Friday, August 19, 2016

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay | Review

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay | ReviewThe Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 325
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Who will be left after lights out?

At Cate's isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game- it's an elite secret society. Members must avoid being "Killed" during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the "Killer" is. When Cate's finally invited to join the Assassins' Guild, she know it's her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she's the next target?

picadillyblue

With a title like this one, I had some pretty high hopes.  The Assassin Game is my first time reading a book by Kirsty McKay and while it wasn’t all I had hoped for, it was enough to get me to check out some of her other books.

Pros:

  • Mystery: There were times when I totally thought about setting aside The Assassin Game and adding it to my short list of DNFs.  I admit, there were times when I was just plain bored.  Things moved at a slow pace with this one.  However, I could not stop reading this one because there were so many things I still needed to know.  Yes, there was a killer in the game but there was also someone attempting to kill people in real life too.  And let me tell you, I didn’t have a clue who either killer was.  These kids were pretty ruthless and they each wanted to be the last one standing at the end of the Game.  They were willing to do a lot of stuff in the name of the Game and it looked like someone was taking the Game a little too far.

Cons:

  • Pacing: I already mentioned this briefly but the pace of this one was ridiculously slow.  I honestly felt like nothing happened for the first half of the book.  The synopsis tells you about someone taking the Game a bit literally and trying to kill people but the first attempt doesn’t even happen until halfway through the book.  The first half just focuses on Cate and her many romantic entanglements as well as the progression of the Game.  I was extremely bored with that.  Which brings me to my next point.
  • Characters: I was not impressed with any of these characters.  Cate, for instance, was immature and obsessed with the Game.  I think she saw it as a way of fitting in which was something she had always been trying to achieve.  She was the kid that wasn’t really supposed to be at Umfraville but since her family owned the island she got to attend the school.  Everyone there was snobby and rich and she didn’t feel like she belonged with any of them except maybe Marcia and Daniel.  Also, she may have considered those two friends but they were anything but.  Marcia was self-centered and totally not there for Cate at all.  Daniel, on the other hand, was completely obsessed with her.  He was creepy.  As for Alex and Vaughn, Cate’s other possible love interests, I wasn’t really impressed with either of them.  Alex was the popular guy who was a total player but for some reason, Cate never wanted him.  They hooked up once and that was the end for her.  Vaughn was her childhood friend who reappeared after years and they immediately fell for each other.  I didn’t really have any problems with the two of them together but I didn’t feel any sort of investment in their relationship.
  • Writing: I wasn’t terribly upset with the writing in The Assassin Game but I was far from impressed with it.  It was very stilted and straightforward.  I felt like I was being told everything outright rather than having things shown to me through descriptions.  It was a really dull way of telling this story.

Overall, The Assassin Game may not have a lot of pros going for it but it was an entertaining enough story for me.  It’s not something I’ll ever re-read but it was a good mystery for a rainy day.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Assassin Game:

Flavia the Bibliophile’s review: “McKay did an exceptional job at keeping me guessing until the very end, and I commend her for that!”

The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh!’s review: “Overall, this is a case of a fun book that would NEVER happen in real life.”

Novelgossip’s review: “I had hoped that there would be some originality in this one, but alas I was left disappointed and irritated.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | Review

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | ReviewThe Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Since Cara's health has been deteriorating, all Stella Walter can think about is trying to cheer her sister up. Her life revolves around Cara to the point where Stella drops out of one of the country's top photography programs so she can spend what little time she has left with her sick sister.

With Cara's birthday around the corner, Stella wants to get her the perfect gift. An autographed poster of her sister's favorite boy band should do the trick. Sounds simple enough, right? But life isn't always so easy.

Not only does Stella hate The Heartbreakers because of their terrible music, but when she realizes that the cute boy she met at Starbucks is really Oliver Perry, the lead singer of the band, her life seems to spin out of control...

Will Stella be able to swallow her pride and get the autograph that she so desperately needs to make Cara happy? And will Oliver be able to show Stella how to live her own life again?

