Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord | Review

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord | ReviewThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury on March 31, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

picadillyblueI read and adored Emery Lord’s debut novel, Open Road Summer. It was the perfect blend of romance, friendship, and music. That being the case, I had high expectations for The Start of Me and You.  Perhaps my expectations were too high because I found myself only liking this one as compared to how much I loved Open Road Summer.

The Start of Me and You follows Paige Hancock on her journey to move past the death of her boyfriend.  Her journey includes a list of things she wants to do: date a guy, go swimming, join a club, etc.  Seems simple enough except she has her sights set on a specific boy and he tends to make her a bit tongue-tied.  Ryan Chase has been her crush for years and she starts of her school year expecting to date him and not settle for anything less than that.  Obviously things don’t go according to plan.  Ryan’s cousin, Max, moves back to town and he strikes up a friendship with Paige.  Unlike Ryan, Max is easy for Paige to be around and he doesn’t make her nervous at all.  Paige’s plan might be Ryan but Max seems to have plans of his own.

Paige was a bit annoying in her pursuit of Ryan.  She barely knew the guy and while the reason she initially developed a crush on him was sweet, the staying power of that crush just didn’t make sense.  She had little to nothing in common with Ryan.  Max, on the other hand, had a healthy friendship with Paige that was so sweet.  They had so much in common and the way they made fun of each other was so adorably cute.  They were able to be themselves with each other, no matter how dorky.  Max was totally the type of guy I could see myself crushing on.  He was not the typical love interest but he was well-rounded and adorably nerdy.

Max and Paige were not the best characters though.  Paige’s friends were the best.  She always had a solid support system no matter what she was going through.  They stood by her through all the tough times and in return she was there for them when they needed her.  No matter what happened they always knew they had each other. Sure they fought but what friends don’t?  They worked through their issues and they always saw past their little fights to what really mattered.

The story was cute and fast-paced enough that I didn’t find my attention wavering from the book even once.  While I didn’t get Paige’s superficial crush on Ryan, I still liked her and I wanted to see her cross everything off her list.  Even though I had I feeling I knew how things were going to end for Paige, I kept reading because I wanted to know how it would all play out.  It was everything I could have hoped for.

Overall, The Start of Me and You is a strong sophomore novel for Emery Lord.  Paige and her group of friends wormed their way into my heart and I’m sure they will do the same with many other readers.  I highly encourage any contemporary fans to check this one out.

What others are saying about The Start of Me and You:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “THE START OF ME AND YOU was very sweet and lots of fun to read (QuizBowl! What an awesome idea and so great to incorporate) and it was another very solid contemporary from Emery Lord.”

Bookiemoji’s review: “This book is my soul animal.”

Lost In Literature’s review: “The Start of You and Me is the perfect contemporary story that I go all heart eyes for.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | Review

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | ReviewTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by Harper Teen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 289
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

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Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is Liz Czukas’ sophomore novel for young adults and while I definitely enjoyed it, I found it nowhere near as quirky and fun as her debut novel, Ask Again Later. It’s a quick read that I found myself flying through but it wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as I expected.

Chloe is a bit nerdy, kind of shy, and easy for readers to relate to, at least if you’re anything like me. I found her to be so adorable with her easy blushing and tendency to babble. She had a great sense of humor and she was very easy to like. She sometimes said things that were a little rude but she was always open to getting to know new things. The rest of the “Younglings” who worked with her at GoodFoods Market were a pretty mixed bag of characters. Tyson was a sweetheart who maybe could have had some more flaws. He seemed a bit too perfect to me. It always seems a little unreal when there is a love interest who has nothing bad about him. Sammi and Gabe were trouble makers but they definitely made things fun. Zaina was shy and kind of mysterious but I came to like her. Micah was probably my favorite though. He was so quirky and funny and he didn’t even realize it.

The story itself was really fun but a little predictable. It’s a mystery surrounding who stole the charity money from Chloe’s place of work. The six young cashiers are immediately blamed and held in the store after hours until the police can come check things out. The idea of hanging out in a grocery store after hours has always appealed to me so I loved that part of the book. The kids did some crazy things to entertain themselves and they definitely had me laughing. I also really liked the lists that Chloe made throughout the course of the story. They helped bring in some background information in a fun way.

