Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Wrap Up & Book Haul

*Books Read in April*
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
99 Days by Katie Cutugno
Finding Paris by Joy Preble
Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine
The Replaced by Kimberly Derting
Still Waters by Ash Parsons
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
*April Book Haul*
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Wrong About The Guy by Claire LaZebnik
A Tale of Two Besties by Sophia Rossi
Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy
Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay
Still Waters by Ash Parsons
Etherworld by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam
Invincible by Amy Reed
Encore To An Empty Room by Kevin Emerson
Magonia by  Maria Dahvana Headley
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
City Love by Susane Colasanti

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Rogue by Julie Kagawa


April was a pretty great book month for me!
Not only did I get a lot of great books in the mail,
but I also read 15 great books
and listened to 3 awesome audiobooks!

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
Now I'm gearing up for another great book month in May!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: The Replaced by Kimberly Derting
The Replaced
(The Taking, #2)
by Kimberly Derting
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Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062293633
Genre: Young Adult | Sci-Fi | Aliens
Source: Edelweiss

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Romantic and action-packed, The Replaced is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.

Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?

Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the Body Finder series, The Replaced is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human. (Goodreads)
The Replaced is the much anticipated follow-up to The Taking by Kimberly Derting. I was pretty excited to finally get my hands on this book, as I really enjoyed the first book, and after the cliffhanger ending that we were left with, I was curious to see what was going to happen next.

If you’ve not read the first book yet, read this review at your own risk. This review may contain some information that was in the first book, and may include a few spoilers as well. You’ve been warned!

The Replaced picks up just a few weeks after The Taking leaves off. Krya is still on the run from the NSA, and keeping a close eye out for Tyler, who was abducted all because of her. I like that Kyra is a lot more confident in herself in this book, even when she finds out some things about herself that she has a bit of a hard time dealing with. Unfortunately she has no other choice than to learn to deal with the way she is, and it’s something she does determinedly. I like this about her.

The secondary characters in the book are well written as well. A lot of the characters we know from the first book are in this book, and we get to know a lot of them even better. We are also introduced to some new characters as well; some of which are super interesting, and some you’re going to be super suspicious about.

The beginnings of a love-triangle seem to start in the book as well, and honestly, I’m not sure how I felt about it. I didn’t really buy the relationship, as it pretty much seemed a little forced on one side, and there really wasn’t any chemistry to me. I’m curious, though, to see what is going to happen with it.

The Replaced is full of twists and turns, some that you may see coming and some that will completely take you by surprise and leave your mouth hanging wide open. Like the first book, The Replaced ends with another cliffhanger. This one wasn’t as bad as the one in the first book, but it’s still left me wanting to know what in the world is going to happen next!!

Overall; I really enjoyed this sequel very much, and I’m super curious to get my hands on the next and final book in the series, which is currently without title and release date. But hopefully we know know more about it soon!

Waiting on Wednesday #197 - November 9 by Colleen Hoover
November 9
by Colleen Hoover
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Publication Date: November 10th 2015
Publisher: Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501110344

Available for Purchase:
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This is a love story between a guy (me) and a girl (Fallon).
I think.
Can it even be considered a love story if it doesn’t end with love?
Mysteries end when the mystery is solved.
Biographies end when the life story has been told.
Love stories should end with love, right?
Maybe I’m wrong, then. Maybe this isn’t a love story. If you ask me…I’d say this might even be considered a tragedy.
Whatever it is—however it ends—I promised I would tell it. So without further ado.

Once upon a time…I met a girl.
The girl. (Goodreads)

I've recently jumped on the Colleen Hoover bandwagon.
Especially after reading Maybe Someday, and finally realizing what I had been missing.
But seriously, the summary for this book sounds SO interesting.
Is it a love story? Is it a mystery? Whatever it is, I'm definitely curious to read it!

**"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.**

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
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Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
ISBN: 9781595148032
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | High Fantasy
Source: First To Read

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Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
As soon as I discovered An Ember in the Ashes, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. When the opportunity rose for me get an advance copy of the book, I jumped! Knowing that this could be one of the biggest books of the year, I knew I’d have to read it. And I am SO glad that I did.

