Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Review

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | ReviewThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
on September 15th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Three students: dead. Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

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The Dead House was high on my list of books to get at BEA.  I hadn’t heard much about it but the synopsis and cover really caught my attention.  I’m not a huge horror fan (I’m such a scaredy cat) but I really wanted to give this one a try.  I’m really glad I did.  I wasn’t nearly as scared as I thought but The Dead House certainly caught my attention and kept me hooked from start to finish.

I really don’t know what I expected from The Dead House.  I couldn’t really figure out what the story was going to be just from reading the synopsis and I think that worked in it’s favor.  I went in completely openminded and didn’t really expect anything other than a story that would creep me out.  While it started off more of a psychological thriller than a horror, it definitely changed to something a bit scarier.  Kaitlyn/Carly’s story is very addictive and not at all what I was guessing.

The story is told through newspaper clippings, transcripts, journal entries, letters, etc.  Not only do readers get to see both Kaitlyn and Carly’s thoughts, they also get to see the thoughts of the people in their lives.  Friends, love interests, and even doctors weigh in on what happened with Kaitlyn and Carly and the other missing students.  And the story actually starts off years after the accident and takes readers back in time by going through the case as a police officer would.  All the evidence is presented and it’s up to readers to decide what really happened that night.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters and I think that has something to do with the style of writing.  It was extremely hard for me to get in the mind of any of the characters and so I never felt like I could relate to them or really love them.  So much of their stories were unknowns and I didn’t like that.

Carly and Kaitlyn were the same person but they were two very different girls.  Carly had the daytime hours and Kaitlyn took over at night.  They didn’t have any control over each other when it was the other’s time in the body.  The journal found in the ruins after everything goes down is Kaitlyn’s and it shows everything Kaitlyn thought and felt but not so much Carly.  There were a few little things from Carly in the journal but not much.  She was very much a mystery.  She had friends and a boy who was interested in her.  She was essentially her own person.  It was the same with Kaitlyn, although not so much the friends part.  She did have a boy though.  The romance seemed a little out of nowhere but I didn’t have too many issues with it.  I could see why the two of them got along and I could see that Kaitlyn needed someone.

As for the mystery, there is a lot and it’s not anything you will see coming.  Things just kept coming out of nowhere, it seemed.  I could never guess a single thing that was going to happen.  The mystery of how the accident would go down was what kept me reading.  And it may not be for everyone but I liked that the ending left things a little open.  This isn’t a open and close case.  Nobody survived so nobody is there to tell exactly what happened that night.

Overall, The Dead House wasn’t exactly perfect but horror fans and newbie horror readers can find something to enjoy in this one.  I look forward to seeing what’s next from Dawn Kurtagich.

What others are saying about The Dead House:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “The Dead House was a very interesting and intriguing debut and novel, to say the least.”

My Friends are Fiction’s review: “I finished this book last night and my first take away was that The Dead House was brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | ReviewFrosh: First Blush (Frosh, #1) by Mónica B. Wagner
Series: Frosh #1
Published by The Studio/ Paper Lantern Lit on October 20th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

During welcome week at Hillson University, the FROSH will hit the fan.
Type-A aspiring journalist Ellie plans to take freshman year by storm. But hell-bent on breaking a huge on-campus scandal, she risks becoming one herself—and getting the mysterious, heart-melting QB in serious trouble.
Grant, star quarterback and charismatic chick-magnet, is hiding a life-altering secret. The last thing he needs is an overeager (absolutely adorable) journalist asking questions. He’s got a reputation to protect.
High-society legacy student Devon is ready to catch the football hottie of her dreams. If the tabloids feature her with the “it” boy on her arm, her tainted past will be buried—or so she thinks.
Charlie, pre-med, is done being the sweet and funny geek that girls like Devon ignore. But if he tries to impress her with a new edgy, spontaneous attitude, will his heart end up in the emergency room?
FROSH intertwines the stories of Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie in Mónica B. Wagner’s sexy NA debut series, about falling in love and falling apart.

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New adult has been my thing lately but I especially love new adult that takes place at college.  Obviously, when I saw Frosh, I had to add it to my TBR.  While I did have my issues with it, Frosh is definitely a fun read to start off a series I can see myself continuing.

