Friday, January 31, 2014

ARC Envy

As a semi new book blogger, I have dealt with this frequently, although it's not as bad as it was in the beginning. ARC envy can be awful and it can cause a blogger to feel like crap, to feel like they aren't good enough or to even feel like they aren't ever going to get where they want to be. I have yet to meet a single book blogger who hasn't dealt with the green eyed monster.

Getting ARC's/e-ARC's are a huge boost for any blogger because it means that the publishers want you to read and review the book. When those books start arriving in the mailbox or in the emails and those bloggers start posting about them on Twitter or their blogs, it's hard for those of us who aren't getting that super coveted ARC/e-ARC. I mean yes of course I am so happy for my blogger friends when they get those highly coveted books, but I won't lie, a twinge of jealousy always appears for me.

Not feeling good enough has been something I have dealt with in my personal life as well as my blogging life. But I have to remember a few things. Not everyone can receive every ARC/e-ARC. Publishers go with the bloggers that they believe will read and review the book. It's an extra bonus if the blogger and publisher already have a working relationship.

Just recently I was shot down for a title I had been dying for and while I did feel bummed, I also felt happy when several of my blogger friends received this very book.

It's been a learning curve for me. To recognize that in the past 9 months I have come so far as a book blogger and that I can only go up from here. To know that I am good enough.I am a good person. Getting or not getting ARC's/e-ARC's do not define me.

Have you dealt with ARC envy?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Impostor (Variants #1) by Susanne Winnacker

Book Title: Impostor (Variants #1)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Release Date: May 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA Mystery/SciFi
Series: Book 1 in Variants series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. 

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Disclaimer: I received this e-book from Razorbill via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
The synopsis looked awesome and so I requested it all the while crossing my fingers for it. Surprise, surprise, I got it. I was excited when I started it.Unfortunately, I didn't end up enjoying it much.In fact it narrowly escaped being a DNF for me. Which I hate.I mean c'mon, awesome abilities and romance. How can it go wrong?

Well it can go wrong with the protagonist being a very immature sixteen year old. It can go wrong with her obsession over Alec taking over EVERY part of the book. It can go wrong when Alec is talked about in terms of his hotness. And people wonder why teenage girls are so shallow. They are shallow because the writers make them that way.

I thought Alec was an idiot too. I mean I felt terrible for his girlfriend Kate. She was not painted in a good light and I think that was because we were supposed to shun her and root for immature Tessa and moronic Alec.

There was no character development which is a biggie for me so I was really disappointed about that. I was screaming at Tessa to just grow the eff UP. But that didn't help at all. She remained as teenage-ry as possible. The writing was just very simplistic and that really bothered me. I mean I don't need something like J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy but geez, sometimes the writing reminded me of a high schooler writing fanfiction.

Overall this had a lot of promise but definitely was not executed well. The characters were flat, the writing was blah. So unfortunately I will be giving this book one star. Clearly I seem to be in the minority but this book just wasn't for me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Random (Going The Distance #1) by Lark O'Neal

Book Title: Random (Going The Distance #1)
Author: Lark O'Neal
Release Date: November 12th, 2013
Publisher: Barbra Samuel
Genre: NA Romance
Series: Book 1 in Going The Distance
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon 

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Life is random…

19-year-old Jess Donovan knows better than most that life is random. Her mom is dead, and she’s on her own, patching together a living as a waitress when a car crashes through the restaurant where she works. In two seconds, she loses her job, watches her best friend hauled away in an ambulance…and meets Tyler Smith, one of the hottest, most fascinating—and mysterious guys she’s ever met. 

Both for the good and the bad…

Within days, Jess is swept up into the mesmerizing force that is Tyler. Their every touch sizzles, every kiss dissolves them both, and the sex is…fierce. But there’s more to Tyler than his hypnotic eyes. He’s adrift, too, and his body—and his soul—are covered with scars. How can she find herself with a guy who is lost himself? 

Until you take charge….