The world in which Laia lived was super harsh and so very cruel. Being a slave, she was subject to so many things that would break a normal person, including being punished in the worst ways possible by her ‘owner’, who also happened to be the commandant at the military school. Elias is a soldier in the school, and life should be so much easier for him, but it’s not. He doesn’t agree with the way things are, and he wants out. And he’s determined to get out. When these two characters paths cross, they discover that they are just what each other needs to survive. Laila and Elias are such great characters. The relationship between the two is complicated, and is also mixed in with two other secondary characters in the novel. But together, they are great. There are some really great secondary characters in the novel as well. There are a few that you’re going to love, and a few that you will hate so much.

I love the world that Tahir created in this novel, although it’s not one that I would want to live in At All. But it was super creative and unique, like no other world I’ve read about before. The ending of this book left me SO excited for the next book. I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on it, as I MUST know what is going to happen next for these characters and the story!!!

Overall; If you’re a fan of high fantasy novels, you’re definitely going to want to check this book out as soon as possible. The story and the world-building for this book is so very creative, and you can’t help but love the characters. I can’t wait for the next book in the series; I hope it is as awesome as the first!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blog Tour: Still Waters by Ash Parsons
Still Waters
by Ash Parsons
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Publication Date: April 21st 2015
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780399168475
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Source: Publisher

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A gritty, powerful debut that evokes The Outsiders. You won't be able to look away.

High school senior Jason knows how to take a punch. Living with an abusive father will teach a kid that. But he’s also learned how to hit back, earning a reputation at school that ensures no one will mess with him. Even so, all Jason truly wants is to survive his father long enough to turn eighteen, take his younger sister, Janie, and run away.

Then one day, the leader of the in crowd at school, Michael, offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Jason figures Michael simply wants to be seen with someone with a tough rep and that the money will add up fast, making Jason’s escape plan a reality. Plus, there’s Michael’s girl, Cyndra, who looks at Jason as if she sees something behind his false smile. As Jason gets drawn deeper into Michael’s game, the money keeps flowing, but the stakes grow ever more dangerous. Soon, even Jason’s fists and his ability to think on his feet aren’t enough to keep his head above water.

Still Waters is an intense, gritty thriller that pulls no punches—yet leaves you rooting for the tough guy. A powerful, dynamic debut.
When I was first offered the chance to read Still Waters by Ash Parsons, I didn’t know what to expect. Just from reading the summary, I knew the novel would be gritty and dark. I don’t get the chance to read many novels that have a really dark storyline. I don’t actually read books of this nature very often, because sometimes they can be so realistic, it’s just painful to read. But the more I read these books, the more I realize how important they are, and how I’m glad so many authors are putting these books out into the world. While they tell a dark story, they also can give hope.

When Jason Robert’s is approached by the most popular jock at school, the offer sounds too good to be true. But it’s easy money, money that he desperately needs to finally get himself and his sister away from their drunk, abusive father once and for all. But what seemed like easy money at first, using his fists and bad boy image to help the jock out, starts getting out of control and even more dangerous, and Jason finds himself way over his head.

Jason is a complicated character, but you just can’t help but like him. He has gone through so much in his young life, especially at the hands of his abusive father, but he loves his sister fiercely and wants nothing more than to take her away from all of it as soon as he can. I love how much he loved his sister, and wanted to protect her at all costs from their father. Jason’s best friend Clay is the exact opposite of Jason. While Jason uses his fists and muscles at times to get his point across, Clay is the kid that refuses to fight even the bullies that pick on him, because he knows that violence is never the answer. These two boys, Jason and Clay, have an unlikely, but also kind of perfect, friendship.

The storyline for this book was raw and gritty, just as described. It leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat and flying through the book as quickly as you can. There were so many twists and turns throughout the story that were super intense, I just had to know what was going to happen next. I read this book in just a few hours time, and I could not put it down.

Overall; I don’t think that I normally would have picked up a book this dark, but I’m super glad that I did. The story was raw and realistic, and it sends out a very important message to those that read the book. I’m so glad I read this, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Parsons in the future!


*Guest Post with Ash Parsons*

I was given the opportunity to come up with a guest prompt for Ash Parsons, so my dear friend Kathy and I brainstormed and came up with two really great, but also important questions. Read Ash's answer below!!

