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, June 11, 2015

Blog Tour: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi | Review + Favorite Quotes + GiveawayThe Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
Published by Harper Teen on June 16, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

picadillyblueThe Night We Said Yes is the perfect summer read.  I was in the mood for a fun contemporary novel and that’s exactly what I got.  Once you pick this one up, you will not be able to put it down!

The Night We Said Yes is told in alternating chapters.  Both are from Ella’s point of view but one is the night she met Matt and the other is present day, 6 months after he left her and broke her heart.  Now he’s back in town and he seems to want to pick up where they left off.  The similarities and differences between the two nights are what make this book so perfect.  Ella and Matt are so naive and open to anything when they meet.  A year later, things are very different but recreating the night they first met brings back old feelings.  It also helps them come to terms with who they have become and who they want to be going forward.  One night changes everything for them, both for good and bad.

Ella was adorable.  She was nerdy and fun and kinda shy and she just reminded me a lot of myself.  Her progression throughout the course of the book was intense.  Her personality remained the same but she quickly started to take control of her life and decide who and what she wanted in it.  Matt was adorable but he made some stupid choices.  I had a hard time liking him after finding out what he did to Ella and why but he grew on me.  As I learned more and more about his past, I found myself feeling bad for him and wanting Ella to forgive him.  He was definitely a flawed character but I liked how he tried to redeem himself.

The secondary characters are what really did it for me though. The friendship between Ella and Meg was so perfect.  They fought but they always came back to each other because that is what true friends do.  The relationship between Ella and Jake was great too.  Sure he was her friend as well as her best friend’s on-again, off-again boyfriend but he was also kinda like a big brother to Ella.  He looked out for her and he stood up for her, even when it was his own friend he had to stand up to.  Barker and Gaby were cute too but they didn’t have as big a role as Meg and Jake.  Also, while Meg and Jake’s relationship may have been a bit toxic, I was definitely rooting for them.

Overall, The Night We Said Yes is perfect for fans of contemporary novels.  It’s a quick read that left me with a smile on my face.  I can’t wait to see what’s next from Lauren Gibaldi.

What others are saying about The Night We Said Yes:

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “Overall I found myself distant and uncaring about the characters and relationships in the novel.”

Writing My Own Fairy Tale’s review: “I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA contemporary romances.”

Book Nerd Addict’s review: “Her writing style is effortless and enjoyable and would recommend this book to anyone that loves friendships and summer reads.”

Favorite Quotes:

“I’ve spent my life on the road, trying to find home, when really, you were always home to me.”

“It was my favorite part of the night – when the evening’s events were still unknown and unpredictable. It was the sense of possibility that I loved, the idea that anything could happen next.”

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | Review

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | ReviewProof Of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Published by Harper Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

BEFORE: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.

AFTER: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.

THEN: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.

NOW: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.

ALWAYS: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.

picadillyblue Proof of Forever, Lexa Hillyer’s debut novel, seriously impressed me. It’s a beautifully written novel that perfectly captured the feeling of summer, lost friendships, and first love.

Proof of Forever is the story of four very different girls who happen to be former best friends.  Zoe is a quirky nerd who loves everything Dr. Who.  Tali is the pretty girl obsessed with money, popularity, and boys.  Luce is the golden girl with the perfect boyfriend, perfect family, and perfect life, or so it seems.  Then there is Joy, the one who disappeared from their lives two years ago but still manages to bring them all together for their camp reunion.  The mix of characters allows for readers to find at least one they can relate to, if not all of them.  Of course, each character also had their flaws that might annoy readers.  Tali was by far the worst.  I had issues with how shallow she was and how selfish.  Joy was a bit closed off, Luce was a bit high strung, and Zoe was a bit oblivious but otherwise I liked them.  And even Tali grew on me.

The story is extremely fun.  These four former friends are sent back in time to their last summer at Camp Okahatchee.  To get back to the present they have to recreate the summer but they quickly find out that it might be better for them as friends and individuals if they change some things about their past.  The story might be very basic contemporary but there is also a sense of urgency to everything they do which helps speed the story along.

The synopsis mentions a dark secret about the girls but it’s not all that dark or secret to the reader.  I was able to guess pretty early on exactly what was going on and what was probably going to happen.  Nothing regarding this secret ever even came into the story until the end of the book.  The ending was quite rushed and that was honestly my only issue with Proof of Forever.