Jess is determined to find her way, and make a life that is better than the one she was given. But how?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
It's no secret that I have had very little luck with NA recently. It's pretty much down to only two authors who have made NA enjoyable for me. I received this book back in 2013 and I realized that I wanted to read it now. I wanted to get all of the 2013 ARC's/e-ARC's off of my review log so I could focus on the new ones. While I didn't hate this book, I didn't love it either.

We first meet Jess the morning of a huge accident at her workplace. I liked her instantly. She seemed smart, funny and kind. Later on that day, after her workplace gets plowed into by a car, we meet her boyfriend Rick. What an absolute prick he was. Wow, he was the stereotypical musician with a band. I saw no redeeming qualities in this jackass.I was beyond relieved when Jess finally ended the relationship that night.

Now Tyler was a sweetheart and I thought he was great for Jess. He wasn't into all the stuff that Rick was into so Jess was about to escape that life. She wanted something different for herself which I loved. I loved how they didn't rush into sex. They started off pretty slowly especially considering that this was an NA book. However it seemed like once they did the deed, that was all they did

At one point Jess says she needs to talk to him about his past that he was so secretive about. Yet talking didn't happen. She showed up at his place and within seconds nakedness ensued. That drove me crazy. Especially since Jess had been so certain that she needed to talk to him about his family and his "rough years"

They talked about Tyler's attractiveness nearly constantly. Multiple times I felt like saying "Um, we already know he's attractive. Tell us something else." It's great when a guy is phyiscally attractive but there has got to be more to a guy than his physical attributes.

Cheating is one of the major dealbreakers I have when it comes to books so I was thrilled that Jess didn't cheat on Rick. He may have been an asshole but Jess took the high road and just broke up with him before getting involved with Tyler.

I wanted to absolutely adore the characters but I ended up not adoring them. I liked them both but I didn't adore them. Jess' self esteem was in the toilet which drove me crazy.Her self esteem seemed to be attached to her relationship with Rick. She seemed to feel unworthy of better things. Plus she was incredibly naive which on occasion drove me nuts. Tyler wasn't much better. He clearly didn't have a backbone when it came to his family and his family or at least his sister seemed to know that and work it to her advantage. I wanted Tyler to stand up for Jess against his family, but he didn't.

So this book gets 3 stars. Some parts were good but the characters oftentimes drove me insane to the point where I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish the book. I don't know if I'll continue the series.Maybe I will, maybe I won't. It's not a series that I am just dying to finish or anything. It was better than several NA's I've read recently so give it a shot,you could end up really enjoying it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1) by Victoria Scott


Book Title: Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1)
Author: Victoria Scott
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: YA/SciFi
Series: Book 1 in Fire & Flood series
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own. 
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Disclaimer: I received this print ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
What would you do for someone you love, who was suffering? That's the question that Tella Holloway is forced to face when she receives an anonymous box one night. Her answer is quick, she would do anything for her brother who's suffering from an unknown illness. Doctor after doctor have tried to help him but no one knows what's ailing Cody Holloway. 

So when Tella learns that the prize for winning this thing, is The Cure, she knows that she must compete.Even if she's never even heard of The Brimstone Bleed before.Even if she has no idea what to expect. She knows that Cody would do it for her in a heartbeat. Tella is bright, intelligent and devoted to her family no matter what kinds of things await her. 

There were so many themes in this book, but the one that stuck out to me the most is loyalty.One could also make the argument for family being the main theme, but loyalty was an even bigger one. Not just loyalty among human allies, but loyalty from Pandoras to humans.

I'm obsessed with Pandora's.First, you find them as eggs in a room, even before you reach the first stage of the competition. You have no clue what these eggs hold or even if they'll hatch. So you take a gamble and hope that it pays off. I have never wanted anything like this in my life. I WISH Pandora's were real. That would be so darn awesome. 

I really liked the supporting characters: Harper,Caroline, Olivia and of course Guy. Oh my goodness, Guy was mysterious, intriguing and just SO swoon-worthy. Initially, he kind of gave me the creeps, but I eventually warmed up to him just like he warmed up to Tella.

