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?

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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, August 16, 2016

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt | Review

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt | ReviewUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrar, Straus on January 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

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I’ve always been the queen of contemporary but it’s not often that I find a contemporary novel that I adore.  That was the case with Underwater.  Marisa Reichardt’s debut novel completely blew me away.

I’m always a big fan of books that are fast paced and have a lot going on.  Underwater is not one of those books but it’s got a lot of other things going for it.  Marisa Reichardt’s writing is phenomenal.  It seemed a little wordy at first but once I got reading, I saw how it made everything come together.  The writing style just worked for this story.  Marisa Reichardt’s writing managed to capture exactly how Morgan felt after the school shooting and convey them perfectly for readers.  It took very little time for me to feel like I could understand exactly what Morgan was going through and how she was feeling.  It takes real talent to make that happen in such a short period of time.

The events that led to Morgan’s agoraphobia (I think that’s pretty much what she had) were a mystery for most of the book.  Readers can tell early on in the book what happened at the school that day but it’s not so obvious why it affected Morgan the way it did.  While other survivors embraced life and decided to take chances, Morgan did the opposite.  She shut herself away from everything that could hurt her, including other people.  Evan, her new neighbor, forces Morgan to reevaluate her choices and actually consider coming out of her apartment for the first time in months.  Evan was a total sweetheart.  He didn’t know what Morgan was like before the shooting but he quickly came to care for her, even with her quirks.  And honestly, Morgan’s quirks made me like her even more.  Sure I felt for her from the start but I only grew to really like her once I started to understand exactly what she thought about herself, the shooting, the shooter, and what her future might hold.

To some, Underwater might seem a little slow and a little lacking in action.  I did mention earlier that that is normally what draws me too a book but I didn’t mind the pace or the lack of action in Underwater.  There was some mystery (not much) which did keep my interest piqued but it was the characters that really kept me reading this one.  Like I said earlier, I felt emotionally connected to Morgan from the start so I never once considered putting Underwater down because of it’s pace.  I do think it’s a good thing to know going in though that Underwater is not necessarily a book you are going to be able to power through and read in an hour or two.  Take your time with this one.  It’s worth it.

I also really loved all the family dynamics in Underwater.  Morgan lived with her mom and little brother and they were all very close.  Her mom was extremely understanding about Morgan’s condition and her little brother was adorable.  Evan was also very close to his mom and aunt.  There wasn’t a ton of interaction shown between them but it was easy to see how they cared for each other and helped each other out.

Overall, Underwater is a fantastic debut that I can’t help but recommend.  I look forward to seeing what Marisa Reichardt does next.

What others are saying about Underwater:

My Friends Are Fiction’s review: “What a beautifully developed and executed debut Underwater was.”

bookstacked’s review: “Everything about this story was amazing: the writing, the theme, the dialogue, but one of my favorite things about this story was the underlying message. The message that having hope is one of the best things in the world.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

With Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley | Review

With Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley | ReviewWith Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley
Published by Forever on December 29th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.

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Oh new adult novels, you can be so cheesy.  With Every Breath fits in that category but I must say that I found myself enjoying my first foray into Lia Riley’s works.  It’s a fast-paced read that you can probably read in one sitting if you really want to.  It’s cute and will definitely leave you with a smile on your face.

Pros:

  • Story: I loved both Auden and Rhys’ stories.  Auden is an aspiring journalist who doesn’t have much to show so far in life.  She’s lived in the shadow of her twin sister and she feels that it’s finally time to get out there and create some stories of her own.  Rhys has lived more than most people.  He’s a professional mountaineer who is looking for redemption at the top of La Aguja.  Both Auden and Rhys are looking for something at La Aguja.  What they find isn’t exactly what they set out for but it proves to be exactly what they need.  There were some surprising twists in each of their stories and I liked that I could be kept guessing.
  • Characters: Auden is probably one of my favorite new adult protagonists.  Her life hasn’t been easy but she’s not a depressed or pessimistic person.  She’s funny and quirky and a lot of fun.  From the moment I was first introduced to her, I knew I’d be able to relate.  She’s not very outspoken and she’s afraid to ask for help.  All that changes when she meets Rhys.  He’s someone who doesn’t know her and she can be whoever she wants to be around him.  She was looking for the chance to change and he was the perfect opportunity.  As for Rhys, what can I say, I have a thing for the brooding ones.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s Scottish.  Even in my head I could hear that accent.  He was very closed off and that didn’t change the second he met Auden.  He didn’t really have a choice but to help her out.  His past was much darker than Auden’s and I could see that he thought his future was going to be too.  He had to work hard to open up to her and trust did not come easy from him.

