Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop (INTERNATIONAL)

Today I'm excited to participate in my first blog hop! What's up for grabs? Winner's choice of one of a premade design from Avery's Designs (plus installation*, for those who require it)!

Avery's Designs

What exactly is Avery's Designs? It's a blog design service that I recently launched which focuses on making blog design easy and affordable! 

Here are some examples of designs that the winner can choose from: 

Don't have a blog/ not in need of a blog design? Have no worries! The prize can be substituted for the winner's choice of a book $10 USD or less from The Book Depository! 

To enter, simply follow Avery's Designs in some way: on Facebook, GFC, or Twitter! Once you've followed, enter into the Rafflecopter below: 

*Installation only for Blogger blogs

Don't forget to enter all of the other amazing giveaways!

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Rogue" by Gina Damico

Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Graphia
Pages: 326

From Goodreads: "Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it. 

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice."

"Croak", the first book in this series, was one of those books that completely took me by surprise, I had expected it to go one way, but it went in the complete opposite direction. However, I wouldn't have had it any other way- I think that it is extremely refreshing for the world of paranormal YA, especially for what we've seen from Grim Reapers stories thus far. That being said, I do think that a lot of magic from the first book was lost on the second, "Scorch". I thought that it was a bit too "out there" for my liking, making it extremely unrealistic and unrelateable. Though that didn't deter me from picking up this book, thinking that I was just suffering from a small bout of 'second book syndrome'. However, while a bit of magic was restored from the first book in the series, it wasn't as much as I would have liked.

My biggest complaint about this book was, again, how much was going on, especially within the first couple of chapters. Despite not having read the second book all that long ago, I, for the life of me, couldn't recall anything that had happened in the previous (because, again, so much occurred in it). It took me a LONG time to finally situate myself in this, being disoriented/ struggling to regain my bearing for much of it. It isn't often that I think that the first chapter of a book should recap what happened in the previous, however, I think that this series is the poster child for that.

That being said, the character growth in this series (especially this book) and the ending redeemed the book in my eyes more than I would have ever thought possible. While I had never expected this book to end the way that it did, I do think that it is perfect (plus, I love how there was a spark, no pun intended, of hopefulness). Furthermore, it's something that we don't often see in YA especially and, for that, I applaud Gina immensely.

All in all, I highly recommend this series for those looking for something different in YA paranormal- something which more so focuses on quirkiness and humor than tradition (though which does know how to be serious when the situation calls for it). I personally cannot wait to see what Gina has up her sleeves for us next (namely which paranormal beings she will tackle next).

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Perfect Ruin" by Lauren DeStefano

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 356

From Goodreads: "On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose."

While I only consider myself to be a mild fan of Lauren's "Chemical Garden" series (liked "Wither", hated "Fever", LOVED "Sever"), I was beyond excited for this. Why? Because Lauren's way with prose is like no other (I do, in fact, measure all other prose against hers) and because she is able to create worlds never seen before. That being said, that excitement did admittedly begin to wane the further and further I got into this novel.

I think that this book's biggest pitfalls were it's pacing, it's overall world building, and it's main character. It took me near a week and a half to get through this book (something that is almost unheard of before me, typically able to finish one or two books a day). Why? Because I found the plot to be so drawn out, almost coming to a complete standstill at times. I found that the book only really started to pick up towards the last 3/4 (if not 5/6). Additionally, I thought that the world created in this novel was a tad too similar to her "Chemical Garden" series for myself. I would LOVE to see Lauren branch out from dystopian, truly stretching herself as an author/ putting her talents to work- perhaps a hardcore science fiction or fantasy (or *gasp* a contemporary)? My largest complaint with the main character, Morgan, was that I found that she had little to no personality and, at times, leaned too much on others around her.

That being said, I LOVED the character of Basil. He is, without a doubt, my most favourite of Lauren's characters to date (out of both male and female characters). He was just so gosh darn good and you couldn't help but be swept off your feet by him. Furthermore, I did really like Morgan's brother, Lex, and his wife. While their relationship wasn't perfect, it was extremely relateable.

All in all, despite my complaints, I do believe that I will continue on with this series as I'm sure that, like her "Chemical Garden series, each book in this series will get progressively better and better.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blog Tour (and Giveaway): "Sweet Surrendering" by Chelsea Cameron

From Goodreads: "She’s his boss. He doesn’t care. This office isn’t big enough for the two of them…

When Rory Clarke ends up hiring the guy she spent one steamy night with to be her administrative assistant, she's determined to keep things professional.

Lucas Blaine has other plans for her. He wants Rory, and it’s hard to resist his stunning blue eyes, chin dimple and the way he fills out a suit. Everywhere she looks, there he is, giving her a panty-melting smile and pulling her away for the most amazing (and satisfying) sex she’s ever had in her life.

What starts off as one sexual encounter turns into multiple trysts in and out of the office and the lines she’d tried to draw so carefully are blurring. But the closer they get, the more Rory realizes that there are things about Lucas she doesn’t know, things he’s hiding from her. She’ll have to decide if she can surrender to her feelings or get out while she still can."

Grand prize winner: Will get to name a character in a future book, win a signed inspiration collage, and a red shoe charm bracelet. 4 runners up will receive a red shoe charm bracelet. Contest is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author: Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn (April 20, 2013)
Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare and Neither, the first three books in The Noctalis Chronicles. The fourth and final book, Neverend will be out in 2013. Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy is also available, with the second book in the series, Silence and the final book, LIsten coming out in 2014.

"Sweet Surrendering" by Chelsea M. Cameron

Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Self-Pub
Pages: 286

From Goodreads: "She’s his boss. He doesn’t care. This office isn’t big enough for the two of them…

When Rory Clarke ends up hiring the guy she spent one steamy night with to be her administrative assistant, she's determined to keep things professional.

Lucas Blaine has other plans for her. He wants Rory, and it’s hard to resist his stunning blue eyes, chin dimple and the way he fills out a suit. Everywhere she looks, there he is, giving her a panty-melting smile and pulling her away for the most amazing (and satisfying) sex she’s ever had in her life.

