Friday, May 29, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids ~ Sarah Ockler (earc) review [@sarahockler @simonteen]

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Simon Pulse
June 2, 2015
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .
Elyse's character, where she is, why she's there and who she is, are compelling from the very beginning. I like that she is not a typical, predictable character. From being from Tobago, her plans of being famous (the why, how), her family, where they lived and what they do, and why she's now in Oregon.

It was great that we did not know what happened to cause Elyse to lose her voice. Instead of getting the facts, we get pieces of the puzzle but rely mainly on Elyse's thoughts about it. I preferred it this way, so much more, because it gives a much better look at her emotions. Through how she's coping, who she does or doesn't blame we can really see how she feels about what happened, about how her future looks now. It works infinitely better than stating, 'X happened to Elyse' at the start.

The introduction of Christian's character - to Elyse - and the story is fantastic. It also does a great job showing, immediately, the different parts of his life. I grew to like him more and more as the story progressed. I do wish, however, that there had been a bit more exploration (or explanation) of his status as the Cove's playboy, some of the truth, etc behind that.

Elyse may literally lose her voice, but The Summer of Chasing Mermaids does a superb job with the other ways one's voice can be lost. From characters who are afraid to stand up for themselves, or ones who can't find the right things to say, even Elyse who seems to be losing who she is (or was or should be now). The metaphorical voice losses pair very well with Elyse's physical loss.

I did wish someone in their group - or even in the Cove - had watched Angel or Buffy (or Leverage, I guess) and knew that Christian Kane is also the name of the actor who played Lindsey on Angel . . . oh well. None of the characters may ever think WWBD? (What Would Buffy Do?) but the character/person one of them thinks of in the WW_D? question is a more than acceptable choice. (As is the action she takes as a result of asking.)

Elyse and Christian are wonderful together, Lemon was a great, unique character who was perfect for the story, and the other characters all work well together and make for a great tale. Elyse and Sebastian, together, separately, were my absolute favorites, though. I loved, loved Sebastian's character, what he brought out of the others, what he illustrated for them and how Elyse reacted to and because of him.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a sweet romance, but the story also deals with deeper issues - Elyse's loss and her future, family relationships and their struggles, life changes, friendship, love.







digital copy received, via Edelweiss, from publisher for review

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Joyride ~ Anna Banks (earc) review [@FeiwelFriends @ByAnnaBanks]

Joyride
Feiwel & Friends
June 2, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Carly doesn't have time for goofing around. Since her parents deportation a few years ago, she and her brother have been pooling their money to smuggle them back into the U.S. Carly works the graveyard shift at a local convenience store - it leaves her exhausted by t is easy and provides time to study.

It's after a particularly eventful night at the Breeze Mart that Arden Moss begins talking to her. Arden, the high school playboy, hasn't paid any attention to Carly before and she wonders why he'd start now.

Arden, the sheriff's son, is a prankster. He spends his free time - which he has recently gained a lot of - pulling pranks. After his sister Amber's death, Arden has given up everything that  made him the high school star and is trying to do nothing anyone expects of him.

He's missed having an accomplice in his pranks and knows the perfect person: Carly.

Neither knows what the other is dealing with: Arden doesn't know all of the pressure Carly is under from her parents and her brother, the secrets she's keeping and Carly doesn't know about Amber.


At times I loved Arden and Carly's interactions. The blend of tension, humor, and attraction was nicely done. They seemed like complete opposites - and in more than a few ways there  - but they were also quite complimentary.

They were other times, though, that the characters, their choices and actions were frustrating. Carly has a goal of being the first in her family to go to college, to have a career. It's something she works hard towards - the long hours at work, her good grades, but she also seemed too ready to possibly throw it away. There's no doubt she could have fun with Arden, but it was fun that could possibly put her goals, her future, in jeopardy.

She's stuck to what she wanted despite what her family might want, so I wanted her to stand up for herself a bit more with Arden. Or for him to 'see' a bit more and give some more.

It worked well for the story that they were each so stubborn, so secretive, but it was frustrating, too.

I liked that we slowly found out more about Carly, Arden, their pasts and their families. Neither of them has a simple, normal background and it was nice seeing their stories unfold and how they came together.

