Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

By: Jennifer Rush
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Genre/Age: YA Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev… and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab – not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Altered is a wonderfully unique adventure that barely slows down from start to finish. It took a little while for me to really get into it, partly because it is so different, but once things got going I couldn’t help but get invested in Anna and her relationship with the four boys. It was a really fun dynamic to have one girl with four guys, and I really loved that Anna could hold her own with them. No damsels in distress to be found here!

There were several things that I predicted right from the beginning, which caused a lot of frustrated yelling at the characters for not realizing things sooner, but I actually enjoy getting that emotional about a book. And there were a few twists that I absolutely didn’t see coming, which was fantastic.

Altered doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but things are left open enough for the possibility of a sequel, and I would love to find out more about the Branch and their experiments. If you’re looking for a fresh sci-fi story that will pull you, and especially if you’re a fan of the TV show Nikita, I would definitely recommend Altered.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

By: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours & NetGalley

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed, and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way – people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

I absolutely adored Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, and I was so excited to read Speechless. And while I don’t think that Speechless had quite as much magic for me as Saving June did, I still loved it and can highly recommend it.

At times, Speechless was incredibly difficult for me to read. The incident at the beginning that sets everything in motion was real and painful and I actually had to put the book down for a while and walk away. Which, even though it made me vaguely nauseous, is a great thing, because I love it when a book can affect me on that level.

On a related note, I really disliked Chelsea at the beginning and honestly doubted whether or not I would ever be able connect with her and root for her. This is usually a deal-breaker for me, because if I can’t connect to the main character it’s not likely that I’ll be able to enjoy their story. But Chelsea’s development throughout the novel was really well done, and Hannah Harrington did a great job at making it feel gradual and realistic. The Chelsea at the end of the book is still recognizable as the girl from the start; she still has flaws and issues to work out, but she does a lot of growing in between. I do have to admit though, I definitely liked her better when she wasn’t speaking.

However, I did love all the supporting characters in a way that I never really loved Chelsea, and they really made the novel for me. They’re all incredibly well-developed, and they managed to worm their way into my heart even with the minimal amount of page time they got.

Overall, Speechless is an engrossing and wonderfully written novel about one girl’s path to realizing what is really important in life. It will make you cringe, it will make you laugh, and it will make you think. I devoured it all in one sitting and I can’t wait for Hannah Harrington’s next book!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

By: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Sci-Fi Time Travel
Pages: 384
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate – and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction.

I went into Time Between Us expecting something like a YA Time Traveler’s Wife, and while there are definitely similar elements, this is a much different story. In Time Between Us the time travel aspect felt like it came second to the love story, which still makes for a sweet book but left me wanting a little more in terms of complications and obstacles due to the time travel. And I couldn’t help but question the logic of some of Bennett’s actions and decisions.

This is not to say that there aren’t any time travel shenanigans, because there definitely are and I truly enjoyed some of them. I especially loved some of Anna and Bennett’s first interactions. There is also an emphasis on the consequences and responsibilities of time travel, which I thought added a great layer. Is it okay to go back in time and change things? How much is too much? Although I will say that it bugged me a little that Bennett was willing to bend his rules for Anna even though she clearly had less experience with it than he did. Man, that boy was whipped. Haha.

If you’re a fan of time travel romance but the complexities of time travel tend to give you a headache, Time Between Us is the perfect book for you. The time travel is fun and easy to understand and you won’t be able to help getting swept up in the whirlwind romance of Anna and Bennett’s story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney

By: Flynn Meaney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

It’s all about supply and demand when a high school deals with the sudden exodus of male students.

The boy recession has hit Julius P. Heil High, and the remaining boys find that their stock is on the rise: With little competition, even the most unlikely guys have a good chance at making the team and getting the girl.

Guitar-strumming, class-skipping Hunter Fahrenbach never wanted to be a hot commodity, but the popular girls can’t help but notice his unconventional good looks. With a little work, he might even be boyfriend material.

But for down-to-earth Kelly Robbins, the boy recession is causing all sorts of problems. She has secretly liked her good friend Hunter for a while now, but how can she stand out in a crowd of overzealous Spandexers?

