Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Moon And More

Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: June 4th 2013 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Finished copy sent by the publisher for an honest review (and in celebration of all things Sarah Dessen!)

"Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer."

First line: "Here they come."

Thoughts: It truly isn't summer until you read one of Sarah Dessen's novels, and THE MOON AND MORE is one of the many reasons why. This novel offers readers another memorable experience in the beach town of Colby, through the eyes of a heroine on the verge of finding herself. It asks the question we all ask ourselves at one point: Am I content with my life or is there more out there to discover?

Emaline (LOVE that name- Sarah has the best character names!) is spending her last summer before college working at Colby Realty. Though she lives with her stepdad, her absentee biological father still influences her life and has always instilled this dreamer inside of her. She's been accepted into an Ivy League College, yet she cannot afford to go. It still has her questioning whether her life in Colby (which she loves) is good enough or if she's destined for greater things. Is she okay spending the next four years (possibly rest of her life) in this small town or should she explore the big city life?

What I loved about Emaline is that she goes through the struggles we all do at her age and sometimes even later in life. She's always been the responsible, practical sort, but this summer feels different. Even her relationship with her boyfriend Luke feels strained. Despite Theo's appearance and how he may have been the catalyst for this, these questions were bound to pop into her mind. I loved watching her grow and explore other options outside the plan that's laid out for her. I truly didn't know which path she would take and adored exploring this journey.

This novel is also about family. Emaline lives in a very modern family. What I mean by this is she has her stepdad, stepsisters, half siblings, and a father who isn't much of a dad at all. I loved that the author went down this path, because this is what a lot of families look like nowadays. Emaline went through conflicts with her family, but she's also a teenager. That's just what happens sometimes. Her family has layers, and I cherished reading about each and every one.

Now, even though Dessen is notorious for all things amour, the romance in THE MOON AND MORE does take a bit of a backseat. It's still there, although it's not a dominating factor nor is it what makes this novel so grand. You have Luke who definitely fits into the perfect boyfriend category. I immediately fell for him and was initially cheering for him (knowing of Theo's existence from the summary). That is until he does something that had me questioning everything I thought I knew about swoony boys. Then you have Theo. Honestly, I never really liked Theo. I was annoyed by the fact that he was always criticizing Colby and found his overall appearance to be rather unpleasant. With these two boys, it had me wondering where the good Dessen boys are. Can't Emaline have a Dexter or Eli? I mean, Eli is from Colby. Doesn't he have a long lost hot younger brother somewhere? Please?

Overall, while this isn't my favorite of Dessen's novels, I still really enjoyed it. It's a great beach read, and yes, I'll say it, a summer essential. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the paperback, only because i'm bias and love this cover the best.


4 Stars

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Girl at Midnight Blog Tour- Review + Giveaway

Title: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Published: April 28th 2015 by Delacorte Press
Source: Copy sent by the publisher for an honest review

"Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire."

First line: "The Ala had gone to the library in search of hope."

Thoughts: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT combines everything I love in fantasy novel: A heroine to admire, an unforgettable quest, and gorgeous writing that kept me reading until the very end. If you're a fan of Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, and Laini Taylor, this is the book for you. Needless to say, I devoured this novel.

As you can see in the summary, there is an epic war between the Avicen and the Drakharin. Where the Avicen have feathers instead of hair, the Drakharin have scales (the "birds" versus the "dragons"). Echo is neither of these and is in fact human. When she was just a young girl, after living in the streets of New York, Avicen adopted her as one of their own, and she now spends her time split between her human world in New York and her home with the Avicen. Not all of the Avicen have accepted her, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have friends.

Now, you must know that Echo is a thief and a pretty darn good one. It's how she survives, taking the goods she steals and selling them in the black market. Thus, when Ala approaches her and tells her that the only way to stop this centuries old war is to find the mythical firebird, she accepts the challenge and is sent straight into enemy territory. She's given a map which leads her from one clue to the next. Think of the Percy Jackson novels and how something may sound simple but can turn complicated in a heartbeat. The journey is a great one, so be sure to pay attention and enjoy the ride.

The novel is told through multiple perspectives, and I'm incredibly grateful for this. You get to see how this war not only affects Echo but also Cauis and others as well. Though I enjoyed each voice, Echo's was my personal favorite. I just love how sassy and strong she is, and I loved watching her grow throughout the novel.