Daniela (Ellie) is taking her freshman year by storm.  She’s determined to get the editorial assistant position at the Hillson Daily Nexus.  She’s focused and passionate and she knows that she’s the best candidate for the job.  She just has to prove it to everyone else and she has exactly one week and one assignment to do that.  It just so happens to be that her assignment is one rather distracting football player.  Grant is the quarterback of Hillson’s football team and it appears his passion is football, just like Ellie’s is journalism.  As a freshman, he knows he needs to stay focused on the game and make himself known at Hillson.  Ellie complicates that.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Ellie at first.  She seemed a little uptight and very focused on getting the position she wanted at the HDN.  I quickly warmed up to her though.  She was fun and bubbly and it was easy to see that she was just very passionate about journalism.  Sometimes she came across as a little rude towards other passions (such as football) but she did try and relate them to her own passion to help her understand people a little better.  I liked that she could see that football was to Grant what journalism was to her (or so she thought).  She wasn’t just a snob about anyone who wasn’t in to journalism and that worked in her favor for me.  As for Grant, he’s cocky but he definitely seems to have earned that cockiness.  He’s smart and funny and good at what he does.  It doesn’t hurt that he has a body of a Greek god.  And while he may be great at football, he’s not sure it’s what he wants to do with his life.  He’s a little lost and he’s not sure where his future is going.  When Ellie enters the picture he finally sees something he really wants and he’s willing to go after her.

Then there’s the other half of the story.  Devon is on a mission to catch a guy.  One guy in particular: Grant.  She’s determined to get her man so that she can bury the mistakes of her past.  Devon is a self proclaimed bitch and I could see it from the start.  She’d been hurt in the past and it made her completely close off.  She wanted no girl friends and she only had eyes for one guy.  Too bad that wasn’t the guy who had eyes for her.  Charlie was a geek.  He didn’t think he had anything in common with Devon but once he got to know her he quickly found out that wasn’t the case.  Devon is smart underneath the airhead facade.  She doesn’t want anything to do with Charlie and Charlie’s not normally the type to chase after a girl who seems way out of his league but he doesn’t want to give up on her.

Charlie was a total cutie and at first I thought he could do a lot better than Devon.  She was just so mean!  I understood that she had been hurt in the past and that she had secrets but she just seemed so cold.  She was very single-minded in her mission to get Grant and I felt like Charlie was going to get hurt because of that.  I didn’t love her ever but I did warm up to her and I liked the side of herself that she showed around Charlie.  She was a smart girl and she should have showed it more often.  Together they made an odd pair but I liked it.

And let me tell you there are some steamy scenes in this book.  Both couples really had some chemistry and I loved that.   Neither part of either couple really had the upper hand.  Grant was popular but Ellie was extremely smart.  Charlie was extremely smart and Devon was driven.  They balanced each other out really well.  It was definitely a couple cases of opposites attracting and I loved to see that.

Overall, Frosh: First Blush is a good start to this series.  I look forward to reading more about the students of Hillson University.  New adult fans should definitely check this one out.

What others are saying about Frosh: First Blush:

On a Book Bender’s review: “If you love New Adult, you will want to pick this book up.”

Fiktshun’s review: “This is one of those stories that will make you shake your head at some of the characters’ actions and decisions, want to throttle a few of them, root for the ones you adore and hope they get a happy ending.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewSix of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 465
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

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Leigh Bardugo has done it again.  She made me fall in love with the world, the characters, the story, everything, and then she ripped it all away!  Six of Crows proved to me that I will love everything she does.  If you were a fan of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, then Six of Crows is definitely for you.

Let me start off by saying, yes, there are references to the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to be completely honest, I feel that I would have been okay even without reading those books first.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend those books (very very much) but if you haven’t read them and you’re dying to start Six of Crows, I say go for it.  The references were mainly names and some incidents and sure they might spoil your experience with the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to each his own.  It’s up to you to decide which you read first.

When I started Six of Crows, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.  It took me a long time to really get into the story.  The book is told from six different points of view and it made it harder for me to really get to know the characters and fall in love with them.  That’s not to say that that didn’t happen eventually, it just took about 150 pages.  I really had to spend some time with this book and push through the beginning to get to the good parts.  And when I say good, I really mean great.  When things get going, they really get going.  Kaz and his crew do not mess around.

