Tag Archives: arc reviews

Finished Copy Review — Duplicity by N.K. Traver

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Title: Duplicity

Author: N.K. Traver

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he’s gone.

River’s review:

Huge thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for letting me review a finished copy of this book!

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I HATED the first half and LOVED the middle and was okay with the end. Brandon is NOT a likable character an I’m fine with that. But he falls too neatly into the stereotypical pierced, tattooed, black-wearing “bad boy” role for me. I wanted more depth. More than just ‘my parents are always busy boo hoo I’m going to be an ass for basically no reason’. Because yes his parents ignored him, but they were also too stereotypical for me as well. So the first half of the book where we meet Brandon and his family I was just wanted more.

I was so intrigued with the hacker aspect of this book (the whole reason I requested it) and I would have liked to have seen where Brandon had learned some of his skills. A little more history. Because not just everybody can pick that up. I also would have liked to have seen MORE hacking in the beginning. The story jumps right into things and I wish there would have been more build. I also would have liked to have seen more time with Jax and his shady business.

I also really had a problem with the way Brandon treated women in this book. The only girls I really remember were Ginger (portrayed as kinda a trashy goth slut), Beretta (who actually was pretty cool), Alice (? The girl who kept trying to get his attention after he drove the BMW to school. She was portrayed as a trashy preppy slut) and Emma (a pure, delicate snowflake with a perfect body and perfect everything). Hell I didn’t like the way the girls in this book were portrayed period. And I don’t buy that it’s because it’s from a male POV. If that’s how we’re going to write males… well then. I wont get into it. But yeah.

So what I DID like was after Brandon and his duplicate “Obran” (worst. name. ever.) were traded and Brandon was taken into a super computer. That part was SO COOL. I loved the world inside the computer, how Brandon reacted to it, and his new friend Seb. I did roll my eyes a little at how obviously similar it was to Resident Evil (holographic glowing child? Zombie dogs?) but those were good additions (and would have been better if slightly more original). I liked the explanations behind the tech (even if some of it really probably wouldn’t work in real life, or now at least) and the situations that Brandon was facing. The middle portion was gripping and I flew through it.

Brandon’s “solution” to saving himself and Emma was a little confusing, but I liked that his heart was in the right place. I felt so bad for Seb and kept hoping that it was all a joke or a trick. And then the very end… left me hanging. Is there going to be another book? Should there? I’m not sure. Will I read it? Maybe!

So overall this could have been better if it had been fleshed out and a bit more genuine. If all of it had been as gripping as the middle that would have upped it a star and made for an excellent book. If you do like books with hacking and computers then this will be the right book for you!

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ARC Review – Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

18333999Title: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)

Author: Amy Spalding

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

Huge thank you to Poppy and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Omfg I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!! Riley is basically the person I wish I could have been in high school and she totally had the life that I wish I could have had. I loved her, her friends, her craziness, her family, her amazing taste in music and just everything! I loved the writing in this, it was quirky and fun and really fast paced. I was never bored while reading this and when I wasn’t reading it I wished I was!

So basically Riley and her band mate/ male BFF witness the other two members of their band doing it and then things get super weird between Riley and her female BFF and then Riley and her male BFF (Reid) decide that they want to get some too and even though the book isn’t really like OMG SEX!!! There are sexy times (but they’re really well done and I liked how sex was handled in this book) so Riley and Reid start a notebook where they write about their goals and who they want to date and how to date. They write a lot of personal stuff about the people that they’re interested in and it all just felt so fresh and authentic. Sometimes in YA the teens don’t always seem like TEENS, but like teens acting like adults and because of that I can see how reviews are saying that this is juvenile and immature but I actually thought it was much more authentic.

I loved how this just threw me back to my days of being super into music and going to shows and having friends who were in a band. I think my THE CRUSH was very similar to Ted and I acted like Riley did when she was around Ted and it was just so nostalgic for me.

If you like music, funny books, quirky narrators and kissing cute boys check this out!!!

River’s Quickie Reviews! #2

13438572Title: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho (October 9th 2014 by Viking Children’s)

Synopsis: What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

River’s Review: Jesus H. Christ that book was like a kick in the stomach. I don’t remember the last time I related to a book THIS STRONGLY. Change the characters names, New York to Japan, and this is my story plus-minus a few things. God I want to cry now.

Also the writing is fucking amazing. AMAZING. This is the type of story that makes you feel nostalgic for the life you wish you’d had (or did have and left behind).

I am so happy I read this. Even if I do feel like crying. – 5/5 Stars


 

16005219Title: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (September 16th 2014 by Balzer & Bray)

Synopsis: The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

River’s Review: NEXT BOOK PLEASE! Wow, I flew through this. Totally loved it. There were a lot of characters so sometimes it was difficult to keep track of whos-who, but overall I really enjoyed everything about this! The tension was tight, the mystery kept me guessing (and I’m STILL guessing because it doesn’t get solved in this book, omg need the next one now!) and the romance was juuuuust enough. I really liked all of the girls, their friendship and dynamics, the setting… everything! And omg all of the Star Wars quotes. Amazing. – 4.5/5 Stars

Huge thank you to Balzer + Bray, Viking Children’s, and Edelweiss for these ARCs!

ARC Review – The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

16068973Title:  The Half Life of Molly Pierce

Author: Katrina Leno

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this. Writing this honest review to say thank you

This book doesn’t come out until July, so I wont be posting a full review.

Go into this book with no expectations. Don’t read any spoilers. If you have a vague idea of what’s happening, try to keep an open mind.

