Saturday, December 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (10)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Here's my haul!


Books I got from the library:
- Blackout by Robison Wells
- Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
- The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
- Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Books I bought/received:
- This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
- Renegade by J.A. Souders

I have yet to read any of these books, but I should probably get started, since the library books will be due soon... I'm also excited to start This Song Will Save Your Life and Renegade, though, as I've heard nothing but great things about them.

What books did you get?  Leave a link to your blog in the comments so I can stop by!

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, December 23, 2013

ARC Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson


Goodreads summary:

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?


My review:

It's been a while since I read a fantasy book that gave me such mixed feelings.  Overall, I really enjoyed Defy, besides two big problems: the love triangle and the world-building.

The world-building had SO much potential, but it felt wasted.  There was pretty much no description of the setting.  Some books can get away with this, but fantasy novels should always have a lot of world-building and description of the setting.  Now, what's interesting is that a good portion of Defy is set in a jungle.  I thought this was unique and different as far as fantasy novels go, but there simply wasn't enough description of it.  I also would've loved more backstory on the kingdom and fantasy world.

I was disappointed in the love triangle too.  My rating would probably be much higher if not for the romance.  It's not just that I disliked the romance, it's the fact that it takes up so much of the story.  It disrupted the action and the flow of the plot.  I do have to say that I quite liked Prince Damian, though.  He's such a complex and likeable character, even though he comes across as arrogant at first.  He was easily my favorite character.  Rylan, on the other hand, I found to be slightly boring.  Yes, he's a good friend to Alex, but it was hard to see him as anything more than a friend.

Besides those two problems, there wasn't much else I disliked.  A couple things stuck out - like, what's up with Alex blushing literally all the time?  And why does the dialogue have to sound so modern?  But aside from that, I thought this was a fun and fast-paced read.  Alex is a strong, likeable main character, and I really loved the intricate plot.  It was great for a fantasy novel.  I was caught up in Alex's quest to overthrow the king and save her kingdom.  And I absolutely loved how, as the plot progressed, different secrets would unfold and the intrigue increased.  The author did a fantastic job of building the plot to a thrilling climax, and I was completely sucked in to the last quarter of the book.

Despite a few flaws, Defy is a fast, fun read.  The characters of Alex and Damian were well-developed and three-dimensional, and the action-packed plot sucked me in with its twists and turns.  It reminded me a lot of the TV show Merlin, what with the fantasy world and the use of magic.  Even though I disliked the world-building and love triangle, this was still an immensely enjoyable, entertaining read and I'd recommend that fantasy fans give it a try.

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ARC Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill


Goodreads summary:

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.


My review:

How does Lauren Morrill do it?  She writes some of the most adorable YA contemporaries ever.  I can always count on her books to make me laugh and swoon.

I just love the premise of Being Sloane Jacobs.  Two girls with the same name who meet and decide to switch lives for the rest of the summer?  It's such a fun idea!  I love how figure skating and hockey are incorporated into the book, too.  I haven't read many YA books about ice skating, and I loved getting to learn about it in this book.

The two main narrators are both so unique and hilarious.  I could easily relate to Sloane E. and her struggle between pleasing her family and doing what she enjoys.  Sloane D., on the other hand, has a tougher and more aggressive personality, but this just made me like her even more.  She has a funny sense of humor.  I really love that both Sloanes have very different voices and personalities; I never got them confused at all.  Morrill excels at writing two separate and distinct POVs in this book.  Most authors can't accomplish this feat very well, but I was impressed with Morrill's ability to make both voices stand out.

The plot is very fast-paced and lighthearted.  Of course, one must overlook the fact that in real life, the two Sloanes would have never been able to switch places without being found out right away.  If you can get past that and simply enjoy the story, it's full of laughter and entertainment.  I like how there's also some serious moments mixed in, though.  Both Sloanes are running away from something in their life and trying to discover themselves, and there's a lovely coming-of-age theme about what it truly means to grow up.

This was an all-around fun, romantic read.  Lauren Morrill is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I can't wait to read her future books.  Being Sloane Jacobs is perfect for fans of contemporary books such as Anna and the French Kiss or Smart Girls Get What They Want.  If you're looking for a sweet, funny read, this is it!

Favorite quote:  "Wannawatchamovietonight?"  I say it so fast it all comes out as one long, newly invented word (country of origin: Swoonistan; meaning: "to swoon so hard as to be rendered incapable of enunciation").

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard


Goodreads summary:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.


My review:

I've been dying to read this book for over a year now, so let's just say that I had pretty big expectations when I started it.  And although I definitely enjoyed Splintered, it wasn't everything I'd hoped it would be.  I loved the deliciously creepy world of Wonderland and the gorgeous writing, but the plot was so slow and the romance was terrible.

What I liked: The world-building.  Just wow.  The author did a fantastic job of taking the story Carroll created and expanding on it and adding to it with great detail.  She really did her research for this book and it shows - the world-building, the descriptions, it's all very well-done.  I love how Splintered isn't a retelling of Alice in Wonderland.  It's completely different: it takes the story of Alice in Wonderland and adds a new spin on it.  This unique idea makes Splintered stand out from most YA retellings.

The world of Wonderland is so creepy and grotesque.  I loved the nonsensical feel to it.  It really is a darker version of Carroll's Wonderland, and even though it has its share of violence, it's written in such an elegant way that you can't help loving the descriptions and writing.

