Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: Mind Blind by Lari Don

Mind Blind

By Lari Don

Blurb: Ciaran Bane is a criminal with a special talent: he can read minds. But his skill comes at a price. Lucy's sister is dead: killed for a secret Ciaran's family wants buried. Her blood is on Ciaran's hands. Only together can the unlikely allies discover the deadly secret. They can run but where can they hide if they aren't safe, even in their own minds? Award-winning author Lari Don skilfully weaves a fast-paced world of secrets, power and supernatural abilities in her first book for young teens.

Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction, Mystery

Publication Date: May 1, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 303

My Rating: 5 stars

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

OMG. OMG OMG OMG.

I was definitely not expecting to be so enthralled with this book. Usually, these types of stories end up not being my thing,(paranormals, that is) but I took a really wild chance with this book and boy did it deliver. I should take a few more wild chances, in the future, perhaps...

On second thought, maybe not. I doubt all of those books would be anywhere near the level of perfection that Mind Blind was.

First, NO ROMANCE! I have finally found something that is YA but doesn't waste its time with pointless love stories. I know I sound like a very bitter person here, but I loved that the relationship between Ciaran and Lucy stays platonic. Especially since, given their past, I would have found a romance plotline highly bizarre and a bit dysfunctional. If there are continuing books in this series, and I wish on every shooting star in the universe that there will be, I could see there being some romance eventually, but for the present, there was really only tension.

The plot was edge-of-your-seat, unable-to-put-down thrilling. I stayed up until twelve thirty reading this book. I was supposed to just start it and then go to bed, but I ended up reading half of the book because I knew that if I didn't read just a bit more, there was no way I would be able to focus on sleep. It is THAT good.

What makes it that good? First, the characters. Ciaran is my type of hero; he is at times downright unlikeable. He is flawed. But underneath all that, you can tell that he has a good heart. Plus, his character growth from scared boy to mastermind of awesomeness is great reading material.

Lucy is grieving her sister. Her hatred for Ciaran is apparent. She doesn't make the greatest decisions because of it. But her stubbornness endeared her to me. She's intelligent and she's basically the perfect balance to Ciaran.

Ciaran's family is all kinds of messed up. They are...I don't even have words for them. Once we learn more about Ciaran's past, I couldn't believe he hadn't tried to run away before, because they were awful. Ciaran and Lucy have to try and evade them--their lives depend on it--but it is rather tough when you are outrunning mindreading killing machines. Yeah, beginning to understand why this was a very exciting story?

And yet even though the storyline was so wonderful, I loved flashbacks to past events as well, because they really gave a lot of depth as to why everything was happening and answered any questions that I might have had; I didn't find them to be a distraction, I loved them dearly.

This book has alternating POVs, and though some people hate them, I think that if done right, they can make the book. Such was the case here. It was so great for learning about Lucy and Ciaran, and in this case, I didn't even have a favorite POV--I loved to read about both of them equally.

I realize, looking back on this review, that this is quite a fangirl-y review, but I just don't care. This book deserves some fangirling. Needless to say, I will be crossing my fingers for a sequel. Because I don't want to say goodbye to this story.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison

Under My Skin

By Shawntelle Madison

Blurb: Everyone wants to either be a member of the Guild or work for them. Little does the populace know that the Guild hides sinister secrets...

For Tate Sullivan, life in her small, coastal town is far from glamorous. The affluent lives of the Guild members and their servants isn't something she has ever wanted. But all sixteen year-olds must take a simple test, and Tate's result thrusts her into the Guild's world, one where they hide horrible plans for those they select. Tate must fight the relentless General Dagon for control of her mind, body, and soul to keep the one precious thing she has always taken for granted: herself.

Her only ally is the same handsome boy she is pitted against in General Dagon’s deadly game. Quinn desires nothing more than to end the life of General Dagon who has taken over Tate's mind. While romance blooms between Tate and Quinn, General Dagon plots to eventually take over Tate's body, and love might end before it even begins.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Publication Date: December 9, 2014

Pages: 340

Series: Immortality Strain (book 1)

My Rating: 3 stars

After Under My Skin ended, I closed the book on my kindle and wondered, "Why didn't I like this as much as everyone else?"