**Explain to us the significance of writing a book that deals with bullying and abuse. Also, how important is it to write books for teens that are a bit on the darker side.**

The world isn’t what we would have it be. It’s not safe. It’s not always welcoming. It’s wonderful and beautiful and challenging and hard. Life isn’t just happy moments, and it’s rarely fair. Even though Still Waters is fiction, no writer sets out to write something that isn’t true. The character of Jason isn’t real, but I desperately wanted him to feel true. It was important to me to write about bullying and abuse in that context. Because they are real things, and it felt true to include them.

The power of story is so strong, that when you tell a story and include harsh truths – that life isn’t fair, that some people seem to “have it all,” while others are struggling to get through a single day – that story can actually help a reader. Beyond being transported out of their ordinary life (which is itself enormously important), sometimes with certain readers and certain books, a story can assuage a need. Perhaps it’s a need for hope. Or a need to be recognized. A need to see your own struggles reflected in a book, and perhaps even triumphed over. Or just as importantly not triumphed over. Sometimes a book can validate a loss. Also when a reader sees harsh truths exposed in a book, it can sometimes give the reader the courage to face their own hardships, and if appropriate, expose them.

The playwright William Nicholson wrote, “We read to know we’re not alone.” I think that’s absolutely true. The alchemy of reading is so unique – it’s a singular, solo, subjective event – to read a book. And yet reading is also communal, especially when you have a community of passionate readers such as the readers of this blog. But when you sit down to read a book, that’s usually a personal magic that happens between your eyes and the words on the page. For myself, I find when I read that I do feel less alone, for all the reasons I mentioned above, when I have a need assuaged by a story. When characters become so real that it almost feels they are a part of me and I can carry them inside my heart - that is the best thing. It makes me think of another quote, from Seneca, “the comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one.” Books are like that, the comfort of the right book at the right time can be a life-long warmth that you carry with you, just remembering how it met or lessened a particular need at a particular time.

I think it’s important for teens to read “dark” books because life can be very dark. Telling the truth, reading the truth has its own power, which I discussed above. Beyond that, reading about other people – the struggles they have – if they’re vastly different from your own experiences, that also has power to cultivate empathy. For all these reasons, we need diverse books, to meet diverse needs, and to improve empathy and caring. I view writing about “dark” topics as being part of that necessary diversity. -- Ash Parsons

Thank you, Ash, for answering our questions! Your answer is spot on, and I love that you wrote this book for us. Readers, I hope that you will check out Ash's book, Still Waters!! It's definitely worth the read.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Things We Know By Heart
by Jessi Kirby
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Publication Date: April 21st 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780062299437
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss

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When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake. (Goodreads)
Things We Know By Heart is the first book I’ve read by Jessi Kirby. I’ve had some of her other books on my to-read list for a while now, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Now that I’ve read one of her books, I’ve definitely become a fan, and I can’t wait to get my hands on her other books!

Poor Quinn, for such a young girl, she had been through so much. Having the love of your life die in a tragic accident can make even the strongest of persons buckle. As a way to cope with her loss, she decides to meet the recipients of Trent’s donated organs; seeing the life that Trent provided to those who needed it. And after 400 days, she had met almost all of the recipients, except for the one that would be the hardest to deal with, the heart recipient, who doesn’t want to be found. But Quinn is very determined, and ends of finding him anyways. From there, her chance meeting with the recipient turns into something much, much more.

I really loved Quinn’s determination throughout the story. She just knew that she would find closure after finding the heart recipient, and all she wanted was a little peek at the person. But she totally didn’t expect all the feelings that came with finally finding Colton, which was completely understandable. I loved Colton a little more than I expected to, and it was hard not to love him. He was so sweet! I loved watching the relationship between the two grow.

This book will have you hooked from the beginning. The very first chapter is like a punch to the gut. The accident and the feelings; my heart was breaking for Quinn. That’s another thing about the book; it gives you ALL the feels as you turn the pages. Also, I love the setting of the book is at the beach. I love books that are set at the beach, they make me want to learn to surf and kayak and do all the things that Quinn and Colton did in the book.

