Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe

Earth & Sky

By Megan Crewe

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help--but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Paranormal 

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Pages: 336

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Earth and Sky is about aliens. This is also one of the few paranormal creature books that I usually like. I don't know what sets them apart from, say, werewolves or mermaids, but for some reason books centered around aliens tend to do better with me--perhaps its that they are less likely to be formulaic. Earth & Sky was not a letdown; not knowing exactly what to expect, I found myself pleasantly surprised at this book.

The plot was entertaining and didn't resemble anything I've ever read before. It was very different; think of a scavenger hunt of sorts, except that the scavenger hunt takes place in different continents spanning centuries. Yeah, it was pretty fun. And there were some pretty interesting ideas thrown in about how time travel could alter life in unexpected ways. I especially liked that the predicament with Skylar's brother was added to the book; it gave a more personal, believable approach to how time travel would affect things. I hope that this plotline still is touched on in the next books, because it was probably my favorite part of the whole story.

Time travel is a big factor in this book, and the author didn't give a wishy-washy "we aliens have a gift" reason for why it was able to happen. The explanation sounded scientific. (which is surprisingly hard to come by in YA, I've found) The details didn't feel forced; the rules of time travel were reasonable.

However, while I enjoyed this book, I had issues with it as well as likes. First off, I didn't like Skylar and Finn, or their relationship, very much. I felt like there wasn't much substance to them; not a lot of character growth, and not all that much personality. Skylar was the typical female protagonist; she wasn't all that fun to read about, because she was not interesting. Win was only slightly more interesting because he was an alien, but other than that, he was the stereotypical paranormal guy to Skylar's typical girl.

I didn't feel like there was much chemistry between Skylar and Finn, probably because they were a bit dull. Not that much chemistry made for boring "romantic moments". I felt like they were just together for the sake of having romance in the series, which I really hate.

Also, near the beginning the plot is a bit slow and at times I found that it was bogged down with unnecessary details. Like Skylar seeing that her friend's favorite coffee shop has a help wanted sign in the window. This really doesn't add anything to the plot; once I got to the end, I saw what the author's intent may have been, but I still don't think that having some random fact about a coffee shop thrown in was the best way to do it.

Earth & Sky is an entertaining read, and it manages not to fall into most of the paranormal tropes. It wasn't at the level of amazing, but it was fun.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Tear You Apart

By Sarah Cross

Blurb: An edgy fairy tale retelling of "Snow White" set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

Faced with a possible loophole to her "Snow White" curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who's fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrficing the love that might kill her?

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Retellings, Fantasy 

Publication Date: January 27, 2015

Pages: 384

Series: Beau Rivage (book 2)

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am a sucker for fairy tales. No matter how many bad reviews a book may have, or how cheap the cover looks, I will read it. That is how deep my love for this genre is. (Trust me, it takes a verrrrrry deep love in order to overcome a bad cover.) Tear You Apart had a lot of things going for it; an interesting blurb, a great cover, and the fact that it was a retelling of Snow White. And yet, there is basically one element of the book that totally ruined any chance of loving this story for me.

It was not the plot; the plot is what saved this story. Despite any annoyances with Tear You Apart, I always remained interested because the storyline is quite interesting. It's mostly a Snow White retelling, but because Beau Rivage is a modern day town with a bunch of 'cursed' living in it, there are also a lot of elements from other fairy tales in it. This makes it even more fun, because characters from different stories can be added, and the tale doesn't have to always be strictly followed. The modern spins, like turning the underworld from 12 Dancing Princesses into a nightclub, were all quite entertaining.

Also, this book incorporates the most obscure versions of fairy tales into it, not bothering to keep the creepy or most bizarre versions out. These are not all the sugar-coated Disney version fairy tales; there are references to some of the more violent versions of these stories. Also, it's not just the mainstream fairytales, which I loved. There are some people mentioned in this book that I didn't even recognize from fairy tales that I'd read; it was all quite fascinating.

So, what exactly could ruin this story for me? Well, the main character is the answer to that question. Viv is a holy terror of a main character. She is at times stupid, she is a horrible girlfriend, and she is annoyingly whiny. She worries that Henley will hurt her, despite his constant protests to the fact. Even though he doesn't show any signs of wanting to hurt her, she treats him like crap because she is afraid he will hurt her. Utter. crap. She flirts with other boys in front of his face just to make him jealous; she constantly judges him unfairly--like calling him her stepmother's puppet right after he nicely drove her to a party when her car broke down, just because he and her stepmother walked in at the same time. And then she wonders why Henley seems to not like her as before.