Because I have read all the glowing reviews of this book. They are the reason that I was so excited to read the story. And yet, I, a person who usually agrees with the hype, was underwhelmed. That barely ever happens to me, and I wasn't expecting it.

I think the problem that I didn't love this as much as everyone else was that I expected to much from it. While this is a very exciting novel to get into, at the end of the day, it is not extremely different from much of the other dystopians out there. It is good, but it doesn't stand out to me like I was expecting it to.

Sure, it does have a unique plot, but that plot ends up following a similar formula like many dystopians do.

1.) Girl gets singled out in her society in some way.
2.) This always is a bad thing, though many times it seems good at first.
3.) Girl learns her society is corrupt. This shocks her.
4.) Girl rebels against society that she has come to hate.

Dystopian stories are starting to bother me with this a lot. I used to overlook it because this was once my favorite genre ever, but now, it has been harder and harder to, and is rapidly becoming a huge pet peeve of mine. So that may have something to do with why I didn't love this book.

The other problem is that I ended up predicting a lot of things before they happened. This always takes away some of the thrill of a story. It wasn't all that hard to see what was coming next, and so I wasn't as interested to see where the book was going.

It sounds so far like I hated this book, but that is not the case. This was enjoyable despite its flaws. The main character, Tate, for example, was quite likeable. I desperately wanted her to succeed in her plan to live. She was intelligent, stubborn, and she wasn't overly stupid when it came to her love interest, Quinn.

Speaking of which, am I just say thank you to the author for not making the romance distracting to the overall story? Because I was quite happy that this didn't happen. I was quite happy that the plot focused more on Tate's struggle, rather than on Tate and Quinn. It was beautiful.

And, despite being a bit predictable, the plot still did hold my interest most of the time, because the story idea was so different from anything I had read before. I can't really give away what happens to Tate, but it is definitely not something typically put into Dystopian novels.

My thoughts on this book are a bit conflicted, because while I liked it, it could have been better. However, I still think that it will be appealing to readers, so I will still recommend it.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: Relic by Steven Whibley

Relic

By Steven Whibley

Blurb: Fourteen-year-old Dean Curse is still having horrifying visions of people in grave danger – visions that leave him a single day to save their lives. So far, he’s considered a few broken bones and a standing appointment in group therapy to be a small sacrifice compared to the good he's done.

While learning more about the mysterious society that gave him the gift, Dean has a vision that leads him to believe a monk is going to rob a museum—if he’s right, the robbery will go very badly. But he can’t get the police to believe him. In fact, the authorities think Dean is at the root of all the trouble. Dean and his friends decide the only way to save a few lives is to take matters into their own hands, even if it means breaking a few laws. They have 24 hours to decide if the ends really do justify the means.


Genres: Juvenile/YA, Action, Adventure, Paranormal 

Publication Date: July 2013

 Series: The Dean Curse Chronicles (book 2)

Pages: 256

My Rating: 3.5 stars

 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson

Trading Secrets

By Melody Carlson

Blurb: Back in fifth grade, Micah Knight got an Amish pen pal, and over the years, they've exchanged many letters--and many secrets. At age seventeen, Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. The only problem is that because of confusion about her name when the pen pals were assigned, her pen pal was a boy, Zack Miller. And all this time, Micah's never told Zack that she's actually a girl! While she wants nothing more than to experience life on Zack's Amish farm, she's afraid he'll hate her for deceiving him all these years. But she makes up her mind to face the music--and that's where the fun really begins.
Bestselling author Melody Carlson brings young adults another fascinating tale of worlds colliding, secrets being revealed, and friendships forming. Teens will love this story of miscommunication and mishaps along the way to the truth.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Christian, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 278

My Rating: 1 star


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

I am not really into the Amish Fiction thing, but having read another Melody Carlson book that had to do with the Amish, I figured I'd give this one a try. I had liked the first one, so I assumed this one would be at least okay too. I SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT.

There are a ton of problems with this book; characters, plot, themes...it was a struggle to read.

First off, none of the characters are likeable. Well, I take that back. Zach's sister was likeable, though not all that exciting as a character. But aside from her, I didn't like any single character in the book.

