Saturday, May 31, 2014

In The End (In The After #2) by Demitria Lunetta

Book Title: In The End (In The After #2)
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Publish Date: June 24th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/ SciFi
Series: Book 2 in In The After duology. My review of Book 1 is here.
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The thrilling conclusion to In the After, the survival story of Amy and Baby, set in a near future where Earth has been overrun by vicious, predatory creatures. 

It’s been three months since Amy escaped New Hope, and she’s been surviving on her own, like she did in the After. Until one day, her former fellow Guardian’s voice rings out in her earpiece. And in a desperate tone, Kay utters the four words Amy had hoped she would never hear: Dr. Reynolds has Baby.

Now it’s a race against time, for Baby is in imminent danger, her life threatened by the malevolent doctor who had helped start the end of the world. In order to save Baby, Amy must make her way to Fort Black, a prison-turned-survivor-colony, where she will need to find Ken, Kay’s brother. He alone holds the key to Baby’s survival.

One small slip-up on this quest could spark a downward spiral that would not only cost Baby and Amy their lives, but threaten the very survival of the people in the After.

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

Review:
There's one thing that is so rare in YA books, and, particularly, YA Dystopian books and that's the absence of romance. I think I mentioned it in my review of In The After, but it bears repeating here. YA needs strong ladies who do what needs to be done without the complication of romance. There is so much more to girls and women than romance and Lunetta definitely makes sure we remember that in this duology.

Amy has one goal, to return to New Hope and get Baby. Baby is really the only one she feels any sense of loyalty to anymore. She has to go to Fort Black in order to save Baby. She tries to avoid it, but when her friend Kay radioes her, everything changes. Dr. Reynolds has Baby. From that point on, Amy knows she must go to Fort Black and she must find Ken. 

The world building was fabulous. Oh my goodness, the creep factor for Fort Black was definitely there. The Warden & Doc were both creepy and I didn't trust them one iota. But Jacks, I could tell he wasn't anything like the Warden or Doc. I could tell Jacks had some secrets of his own. I could also tell that he was interested in Amy. Amy is conflicted for a little time, but her resolve to save Baby was much more important than any man. 

That's another thing that so many YA heroines seem to forget. Family is and always should be more important than any man. Amy's willing to do whatever she needs to do to save Baby. She finds help in another girl, Brenna. Brenna was willing to help Amy do anything she needed to do. She was another Kay, but they were in Fort Black.

They learn even more about the Floraes and the vaccines and the research and we, as the reader did as well. That was a great treat as I was a bit worried that Lunetta wouldn't go for it and delve into more of the politics. But she did and I was thrilled.

I very much enjoyed this book, though I wanted the conclusion to be a bit longer. It seemed to wrap up a little abruptly and it left some strings hanging. I'll be giving the book 4.5 stars. I definitely think everyone should read this duology.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Armchair BEA Week: Day 2 Author Interactions

I love interacting with authors, but it wasn't always easy for me. I am pretty outgoing sometimes but I am also pretty introverted sometimes. It really depends on the individual situation. With people I know well, I am outgoing, but with new people I am more quiet & observant.

So interacting with authors has been difficult for me. It's gotten easier over the past year, but I still struggle with it at times. Having some great authors to talk to has definitely helped put my mind at ease.

Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story & Life By Committee recently did a guest post on the blog. Now that was something I struggled with. Not with the post exactly, but with the process of emailing back and forth with her. She's an amazing lady and technically I didn't ask her for anything (she offered) but it was still hard.

Jessica Verdi is another author who I've interacted with on a fairly frequent basis. She wrote My Life After Now and The Summer I Wasn't Me. She's another awesome lady who has been very gracious. Not just to me, but to everyone. I've made it clear to her that I will shout about her books constantly and I cannot wait to read her next book (comes out in 2015)

Of course the list of amazing authors could go on and on. A.G. Howard, Victoria Scott, Anne Blankman, Emery Lord, Brandy Colbert & Sharon Biggs Waller. This is just a sampling of names that came to me first. There are so many other authors who've welcomed me, and my thoughts on books, with open arms.

So how has your interactions with authors changed since you began blogging? Who are the authors that have been particularly awesome?