Overall, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is nothing spectacular but I’d definitely recommend it for a rainy day read. I will continue to check out Liz Czukas’ young adult offerings.

What others are saying about Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless: 

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “It was written with a similar tone to Ask Again Later, which was just completely adorable and fluffy, and Top Ten Clues was no different.”

Tabitha’s Book Blog’s review: “If you’re looking for a wicked cute contemporary fluff book then this is the book for you.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “As long as you like The Breakfast Club and slow books, you’re good to go with this one.”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Review

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | ReviewAll The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Random House on January 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

picadillyblueI’d heard that Jennifer Niven’s young adult debut was a good one but I wasn’t prepared for how much of a tearjerker it was.  All The Bright Places is my kind of book: contemporary, super sweet romance, lots of deeper issues that take root in your mind and don’t let go.  Is it any surprise that I loved it?

Theodore Finch is an odd boy.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to like him at first.  He was strange and kind of rude and just not very friendly.  Then there was Violet who was pretty much a mean girl.  She was pretty and popular and smart and funny.  Basically she was the opposite of Finch.  However, they did have something in common.  They were both rather preoccupied with the thought of death.  Theodore was a very depressed boy who liked to think of interesting ways to die.  He not only thought of ways that he might die, he also researched the statistics surrounding those types of deaths.  He was kind of morbid.  As for Violet, her sister was killed in a car accident and ever since then she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about death.  She refuses to get in a car, she doesn’t think much about moving on with her life, and she can’t help but feel that her sister’s death was her fault.  That connection brought her and Finch together but there was so much more that kept them together.

The story focuses a lot on depression.  It’s pretty clear from the start that Finch suffers from depression and maybe some other condition but that isn’t made known.  It’s impossible not to feel for him.  However, it’s not depression or death that bring Finch and Violet closer together.  It’s the crazy project their teacher gives them that does it.  They have to visit wonders of their state and chronicle their time at each place.  They are only required to visit 3 places but Finch and Violet take it even further, attempting to visit every wonder of Indiana that they can find.  It’s this project that brings Violet out of her shell and brings her and Theodore together.

The story itself isn’t exactly fast-paced and that is probably my only issue with All The Bright Places.  I found my attention being drawn by other things and it took me a while to really feel invested in the story.   I will admit that the first 50 to 75 pages are a little boring and almost made me give up completely.  I’m definitely glad I didn’t but the thought did cross my mind.

Overall, All The Bright Places has me eager to read more young adult novels from Jennifer Niven.  I found myself laughing and crying all throughout this book and it definitely left me smiling at the end.

What others are saying about All The Bright Places:

My Shelf Confessions’ review: “Although I didn’t fall madly in love and have my heart smashed to a million pieces (maintaining my titanium heart reputation), I can completely understand why this book has been so impactful and emotional for so many people.”

That’s What She Read’s review: “Not only does All the Bright Places tear one’s heart strings, but it also raises awareness of mental illness and the importance of taking action if a loved one refuses to seek help.”

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “If there’s anything you need to know about ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, it’s that it’s a book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blog Tour: Little White Lies by Katie Dale | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Little White Lies by Katie Dale | Review + GiveawayLittle White Lies by Katie Dale
Published by Delacorte Press on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Fans of Pretty Little Liars will be ensnared in this tale of deceit. Christian is hiding terrible secrets from his girlfriend, Lou. But Lou has told lies as well. What if their accidental meeting wasn’t an accident?

The first time Lou meets mysterious Christian, she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, and why does he dye his blond hair black? When Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tires are slashed, and he flees for his life, Lou insists on going with him. But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger?

But Christian isn’t the only one keeping secrets. For what if their accidental meeting was no accident at all?

picadillyblueLittle White Lies incorporated everything awesome about suspense novels and everything action packed about young adult novels and combined them to make one awesome story.  Suspense is hard for young adult but Katie Dale managed to craft a wonderful story that kept me guessing until the very end.

If you follow me on Twitter or Goodreads, you might have seen some status updates about the main character.  She annoyed me for a good portion of the book.  Her actions made no sense to me and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just give up.  She practically stalked this guy Christian and every time he turned her down for a date she would not take the hint.  It actually got to be a bit stalkerish (that’s totally a word.)  I was quite upset with how she was acting and I just wanted to slap some sense into her.  My feelings towards Lou changed about halfway through the book though.  Christian wasn’t the only one with secrets and once Lou’s started to come out, her behavior started to make a little more sense.  I can’t say too much without giving things away but just trust me that her behavior won’t annoy you so much once you get to a certain point.  In fact, you’ll probably start to like her a lot, just like I did.