First, we have Micah. Her problem is that she comes off as a bit stupid. First off, her plan that she hatches in the beginning of the book to dress up as a boy to meet Zach was horrible. Why would you do that. Why. She ended up causing only more trouble for herself. Then, just because she finds Zach a wee bit attractive, she starts wondering what would happen if he asked her to marry him. She also wishes to be Amish just so Zach would be attracted to her. Honey, no. First off, you've known this guy for like a week. Second off, becoming Amish for a guy...that's a recipe for disaster.

Zach's mother is a total witch. She insults Micah every other sentence of the book and just seems bitter overall. I almost felt sorry for Micah, because even though she wasn't the smartest, she really did try to get this vindictive woman to like her. Zach's father wasn't much better. He was portrayed as very stuck in his ways.

Enter Rachel. She is very snarky, and painted as trying too hard to win Zach's love. She didn't seem to like Micah very much, but when you are a star baker/cook and you meet a girl who literally thinks creaming the ingredients means you put cream in them I suppose I could see why you don't like her, let alone the fact that she's crushing on the guy you want.

The plot seemed very boring. Micah tried to leave that Amish farm at least twice, and somehow just kept coming back to lengthen interactions between her and Zach, it seemed, and it annoyed me.

Plus, almost all Amish people in this book were seen as judgemental and stuck in their ways. I felt like it was a bit dangerous, and I assume that was not the author's attention, but there were very few positively portrayed Amish.

I really did not care for this book. There were no redeeming qualities in it; the characters were the low point of this book for me, but the other factors weren't great either. Considering I've read books by Melody Carlson before that I've liked, I won't write her off as an author I won't read, but I don't think I'll be reading more of her Amish fiction books. Or anyone's Amish fiction books for that matter.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly Word

By Aimee L. Salter

Blurb: When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.


Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 257

My Rating: 3.5 stars
 
I'll be honest; it was downright tough to read this book at times. The bullying Ashley goes through is hard to read about. My heart ached almost constantly for this girl. Every Ugly Word is one of those kinds of downright emotional reads.

Ashley, the main character, has been bullied constantly since junior high since her peers. The only person she has for a friend is Matt...and her older version of herself, who she talks to in the mirror. Ashley is one of those simply likeable characters; you can't help but like her, and feel sorry for her, and maybe even cry for her. She's a nice person but she isn't being treated like she should be, and it's scary to watch. The bullying she is subjected to is heartbreaking.

Matt was a conflicting character. At times I liked him, and at times I got very, very mad at him. I think the author did a nice job of creating a realistic teenage boy; he isn't always going to be a knight in shining armor. But overall, he still tried to be a good person.

The plotline was, for the most part, good. I liked reading about Ashley's art project, and her struggle to get through high school as she was being so mistreated. There also is a feeling of mystery, because the book starts off with Ashley talking to a psychiatrist, and the readers don't know the whole reason why for most of the story.

However, the one thing I didn't like about the book was the 'older me' plot. I felt like the book would have been a lot more meaningful without it. This wasn't something that I expected to think going into the book; in fact, Ashley's relationship with her 'Older Me' was basically the main reason I wanted to read the story. But it ended up not working for me. First off, we don't get a great explanation of how this works. It's apparently an endless loop of the older version of Ashley talking to the younger version of Ashley, but that raises questions for me that I never thought were properly answered. Plus, it ended up being distracting at times from the main plot. Overall, I just didn't love this.

The ending was great and really made me so immensely happy. Ashley really grew into a totally different character then at the start of the book, and I'll be honest; it was nice to read a story where there wasn't a huge cliffhanger that only the next book in the series could solve.

Every Ugly Word is a brutally realistic portrayal of bullying, despite its slightly fantastical premise. It wasn't a perfect book, but the emotions it evoked from me made this a story I won't be getting out of my head for a while.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita

Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked

By Jen Calonita

Blurb: Would you send a villain to do a hero's job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villian really change?


Genres: Juvenile, Fantasy, Retellings, Adventure 

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Series: Fairy Tale Reform School (book 1)

Pages: 256

 I seriously wish that this book had been around when I was a middle schooler, because I know for a fact I would have loved it; it has a similar plot to one of my childhood favorites, The Princess School series. Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked was a darling little book. I loved the idea behind it, and it was honestly quite fun to read.

