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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"In the After" by Demitria Lunetta

Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 400

From Goodreads: "They hear the most silent of footsteps.They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta."

Without a doubt this book's biggest strength is its pacing- it is the epitome of a pageturner. I was quite literally almost finished it as soon as I started it (I think that its safe to say that I have never read a 400 page book so quickly before). That being said, I must admit that I wasn't originally a fan of Amy's parallel storylines, one told in the present, one told in the future. However, I slowly came to really like the two parallel stories, especially when they converged- the manner in which the story was told is quite unlike anything that I have seen in the world of young adult before.

The next biggest strength of this book was Amy and Baby's relationship- I have never read of two people who are in sync to the degree that they are before (even between those who are actual siblings). Dialogue as we know it is quite literally not needed in their relationship- a single look can be the key to an entire conversation. Furthermore, I did enjoy the secondary characters, Gareth and Kay especially (I am convinced that Kay may be one of the most kick-ass female characters we have ever seen in YA before).

That being said, my largest complaint about this book was the romance between Amy and Rice- I personally didn't think that it deliver, that it was quite forced and unconvincing. Furthermore, I wish that the story had been a bit more unique- it was a bit too obvious for my liking, a combination of a number of popular post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels that we have seen as of late.

All in all, despite my complaints I did enjoy this book more than a book that I know that it will be compared to over and over again, "The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey (mainly because I believe that this book didn't drag as much as that did). This book is perfect for those fans of fast paced action and adventure with it's "I Am Legend" meets "Independence Day" storyline. I personally will be continuing on with this series to see where Amy ends up on her journey and to learn more about Baby's mysterious past.

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, June 24, 2013

YA Crush Tourney: Team Etienne

As some of y'all may know, I've participated in YA Sisterhood's various tourneys over the last couple of years- and this year is no different! In this year's YA Crush Tourney I am representing Etienne St. Clair, from one of my most favourite novels, "Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins. And guess what? I need your help! Etienne is currently battling it out with Warner from Tahereh Mafi's "Shatter Me" (another one of my most favourite books/ book boys of all time). While I LOVE both boys, I would love it if you could head over to the tournament to vote for Etienne. Need some convincing? Keep reading- you'll learn everything you need to know about this crush-worthy boy! 

There's no doubt about it, the boy is as charming as they come (if not the most charming YA boy that you'll ever encounter). And what is perchance best about his charm is that it's real- it's not forced by any stretch of the imagination (no matter how little he may like someone). Along with that charm comes draw- people from every walk of life flock to him, he's a chameleon of sorts, able to fit in with (and get along with) everyone, while always staying true to himself. He's almost like a highly exciteable puppy dog, he'll be your best friend, he'll stick by your side no matter what, and you can always depend upon him.

If there was one word to describe Etienne it would be beautiful. That being said, the boy isn't beautiful in the typical sense, what we've come to expect from our YA boys. First? His hair, messy and long and short at the  same time. Not unlike Beatles hair. Or artist hair. Or musician hair. Olympic winning hair. His eyes are big and brown- the type of eyes that you wouldn't mind falling into. The type of eyes that make your heart stutter when they lock with yours. The type of eyes that convey his every emotion, telling you exactly how he feels. His lovely smile- straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of an overbite. He's short- perfect for those tiny folk and a match for those who aren't as vertically challenged. The accent (because accents saturate every aspect of a person, no?)- 100% English and 100% ).

His ability to express his feelings like no other- namely in the form of poetry (in this case, poetry by Pablo Neruda- Google some of his poetry. Though, fair warning, you may injury yourself from the swoonage that you are guaranteed to experience). His ability to 'take one for the team', making himself look like a fool in order to make one of his friends feel better (have you read the deleted socceer scene from the book?). His ability to step out of the limelight, letting you be the center of attention- YOU pick what you do on your adventure, YOU to get whatever it is that is bothering you off of your chest, and so forth). The ability to make the best out of any situation (can't go home for Thanksgiving? That's okay!).

Special Attributes/Best Qualities
Accent + Banana charm + THE HAT + book of poems + crooked smile + confidence + realness = Etienne St. Clair AKA YA Crush Tourney Champion Potential

Anything else?
Special thanks goes out to the wonderful ladies of the YA Sisterhood (and all of their partners) for all of the hard work that they do in the organizing of this tournament- they are truly rockstars!

Oh, and this:
“We are kissing like crazy. Like our lives depend on it. His tongue slips inside my mouth, gentle but demanding, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced, and I suddenly understand why people describe kissing as melting because every square inch of my body dissolves into his. My fingers grip his hair, pulling him closer. My veins throb and my heart explodes. I have never wanted anyone like this before. Ever.

He pushes me backward and we’re lying down, making out in front of the children with their red balloons and the old men with their chess sets and the tourists with their laminated maps and I don’t care, I don’t care about any of that.

