Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin'
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Pub: 9/15/2015
Pgs: 384
ARC Received by Edelweiss


I loved. loved. loved Dumplin' . First, the main character's name is Willowdean, that's just precious, and then she's a self proclaimed fat girl. Secondly, even though she does proclaim herself to be fat, she's not bounded by that. If she wants to go swimming, she puts on a bikini and goes. Sure she has an inner monologue about how her thighs are dimply, and that she hates that she has these bad thoughts about her body because others are uncomfortable with her body. She's actually a really strong and correct depiction of what it is to be a fat girl (anyone who doesn't fit in Hollister or Abercrombie)and go to high school in America. Some of us "fat girls" will develop issues, but most of us are just trying to have a body positive attitude because frankly there are just some things we can never change about our selves, or hey, we work out and eat healthy but can't seem to fit in size 2, which is okay. I just loved Will and her attitude about life, love, and being yourself.

Not only did I like the voice coming forth from this book, but the minute Will started to talk about Private School Bo I instantly knew he was amazing. When Will felt giddy, I felt giddy; when Bo brushed her hand I felt excited; and when she was having a hard time deciding what she wanted, I also felt that way. Bo isn't perfect but he's an amazing addition to YA boyfriends.

The last thing I wanted to comment on was how natural this story progressed. Will didn't want to be in a pageant because she's not allowed to or even to make a statement. She did it because, why not. The pageant wasn't the main theme of the story, so it didn't make the message superficial, if anything it went with the theme of "why can't I" and "only you can stop yourself."

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

One by Sarah Crossan

OneOne by Sarah Crossan
Pub: 9/15/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC Received Through Edelweiss

"You See,
Tippi & I are not what you'd call normal-
not what you see everyday
or any day
for that matter.
Anyone with a jot of good manners
calls us "conjoined"
though we've been dubbed other things, too:
freaks, fiends,
monsters, mutants,
and even a two-headed demon once,
which made me cry so hard
I had puffy eyes for a week."


This was an awesome read. I like variety and I also like publishers/authors/books that include many facets and experiences... and this book did just that. For once we are given a YA book about conjoined twins. I am not sure how accurately it depicts growing up as a conjoined twin, but the effort alone is great. Another note worthy point is that I never felt as though this book was making fun of conjoined twins or even exploit such a situation.

Besides its originality the main character, Grace, has a remarkably insightful voice, but of course that is something you would expect from someone who has lived on the outskirts of the norm. While she is the relaxed and quiet one, Tippi is the loud and usually dominate one. They have 4 arms, 2 heads, 2 hearts, 2 legs, and fused intestines (and lady parts). Her parents have homeschooled them since they were little, but times are changing, and they will soon be in a regular high school with regular kids, like their little sister "Dragon".

Unfortunately for the twins, life is just getting started and it's getting harder. Now they will navigate the outside world, alone (obviously together), meet new friends, feel the stirrings of first loves, and eventually have to deal with the health complications that come with being a conjoined twin. The characters are endearing, the laughter is great, and the pain is just bittersweet.

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Pub: 8/27/2015
Pgs: 352
ARC Received through Edelweiss


Patrick Ness is amazing, and this book just proved it. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is about ordinary teenagers that live in an extraordinary world. Where all their "indie" classmates have destinies of fighting darkness, some of them are decedents of gods, and others... much like Mikey are just plan ordinary kids trying to get by.

This is the story of Mikey and his friends trying to survive high school, fall in love, and deal with the next stage in their life, all along dealing with the fall out of the Chosen Ones and their destines. The concept is pretty simple but pretty ingenious. I have found myself wondering about the rest of the population in the books that bring fantasy, paranormal, and supernatural stories tied to the main characters. How do those other people get by? Are they in the know of what's going on? Is this a syndrome only teenagers seem to be able to see and not the adults? Did the adults ever encounter spectacular happenings when they were teens, and did their encounters cause issues for the next generation?

The characters were also great, and extraordinary, even if they were not indie kids themselves. They still dealt with all issues that come up in high school, and before you graduate. I fell in love with most of them except Henna, she was kind of a jerk, but oh well, no one is perfect. I was delighted to read something new from Ness, but I was more delighted about how the story played out.

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano

Diary of a HauntingDiary of a Haunting by M. Verano
Pub: 8/25/2015
Pg: 288
ARC Received through Edelweiss

When the reader first cracks open the spine of this book, they are given an introduction from the author/professor in this book, M. Verano. The purpose of the introduction is to give validity to the "true story" the reader will embark on, but it also gives an eerie start to this story.

Paige and her family move to Idaho after a really messy divorce in the spotlight. The story is given in diary entries from Paige's perspective. Initially all that is wrong with her new home is that it's in Idaho, away from civilization. Soon Paige starts experiencing a ridiculous amount of flies in her house, unexplainable issues with her phone, and her brother begins to act differently. All along her mother acknowledges the situation and weird goings on but to her these are friendly spirits.

An outcast, Chloe, befriends Paige. Chloe is this "emo" dark girl who is into the supernatural. She being fascinated by the supernatural asks to sleepover one night because it is said that Paige's house used to be a hospital and the basement was the morgue. The girls begin to investigate and stumble on a boy in the basement, Ralph. Apparently he lives down there and is pretty much alive, so it seems. His mother owns the house and he rents the basement, while Paige's mother rents the whole house.

It will be up to Paige to figure out what is going on in her new home, and save her family from becoming a victim to an occult group from the past. But what do you do when you become the thing that bumps in the night?

I'm not sure if I liked this book completely. It definitely had a creepy atmosphere, intense emotions from the main character and unexplained happenings throughout the story. What I did like most and makes all the small issues and shortcomings seem not so bad is the way we are given an unreliable narrator. This haunting is happening to the main character's family home and sometimes that can cloud reality and perceptions. THe reader is left questioning what is real and what is perceived as reality by the narrator. Also, the reader is given a limited view of what is truly taking place. This technique gives an eerie tone to the whole story, especially by the end.

3 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

The CreepingThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Pub: 8/18/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC Received from Edelweiss

"I'm the lucky one; or at least that's what they say.  I'm here to squint up at Independence Day fireworks under an orangehued moon; to fidget in the violet organza of my junior prom dress; to toast under the Midwestern sun while sipping peach fizzies lakeside.  But sometimes the luck is harder to see."

17 year old Stella cannot remember what happened on the day that Jeanie was abducted. Stella was only 5, but it has been the most significant thing that has happened to her, because she was with Jeanie and she was the only one that made it home that day. Since then everything has changed, Stella is a popular girl in her high school, the guys fawn over her, and she has a great group of friends. On the anniversary of Jeanie's disappearance another little girl, with red hair like Jeanie, is found dead and mutilated at the cemetery. Is this a coincidence or a link to Jeanie's disappearance? With the discovery of a new body, people begin to come back to Stella's town, people that were there and were connected to Jeanie and Stella before Jeanie disappeared. And there is a haunting past to Jeanie's town, one that could also explain what happened, because people have been disappearing throughout history in this sleepy town in Minnesota.

Stella decides she needs to find out what happened to Jeanie, she needs to find out what happened or else she will forever be living in this volatile existence of the survivor. With the help of her uber-controlling and uber-popular best friend, and an old and pretty cute best friend Stella goes in search for answers that seem to have been buried for a reason. Will she be able to figure out who took Jeanie? Will the myth of The Creeping be proven to be truth? How far will these teens go to find the answers no one is willing to seek?