The cast of characters in Little White Lies were a strong mix of personalities.  Lou was a little shy, quiet, smart, but with a great sense of humor.  She was a bit awkward which only made me love her more.  Her best friend, Vix, was her exact opposite.  She was outgoing, a little crazy, and pretty much the perfect balance for Lou.  Kenny was funny but there was just something about him that I didn’t love.  He always seemed a bit sketchy.  As for Christian, he was a hard person to get a read on.  He was very mysterious and sometimes a little rude.  I could understand why Lou was a bit attracted to him but I didn’t get her obsession.  He seemed like any other guy just with a few more secrets than most.

The mystery is truly what kept me reading.  It was hinted at early on in the story but I really had no clue how things would play out.  I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how everything was going to tie together.  Katie Dale did a great job with that aspect of the story.  Even if I could figure out one thing I’d be completely clueless about something else.

Overall, Little White Lies really is perfect for fans of suspense.  I look forward to reading more from Katie Dale.

What others are saying about Little White Lies:

Books and Whimsy’s review: “I also liked that Little White Lies manages to ask some important questions about family, friendship, and who we are on the surface.”

Book Passion For Life’s review: “I know many people will enjoy it – so go read it and see for yourselves – but for me, it was a little underwhelming.”

In Libris Veritas’ review: “It has a well written plot, great characters, and puts some attention on the flaws of the justice system.”

Giveaway

Two US residents will win copies of Little White Lies

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay | Review

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay | ReviewPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Random House on December 9, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

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Princess of Thorns is the fantasy novel I’ve been looking for.  Stacey Jay took the tale of Sleeping Beauty and made it completely fresh.  I devoured this novel!

Princess Aurora is unlike any other princess I’ve read about.  She’s very self-sufficient and possibly even a little too independent.  She doesn’t trust easily because of her past.  She teams up with Niklaas to save her brother only because she can’t avoid it.  Niklaas is an extremely likable character, mainly because of his complete honesty.  Aurora is disguised as her brother when they meet and she keeps up that pretense through their relationship.  She and Niklaas form this amazing bond as friends because of that.  Their friendship and their banter is probably one of the best things about Princess of Thorns.

Aurora’s story is 100% unique.  She is not Sleeping Beauty, she is the daughter of Sleeping Beauty and her mom blessed her with fairy magic before she died.  However, the magic is both a blessing and a curse.  It makes her extremely strong and fierce in battle but it also means that she will never know the true love of a man.  The powers she’s been given make her very much a loner and it’s part of the reason she doesn’t trust easily or rely on others often.  She’s a little too stubborn for my liking at times but it made things even more awesome when she realized the error of her ways.

The world that the story is set in is very much a fantasy world.  The land is ruled by ogres and there is a prophecy stating that dark times will come at the hands of one briar-born child.  Since Aurora and her brother Jor are the only two briar-born children left, it makes things in their lives very interesting.  It’s up to Aurora and Jor to stop the prophecy from coming to pass.  That’s not exactly an easy task though since the ogre queen is determined to have them and she’s pretty much all powerful.  There truly is never a dull moment in Princess of Thorns.

Overall, I really have no way of doing justice to this book.  If you love fantasy worlds, fresh retellings, kickass females, and witty banter, definitely check this one out immediately!

What others are saying about Princess of Thorns:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “Perfect for fantasy lovers and fairytale nerds like myself, this is a book that cannot be ignored!”

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “As soon as I finished, I wanted to start over and read it again.”

Bibliodaze’s review: “There’s some good stuff to recommend it, but right now, the bad stuff outweighs it for me.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey | Review

Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey | ReviewScoring Wilder by R.S. Grey
on June 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 402
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

What started out as a joke— seduce Coach Wilder—soon became a goal she had to score.

With Olympic tryouts on the horizon, the last thing nineteen-year-old Kinsley Bryant needs to add to her plate is Liam Wilder. He's a professional soccer player, America's favorite bad-boy, and has all the qualities of a skilled panty-dropper.

