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!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Shadows by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #13
Published by NAL on March 31, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 592
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny in the heart-wrenching new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...

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I think it’s safe to say that by book 13 of a series I’m pretty hooked. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series was a series I started late but I’m definitely an invested fan now. Trez and iAm’s story got me just as much as the original brothers!

Trez and iAm are not members of the Brotherhood. In fact, they are a whole different race; shadows. They are similar to vampires but they have different abilities and different rules to live by. Trez has been promised to the princess of the shadows since he was born but he’s been fighting it for years. However, time is about up for him and not only is there no solution in sight, he’s also in love with Selena.

This series really gets me with the characters. Trez and iAm were no different. Trez was a strong male who had a lot of difficulties in life. iAm was his rock. The twins had a special bond and I loved how they were there for each other through everything. As for their females, I wasn’t quite as invested there. Selena was one of the Chosen, meaning she was very reserved and hard to connect with. As for maichen, she was closed off as well but for very different reasons. I eventually came to like the couples but I didn’t have that immediate love for them like I did the other couples in the series.

There was once again a shit ton of stuff going on throughout The Shadows. There is, of course, still the war with the Lessening Society but it really took a backseat to everything else. The Band of Bastards are stepping up their game now but it’s hard to tell whose side they will be on in the end. Xcor and Layla’s relationship took a new turn in The Shadows. I’m not sure how I feel about the two of them together but Xcor has really grown on me and I feel for him.

Rhage also took center stage in The Shadows which I was not expecting. He has always been one of my favorite brothers so I was excited to see more of him but I’m confused about the direction his story is going. He was very shook up by the events of this book and his ending was very up in the air. I’m wondering what is going to happen with him and Mary from here.

There were also a few new characters introduced and it makes me wonder how many more books are going to be in this series since there are so many open stories now. Paradise is the newest character to be introduced and I already like her. She’s young and eager to learn to fight for the Brotherhood. I love females like her and I hope J.R. Ward introduces more in the future books. I can’t wait to read her story in the spin-off series.

Overall, The Shadows left me with more questions than answers but I still enjoyed it immensely. I have no clue where J.R. Ward is going to take this series next but I will definitely keep reading.

What others are saying about The Shadows:

That’s What I’m Talking About’s review: “Without spoilers, I will tell you that the ending of this book, the ultimate resolution, was so egregious in my mind and heart, that it left me unsettled and speechless.”

vampirebookclub’s review: “I would still recommend picking The Shadows up for simply to see where the Black Dagger Brotherhood members are going.”

Red Hot Books’ review: “In the end of it all, I was just left tired… and disappointed.”

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.

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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
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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

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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)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Review

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Review

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | ReviewDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton on May 26, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

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Daughter of Deep Silence is the first book I’ve read by Carrie Ryan but it will not be my last. If you’re looking for a suspenseful, mystery-filled novel, look no further.

I was a little thrown off by the beginning of the book. It takes place right after the attack on the cruise ship and Frances is hysterical. She’s also only 14 years old. For a while I thought that was how old she’d be for the whole book but it jumps to 4 years later after a couple chapters. I was also a little thrown off by the brevity of the relationships between Frances and Libby as well as Frances and Grey. From the synopsis I’d expected them to have been long time friends but it turns out they’d just met on the cruise. It didn’t really make a huge difference but it seemed a bit unrealistic that after such a short period of time Frances could take Libby’s place. Same with the romance. Not only were they just 14 years old but they had also just met each other. Yet they claimed they were in love. I was a little skeptical.

Daughter of Deep Silence clocks in at almost 400 pages but it takes no time at all to read. The chapters are short and the writing style is very simple and straightforward. The story is also extremely gripping, which helped the pace. There is quite a bit of mystery and I had no clue what was coming. The mystery behind the attack on the cruise ship was not at all what I expected.

The characters were not exactly easy to like. Frances (as Libby) was completely driven by vengeance. She had her sights set on the senator and his family and she would stop at nothing to take them down. It reminded me of the TV show Revenge and that is definitely not a complaint. Frances has emotions but they are buried very deep. She’s hard to connect with because of that but it’s not hard to understand where she is coming from. As for Grey, he was possibly a bit too perfect for my tasters. He was a total gentleman (which I loved) but only in private. I wanted to see him stand up to his father who was a complete asshole. I had no problem rooting for Frances to take him down. As for the romance between Frances and Grey, I could see why she had trouble not falling for him. They had great chemistry and their history together made things even harder for her. Grey was just such a sweetheart.

Overall, I was impressed with Daughter of Deep Silence in spite of its flaws. I look forward to reading more from Carrie Ryan, especially if she continues to write suspense novels as awesome as this one.

What others are saying about Daughter of Deep Silence: 

Midnight Bloom Reads’ review: “Delving into deeper psychological themes such as identity and grief, Carrie Ryan’sDaughter of Deep Silence is more than just an addictive revenge thriller.”

Carina’s Books’ review: “I would say that you should all read Daughter of Deep Silence.”