Gilly is the protagonist of this story; she's a little jaded when it comes to royalty, she cares a lot for her family, and she's quite good at stealing--she does it to feed her family. However, her stealing gets her into trouble and she's sent off to a reform school for 'villains'. I liked Gilly; I probably would relate to her more as a middle-schooler, but in a middle grade book, that's kind of the point. I thought she was a fun main character with her own flaws who was likeable at the same time.

I'd actually kind of like to go to this Fairy Tale Reform School, because it sounds pretty awesome. Aside from the witchy evil stepmother, all the teachers--who are reformed villains--are pretty cool. I didn't know how they would pull this off; I mean, turning the sea witch from the Little Mermaid into the fun, somewhat spacey detention teacher is rather hard to pull off. And I will say--I still don't buy some of these teachers turning from cackling antagonists into mostly-good-natured teachers. But for the most part, it worked.

The plot was cute. The problem was, it wasn't exactly unpredictable. There was semi-big reveal that I did see coming, but it was quite straightforward otherwise. Plus, the book was short (or at least it seemed short, though looking at the pages now I guess it wasn't too bad); a lot of the plot development happened a bit more rapidly than I would have liked as a result.

The little news snippets that are included were also a nice addition to Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked. It really set the feel of the story, and it made it so that readers could know about the teacher's background without it feeling like a huge infodump. I actually looked forward to them.

Definitely a nice little middle grade story! I know a lot of middle schoolers who I think will like this book a lot. It was really fun to read, and I actually think I'll be keeping an eye out for more of this series because I liked it so much.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: The Confidant by Janna Jennings

The Confidant

By Janna Jennings

Blurb: It began with a locket. Slipped to Emma as her mother is arrested by the Japanese police, the keepsake from her dead father contains much more than memories. In the final days of World War II, Emma is armed with stolen information vital to the liberation of Manila.

Caught up in a confidant’s web of deception and lies, she finds herself suddenly a spy. The enemy hunts her as she makes her way to the American soldiers still hiding in the hills. Faced with the threat of capture and torture Emma wonders if she’ll ever see her mother again.


Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure 

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Series: The Lost Locket of Lahari

Pages: 64

My Rating: 2 stars


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

So, I'll admit that the Confidant wasn't what I was expecting. First, I had no idea that this was quite so short. It was a bit of a surprise. Also, it had some of the problems that are more prevalent in shorter books. So that was also not all that fun.

Problem #1: The whirl-wind plot. You can only fit so much into 64 pages. The amount of plot twists and action-y scenes that were in here could have properly filled a 200 page book, but in here they seemed to be crammed together. Perhaps I could have been a little more forgiving if more time had passed between the events, but they happened not only one page after another but one minute after another. There were arrests, there were shootings, there was a lot of sneaking around and hiding, and there were rescues. It was like bookish sensory overload.

Problem #2: The characters. It took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on with Emma and her mom in the first place, which is definitely a problem. I really never got a very firm idea of their backstory. There were a lot of characters thrown into this book, many of whom could have been developed so much better than they were. George, for example. The main character, Emma. I never really identified with her or got to know her.

Problem #3: The ending. It just kind of cut off! It didn't help that it was rushed--as soon as everything was turning out all right, we got about a paragraph of what happened next and an assurance that Emma's dad would be proud of his family. The end. It didn't feel like a smooth finish at all.

Problem #4: this time period. My main purpose for picking up this book was that I wanted to learn more about this period of time; we only briefly touched on it in my US History class, and I forgot all the details. But the events that are happening in this book during the time are never explained in great detail, and it caused some confusion for me! This isn't one of those time periods that everyone knows in great detail; I don't think I'm the only one who will be unsatisfied with the background this book gives.

The Confidant seems like it would be better suited as a bit longer of a story; all of the problems I listed could be fixed if more information was added to the story. This book had promise, but it let me down.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: A Grimm legacy by Janna Jennings

A Grimm Legacy

By Janna Jennings

Blurb: Enchanted castles and charming princes thought to exist only in stories come to life in this classically twisted fairy tale that combines the timeless quality of folktales with the challenges of the modern world.