What starts off as one sexual encounter turns into multiple trysts in and out of the office and the lines she’d tried to draw so carefully are blurring. But the closer they get, the more Rory realizes that there are things about Lucas she doesn’t know, things he’s hiding from her. She’ll have to decide if she can surrender to her feelings or get out while she still can."

As Chelsea is one of my most favourite NA authors of all time (her "Faster We Burn" is one of the best books that I've read this year), I was beyond excited to learn about this book, her first foray into adult romance- something which I am quite unfamiliar with (being primarily a YA and NA reader).

I think that Chelsea's biggest talent as an author is her ability to weave stories that readers become so engrossed in that they ignore everything going on around them in real life, her books take escapism to the next level- once you start one, you don't want to put it down. Another one of Chelsea's talents is to create secondary characters who are anything but, having just as much development as the leads, something essentially unheard of from other authors (in fact, while I was reading this book I spotted at least two instances of where companion novels involving these secondary characters could branch off of it).

That being said, I did at times find myself growing increasingly more and more frustrated with Rory and Lucas's relationship. For the majority of the novel (upwards of the 85% mark), I felt that there was no substance/ depth to their relationship, it based on nothing but sex and flirty banter (obviously another one of Chelsea's talents, she writes sexytimes like no other). That being said, I did really enjoy their relationship once they were able to be completely honest and upfront with one another.

All in all, I'm glad that I did step out of my comfort zone, reading something that I never have before. While this is admittedly not my most favourite of Chelsea's books, it is a close second and I am excited to learn more about Sloane and Ryder in "Dark Surrendering" (plus, I have no doubt that this book will quickly be picked up by a major publishing house ASAP).

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

Release Date: October 21st
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Pages: 526

From Goodreads: "One choice will define you.
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent."

It is no secret that I love "Divergent"- by the end of the semester of my YA class I am sure that the majority of my classmates (not to mention prof) wanted to pull some Tris-like moves on me for CONSTANTLY pushing it on them. That being said, a lot of that love was unfortunately lost on "Insurgent", with me feeling that it lost too much of the magic from the previous book- with Tris and Four's relationship constantly balancing precariously over the chasm, Tris refusing to give in any way, shape, or form, and so forth. As such, on the one hand I was beyond excited to read this book (thinking that "Insurgent" merely suffered from second book syndrome and that Veronica would redeem herself), but on the other, I was nervous beyond belief (based upon the previous two books it stood to reason that there would be a lot of conflict, violence, and loss in this)- at times, giving myself a stomach ache when thinking about actually reading it.

My biggest worries about this book surrounded its ending because I heard vague whispers that THINGS WENT DOWN- as such, I was convinced before even starting it that I would hate it. However, surprisingly, I did not hate the ending, it wasn't near as hard to accept as I had thought that it would be (Plus, I give mad props to Veronica for doing what she did- it's something that I have literally never seen another author do before, them always chickening out at the last minute. She's going to get a lot of hate for it, but when you really think about it, it totally fits with the overall scheme of things). Furthermore, the last twenty or so pages of this book were absolutely gorgeous- I don't often cry while reading a book, but there was definitely some tearing up going on as I read them. Based on the ending alone, I would give the book 5 stars.

Furthermore, I did like the fact that from book to book you can see massive character growth- growth seen in Tris and Four especially (something that really became clear to me as I (re)read all three books in the course of two days). Also, the vulnerability exhibited by all of the characters made them extremely relatable and helped me to understand why they did what they did- even those characters that I swore that I would hate until the end of my days, for instance, Peter and Caleb. Last, I did like the duo POV in this book (I always love me some male POV), however, I can't help but wish that Tris and Four's voices were a bit more ferreted out, it was, at times, difficult to determine whose head you actually were in, since they sounded so similar.

That being said, what I did hate about the book, and what did drag down the star rating, was how often Veronica put us through the ringer- with petty, jealous high school drama, further conflict after conflict between Tris and Four (I mean, didn't we get enough of this in "Insurgent"- we get it, relationships are hard and need work, trust isn't a given, and so forth), and an inundated storyline (you thought that the faction system in the first two books was confusing? It's NOTHING compared to all of the layers of politics and whatnot going on in this book- kitchen sink, anyone?). Furthermore, I was not a fan of the pace of the book, the setting of much of it, and I absolutely loathed the new character additions (with the exception of one). Combined, around the 350 page mark, I was about to give up on the book because I was just so angry with everything going on.

All in all, for me personally it's a toss-up between three and four stars. Overall, I'm glad that I pushed through and didn't give up on the book. While there is admittedly a part of me does wish that this book did end a different way, as I mentioned, I do think that it is what was truly needed and I appreciate Veronica for having the balls to do so. It's clear that she is the most Dauntless person around. Furthermore, I really and truly do hope that Veronica does continue to write after this, not becoming one of those authors like Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins who seemingly drops off the face of the planet after their massive success.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Facebook Celebration Giveaway

As you may have saw yesterday, Avery's Designs is now on Facebook! So I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate with a giveaway!

Up for grabs is a set of book-themed social media icons!

These icons fit seamlessly with any blog design, include a number of different social media networks (more will be added according to demand), and the one time purchase provides the "buyer" with all future designs for free!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Just One Year" by Gayle Forman

Release Date: October 10, 2013
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 336

From Goodreads: "Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect."

Admittedly Gayle Forman's "Just One Day" was the sort of book that totally snuck up on me, not expecting much from it, having not been the biggest fan of her "If I Stay" series. "Just One Day" exceeded my expectations in every way, shape, and form, being, without a doubt, one of the best books that I've read this year. With every word I felt as if my heart would explode at any moment and, for that very reason, I will remember it for many, many years to come (it doesn't hurt that it featured Paris, a place near and dear to my heart). Because of the utter amazingness of "Just One Day", this book quickly became one of my most highly anticipated of this year- and I thought that it would only be stronger than the first (as I found the case to be with "Where She Went"), however, I must admit that it was anything but.

