Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Missing You by Meg Cabot

Note: this is the final book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series (i.e. spoilers for the previous books).

Missing You
by Meg Cabot

Summary: Ever since a walk home on a particularly stormy day, Jessica Mastriani has had an ability like no other. She became known worldwide as Lightning Girl a psychic who could find the location of anyone, dead or alive. Jess finally had no choice but to embrace her newfound talent, and ended up lending her skills to the U.S. government.

But her work for them has taken a terrible toll, and Jess resurfaces months later a shadow of her former self, her powers gone, Lightning Girl no more. Her only hope is starting over in a new place, a big city where nobody knows her. It's only when Rob Wilkins unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep that she's forced to face her past. Rob, all the way from back home, needs her help. But how can Jess, her powers gone, find anyone, let alone the sister of a man she once loved . . . when she can't even find herself?
 So this is the final book in the series and, like all of the other ones, I loved it.

It's set a few years after the fourth book and so Jess is a bit older, her life has changed and so has she. I really loved how she was a bit more mature, a little bit broken by everything she's gone through, but still the same Jess at heart. She was still totally kick ass, she still made me laugh, but I think I like her even more in this book because she doesn't just punch first ask questions later anymore and she stands up to her mum a bit more too (something I've been dying for her to do the entire series).

This book was different to the others because the other books seemed more focussed on the plot and Jess's powers, but this one seemed more about her and her relationships - the plot didn't suffer because of that though, the plot was still as good as the others.

 Her and Rob (oh what a wonderful love interest he is) have a lot to work through in the book, I wanted to yell at both of them to just "USE YOUR WORDS!!" because so much of their issues could've been sorted with just...a real conversation with neither making assumptions or being too scared to admit how they really feel - but at the same time, it's one of those romances that is fun to read about, you want them to get to that happy ending and totally know they will but all the bumps in the road make it that much more awesome.

Other little thing I loved: I've been watching the TV show based on these books (the show is very, very different - basic concept and main character name and her brother are pretty much all that remains the same), I'm in the middle of series 3 right now. And the book actually acknowledges the existence of the show, she talks about a show based on her life and - yeah. I thought that was cute.

Anyway, this series has been so fun to read. I think that's all I have to say.

 Later.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
HarperTeen
[March 2, 2010]

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
A lot of people I really respect raved about this book but...ehh. Maybe it was all the hype, but Before I Fall just didn't stick with me.

Samantha was obviously very irritating at first. I didn't like her. As the story went on, I started to like her more, but first impressions, guys. Sometimes we just can't get past them, you know?

The story itself was pretty interesting. I know there are books like this out there, but I'd never read one before. So to me, it was different. I liked seeing how each new scenario affected Samantha and her life and it did make me think for a little bit about every action we do and how it changes things.

And it was really well written. I can never deny that Lauren Oliver really is a fantastic writer. I've read all but one of her currently released books and she's honestly an incredible author who certainly deserves to be widely published and loved.

But honestly, Before I Fall isn't my kind of book. It may have had some impact when I read it months ago, but now I can barely remember reading it and only have a vague idea of everything that happens in the story. It was just...a book that I read earlier this year. And that's all, honestly.

Many people loved this book. They hardcore fangirl and push this book. I'm just not one of those readers. I enjoyed it while I read it, but it was just one of those "meh" books for me.

--Julie

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pushing the Limits Q&A and Giveaway!

Yesterday, I raved and gushed and loved all over Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. Now you can get a chance to win your own copy.

But first, a little talk with the genius behind the book.

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing overwhelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.


Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have unfortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.


Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The people I grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willingly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Now, the giveaway!

And, that's it! Thanks so much Katie and good luck all!

--Julie 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits
Katie McGarry
HarlequinTeen
[July 31, 2012]

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter,  New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series.

I was wary going into this one. It sounded too issue-y. But I'd heard nothing but rave reviews about it from trusted sources and the romance was supposed to be epic, so I went for it.

And oh this book. It hit my Right. In. The. Feels. I read this on my Kindle and pretty much cried through the last quarter of it.

Echo. Oh Echo. Her story made my heart hurt, that poor girl. She'd been through so much and suffered so much and I just wanted to hug her and then help her draw again. And then Noah. Freaking Noah. He wants you to hate him but you can't because he is secretly the sweetest, bestest boy on earth. I love Noah Hutchins so, so much. He is probably one of my new favorite YA boys.