Overall; I really enjoyed Things We Know By Heart.  The characters are well written, and the storyline was addictive, and full of hope. I am super excited to read more by this author as soon as I possibly can.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine
The Secrets of Attraction
by Robin Constantine
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Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062279514
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss

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Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and (of course) romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine’s debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love.

Madison Parker is on fast-forward. Working toward a scholarship for a summer art program, she already has her future figured out. But when a visit from a family friend turns her life upside down, everything she thought she knew becomes blurred. All she wants is to stand still for a moment.

Jesse McMann is stuck on repeat. Reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band, Jesse divides his time between working as a barista and trying to find the inspiration to write music again. All he wants to do is move forward.

The night Maddie strolls into Jesse’s coffee shop after yoga class, the last thing on his mind is hooking up, but her smile and witty comebacks are hard to ignore. The spark between them is undeniable, but once-a-week flirting is hardly the stuff of epic romance.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett. When Jesse discovers that Gray’s girlfriend is also Maddie’s best friend, he invites Gray to join his band as their new drummer, hoping this connection will give him more time around Maddie. Slowly but surely, Jesse and Maddie forge a friendship, but do they have what it takes to make their relationship truly sync? (Goodreads)
The Secrets of Attraction is the first book I’ve read by Robin Constantine. I was originally drawn to this book by its gorgeous cover, but I’m pleased to say that the story is wonderful as well! I’m a sucker for a good contemporary, and this book definitely delivered.

The thing I didn’t realize before starting The Secrets of Attraction was that the book is a companion novel to The Promise of Amazing. I wish I had known this before starting the book, as I always like to read books in order. I was still able to read the book just fine by itself, but I do, however, want to get my hands on The Promise of Amazing as soon as I possibly can, because I LOVED The Secrets of Attraction!!

The two main characters in the story were Jesse and Madison. I loved these two characters SO much. They were so wonderfully perfect for each other, even if it took them a while to finally figure it out. Each of them had issues in their lives, but when they were together, it was perfection. Their relationship was so very sweet; I couldn’t get enough of it.

I love that the chapters were told from alternate viewpoints between Madison and Jesse. I really love when authors do this, as I feel like I get so much more information from the different viewpoints and it’s nice to know how each characters is feeling about certain situations.

The secondary characters in the novel were really fantastic; both of the main characters had really great friends. Especially Wren and Greyson, who I see were the main characters in The Promise of Amazing. I am definitely going to have to go back and read their story, because if it was half as good as The Secrets of Attraction, I know I am going to love it. Also, the parents in the book were wonderful as well; I really appreciate a book where there are good parents.

The storyline for the book was super sweet, and had everything I always look for in a contemporary novel. This book makes me want to take up yoga, and start hanging out in coffee shops as well.

Overall; The Secrets of Attraction is the first book I’ve read by Robin Constantine, but it definitely won’t be my last!! This book made me laugh and giggle, and even swoon more than a few times. I loved it. I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on more books by this author!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #196 - Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Tonight the streets Are Ours
by Leila Sales
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Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
ISBN: 9780374376659

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From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven't met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.

I really, really enjoyed This Song Will Save Your Life by Sales,
so I'm super excited to see what she's come up with in this new book!
It souds like it's going to be one crazy night for Arden,
and I can't wait to go on the adventure with her!!
**"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.**

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: Finding Paris by Joy Preble
Finding Paris
by Joy Preble
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Publication Date: April 21st 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9780062321305
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss

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An evocative and compelling story of two sisters who would do anything for each other--perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and Speak. Joy Preble's stirring new novel explores the lengths to which sisters go to protect each other, and the winding road that brings two strangers into each other's lives.

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can't trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who's moved them all to Las Vegas. It's just the two of them: Paris, who's always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind--going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn't going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris--a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max's offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside. (Goodreads)
The first thing that drew me to Finding Paris by Joy Preble was the gorgeous cover. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover. I’ve had some of Joy’s other books on my to-read list for a while now, and I was curious to finally read something by her.