Kaz is the leader of the Dregs, a gang located in the Barrel, the lowest place in Kerch.  He’s in charge of the group that’s meant to take on the biggest heist possibly ever.  It’s an almost impossible job and it requires a very skilled crew.  Kaz (nicknamed Dirtyhands) brings everyone together and his skill set is wide.  He’s great at coming up with crazy plans and he’s willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants.  Hence his nickname.  He’s also got a past that haunts him and influences everything he does.  He’s got secrets and my heart broke for him every time a new one was revealed.  Then there is Inej.  She’s his Wraith, his righthand woman.  She is sneaky and brave and cunning and just plain badass.  She’s also got a past that is pretty much the only reason she’s stuck doing what she’s doing.  But she’s also got plans for a future and nothing is going to stop her from reaching it.  Jesper is another of Kaz’s crew, also part of the Dregs.  He’s got a serious gambling problem and a love for guns.  I feel that there’s more to him than meets the eye and I look forward to finding out more about him in the coming books.  Also, he’s pretty dang funny.  Nina is the Grisha in their crew.  She’s a Heartrender who is stuck doing things she doesn’t want to do because Grisha are totally taken advantage of everywhere now.  She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Ravka but she has some wrongs to right first.  Matthias is one of those wrongs.  He’s not part of the Dregs but he doesn’t really have much of a choice when it comes to this heist.  He took a lot of work but he wasn’t all bad.  Last but not least, there was Wylan.  A relatively new member of the Dregs (and I’m not even sure if he was a full member) but he had other uses.  He was smart and funny and willing to put up with all of Jesper’s crap.  The two of them together might have been my favorites.

The heist is totally crazy.  I had no clue how Kaz and the crew were planning on pulling it off and even if I thought I knew, I would have been wrong.  Things were popping up every other page that put a damper on their plans.  Like I said, Kaz was great at coming up with plans which was good because they needed a new one practically every other page.  Once the Dregs really start in on their heist, the book never slowed down.  I was hooked and I wanted to do nothing but read.  It was pretty much perfect from that point on.

Oh and there may have been some romance.  It was more of a slow burn and there wasn’t a whole lot of payoff this time around.  I’m definitely hoping for some of that in the next book.  I don’t want to give anything away but I honestly don’t know who my favorite couple would be at this point.  They all have their moments.

Overall, Six of Crows has solidified my love of all things Leigh Bardugo.  Take your time with this one.  Don’t let the beginning fool you.  It’s a fabulous book that deserves every bit of praise it has been getting.  I’m already dying to get my hands on the sequel.

What others are saying about Six of Crows:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to read more.”

Reading Books Like A Boss’ review: “Set in the same imaginative world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, this action-packed spin-off left me in an abyss of despair because I need more of these characters!”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “There was so much potential for attachment and shipping (the ships! so much potential there) and feelings, but Six of Crows never crossed that line from “potential” into actual, full-blown attachment, for me.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Latest Obsession: the Charley Davidson series!

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately.  I lost interest in reading and I didn’t really feel like I had much to post about since this is my book blog.  However, I recently discovered the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones and I quickly came out of my reading slump.  I devoured this series and I didn’t want to do a full review for all 8 published books in the series but I wanted to feature them some way so here you go!

Series

This series is by far one of the funniest I have ever read.  Charley has such a great sense of humor and even though it was a bit morbid at times, I cracked up a lot.  I haven’t laughed so hard in quite some time.  The situations she found herself in were so crazy and she just rolled with the punches.  She accepted her crazy lot in life and she really embraced it.  It also helped that she had great family and friends to back her up.  I admit the family situation in the first few books wasn’t perfect but I liked seeing her relationships develop.  Cookie was the ultimate best friend.  She was just as crazy as Charley and didn’t mind getting the crazy situations that developed around Charley.  Uncle Bob was also pretty great.  I grew to love him very quickly.

The stories are pretty predictable but they are fun.  Each book continues the major storyline from the first book but they also each have their own mysteries so there is some closure at the end of each book.  I think I enjoy the mysteries in each book even more than the underlying story about Charley and Reyes somehow defeating Satan.  The mysteries are fun and Charley goes about solving them in completely convoluted ways.  Her interactions with dead people help with the mysteries and honestly, those are some of my favorites parts of the books.  A lot of the dead people have terrible stories and I admit to tearing up a time or two but a lot of them have really humorous interactions with Charley.  Take her Aunt Lil for example.  She’s quite the character.

The Charley Davidson series is like Veronica Mars and Stephanie Plum with the addition of paranormal elements.  Charley has the same sassiness as Veronica Mars and a lot of the crazy antics of Stephanie Plum (along with an awesome sidekick).  I highly recommend this series for both adult and young adult fans.  I look forward to continuing this series and I definitely plan on checking out Darynda Jones young adult series.