Where I found that emotion was the biggest strength in "Just One Day", in this, I found it to be it's biggest weakness. Willem had SO MANY road bumps in his life, however, I found it near impossible to dredge up any sympathy for him because of the overall lack of emotion. I think that the biggest contributing factor to this was his voice- I feel that his voice was far too similar to Lulu's, not bringing anything new to the table (which is a shame, because I can't recall another instance of preferring a female's POV over a male's). Because of being unable to connect to much of the story, I found it to be quite draggy and slow at times.

That being said, I loved all off the various settings of this book- it allows the reader to experience another level of escapism, getting a stamp in their mental passport, of sorts, at every stop in his journey. Additionally, I did think that the parallel storyline about Willem's parents to be quite interesting, having a sort of "Jellicoe Road" vibe to it. Furthermore, the last ten or so pages of this book were ABSOLUTELY breathtaking- they were filled with the magic that I had been SO hoping for. They were close, but no cigar, to making me forget about the earlier 320 pages.

All in all, while I think that this book had great potential, I do think that ultimately it was unable to live up to said potential. That being said, that it is not to say that it is a bad book (I do think that it is much better than many YA contemps/ coming of age novels out there), it just wasn't quite able to fill the shoes of its predecessors. Furthermore, despite my complaints, I do now consider myself to be a 'Gayle' junkie and will do anything in my power to get her books in my hands.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honesty review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway: "Sidelined" by Kendra C. Highley

Today I am excited to be a part of the "Sidelined" tour as part of Rockstar Book Tours. For those of you who don't know, "Sidelined" is about the struggles that main character Genna Pierce faces after a freak accident ends her high school basketball career and the only thing to ease her pain is Vicodin. 
Why Write about Addiction?

When I was thinking through Sidelined, I knew I wanted to take an honest look at a phenomenon occurring more and more frequently with teens: prescription drug abuse. Right now, more teens illegally obtain and abuse prescription drugs—painkillers in particular—than marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. No longer do friends pool their money, drive to the shady side of town and buy illicit substances. Nope, they raid their parents’ drug cabinet. It’s quick, it’s free, and who would miss a few pills?

The problem is, Vicodin—along with other scheduled narcotics—is highly addictive. I’ve had a few surgeries and have taken prescription painkillers. The high is rapid, and it really kills the pain, no matter what that pain is. The hard part is quitting. I was lucky; I didn’t have to take them for long and had a smooth transition off. However, if your pain isn’t physical, if it’s something deeper, letting go of the pills might feel like crossing a highway at rush hour…blindfolded.

With Sidelined, I didn’t want to preach the ills of drug abuse, or condemn people who get addicted. Instead, I wanted readers to be able to experience Genna’s struggle vicariously, to see what this can be like and how easily the trap can be sprung. This is a girl who lost the one thing that defined her. Of course she was looking for a way out, a way to numb all the feelings battering her from every direction.  Genna was responsible, driven to succeed…until she met Prince Vicodin. The good prince changed her life without her even noticing for a while. And when she did notice, she had her excuses ready.

In fact, she came to understand she was willing to throw away everything good in her life for one more pill. Even knowing that…she couldn’t stop.

So why write about addiction? First, to show that no one “type” of person falls into prescription drug abuse. It can be anyone—family, neighbors, friends—and you might never know. Shedding light on the problem might help others recognize it better. Second, to show that addicts aren’t criminals or worthless. With the right help, everyone has a chance. There’s always hope. If one person reads the book and realizes that he or she has a problem—or a loved one does—and seeks help, then Genna’s story will have done its job.

You can find out more about "Sidelined" here:

About Kendra:
 Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories and the restorative powers of dark chocolate. 

$25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card and a women’s collegiate basketball to the first prize winner (US Only)

3 $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift cards for 3 second prize winners (International)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find out more about "Sidelined" by visiting the following stops! 

9/30/2013- Bookish Things & More- Guest Post
10/1/2013- Sarah Elizabeth's Bookshelf- Review
10/2/2013- Avery's Book Nook- Guest Post
10/3/2013- Once Upon a Twilight- Review
10/4/2013- BookHounds YA- Interview

Monday, September 30, 2013

"Shadow and Bone" by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 358

From Goodreads: "The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance."

When I recently found myself on a fantasy kick I KNEW that I had to include this book on my pile of to-be-read books- partly because of the interesting sounding storyline, partly because of the general hype surrounding it (with some of the most critical reviewers I know praising it to the high heavens), and partly because of hearing friend after friend tell me that I would ABSOLUTELY love it. After having finished it, I must admit that I am among the minority, not understanding why so many have flocked to this when, in my opinion, there are so many other books of this nature deserving said praise.

I think that said hype gave me entirely unrealistic expectations of this book- because of the hype, every element of this book was inflated, THE BEST EVER STORYLINE!, THE BEST EVER CHARACTERS!, THE BEST EVER SETTING! and so forth, almost to an unachievable level. In reality, I found the vast majority of characters to be mediocre, no different from any other YA characters that I have read of before (with the exception of Mal that one time, when he was able to pull out the swoon-> I think that fans of Gale and Peeta will love him as he seems to be a combination of their best characteristics), the vast majority of the plot to be predictable (I am admittedly one of the worst foreshadowers when it comes to book plots, however, I was able to foreshadow almost everything in this book, especially that revolving around the Darkling- if I can do this, then you know it's pretty predictable), and the world building to be a bit too "out there", combining an overwhelming number of elements, only a few of which actually fit seamlessly together.

All in all, as much as I had hoped that it would, this book simply did not do it for me. Because of my reaction to this novel, I am seriously debating whether or not to continue on with the series (if I choose not to, something that is almost unheard of for me). That being said, I do think that fans of Sarah J. Maas's "Throne of Glass" series and Andrea Cremer's "Rift" series, will more than enjoy this novel, wanting to start its sequel as soon as they finish this.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"If You Could Be Mine" by Sara Farizan

Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 256

From Goodreads: "In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?"