I honestly don't want to write too much, because I don't want to give anything away. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT is one of those novels that you just have to trust and try your best not to read about going in. Trust that it will be good, because it really freaking is. There's romance, adventure, suspense, and a whole lot of awesome in this novel. If you're a fan of THE DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and CITY OF BONES, this is the book for you. Really, it's that good!


5 Stars

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away one copy of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. This giveaway is open to US participants and ends May 31st. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tessa Ever After Blog Tour- Review + Giveaway

Title: Tessa Ever After (Caged In Winter #2)
Author: Brighton Walsh
Published: May 5th 2015 by Berkley
Source: Finished copy sent by the publisher for an honest review

"In this grippingly emotional New Adult novel from the author of Caged in Winter, what you want isn’t always what you need…

Jason’s been living (and loving) the rich playboy lifestyle for five years, but now his parents are pressuring him to get involved in the family business. The last thing he wants is another obligation, but when his best friend moves out of state and asks Jason to look after his sister, he can’t just say no.

Tessa had to grow up way too soon. After dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ deaths, then becoming a teenage mom, she knows the meaning of responsibility. Which is why, at twenty-two, she’s looking for so much more than a party boy. She’s looking for someone who can stand by her and her daughter…forever.

A relationship between them is doomed from the start, but who says they can’t have a little fun? But as Jason gets closer to Tessa—and her daughter—fun starts to turn into something else… Something Jason’s not sure he’s ready for."

Thoughts: Brighton Walsh writes some of the most addicting novels I have ever read, and (as you can see from my blog name) I'm all about addicting novels! Crazy sexy guy to swoon over? Check! Heroine you love to cheer for? Check! The cutest, most adorable little girl on this side of the planet? Double check!

Though TESSA EVER AFTER is technically a sequel/companion to CAGED IN WINTER, it can easily be read as a stand alone. Would I suggest reading CAGED IN WINTER prior to this novel though? HECK to the freaking YEAH! It's hard to appreciate Cade's protective nature in this novel without knowing him, the same way it's difficult to love Jason and Tessa as much as you do without initially meeting them prior to diving in. I'm completely grateful that the author decided to include Cade. He plays such a large roll in Tessa, Jason, and Haley's lives where I couldn't see this novel being complete without him. Keep in mind, even though he shows up for a cameo here and there, this is most definitely Tessa and Jason's story.

I honestly didn't know how I felt about both going in. I had a feeling their sexual chemistry would be hot, but boy howdy! Woo, excuse me while I fan my face as I remember some of those steamy scenes. These two together are hotter than a summer day in Houston. Be warned, and try not to read this book in public. You don't want people asking you why you're blushing, am I right?

What I wouldn't give to play a couple rounds of Twister with Jason. Just because I'm married doesn't mean I have to stop daydreaming about fictional guys, right? ANYWAY, moving on...

Tessa is most likely one of the strongest yet gentle female characters I've come across in quite some time. I couldn't imagine having a child as young as she did, and she handles it as best as she can. Her unconditional love for Haley touched me, and I couldn't help but admire her tenacity and drive. Haley is always her first priority, and I love that she even tries dating men she thinks will be good for Haley. Little did she know the exact person she's looking for and needs is right under her nose.

As far as Jason goes, I ached for him in regards to his parents. It's hard feeling like you're a disappointment, and it's even harder when your parents can't see past their dreams to see what's best for their child. In his case, his are more than willing to cut him off and force him into a life he clearly doesn't want. Jason's dad is the absolute worse, and I can't fathom why he just won't listen to Jason. At the end of the day, family is everything, but Jason's father seems to only see dollar signs and family legacies. If you've read CAGED IN WINTER, you can see what a great father figure Cade is to Haley, which is such a drastic change in how Jason's father treats him. Hugs to you, Jason!

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and believe others will as well. In my opinion, although I liked Jason and Tessa, Haley stole the show. She is just too darn cute! I can see why Tessa can't say no to her and gives her so many cookies. Don't think I could say no to all the cuteness either! I recommend this novel to fans to Samantha Young, Noelle August, Tessa Bailey, and all those other awesome authors on my auto-buy list!