She is also not that bright and a bit self centered. She says that she refuses to memorize names of anyone with over six siblings because "there is only so much room in her brain." What?! And there is one point where (view spoiler)

I also felt that at times the story was predictable, especially the romance. There was technically a love triangle in here, but it was very weak. Almost anybody reading the book could see how it would end. There was a lot of emphasis put on one boy, and the other boy seemed to just be there to add drama--more of a plot device than any real romance.

Tear You Apart had an entertaining storyline, but infuriating characters. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had not been for Viv.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: After the Storm by Marie Landry

After the Storm

By Marie Landry

 For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.

When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reserve, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.

Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…

After the Storm is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm.

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 242

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ella's story is something I looked forward to reading, because out of all the characters in Waiting for the Storm, she is the one who interested me the most. She was not a likeable character by any means, but I though it would be fun to get inside her head and learn more about her.

In the previous book, Ella was a holy terror. This book comes after her change of heart, so there's not as much emotional turmoil in here as there would have been with the Ella of the first book. In fact, she barely resembles the person she was in the first book, and it borders on unbelievable. She now has an awesome relationship with her sister, and I would have liked to see that be built up a bit more, rather than the book starting with them already super close again. She has to deal with feelings of guilt, but she doesn't have to struggle all that much to reconnect with her sister, for the most part. Seeing as what originally hooked me in Waiting for the Storm was Ella and Charlotte's interactions, this kind of disappointed me. Charlotte and Ezra are actually not hugely prominent in this story at all. The main secondary characters are River and Sadie.

River and Sadie were good in the fact that I liked that the author developed them instead of just throwing them into the story and not doing anything with them. A lot of YA has those random sidekick characters that don't do much other than provide sarcastic comic relief or something along those lines. Sadie and River, however, were crucial characters to the story, which I appreciated. Still, I never really loved them. I didn't ever get to learn enough about River to ever get emotionally attached to him. He was the love interest, and his personality was kind of bland. Plus, I felt like the romance was kind of just thrown in there for Ella to have a boyfriend, and I didn't feel any chemistry between them. I am admittedly very picky when it comes to romance; barely any romance is ever perfect for me, but it did bug me.

I thought Sadie's character was the better of the two, but for the first half of the story, I was kind of bored with her storyline. The most memorable part of it until around the halfway mark was Ella and her watching Doctor Who--a great show, but not the most exciting story for a contemporary novel.

This book tended to drag at times. Like I said before, I don't really care if Sadie hooked Ella on Doctor Who. I am fine with that being in there, but I felt like sometimes those scenes would go on for too long. Or, the scenes that were supposed to be really tense and/or emotional would fall flat for me.

I was hoping I'd like this more than Waiting for the Storm, but this one had some problems for me too. It was not a horrible series by any means, but it never had enough to fully grab me, and so I think I will be stopping at this book rather than going on with the Angel Island books.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review: Turning Curse by A.C. Harrah

Turning Curse

By A.C. Harrah

Blurb: Irresponsible was one word used to describe Prince Liam. Liam preferred fun-loving. After years of pulling pranks on his fellow nobles and ruining balls, Liam’s prospects for a bride are looking dim. At his wits’ end, Liam’s father arranges a marriage between Liam and his best friend Cordelia. She is the last person in the world Liam wants to marry. When Liam confesses this to her, she transforms Liam with a curse.

Now Liam must escape her clutches while breaking her spell, but he is trapped in her castle with no way to escape. His only hope is to persuade Cordelia’s servant Gabrielle to help him. However, Gabrielle has a secret of her own, and helping Liam is something she cannot do.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Retellings, Fantasy 

Publication Date: May 5, 2014

Pages: 271

Series: Turning Curse (book 1)

My Rating: 3.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a mashup retelling of All Kinds of Fur, a super obscure fairytale(Don't look up the story if you don't want to know too much about the plot in this book!), and The Frog Prince, which everyone knows about. If you have any doubts whether the author could pull off retelling both of these stories in the same novel, don't. Turning Curse did well combining elements from both of the fairytales into a really great book.