• A face that makes girls weep – check.
• Abs that can shred Parmesan cheese (the expensive kind) – check.
• Enough confidence to shift the earth’s gravitational pull – double check.

Not to mention Liam is strictly off limits . Forbidden. Her coaches have made that perfectly clear. (i.e. “Score with Coach Wilder anywhere other than the field and you’ll be cut from the team faster than you can count his tattoos.”) But that just makes him all the more enticing…Besides, Kinsley's already counted the visible ones, and she is not one to leave a project unfinished.

Kinsley tries to play the game her way as they navigate through forbidden territory, but Liam is determined to teach her a whole new definition for the term “team bonding.”

picadillyblueI’m quite obsessed with new adult novels lately.  I don’t know what it is about them but they grab my interest much more than other books.  Scoring Wilder was no exception.  I was hooked from the first page and I read the 400+ page book in one day!

Liam Wilder and Kinsley Bryant are immediately attracted to each other.  However, they can’t act on that attraction.  Liam is one of Kinsley’s new soccer coaches.  She isn’t willing to endanger her Olympic dreams just for one sexy soccer player.  Especially when everything she’s heard about him says he’s a player in more ways than one.  Fate keeps throwing them together though and the attraction proves to be more than either one can resist.

Kinsley is a kick-ass character.  She’s strong and feisty and knows exactly what she wants in life.  She’s a top soccer player with dreams of playing for the Olympic soccer team.  Those dreams are within her reach when she meets Wilder.  He’s a pretty awesome character himself.  He’s funny, protective, kind, and sexy.  He’s a professional soccer player with a bad boy rep.  That rep is what leads him as a coach for Kinsley’s team.  He’s a bit frustrating at times with his moodswings but I couldn’t find other flaws with him.

The fame aspect really got me.  I love reading romances involving one or both famous people and R.S. Grey did a good job with that aspect in Scoring Wilder.  Wilder is older, rich, and very much a hot bachelor.  Kinsley even had some fame but she was definitely more of a nobody than Wilder.  I liked how that affected their relationship.

I greatly appreciated the fact that the story wasn’t super overdramatic.  Kinsley and Wilder approach most things very maturely.  If they have problems they don’t run from them.  I was expecting some dramatic breakup for some stupid reason and it never happened.  Instead, Wilder and Kinsley always tried to work past their issues.

One other thing I loved were the family and friend relationships.  Both Wilder and Kinsley have awesome families that they are very close with.  Kinsley and Wilder also cared about their friends a lot and took time away from each other to stay close with their friends.

Overall, Scoring Wilder is a great novel.  Even if you’re not a new adult fan, I suggest checking this one out.  It’s a very fun read.

What others are saying about Scoring Wilder:

Itching for Books’ review: “This is my first experience with R.S. and I must say that I’m impressed, motivated enough to want to read her other works.”

Fandomly Bookish’s review: “All in all, SCORING WILDER is a great, fun and light read that you totally don’t want to miss.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Beautiful Girl by Lida James | Review

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

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

I don’t float—I run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Beautiful Girl:

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

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

LidaJames

About the author:

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

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sublime by Christina Lauren | Review

Sublime by Christina Lauren | ReviewSublime by Christina Lauren
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 14, 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When Lucy wakes up in a frozen forest, she isn't sure why she's there, until she sees Colin.

Colin has captivated half the girls at Saint Osanna's, but no one has ever snared his fascination the way Lucy does. Even as Lucy begins to remember the details of her life–and her death–neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it seems.

An adrenaline junkie, Colin begins taking himself to the brink of death, where their realities overlap–and discovers that he can physically be with Lucy. But maybe some lines shouldn't be crossed.

picadillyblueSublime, the first YA book from the duo of Christina Lauren, is a surprisingly unique ghost story that left me guessing until the very last page. I picked it up on a whim and I’m really glad that I did.

Sublime will captivate readers from the very first page.  Colin and Lucy’s story is one unlike any I have ever read.  From the synopsis, I knew that Lucy was dead but really that’s about all I knew when I started the book.  Lucy’s death and life remain a mystery for quite some time.  She can’t remember anything leading up to her awakening by the lake at Saint Osanna’s.  She only start to realize exactly how different she is when she’s drawn to Colin, as if she’s only there for him.