Admittedly when I first received this book to read and review, I was a fair bit skeptical as it is so far out of my comfort zone (that being primarily YA speculative fiction), however, the longer that the premise of the book bounced around in my head, the more and more excited that I got to read it- it being quite unlike anything that I had ever heard of before, sounding like something that could truly change YA as we know it. However, as I began to delve deeper and deeper into the novel I soon realized that, while it had potential, it ultimately did not live up to said potential.

My largest complaints about this book were it's writing style, the lack of emotions, and it's characters. I found Sara's style of writing to be so flat that it bordered on being juvenile- at times it read as if it had been written by a young person trying their hand at writing (for instance, "I did this and this and this"). Because of the flatness of the writing, I was unable to make any sort of connection to the storyline- not once did I experience any heart pounding moments or gasped aloud, which wouldn't seem unlikely for a book with as heavy of a storyline as this. Furthermore, because of the lack of emotions, I was unable to make any sort of connection with the characters- I would, in fact, go so far as to say that they are some of the most unlikeable that I can recall reading about in some time. There was truly only one or two characters that I liked, however, their actions towards the end of the novel made me reconsider my original opinions of them.

That being said, I do appreciate what Sara tried to do with this book, because, as mentioned, this, in my opinion, is quite unlike anything else I have seen in YA to this point in time. She touched upon so many important lifestyles, situations, and circumstances that I think that the average reader would never experience, let alone consider.

All in all, unfortunately due to the book's simplistic and emotionless writing style and the unmemorable (or memorable for the wrong reasons) characters, I was simply not a fan of this novel. However, I do think that with a bit more time and practice, Sara has the potential to be an instrumental author in YA, especially if she broaches upon similar topics in the future.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Crown of Midnight" by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 420

From Goodreads: "An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?"

While I was not a huge fan of the first book in the series (a fan, rather than a FAN), I was still extremely excited to read this book because of both the world and the cast of characters that Sarah crafted, quite unlike any I have encountered in YA before. Within only a few pages of this book, I knew that it was not only much, much better than the first, Sarah truly finding her stride as an author, but one of the best books that I have read this year (which I truly have to thank Sarah for- it has been AGES since I truly loved a book, she was able to crack through where few authors have been able to).

While in the first book I did find myself growing somewhat frustrated by HOW MUCH there was going on in it, in this book, it was the icing on top of the cake for me. I LOVED piecing together all of the various storylines and admittedly gasped aloud a number of times when Sarah entirely twisted the plot on its head.

Another successful component of this book, in my opinion, was the romance. As anyone who knows me knows, I LOVE love- and this book has perchance one of the best love stories that I have read in YA. Ever. While on the one hand I hated how long drawn-out the romance aspect of it was (I legitimately texted one of my fellow reviewer friends with "WHY WON'T THEY KISS ALREADY?"), on the other hand, I do think that that was for the best- that when that aspect of the storyline finally came to fruition, that it made all of the FEELS cometh forth.

The last component of this book that made me fall head over heels for it was the ending- while the ending is technically wrapped up in its entirety, you can't help but feel the need to get your hands on the next book as soon as humanly possible- it has the feel of the cliffhanger ending, without actually being a cliffhanger. (That being said, as a side note, I find myself growing more and more scared about the next book because I can't wonder if Sarah will simultaneously tell two different storylines or only one- in only telling one, one of my most favourite aspects will be lost).

All in all, Sarah J. Maas is an evil, evil person- something which I'm sure that she revels in. As mentioned, this book is one of the best books that I have read this year and one that I know that I will pick up time and time again. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all YA readers- from those seasoned YA fantasy fans to those newly minted.

Rating: 5/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Friday, September 20, 2013

ARC Review: "Inheritance" by Malinda Lo

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 480

From Goodreads:"The triangular spaceship hovered motionless in the sky above Reese Holloway’s house, as inscrutable as a black hole. It had seemed like a good idea when they were inside: to tell the truth about what happened to them at Area 51. It didn’t seem like such a good idea now.

Reese and David are not normal teens—not since they were adapted with alien DNA by the Imria, an extraterrestrial race that has been secretly visiting Earth for decades. Now everyone is trying to get to them: the government, the Imria, and a mysterious corporation that would do anything for the upper hand against the aliens.

Beyond the web of conspiracies, Reese can’t reconcile her love for David with her feelings for her ex-girlfriend Amber, an Imrian. But her choice between two worlds will play a critical role in determining the future of humanity, the Imria’s place in it, and the inheritance she and David will bring to the universe.

In this gripping sequel to Adaptation, Malinda Lo brings a thoughtful exploration of adolescence, sexuality, and “the other” to a science fiction thriller that is impossible to put down."

After having finished "Adaptation", the first book in this series, I HAD to read this book- not only to see how the general populace would react to learning that they were, in fact, not alone in the universe (or universes beyond), but to see how Reese would navigate her relationships (if any) with both David and Amber. That being said, once I started reading this book, that initial excitement began to wane, becoming almost non-existent.

My largest complaint about this book was its pacing- I can typically read a book within a couple of hours, however, this book took me near two weeks to read because of it. While I thought that the previous book was too focused on the romance aspect, in this book I thought that it was too focused on the politics and too 'info-dumping' about the Imria. As such, I found that I could only read a few pages before my eyes started crossing, being dragged down by it all.

I further had problems with Reese in this novel- while I understand that her thoughts, feelings, and emotions are probably very true to life for many teens in her situation (questioning their sexuality, trying to find out where they belong in the world, and so forth), I couldn't relate to her in the slightest. It increasingly grated more and more on my nerves about how she was unable to make a concrete decision about anything- forever flopping back and forth.

All in all, while I was not a fan of this book, I do think that many others will be (especially those who were major fans of the first). Furthermore, despite my complaints, I really do appreciate what Malinda has done for the world of YA- not only presenting characters we typically don't see in the genre, but presenting alternative relationships to what we typically see."

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Win a Blog Make-Over!