As if dating wasn’t hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

I was immediately interested in reading The Boy Recession when I heard about it, mainly because my college had a similar male-female ratio (Okay, maybe not quite the same, but it sure felt like it sometimes!), and it sounded like a fun story that I could totally relate to. Having read it, I can say that I wasn’t really blown away, but it was sweet, cute story that I enjoyed reading.

My favorite thing about it was definitely the humor; there were several moments that had me smiling and giggling out loud. I loved the chapter headings in particular, taken from the school’s online newspaper. Some of my favorites:

“Popularity of Plaid Shorts Plummets as Preppies Flee Julius”
“Senior Girls Lobby to Take Over, Convert to Lounge Boys’ Bathroom in South Hallway”
“Cougars Among Us: Julius Juniors and Their Freshman Boy Toys”

The characters felt like SUCH typical teenagers: the boys weren’t drop-dead gorgeous and mysterious, they were juvenile and dumb and often pretty gross. Which isn’t what you always want to read about, of course, but it totally fit with this story. The stakes weren’t end-of-the-world high, everything was pretty chill, and everyone was just generally concerned with normal high school stuff, mainly whatever gossip was new in the dating scene. And there is a sweet, heartwarming happy ending that will for sure put a smile on your face.

A whole year passes in the book, and we generally just get flashes of scenes and hear about other things that happened in between chapters. This was a little jarring at first, but once I got used to it I enjoyed it. It made the book feel like a lot like a year of high school – when you look back you don’t remember every single day, but you remember the year in terms of the important events, those bigger moments when things changed – and I feel like that was really captured well with The Boy Recession.

This isn’t necessarily the kind of book that you can’t put down, that you’re dying to read every chance you get, but it’s a nice, easy read, and I’d recommend it for anyone looking to just chill out and head back to high school for a couple of hours.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cover Reveal: Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

I'm so excited that the cover of Miranda Kenneally's third book has been released! I loved both Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker (my review will be posted soon!), and I can't wait to read Things I Can't Forget.

I love the cover! It's gorgeous, and I'm a big fan of continuity in series and companion books, so I love how much all three of her covers compliment each other. (Not going to lie, part of me hopes that the title changes so that it matches the other two as well. :P)

Things I Can't Forget comes out April 2013, but you don't have to wait that long to get another taste of Miranda's awesome storytelling - Stealing Parker will be released on October 1st!

What do you think of the cover? Are you excited about Stealing Parker?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #49

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release that we’re eagerly anticipating. Let the salivating commence.

My pick this week:

Send Me a Sign
By: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: October 2, 2012


Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose.

From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.

Why I’m Waiting: I looooove books that deal with tough issues like this. And I LOVE best friend stories. So excited for this one!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share in the comments and I’ll come visit!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

By: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary (older YA)
Pages: 320
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business – until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers – and the consequences could be deadly.

It’s no secret that I ADORE Jennifer Echols. And whenever I’m asked which book is my favorite, I say The Boys Next Door pretty much automatically, because it is. But overall, between her romantic comedies and her romantic dramas, my heart melts a little more for her dramas. SO. What does this have to do with Such a Rush, you wonder?

To me, Such a Rush felt like the perfect combination of The Boys Next Door and her romantic dramas. Some of my favorite elements of The Boys Next Door are there: a girl getting caught up in the drama between two brothers, fake relationships, real fights, and more secrets than anyone knows what to do with… But it has that mature, intense feel of her dramas, both in terms of actual content (we all know Jennifer can write a steamy love scene like nobody’s business), and in terms of motivations and consequences. This isn’t just fun, high school fluff, this is real life, and the tension (sexual and otherwise :P) that Jennifer builds is fantastic.

And through it all is that signature style of sass and humor that she does so well and that I am so in love with. One of my favorite lines, and I’m not even sure why it stuck with me so much, is after a helicopter unexpectedly lands at the airport and a group gets out and heads toward Leah and the other people working at the airport:

“The lieutenant leading the group was a tall blond. I couldn’t tell for sure since he was wearing mirrored shades, but I thought he was boyishly handsome, like Alec. He came straight for me because, dressed in a bikini top, I was obviously in charge of this airport.”