I am so excited to see what the next book holds for all of these characters.This book will be getting a full five stars and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Book Title:  Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: YA Fantasy
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Disclaimer: I got this e-ARC from Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Okay, the first thing you need to know is that whoever did the marketing on this book was incorrect. This is not Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast, it's Greek Mythology & Beauty and the Beast. The other thing you need to know right off the bat is that is slow in the beginning and there is a ton of info-dump, but please stick with it as it's one crazy ride.

I absolutely love Greek Mythology and while I know a lot of people thought that the addition of Greek Mythology turned the book a bit pretentious, I didn't I loved the addition of Greek Mythology. It took me back to 5th grade when I studied it and I tested myself throughout the book to see how much of it, I remembered.

Nyx knows that she is to be married to the Gentle Lord as soon as she is old enough. That was the bargain that her father made to him prior to her birth. She has never had a choice in the matter. She has resented her sister for being the favored one. She resents her father for not trying to save her from this fate.

Yet she has a plan. She plans to seduce the Gentle Lord, destroy his castle and free her people from the 900 year old curse that has been upon them.Yet no where in her plan did she expect to fall for Ignifex, the Dark Lord. She also never expected to meet Shade. Shade has more secrets than Nyx realizes. Shade is even more mysterious than Ignifex is. 

In a book like this, you worry that so much effort and energy will go into the world building and that the character development will suffer. You'll be happy to know that it doesn't. The main characters are all fleshed out nicely and even the secondary characters are fleshed out nicely which was really nice to see.

For the first half of the book I was Team Shade. He was sweet and kind and clearly Nyx was interested in that. I think she was attracted to Shade not just because of his looks, but because for the first time, someone was kind to her and he valued her. My love affair with Ignifex didn't start until I was about 55% of the way into the book. 

Before I knew it, I was swept up in Ignifex's clutches. He was much like Nyx. He was a prisoner in this castle much like herself. Yet somehow these two managed to fall in love. Before I knew it, I was rooting for them. Big time and my love of Shade was forgotten.

I am giving this book 4 stars mostly because the ending massively confused me. Maybe it was because I was up until all hours reading it, I'm not sure but overall it was really good and I would totally recommend this book to people who love Greek Mythology and or Beauty and the Beast.

Review: Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook

Book Title: Year of Mistaken Discoveries
Author: Eileen Cook
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Friendship is a bond stronger than secrets in this novel from the author of The Almost Truth and Unraveling Isobel.

As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared, they were both adopted.

Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it's urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom, but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party.

Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora's loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora's who is also looking for a way to respect Nora's legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she's really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book tackles a lot of tough subjects and it does it pretty well. Not amazing, but pretty well.As small children, Avery and Nora bonded over the fact that they were adopted.Knowing that they knew they were adopted was great to see. So many parents often don't tell their kids that they are adopted and I still don't understand that. It's like the parents are terrified that their child will reject them in favor of their birth parents.

From the beginning, it is clear that Nora has a desire to find her birth mom whereas Avery does not. Obviously she knows she's adopted, but it doesn't intrigue her like it does Nora. Actually I cannot even say intrigue as much as obsess. Nora becomes obsessed with finding her birth mom and when she is cruelly scammed, Nora descends into a self destructive phase that leads her to suicide.

BRODY! Oh my God, Brody was adorable and sweet and kind and... ugh, just EVERYTHING.He was a great friend to Nora and when she passed away, he was grief stricken. Yet he agreed to help Avery with her project.Avery claimed that she only wanted to find her birth mother in memory of Nora, but what she didn't tell Brody, was that she was hoping a project of this magnitude would convince the people at Duke, that she deserved to be a student there.

Avery and Brody start off as friends which I loved. There was no cringe-inducing insta-love, nor cutesy nicknames.It just worked.It was a normal basically drama-free relationship.

The end of the book just crushed me. I cried so much at the end of it. Mostly for Avery. She just wanted acceptance from her adoptive parents. Acceptance that even if she didn't get into Duke, she was still "good enough" Acceptance from her birth mother that she wasn't ashamed of Avery.

I felt that the ending was unfinished. I felt like more could have been explored when it came to Avery and her birth mom. I felt like the author dropped the ball on this one. It left us wondering what happened next. I get that sometimes an ending needs to be open ended but not this time. Not with how important this story-line was.