The characters are pretty complex in this story. Liam, the main character, is a bit of a jerk. He's inconsiderate, and hasn't really grown up yet. Quite honestly, I didn't have a lot of pity for him at the beginning of the book. However, he grows a lot during the progression of the book. He was quite the three dimensional character.

Gabrielle was a pretty good love interest, but I didn't think that the romance storyline was what made me like her. I wanted to know exactly what was going on with her! Some of the stuff I will admit I was able to guess at. But other things were big reveals for me.

I felt bad for Liam's brother Alan, because he really did not get a happy ending at all in this book. Not even close to one. Thankfully, he is getting a sequel, because I felt that in order to make sure Liam ended up happy, Alan's heart repeatedly kept getting shattered.

The one character I hated was Cordelia. I thought that she was rash and she would continually get on my nerves. Even when the book tried to make me feel sorry for her I couldn't. The hate was too strong.

Considering I had forgotten most of the storyline for All Kinds of Fur, I was always very eager to see where the plot would go next. It was pretty twisty, so I never got bored.

Besides abhorring Cordelia, the one thing that got on my nerves during the course of this story was Liam's tendency to sound too modern. Everyone sounded regal and royal in this book...except Liam. It might have been intentional, but I still didn't like it because it didn't fit in with how everyone else talked.

Turning Curse isn't afraid to break out from retelling 'traditional' fairytales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and it has quite likeable characters. Despite a few blunders to take away from what have been a four star rating from me, I enjoyed reading it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston


By Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

Blurb: From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Dystopian 

Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Pages: 336

Series: Heart of Dread (book 1)

My Rating: 3 stars

When I first saw that this was a Read Now on Netgalley, I freaked. First off, it had the newly designed cover, which looks a lot like the movie Frozen. And honestly, who doesn't love that movie?? Secondly, this would be my first experience with Melissa de la Cruz; and while she is a popular author, I had heard a plethora of opinions about her Blue Bloods series, both good and bad, so I was nervous. While I can't speak on her Blue Bloods series, I can say this about Frozen; I liked it. It didn't start out that way, but I ended up being won over by the end of the book. In fact, I were to judge the end alone, this would definitely be a four star book; however I had a rocky beginning with the book, mainly due to small annoyances.

These small annoyances included, first and foremost,info dumps scattered in the plot. REALLY obvious info dumps; the most unforgivable being a paragraph about Wes' Marine sergeant origins. It flat out tells readers his past; there is no showing" whatsoever. When there was no more info to dump on readers, this complaint went out the door, but in the beginning it was rather vexing.

Secondly, textlish. I'll admit, this is one problem that never went away. I mean, a language made from texting...that cannot be made to not sound ridiculous. Especially when it is compared to "Egyptian Hieroglyphics" (which, by the way, we learn through an info dump.)

Another thing that I found annoying was Juliet. Or rather, the lack of much information about Juliet, and the fact that Wes gets over her in about two seconds. We get this quote from him in the book. Keep in mind, he really hasn't known the main character, Nat, for that long at all.

"...his memory of Jules--of her thick, brown, almost russet colored hair and smoke-gray eyes--had faded a little. All he could think about was Nat.


Aside from those complaints, this book ended up being quite entertaining. First, the plot is actually pretty unique...which, to be honest, I was not expecting because this seems, from the blurb, like it takes some of the more predictable dystopian and fantasy plots and mixes them together. But the authors managed to make them their own, and I can say that for the most part, the storyline was 'new', not rehashed. This is apparent especially at the end.

Not only is the plot unique, it is also incredibly addicting. Being a person who is either in love or in hate with fantasy plots, it's always kind of a gamble when I read a fantasy book. In this case, the storyline was great. It was fast paced and interesting, with unpredictable twists.

Also, I liked a lot of the characters. Wes and Nat were okay MCs; I'd seen their type before, so they weren't really the characters I gravitated towards. Actually, I liked the secondary characters, especially Shakes and Illiana. Shakes was kind, sweet, and loyal, and I felt awful for him once I heard what had happened to him in his childhood. Illiana was very mysterious and ethereal; even when the book gave me more information about her, there was still a mysterious quality to her.