Meet... The Heartbreakers.

picadillyblue

I have a weakness for books involving romance between celebrities and normal people. The Heartbreakers features that and while it was a fun aspect, it just wasn’t enough to make me love the book as a whole.

The Heartbreakers hooked me from the start and kept me entertained to the very end. I read the whole book in a matter of hours. For a contemporary novel, there is enough going on that I never felt bored or that it was just about the romance. There is more going on than just the romance between Stella and Oliver. The Heartbreakers almost could be classified as new adult because Stella and her siblings are at the point where they are trying to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives. And of course there is also the fact that Stella’s sister has cancer. That plays a big role in the book as well.

The characters were mediocre. Oliver was pretty swoony but he didn’t have a ton else going for him. As for Stella, I found her to be quite scared. She used her sister’s illness to protect herself from possible heartache. She was also quite rude at times. I understood her dislike for The Heartbreakers but they were still just people who didn’t really deserve her anger. Don’t get me wrong though , I liked her feisty temper. I related to it and it made me laugh quite a bit.

The friendships and relationships made The Heartbreakers more than just an okay book. Starting out, I loved the relationship of Stella and her two siblings (triplets). They loved each other quite a bit. They were more like friends with an unbreakable bond. I was disappointed not to see more of this though because it didn’t play a huge role after the first part of the book. The second part focused more on the bond between the members of The Heartbreakers. They were friends that acted more like family. The pranks they played were hilarious. Sure they fought but they loved each other like brothers. They also accepted Stella into this family. Everyone but Oliver treated her like their little sister, teasing her, protecting her, and loving her. They were adorable.

The romance was very back and forth. I felt that Oliver and Stella needed to speak up and just say what they wanted. I know the book would have been a lot shorter that way but they were really immature about things. If they just accepted what they wanted and were willing to ask for them they would have been much happier people and I wouldn’t have felt like slapping them so much. There were quite a few moments where I saw where things were going and just wanted to stop them before everything fell apart.

The celebrity aspect was interesting in The Heartbreakers because Ali Novak portrayed the boys as normal people. There were definitely things that showed their fame but overall they were pretty down-to-Earth guys. Seeing them with each other and with their families just made it sink in that they were normal people deep down.

Overall, The Heartbreakers was a fun, fast read that I completely devoured. It’s a good read for a rainy day but don’t expect anything complex or profound.

What others are saying about The Heartbreakers:

Of Paper and Words’ review: “Overall, The Heartbreakers is a cheesy romance book with an ability to keep me reading.”

Real Rad Reads’ review: “I haven’t lost faith in her completely, but this novel did lower the bar.”

tumbling in books’ review: “If you’re looking for a fluff read, THE HEARTBREAKERS would be the book for you.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally | Review

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally | ReviewRacing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

picadillybluePure perfection!  If I had to review Racing Savannah in only two words, those would be them.  Miranda Kenneally has done it again (and I’m sure you’re not surprised by that.)

Readers will immediately be drawn in to Savannah and Jack’s world; the world of servants, jockeys, horse racing, and lots of money.  It’s a world very unlike my own and I was drawn in from the very first page.  It’s clear that Miranda Kenneally did her research with this one because everything was so authentic.  I’ve never been a fan of horse racing (or even horses) but just like with football in Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally made everything about it supremely interesting.

Savannah and Jack might be my favorite couple from all the books so far.  They come from very different worlds but from the second they meet, they like each other.  I’m not talking insta-love though.  They respect each other, they find each other attractive, and they grow to be friends, even when it’s frowned upon.  Savannah is technically Jack’s employee so things aren’t easy for them.  Their relationship is full of twists and turns and I was flipping pages as fast as I could.

As for the actual characters (not just as a couple), Savannah and Jack were both strong, smart, well-rounded people.  Savannah was a little broken and unwilling to trust, at first.  Jack was very overworked but he didn’t’ let it get to him.  Savannah was mature, kind, and while she was selfish at times, she was also very selfless at others.  Jack was rich but didn’t let the money go to his head.  He was a good person.

