Monthly Archives: May 2014

ARC Review – Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

17924987Title:  Fan Art

Author: Sarah Tregay

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend.

As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn’t sure if that’s what he wants—because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay is a such a cute love story. I love stories about people who are confident in who they are (for the most part), but understand that not everything is as it seems, especially when it comes to falling for your best friend. That’s pretty much the entire story of this book, and while it was adorable at times, I had a few issues with it.

I feel like a good book needs to have a good balance of showing versus telling and Jamie is a teller, not a shower. In fact, about 90% of this book is Jamie telling events instead of the reader engaging in them, which didn’t always appeal to me. The writing was very flat at times as well, and think a lot of the wit that Jamie attempts to posses didn’t always translate well due to the flatness in the text. I wanted more emotion, more drive, and I felt like everything in this story was just a bit too easily handled. In fact, I think that’s my issue with the story — everything seems too easy.

While Jamie and Mason are cute, I didn’t always feel like I understood their attraction for each other outside of their “hotness,” which was what was frequently mentioned. I felt like we knew so much about Jamie and his life, and Mason just didn’t quite measure in comparison — I didn’t feel like I fully understood the appeal, whereas in a book like One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva, you totally got the connection and how deep it was between Alek and Ethan. For a romance novel, I think I was just expecting more than I got from the characters, and truthfully, I didn’t always feel connected to them.

However, I will say, there are tons of really sweet romantic scenes in this book, and some of the social issues are well placed and explained and that I enjoyed immensely. I thought the ending was very sweet, if a bit too simple, and I loved how imperfect Jamie was, because when he explains stories from his past, he’s easy to understand and be sympathetic towards.

While I was iffy on the poetry elements, I thought overall they were done very well and they did have the feeling of the kinds of poetry teens would write in high school. I adored the comics that were inserted into the story and I thought that was a beautiful touch. Fan Art is really, really cute, and is worth checking out if you’re not expecting too much from a very sweet and simple male-male love story.

Bout of Books Readathon 10.0 Wrap Up

BoB10-200x200I am amazed I actually found time to do this little readathon and I’m super late in sharing my results. That’s what happens when life takes over too much of one’s reading and blogging time! Any ways, here’s my results. 🙂

Books Completed: 

– Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick (224 pages)

– The Chaos of Stars by by by Kiersten White (288 pages)

– Take Me On by Katie McGarry (544 pages)

– The Blue-Haired Boy by Courtney C. Stevens (71 pages, eNovella)

– The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (280 pages)

Total Pages Read: 1407 pages.

I have to say, I’m proud I managed to read five books (one more than four, yo!) and I can honestly say I liked the majority of what I read.  I can’t wait for another readathon to happen so I can try to bump up my progress and do better! How did you all do for the readathon if you participated? Did you make your goals?

 

 

Book Review – Summer Days, Starry Nights by Vikki VanSickle

17701021Title:  Summer Days, Starry Nights

Author: Vikki VanSickle

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: A famous rock star, a family secret and a boy with a great smile make for one unforgettable summer.

It’s 1962, and thirteen-year-old Reenie Starr comes alive the minute guests begin to arrive at her family’s summer resort. She dreams of the day she can run Sandy Shores, and she spends her time helping out at the resort, swimming, climbing trees, and singing under the stars.

One day, Reenie’s mother announces that she thinks the resort could use some entertainment. She invites Gwen, her best friend’s almost-grown daughter, to come and teach a dance class. Although Gwen seems sad and remote, Reenie’s thrilled to have her there.

As Reenie starts to learn more about the world beyond Sandy Shores, she comes up with a plan that could really put it on the map. She also finds herself caught between the simpler world of her childhood and all of the wonderful new discoveries (boys) and heartaches (boys) that growing up can bring. Reenie thought she wanted Sandy Shores to never change, but after this summer nothing will ever be the same again.

Sam’s Review:

It’s not secret that I adore middle grade books, especially ones that are realistic and thoughtful. But you know what I love even more? Middle grade novels that tackle the past, in this case in the late 1960s in Ontario. Vikki VanSickle has written a wonderful story about a young Canadian girl looking to learn the truth about her family, and one remarkable summer she may never forget.

