Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker (ARC)

Ashes to Ashes (Ashes to Ashes #1) by Melissa Walker
Katherine Tegan (Harper Teen), 356 pages
Expected US Release Date: December 23, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours
- thank you!

When Callie's life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.
-------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
…it's such an abstract concept. Reaching out feels so much more natural to me.
There is one main thing that I think a person should know going into reading Ashes To Ashes: this is a duet. There will be a second book! I had absolutely no idea when I read it, I thought it was a standalone—but as I crept closer and closer to the end of the book, I started thinking, “Hmmm…all these questions and still ninety BILLION questions?!” And I remember thinking good heavens there BETTER be a second book, else I’m not even going to bother rating this it infuriates me so much! (Book blogger threats. They’re real.)

So, PHEW on that front. Knowing that, I definitely like this book the more I think about it. When I first closed it, I thought it was a bit odd, and unsatisfying, and that there were too many questions without answers. And while I do still think there weren’t enough answers, it wasn’t enough to put me off from wanting to pick up Book 2.

I’m not a big paranormal person, so I was a bit iffy going into this novel. I haven’t quite figured out my feelings on ghosts and the paranormal happenings in life; and I have even less experience in my books. But I like Melissa Walker, I adore most of her contemporaries that I’ve read and I thought this would be a good way to get into it. And I’m glad to say I gave it a shot!

The concept of the Prism is pretty interesting to me, I like that we try to help our loved ones get over our death. I found that delightfully satisfying and fulfilling, and I kind of hope that is the real reason ghosts haunt. Not their own unfinished business, but the unfinished business of helping someone else. I loved the personal ghost prisms they each had too, the concept of why they’re built as they are and that it’s an area for them to recharge. Kinda made me wonder what my personal prism would look like (as vaguely morbid as that seems). And I quite enjoy the little bits of humor and puns regarding life/death/having a life in death.

I have to admit that there are still some predictable parts, that I knew why Callie could feel and still had her memories and emotions as a ghost—that seemed pretty easy to figure out, and that definitely influenced how I felt about certain scenes where that affecting things. It took away some surprise to the book, but there were still enough moments for me to overlook that.

I found I really liked most of the characters, too. Carson was a great friend, I loved how into the spirit world she is and how she connects with all that. She was a fantastic friend to Callie, even after she was gone, and I started hoping that my friends were like her. Nick is…well. He was probably my least favourite of the good characters, but I didn’t particularly not like him. He felt mostly incomplete to me, like I was given him as a part to the story without explanation or real connection. Leo was creepy. He was so, so creepy. Written well, and a great character, but like Callie, I would shiver and dread every time he showed up on the page. The entire idea of some ghosts existing who did not want to move out of the Prism and into Solus was dark and scary; and Leo just took it to an extreme. That’s some great writing where I would hate seeing his name on a page.

I am SO FREAKIN’ CURIOUS. Omg. There are so many questions, and I don’t have answers, and omg you guys I NEED THEM. Why was Nick going to…well, you know. What is going on with Carson? Who is H? Why is Thatcher so freakin’ hot and amazing and man aliiiiiiiiive do I want that ghost. The book ended fairly well in terms of leaving you satisfied enough for the book but wanting more.

Last, random thing: I love the title font on the cover. I really, really draw towards the first “Ashes” being different than the last “ashes.” I don’t quite know why, but I know I really loved it.

3.5 stars

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr (ARC)

Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr
Little, Brown BYR, 288 pages
Expected US Release Date: December 24, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: New Adult Challenge, Contemporary Challenge, Stand Alone Challenge

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.
----------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
After a few days passed and the sting of it all started to fade, I realized something: if two or three of the most important people in your life are telling you something and you are resisting it with everything you have, there is a distinct possibility that what they are saying is true. That you are wrong and just don’t want to admit it.

When I first read the premise of this book, immediately I tried to recall how I introduced myself to my first college roommate. Did we email incessantly? Did we talk at all? First year of college seems like it was ages ago (in reality it’s only 8 for me), but I barely remember contacting my roommate before we eventually moved in together. Times were different back then, sure; this was back when Facebook was still, and you still had to have a verified college email to join it and you were only in your college network. ANCIENT, I know. I know I emailed my roommate before (I’ll call her Emcee for the sake of this); and Emcee and I discussed the usual fridge/microwave situation. We may have even discussed colours (though I doubt it, since hers was every shade of purple possible whereas I was strictly blue. I don’t think we’d have coordinated to look like a bruise). But beyond that? Emcee and I remained a mystery until we shared a 10x10 cube.