4 Stars

Excerpt from Tessa's point of view:

I threw the game. Despite my daughter wanting me to win—for girls everywhere, she said—I couldn’t. I feigned exhaustion, letting my body slump to the ground. Because my blood was boiling, my body on fire as I pressed against Jason’s body during a stupid game of Twister, and I couldn’t take it anymore. If Haley hadn’t been in the room, I would’ve pulled Jason down on top of me and let him strip me down right there on that stupid plastic mat.
In reality, I had a four-year-old to attend to instead of doing everything I wanted to. In the thirty minutes since putting Haley to bed, my urgency has faded, leaving behind only a subtle hum under my skin, but it’s there. This vibration of need when Jason is around that I never bothered to notice before. Or that I willingly ignored, which is probably more the case.

Despite that, despite wanting him, I’m in the bathroom under the guise of freshening up, even though I showered just a couple hours ago. I’m stalling, and I don’t know why. Haley’s asleep, Jason’s in the living room, presumably waiting for me, and I’m hiding in the bathroom.

Several minutes go by before a soft knock sounds at the door, sending me jumping nearly a foot in the air.

“Yeah . . .” I try to say, except my voice comes out all scratchy and breathless, so I clear my throat and try again. “Yeah?”

“Do you want me to just go home, Tess?”

“What?” I whip the door open, eyes wide and frantic, because that is absolutely not what I want. Not even a little bit. Leaning his shoulder against the doorjamb, Jason’s eyes snap to mine as soon as the layer of wood isn’t separating us anymore, and in that split second when our eyes meet, the heat between us cracks and sizzles just like it did while we were playing the game. Just like it’s been doing anytime we’re within twenty feet of each other. Shaking my head, I say, “No. I don’t want you to go home.”

His eyebrows lift up on his forehead, his expression one that clearly says he thinks I’m full of it. “You sure? Because you’ve been hiding in here for ten minutes.”

I open my mouth to argue with him about the hiding bit, but there’s no use. Instead, I simply nod and swallow, not sure I can find the words to tell him exactly what’s going on with me.

Mostly because I don’t even know myself.

It’s not like I’m a virgin, and even though it has been a while, I’ve never gotten like this with any of my previous partners. Never had this overwhelming nervousness, and I don’t know where it’s coming from. No idea why there’s this swarm of bees buzzing around in my stomach. Why I’m all breathless with anticipation and anxiety.

But then Jason steps forward, right into my space, one hand coming up and cupping the back of my neck while the other goes to my hip, his thumb slipping under the material of my shirt to graze the skin above my waistband, and I know exactly why there’s a tornado in my belly.

“Last chance,” he murmurs, his breath washing over my lips, and I don’t think I could tell him to stop even if I wanted to.

But I don’t. I don’t want to, so I shake my head, and finally—finally—he closes the distance between us and puts his lips to mine. The kiss is tentative at first, a question, and even though he gave me an out just a moment ago, I love that he’s not pushing it. When I don’t pull away, don’t do anything but grip the front of his shirt in my fists and pull him closer to me, he takes that as an answer and swipes his tongue across my lips. On a moan, I open to him, desperate to taste him again in a way I didn’t allow myself to think about before now.

Jason’s grip on me tightens, his thumb rubbing in circles against the pulse point at my neck, and I know he can feel my heart flying. It’s nearly pounding right out of my rib cage. His other hand curls around my hip, pulling me closer to him, flush with him, and I can’t stop from gasping into his mouth. He’s against me, all of him, strong and solid and hard, and I didn’t realize how much I wanted this until this very moment.

He’s already good at reading my cues, because no more have I thought it than we’re walking, fumbling down the hallway and into my bedroom. The door isn’t even closed before I start tugging up his shirt, desperate to feel his skin against mine. With a grunt and a curse, he reaches back and yanks his shirt over his head before his lips are back on mine, his tongue sliding against my own, and I can hardly breathe I want this so badly.

In the dozen-plus years of his being in my life, I’ve seen him without a shirt on too many times to count, but I’ve never felt his bare skin. Not like this. He’s sinewy and muscular, the body of a runner, all tall and lanky, the muscles in his abdomen defined but not obscene, his biceps cut but not bulky. I run my hands over every part of him I can reach, sliding from his chest to his stomach, following the trail of hair down then hooking into the waistband of his jeans, and I want those off, too.

“Jesus, Tess,” he groans into my mouth, and the roughness of it washes over me like a warm rain, comforting me in a way I didn’t realize I needed. He wants this. Me. Desperately. It’s reassuring to know I’m not in this on my own.

His lips brush across my cheek, his teeth nipping at my chin, his tongue licking a line up the column of my neck, and I think I might die right here. I might actually die, because my heart feels like the pounding hooves of a thousand horses, and I can’t seem to get my clothes off fast enough.

