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, July 7, 2015

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams | Review + GiveawayRuthless by Carolyn Lee Adams
Published by Simon and Schuster on July 14th 2015
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

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Ruthless is a survival story done right.  It’s just the right amount of creepy, thrilling, and pulse pounding.  From start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat, praying that Ruth would find a way out of her situation.  There wasn’t a second that went by where I wasn’t terrified of what was going to come next.

Ruth Carver is not a perfect heroine, not by a long shot.  She’s a little full of herself, a little rude, and she is pretty much just obsessed with things that benefit her.  She was willing to trample people to get where she needed to be and while I didn’t necessarily approve of those methods, I obviously still didn’t think she deserved anything this guy had in store for her.  I think this in this case, it doesn’t matter about the heroine’s past, as long as she will have a future.  It’s not like anyone is going to root for her to die.

Let me just say, this is not one for the faint of heart or a young reader.  Carolyn Lee Adams does not pull any punches.  I was terrified for Ruth’s life and sanity, every page of the book.  The guy who abducts her is seriously creepy.  The bulk of the story is told from Ruth’s point of view but there are flashbacks in his point of view and he is extremely messed up in the head.  I was sickened and terrified.  I don’t mind that from a book but if you do, this is not the one for you.

The story itself isn’t so much all about Ruth being abducted but also about how she escapes and spends her time in the wilderness.  She is on her own, no supplies, and no help in sight.  Like I said, this is a survival story above all else.  It’s not just about surviving the ordeal with her abduction but surviving her escape as well.  There isn’t a second that goes by where you don’t fear for Ruth’s life.  Even if she isn’t killed by a crazy madman, the elements could get her just as easily.

Overall, Ruthless is truly one story that stands out in the YA market.  I have never read anything like it and it definitely made me eager to see what Carolyn Lee Adams is going to do next.

What others are saying about Ruthless:

Confessions of a Bookaholic’s review: “For her debut young adult novel, Carolyn Lee Adams really knocks it out of the park with Ruthless.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “Watching Ruth outsmart Jerry again and again is a great deal of fun and the book flies by as long as you have the time to read it in one or two sittings.”

The Forest of Words and Pages’ review: “A brutal fight-for-your-life story that is sure to keep you up late at night to discover its character’s fates,Ruthless is a brilliant, twisted tale that shocks and thrills chapter after chapter.”

Giveaway

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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
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

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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 11, 2015

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Review

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydewith a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

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Dangerous Boy captured my attention with the prologue and I decided to pick it up solely based on that.  While it was not what I expected I found myself flying through the pages.  It’s nowhere close to being a favorite of mine but it entertained me and kept me guessing until the end.

First off, apparently this is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I didn’t know that until the end of the book but it would not have made any difference to me since I’ve never read that book.  Fair warning though, if you’ve read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the twists in Dangerous Boy might not be so shocking.

The story is dark and twisted though not horror movie scary.  Strange things are happening in Harper’s town; bones being left in mailboxes, birds dying in large groups, and bloody hand prints showing up places.  Things get even creepier when Harper meets her boyfriends identical twin brother, Daemon.  He’s creepy and bit stalker-like.  He’s obsessed with the murders that happened at their home and he uses the house’s history to terrify Harper.  He’s definitely not quite right.

Harper really did nothing for me and neither did her boyfriend, Logan.  They were a bit too cutesy for me.  Also, Harper was not the smartest.  She gets stalker-like messages and doesn’t tell anyone.  She’s terrified of some of the weirdest things and yet Logan can easily talk her into overcoming these fears.  It all seemed a bit too easy.

Also, nothing against the book but I kept thinking of The Vampire Diaries while reading.  Two brothers, one named Daemon, move to town with their uncle, one brother good, the other bad.  And I won’t spoil anything but those aren’t the only comparisons.

Overall, Dangerous Boy is an okay book if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller.

What others are saying about Dangerous Boy:

Bookish’s review: “It started out so good. And turned around just as quickly.”

Itching for Books’ review: “Dangerous Boy is a creepy, mysterious, fast-paced story.”