A big plus about Proof of Forever were the types of relationships represented.  Tali was kind of typical, going for the popular guy but there was someone else in her life that challenged everything she knew.  Zoe is a bit clueless about relationships and sexuality but she learns a lot that one summer.  Luce has the perfect relationship but there is a chance it’s holding her back.  As for Joy, she meets someone new in the past that opens her up to love, something she never expected or hoped for.

Overall, Proof of Forever puts Lexa Hillyer on my radar.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  It’ll have to be pretty dang awesome to top this one.

What others are saying about Proof of Forever:

The Hollow Cupboards’ review: “The story itself can be a little predictable at times, but I still loved taking this journey with the girls as they discover more about themselves and each other.”

Overflowing Bookshelves’ review: “This book has been called ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for the new generation’ and I can agree with that.”

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows | Review

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows | ReviewThe Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Published by Harper Teen on March 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

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The Orphan Queen may be the first book I’ve read by Jodi Meadows but it totally will not be my last.  The Orphan Queen is a wonderful start to this new fantasy trilogy that incorporates action, adventure, magic, romance, and betrayal.

I’m going to start by stating the one and only reason The Orphan Queen didn’t get 5 stars: the beginning.  It took me quite some time to get into Wil’s story.  I completely understand that there is a lot of worldbuilding necessary to a new fantasy series but it did weigh down the  beginning of the book.  Clearly I got past that though and I truly devoured this book once I got into it.

Wil is set to be a queen but she’s far from fit to take over at the start.  She knows she needs to take control of her kingdom again but she doesn’t quite know how.  Also, she may be the queen but she is being told how to rule.  Patrick, friend and adviser to Wil, controls almost everything she does.  Before she can even consider ruling a kingdom she must learn to rule herself.  Otherwise she would be a kind ruler with the best interests of her people at heart.  She’s brave, smart, and wise beyond her years.  She’s a supremely strong female who doesn’t need a man to rule by her side.

The rest of the characters were much more difficult to pin down.  Patrick seemed sketchy at first but he had always been Wil’s close friend.  Her best friend, Melanie, is also a bit sketchy.  She keeps secrets from Wil and neither of them can afford to have secrets at such a crucial time.  The younger Ospreys (the orphans Wil takes care of) seemed a bit undeveloped but quite sweet.  They all seemed to be good people in bad circumstances.  As for the prince that Wil must fool, he’s not at all what she expected and he not be the only one being fooled.

The story was captivating.  Magic is forbidden because it creates Wraith which is quite quickly destroying all the kingdoms.  It’s up to Wil to save her people from the Wraith but nobody knows how to stop it or even how it spreads.  The Wraith really is kind of a character in The Orphan Queen.  It’s a villain unlike any that I’ve read about.

The story also has a bit of mystery surrounding Black Knife, a savior of some, a villain to others.  He starts as a villain to Wil but their relationship definitely changes throughout the book.  As to who Black Knife is, it’s a bit obvious, at least it was to me.  That didn’t really bother me though, it just made me eager for Wil to find out.  Let’s just say there were a lot of double identities in The Orphan Queen.

Overall, The Orphan Queen will appeal greatly to established fantasy fans but it’s also a perfect introduction to fantasy.  Be warned though, the ending will break your heart and leave it in pieces on the floor.  It’s a huge cliffhanger so be prepared for a wait!

What others are saying about The Orphan Queen:

Read Breathe Relax’s review: “I was consumed by the magic and the intrigue and romance spun around with an incredible storytelling talent.”

Writing My Own Fairy Tale’s review: “It’s full of action, political intrigue, princes and princesses, runaways, secret identities, spies, magic, a little bit of romance, and a kick-ass heroine!!”

Hit or Miss Books’ review: “I am feeling more than underwhelmed by The Orphan Queen right now.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard | Review

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard | ReviewRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Teen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

picadillyblueI was pretty skeptical when I started Red Queen.  I had heard extremely mixed things about it.  I was looking for a good fantasy read at the time and I’m glad I set aside my skepticism and gave Red Queen a chance.  I adored it and I can’t wait for more in this world!  The sequel needs to get in my hands now!