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Armchair BEA Week! (My Introduction)

Hello everyone, this year I am thrilled to be participating in Armchair BEA Week. I'm sure you may be wondering what exactly is it. It's a way that those who cannot attend BEA in NYC can participate without leaving the comfort of your own home. Last year, I had just began blogging so I did not participate. This year, I'm ready to do this!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from? 
Hello, my name is Alexia and I've been blogging for just over a year. I recently took some time off school to focus on my writing projects and as I already have 2 degrees I just may never return to school. I have a wonderful family, an amazing boyfriend (anyone else hate the term boyfriend?) and three wonderful pets. I got into blogging because I had a couple of bookish friends that did it so I decided to start it up myself. I blog from sunny Northern California.

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- so we can connect more online. 
My blog is super hard to describe so I'll just go with a book blog that encompasses many genres. Social details. Instagram name alexiareads & Twitter handle @alexiareads. 

What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ . 
I've been on a major YA Contemporary kick lately. I'd say that's the genre I read most. Reading transports me to a whole different world and I don't even have to leave my bedroom.

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year? 
Ohhhh, this is tough. Last year my favorite book was The Program by Suzanne Young. Absolutely amazing book that I absolutely adored. Favorite book this year is a three way tie between Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Pointe by Brandy Colbert & Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens.

 What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like? (Pinterest encouraged!) 
A big room filled with couches and a lot of pillows and bookshelves built into every wall. A mini-fridge too as I am usually eating something while I read.

What is your favorite blogging resource? 
In terms of getting access to more books, it's Edelweiss & NetGalley. Both places you can request Electronic Advanced Reader Copies. In terms of getting tips on book blogging, I go to the bloggers who've been around awhile.

Spread the love by naming your favorite blogs/bloggers (doesn’t necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers).
Definitely Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner, Meredith of Pandora's Books, Octavia of Read. Sleep. Repeat. & Kelly of Effortlessly Reading.

 Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 
Book quote was easy, so I went with that.
"After all this time?"
"Alway."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why?
I'd bring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows & Splintered & Unhinged by A.G.Howard. Non book items, I'd bring cans of iced tea, BBQ potato chips & dark chocolate.

 What book would you love to see as a movie?
The Program by Suzanne Young & The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi. Okay so that's two books. I cheated a bit.Ooopsies.

If you are participating in Armchair BEA this week, leave me the link to your post for today.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Book Title: Complicit
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA Thriller
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor's fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know this one simple truth: she’s not the crazy one and never has been.

He is.

Disclaimer: I received this e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
By the time you read this I will have read and reviewed the first Stephanie Kuehn book Charm & Strange. I just knew the moment I read the blurb of this one, that I had to have it.The blurb sent chills up my spine. So when NetGalley approved me, I was super excited about it and I dove right in.I really wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was 256 pages of pure awesome mind-fuckery.

Jamie has been dealt a rough hand. As a child he lived with his mother and big sister Cate. Until the day that his mother was shot and killed right in front of him & Cate. After that, they went into foster care until rich people Angie and Malcolm Henry adopted them. It's very hard for school-age kids to be adopted but this was a special case. Angie and Malcolm had recently lost their two children in a traffic accident.

At first Cate seems like she's the well adjusted one. But Jamie starts to hear stories. Stories about how his sister is making other kids do stuff.Stuff that they don't want to do. Of course Jamie is loyal to his sister, but then an incident changes that. An incident that shows that all those kids saying those strange things may not be so far off.

Then the fire happens and Cate is eventually charged with the crime. Finally, Jamie can breathe easier. "Crazy Cate" is in a juvenile detention center where she can't get to him. But nothing is the same anymore. He's an outcast, even his former best friend Scooter won't talk to him. After all it was Scooter's girlfriend who was horrifically burned in the fire that Cate set which also killed horses.

And then he meets Jenny. Sweet Jenny, kind Jenny. Jenny doesn't know about Cate because her family just moved here. So to her, Jamie is just a normal guy. When she finds out about Cate from the other kids at school, she doesn't shy away from Jamie.

Now Jamie is getting calls from his sister. He hasn't spoken to her in two years and now she's out and constantly hassling him over the phone.Jamie doesn't want to ruin what he's got going with Jenny but he's also trying to recover certain memories. Memories that only Cate would be able to relate to.