Because of the ending feeling so unfinished, I'll be giving this book 4 stars. It was a truly great read but I just wish that the ending hadn't felt so unfinished.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #28

This feature is hosted by Tynga of Tynga's Reviews

Hey everyone, gosh this week has been crazy, upsetting and awesome all at once. Have you ever had a week like that? I hadn't in a really long time until this week.

Despite my plan to limit the e-ARC's that I request, I couldn't help but raid NetGalley this week. I didn't expect to get approved for the ones that I really wanted but it was worth a shot.However I finished the week with 5 NetGalley grabs including much hyped about, The Winner's Curse.I got an email Friday morning that NetGalley was allowing access to the first 100 people to click Read Now on The Winner's Curse. I can still hardly believe that I was able to grab an e-ARC of it. So YAY!

I also grabbed two off of Edelweiss. They both don't release until June so I've got some time on those. I am excited to read them but also relieved that they don't need to be read this month.

One of my favorite people Meredith of Pandora's Books insisted on sending me a belated birthday gift. I tried to tell her that she didn't have to, but she didn't listen to me. Well when I got the package on Tuesday night, there was a hole in it. I opened it and discovered Charm & Strange which was on my wishlist. I had to DM her on Twitter and ask if there was anything else in the package because of the hole. Of course I didn't want to sound greedy but I suspected something wasn't right.

Well turns out a second book escaped somewhere between NY & CA. Yeah that's a big distance. I was angry on Meredith's behalf because this girl has a friggin' heart of gold. Unfortunately crap happens and it sucks but there's not much you can do about it. I hope whoever has the missing book, is enjoying it.

Enough of my incessant rambling. Here are the books I got this week,

Bought
-
Received for Review

-Netgalley-
Blur (Blur Trilogy #1) by Stephen James
The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

-Edelweiss-
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
The Things You Kiss Goodbye Leslie Connor

Gifted 
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Won
-

Weekly Blog Wrap-Up
Monday- Review of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Tuesday- Blog Tour Review of Savor by Kate Evangelista
Wednesday- Review of Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Thursday- Review of The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello
Friday- Discussion Post Review Requests and How to Handle Them
Saturday- Review of Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Bloggers mentioned
Meredith of Pandora's Books.

As always, let me know if you've read any of these books or if you are wanting to. Also,leave me links to your Stacking the Shelves posts/vlogs etc.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Book Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: AmazonBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book took me on an emotional ride from start to finish. This debut is an amazing one and Courtney Stevens manages to capture everything just perfectly. Books like this tend to be some of my absolute favorites and this one was no exception.

Over the summer things abruptly changed for Alexi. Now, in order to keep her secret quiet, she must act normal. Act like everything is okay. But it's not okay. She seeks comfort in scratching her neck to try and dull the pain she's dealing with. She retreats to her safe haven, her closet whenever she can

Her friends Heather and Liz have no idea what's going on and Alexi knows she can't tell them. It would ruin everything for them as well. Alexi believes that she can keep this secret because she doesn't want her friends and family to have their worlds turned upside down as well.

Then comes Bodee Lennox. He was an unexpected surprise. He had his own demons to deal with and yet he was willing to help Alexi with hers.Slowly but surely Alexi begins to open up to him in a way that she hasn't been able to open up to anyone since the summer.

In so many YA books, authors put certain topics as taboo topics. Yet Courtney does not. These teenagers talk about sex openly and not in a disgusting way. There's no pressure to be in love before you have sex so it doesn't get all preachy, which I am extremely thankful for. 

Before Alexi realizes it, she's grown stronger emotionally and she's ready to tell the world what happened. Even if it ruins the lives of her family and friends. She knows now that she has to do it. Bodee is the reason behind it. He encourages her to come forward with what she knows. He knows she doesn't want to but he also knows that she needs to tell everyone so she can begin the healing process.

As much as this story was about Alexi and her journey to begin the healing process, this story was also about Bodee and how he was going to be his mom's voice unlike before. Bodee was the standout character in this book. I loved him. Like a lot. He was amazing and the way he cared about Alexi was sweet without being cheesy.