The Forest of Words and Pages’ review: “Daughter of Deep Silence is an addictive thriller you won’t regret picking up!”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Proof of Forever:

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

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayNearly Found by Elle Cosimano
Series: Nearly Gone #2
Published by Penguin Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

The sequel to the highly praised and intricately plotted Nearly Gone--a YA urban mystery that's perfect for fans of Bones, Numbers, and The Body Finder

When Nearly Boswell starts working as an intern at a crime lab, she's hoping it will give her an advantage when it comes to college applications. But on her first day, a girl from her trailer park turns up dead. Then the corpse of a missing person is discovered, buried on a golf course, with a message for Nearly etched into the bones. When Nearly finds out the corpse is the father of Eric, a classmate of hers, she starts to worry that the body is connected to her father's disappearance five years ago. Nearly, Reece, and Nearly's classmates--Vince, Jeremy, and Eric--start a dangerous investigation into their fathers' pasts that threatens Nearly's fragile romance with Reece, and puts all them in the killer's path.

picadillyblueNearly Found is a solid sequel to Nearly Gone.  While I didn’t love it as much as it’s predecessor, it captured my attention and kept me guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell is back and better than ever.  With her tormentor behind bars her life should be on it’s way back to normal.  However, that is not the case.  She, along with many people in her life, have started receiving messages in places that should not be accessible to people; locked cars, bedrooms, and other private places.  It’s up to Nearly, Reece, and her fellow classmates to figure out what is going on before bodies start piling up.

Nearly and Reece are back and their relationship is still very new.  Nearly is starting school, a new internship, and on top of all that she is once again involved in some crazy stuff.  She can’t ever seem to keep herself out of trouble.  As for Reece, he has a new assignment that keeps him from spending a lot of time with Nearly and puts their new relationship on the rocks.  To be completely honest, I was a little skeptical about him this time around.  He acted quite sketchy at times.  I wanted to love him like I did in the first book but he made it difficult.

This time around Nearly had a lot more allies, even if some of them were reluctant to team up with her.  Alex and Gena are back but they don’t have prominent roles.  I still loved them though, especially Alex.  Jeremy and Anh are also back and I had some serious issues with them.  They both blamed Nearly from what happened at the end of the first book and pretty much dropped her as a friend.  I hated that.  Vince was back and a bit less of a douchebag.  Lonny was my favorite though.  He has a unique relationship with Nearly.  They have more in common than either would like to admit.

My biggest problem with Nearly Found was how much crap Nearly got away with.  She was an intern with the forensics lab and she totally took advantage of the access that granted her.  She should have been caught and in serious trouble many times but she somehow got away with it.  It was very unrealistic.  Her internship was a pretty fascinating part of the story though.

The mystery was just as good as the first book.  I was completely unable to see the connections.  I had no clue how everything was going to tie together.  There were so many times when I just wanted to skip to the end to see who it was but I forced myself not to.  I devoured the book in one day though because I could not stop reading without figuring out who the killer was.  Good luck guessing this one.

As for Nearly, her development as a character and with her ability was fantastic.  She is more open to touching people and she is really trying to learn to deal with her ability without pushing people away.

Overall, Nearly Found was a wonderful conclusion to this duology.  I look forward to reading Elle Cosimano’s next book.  I highly recommend this duology to suspense fans.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + GiveawayHold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Series: Once Upon A Crime Family #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 19, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

picadillyblueHold Me Like a Breath is a completely fresh new story for the YA genre.  Tiffany Scmidt has crafted a wonderfully captivating story that will hook readers from start to finish.  And who wouldn’t love a princess and the pea retelling?

I’ve always been fascinated with stories relating to the mob so I had a feeling this would be a book for me.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail and involvement the mob aspect actually had to do with the story.  While Penny is part of a crime family, they aren’t bad people.  The purpose of the Landlow Family was to help people who the government couldn’t.  They definitely did it for the money but they also wanted to help.  It made it easy for me to sympathize with everything their family went through.

Penny was both one of my favorite and least favorite characters in the book.  She was incredibly naive which bothered me.  She lived a very sheltered life so I understand why she was like that but it seemed as if any lessons she’d had on surviving left her as soon as she was on her own.  She was an amazingly strong person, having to deal with everything on her own, including her illness.  However, she very quickly comes to trust a stranger when she is on the run for her life.  There were a few moments where I wanted to smack some sense into her.  Also, the illness aspect adds a whole other layer to Penny’s story.  Being on the run is bad enough but there was also the constant danger of Penny’s illness incapacitating or even killing her.

The rest of the characters were quite a mix.  Penny’s family and Family were very protective of her and so she didn’t know everything about them.  Carter was an adorable older brother and while he was very mysterious, his love for Penny was always clear. It was the same with her parents.  They handled her with kid gloves because they both loved her so much.  Their family was very sweet.  Then there was Garrett.  I am still torn about him and you’ll understand why when you read the book.  The whole bodyguard aspect definitely drew me to him but his sweetness also did.  As for Char, he also greatly appealed to me.  The romance between him and Penny was so fun.

The mystery could have been a bit more developed but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I could see what was coming from the start but it still threw me for a loop.  I’m not sure where things will go with the sequel because things tied up pretty nicely at the end of this but I’m still eager for more.

Overall, Hold Me Like a Breath will greatly appeal to fans of contemporary thrillers and also Holly Black’s Curse Workers series.  I can’t recommend it enough.

What others are saying about Hold Me Like a Breath:

Novel Novice’s review: “Billed as the first in the Once Upon a Crime Family series, Hold Me Like a Breath still reads like a standalone novel — which is really the best of both worlds.”

Fantastic Book Reviews’ review: “Hold Me Like a Breath had plenty of grit to go around.”

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About the author:

Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath. She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr

 

Favorite Quotes

These two quotes kinda perfectly describe Penny and both of the boys she has relationships with. I also love the contrast of the two.

“There wouldn’t be a clean break. I could no more sever him completely than I could untangle my DNA and remove whatever combination of nucleotides spelled out my skin’s tendency toward purple”

“He beamed. Beamed. No one had ever smiled at me like that. Like just by walking out the door I’d made his life better. It punched holes in my caution, made me feel off-balance.”

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Friday, May 15, 2015

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

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

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about The Orphan Queen:

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

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

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