I really liked how this book started out with inclinations of the supernatural or some otherness, but in the end monsters are explained much differently. The elements of suspicion and treachery are a big component to what made this novel so enticing. I wanted to tell Stella to stop looking (actually I wanted Stella to stop being a jerk most of the time, but hey people come in all different manners, cannot judge this book on just her character because there are so many redeeming characters within the book), I wanted Sam to stop encouraging the investigation, and I definitely wanted Shane to be told more from the beginning. The ending really did not disappoint and I kind of didn't really think it a possible ending because the supernatural was so prominent and I don't think most people's minds go right to that anyway (I don't want to say too much on what was so shocking in the end.)

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Reawakened (Reawakened, #1)Reawakened by Colleen Houck
Pub: 8/11/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC received through Edelweiss

"I need sustenance, Young Lily...Without my jars I must share your life force."

"Share my... Well, see, that's the thing, I'm using mine just now, thank you. Really wish I could help you, I do."


Lilliana Young is a 17 year old, who lives the comfortable life in New York City. On her spring break she decides to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and enjoy sometime to herself while sketching. Because Lily is known at the museum and she is part of the 1%, she gets special treatment and asks to go into one of the closed off sections of the library for some privacy. There is a new Egyptian exhibit coming along and hasn't opened yet, this is where Lily's life completely changes from sturdy and predictable to adventurous and h.o.t. As Lily is sketching she hears a noise and after investigating she finds herself face to face with a young and very attractive guy who is wearing a pleated white skirt and pretty much nothing else. This piece of eye candy is Amon, and he is definitely not from NYC or this century.

Amon is an ancient prince from Egypt, who has come back to life to complete a sacred ritual that will protect the world from chaos. He wakes up somewhere he has never woken up before, he doesn't know where his brothers are, and they need to complete the ritual before the next full moon, which is coming up soon. Not only does he have all this going on but it seems that when his coffin was moved to NYC they forgot his life force, or the jars containing his organs. He must convince Lily to help him in more ways than she can fathom, and he must link Lily to him so that he can stay alive without his jars.

Lily would like nothing more than to run away from Amon but soon she realizes they are connected in multiple ways and she's done being Lilliana Young, the perfect daughter. She gathers up her courage and sets off on an adventure of a life time with really hot mummies/princes, crazy cults, unearthing thousand year old secrets, and a flame that has begun to consume her every time she thinks of Amon. Will Lily be able to help Amon and his brothers before time runs out, or will she lose her heart and her life?

I am in love! Colleen Houck introduced readers to exotic settings, love like no other, and crazy curses in her last series; now she has created another enchanting series that could very well rival her last one. The story telling is still really great and attention grabbing, the main character is still kind of annoying (I am sorry! It's so true, it's my only issue every time), and the guys... well the guys are definitely note worthy and just *drool* . I cannot wait to find out what happens next because that prince sure knew what he was doing in the end.

5 stars all the way! Thanks Edelweiss.

Gidion's Hunt by Bill Blume

Gidion's Hunt

Gidion's Hunt by Bill Blume
Pub: 8/11/2015
Pgs: 296
ARC received through NetGalley


Gidion Keep isn't your average sophomore in high school; not after his grandfather let him on the family secret. The Keeps know something everyone else doesn't know; Vampires are real and the Keeps hunt them down. Gidion now hunts vampires and when the job is done he notifies his grandfather, who owns a funeral home with its own incinerator. The only problem Gidion faces is his father finding out. His father is an ex-cop we works for the dispatching unit now, and once hunted vampires but after a death close to home he stopped and focused on Gidion. Gidion constantly has to come up with plausible stories for his father, and this might not seem like a lot of trouble, but for a son of an ex-cop it's pretty tough. Besides this, Gidion is your average teen looking for some action whether it's fighting vampires or you know... girls. That is, until Gidion saves someone he knows from a vampire, alerting that person to what he does. Not only does this happen once but twice, and soon Gidion realizes the vampires are contracting hits against these two people. Now Gidion must figure out who is involved, where to locate the vampire leader, stop being tongue tied in front of the hot senior girl he saved, and figure out what's going on with his best friend all before it's too late.

I really liked Gidion as a character. First, he's a guy... yay! for a guy MC. Second, the humor was spot on. Most of the interactions between characters were funny and moved the story along quickly. This was a quick read because it kept me engaged one moved along so quickly I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I also really liked the relationship between Gidion, his father, and his grandfather. All three guys are there for each other in many different manners, and each one has their own secret that they are keeping from each other.

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks NetGalley.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left BehindWhat You Left Behind By Jessica Verdi
Pub: 8/4/2015
Pgs: 368
ARC Received by Edelweiss

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi gave me the feels. I was crying my eyes out, and I do have to say this topic is very sensitive for me at this point. Meg was your average smart girl, who was pretty but never on the radar... at least not Ryden's radar. Ryden was the athletic jock, who all the girls liked... including Meg. After one chance conversation in class Ryden is bewitched and Meg has finally got her knight in shining armor. Being teenagers, things get hot and heavy really quick, and even though there is true feelings behind this.. it's not all truthful.

You see Meg was sick and she never told Ryden, and Ryden really liked Meg but he wasn't ready for forever. Meg gets pregnant and her cancer comes back. She had to decide if she wanted to continue chemo or keep the baby, and Meg fought tooth and nail to keep Hope (the baby girl), even though she knew there was a huge chance she wouldn't live to hold her daughter. Ryden only wanted to keep Meg alive, she was the most important part of the equation, they were too young to have a baby, and sacrificing Meg was not an option.

Unfortunately Ryden realizes something important: you cannot control life or the outcomes of others' decisions. Instead Ryden has to learn to be a single father, deal with his surmounting guilt over the situation, go to school while working and being a parent, and learn to live again. He still feels stuck in the past, and he keeps himself there with a few notebooks Meg left behind documenting their first conversation up until her death. It was such an emotional ride that I felt compelled to finish the book once I started. Ryden is completely relatable and makes numerous mistakes, and that's okay, because he portrays an average person trying to deal with life's ups and downs.

4.5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan

From Where I Watch You
From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan
Pub: 8/4/2015
Pgs: 304
ARC Received by Edelweiss


I loved this story.  At first I think I was just reading it to read it, and soon I was completely enthralled by Kara McKinley's world.  Kara has wanted to disappear since right before 9th grade, the summer that ruined everything, and the summer that Kara decided she was done with her sister Kellen, right until Kellen died in an accident that October.  After Kellen's death, Kara's world is turned upside down again.  Her parents aren't together, her mother gave up being a lawyer to be a devote Christian/coffee house owner who sells blessed pea soup, and she has been receiving some really terrifying notes from an anonymous stalker.

All Kara wants to do now is enter a baking competition that will get her to the school of her dreams and away from the nightmare she has been living, the only problem is that Kara's mother would rather her not leave the vicinity of their zip code.  Finding a way into the competition will not be as hard as facing the demons of her past, trying to figure out her old crush that has come back to town, and figuring out if in fact she is being haunted by her sister or really has a dangerous stalker after her. 

I really liked the turmoil that was placed in Kara's life.  It was realistic and tons of messed up.  Seeing how the characters worked together, or with the plot in mind was great.  The mystery could be guessed quite easily but there is so much deflection going on that it takes at least 75% of the book before the reader starts to see the clear outline of the mystery. 