First odd, I loved Reenie. Her voices was clear, infectious, and I loved how methodical she was. She wants a role model, she wants someone to look up to, and when her mother walks out on her (for a week, interestingly), she has a hard time trying to understand what would make her favourite role model just up and leave her.

This book has a lot to do with family secrets, and while they aren’t difficult to figure out, I love the overall approach. Nothing is ever easy to learn or accept and Reenie and her sister really struggle throughout this story to understand a lot of their mother’s odd behaviour. There’s just so much heart in this story, and while the warm and fuzzies don’t appear until the very end, the book plays with your emotions on numerous occasions, reminding the reader that nothing is ever simple.

I devoured this book in an afternoon and it’s a great summer read. I loved the choice of setting with it being a family-owned resort, because those are so typical in Canada as summer “getaways” for people who really can’t afford big vacations. At the end of the day VanSickle writes a beautiful and thoughtful story about growing up and comes to terms with newfound changes that are… unexpected shall we say. I honestly cannot wait to track down her Words That Start with B series, because I think I will probably be in love with it too.

But honestly, if you want and sweet story with a loveable protagonist, Reenie really is your girl. Her whole family truly is a joy to read about, and the secrets are worth the discovery.

ARC Review – Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

20359699Title: Poisoned Apples

Author: Christine Heppermann

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A devious poetry collection by  author Christine Heppermann. 

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

So I have to say, Poisoned Apples was a pleasant surprise. The poems attempt to blur the lines between fairy tales and reality and have to say, a lot of them the poems do a good job in justifying this. I think poetry collections can be a real tough sell, but the poems weave into each other surprisingly well that you felt like you were reading one large poetic narrative.

Also it’s feminist poetry. That’s an area I can say I completely approve of. I loved that Heppermann poked fun at tampon commercials, beauty, fashion, body images, things that are supposed to “make a woman.” A lot of the poems argue that none of these things make you a “true woman” and if anything it’s silly to even consider it. There’s a very dark and playful tone to a lot of the poems — in fact, I even found humor in a lot of them. There’s quite the cleverness in this collection, and no you don’t have to be well versed in fairy tales to appreciate it.

There’s a lot to like in this poetry collection, and I think the poems coupled with the photography and artwork is a great touch. I definitely want to see how a finished version of this book will look like when it releases in September. Honestly, check it out — there’s so fun and trouble to be found here.

Five Books I Need to Get Off My Butt and Read

So River and I get a ton of ARCs that often take priority over our personal reading lists. This bugs me sometimes because I try to prioritize and it often never works because more goodies appear. I should never complain, and I am always eternally grateful that publishers love to hear from us. However, what about those awesome books I bought that have been neglected on the shelf? Well here’s five books that I clearly need to get off my butt and read because I am apparently missing out on some awesome.

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

So everyone and their grandmother has read this excerpt me and I hear this series is one of the best in young adult fantasy right now. Also female assassin rising from being imprisoned to fight in the stead of a prince? Count me in. Seriously, I haven’t met a single person who has told me this book isn’t awesome.

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Golden by Jessi Kirby

I have read Moonglass and In Honor by Jessi Kirby, and this is one of River’s favourite books. I don’t know why I didn’t get to it last summer and I know I need to remedy this because it’s looks and sounds amazing, plus it’s a road trip story and I LOVE those. Especially when it’s the story where a character is reflecting and coming to terms and even growing. Very excited to tackle this one.

17233800Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

This is the only book by Katie McGarry I haven’t read yet, and this one happens to be River’s favourite in the series so far. It’s about Isaiah, which baffles me that I haven’t gotten to it because he is one of my favourites in this series (doesn’t quite beat Beth, but pretty close). Sometimes I want an intense romance novel to read, and Katie McGarry just knows how to get it all right and make it so easy for me to just turn the pages. If you like intense contemporary young adult novels, she’s really an author you should check out.

11544476When We Wake by Karen Healy

One of my darling friends, Katherine @ VENTUREADLAXRE spoils me rotten (and vise versa, I am just as bad), and this was one of the last goodies she sent to me. The premise of this book sounds crazy and amazing and I keep staring at it. I love what-if stories and considering Tegan dies and wakes up a hundred years into the future, that is the kind of story that just sounds creepy and fascinating at the same time (though truthfully, I just want to read all the books Katherine sends me. They always have unique premises).