The woods of Elorium appear ordinary to Andi… until the birds start to talk and elves answer doors. Whisked out of her world along with three strangers, Andi finds herself the reluctant guest of Mr. Jackson, a perplexing millionaire who claims to be able to help them get home. The secrets he harbors, however, make it difficult to know just who to trust.

When the group of teenagers discover that in this new world, fiction is anything but, and that they all have unexpected family ties to this fairy tale land, they must learn to rely on each other. The only way to survive evil fairies and giants intent on keeping them in Elorium is to rely on each other.

Faced with characters short on whimsy and bent toward treachery, Andi, Quinn, Fredrick, and Dylan are forced to play their parts in unfinished fairy tales. But in Elorium, happily ever after is never guaranteed.


Genres: Young Adult, Retellings, Fantasy

Publication Date: January 20, 2014

Series: Grimm Tales (Book 1)

Pages: 304

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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

I actually really liked this book. I was a bit afraid after reading the reviews; it seemed that a lot of people didn't love it. But despite its flaws, I thought there was a great story here. It was a bit more original than quite a lot of retellings I'd read; I loved the concept.

The plot is really different, and I liked that. Most retellings basically all have the same plot; some medieval, faraway setting, with a bit of magic--if they get really fancy you'll see it spelled with a k, or even a *gasp* y, (not that this is a bad thing, but spelling magic differently is not as original as some books make it seem) and not a lot of deviance from the original fairy tale plot. This book takes place after four kids get transported to the fairy tale world (where most don't even realize they are fairy tales) and have to try to navigate it, and eventually escape. So, not like the normal retelling. Also, they do what I love and include the lesser known, non-Disneyfied fairy tales, some of which I honestly can't remember much about despite having read through the Grimm fairy tales multiple times. Yet another also, the way the book focuses on the fairy tales, such as Cinderella, is a bit unique as well. It splits the story into parts, one for each fairy tale that the MCs go through. The fairy tales are totally messed around with due to the MCs refusing to stick to how they went in the Grimm versions.

I actually liked the main characters. While I thought that all of them could have been a bit more developed, they were still fun to read about. They all had their own unique personalities, and with the multiple points of view, it was easy to see just how different those personalities were. I know a lot of people don't like multiple POVs; I've never minded them, so that may explain why I liked this book more than most people. For me, the multiple points of view actually enhanced the story.

When I finally found out why Andi, Quinn, Dylan, and Fredrick were transported to Elorium, I will be honest, I wasn't too surprised. It was a good idea plotwise, but there were way too many hints that really kind of gave it away.

Another thing; there are at times inconsistencies. They are small, but confusing. For example, apparently in Elosium safeties on guns haven't been invented yet. But there are references to one of Cinderella's stepsister listening to music with ear buds. How is it that ear buds have been invented, but safeties on guns have not?

A Grimm Legacy is not a super serious story. It's just something to enjoy and get lost in for a few hours--and that's exactly what I did. It's one of my favorite retellings that I've read in a while.






Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

A Light in the Wilderness

By Jane Kirkpatrick

Blurb: Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.
Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.
Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.
As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Based on a true story.


Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian, Romance

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 302

My Rating: 3 stars

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

A Light In the Darkness tackles some heavy subject matter; racism. While I applaud the decision to shine some light on that topic, I couldn't help feeling that at times it got glossed over. I mean, this book takes place in the 1840s, a good part of it in Missouri. If you are going to have your book be about racism and use this setting, you have to give an accurate representation of how it would have been like back then. And I don't feel that it was at all times.

Davey Carson is a white man that Tish gets married to in the book. And for some reason, he tells a lot of people that they are married (even though I am pretty sure the agreement was supposed to be that it would be secret, so I don't know what he was thinking.) Marriage between a white person and a freed slave back then would not have been as accepted as this book makes it seem. Not many people said anything, in fact, aside from Davey's son. Sadly, in 1840s Missouri I am not convinced that people would care so little. That was my first on the fence moment with this book.

Secondly, though I am sure that this was just to portray the time that this book took place, I felt at times some characters made comments that I didn't necessarily agree with, and those comments were fully accepted, for the most part, rather than objected against. (That is the reason I did not like them.) Saying that certain things were 'men's work' only that a woman could not accomplish, which the women fully agreed with. Saying things that implied that a woman who had opinions and did not just blindly follow her husband was not acceptable. I understand that those were just the times back then, but it got mentioned so many times that I became uneasy.