I am still not sure if I like the characters, their decisions or what they did to/with each other, but they and their story are original, thoughtful, funny and memorable.  (Even if I didn't love them, I did care enough to be frustrated.)



NetGalley review copy received thanks to the publisher


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Powerless ~ Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @teralynnchilds @TracyWolff]

Powerless (The Hero Agenda #1)
Sourcebooks Fire
June 2, 2015
308 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Kenna is tired of being "normal". The only thing special about her is that she isn't special at all. Which is frustrating in a world of absolutes. Villains, like the one who killed her father, are bad. Heroes, like her mother and best friend, are good. And Kenna, unlike everyone else around her, is completely ordinary— which she hates.

She’s secretly working on an experiment that will land her a place among the Heroes, but when a Villain saves her life during a break-in at her lab, Kenna discovers there’s a whole lot of gray area when it comes to good and evil and who she can trust.. After all…not all strength comes from superpowers.

Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs' Powerless was more fun and enjoyable than I was even expecting. Kenna lives in a world where superheroes - and villains - are real. She may be surrounded by Heroes every day, but Kenna herself is without a power, she's ordinary.

The world of Heroes and Villains, right and wrong, good and bad is all very black and white for Kenna.

When a Villain saves her during a break-in at the lab, she has to reexamine those long held beliefs

Soon, another side of the world Kenna thought she knew so well is exposed and calls almost everything into question.

I loved the concept of a world where there are really heroes and villains, people with powers; where there's good and bad. I loved even more that the authors did not leave things at that simple, concrete distinction (heroes = good, villains = bad). They are, after all, people that are the heroes and villains and people are rarely all one or the other.

It was a bit unclear whether the rest of the world (the 'ordinary' people) were aware of those with powers or not. I thought so, but something later in the book made me question it. As much as I loved how much things revolved around Kenna nad the group of characters, I'd like to know more about the bigger picture in the rest of the series. (Like, if people do not know, how are things explained away? Why don't they know?)

The characters in Powerless all seem to fit together really well. We don't see a lot of the characters before some of the action gets started, but it is enough to not only get a feel for Kenna's character, but to see her strong friendship with Rebel. The romance is almost understated. It doesn't take center stage - and rightly so with all they are dealing with - but it is definitely there. The way things seem to spark almost right away, progress nicely but without being too fast was nice.

That he characters have questions about each other, their motives, their attraction, who's good and who's bad, and trust was great. They have been taught, have believed they shouldn't trust the other that they aren't the same, yet their goals make them question that.

Powerless does a fantastic job examining good and evil, right and wrong, our prejudices and how we're all really similar without it feeling like a 'message.' It's all a pretty seamless part of a very entertaining tale. The look at power (as in super powers), power (as in authority), being powerless and what it all means was very smart, too. I am absolutely looking forward to Book 2 (especially with that ending!).

If you're a fan of superheroes, sci-fi or just entertaining, smart books, you'l want to read Powerless.




thank you to he publisher and NetGalley for my egalley to review

Waiting On Wednesday [@AmieKaufman @misterkristoff @randomhousekids]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

ILLUMINAE (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


published October 20, 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon



Why?

1) You see who the authors are right? Amie Kaufman's (also co-authored, with Meagan Spooner) Starbound series is one of my absolute faves. I haven't read Jay Kristoff's books yet, but the Stormdancer trilogy is, " a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy"? It's definitely on my list.

2) It's space! It's the future! It's sci-fi in space in the future! (Seriously, I love sci-fi novels set on other planets/with inter-planetary travel/spaceships. Love.)

3) 'Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more' <---- see that right there? I have always really liked epistolary novels and ones told with documents (emails, files, memos, etc). I love that this is filled with so many different kinds of storytelling. Novels I've read that use something other than just straight narration to tell a story can really give interesting perspectives, deeper looks at the characters, and I'm really looking forward to how it works here.

4) You see that the cover quote is from Marie Lu, don't you?

5) Have you read any of the Illuminae reviews on Goodreads? No, well here's one and another one. And don't forget Jay Kristoff's here.


I'm almost scared of finding out anything else about this book. Every time I read/see/hear something new, I want to read it even more!



