Monthly Archives: August 2014

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – September Edition

For this month’s SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! River and I purposed something a bit different for this month. You see, we have insane love of Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Girls, and neither of us has had the free minute to sit down and enjoy the self-published sequel that was recently released because of ARCs and real life (hello marriage, hello new job). So this month you are going to get double love for Dangerous Boys! If anyone wants to read along with us, please do and support Abigail Haas/Abby McDonald! She’s a really talented writer.

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Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Buy it from Amazon!

What do you think of our joint pick of the month? Have you read it yet? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments! As for our August Reviewed… it’s on the way!

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The September & October Book Ban Challenge!

All right, so I had amazing lucky back in April and May with not buying an books. As soon as my book buying ban was up, I went a little crazy with the book buying. In that two  month span I read fifteen physical books (and that was not counting the ARCs that I read). So I’ve decided to do another two months of no book buying! Why? Because sometimes it’s good to widdle the backlog down so more.

However, there is going to be a catch. For starters, I will allow you readers of the blog to select from my TBR what I should read during the challenge. However, keep in mind: you can only pick one book, and if I do not own it, you need to select a different one. If the book is labelled ‘to-find’ it means I don’t have it! So check out my TBR on Goodreads and select ONE book from it that I should read during the ban. Leave your picks for me in the comments! 🙂

The second challenge is, I’m going to try and work in a few Stack of Fives here and there, but I’m not sure how that will work yet. It may be a case of as I feel like it, I’ll toss up onto twitter five books and the one with the most votes will be read in the challenge.

I’ve also decided I am not limiting this challenge to physical books, so ARCs, eBooks, audiobooks, anything that’s in my backlog is free game. My goal is simply to see how much I can read without buying more books. It’s going to be a bumpy road, but I think I can manage it. If YOU want to join in the fun, let me know and we’ll see if we can’t make an event out of it.

ARC Review – Feral by Holly Schindler

15782742Title:  Feral

Author: Holly Schindler

Rating: ★ 1/2

Synopsis: It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I went into Feral with the wrong expectations. I ADORED Holly Schindler’s The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, and even though I knew this was of a different genre, I was anticipating to like this more than I did. My biggest issue with Feral is simple: it did nothing to make me care about the story, characters and even its genre.

First off, I don’t feel like I can pin-point what genre this book was attempting to be. Is it horror? Thriller? Mystery? Paranormal? It seems like it is trying to mash all these genres together, but it never succeeds at any of them on any degree. In one sense it’s almost as though the book had several incarnations, but none of them felt like they were the star of the show.

Second, the book is boring and it’s so easy to forget what’s going on. I felt like there was no hook in the narrative, and all the characters felt vapid and one dimensional, except for Serena, who gets a ton of development in her own sections. Too bad, however, she isn’t even the main character — Claire is, and she’s devoid of any personality what so ever. I recognize the two characters are supposed to be connected in some way, but it never felt organic in any way, and if anything it was really shoehorned in to the point where it annoyed me.

Also the writing is so drawn out half the time. In many situations there’s a lot of pointless descriptions that feels unnecessary to the actual story. I think this book actually could have been a lot stronger had a lot of the pointless description been removed, because seriously, there’s so many long and drawn passages, meanwhile the author then gets right to the point! Just, no, no no.

At the end of the day Feral annoyed me because it was all over the map and it never gave me the solid connections I was craving. I should have cared about what was happening, and instead I found myself bored to tears because none of the characters stood out (also, so many pointless secondary characters who serve no purpose!), and it was just hard to care about what was going on because the good parts of the story were bogged down but tons of pointless information. I still think Schindler’s writing is great, but this book just didn’t cut it a lot of the time for me.

ARC Review – Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

20578970Title:  Can’t Look Away

Author: Donna Cooner

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident — maybe because of Torrey and her videos — Torrey’s perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I originally picked up this book because I used to be into fashion and beauty blogging, so that aspect of this book really appealed to me. I also wanted to find out how Torrey’s vlog video might have contributed to her sister’s death.

Overall this was a really sweet book with a lot of emotional punch to it. Torrey and her family are dealing with the death of the youngest member of their family. Torrey was fighting with her sister moments before she was hit by a car, and this haunts her — even more so because it’s caught on video and even later put online.

I liked the family dynamics and the thought of losing a sister really broke me. I can’t imagine losing my own sister. I could totally connect with Torrey on her relationship with her sister too. Much like Torrey and Miranda, I also fought with my sister A LOT growing up. We were very different and had a lot of trouble being sisters. Later in life we found our way and became friends and now we’re super close. So my heart really broke for Torrey.

The vlogging aspect of the book was really interesting. I know how Torrey felt about wanting to become popular online for her videos (in my case it was my blog), but sometimes her age didn’t really mesh well for me. I guess it’s because I barely had the internet when I was sixteen, but I also did NOT have $300 jackets and Marc Jacob’s purses at that age. I really wanted to know where Torrey was getting the money for this stuff (her parents? It was never really addressed where the money was coming from, but it also was never really shown that her family had money either).

I really liked a lot of the side characters in this book too. Luis and Raylene were both great characters and not only were they important for Torrey to grow and come to terms with how her life had changed, they were both fleshed out pretty well and could hold their own. Even the old women were interesting (I LOVED everything that had to do with them and the Day of the Dead festival).