I absolutely didn't like her older sister Kayla. She seemed very immature for being 8 years older than Alexi. Yet at the end of this book, she turned into the sister that Alexi desperately deserved which of course made me really happy.

Before I forget, I need to gush about the writing for a bit. How absolutely gorgeous it was. It reminded me a lot of Katja Millay's writing but Courtney still maintained her own voice in her writing. So it was beautiful, reminiscent of Katja Millay's writing but it was still unique which I really loved. 

This book had all the feels and the amazing characters in it. It was an indescribable book. I am sure I'll have a hangover from this book for awhile. It was that amazing and sob inducing. So sob inducing in fact that I ran out of kleenex and had to sob in my sweatshirt sleeve. Five stars to this amazing contemporary debut.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Review Requests and How to Handle Them

This post was sort of inspired by my friend Ashley's post here. Hers was strictly about turning down review requests, mine will be a little of that and a little of what happens when I do accept a review requests.

I recently had to adjust my policy so now my blog states that if I am not interested in your book, I will not respond to your request. This was probably rude as well as a bit too passive aggressive and I am not like that at all. However, I didn't have much choice as I am getting requests daily that do not fit with the parameters of what I read.Honestly, if you cannot take five minutes to look over my review policy and what I do and do not like to read, then don't bother emailing me.

It's been awhile since I actually said yes to a review request and there are reasons for that. The last few times I have accepted a request, two of the books were DNF's despite having really promising synopses and I accepted a third request and never received the book.It was a book I was looking forward to and the author had approached me about it. The final reason is because of my e-ARC's. I talked about this last week and I still feel as though I am drowning in e-ARC's. So I really want to catch up on those before I start accepting emailed requests. I mean if an author has a good pitch & the synopsis intrigued me I could probably make an exception, but it's on a case-by-case basis.

And of course I want to be able to read my own books. Books that have nothing to do with blogging. Books that I received as gifts or books that I bought for myself. I started blogging for fun and I never want it to feel like a job that I hate.I am a bit afraid that it will so I am going to do everything possible to ensure that it doesn't happen. Even taking a week off of reading review books to focus on my "me" books every once in awhile.

So how do you handle review requests?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello

Title: The Moment Before
Author: Suzy Vitello
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Don’t get me wrong. I loved my sister. I never, not once, wished her dead.”

Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart, but they couldn’t be more different. Popular Sabine, the head cheerleader dating the high school hunk, seems to have all the luck, while her younger, artsy sister "Brady Brooder" is a loner who prefers the sidelines to the limelight.

After Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident, grief unravels Brady and her family. Once recognized for her artistic talent, 17-year-old Brady finds herself questioning the value of everything she once held dear. Her best friend betrays her. Her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in the search for answers in the wake of her sister’s death. As an unlikely friendship emerges, Brady learns more about Sabine – and love – than she bargained for.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Recently, I told a fellow book blogger friend that there are a lot of criteria that goes into rating a book for me. Character development is a big one for me. It's probably number 2 on my list of criteria. Unfortunately this book failed on this criteria. The characters all bored me and I found myself not caring about anything. The only character I seemed to like was Sabine and she was dead. Readers can forget about character development in this book as it was sorely lacking.

The pacing was so slow. Reading this book felt like pulling teeth because it seemed like nothing really happened. At least until the end when it got just a bit more exciting. I think if the events in the book were a bit more spaced out, it would have been much better. The writing, oh geez, I really hated the writing. It could have been something amazing but I didn't feel like the author committed to writing this book.

Brady and Connor bored me. I mean really I didn't see the attraction at all. It felt like she was just with him to get her parents to notice her. Which of course was akin to playing games which was something that was alluded to. It was like out of nowhere she was kissing this guy.Who she didn't even really know. So the romance definitely felt forced.

Martha was a terrible, horrible friend. I couldn't understand that dynamic at all. The only thing I could think of was that she had lost some brain cells recently. She seemed more interested in taking over Sabine's reign as Queen Bee, than being there for Brady and Brady's family who she claimed to love.