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Charlie, Presumed Dead ~ Anne Heltzel (earc) review [@AnneHeltzel @HMHKids]

Charlie, Presumed Dead
HMH Books for Young Readers
June 2, 2015
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own.

No one knows whom to trust in this thrilling tale of suspense and deception.

Charlie, Presumed Dead was a little bit of a weird read for me. I liked the premise, I liked the introduction to the story and the characters and I liked that there was mystery.

There were times, through probably the first half of the book, that it would feel like nothing was happening. Sure, we meet Lena and Aubrey, they meet each other, they find out they were both dating (the presumed dead) Charlie and they go off in search of Charlie. There were still times I asked myself, "Is anything really happening?"

While I liked getting to know Aubrey and Lena - though they were had to really 'get' either because they didn't know themselves or because of the secrets they were keeping - it seemed like there wasn't much action.

Weirdly enough, I started to really like it as I got more into the story.

The story seems pretty unassuming: two girls on a trip to find out about/find their mutual boyfriend. When you get into it, however, it's a more complex, darker story than it first seems.

I liked the balance between Lena and Aubrey. They weren't easy characters to figure out, but the more time they spent together, they more they went through together and the more of their secrets they revealed, the more I liked them and their budding friendship.

Some of their choices along the way, some of the decisions they make, were things I had to accept for the sake of the story, but they still frustrated me. Their actions, while befitting their characters and their goal, were rather questionable at times. Yet, it fit with what they were trying to achieve. (And who they were.)

I wasn't surprised to read that the author has lived in Paris and India, Aubrey and Lena's travels feel very authentic and don't involve only places you would expect.

I started out not sure of what was happening with Charlie, Presumed Dead but I absolutely loved how it all played into the book's ending. It is a fantastic ending (one I like, dislike and am frustrated by all at the same time).






digital arc received, through NetGalley, from publisher for review

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads


This week's Ten: Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads


  1. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (review)
  2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (review)
  3. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker (review)
  4. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (review)
  5. The Summer I Turned Pretty (series) by Jenny Han (review)
  6. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (review)
  7. Swept Away by Michelle Dalton (review)
  8. Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (review)
  9. Undertow by Michael Buckley (review)
  10. Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop (review)

Did you do a Top Ten Tuesday post? Please leave a comment and link me to it! Even if you didn't, please comment and tell me some of your favorite beach and/or summertime reads.

Monday, May 25, 2015

What Lies Behind ~ JT Ellison (earc) review [@thrillerchick @HarlequinBooks]

What Lies Behind (Dr Samantha Owens #4)
Mira
May 26, 2015
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

My reviews of Dr Samantha Owens Books 1-3 and the Taylor Jackson series 1-7 *

Critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author J. T. Ellison delivers another riveting novel featuring the incomparable Dr. Samantha Owens

Waking to sirens in the night is hardly unusual for Samantha Owens. No longer a medical examiner, she doesn't lose sleep over them, but a routine police investigation in her neighborhood has her curious. When her homicide detective friend, Darren Fletcher, invites her to look over the evidence, she jumps at the chance and immediately realizes the crime scene has been staged. What seems to be a clear case of murder/suicide—a crime of passion—is anything but. The discovery of toxic substances in hidden vials indicates that something much more sinister is at play…

As Fletch and Sam try to understand what and who they are dealing with, they are summoned to a meeting at the State Department. High-level officials are interested in what they know and seem to be keeping secrets of their own. It's up to Sam and Fletch to uncover what lies behind the deception as the threat of bioterrorism is exposed, and her boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, may be in the line of fire.

Unsure who to trust, Sam and Fletch find themselves up against very powerful people at every stage in the investigation. No one is who they appear to be and with every minute that passes, the danger escalates. It's Sam's most complex case yet and the terrifying reality is beyond anything she could have imagined.

What Lies Behind is another great installment in JT Ellison's Dr Samantha Owens series. Sam has moved from Nashville to Washington DC, has a new home, a new job and a new man in her life. Her fresh start doesn't take her away from crimes and investigations as much as she expected, though.

While she is now a professor, no longer a medical examiner, Sam is now working for the FBI with John Baldwin and seems to keep helping with homicide investigations.