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves, #1)
A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes
Pub: 6/23/2015
Pgs: 368
ARC received by Edelweiss.


Morgan Rhodes has had a successful run with her on going series, Falling Kingdoms, and now she's created a spinoff series that brings the modern world in contact with Ancient Mythica.

Crystal and Becca Hatcher live with their mother and work in the family book store. Things haven't been the same since their father left them and has never contacted them. One day a mysterious package arrives for their mother from their aunt. Crystal, being the rule breaker that she is, opens the package addressed to her mother to find a book. Once her disappointment has passed she opens the book to find that it's written in a foreign language. Becca takes the book to investigate it and is immediately effected by the book in a magical manner. Now Becca is in a coma, Crystal has to explain to her mother something unexplainable, and she has to figure out how her family and her father are tied to all of this. As she delves into the mystery of what happened to Becca, Crystal will learn family secrets that could tear her family apart and put Becca in danger.

Maddox Corso lives in Ancient Mythica, where he is known as the witch boy. Driven by debt he works for a thug of Mythica that spins Maddox's abilities and sells Maddox's services for high prices. When the Goddess finds out about Maddox she imprisons him to ask him to find a missing princess and a book. While this is going on Maddox starts seeing the specter of Becca Hatcher. He doesn't know why she keeps following him or why he is the only one that can see her, all he knows is that she dresses, talks, and acts differently than anyone else in Mythica. Together they must figure out the mystery laid before them by the Goddess and also how Becca can return home.

Farrell Grayson is your typical rich kid bad boy. Ever the fighter, rake, and disappointment to his parents, Farrell belongs to a secret society that all of his family members belong to. This elite group is run by Markus King, and the things this society does could make anyone's skin crawl. As Farrell keeps falling down deeper into this rabbit hole, he slowly starts losing himself and becoming someone even his younger brother cannot recognize. His path will cross with Crystal and both will learn how their lives, families, and futures are interconnected.


I really enjoyed this spinoff. There are not that many similarities to the other series, which is refreshing, but the writing style is still the same and that's great! I love how Rhodes can weave in magic, mystery, suspense, love, revenge, and friendship in her novels. She gives such great life to her stories and characters.

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss. 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Pub: 6/9/2015
Pg: 400
ARC Received by Edelweiss


Minnow Bly used to play outside, eat ice cream, read stories, and do the things little kids do, but one day her father came home with new ideas about a prophet and the chosen people. The same idea that changed Minnow's life, and countless of other people, when a cult was created and executed deep in the woods. With a prophet that rules with an iron fist, and Deacons (like Minnow's father) who are willing to enforce the rules or punishments dealt out by the prophet, many of the community live in fear. Not only is that an issue, but there is the issue of multiple wives and child brides.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly delves into the world of cult practices and how these communities can break an innocent spirit. Not only is the story about Minnow's life in the community, but also the crime that ended the whole community life and brought awareness to the authorities about said crimes committed against disobedient members of the community. Minnow is just one of the victims, having had her hands cut off for disobeying "God's" orders to marry the prophet. I really liked the way the story unfolded from memories, testimonies, and conversations with other characters and Minnow. The deceptions and secrecy in this novel make it a thriller, but the present actions in the novel that deal with Minnow in juvie are pieces of darkened humor.

This story in many ways reminds me of All the Truth That's In Me , and I loved that story. It's worth the read because it deals with redemption, lies, complacencies, and perseverance.

3.5 stars out of 5. Thanks Edelweiss.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series, #1)
The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
Pub: 6/9/2015
Pg: 368
ARC received by Edelweiss


What I Liked:
I liked the setting.  The idea of recycling souls, and inheriting souls because there is a shortage of souls in the universe is intriguing... and slightly crazy.  So when you are introduced to the way of life in Nina's town you can accept the crazy.  Nina and her sister were also a great plus, since they are both so different and ultimately both have issues or characteristics that would mar them in front of their community.  They both make mistakes but are not impossibly unlikeable... they are very human.
I was intrigued with Finn and his group of friends.  Finn and his friends are rebels who are putting down demons left and right, and they know a couple of secrets that church leaders would like to keep away from the public... and Nina is part of this secret. 
The "mother" of Nina and Mellie was interesting.  And once Finn's group explained further I could see where the book was sort of going... it wasn't until almost the end that I realized along with the rest of the characters what was happening in the town.  I loved the deception and conspiracy of the church in this story. 

What I Didn't Like:
Finn.  I like Finn as a person... you can't even say that, but it's true.  I like him, I don't hate him at all.  What I find troubling is that Nina is now in the most convoluted love square/relationship I have ever encountered in YA... and that is saying something.  I don't want to give much away about Finn, but let me say it is so confusing to have a character like this and then make him part of a romance.  It will be interesting to see how this all will end with Finn.
3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Pub: 6/23/2015
Pgs: 352
ARC received by Edelweiss

Emmy and Oliver were the best of friends up until second grade, up until the moment Oliver's father picks him up to school on a Friday, up until Oliver and his father disappear without a trace.  Since second grade Emmy and her 2 closest friends have had to deal with the fallout of your best friend being kidnapped as a little second grader.  Parents are weary, Emmy doesn't get to sleep over people's houses much, and the community becomes more closed off.  However, Emmy, Drew, and Caro have adjusted to this and have grown closer since that fateful day their friendship of 4 became a trio in second grade.

They have adjusted well, but Oliver is back now, 10 years later. Oliver didn't know he was being kidnapped, he didn't know his father lied to him; all Oliver knows is that he loves his dad, everything he knew was a lie, and he doesn't really know who he is anymore.  Even when his childhood friends: Drew, Emmy, and Caro are around him, he's not even sure about their friendship.  Slowly he begins to open up to Emmy, since they had always been closer living right next door. 

Emmy and Oliver begin to show parts of each other they keep hidden from the rest of the world.  They slowly build confidence in themselves with each moment they spend together, and when the going gets tough they become an integral part of each other's life.  Emmy might have to hide who she is to her parents, and Oliver might have to hide his true feelings from his mother, but they both will learn that some things are worth the risk. 

I really liked this story of a readjusting after a kidnap.  No one really ever thinks about the people who were left behind, just the family and the victim (rightly so), but what happens to those we leave behind?  Do they become suspended in time, ready to be the same people when the victim returns?  Do they move on, and just become one of the crowd? 

4 Out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss. 

Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano

Nearly Found (Nearly Gone, #2)
Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano
Pub: 6/2/2015
Pg: 384
ARC received by Edelweiss


Nearly, Nearly, Nearly... she's always in some kind of mess and she doesn't disappoint readers in Nearly Found . Nearly and Reece are trying to have fun and get over the past few months. Nearly has one more year of school and Reece is being transferred from school for another assignment in a different town and also so that Nearly's town doesn't figure out he's an informant. Other than that Nearly is pretty stoke for school because she will begin interning at the crime lab of the police department. Everything seems smooth, until a girl she knows is brought into the morgue, after her boyfriend declared her missing and now he's the prime suspect... and Nearly owes him. On top of that a body of a missing person, who is connected to Nearly's father, turns up buried at the local golf course. The mysteries keep piling up with only one link, Nearly... or more specifically her father. Reece and Nearly with the help of their detective friends/handlers need to figure out who is behind this and most importantly they need to figure out if TJ has anything to do with this.