And Morpheus?  Ooh, he was a great character.  Although I don't really think there's a love triangle between Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus (Alyssa admits she's attracted to Morpheus, but she knows she's truly in love with Jeb) I'm totally going to be on Team Morpheus if the author decides to add his character to the romance in the sequel, Unhinged.  Morpheus reminded me a lot of Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies, and that's probably a big reason why I was so in love with him.  (What can I say?  He's not evil...just misunderstood. ;)

What I didn't like: Jeb, the love interest.  Oh, ick.  He's a controlling jerk.  Forget romance - he's not even that great of a friend to Alyssa!  He doesn't believe in her or stick up for her, especially in the beginning.  Even when he's in Wonderland and finally decides to believe it's all true, it still seems like he doesn't fully trust Alyssa to make decisions without his guidance.  Most other reviewers seemed to dislike him too, and I can certainly see why.

I was also bored for about the first 100 pages, until Alyssa actually entered Wonderland.  When I read the summary, it sounded like Alyssa entered Wonderland right away, but it took about a third of the book for the action to truly start.  I thought there was too much backstory in the beginning, and it just didn't seem to flow well.  It felt like a stereotypical YA paranormal at first, but I'm glad the story started moving and becoming interesting once Alyssa was in Wonderland.

Overall, I'm glad I read Splintered and fell in love with the enchantingly scary world of Wonderland.  I didn't particularly connect with the characters besides Morpheus, and I disliked the romance and slow beginning, but the amazing world-building and gorgeous writing makes up for it.  I'll probably be reading the sequel if my library gets it.

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke and Bookish.  Each week, a new list topic is posted, and book bloggers fill in their choices.  This week's topic is "Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List."

I split my list up - the first five are actual winter releases, and the last five are books that I already bought/received/got from the library. :)

My Top Ten:

1. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi.  I can't wait for the conclusion to the Shatter Me trilogy.  I love these books so much.  Mafi is an incredibly talented writer.

2. White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  A new JLA series about gargoyles and demons?  Sign me up, please!

3. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton.  This series has such a unique spin on Greek mythology, and I totally love it.  Like Shatter Me, I'm beyond excited for this but so sad to see the series end.

4. Cress by Marissa Meyer.  These are some of the best YA fairytale retellings ever.  Meyer never disappoints and I can't wait to see what she does with the story of Rapunzel.

5. Split Second by Kasie West.  I fell in love with West's books this year, and I can't wait for this one - the sequel to Pivot Point.  Her books are always full of wit and sass!

6. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  I did something I usually never do - I saw the movie before I read the book.  *ducks head in shame* I'd wanted to read the book before the movie came out, but there were too many holds on it at my library.  I finally have a copy, though!

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I haven't yet seen the movie for this one, but I'm excited to finally dive into the book.  I've heard nothing but great things about it.

8. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole.  This has been on my TBR list for ages and I finally snatched it up when it went on sale for Kindle.  Most of my Goodreads friends have gushed about it, so I'm interested to see what all the hype's about.

9. Defy by Sara B. Larson.  Netgalley approved me for this one, and I definitely need to get started on it soon, as it releases next month.  I love fantasy books and this one sounds similar to Graceling, which I loved, so I can't wait to start it.

10. Blackout by Robison Wells.  I loved Wells' book Variant, and even though Blackout has gotten some negative reviews, I'm still hoping that I'll enjoy it.

What books are on your TBR list?  Leave a comment with a link to your blog so I can stop by!

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas


Goodreads summary:

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.


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

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

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


My review:

*mild spoilers concerning the romance*

This is definitely one of my favorite YA fantasy series.  It's so full of action and excitement.  Sarah J. Maas is an excellent writer and I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of this series.

I admit that, although I loved Celaena in Throne of Glass, she had a slight Mary-Sue (.i.e., she was too perfect) quality that bothered me a little.  However, I think that in Crown of Midnight she was a much more well-developed character.  Even though she was as tough as ever, she had flaws and weaknesses.  I also love how Maas isn't afraid to make her heroine such a dark and twisted character.  Celaena suffers so many losses in this book and it reflects on her character - she will stop at nothing to save what she holds dear.

Oh, Chaol.  And Dorian.  Gah, I'm completely in love with both of them, although Chaol is really my favorite.  I love where Maas took the romance, and yet it also broke my heart (I won't say much so I don't spoil anything, but for those who've read the book, you know what I mean.  I think Celaena overreacted).  I just want my OTP to end up together...is that too much to ask?  Apparently. *sniffles*



I also love how Chaol and Dorian aren't just in the story for the romance, too.  Dorian really developed as a character and I love how he finally learns to stand up for himself.  And Chaol is so sweet.  I love how he's so loyal to his job and how he does what he believes is right no matter what.  He sacrifices so much for Celaena.  In my opinion, she totally does not deserve him.

I just love the plot and the writing.  There's so much action and lots of separate storylines happening.  All the plot development has made me super excited for the next book.  And the big reveal with Celaena at the end was amazing.  I think I was biting my nails for at least the last 50 pages of the book!  The writing is so good; I love how it's in third person and we also get the POVs of characters like Chaol, Dorian, and more - not just Celaena.  It's perfect for epic fantasy books like this where there's always a lot of action.

I'm so impressed with this sequel.  It made me feel all the feels and I'm extremely envious of Sarah J. Maas and her amazing writing skills right now.  I'm just going to sit in the corner and cry until the next book comes out.  That's totally normal, right?  Riiight?