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Crudrat by Gail Carriger

“Crudrat” was the first thing I ever kickstarted, so I am delighted that I have both an ebook and an audiobook to enjoy for this. I feel like I should hook the audiobook up to my mp3 player and just go for a walk and listen to a chapter a day. I feel like that would be motivating! Any ways, Gail Carriger is one of my favourite authors — she knows how to make readers laugh and feel completely entertained. I love authors that don’t always make every thing heavy handed or forced, and humor is always a plus for me.

So there you have it! These are five books I have been wanting to read for like, ever, and just haven’t gotten to. I’d be curious to see what River comes up with if she were to make a list. 😛 So I want to know in the comments! What are some books you’ve had on your shelf forever and feel like you need to make the time for?

 

ARC Review – Divided by Elise Chapman

13649079Title:  Divided

Author: Elise Chapman

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life.

The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.

How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything

Huge thank you to Random House BFYR and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ve been mulling for days over what I want to say aboutDivided. Truthfully, I was simply ‘okay’ with Dualed and I found that while this book was better, I never found myself in love or into what I was reading. The world building still feels drab and confusing (but surprisingly much clearer than the previous book), the characters still feel one-note, but at least the story still had engaging parts… I just wish it had been engaging the full amount of time.

West is still aggravating, and while I get that she is not the best decision maker, I found myself grumbling many a times. I did appreciate that West was trying to redeem herself and that she didn’t want to be associated with being a murderer any more — but she really never catches a break. However, it’s a tad ridiculous how fast things move and the explanations often feel unclear as to where the plot is going or what is happening. 

I’m not going to lie, I was so proud of myself for remembering some of the abbreviations in this book because the first book was terrible at reminding the reader of what the abbreviations meant. I think Chapman took much more time to explain aspects of the story in this book better than she did in the previous and I love it when author’s attempt to create more clarity for the reader. Considering how vague her world building was previously, this book was much better considering she did a lot of re-establishing, but this also gave us more telling and not enough showing.

At the end of the day, this series is one I can see many teens gravitating towards because it has the right amount of action and a heroine who is pretty easy to cheer for. The other characters are not bad, I just didn’t find a lot of them as memorable as our plucky heroine. Still, I wanted more of this series, I wanted to stay engaged from start to finish and unfortunately, while this book is still inherently better than the first, I need more from it to keep coming back. That being said, I think Chapman’s writing greatly improved in this instalment and I’m still curious as to see where her next novel takes her.

ARC Review – Take Me On by Katie McGarry

18333898Title:  Take Me On

Author: Katie McGarry

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

Huge thank you to  Harlequin TEEN and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

After devouring Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, I found that Katie McGarry’s writing style just works for me. There’s something about how intense she writes her teens that I find my eyes glued to the pages. Take Me On was no exception to this.

Although I haven’t read Crash Into You yet, I must say that McGarry does a great job with still making the characters from that novel very accessible. Also, Isaiah. I love that boy and why I haven’t read his story yet is such a damn travesty because he was a favourite of mine in the first two books. I also enjoyed the subplot with West, Rachel and Isaiah, even though West didn’t always win me over with his behaviour or decisions.

It’s weird because at first I had a hard time with both protagonists. I didn’t find either of them interesting or likeable at first, but that seems to be the case with most of McGarry’s books. There’s this building process where you get pieces and pieces, and even though the full picture might be visible, there’s always this small little crack in the portrait that represent’s that character’s ugly past. Those little ugly moments were always my favourite for Haley and West. While I didn’t love these two as much as Beth and Ryan or Echo and Noah, I still liked their stand alone moments more than I did when the two were together.

There is a crazy amount of lusting in this book, which I wish wasn’t the entire focus of the book. I always have more of a preference when McGarry is breaking down relationships and showing all the pieces than I do when characters behind like they can’t keep it entirely in their pants. The action was a bit all over the place too and I wish there had been more with the MMA-style fighting since that’s a big aspect of Haley’s life. But at the same time, these two grew on me, just like the others.

While I don’t think Take Me On is the strongest of the books in the Pushing the Limits series (also the lack of sexy car made me sad), it was still a solid read with some fantastic moments that are intense, cringing and emotionally draining. McGarry writes some of the most heart felt, intense teens I’ve ever come across in YA, and I appreciate how she handles them as well.