Thursday, August 6, 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Review

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | ReviewSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 303
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

picadillyblueSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  I truly do not think I have read a single bad review for this book and I’ll go ahead and tell you now that my review is going to be just as lovely as the rest.  Becky Albertalli’s debut novel was completely epic.  She is definitely one author I have added to my auto-buy list.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is unlike any book I’ve read.  It’s a romance and a mystery and a drama and so much more.  From the start of the book I was hooked and I probably only put the book down once and that was only because I was forced to at work.  The mystery of who Blue was kept me guessing until the end and while I did figure it out before the big reveal, it didn’t take anything away from my love of the book.  Like seriously, I’m not kidding when I say I squealed and maybe even threw in a fist pump when I discovered who Blue was.  Let’s just say I was pretty invested in the relationship by that time.   The interactions online between Blue and Simon were too cute and too perfect for words.  They built up this amazing relationship without even knowing who they were talking to.  Yes, Simon gave more clues than Blue about his identity but I think there was still a lot of mystery for Blue too.  And let me just say, things did not fizzle when they finally met in person.  No, in fact, things just got better from there.  I have a new favorite couple and it’s Simon and Blue.

The blackmail scheme bothered me so much.  I couldn’t believe anyone would threaten Simon the way Martin did.  I didn’t see Martin as this terrible person but he made some huge mistakes and he was definitely not someone I liked or could ever like.  I also hated that Simon didn’t ever do anything about it.  He went along with Martin’s scheme even though I thought he should have told someone.  I thought it was adorable how he wanted to protect Blue more than anything but Martin didn’t deserve to get away with what he did.

The friendships throughout the story were amazing.  Really all the relationships were fabulous.  Leah, Nick, and Simon had this bond from knowing each other for so long.  Sure there were times when they were at each other’s throats but it was easy to see how much they loved each other.  They had a true friendship without all that backstabbing and jealousy that seems to be present in so many friendships.  And while Abby wasn’t necessarily part of that original group, she was quickly finding her place with them and I thought she was a great addition to the group.  I loved the friendships but my favorite relationships in the book were definitely between Simon and his family.  They were so quirky and funny and they reminded me so much of my own family.  I don’t believe family plays a big enough role in most YA books and that was not the case with this one.  Sure Simon may have found his parents and siblings to be a little nosy but they cared about each other and all they wanted was to be involved.

Now let’s talk one minor thing that may not matter much to some people but that I really loved: Harry Potter.  Simon loved Harry Potter and he wasn’t afraid to show it.  The references to Harry Potter just made me smile.  I adored every little mention, no matter how small.  Simon Spier, will you be my best friend?

Oh and drunk Simon is possibly the cutest thing ever.  And Bieber!  I could go on and on about this book.

Overall, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a new addition to my list of favorite books.  I look forward to reading anything Becky Albertalli ever writes.  This book was just pure perfection.

What others are saying about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:

Prettybooks’ review: “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a majorly cute LGBT romance with awesome friends, many adorable moments, and a lot of laughs.”

Writability’s review: “5/5 stars to this one for sure, and I can’t wait to see what Albertalli comes up with next.”

The Tales Compendium’s review: “As I said before, I didn’t want Simon to end, I was just so happy being in Simon’s world.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Emmy & Oliver:

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

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

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

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, July 24, 2015

Blog Tour: A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl | Review

Blog Tour: A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl | ReviewA School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony by Patrice Kindl
Series: Keeping the Castle #2
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on July 14th 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The eagerly awaited companion to the award-winnng Keeping the Castle.The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men.Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!

picadillyblueA School For Brides, the companion to Keeping the Castle, is an adorable read.  Having read Keeping the Castle, I was intrigued enough to come back to this setting once again.  While A School For Brides can definitely be read as a standalone, it reminded me why I enjoyed Keeping the Castle so much.

Like I said, this can totally be read as a standalone.  I read Keeping the Castle a few years ago and I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read since that time so it’s not like that story was fresh in my mind when I started this one.  I only very vaguely recalled what happened and the characters from that story only make a couple appearances throughout A School For Brides.  This story focuses on a new cast of characters and they are quite a mix!

The girls at the Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire are technically there to be educated and trained in the arts that they will require to run a household.  They all know they are really there to find husbands though.  That’s harder than they imagined though since Lesser Hoo only has one eligible bachelor and he’s not one that anyone is terribly interested in marrying.  That all changes though.  When an accident causes a young bachelor to break his leg and be forced to move into the Academy, he brings some friends along and the young girls at the Academy suddenly have quite an array of men to choose from.

The girls were all extremely unique.  Some of them were younger and didn’t play a huge role in the story but their antics were cute.  The older girls who were of marrying age were determined to make something out of all the young men suddenly in Lesser Hoo.  Each girl really found her match in some way or another.  The men and women varied from incredibly intelligent to rather clueless.  However, each one had something different to offer the story.  Some of them were clearly there for humorous reasons and they definitely played their parts well.  I found myself giggling a time or two while reading A School for Brides.