I really like Cosimano's world in Nearly Gone . Nearly has empathy like abilities, she can read people beyond your regular tells; however, this ability never overshadows what's going on in the story. The mystery in this book was just as exciting and riveting as the last novel. I also enjoyed Reece and Nearly's romance, because the author made it realistic and crude, like any relationship actually is in real life.

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Spelled by Betsy Schow

SpelledSpelled by Betsy Schow
Pub: 06/02/2015
Pgs: 352
ARC received from Edelweiss



Rule #17: To rescue a princess from magical imprisonment, a handsome prince must first slay the dragon. If one is not available, a large iguana will do in a pinch.

Spelled
is a remarkable blend of classic fairytales, The Wizard of Oz , and Clueless. Dorthea is the crown princess of Emerald. Due to a curse that was placed on her family many years ago, she can never go outside of the palace walls or else. Driven crazy by being locked up, having to pick a prince to marry, and throwing tantrums makes Dorthea do one of the dumbest things in fairy land... she makes a bad wish. Now everyone she loves is gone or turned into a crazy version of their fairy tale, and all the different kingdoms have been moved around. Armed with some great heels, a kitchen maid, and the suitor her parents picked for her (who annoys her to no end Dorthea must escape the Gray Witch and find a way to take back her wish.

It was such an entertaining book. I found myself really liking the character dynamics, the jokes, and the adventure. By the end I was rooting for Dorthea, and she had excellent character growth. It seemed as if the ending is open to a sequel or follow up book, and I am so there.

3.5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dancing with Molly by Lena Horowitz


Dancing with Molly
Dancing with Molly by Lena Horowitz
Pub:06/02/2015
Pgs: 272
ARC received from Edelweiss

Dancing with Molly is an unfortunate story about a girl who falls down the rabbit hole of drugs, specifically Ecstasy and Molly.  I can't say this impacted me as much as Go Ask Alice, probably due to my age now versus when I read GAADWM is a girl's diary that she starts when she first experiences doing Ecstasy.  Becca is a self-proclaimed band geek, and her younger sister always steals the spot light, so when the spot light turns to Becca she realizes that Molly might help her become the girl everyone likes. Even thought I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next, it didn't feel very authentic.  Everyone had absent parents, hot tubs, and these kids were like hard core... and no one seemed to notice until bad things began to happen.  Even when the bad things begin, the parents immediately assume they can handle the issue, only to have their kids' friends lie and get around groundings.  I mean, in all honesty, if I was 17 and doing Molly, and kissed my teacher at a school function while I was high, my mother would have killed me on the spot... not even being overdramatic.  She would have sent me away at the very least; however, I realize that there are absentee parents out there, and their kids have the opportunity to experience things like sex, drugs, alcohol, and other craziness.  Overall, the message was there and it wasn't boring.
3 out of 5 stars.
Thanks Edelweiss.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Pub: 5/5/2015
Pg: 416
ARC received by NetGalley

A Court of Thorns and Roses takes place in a world where the ancient religion was that of the Fey.  As time passed and a war happened the humans separated themselves from the Fey, and soon lost their old ways, and all that remained was bitterness and hate.  Feyre knows the stories of the Fey, she finds it silly, but since she has to hunt for food, she also knows that the forest hides many secrets.  During an outing in at winter time, when food supplies were running low for her family, Feyre stumbles upon a deer.  Unfortunately that deer had a massive wolf tracking her as well.  In a quick moment Feyre decides to kill the wolf and the deer in order to save her starving family.  Even though the wolf was almost supernatural big, she is convinced that it was only a wolf and not some ethereal being... she was wrong.

Tamlin, a High Lord Fey, comes knocking at Feyre's door.  She must pay the price for having killed a Fey that meant her no harm.  Her punishment is that she must returned to the land of the Fey for the remainder of her life.  Feyre doesn't want to leave her family, she is the only one that makes sure they have food and money, and she promised her mother that she would always look after her sisters Nesta and Elain.  After Tamlin brings Feyre to the Fey world, he lets her stay in his home for protection against other Fey.

I loved this book!  I love the Scottish story of Tamlin, and I also loved Cruel Beauty. ACOTR spins the story of Tamlin and Beauty and the Beast.  The character Tamlin is essentially the Beast and Feyre is Beauty.  Feyre has to overcome her hatred for him and his kind, she has to learn to trust him, and eventually she has to love him.  Of course Feyre knows nothing of this.  The characters were great, and Tamlin and Lucien were pretty funny at times, more so Lucien.  The heat between Feyre and Tamlin is intense but not as intense as Cruel Beauty, and even though I really love CB I just fell more in love with ACOTR because where CB was dark and eerie, ACOTR was cold, lavish, and calculated (much like a fairy).  I loved Tamlin as well, you could tell he had a real struggle but he was also a decent person in the story, compared to his kind. 


5 stars.  Perfection.  Thanks NetGalley

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means
Extraordinary Means by Robin Schneider
Pub: 5/26/15
Pgs: 336
ARC received by Edelweiss


"...no matter how strong the current beats against you, or how heavy your burden, or how tragic your love story.  You keep going."

Lane is a pretty smart guy.  It's his senior year, he has a great and smart girlfriend, and he's gearing up to apply to colleges, which is all he's ever thought about.  But plans have a way of changing, because Lane has been diagnosed with TB; and not just any tuberculosis, but a rare strain that cannot be treated at this time.  So Lane must follow doctors' orders and go to the Latham House, a facility that has over a hundred other teens diagnosed with the same strain of TB as Lane.  He just needs to stay focused, he just needs to get better, because he's planned his whole future.

Sadie is a pretty girl who can sometimes get into too much trouble.  She's fun, and her group of friends have figured out how to get contraband items into the school.  It is suffice to state, that Sadie and her friends kind of run Latham House, but of course they have been there long enough to figure some things out.  Sadie doesn't want to think of the future or lack thereof, but when you have TB how can you not sometimes drown in all your own thoughts?  Then Lane comes to Latham House, Lane who stood her up at the camp dance when they were kids, Lane who she really liked but played a joke on her like everyone else that summer, Lane who is just so incredibly likeable. 

Extraordinary Means is a book about young love, death, and hope.  Sadie, Lane, and their group of friends try to figure out their place in a world that would wish to keep them far away from everyone else.  Their bonding and adventures give them a reprieve from their every day battle with their sickness, but when you're sick you cannot deny the fact that every moment might be your last.  And when your sick and have been holding on for so long, sometimes tragedy strikes.

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Pub: 4/28/15
Pgs: 464
ARC received from Edelweiss

In An Ember in the Ashes, the Martial Empire, which is modeled after Rome, rules with an iron fist.  Those that do not comply with the law will suffer death.  Being a scholar doesn't mean much in the Empire, and Laia lives with her grandparents and brother, after her family met a tragic betrayal fighting against the Empire.  One night Laia loses the only family she has left during a raid, when soldiers known as Masks, come to her home.  Desperate to find the only living relative left, Laia decides she's going to find her brother Darin, who was imprisoned during the raid.  That's her plan, and then she runs into rebels, who are planning something big against the Empire.

Elias is the perfect Mask in training.  He is one of the best soldiers to come up in training since his mother, but he has never wanted this life, instead he wants to run away.  Before the trials begin, that will decide who will become the next Emperor, Elias has a plan to run away, but secrets and circumstances make him stay.  Soon Elias realizes that there is more to his mother, there is more to the Empire, and there is more to his best friend Helene, a fellow soldier.