I really like Sam's friendship with Fletch and how it creates a very plausible (and easy) way for her to become involved in the cases. Their characters fit well together and have different, but complimentary, ways of approaching investigating crimes. I'm glad that (most) of the romantic questions/feelings/possibilities of their pairing are in the past. I'm also glad that it hasn't been completely forgotten, it feels more authentic that way.

It seemed that Xander was in this book less than the others, despite him having his own, parallel storyline. It is possible that there were just fewer scenes with Xander and Sam (especially after the previous book). I do still really like his character, the little bits we seem to find out about his past each time and love him and Sam, together.

When I first heard about this series, I wasn't sure what to think. I liked Sam in the Taylor Jackson books but didn't know how a series revolving around her would work, if I would like it. Now, four books in, I really love both the series and the character.  Part of what I loved about the Taylor Jackson series was how creative, surprising and well done the mystery (the crime, the suspects, the solving) of each books was. I love that in this series, too, but in this series there is more of a scientific side to things. It fits with Sam especially well

A few things were left as questions at the end of the novel. One or two may just be mysteries that the characters - and, therefore, readers - will never know, but the other(s) have me really, really looking forward to the next book.

(What Lies Behind is part of a series - and the series itself spins-off of another series - but each novel is pretty self contained. You'll, of course, know more about the characters and better understand their relationships, etc the more of the books you've read, but it isn't required.)




digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley


Cover Characteristic [@sugar_and_snark]

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).

You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

This week's Cover Characteristic: Swords 





favorite:

I think that the Crown of Midnight cover is my favorite of the 'sword' covers. I love that it shows 
Celaena in action - plus she's got double the swords of the other covers.


What's your favorite 'sword' cover? Leave a comment and let me know! (If you have your own Cover Characteristic post, link me to it.)


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Last Good Day of the Year ~ Jessica Warman (earc) review [@bloomsburykids @jkwarman]

The Last Good Day of the Year
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
May 19, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author of Between.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.
As a character-centric story, I really enjoyed The Last Good Day of the Year; as a mystery-thriller, I'm still undecided.

The story alternates between New Year's Day 1986 (and some parts both before and after) and present day 1996 (and some before). Samantha and her best friend and neighbor were only seven years old when their lives changed forever. The two, along with Samantha's younger sister Turtle were spending New Year's Eve night sleeping in her basement, while the adults partied upstairs.

Sam's biggest worry was staying up past midnight, until the man appeared in her yard. Sam and Remy watched, terrified, as Turtle was kidnapped. They identified Sam's older sister Gretchen's ex-boyfriend, a man now in jail for Turtle's murder.

Now ten years later, her family is returning to that home they left behind. A home full of so many memories and possible secrets.

I knew from the summary that there were questions about what happened to Turtle, whether it all happened as they think, as they remember. The back and forth, between time periods, the past and present, does a great job letting readers know seven-year-old Sam and teenage Sam, of meeting all of the different characters, seeing who they were and what they've become.

I loved that we started with Turtle's kidnapping in 1986, but also worked up to it, in a way, in 1996. I love really great thrillers and for me there wasn't quite enough question surrounding the mystery in The Last Good Day of the Year. There was too much that was either obvious or very easy to guess. There was also just a bit more left unknown once the story was over, too many things more unresolved than I would like.

That said, though, it is a very nicely done story. The characters, their relationships prior to Turtle's abduction and presumed murder and how things (and the characters) have changed in the past decade were great. The Last Good Day of the Year is a good story full of twists, turns, heartache and pain.





Other Book(s) You Might Also Enjoy: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Scarlett Undercover ~ Jennifer Latham (arc) review [@jenandapen @lbkids]

Scarlett Undercover
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 19, 2015
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A voice-driven mystery perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

A lot of books are pitched as, 'perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.' Scarlett Undercover may be the first one I have read where I really agree.

Scarlett is the smart and sarcastic character she's described as. She's also really a private-eye. She has an offices, she has cases and a (very good) reason why she's investigating.

I loved that she had a fairly innocuous introduction to the case that would become the focus of the novel. At first, it's not even a case Scarlett is sure she should take. It seems like it's hardly anything for her to do . . . but she takes it. Our introduction to the case and to Scarlett's client tell us quite a lot about Scarlett, who she is and how she operates.