Also, the cameos in Racing Savannah made me so happy.  Racing Savannah takes place a few years after the other books so the characters are older now.  There’s a big (happy) event at one point in the book that put the biggest smile on my face.  Fans of the first three books will love it.

Overall, clearly I highly recommend Racing Savannah.  Miranda Kenneally is an all-time favorite authors of mine and I love her books.  If I could give Racing Savannah more than 5 shoes, I would.  It really is just that good.

What others are saying about Racing Savannah:

Rainy Day Ramblings’ review: “Another terrific addition to an outstanding YA series!”

For Love and Books’ review: “If you like romance, YA and or contemporary this book is for you!”

Anna Reads’ review: “So, I’d say: If you liked the other books, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks #3) by Miranda Kenneally | Review

Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks #3) by Miranda Kenneally | ReviewThings I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #3
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Things I Can’t Forget is probably my favorite of Miranda Kenneally’s books. It’s fun and cute just like the rest but it’s also such a powerful story. I was seriously impressed and I’m even more excited for her next book now.

Where do I even begin? I loved everything about this book! At first I was a little nervous because I’d heard some really mixed things but I went in with an open mind and I’m so glad I did. Kate was really judgmental and preachy at first but I really suggest you just get past that and keep reading. I know it will bother some people (it did me) but it’s worth it to get past it. The story wouldn’t work at all if Kate wasn’t the way she was. She’s a truly devout girl and she doesn’t know how to deal with people who either don’t believe in God or just don’t believe the same way she does. She thinks that her way is the only way and it’s pretty much impossible for her to look past that. As the story progresses though Kate really starts to look a little deeper, not just into her own faith but into the faith of the people around her, from friends to family.

The other characters weren’t nearly as hard to like as Kate was. Take Matt, for instance. Oh gosh, Matt. Miranda Kenneally continues to impress me with the guys she writes. Matt may be the best yet. He’s funny, charming, sweet, and, oh yeah, he plays guitar and writes music. What’s not to love? He continually cracked me up and he did so much to help Kate come out of her shell and start to see the people around her. Then there were Will and Parker. Now, I’m ashamed to admit this but it took me a little while to realize that they were the Will and Parker from Stealing Parker. Yeah, I know, I’m a ditz. They were just as awesome as in Stealing Parker but maybe even more so now. Their relationship has really changed and they were so dang cute together. I also really enjoyed seeing them both become friends with Kate. Also, Kate’s parents were great, especially her dad. Her parents were always there for her and they were always willing to talk to her about anything and everything. Oh and I have to mention Matt’s family and fraternity. Matt’s family was so funny and so cute. His frat brothers were the best though. They’re only in the book briefly but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them. And yes, you do get some Jordan and Sam Henry action!

The story moves along pretty quickly and Things I Can’t Forget won’t take you long to read at all. There were some rather dumb moves on Kate’s part but I felt that they really fit with her character and so they didn’t bother me all that much. However, they did kind of make me want to slap her a few times. Really, the story was just fun and cute but like I said, it had a heavier side to it that I really enjoyed. The religious part of Things I Can’t Forget was done amazingly well and it truly made me think. It was a bit preachy at times but I don’t think it could have been done any other way. Just stick with this one, I swear it’s so worth it.

Overall, Things I Can’t Forget is a must read for contemporary fans. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m so excited for the next book in this series!

Looking for more reviews of Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally?
Oh Damn Books’ review
A Reader of Fictions’ review
My Heart Hearts Books’ review
Maji Bookshelf’s review

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally | Review

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally | ReviewStealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #2
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 245
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

Miranda Kenneally is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors; right up there with Jennifer Echols, Sarah Dessen, and Sarah Ockler. I had very high hopes for Stealing Parker and I am so happy to say that I was not at all disappointed.