Cons:

  • Ending: The ending felt really rushed to me.  I remember looking down at the page count on my ereader and wondering how everything could be wrapped up in so few pages.  I felt that once Auden and Rhys reached the camp at La Aguja everything just sped up and came tumbling out.  Things were revealed and resolved in just a few pages.  I didn’t see how that fit with either character.  I also felt that the biggest thing that happened in the whole book just got glanced over.  It’s a huge thing that impacted both Auden and Rhys and it was barely mentioned.  I don’t know if the next book in the series will address it at all but I really hope so.
  • Dialogue:  Dialogue is what usually gets me in new adult novels and that was the case with this one too.  Rhys is this brooding mountaineer who supposedly uses women for his own purposes but when he meets Auden he acts like this lovestruck teenager.  Sure he sometimes acts rather rude but most of the time he’s super romantic and sweet, even in his head.  I just couldn’t put that with my idea of Rhys as he had been described previously.

Overall, With Every Breath is an enjoyable read if you are just looking for something fun and mindless.  It’s not the best new adult but it’s definitely not the worst either.  I have a feeling I’ll continue with this series and check out more of Lia Riley’s books.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about With Every Breath:

Romancing the Book’s review: “Emotions are high throughout and I shed some tears along with a few laughs.”

Harlequin Junkie’s review: “With Every Breath is a fun, enjoyable, slightly angsty read that I highly recommend especially if you’re interested in an at-home trip to South America.”

Stories Unfolded’s review: “Every new book I read of Lia’s makes me more of a fan and she’s getting another thumbs up from me on this one.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom.

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

picadillyblueWhen I heard that Stephanie Perkins was editing (and contributing to) another collection of young adult short stories, I was beyond ecstatic.  I was a fan of My True Love Gave to Me and I’ve really come to love collections like this one.

This is a little hard for me to review since if I had the time, I’d review each story separately.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get around to doing that eventually but today I’m just going to touch on the book as a whole!

Pros:

  • Authors: Summer Days and Summer Nights has a wide variety of authors, some I’ve read before and others that were new to me.  It’s also great that it’s not just one genre represented.  It didn’t hurt that a few of my favorite authors were included here (Leigh Bardugo, anyone?)  I feel like readers who already love these authors will enjoy getting even a little bit more from them and if the book includes new authors for you, maybe you’ll find some new books to check out.

Okay, that’s really the only point I can make in a pros and cons review.  The rest is just going to have to be more traditional.  I tried but I just don’t know how to word it to make things fit with all the stories.

Let’s break it down here:

My favorite story would have to be Stephanie Perkins’ (no surprise there) but I also loved Brandy Colbert’s and Tim Federle’s and I’ve never read any of their books.  I also really enjoyed Nina LaCour’s and look forward to reading more of her work.  A few others that were up there on my list were Lev Grossman’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, and Jon Skovron’s.

Stories that were right in the middle for me were Libba Bray’s and Francesca Lia Block’s.  I’m not really a huge fan of either author so I didn’t know what to expect with these two which actually helped me like them more, I think.  I went in with no expectations so they couldn’t really disappoint me.  I know that’s sad but it’s true.  I think if you enjoy either (or both) author you will like these stories from them.

I was let down a bit by both Leigh Bardugo and Cassie Clare’s stories.  I think for Leigh Bardugo’s it had more to do with the subject than the author.  I still love her writing but I wasn’t impressed with the story and just didn’t get into it.  As for Cassie Clare, I think I’ve just read too much of her work and need a break from it all.  I find her stories to be really fun and that’s what I expected from this one but it just didn’t hit the right note with me.

Overall, while Summer Days and Summer Nights had a few stories I didn’t love, I really did enjoy it as a whole.  Overall, take some time to read through this one.  Not only did I get the chance to read some new things from some of my favorite authors, I got to read a couple new authors (Lev Grossman is a new one for me) that I’ll have to check out more from now.  Summer Days and Summer Nights really is the perfect book to take out with you on a summer day!