Laia and Elias' paths will cross and the Empire will rue the day it began it's rule of iron will.  Destiny has a plan for these two and it has just begun.
4.5 stars out of 5.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher
Pub: 5/19/15
Pgs: 336
ARC received from Edelweiss


Ana knows no freedom.  She's never gone to a friend's house for fun, she's never been to a dance, and she's never been on a date.  After a serious mistake on her sister's part, Ana and her younger brother Clayton have had the reigns pulled tight around them.  All they can do is do well in school and be sheltered from any and all social aspects of high school.

Zak is your average geek.  He loves to COS play, and gaming.  Those are the things that keep him from grieving, and especially from having to spend time with his new stepfather.  He's also a little unmotivated in school. He's not dumb, he just doesn't do what he is supposed to do.  That's how he finds himself at the mercy of Ana, and the quiz bowl he has to participate.  The problem... it's the same day as Washingcon sci-fi convention.  Something he does every year, without fail.

Ana and Zak end up mashing into each other's worlds when Clayton disappears to go to the Washingcon.  And along the way they both learn some truths about growing up and about themselves.

3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

The Choosing (Seer, #1)
The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker
Pub: 5/19/15
Pgs: 448
ARC received by Edelweiss


This story is much like the Match series, and a couple of other books.  Carrington Hale is the main character, and it is time for her Choosing ceremony.  She's hoping that someone will choose her for a lifetime, or else she will be disposed of and become one of the lowly Lint population.  Carrington lives in a world that is run by the Authority, and the Authority rules with a religious hand.  All the citizens live a meek and humble life that is in service to the Authority.  Whatever the outcome of their life, they know their place and they know that their place is important as a whole, even when they become Lints, and are shunned by their family and friends.

Carrington is a Lint now, much to her dismay.  And as a Lint she begins to learn something about the Authority and the doctrine she's been told to believe all her life. 

Remko is a guard and he too lives a life that requires him to be loyal, and never be married.  Lints and guards cannot marry as Lints are not good enough and guards are required to concentrate on protecting the people and cannot afford any distractions.  When Carrington becomes a Lint and he begins to interact with her, he too begins to question everything he's tried to believe.

Issac is part of the Authority.  As one of the youngest members, he is given the opportunity to marry again, since his wife died and left him heirless.  The catch... he must pick a Lint. 

The Murderer.  There is a murderer out there killing Lints.  Since there are alternating POV chapters, occasionally we get to see why the murderer is targeting Lints.  Turns out he's a little zealot, and feels that he needs to cleanse their souls, by you know... killing them.

I really liked this story.  It had everything and still it was dark and crazy.

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Half Wild by Sally Green


 
Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy, #2)Half Wild by Sally Green
Pub: 3/24/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC received by Edelweiss
 
I almost didn’t like this novel, but then bam Green made me do a double take.  The readers find Nathan out on the lamb, trying to survive being hunted by the Hunters and Black Witches.  His friend Gabrielle has been missing so he is relatively alone, along with adjusting to his 3 gifts he received by the end of the third novel.  One gift that is predominately being shown to him is the ability to change into an animal; much like his father and that is scaring him.  Just when he thinks he only has to worry about Hunters and figure out a way to save Annalise from Mercury without killing his father, someone shows up claiming that he know where Gabrielle is and the Fairborn, and that his boss would like a trade.  Nathan is then whisked to a Black witch, who basically lets him know that there will be a rebellion and he would be the main player in that rebellion to bring down the White Witches and the Hunters, along with Black Witches who do not want to see a change in the crazy discriminatory world Nathan belongs to.

After that things actually got interesting.  It seems like the beginning would be interesting because the first book begged you to pay attention, begged you to love it, and you just did; however, in the second book Half Wild I found myself completely bored until about the time Nathan makes out with Gabrielle—wicked hot—also confusing because during this time they are also trying to rescue Annalise, and Nathan has pretty much bored the audience to death for about 35% just describing how awesome she is and her skin… kind of creepy… Now before I was miffed that the author had spent so much time boring me to death instead of giving me more awesomeness, much like the first book; however, by the end I am glad she made me dislike the mention of Annalise—to quote a fellow Goodreads reader “Eff Annalise.”  Now only does Nathan end up saving the girl but there is some decent time spent with his father and learning about the past.  I do have to say, people in the story HATE Marcus, but I really actually love him.  He is the perfect crazy mixed with logic, and any character that has logic in this story is by far a favorite of mine.  By the end of the book I wanted to actually keep reading, the high I received after reading the incredible first book, Half Bad, was back and I was in love with the series again. 

What works for this novel is that this branches away from regular supernatural stories out there that try to depict hierarchies/caste systems that exist within that world.  This really does delve deeper, it’s grittier, dirtier, and more politics than you can shake a stick at.  If anything this is a good allegory of racial discrimination/discrimination in general, set in a way that wouldn’t necessarily be an attack on anyone political or cultural discrimination.  Now I cannot wait until the next book comes out and Annalise gets to eat crow.

 

4.5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

My Best Everything
My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp
Pub: 3/3/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC Received by Edelweiss
 
My Best Everything is a freaking-adorable-sad-real story of love and acceptance.  Lulu is a small town girl that is working her butt off before the start of her new life, outside of her small town in Virginia.  She is the quintessential small town girl, ready for a new life out in a big city, that will not keep her in a rut such as pregnancy and minimum wage jobs for the rest of her life.  This was not meant to be a love story, because when Mason walks into her life he ultimately picks up the role “means to an end.” With all her plans looking like they are in shambles, Lulu must figure out a way to create a path for herself, and perhaps making Moonshine is illegal, and perhaps Lulu would have cared before she ran out of options, but now Lulu knows that she will do anything for her dreams to come true. 

During the hot summer nights she spends her time with Mason and a couple of friends creating some bootlegging masterpieces and selling them for profit.  In the hot suppressing heat of Virginia Lulu also manages to lose her heart to Mason, someone folks might say is a bad egg.  He’s been to jail, his girlfriend died a few years ago, he’s known to party hard, and he’s intimidating.  Granted Mason is trying.  He’s trying to get out of the family business of bootlegging , he’s trying to stay sober, and he’s trying to learn to accept himself.  Mason and Lulu and going to clash and what results is a summer full of fun, love, confusion, and ultimately criminal repercussion—because when you start selling illegal things you might step on the wrong person’s turf. 

I loved that this was Lulu’s letter to Mason, and I love the message at the end.  I have to say a fell for Mason, and completely understood him and his journey.  Life sometimes keeps you down, and the people around you can help and hinder you, but ultimately it is your decision what path you might take.  I hope there is another book, perhaps Mason’s answer to Lulu’s letter?

 

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13BThe Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
Pub: 3/10/2015
Pgs: 304
ARC received by Edelweiss


Adam Spencer Ross is an almost 15 year old with some serious baggage.  He suffers from OCD.  As if this wasn't bad enough he also has to attend a group meeting once a week with other OCD sufferers, he has to deal with the issues at home with his mom, and trying to balance his family life with his father, stepmother, and little brother who also has quirks and it sometimes seems as if Adam is the only one that can reach him.  If this wasn't enough to get Adam's head to spin, life has another wrench to throw his way, and she's pretty much a 15 year's kryptonite: Robyn Plummer.  Now all Adam has to do is overcome his OCD, figure out what is going on with his mother, maintain a healthy relationship with his father, and win the heart of the girl with the bright blue eyes, who is also in his support group. 