Have you read these books?  Did you love them as much as I did?  If you have read them, do you have any recommendations for similar books?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | Review

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | ReviewIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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At this point I feel like I don’t even need to write a review for this book.  So many other bloggers have read it and reviewed it and I’m pretty sure they have all said everything that I am going to say in this review.  Oh well, you’ll get my review anyway.

Illuminae was one of the most buzzed about books at BEA this year and after reading it, I know why.  I’ve never been a fan of science fiction books and I didn’t think it would be any different with Illuminae.  Boy was I wrong.  I adored everything about this book, from start to finish.  If I had the time to reread it right now, I would.  If you’re like me and a bit skeptical, I understand.  Ignore your misgivings and read it anyway!

The format of Illuminae makes for a quick, easy read.  Although I have to admit, the blacking out of swear words didn’t really do anything except make me curious.  I kept trying to figure out what words would fit in the sentences.  I’m weird like that.  Other than that, the story is told through interviews, chats, schematics, journals, and other odd styles.  I loved everything about that!  I admit there were some parts that confused me a bit and I had to reread sections to make sense of everything but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was powering through the book.  I just wanted to keep reading and I probably read a little too fast.  I guess that just means I’ll need to reread the book to see if I missed anything.

I was a little worried that because of the style of writing, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters.  That was not the case at all.  Kady and Ezra were really easy to like and I truly loved their relationship.  They definitely had their issues but they were so good together.  Even their arguments were cute.  There was actually very little physical interaction between the two but that didn’t bother me.  I’m all for romance and sexy times in my books but the build up in Illuminae might have been even better than actual sexy times between the two.  Together, the two were awesome.  Separate, they were also awesome.  They were strong and smart and funny.  I went through the spectrum of emotions while reading their stories.  I laughed, I squealed, and I definitely cried.  Boy did I cry.  Just goes to show that an amazing story can be told in many different ways.

The story itself is pulse pounding and full of surprises.  I really didn’t know what to expect with this story and I think that was a good thing.  I had no expectations for Illuminae but even if I had, it would have exceeded them.  The story is so unique and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman did an amazing job with it.  And while things tie up pretty nicely at the end, there is clearly more to come.  I look forward to seeing what these two have in store for readers next.  I’m not sure anything can top Illuminae but I hope the rest of the series does.

Overall, Illuminae deserves every bit of praise it has received so far and I hope that it becomes a huge hit when it hits shelves soon.  Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are two authors that are new to me but I’m definitely going to seek out more of their work now.  Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.  You won’t regret it.

What others are saying about Illuminae:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “This is fresh and spectacular and clever.”

Book Blog Bake’s review: “There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.”

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “For real, this book took me on quite the journey and I do not know about you all, but when I come back from a particularly great trip, I have this disoriented feeling as I try to get back to business as usual.”

Friday, September 25, 2015

Monthly YA Subscription Box Review| Uppercase

Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage right now.  I don’t know about you guys but I love them.  It’s like getting a present in your mailbox every month.  I’ve been wanting to check out Uppercase for a while now so when I got the chance to review their September box, I jumped at it.  So full disclosure, I did not pay for this box but I am, in no way, being compensated for my review.

click the image to be taken to the website

Uppercase has always appealed to me since it was created by Lisa Parkin who has been part of the blogging community for years.  Lisa runs her own YA book blog so I felt that she knew what bloggers would really want out of a bookish subscription box.  From what I have seen and the one box that I received this month, that assumption was correct.

What Came In The Box

I was basically like a kid of Christmas morning when I got this in the mail.  I immediately ripped into the package and started pulling things out.  The first thing I saw was the earrings which are absolutely adorable and perfect.

After that I pulled out the custom notepad that was made for the boxes.  I think it’s the perfect notepad for any reader.  Who doesn’t need a TBR notepad?  Also included was a bookmark, a signed bookplate, and a copy of Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman.

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Included throughout the book are notes with codes leading to special content for Uppercase subscribers. I consider this a great perk since, as a blogger, there is a chance I already have a copy of the book.  (I didn’t this time but it could happen.)