Up until about 80% in I was going to give this book one star, but the last 20% brought a bit more feeling into it. Unfortunately despite the effort to greatly improve this book in the end, it was too little, too late. So I have to give this book 2 stars.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Book Title: Where The Stars Still Shine
Author: Trish Doller
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA/ Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my birthday money.

Review:
Oh my goodness, this story was beautiful and full of those all important feels. I was hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed by this book and I wasn't. It was beautifully written from start to finish. This was the first Trish Doller book that I have ever read but it absolutely will not be my last.

Callie has been on the run with her mother since she was little, so the only loyalty she feels is to her mother. Yet when her mother is finally arrested for kidnapping, Callie is forced to go live with a father she doesn't remember and her two half brothers and stepmom, Phoebe.In Florida she also meets her cousin Kat, who is part of this huge Greek family that Callie doesn't remember.

She isn't ready to just abandon all thoughts of her mother and change her loyalties to her father and stepmom. Yet she cannot deny that it feels good to belong somewhere. It feels good knowing that people care about her and don't want her running around by herself. It isn't until she meets Phoebe's brother, Alex, that she begins to realize that all guys aren't like the ones she knew before.

Alex isn't the guy who stole her innocence at 8 years old. It takes Callie awhile to believe that there are good guys out there and that every guy isn't just after one thing. I know a lot pf people had issues with both her attitude and how she kinda just slept with any guy who wanted her.She had very little experience with guys. After all the only guys she would meet were the middle-aged pervs that leered at her.

Her attitude towards sex was pretty cavalier but I think the experience with her mother's boyfriend had really screwed up her self esteem. Being with Alex actually raised her self esteem. By the end of the book, she knew that she deserved better. She knew that she was worth something.Watching that transformation in Callie was something really special.

I loved Alex. I mean he was wonderful and sweet and kind to Callie. My favorite part between them was near the end when she told him exactly what had happened to her. He didn't look at her any differently. He didn't view her as "trash" or "dirty" or "sick" He saw the same girl. He saw Callie exactly as she deserved to be seen. What he did for his mother in the end was beautiful and I cried. He had his own demons but he was able to put them aside for his mother. A guy who is devoted to his mother is something special.

While this book was pretty damn near perfection, there were lulls in the book. Parts that didn't exactly bore me but were on the slow side. I guess that was a good thing as it gave me time to dry the tears that showed up.I really enjoyed this book and it's seriously on the cusp of love for me. So it's getting 4.5 stars. A near PERFECT read for me. I would absolutely recommend it to pretty much anyone.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blog Tour: Savor by Kate Evangelista

Title: Savor  
Author: Kate Evangelista

Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

DESCRIPTION

Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you’ve got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.

I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.

You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.


I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above.


Book Link: Goodreads

Review:
I fell in love with Kate Evangelista's writing over the summer when I was a part of the Romancing The Bookworm tour. So of course I wanted to read this one. I was so excited to read another one of Kate's books that I didn't even look at the synopsis of the book. That was a mistake that ended up really good for me, although it would have been nice knowing that it was part of a series prior to signing up for the tour.

I haven't been loving NA a whole lot lately so when I discovered that this was NA, I was nervous. The idea of disliking Kate's work was foreign to me so I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to deal with that.

Thankfully I didn't. Kate's writing style puts you in the actual book. You don't have to imagine it because it's so vivid, it's like you are already there. Feeling the emotions of the characters. A good writer can make you love the book, but a great writer can make you feel like you are in the book. Kate manages that task with ease and I love her for it.

Plot-wise, I wanted more to happen in the early part of it. It seemed like the major things all came in the end which left the plot feeling a little lackluster through the majority of it. It is a great way to make people want to read the next book, but I'm not sure I was too fond of it.

Now the chemistry between Luka and Dakota was hot. I mean really hot. That's another thing about Kate, she creates chemistry better than a lot of writers. She causes people's e-readers to sizzle and not every author can do that so effectively.