As some of you may have seen the other day, I recently announced that I have started a blog design service, Avery's Designs. In celebration of its release, I am currently giving away both a both design and installation package! To enter into the giveaway, feel free to head on over to Avery's Designs!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"The Suburban Strange" by Nathan Kotecki

Release Date: October 2, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pages: 368

From Goodreads: "Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High. Plentiful references to music and art—along with the intriguing underworld mythology—make this supernatural series debut a page-turner."

When I saw the cover of this book, coupled alongside an interesting synopsis, I was instantly drawn in. However, after having finished the book my feelings are not unlike they were when I was drawn into another book by it's pretty cover, "Tris & Izzie" by Mette Ivie Harrison.

My largest complaint about this book was how contradictory it was- on the one hand it was extremely sophisticated, with how the characters dressed, what they read, and what music they listened to (in that regard, despite me being older than them, they far surpassed me), but on the other hand, they were sooooooo juvenile in every other way- especially in the way that the spoke and interacted with one another. Unfortunately I feel that this is the result of the author's writing, it felt far too basic than what the storyline called for.

Another complaint that I had about this novel was that it was so BUSY- I couldn't help but feel like the author even went so far as to throw the kitchen sink into the storyline of the novel. Every time I turned around there was another plotline thrown in, each plotline increasingly more and more ridiculous and farfetched than the last.

All in all, this novel was not for me- I will not be continuing on with this series and I will be trading or donating my copy. That being said, I do feel that perhaps younger YA readers might be able to connect to the characters and their situations where I was unable to.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Presenting Avery's Designs: Blog Packages Starting at $25!

As some of you may know, I recently finished my masters and therefore have a fair bit of free time on my hands. Therefore, taking that into consideration (and my love of design), I decided to create Avery's Designs, a design service which makes making over your blog easy!

For $25 you will receive a blog header, a button with grab box, and an avatar. For an additional $10 I will install the design package, alongside customizing various aspects of the blog, saving you the headache of having to do so! With every design, the text and font is customizable, allowing for it to meet your needs, whatever they may be!

Here are a few examples of the designs that you can purchase:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ARC Review: "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black

Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Pages: 432

From Goodreads: "Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black."

Holly Black is, without a doubt, one of those authors who shaped my teenage years, specifically with her "Modern Faerie Tale" series- I literally cannot tell you the number of times that I reread those books growing up. However, I unfortunately wasn't a huge fan of her "Curse Workers" series, while the concept was unique, I didn't find that it grabbed me in any way, shape, or form. That being said, when I heard about this series (and saw all of the glowing reviews from my fellow reviewers), I did decide to give Holly another chance, something that I am not oft to do. Admittedly I am somewhat regretful for doing so as I once again found this series flat, not having the slightest bit of magic that I had become familiar with in her faerie series.

The first complaint that I have about this book is vampires. I am of the opinion that vampires are dead in young adult literature unless you REALLY have something that the likes of has never been seen before. Unfortunately the vampires of this book are no different than any other vampires I have seen in the genre. In fact, the vampires of this book are perhaps the most stereotypical I have ever seen before- with questionable fashion choices (poofy sleeves and slicked backed hair), brooding attitudes, and so forth.

The next complaint is the utter detachment I felt about the plot, characters, and so forth. I felt like much of the plot was overly melodramatic, but it was lacking in any REAL emotion. Characters seeing people being ripped apart in front of their very eyes? Meh. Characters declaring their undying love for one another? *Shrugs*. Any who knows me knows that I LOVE love, however, I felt that the relationship between Tana and Gavriel to be so forced that I didn't even care whether they had one or not.

That being said, I really did the character of Aiden, Tana's ex-boyfriend. I thought that he brought a lot of light-heartedness and humour to the book. Furthermore, despite the book's size, a solid inch and a half or two inches in thickness, I did find that it was an extremely quick read, having finished it almost as soon as I had started it.

All in all, unfortunately the book didn't do it for me, after finishing it having little to no feelings about it- except for the satisfaction of being able to add another tick to my count of books read this year. That being said, with this book being a combination of "The Immortal Rules" by Julie Kagawa and "Blood Red Road" by Moira Young, I do think that it will appeal to a lot of readers. Furthermore, despite my complaints, I do think that I will continue on with the series, if only to see how it ends.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Addicted To You" by Colina Brennan

Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 183

From Goodreads: "When twenty-one-year-old Leah Carter's latest one night stand burglarizes her apartment, her roommate forces her to attend therapy for sex addicts. Leah insists she isn't a sex addict; she just doesn't do relationships. After all, sooner or later, everyone lets you down.

At first, the group sessions are little more than an education on how to be promiscuous. Until she meets the newest addict—blue eyes, killer body, and a smile that tempts relapse.

Psychology student Will McLean is posing as a fellow addict while researching a case study on unusual addictions. But the more he learns about Leah, the more certain he is that his desire to break through her walls and unearth her secrets has nothing to do with his assignment.

As the uncertainties spike alongside the sexual tension, the only thing Leah knows for sure is that falling in love would be disastrous. Too bad love might be one addiction she can't kick."

Being a New Adult addict, it isn't too, too often that I become truly excited about a new release in the genre, finding many titles to be extremely similar to one another. That being said, when I heard about the premise of this book, quite unlike any I have encountered to date, and heard of a number of some of my most critical friends raving about it, I did find myself growing increasingly more and more excited about it. That being said, after finishing it, I can't help but feel extremely disappointed. 

My largest complaint about this book is what I like to call the 'memorability factor'- I know that days from now, if not hours after finished it, that I will remember very little of the plot, if any. In a sea of New Adult titles being released each and every day, I unfortunately don't find that this book has what it takes to float above the rest- a broken girl with a questionable past, a family who doesn't understand her, somewhat prudish best friends, and so forth.

That being said, I do appreciate that the lead male, Will, is a fair bit different than any boy that I have encountered in the genre to take- not being the stereotypical 'bad-boy', with tattoos dripping down his six pack. He's golden, and light, and brings legitimate goodness to the book. 