Things I like about Uppercase:

  • The box has fun items that are useful and appeal to me as a blogger and as a traditional reader.  Each item is unique and something I could see myself purchasing.
  • Their website is clean and extremely easy to use.  You can check out past boxes, reviews of Uppercase, and the different options they offer as far as the subscription goes.  The box I received was their Expert option and they have two other options, the Book Exclusive Plan or the Personalized plan.  With the Book Exclusive Plan you can get the same book as the Expert plan but it’s slightly cheaper and doesn’t include the extra bookish items.  The Personalized Plan allows you to fill out a reading survey and you get a special book tailored to your reading preferences.  I am actually really interested in checking out that option.
  • The exclusive content, like I said earlier, is great for everyone.  Even if you happen to already have the book that you are sent, you now have access to special content that ties into the book.
  • The price is very reasonable for what you are getting.  The expert plan is $23 and not only do you get a brand new hardcover, you also get exclusive content and 1-2 bookish items.  I do understand that you can probably get the book cheaper if you order on Amazon or something but I still don’t think the money is too unreasonable for Uppercase.

Things I don’t like about Upppercase:

  • It doesn’t currently ship internationally.  Obviously this doesn’t affect me but I know a ton of international readers who love subscription boxes.
  • There is always the chance that you are going to get a book that you already own.  There isn’t a way to return the book if you do happen to have it already.  Like Uppercase says on their website though, as long as you don’t preorder a ton of books, you should be okay and will probably get a book you don’t already have.

Uppercase definitely has more things I love than things against it.  I could see myself subscribing to this box on a monthly basis.  There is always the chance that I will already have the book (since I get quite a few ARCs and preorder some things) but I feel like that’s a gamble I’d be willing to take.  I also wouldn’t mind sending a box as a gift to a reader friend of mine.  It’s a fun option and I think I know some people who would really love getting an Uppercase box.

I’d also really recommend subscribing to any non-blogging readers.  If you are a big young adult fan and you don’t regularly preorder books, Uppercase is perfect for you.  It’s a great way to get a new young adult release that you may or may not have heard of before.  It’d also be a great way to introduce yourself to the young adult genre if you aren’t already familiar with it.  Like I said earlier, Lisa has been a YA blogger for years so she really knows what she is doing when she picks out the books for the box.

Do you subscribe to any bookish or non-bookish subscription boxes?  Have you been thinking about subscribing to one?  What do you think about Uppercase?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson | Review

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson | ReviewDreamland by Robert L. Anderson
Published by HarperTeen on September 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

From immensely talented debut author Robert L. Anderson comes a stunning, complex, and imaginative story about the fine line between dreams and reality that will appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle.

Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people's dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person's dream more than once. Dea has never broken the rules.

Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town. For the first time in her life, Dea feels normal. But both Dea and Connor have secrets, and as she is increasingly drawn to Connor's dreams--and nightmares--the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate, putting everyone she loves in danger.

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With a cover that gorgeous and a blurb stating ‘for fans of The Raven Cycle,’ I couldn’t pass this one up. I should have known not to be fooled by a pretty cover and a blurb like that. While Dreamland was by no means a bad book, it just couldn’t live up to my expectations.

Let me start with my biggest issue; the pacing. Oh my gosh it should not have taken me such a long time to read such a short book. It was just so dang slow! I kept waiting for things to take off and they never did. The story just keep plodding along and I could not stay focused. I was basically looking for an excuse not to read because I was just so bored. I thought about DNFing this one but I just kept expecting more. While it did eventually amount to a little bit more, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the rest of the book.

Dea was hard to like. She had one friend at the beginning of the book (Gollum) and by the end of the book she also had Connor. I understood that she moved a lot and she didn’t want to have to make friends only to leave them behind but she was just standoffish and afraid to meet people. Also, while Gollum was her friend’s nickname, I felt like it was kind of rude for her to call her that since it was a nickname that someone came up with to be mean. Small complaints, I know, but still. Connor was a bit shady but that was intentional. There was a lot of mystery surrounding him and I was honestly intrigued by that mystery. It was probably one of the only things that really kept me interested in the book. There really weren’t any fabulous characters in Dreamland and for someone as character driven as me, that definitely didn’t help things.

The concept was interesting, for sure, but the execution fell flat. The first thing I thought of when I read the synopsis was Inception. I could definitely see hints of that throughout the book but Dreamland was no Inception. Dea and her mom were dreamwalkers. They had to walk through peoples dreams or they would get sick and become weak. However, there were rules to walking dreams and Dea very quickly broke them with Connor. She kept going back to his dreams and that screwed things up. From there, things only got worse. There was so much more to dreamwalking than Dea had ever been told and by the end of Dreamland there were still things she didn’t know. I haven’t actually heard if this is going to be a series or not but that ending definitely left things way up in the air.