And this story? Jesus. I kept thinking the romance was going to be the best part of the book, the part that pulled me through. But there was no "best part." There was Awesome Part A, Awesome Part B, and Awesome Part C. Echo's story, Noah's story, Echo and Noah's story. Both of the characters had really intense, horrible stories that no teenager should have to deal with. I was utterly hooked on both stories and was just so hungry for more, for their happiness. And then their romance was like the shining beacon, the happiness they couldn't find elsewhere. And it was cute and adorable and intense and passionate and dhjdhsklgndjsnsg STOP I CANNOT.

The writing was told from alternating first POV between Noah and Echo. Katie McGarry really knew what she was doing by going back and forth. Both perspectives were crucial, obviously, and both characters had their own distinct voice and life and personality.

Guys, I don't think I can gush about this book enough. It is now one of my favorite books ever and you will seriously regret it if you don't pick it up. It's like no other contemporary I've read and oh how I adore it. Please, please, PLEASE pick up this book.

--Julie

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Safe House and Sanctuary by Meg Cabot

Note: this is the 3rd and 4th book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series.

Safe House & Sanctuary
by Meg Cabot


Summary: Ever since Jess was struck by lightning, she’s had the power to find missing people. And everyone wants a piece of her powers....

In Safe House, Jess and her psychic abilities are being blamed for the murder of Amber, a beloved cheerleader. But when more cheerleaders start disappearing, Jess may be able to save her reputation by finding the murderer—before it’s too late.

In Sanctuary, the government has always been after Jess for her abilities, but working for the enemy becomes inevitable as Jess tries to track down a local boy who is linked to a militia group. Now with the FBI supposedly on her side, Jess isn’t sure whom to trust and whom to run from.... 

So I was in the middle of reading a book, but it was boring me so I put it down. I picked up a different book, got one chapter in and put it down. Then another book. Then, with the next one, I just glared at the cover. They weren't even bad books, I just - couldn't seem to bring myself to read anything. Until these books.

I loved the first two books in the series and these two were just as awesome. They're fun, they keep me entertained all the way through and leave me smiling and immediately wanting to read the next one (which I did - lack of sleep is the only reason I didn't go straight onto the last book).

The romance in the books, it's adorable. Rob is awesome (can I keep him? he's one of those guys who have all the best qualities of a bad boy while actually being a good guy). But, the thing is, while the romance is consistently there in the books, it's always just like - background noise as part of the bigger plot and I liked that a lot.

The plot of Safe House - parts of it were predictable and easy to guess early on, but it still kept me interested all the way through. The next book - didn't like the plot as much, but it may just be because a murder mystery straight after reading a murder mystery set in the same town with the same characters didn't work as well, I'd probably have enjoyed it more if I waited a while before reading the next one. It was still really good though.

I - can't really think of anything else to say about the books really, they totally brought the cute and fun and quirky. I love the Mediator series, but this one definitely holds its own in comparison.

Later.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly
Susan Dennard
HarperTeen
[July 24, 2012]

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

I really wanted to adore this book. But sadly it was missing something for me.

I liked Eleanor. I liked the inner struggle she had and everything she had to learn about herself. She was determined and brave and loyal. I really appreciated that, but she didn't stand out to me from other protagonists.

The story itself was definitely interesting. While there are plenty of zombie books out there, most of them aren't historical fiction and very few that I've read involve necromancy. There was also a very personal aspect to this that made it more intriguing. I was curious to see how it would turn out and I was impressed.

Honestly, the romance aspect was the most interesting. There was one real love interest and one character who had potential, but he was just too suspicious. However, I really liked both of them and wanted more of them. I wanted to know everything about them and found them fascinating. If the books were in one of their perspectives, I would be a very happy reader.

Something just didn't click for me, though. I think it might've been Eleanor. As interested as I was in the story and invested as I was in the love interest and...other, I was never really interested in her. To me, she just seemed like a vehicle for the story.

This was a really good story and it was well written. I enjoyed it for the most part, I just never connected with Eleanor as a protagonist. But that's probably a Me thing. I definitely recommend checking this one out, overall.

--Julie

Monday, 23 July 2012

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Ashes
Ilsa J. Bick
EgmontUSA
[September 6, 2011]

It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.
Let's just go ahead and stamp "Not My Kind of Book" on this one to start with.

I don't do "terrifying" in...anything, really. I don't like being scared. But Harmony went on and on about this book and it was an Egmont book, so finally I caved and bought it. Shortly after, Harmony made me read it.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to, though.