It isn't until he comes face to face with Cate for the first time in 2 years, that he starts realizing things. Memories that had been long repressed creep back into the forefront of his brain. Suddenly, everything he thought was true is being called into question.

Malcolm & Angie played pretty minor parts. Angie was in it more than Malcolm was. They were okay people. Angie was a good mom to the kids and when Malcolm was around he was good to both Cate &
Jamie. They definitely grieved for their birth children, Madison & Graham. Even going as far as encouraging Cate & Jamie into doing the kinds of things that Madison and Graham enjoyed. Such as horseback riding & playing the piano.

I think they tried to protect Jamie in the end. They had already lost their biological children and their adopted daughter was lost to her troubles. So they focused on keeping Jamie safe and happy. Even going as far as to baby him a bit. Especially when it came to the nerve damage to his hands.His hands had started giving him problems the night of the fire. Now whenever he was stressed out, the issues flared up again.

I just cannot believe what a ride this was. And the mind-fuckery? Totally crazy and this book messed with my mind in the best possible way. Oh man this book was fantastic.It was a total page turner because you never quite knew what was going to happen next and it was oftentimes, totally unexpected.

Thrillers are harder to review because there's often no true feels in the books. There's craziness and mind-blowing and all sorts of other things, but no true feels. With that said, this book will be getting the full 5 stars. It was totally awesome and Stephanie Kuehn has become another one of those auto-buy authors. Which means, I'll buy anything this woman writes. I definitely plan on ordering a finished copy of this book.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

Book Title: The One (The Selection #3)
Author: Kiera Cass
Publish Date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Dystopian/Romance
Series: Book 3 in The Selection Trilogy (My reviews of Book 1 & Book 2)
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass's #1 New York Timesbestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America's whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth's Divergent, Ally Condie's Matched, or Lauren Oliver's Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Review:
It's been no secret that I've been obsessed with this series since I first started it in March. It's addicting like chocolate. Except chocolate doesn't make you wait for three books to see what happens and who is the last one left standing. 

This book was the best book of the series for multiple reasons. There was even more about how the world worked, there was a lot more with Queen Amberly & King Clarkson, there was some great moments between the final four girls. It felt like Cass really went for it in the final book. No, not everything was tied up in a neat bow, BUT I didn't mind. I was okay with there still being a few loose strings. 

America comes to a decision in this book and it was definitely difficult to watch her at times. She played keep away with her heart. She knew how she felt, but the idea of telling Maxon was difficult. Maxon was also playing hot and cold with her at times, but I think that came from not wanting to put himself all in without knowing how she felt about him. It also didn't help that King Clarkson was very against America

America pulled a couple of stunts that infuriated the king, he made it very clear on multiple occasions that America was not the one, forgetting of course that it was Maxon's choice who he wanted. King Clarkson was a very controlling, strong-willed and often quite cruel to his own son. I was hoping that The Elite would be the extent of his controlling, domineering attitude, but unfortunately, I was wrong.

Finally, I started to like Aspen a whole lot better. Definitely disappointed that it took so long for me to like him, but glad that it happened at all. Aspen's got secrets of his own, and honestly, I suspected what the secret was early on, but it wasn't until the end that my suspicions were confirmed. He did some great things for America and Maxon, including one thing at the very end that I thought was fitting.

There was more on the politics as things became quite dangerous in the palace. Yet, I wasn't bored. I actually found it to be very fascinating. I always wanted to know what was going on and who was behind all this and why. I'm definitely glad we got answers about this part. I would have been bummed if we did not.

I was thrilled with how things went with the final 4 girls. Things you never expected to happen, happen. Alliances changed in startling ways, so serious kudos to Cass for that. I love when unexpected things happen, it adds more intrigue to the story.

Fantastic ending to the series and this will be getting 5 stars from me. Like I said earlier, I found it to be the best book of the series. The entire series was addicting and I am so gonna miss this series. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday #5 Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It's a way to showcase an upcoming release that we are excited for.


On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Book Link: Goodreads

My Reaction
This book looks amazing and I'm already hearing some early buzz going around even though it doesn't release until September. I do have a very eclectic taste and this definitely seems like a book I'll love. Excited for it and eagerly awaiting September so that I can grab a copy of this book. It's gonna be a long wait but I think this book will be worth it.