All in all, while I think that this book had loads of potential, it, unfortunately, did not live up to it whatsoever. However, I don't regret reading it as it was an extremely quick read (and provided a few hours of entertainment) and it is one of the hottest New Adult that I have read to date, without being lewd. I do think that Colina has a lot of talent for writing within the genre and I do look forward to seeing what she comes up with next! 

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the tour host to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to Blogging!

Long time, no see, peeps!

As you may have noticed, I have somewhat dropped off of the face of the planet over the last month or so when it comes to the blog (not Twitter though, I can never quit my Twitter)- with school, work, and real life getting in the way.

Well, today I am excited to announce that I am once again back to blogging. I am officially done school for forever (or until I get bored with life and decide to go back and get my masters in archaeology) and am a librarian (albeit an unemployed librarian) and I'm "taking it easy" until I find a grown-up job.

I can't wait to once again dive into reading and reviewing! Also, I must thank y'all for sticking with me during my unexpected hiatus!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Authors are Rockstars: Chloe Neill Interview + Giveaway

Today I am beyond excited to have Chloe Neill, one of my most favourite authors, stop by the blog for part of the Authors are Rockstars tour. In case you are unfamiliar with Chloe, she is the author of the "Chicagoland Vampires" (adult) and "The Dark Elite" series (YA).

Why do I think that Chloe Neill is a Rockstar Author? Let me count the ways:

  • Caroline Evelyn Merit, better known as Merit: Perchance one of the strongest female characters I have ever met. She isn't afraid to get the job done (nor get her hands dirty in the process), she knows how to use a katana like no other, and she's not just another pretty face- she has just as much, if not more, brains than beauty. 
  • Ethan Sullivan: If you have yet to be introduced to Ethan than I truly pity you. Your world is not complete without firsthand knowledge of his bright green eyes, long blond hair, and muscles on his muscles (think Chris Hemsworth. Times a million). 
  • Jeff Christopher: I don't think that there exists a more so-nerdy-that-he-is-adorable sidekick. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the boy is a Shapeshifter. 
  • Catcher Bell: His dry wit and unforgiving attitude brings the funnies like no other. 
  • Chuck Merit: The grandpa that you always wished that you had- plus, he's the liaison between the various supernatural races and humans AKA ONLY THE COOLEST JOB EVER.
Are you convinced to read these books yet? If not, perhaps Chloe herself will be able to in our interview!

The eighth book of your Chicagoland Vampires series is soon to hit shelves- how does that make you feel? Do you get as excited with each new release as you were with the release of "Some Girls Bite"?

I think it's much less surreal now than it had been when SOME GIRLS BITE was released, but there's absolutely always that sense of excitement and anticipation. I really love Merit, and I hope others enjoy her stories, as well.

With eight books in the series under your belt, and two more planned, how do you keep the story lines fresh?

I try to keep my mind fresh. I read, watch television, keep up with graphic design and fashion, love American history. I think diving into all those various subjects gives me tidbits to include in the books.

I think that a lot of readers, female especially, will agree that Ethan is their most favourite of the series- who is your favourite character?

Interesting question. Ethan is definitely one of the easiest to write. His voice is very distinctive, so it's easy for me to imagine his diction. Jeff is another favorite, because he's so noble and honorable. People don't give him enough credit because they see him as a "geek." He is that, and many other things, too. Merit has a lot of me in her, so it's less that she's a "favorite" than "part of me." :)

On the note of favourites, what is your most favourite of the supernatural beings? If you had to be one type of being, which would you choose?

I would like to be any type of being that could fly. It's my preferred secret power. :) Beyond that, probably a vampire.I'd miss the sun, but immortality and strength are pretty good.

Both of your series, Chicagoland Vampires and Dark Elite are set in Chicago. What does the city mean to you? Why feature it so prominently?

It's a city of contrasts, which I find really, really interesting. Great food, amazing architecture. But also poverty and crime. It's a city with meat on its bones, and there's always something I can use to make the CV books pop.

Quick Questions

Ethan or Morgan? Ethan, always. There's something odd going on with Morgan.
Monsters under the bed or monsters in the closet? Under the bed alligators.
Adult or YA? Adult, although I'm reading mostly nonfiction right now.
TV or film? TV. I rarely watch movies. I have a miserably short attention span. :)
Starbucks or Diet Coke? DIET COKE. In large quantities. :)

Special thanks to Jamie and Rachel of Rockstar Book Tours and Chloe Neill!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 26, 2013

Where in the World is Avery?

If you're a follower of my blog, you probably know that for years I stuck to a fairly rigid blogging schedule- blogging almost every day. However, as you may have noticed, my blogging schedule has become somewhat erratic over the last couple of months.

There are a few reasons for this, one being that I'd much prefer my blog to be a place of reviews rather than memes (I used to participate in three or four a week, now few to any), another being school. I have been going to school full time since last September non-stop and it really eats a lot of my time (not to mention working near full time on top of that).

But... *Drum roll please* I do finish my masters of library and information science in two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!!!), so hopefully I will be able to get back to regularly blogging!

Thanks y'all for sticking with me and welcome to my new followers!

Friday, July 19, 2013

ARC Review: "Earthbound" by Aprilynne Pike

Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352

From Goodreads: "Love, fate, and power collide in this new series by #1 New York Timesbestselling author Aprilynne Pike!

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told. Tavia will soon discover that she’s an Earthbound—someone with the ability to create matter out of nothing—and that she alone holds the key to stopping the Reduciata, an evil society that manipulates global events for its own shadowy purposes. Tavia will ultimately have to make a choice: to come into her powers and save the world from the evil Reduciata or to choose free will and a love of her own."

Admittedly I was quite hesitant to read this book- why? Because Aprilynne's "Wings" series is one of my most favourite series and I didn't think that there was any way that this book could compare. Am I ever glad that I was wrong. This book is, without a doubt Aprilynne's strongest book to date and one of the better books that I have read this year. That being said, that is not to say that this book is without its fault.