When the cover and title of this first popped up with all of the summer Harper Teen releases I was instantly drawn to it because of the cover and title. The title especially (my name is also Molly). I kindaaaaaaa remember a synopsis that was different from the one here and I think this one is SO much better. It revels NOTHING.

And knowing nothing is best. Despite thinking that I knew what was going on, I was also not totally sure if I should trust my own memory, and spent the first half of this book flying through it, immersed in the mystery, in Molly’s voice, and the beautiful writing. I kept begging for answers and trying to figure out what was going on. I wasn’t sure if this was paranormal or not. I wasn’t sure if this was going in the direction that I thought it was.

Molly’s struggles, her relationships, her feelings and depression… they’re all so real. She’s a normal girl with good friends, a happy family. Why is she depressed? Why does she have suicidal thoughts? Because depression isn’t a choice. And the way her depression was handled in this book was so well done. I loved her relationship with her therapist. It was so different and a bit refreshing to see a teen who was actually benefiting from getting help. Half the time in YA, anytime a protagonist has to see a therapist, it’s always a waste of time and the teen spends all of their time being resentful and the therapist is painted as some two-bit has-been who probably shouldn’t be counseling teens.

Fast paced and intriguing from start to finish, this is a unique novel. I loved how the story unfolded, how hints were dropped, how memories were played backwards. And I really really really loved the writing.

Keep an eye out for this one guys. It’s… wow.

ARC Review – On the Fence, by Kasie West

18298225Title:  On the Fence

Author: Kasie West

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

Huge thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC.

Sam’s Review: 

Kasie West has magic powers. How, might you ask? She has the power to write these wonderfully real, if super fluffy books that just make feel so comfortable and okay with world. Her humor is charming, her characters are quirky and lovable, and most of all — she’s a great funk breaker.

Now, I may in a way have made On the Fence sound a bit misleading, but hear me out. Charlie is as imperfect as they come, forced to live without a female role model in a house of testosterone. She’s a tomboy who gets forced into accepting that she may have a girly-side. When the novel was about Charlie’s self-understanding, the book was a ton of fun to read and her humor, though not as dry as Caymen in The Distance Between Us, is still sharp and spot on. Did I mention Caymen and Xander make a cameo? ’cause yeah, I may have squealed at that part.

If there’s one element Kasie West does well, it’s character interaction. She writes these wonderfully playful characters and their interactions are always engaging and entertaining. My favourite character in this story was definitely Gage — he’s a bit hopeless, a touch pervy, but you’d never deny he wouldn’t do anything for his little sister. Charlie’s family interactions are written so strongly, and while I won’t spoil the novel, the reveal about her mother’s death is so sad and touching that she’s easy to sympathize with.

That’s not to say Charlie can’t be annoying though. Part of this issue comes from her exterior — she feels like she’s often fighting the two sides of herself and is “on the fence” about who she truly is. A lot of this story does revolve around discussions through a fence, but the over-arching theme suggests that sometimes we’re afraid to take the larger jumps we need to in life, thus being on the fence about what we want to do versus what we need to do. It’s a solid message, and one that runs heavy in the text.

And then there’s Braden. While I loved this book, I still might be a bit more fond of the romance between Caymen and Xander over Charlie Braden. Braden has some understandable circumstances, but he can be a downright asshole when he wants to be, and West shows this more often than not. Yet, when you read more about his home life, he’s someone you come to understand, even if you don’t entirely agree with his behaviour (truthfully, I wanted to give him a smack or two, but thankfully he wises up).

On the Fence is the book that broke me out of my reading funk and just hit all the right notes with such ease. It’s a fun, often humorous, a touch dark, and just overall a great comfort read. I feel like as long as Kasie West keeps writing contemporary, I’ll constantly be there front and centre to see what relationships she conjures up next.

 

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.

ARC Review – Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

18594477Title:  Searching for Sky

Author: Jillian Cantor

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.

Huge thank you to Bloomsbury USA and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

What can I say about this book. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking. Hopeful and crushing. Bittersweet. I read this book in a day and it was so easy to get caught up in the story. I was able to put it down to do things and then picked it up again and fall right back into what was happening.

Sky and River live on Island, alone, where they hunt and fish and swim and they are happy. Their mother and father are both dead, but they are surviving. Just barely. They’re hungry. Sky, the practical one who is good at everything, is trying hard to take care of them while River, the dreamer, is looking out across Ocean, wondering what’s out there.

Then a boat arrives and Sky and River are taken back to where they came from: modern day California. Sky and River do not live on a utopian island in a world where life is simple. Sky wakes up in a hospital, is shunned by River, and swept away into a fantastical world that scares the hell out of her.

This is a story about a girl who goes from essentially past to present. From a rustic lifestyle to a modern one. And she is so scared. She understood her home, her place, and her relationships on Island. She does not understand anything in her new life. And with River gone, her heart is shattered. In his place is a woman whom Sky doesn’t know or have any connection to other than blood (her grandmother) some strangers who are trying to tell her how to ‘be normal’ and a boy who is kind to her. But none of these people know how to connect with her, and at times I became SO frustrated because they were not even thinking about how to handle Sky.

I felt so bad for Sky through all of this. As I’ve said in past reviews, I know how it is to enter a new culture and not understand it. I could totally sympathize with her, and I wanted to shout at her teacher and therapist SO MUCH. And then her poor Grandmother, who just wanted to love her so badly and regain what she had lost when Sky’s mother disappeared… I felt so bad for her too because she really has no idea how to deal with Sky. And that dynamic was also so heartbreaking.

I can’t really say more without spoiling the book, but everything with how they ended up on the island, Sky’s mother’s past, and River wow… it was all so much. So sad, and after I finished reading this book I just felt a mix of hope and sorrow and it was just incredibly bittersweet.