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
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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.”

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
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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. “

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewHeir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

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Oh Sarah J. Maas, what have you done to me?  Heir of Fire has ruined me for all books in the near future.  This series just continues to amaze and impress me.  Heir of Fire takes things up another level for the Throne of Glass series and to be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible.

I don’t want to spoil things for anyone so if you haven’t read Crown of Midnight, stop reading.  Seriously, go away now.  I will not be held responsible for any spoilers you might see in this review.

A few people finally know who Celaena really is.  Not many, and not all the key players, but some.  However, just because people finally know her identity as Aelin doesn’t mean she’s any closer to accepting it or the responsibilities that come with it.  In fact, she may be even farther away from accepting those responsibilities than she was before.  Being sent to Wendlyn to find out about the Wyrdkeys and learn to control her magic has pushed her over the edge.  Memories from her past are surfacing, some that she’d rather not remember.  In Heir of Fire she is really forced to take a look at her past and figure out what everything means for her future.  Controlling her magic is only the first step in the process of defeating the king.

I have loved Aelin from the start, even when she was being selfish and spoiled.  I didn’t like that about her but I came to accept it and saw that she could be that way even while being a badass assassin who took shit from no one.  In Heir of Fire I came to love her even more.  She is nowhere near the same person she was when her journey began.  She’s faced losses that would cripple some people and she’s come out the other side with a very different outlook on life and her goals.  She’s still very much focused on how things will end for her but she’s learning to branch out to include some other people.  She is a very caring person no matter what front she puts on for people.  Even if she’s not sure she wants to accept the responsibilities of a queen, she knows that she wants to help her people.  I appreciated that about her.

A lot of new characters were introduced in Heir of Fire and I’m not sure who I loved the most.  I will say that I didn’t care all that much for Sorscha but I think that’s because I didn’t know a lot about her.  Her story didn’t seem very fleshed out to me.  I wanted to know more about her background and why she did what she did.  Hers was the only story like that though.  Aedion, Rowan, Manon, Maeve and even some of the more minor characters had such depth to them.  I admit that I didn’t really like many of the new characters at first but most of them grew on me.  Aedion was Aelin’s cousin and after the downfall of their kingdom, he did whatever it took to keep his people safe.  Sure he was kind of a little shit but I came to understand his actions.  Rowan was pretty damn harsh to Aelin but his history was very complicated and he saw her as nothing but a young, spoiled girl who hadn’t had to fight for anything in life.  Their relationship was twisted from start to finish but I loved it.  Not sure he’s someone I want with Aelin but I could see how it might work between them.  As for Manon, she’s a hard nut to crack.  I don’t know if she’s evil or not.  The witches roles in things are going to be very interesting.

I just want to briefly mention Chaol and Dorian because I can’t possibly not mention them.  Chaol really bugged me this time around.  In Crown of Midnight I saw how he felt about certain aspects of Aelin’s life but you really get to know his feelings in Heir of Fire.  I’ll have to see how things play out with him and Aelin in the next book because if he doesn’t switch things up soon, I’m not going to like him anymore.  As for Dorian, that poor boy has too much stuff to deal with.  My heart broke for him so many times and I don’t know how I’m going to take things in the next book if something doesn’t change in his situation.

The story is lengthy and twisted and totally nothing I ever saw coming.  The thing I appreciated most about Heir of Fire was the amount of history woven into things.  Sarah J. Maas doesn’t just dump information on you, she manages to weave it all into the current storylines so it makes complete sense.  I would have felt so lost if I hadn’t learned some info about the witches, the fae, and the Wyrdkeys.  That was one of the things I felt so clueless about in Crown of Midnight so I appreciated that things were finally explained some more.  Also, while a lot of things are explained in Heir of Fire, a lot of new things are introduced that left me with tons of questions.  I can see how this series is going to be six books.  There is just too much going on to condense these.

Overall, Heir of Fire is the best of the series, by far.  Sarah J. Maas has cemented her place on my list of favorite authors.  I cannot wait to continue this series.