The largest strength of this book, in my opinion, is its complexity. While Aprilynne's "Wings" series was complex in the make-up of its world of faerie, I don't think that it could touch this in that aspect. I was never quite sure where Aprilynne was going to take the story next- for instance, I didn't know what paranormal beings the characters were (if any), who could be trusted, and so forth.

That being said, I wasn't a massive fan of the love triangle element of this book- I felt that it was near impossible to make a connection to Quinn and therefore it fell quite flat. Furthermore, when one of the paranormal elements of the storyline was revealed, I couldn't help but wish that it was more unique- it seemed a bit too similar to Lauren Kate's "Fallen" series for my liking. Last, after finishing it, I had the sense that, while a lot happened, not a lot did (what did happen seemed more so action-y than answer-y, very much along the lines of "answering questions with questions").

That being said, I do think that this is an extremely promising to Aprilynne's new series- it becomes evident that with each book she grows tremendously as an author- and, as I am sure that you can imagine, despite my complaints, I am more than excited to see what she has next in store for these characters. As such, I do highly recommend this book as I do think that overall she has done something a bit different than we have seen in the world of YA to this point.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Quarantine: The Saints" by Lex Thomas

Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 400

From Goodreads: "A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.

Nothing was worse than being locked in—until they opened the door...
McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soom after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.

The Saints brings readers back to the dark and deadly halls of McKinley High and the QUARANTINE series."

As becomes evident from the review of "Quarantine: The Loners", I wasn't a huge fan of- not feeling much of the plot, thinking it too far "out there". However, I am happy to say that I did start to come around it in this book and am overall quite glad that I did decide to continue on with the series. That being said, this book is not without its faults. 

I think that the biggest strength of this book are the characters- where in the previous book I don't feel like we truly ever got to know any of them, only seeing them for which gang they were a member of (ie. "The Sluts", "The Pretty Ones", and so forth) or for their actions (Sam, anyone?), in this book we truly do get a sense of who each of them are. Furthermore, I enjoyed this book because David,  the main character in the first, played very little, to any, part in this book- in the previous book I did, at times, feel like he dragged the story down. For instance, never did I expect to become such a fan of Violet, leader of "The Sluts", who is more likely to shank you than shake your hand or Will, David's younger brother, who was such an utter douchenozzle to him for much of "The Loners". 

Furthermore, I did find much of this book to be much more believable than the previous- not constantly shaking my head in disbelief at was going on. That being said, I do think that the first 3/4 of the book were much stronger than the last 1/4- because, again, the ending did get a but far-fetched for my liking (not to mention, extremely gory- for me to notice that means that it has to be excessively gory).

All in all, I think that fans of this series will be more than happy with this latest installment. For those who haven't read the series before, I highly recommend it if you are fans of Michael Grant's "Gone" series or fast-paced, high octane, thrillers. Despite my complaints I will be continuing on with this series- I'm especially curious to see where Lex Thomas takes the storyline next, especially with the large revelation at the end of this novel.

Rating: 3/5 

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Quarantine: The Loners" by Lex Thomas

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 416

From Goodreads: "It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive."

When I was offered this book to read and review I jumped at the chance to do so- why? Because, being a big reader of dystopian/ post-apocalyptic books, it sounded quite unlike any other book I have ever read before (plus, I think that all of us have those fantasies as children, about what we'd do if we were to ever be locked down in our local school or mall during some apocalyptic event). However, I found that excitement waning, becoming almost non-existent, the more and more I read.

My largest complaint about this book is that I feel like much of the plot was simply thrown in for the shock value, rather than for any plot development (and there was just SO MUCH of it going on, to me, it felt akin to Michael Grant's "Gone" series, in my opinion). Furthermore, as a reader of fiction, I know that oftentimes we have to suspend disbelief about what is happening in a storyline, but there were just so many times while reading this book I couldn't help but roll my eyes thinking, "Really? REALLY? You're going to go there/ You really think that that would happen?" Last, I am fine with gore, it doesn't bother me, however, even I, found that there was an excessive amount in this book.

That being said, it becomes evident that the duo that is Lex Thomas have imaginations like no other- as mentioned, their writing style is not unlike Michael Grant, arguably one of YA's current most popular male authors. Furthermore, I obviously liked the book enough to finish it (however, I won't be rereading it, it's going on my "to give away" pile).

All in all, while this book didn't quite "do it" for me, much of the plot being too "out there" or "cracked out for my liking, I do think that it will appeal to a lot of other YA readers- especially as it is quite inclusive, appealing to both male and female readers, of all ages, equally. Furthermore, despite my criticisms, I am curious to continue on with the series, if only to see how it wraps up (or to see how even crazier the authors can take the storyline).

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 8, 2013

ARC Review: "In Too Deep" by Coert Voorhees

Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 336

From Goodreads: "Annie Fleet, master scuba diver and history buff, knows she can’t fight her nerd status as a freshman at her Los Angeles private school. And she doesn’t care—except for the fact that her crush, Josh, thinks she’s more adorable than desirable. Annie is determined to set him straight on their school trip to Mexico. But her teacher has other plans: he needs Annie to help him find Cortez’s lost-long treasure.

Suddenly, Annie finds herself scuba diving in p
itch-black waters, jetting to Hawaii with Josh, and hunting for the priceless Golden Jaguar. But Annie and Josh aren’t the only ones lured by the possibility of finding the greatest treasure ever lost at sea. Someone else wants the gold—and needs Annie dead. In deeper danger than she ever imagined, can Annie get the boy and find the Jaguar, or is she in over her head?

Critically-acclaimed author Coert Voorhees delivers breathtaking romance and non-stop action in his newest novel, the spirited and captivating In Too Deep."

If the movies "Sahara" and "Fool's Gold" were to have a lovechild, this book would be it. While this should excite me, having thoroughly enjoyed both movies, I couldn't help but wish that this book was more. I thought that this book looked a bit too much like it's mother and father than I would have liked, not having any quirky or unique features- features that were truly it's own, that neither one of its parents could lay claim to.