Lucy is an odd character.  It’s pretty obvious that she’s dead even without it being stated.  However, people can still see her and touch her.  She’s not your typical ghost.  She’s not out for vengeance or justice but she doesn’t exactly know why she is there.  She’s very mysterious and kind of hard to like at first.  She did grow on me pretty quickly though.  Colin grew on me even more quickly.  He was a really sweet boy who had a very troubled past.  At first glance he seems like just another spoiled kid at Saint Osanna’s but that ends up totally  not being the case.  He also has a very strong tie to Lucy, both as a ghost and from when she was alive.  Then there was Colin’s best friend, Jay, who was actually my favorite character in the book.  He had such a fun personality and he was a really great friend.  I would have liked a little more of him but it wasn’t really necessary to the story.

The story is slow to take off but once it does, it’s completely gripping.  Colin and Lucy are determined to find some way to be together and through trial and error, they do.  Colin is an adrenaline junkie and the closer he gets to death, the closer he gets to Lucy.  It’s all just a matter of how far he’s willing to go to be with this girl.  There’s a fine line between adventure and death.  Admittedly this story kind of made me want to smack Colin and Jay for their stupidity but it was pretty thrilling.  Also, as Colin gets in deeper with Lucy, people around him start to realize what’s going on and it finally starts to come to light why Lucy is actually there.  It was totally not what I was expecting, at all.

Overall, Sublime is an entertaining read that is definitely not like other ghost stories out there.  Sure there was a bit of instalove and some seriously bad decisions on some character’s parts but I still enjoyed it.  I’d recommend giving this one a try!

What others are saying about Sublime:

Moonlight Gleam Reviews’ review: “Overall I would give it 3 out of 5 stars simply because it felt too dragged out.”

Once Upon a Twilight’s mini-review: “Sublime was a great introduction into the YA community for Christina Lauren, the writing duo.”

The Book Nookery’s review: “Not recommended. This is a romance, and not even a believable one.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | Review

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | ReviewRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco on September 23, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Deliriumtrilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

picadillyblueIt really should come as no surprise that Lauren Oliver’s adult debut is spectacular.  Rooms is everything I didn’t know I was looking for in a book.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are extremely flawed, and the mystery is captivating.

Rooms is not a book you want to rush through.  It’s definitely compelling enough that you will want to sit and read it straight through but it’s a book full of stories that take time to completely understand.  Every character has a story all their own.  Sandra and Alice, the two resident ghosts, spend a lot of time telling theirs and I have to say that theirs were the most interesting stories of the group.  They both lived and died in time periods relatively far in the past and they both have secrets and mysteries surrounding their lives and deaths.  That’s not to say that the other characters don’t have interesting stories though because they do.  Caroline, Minna, and Trenton all have things they are hiding and each story is very compelling.  Even though I may not have liked the characters, their stories had me hooked.

While I say that I didn’t like the characters, I don’t think readers are really meant to like them.  I sympathized with parts of each character but other than that, they are greatly flawed and hard to like.  Trenton is a little bit of an asshole but he’s by far the most likable.  He is seriously depressed and contemplating suicide.  He doesn’t see that there is anything left for him to live for but going back home for his father’s funeral forces him to look at things a little differently, especially when he starts hearing and seeing ghosts.  Minna is closed off to the world and she is a giant bitch.  There is no nice way to put it.  She thinks of no one but herself.  She has a daughter that she’s forced to think of at times but Amy plays a really small part in the story and, it seems, Minna’s life.  Caroline is a lot like Minna but an older version.  She’s very self-centered.  Even when she says she’s doing something for her kids, she’s really thinking of herself.  The one thing that really makes these people tolerable is that they have all have secrets that readers don’t find out about at first.  Once you start to see the dark pasts of the characters, it’s a lot easier to see how they come to be who they are.

Lauren Oliver’s writing style translates to the adult age range brilliantly.  I truly have yet to find something she has written that I don’t like.  She is one author who could write a phone book and have people rush to grab it off the shelves.  The writing style in Rooms is a little spare but never lacking in details that matter.

Overall, Rooms is a novel that can appeal to many people of many age ranges.  The subject and content are definitely better suited for adults but the appeal of this one is widespread.  And what do you know, another Lauren Oliver novel gets added to my shelf of favorites?

What others are saying about Rooms:

Fantasy Book Critic’s Review: “There is real content in the very believable characters’ attempts to make sense of their lives.”