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.

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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.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross | Review

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross | ReviewWhatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross
Published by Entangled TEEN on October 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 373
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

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Whatever Life Throws At You is the first new adult novel I’ve read by Julie Cross but it definitely will not be my last.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read with romance, betrayal, and baseball (meaning men in tight pants).  What more could a girl want?

Annie Lucas and Jason Brody may be seriously attracted to each other but they really don’t care much for each other.  Annie is the daughter of the Kansas City Royals’ pitching coach and Brody is the 19-year-old rookie pitcher for the team.  They have every reason to stay away from each other but things keep throwing them together.  Eventually their attraction may just overcome their dislike.

Annie is a determined, strong, kind, and funny girl.  She’s pretty much all her dad has and so they are very close.  They grow even closer when they move to a new state so her dad can take the job.  Brody has nobody and so he sees Annie’s dad as a father figure when he takes him under his wing.  This relationship between Brody and Annie’s dad throws them in each others paths very frequently and a friendship (maybe more) starts to grow.

I loved the development of the relationship between Annie and Brody.  They really didn’t think much of each other until they looked past the outer images they both portray to the world.  Brody is seen as a bad boy player but he still finds time to make it to Annie’s track meets.  Annie is seen as a bit of a snob but she’s the only one who really takes the time to encourage Brody.  Clearly there is more to both than meets the eye.  A wary friendship starts and eventually leads to more.

The family and friend relationships were also wonderful.  Annie, Jim, and her grandmother are all very close and very open with each other.  Annie’s mom, on the other hand, is a terrible person who I hated from the start.  I also hated Annie’s best friend, Lenny’s family.  They were so fake and I really loved that Lenny had Annie.  Same with Jim’s relationship to Brody.  He was not his kid but he still cared a lot for him.

The baseball aspect was not overpowering but still really fun.  Baseball is not a sport I care for but Julie Cross did a great job making it interesting.

Overall, Whatever Life Throws At You is a new favorite of mine.  I would certainly be interested in reading more about these characters.  Also, there is a great blending of new adult and young adult so it would be great as an introduction to the new adult genre.

What others are saying about Whatever Life Throws At You:

Geeky Mythology’s review: “A great part of the book is spent building family relationships and it’s told beautifully.”

NoseGraze’s review: “Whatever Life Throws at You was another book that I didn’t want to end.”

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Overall, a really solid contemporary romance!”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Blog Tour: The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2) by Lori M. Lee | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2) by Lori M. Lee | Review + GiveawayThe Infinite by Lori M. Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone #2
Published by Skyscape on March 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 378
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

TheInfiniteBlogTour

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I was a big fan of Gates of Thread and Stone so when I saw The Infinite on Netgalley I knew I needed to download it immediately.  The first book tied up pretty neatly but I wanted more of Kai, Avan, and Reev’s story.  I got just what I wanted from The Infinite but it definitely left me eager for more.

The Infinite picks up right where Gates of Thread and Stone left off.  Kai is settling into her new life though she doesn’t have her powers any more and she’s not sure what that means.  Avan is also settling in but it’s a bit easier for him seeing as he has no memories of his old life to confuse him.  Then there is Reev who is an awesome big brother but comes across pretty sketchy at times.  I never knew if I should trust his intentions or not.  There are many people in Kai’s life that have secrets and it’s extremely hard to tell who those secrets are going to hurt when they come out.

I’m  happy to say that The Infinite does not suffer from second book syndrome.  To be honest, I had no clue where this book was going to take Kai’s story when I started it.  Like I said, things tied up pretty neatly at the end of the first book so I didn’t know what Lori M. Lee had in store for her characters this time around.  There are definitely things from the first book that come into play in The Infinite but it also introduces a new story that kept me hooked from start to finish.  I also really appreciated the character growth in this one.  It was hard for me to see Avan as this new character without his memories of Kai.  While he had the same body as the Avan from Gates of Thread and Stone he was very much a different character and that was unusual.  Then there was Kai who really showed growth and new strengths that I definitely appreciated.

Overall, The Infinite continues the awesomeness of Kai’s story that started with Gates of Thread and Stone.  Once again, I’m eager for more but I have no clue what Lori M. Lee is going to do next.  Fantasy fans need to check out this series!