I didn't like when the book randomly switched to Nancy and Betsy's POV, because I felt like this should have been told from Tish's view alone. There are better ways of getting to know the two other women in this story; it was rather distracting instead of adding to the book.

It seemed like after a certain point the author got bored with writing out how the story ended, and then just started to fast forward through the years. It went very fast, and I didn't like how it went from a well-thought out story to almost a textbook description of how things went down.

I liked the character of Tish a lot. She overcomes high obstacles, prejudice from other people in particular, throughout the story which was great to read about. She's smart, she's brave, and she can think for herself. It was nice to find a character who isn't weak and Mary-suish, because I'd been finding a lot of those in Christian fiction lately, which is mainly why I took a break from the genre.

I was surprised to find that this was based on a true story, however loosely. That made the story better in my eyes, because the book ends on a more inspiring note, and I was happy to find out that that was not just a fictional ending; it actually happened.

I think that A Light in the Wilderness was a nice plunge for me back into Christian fiction, though it still had its flaws. Still, the overall plot and a great main character makes this book worthwhile.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review: Capturing Jasmina by Kimberly Rae

 Capturing Jasmina

By Kimberly Rae


Blurb: Jasmina, a young girl in India, and her brother, Samir, are sold as child slaves and must learn to survive living on the streets of India.

Genres: Juvenile, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: May 27, 2014

Series: N/A (Though there is a sequel.)

Pages: 116

My Rating: 2 stars

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

I was excited to read this because it is about an important topic that has been ignored in a lot of literature, especially children's literature. I felt human trafficking is an important topic, but I don't know that this book really delved deep enough into it.

While a good portion of this book revolves around Jasmina's life in a sweatshop and later in working at a quarry, another good portion of it revolves around her living with the missionaries that took her in. It's good that this story had a happy ending, but the story is so short that I felt there was more detail about the missionaries then there was about the horrors of the places Jasmina lived in. We only really got snapshots, in my opinion.

I never found that I got to know any of the characters. There are so many that could have been expounded on more than they were; the kids Jasmina meets after going home with Asha, for example. The only character that who really was explored in depth was Jasmina.

I went away from this book simply not satisfied. I would have liked to learn more from this book than I did. It is short (hence why my review is a bit tiny) but the story in here needs more than the one hundred pages it was given. A bit of a disappointment for me. I didn't hate Capturing Jasmina but it definitely was not what I hoped it would be.




Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: The Here and Now by Anne Brashares

The Here and Now

By Anne Brashares

Blurb: An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.


Genres: Young Adult, Time Travel, Adventure, Romance

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 256

My Rating: 1.5 stars

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

Note: I kind of had fun with this review and added a large amount of gifs to it (for me) so if you don't like gifs then this probably is not the review for you.

This got better as I went along by a miniscule amount, but really, there was just a huge amount of eyerolling throughout the entire story. A lot. I'm pretty sure my eyeballs got a little workout due to this book.

The problem I saw from the start of this book was that this book tried way too hard to be poetic. Prenna says crap that was supposed to be really deep or beautiful (or a mixture of both) but instead elicited a snort from me; an actual snort, not just in my mind. Like this:

(describing her crush)
He has hair the color of cheerios.

He is the drip, drip of water that carves a canyon right through the middle of me. (I don't even know, guys.)

description

There was much laughter.

Secondly, the romance between Prenna and Ethan wasn't all that great. It was your run-of-the-mill sappy teen romance. How they met was rather creepy. Some of the things that Ethan said to Prenna registered on the creepy-scale as well. Like:

(They have just found something that is basically a memory video of her father's from the year she was born)
He tugs on a strand of my hair. "I could see you being born?"



description

Yes. Because there is nothing more romantic then seeing your girlfriend coming out of the womb. That should be one of your dates, Ethan. NOT.

Prenna herself is not that great of a character. She says she's smart, but she does not act smart at all, which is becoming a new pet peeve of mine because it has happened SO OFTEN lately. She makes dumb decisions, and I couldn't root for her because of that. I can't really go into detail about all of the bad decisions the readers learn she has made because it would be long and spoiler-loaded, but just trust me on this one.