HA! The whole book is full of that snarky kind of humor. I love it.

And if you’ve ever harbored any kind of secret desire to become a pilot, Such a Rush will completely hit the spot and make you look up the nearest flight school. Both the emotional and the practical details of flying a plane were incredible; I felt like I was right there with Leah every step of the way. Oh, and going to prom in a limo? Officially not cool enough. (No offense to any limo-goers out there.)

I absolutely LOVE Such a Rush. Jennifer Echols has totally outdone herself and this is possibly my new favorite from her. I’m so excited for her next book (as always) but at the same time I just want to bask in the awesomeness of this one. Such a Rush has characters that will wrap you around their little fingers and make you care SO MUCH about them, drama that will make you laugh, cheer, and growl in frustration, sexy times that will make you sigh and swoon, and a last line that will put a smile on your face and (if you’re as emotional as I am) a tear in your eye.

You MUST read this book. This is contemporary at its finest, folks, right here. <3

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #48

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release that we’re eagerly anticipating. Let the salivating commence.

My pick this week:

Let The Sky Fall
By: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 5, 2013


Van Weston should have died in the category five tornado that killed his parents. Instead, he woke up in a pile of rubble with no memories of his past – except one: a beautiful, dark-haired girl standing in the winds. She’s swept through his dreams ever since, and he clings to the hope that she’s real.

Audra is real, but she isn’t human. She’s a sylph, an air elemental who can walk on the wind, translate its alluring songs, even twist it into a weapon. She’s also a guardian – Vane’s guardian – and has sworn an oath to protect him at all costs.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra has just days to help Vane unlock his memories. And as the storm winds gather, they start to realize the greatest danger might not be the warriors coming to destroy them, but the forbidden romance growing between them.

Set amongst the desert airstreams of Coachella Valley in California, Let the Sky Fall is about two teenagers broken by their pasts, divided by their futures, and bound by love.

Why I’m Waiting: This book sounds so incredible! Although the early reviews are actually making me even more excited than the summary. One in particular compares it to both Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road and Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. If that’s not intriguing I don’t know what is.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share in the comments and I’ll come visit!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

By: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary (recommended for older YA)
Pages: 395
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them… until one summer evening Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own – even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Oh my goodness, I looooooooooved this book. It is an absolutely amazing debut and definitely stands out among YA contemporaries. To be honest, I was expecting a pretty standard story, but Huntley Fitzpatrick blew me away and I got so much more than that. I read it as part of an ARC tour and almost didn't sign up for it, but I'm soooooo glad I did. I barely put the book down once I started, and after I finished I kept wishing that I was still reading it.

The Garretts are, hands-down, my favorite part of the story. They are such a wonderful family and I fell completely in love with them almost instantly. (Especially the darling four-year-old George. Can I please please have a George in my life??). I adore stories about big, loving families (the Weasleys, anyone?), and this is no exception. From the minute Sam entered their world I was grinning like a fool pretty much the whole time. I want to have a large family myself (although I think I’m planning to stop at six kids, haha), and this book totally reaffirmed that desire. The craziness and love is just portrayed so perfectly. I also really love the contrast with Sam’s own family; how she escapes into the world of the Garretts and finds a whole new life for herself. I loved watching her grow as a result of her interactions with a family so different than her own.

And the romance! Oh my. The romance in this story is so achingly sweet. Sam and Jase are ADORABLE. I felt like they had such a mature relationship, which was a really refreshing change from the silly drama that seems to be present in so many other high school romance stories. I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled certain situations, and many times I could be found clutching the book to my chest in happiness. And although the focus of the book is on Jase and Sam, I would be remiss not to also mention Nan, Sam’s best friend, and her brother Tim, both of whom I loved – the story would not be complete without them.