After reading Roomies, I think that may have been the best idea! Sure, neither of us are as extreme as EB or Lauren (we were both from California (me from Southern California, her from NorCal), but we definitely would have meddled in each other’s lives.

The point of this ginormous walk down my memory lane is that Roomies made me reminisce like crazy. Which is hilarious, since my first roommate and I weren’t (and aren’t) particularly close…we’re Facebook acquaintances at best, and have been since second year of college. But there was such an edge of familiarity throughout all of EB’s and Lauren’s correspondence that made me miss all my college days and friends. Dormmates and roommates and friends alike.

Both girls had endlessly dramatic summers, and I was so swept up trying to keep up with both of them. I wanted to be able to give each of them advice at the same time as listening to what the other was saying with everything I had. I love that both girls are different – but going through such similarly opposite things. Family, but one has an endless amount while the other lacks it. Boys, the problems and fresh starts. Leaving, which could mean growing up or just moving (or perhaps a bit of both). I sincerely wish I’d had this book when I was going through college, because I think I could have found a few sorely needed friends within it.

So, here’s something I’m a bit ashamed to say: I’ve never read any books by either Sara Zarr or Tara Altebrando. I own several by both-but never actually read. So it might not mean much when I say I can’t tell who wrote what parts, but that’s the truth of it – both girls are distinct from each other, but the style is so flawless throughout the entire book I would never have thought two people wrote this book. I still have no idea if one took the character of the other, or if they worked on both together…there’s a fluidity in each that makes you fly through the pages.

And I do have to say, having read Roomies, I definitely want to read those books by Sara and Tara now – I’ve heard how amazing they both are, and this just reinforces what I’ve heard, for sure.

While I was reading this book, I know it’s a solid 4.5 star – though I can’t quite pinpoint why it’s not 5. Perhaps because it is quite serious; there are some funny parts, but it’s so dramatic and insular upon itself that I think I would have liked a few more parts to lighten it up. For them to really become friends through good, rather than through their problems. I know that’s how a lot of us bond together, but sometimes I just wanted them to discover they both like to rock climb, you know?

I did love their little Yes/No/Maybe to what they were bringing to college in most of their emails. Such a fantastic little touch that really gave a great movement to the story in such little bites.

Roomies was spectacularly done, with that new friendship to keep you riveted and the same raw familiarity of struggling to connect and understand a person in your life. There’s emotion and connection, both on the pages and when you read, and I can’t help but think this is one of the better reads of 2013…and perhaps ever.
4.5 Stars

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (ARC)

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Putnam Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin), 256 pages
US Release Date: October 3, 2013
Format/Source: Print ARC, Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: Contemporary Challenge, Standalone Challenge

Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff's latest novel is a gorgeous and unforgettable page-turner about the relationship between parents and children, love and loss.

Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.
------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
And so, perhaps, when I say I long to be a pane of glass, I am lying. I long for partial obscurity at the same time that I long for someone to know me.
It is confusing and difficult being me.
I've only read one other of Meg Rosoff's books (There Is No Dog - click to read my review!), but I'm fairly certain her books are ones that will remain in your memory. There such a unique take to everything; the story, the personalities, the situations...I feel like this book is something I've never really seen together at once, and I love that.

There is a sadness that permeates this entire novel. It weaves itself into all the worlds, all the settings and thoughts. It's not overwhelmingly sad like how I felt while reading Safekeeping by Karen Hesse, but there's a distinct melancholy. Something that makes me feel like I'm searching for a lost cause. And while that's perfect in terms of the actual story and what Mila and Gil are doing, sometimes I had to close the book just to breathe and remember the world is, in fact, ok.