Mare is a completely badass Red who is thrown into the world of the Silvers.  While she may be completely badass and independent in the world of the Reds, she’s a completely newbie to the powers that grant her access to the Silver world.  I’m all for a badass MC who can do things for themselves and who lead revolutions but seeing someone like that become so powerless actually made me like her more.  Mare had to learn very quickly who she could trust and rely on inside the castle and out.  I hated seeing her be made a pawn but I really enjoyed watching her come into her own as everyone around her tried to use her for their own purposes.

I kid you not when I say the rest of the characters might have been great but I had no clue who to trust.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all but I could not tell who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.  It seemed like everyone had ulterior motives for their actions and I will tell you right now, there is some serious betrayal going on in Red Queen.  Don’t trust anyone or anything.  Nothing is as it seems.  I loved that about the book!

As for romance, I can’t tell if it’s a love triangle or square.  Mare is apparently very attractive to many people.  I can understand that since she has such an awesome personality.  First there is Cal then there is Maven and maybe something there with Kilorn.  I’m not sure about that one yet.  Cal was definitely my favorite at first but he’s got some things he needs to work on and he may not be the best fit for Mare.  I’m not really a Maven fan and you’ll understand why once you read the book.  As for Kilorn, like I said, maybe it’s just friendship but maybe not.  Either way, he’s a good guy and good for Mare.

The story is so interesting.  When people asked me what it was about I just told them it was fantasy with almost Xmen like powers.  It’s a pretty good way to describe the things that everyone can do.  People don’t all have the same power, it varies by family.  There are all kinds of powers and all kinds of people wielding those powers.  It’s pretty bad knowing that terrible people have these powers and rule the world and can do whatever they want to lower class citizens with almost no repercussions.  It’s easy to see why this world might need a revolution and they are definitely about to get one.

Overall, Red Queen met and exceeded my expectations.  I can’t wait to see where Victoria Aveyard takes the characters next.  It’s going to be interesting.

What others are saying about Red Queen:

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “Aveyard’s world in Red Queen is vast and I can’t wait to explore more of it when the sequels come out.”

Mugglenet’s review: “If you’re a fan of X-Men, Game of Thrones, and dystopians like The Selection, you’ll enjoy this book.”

Book Nerd’s review: “I liked it but then again I had issues with it.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + GiveawayThe Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
Published by Harper Teen on March 30, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

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The Cemetery Boys was my first Heather Brewer book but if it’s any indication of her talents as a storyteller, it definitely won’t be my last. The Cemetery Boys is an intriguing mix of horror and paranormal and it hooked me from the very start.

I honestly can’t tell you what I expected from The Cemetery Boys. It’s unlike anything I’ve read and the synopsis really didn’t give me a clue what was going to happen. I think that’s the perfect way to go into this one.  The prologue and first few chapters are intriguing enough to hook you and that’s all you really need to keep going.  As I read I actually found myself getting more invested because I didn’t know what was going to happen.  The story truly was unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Heather Brewer’s writing is simple but gorgeous.  I found The Cemetery Boys to be an extremely easy book to read because the writing was straightforward but in no way dull.  Heather Brewer’s descriptions were so well written that I had no trouble picturing everything in my head.  It helped set the atmosphere of the story and I adored that about the book.  I also adored that Heather Brewer managed to completely capture Stephen’s voice in her writing.  I’d heard that she was good with male MC’s but this was the first time I’d seen it for myself and I completely agree with everything I heard.

The town of Spencer was an awesome setting.  It felt like the town itself was a character.  There was so much mystery and history to the town.  Everyone who grew up there knew what was going on but Stephen was an outsider, finding out about everything for the first time.  The folklore and stories that he was told were beyond captivating and definitely pretty creepy.

Overall, The Cemetery Boys was my first foray into Heather Brewer’s books but definitely not my last.  The writing, the setting, the characters, and everything else about the book added up to make a fantastic story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Paranormal/horror fans need to check this one out.

What others are saying about The Cemetery Boys:

The Fandom.net’s review: “If you’re interested in “old time-y” horror films that are heavier on the world and the plot progression, but maybe not so much on character development and relationships, then The Cemetery Boys will be a treat for you.”

Candace’s Book Blog’s review: “For people who enjoy books that are a bit different, off the beaten track and a little dark.”

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | Review

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | ReviewTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by Harper Teen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 289
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

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Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is Liz Czukas’ sophomore novel for young adults and while I definitely enjoyed it, I found it nowhere near as quirky and fun as her debut novel, Ask Again Later. It’s a quick read that I found myself flying through but it wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as I expected.