What others are saying about Heir Of Fire:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “While Heir of Fire definitely has all kinds of action, it’s a looong book, and it’s slower.”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Heir of Fire is that rare epic fantasy that is about people.”

Great Imaginations’ review: “It is miles and miles away from the boy-and-candy-crazy ‘assassin’ of Throne of Glass and is instead a story of a people rising up to face an oppressor, of a girl coming into her birthright, of hope and healing and fighting back.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick | Review

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick | ReviewThe Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door, #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: My Life Next Door #2
Published by Dial Books on August 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a houseAlice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.And Alice is caught in the middle.Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

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Is it any surprise that this book is getting 5 shoes from me? Contemporary is my jam and Huntley Fitzpatrick is amazing. If you thought My Life Next Door was good, you’ll  love this one just as much, if not more.

It took me no time at all to dive right back into the world of the Garretts.  I admit that I re-read My Life Next Door right before starting this one so maybe that had something to do with it but the re-read was not necessary at all.  I’ll say now that I do recommend reading My Life Next Door before you read this one though (I mean, if there is anyone out there who hasn’t read it already.)  The Boy Most Likely To picks up right after the events at the end of My Life Next Door and being able to read from Alice’s point of view shows things in a whole new light.  Alice and Tim each get about equal time narrating and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that at first.  I was really looking forward to reading from Tim’s point of view but I didn’t care all that much for Alice in My Life Next Door.  I felt the same way at the beginning of The Boy Most Likely To but she grew on me pretty quickly.  Alice and Tim are both forced to grow up too soon because of their circumstances.  Tim’s circumstances have more to do with his own crappy decisions but that didn’t change how I felt for him.  Alice, on the other hand, didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to her situation.  Because of the accident with her dad, it was on her and her older siblings to take care of the little ones and keep the shop open and attempt to figure out how to pay for everything.  I was exhausted just reading about all she had to put up with because of the accident.  Lucky for her though Tim stepped up his game and was there to help.

The Garrett family takes center stage in The Boy Most Likely To and I only thought I adored them in My Life Next Door.  I only have one sibling and I always thought that was enough for me but if my siblings were anything like the Garretts, I would want a ton of them.  George was just as cute as ever but I think Patsy really won me over in this one.  Her, I guess you could call it relationship, with Tim was so dang cute.  Oh my gosh, she adored him.  Who wouldn’t, right?  That girl may be a baby but she’s already got good taste.  Any time Tim was in the room, she wanted to be with him.  And to make Tim even more perfect, he loved her too.  And I can’t mention the Garretts without mentioning Jase.  Yes he’s back, yes he’s awesome, yes I still love him.  I don’t think that boy could do anything to make me not love him.  I don’t know what I would do if someone told me to choose between Tim or Jase because I love them both for very different reasons.

It’s hard for me to go into detail without giving things away about the story but let’s just say that Tim’s situation wasn’t really surprising to me at all but that doesn’t mean Huntley Fitzpatrick didn’t surprise me more than once in The Boy Most Likely To.  From the very first page of the book I was proud of Tim for taking things into his own hands.  He royally screwed up his life but he realized what happened and he decided it was time to change things.  Sure he continued to do some stupid things but he always found his way back on track.  I think Alice helped a lot with that and of course Jase did too.  Alice was a hard nut to crack.  She was a little cold and standoffish at first but that was just her way of protecting herself and her family.  I came to understand her pretty quickly and her relationship with Tim didn’t make sense but it was perfect for them.  That wasn’t the only relationship of the book though.  Tim and Nan really had to take a look at how they affected each other.  I’ll admit, I’m still not a fan of Nan, but seeing her with Tim really showed how she became that person.

I think one of the things about Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books that just gets me is how they aren’t just romances.  There is always something more going on with the characters and there is always some kind of lesson that can be learned if you look hard enough.  I’m not saying her books are preachy or anything like that but they also aren’t just fluff.  They are the perfect balance between the two.  And yeah, the romance doesn’t hurt either.  If you thought Jase and Samantha had chemistry, just wait until you read about Tim and Alice.  Ooh boy!