Much of what is happening internally with Adam can be seen through the group scenes, but this is not a story that clinically and sterilely defines OCD.  Instead it defines what many YA books do, growing up in a messed up world with messed up issues and ultimately defining yourself.  Adam is one of those characters that begs you, with puppy dog eyes, to like him in an understated way.  He is more like "Hi my name is Adam, and this is me, like me for who I am."  And I do, I really do.  What killed me the most, and usually does when you work with youth, is not his issues and what he has to overcome personally, but the issues of the adults around him, and how they tend to bleed into his development and subsequent issues.  Most of the time we are so engaged in looking at the person, that we don't see how those around them can be the most detrimental.  There's love in this story, there is acceptance, growth, lies, truths, and final escape.  I wouldn't trade Adam for all the superheroes in the world, after all Batman doesn't have super powers but he sure can get the villain.  Even Robyn could have been an unsympathetic character, but in the end she's a teenager... they are going to lie.  My life is a bit richer for having had the chance at peaking into the life of these characters, and I am beholden to Toten for having given readers the opportunity to understand Adam's story in a simplistic yet deep and meaningful way.

4 stars, Thanks Edelweiss!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

MonstrousMonstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 432
ARC Received by Edelweiss

Monstrous is such a beautifully written book.  If you love Neil Gaiman or Patrick Ness, then I think you will fall in love with this story. 

Kymera has awaken to a new life.  Her father completely pulled a Dr. Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau, using animal parts he saved Kym's life and gave her a second chance, even after failure upon failure.  As she becomes self aware and accustomed to her new life, her father also has let her in on what is going on with the city of Bryre.  They are suffering from the evil influence of a wizard.  His curse has created mayhem in the town, girls are missing, the King is missing, curfews are up, and there doesn't seem to be a hero insight.  That is until Kym.

Keeping herself hidden by the darkness of the night hours, Kym steals away to the town and rescues girls from the evil wizard, bringing them back home where they would be sent back to where they need to be in order to get better from the wizards influence.  Keeping away from the towns folk, afraid that they would not understand her unique features, Kym begins her mission to destroy the wizard.  Until she sees Ren, a boy who also seems to be hiding himself in the night hours, when the rest of the town is under curfew.  Then Ren sees Kym and all the careful planning of her night excursions goes out the window and replaced by stolen glances and hidden roses.  Soon Kym realizes that Ren knows about the missing girls, and that he too wants to defeat the wizard, but what he tells her will have Kym questioning everything she knows, including her existence.

I can't say it wasn't obvious who the baddy was in this book, but seeing Kym work the motions was great and awful all at once.  I completely felt for the girl, and she was a well rounded character that had a great growth within this story.  The next best thing about this book was the world building.  I could see the town, her home, and even the dragon in my mind's eye.  This might not be a helpful review because I just loved the book.  I don't want to rip it apart to demonstrate all the ways I loved it, I just want to love it :-).

4.5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Pub: 3/3/2015
Pgs: 368
ARC Received by Edelweiss

This story was awesome.  I really thought it would fall flat, I had no expectations for it to fulfill so much by the end. 

Finn isn't anyone's favorite.  People of Bone Gap know him as the resident space cadet.  It's true that Finn can sometimes be in the clouds, that he doesn't look you in the eyes, and doesn't have a clue; but it turns out that there is a possible explanation for that.  It's also hard for him to compete with his brother, Sean.  Everyone loves Sean, he's big, smart, and endearing.  After being abandoned by their mother, someone happens to pop up unexpectedly, enter Roza.  Roza is from Poland, she arrived on the boy's farm bloody, bruised, and confused.  The boys tend to her, and pretty soon they are a small family, until tragedy strikes.  This is the point our story begins.

Everyone in town blame Finn for Roza's disappearance.  He was the last person to see her, and his description of the man that took her does nothing to help law enforcement.  In fact many would say that his poor description can only lead to one possibility: Roza left on her own.

This story follows the town of Bone Gap through Finn, Roza, and other's eyes.  The nuances of a small town, secrets, realistic explanation woven in almost a fairy tale manner are all combined in this great book that will keep you reading to find out how Finn saves the princess.

4 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss. 

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver


Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Pub: 3/10/2015
Pgs: 368
ARC Received by Edelweiss
Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls is the sort of story that compels you to read it all in one sitting.  There are too many loose strands hanging about, and when you think you are reading a realistic YA book about sisters and the cost of growing up -bam- you're hit with the reality that this book is not what it seems. 

Nick and Dara are close siblings that couldn't more different if they tried.  Nick is the responsible, reliable, and studious daughter; while Dara is the social butterfly, pushes buttons, and gets into too much trouble.  Both deal with jealousy of each other in their own ways, but tend to be unified by their love of each other.  That is, until their best friend and neighbor Parker begins dating one of them.  After a terrible fight, and a terrible accident both sisters stop relying each other, and recover in separate homes. 

I really enjoyed the twist, because like I mentioned I thought this would be a conventional story about two sisters.  What ended up happening what that I was wrapped up in this psychological thriller, by the end.  I liked it, but I didn't love it.  It needed more.  After I accepted the twist, I thought about what I had read in the beginning and it didn't gel.  There were things that could not be right if you accepted the twist, i.e. text messages.  I just wish it was a bit cleaner in the twist.
3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

The BargainingThe Bargaining by Carly Anne West
Pub: 2/17/2015
Pgs: 384
ARC Received by Edelweiss

The Bargaining is one of those books that makes you think about what goes bump in the night, about strange myths and legends, and frankly about making a deal with the Devil.  Penny has had a pretty bad few months.  Her friend is dead, and Penny feels so guilty that her friend's ghost is haunting her.  It isn't clear in the beginning why Penny feels guilty, but it's quickly understood that this experience has changed her profoundly.  Her mother cannot deal with it anymore and decides to ship her off to her father's house.  Now at her father's Penny has been notified that she will be spending her Summer a few hours away with her stepmom reconstructing a house she just purchased with only her camera and a journal full of unsent letters as her company.

Penny knows immediately there is something wrong with the house and with the surrounding woods.  The town folks are not very welcoming either, when they find out her stepmom has purchased the old Carver House.  It almost seems like there is a deadly secret and they wish to push these new folks out of town.  Almost instantly, on the first night, Penny is visited by a ghost of a young boy who claims he wants to show her something.  What Penny sees, hears, and understands are puzzle pieces to a very morbid and dark story.  Enter Miller, the young general store owner who has a connection to the house.  He knows more than he is willing to share.  After some more visits and investigation Penny realizes that she is in over her head and that these secrets that lie in this dead town.

Such a creepy story.  I know I gave it 3.5 stars but it's one of those stories that even with all it's faults makes you speed through it just to know, just so that you're not stuck in this horrific little world built by the author.  I wanted to know if Rae was a figment of Penny's imagination because of her guilty, or if Rae was really a ghost.  I wanted to know what happened to Miller's brother, and the rest of the kids who were lost in the woods.  I wanted Penny and her stepmom to leave that place.  I wanted so much... this book just had me constantly wanting more information and more creepiness.

3.5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

All That Burns by Ryan Graudin

All That Burns (All That Glows, #2)
All That Burns by Ryan Graudin
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 464
ARC received by Edelweiss


I originally did not like this story when it first came out.  I liked the changes, the addition of royalty and giving up magic for love, and obviously the fairies.  I didn't like the ridiculous love story.  I don't mean I couldn't get behind the impossibility of it, after all we are dealing with fairies; however, I just couldn't deal with the insta-love and then the continuation of girly love language in everything.  I almost felt like it was written by a 12 year old girl. 