Overall, Dreamland is not in any way a bad book but it just was not what I was hoping for. I have a feeling I’ll still check out the sequel but this won’t be on my list of favorites.

What others are saying about Dreamland:

Me, My Shelf, and I’s review: “With a killer cover, and intriguing tag line it’s more than disappointing to me that the rest of the book didn’t live up to the hopes I had for it.”

MC’s Corner’s review: “The writing is okay, the concept is good, the characters are not annoying blah blah blah and the cover is awesome. “

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mayhem (Mayhem #1) by Jamie Shaw | Review

Mayhem (Mayhem #1) by Jamie Shaw | ReviewMayhem (Mayhem, #1) by Jamie Shaw
Series: Mayhem #1
Published by Avon on January 20th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 258
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can't stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus.

On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He's soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn't recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious "Peach" he met at his concert.

During a wild weekend on tour with the band, Rowan can't help falling for the sweet guy buried beneath Adam's rocker persona. Yet she knows she could never compete with the girls constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She'd just end up hurt … again.

Peach is all Adam thinks about, though, and when Rowan realizes this, she has a decision to make: stay just friends to protect her fragile heart … or reveal the truth about the night they met and admit she's fallen completely, hopelessly in love with him.

picadillyblueI saw someone talking this series up on Twitter one day and I had the urge to read a new adult book so I decided to give Mayhem a shot. Boy am I glad I did. Jamie Shaw is a new author to me but she impressed me with Mayhem and continued to do so with the following books.

Admittedly, the story wasn’t anything new or all that unique but I found myself hooked from the start. Rowan and Adam meet, hook up, and then go their separate ways. Rowan didn’t expect to see Adam in her French class on the first day of school, however. That throws her for a loop, especially since she is still extremely attracted to him and he doesn’t even recognize her. Rowan can’t avoid him though, especially when she volunteers to tutor him so he doesn’t flunk out of their French class. During a weekend on tour with the band, she starts to get to know Adam and the attraction becomes more than just physical.

Adam and Rowan were extremely cute together. Their banter and bickering were adorable. Adam was so full of himself and Rowan put him in his place more than once. She didn’t let the fame go to his head. She brought out the normal guy in him and I could definitely understand why she fell for that guy. As for Rowan, she was smart, levelheaded, confident, and kind. I would have slapped Adam if he didn’t fall for her. They kept pushing each other away, though. (Nothing can ever be easy in new adult books.) It was fun watching them try to figure each other out and decide what exactly they could mean to each other.

The romance was steamy, the characters were hilarious, the story was captivating, and the ending left me with a smile on my face. Mayhem had everything I wanted and definitely left me intrigued about the other members of Adam’s band.

Overall, Mayhem was the perfect place to start with this series and Jamie Shaw definitely has a new fan.

What others are saying about Mayhem:

Cocktails & Books’ review: “Cute, in a Disney sort of way.”

Book Binge’s review: “In the end it was a fun book that didn’t have a whole lot of angst – which was awesome.”

Little Dixie Readers’ review: “Filled with fun sexy times and a great voice in the New Adult genre, Jamie Shaw is a rising star!”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | Review

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | ReviewDrowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley
Published by Random House on September 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

"A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts."
John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back

Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?

picadillyblueThis is one of those books that’s really hard to review.  It’s not that I didn’t like it or that I loved it, it’s just kinda right there in the middle.  Drowning is Inevitable is definitely a strong debut but it’s one of those books that will appeal to some people but not at all to others.

Shalanda Stanley’s writing is beyond stunning. She’s one of those authors that could write a phone book and make it captivating. I wish I still had my ARC of the book so I could share some quotes but just take my word for this.  Her style of writing is extremely lush and descriptive.  It’s perfect for the setting of a small-town in the south and New Orleans.