Chloe is a bit nerdy, kind of shy, and easy for readers to relate to, at least if you’re anything like me. I found her to be so adorable with her easy blushing and tendency to babble. She had a great sense of humor and she was very easy to like. She sometimes said things that were a little rude but she was always open to getting to know new things. The rest of the “Younglings” who worked with her at GoodFoods Market were a pretty mixed bag of characters. Tyson was a sweetheart who maybe could have had some more flaws. He seemed a bit too perfect to me. It always seems a little unreal when there is a love interest who has nothing bad about him. Sammi and Gabe were trouble makers but they definitely made things fun. Zaina was shy and kind of mysterious but I came to like her. Micah was probably my favorite though. He was so quirky and funny and he didn’t even realize it.

The story itself was really fun but a little predictable. It’s a mystery surrounding who stole the charity money from Chloe’s place of work. The six young cashiers are immediately blamed and held in the store after hours until the police can come check things out. The idea of hanging out in a grocery store after hours has always appealed to me so I loved that part of the book. The kids did some crazy things to entertain themselves and they definitely had me laughing. I also really liked the lists that Chloe made throughout the course of the story. They helped bring in some background information in a fun way.

Overall, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is nothing spectacular but I’d definitely recommend it for a rainy day read. I will continue to check out Liz Czukas’ young adult offerings.

What others are saying about Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless: 

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “It was written with a similar tone to Ask Again Later, which was just completely adorable and fluffy, and Top Ten Clues was no different.”

Tabitha’s Book Blog’s review: “If you’re looking for a wicked cute contemporary fluff book then this is the book for you.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “As long as you like The Breakfast Club and slow books, you’re good to go with this one.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass | Review + Interview + GiveawayLove & Other Theories by Alexis Bass
Published by Harper Teen on December 31, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Love and Other Theories is a fast-paced twist on the coming-of-age novel . . . and the romantic comedy.

Aubrey and her best friends made a pact to play by the guys' rules when it comes to dating. They're hoping the rules will keep them from experiencing high school heartbreak--they don't realize that these rules could just as easily keep them from opening their hearts and minds. And when new boy Nathan Diggs moves to town, Aubrey starts to think that some rules are meant to be broken.

With equal parts bite and romance, topped off with an irresistibly engaging voice, Alexis Bass's debut novel is one you won't want to miss.

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Love & Other Theories is not your typical fluffy contemporary romance.  In fact, there is nothing typical about Love & Other Theories.  While it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I did find myself hooked from the start and smiling when I finished it.

Aubrey and her best friends are the mean girls of the school.  They hook up with all the hottest guys, they shun girls that go against them, and they tend to get up to no good behind each others backs.  They are not girls that are easy to like and that was by far my biggest issue with Love & Other Theories.  Aubrey was a smart girl but she was really stupid when it came to her friends and boys.  As for her friends, they weren’t all the worst but Shelby was a bitch.  I didn’t understand why everyone was so under her spell.  She was so full of herself and what she did to Aubrey was so hurtful.  I was also not so impressed with Nathan.  At first I was completely in love with him, especially with Aubrey.  They were so cute together.  Then I met Trip.  Trip was a guy who got what he wanted and expected that to always be true.  However, he was also a really sweet guy who clearly cared a lot for Aubrey and would do anything for her.  By the end of the book, my heart was his and I couldn’t remember who Nathan was.  Oops.

There was a lot of terrible communication between Aubrey, her friends, and all the boys in their lives.  So much stuff could have been cleared up if they had just talked about things.  Aubrey was pretty afraid to speak out but she wasn’t the only one.  There were so many secrets surrounding all of her friendships and other relationships, including with her family.  When Aubrey finally started speaking her mind I wanted to jump for joy.  However, it took a lot of heartache for her to reach that point and I felt terrible for all of it, especially since it could have so easily been avoided.

The story itself was not all that action packed but it was entertaining.  I love books that are set right around college time.  There was a lot of focusing on getting into college, what life was going to be like in college, and learning to say goodbye to friends from high school.  While Aubrey and her friends had a weird relationship, they really did see each other as life long friends.  Leaving them behind was a hard thing for Aubrey to even contemplate.  Also, while the whole partying thing was a little overdone, it made things interesting.  Aubrey and her friends had this crazy high school experience that was similar to that of my high school.  Not necessarily me (I was a nerd) but I totally understood it because my friends partied it up like them.  The drugs and alcohol might get to some people but I found it pretty realistic.