Frozen was a unique story that I loved. However, it was by no means perfect, and the beginning was a bit of a struggle to get through, if I am being honest. However, it was worth it in the end. I will be looking forward to reading more of this series.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Fissure Free by Shari J. Ryan

Fissure Free

By Shari J. Ryan

Blurb: Author Shari J Ryan reunites the colorful cast of friends and family in Book 2 of the Schasm Series with a powerful tribute to the power of the mind and heart in this romantic, suspenseful, and engaging novel. After nineteen years of suffering with a psychological condition, ethereal Chloe had finally come close to finding her ultimate escape—or, so she thinks on the vibrant streets of Paris. Finally in a relationship with Alex, a man she fell in love with in Schasm, Chloe thinks life is finally coming together. As she battles her own demons, she attempts to repair the damaged man she’s grown to love. But as his clouded past abruptly crashes into their lives and falls heavily upon their budding romance, Chloe must fight to maintain her relationship. Although even when the problems begin to subside, she comes to realize certain things cannot be escaped. Just as Chloe believes she might have sealed the doors of darkness once and for all, new questions, new findings and new inceptions arise. Whether or not Chloe wants to continue forward with the path her life seems to be leading, she quickly learns that any choice she makes will ultimately land her in a place she never knew she was destined to be.

Genres: YA/NA, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publication Date: March 15, 2014

Pages: 268

Series: Schasm (book 2)

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fissure Free was not as good as Schasm. I loved Schasm, mostly due to its non-conformity to the genre it was in. But in Fissure Free, I began to see some YA tropes.

The romance was what got to me. I didn't like how Alex and Chloe's relationship was going in this book. It just seemed so bland for most of the book. In Schasm, it was sweet and exciting and forbidden, but in this one, I don't know. It just didn't have what it had in Schasm.

Secondly, the more thrilling aspects of the story that were in Schasm weren't here. Something that really made me love Schasm was how Chloe's relationship with her mom was portrayed. But that doesn't really come into play here in Fissure Free. The whole Franco plotline just did not intrigue me as much as Schasm's plot.

Third, (Spoiler, highlight to see) their son. I wasn't sure if it would be important for the next book or something, but I thought it wasn't all that necessary to the story and only added confusion. (end of spoiler)

I liked Kiera a lot. She had a likeable personality, and was basically my favorite part of the book, if I'm being honest.

I think that I will stop this series here, because I didn't like Fissure Free that much. It saddens me, because Schasm was a great book. I am not saying that this book will be a disappointment to everyone--I think that a lot of people will like it--but I didn't think that many of the things I loved in Schasm were in here, so it was a bit of a letdown for me personally.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen

Playing With Matches

By Suri Rosen

Blurb: A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker!

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt-but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One.

Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her secret life catch up with her?

In this debut novel, Suri Rosen creates a comic and heartwarming story of one girl trying to find happiness for others, and redemption for herself.

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Humor 

Publication: September 9, 2014

Pages: 248

Series: N/A

My Rating: 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Warning: I gush in this review. A lot. (What can I say? I had some serious love for this book.) So, if you aren't into that sort of thing, you probably won't like this review. With that out of the way, I shall begin.

Have you ever read a book that made you laugh so much you cried and then made you cry just because it was so touching the very next moment? Very few stories I've read have fit that description. But I can add Playing With Matches to that short list now, because that is exactly what this book did to me.

The first thing you need to know about Playing With Matches is that is is extremely, extremely, extremely funny. Usually when people go, "this book is so funny" in reviews, I don't take it to heart, because I seldom find humor in books as funny as everyone else. But TRUST me; this book is hilarious. The predicaments Raina gets herself into are outrageous.

Raina is an awesome main character. Her sense of humor is great. I could relate to her emotionally, because, while being a really fun character, she is also really emotionally fleshed out. And, hello, she's a matchmaker, which is a) totally unexplored ground in YA literature and b.) is actually really, really interesting!

I usually do not think the romance in YA is the best part of a book...but in this case it definitely was! Probably because it wasn't with the main character and some random hottie. Also, it wasn't focused on just one relationship...it was a bunch of relationships where the reader had no idea if they would work out or not, which made it even better.

Leah and Raina's relationship was another thing that made the book great. Like I have said before in other reviews, I love books that deal with sisters. I felt so bad for the both of them--especially Raina, because I felt that at times Leah was being unfair to her. I especially liked how through Matchmaven, we were able to learn more about Leah's feelings towards Raina.

I had an inkling that the plot twist near the end was coming, but that still didn't make it any less dramatic. I won't give too much away, but I thought that it made the book even better, because it threw in an important lesson about not judging others.

