Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [Top 2015 Books So Far]


This week's Ten: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015



Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway



The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker





Apple & Rain by Sarah Crossan




Made You Up by Francesca Zappia








Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton



Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu



Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard



Red by Alyxandra Harvey






What about you, what are your top reads from 2015, so far? 

Please leave a comment and let me know your picks - and/or link me to your Top Ten Tuesday post!

Monday, June 29, 2015

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: Cakes





favorite:

I don't even like coconut (so I don't guess I'd love coconut cake) but I do love this cover - between the chalkboard-y writing, the simple color scheme and the pretty cake, what's not to like?



Please leave a comment and let me know what your favorite book with a cake on the cover is - or if you don't have one, what's your favorite cake? And if you did your own Cover Characteristic post, link me to it!


Under the Lights ~ Dahlia Adler (earc) review [@missdahlelama @SpencerHillP]

Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2)
Spencer Hill Contemporary
June 30, 2015
312 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.
After reading Behind the Scenes, I was curious where Under the Lights would find Ally. I really enjoyed her story - and the introduction to all of the other characters - in that first book and wanted to know what was next.

The focus in Under the Lights switches to Vanessa and Josh, with their characters narrating alternating chapters. Their characters seemed to stay true to who they were in the first Daylight Falls book, while also growing and showing more of who they are here.

I wasn't sure about Josh being one of the main characters (and a narrator). He is not shy or reserved, to understate things to the max and can be obnoxious, sexist and annoying. Somehow, though, that was also part of why I loved him in this book? Josh isn't that jerky guy who secretly is a big softie. He drinks too much, he hooks up (to varying degrees, in varying ways and places) with as many girls as he can manage, and isn't ambitious. That is who Josh Chester is.

It's who he is and it works. That the other characters won't take crap from him, that he owns who he is but also, truly, cares about his friends makes him someone I liked reading about.

We also really get to know Van. After Behind the Scenes, it felt like I knew her character the least (of the four). She was interesting in that first book but in Under the Lights we really get to know who she is - beyond Ally's best friend and an actress. All of the little bits about her we already knew really come together. I loved her character, who she is, what she's dealing with - how she deals with it - and what she brings out of the other characters.

Brianna is a fun addition. While we don't see her with the other characters as much (only Vanessa), she fit in well while also being someone (and something) new and different. I liked the little peeks we got into her life and her relationship with Van.

I don't know if this is the last Daylight Falls novel and, while I would definitely love to read more, I think Under the Lights wrapped things up nicely and left the characters in satisfying places.





i


digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weightless ~ Sarah Bannan (earc) review [@sarahkeegs @stmartinspress]

Weightless
St Martin's Griffin
June 30, 2015
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


Weightless is one of those books whose summary, I think, gives too much away. I can understand why, in this case, but I still think you may wan to skip reading it - or at least all of it.

When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane making out is sent to everyone, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut, as Brooke and her best friend Gemma try to restore their popularity. Gossip and bullying hound Carolyn, who becomes increasingly private and isolated. When Shane and Brooke—now back together—confront Carolyn in the student parking lot, injuring her, it’s the last attack she can take.

Sarah Bannan's deft use of the first person plural gives Weightless an emotional intensity and remarkable power that will send you flying through the pages and leave you reeling.

Weightless may be the first novel I've read that was told in the first person plural. In the beginning (having not read or otherwise forgotten the summary) I wondered if it was going to continue for the whole book. To be honest, it kind of bugged me a bit in the beginning. I like knowing my narrators, knowing who they are, how they think, what they do, what they say.

In this book we have a more ambiguous narrator. We know they're part of a group of girls who aren't quite popular, but aren't outcasts. Members of the swim team, known to the popular girls, they're on the periphery.

They watch, from that first summer day, as Carolyn Lessing,joins their lives in small Adamsville, Alabama. From New Jersey and having previously attended a private school, Carolyn is different from the girls in Adamsville. She's a Yankee, she dresses differently and doesn't understand AHS's 'rules.' Yet, Carolyn's also pretty, smart and athletic so she's immediately included.

But Carolyn's upset the balance at Adams High School. They are kids who, all but a couple, have gone to school together their whole lives. They have history, they have reputations, they have relationships and expectations. Even with possibly stealing someone's boyfriend, Carolyn fits.

Until she doesn't.

The telling of Weightless really did feel different. It wasn't just the 'we' narration, which I grew more accustomed to as the book progressed, it was what that meant. As a reader, I felt almost a step removed from the actual story - of Carolyn and the others. It is a part of the story - that everything is observed more than taken part in, recollected as a whole more than an individual - but it definitely gives a different feeling. One I both liked and didn't.

Without being spoilery, Weightless deals with bullying and some horrible, painful, heartbreaking things happen. For me, though, this is some of where the narration style was a letdown. It works because you realize that we are the 'we' that it's not just these girls in small-town Alabama, it's us. At the same time, it felt like their 'we' narration was a was of mitigating their culpability, of excusing their actions and removing responsibility.