Overall, Love & Other Theories definitely won’t be topping my favorites list but I’m glad I gave it a chance.  I found myself flipping pages as fast as I could and by the end of the book I was really attached to the characters.  That’s the mark of a good book, to me.

What others are saying about Love & Other Theories:

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “You will go from absolutely loving it to worrying about where it’s going to take you next; to making you completely fall in love with it.”

Fic Fare’s review: “With that said, I do think the story told here was interesting and if you are looking for a book that isn’t a soft, fluffy romance, you might enjoy this one.”

The Quirky Reader’s review:  “I think fans of Katie Cotugno will immensely appreciate this gem, but if you’re  just into contemporary YA in general, then you are required to check this one out.”

Interview

Describe Love & Other Theories in 140 characters or less.

A system developed by four best friends designed to avoid heartbreak falls apart the last few months of the high school.

Do you have a favorite character from Love & Other Theories? If so, why? (I know this is like asking a mom to pick a favorite child but I had to do it!)

It is hard! Of course, I love them all—even when I don’t like them, I love them. I…um…I guess the main character, Aubrey, because I wrote a whole book around her last few months in high school. 🙂

I created a minor character just to make my cousin laugh when she read the book; so in that regard, Leila Court is another favorite.

Did you consciously decide to write for a YA audience?  If so, what made you decide to write YA?

I decided to write YA because I love that time in life, when nothing is permanent, there’s so much possibility, so much changes so quickly, and there are no notes to pull from because you’re experiencing everything for the first time.

Do you have any must haves while you are writing?

I actually don’t have must-haves for writing (though having coffee on hand is great!). I’ve trained myself to write anywhere, with anything (or nothing). I make a huge dent in my word count goals typing on my phone while waiting in line (usually for coffee, haha).

Do you have any big plans for your release day?

My release day is New Year’s Eve and I’ll be back in my hometown for the holidays, so I’ll be celebrating both the book’s release and the New Year with some of my oldest friends.

What is next for you?  More YA books?

Yup, more YA books! My next standalone contemporary YA novel, WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US (HarperTeen) will be out next year.

Short answer:

Bad Boys or Good Boys?

Good Boys

Happily ever after or happily never after? 

Happily never after

Series or standalone?

Standalone

Love triangles or soulmates? 

Neither

Write at night or write during the day? 

At night

Write in silence or write with music?

With music

Print, audio or eBooks?

All of the above

Giveaways

Win a book written by one of the awesome authors who blurbed Love & Other Theories.

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + GiveawayExquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Harper Teen on October 7, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

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Heather Demetrios’ sophomore novel has been receiving mixed reviews all across the board. It was hard for me to set expectations going in because the bloggers I usually agree with, were all over the place. That being the case, I went into Exquisite Captive with the expectations that I would enjoy the novel strictly because I enjoyed Heather Demetrios’ debut novel, Something Real, and because I’ve been enjoying fantasy novels lately. My expectations were definitely met.

The uniqueness of Exquisite Captive greatly appealed to me. I’ve only read one book about jinni’s in the past and it was nothing like Exquisite Captive. I truly have nothing I could compare this to that might tell you guys what to expect. That’s far from being a bad thing though. Just know, you are not getting your standard fantasy novel when you go into this one. I loved the Jinni history and caste system and look forward to an expansion of that in the following books in the series.

While I didn’t love the love interests, the relationships definitely intrigued me. Nalia’s relationship with Malek definitely reminded me a bit of the Juliette-Warner thing going on. He’s not a good guy and I don’t see him ever being redeemed but I think he will appeal to some readers for that whole Warner-like aspect. Raif, on the other hand, was more my kind of guy. I didn’t trust him at first but he grew on me.

The aspect of this book that’s probably going to be hardest for some people to get by is how slow the first half is. It’s the first in a new fantasy series so you have to expect world-building and you can’t expect that to be rushed. Just know that it is worth it if you make it past that first part.

Overall, Heather Demetrios has impressed me once again. I highly suggest you do what I did and go into this one kind of blind and just judge for yourself.