So what book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass

Book Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Published Date: April 23rd, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Dystopian/Romance
Series: Book 2 in The Selection trilogy (My review of The Selection is here)
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Review:
If Maxon isn't the one at the very end I think America needs to be committed. I'm not even kidding. He was my favorite part of this entire book. He made it clear to America that she was the one and if she wanted him to, he'd stop everything immediately and propose to her. Yet America isn't as forthcoming with her feelings. I blame that on a little complication I'd like to call Aspen. How exactly is Aspen still even a possibility. I don't even know at this point. 

I sympathized with America because I've been in that triangle and it was so hard for me to choose between the familiar boy I had loved for so long and the new boy who promised me the world and had the means to give it to me. It's very hard because when I was with each boy and it was just the two of us, the answer seemed simple. So when America was able to steal time with Maxon and Aspen individually, she could see herself married to them so easily. I was able to connect with America because of this.

Aspen seemed more interested in making sure that Maxon didn't choose America, than making her see why she needed to pick him. Selfish if you ask me. He also seemed to care more about his job as the guard, than he did in the first book. I didn't warm up to him at all, which was a disappointment, as I was really hoping to like him much more in the second book.

I really enjoyed seeing more of how the world was run and the politics behind it. Thankfully, it wasn't too heavy on the politics. If it had been, I would have been bored as I really try to avoid reading books that are heavy on the politics.

The connection that Maxon builds with Kriss was not something I was expecting. I can tell he's interested in her, but I've watched enough of The Bachelor to know that she would be his default pick if America left. After finishing this book, I am positive that Maxon's father would not allow him to not pick anyone.

Which reminds me, holy crap Maxon. I had no idea that his father, King Clarkson was that awful to his only son. I was glad we got that peek into Maxon's life and it was something that came out of left field for me. I never saw it coming. Heartbreaking and so sad.

I'm thrilled that I have The One already so, by the time you read this review, I will have started (and maybe even finished The One) I am giving this book 4 stars just like I gave the first one and I cannot wait to see what awaits me in The One.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: In The After (In The After #1) by Demitria Lunetta

Book Title: In The After (In The After #1)
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Published Date: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/SciFi
Series: Book 1 of In The After duology
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Review:
This book was mindblowingly epic. Oh my goodness, it was fantastic, fabulous and all other positive words you could think of. I am so very picky about my Sci Fi, but this one blew me away completely.

Amy and Baby were a dynamic duo, one that was quite unique to me. They were essentially sisters by circumstance and they looked out for each other, they protected each other. Despite her age, Baby seemed to be quite mature and resourceful for her age. I think that was due to circumstance as well. She was mute, never spoke a word as long as Amy had known her. A mute toddler adds another layer to this fantastic book.

Amy and Baby live in silence, communicating only through modified sign language, which again, was awesome. They think they're the only ones still alive...but they're not...

When they are rescued by New Hope, everything seems like it's a dream. There's enough food, water and all other supplies necessary and they learn that they aren't alone and that other survivors exist. But things at New Hope aren't what they seem and Amy begins to realize that she can't be there and that the safety is a facade. She is scared for Baby though as Baby has secrets that only she knows and if anyone finds out, Baby will be in grave danger.

I really liked that it focused so much on the science fiction stuff and there was only a small sprinkling of romance. I think that made the book much stronger. The book didn't drag at all which is one thing I really loved. Often, when a book is over 400 pages, there are lulls in it, but not with this one. It was action packed throughout the entire thing. If you like science fiction, I think you'll like this book a LOT. I am giving it 5 stars and I am excited to dive into the conclusion of the duology.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sneak Peek of Feral by Holly Schindler

Hello all you awesome people. Today I'm talking about Feral by Holly Schindler. I'll also be giving you guys a sneak peek of the book.

Releases August 26th, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.


If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, play the video below for a sneak peek.



If you liked what you heard, then head on over to the author's blog to find out where you can pre-order this book from.

Pre-Order Information
Author's Blog

If you still aren't sure and you are a book blogger, head on over to Edelweiss and request an e-ARC of it.