It's a great introduction and I liked things even more the deeper Scarlett got into the case. They sort of mythological, otherworldly aspects to it (see genies and curses) was unexpected but it actually all fit in really well. I enjoyed that the unfolding of the case was gradual with clues, discoveries and difficulties that all made for a great mystery.

Another thing I liked about Scarlett Undercover was that Scarlett is Muslim. That fact alone is good because yay diverse books, but how it was done was what I really liked. It wasn't just a declaration, 'Scarlett is a Muslim American,' and that was the end of it. Her faith was a part of who she was and impacted things with her character and the story. It wasn't something done just to say the book has a diverse character. Scarlett is Muslim and it was truly made a part of her character and the novel as a whole.

Jennifer Latham's debut is a great read with a quicky, funny, smart main character and a nicely done mystery. There secondary characters were all memorable and well written, too,. I am looking forward to the author's next title.






Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hold Me Like a Breath ~ Tiffany Schmidt (earc) review [@bloomsburykids @tiffanyschmidt]

Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family #1)
Blooomsbury
May 19, 2015
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.
I really enjoyed Tiffany Schmidt's Send Me a Sign, so I was excited when I realized Hold Me Like a Breath was by the same author. In Send Me a Sign, Mia's cancer battle was well written and I thought Penelope's disorder was also well done. There is a knowledge of what Penelope has underlying everything - knowledge by the author, by the characters and then by the reader, as well - that not only gives yous a fuller understanding of what she is dealing with, but feels real, too.

Penelope bruises (extremely, absurdly) easily and precautions have to be taken to keep her safe. From work on their home (or, estate) to limiting her activities and routine blood tests, the ITP impacts how Pen lives her life.

A life that is as the daughter of a crime family.

I think I was expecting Hold Me Like a Breath to be more about Penelope's family, about the crime family and the rivalry of the different families. I loved the beginning of the book, the setting, Penelope, Cater, and Garrett, the relationship between them and how they were with each other one on one.

When the story changed course - and tone - partway through, I did keep hoping it would get back to how things were in the beginning. There were some changes in Penelope's thinking and feelings that seemed too sudden, too baseless.

Towards the end, why so much had changed became apparent. I did get more into the story, again, then and could also understand why everything that had happened needed to. I still don't know that I actually like what happened or that I wouldn't have preferred what I was expecting, but I understand it.

Penelope remains pretty immature throughout the novel. It's easy to see how being as sheltered (and spoiled) as she was could lead to that. I liked her quite a bit more towards the very end and like where the book left her.

I did not know until I finished it that Hold Me Like a Breath was a retelling of the Princess and the Pea story. The story I expected going in would have been different had I known, but I definitely still would have read it. It's a good story with interesting developments and a nice character at the center of things. I think I just liked the beginning (the premise, the setting, the characters, their relationships) too much to also love when things changed.

I am looking forward to Book 2, Break Me Like a Promise due in 2016 and I hope it will get me to love the new(er) characters as much as I did this books early ones.





Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Made You Up ~ Francesca Zappia review [@ChessieZappia @GreenwillowBook @EpicReads @HarperTeen]

Made You Up
Greenwillow Books
May 19, 2015
448 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon


Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Some books have good characters. Some books have a good premise. Some books have good writing. Then there are those few, special books that are about something fantastic, with brilliant characters and amazing writing; Made You Up is one of those.

There is just so much good about Made You Up that I don't know if I can find the words - even the design of the book (illustrations, etc) is great.

Alex knows that she cannot always tell the difference between what's reality and what's a hallucination. Determined to get through her senior year, to handle life and to go on to college, she's come up with ways of coping. They're not foolproof but she thinks it will work.

Until she meets the boy she's pretty sure she imagined . . .

I absolutely loved Alex. She is endearing, she's smart, she's funny and not afraid to stand up for herself. Sure, she might be insane but she knows it. I liked how her schizophrenia and her paranoia were handled. There were the things that, as a reader, you were sure were delusions and there were things Alex, using logic, were sure were delusions. But then there were the things that were not so certain - for the character or as a reader.