The story really reads like a Jane Austen novel or something similar to that.  It’s definitely historical fiction, that’s for sure.  I got a bit annoyed with all the talk of how women were inferior and only required to run a household once they got married.  I understand that that is how people saw things back then but it was a bit repetitive.  There were definitely some girls at the Academy though who put that idea out of their minds and did what they wanted.  I appreciated that.

Also, while it is a story about girls searching for husbands, it’s not really a romance.  Being set in the time and location that it is, romance was very different.  It’s nothing like a romance today.  It was very chaste and slow moving.  Like I said, very much like a Jane Austen novel.  The romance aspect was extremely cute though so I liked it.

Overall, A School for Brides is perfect for fans of historical fiction and Jane Austen novels.  It was fun seeing the cameos from Keeping the Castle and I enjoyed revisiting Lesser Hoo.  If you ever get the chance to read these books, I would recommend them.

What others are saying about A School for Brides:

The Psychotic Nerd’s review: “This was a very quick and easy read with charming fun!”

The Book Cellar’s review: “A School for Brides is an absolutely charming read that captures everything I love about a good historical fiction read.”

And if that’s not enough to convince you, check out this super cute limerick from the author!

Limerick 3
Limerick #3

Once there was a girl with a brain,
Stuffed to the brim with knowledge arcane.
She spoke Latin and Greek
(These days we’d call her a geek)
And she dwelt on a cerebral plane.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about The Bourbon Kings:

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

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

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Survive the Night:

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

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

Interview with Danielle Vega

Describe Survive the Night in 140 characters or less!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blog Tour: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George | Review + GiveawaySilver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
Series: Silver in the Blood #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on July 7th 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

A New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare.

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

picadillyblueI don’t know about you guys but, to me, historical fiction just doesn’t seem to get enough love.  Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  Historical fantasy makes it even better!  Jessica Day George does a fantastic job with the first book in this new series!

I have never read anything by Jessica Day George so it definitely took a little getting used to when it comes to her voice and style.  The characters are 17 years old but their voices and attitudes seemed a but younger than that.  They were not immature exactly but they seemed to overreact to some things that went on.  And while the beginning of the book did drag a little bit, I had no trouble getting into the story.  I personally liked the attitudes of the girls and really came to like them both quickly.

I’ve never been a huge fan of shapeshifter stories (don’t ask why, I don’t know) but there was something about this one that appealed to me more than the others that I’ve read.  Possibly the setting and the characters but I’ll come back to that later.  The two girls find out that their family are shapeshifters and they are coming into their powers.  The girls each turn into different things and each things comes with different powers and history.  The backstory surrounding their family was definitely interesting.

The romance was something I was expecting from the start.  There is an incident involving Dacia and Lord Johnny that is brought up early and Lord Johnny comes back into play later in the book.  It turns out he is not exactly who everyone thinks he is.  Then there are Lou and Theo.  Their relationship is more my style.  They don’t like each other at first but their feelings start to change throughout the story.  All four characters bring something new to the table and they work well together, with different attitudes and styles of handling things.

Overall, Silver in the Blood starts off Jessica Day George’s new series with a few flaws but not enough to stop me from recommending it.  Don’t let the slow beginning stop you from giving this one a full chance!

What others are saying about Silver in the Blood:

The Social Potato’s review: “It’s not a bad book by any means, it’s very creative and fun but it is also a little slow and needed a little work in the character department.”

Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “While the book may have a bit of a slow start, I recommend sticking with it because the relationship between Lou and Dacia more than makes up for it.”

The White Unicorn’s review: “If you like sweeping adventures, blood soaked evenings and strong female friendships, this is the book for you.”

Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 19, 2015

Play On by Michelle Smith | Review

Play On by Michelle Smith | ReviewPlay on by Michelle Smith
Published by Spencer Hill Press on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 296
Format: Paperback
Source: BEA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek--he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa's pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn't everything--maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

picadillyblue

I’d heard good things about Michelle Smith’s novel, Play On, so I went in with pretty high expectations.  While it wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be, it definitely grabbed my attention and kept me entertained for the few hours it took me to read it.  This is a quick read that was actually a lot deeper than I thought it would be.

Play On is full of southern charm, boys in baseball pants, romance, and secrets.  It’s a contemporary lovers dream.  I knew from the start that I was going to like it.  Austin Braxton is the star pitcher for his high school baseball team.  He’s also a true southern gentleman.  When he sets his sights on Marisa Marlowe, she has no clue what she’s in for.  Austin was a total sweetheart and he was willing to do whatever it took to get Marisa to fall for him.  He was born and bred in the south and he was all about taking care of his mom, treating a lady right, and playing baseball.  Marisa, on the other hand, was new to all of that.  She was born and raised in Maryland and she did not know what to do with Austin.  They were super cheesy together but adorable at the same time.