What others are saying about The Infinite:

What Happened to the Wallflower’s review: “Basically, what I’m trying to say: in the total of about 360 pages, I was never once bored.”

Room 22 Epic Readers’ review: “The Infinite was absolutely amazing. I didn’t want to put it down!”

Check out the rest of the blog tour for more reviews as well as interviews, giveaways, and more!

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Lori is the author of young adult fantasy novels Gates of Thread and Stone and The Infinite. She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.

 
 
 
 

Find Lori M. Lee online here:

Website: http://www.lorimlee.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7084159.Lori_M_Lee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoriMLee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoriMLee
Tumblr: http://lorimlee.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lorimlee/
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Published by Scholastic on October 21, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 391
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

picadillyblue

Does it come as any surprise that I absolutely adored Blue Lily, Lily Blue? If it does, you probably haven’t read my reviews of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves so you should probably stop reading this and check those out first.

I’d heard there was a cliffhanger at the end of Blue Lily, Lily Blue so I was pretty on edge throughout the whole book. (Don’t worry; it’s not a bad cliffhanger.) There were so many twists and turns in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I just couldn’t keep up. I never once was able to predict what was going to happen next. That’s always been one of the things I love most about Maggie Stiefvater’s books and it was no exception with this one.

The characters have grown on me since the first book and I’ve come to love them all but I still can’t predict a single thing they are going to do. All of them managed to piss me off at least once throughout the book but I love them even more now, especially Adam. Adam has been the hardest for me to like throughout the series but I finally felt like I could understand where he was coming from with this book. He’s still not my favorite of the Raven boys but I like him a lot more now than I used to.

The story develops a lot more in Blue Lily, Lily Blue than in any of the other books. The Raven boys and Blue finally make some progress on their quest to find Glendower but they find more problems as well. Their quest is not a simple one and every bit of progress they make seems to be hindered by something. I’m not sure how things are going to end in the next (and final) book but I’m eager to see how Maggie Stiefvater ties things up.

Overall, Blue Lily, Lily Blue just blew me out of the water. I was expecting something amazing and I definitely got that. I wish I didn’t have to wait for the final book but I know there are plenty other readers out there anxiously awaiting it with me.

What others are saying about Blue Lily, Lily Blue:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Maggie Stiefvater makes you believe in magic.”

Not Yet Read’s review: “The group as a whole do have some pretty tense moments, odd discoveries and of course two major breakthroughs in this installment and the way it ends did indeed leave me eager for the next book, I just didn’t feel that this one was as gripping or strong as the previous two books which I loved.”

Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “This series is undoubtedly one of my absolute favorites, and I am eagerly awaiting not only the series finale, but re-reading it and listening to the complete audiobooks (the narration has been excellent).”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blog Tour: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe | Review + Interview + GiveawayEarth & Sky by Megan Crewe
Series: Earth & Sky #1
Published by Skyscape on October 28, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 306
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help--but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.

picadillyblueEarth & Sky is a member of a genre that I don’t often read: science fiction.  I’ve never really been interested in things to do with aliens, other worlds, and time travelling but Megan Crewe did a wonderful job with Earth & Sky.  I was intrigued from the start and couldn’t stop reading once I started.

One of the draws of Earth & Sky is that it’s not super scientific or futuristic.  It’s set in a world like ours full of people like us.  Skylar in particular is very normal, just with a special ability.  She suffers from terrible panic attacks.  For most of her life she’s tried to hide them from people and learned how to deal with them on her own.  However, Win tells her that they aren’t typical panic attacks.  They are triggered by something truly wrong in the world, something that only a few people can actually sense, Sky being one of them.  As for Win, he may be an alien but that’s not to say he’s not just like a regular guy.  He just happens to have some really big jobs on his plate, such as finding a weapon to destroy a satellite.  No big deal.

This is not the first book I’ve read by Megan Crewe and it will definitely not be my last.  Earth & Sky reaffirmed my love of her writing style.  It’s simple and easy to read making her books even more fast-paced than they already are.  Her writing style also helps keep the story a little more simple since there is a lot going on.  It would be easy to make Earth & Sky a very hard to follow story but that was not the case.