Alex goes through a lot of character growth. She was pretty unlikable to start with, but so much happens to her and she experiences so much in her journey, that she becomes more and more likable. Less a bratty teenager and someone so much stronger and wiser.

The side characters were diverse and well built. We had Ellie, who may be the most bratty person on the planet. Tom who was wonderful and lovely. And then we had the many people she meets later on who all have very different motivations and beliefs and obviously they aren't all good.

The story itself had a lot of twists and turns to it and there was always something new to worry about. Always something unexpected and interesting. You can't tell at all how this story will end when you start reading. It's not even worth trying to figure it out. But it was definitely entertaining and it really sucks you in.

Ashes is definitely well written. Ilsa J. Bick knows what she's doing. Creepy and desolate but hopeful and exciting and just...an awesome balance all around.

Despite all this good, we've already stamped the book. We didn't have the right chemistry, you know? Maybe some day we'll work things out and I'll read the other books in the series, but right now, our relationship isn't really stable.

Ashes did click with a lot of other people though. And I didn't really have a problem with the book (except for two Me-Specific problems that y'all probably don't care about). So if you think this might be a You kind of book, definitely grab it!

--Julie

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Book Haul (126)

Julie:

So...I can't explain what happened this week. I only meant to order a copy of A World Away and then...things kinda spiraled from there.

Purchased:
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
A World Away by Nancy Grossman
Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare (ebook)
With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke (ebook)

Won:
Endlessly by Kiersten White

For Review:
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer (via Netgalley)
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Err...oops?

I'm not going to have a complete week for you guys next week. I leave for vacation on Friday and while I love you, I don't love you enough to go down to the lobby for WiFi and add anything I purchased at the bookstore on Saturday. 

I'm going to the bookstore later today, but hopefully there's not much more than that? I've decided to close myself to reviews for the most part. I'll really only be taking on a couple of books that I'm REALLY anticipating if I've got a lot of time before release. And also I'll probably be buying a ridiculous amount of books once I'm at my vacation place so...there's that.

And that whole college thing that I'll now be leaving for in less than a month. That too.

So, there you go. That's my week in books. How was yours?

--Julie

Lanna:


For review:

Now is Good by Jenny Downham (originally released as Before I Die)

I've always been on the fence about reading this one. I want to read it, but I don't really like reading books about cancer, but since I've got it now, I'll give it a chance. There's a movie being released starring Dakota Fanning based on the book (which is why there's a new title and movie cover). 

Here's the trailer:






Bought:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (well, I got the UK version which has a different cover and is released as The Gathering Dark)
As You Desire by Connie Brockway - Not really my usual kind of book but someone recommended it.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - Julie recommended this one and the authors blog is hilarious so the book is bound to be entertaining.
And, uh, don't judge me - I totally bought the complete collection of Winnie the Pooh stories and poems by A. A. Milne. Nostalgia got the best of me, and seriously, he's such a wise yet oblivious bear!

Later.

TBR for the Week (5)

Last week...didn't go quite as planned. 

1.) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
2.) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
3.) Skylark by Meagan Spooner
4.) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
5.) Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
6.) Freebie: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
7.) Freebie: With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke

I can actually...mostly explain this week. I was reading Pushing the Limits when I realized my Kindle battery was low but I wanted to read while it was charging. None of my books for the week were physical books. So I picked up For Darkness Shows the Stars since I missed it last week and it was totally different from Pushing the Limits, ensuring I wouldn't mix anything up. Then Pushing the Limits so totally blew my mind with it's awesome, I wasn't ready for another YA. So I read a romance novel.

A for effort?

This week's been bugging me. I'm not totally sure what I wanna do review-book wise. I have two things I have to read for reasons and that'll take up some time and do I want to just go up to Thursday since I'm leaving Friday? Can I already start committing to books to bring on vacation?

So, this list is more of a list of books I'm limiting myself to reading instead of a list of books I will do everything in my power to read, as well as a few of the books books I know I'll be bringing on vacation with me (though not all the books I'll be bringing/reading).

1.) Skylark by Meagan Spooner
2.) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
3.) A World Away by Nancy Grossman
4.) Persuasion by Jane Austen
5.) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
6.) Collision by Stefne Miller
7.) Supernaturally by Kiersten White
8.) Endlessly by Kiersten White
9.) It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
10.) We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
11.) The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
12.) The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
13.) Belles by Jen Calonita
14.) The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
15.) Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
16.) What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
17.) Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

I'm also putting Code Name Verity, Paranormalcy, and any books I purchase later today as contenders, but not likely.