Everything ended too neatly. After all Prenna went through and how scary this weird society was supposed to be, I found it anticlimactic how easily everything became nice and happy. I didn't find it believable whatsoever./

While things got a bit better as the story went through (read: Prenna stopped annoying me so much) I definitely was not a fan of this story. I really do not recommend it.


 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: Wish by Grier Cooper

Wish

By Grier Cooper

Blurb: For Indigo Stevens, ballet classes at Miss Roberta’s ballet studio offer the stability and structure that are missing from her crazy home life. At almost 16, she hopes this is the year she will be accepted into the New York School of Ballet. First she must prove she’s ready, and that means ignoring Jesse Sanders – the cute boy with dimples who is definitely at the top of Miss Roberta’s List of Forbidden Things for Dancers.

But Jesse is the least of Indigo’s concerns. When she discovers her mom is an alcoholic, it simultaneously explains everything and heaps more worry on Indigo’s shoulders. As her mom’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Indigo fights to maintain balance, protect her younger brothers from abuse, and keep her mother from going over the edge. When the violence at home escalates, Indigo realizes she can no longer dance around the issue. At the risk of losing everything, she must take matters into her own hands before it’s too late.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: December 2, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 264

My Rating: 4 stars
 
I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I jumped at the chance to read this because...ballet. I love ballet; I've been in classes since I was three. So a book about ballet would be combining my two favorite hobbies, and what could go wrong with that?

Not much, it seems, because this was a pretty darn good book. And the author definitely knows what she's doing when it comes to ballet; it feels authentic.

First, there is Indigo. Not only was she an awesome main character in general, she also inspired me, in more ways than one. The more obvious reason is that she had to live with a dysfunctional family, but she still managed to perform to the best of her ability. Sure, it did sometimes affect her (if she didn't this book would lose its believablity!), but overall, she was able to overcome that and eventually help put back the pieces in her home. Secondly, I loved her hard work. She really puts her all into being the best she can be. And that was something I truly admired.

The other character I liked was Miss Roberta, Indigo's dance teacher. I know that she is a bit of an odd character to single out, but I loved her advice and her and Indigo's relationship. Her interactions with Indigo's mom were a huge part of why I liked her.

The story was really good. It is not always pretty. It paints alcoholism in a very realistic way. Indigo's mom is out of control. It is somewhat depressing to read about at times. But it doesn't feel overdramatized--which is something considering there are a lot of moments in this book that have the potential to feel that way.

The flipside of the story deals with Indigo's ballet. Well, obviously I loved this! I loved the dance classes, the practices, everything. I was nearly as nervous as Indigo was during her audition.

I suppose I probably should talk about the romance part. That wasn't the reason I read the book--it almost never is--and it was not my favorite part of the book, but I do appreciate how realistic the author kept it. Jesse also wasn't made out to be Indigo's soulmate, something that happens way too often in YA, and I liked that as well.

All together, this was a great story. I haven't read a lot of ballet books in YA, but this is definitely at the top of that short list. It's worth checking out.


Review: Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

Rite of Rejection

By Sarah Negovetich

Blurb: "Before you stands the future."

Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can't wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she's shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed-wire fences with the world's most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she's almost certain she can learn to love.

But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence, Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.


Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

Publication Date: December 4, 2014

Series: N/A (at this time)

Pages: 320

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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

Rite of Rejection had a solid start, a fairly solid middle...it had basically everything but a solid ending. Which is definitely a problem.

Rebecca, the main character, is not the strong, independent main character that is usually in dystopian novels. She's definitely not independent, and usually when something goes wrong for her someone else is there to rescue her. However, she develops from a naive, scared girl, into an intelligent passionate one throughout the story, which I liked. She may have started out not so great, but by the end of the story I liked her.

The other characters were okay. They weren't bad characters, I just never got emotionally tied to them. They had interesting personalities, and I liked the family dynamic between Becca and her friends...I think it was just that not enough time was given to them in order for me to like them.

I didn't care much for a love triangle. It was quite clear who Rebecca actually liked; in that case, why even have a love triangle? I suppose it's preferable to her switching back and forth between two guys, but it was still annoying.