In fact, there were a lot of themes in here that I wouldn't have expected from a book like this. When it starts, it does seem like it will be kind of fluffy. A good sort of fluffy, but still fluffy. But it ended up being so much more than that; the end was extremely touching (I cried) and I think that's what truly makes this book so awesome.

Plus, BUBBY. Characters like Bubby don't come around very often; she's just awesome. A bit grumpy, but once I got to know more about her I loved her. A lot of the things that I laughed at in this book had something to do with Bubby. I feel that, if there were a character like Bubby in every book, the reading world would be a better place.

Playing With Matches was amazingness in book form. If you need any more proof that I liked it, I have read 213 books this year. This is only the twelfth book that I have rated 5 stars. So basically, you should read it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Discussion: Blogging Hiatuses

Time for another discussion post! (The last one was what, three months ago? Oops.) I've been wanting to write on this topic for a while, because it's something that I've recently experienced--the blogging hiatus.

I've seen a lot of bloggers who have had blogging hiatuses. They'll announce that they'll not be on their blog for a while--sometimes there won't even be an announcement, they just won't post anything for a while. I'm guilty of the latter; I've never, on any occasion, posted an announcement that I won't be blogging for a while. I just leave. I'm not sure if that's bad blogging etiquette or not; if it is, sorry!

Here are some of the top reasons that I've seen people go on blogging hiatuses:

1. "Bored" with Blogging: 
 Usually, the blogger is getting a bit overwhelmed/exhausted due to blogging, and it isn't as fun as it used to be. They take a break to refresh themselves and come back after they are ready to get back into it.
Have I experienced this? Kind of. Instead of being exhausted with blogging, I was exhausted with reading. I had kept pushing myself to read as many books as I could, and I got into a serious slump...so for a couple weeks I read absolutely nothing, and when you don't read you can't really review, so this blog went on a hiatus for a while.

2. Life Gets in the Way:
This is probably the most common reason I've seen for blogging hiatuses; the person just doesn't have enough time! School, work, a family crisis...some things just take precedence over blogging, no matter how fun it is.
Have I experienced this? Of course! I think it is really hard not to. (Props to people who can still juggle blogging and their personal life well enough that this isn't a problem; that is a skill I will probably never acquire.) I've went on a couple hiatuses because of this predicament; my latest one can be blamed on this.

3. Nasty Comments
 Getting in spats with Goodreads users, authors, etc., because of one of your reviews can really be disheartening, sometimes so much so that the blogger has to take a hiatus. It really sucks, and it makes me sad when a person takes a break from their blog due to hate.
Have I experienced this? Yes. It was kind of mixed in with "life getting in the way", though; I didn't go on hiatus solely because of it.

4. Realizing You're Getting Too Caught Up in Blogging
I've seen this one once or twice. People realize that, for them, blogging is starting to lessen their love of reading, so they take a break.
Have I experienced this? No. But, I understand where they are coming from. I constantly have to remind myself that I read for fun, not just to put reviews up on my blog.

5. Computer Problems
The blogger is having computer issues that are interfering with their ability to post reviews and other fun book-related things on their blog. I have not noticed this one as much as the others, probably because you can't really announce a hiatus due to computer issues until after they're fixed. 
Have I experienced this? Yes, for a short period of time. (Less than a week.) I tried typing out reviews on my tablet; let's just say that went horribly.

Have you ever had to take a blogging hiatus? If so for any of the reasons above, or for one that I didn't put on my list? Let me know in the comments section! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Water's Edge by Rachel Meehan

Water's Edge

By Rachel Meehan


Thousands are fleeing the chaos and social unrest.

With their own water and power supplies, fourteen year old Nairne and her family are well prepared, but most people are less fortunate. When Nairne persuades her father, Daniel, to house some of the evacuees on their small holding in the south of Scotland she plunges the family into a world of violence, deception and murder.

With society at breaking point, she has to grow up quickly as she discovers that the fortress Daniel built to give his children a chance has become the prize in a struggle where winning can mean the difference between life and death.

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian 

Published: March 24, 2013

Pages: 262

Series: Troubled Times (book 1) 

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Water's Edge has its highs and lows. By the last half of this book I was quite interested, but it took a while to get to that point. There were some other flaws that still kept me from being fully immersed in the story even when I had become interested as well.