Giveaway: The fabulous ladies over at Berkley are giving away TEN copies of TESSA EVER AFTER and CAGED IN WINTER! Holy Swoonness, Batman! To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All The Rage Blog Tour- Review + Giveaway

Title: All The Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: April 14th 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?"

Thoughts: One of the things I love about Courtney Summers is that she writes books involving real issues and isn't afraid to be brutal. ALL THE RAGE is no exception. Honest, heart-wrenching, and compelling, this is a book that simply needs to be read.

ALL THE RAGE transitions from the incident to what happened two weeks before, and then fast forwards to now. Romy Grey knows all about what Kellan Turner is really like. The thing is, when the sheriff and his son deem you a liar, it's kind of hard to just be a normal teenager, especially when you're telling the truth. Everyone turns their back to Romy, even her best friend Penny. It's bad enough when everyone hates you, it's even worse when they lash out. I know I've already said this, but I have to say it again: This book is brutal. There were moments when I just had to place the book down and walk away. Rage, all I felt was pure rage for these kids who just didn't care about being decent people. Did anyone once think to ask Romy if she was okay? There were so many times when I just wanted to scream at Alek, Brock, and even Tina for being such complete and utter jerks. Whatever happened to human compassion? I honestly don't think I could have been as strong as Romy was during this whole ordeal.

I would love to tell you that there's a bright side to the torture, but there really isn't. Romy is broken, on the verge of falling over the edge. She's barely hanging on, and sadly things will get worse before they get better. There were moments when I wanted Romy to just tell her mom what happened. Of all the characters I ached for (Romy, Penny, Leon, etc.), her mother was on the top of my list. All she wanted to do was reach out and help her daughter, but Romy was so closed off- rightfully so.

No, I think one thing that surprised me was the character development in Tina. To be frank, I absolutely hated this girl and couldn't understand why she was such a (excuse my language) bitch. In the end, she just ended up being a victim of high school hierarchy and rumors. She believed what she wanted to, because the truth was too terrifying and horrifying to be admit.

Though I never felt comfortable reading this book, I admire Summers for going there and not being afraid to point out rape culture and flaws in our society. This was not an easy read, but it was a real one and one I won't be forgetting anytime soon.


4 Stars

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away one copy of ALL THE RAGE. This giveaway is open to US and CA participants only and ends May 17th.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

5 To 1 Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Title: 5 To 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Expected publication: May 12th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and
determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope."

Thoughts: Enticing and riveting, 5 TO 1 is one of those novels that completely took me by surprise. To be honest, had I not been invited to join the blog tour, I probably wouldn't have heard of 5 TO 1 let alone read it. You guys, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that I was, because this book- this imaginative and compelling book- is an example of why I became a blogger.

First off, we must talk about the writing style. Bodger not only transitions from Sudasa to Kiran's point of view but also changes the writing style. Sudasa's is written in verse (LOVE verse) whereas Kiran's is in prose. By doing this, each voice is both unique and beautifully portrayed. You get to experience both of their pain, their struggles, and glimpse into what it's like to live in two completely different castes. Koyanager may seem like a Utopia to some, yet it's anything but this.

One might think Sudasa's life is one made of dreams. She comes from a high ranking family, and she's also a female- a precious commodity desired by all. One might also assume Sudasa (because of her gender) is also oppressive, like some of the other women in this society. As for Kiran, you might think he is obedient. All men must be in this world. You might also pity him, coming from a poor farming family and also being a male. The thing is, this novel teaches you that not everyone is who they seem nor are they defined by their position in life. You shouldn't assume a person is and nothing more than their status. Even though both characters thought they knew of the other based on obvious physical wealth and position, they truly didn't know the core of who the another really is. I love that this novel shows you not everyone rich or high ranking is greedy and selfish and not every hard-working poor person needs to be saved. 5 TO 1 opens your eyes to a dysfunctional society where people may be alive, but they're not genuinely living.

My only complain about this novel is that I didn't understand some of the terminology used, since I'm not familiar the Indian culture. I wish the author explained this more or maybe referenced it early on. Other than that, I recommend this book to fans of THE SELECTION and WITHER. It's a fantastic novel wrapped in a gorgeous cover.


4 Stars

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away one copy of 5 TO 1. This giveaway is open to US and CA participants only and ends May 17th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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