Edelweiss Link:
Feral

If you want to wait until you see some reviews for it, keep an eye out for my review. It'll be posted July 26th.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friendships In Your 20's

Making friends in adulthood is so much harder than I ever expected it to be. I didn't expect to suddenly lose friends the minute we were all legal. I was under the impression that our friendships were stronger than that. I was under the impression that friendships could withstand new relationships, engagements, marriages and even babies.

Apparently I was wrong. Apparently friendships are always changing, and changing significantly when people begin a new stage of life. I've struggled to maintain friendships as the years have gone past. I've tried and tried to hang on to a friendship, only to realize that it's just not working for various reasons. Maybe we've outgrown each other, maybe we are too different, or maybe, we were never really friends at all.

I was also under the impression that if someone means something to you, you will take the time to check in on them. Especially if you know things aren't good at home. I've always tried to stay connected and check in on people. Particularly if I haven't heard anything for awhile. That leads me to a different point, I don't buy this "Sorry I'm too busy" bullshit If someone is important to you, you'll make the time to talk to them, see them, let them know that you are thinking of them. Even a quick text would be okay.

Saying goodbye to friendships is sometimes incredibly hard or, if you know it's a toxic friendship, it can be incredibly easy. I've been in both of those situations. In one situation, it lead to me blowing up at my friend in a public place (I'm not proud of it) It was all about how her new (and first) romantic relationship seemed to be more important than our 15 year friendship.

That happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves. When a relationship becomes number 1 in your life and you no longer have time/want to see your friends who were there before the significant other. I think it's incredibly important to balance your friendships along with your romantic relationships. Friends are so, SO important and I think everyone needs to remember that.

Another couple times it was hard because I didn't know what had happened. We just stopped talking and every time I'd try to reach out I'd either get an "I'm busy." or "can't talk right now" or even worse, no response at all. It was awful and it caused my self esteem to take a major hit. It made me wonder "What happened?" "Why am I not good enough" or other negative thoughts.

People think that self esteem can only take a major hit when you're in high school, but that's wrong. Your self esteem can take a hit whenever it wants to. Mine has taken many hits in my 20's, and while it has not been fun, it's left me with a better understanding of myself. I'm more confident in what I can and will put up with in regards to friendships. It's helped me realize who is worth my time and who isn't.

I'm a major control freak so the fact that I cannot control how others think of me or treat me, is hard. However, I can make it known that I am a person, worthy of respect, honesty and kindness. I can make it known that I will not allow myself to be treated badly. I will not try to force a reconciliation with someone I no longer care for. I will not spend time with anyone who doesn't appreciate me and what I bring to the table.

Currently, my two closest friends are my boyfriend (who I've known since we were kids) and my friend who lives in Puerto Rico and has been a wonderful friend to me despite the distance. Would I like to have more friends? Of course I would, but I'm not gonna force it. Society says that if a woman doesn't have several close friends, there's a problem and it's a red flag for anyone wanting to date her. Well I call bullshit on that.

Friendships are important. Friendships are sacred and friendships can bring more ups and downs than an amusement park roller coaster.

So, do you find it easy or hard to make friends?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana

Book Title: Summer Of Yesterday
Author: Gaby Triana
Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: Amazon 

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Haley’s summer vacation takes a turn for the retro in this totally rad romantic fantasy.

Summer officially sucks. Thanks to a stupid seizure she had a few months earlier, Haley’s stuck going on vacation with her dad and his new family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness instead of enjoying the last session of summer camp back home with her friends. Fort Wilderness holds lots of childhood memories for her father, but surely nothing for Haley. But then a new seizure triggers something she’s never before experienced—time travel—and she ends up in River Country, the campground’s long-abandoned water park, during its heyday.

The year? 1982.

And there—with its amusing fashion, “oldies” music, and primitive technology—she runs into familiar faces: teenage Dad and Mom before they’d even met. Somehow, Haley must find her way back to the twenty-first century before her present-day parents anguish over her disappearance, a difficult feat now that she’s met Jason, one of the park’s summer residents and employees, who takes the strangely dressed stowaway under his wing.

Seizures aside, Haley’s used to controlling her life, and she has no idea how to deal with this dilemma. How can she be falling for a boy whose future she can’t share?