Picture Me Gone isn't so much of a coming-of-age book; but more a losing-your-innocence book. It's having to grow up, of having to face adult decisions and consequences, while learning there is a darkness to people and sides that we try to hide. It's a little heartbreaking to be in Mila's head as she learns to wrap her thoughts around the darkness hidden in people, but at the same time it makes you love her more and want to wrap her in a hug and protect her. There's a sense of pride I have for her, too, that she's able to process all that she and Gil learn about her father's friend, that she understands these are the life lessons she's been told most her life she'll have to understand when she's older.

Seriously up for discussion: what did you think of Meg Rosoff not using quotation marks? Of not making the distinction of dialogue and who exactly was speaking? I personally found it intriguing and a good choice. It feels a little more like being in a 12-year-olds head. Plus, I felt like we followed the story a little better and that we really got into the rhythm of the plot. To know who is speaking to whom, you have to follow closely, and I feel like without the quotes it let us fall into it a little more. But still...anyone hate it? Think it was too weird?

There are so many different personalities in this book, and I found myself being pulled almost equally to all of them. Even when some of the personalities aren't necessarily good ones, there's something distinct, endearing almost, about all of them. I loved that Gil is quiet and spare, his words measured and his thoughts logical. I adore Mila and her ability to read situations, because sometimes I feel just like her: seeing too much from so little and feeling like it's a punishment and a power. Matthew and Suzanne are not made to be positive characters, but there's something to both that you see a bit of people you love in them. They make you clench your fist as you put your arm around their shoulders, you know? And I found the element of Mila's best friend, Catlin, to be interesting. I like how their relationship as children still mirrored adult situations, how a friendship made when they were so young and doing childish things can still teach her lessons about being an adult and growing up. Even though I think Catlin is ultimately a negative in Mila's life, I can appreciate the positives she catalyzes.

I know I've said a lot of things that are dark or sad, but there's actually a lot of love and sweetness throughout this entire book, too. A lot of it is from family - Marieka and Gil especially - and the trust and belief we have in them. There's moments of comfort and happiness. While I don't really like Honey's devotion to Matthew, it's still something that makes you smile amidst the rest of the confusion. It's nice to know that even though there's questions and deception all around, there can also be true loyalty and an unfailing love.

Picture Me Gone is a serious book, with serious lessons and sweet moments (Jake!) interspersed. It is a book meant to make you think, to consider humanity and personality and who we are to others. It is one that makes you think of the darkness you hide, the secrets you keep hidden, and the why to all of it. But there's also enough in here that reminds you of those people you hold close, of the ones who do bring you hope and light the way in darkness.

3.5 Stars

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusic (ARC)

Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick
Candlewick Press, 400 pages
US Release Date: September 10, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: Stand Alone, Contemporary Challenge

Hollywood glitz collides with workingclass aspirations in this satirical tale of an impulsive starlet and a sharp-witted small-town teen.

Cherry Kerrigan loves her simple life, her family’s tiny trailer, even working at Burrito Barn. Forget college — she’s marrying her sweetheart from next door. But here comes Ardelia Deen, a glamorous starlet who sweeps Cherry into a world of fast cars and penthouse parties. Now Cherry’s small-town life just seems so . . . small. When Ardelia drops a bomb of an offer — one involving a baby — Cherry knows her life will change forever, no matter what she decides. John M. Cusick focuses his signature wit on Hollywood royalty and the wide-eyed dreams of Small Town, U.S.A. in a novel about discovering who you are . . . and changing your mind.
-------------------------Goodreads summary

I’m not sure this book was anything like I expected, though I have absolutely no idea what I initially expected! It sounds like it’s going to be a predictable novel about a trashy white girl who suddenly gets exposed to the big, wide world and how it messes up her life. And sure, I guess you could trivialise it down to that if you really wanted – but it’s actually SO much more. It’s about who you are because of where you are, because of what you are, because of all the things you never knew you could be. It’s about society and exposure, celebrity culture and “normal” culture.

I have to be upfront about this: I didn’t really like Cherry. As a person, that is; Cherry as a character was fantastic. She’s so strong and distinct, and I suspect unlike any other YA protagonist. She’s different, and she revels in it. That part is pretty awesome. But her personality grated at me. She was just so…stubborn. Maybe I didn’t like it because I’m stubborn too, I don’t know. I did like her family though, and how loyal she was to them and Lucas. As much as I can whine about her, I can say that there are endearing traits as well.