Overall, The Boy Most Likely To broke my heart and put it back together again.  If it was up to me I’d just have Huntley Fitzpatrick write books about all the Garretts.  Seriously.  I’d read that series over and over again.  However, since that probably won’t happen, I’ll settle for rereading My Life Next Door and The Boy Most Likely To over and over again.

What others are saying about The Boy Most Likely To:

Christina Reads YA’s review: “Although I liked My Left Next Door more — because I am more like Jase/Sam and I would take Jase over Tim lol any day — I’m pretty sure that fans of MLND will love this sequel and the rising stakes that have been laid.”

The Eater of Books’ review: “Overall, I liked the book – I just did not love it, and felt disappointed by it.”

Universal Longings’ review: “As far as characters go, I think this is Huntley Fitzpatrick’s strongest book yet.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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You guys, why did I ever expect a happy ending from Sarah J. Maas?  I really should have known better but I was still completely unprepared to have my heart broken by this series for the billionth time!  Crown of Midnight was full of shocking twists, horrifying betrayals, and more secrets than I could possibly keep track of.

So Celaena became the King’s Champion and now she has to put her badass assassin skills to use for someone she absolutely hates. Not only that, the king has her killing people for really dumb reasons and Celaena can’t stand it.  She may be an assassin but she’s always been able to choose which contracts she takes and who she actually kills.  She no longer has that choice.  What’s even worse is that her friends now look at her differently because of what she is forced to do for the king.  Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian don’t like the person she has become but she’s really not different, she just acts like she is.  Celaena definitely puts on a front for the king, acting completely unaffected by what she does.  Underneath that facade she does have feelings though and she hates what she does.  She’s the same person she’s always been and she has one goal in mind: her freedom.  If that means she has to appear to be working for the king, she will do it and she won’t put her friends lives at risk by telling them what she’s really doing.  She may be selfish at times but Celaena is a loyal friend, that’s for sure.

Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian really tested my limits this time around.  Nehemia really bothered me at times.  I understood where she was coming from when she tried to get Celaena to stand up for what was right but she was downright mean about it sometimes.  Nehemia’s people were being tortured, enslaved, and killed so she definitely had a right to want to fight for them and to be upset but she took things a little too far when she called Celaena a coward.  Chaol didn’t  bother me all that much but he made some mistakes when he kept certain things from Celaena.  Things could have been prevented if he just bothered to talk to her.  I’m not saying everything that happened could have been prevented but definitely some things.  Dorian, on the other hand, really impressed me.  Dorian is a prince but he is so far from spoiled.  He is smart and talented and kind and if he is allowed, he will become a great ruler.  I still don’t necessarily think he should be with Celaena but she could do a lot worse.

Speaking of who Celaena should end up with… I’m truly torn here.  Chaol is a great guy and I loved seeing his relationship with Celaena evolve but there are just certain things about him that I dislike.  He has a problem accepting all aspects of Celaena and I hated that.  She is who she is and he should not want her to change in any way.  I felt that at least Dorian accepted all of her.  They still work better as friends to me but I could understand why she might fall for him, if that ever happens.

The story is so twisted and convoluted.  I powered through this book when I probably should have taken my time with it.  Sarah J. Maas layers so many things throughout her stories that sometimes it takes a second glance to realize what exactly is happening and what it could mean for the future books.  I continue to be impressed with her storytelling skills.

I feel like at this point I don’t even need to say this but I’m going to anyway; nothing and nobody is safe.  I knew from other peoples’ reviews and reactions to Crown of Midnight that something big was going to happen and it was going to affect the fate of one of the main characters.  I didn’t know which one and I truly did not expect what happened.  I was stunned.  Sarah J. Maas makes you fall in love with her characters and then completely destroy you when you least expect it.  I love her and hate her for that.

Overall, Crown of Midnight does not suffer from second book syndrome.  This series does not lose an ounce of momentum in this sequel.  It sets things up for an epic third book!