All I want is √Čtienne.

The weight of his body on top of mine is extraordinary. I feel him—all of him—pressed against me, and I inhale his shaving cream, his shampoo, and that extra scent that’s just . . . him. The most delicious smell I could ever imagine.

I want to breathe him, lick him, eat him, drink him. His lips taste like honey. His face has the slightest bit of stubble and it rubs my skin but I don’t care, I don’t care at all. He feels wonderful. His hands are everywhere, and it doesn’t matter that his mouth is already on top of mine, I want him closer closer closer.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

"PODs" by Michelle K. Pickett

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 312

From Goodreads: "Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul. 

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure."

When I first heard the premise of "PODs" I was immediately intrigued at it has been a situation that I had given a fair amount of consideration to- having to live underground in a bunker due to some apocalyptic event (blame the National Geographic TV show "Doomsday Preppers"). That being said, when I did start to read the book I did find myself growing increasingly more and more skeptical- finding it to be fairly cheesy (the dialogue, especially). That being said, once the pacing of the story picked up, and I was able to better ground myself within it, I found said cheesiness to be a thing of the past.

I think that the biggest strength of this book was its ability to toy with emotions- admittedly I bawled my eyes out the first 30 pages of the book, something which is quite rare for me to do (while I have been known to tear up while watching TV, I can only count the number of times that I have while reading a book on one hand)- I think that author Michelle K. Pickett was able to accurately portray the feelings that Eva would have experienced in learning that she was one of few chosen to survive, while all of her friends and family members were not to.

Another element of the book that I enjoyed was the romance. While at time, as previously mentioned, it was a fair bit cheesy, I do appreciate that there was actual build-up to it- with Eva and David coming to know one another before forging a relationship, rather than jumping straight into it (as, unfortunately, happens fair too often in YA).

All in all, I highly recommend this book to fans of post-apocalyptic books as I do think that it brings something different to the table than we have seen before in the genre. Furthermore, I think that because it does offer a balance of action/ adventure and romance that it will appeal to a wide audience of readers. I personally can't wait to see what Michelle has in store for us next with the next installment of this series!

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, June 10, 2013

"Suddenly Royal" by Nicole Chase

Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Self-Pubbed
Pages: 464

From Goodreads: "Samantha Rousseau is used to getting her hands dirty. Working toward a master’s degree in wildlife biology while helping take care of her sick father, she has no time for celebrity gossip, designer clothes, or lazy vacations. So when a duchess from the small country of Lilaria invites her to dinner, Samantha assumes it’s to discuss a donation for the program. The truth will change the course of her life in ways she never dreamed.

Alex D’Lynsal is trying to keep his name clean. As crown prince of Lilaria, he’s had his share of scandalous headlines, but the latest pictures have sent him packing to America and forced him to swear off women—especially women in the public eye. That is, until he meets Samantha Rousseau. She’s stubborn, feisty, and incredibly sexy. Not to mention heiress to an estate in his country, which makes her everyone’s front-page news.

While Sam tries to navigate the new world of politics and wealth, she will also have to dodge her growing feelings for Alex. Giving in to them means more than just falling in love; it would mean accepting the weight of an entire country on her shoulders."

When I learned that this book was "The Princess Diaries" meets "The Prince and Me" I knew that I had to read it (those things being two of my most favourite things from my teenage years). However, after having finished it, I must admit that I don't think that it lived up to its potential in the slightest- not bringing anything new to the table.

My largest complaint of this book is that I felt that very little happened- not until the 92% mark did I feel like anything really happened. Essentially all the characters did when they arrived to Lilaria was hang out in the palace (and maybe an estate or two) and go out every now again (where they would be continuously hounded by paparazzi). Both of the characters had so many interesting things about themselves that I think that could have played huge roles, livening up the storyline, but didn't (for instance, Sam's graduate schooling).

Furthermore, I found that the characters descriptions were somewhat misleading. Alex is described as trying to "keep his name clean"- this implies that he is known for getting in trouble every now again, as we have seen so many royals struggle with over the years. However, that is anything but the case- he's a Prince Charming to the nth degree. I think that it would be better if he were a bit of a bad-boy as it would shake the storyline up a little bit. Sam wasn't much better, despite priding herself on being independent, she does fall for Alex almost as soon as she meets him.

All in all, as becomes evident, despite my complaints I did enjoy the book enough to finish it. That being said, I think that the few hours of escapism that it provided me with was fairly superficial (I know that days, if not hours, after finishing it I will remember very little of the storyline as nothing truly grabbed me about it)- it's a bit too similar to what's out there for my liking. That being said, I do think that Nicole's other books sound interesting, her "Flukes" and "Mortal Obligation" especially, and I will be adding them to my TBR pile.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Obsession" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Release Date: May 31, 2013
Publisher: Entangled
Pages: 370

From Goodreads: "He’s arrogant, domineering, and... To. Die. For.
Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something... unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?"

