by kiera cass

 “The Elite” by Kiera Cass

4 out of 5 stars.

 So much has changed since the Selection started a few short months ago. The most markedly changed thing in Illéa, though, is America Singer. The America back home would never have had think about whether she loved Aspen Ledger if asked, she would have just answered with a simple, but heartfelt, “Yes.” America the Five would never have even thought to daydreamed about what it would be like to talk with the Prince of Illéa, let alone have the chance to get to know him. But the biggest thing that divides America into who she was and who she is would be that she has begun to care for someone other than Aspen, someone entirely unexpected: Maxon.

Despite the changes to her perspective, America is still unsure as to who she  truly loves, and neither Maxon nor Aspen are making it easy for her to choose. America is caught in the middle of these two young men and their attempts to win her heart. Half of her still belongs to Aspen and she misses what they used to have, but the other half of herself cares deeply for Maxon, too. These two young men are slowly splitting  her down the middle, and America is running out of time to decide who she wants to be with.

Eventually things begin to calm down for America, and it finally seems like her heart has made its choice. But when something heartbreaking happens to someone close to America, her world is turned upside down and she wonders just what her heart was thinking. The Rebels and their constant attacks aren’t helping matters, and as secrets hidden within the King’s home begin to surface, she is starting to think that these secrets, though meant to keep Illéa safe, are doing more harm than good to it. Can America keep going on in the Selection like nothing has happened, that everything is all right when nothing actually is? And what if she and Aspen don’t work out and she is chosen in the Selection? Could she, America Singer, spend the rest of her life as a queen who has to always conceal the truth from her people? Could she justify the lies enough to live with herself?

The first thing that I noticed about “The Elite” was that it had a much darker feel than “The Selection.” I would still consider it to be in the “fluff” genre (that is a compliment from me!), but it was more serious than “The Selection” in the fact that the Rebels attacked the castle a lot more, and the dystopian backdrop played a more significant role in the story. I got to see the Castes a bit more, too, and how brutal it could be to anyone  not perfectly in line with Illéa’s King. Speaking of kings…Maxon’s father, King Clarkson, was evil. You only see little glimpses of his cruel nature here and there, but at the very end of “The Elite” he fully displays just how wicked he is to his family. I was outraged with his cruelty and wondered how Queen Amberly could let go (almost) completely unchecked! Beside it being much darker, “The Elite” shifted the gears of this trilogy in a lot of different ways, one of them being the characters.

America is a totally different girl from the one that entered the Selection not so long ago. She sees things in a new light, including her feelings for both Maxon and Aspen. America has history with Aspen, but she also feels drawn to Maxon, and so she is quite conflicted in “The Elite.” This was one of the things that bothered me while I read this book; I thought it was so unfair to Maxon and Aspen, the way she went back and forth between them. It wasn’t intentional on her part, but it still happened and that made me a bit disappointed in her. Although I didn’t like it, I got where she was coming from, and that the author was creating an issue so that the character would have to overcome it eventually. It’s not okay what America did, but it makes sense in my head what she and the author were doing.

One of the things that I did like was that America remained an amazing friend; she had changed quite a bit since the Selection began, but she still had the pluck that had endeared her to me in the first book. It was that unconventional spunk to say, “No,” to doing something wrong (even when it might have helped her) that made me really admire America, and how she protected her maids without fear of the consequences. It takes courage to something right when everyone else is telling you to do something wrong.

Maxon was another character who changed a lot in “The Elite.” I adored him with every fiber of my being in “The Selection.” That book is hands down one of my favorite books, and is in my top-five favorites of 2012 for so many different reasons. Maxon was/is one of the reasons that made me love it so much. In “The Elite” he was still a good character, but I felt like I lost the sweet Maxon who had stolen my heart in “The Selection.” While I was reading this book, I had this weird feeling that I was somehow losing him, but then there would be these moments that made it seem like nothing was wrong, that nothing had changed. I loved those moments because they were the ones that reminded me of the real Maxon, but then something would happen and I would begin to wonder if I actually knew him at all. Who is the real Maxon? The one who is awkward, endearing, and sweet, or the one who just stabbed (emotionally) America in the heart? I mean, I guess I understand why he did it and everyone makes mistakes, but that is no excuse for what he did! What really kicked me in the *****, though, was that he showed ZERO remorse afterwards. He did it because he wanted to and because he could, and I think that is what made it hurt so much.

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 After that awful scene had come and gone, I was left brokenhearted. Would a good guy really do that to a girl he says he loves? Aspen never did that to America!!! I am wondering why I’m still in love with this character, and why I keep coming back to the abusive relationship we have together.

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*Sighs* I kinda hate myself because of my weakness towards this character, but I just can’t help it!

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The character I want to finish this post with is Aspen. My original review of this book now horrifies me because of how I reviewed Aspen’s character (I also cannot believe I forget to mention how Maxon had betrayed America). I am SO embarrassed that my old review even saw the light of day because I see so many things differently now than I did a year ago, especially when it comes to Aspen. I obviously hated him in the first two books, but about six months after I reviewed “The Elite” I began to simmer down; I wasn’t as wrapped in Maxon as I had been (betrayal and all), and then I got to read “The Guard” by Kiera Cass, and it completely changed my opinion of this character.

Aspen is an amazing guy. Sure, I don’t agree with certain things he did in “The Elite” that could have potentially put America in danger, but he had an amazing heart and he cared deeply for America, and I admired that. He is a really good dynamic character, and  I love what he brings to the table in this series. He, quite surprisingly, turned out to be one of my favorite characters in Kiera’s books. I definitely recommend his novella, “The Guard.”

Overall, “The Elite” by Kiera Cass is a fantastic read.