Fic Fare’s review: “This story has a bit of everything… drama, angst, humor and sadness.”

Fiktshun’s review: “The author’s first attempt at a novel aimed at an adult audience was hugely successful.”

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About the author:

Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com

Purchase ROOMS here!

Add ROOMS on Goodreads!

Follow Lauren on Twitter!

Visit Lauren’s Website!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

15-Sep Reading Lark
16-Sep Midnight Garden
17-Sep Icey Books
18-Sep I Swim For Oceans
19-Sep Fiktshun
22-Sep Fiction Fare
23-Sep Read My Breath Away
24-Sep Queen Ella Bee Reads
25-Sep A Dream Within a Dream
26-Sep Anna Reads
29-Sep Katie’s Book Blog (ME!)
30-Sep Sweeps 4 Bloggers
Sep-31 Mod Podge Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Review

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | ReviewForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little Brown on August 13, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 273
Format: ARC
Source: ALA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who's moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour.
A teenage violin virtuoso.
A pastor's daughter.
A teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

picadillyblue

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a really hard book for me to review.  It’s one of those books that you think you should like because the subject matter is tough and it’s honest and well done but I found myself disliking a lot of things about it.

I’ve Had Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock on my shelf for over a year now and the only thing that made me finally pick it up was my YA Lit class.  It was one of the optional books and I figured I’d give it a try since I already had a copy.  I’m definitely glad I read it but it’s not a book I’d ever take the time to read again, if you know what I mean.

Leonard Peacock is turning 18 and as a gift to himself he decides he will kill his former best friend and then end his own miserable life.  But before all that can happen, he has 4 gifts to deliver to the only people he really considers friends.  It’s definitely a plot that will grab readers’ attention but it’s not a very realistic one.  Why would no one think it odd that Leonard is giving out these random, extravagant gifts?  It’s out of Leonard’s nature and while everyone does question this, no one takes the time to dig deeper or figure out that it’s Leonard’s birthday.  I found this part highly unlikely.  There’s even a scene where someone asks if Leonard is going to kill himself but does nothing really to prevent Leonard from leaving.  I truly feel that in this day and age, if someone is suspected of having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, someone will do something to try and help.  That was not the case in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Leonard is very much alone.  His dad ran out, his mom lives in another city (leaving him a whole house to himself), and his “friends” don’t actually care much for him.  Walt was the only person Leonard really seemed to have a relationship with and that relationship was totally strange.  The other three friends Leonard has gifts for are almost more like close acquaintances.  Also, I don’t really blame them for not liking Leonard all that much.  He was a really rude kid.  He even calls himself an asshole multiple times throughout the book and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.  There was one point where he was so mean he almost made someone cry.  Hard to have sympathy for someone like that.  (Not that I was rooting for him to kill himself, or anything.)

The story is fast-paced but also a little hard to get into.  Most of the story is told regularly but there are footnotes interspersed throughout, as well.  The footnotes were really distracting to me.  It was almost like Leonard’s thoughts didn’t quite fit in with the pace of the story so he threw them in as footnotes so readers wouldn’t miss out on them completely.  It’s something I’ve never seen done before in books like this and I had trouble getting used to it.

I think the best thing about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is how honest it is.  It portrays a very real teenage boy who thinks he has the biggest problems in the world.  Sure, he has some pretty big issues but he never manages to look outside himself and see that there are bigger problems than his.  He may not be an easy guy to like but how many high school guys are wonderful people?  For that matter, how many high school girls?  Matthew Quick shows the darker side of the teenage mind and it was spot on.  However, he still managed to leave readers hopeful.  I didn’t think that was going to be possible but I love how he did it.

Overall, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not going to be a book for everybody but I think it has many merits that will make it appeal to some readers.  Fair warning though, it’s not for younger readers.  There is a lot of profanity and many tough subjects are brought up throughout the course of the book.

What others are saying about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “All in all, I’m really glad I decided to check Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock out.”

Once Upon a Bookcase’s review: “I implore you to read this novel, let Leonard tell you his story.”

Steph Su Reads’ review: “FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is arguably one of the most explosive and important books of this year, but if you knew nothing about Matthew Quick, most famously the author ofSilver Linings Playbook, you probably wouldn’t expect it.”