This book did tell us a little bit of a different story.  While the lovey-dovey sickness that contaminated the first novel was still there, the addition of King Arthur's story, the "real" reason for Guinevere's betrayal, and Annabelle's love story all made this book worth it.  Emrys and Richard were still annoying, and frankly Emrys isn't as strong as she pretends to be or even as others pretend she is.  We can chalk it up to spells that influenced her, but in reality she's been this way since the beginning.  Due to the additions of Annabelle and Guinevere's stories I give this book 3 stars. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger

Crazy Love YouCrazy Love You by Lisa Unger
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 352
ARC Received by Edelweiss                         


"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

Ian has been brought up in darkness.  He has always been an outsider.  When he was young his mother killed his baby sister and almost killed him, leaving her a ward in a psychiatric hospital.  What saved Ian that day was stumbling across a young waif of a girl named Priss.  After that day Ian is followed by mysterious situations that are dark and ominous.  If someone picks on him, and he tells Priss, that bully's house might burn down.  And the problem is that when ever these bad things happen Ian tries to tell people about Priss, but no one believes him.  In a small town where people know each other, no one knows who this mysterious girl is. 

Now grown up, Ian decides he needs to leave his home behind, where he was so unhappy.  He moves to NYC and begins a successful career as a graphic novelist, and even meets a wonderfully beautiful and sweet girl that he wants to eventually marry.  It almost seems as if his life has been turned around, but one thing he has never been able shake off is Priss.  Now that he has found happiness, Priss can't let him go and soon things turn murderous and a bit haunting. 

I did not expect this to become a ghost story, but I found it intriguing.  Yes at first it took some time to into the story, but once I realized that Ian was pretty much crazy and no one else seemed to know about Priss I was in.  The Ian began to investigate who Priss really was and his connection to her, and it got more interesting.  Finally the end was a bit mind blowing for me; honestly I cannot see how Ian and his wife could live happily ever after what happened and had been revealed in the end.

4 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand 
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC received by Edelweiss

The Last Time We Say GoodbyeLex was your average girl.  She had a mother, a father, and a pretty awesome little brother.  She's crazy smart, has great band of friends, and is confident she will make something big of herself.  All these things began warping the minute her father walked out on her family, after an affair.  Things weren't looking that terrible, there just happened to be a lot of animosity but overall Lex felt like things were going well.  She was on her way to apply to MIT and continue to be brilliant.  On the other hand Tyler had taken the divorce very badly, he was a 12 and needed his father, but he also really was upset with his father's choices and lack of empathy when it came to breaking up the home.  It had gotten so bad that Tyler tried to commit suicide at 12 right after the divorce.  Thankfully he only swallowed Advil, and his liver was able to process them without killing him.

Unfortunately this isn't the story of how Lex, Tyler and their family were able to overcome this issue.  Instead this is the story of how Lex's life completely falls apart the day her brother kills himself.  At 16 he finally couldn't take the black hole living inside of him anymore, and Lex feels guilty because she received a text message from him the day of his death.  He didn't leave a note either... well he left a post-it note for his mother, but other than that he never provided closure for Lex or her family.  With a few ghostly apparitions Lex stumbles upon a letter Tyler wrote to his ex-girlfriend.  Could this possibly explain why he did it?  Lex will do what she can to piece together what happened that last day, and in turn she has written everything down in a journal as an alternative to anti-depressants provided by her therapists.

This was such a heart wrenching story, because suicide can be one of the most hurtful topics out there.  Whether you are suicidal or someone you love is, both roles have difficulties to deal with emotionally and mentally.  This book shows the different facets of pain that suicide leaves on the living.  Lex's mom goes off on the deep end, her father becomes a robot, Lex can barely deal with life, and everyone immediately wants to distance themselves from the family of the dearly departed.  The pain is so raw, but it's real and as complicated as this topic can be in the end it is very simple: losing a loved one too soon is a hard thing to process and move on from, but in the end we are not alone and we are not to blame and our loved ones who committed suicide are not the bad guys either.  Understanding is completely in order from friends, family, and ourselves.

4.5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss, and thank you Cynthia Hand.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)



Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 320
ARC Received by Edelweiss


Here's the crux about this book: it isn't new or fresh because it literally weaves multiple YA novels into one, but that's kind of why I liked it.  Mare is your average girl living as a Red below the Silver class.  What separates the two is that the Silvers have powers... funny story so does Mare, but she is a Red through and through. (Reds bleed red, Silvers bleed silver).  This becomes an issue for the all powerful Silvers.  If the Reds figured out that they might have powers, or that even just one of them has the power to defeat Silvers, there could be a rebellion on the lose.  In order to hide this fact, the Silvers adopt Mare, change her name to Maven, and tell everyone she is a lost Silver princess. 

With her family's life at stake, a rebellion beginning to rise, two princes that capture her heart, and plenty of backstabbing to go around this read will capture audiences.  Does that mean I loved every minute of it?  Of course not, but it still is entertaining if you like to figure out a puzzle.  I still want to know how Mare can bleed red but have powers, and I want to see how far the rebellion will make it... also there is a prince I would like to see destroyed (bet you really can't tell which one until the end!)
4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

My Heart and Other Black Holes
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Pub: 2/10/2015
Pgs: 320
ARC Provided by Edelweiss

"I spend a lot of time wondering what dying feels like.  What dying sounds like.  If I'll burst like those notes, let out my last cries of pain, and then go silent forever.  Or maybe I'll turn into a shadowy static that's barely there, if you just listen hard enough."

Aysel has led a pretty tragic life.  A few years back people would have mistaken her for your average teenager, now she's a pariah.  Her family barely talks to her, her school mates treat her like the devil, and everyone else is watching her like a time bomb.  You see, Aysel always lived with her father.  He was strange but he was the home she always knew she could count on.  He battled with mood swings that could sometimes leave her suffocated, until one night he took it too far and destroyed more than one life.  Empty, Aysel is trying to find a way out of this torment of everyday existence and if one day she will turn into the monster that claimed her father.  That is when she stumbles across a website that gives advice on how to successfully commit to suicide. 

Enter Roman; he had everything a young guy would want.  He was popular, a skilled athlete, and a great family.  After one stupid night and a tragic accident Roman can't bare to live anymore.  He has also found solace on the suicide website that Aysel is on.  The thing about this website is that people find comfort in committing the act with another person. Aysel and Roman will become partners in this endeavor to end their misery, but while they are constantly doing gut checks with each other to make sure neither one will back out they both seem to want an excuse to stay.

I loved this book because teen suicide is a big thing, more so now than ever before.  A lot of the times these teens grow up but not out of the "phase" of depression and have to struggle with this as well.  Aysel and Roman might have been similar in the case that they wanted to commit suicide but their reasoning was different and their journey, while done together, lead to very different places.  What touched me about this book is the author's note: "Finally, I hope this story has reminded you of the people in your life who matter.  Hold them dear, be kind to them, and remember life is fragile.  I wish you all a very kinetic and beautiful life."  No better advice can be given when dealing with suicide.  Sometimes loved ones don't understand or can't deal with someone they love not wanting to live.  Instead of being an ear or a shoulder to lean on, we can become harsh and throw words like "selfish" and phrases like "you're hurting me when you say this."  Yes, they get it, but throwing those words or phrases at them only adds to their hurt and self loathing.  Very important messages in this book.