I love the relationship between the main character, Leo, and her sister Paris. They have a very special bond that not a lot of people have. Their mom is a bit of a disaster, who only seems to care about her new husband, who is a total flake. But Leo and Paris have each other, and really, that’s all they seem to need. Leo was definitely a strong character, even though she hid the worst of herself; she was still strong and determined to find where her sister had disappeared to. I wish Paris had been in the story a bit more, she was a really interesting character.

The leading male in the story, Max, for the most part, was pretty adorable. There were a few times in the book where he had me scratching my head, wondering what he was doing, but I can see now why he acted the way he did. Also, I love that he was kind of a nerd.

I love that the setting for the book is in Vegas. It doesn’t seem like I’ve read a lot of books where this is the setting, but I find the place fascinating, and hope to visit one day. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

While I enjoyed the story for the most part, I had a few issues as well. I kind of feel that the road trip that Paris sent Leo and Max on was a completely unnecessary; I can see why she did it, but I think the book could have been just as good without it. In the end, I ended up just being confused by what Paris was trying to accomplish with it, and with the scavenger hunt as well, especially sending her sister on a wild goose chase with a complete stranger. Also, the storyline for the book started out one way, and I thought I would be reading just another fun contemporary, but there is a twist at the end of the novel, one that I pretty much saw coming, and the story took on a different edge to it. I was a little thrown by this.

Overall; while I had a few issues with the book, I found still found the book to be a very interesting read. I flew through the pages to see what was going to happen next. The characters and the relationship between the sisters really made the book something special. I’m really looking forward to reading more by Preble in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
99 Days
by Katie Cotugno
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Publication Date: April 21st 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062216380
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss

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Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
99 Days is a book about facing your mistakes, and learning to start over. When Molly’s mom turns her biggest mistake into a best-selling novel, Molly’s first instinct is to run. After being away at boarding school for the past year, it’s time for her to return to her small town for the summer, to face the past she left behind, and the biggest mistake she ever made. 

It’s not often that I read a book where I felt both sympathy and insane frustration for a main character. That’s exactly how I felt about Molly while I was reading this book. There were SO many decisions that she made throughout the story that made me shake my head, or really, made me want to shake some sense into her. But then, in a way, I kind of get why she did the things that she did. Not that I agree with them at all, but I get it. Otherwise, I love how strong her character seemed to be. While all that was going on around her, when everyone blamed only her for what happened, she stayed headstrong, and didn’t let anyone bring her down. I always find that admirable.

All of the characters in the book are very well written. No one is perfect in this story; a few of them are super far from it, but they are all interesting nonetheless. I think Gabe was my favorite character in the whole book, and even he had many flaws. There are also characters in the book that you are REALLY going to hate, or at least I did. I didn’t appreciate at all how some of the girls treated Molly. Yes, she made a few bad choices in the book, but I don’t see how that was any of their business at all, and it made me SO angry how they treated her.

I’m not a huge fan of drama, but in this book, it was addictive! And it wasn’t just the drama, this whole book was addictive. Even while was reading it and thing how completely wrong so many things were as I turned the pages, I still couldn’t stop reading the book. It was this really weird type of intense, one that was, at times, uncomfortable.  And I just HAD to know how it was all going to end. Also, I really enjoyed the writing style for the book, and that each chapter was written for the specific day in Molly’s life. I really enjoyed the ending of the book as well.

Overall; while this book made me super uncomfortable in parts, I still really enjoyed reading it. I liked that the book was different than what I expected, that the characters and decisions made were so imperfect, and that the storyline was so realistic. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Katie Cotugno soon.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
School Spirits
(School Spirits #1)
by Rachel Hawkins
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Publication Date: May 14th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 297
ISBN: 9781423148494
Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal
Source: Library

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Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!
School Spirits is a spin-off novel from Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall series. I adored the Hex Hall series, and I was super excited to finally start School Spirits. I’ve had the book on my to-read list for quite some time, but I never had a chance to check it out. Then I discovered that my library had the audiobook for it, and I decided to give it a listen. I enjoyed it so much!

The characters in the story are great.  Izzy is related to Sophie from the Hex Hall series, and she was such a great character. She was determined and headstrong, and also very mature for her age. It was fun seeing her first real experience at high school, after being homeschooled all her life. Seeing the world that we saw in Hex Hall through Izzy’s eyes was definitely interesting, and I enjoyed the different point of view.