Beauty Queens, Persuasion, Belles, and A World Away are all beach bound, no doubt about it. A World Away may end up sneaking in to this week and Beauty Queens is a reread and I want to read it on the ride there so I can force it on my sister, who should be meeting up with us.

Beyond that, I'd really love your input. What do y'all think I should push to the top? Anything I left out that you find here or here you think I should read instead?

--Julie

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Juliet Immortal
Stacey Jay
Random House Children's Books
[August 9, 2011]

Fans of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver and Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush will relish this intense paranormal love story featuring Romeo and Juliet, literary history's most tragic couple, who meet again, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.
The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

This book was so ridiculously good and I loved it.

Juliet is not the same Juliet from the play, no, no. She's tough, a fighter. Her new goal is to protect the love of others since hers was destroyed. She's smart and quick and she just wants someone to love her the way she thought Romeo did. I really, really liked Juliet.

Romeo may have been my favorite character, even though he's the bad guy. He was super sarcastic and had this dark, twisted humor I really appreciated it. I know we're supposed to hate him, but I kinda rooted for him to be happy. So I was pretty psyched when I found out there's a companion novel from his perspective.

I loved the romance between Juliet and her new guy. It was lovely and awesome and adorable and just...*sigh* Yes. Yes it was.

I really enjoyed Stacey Jay's writing. She had a really unique voice for Juliet and it was refreshing to read something so different. She kept me captivated in this intense, wonderful story. I was totally engaged in this book and didn't want to put it down.

I know this is a horribly vague review, but I read the book in...March? Maybe April? It was several months ago, I know that much. But I really did love this book and I'm stoked to have a copy of Romeo Redeemed on my Kindle already. If you're like me and way behind in picking up this book, go. Do it now. Now is a good time to get this book.

--Julie

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

When You Were Mine
by Rebecca Serle

Summary: Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her--and when he finally does, it's perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose's best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn't even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet's instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob's heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends....

I'm kind of a sucker for Romeo and Juliet retellings (although, it's because I tend to find retellings are better at making me believe it's love instead of just lust, Shakespeares version is purely a tragedy in my eyes, not a love story) and this one sounded like it was putting a really original spin on it and I've wanted to read it ever since I first heard about it.

It kind of started out as a major disappointment. In the beginning, I didn't like the writing (it had that kind of shallow feel and a lot of annoying filler stuff - like going on about what they have for breakfast and describing what is in the vending machines and that sort of thing) and I didn't like the characters (their relationships, again, seemed shallow and they seemed shallow too, buying into their own popularity and all that).

It stayed that way for about the first two thirds of the book, with the only redeeming quality being that Lens character interested me and it was entertaining even if it wasn't amazing.

The book was divided up into five acts (I think, maybe four? Pretty sure it was five though) and I only started really genuinely liking the book in the last two acts. Up until that point, Rose's obsessing over Rob was just frustrating - he wasn't a good guy, the way he behaves in the book, it's just... it's frustrating to read about.

I liked Rosaline more nearer the end, her scenes with Len were interesting, her friendships started to seem more real and I started liking the characters more because of that and then it actually succeeded in making me cry nearer the end - it did get grief right and I liked that a lot about the book, because sometimes when you read a book and the characters go through something, it just feels like the author doesn't know what it's like to experience what s/he's writing about but this book wasn't like that, it felt like she got it.

There's not really much else I can think to say about the book. It wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, but it wasn't bad either. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Later.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Such a Rush
Jennifer Echols
MTV Books
[July 10, 2012]

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.    

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

So, I wasn't the hugest fan of Love Story, which is the only other Echols' book I've read. It was enjoyable, but I wasn't blown away the way everyone else was. But Such a Rush? Consider me blown to China.

Leah was different from other protagonists I usually read. She was smart and strong and fiercely independent. She learned early on to take care of herself, no matter where she was. Leah was also pretty confident in who she was, despite what other people thought of her (which I'll get to). I liked her determination and her spunk.

The romance in this book was very A Midsummer's Night-esque. All of the confusion and all of the difficulties and as that's the one Shakespeare play I've thoroughly enjoyed, I liked seeing it here too. No, this isn't a retelling, but it just kind of gives you a good comparison on the craziness. This book is much darker, not as fun, though it certainly has it's moments.