I liked the main character, Nairne, due to the fact that she was a very strong heroine. In no way did she resemble a Mary Sue. (Whew. I was beginning to think that all YA characters were becoming annoyingly perfect and it scared me.)She had a good sense of intuition that I liked, and her bond with her family, especially her brother, was interesting to read about.

The plot did take a while to get into, as I mentioned before. I thought it took a while to get to the actual story. Once it did, however, I was enthralled. The story is pretty original; Dystopian, but taking place during the apocalyptic event, not after it. I haven't read many of those, and honestly, the ones that I have read weren't all that great. I thought this one did a better job at describing the catastrophes that were happening then the others I've read did.

The problem that I mainly had with this book was the grammar. There were commas where there shouldn't have been, and that is basically my grammar pet peeve. I cannot stand comma splices in particular, and there were a few of those here. (If I remember correctly, I found most of them in the first half of the book, which may partly explain why it took me a bit longer to get into the story.)

Also, there was many a part where I wanted to yell, "Show, don't tell!" at the book. The story tended not to show through actions and words, but through the narrator, and that annoyed me.

I enjoyed this book; perhaps enough to read the sequel if I ever have time. It's definitely a series with potential.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart

Rebel Wing

By Tracy Banghart

Blurb: The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.

Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.

This is a new release of the previously self-published title Shattered Veil.

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance 

Publication Date: February 14, 2014

Pages: 377

Series: The Diatous Wars (book 1)

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Rebel Wing has a strong protagonist, good writing, and a fairly original plotline. What it failed to do, however, was ever truly grab me. There was no excitement or spark. It had all the right ingredients for a great story, but it never became truly amazing.

Aris was a main character that I could definitely root for. She's not weak, which I was really happy about. She isn't exactly the "kick-butt" type of character, but she still comes off as a strong character. I like how throughout the story her motives for joining the military progressed from just following a boy to doing it because she felt like she was meant to do it. Because honestly, risking her life to see Calix, although it sounds quite romantic, is, as the wise Dysis said in this book, a bit stupid.

The secondary characters were, although not outstanding, pretty well-developed. I liked Dysis a lot. She had a well-developed personality, and I thought she added to the story. Though her romance with Daaken was a bit unnecessary to the book; I didn't think it added all that much to the story and was kind of just thrown in there for some unknown reason.

The plot was good, but slow. Even during parts that should have been quite exciting, it felt very slow paced. A good portion of the story was Aris training for the military, which I did not find interesting.

I did not know exactly how I felt at the fact that there seems to be a setup for a love triangle in the next books. On one hand, I'm not a big fan of Calix, and if she gets another love interest (I won't say who) that would be great. On the other hand...love triangle. Ugh.

I think the main problem of this book is the fact that it tries to tell two separate stories at the same time, but it never gets fully accomplished. One story is Aris'. The other is Ward Galena's. And, while both of the storylines are important to the book, I always felt a bit jarred out of the story when it would switch from Aris to Galena. Perhaps if Galena's story would have been toned down a bit, I could have focused more on the main plot.

Rebel Wing is an okay book that I fairly enjoyed. Sadly, it had a few flaws that kept it from being a great book.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: The Last Song by Eve Wiseman

The Last Song

By Eva Wiseman

Blurb: Spain had been one of the world’s most tolerant societies for eight hundred years, but that way of life was wiped out by the Inquisition. Isabel’s family feels safe from the terrors, torture, and burnings. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Isabel was raised as a Catholic and doesn’t know that her family’s Jewish roots may be a death sentence. When her father is arrested by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, she makes a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.

Once again, master storyteller Eva Wiseman brings history to life in this riveting and tragic novel.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance,  Historical Fiction

Publication Date: April 10, 2012

Pages: 225

Series: N/A

My Rating: 1.5 stars

 I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

The Spanish Inquisition is one of those things that got skipped over in my history class. I remember hearing the name, but none of the details. That's what attracted me to the Last Song, basically; I love historical fiction, especially when it deals with historical events that don't really get a lot of attention.

The book ended up telling me some things about the Spanish Inquisition. That's basically the reason I tacked on an extra half star. I got to learn a few new things; though, quite honestly, I got the feeling while reading this that I was only getting a very general picture of the Spanish Inquisition; I am sure there are probably a lot of details that got left out. But hey, it's better than nothing!