ARC Review – Second Chances (Everyday Angel #2) by Victoria Schwab

20578957Title:  Second Chances (Everyday Angel #2)

Author: Victoria Schwab

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Meet a guardian angel like no other, from a writer like no other. Bold, rising star Victoria Schwab returns with the second book in this whimsical, inspiring, and clever middle-grade series.

There’s more to Aria than meets the eye. She’s a guardian angel. And to earn her wings, she’ll have to help three different girls. . . .

This time, Aria comes to Caroline Mason. At her all-girls’ prep school, Caroline is being bullied. She eats lunch alone and is picked on by her classmates every day. The ringleader of the mean girls is Lily Pierce. But Lily isn’t an ordinary bully: she used to be Caroline’s best friend.

When Aria arrives, she can see Caroline is suffering. But, to Aria’s surprise, so is Lily. What is the story behind Lily’s cruel actions? And can Aria help guide Caroline out of the darkness . . . and into better, brighter future?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was completely smitten with the first book of this series. Aria was completely loveable and believable as this guardian angel sent to help people with their life affecting problems, and this next instalment focuses on a popular topic that has been circulating middle grade and YA fiction for awhile: bullying. It’s a tough topic to handle, but I feel like Schwab writes it with complete ease.

I think many of us can relate to Caroline’s situation: she’s a girl who has been exiled from the popular kids for doing “the right thing.” She gets treated completely like garbage, tossed around, and she is dealing with the emotional stress of the harm that being bullied places on someone. Interestingly though, this is not just her story, as it’s equally about the former bestfriend, Lily, who is the bully in question. Aria is sent to help both girls, but interestingly, Lily’s story is well integrated into Caroline’s without her being the focus, and unlike Caroline or Aria, she is not given a point of view. Normally, I think have that extra point of view would help, but here I like that a lot of how Lily is handled is mostly from a distance because it definitely shows the difficultly that Aria has in attempting to help her.

I loved this story, and I think it’s one a lot of people can understand and relate to because this is such a scary and hot topic right now. I don’t want to spoil a few of the twists Schwab incorporates into this story, but I thought they were well done and again give the reader a touch more insight than they likely would have received otherwise. This series is fantastic, and I cannot wait for the next book when it arrives in the Winter. I could stand to have more Aria in my life!

ARC Review – Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane

20518882Title: Evidence of Things Not Seen

Author: Lindsey Lane

Rating: ★ 1/2

Synopsis: When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pullout off the highway, so maybe someone snatched him. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it may be true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy, Evidence of Things Not Seen by award-winning author Lindsey Lane explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

Huge thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I tried to like this book, honest. I thought the premise sounded so interesting and different from a lot of mystery novels, which is why I initially requested it. However, what this book really is, is a disjointed mess of prose thrown together in the attempt to weave a story together.

Tommy Smythe goes missing, and everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Everyone also has their own problems and issues to face, and each “character” if you can call them that has one chapter only to — poof! Never hear from them again. Seriously, how is anyone supposed to connect with the mystery if they are a one shot character? It’s a little tough to muster sympathy and sadness where there’s not much to work with.

Furthermore, the stories in this book are either about rape, murder, abuse, etc, but it jumps around so much that you don’t really get a chance to digest a lot of what you’re reading, nor does the significance in adding these elements feel as important as they could. I think if this book had spent some time on developing characters, may be this would feel more important? I don’t know. I just struggled to care about anyone (including Tommy) because there just isn’t enough to work with. Actually, there’s squat to work with.

This is a book wherein readers I feel will be wanting and expecting more than they will actually get. The ideas in this book are solid, but the execution of all of it just rubbed me the wrong way, making it difficult for me to find any enjoyment. The negatives just really out weighted any positives I could find, and I hate when that happens.

ARC Review – Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo

18769270Title: Six Feet Over It

Author: Jennifer Longo

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:

Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.

At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).

Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?

Huge thank you to Random House Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This book. This book is depressing as hell itself, and as long as you recognize that you are on a Debbie Downer depressing road, you’ll be able to get through this book. I loved this book, but boy did I feel miserable after finishing it.

The characters in this book have a lot of hardship. Considering the title of this book I expected some snark and quirk, which neither surfaced. Leigh is a very empathetic individual towards others, but when it comes to her own family, it’s an interesting can of worms. The adults in this book are pretty horrible for the most part and completely unsympathetic to the patrons they serve (even making fun of them), though thankfully many of them get a huge dose of reality.

There’s so much to this story — it’s views on life and death, mourning periods, what it means to have loss, what it means to be alive. It asks the reader a lot of questions but doesn’t shy away from these tough matters in any way, which is what I loved about this book. It has a very honest approach, and one that challenges its core themes inside and out. Furthermore, all the characters grow in such an organic way, there’s nothing forced in their maturity. Leigh’s voice really can capture a reader’s attention and she’s not afraid to say how she’s feeling. Plus her supporting cast, especially Dario, is just SO GOOD.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, this book is depressing, Leigh’s a bit of a Debbie Downer, but if you can get into the mindset of the story, it’s really quite fantastic. Those seeking a deep story to become emotionally connected to, this is one worth reading.