I loved how this book tackled bullying and some semi-slut shaming. Because Leah lives in a trailer park and a lot of boys are attracted to her and she dresses a certain way, she's a slut. Really it's a lack of funds and her just being an attractive person. Instead of shying away from that, she embraces what they believe is her reputation. She doesn't actually sleep around a lot, but she lets everyone thinks she does. She ignores the worst of her bullies and lives her life how she wants to, not caring how others may judge her. It was a good look at the problem and some of the background you don't really know unless you're close to the person you're calling...any name, really.

I also adored the different relationships developed in this book. There were a lot of people who were important to the story, even if they weren't there, and their relationships with Leah and the Hall brothers were all necessary and interesting and formative. There were a lot of different types of relationships looked at, as well.

Also, the ending? May have been one of the cutest things ever.

Basically, this book made me want more like it and while Echols' other books don't really sound like my things...I think it's now inevitable that I will read them someday. So if you're on the fence about her books like I was, I'd say start with this one.

--Julie

Sunday, 15 July 2012

TBR for the Week (4)

Well, last week...oh last week...

1.) The Diviners by Libba Bray
2.) The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
3.) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
4.) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
5.) What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
6.) Changeling by Phillipa Gregory
7.) Freebie: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
8.) Freebie: The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen (this was my original freebie, but since I read it in a mini-personal read-a-thon Sunday, I'd initially forgotten to add it.)

When planning last week's reading list, I kind of forgot that I had a concert one night and then there was an unplanned day with my friends. The Diviners also took me longer than I thought it would to get into. Then I decided to reread Girl of Fire and Thorns before reading Crown of Embers and...they're not short books.

This week, I do have to get back to review books. So I'm planning to read

1.) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
2.) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
3.) Skylark by Meagan Spooner
4.) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
5.) Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
6.) Freebie

That should, theoretically, cover my review books for a couple weeks. I'll be happy if I just get those 5 read because I know I've got at least one day in which little reading will get done and tomorrow could turn into a Pride and Prejudice marathon, so...we'll see what happens.

I'm trying to decide what to do next week. I leave on Friday for vacation, so it might be kinda hectic here. I'll also be spending a lot of time thinking of what I'll pack the week AFTER and if I want to pack a lot again or assume I'll end up buying a crapload of books at the nearby bookstore again and try to stick to those.

So you tell me, should next week be a totally free week, a reader's choice week, a "me" week, or a week for books that are already released? If it'll help you decide, my available adult books are here and my available YA books are here.

Any thoughts on these books? Any thoughts on last week's books? And what should I do for next week?

--Julie

Book Haul (125)

Julie: 

A much more manageable week for me this week!

EGalleys:
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Won:
Diva by Jillian Larkin

I DID have the fun surprise of finding my blurb for Vixen made it onto the back of Diva! So, definitely glad I won a copy of it. I haven't read the sequel and so I would've kept putting off buying it.

What'd you guys pick up this week?

--Julie

Lanna:


The Crow: The Lazarus Heart by Poppy Z. Brite

I love the movie, The Crow and I've been wanting to read the comic series it was based on and the books too, decided to start with the books and try this one.


The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

Stacey from Chapter Chicks reviewed this one and it sounded awesome so I decided to try it. :)

I don't normally include e-books I buy/get for review in book hauls - mainly because I'm never sure if I'll actually get round to reading them and with e-books, it doesn't feel like I own them, I need to own a physical copy to feel like they're mine, but yeah, I got a few I'm excited to read:



Slammed by Colleen Hoover
Easy by Tammara Webber

Heard really awesome things about these two, particularly Slammed.

To Romania With Love by Tessa Dunlop

Sounded cute, plus, the Romania aspect appeals to me.

I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis

Love that blog, wanted the physical copy of the book but it's expensive so I just got the e-book for now.

And I think that's all. What'd you guys get this week? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What'd you think of them if you have?

Later.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Code Name Cassandra by Meg Cabot

Note: This is book #2 in the 1-800-Where-R-You series, just so you know. (As always, review is spoiler free but the summary is likely to spoil book #1 for those who haven't read it.)

Code Name Cassandra
by Meg Cabot


Summary: Jess Mastriani was dubbed "Lightning Girl" by the press when she developed a psychic ability to find missing children after she was struck by lightning during a huge storm. Now Jess has lost her miraculous powers...or at least she would like the media and the government to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.