The mix of Alex's character, her schizophrenia, life at high school, her friends, their own troubles and some pretty wacky events or possibilities came together for a really fantastic book.

There are some surprises in Made You Up that I really did not see coming and some of them were big. Alex, her character, how she sees (sometimes literally) the world and what happens to her and her friends will give you a lot to think about.

Made You Up is definitely one of my favorite books of the year, probably favorites of all time. I loved Alex, I loved Miles, I loved Charlie, I loved weird East Shoal High School and I really, really loved Francesca Zappia's writing.

If I could give this six out of five stars, I would.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥




Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman




received from publisher, for honest review

Monday, May 18, 2015

Illusionarium ~ Heather Dixon (earc) review [@GreenwillowBook @HarperTeen]

Illusionarium
Greenwillow
May 19, 2015
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

Illusionarium is a bit like the magical parts of Trial by Fire meets Alice in Wonderland.

The King has come, asking Jonathan's father, the renowned scientist to cure a disease. Not just any disease, it has been felling women across the kingdom and now the Queen is ill.

It doesn't matter that his father has been working tirelessly in search of an antidote already, the King demands he find the cure now. No matter the cost.

The King's desired methods pose their own risks - as does even his and the Queen's trip to their port  - but Jonathan and his father have few choices in the matter. When the illness strikes closer to home, Jonathan is willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of the dangers.

Soon, he finds himself introduced to a whole new world - literally and figuratively - with more threats and danger than he imagined. When he finds out the cost, will her still be willing to do whatever it takes?


Illusionarium is such a great mix of magic, danger, steampunk and alternate worlds, family, love, and loyalty. The world(s) created are well imagined and creative, but it's the characters, their parts in the world(s) and their reaction to them that really make the book.

Jonathan is a lovable character. He'll soon be off to university, but he still admires his father, loves him mother and younger sister and isn't very good at handling himself around girls. He's sweet, he's maybe a bit awkward and all that he is willing to do, all that he's forced to do really show us (and Jonathan, himself) who he is.

The secondary characters that Jonathan (and readers) meet along the way do not, at first, seem like they're going to be such an integral part of the story. It's their growth, the development of each of them and their stories that make them such enjoyable characters as well as very necessary parts of the journey.

Even the characters I didn't like for significant parts of the novel are ones the story couldn't do without.

The more we learn of the magic, the danger, and how it all comes together,t he more you worry for Jonathan . . . and hope for him. Illusionarium is a standalone and wraps up nicely, but I can't help but hope there'll be another trip into its worlds - and with its characters - someday.








review copy received from the publisher

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Apple and Rain ~ Sarah Crossan (earc) review [@SarahCrossan @BloomsburyKids]

Apple and Rain
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
May 12, 2015
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

When Apple's mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels almost whole again. In order to heal completely, her mother will have to answer one burning question: Why did she abandon her? But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets her younger sister, Rain-someone more lost than she is- that she begins to see things for how they really are, allowing Apple to discover something that might help her to feel truly whole again.

From the author of the acclaimed The Weight of Water comes a beautifully-crafted, moving novel about family, betrayal, and the ultimate path to healing.

I really, really loved Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain.

Apple has spent all but the first few years of her life being raised by her Nana. Her, then teenaged, mother left, one Christmas Eve, eleven years ago and hasn't returned since. With her father living several hours away, busy with his new wife who doesn't seem to like Apple, Nana is all Apple has. (Well, Nana and their dog, Derry.)

When Apple's mother reappears, claiming to be 'back,' it seems like a dream come true. But is it?

After living so many years with her strict grandmother, feeling like she's being treated like a baby, Apple's mother seems perfect. At first . . .

The Christmas that Apple celebrates near the beginning of the book gave a great glimpse at what her life was like. She was surrounded by adults, who likely did not want the best for her but they weren't really seeing her. Or what she needed and wanted.

Apple and readers can see the tension between her mother and her Nana. It's not until later that Apple begins to question the real cause of that tension.

I love that, really, no one is perfect in Apple and Rain. It isn't that her grandmother is a saint and her mother is the big screw-up, nor is her grandmother evil and her mother her saving grace. They are very lifelike characters, real and honest with their good traits but also their flaws and imperfections.