My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recent Cover Reveals!

I've been doing so much fangirling over cover reveals lately, so I decided to round up a few of my favorites.  Here they are!


Oblivion by Kelly Creagh releases on August 26, 2014.
 
 
 
Unravel by Imogen Howson releases July 8, 2014.
 
 
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore releases June 15, 2014
 
 
 
What books are you excited for?  Any other good cover reveals that I've missed?
 
~ Kaitlyn
 
 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is Cress by Marissa Meyer!


Goodreads summary:

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


My thoughts:

I LOVE this series so much!  Marissa Meyer puts such a unique twist on fairytales.  And Rapunzel is one of my favorite fairytales, so I'm especially excited for this one.

Cress releases on February 4, 2014.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Top 5 Books of November 2013

Whoa.  It's December - Christmas is actually coming soon.  It's hard to believe.  I'm hoping Christmas break means I'll have lots more reading time.  And good news: I finished my 2013 reading challenge of 250 books recently!  Fingers crossed I can hit 275 by 2014.  Here's the books I read in November:

- Timepiece by Myra McEntire
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
- Alienated by Melissa Landers
- Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
- Fates by Lanie Bross
- Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding
- What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
- Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
- Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
- Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
- Linked by Imogen Howson
- Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
- Belladonna by Fiona Paul
- The Liberator by Victoria Scott
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
- Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
- Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

My top 5 favorites:

1. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano.  This book is so magical.  It captured my heart with its gorgeous prose and heartbreaking story.  There are SO many quotes I loved.  I adore all of this author's books and yet, if possible, this one is even better than her previous books.  I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel.

2. Crash Into You by Katie McGarry.  There's something positively addicting about McGarry's contemporary books.  This one is no exception.  I was swept away in this heart-pounding story about love and family.  It might have lots of drama and insta-love, two things I usually dislike, but I don't even care one bit because McGarry just writes it so well.  Completely loved this book.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  Well, I could tell just by the title that I'd love this, and luckily I was right.  I love what this book is about: college, fanfiction, and love.  Does it get any better?  I think not.  As a high school junior who's been in "college mode" (i.e. writing essays, visiting colleges, searching for scholarships) the past few months, I loved reading about the introverted main character's experience at college and how to slowly grow up and live life on her own.  Highly recommended.

4. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke.  A thrilling, shiver-inducing supernatural mystery, this book is all kinds of creepy.  And that's why I loved it.  Plus, there's something about the writing.  The descriptions of the setting are full of charm and the writing is full of lines you'll reread over and over, pondering their truth and meaning.  This book is a wild and unconventional YA novel.  I can't wait for the sequel.

5. Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill.  This author is always great if you're looking for a delightfully lighthearted story, and this book is just so much fun.  It has a really cute premise and it'll keep you flipping the pages.  I giggled and swooned multiple times while reading.  Without a doubt, this book will put a smile on your face.

Honorable mentions to Alienated, Eleanor and Park, and The Liberator!

What books did you read recently that you loved?  Have you finished your 2013 reading challenge yet?

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is Split Second by Kasie West!


Goodreads summary:

Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.


My thoughts:

I'm ridiculously excited for Split Second, the sequel to Pivot Point.  Kasie West is one of my favorite authors ever.  I loved both Pivot Point and her contemporary novel, The Distance Between Us.  I can always count on her stories to be full of spunk, wit, and sass.  Can't wait for this one!

Split Second releases February 11, 2014.

What are you waiting on this week? 

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ARC Review: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding


Goodreads summary:

For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.

But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.

It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.

My review:

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Ink is Thicker Than Water.  This book is an engaging, thoughtful contemporary that I'd recommend for Sarah Dessen fans.  I'm definitely going to have to check out this author's previous book, The Reece Malcolm List.

What I love about this book is how it's simply about everyday life.  Although it's fun to read imaginative fantasy books or dystopians, sometimes it's nice to just relax with a coming-of-age contemporary book.  I found that I could really relate to Kellie and her desire to figure out who she is.  I was also surprised by the humor laced throughout the story.  Kellie has a hilariously dry wit that made me highlight multiple lines in my Kindle. 

Oh, and the relationships in this book are written so realistically - especially Kellie's relationship with her sister, best friend, and boyfriend.  She and her sister argue sometimes, but they're also there for each other despite all the changes happening in their family.  And I love how Kellie and her best friend, Kaitlyn (who has the same name as me - even spelled the same way, which hardly ever happens, haha) slowly drift away, but eventually realize that they don't have to be enemies and can still be friends, even if they're not as close as they once were.  Lastly, Kellie and her boyfriend Oliver have such a realistically awkward relationship.  They don't always get along perfectly and their personalities clash at times.  I love the way their relationship is resolved at the end of the book.

As I mentioned, Kellie is a great main character.  With her witty voice, it's easy to like her.  I thought she was a pretty mature character, but I also like how she has a few flaws.  And she can be a little dorky at times and unsure of what she wants in life.  It's the perfect coming-of-age story.  The minor characters are amazing too; I love her quirky family.  There's not much to the plot; but it never bothered me that it was just about everyday life.  There always several storylines happening concerning Kellie and her family and friends, as well as some great life lessons, and it held my attention very well.