What bugged me was the fact that these characters are soooo underdeveloped. I honestly don't have much to say about any of them this time because I feel like I didn't ever learn that much about them; none of them had a very well developed personality at all. Isabel is a blatant Mary Sue. Her character was naive--super, super naive. She seemed younger than she actually was because of it.

Then, there's Yonah, the unneeded love interest. This is one of my top 5, "bang my head against the wall I get so frustrated with them" sort of pet peeves; throwing in romance for the sake of romance will not make the story better. It will not addd anything. Yonah could have just as well been a friend; and for the amount of development that occurred in their relationship, he could have been. It was poorly written, and, as he was a pretty bland character, I quickly lost interest. And I completely checked out when Isabel declared to her father, "I don't know how I'll live without him" after only a few weeks of knowing him! How can you decide that you don't want to live without him after a few weeks?!


Plus, all the Catholic people were made out to be these awful, terrible people. Even people that Isabel considered to be very close to, like her Tia Juana, barely ever showed their nice side and were horrible for the duration of the book. I am sure that there were at least some Catholics during this period in time who weren't all for the Inquisition.

The story feels rushed. Important event moves to important event, and I had the feeling that if I blinked, I would miss something critical. The book being so short ended up not working very well; a lot of things that should have been elaborated on were not.

By the end of the book, I was forcing myself not to skim. The Last Song had so much potential to be great, but it definitely faltered in the execution. I am sad to say that I was not impressed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: Waiting for the Storm by Marie Landry

Waiting for the Storm

By Marie Landry

Blurb: After the death of her mother, the last thing seventeen-year-old Charlotte O'Dell wants to do is spend the summer on Angel Island with her family. Her younger sister hates her, and her dad is in his own little world. It's a recipe for a disastrous summer on the island, until Ezra Rhodes walks into her life.

The boy next door makes Charlotte forget her almost paralyzing fear of really living her life. Stunted from taking care of her mother in her last months, Charlotte is drowning. With Ezra, she feels something again, and as he repairs her family's summer home, she dares to think he might actually be fixing her, too. Ezra challenges Charlotte to leave her comfort zone, and as their friendship slowly blossoms into more, Charlotte begins to come alive again.

But Ezra has secrets...secrets he isn't sharing with Charlotte. Despite her new-found happiness in Ezra's arms, Charlotte can't help but feel there's a storm on the horizon. And she isn't sure if she and Ezra can weather it unscathed.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Pages: 205

Series: Angel Island (book 1)

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Waiting for the Storm started off great. I got really into it from the beginning. Sadly, my enthusiasm for the story slowly lessened throughout the book due to some issues I began to have with the characters that I had initially enjoyed. It still held my interest the entire time, but I got mad at the main characters a lot.

The best thing about this book is the emotional aspect of it. Charlotte is dealing with the death of her mother, and the sadness, the loneliness, the hint of anger all feels real. It doesn't feel manufactured or over-dramatized; it feels like actual grieving.

It killed me to read about Charlotte and Ella's relationship, because I could not imagine going through that with my sister. While I thought it was very sad, it was also one of my other favorite parts of the book. I love reading about families and their interactions, especially sisters. Ella's and Charlotte's relationship, or lack thereof, was something unique that I haven't seen a lot of in the YA I've read.

Charlotte, in the beginning, was a character that really caught my attention. The first time you meet her, she is attending her mother's funeral and talking to estranged friends. As I learned more about her, I felt myself wanting to cry a bit. I could really feel her grief, and her broken relationship with her once-close sister Ella made for very readable interactions between the two of them.

Buuuuut....then Ezra came along. And I know I say this a lot, but I thought that there was insta-love between the two of them, and I didn't like the romance all that much. Ezra is an okay guy, but he's more of an ideal. He's more perfect than any guy, ESPECIALLY teenager/young adult wise, that I've ever met. Plus, he says romantic, rather cheesy stuff to Charlotte at almost every opportunity. Some of which I didn't even really agree with. Like this gem:

"Girls like her are jealous of girls like you because you're actually beautiful, not fake beautiful."

This line makes me mad. I don't like that he had to put one girl's beauty down in order to make Charlotte feel good about herself. Yes, the girl in particular that he was talking about was a bit mean, but that doesn't give him the right to call her 'fake' beautiful just because she wore a lot of makeup.