I knew from the blurb that there was going to be some kind of Bad Event, and once I got a little more than halfway through the book I started anxiously anticipating. I had several predictions about what might happen (and was very nervous for the safety and happiness of all my beloved characters), but I absolutely didn’t see it coming. It’s a shocking and heart wrenching twist, and it makes the story that much more compelling. My heart ached for Sam, but at the same time it allowed for some really wonderful moments between her and various other characters, as well as for her own personal development. There were just a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little more before the book ended, but they were fairly minor.

My Life Next Door is a beautifully written story that captures a summer romance perfectly. Your emotions will be all over the place and you will love it. This is one of my new favorite contemporaries and I am so so excited to read more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. If you’re a fan of authors like Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, or Sarah Ockler, you WILL NOT want to miss this book.

And just as a final note, I read this in February, but it happened to be a rare 80 degree day and I just went outside and sat in the grass and ate a popsicle and enjoyed the sun and read nonstop and it was SO PERFECT. I’m so glad this is coming out in June, because it is JUST the thing for an amazing summer read. You can feel the heat coming off the pages. Take it poolside with you, you won’t be sorry.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blog Tour: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill (Review)

By: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Western SciFi
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from NetGalley and Bloomsbury

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord… but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Dead Reckoning is everything I would hope for from a steampunk zombie western: it’s fun, action-packed, and best of all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’re looking for a zombie novel that won’t keep you up late at night, then look no further!

The highlight of the novel for me was definitely the three protagonists. Jett, who disguises herself as a tough male gunslinger; Honoria, who isn’t afraid to travel the Wild West as a solo female; and White Fox, an Army scout who was raised by Indians. They are all wonderfully charismatic and fleshed-out characters and watching their interactions was truly hilarious and enjoyable. Honoria and Jett were particularly entertaining together.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill have created a wonderful world for this adventure: part Wild Wild West, part steampunk, and part zombie. It’s such a fun and unique combination, and you’re sure to enjoy the ride. Dead Reckoning seems to leave the door open for future escapades, and I, for one, can’t wait to hop on board again! Recommended for anyone in the mood for an engaging, zombie-lite novel, Dead Reckoning is not to be missed!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

By: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 398
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong – the Reduction – decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliott North has always known her place in the world. Four years ago Elliott refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliott’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Malakai Wentworth – and almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliott exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliott soon discovers her old friend carries a secret – one that could change their society… or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

I have been anticipating this book ever since I first heard about it ages ago, and I was so eager to get my hands on a copy. Stories about childhood friends or sweethearts that are separated and then reunited years later (or ‘reunion romance’ as my tag on Goodreads calls them) are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. I cannot even tell you. So I was thrilled when For Darkness Shows the Stars totally delivered and I LOVED it.

The world that Diana Peterfreund has created is so interesting and different. I would have loved to have more background information about how the Reduction came about and how everything happened, but the story didn’t feel like it was lacking at all without that extra information. It also didn’t feel like she was trying too hard to create this incredibly unique post-apocalyptic world, if that makes any sense. These days I feel like so many dystopian-type stories are trying so hard to be the next big “thing” and I didn’t get that feeling from For Darkness Shows the Stars, which I definitely appreciated. It just felt very naturally original and appealing.

Elliott and Kai are both absolutely brilliant and incredibly frustrating at the same time. I loved each of their journeys as individual characters, and I definitely loved them together. This is my favorite kind of love story, you guys. The tension between them is palpable; you feel everything they’re going through so much. They’ve had a difficult history together, and Kai is just harsh enough with Elliott for it to be perfect. I will say that the romantic in me wanted a little more of the lovey-dovey stuff (yeah, I’m a sap), but honestly it didn’t even matter, I still loved it. And the whole story is peppered with letters that Kai and Elliott wrote to each other as they were growing up, which was a wonderfully sweet window into their back story and really allowed the reader to see their growth and maturation.

I haven’t read Persuasion, so I can’t really comment on its relationship with For Darkness Shows the Stars, but I can say that I will most definitely be reading it after this. I love the idea of a futuristic take on an originally historical setting, and I can’t wait to read the story that inspired Diana to write this amazing book! Whether or not you’re a fan of Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a unique and emotional read, and I highly recommend it.
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