But it doesn't look like Jess is going to get her wish -- especially not while working at a summer camp for musically gifted kids. When the father of a missing girl shows up to beg Jess to find his daughter, Jess can't say no. Now the Feds are on her tail again, as is one ornery stepdad, who'd like to see Lightning Girl...well, dead.

I absolutely adore this series. It's not a favourite in the same way books like Looking for Alaska or Jellicoe Road are, but it's in its own little favourites catagory because it's just so fun to read and I love the characters and it's one of those books that leave me smiling as I finish the last page.

There isn't a whole lot I can say about the book really (and I know I say that a lot and then proceed to ramble in my reviews like there's no tomorrow, but I mean it). It's fun to read - it makes me laugh, sometimes I'd pause between chapters and realise I had a grin on my face while reading, and the characters... they're just awesome, the kind I'd like to know.

If I'm ever feeling down, this is the kind of book that could cheer me up. Meg Cabot has a talent for writing books like that, because her Mediator series is the same and after reading this book, I think I like this series just as much.

I kind of want to read the rest of the series right now, but it's nearly 2am and my eyes are stinging and I have other books to read - but it's so tempting, that's how much I love this series, it leaves me wanting to immediately jump back into this world with these characters and... I'm doing the rambling thing again, right? Woops. I'll shut up now.

But seriously, if you want a book series that will cheer you up and won't take much time to read with a funny, feisty, awesome main character then check this series out.

Later.

p.s. OH! Almost forgot to mention - I was bored and started watching this TV show, 1-800-Missing, that came on TV. And it was weirdly familiar - the character names, the premise. And then I realised it was actually based on this series. They changed a lot (aged Jess, killed her dad, changed how her power works etc.) but it's still pretty fun and it was pretty cool watching a TV show only to realise it was based on a book series that I love.

p.p.s. Gah, I loathe these covers so much - this series deserves better covers...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Mothership
Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 
[July 10, 2012]

Teen pregnancy is never easy—especially not when extraterrestrials are involved. The first in a new trilogy.

Elvie Nara was doing just fine in the year 2074. She had a great best friend, a dad she adored, and bright future working on the Ares Project on Mars. But then she had to get involved with sweet, gorgeous, dumb-as-a-brick Cole—and now she’s pregnant.


Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole. She hasn’t seen him since she told him she’s pregnant, and now he’s bursting into her new home to tell her that her teachers are aliens and want to use her unborn baby to repopulate their species? Nice try, buddy. You could have just called.


So fine, finding a way off this ship is priority number one, but first Elvie has to figure out how Cole ended up as a commando, work together with her arch-nemesis, and figure out if she even wants to be a mother—assuming they get back to Earth in one piece.

Alright, read that summary again. Laugh your heart out. It's okay, I agree with you.

Basically, this whole book is about a bunch of pregnant teenage girls trying to get off the spaceship after most of them were almost killed by the same people who were supposed to be protecting them. Besides flashbacks, it all takes place in the same day.

Yet I kind of loved this book.

It's super fast paced because, like I said, it happens in a day. And a lot happens. There's always some new dilemma, some new personal crisis for Elvie or one of the other girls, and a lot of it you can't predict. But it's not overwhelming, either. Every few chapters or so, there's a flashback to Elvie's life on earth and that really slows things down for a bit. It gives you time to absorb and relax a bit. Despite it's quirkiness and fun, it was also a pretty dark book, which was very unexpected.

Looking past her name, I really liked Elvie. She was funny and sassy and intelligent. Her dream in life is to go to Mars...and this is a legit thing that could happen. She made a mistake about a guy, which people do.

Now Cole...oh Cole. He's not a very smart boy, no. But the book made his complete lack of intelligence kind of endearing. It didn't bother me as much as it normally would've. I don't have a problem with people who aren't really smart but...this boy actually came off as a moron. Kind of like a puppy. No idea what's going on, but all kinds of energy and love. I didn't like that he wasn't really willing to commit or speak up about how he felt though. He was kinda all over the place with his romantic feelings, so then Elvie was all over the place, and that was irritating.

I really liked the side characters. Most of the pregnant teens weren't really developed, but I liked what we saw of them. The only other commando we got to know was the leader and he was a fun one. I LOVED Elvie's dad and best friend on Earth. They were awesome and nerdy and funny and just good people. 