Another aspect about this book I find myself conflicted about is how technical it was when referring to scuba diving. On the one hand, I appreciate that Coert didn't "dumb down" any of the content, as seems to be the norm in YA literature, however, on the other hand, I oftentimes found myself overwhelmed with all of the talk of o-rings, pressure gauges, and whatnot- at times entirely skimming over those parts.

That being said, I did really enjoy Annie's voice (though I did at times find it unbelievable that she was only fifteen years old, sounding much, much older than that)- something that is often unheard of for me when it comes to female characters. Furthermore, I did like the secondary characters of this book, Annie's best friends especially, as I thought that they helped to really balance out her somewhat serious/ overly mature demeanor.

All in all, despite my complaints, I do think that this is a perfect beach read, for both male and female readers (especially those who are fans of the aforementioned movies). Also, I do appreciate that this book could go both ways- either being a standalone or being the first in a series, all loose ends, but one (which has  very little to any impact on the overall storyline), being tied together by the end of the novel.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"The Testing" by Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Houghton
Pages: 336

From Goodreads: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust."

Something that should be said of me? I hate when books are compared to best-sellers. Why? Because I feel that oftentimes there are very few to any similarities to the books (for instance, "The Selection" by Kiera Cass being marketed as "The Bachelor" meets "The Hunger Games")- that they are simply marketed as such for the sake of doing so. However, after having finished this book I cannot help but break my cardinal rule- comparing this book to one of the world's most popular YA books, "The Hunger Games".

I can't help but feel that the author knew that this book was going to be compared to "The Hunger Games" and yet she did nothing to rectify the fact/ make it march to the beat of its own drum. For instance, the world being divided into various districts (each of which is well known for excelling at something), creatures whose eyes shine humanity, mentors coming out of the most unlikely places, parcels from patrons which are quite literally the difference between life and death, and so forth. I think that had this book been more unique that it could very likely rise to the ranks of such best-sellers as the "The Hunger Games".

Another complaint I had about this book is Cia's voice- I found it to be devoid of any emotion. I thought that she was simply stating facts rather than truly engaging with anything around her- while reading her thoughts I couldn't help but be reminded of a tinny robot-voice narrating the book.

That being said, there were a number of twists in this book which truly made it for me- making me gasp aloud while reading of them/ keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Furthermore, I did enjoy the relationships that the characters were able to form- that between Michal/Cia and Cia/Tomas (preferring them tenfold over Peta and Katniss) especially.

All in all, while this book wasn't quite as unique as I had hoped that it would be, I did like it enough to finish it. I think that this book is perfect for those suffering from "The Hunger Games" withdrawal and will appeal to male and female readers alike! Furthermore, despite my complaints I do think that I will continue on with this series- if only just to see how it wraps up.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Confederates Don't Wear Couture" by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Graphia
Pages: 240

From Goodreads: "Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention. Confederates Don't Wear Couture is another hilarious, historical romp from Stephanie Kate Strohm!"

When I first received this book to read and review I was beyond excited as I did quite enjoy its predecessor, "Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink". I found "Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink" to be exactly what I needed at the time, a fun, flirty, and lighthearted read. However,  I must admit that I didn't like this book near as much as I did the previous.

My largest complaint about this book was lack of communication on the characters parts. Because the characters (Libby and Garrett, especially) lacked in communication, they were constantly jumping to conclusions- resulting in unnecessary (and frankly childish) results. Had the characters communicated with one another I don't think that 3/4 of this book would have existed.

That being said, I do appreciate the amount of research that Stephanie put into this book- I learned more about the Civil War (and its various battlefields) than I thought possible from a YA book. Furthermore, I do appreciate the humor in these books- humor stemming namely from Dev and from Cody (an overly cocky 14 year old with his eyes on Libby).

All in all, while this book didn't quite do it for me, I do think that those looking for a fun and quirky read (with a historical slant) will be more than happy with it. Furthermore, despite only being "meh" about it, I don't regret reading it as it did provide me with a few hours of entertainment- and I will read any future books that Stephanie may write in this series.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: "Origin" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Today I am excited to participate in the cover reveal of the fourth installment from one of my most favourite series- Jennifer L. Armentrout's "Origin"!

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive. 

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything. 
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

What are your thoughts? It's the tagline that personally did me in! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Rules of Summer" by Joanna Philbin

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 352

From Goodreads: "There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?"

Truth: I have a thing for books which take place in the Hamptons. Don't ask me why, I don't know. I just love 'em and consume them at a rate that is more than likely unhealthy. Therefore, when I stumbled across this book I knew that I had to read it. However, while this book started out exactly as I had hoped that it would, I slowly started to find my love for it wane more and more.

The biggest complaint I have about this book is that after having finished it I don't understand what its purpose was...? I couldn't help but feel that there was very little, to any, plot. And I found the synopsis of the book to be quite misleading- I was lead to believe that the "secrets" were entirely life-changing, perhaps not unlike those of "Pretty Little Liars", however, I personally found the secrets to be very tame, having guessed them all within the first hundred or so pages of the book.

Furthermore, I found the ending especially the last chapter or two, to be very rushed- characters did complete one-eighties within pages, completely contradicting the characters that they had been crafted to be. Additionally, we have insta-love. To the ninth degree. Only with a couple of interactions (all of which there were only a few words exchanged) characters are obsessing over one another.

That being said, I did appreciate that there was actual character growth in this book. While I had expected to hate Isabel, her being a stereotypical "privileged Hamptons girl", I couldn't help but grow to love her- loving the fact that she was able to look outside of the box that she had been confined to her entire life, seeing that there is so much more to life than manicured lawns, perfect parties, and drool-worthy clothing (and her attempts to bring her friends to the light).

All in all, I feel like there was a lot of build-up in this book, however the ending was unable to deliver. Overall I thought that it was "okay", but not enough that I will pick it up again. That being said, I do think that this is perfect for those looking for a quick, somewhat light-hearted beach read. Furthermore, despite my complaints I am curious to check out Joanna's other books (especially after learning that she is Regis Philbin's daughter).

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

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