What others are saying about Exquisite Captive:

Novel Novice’s review: “Dark and seductive, Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios will have you rethinking wishes — and every genie story you’ve ever heard, whether it’s that lovable blue guy in Aladdin or Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “I was fascinated by the beautiful world that Demetrios’ created!”

Escapism’s review: “There was so much potential but it never rose to it.”

New 2 Author Photo Macmillan 2015About the author:

When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real, which Publisher’s Weekly calls “[An] addictive yet thoughtful debut” about reality TV stardom. She is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles and what Kirkus called in its starred review “an intoxicating, richly realized realm of magic, politics, spirituality and history” (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN CYCLE). She is also the author of the upcoming I’ll Meet You There (Winter 2015). I’ll Meet You There is a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. Heather is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for youth of limited economic means. She is proud to have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can always find her on Twitter (@HDemetrios), ogling the military dogs she wants to adopt (but can’t because her NYC apartment is way too small). Find out more about Heather and her other books at www.heatherdemetrios.com and www.darkcaravancycle.com

Interview!

First off, thanks so much for doing this interview. I adored Something Real and I can’t wait to read Exquisite Captive!

Yay! It makes me so happy that readers who liked my contemporary YA are also excited about checking out a story about a jinni enslaved in Hollywood.

Describe Exquisite Captive in 140 characters or less!

Enslaved jinni / empress-in-hiding seeks infuriatingly attractive enemy to free her from dangerous master. Must know how to steal bottles.

How was it different for you, going from a contemporary novel to a fantasy novel? Was the writing process any different?

I work on them at the same time, so although the novels themselves are very different for readers, it’s all part of the daily landscape to me. The essentials are the same: creating a world the reader will want to spend time in and characters that will find a place in their heart. The writing process is pretty much the same, although with my fantasy there are a lot more outside elements I use: physical storyboarding, writing to music, using scent in my office to bring the world to life…things like that.

What made you decide to write about jinni? It’s definitely not something that’s done a lot!

The idea came from a prompt in a writing class, but I stuck with it because nobody else was exploring these fascinating mythological creatures. The more research I did, the more I began to see the enormous potential for giving the jinn the treatment they deserve in the West. This isn’t Disney’s Aladdin or I Dream of Jeannie. I really tried to delve into the dark side of Arabic lore here.

Do you have any must-haves while writing?

Something to drink—coffee or sparkling water, usually. A heating pad—sitting all day really wrecks you. My Macbook Air and an aesthetically inspiring environment, which is usually my office or one of the coffeehouses in Brooklyn.

Do you have any plans for your release day?

My release day is going to be totally baller because it’s the first day of the Epic Reads tour! I’ll be in Princeton, NJ on my pub day day—I can’t wait! My launch party is the day before at Books of Wonder in Manhattan and we’re going to have a sitar player and henna artist there. I want readers to have a little taste of my jinn world.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now? I know there are more books in the Dark Caravan Cycle but anything else?

My next contemporary YA comes out in Feb. 2015. It’s called I’ll Meet You There and it’s a love story about a young Marine who just lost his leg in Afghanistan and a girl he works with at a quirky roadside motel. It’s my heart in paper and ink. I can’t wait for it to come out!

Short answer:
Bad Boys or Good Boys? I prefer bad boys next door. ☺

Happily ever after or happily never after? I’m a hopeless romantic of the Stephanie Perkins school.

Series or standalone? Series for fantasy, standalone for everything else. With fantasy, you need more time to really see this whole world the author is creating and you want to have enough time to spend with the large cast of characters. But I can’t reiterate enough that every book in a series needs to stand alone in terms of being a satisfying read with its own plot and character arcs. No filler!

Love triangles or soulmates? Some people might be worried that Exquisite Captive has a love triangle – it doesn’t. Three people does no always a love triangle make. I get pretty tired of the love triangle, but when it’s done well, I can’t resist its pull. Triangle or no, I prefer seeing soulmates who figure out they’re meant to be by novel’s end, but don’t know they’re meant to be at novel’s beginning.

Write at night or write during the day? I feel very lucky that I get to write full time. Because of that, I try to get most of my work done before my PIC (partner in crime) gets home from work. But it’s art – you can’t really confine it to one part of the day.

Write in silence or write with music? It depends on the book. I write the Dark Caravan Cycle to sitar and Middle Eastern music because that’s just what feels right and keeps me in the world. I usually write in silence, but have a playlist that inspires me for when I’m taking breaks.