Sarah’s Random Musings’ review: “I would recommend this book to anyone that wants an intense read with great atmosphere.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross | Review

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

Life loves a good curveball…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Whatever Life Throws At You:

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blog Tour: Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins | Review + GiveawayRules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins
Published by The Studio on April 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

The first rule of seduction is: don’t fall in love.

Fresh out of college, Dani Young heads for the LA sun to chase her dream of becoming a screenwriter-director. So when her former BFF turned actress Elise offers Dani the opportunity to work on the hit teen show Vamp Camp, Dani can’t refuse, even if it comes at a price: Elise wants Dani to seduce her boyfriend, Vamp Camp superstar Tate Lawrence. Turns out Elise has some major trust issues, and needs Dani to test Tate’s faith. The only rule: don’t fall in love with him.

Sure, Dani doesn’t mind occasionally glimpsing Tate’s megawatt smile…or accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against his perfect torso…but she’s no fool. There’s no way she’d ever fall for a shallow celebrity and no way one would fall for her, a lanky movie nerd.

But amidst vampire-crazed fans, a conniving fellow intern, and a devilishly handsome showrunner, Dani feels like all the rules she used to know have disappeared, except for one: Love doesn’t play by the rules.

Part The Devil Wears Prada, part How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, this story of friendship and romance is sure to appeal to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith, and Anna Todd.

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Rules of Seduction is an adorable new adult novel about the inner workings of Hollywood and what it takes to make it in the business.  With a fun cast of characters and an awkwardly cute romance, it’s a quick read for contemporary fans.

Dani is both the best thing about Rules of Seduction and the worst.  She’s an adorably awkward girl who is so easy to relate to but she is also extremely naive.  She’s on her own for the first time and she’s just moved to LA.  She wants to be some big time director of indie films but to get there she has to start at the bottom.  People tend to walk all over her and things I could see coming from a mile away came as a surprise to her.  I loved her personality though.  She was such a nerd and she was so clueless when it came to guys, especially Tate.  Speaking of, Tate was so much more than I expected.  He was not the typical Hollywood bad boy player.  He had a great heart and he was quite a nerd too, deep down.  He and Dani brought out the best in each other.

The secondary characters really helped tie things together too.  Dani’s roommate, Brit, was a totally unique person.  She had a mind of her own and she did what she wanted.  She was good to Dani through everything, even when she knew Dani was doing something totally dumb.  Elise, Tate’s girlfriend and Dani’s friend from back home, was not all that great but I feel like I just didn’t see enough of her to really come to like her.

The story was really fun.  I have never really been all that interested in famous people or the Hollywood industry but Jenna Mullins did a great job of making it fun and easy to understand.  The base of the story was definitely a romance but there was enough other stuff going on that it didn’t feel completely devoted to the romance.  The details surrounding Dani’s job and her dreams were really intricate and made for a very interesting look at Hollywood.

Overall, I was definitely impressed with Jenna Mullins’ debut novel.  I look forward to reading more from her and I wouldn’t complain if Tate and Dani made an appearance in future novels.

What others are saying about Rules of Seduction:

Book Flame’s review:  “Rules of Seduction was a cute and light-hearted read.”

Swoony Boys Podcast’s review: “The idea for this story was amazing, and we loved experiencing Dani’s snarky, fun attitude coming off the page.”

Sleeps on Tables’ review: “First thing’s first, when I say this is a fun read, I mean it wholeheartedly.”

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In fourth grade, Jenna put her classmates into a story about fire safety, and they laughed the entire time she read it aloud. Since then, she’s been writing with the sole purpose to entertain other people. Fire safety, however, fell to the wayside when she accidentally set her grandmother’s bathroom on fire when she was 12.

In 2010, she moved from Indiana to Los Angeles to intern at E!, and she is now a writer/editor/pop culture gatekeeper at E! Online. A Midwest girl who prefers Southern California weather, Jenna loves the Indianapolis Colts, saving Hyrule and training for her backup dream career: deciding what goes into the baskets on Food Network’s Chopped. She currently resides in LA with her nerdy, handsome boyfriend Kyle and their two fluffier-than-normal cats, Glenn and Zelda.

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