Once she met Ezra, Charlotte's character began to annoy me a bit more. It wasn't super bad, but she would do things that made me raise my eyebrows a bit. The first major annoyance was when she got mad at Ezra for not telling her a very personal secret that he had been hiding from her. Now, there are a couple issues I have with this:

1. He had told Charlotte other secrets about himself. It's not like he had been living a lie with her or something drastic like that; there was just one thing that he didn't feel comfortable sharing yet for GOOD REASON.

2. They've only known each other for a month. Regardless of whatever connection Charlotte feels for him, that's still not a long period of time. I definitely would not spill my secrets to someone that I had known for only a month.

3. Charlotte is mad that she told Ezra 'everything' but he didn't. But that was HER decision, not his. He can make his own choices. Like I said before, they've only known each other a month. He could have evenutually told her in his own time; he didn't have to tell her about this secret just because she had told him hers.

Then, Ella tells Charlotte a huge secret, and tells her not to tell anyone. But what does Charlotte do? She tells Ezra. She betrays her sister's trust, and for no good reason except that she doesn't want her and her boyfriend to have any secrets.

Waiting for the Storm had its good points and its bad points. I hope the sequel doesn't contain the problems of this book, because without them, this could have been a really awesome story for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Schasm by Shari J. Ryan


Shari J. Ryan

Blurb: What happens when two worlds collide? Chloe Valcourt drifts between two worlds: the dark reality of her horrible parents and doctors versus the vivid fantasy of her imagination. A chance encounter with a handsome and vaguely familiar young man in her dream world hints at the possibility of hidden truths—and a life she can’t remember. As her drifts become a greater escape from the cruelty of the real world, Chloe finds herself lost between what is real and what is imagined, questioning her very existence. Can she remain in the lush new imagined landscape to find happiness in a realm of her own invention? Is she doomed to return to the harsh reality of the outside world forever? Or will she become trapped somewhere between the two…unable to return to either? A thriller guaranteed to make your mind spin, Schasm is a young adult novel destined to change how you view the power of your mind.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Thriller

Publication Date: January 13, 2014

Pages: 246

Series: Schasm (book 1)

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What makes Schasm so awesomely awesome is that it manages to be a paranormal book and at the same time have basically none of the stupid tropes that paranormal books usually have. The book half convinced me that this affliction Chloe has is totally real; that's how well this book was written.

Chloe's backstory is half of what makes this book so good. She's been kept locked in her house by her mother, except to go to the mental hospital, since she was very young due to her ability to 'drift.' It isn't simply a plot device; her mother's treatment of her is actually a main part of the story, and it is done fantastically well. There were times where I absolutely hated Chloe's mom (a.k.a 90% of the story) but there were times where the author cast a bit of doubt on her mother's intentions--were they really evil, or is there some different motive that her mom has? I liked that the author chose to do that, because it made the book so much more mysterious.

Alex was actually a really good love interest. I really liked him; he and Chloe were good for each other. It seemed like there was a huge reveal after a huge reveal after a huge reveal with his character; once I thought I knew the whole story, a cloth was withdrew from another secret about him.

Chloe is an awesome main character. Aside from the fact that she has a great backstory, her emotions are more realistic, rather than fake and Mary Suish like many paranormal heroines. The fact that she has to deal with mental hospitals and her demanding mother made me feel for her; the happiness she finds with Alex and Celia made me oh-so-happy for her. I could relate to her on an emotional level, which is really saying something since she and I shared basically zero life experiences.

Honestly, the book felt so real. I knew that this was technically a paranormal romance, but sometimes I had to remind myself that the drifting mentioned in this book was not an actual thing.

The story never really had a dull moment. Chloe drifting to Paris during breakfast in the midst of all the dreariness really captured me from the beginning; from there it was a grand adventure of mystery, mental hospitals, romance, Paris, and much more.

The cliffhanger at the end of the book was the one thing I had predicted, however. That kind of bummed me; first, I was not expecting a cliffhanger; I was expecting a very happy-ever-after sort of ending. Second, I kind of knew that at some point in this series what happpened at the end of the book would eventually happen. There were way too many clues throughout the book. But that was basically the one small complaint in the sea of praise I have for this book.

Definitely recommended, especially for people looking for something a bit different. I was very pleased with Schasm, so much so that I've already went on to read the sequel, and usually I'm a sequel procrastinator, so that should be proof this book is good!