The baseball aspect was done well.  It was not overdone and it was easy to understand for anyone who might not be so into baseball.  I love sports books but sometimes it’s just too much for me.  That was not the case with Play On.  It didn’t dominate the story but it was also a very important aspect that couldn’t be ignored.  I was able to appreciate how much baseball mattered to Austin and his small-town but also focus on the romance as well as the deeper stuff going on with Austin and Marisa.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to be a bit cryptic here but Marisa was definitely hiding some things from Austin.  I had some guesses but I was way off.  Her secrets were dark and heartbreaking.  She was able to present herself as a happy, carefree teenager but that was just a facade.  As Austin and Marisa got closer, her secrets came to the surface and they definitely tore me apart.  It’s hard not to feel for Marisa and everything she is going through.  It helped that Austin was a complete sweetheart through it all.

The romance between Austin and Marisa was a bit too cheesy for my tastes.  I was born and raised in the south and let me just tell you, I never met a guy who talked like Austin.  He was just a bit too perfect!  I really wanted to see more of his flaws, especially since Marisa clearly had some.  I would have been able to appreciate him just a bit more if he ever did something wrong.  Maybe that’s just me though.

Overall, Play On won’t top my list of favorites but it’s certainly worth a read.  Any book that can get me to tear up as many times as this one did definitely deserves to be checked out!

What others are saying about Play On:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “If you like sweet sports romance, give this one a shot!”

A Reader of Fictions’ review: “At the outset, I struggled with the dialect, but ultimately the wonderful messages and adorable romances made Play On a book that I’ll happily endeavor to push on all of you.”

Polished Page Turners’ review: “All of the elements come together nicely to create a great story that is neither too light or too heavy.”

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.”

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + GiveawayFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Delacorte Press on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

picadillyblue Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella’s young adult debut, proves that not only can she write amazing novels for adults, her talent transfers wonderfully to young adult.  Bullying, mental illness, romance, and humor all take center stage in Finding Audrey and Sophie Kinsella balances it all perfectly.

Audrey suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder because of a bullying incident at her previous school.  She was terrified of everyone other than her family and therapist. She refused to leave the house and even the thought of leaving the house would send her on a downward spiral.  Her family was so supportive but they also knew that she needed to make some progress.  With the help of her family and one of her brother’s friends, Audrey finally started to see that maybe all people weren’t so bad.

First off, the way that Sophie Kinsella addresses bullying and mental illness may be off-putting for some people.  She does not make light of it in any way but she does intersperse humor throughout the novel to balance Audrey’s depression and social anxiety.  In no way does she try to distract from Audrey’s problems but at times it can come across that way.  For such a serious topic, Sophie Kinsella addresses it in a very unique way.

Audrey’s family is just plain bonkers and it totally worked for them.  Her mom is obsessed with the effects of video games on her brother’s mind.  Her brother, Frank, is just plain obsessed with video games.  And her dad just does what he can to get by.  The family relationship is very unconventional but it was perfect and it cracked me up.  It was nice to see a young adult novel where family, especially parents, played such a huge role.  As for Audrey and Frank’s relationship, I liked it a lot.  They were close in age but it wasn’t just that.  He was always there for her as a friend, a brother, and a protector.

Audrey’s relationship (if you can call it that) with Linus was so adorable.  They had quite an interesting beginning to their friendship and it only continued to get weirder with time.  Linus accepted Audrey even with her quirks caused by her Social Anxiety Disorder.  He was not only accepting of her, he truly wanted to help her.

Overall, Finding Audrey was a fantastic introduction into the YA world from Sophie Kinsella.  Her quirky sense of humor, fast-paced style of writing, and wonderful storytelling make for a book that I couldn’t put down!

What others are saying about Finding Audrey:

The Bibliomaniac’s review: “Highly recommended, if you’re looking for a heart-warming tale; a perfect blend of humour and hope.”

Escapades of a Bookworm’s review: “Finding Audrey is about finding yourself, accepting yourself for who you are, and progressing forward.”

Read. Breathe. Relax’s review: “Finding Audrey is deep and so very funny and ultimately relatable and lovable – highly recommended.”

A Q&A With Sophie Kinsella

Describe Finding Audrey in 140 characters or less!

This is the story of Audrey, her family, and a journey to recovery. It’s sad in places, funny, too, and romantic as only a teen story can be.

What made you decide to finally write a YA novel?

I didn’t set out to write a YA novel in fact. I just had the inspiration for the character of Audrey, her gaming-obsessed brother, and her crazy family. It was only when I started to plot the story that I realized it would be told through Audrey’s eyes, and become a YA book.

How was it different writing for a younger audience? Do you relate to Audrey in any way?

I definitely relate to Audrey, but like all my heroines, she is made up not just of bits of me but of people I know. Audrey’s observations of family life, particularly in the film scripts, remind me of my teenage years, but I’m a parent of teenagers myself now and that helped me a lot.

What about Finding Audrey do you think will appeal to your adult fans?

Audrey’s journey is touching, but it’s not just a story about her—it’s about her family and the chaotic, loving world she lives in, so I think it appeals to all generations. I hope that it provides reassurance to any young reader—or indeed parent—going through similar problems, and that they can take heart from Audrey and her story.

Giveaway

One US winner will receive a copy of Finding Audrey and a super cute coffee sleeve! (You’ll get it when  you read the book)

a Rafflecopter giveaway