I did, however, love Ardelia, and not just because I love her name so much. She was flighty and fabulous, just the right amount of over-the-top celebrity characterization mixed with a real person. She is someone I’d love to get swept up in and taken on adventures with all over the city. I don’t question how she and Cherry fall in together; Ardelia had that wonderful sense of just accepting anything and rolling with everything presented to her. Very early on (the candy scene, actually), I knew I’d love her.

Even though the entire book itself was unexpected, I have to admit that some of the storyline itself was a bit…predictable? Not in a premonition, I know what will happen the moment I read the opening line way. But it just seemed a little sensible what was going to happen, once you found out it would. (I have no idea if that makes sense to anyone who hasn’t read this. Disregard if you’re staring at the screen like I’m a big ball of crazy right now.) I do love how the book is split into essentially 3 sections of Cherry, Money and Baby. It really made a great tone and flow for the story.

Cherry Money Baby is a surprising read, one that will touch your heart at the same time as making you laugh out loud. There’s tons of adventure, a little bit of heartbreak and suspense, and a whole lot of fun. And the best part? Cherry’s potty mouth. Damn if I love some good foul language in a book.

3 Stars

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: 45 Pounds (more or less) by KA Barson (ARC)

45 Pounds by KA Barson
Viking Juvenile (Penguin), 264 pages
US Release Date: July 11, 2013
Source/Format: ARC via Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: Contemporary Challenge, SARC

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!
-------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote

I'm still not at my ideal weight. I didn't lose forty-five pounds before the wedding. Who knows if I ever will. I've lost twenty-seven and a half pounds, and that's better than nothing. Somehow, though, today I'm thinking more about what I've gained than what I've lost.

This seemed like such an interesting premise, especially for a YA book – we all know obesity has become a big problem, but I feel like it’s not ever so frankly tackled in the literary world. As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to read it.

And I knew I had personal ties to it. I’ve been overweight since I was 9. I’ve literally been 5’3” since the 3rd grade, and I started growing my “womanly curves” at the same time. Since then, it’s just been a steady increase in width, even though I never got the height to go with it. I don’t diet, ever, for reasons too personal for a book review; but the struggles that Ann goes through? I know them. They are mine. They are things I face daily, I will continue to face daily no matter what I do or how many numbers my size decreases. They’re constant and consistent, no matter what we do.

So of course, as predicted, sometimes I had to put this book down because it was too many of my own insecurities out for the world to see. Those are private thoughts, you know? And now they’re here. But at the same time, I think that’s what made me love this book more, because I finally feel like there’s someone who understands and I know I’m not alone. I sincerely wish I’d had this book in high school, because it would have helped. And even still, at 26, I’m so glad to have this in my life now because I still feel like this, 10 years later.

Taking this out of the personal ties, I do really love this book! I love that Ann is still a person, not just some bitter fat girl. That her struggles are real, but so are her triumphs. I really like that she’s still “normal” to an extent. She’s had friends, she gets a job, she doesn’t get rude slurs and things thrown at her every other page like I’ve seen some fat people get in books. She’s still a teenager, still has love around her, still normal.

Her family is a bit bizarre, and I love how it plays into Ann’s life and what she does. Yes, her dad is a dick (the book’s words! Not mine!); and yes, her mom is pretty pushy—but I love that there’s a reason for all that be so. That there is resolution to all of that, and that it serves a purpose. One of the best parts to this plot was the support Ann had when she started in on the diet. I know sometimes the support was a little too aggressive, but that’s a very real situation sometimes. People try to help, but they don’t realize that it’s just hurting in the end. While support is appreciated, sometimes it makes it a little worse, too.

Something else fantastic? That Ann goes through normal teenage things like friendship problems, boy troubles and first-job woes, too. They’re fun and funny, and give a nice rounding of normal to this story at the same time. Jon was absolutely adorable, and it meant so much to me as an overweight reader that his parts and her weight rarely crossed, if ever. And I’m so glad that Raynee came into play, too, because she’s a friend we can hope to find in life.