It is all a question of Apple - and later Rain - what they really need and who can provide it. As well as what truths they will have to face in finding their answers.

The poetry that is a part of Apple and Rain does a great job enhancing the story. It not only gives readers a deeper insight into the characters, but makes you think about the story more, too. In some ways the entire book is like a prose version of a poem.  It isn't as if the whole novel is an allegory or extended metaphor, there are no bunnies standing in for Apple's grandmother. The tone, the pacing and the events have a poetic feel to them. Even if some things are included indirectly or skirted around, we feel their presence strongly.

Apple and Rain are two girls you will connect with quickly and who you'll hope for the best for. The characters are story of Apple and Rain are ones you're not likely to forget; it really is a moving, remarkable story. (I am actually a bit surprised by how much I loved this book - don't pass it up.)





digital copy received for review, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@Simonteen @dawnmius]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


ANNE & HENRY by Dawn Ius

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

published September 2015 by Simon Pulse

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?

I really like historical fiction - and Tudor historical fiction - but I also really love retellings. Usually its fairy tales that are brought into the present day and I'm really excited to see how it works with this real-life couple.

Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII's relationship is already so drama filled that it just may fit perfectly in a high school setting.

I am really hoping this one is great!



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heat of the Moment ~ Lauren Barnholdt (earc) review [@HarperTeen @LaurenBarnholdt]

Heat of the Moment (Moment of Truth #1)
Harper Teen
May 12, 2015
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Before graduation, I promise to...learn to trust. In the first book in the Moment of Truth series, Lyla discovers that trusting her head might be easy but trusting her heart is a whole other matter.

Each book in this paperback original series is told from the perspective of a different girl—Lyla, Aven, and Quinn—former best friends who wrote emails to their future selves back in freshman year about one thing they hope to accomplish before they graduate. When the emails get delivered on the first morning of their senior trip all three girls will spend the next three days trying to keep the promises they made to themselves four years ago. While each book follow’s one girl’s life-changing adventure, you have to read them all to get the whole story, including why they’re no longer friends and whether they can get their friendship back on track.

Lyla McAfee had all but forgotten the email that she wrote to herself freshman year and scheduled to be delivered right before graduation—the one promising that she’d learn to trust by the end of senior year. But when she receives it the first morning of her senior trip to Florida her life is sent into a tailspin. Soon she’s questioning her seemingly perfect relationship with her boyfriend, Derrick; her attraction to the school player, Beckett; and whether ending her friendship with Aven and Quinn, her former BFFs, was one of the biggest mistakes of her life.

The first book in a captivating summer trilogy, Heat of the Moment flawlessly balances romance and humor as Lyla embarks on her totally reluctant but completely irresistible journey of self-discovery. And readers will have a chance to discover whole truth about the fight that ended Lyla, Quinn, and Aven’s friendship in the next two installments of the series, coming out later the same summer!

I loved the idea of Heat of the Moment. Books that bring old friends back together and books that are set when there are about to be big changes in someone's life are ones I like to read.

With Heat of the Moment, I did not like it as much as I was expecting because I did not much like Lyla. She seemed to be overly critical of her mother, being annoyed with ways she thought her mother was acting that I felt were more true of Lyla's behavior.

When that was paired with her near obsession with losing her virginity on the class trip to Florida, I just couldn't take any more of Lyla. She is so focused on 'finally' sleeping with her boyfriend Derrick, no matter what problems they have - or encounter in Florida. There was not as much introspection on Lyla's part as I had hoped given that her promise of learning to trust was much more emotional and personal and not as much measurable or quantifiable.

I did like Beckett's character and thought that things between them played out well. Since I didn't like Lyla, I couldn't really understand what he saw in her, but I did like his character and the events that took place between them.

Despite Lyla's character not working for me, I did like Beckett and our introduction to Aven and Quinn, her former best friends. I am curious to read the next book in this trilogy because I would like to learn more about the girls' friendship and what happened between them, what happens with Aven and Quinn's emails and I'm hoping there's some growth in Lyla's character.

I found Heat of the Moment's main character, Lyla annoying and not very likable but did like the other characters, events in the book and what can potentially happen in the rest of the series.







review copy received thanks to the publisher via Edelweiss
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