Ink is Thicker Than Water is a wonderfully thought-provoking contemporary.  It really reminded me of a Sarah Dessen book, so if you enjoy Dessen's work, you should definitely check this out.  This book is perfect for those looking for a realistic coming-of-age story.

Favorite quote (takes place on Halloween): "Why are you Batgirl?" Adelaide asks.  "What's the significance?"
"My little brother had most of this stuff already," I say.  "The significance is laziness."

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (9)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Here's my haul for the week (featuring my penguin rug in the background lol)!


Books I bought/received:
- Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
- Minders by Michelle Jaffe
- Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
- Hover by Melissa West

Books I got from the library:
- Splintered by A.G. Howard
- Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
- Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

I've only read Perfect Ruin, which I absolutely loved, so far.  I'm especially excited to dive into Splintered and Crown of Midnight, though!

What's in your haul this week?

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ARC Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Goodreads summary:

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

--

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.


My review:

I don't even know where to start.  These Broken Stars was so utterly amazing, and I was on an emotional rollercoaster basically the whole time I was reading it.  I had ridiculously high expectations, and this book totally lived up to them.  It'll easily be going on my top ten favorite books of 2013 list.  This book is spectacular, and I predict that it will be garnering many other five-star reviews when it releases in December.

First, that blurb is absolutely amazing.  As many others have said, it's like Titanic in space.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better than that.  But the best thing is that this book truly does go beyond your expectations.  There's not a single thing I disliked, and that's very rare for me.  The characters, plot, world-building, writing, pacing, it was all perfect.

I LOVE the complex relationship between Lilac and Tarver.  They are two starkly different people who are forced to become allies in order to survive.  Their relationship reminded me of Han Solo and Leia from Star Wars at first; as they'd constantly be having petty arguments and making snarky comments.  I don't know if the resemblance of Lilac and Tarver to Leia and Han Solo was intentional, but I absolutely adored it. :D

Tarver and Lilac are wonderful characters.  I love the dual POVs, it's so fun to read about their perceptions of each other.  The authors do a fabulous of job of developing the characters of Lilac and Tarver as the story moves along.  They're both flawed, yet immensely likeable characters.

The romance?  Completely swoon-worthy.  There's just the right amount of romance, too.  The romance is neatly woven into the storyline and never feels like overkill.  I love how it's so subtly written.  Lilac and Tarver go from dislike to allies to tentative friendship to eventual romance, and you can't help swooning as you watch them slowly fall in love.  Now, it's one of my favorite love stories of all time in YA literature.

The plot is so full of suspense.  It's so intense - from the crash of the Icarus at the beginning to the very end of the book.  I want to talk so badly about the last quarter of the book, but I can't because that would mean major spoilers.  However, you should know that the plot never lets up - there's always some important development happening.  Then, just when you think you couldn't get any more emotionally invested, the book hits the 75% mark.  Believe me, once you hit that point, there is no way you'll be able to put the book down until you reach the ending.

Suffice it to say, These Broken Stars is now an all-time favorite.  I can't gush about it enough.  The plot is pure genius, the love story is gorgeously written, and there's some phenomenal character development.  I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the second book.  Read this book.  You'll be blown away.

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout!


Goodreads summary:

One kiss could be the last

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.


My thoughts:

I'll read anything that JLA writes.  She's one of my favorite authors, ever.  I've met her twice and she's just as nice in person as she is online.  And this new series sounds so unique.  I mean, gargoyles?  Pure awesomeness. :) This is definitely one of my most anticipated reads of 2014!

White Hot Kiss releases on February 25, 2014.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth


Goodreads summary:

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

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

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


My review:

*Warning: mild spoilers*

Allegiant is such a difficult book to rate.  It took me a while to decide on a rating, but in the end I decided on 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.  If it weren't for the ending, though, this would probably be 3 stars.

Okay, so what happened to the amazing writing in Divergent and Insurgent?  Those books were fast-paced, action-packed, and had strong characters.  And I felt like Allegiant was lacking slightly in all those areas.  The pacing was weird, making me occasionally bored with the plot.  There was a fair amount of action, but there was also too much useless, boring dialogue between the characters.  And what happened to the formerly kick-butt Tobias?  While I still liked Tris in Allegiant, Tobias was more wimpy than he was in the previous books.  His POV and Tris's were way too similar.

Still, there were definitely moments in Allegiant that I appreciated.  I love the minor characters; they each stand out in their own way.  There are a couple adorable Tris/Tobias scenes.  Mostly, though, I love how Roth writes about relationships.  I love the tension between Tris and her brother, Caleb, and how Tris has to decide the importance of family and how far she'll go to save her family and friends.  I thought their brother/sister bond was written very realistically.  There's quite a few quotes that I loved, too.  Roth writes beautifully about the meaning of bravery and sacrifice.

I'm still in shock over the ending.  I disliked it at first, even though it made sense and was very fitting.  But now, I have to say that, as sad as the ending is, I do like it.  I admire Roth for that ending; it took guts to write that.  It's very heartbreaking and actually moved me to tears, but I'm happy with it.  Not every dystopian has to have a happily-ever-after ending, and Roth has proved that.

Although Allegiant didn't hold my attention as much as the previous books, I still found it to be a thought-provoking and enjoyable read.  I can't wait to see what Veronica Roth writes next!

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke and Bookish.  Each week, a new list topic is posted, and book bloggers fill in their choices.  This week's topic is "Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign."

My Top Ten:

1.

Loved this book, but the cover's disappointing.  I think the colors and design are just overall kind of boring.

2.

I disliked this cover right away, although it is growing on me a bit.  Personally I think it's too plain.  I preferred the other covers in this series with their bright, eye-catching covers.

3.

Meh.  Not a big fan of this cover.  It would more accurately represent the book if the cover gave off more of a whimsical, fairytale vibe. 

4.

I think I'm in the minority here, but I can't stand this cover.  I hate the blurry, faded look, and I think the girl's bangs are hideous.

5.


Sometimes, I really like covers where the title is printed in big letters across the page.  But Ten's cover is just so dull.  The font is so boring!  The island, at least, fits the book well, but I can't get past the ugly font.

6.

Again, I think this is a cover most people love, but I can't stand it.  If not for the great reviews, I never would have picked up this book (thankfully I did, and now it's an all-time favorite!).  I like the purple sparkly background, but that's it.

7.

Confession: for the longest time, I simply could not figure out what was supposed to be on the cover.  (I know, I know. *smacks head*)  When it finally hit me that it was a silhouette of the girl's face, I was plain-out annoyed.  I so wish the cover was something easier on the eyes and more attention-grabbing.

8.

Love this book to death, but that cover is terrible.  I adore the covers for Prodigy and Champion, the later books in the series, but I've never been able to like Legend's cover.  I hate the colors so much.  I wish it was as pretty and colorful as the other covers for this series.

9.

I don't really like this cover, or the newly redesigned cover.  Same problem I had with Unremembered - I'm not a fan of the faded look.  I think the way the two images are blended is just weird-looking.

10.

Ugh.  This wouldn't be such a terrible cover if they had just redesigned the girl.  I mean, look at how awkward her position is.  Her posture is just painful to look at.  Definitely not a fan of this one.


What's on your TTT?  Leave a link to your blog in the comments!

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, November 8, 2013

ARC Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry


Goodreads summary:

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.


My review:

How does Katie McGarry do it?  With each book, she gets better and better.  She is, without a doubt, one of my favorite contemporary authors ever.  I'm impressed with how she continually writes heart-pounding, realistic contemporary stories that never fail to wow me with their well-developed characters and swoony romances.

I think Rachel might be my favorite main character from McGarry's books.  It was refreshing that she wasn't as tough and jaded as Echo and Beth were.  I guess the best way to describe Rachel would be that she's innocent and naïve - which is true - and yet that description implies that she's annoyingly clueless, which she absolutely isn't.  Rachel may be considered innocent and naïve, but she's also smart and determined, and I thought she was a very strong heroine. 

Rachel is a lot like me, actually.  She has a fear of public speaking and suffers from panic attacks, which she tries to hide from her family.  I've never suffered a panic attack, thankfully, but I hate being in the spotlight and could completely relate to her and the emotions she felt.  I love her character arc and how, throughout the book, she learned to stand on her own and open herself up to her family.

Isaiah is a great character too.  He's the exact opposite of Rachel with his dark past and tough attitude, and yet he's so respectful and kind to Rachel that you can't help falling for him.  What I loved best about him, though, is how far he'll go to protect Rachel.  He was so protective of her and I couldn't stop swooning, much like this:



I love the romance between Isaiah and Rachel.  It may be considered insta-love, but as I've said before, insta-love can work if it's well-written, and this is Katie McGarry - duh, it's obviously very well-written!  Isaiah and Rachel's relationship is pushed to the limit as the book progresses.  They have to decide whether they truly trust each other, and they learn to work together to pay a debt that has put their lives in jeopardy. 

The plot, of course, is fantastic.  I thought there was a lot more drama and action than in the previous books, and I think the stakes are even higher in this one!  Now, to be honest, I have no clue about cars or street racing, and I'm really not a car person at all.  But, I actually found myself drawn into this aspect of the story.  It's unique and interesting to read about, and I grew to love Isaiah and Rachel's shared passion for cars.  I love how fitting the title of the book is, too. :)

I absolutely loved Crash Into You.  If you haven't read any of Katie McGarry's books yet, you're missing out on some of the best contemporary books I've ever read!  As always with this author's books, Crash Into You has heart-pounding drama, a gorgeous love story, and amazingly developed characters.  I can't wait for the next book, Take Me On, to come out!

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi!


Goodreads summary:

The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.


My thoughts:

I'm ridiculously excited about this book.  Veronica Rossi is one of my favorite dystopian authors ever.  It seems like she gets better and better with each book.  I can't wait to find out what happens to all my favorite characters - especially Roar <3 - in Into the Still Blue!  The release date is January 28, 2014.

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday?

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: Eramane by Frankie Ash


Goodreads summary:


In the village of Eludwid, seventeen-year-old Eramane Fahnestock goes about her life, cheerfully disregarding a prophecy made to her parents that she would have a great gift. Not yet wed and beset with boredom, Eramane cannot shake the feeling that something exciting awaits her beyond Eludwid. But when she is invited to picnic with a handsome young suitor, Eramane has no idea that her life will soon change forever.

As Eramane prepares for her date, she is suddenly hypnotized by a strange voice that tells her he will be coming for her that night. Unsettled but determined to press forward, Eramane and her suitor, Lebis, head to the woods to enjoy their picnic. As darkness falls on the forest, however, a beast emerges, transforming their beautiful outing into a terrifying scene. Taken captive and carried away to a mountain hideaway, Eramane finds her memories are soon clouded, even as her family frantically searches for her back home.

In this gripping fantasy tale, evil is summoned to the mountaintop, forcing a young woman to discover her magical gifts and exact revenge against a beast determined to destroy everything she has ever loved.
 
My review:
 
I had the opportunity to meet the lovely Frankie Ash while we were both attending a book signing in VA.  We started talking about books, and she mentioned that she'd just had a book published recently, then kindly offered me a copy!  She even signed it for me.  She was very sweet and I enjoyed getting to meet and talk to her.  So I was very excited to start reading Eramane.
 
I really enjoyed this book.  I like the fantasy world it's set in and how it's explored.  I appreciated the descriptions of the village of Eludwid at the beginning; it gave me a great idea of the setting.  The bond between the Eramane's family is something else I liked a lot; they love each other and will stop at nothing to protect each other.  Eramane herself is a strong, likeable character who has a good character arc.  As the story progresses, she suffers a lot, but she never gives up and I liked that about her.
 
That being said, I do think the second half of the book is a little weaker than the first half.  We get to see the point of view of Eramane's brother, which I liked since this meant a lot more action.  Eramane's storyline, however, felt a little more slow-paced and vague.  There's lots of action at the end, though.  Ash doesn't hold back in making her characters suffer, and that really makes this a strong fantasy book.  This promising debut is a fun read for fantasy fans!
 
My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
 
~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, November 2, 2013

ARC Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter


Goodreads summary:

YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

My review:


I liked Aimee Carter's Goddess Test series well enough, but Pawn completely blew me away.  It's so much better than the Goddess Test series.  The pacing has tightened, the writing has improved, and there's lots more action and drama.  I'm happy to say that Carter's writing only gets better with each book!

Like so many others, I'm tired of all the dystopians constantly being published.  Pawn, however, manages to bring freshness and originality to the dystopian genre.  I was impressed by the world-building and the way Carter explains how the world is set up.  Her writing is stellar and her pacing has improved so much from her previous books.  I honestly couldn't put this down, and I was never bored for a moment while reading it.

Oh, Kitty.  She was a really fun main character.  She's so spunky!  I love how she always had a witty comeback and was so determined to become more than a pawn.  And for those who are afraid of a love triangle, there is none.  Instead, the romance is sweet and cute.

And the plot?  Oh my word, the plot left me breathless.  There's so much drama and political intrigue.  People are constantly hiding secrets and double-crossing one another, and you never know who Kitty can trust.  In a way, it reminded me of Katniss in The Hunger Games.  She was also a pawn to President Snow, much like Kitty is to the Harts.  There's tons of action in Pawn, too, up till the very end.  The story ends with a bang that will leave you dying for the next book.

I'd recommend Pawn to everyone, especially if you're a fan of The Hunger Games - and I don't say that lightly. This was a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat read that really sticks out from all the other dystopians with its high level of intrigue, wit, and action.  I can't wait for the sequel!

*Thanks to Netgalley for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Favorite quote: 
"Kitty," he said, as if he was testing out my name.  "Is that short for something?"
"Yeah," I said.  "It's short for 'my mother was insane and had a thing for cats.'"

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Top 5 Books of October 2013

Um, how is it already November?  I can't believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up!  Hopefully holiday breaks will mean I get more reading in.  I didn't read as many books this month because I've been so busy with school.

Here's the books I read in October:

- Ten by Gretchen McNeil
- Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
- Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
- The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
- Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins
- The Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
- House of Hades by Rick Riordan
- Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
- Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes
- The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
- The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
- Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
- Eramane by Frankie Ash
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
- Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
- Pawn by Aimee Carter
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth
- Altered by Gennifer Albin

My top 5 favorites:

1. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider.  This heartbreaking contemporary story is easily an all-time favorite.  Highly recommended for John Green fans.  I was alternately laughing and crying while reading this.  This book was perfect in every way.

2. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson.  An awesome ending to the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.  Carson excels at writing well-crafted fantasy books, and I love the romance between Elisa and Hector.  This final book does not disappoint.  Rae Carson is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

3. House of Hades by Rick Riordan.  Um, how can you not love anything Rick Riordan writes?  He's pretty much the king of YA Greek mythology.  What you need to know about this book: there will be tears, both of joy and sadness.  There is an abundance of our beloved Percabeth.  And Leo is as awesome as ever.  (Thank goodness there was no major cliffhanger ending!!)

4. Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins.  I thought this book would just be a cute contemporary, but it's so much more!  I empathized with all the characters and was surprised by how well-written and emotional this book was.  A wonderful, fun read!

5. Pawn by Aimee Carter.  Oh, you guys.  Pawn is SO much better than Carter's Goddess Test series.  Her pacing and writing has improved by leaps and bounds, the heroine is spunky and likeable, and the action and drama never let up.  I know everyone's tired of dystopians, but I have to say, Pawn is absolutely one that I'd recommend - it'll really keep you on the edge of your seat.

Honorable mentions to Rebel Angels and The Darkest Minds. :) What were some of your favorite reads from the past month?

P.S. My review of Pawn by Aimee Carter will be posted this weekend!

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases and books we can't wait to read.

My pick is Vitro by Jessica Khoury!


Goodreads summary:

A death-defying tropical adventure delivers a frightening message about dabbling with creation from the talented author of Origin.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux.

In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.


My thoughts:

I'm so excited for Vitro!  I really enjoyed Origin, and I like the idea of Vitro being a companion novel rather than a sequel.  It'll be nice to read about new, different characters.  I can't wait to pick up a copy of Vitro when it releases on Jan. 14, 2014.

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday?  Comment with a link to your WoW. :)

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ARC Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes


Goodreads summary:

Olivia

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.


Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

Z

I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.

It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.

Except that she’s not.

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.


My review:

Although I've never read Dickens' Oliver Twist, I've read and seen enough movie adaptations of his other books to expect a rather twisted and depressing story.  And in this, Olivia Twisted does not fail; it's very realistic and at times quite sad.

The story starts out strong with its admirably tough protagonist, Olivia.  I definitely felt empathy for her at first and admired how she had stood strong through all that she'd been through.  I was hooked from the beginning.  However, I feel that, although the book started on a good note, I never really felt drawn into it after the first few chapters.  It turned into a slow read.

Of course, Olivia's questionable new friends present many puzzling questions to the plot, which I did enjoy.  And I do think the dual points of view add plenty of intrigue.  I definitely wanted to know what Z's motives were, even though the pace felt sluggish.  And Barnes doesn't let up on her poor characters - the characters suffer a lot and the plot got progressively more and more intricate.  I felt very drawn into the whole world of hackers and the kind of life Z lives.

A few things I didn't like: Um, I didn't really care for the name Z.  It's explained later on, but it still seems kind of weird.  And the fact that one of Olivia's friends convinces her to steal a shirt from a store?  That felt out of character for Olivia.  Even though she's been treated poorly her whole life, I still felt that she had enough common sense not to do something like that.  I didn't like how Olivia's behavior and choices spiral down more and more as the story continues.  Z was too much of a bad influence to her, even though he definitely had good reasons for being the way he is.  And since I wasn't crazy about the characters, I wasn't a fan of the romance; it felt too forced.

But honestly, besides these problems, Olivia Twisted is not a bad read at all.  Its realism really makes it stand out, and it does offer a pretty bleak view of life, as is only truly fitting for a Dickens retelling.  I think it's just one of those "not my cup of tea" cases for me.  However, I'd absolutely recommend Olivia Twisted for diehard Dickens fans or people who enjoy realistic contemporary.

* I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (8)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Here's a picture of my books:


Books I bought:
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Books I received:
- Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
- Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
- The Liberator by Victoria Scott
- The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber

Um...wow.  Talk about some exciting books!  (I haven't read any yet except for Allegiant, which I'm currently reading.)  I was lucky enough to win the prize for the gold team in the YA scavenger hunt, so it's been fun to receive lots of new books in the mail!  I can't wait to dive into these new books.

What new books have you gotten?  Leave a link to your StS in the comments! :)

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Darkest Minds, The Beginning of Everything, and Just Like Fate


 
Goodreads summary:
 
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
 
Mini-review:
 
This book has gotten rave reviews; I'm pretty sure all my Goodreads friends have given it 4- or 5-star reviews.  And The Darkest Minds definitely lives up to all the buzz.  It's a great balance of action, world-building, character development, and strong writing.
 
What made this sci-fi/dystopian world even more creepy for me is the fact that it's set where I live: Virginia.  I knew many of the places the characters traveled and talked about, so I definitely felt very immersed in the world.  Not only is the world-building fantastic, I loved the strong characters.  Bracken really excels in writing characters who are original and ring true, and I fell in love with all of them.  A certain flashback scene with Ruby, the main character, nearly made me cry.
 
The only thing that felt a little off was the pacing.  This book is just so long, and I felt like some of it could have been chopped off to make it slightly shorter.  Still, I appreciate how thorough Bracken is with her storytelling; it's quite obvious that the plot was carefully and expertly crafted.  I definitely can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!
 
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads summary:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

 
Mini-review:
 
I have so many reviews I need to write, I honestly didn't intend on writing one for this book, but it left such an impact on me that I can't help myself.  This book made it onto my all-time favorites, which, according to Goodreads, only consists of 69 of the nearly 900 books I've read.  I really can't recommend it enough.
 
This book is perfect for fans of John Green.  The quirky writing style reminded me of him, as well as the nerdy characters and the heartbreaking ending.  Oh, the writing.  Sometimes, books have these rare and perfect quotes that just relate so much to what you're going through at the time you read it.  That's how this book was for me.  There are so many fantastical lessons to be learned from this book; like how to make choices for yourself and to not let other people tell you how to live your life.  I know that may sound corny and obvious, but it's true.  This book just struck a chord with me.
 
Plus, the Doctor Who references just made it even more awesome.  And the characters and romance?  Don't even get me started.  The romance is so real and bittersweet, it will break your heart.  And the characters' stories completely resonated with me.  I could go on all day about how wonderful and relatable they were, but this is supposed to be a mini-review, so I'll keep it short and sweet.  Basically: whether you're a contemporary fan or not, The Beginning of Everything is a must-read.
 
My rating:  5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads summary:
 
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...
 
Mini-review:
 
Hmm, I didn't care for Just Like Fate very much.  Although it's a fast read and there are a few moments where I empathized with the characters, overall this book left a mediocre impression.  I just wasn't crazy about many of the choices Caroline makes.
 
First off, who on earth leaves their dying grandmother in a hospital to go to a party?  Just...what?  The summary claims Caroline goes to a party to "live her life," but to me, going to a party while her grandmother is close to death proves nothing but Caroline's stupidity and immaturity.  This was the first moment that seriously irked me (along with Caroline's insensitive and clichéd best friend), and I couldn't get over it throughout the whole book.  Then the "other" Caroline gets together with her crush Joel, who is a complete jerk, except she's too blind to see it.  So yeah, I couldn't really stand either of the Carolines.
 
There were a couple stuff I liked - Chris (the other love interest) is very sweet and funny, and his character was the one that really seemed to stick out to me.  And I did like the unsteady relationships between Caroline and her dad, as well as Caroline and her sister, and how they developed throughout the book.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make me like this book.  I'd had high hopes since the premise is similar to Pivot Point by Kasie West, but sadly, Just Like Fate didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped.
 
My rating:  2 out of 5 stars
 
~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Interview with Author Ichabod Temperance

Today I have an interview with author Ichabod Temperance to share!  First, you can find his author bio, information about his books, and links to purchase his books below.

Author Bio:

Ichabod Temperance is a silly little fellow residing in beautiful Irondale, Alabama, along with his lovely muse, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, and their furry pack family.

Books:
 
Summary:
 
In a past that never was...

The year is 1869. Earth experiences the close pass of a comet never before seen. In its wake, many of Terra's inhabitants find themselves changed. Among men, prodigies rise in unprecedented numbers, while many ordinary adults suddenly find themselves possessed of preternatural genius. Likewise, non-hominid animals become self-aware and intelligent.

Fast forward to 1875. A young “comet prodigy” from humble beginnings, Ichabod Temperance, has become the world's foremost inventor. He travels to England to deliver his latest brilliant invention to a famous explorer, until Fate intervenes. Meanwhile, a lovely young Bluestocking, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, survives an experimental accident only to find herself imbued with a power she can neither understand nor control, while dark forces and malevolent creatures pursue her, leaving a gruesome wake of death.

Yet, worse is to come. The naïve young inventor and the lovely intellectual find themselves fighting not only to save their own lives, but to prevent the destruction of all life on Earth.

 
Summary:
 

It is New Year's Eve, 1875. In this humorously told Steampunk tale, adventure-prone Ichabod Temperance and his lovely sweetheart, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, once again find themselves swept up into a whirlwind of misadventure and international catastrophe. The entire world totters on the brink of war, as various nations develop arsenals of dreadful power. It seems as though every nation on Earth lusts for Empire. A sinister plot boils to change the course of human history. Along with a remarkable cast of characters, including sapient animals and clockwork men, our heroes find themselves plunged into unimaginable peril!

Purchase links:

A Matter of Temperance

A World of Intemperance

Interview:

1. What made you choose to write about steampunk?

Ichabod-
     I was introduced to the idea of steampunk when I landed an opportunity to do some stunt work on an independent film. "Engines of Destiny" is a sweeping, no-budget, steampunk epic. The impression I got of steampunk from the movie was a charming retelling of science fictions roots. From my wonderful castmates, and the fantastic things I have had the opportunity to do in the film, I decided to embrace the concept of steampunk. My house was halfway steampunk anyway. I was directed to the website "The Steampunk Empire". Here, an individual is encouraged to develop a wildly imaginative steampunk persona. With a persona, it is only natural to develop a backstory. Thus, Ichabod Temperance was born.

2. Whe did you decide to become a writer?

Ichabod-
    One of my castmates, a wonderful gentleman by the name of Arthur Hinds, had a long standing profile on the Steampunk Empire site. His home page contained a blog entry adventure. It was fantastic! Reading his story gave me the inspiration to give it a try myself. Please understand, I have never desired to write before. But I talked over a few ideas with my lovely companion, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, and we decided to give it a go. We joined the Steampunk Empire at the first of February, 2013. I started on my blog adventure in the last week of February. So as of this writing, I have been a writer for nine months.
   I am still knocking off some of my amateurish ways! I started just to amuse myself and my friends. I have a tendency to play as I write. Sometimes, what I may perceive as charming, that is, inappropriate capitalizations, sentence fragments, and imaginative spellings, might be perceived as an annoyance to a practiced reviewer. I am remedying that situation as we speak!

3. How did you get the idea for "A Matter of Temperance"?

Ichabod-
    While developing my steampunk persona, the weaponry used fascinated me. The unusual weapon my character develops in the adventure is actually the catalyst for the whole premise. But I really did not think I could put two words together until I had my opening line. "The rumbling purr of an impossibly big cat thrums through my body." I thought, Hey, that's not a bad line. I have not stopped since. It took a little over three weeks to write the blog adventure. Miss Plumtartt and I thought we had a pretty good novel on our hands. We put the blog together into a novel and formatted it for kindle.

4. What is your solution for writer's block?

Ichabod-
    I have not really been a writer long enough to have suffered from this malady yet. At this time, I have plenty of ideas. I have been involved with a side writing project, though. It is almost over, and I intend to kick butt in my next book.

5. What are some of your favorite books you've read this year?

Ichabod-
    I have always enjoyed perfect eyesight. Until the last few years, that is, when I found my arms growing shorter! Reading had become more and more difficult. But the discovery of e-readers has saved reading for me. It makes reading so much easier. My normal fare in reading is of the thriller style, but I have found myself gravitating towards my favorites of when I was young. I've been rereading a lot of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes of late, and H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds".
 

Be sure to check out Ichabod's books on Amazon and Goodreads!

~ Kaitlyn