Overall, this book was funny and quirky and so totally different from any other YA book you've read. It was lovely and awesome and well written and just...awesome. Read it so you can die for book two with me!

--Julie

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

 **Spoilers for the first three books in the Heather Wells series in the summary of the book**

Size 12 and Ready to Rock
Meg Cabot
William Morrow Paperbacks 
[July 10, 2012]

Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy

Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself--who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.

Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright--who just happens to be Heather's "new" fiance. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, "this" reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.

God, I love this series.

Heather Wells is one of my favorite heroines. She's comfortable with herself despite her faults. She's intelligent and brave and funny. She's supportive and can be motherly...but also likes to have a strong drink sometimes to get away from the stupid. Heather makes the narration feel like I'm sitting around, listening to my friend's story.

And can I talk about my love for Cooper? I seriously adore that man. He's snarky and clever and he just GETS Heather. The two of them together are so wonderful and happy making and I just...yes <3

The story's are always awesome and very interesting. Very twisted. Meg Cabot really knows how to keep you on your toes. I loved seeing a more personal case that Heather had to deal with and how well she and Cooper managed it.

One of my favorite things about these books is how well developed every character is. They're not all perfect. Most of them are well meaning and good people, they're just not perfect and not always smart. Some are so pretentious, they won't listen to others who are right. Every character has faults and can admit it, or at least not try to be perfect.

Basically, I love Heather Wells and Meg Cabot and Size 12 and Ready to Rock. If you haven't read this series, why the hell did you read this review? And go pick up book 1. If you've read the series but not this book, GET THIS BOOK ASAP. Then we can all anxiously anticipate book 5.

--Julie

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Things We Did for Love by Natasha Farrant

The Things We Did for Love
by Natasha Farrant


Summary: France: February, 1944.

As war rages in Europe, teenagers Luc and Arianne fall passionately in love. But German forces are closing in and Luc, desperate to atone for his family's past, is drawn into the dangerous world of the Resistance. Arianne will do almost anything to keep him safe, but someone else is secretly in love with her - someone who will stop at nothing to get rid of his rival...
Here, have some adjectives: tragic, heartbreaking, lovely, sweet, sad, infuriating, awesome, haunting, unexpected, shocking, surprising.

This book was all of those things.

It doesn't feel like I can talk about this book the way I review other books because of the subject matter. I don't want to talk about how sweet and painful the romance was in all its first-love-in-the-midst-of-war glory, or how much I liked or disliked the characters... because it doesn't feel like those are the important parts of this book.

The characters were fictional, the story was fictional... but it was based on truth - the way things are in the end really happened, the author has just created a fictional version of events that led up to that point.

Books like this, books about war--especially ones based on real wars, real events in history--they show the best and the worst of humanity. This one, it felt like it showed a bit more of the worst. How war can turn men into monsters, killers, traitors. How morals can become a hundred shades of gray when they used to be black and white. How good intentions can have the worst consequences and how heroes sometimes aren't all that heroic if you really see them up close and see the impact their actions have on good people.

But it also shows how even the worst of people are still human and can still find the best in themselves even at their lowest point. And, well, like the title says: it shows the things people will do for love, all kinds of love (love of a country, a cause, a belief, a person - romantic, familial, friendly, neighbourly...).

I'm probably not making much sense, but the book got me thinking about all of that and you might understand more if you read it.

Reading this book, I was really angry at so many of the characters, but then... the way they were, the things they did, it was more realistic that way because people aren't perfect, they screw up - especially under those sorts of circumstances.

The ending of the book - I obviously can't talk about it without spoilers, but it was really unexpected (not the climax of the story, the thing it was all leading up to, but something more subtle, a quiet kind of unexpected following the big shock). It isn't often that a book can surprise me the way this book did, and up until that surprising point, I had just been mostly angry - I hadn't cried, in spite of how tragic it was, until that twist was revealed. That's the part that made the book so good.

Sorry, this review is all over the place and probably didn't make much sense because I was trying really hard to talk about it without spoiling it.

To sum up:

The characters: Awesome, awful (read: realistic).

The plot: Heartbreaking, shocking, great (read: brilliant in a tragic sort of way) 

The writing: Lovely (read: uh, that one does what it says on the tin really - the prose was lovely).

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 (possibly 5, the rating is only slightly lower because it was third person mostly with multiple characters as the focus and that kind of left me with a... being-kept-at-a-distance kind of feeling with the plot, which is why I only cried in the last few pages of the book and not during the majority of heartwrenching events). It's left me feeling kind of... melancholy.