While that may be more of my problem with the characters than the novel, I'm not sure. I hated some of the characters, I was amazed at some and wanted to somehow whisk others to safety. I don't know if I like where things ended, but I know I won't forget this novel.

Weightless is different, unique and, perhaps most of all, incredibly honest and thought provoking.




Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, Those Girls by Lauren Saft (Carolyn made me think about Veronica) and All the Rage by Courtney Summers






thank you to the publisher for my review copy via NetGalley

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday [@mikaela_everett @@GreenwillowBook @HarperTeen]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine


My pick for this week:


THE UNQUIET by Mikaela Everett

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.

published September 22nd by Greenwillow Books

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


Why?

It makes me think of an interesting mix of the movie Another Earth (review) and Elsie Chapman's Dualed (review) and Divided (review) - all of which I loved.

And mentioning Orphan Black, too? So doesn't hurt.

I love a character who isn't completely good - but who's also starting to question what she's always believed.

Books that are 'unsettling' and make you think can be terrific reads and I am really looking forward to The Unquiet.


)and I was just approved for this on Edelweiss and can't until I can start reading it!)



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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Leveller ~ Julia Durango (earc) review [@julia_durango @harperteen]

The Leveller (The Leveller #1)
HarperCollins
June 23, 2015
256 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon


Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.
If you mix Inception with The Adjustment Bureau, video games, and action you get something close to The Leveller.

The MEEP, the virtual reality gaming world, is Nixy Bauer's parents work so she has more access and knowledge than most. She knows her way into and around the MEEP - and ways around the rules.

Her knowledge has allowed her to create a very lucrative job for herself as a Leveller. When teens stay in the game too long and their parents want them home, awake, it's Nixy who goes in, finds them and brings them back.

It's all been easy money, so far, but Nixy's new job may, finally, put her skills to the test.

Wyn Salvador  isn't her usual assignment. While most teens she's sent to retrieve are missing dinner or family time, Wyn has left a suicide note. He doesn't want to be found.

Still, Nixy thnks she knows how to handle it, handle him.

Until she enters the MEEP to find him and it's nothing like she expected.

Facing danger, surprises around every corner, even possible death, all in a world of dreams, a world where anything goes. Nixy and Wyn try to get home.

With the possibility of anything coming at you, anything someone can imagine, The Leveller leaves readers and characters both not knowing what to expect. Julia Durango did a superb job creating the MEEP. It is well imagined and follows the rules - even when there seem to be no rules. It is a fantastic setting for a rich, original, action filled and captivating story.

Nixy is an enjoyable protagonist. She isn't a girly girl, but neither is she the female character that often seems to be associated with gaming. Her best friends are male but she doesn't eschew all things 'girly,' either. I enjoyed the balance there. She's funny, she's smart and someone you'd want on your side if skeletons ever attacked.

Wyn is someone Nixy expects to be the typical Richie Rich. When she finds him, she realizes there's not only more to the job, but more to Wyn. They are put together in an unconventional way, in an unconventional place, not allowing for the usual get to know you things. The way their unique circumstances allow us to learn about them and them to learn about each other is great. Some of it is backwards (having to trust the other with their life before they can really talk) but it works here.

I don't want to give away all that Nixy encounters or all that being in the MEEP entails for the characters, but suffice it to say with all of the mythical, magical and/or terrifying creatures/beings, all that is missing from The Leveller is a narwhal. And I can see that being part of Book 2.

The conclusion of The Leveller is a good ending to the novel while still holding enough promises of what's to come in Book 2 that you'll want to bump it right to the top of your TBR list.








digital arc received, from publisher, via Edelweiss for review

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Topics


This week's Ten: In honor of 5 years of Top Ten Tuesday Top Ten Topics We've Ever Done In The Past 5 Years


I decided to pick ten Top Tens from the list of previous topics, not from those I have done because I don't think I have enough to pick from. So, here are my Top Ten Topics (and a few, not ten, sorry, books for some):

Favorite Covers

Top Ten Books that Made You Think



Top Ten Covers We Wish We Could Redesign

Most Unfortunate (or Unusual) Character Names
they were separate lists, but I couldn't pick one! most of these names are just unusual, though
Celaena from Throne of Glass series
Tookie De La Crème from Modelland
Tallulah de Longland from Walking on Trampolines
Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut from Absolutely Maybe
pretty much anyone from The Hunger Games, Incarnate, Cruel Beauty, or The Selection




Top Ten Romances You Think Would Last in the Real World


Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters EVER

Favorite Book to Movie Adaptations
I limited it some by only picking from those where i read the book and saw the movie
If I Stay
The Fault in Our Stars
Rebecca
To Kill a Mockingbird

Books I'm So Happy Were Recommended to Me

Top Ten Books that Have Been on My Shelf the Longest that I've Never Read
(honestly, these may not be the longest but they've been there a long time and I'm aware of having not yet read them!)
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Fate and Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
sadly, a lot of PNR and UF series

Top Ten Books that Feature Travel
or timeslip or similar
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
When We Wake by Karen Healey


The links to the posts for these topics, as well as those of other topics can be found on the Top Ten Tuesday post at The Broke and the Bookish!


Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite Top Ten Tuesday topics - and/or link me to your own posts(s)!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Emmy & Oliver ~ Robin Benway review [@robinbenway @harperteen]

Emmy & Oliver
Harper Teen
June 23, 2015
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

Emmy & Oliver turned out not to be exactly what I had expected - in probably the best possible way.

I loved how Oliver's reintroduction to his life, his mother, her new family, school and his old town was handled. I liked that we knew his mother, his past, and about the search for him before we knew Oliver. It lets readers get a sense of all that he's going into by returning 'home.'

It was great that it was not an easy, effortless transition on anyone's part - Oliver's, Emmy's, their families, childhood friends, anyone. It has been a decade since Oliver disappeared so most everyone in the high school remembers that he was taken, not necessarily Oliver himself. Their reactions both make sense and add one more difficult layer to Oliver's return.

You cannot say too much about Oliver's return without mentioning Emmy. Emmy is what surprised me about Emmy & Oliver. Even with her name coming first in the title, I expected her to secondary to Oliver in the story. She is not and I love, love her story.

The impact Oliver's disappearance had on his mother, how finding out the truth and coming home is affecting him, is more predictable. What made the novel really stand out to me, was Emmy's character and the relationship she forms with Oliver after he comes home. The parental abduction of her next door neighbor and best friend ten years ago has played a huge role in Emmy's life.

She has a relationship with her parents that I love, but we also see how much what happened to Oliver that day has played into what's happened to her every day after.

I love how honest, sweet, charming, heartbreaking, romantic, painful, and hopeful Emmy & Oliver and Emmy and Oliver are. Robin Benway does a terrific job with Oliver's absence, his return and everything that entails (for Oliver and everyone else, too); with Emmy's struggle to live the life she wants without upsetting her restrictive parents; and with how Emmy and Oliver attempt to figure out - if? - they fit now.

The only thing I did not love about the novel was the narration in the little 'interludes.' I love Benway's writing, the voice she gives Emmy and how utterly readable it is, how quickly you're pulled right into her story. Particularly because of the parenthetical remarks, that voice seemed to also be in the third person interludes. It felt like it was still Emmy telling the things, despite being omniscient third person.





Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: (not a book, but worth the rec) Finding Carter and Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway






digital galley received through Edelweiss and finished copy from publisher

Cover Characteristic: Cups [@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: Cups
covers link to their Goodreads page






favorite:

Slice of Cherry is definitely my favorite of the 'cups' cover because it is both a cover I adore (it's creepy and pretty, at the same time) but it is also the best example of a book with a cover theme/characteristic of cups!

Please leave a comment and let me know if you have a favorite 'cups' cover or what you think of any of my picks and, as always, if you did a post, please link me to it! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Those Girls ~ Lauren Saft (arc) review [@TheNovl @lsafticle @lbkids]

Those Girls
Poppy
June 9, 2015
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can't help but stab you in it.

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they're the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them--and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band--without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved--literally, figuratively, physically....she's not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever....or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

I almost stopped reading Those Girls after the first three chapters. Seriously,from the beginning the characters are offensive, mean, kind of irritating and completely not 'friendly' to each other. From the jokes about how slutty they are and about abortions, all of the smoking (pot, cigarettes) and drinking, it didn't seem like a book for me.


Yet, something about Saft's writing and that promise of 'a healthy dose of heart,' kept me reading.

The characters don't get better - they still call each other slutty, whores and so much more, while seemingly meaning it - but we do get more of their lives and their relationships. The majority of which are just as messed up as Alex, Mollie and Veronica.

This is probably the first book where I happen to agree with this (spoilery) one star review and probably most of the others, but I still didn't hate it?

The characters have nearly no redeeming qualities (at least that we see in the novel). Veronica was probably the one I liked best, though I really couldn't stand Alex or Mollie (especially) so . . . If her character had been in a different story, I think I could have liked her a lot. She obviously has some basis for being so screwed up, we get some fleeting glimpses of not horrible Veronica . . . before she goes back to being regular Veronica. (And I still think this.)

These three seem to legitimately think of each other as friends, but they're either absolutely not or are the worst example of it, ever. They also go beyond frenemies into actually enemies, I think.


The ending does fit with the characters but it was not what I wanted it to be (namely something quite different).

So, while hate/pity/maybe a little bit fear all of those girls and want to run them (and the book) through a PG-13 and/or psychological counseling filter, I'm not sorry I read the book. I really hope this isn't what's going on in the minds of many (any!) teenage girls and if it is, I don't want to know them. I do, however, hope that it's not what's going on in Lauren Saft's mind because I would like to read something else - something else vastly different than this - from her.






arc received from The Novl newsletter
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