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

Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I love a good time traveling story and it's even better when it's a YA time travel story. Initially Haley bothered me. A lot. Her attitude was terrible and I felt sympathy for her dad & stepmom who had to deal with her. Seizures are a big deal and while I can understand Haley's reluctance, I can also understand how her dad wants to keep a close eye on her.

When she travels back in time, everything is different. All the things that she has grown up with don't even exist. There is no Google, no iPhone or any of the technology that she has always known. Stranger yet, she meets her parents the summer they fell in love. But it's cutie Jason who makes the most impact on her. He takes her under his wing,and doesn't label her crazy when she drops a bombshell on him.

Yet, I didn't feel the chemistry between Jason and Haley. Their kisses didn't make my Kindle sizzle like I was hoping they would. Maybe it's because I never completely warmed up to Haley. I ended up liking her a little bit, but I didn't love her. I think more character development for Haley would have helped.

The plot was jerky. In some places it was slower than a turtle and in others, it zoomed by like a racehorse. I think a little extra time to work out the pacing would definitely have been beneficial to the story.

The ending was confusing too. I don't think the author was really committed to the end of the story as it felt rushed and unfinished.There was one last bombshell at the end that surprised me, but didn't shock me or fill me with feels.

So I'm kinda iffy on this one. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Between an underdeveloped protagonist and a rough ending & a jerky paced plot, I'm giving this book 3 stars. Maybe someone else will like it, it just wasn't one of my favorites.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #41

This feature is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This was the week of pre-orders!!!! I got 2 books in the mail that I had pre-ordered in March. So excited they came the day after they officially came out. I'm not usually that lucky. I picked up one Edelweiss book and one Netgalley book. Also, I was incredibly surprised to receive a package from St. Martin's Press. I didn't request anything, but they must have me on an author specific list or something as I got an Adult Thriller book from an author I love. 

Let's check out the books.

Bought
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Received for Review

-Edelweiss-
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

-Netgalley-
Now I See You: A Memoir by Nicole C. Kear

-From St. Martin's Press-
That Night by Chevy Stevens

Gifted
-
Won
-

Be sure to let me know if you've read any of these or if you are planning on it. Also leave links to your Stacking the Shelves posts so I can stop by.

Weekly Blog Wrap-Up
Monday- Review of Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Tuesday- Review of Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau
Wednesday- No Post
Thursday- No Post
Friday- Guest Post from YA author Corey Ann Haydu about her writing process
Saturday- Review of Red At Night (an e-novella) by Katie McGarry

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review: Red At Night by Katie McGarry

Book Title: Red At Night
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone (e-novella)
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In Red at Night, Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She's the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He's a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella's favorite refuge…the local cemetery.

Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah's friends. Once he's sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won't have time for her anymore. Too bad she's already fallen for him.

Disclaimer: This book was a freebie from Amazon.

Review:
So I'll read anything this woman writes. Oh my goodness, I never would have thought that so much emotion could be in a e-novella that was only 87 pages. Clearly I underestimated McGarry's talents in condensing the story but not allowing the emotion to suffer. This book wrecked me nearly on the same level as Pushing The Limits did.

My heart ached so badly for Stella. She didn't think there was any hope for her in life. She was resigned to her fate to work a full time job with no college since she couldn't afford it and she didn't have the type of family support she deserved. She had long ago learned that hoping doesn't change the facts and that it was useless to hope for more. She had learned to be realistic and that dreams were just that, dreams.

"If I don't hope for more, then it can't hurt as bad." -Stella

See, what did I tell you? Feels aplenty.

Then we had Jonah, who had the family Stella deserved but he couldn't get past watching a complete stranger die on the road one night. He hated all the press that came with it. He hated being called a hero, because he wasn't. He was just there at the right time and did what any decent person would do.

"His last words to me and on this earth were that he lived his life wrong."-Jonah

I think everyone has that fear. That fear, that you'll get to the end of your life and you'll realize that you made some mistakes and maybe even lived your life wrong. Dying with regrets has got to be one of the worst feelings in the world because you can't change it.

I loved Jonah and Stella's relationship. I loved that he was willing to tell off his best friend, Cooper for making fun of her. I loved that he sided with her and was willing to defend her no matter what. The chemistry leapt off the page and it made me smile a lot.

"I know who I want to be and I want you by my side as I become that person."