The romance in Earth & Sky was a bit lackluster.  It was hard to tell if there was something blooming between Win and Sky.  I don’t know about you guys but I’m a huge fan of romance and I actually like books less when there isn’t some steaminess.  At first I thought there might be some romance between Sky and one of her classmates but that didn’t seem to go anywhere and things could maybe go somewhere between Win and Sky in future books but there wasn’t much action this time around.  I definitely don’t think that’s a huge drawback but for me it did take away some enjoyment.

Overall, Earth & Sky is a unique science fiction story that can appeal to all readers, even ones like me who aren’t the biggest fans of sci fi.  I recommend giving this series a shot and I definitely look forward to seeing where things go in future installments.

What others are saying about Earth & Sky:

Feisty Little Woman’s review: “The time-travelling in Earth & Sky is creative and well-thought out.”

Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Earth & Sky was an entertaining read and offered something unique in the YA scifi genre.”

megan About the author:

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives with her husband, son, and three cats in Toronto, Canada (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she can’t look at the night sky without speculating about who else might be out there.

Where to find Megan online:

Website: http://www.megancrewe.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/megan.crewe
Twitter: http://twitter.com/megancrewe
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2839407.Megan_Crewe
Tumblr: http://megancrewe.tumblr.com/

 

 

Interview

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog as part of the blog tour!

Thank you! I’m glad to be here.  🙂

Describe Earth & Sky in 140 characters or less. 

Teen girl joins alien rebel on a journey through history and around the world to stop his people’s time manipulating experiments on Earth.

What made you decide to write YA?

To be honest, it wasn’t so much a decision as a realization. When I first started writing novels, I was in my teens, so I wrote about teenaged characters because that was what I knew. As I got older, I found most of my story ideas still involved teens and that I enjoyed writing about that period in people’s lives the most. It’s such an intense time, with so many firsts and issues people are often only just becoming aware of, and it’s also a period of so much change as you grapple with your identity and whether it fits who you want to be. There’s a lot to explore there as an author.

Do you have a favorite character from Earth & Sky?  If so, why?

My main characters are almost always my favorites, and I am very fond of Skylar. She’s had to deal with a lot and still manages to find the courage to take all the risks she does to protect the people she cares about, but she isn’t afraid to stand up for her own needs either.

Do you have any must-haves while writing?

As much quiet as I can get—I have trouble focusing with music or chatter around me. Wrist rests to prevent muscle strain, especially necessary because when I’m drafting I’ll be on the computer for long stretches at a time. And an outline so I know where I’m going.

Do you know how a story is going to end when you start it?  Is it easier to figure out the beginning or the ending of a book/series?

See above about outlining—I’m very much a planner, and always work out the major details before I start a story. With a series, I need to have at least a vague idea where the overall story is going to go across all of the books, though I generally don’t figure out the specifics until I’m finished each book before.

As to beginnings vs. endings… I find beginnings really hard in general. It’s tough balancing introducing your characters and their world with getting into the action quickly enough. Whereas I love bringing everything together for a grand finale. But on the other hand actually figuring out the details of the ending is usually more difficult just because there are many different elements that need to be coordinated and built-up properly, whereas at the beginning I’m just getting the ball rolling.

What is next from you?  More books in the Earth & Sky world?

There are two more books to follow Earth & Sky–The Clouded Sky and A Sky Unbroken—which will be out in spring and then fall 2015. I don’t have any further books lined up yet, but I do have a couple projects waiting for their turn to be considered and another I’m in the process of writing, and I hope to have news to share about one or more of those before too long!

Short answer:

Bad Boys or Good Boys? Good boys—I like to see heroines treated with respect.

Happily ever after or happily never after? Somewhere in between–realistically hopeful, let’s say

Series or standalone? Reading: standalone; writing: both

Love triangles or soulmates? Between the two I’d have to take love triangles, but I really prefer two-person love stories that are romantic without it having to be a destiny/forever soulmates type deal.

Write at night or write during the day? Day.