What others are saying about Crown of Midnight:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Fantasy readers will love this series.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “It doesn’t get any better than Celaena Sardothien!”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Crown of Midnight is an action-packed, rollercoaster ride of a book that will make mincemeat of your emotions, and it is, I feel, an improvement on the already glorious Throne of Glass.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | Review

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | ReviewEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

picadillyblue Ever since I read Audrey, Wait! a few years ago I’ve been wanting to read another of Robin Benway’s books. For some reason I only just now got around to doing that but I’ll go ahead and say that it was worth the wait.  Emmy & Oliver was just what I was looking for.

Emmy, Oliver, Drew, and Caro were best friends growing up and Emmy, Drew, and Caro remained best friends even after Oliver’s disappearance.  While Drew and Caro felt Oliver’s loss, it was nothing compared to how it affected Emmy.  When Oliver returns 10 years later, Drew, Caro, and Emmy don’t exactly know what to do with him.  He’s not the same boy that left them and they aren’t the same people that he used to know and none of them realize exactly how his return is going to affect their lives.

The friendship aspect of this book was by far one of my favorite things.  Emmy, Drew, and Caro were so perfect together.  They really had been best friends since they were extremely young so they knew everything about each other and they went through everything together.  They accepted each others random quirks and they were not afraid to do completely goofy stuff together.  (The Beatles thing cracked me up.)  Having Oliver come back changed everything for them.  At one point it had been the four of them but that was a completely different Oliver.  That’s not to say they didn’t welcome him back though because they did.  There were bumps along the way but even after all those years, he was still their friend and they proved that time and again.

The romance was something that you will see coming from a mile away (I mean, hello, the title says it all) but that didn’t detract from it at all.  In fact, it may have made it even better.  It was so fun to see Emmy and Oliver attempt to come back from everything and really start over.  There were things they remembered from growing up together but a lot of stuff was completely new to them.  It was kind of a conundrum since their relationship seemed to progress rather quickly but it was also something that probably would have grown from friendship to more over the years if Oliver hadn’t been taken.  I have never had a problem with instalove and I don’t think that’s really the case with Emmy and Oliver but at times it does come across that way.

The kidnapping aspect was something that has definitely been done before but I liked Robin Benway’s spin on it.  Oliver never saw his dad as the bad guy.  He was the one who wanted him and he always thought that his mom didn’t.  He comes to find out that that was not the case but it’s been 10 years and it’s hard to change the way you view people overnight.  Being back with his mom, with her new husband and twin daughters, throws him for a loop.  Add to that the fact that everyone wants him to help get his dad arrested and Oliver is a really confused guy.  I felt so bad for him.  His dad never meant to hurt him but he did.  I don’t approve or condone what he did but let’s just say that Oliver wasn’t the only one that I ended up feeling bad for.  His dad loved him and was afraid that he would lose him if he didn’t do something so he took some drastic measures.

Also, the only books I’ve ever read about this subject were told from the point of view of the kidnap victim.  This one was different because it was told from the point of view of someone that was left behind.  Emmy was Oliver’s next door neighbor and best friend before he left.  His parents were also good friends with Emmy’s parents.  That meant that everything that happened to Oliver, Emmy’s parents knew about and it changed how they parented and controlled Emmy’s life.  Emmy became extremely sheltered and anything she wanted to do, she had to take into her own hands.  She had to hide aspects of her life because her parents would be terrified if they knew about them.  I actually really liked that Robin Benway chose to show how the kidnapping would affect not just the family of the victim but also the people around the victim.  It was a fresh take on things.

Overall, Emmy and Oliver was a lot deeper than I expected but also still managed to contain tons of love, laughter, and friendship.  I’m definitely not waiting this long before I read another of Robin Benway’s books.

What others are saying about Emmy & Oliver:

Adventures in Reading’s review: “I’m so glad that I stuck with this book. I ended up really enjoying it.”

The Perpetual Page Turner’s review: “OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.”

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “Sure, there is a hella adorable romance… but at it’s core, Benway’s story is one about friendship, growing up, making your own path in life, and more importantly, family.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet. For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets. As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

picadillyblueI’ve always been a fan of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series so when I was given the chance to check out The Bourbon Kings, I jumped at it.  It’s extremely different from what I’ve read of hers but I think it will appeal to her fans.

J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together the storylines of many different characters.  While the synopsis makes it seem like The Bourbon Kings is a story of Lizzie and Lane, it’s actually so much more that that.  It’s a story about the Bradford family as a whole, specifically Lane, Edward, and Gin.  They do have another brother, Max, who I’m hoping will pop up in the next book.  Edward was extremely gruff but his circumstances broke my heart.  He and Sutton had such a crazy relationship but I’m rooting for them.  Gin also has some rough times.  I liked her even though she made some stupid choices.  It seemed like she really wanted someone to love her and she was looking in all the wrong places.  As for Lane and Lizzie, I truly adored how they butt heads but still fall for each other.  Lizzie was a strong heroine but she seemed almost a little too perfect.  I wanted more flaws from her.  Lane was very much a typical J.R. Ward love interest but hey, why fix what isn’t broken?  He was rich and cultured but also seriously messed up due to his family.

The story is so much more than a romance.  There is mystery,  intrigue, scandal, and murder.  Yeah there is romance too but it’s not all The Bourbon Kings has going for it.  Clearly J.R. Ward has a type of story that works for her and she sticks with it.  The romance underlies everything going on but it’s not the focal point of the story.  Also, while most things appear tied up at the end of the book, it’s clear that this will be a series.  I had so many unanswered questions at the end of The Bourbon Kings but it just has me even more excited for the sequel.

For a J.R. Ward novel, it was pretty tame as far as sex.  There were actually very few sex scenes and only one was between Lizzie and Lane.  I was surprised but pleased by this.  There was just so much more to this story than sex.  There is one scene that is pretty rough to read.  I don’t want to give anything away but there is one non-consensual scene.  Just be warned about that before starting this one.

As for the whole bourbon making stuff, it was very interesting although not a huge part of the story.  There was a lot more about the actual money side of things and I loved seeing everything to do with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  Not everything was as perfect as it seemed at first glance.

Overall, The Bourbon Kings is a wonderful start to a new series that I know I’ll be addicted to.  Go into this one with an open mind and I think you’ll enjoy it.  J.R. Ward as a contemporary author definitely works for me.

What others are saying about The Bourbon Kings:

Fresh Fiction’s review: “Not your average Contemporary Romance, THE BOURBON KINGS is rife with scandal, forbidden love and twists and turns no one will see coming!”

My Para Hangover’s review: “This book reads more like a (cough) soap opera but on fast forward.”

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “In spite of my slight reservations towards the romance, I really wound up enjoying The Bourbon Kings.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin."When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King's Champion and be released from prison.Her name is Celaena Sardothien.The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she'd have again: a friend.But something evil dwells in the castle—and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.

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Where do I even begin with this one?  I was going to do mini reviews for this series but there is just too much I want to say about each book.  I started with The Assassin’s Blade so I felt like I was already invested in Celaena’s story when I started this one.  Maybe that explains why I just devoured this book in less than a day.

Celaeana’s story picks up a year after the end of The Assassin’s Blade.  If you haven’t read the novellas, that’s okay too but I felt like it was a great introduction and they really set things up perfectly for Throne of Glass.  Celaena is approached by the crown prince of Adarlan.  He tells her she can stay in Endovier or she can go with him and compete to be the King’s Champion.  If she wins she will have to serve as his Champion for 4 years but then she will earn her freedom.  Needless to say, she goes with Dorian.

Characters are everything to me and the characters in Throne of Glass are epic.  Celaena Sardothien is a 17 year old girl who is trained as an assassin and has spent the past year as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier.  She’s fierce and badass but also very scarred and troubled.  Her past is somewhat of a mystery but what readers do know is that she has never had trouble killing people and she shouldn’t have any trouble becoming the King’s Champion.  I loved her cockiness and there were a few times when I just wanted to laugh at her antics.  She does not lack confidence, that’s for sure.  I can’t possibly go into detail about all the characters but I’ll mention Dorian and Chaol.  I mean, I have to.  There is a bit of a love triangle but who cares?  I’d be torn too if I had both of them as options.  Dorian is the Crown Prince but he’s nothing at all like his father.  He could truly do good on the throne.  He’s a kind person with a sense of humor and serious smarts.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s also described as being extremely handsome.  Chaol is not supposed to be as handsome as Dorian and his personality isn’t all that great at first but he definitely grew on me.  He was the only one who saw exactly what Celaena was capable of and yes he was a bit of an ass to her because of that but he had good reasons.  Oh and I can’t forget Nehemia.  She’s another badass female lead that was a perfect fit for Celaena.

The story is dark and twisted and while I definitely saw some things coming, I was taken by surprise a couple times.  There is something evil lurking in the castle and it’s taking care of some of the competition, that’s for sure.  The thing I really loved about Throne of Glass though was how everything, no matter how small something seemed, tied together in the end.  The thing lurking in the castle that’s taking out the Champions isn’t just a threat to the Champions.  It’s also somehow related to the king and his plans that really aren’t good for anyone, anywhere.

The history surrounding magic and Celaena and the kingdom was fascinating and something that definitely needs to be expanded on in the future books.  As the first book in the series though, Throne of Glass does a great job setting things up and showing what could come in the future for Celaena and everyone around her.  Maas hints at some things and she really does a great job getting you intrigued enough to keep reading.

Overall, Throne of Glass is pretty damn epic.  It’s got romance and magic and mystery and betrayal and friendships and really just everything I could have ever wanted.  Just read it already!

Also, forgive me for writing this review that is all over the place.   Let me just say, I’ve already read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire and I’ve kinda gotten them all mixed up and don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn’t read them.

What others are saying about Throne of Glass:

Dawn of Books’ review: “I’d recommend Throne of Glass to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well as to those who have been feeling hesitant to pick it up.”

Knite Writes’ review: “If you enjoy YA in general, you’ll probably like Throne of Glass, especially if you don’t mind a younger tone.”

Shanny Reads’ review: “I also thought the premise of the book was unique and captivating.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + InterviewSurvive the Night by Danielle Vega
Published by Penguin on July 7th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

We're all gonna die down here. . . .  Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse...   ...until she comes across Julie’s mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the party, everyone is gone.   Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway tunnels, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.   They’re being hunted.   Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to Aya’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here.”From the Hardcover edition.

picadillyblueDanielle Vega has done it.  She not only managed to scare the crap out of me, she also managed to tell a captivating story that kept me hooked from start to finish.  Survive The Night seriously impressed me.

The whole book takes place over one night and I can’t tell you how much I love stories like that.  Casey and her friends set out for a night of adventure and instead they get a night of terror.  The Survive the Night rave takes place once a year in the abandoned subway tunnels beneath New York City.  There have always been rumors that people are killed in the subway but nobody really takes those rumors seriously.  That all changes when Casey stumbles upon the body of her friend Julie, gruesomely murdered by someone or something hidden in the subway tunnels.  And, of course, instead of being able to leave the same way they entered the subway, their way is blocked and they must set off through the tunnels to find a way out before it’s too late.

To be completely honest, the characters weren’t the greatest but I didn’t care that much about that.  Casey was the only one that I really ended up liking.  She made some serious mistakes but she was trying to change things.  She was easily led astray by people that she thought were her friends.  Shana was bad news.  She drugged Casey, she encouraged her bad habits, and she betrayed her every chance she got.  I wanted her to get what was coming to her.  Casey did not deserve how her supposed friend treated her.  As for Aya and Julie, they cracked me up but they weren’t anything too special.  Sam and Woody were the same way.  Sam seemed like a sweetheart but he had some secrets and he hurt Casey too.  He was just so judgmental.  I didn’t like that about him.

The creep factor was definitely up there with this one, at least for me.  I admit to being easily scared but books don’t usually have that capability.  That was not the case with Survive the Night.  There was a lot of gore but that wasn’t the only scare thing.  I never knew what was going to happen from page to page.  I didn’t have a clue who or what was coming for Casey and her friends.  I was jumpy and biting my nails from start to finish.

Overall, Survive the Night was everything I hoped it would be.  Danielle Vega’s sophomore novel is one that I will surely be recommending to all horror fans and anyone looking to give the genre a try.

What others are saying about Survive the Night:

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “This pink covered book reads like a horrific thrill ride.”

Escape Through the Pages’ review: “I will definitely be checking out Danielle Vega’s other book The Merciless and recommend Survive the Night to anyone looking for a little creepy in their life.”

Interview with Danielle Vega

Describe Survive the Night in 140 characters or less!

When an illegal rave turns deadly, 5 teens must fight their way through the abandoned NYC subways while someone hunts them from the shadows.

Have you always been a horror fan? Do you prefer horror books or movies? What’s your favorite?

I have been a horror fan since I was a very tiny child. My mom never shielded me from scary movies and books, in fact she used to read me Stephen King to help me get to sleep. I can’t choose between books and movies—they’re too different and wonderful in their own special ways. Favorite horror novel is HOUSE OF LEAVES, favorite movie is SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s your inspiration?

Yup, I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a writer. There really isn’t one person or career that I look to for inspiration, but I love hearing about other writers’ journeys. Recently, I found Amy Poehler’s honesty about the writing process in YES PLEASE very refreshing, and Stephen King’s ON WRITING is a classic for a reason. Writing is such a hard, weird, crazy job and I love hearing about how people end up doing it for a living. The stories are always good.

Do you have any must haves while you’re writing?

Coffee! I’ve also recently become addicted to Muji pens, and had a minor panic attack this morning when I thought I forgot it.

Can you share anything about what you’re currently working on?

I have a novel called BURNING coming out in April 2016 under the name Danielle Rollins—it’s been called Orange is the New Black meets Carrie. But the book I’m writing now is a secret! Be prepared for boys and bunnies and blood.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + GiveawayRuthless by Carolyn Lee Adams
Published by Simon and Schuster on July 14th 2015
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

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Ruthless is a survival story done right.  It’s just the right amount of creepy, thrilling, and pulse pounding.  From start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat, praying that Ruth would find a way out of her situation.  There wasn’t a second that went by where I wasn’t terrified of what was going to come next.

Ruth Carver is not a perfect heroine, not by a long shot.  She’s a little full of herself, a little rude, and she is pretty much just obsessed with things that benefit her.  She was willing to trample people to get where she needed to be and while I didn’t necessarily approve of those methods, I obviously still didn’t think she deserved anything this guy had in store for her.  I think this in this case, it doesn’t matter about the heroine’s past, as long as she will have a future.  It’s not like anyone is going to root for her to die.

Let me just say, this is not one for the faint of heart or a young reader.  Carolyn Lee Adams does not pull any punches.  I was terrified for Ruth’s life and sanity, every page of the book.  The guy who abducts her is seriously creepy.  The bulk of the story is told from Ruth’s point of view but there are flashbacks in his point of view and he is extremely messed up in the head.  I was sickened and terrified.  I don’t mind that from a book but if you do, this is not the one for you.

The story itself isn’t so much all about Ruth being abducted but also about how she escapes and spends her time in the wilderness.  She is on her own, no supplies, and no help in sight.  Like I said, this is a survival story above all else.  It’s not just about surviving the ordeal with her abduction but surviving her escape as well.  There isn’t a second that goes by where you don’t fear for Ruth’s life.  Even if she isn’t killed by a crazy madman, the elements could get her just as easily.

Overall, Ruthless is truly one story that stands out in the YA market.  I have never read anything like it and it definitely made me eager to see what Carolyn Lee Adams is going to do next.

What others are saying about Ruthless:

Confessions of a Bookaholic’s review: “For her debut young adult novel, Carolyn Lee Adams really knocks it out of the park with Ruthless.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “Watching Ruth outsmart Jerry again and again is a great deal of fun and the book flies by as long as you have the time to read it in one or two sittings.”

The Forest of Words and Pages’ review: “A brutal fight-for-your-life story that is sure to keep you up late at night to discover its character’s fates,Ruthless is a brilliant, twisted tale that shocks and thrills chapter after chapter.”

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