That quote is one of the most beautiful quotes I've ever read in a book. Oh my goodness, just reading it again, gets me all choked up. To have someone feel that way about you, has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

This book packed an emotional punch from the very beginning and did not let go. I absolutely ADORED this book, and like I said before, I'll read anything this woman writes. She's that fabulous and her books are amazing, full of emotion and always, ALWAYS have amazing, and well written characters. 5 stars to this book that made me think of life, love and the choices we make in this world.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Guest Post from Corey Ann Haydu

Corey Ann Haydu is the author of two YA Contemporaries.
OCD Love Story- July 2013
Life By Committee- May 2014

Several weeks ago, Corey put the word out that she was willing to do a guest post on book blogs and I pounced on the opportunity for her to write one for this blog. Since I am working on 3 writing projects, I really wanted to hear about her writing process.

On Process and Doing What Works

The really wonderful thing about being a writer is the same as the really wonderful thing about being a person—you get to figure out who you are and what makes sense for you in your work and your writing and your life.

Here’s how a book happens for me:
I come up with an idea. It is vague. It is inspired by something else—a bit of my life or a documentary or a play or a podcast or another book. In the case of LIFE BY COMMITTEE I started with this French film I loved—Love Me If You Dare. I liked the structure, danger, and chaos of the film and I wanted to attempt that kind of arc in a book. 

That’s all I knew, when I started.

I write in cafes. I need a mocha or a chai. I have to have internet. I like to be chatting online with friends and looking at interesting articles and generally doing a sort of manic multitasking. I work best with a lot of chaos around me.

I write random scenes, out of order. I have only that one seed of an idea (“a YA novel sort of like that French film”) and nothing else. I play a lot. Slowly, I layer on ideas. At one point in writing LBC I realized the arc I wanted would intersect in an interesting way with bits of my own high school experience.

The first draft took me about a year. First drafts in general tend to take me about a year. It is a messy, messy process. I don’t have any chronology until very late in the game. Plot points occur to me sort of willy-nilly, and I’ll write a scene that seems like it could be interesting (Sasha Cotton on her porch at night, in LBC) and not have any idea why I’m writing it or where it will fit in. It’s a lot like leaving breadcrumbs for myself, Hansel and Gretl style, without actually knowing where I’m walking as I drop those breadcrumbs.

But miraculously a lot of things come together.

And unsurprisingly, a lot of other things fall apart.

I do not have strong first drafts. My revisions are complicated, structural, character and plot overhauls. They are not far from page one rewrites. I need readers (betas and above all else my agent and editor) to ask the right questions so that I can find the right answers.

When I’m revising I make insane, impossible choices. That’s when the book starts to work. I don’t solve a problem of not enough tension or a character’s journey being off by simply tweaking. I completely rethink the way I’m telling the story. I changed the entire way LBC-- the online group in the book-- functioned in between the second and third drafts. I cut a major character entirely after the first draft. I started the book in a whole new place. I added probably ten chapters in my last revision.

I stayed open to new and large and surprising changes. That’s the important part of the writing process for me—openness. Being open to ideas that seem impossible or exhausting. Taking risks. Writing scenes you may never use. Going in a direction that’s going to be hard to turn yourself around from. Making big and scary decisions, sticking with them, and then having the courage to give them up and undo them again if they’re not working.

And then the scariest—trusting your own instinct and following through even when it’s terrifying and hard.

And knowing how YOU write best, how a novel comes to be for YOU, and not judging that the process doesn’t look the way it’s supposed to. My process isn’t efficient. It requires me knowing when I have done as much as I can do on my own. It is filled with self-doubt and small moments of epiphanies. I am often shocked and appalled and dismayed and lost. My process involves post-it notes and scattered ideas and no outlines or calendars or spreadsheets. It doesn’t involve story arc, even though I know eventually I’ll need that. It doesn’t involve consistency or thinking through motivations, even though I know eventually I’ll need that. It means sometimes I give up halfway through or start over for the fiftieth time. It means for every 80,000 word book, there are 300,000 written words, beautiful scenes that will never be seen, characters I loved that no one else will meet. It means my phone is filled with one sentence idea descriptions that offer me little more than a feeling on which to build a whole novel.