The secondary characters are awesome as well. I really love Izzy’s mom, and also the new friends that she meets at her new school. They were all very interesting. But the most interesting is Torin, the warlock who was stuck in the mirror. I absolutely fascinated with Torin, and I’m dying to know more of his story!

There was not as much magic and monsters in this book as there were in the Hex Hall series, but there was enough to keep me entertained. They storyline mainly revolved around one particular witch, which was awesome, as they are some of my most favorite paranormals to read about.

Overall; I really enjoyed this spinoff novel! I am super curious to see if there’s going to be a sequel, as the end of the book was left to where there definitely could be one. I’d love to read it if there is!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review & Blog Tour: The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
The Truth Commission
by Susan Juby
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Publication Date: April 14th 2015
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780451468772
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Publisher

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Open secrets are the heart of gossip -- the obvious things that no one is brave or tactless enough to ask. Except for Normandy Pale and her friends. They are juniors at a high school for artistsl, and have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. Then, one of their truth targets says to Normandy: “If you want to know about the truth, you might want to look a little closer to home.”  This dryly funny, knife-sharp novel, written as "narrative nonfiction" by Normandy herself, features footnotes, illustrations and a combination mystery/love story that will capture readers from the frst page. (Goodreads)
When The Truth Commission first crossed my path, I was definitely intrigued. The synopsis for the book sounded really refreshing and unique, and I was really curious to check the book out.

The story is about a girl named Normandy, and her two best friends Dusk and Neil. Together, these three friends form a group called The Truth Commission. Why? Because they believe it is their destiny to bring some much-needed truth into a world that is full of lies. But does the truth come at a price??

The main characters in the novel were all very interesting and likable. Normandy was definitely the most relatable character in the story for me. While she wanted to go along with her friends to find out the truth, it didn’t always make her feel great to actually know the truth. Dusk and Neil were the exact opposite; they didn’t mind knowing the truth at all. I loved how they were all such really great friends; you could tell that they really cared about each other. There are some other really cool secondary characters in the book as well that I enjoyed reading about.

The writing style for the book was very intriguing. I can’t say that I’ve read any other books that have been written as narrative nonfiction, so that was definitely different for me. But it didn’t take me long to catch on to the writing style, and I really felt like so much more information was included this way. I ended up reading the story just like I would any other novel.

My only complaint about the book is about Normandy’s family. I so wish she had a better home life, but it almost seemed as though her parents didn’t really care about her and were not supportive of her at times, and would let the sister get away with whatever she wanted, just for the sake of her artistic talents. I especially disliked her sister; I absolutely could not stand her at all. This family just didn’t seem right to me.

Overall; I found The Truth Commission to be an interesting read. I enjoyed the writing style for the book, and the main characters were a lot of fun. While I did have a few issues with the book, I still found it to be an entertaining read.


Interview with Susan Juby:

Q. What inspired you to write The Truth Commission? How did you decide to write the book as narrative nonfiction?

A. I teach a course in narrative nonfiction and I’ve written a memoir. I thought it would be fun to create a novel written as though it was a piece of narrative nonfiction. In a sense, all first person narratives pretend they are creative nonfiction! The other thing that happened is that I was working on an adult crime novel and when I was about 200 pages into it I realized that I was using the story of someone close to me. I hadn’t even considered where the story was coming from. It was totally inappropriate and so I wondered what it would be like to live in the same family as someone who used all your stories no matter how you felt about it.

Q. Have you written other books in this style, or do you plan to in the future?

A.  I’ve written a memoir, which is a type of narrative nonfiction. I don’t think I’ll write any more novels structured this way, much as I loved the experience of writing this one.

Q. Will there be a sequel or companion novel for The Truth Commission?

A.  Right now I’m at work on a novel set at, or at least near, Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. An art school like that would be fertile ground for many types of stories!

Q. Was there any particular inspiration for your main character, Normandy?

A. No one person inspired Normandy. Like all of my characters she has to deal with things I have trouble with. I don’t like conflict or confrontation and neither does she. But I make her face the truths she’s been avoiding far more quickly than I’ve had to do. I think we all have things in our lives, qualities, people, situations, that don’t serve us. It’s hard to admit that!