When I was nearing the end of this book, I started to wonder how it would wrap up without being some stupid cliché ending about realizing her worth is more than the number on the scale, that it’s inner beauty and blah blah blah. So I was happily surprised how they brought in her younger step-siblings and made it play a part in the end! I won’t spoil how, exactly, but it made so much sense and I felt really does better at driving the point home than Ann just realizing it about herself.

Of course, I’m happy that there were lessons like the cliché “inner beauty” in here, because ultimately, it’s true. I’ve taken a long time to realize that I have more to offer than a fat stomach and huge arms. It’s been a lifelong struggle of doublechins and chipmunk cheeks, but I can recognize that I should take pride in them since they’re prominent when I’m laughing and smiling. How 45 Pounds (More of Less) tackles that is fantastic, and I hope those readers who see themselves in here can recognize it, too.

So after all this, what’s my number for this book?

5 stars. 
For sure.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: The Vow by Jessica Martinez (ARC)

The Vow by Jessica Martinez
Simon Pulse, 432 pages
US Release Date: October 15, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Challenges: Contemporary Challenge, SARC

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?
-----------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
Unfair only exists if fair exists, and I’m too old to believe the universe owes me anything. 
How have I never read a book by Jessica Martinez before guys!? Virtuosity has been on my TBR forever, but I just never made it a priority. Well, after reading The Vow, I’m definitely bumping it a few notches higher on my list!

The Vow was such an interesting premise to me, especially to be tackled in YA. Even more once I realized it took place in Kentucky. The setting played such a huge part, and I was riveted to watching it all unfold and the glimpses we got through “townspeoples” eyes. It was few and far between, but I was drinking it all in every time it came up. While I’m not Jordanian like Mo, nor do I have to deal with terrorist links in my name, I am not white (you guys knew that, right?) and I have been teased before about my nationality and who I am. Racism and prejudice are topics that get a rise out of me (that should get a rise out of anyone!), and to see it here on the pages…I thought it was brave for Jessica Martinez to try this. I do think some parts could make waves in the world, but for the most part it’s tame and handled well.

The thing that struck me most about this story was Martinez’s writing; it’s just so smooth! I seriously felt like I was gliding through the pages, and I breezed through the 400+ pages like it was nothing. I loved how each chapter kind of lead into the next one, either by situation or similar words – it really did wonders in making the flow work. The voices of Mo and Annie are so distinct and fun, and they really fit well together while remaining completely their own. And as I always say, I love me some dual narratives!

I can’t quite call this story predictable, but the way it works out…I mean, I feel like there was just no other way for it! I wanted so badly for it to go one way, but then something else would happen or be revealed, and suddenly my heart would just break and want to go into another direction…I was so invested in their plight. It’s been awhile since a book made me cry, but this one definitely got me close to it. You feel how much Mo and Annie love each other, how their friendship really transcends situations. When I first read the summary and realized what they were going to do to keep Mo here, I was kind of like “well that’s pretty extreme…” But when you get to know them, you get it. You so get it.

Something that almost made me cry? How awful Mo and Annie’s families are! They’re so horrible! And in completely different ways! And the part that makes me so much more sad? I know these parents are so common in the real world, and it kills me to know that. I’ve never felt more grateful for my parents while reading a book, I tell you – because Mo’s father makes me want to punch walls until he understands his son, and Annie’s parents need to open their eyes to the colors of the world.

The Vow is one of those books I went into expecting to like it, and left it so unexpectedly loving. I’ve fallen for the author’s writing style, in the friendship that’s so strong it will never break. I felt every emotion with them as they struggled to fight circumstances outside their control and grow up at the same time. There’s so much to this novel that every page I felt like I learned something new, and only loved it more.
4 stars

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
meant to highlight an upcoming release we're excited for!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Harper Teen, 432 pages
Expected US Release Date: April 1, 2014

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
----------------------------Goodreads summary

I'm pretty certain this book wins for most original concept/best fairy tale retelling (that's not even a fairy tale retelling!). How freakin' awesome does this novel sound?! I love love LOVE the idea of not only continuing the story of Oz, but turning it completely around. I always thought Dorothy could go on the evil side, too! This book has all the potential to be thrilling, original, hilarious and brilliant -- and I can't wait!
What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grabby Hands: Top Ten Sequels I NEED RIGHT NOW.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fab ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Sequels
I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On
(*all release dates subject to change.)

Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu (TODAY!!!!)
Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi (January 28, 2014)
The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab (January 28, 2014)
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer (February 4, 2014)
Ignite Me (Unravel Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi (February 4, 2014)

Let the Storm Break (Let the Sky Fall #2) by Shannon Messenger (March 4, 2014)
The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass (May 6, 2014)
Rebel (Reboot #2) by Amy Tintera (May 13, 2014)
While We Run (While We Wake #2) by Karen Healey (May 27, 2014)
False Future (False Memory #3) by Dan Krokos (August 19, 2014)

Which sequels are giving you the grabby hands?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!
PS. Have you entered my giveaway yet? US + INT, 22 books total! ends 11/29

MASSIVELY HUGE Celebratory Giveaway! (US & INT)

The boring details of this giveaway are that I meant to do a 1000+ GFC Follower giveaway back when I hit that milestone in April. And another when I hit 100000 page views in September. And then things got in the way, and then my house basically collapsed from the weight of all the books in it (an exaggeration, though I'm sure my parents would beg to differ), we are with the giveaway.

Basically, I have an entire overflowing box that's my "giveaway" box. There's a mix of everything in it: mostly YA books, finished copies, adult books (very few, but they are there), ARC copies, signed books, hardcovers, signed hardcovers…it's a pretty fab mix, if I do say so myself. And now it's finally time to share the wealth!
There will be four winners: three (3) from the US, and one (1) international. YOU MAY NOT ENTER BOTH. US is ONLY for the US, the International one is open worldwide EXCLUDING the US. If I find duplicate entries, I will disqualify you from both. No sense in giving Americans a double chance, y'know?

Enter through the rafflecopters at the end of the post, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply (please read them before entering!). Please do not leave your email in the comments below!
The US giveaway has three separate prizes, and as I pick each one, they'll pick which they'd like -- so if you're winner #3, sorry, but you get stuck with the leftovers. Though I must say, I think any of the "leftovers" could be pretty cool.

The US Prize!
Prize Pack #1
a total of SIX (6) books
Signed paperback of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (it is personalised to me, I'm sorry)
Signed hardcover of Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi  (NOT personalized, just signed)
Signed paperback of Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (NOT personalized, just signed)
+ your choice of 3 books from my giveaway box.

Prize Pack #2
a total of FIVE (5) books
A signed hardcover of Also Known As by Robin Benway (NOT personalized, just signed)
A signed hardcover of Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger (it is personalised to me, I'm sorry)
A signed paperback of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (NOT personalized, just signed)
+ your choice of 2 books from my giveaway box.

Prize Pack #3
Your choice of any TEN (10) books in the Giveaway Box.
What's in the box, exactly? Well, I can give you small snapshots of some of it:

But I will be adding as time goes on. Red by Alison Cherry is already tossed in, as is The 100 by Kass Morgan and Beautiful Bitch by Christina Lauren and Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes, and…well, you get the idea. And I do have a few signings coming up...

The International Prize!
I'm sorry to say I won't be shipping these international as that is absurdly expensive and I just can't afford it. So, I'm going to offer up a copy of Champion by Marie Lu. How's that sound? I'll open it worldwide (excluding US) as well, because why not? It's the holiday season! Spread the love!
US a Rafflecopter giveaway Internationala Rafflecopter giveaway
All giveaways end November 29
(American Thanksgiving! Thought that was fitting :))
Good luck!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Weekly Wrap-Up (31): NaNoWriMo is upon us!

I am a glutton for punishment.
Which is code for: I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. Attempting, anyway. Which is hilariously dumb since I can barely find the time to eat (I forgot to eat lunch THREE TIMES last week) and am determined to fit in gym time this month. I'm shooting for the moon anyway, I figure I may as well toss in NaNo, right? Any words of encouragement would be freakin' fantastic, guys.
Anyone else NaNo-ing? How are you faring three days in?
In case you missed it...
Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Review: Frigid by J. Lynn

Coming up...
The giveaway is all scheduled to go up at midnight, so keep watch! FOUR winners (3 US, 1 worldwide!), 22 books total! I'll also be posting reviews of Just One Year by Gayle Forman, 45 Pounds by KA Barson, and The Vow by Jessica Martinez. Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner's A-Z Book Survey will make an appearance (if I can ever figure out my formatting!), and I'm determined to get in a Top Ten Tuesday.

Onto the books!
In My Mailbox was hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Merry and Bright by Jill Shalvis
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile by Shannon Messenger (for her signing!)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (I will FINALLY start this series now!)

Traded from ATWT/Cindy
*in exchange for a support donation
Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg
Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance
Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Corriell
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Won from Ginger @ GReads
(thanks SOSOSO much, G!)
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani
Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
Reboot by Amy Tintera
Burning by Elana K. Arnold
All I Need by Susane Colasanti
Irisis by Francisco X. Stork
Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley
The Year of Luminous Love by Lurlene McDaniel
Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes
The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon
New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

What books came into your possession recently?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Frigid by J. Lynn (ARC)

Frigid by J. Lynn (the pen name of Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Spencer Hill Contemporary, 240 pages
Expected US Release Date: November 5, 2013
Format/Source: ARC, via Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: Stand Alone Challenge, New Adult Challenge

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.
--------------------------goodreads summary

Notable Quote
Andrea snorted. "Guys are totally stupid when it comes to unrequited love. We females pine away and keep our thighs closed for the most part when we love someone we can't have. Guys swing their shit around at anything that has a hole, trying to forget the one they want."
So, there's a passage in Frigid that definitely describes this book and my attitude towards it (so meta.):
What I needed was to lose myself in a good one--one with tons of sex and angst, complete with an unbelievable happily-ever-after that made me love and hate the book at the same time.
Frigid is a good book, with tons of angst and sex and more sex and some love and even more angst; and yes, it has that unbelievable happily-ever-after that toed that line of "good" and "too good to be true." Which all together, makes me really like the book and really hate it at the same time.

J. Lynn does not disappoint in terms of HOTNESS. Damn, Kyler. I feel like I can feel the ridges of his abs, see the tendons that stretch across his back and the sexy runner calves. I mean, seriously - J. Lynn knows how to write a man. A man-whore, sure -- but still every bit as male and sexy and hot and WOO. I'm not even joking when I tell you I hid this book every time my parents came around, because my mom has the tendency to pick up anything I'm reading and just open to a random page and read a bit. And I'd reaaaaally like to avoid having a discussion about this book with her.

Syd was interesting...I liked her for the most part, but her self-conscousness, her underestimation of Kyler and herself and their friendship/relationship just KILLED me for a lot of this book. I just wanted to shake her sometimes and tell her to shut up and stop overthinking. I seriously want to keep this book out of the hands of any boys - not that I think they'll be quick to pick it up (that shirtless man in the snow may be a little off-putting to most men. I'm just saying.), but I don't want men to think all women think these crazy roundabout thoughts! Sure, lots of us do, and I'm nowhere near claiming that my thoughts are all rational when it comes to boys and angst - but yeesh, Syd. Just clear your mind for a little bit. Trust in this friendship that's been built since the playground!

I did appreciate that the plot was more than them just being snowed in together. I'm all for some great romance, but I liked that there was a small thread of terror and threat here, too - it helped give a little more life to a plot that could have been way too ooshy-gooshy otherwise. I thought it was a little unbelievable what was done, but then again, I don't live in snow-town. I have no idea what could and could not happen in snow storms.

This novel did have a step up from the get-go with me though: I freakin' LOVE the winter. I love the holidays, snow, anything that relates at all to December. I have a major soft spot for it; something about that time of year always shrouds it in this ethereal, pretty romantic glow. And Frigid is definitely a novel I'd love to re-read every year when the cold hits.

For anyone else who's read this: spinoff story for Andrea and Tanner. Amirite, or amirite?!

Frigid had some disappointments, but it more than made up for it with some sweet romance and hot New Adult themes. It's not the hardest hitting, most thoughtful book - but would you really pick this one up if you wanted that? If you want a light read with quick emotions, action and love, choose this. It won't disappoint you. Besides, there's a whole section of the book spent on a bed fort in front of a fireplace as it snowstorms around them. Who hasn't fantasized about that?!

3.5 Stars
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