Write in silence or write with music? Silence

Print, audio or eBooks? Print for collecting; eBooks for convenience

(Sorry, I’m obviously not very good at answering shortly.  😉  )

Giveaway

One grand prize winner will receive a Kindle Paperwhite with custom EARTH & SKY cover and preloaded with the ebook, and nine others will receive a signed paperback copy of the book. All winners will also receive an EARTH & SKY swag pack including star candies in Win’s favorite Earth flavors, signed bookmark, magnet, and sticker. (Open internationally)

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Beautiful Girl by Lida James | Review

Blog Tour: Beautiful Girl by Lida James | ReviewBeautiful Girl by Lida James
Published by The Studio on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

I’ve always wanted to be beautiful, but the irony is that you can’t force it—real beauty is when you don’t have to try, it’s just there. You wake up to it, like freshly fallen snow outside your window, and it’s yours to bask in. Real beauty is for people like my roommate, Kate, who float through life.

I don’t float—I run.

Sophomore year at Dutchess College has just begun, and Nicole is still haunted by memories of her first love, Zach. As the changing leaves fall on the stately Hudson Valley campus, she takes solace in running—pushing herself to go harder, faster, to be the best. With the wind blowing through her hair, she can almost convince herself that she is beautiful, that she will find love again.

So when Nico runs, quite literally, into the maddeningly elusive Justin, she’s convinced she’s found the guy to make her forget her ex—despite the warnings of her friends and her straight-edged running partner, Luke.

But when Nico is attacked in the woods after a wild night of partying, everything changes. Suddenly, Nico begins receiving anonymous threats, and she no longer knows where to turn for help—or whether even her close friends can be trusted.

All she wants is to be one of the beautiful girls—the ones who never have to chase perfection. But in order to uncover the truth, she’ll have to face a past she had hoped to leave behind forever. She thought she could outrun the darkness, but darkness has a way of catching up...and only one boy can save her.

picadillyblueBeautiful Girl is the first book I’ve read from Paper Lantern Lit’s publishing imprint and it’s definitely set my expectations pretty high for their future books.  Lida James’ debut novel has pretty much everything readers could want: suspense, romance, mystery, and betrayal.  I was hooked from the moment I picked it up.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nicole when I first started the book. She’s not an easy girl to like and it was hard for me to figure out if she might be a little bit crazy.  She definitely seemed like she might be a bit of an unreliable narrator.  She was paranoid and a little obsessive when it came to certain people in her life.  She was also very confused about guys.  She was a little bit of a tease and that was probably my biggest issue with her.  She had 3 or 4 guys interested in her  and it seemed like she just played them all.  I had no clue which one of the guys she was truly interested in although I knew which one I thought she should be interested in.  Henry was the only guy that seemed to be really good for Nicole.  He was sweet and charming and a little shy.  He was good for her and didn’t bring out the bad side of her like Justin or Zach did.

As for the mystery, I saw part of it from the start but there were many things that managed to surprise me throughout the course of the book.  Things kept happening and I’d expect one person to be doing them only to find out later that it was someone else.  I think Nicole’s paranoia really added to the mystery.  There were times when I was sure she was right about whoever was attacking her and other times I was sure she was just losing her mind.  It kept things interesting, that’s for sure.

The friendships in the book really did very little for me.  Nicole’s roommates were supposed to be her friends but I saw Monica more as a frenemy than anything and Kate was barely there for most of the book.  I just didn’t understand any of the draws for the friendships and I thought they were actually quite mean to each other.  They definitely had more of a relationship that involved a lot of backstabbing and jealousy.

Overall, Beautiful Girl is a thoroughly interesting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It definitely fits into the new adult category since it deals a lot with sex, drugs, alcohol, and other explicit content but it’s not done for the shock factor alone.  I’d highly recommend this one for fans of suspense.

What others are saying about Beautiful Girl:

Reading Lark’s review:  “I think in the end Lida James has created a story that will remind you of the beauty of hope and new beginnings.”

Fiktshun’s review: “BEAUTIFUL GIRL is a dark and intriguing story with gorgeous writing, an array of disturbing, maddening, sympathetic, likable and detestable characters facing a number of tough issues, and a chilling and suspenseful mystery.”

LidaJames

About the author:

Lida James grew up in Brooklyn, New York and graduated cum laude from Vassar College with a BFA in English (and a lot of film credits, too). After working as a cameraperson on feature films in NYC she relocated to Los Angeles in search of mountains and waves. Once there, she wrote and sold screenplays (and snowboarded and windsurfed). She continues to enjoy living in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children—all shredders like herself—and two rescue dogs. Beautiful Girl is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter to learn more and for updates! photo © Amy Malloy