4 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You There

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Pub: 2/3/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC received by NetGalley

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios isn't your typical love story, it also deals with a topic near and dear to my heart: War Veterans.  Skylar is your typical girl, who lives in a small town and is counting down the days before she leaves for good and for college.  All she has ever thought about is leaving her dead in town, where there is no where to go but down.  Just as she graduates high school, her mother lands in some bad luck and Skylar's dreams seem to be disappearing in a cloud of dust. 

Josh left his small town of Creek View not so long ago.  His ticket out was the Marines, unfortunately it was his one way ticket back as well.  Back from a tour of duty, with a missing limb was not the life Josh thought he would be living.  Adjusting has been rather difficult.  Everyone expects him to be "Josh Mitchell" the old rebel and jock... that is everyone but Skylar.

Skylar and Josh worked together for a short time before he left for the military.  Skylar isn't sure what Josh had, but he definitely made her head spin.  After seeing him back home at a party and clearly seeing his injury, Skylar knows that Josh is different, but she's leaving soon and she doesn't know what is going on between them.  Josh can't seem to accept the deaths, injuries, and life changes that he has had to endure in the past few months but he knows that Skylar makes him feel normal and gives him the motivation to try and live instead of just exist.  The problem is that they both want each other, and they both want different things.  The problem is that PTSD can be a tidal wave that drowns not just the person who has it, but everyone in their wake.  The problem is that sometimes PTSD and loving someone can bee too much, whether you are the affected person or the person who loves and affected person.  The problem is that PTSD isn't something many young adults have experience in, only after the fact.  So the questions are, can Skylar be the person that Josh needs at this moment and can Josh eventually learn to forgive himself and see past the pain?

I really enjoyed this book because I know someone with PTSD and I think it is an important subject matter to address with any age group.  It is a likely event to have someone in their late teens and early twenties experience some form of PTSD, especially military related, and it's just as likely to know someone who is going through it.  It's one of those taboo subjects that society tends to lean away from because it's not awesome and nice and full of rainbows.  This book really demonstrated the nuances of the disorder.

4.5 Stars, Thanks NetGalley.

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters, #3)
Dearest by Alethea Kontis
Pub: 2/3/2015
Pgs: 320
ARC provided by NetGalley


Dearest is the third book in the Woodcutter Sisters series.  It is time to meet Friday, the girl who everyone loves and would do anything for, and it is time to introduce the Wild Swans fairytale.  Friday finds herself living in the palace with her sister Sunday (the Queen) and tending the flock of children left orphaned, including a mute girl that works in the kitchen.  One night Friday walks up to the destroyed tower of the palace and finds 7 naked men sleeping there.  To her astonishment they turn into swans the moment she falls out of the window and catcher her and set her down to a safer height.  More to her astonishment she's not afraid, if anything she feels as if she has found a purpose and a destiny. 

It turns out these 7 men are brothers, and the mute kitchen girl is their sister.  Because of her refusal to marry a wicked man, they must now live under a curse that can only be broken when the sister constructs 7 prickly long sleeve shirts.  They must accomplish this before the ill suitor finds them.  Friday and her sister lend helping hands, because Friday knows Tristan, one of the brothers, is her destiny.  The question remains, will Friday be able to save the brothers and sister, or will she lose her destiny and her one true love?

4 stars. Thanks NetGalley. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Department 19: Zero Hour by Will Hill

Zero Hour (Department 19, #4)Department 19: Zero Hour by Will Hill   
Pub: 1/1/2015
Pgs: 704
ARC Provided by Edelweiss

Will Hill did it again.  Once more we find Department 19 counting down the hours before they take on Dracula.  Jamie and his friends are gearing up for the biggest fight that the Department has seen in years and every passing hour has become crucial.  With the impending battle more secrets begin to surface and past enemies begin to resurface.  Loyalties will be tested and swapped as well.  The biggest secret begin kept from Jaime is also explored further, making readers antsy for the truth to be spilled out.  Alas, Hill has left us on a cliff hanger that will have readers begging for the next book to see what happens next.

I love this series and the constant weaving of espionage/military operations and mythology of some of the worlds most talked about legends.  There is also a surprise in store for both Jaime and readers.  He might have finally received something he was secretly wishing for, but will the end result leave him wanting or fulfilled?  Those questions I hope are explored further in the next book.

Thank You Edelweiss. 4.5 Stars.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Pub: 1/13/2015
Pgs: 336
ARC provided by Edelweiss

"Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest? -Kenneth Patchen


Fairies, tithes, changelings, and more await readers in this recent book by Holly Black.  I loved The Modern Faerie Tales series and The Curse Worker series.  This book didn't fall short.  Hazel Evans and her brother Ben once patrolled their town of Fairfold, hunting down some of the scariest creatures that lurk at night in our dreams, and protecting/loving the boy with horns who slept in the glass coffin in the darkest part of the forest.  Fairfold is a town that had long come to terms with the supernatural presence around, but when it comes to the faerie folk, nothing ever rests peacefully.  One morning the glass coffin is found empty and all hell breaks loose on the town.  Now with their worst nightmare coming true, and a missing recently sleeping legend running around it is time for Hazel, Ben, and their friends to figure out how to save their town, themselves, and the boys they love.

Holly Black always does a great job creating a dark faery story fit for urban fantasy.  Her world's always rich with imagery and tantalizing creatures.  Hazel is a great character and the weaving of each characters' story to the final piece is awesome.  Who knew faeries could be so devious?  Holly  Black, that's who.

Thank You Edelweiss.  4 stars.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake



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There
Will be Lies by Nick Lake
Pub: 1/6/2015
Pgs: 464
ARC Provided by NetGalley


Shelby Jane Cooper never really gets out much.  She lives a quiet uneventful life with her mother, she is homeschooled, and her mother has trained her to be wary of everyone.  Shelby might not ever go to college, get a job, or even go on a date because of the invisible leash her mother has her on, but she doesn't really complain because her mother does it out of love and worry.  How can she know that there is something more sinister than that lurking behind her mother's reasoning?  One night she does the unthinkable; her mother has given her strict instructions to be outside of the library at 8 PM not a minute more and not a minute less, but Shelby decides to go out to wait for her mother a couple of minutes earlier than planned.  How was she supposed to know that would be the night that all her mother's worries became reality?  Struck by a vehicle and before she loses consciousness she sees a a lone coyote, and she is warned there will be two lies and then the truth, right before she passes out.  Slowly, as the hospital begins to ask simple questions such as insurance information, Shelby realizes her mother is hiding something... but what she can't imagine is that her mother his harboring a deep and dark secret that will crush Shelby's reality into pieces.

This was such a great story.  I may have given it 3.5 stars but it's because there were things I personally did not like about Shelby.  The overall situation with her mother, the lies, and eventually the truth were what roped me in.  The interludes of Shelby passing out and dreaming of  journeys fit for Native Indian mythology were also not may favorite.  Don't get me wrong, I completely understood why the author chose to reveal the truth to Shelby via the dreams.  Her coming to terms with the reality was by far a journey of great spirituality.  I really did like Charm & Strange, and just like that one this novel inspired constant turning of the pages to find out how this all would be accomplished.

3.5 Stars, Thanks NetGalley.