Q. Are there any similarities between you and Normandy?

A. She loves odd people and strange hobbies. So do I. That said, I wish I was as gifted as Normandy in the needle arts!

Q. What influenced you to become a writer?

A. I love books. Always have. I wrote my first novel when I was in second grade. It’s as simple as that.

Q. What is the most challenging part of writing?

A. Not giving up when I get stuck. There are lots of ways to get stuck. Sometimes I don’t know what’s going to happen next, or my characters get boring, or my arm hurts or I worry that a story is not good. Novelists have to keep writing until things improve. It can be hard but experience helps.

Q. Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to?

A. Look for a new novel in fall 2016!

Q. What book(s) are you currently reading??

A. I’m reading a book called The Culture of Fashion by Christopher Breward. It’s for research.


About The Author:

Susan Juby is the bestselling author of the internationally popular Alice MacLeod books, which were made into a television series, and the critically acclaimed novels Getting the Girl and Another Kind of Cowboy. Her work has won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, been selected as a Children’s Book Sense Pick, a Kirkus Editor’s Choice, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and been shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, an Edgar Award, an Arthur Ellis Award, and the in Canada First Novel Award. Susan lives in Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, the setting for many of her books—including this one. Visit her online at, follow her on Twitter @thejuby, or check out her hilarious video series, “The Writer’s Life,” on YouTube.



«”Juby’s bright dialogue and vivid, appealing characters draw readers along.”–The Horn Book, starred review

« "A surprising, witty, and compulsive read.” – SLJ, starred review

« “This is a sharp-edged portrait…with some thought-provoking ideas about what is real.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: All The Rage by Courtney Summers
All The Rage
by Courtney Summers
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Publication Date: April 14th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 321
ISBN: 9781250021915
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Source: Netgalley

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The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
I was really looking forward to reading All The Rage by Courtney Summers. I read This Is Not A Test last year, and really enjoyed how unique the storyline was. I couldn’t wait to see what Summers’ had come up with in her newest book.

To be honest, All the Rage was a really hard book to read. The storyline for the book involves rape and abuse, and it completely blew me away. Actually, it made me angry. SO SUPER ANGRY. I was so angry for everything that this poor girl went through, not only at the hands of her rapist, but also by all those around her who made her life completely miserable. The world in which she lived was cruel, probably one of the cruelest stories that I’ve read about so far. And it was so very realistic as well; it makes me sick to know that stuff that happened in the book happens in real life all the time, and nothing is ever done about it. That makes me so incredibly angry, and so very sad.

I felt so insanely sad for Romy throughout the whole book, but I do have to admit, she handled everything that she went through so much better than I imagine most people would have. She was so strong and determined just to do what she had to do to get by. I kept waiting and waiting for her to talk to someone about what she was going through, her mom, someone, anyone. It’s so not healthy to hold things inside. While she had absolutely no friends or teachers to support her at school, she did have people that cared about her at home and at her work, and I was wishing that she would confide in someone. But she was surviving the best she could, and you can’t blame her for that.

I am really happy to say that Romy’s mom was a great mother. While her father wasn’t exactly in the picture, her mother was there, and she was very well written. As a mom to two teenage girls, this is something I always appreciate when I read books. I do, however, wish that the mom would have pushed a little more with Romy, to get her to talk, to find out exactly what was going on at the school. Sometimes giving space is a good thing, and sometimes it can cause you to completely miss what’s going on in life.

There are SO many people in this book that I wanted to rage at. I have read books where people were against the main character, but never a book like this. Never one where it seemed that almost everyone was against one person. They didn’t care, and you could read it plain as day.

The storyline for the book deals with so many sensitive topics, and it does it in a way that will make you hurt. But I am SO glad to see books like this coming out. The story was so realistic, and again, it makes me so sad to know that something like really happens.

Overall; while All The Rage was a really hard book to read, I’m glad I read it. It’s definitely an eye opener, and it will make people stop and think. I really hope that the young adults that read this book will take away a strong message; that they are not alone, that there are people out there to help, that they don’t have to suffer in silence. Read this book, and take away from it a message of hope.