Olivia is a hard character to like.  She’s spent her whole life in the shadow of her dead mom and she’s come to accept that she is not her own person.  It takes some extremely drastic measures for her to finally realize that she is an individual who makes choices of her own and has a life ahead of her that is all her own.  Even after she starts living her own life, she doesn’t make the best decisions.  She’s completely loyal, though.  I will give her that.  She loves Jamie with all her heart and can’t, even for a second, see that there might be something bad in him.  Personally, I couldn’t see the bad in him either.  He made a bad decision that affected him, his family, and his friends, but he did it out of love and terror.  As for Max and Maggie, I didn’t have many feelings for them, one way or the other.  Max was not the smartest guy out there and he was extremely jealous of how close Olivia was with Jamie.  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to see Olivia and Jamie safe.

The story is a lot more slow moving than I expected from the synopsis and the start of the book.  Things take off early but from there they fizzled out a bit.  Jamie, Olivia, Max, and Maggie go on the run and things only get worse for them from there.  They don’t know who they can trust and they don’t always trust the right people.  Family means nothing to these kids’ actual families.  They are more family to each other than any of their parents.  They were pretty much on their own and they did whatever they had to do to protect one another.

As much as I could see things coming, I couldn’t stop reading.  This book is very much like a train wreck.  You know it can’t end happily but you just can’t look away.  Even though they may have been in less trouble if they’d turned themselves in early, you know they can’t completely get away with what they’ve done.  They either take their chances on the run (which they do) or they take their chances with the law.  It was a lose-lose situation from the start.

While the story really does center on these 4 teens while they are on the run, it’s also a story about Olivia and her mom.  Her mom committed suicide shortly after she gave birth to Olivia and that death defined the beginning of Olivia’s life.  Her dad couldn’t stand to look at her because of the similarities to her mom and her grandmother only saw the similarities between Olivia and her mom.  Then there was the fact that everyone in town expected her to follow in her mom’s footsteps.  Olivia’s life wasn’t her own for most of the book and it took this crazy trip for her to finally start to see that maybe she could make her own decisions and her own mistakes.

Overall, Drowning Is Inevitable is a stunning debut novel that will take readers by surprise.  It’s a story full of layers that continued to take me by surprise.

What others are saying about Drowning Is Inevitable:

Emily Reads Everything’s review: “This book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.”

The Book Hookup’s review: “Drowning is Inevitable perfectly captured life in all its complicated glory.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | Review

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | ReviewLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

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Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman’s young adult debut, completely blew me away.  Described as Game of Thrones meets Alexander the Great, it lives up to that blurb and more.

Legacy of Kings is told through many points of view, each one unique and interesting.  At first I thought it might be a little confusing and it was, until I really got to know each of the characters.  Kat and Jacob, best friends since childhood, shared something more than friendship.  Their lives were not easy though and they both knew they wouldn’t be able to be together unless they both did some drastic things.  Alex and Hephaestion were also best friends.  Alex was groomed to be a ruler but he never let it get to his head.  He wanted to lead but he wanted to be right there with his people at all time.  Heph was one of those people.  Alex took Heph in when he was young and made him his personal guard.  Their friendship was severely tested though by Cyn.  Cyn, Alex’s half-sister, had to have been one of my least favorite characters ever.  She was so selfish and just plain evil.  The cast of characters was extremely diverse and so interesting.  The way all of their stories intertwined was so intricate and amazing.

The romance was steamy, as to be expected from any Harlequin Teen book.  There was a lot less than I expected but it was all done really well.  I also thought there might be at least one love triangle popping up but I didn’t see it, at least not in this book.  Also, I appreciated that there were true friendships between male and female characters, without any romance.  It’s not done often enough and Eleanor Herman did it really well.

There is a good amount of action and battle in the book but it doesn’t come for quite some time.  Most of the book is focused more on secrets and lies and uncovering them.  I saw some of the secrets from the start but not many of them.  This is a very twisted story that left me with many questions that I expect answers to in future books.

Overall, Legacy of Kings is a fantastic start to Eleanor Herman’s fantasy series as well as her career as a YA author.  An intricately woven tale of magic, romance, and deception, Legacy of Kings has something for every reader.  Once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.  Fantasy fans will truly adore this one.

What others are saying about Legacy of Kings:

Fiktshun’s review: “LEGACY OF KINGS is a stunning, imaginative and spellbinding saga that will send readers back to a time of magic and myth, prophecy and fate, bloodshed and brutality, dishonesty and deceit.”

Deadly Darlings’ review: “Legacy of Kings sets great characterization, world building, and plot-development to be enriched with the second book and I cannot wait!”

My Not So Real Life’s review: “The concept and historical setting were fantastically done, although the book truly did drag for a variety of reasons.”