Parker is a lot like Jordan in some ways. She’s feisty, strong-willed, athletic, and most of her friends are boys. However that is where the similarities end. Parker is not nearly as easy to like as Jordan was. Parker does some stupid things and she’s very messed up. She doesn’t always think things through and sometimes she’s very selfish. She is a good person at heart though and a great friend. She just doesn’t quite know how to handle life anymore. Her family kind of spiraled out of control and she can’t fix it. Her friendships went the same way and she just gave up. Now she spends all her time trying to control what she can: her life, especially her love life. It’s not easy for Parker to trust people or to love them so instead of looking for a relationship, she looks for one night hookups. All that changes though when she starts to fall for someone that she just might want to be with for more than one night.

Once again the boys are what make this book and I’m not just talking the love interests. Miranda Kenneally has a way of writing friendships betweens guys and girls that are just natural and perfect. Drew is Parker’s best friend and he was a guy I would love to have as a friend. He stood up for Parker to his friends, he was there for her no matter what, and he liked Harry Potter marathons. Drew was a boy after my own heart! Then there was Corndog (Will). Corndog cracked me up! He’s a guy who thinks outside the box and never does what people expect him to. He’s a nice guy and a total sweetheart. And of course there is Brian, the assistant baseball coach, who Parker falls for. I actually really liked Brian and felt that he was just really confused. Sure he should have known better than to act how he did with Parker but other than that he was a pretty good guy.

Oh and there are a few mentions of Henry and Jordan in the book! Yay!

Stealing Parker is a rather short book and it’s super fast-paced. Things take off very quickly and it’s impossible to stop reading until you know exactly how everything is going to work out. There is quite a bit going on, what with the family drama, the church drama, and relationship drama but it’s never too much. And yes there is some religious stuff in Stealing Parker but it’s never preachy and never overdone. It fit perfectly with the story and I thought it really added to everything going on.

Overall, Stealing Parker is another must-read from Miranda Kenneally. You don’t need to read Catching Jordan first but I do recommend it. (Also, I just like any excuse to tell people to read that book.)

Looking for more reviews of Stealing Parker?
Thursday, August 16, 2012

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally | Review

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally | ReviewCatching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 1, 2011
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 281
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

picadillyblue

Catching Jordan is the perfect romantic comedy.  Anytime you are in the mood for a fun YA read I highly recommend this one.  Miranda Kenneally’s debut novel makes me long for a plate full of nachos and some cute boys playing football!

Jordan is a pretty fierce girl.  She’s captain of the football team (as well as quarterback) and she can hold her own with the guys.  They don’t intimidate her (although some of the cheerleaders do.)  She definitely has some flaws though.  She doesn’t see some of the things that are right in front of her face.  And she really starts to want things when she can’t have them.  I also felt that she didn’t always take other people’s feelings into account.  She thought only of herself for quite a while.

Now there is quite a bit of a love triangle (you’re blind if you don’t see it coming from the beginning) but it’s one of the better love triangles in YA books.  Both Henry and Ty are great guys, just very different.  Ty is a little needy but also a little demanding.  However he’s a total sweetheart who cares deeply for his family.  Henry is kind of a player but it’s clear to see that he does it because he wants to be with Jordan and can’t.  He’s very torn.  I was definitely Team Henry.  He’s impossible not to love but Ty did appeal to me too.

The best part of Catching Jordan is the friendship aspect.  Jordan may not know it but she has a lot of friends.  The guys on the football team would do anything for her.  They all see her as their best friend even though she’s a girl.  They just think of her as a more delicate guy.  As for the girls, they see her either as a threat (like some of the cheerleaders) or as someone to look up to.  She’s also very loved by her family even though she doesn’t always see it.

Disclaimer: I am not a football fan.  I like some sports but football has never been one of the ones that I enjoy.  However I great enjoyed the games and practices in Catching Jordan.  Everything I needed to know was explained but not overdone.  And it wasn’t all about football.  =)

Overall, Catching Jordan is a must-read for contemporary fans.  This is one that I will definitely be re-reading in the future!

Looking for more reviews of Catching Jordan?
Once Upon A Prologue’s review
Books Over Boys’ review