As Jennifer L. Armentrout's "Lux" series is one of my most favourite YA series, I was beyond excited when she announced that she was releasing an adult book set in the same world. I was further excited to learn that the book would be told from an Arum's perspective, us only having been previously familiarized with the Luxen's point of views. After having finished it I am glad that she made the decision to jump make the jump between the two genres (not the mention the two races), but overall I can't help but wish that it was more.

Admittedly I found Hunter and Serena to be far too like Daemon and Katy for my liking, him, arrogant, cocky, and domineering, her, doesn't take "no" for an answer, questions authority at every turn, and so forth. As such, I can't say that I like Hunter more than Daemon, as many others have professed, as I do find him to be a carbon copy, to a degree, of Daemon. I think that it would be interesting for her to write a softer or subdued male lead, perhaps not unlike Hunter's brother Lore.

Furthermore, while I did understand the foundation behind this world (the war between the Luxen and the Arum, the DoD and their control, the black-haired stranger with grass green eyes), I can't help but wonder if those who had not read her young adult series would be able to understand it quite as well. It seems to me that the world is much better explained/ ferreted out in her young adult series, whereas in this book it is more so superficial, not truly scratching the surface of all that there is.

That being said, as previously mentioned, I do appreciate the fact that she showed us an Arum's perspective. After meeting Hunter, seeing his struggles, seeing his growth, and whatnot, I can't help but question everything that I had ever thought of this world- clearly the Arum aren't the "bad guys" that we were always lead to believe that they are. Therefore, who are the bad guys, the DoD?

All in all, despite my complaints I did enjoy this book and I am excited by the prospect that this could perhaps be expanded into the series, should Jennifer choose to do so (after all, there are some very big revelations in this book, revelations which could very well destroy the world that we have come to love)!

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, June 3, 2013

"Secret for a Song" by S.K. Falls

Release Date: June 3, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published

From Goodreads: "Saylor Grayson makes herself sick. Literally.

She ate her first needle when she was seven. Now, at nineteen, she’s been kicked out of college for poisoning herself with laxatives. The shrinks call it Munchausen Syndrome. All Saylor knows is that when she’s ill, her normally distant mother pays attention and the doctors and nurses make her feel special.

Then she meets Drew Dean, the leader of a local support group for those with terminal diseases. When he mistakes her for a new member, Saylor knows she should correct him. But she can’t bring herself to, not after she’s welcomed into a new circle of friends. Friends who, like Drew, all have illnesses ready to claim their independence or their lives.

For the first time, Saylor finds out what it feels like to be in love, to have friends who genuinely care about her. But secrets have a way of revealing themselves. What will happen when Saylor’s is out?" 

This book is without a doubt the best self-published book that I can recall having ever read before- it becomes evident that author S.K. Falls did a lot of research into almost every element in this book, from the various illnesses that the characters had, to the impacts of alcoholism, and whatnot. Furthermore, this is also one of the most unique New Adult novels that I have read to date- it truly is a beacon in the genre, in my opinion, not following any of the tropes that many of us have begun to tire of (broken girl haunted by her past, stemming from an encounter from a male, bad-boy male, covered in tattoos and snark, who quickly sweeps her off of her feet in their love/ hate relationship, the eventual falling into one another's bed, where they stay for much of the novel, the girl's secrets being revealed, tearing them apart, them coming back together in an almost perfect way). That being said, despite my praise, I don't find myself as grabbed as I had hoped to.

I personally can't pinpoint exactly what it is that I find off with this book, I'm not quite sure if it was too hyped for my liking, therefore resulting in me being a bit disappointed in it (almost every reader who I know who is somewhat critical has given it 5 stars), if it were a bit too short for me to draw any real connection to it (despite it being near 500 pages, you will fly through it, devouring it within a few hours)- not once actually having the opportunity to feel the FEELS (something that is essentially unheard of for me), if it hit too clsoe to home, or something else (perhaps outside influences impacting my opinion). 

Another strength of this book, which should not be overlooked, are the secondary characters. They are second to none- some of the best secondary characters that I can recall having read in a long time. While they don't get too much of a spot in the limelight I do think that each of their personalities was well ferreted out, Zee especially. 

For me, personally, it has all of the makings of the perfect New Adult novel, however, it doesn't quite deliver on that promise- however, I think that other New Adult fans will be extremely satisfied with it- especially those fans of "heavier" New Adult novels (those not for the faint of heart), such as "Hopeless" by Colleen Hoover or "The Sea of Tranquility" by Katja Millay. After having finished this S.K. has risen to the top of my "Must Read" authors list and I will be reading her previous releases ("Fevered Souls" and "World of Shell and Bone") and any future books that she may pen. 

Rating: 3/5

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

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