The premise of this story, though a little cliche as far as Dystopian goes, was still really entertaining and thrilling. It made me think, too, which honestly doesn't happen with a lot of dystopian novels.

And then the end came. Total cliffhanger--and not the good kind where there is at least some resolution. We are totally left in the dark. a.) According to the Most Knowledgeable Goodreads, Rite of Rejection is a standalone; it could be that the sequel just hasn't been added yet, but right now...standalone. If it is a standalone, then this book has just doubled in the cruelty of this badly-done cliffhanger.(I will have faith that it does have a sequel, so I didn't mark down for this in my rating.) b.) even if there is a sequel; readers need SOME resolution! There was literally none. At all. Zip. Zilch. Zero. NADA. You get my point.

Rite of Rejection was a pretty great story until the last couple pages, and then I got mad with it. I liked it as a whole, but the ending was not for me at all.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Blog Tour Review: Behind the Stars


by Leigh Talbert Moore
Release Date: 12/09/14

Summary from Goodreads:
Prentiss Puckett is certain of three things:
-Graduation is two weeks away.
-Summer only gets hotter in south Mississippi.
-She’s getting a job with air-conditioning.

She did not expect to be kidnapped walking to work.
And she never expected to become a hero.

Red Dawn meets L O S T in this new action-adventure romance from Amazon bestselling author Leigh Talbert Moore.


Behind the Stars (Behind the Stars #1-6)



Buy Links:
BEHIND THE STARS Complete Set

Amazon | Google Play | iTunes | Nook | Kobo





My Rating: 3 stars



Behind the Stars was not too different from a lot of alien books I've previously read, but it still was a pretty nice story. I haven't read a ton of these types of books, so it has yet to be an annoyance to me if a book from this genre resembles other books I've read.



Prentiss was a pretty awesome main character. What I liked about her from the start was that she didn't just accept that her captors were aliens. This is something that always bugs me in paranormal stories; people are so easily convinced that these people they just met are supernatural beings. It just doesn't seem realistic! So her doubt came off as very believable. Secondly, she is not afraid to stand up for herself and take a few risks. This made her a lot more interesting as a character. Thirdly...she realized that (Spoiler, highlight to see) Jackson was a dousche canoe and dumped his sorry butt. (end of spoiler)


Gallatin, I didn't like as much because I felt like he was a bit of a Gary Stu. He was really perfect (I literally could not find one character flaw in him)...and beautiful...and caring...and 'different'...all the stereotypical aspects of male love interests. He was more of a 'meh' character for me.




Prentiss' boyfriend, Jackson, I didn't like. I didn't like him in her flashbacks, (Spoiler, highlight to see) I didn't like him when he decided to show up in the story, I never really liked him. He was a controlling, lying, jerk, and his leadership skills reminded me of the Lord of the Flies character Jack. I got so angry whenever he opened his mouth. I was so glad when Prentiss realized that he was awful. (End of spoiler)



I liked the story, though it did seem a little cliche at times. It was still fun to read; there were still things I was guessing at throughout this story.  The story had a bit of mystery as to why all this was happening to Prentiss' town, so it was exciting to finally figure that out. The final installment of this series is where most of the suspense and action came in; it was probably my favorite part. There was a lot more drama, and I thought the ending was satisfying.


One thing I did leave wanting from this book is a bit more info on some characters. Mainly, Gallatin's uncle. I kind of felt like that storyline hit a plateau and wasn't as important as it was made out to be at first. I actually didn't mind that it was pushed to the side--I liked how the actual storyline played out--but I would liked to have seen a bit more of this. I also felt like Cato could have been more developed then she was.



I did enjoy this series. I definitely am glad I read these stories all together, because it seemed to help the overall flow of the story. Overall, a pretty solid read.

About the Author
Leigh Talbert Moore is the author of the popular young adult romantic comedy The Truth About Faking, its companion The Truth About Letting Go, and the mature YA/new adult romantic suspense novel Rouge, a Quarter Finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
She is an award-winning journalist and editor, who has also worked in marketing and public relations for many years. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the southeast and Midwest U.S., and she runs the popular writing-craft blog That’s Write.
A southern ex-pat and beach bum, she currently lives with her husband, two young children, and one
grumpy cat in the Midwest.


Website | Facebook | Amazon Author page | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Organized By: