Showing posts with label Sourcebooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sourcebooks. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mini Reviews: Protected by Claire Zorn and Karma Khullar's Mustache by Kristi Wientge

From Goodreads: Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems? Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that? In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Claire Zorn's Protected was a book that I failed to connect with for several reasons. Firstly, there was too much going on, what with Hannah being bullied before Katie’s death and now watching her family fall apart since her dad was the one driving the car when Katie was killed. Unsure of whether her husband is to blame for her daughter’s death, Hannah’s mom has spiralled into depression while Hannah’s dad can no longer walk without crutches and may go to prison depending on Hannah’s testimony during a court hearing. Secondly, Protected randomly veers between the present and the past throughout the book, which was very confusing particularly at the beginning of the novel when I didn’t know this. I’d be reading a section thinking it was happening to Hannah in the present and then realize it was a flashback because Katie was alive in the scene. Finally and most importantly, it was hard for me to care that Katie was dead because she was an awful sister to Hannah.

Protected will be released on October 3, 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley. 
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From Back Cover: Karma Khullar is entering middle school and is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend, or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima, or that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mom to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone preoccupied, Karma has no one to turn to, and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When reading MG, I prefer my novels to have crossover appeal. Sadly, I found that Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge did not go into as much depth on themes like bullying, changing friendships, etc. as it could have, and that problems were resolved too easily and simply. For example, although Karma is made fun of for having a mustache, Karma Khullar’s Mustache ends with Karma just rolling her eyes at the fact that she’ll continue to be called ‘Stache until her peers get tired of teasing her. It would have been much better had Karma stood up for herself and told off her peers to convey the message that bullying should never just be accepted. That being said, Karma Khullar’s Mustache may resonate more with younger readers closer to Karma’s age, and the incorporation of Sikh culture should appeal to those seeking more diverse reads. 

Karma Khullar’s Mustache was released by Simon and Schuster on August 15, 2017.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free. 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Mini Reviews: Speed of Life by Carol Weston and Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

From Goodreads: Sofia wonders if 14 might be the worst possible age to lose your mom. Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don't know what to say and her dad gets sad. When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she’s grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning - someone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal - until Sofia’s dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate ... 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Speed of Life by Carol Weston chronicles the life of Sofia over the course of a year, several months after her mom’s sudden death from an aneurysm. As time passes and her life changes in unexpected ways, Sofia slowly grows and learns that life can go on even after a loved one dies. Weston’s background as an advice columnist is clearly evident in the voice of Dear Kate, and I also liked how realistic the book felt. At the same time, many parts of Speed of Life felt very juvenile, making it a book I would have enjoyed a lot more had I been much, much younger. 

A novel that would be a good read for its target audience of middle graders, Speed of Life will be released on April 4, 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley. 
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From Goodreads: It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country? But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him - from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany - the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Caroline Leech’s Wait for Me was a book that piqued my interest because it’s set during WWII. Although I rarely read straight-up romance novels, I ended up really liking Wait for Me because the progression in Lorna’s feelings for Paul felt very natural, and I liked that she had to learn to look beyond Paul’s physical appearance to fall in love with him. The setting of the book also felt very authentic. In fact, there’s even a note at the end of the book about how German POWs did work on Scottish farms and that many ended up falling in love with local girls. The one thing that this book could have done without was an unnecessary potential rape scene. Overall, however, Wait for Me was a solid YA debut. 

Wait for Me was released by HarperTeen in January 2017. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Mini Reviews: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti and The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

From Goodreads: A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job ... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk - but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world. 

My Rating: 1 heart 

Thoughts on the Novel: Chelsea Sedoti’s The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett was a book that I decided to read because I was in the mood for a good mystery. It’s too bad then that this book fell far below my expectations. I found the protagonist, Hawthorn, to be really judgemental and seriously weird. Furthermore, the secondary characters lacked depth and the plotline was boring as it revolved around Hawthorn investigating the disappearance of twenty-one year old Lizzie Lovett, a girl who goes missing while on a camping trip with her boyfriend. Obsessed with Lizzie, Hawthorn finally concludes that she turned into a werewolf. Like, WTF?! I thought Hawthorn was kidding, but the high school senior legitimately believed in her ridiculous theory! On top of that, she then hooks up with Lizzie’s twenty-five year old boyfriend, who I thought was really sleazy (since he kept hooking up with girls in high school). 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett was released on January 3, 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.
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From Goodreads: Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking - all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee had several things going for it. For example, it had an interesting premise since its main character and her mom are able to smell scents that regular humans can’t detect, and then use this information to create elixirs (for free) to help love blossom. Lee also did a phenomenal job of describing various scents (e.g. that of emotions, different flowers, etc.) and the beauty of Mim’s family garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t like The Secret of a Heart Note as much as I thought I would because I didn’t buy the romance in it and got annoyed by Mim making one stupid mistake after another. 

The Secret of a Heart Note was released by Katherine Tegen Books in December 2016. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

From Goodreads: 10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03. The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05. Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With the rise in gun violence and the issue of gun control in the media, it’s not surprising that Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where it Ends ended up on my radar. Then, I found out that Nijkamp is an advocate of diversity in YA, and I knew I had to read her book.

Unfortunately, although This is Where it Ends features PoC and gay characters, the characters lacked depth. Also, with the story being narrated from four different viewpoints, it was hard to connect with any of the characters, especially when some of their voices sounded kind of similar. Furthermore, I didn’t like that the main characters were so obviously portrayed to be victims; each had their own sob story, and it was apparent that I was supposed to sympathize with them. I wish Nijkamp could have written This is Where it Ends in such a way that I would have cared about her characters even if they had trivial problems.

In addition to the four viewpoints, there were tweets, texts, and blog posts from students in between chapters, which were unnecessary to the story. The voice, however, that was clearly missing from the story was that of the shooter. Those involved in school shootings often have suffered from years of abuse or have mental health issues – and that appears to be the case with Tyler – but there seems to be some vital information missing in This is Where it Ends. What makes Tyer decide violence is the best solution to his problems? How does a loving brother and boyfriend become capable of so much cruelty in such a short amount of time?

Although I felt that This is Where it Ends wasn’t suspenseful enough and – as cold-hearted as it sounds – didn’t really care about most of the people that died, I did like the ending. There’s a sense of hope that the town of Opportunity will recover from the senseless violence with time.

This is Where it Ends was released on January 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

Comments About the Cover: Its simplicity makes it eye-catching.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) via NetGalley.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mini Reviews: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark Perini

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out - without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t for the blogosphere. I kept hearing how adorable the story was … and after reading it, I’d have to agree. I loved trying to figure out who Blue was! More importantly, this book deals with issues like identity, acceptance, and questioning what's normal - and does so using characters that feel real. Considering this is Albertalli’s debut, I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next! 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was released by Balzer + Bray in April 2015.
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From Goodreads: Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex. While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana. But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him? 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I normally avoid reading New Adult books because I find that the plot usually involves a lot of drama and/or is sacrificed in favour of romance – or sex scenes. Imagine my surprise then when Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark Perini, a book I requested for review, turned out to be a NA novel.

Thankfully, Halfway Perfect doesn’t have too much drama because Eve and Alex were pretty open with each other and knew right from the start that if they decided to have a relationship, it would have to be a secret so that Alex’s modeling career wouldn’t be jeopardized. I also really liked that the romance didn’t overshadow the plot, which shows the not-so glamorous aspects of being a model.

Halfway Perfect was released on May 5, 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

From Goodreads: Piper Woods can't wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She's sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone's sure it's suicide, but Piper remembers Stella's name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse. Drowning in secrets she doesn't want to keep, Piper's fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished ...

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards is a book I probably would enjoyed more in my teenage years. That’s not to say I still don’t love revenge stories – I do – but if I’m going to love the plot now, there needs to be a very good motivation for the character(s) to want revenge and the victim(s) must truly deserve it.

That wasn’t the case in Gone Too Far, though it did acknowledge that there’s a person behind a label and that not everybody within a certain clique is the same. The motive of the person responsible for exacting revenge (and later blackmailing Piper) was extremely weak, and Piper herself voluntarily became a co-partner because she hadn't stood up for Stella and had been bullied herself by the popular kids. Thankfully, over the course of the novel, Piper slowly becomes more uncomfortable with her role in the take down of some students and realizes that part of the reason she’s in the mess that she’s in is due to the fact that she’s very judgmental. However, trying to get her anonymous co-partner to stop seeking retribution is another matter altogether. 

Gone Too Far was released on January 6, 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s okay. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mini Reviews: The Hunt by Stacey Kade and Boys Like You by Juliana Stone

From Goodreads: Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life. But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger. Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies? 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Hunt by Stacey Kade is a sequel that really relies on readers remembering what happened in the previous book because it doesn’t provide much recap of the events that occurred in The Rules. Much more action-oriented than The Rules, I liked that The Hunt expanded the scope of the plot to show what GTX’s competitors are up to and how their hybrids differ from Ariane. The drawback to Ariane and Zane being on the run, however, was that the arguments they kept having became sort of repetitive after a while. But, overall, I found The Hunt to be a solid sequel; and its cliffhanger ending pretty much ensures that I’ll be reading the next book in the series.

The Hunt was released in April 2014 by Disney Hyperion. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Disney Book Group) for free via NetGalley. 
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From Back Cover: For Monroe Blackwell, one small mistake has torn her family apart – leaving her empty and broken. There’s a hole in her heart that nothing can fill. That no one can fill. And a summer in Louisiana with her Grandma isn’t going to change that … Nathan Everets knows heartache first-hand when a car accident leaves his best friend in a coma. And it’s his fault. He should be the one lying in the hospital. The one who will never play guitar again. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and a court-appointed job at the Blackwell B&B isn’t going to change that … Captivating and hopeful, this achingly poignant novel brings together two lost souls struggling with grief and guilt – looking for acceptance, so they can find forgiveness. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Considering that it features two broken characters, I was expecting Boys Like You by Juliana Stone to be a bit more emotionally intense. Instead, I feel like Stone sacrificed a more drawn out healing process in favour of romance. It's not that the characters didn't learn to deal with their issues and understand that life goes on, but they seemed to come to this conclusion in a very simplistic manner and relied a bit too heavily on each other. Also, the romance was very insta-love, and it annoyed me how Monroe and Nathan kept mentioning how hot the other person looked or repeatedly felt that the other person was worth getting to know simply because they could tell they were broken too by gazing into their eyes.

Boys Like You was released by Sourcebooks Fire on May 6, 2014. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.
 
original image from thegate.ca

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mini Reviews: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley and When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

From Goodreads: Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed - or cursed - with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture. Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley was a thriller I enjoyed. Although a lot of people may find who the killer is to be very obvious, it took me a while to venture a guess as to who the murderer could be; and only when Aria figured out her own riddle did all the clues really fall into place for me.

Besides the good mystery, I liked Aria. I found it very easy to sympathize with her frustration of being an oracle and having to answer any question she overhears, her loneliness due to being considered a freak by her classmates, and her desire to be normal.  

Ask Me will be released by Soho Teen on April 8, 2014. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Soho Teen) for free via Edelweiss.
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From Goodreads: First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can't wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute for a "security breach," squashing Audrey's chances for making any new friends. What good is having a bowling alley if you don't have anyone to bowl with? Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless - until she discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary. The former first daughter's outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun ... and more problems than she can handle.  

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens was a nice MG read, which imagines what life as a First Daughter is like in modern times and contrasts it with the fictional – though based upon much research – diary chronicling Alice Roosevelt’s experience as a First Daughter in 1901. I liked seeing how similarly restricted both girls felt but also discovering how much more freedom the First Daughter would have had just a century ago.

Since I don’t know much about American history (being a Canadian, duh!), I enjoyed learning about Alice Roosevelt. While I liked Audrey, she seemed very young (which isn’t surprising because she’s only thirteen) and not as interesting in comparison to the sixteen-year-old Alice.

When Audrey Met Alice was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in February 2014. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: My Life With The Walter Boys by Ali Novak

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard is devastated when her parents are killed in a car accident. She has no one to turn to except for her mom's best friend Katherine Walter. Jackie quickly discovers that Katherine is no stranger to being a mom-she's got twelve boys! And every single one is a handful ... Adjusting to life with the Walter boys is not going to be easy, especially when two of them start to show an interest that definitely goes beyond brotherly. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I saw the synopsis for Ali Novak’s My Life With The Walter Boys, I expected a light, breezy read. Thankfully, I got that because My Life With The Walter Boys was just so full of drama – so much so, that I laughed at times because I couldn’t believe anybody saying or doing anything similar in real life.

There isn’t much of a plot in My Life With The Walter Boys. Instead, the book relies on the reader getting emotionally invested with its characters. For me, that didn’t happen to the degree that I wanted it to.

I’m not sure why some of the Walter boys were so interested in Jackie because I just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. A couple of characters described her as a goody two shoes, and I think that’s an appropriate description since she was so boring and uptight. I did like though that she refused to be a doormat and let Cole walk all over her.

I also found the romance quite dull, particularly because neither guy appealed to me. Not only did Alex and Jackie have nothing in common, but they had no chemistry whatsoever either. As well, I didn’t like how Alex kept emphasizing that Jackie was his girlfriend because it made it seem like she was simply a property to own.

On the other end of the love triangle was Cole, who I thought was a major ass. Basically, I detested him for the way he treated girls and the way he acted towards Jackie and his brothers when he didn’t get his way.

The other Walters had equally distinct personalities, and I liked the way they interacted with each other. I also found their reactions towards Jackie when she moved in with them to be very understandable. As for the rest of the secondary characters, they were girls whose sole purpose seemed to be to gush over Cole or be one of his hookups.

Ultimately, I don’t think My Life With The Walter Boys and I were a great fit because the book seemed very juvenile to me. Novak apparently wrote My Life With The Walter Boys when she was fifteen, and I find that shows in the book not only through her writing but also because her characters – who were supposed to be older than her – didn’t act like their age.

My Life With The Walter Boys will be released on March 1, 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

Comments About the Cover: I find it rather amateurish looking. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Mini Reviews: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott and Broken by C.J. Lyons

From Goodreads: Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with. But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her. Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Before I began blogging, one of my favourite YA contemporary authors was Elizabeth Scott. I’m pretty sure though that I haven’t read any of her novels since I began blogging so I decided to give her latest book, Heartbeat, a try.

Considering Heartbeat is such a character-driven novel, it’s essential that the reader love – or at least, like – its protagonist. Unfortunately, the interesting premise of Heartbeat was utterly ruined by the character of Emma! She was so incredibly mean to her loving stepfather and all woe-is-me that I didn’t even want to connect with her! (The fact that I totally disagreed with her logic may have also contributed to that.) As well, I didn’t like the romance. I thought that Caleb and Emma should have just stayed as friends because I didn’t really feel the chemistry between them.

Heartbeat will be released by Harlequin Teen on January 28, 2014. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Harlequin Teen) for free via NetGalley.  
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From Goodreads: The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now ... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I think I would have liked C.J. Lyons’ Broken better if it had been a straight up contemporary about a girl with Long QT trying to live a normal life with an overbearing mother or if the thriller elements had come in earlier in the novel. Had Broken been a contemporary (which is what I would have preferred), Lyons could have dealt with themes like bullying and having a seriously ill family member with more depth. On the other hand, if the thriller aspect hadn’t taken so long to come into play, there could have been a bit more suspense and the ending may not have been so rushed. Since neither of these situations occurred and I completely forgot that Broken was marketed as a thriller, the plot twist was slightly unexpected. With only one suspect in the novel, however, the only mystery was their motive. 

Broken was released by Sourcebooks Fire in November 2013. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

From Goodreads: Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: While the synopsis of Hannah Jayne’s Truly, Madly, Deadly suggested that this thriller would keep me turning the pages as fast as possible, I, unfortunately, found that the story didn’t live up to its potential. I thought this was mainly because of poor execution and a lack of connection with the characters.

Although Sawyer having to deal with a mysterious stalker is the central focus of the book, Truly, Madly, Deadly also touches on the topic of physical abuse. Since the abuse is never really depicted however, it appeared to be more of a plot device that’s used to elicit sympathy for Sawyer and to provide the stalker with a reason for killing Kevin.

Sawyer herself wasn’t someone I really cared about because I found her to be kind of blah. As well, she gets involved with Cooper when she isn’t over Kevin’s death and then yo-yos back and forth between desire and guilt when spending time with Cooper. It was annoying, and I could have easily done without the romance.

Truly, Madly, Deadly was released by Sourcebooks Fire on July 2, 2013.

Comments About the Cover: I feel like the cover’s trying to be creepy and mysterious. But, it’s just not working. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

From Goodreads: Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much - she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of. And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family? Now her life is completely different ... every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The topic of HIV/AIDS hasn’t really been tackled yet in YA so I applaud Jessica Verdi for doing so skilfully with her debut novel, My Life After Now. Her book was informative. It was touching. And, it was thoughtfully written.

As a character, Lucy makes some unwise choices both before and after she gets HIV. It would have been all too easy for me to get annoyed by her. Instead, I found Lucy to be an incredibly sympathetic and relatable protagonist.

Through Lucy’s journey in trying to come to terms with her positive HIV diagnosis, Verdi makes the reader think about how a simple mistake can utterly change one’s life. How would you react if you were to be diagnosed with HIV? Would you tell anybody at all about your diagnosis, and if so, who? Verdi also shows the reader how something inconsequential like trying to get a cut treated can become a huge obstacle to navigate for someone with HIV. Finally, through Lucy’s research and conversations with Roxie, the reader learns factual information about HIV.

As great as My Life After Now was, I did think it was a bit idealistic because of how lucky Lucy was in terms of her support system. Her parents are a gay couple and while shocked by her diagnosis, are quick to accept the news and extremely understanding. Lucy’s best friends act like her positive diagnosis isn't life changing at all. The girl who Lucy dislikes (and vice versa) doesn’t spread the news like wildfire when she accidentally finds out that Lucy is HIV-positive. And, the two times Lucy isn’t happy with how she’s treated leads to threats of suing … which is so convenient because one of her dads just happens to be a lawyer.

Still, My Life After Now is worth a read. I dove into it not knowing what to expect, and finished it amazed with how brilliantly Verdi dealt with the topic of teen sex without being preachy about the importance of safe sex.

My Life After Now was released on April 2, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

Comments About the Cover: Since anybody get an STD, I like that the model is turned away as it gives her an air of anonymity.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley. 

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Review: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

From Goodreads: Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was. Now Violet has something Phoenix - the exiled angel who betrayed her - will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too. Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn't take him long to realize exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell. With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to ...

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington, the third book in The Violet Eden Chapters, picks up right where Entice leaves off. With only six months between releases, you’d think that I’d remember what happened in prior books better! But, for some reason, by the time a new book in this series is released, I can barely remember why Violet is so special, let alone the overarching plot. I really think having a list of major characters with their powers at the end of the book and a brief recap at the beginning would help solve my problem.

In terms of how The Violet Eden Chapters has evolved, a lot of things remain the same. For example, each book ends with a cliffhanger. As well, Violet continues to be pretty immature, having secret meetings with Phoenix and withholding information from her Grigori friends rather than letting them be a source of support. I’m also getting sort of tired of the whole wanting-to-be-with-Lincoln-but-not-being-able-to phenomenon. I love though that we still get some steamy scenes and that Shirvington remains able to smoothly incorporate her angel mythology with the historical background of the different places (e.g. Jordan, Santorini, etc.) the Grigoris travel to.

The one noticeable change in Emblaze is that Violet’s absent father suddenly starts to notice his daughter. He begins to question her whereabouts and even makes an attempt to ground her. Although it was weird to have Mr. Eden randomly acting like an actual parent, I like the development and am curious to see how this will change his relationship with his daughter. 

Emblaze will be released on March 5, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire.
  
Comments About the Cover: It matches Entice’s a lot more than Embrace’s. The darker look also goes well with the darker tone of this novel. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton

From Goodreads: Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now ... 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I hadn’t read any reviews of Laurie Boyle Crompton’s Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) before I dove into it, and so had no idea of what to expect from it. Usually, I’ve had good luck with these types of books because I’ve ended up liking them way more than I thought I would in hindsight, but that wasn’t the case with Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains). And to think it started off so well!

At first, I found Blaze to be an endearing character. She was responsible, made me smile with her thoughts, and had a great relationship with her brother and his friends. It was also pretty easy to relate to her crush on a guy above her social ranking. At some point prior to the halfway mark though, Blaze became more annoying than endearing; and eventually, became one of the stupidest main characters I’ve ever encountered. Here’s why:
  • Her infatuation with Mark – we never really get to know much about him other than the fact that he loves soccer and likes blondes – started to feel obsessive. 
  • She and her friends continually talk about what a slut one of their classmates is and thereby continue to perpetuate that rumour. 
  • After Blaze suggests that her friend, Amanda, flirt with a buddy of Mark and he ignores her, Amanda sexts a picture of Blaze in a fit of anger. Instead of dumping her frenemy, Blaze remains best friends with her. 
  • Even before Mark takes an interest in Blaze, Blaze’s younger brother hints that his coach might be a player. Blaze chooses to ignore Josh’s warnings and promptly proceeds to lose her virginity to Mark – after one movie date where she lets him get to second base! – in the back of her van … without using a condom! Blaze then assumes Mark is her boyfriend for some reason. WTF?!
  • Although it’s clear that her dad doesn’t give a damn about his family after leaving them to pursue his acting dreams, Blaze thinks her dad can help solve her problems and decides to drive to New York from Pennsylvania (without letting him know she’s coming).
Though Blaze essentially ruined the book for me, the big positive about Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) was that Crompton showed the serious ramifications of sexting.

Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) was released by Sourcebooks Fire on February 1, 2013. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the pink hair, but why is the model’s entire face covered by her hair? The windblown look makes it seem as if there’s a hairdryer or something positioned at the back of her head? 

Note: Unlike my ARC, the finished copy has illustrations that resemble those of a comic book.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies by Jordan Jacobs

From Back Cover: There's nothing twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton wants more than to become an adventure-seeking archaeologist like her brilliant Uncle Jay. Samantha's big dreams are finally coming true when Jay invites her along on a summer excavation exploring an ancient temple in the Peruvian Andes. But this adventure isn't exactly what she thought it would be with her nosy older brother, Evan, and Jay's bossy colleagues monitoring her every move. On top of that, she has to deal with the local legend, El Loco, a ghostly madman who supposedly haunts the ruins. But when the project's most important finds go missing, it's up to Samantha to solve the mystery before Jay loses his job and the treasures of the temple are lost forever.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: You know how when you’re little, people ask you what you want to be when you grow up? Well, one of my answers used to be: “Archaeologist!” As I grew up, I realized that it probably wasn’t as glamourous a job as the media made it out to be and that getting dirty wasn’t something I was fond of. And let’s not even talk about bugs! However, I thought it would be interesting to read Jordan Jacobs’ Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies considering that Jacobs himself is an archaeologist. Here’s my list of pros and cons about the novel:

Pros: 
  • Because the locals living around Chavin de Huantar speak Spanish, I liked that Jacobs kept their sentences and questions in Spanish rather than translating them into English. I may not have understood what was being said, but the incorporation of Spanish gave the book a more authentic feel. It also enabled me to relate to Samantha’s plight of not being able to understand what’s being discussed when people are conversing in Spanish because she doesn’t know the language.
  • Similarly, I liked the incorporation of real archaeological terms.
  • I thought the relationship between Samantha and Evan was depicted pretty realistically. As siblings close in age, they argue a lot; but there are also times when they’re sort of nice to each other.
  • Overall, I felt that Jacobs did a good job of demonstrating the day-to-day life of an archaeologist.
Cons: 
  • Though I didn’t think the answer was that obvious, my hunch as to who the looters might be turned out to be correct. Nevertheless, I had no clue as to how the looters were stealing from the units.
  • The book could have used a bit more excitement. It was a little more serious in tone than the MG novels I prefer to read, and I never felt that need to find out what was going to happen next.
Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on October 1, 2012.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Entice by Jessica Shirvington

From Goodreads: Violet Eden is Grigori - part angel, part human. Her destiny is to protect humans from the vengeance of exiled angels. Knowing who to trust is key but, when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even Lincoln. The only thing Violet does know: Phoenix's hold over her is more dangerous than ever. The race to find the one thing that could tilt the balance of power brings them all to the sacred mountains of Jordan, where Violet's power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Generally, I find that sequels tend to not be as strong as their predecessors. So after finishing Jessica Shirvington’s Embrace with mixed feelings a few months ago, I was a little hesitant about continuing on with Entice. I’m happy I did decide to give it a try because Entice was much better than Embrace.

One of my main issues with Embrace was that I didn’t really like Violet. I’m still by no means in love with her as a character, but she’s a lot more tolerable – and even likeable on occasion. Violet may be prone to bouts of crying – I understand she’s under quite a bit of stress but I’d like less of this in future sequels – and sneaking around, but at least she comes clear about it later on and shares the information she learns. She’s definitely growing as a character, and I look forward to her maturing even more in Emblaze.

Another thing that Shirvington handled better in Entice was the romance. With the removal of Phoenix from Violet’s love life, – no worries Phoenix lovers, he’s still very much present otherwise – the romance became more subtle and didn’t feel like it was overwhelming the plot. As well, I liked that there was finally an explanation – and you get to see the consequences! – for why Grigori partners can’t shouldn’t get romantically involved.

For me, the best aspect about Entice, however, was the overall plot. The disappointing continuation of absent or dead parents aside, Entice delved deeper into the angel mythology (which seemed less muddled in this book) and had some very surprising twists. I also found the new cast of secondary characters a welcome addition, and liked the brief change in location to Jordan. I just wish the Jordanian culture and setting had been more fleshed out.

By raising the stakes, Entice managed to make me fully invested in The Violet Eden Chapters. Be warned though that you may need a copy of Embrace nearby for referral since Entice doesn’t recap what happened in Embrace.

Entice will be released by Sourcebooks on September 4, 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: It sure looks much darker than Embrace’s! I like that Sourcebooks is still sticking with the wispy smoke around the cover title, translucent angel wings and falling black feathers though so that Entice’s cover also bears some similarities with Embrace’s. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

From Goodreads: For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave. He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth. His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods. Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea ... and now it wants him back. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova was a book that I thought would be much darker and have more action. Even though that didn’t turn out to necessarily be the case, I was still pleased with Cordova’s debut because the characterization and worldbuilding were fabulous.

I sometimes find that when female authors are writing from the point-of-view of a male teenager, their protagonist doesn’t sound like a guy. Cordova, however, appears to have nailed it with Tristan’s voice. At times, I really liked Tristan because he had a great sense of humour and because even though he could be quite cocky, he did have his moments of insecurity. At other times though, I wanted to slug him for acting like a jerk and being so thoughtless. Either way, I thought Tristan was a pretty memorable character.

Cordova’s secondary characters were fleshed out nicely too. Although I didn’t care for the romance angle between Tristan and Layla (mainly because Tristan came off as a player to me), I liked that Layla didn’t get overshadowed by Tristan’s personality. I also enjoyed Tristan’s interactions with his parents, Kurt, Thalia and Marty, and I can’t wait to see how he holds up against Nieve.

As well, it’s obvious that Cordova put a lot of thought into her worldbuilding, and I liked the allusions to The Little Mermaid. I would have preferred the search for the Sea King’s missing trident pieces to have started earlier though so that it didn’t feel rushed at the end.

A solid start to what I think will be an extremely fun trilogy, The Vicious Deep was released by Sourcebooks Fire on May 1, 2012.

Comments About the Cover: The storm raging in the background complements the title of the book and the slogan “Don’t let it pull you under.” Also, since The Vicious Deep isn’t overly girly, it could be marketed to male readers and so it’s nice that the cover can appeal to them too.  

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.
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