Print, audio or eBooks? Print. Ain’t nothin’ like the real deal.

Giveaway!

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October 2nd:
Ex Libris REVIEW
Bookish REVIEW + DREAM CAST

October 3rd:
Fiktshun REVIEW + THIS OR THAT
Imagine a World REVIEW

October 4th:
Two Chicks On Books GUEST POST
Books a la Mode REVIEW

October 5th:
Fire and Ice REVIEW + MUSIC PLAYLIST
Me, My Shelf and I SPOTLIGHT

October 6th:
Novel Novice REVIEW
Addicted Readers REVIEW

October 7th:
Such A Novel Idea REVIEW + 10 RANDOM THINGS
Katie’s Book Blog REVIEW + AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Forever Young Adult – CHRACTHER INTERVIEW

October 8th:
I Heart YA Fiction REVIEW
Wholly Books REVIEW + WHAT’S ON HEATHER’S DESK

October 9th:
Once Upon A Twilight REVIEW
Crossroad Reviews REVIEW

October 10th:
Mundie Moms REVIEW + EXCERPT
Curling Up With A Good Book REVIEW

October 11th:
Swoony Boys Podcast REVIEW + A DAY IN THE LIFE OF HEATHER
Book Lovers Life REVIEW

October 12th:
A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW + TENS LIST
CBY Book Club – EXCERPT

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | Review

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | ReviewRites of Passage by Joy Hensley
Published by Harper Teen on September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

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Rites of Passage is a strong debut novel from Joy Hensley.  I was seriously impressed by this contemporary novel and I’m already looking forward to whatever she writes next.

Rites of Passage combines a few of my favorite things: strong females, forbidden romance, and a school setting.  And it just so happens that all three of these things are done well.  Sam is one seriously kick -ass female.  She knows it’s going to be tough being one of the first female students at Denmark Military Academy but she doesn’t let that stop her.  She’s never backed down from a dare and this is not going to be the first time she does.  She is determined to honor her brother’s memory by making it through the first year and paving the way for future generations of young women.  She is severely hazed, to the point of injury.  She’s looked down upon by almost everyone, including her older brother.  To top it all off, she has no clue who to trust seeing as there is a secret society determined to get her and all the other girls to leave.   None of that stops her though.  She is smart, funny, kind, and one tough cookie.  She’s the kind of heroine girls can definitely look up to.

The forbidden romance aspect was pretty steamy.  Sam and her cadet drill sergeant have a lot in common and he’s one of the few people at the school who treats her just like anyone else.  He doesn’t look down on her because she’s a female and he doesn’t make any special concessions because she’s a female.  To him, she’s just another person, one that he is attracted to though.  The attraction between them is definitely made clear at the beginning of the book but it takes time to build and nothing happens for quite some time.  Even after things are more out in the open, Rites of Passage really isn’t a romance centered novel.  Sure there are some steamy and some super sweet scenes between Sam and Drill but it’s not a focal point.  It was well done.

The school setting was awesome.  Rites of Passage is a lot like any other boarding school novel except that it’s set at a military academy where things are crazy strict.  To be honest, while I was reading I kept picturing the set of the Disney Channel Original Movie Cadet Kelly.  I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about, with Hilary Duff.  Scenes from that movie kept popping into my head while reading Rites of Passage and that was not a bad thing.  Denmark Military Academy was a really well-developed school setting that I could easily picture in my head.

The story is completely pulse-pounding.  I read Rites of Passage in one sitting because I was dying to know what was going to happen.  You won’t want to put this one down once you start it.  The ending was a little abrupt though and I was left with a few questions that I would love to have answered, maybe even in a second book.  While I don’t think Rites of Passage necessarily needs a sequel, I’d greatly enjoy one.

Overall, Rites of Passage is a fabulous debut and a wonderful contemporary novel.  I can’t wait to see what Joy Hensley has planned next!

What others are saying about Rites of Passage:

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Sam McKenna is the perfect blend of fierce determination, vulnerability and feminine strength.”

The Bookish Owl’s review: “Rites of Passage, without a doubt, is a phenomenal debut.”

Love is not a Triangle’s review: “I stayed up until 1:30 am finishing Rites of Passage because I couldn’t go to bed until I got to the end.”