So, basically: Go read it.

Final note: After reading the book, I looked up the real story that inspired this book. Honestly, the real version of events seemed a lot more brutal, a lot more cruel (and that's saying something, because what happens in the book is beyond awful). After you read the book, you should read the true story.

Later.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: Celaena Sardothien is a daredevil assassin with unrivalled fighting skills. After a year’s hard labour in the salt mines of the kingdom of Adarlan, Celaena is offered her freedom on one condition—she must fight as handsome Prince Dorian’s champion in a contest sponsored by the king, facing the deadliest thieves and assassins in the land in a series of set-piece battles in the country’s stunning glass palace. But there is more at stake than even her life—for Celaena is destined for a remarkable future...

Well then. This book... Yes. It was awesome. It's difficult to put it into words...


I was not expecting to love the book as much as I did.

Celaena - she's brilliant. She's an assassin and yet, reading the book, the situation and her character seems more complex than that. Killers can be the good guys, the people who should be good can be bad. Celaena was just totally fierce, she stuck up for herself and could kick ass in a fight and I adored her from the start. And the way other characters treat her, I like that she wasn't treated like a damsel in distress just because she's a girl - if someone wanted to help her, it was because they cared, not because she was a girl and I like that. And I loved that by the end, I felt like I knew her character but she was still kind of a mystery at the same time - it's like, you get to know her personality but there's so much about her and her past you're left wanting to know.

The romance in the book... it was subtle--just a side plot really, or one of the side plots--it was never the focus but it was done really well. And more than that, it was a love triangle done well (if you could call it that - like I said, it was subtle and it was more hints of feelings/sparks between characters than an actual in-your-face totally obvious love triangle--and it's not quite love yet--but I want it to be). It's not predictable, I don't know who she will end up with--if she'll even end up with anyone--and more than that, I don't know who I want her to end up with (although, I think maybe I prefer her with Chaol but I liked her with Dorian too).

Dorian would show up and I'd be all:

And then Chaol would show up and I'd still be all:

By the end, I was just like:

...So yes, I think that about sums that aspect up.

I loved the world and the plot and how it left me really wanting more but it's not one of those books that are so clearly just setting up for a sequel and leaving frustrating cliff hangers - it felt like we were given just enough information, just enough loose ends were left untied and I want the sequel so badly, if I had it now then I would've started reading as soon as I finished Throne of Glass.

The writing was awesome too, and all of the characters - I've mentioned Chaol, Dorian and Celaena but the other characters were great too; the bad guys delightfully bad, the good guys awesome enough that I'd like to be their friend. I don't read a lot of epic, high fantasy type books but it's books like this one that make me want to read more of them. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

(Sorry if this review is a bit scattered - I'm very tired and I'm stuck babysitting right now so my mind is all over the place but I wanted to get this review out of my system).

Later.


p.s. This review was written just after I finished reading the book, and while I still love it, I've seen a lot of negative reviews too (seems to be one of those love it or hate it kind of books) - I do see where some of those people are coming from, saying Celaena was too perfect and all that... but it just didn't bother me when reading (maybe because I didn't view her as perfect).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

TBR for the Week (3)

Let's start by looking at last week's TBR pile.

1.) The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
2.) Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
3.) Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

4.) Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
5.) Either: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly, The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen, or A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
6.) Reader's Choice! Any book on this shelf is up for it, so please let me know which you'd prefer me to read!
7.) Freebie: Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan

WOO for getting review books read! All of the books I read come out on Tuesday (except for A Kiss at Midnight), so be on the look out for all the reviews ever.

If you've looked at my book haul posted here, you'll notice I got a lot of awesome books this past week, so I decided to make this week a "Me" week, especially since next week I have to crack down on review books since I go on vacation less than two weeks AFTER and like making that a "Me" week as well.

At any rate, this week's ambitious because I'm really excited for all of these books. It's the same number of books as last week, but many of them are pretty big books. For example, The Diviners is a little over 600 pages. Yeah. But the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon starts tomorrow and goes through Wednesday, so that should also help motivate me (even if I'm only doing it unofficially.)

1.) The Diviners by Libba Bray
2.) The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
3.) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
4.) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
5.) What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
6.) Changeling by Phillipa Gregory
7.) Freebie

Any thoughts on these books? What are you reading this week?

--Julie

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