And those little feelings sometimes turn into books.

And that’s mine. I can own that. Even though it’s messy.

Thank you so much Corey for volunteering to write a post for the blog. I loved reading all about your writing process. Keep writing those amazing books for us!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Title: Independent Study (The Testing #2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Published Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Series: Book 2 in The Testing trilogy (My review for The Testing is here)
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

Disclaimer: I got this book from ARCycling.

Review:
I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the second book in the series. The excitement didn't last long though and I spent a good chunk of the book, bored out of my mind.

It wasn't realistic. Cia was supposedly able to handle 9 classes plus an internship and be able to run around campus and still manage to ace her assignments and do well in her internship? Please! I wanted to see her fail only because I wanted to see how she would handle that. Yet they don't show that. She goes through the entire book, at the top of her class and not getting caught when she sneaks around looking for answers. It was too convenient and unlike in The Testing, I really didn't like her. She had this I'm-better-than-anyone-else attitude which made me really annoyed and pissed off.

I still don't like Tomas and honestly I didn't really like anyone in this book outside of Raffe. I found the characters to be very bland and definitely underdeveloped. I was hoping for more character development and I didn't get that.The world-building was also lacking significantly and that made it very difficult for me to be able to visualize everything.The world-building was decent in the first book, but it definitely took a nosedive in the second book.

There was no action in it, which really sucks because in books in this genre, there's got to be some action in order for it to be good and compelling. Without action, this book was nothing more than a fictional political book.

This book suffered the infamous "Sophomore Slump" It was boring, uninteresting and it was a book that I could not wait to finish so I could put it behind me and move on to a better, more interesting book. This book will be getting 2 stars. I am not sure I'll read the final book in the trilogy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Book Title: Pointe
Author: Brandy Colbert
Published Date: April 10th, 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

Disclaimer: This book was a personal purchase.

Review:
Um...

Um...

Holy catfish, this book was far more complex than I ever gave it credit for. It's not "just" a ballet book with kidnapping and anorexia subplots. It involves friendships, boys, choices and, even a more dark subject matter, rape and I think realizing that was important. There was definitely more than met the eye for this book. It tackled a ton of tough subjects and it was done well, really well. When you first start reading this book, you think it's going to head in one direction, but it doesn't and that really threw me off for a little while.

Theo didn't always make the best decisions, but that's what I loved about her. She was real, she was human and she was dealing with more issues than I had ever dealt with in my life. She loved and was devoted to ballet, something that never wavered throughout the book. She was loyal to her friends Sara-Kate and Philip. She had supportive and loving parents who she had put through the wringer. And there's Hosea, he's spoken for, but Theo cannot help but be drawn to him. 

And then, there was Donovan. Her best friend who she hadn't seen in 4 years. In those four years there had been leads, but all had been false. Until the day, he returns. It's an ordinary day, a day much like the previous days. Except Donovan is back. 

Theo is desperate to see him, to talk to him, but he's not talking, his mother is honoring his request to keep a low profile. So Theo has no choice but to wait.

Waiting is hard for Theo. She likes being in control but she cannot control this situation. She cannot control anything about Donovan's return and the legal case that will follow it. Because there will be a legal case. The person who took Donovan will be put on trial. Worst of all, Theo must testify about the last time she saw Donovan before he disappeared. Secrets threaten to come to the surface, but Theo knows that she can't keep quiet anymore. She knows that she must spill secrets that she's kept for four years. 

The feels were definitely there in abundance. I cried a lot in the beginning of the book and I cried a lot at the end of the book, so major kudos to Colbert for giving her readers those all important feels. This book didn't read like it was penned by a debut author. It read much more like Colbert was a seasoned author. It was well written and beautifully written. 

I think this book was incredibly important for reasons that you'll find out as you read the book. It touches on important topics and it does it with honesty. As I laid awake in bed after finishing it, I felt my feelings for this book only soar higher. I want to be able to give this book a full five stars, but I wanted to see Donovan more in the book. He was the one I wanted to know more about. 

Yet I understood why he wasn't in the book that much and my favorite part between Donovan and Theo was at the end. It was beautiful, heartfelt and so damn perfect. 4.5 stars to this extremely important and beautifully written book. I definitely would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA and I will definitely read anything this woman writes.