So while Kate is insanely talented at creating worlds and characters and chemistry, I was not in love with the plot pacing. That did not taint my enjoyment of this book and I am excited to see what comes next for these characters.This was a book that I honestly was not sure if I'd enjoy but it's a testament to Kate's brilliance, that I did enjoy it. 4 stars to this NA book and I would recommend it despite my issues with the plot pacing.

Author Bio:

 When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she lives in the Philippines and writes full time.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Book Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my birthday money.

Review:
I have read a lot of cancer books before, but I had never read one that was both heartbreaking and hysterically funny at the same time.There were times where I was reading this book where I'd be laughing so hard I was crying and then a mere two minutes later I was crying hysterically at a heartbreaking part.

Hazel is blunt, honest and witty. All of those things I love in characters. She knows that her time is dwindling but she is trying to live whatever life she has left. She knows that her amazing parents have done everything in their power for her. Her mom has made a career out of taking care of her and her father is always there for her. Supporting her & loving her. 

She's not a huge fan of Cancer Kid Support Group, but she goes. She goes for her parents mostly. Support group has a revolving door of attendants. Sometimes someone comes repeatedly and then they suddenly stop coming. There is only one real reason that people stop coming and that's because they have died.

Hazel has one "normal" friend by the name of Kaitlyn, but it's very hard to relate to Kaitlyn anymore. Kaitlyn doesn't carry around an oxygen tank. Kaitlyn doesn't have to be hooked up to oxygen around the clock. She has no idea of the hell that Hazel has been through. Nor would Hazel want her to know what it's like. Hazel wouldn't wish having shitty lungs on her worst enemy.

Never in her life, did Hazel expect to meet one-legged Augustus "Gus" Waters. Yet she does and there's like an instant connection. I wouldn't call this insta love. Mostly because it takes Hazel a bit longer to warm up to him than vice versa. Relating to Gus is easy for Hazel. While they don't have the same type of cancer, Hazel still feels like she can relate to him. 

Watching them bond over a book was awesome.It was like a book within a book which I thought was really unique.Watching their relationship develop slowly was a treat. They knew that they were living on borrowed time but that didn't mean that they had to rush the relationship.

I had cried in the first 75% of the book but that was nothing compared to the last quarter of the book. I full on ugly cried during that last 25% Did I expect something like that to happen? Yes I sort of did, but expecting it and seeing it in print was a totally different ball of wax. By the time the book was over,I had used a quarter of my brand new kleenex box.

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” Hazel

Issac was an awesome secondary character. He was from Support Group and he went through a lot in this book. He always seemed to have something hysterically funny to say, even if the situation didn't necessarily call for it.Despite everything he went through during this book, he was a great friend to Hazel & to Gus. 

For all the love I could give this book, I could also admit that it wasn't perfect. There were lulls in the story that bored me for a little while. The lulls didn't last long but they were there. The lulls are the reason that this book is getting 4 stars. I loved everything else about this book but the lulls were a bit too frequent for me to give this book a full five stars.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #27

This feature is hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews.

Hi everyone! 

How was your week? I hope something interesting happened this week so it wasn't just a plain old boring week.My week had books in it like always. The books I ordered with the Amazon gift card I got for my birthday, finally came in. They had been delayed due to that nasty East Coast weather. I picked up a 4th book from Costco last Sunday

Review book wise, it was a slow week. I got the newest Jill Shalvis book from Netgalley. I'm super excited to read it. It's not ordinarily my cup of tea but one of my bookish goals this year was to expand my horizons and read books that I wouldn't ordinarily read. After watching the lovely Margot & Aubry of EpicReads fame on Wednesday and hearing Margot GUSH about Salvage, I just had to run and grab it off of Edelweiss.

On to the fun stuff, the books.

Bought
12th Of Never (Women's Murder Club #12) by James Patterson
Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Received for Review

-Netgalley-
Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

-Edelweiss-
Salvage by Alexandra Duncan


Gifted
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Won
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Let me know if you have read any of these books and of course what you thought of them. Of course leave me the links to your Stacking the Shelves posts and vlogs.

Weekly Blog Wrap-Up
Wednesday-Review of Me Since You by Laura Weiss
Saturday-Review of Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor