Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential (Prep School Confidential #1)
 
In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
 
 
 
Kat's Review
 
This book is hilarious, and creepy, and snarky, and overall just hits all the right notes from a YA murder mystery. The protagonist made me laugh out loud sometimes, in her attempts to adjust to life in a new city with fashion and social rules that are so different from her New York roots. Underneath her outer image, though, the voice of the main character is one of a very self-aware teenager, if a bit misguided.
 
The story is a bit of a whodunit, with several potential suspects that Anne must rule out to get to the real killer. Her instincts are tested along the way, and she finds herself thrown into some interesting situations as she conducts her informal investigation. Deciding just who she can trust and who is the enemy could be the difference between life and death for her too, and the story kept throwing curveballs at the reader along the way.
 
I don't know what else to say about this one except that it's a fun, not quite lighthearted but not too serious read that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.
 
Rating: A Good Read
 
A teen murder mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously but yet doesn't talk down to the reader. This one was a real page-turner that kept me up late to finish it.
 
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

A Clockwork Heart (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2)
 
FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.

As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally.

In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.
Publisher: Del Ray
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
 
I absolutely love the cover, and the description has captivated my imagination.
 
What are you waiting on?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

All Our Pretty Songs
  
The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
 
 
 
Kat's Review
 
I can't decide if this book is genius or a great YA book that goes off the rails. I kind of wish it wasn't a trilogy, because I think the way the book ends would make it a great stand alone. I also kind of wish the paranormal/supernatural element was left out, because this could be a great gritty tale about love, privilege, excess, and the spiral into self-loathing and drug addiction. And in some ways, it is, but there's this whole other element thrown in that confused the storyline and made it difficult to follow, particularly near the end.
 
I was pulled into the novel right from the start, into the lives of these two best friends who have known each other from birth and share a love of music and rebelliousness. The differences in their individual home lives becomes evident as the story goes on one, and the reader becomes aware of the differences that weren't so apparent in the beginning. Then along comes Jack, the mysterious man who is more than what he seems, and things fly off the rails.
 
This is around where the book gets a bit weird for me. At first I think that all the weird creatures are the result of a drug induced haze, and I'm still not entirely certain that it's not, but it left me wondering exactly what was going on. I don't know if this explanation is making any sense, but to be honest, this is the way I felt after finishing the book. Enthralled, but not really sure what I had just consumed.
 
Kat's Rating: A Good Read
 
Even though I'm not sure how I feel about the novel now that I'm finished reading it, I do know that it's different from most of what's available in the YA market right now, and that alone makes it worth a read. It's certainly gritty in parts, but it's imaginative, and passionate, and managed to suck me in and want to read right up until the end. Even if I'm still not sure exactly what I read.
 
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat #4) by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat #4)
 
Dominique Richard's reputation says it all--wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom's opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her. . .

Chocolate, Dominique understands--from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can't get enough of them--enough of him--is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Yet once you have spotted your heart's true craving, simply looking is no longer enough. . .
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
 
 
 
Kat's Review
 
If you've read this blog at all, you'll know that I'm a sucker for all things Paris, including book covers. It's a particular weakness of mine for which I make no apologies. Sometimes this ends up working out better for me than others. Thankfully, this is one of those times when it all worked out for the best. I came across this title by chance, not having read any of the three which came before, but I will be fixing that oversight as soon as possible. This book was delightful.
 
I thought I was in for a lighthearted romance, with a few Paris landmarks thrown in for good measure. What I found myself immersed in was a far more complex, intriguing storyline that delved into the intricacies of being a chocolatier, the past that drives him to be the best at what he does, and the equally damaged woman he falls in love with. If you're not familiar with the art of chocolate in France, this may seem a bit strange, but those who create those divine morsels of chocolate infused with various flavours are true masters of their art, and indeed are quite famous in their own right.  It takes years of training to reach the higher echelons of the profession, and the market is extremely competitive. The author manages to capture the passion and skill involved and she weaves it into the storyline flawlessly. 
 
This is a romance novel that is about so much more. The cover is a bit deceptive in that it looks extremely lighthearted, but in fact there is a depth here that surprised me. As I read, it became obvious that there were little things carried over from previous books, but I never felt as though I didn't know what was going on. The author is able to translate the hopes, fears, and passions of the protagonists in a way that completely hooked me and drew me in from the beginning. The descriptions are sensual and passionate, but honest in a sometimes uncomfortable way.
 
Also, I'm not one to fangirl over a male protagonist, but, um, let's just say that Dominique is worth his weight in chocolat.
 
 
Rating: A Good Read
 
This was a really, really, good read. Worth checking out even if you haven't read the previous books in the series.
 
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Tidal (Watersong #3) by Amanda Hocking

Tidal (Watersong #3)
 
The magical world of Watersong is about to change forever. The answers Gemma and her friends have been searching for are finally revealed - but evil is closing in and time is running out....Gemma and Harper Fisher are facing the fight of their lives. Gemma has been cursed with extraordinary powers that have a terrifying dark side, but she's finally found what she needs - a way to break the curse and become human again. However, finding the means to do it will be her greatest challenge yet. And now Penn, Lexi, and Thea - the gorgeous but deadly creatures who cursed her - are determined to kill her before she has a chance. Making matters worse, Penn has her sights set on Daniel - the guy Harper loves - and Penn always gets what she wants.
As Gemma and Harper race to break the curse before it's too late, they're thrust deeper into a mythical world of immortal secrets. They must into their enemies' past to find the answers they need, even if it means being drawn deeper into their savagely beautiful world. But one of the girls is not what she seems...and Gemma finds an unlikely ally as she struggles to save herself. Will it be enough to break an ancient curse that no one has ever escaped from alive?
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 4, 2013

GOODREADS

PURCHASE


Kat's Review

This is the third of four books in the Watersong Series, and Amanda Hocking manages to keep the story moving quickly enough to maintain interest, but not so quickly that the reader loses track of what's important. Although this is a series, there's enough description and back story that even someone who hasn't read the previous books could follow along and figure out what's going on.

I really like that the series features females in the supernatural role, with all the good and bad that comes with it. They are sirens, so there is the siren song and the unbelievable beauty that comes with it, but Hocking doesn't shy away from the ugly side, the monster that lurks beneath the surface, always hungry for the kill. It's rare to see such complex female characters in YA novels, ones that are walk the line between good and evil. This book focuses on finding a way out for Gemma, who feels that everything she touches she destroys. Once she learns that a scroll may hold the key to destroying the curse, Gemma and her sister make fining it and decoding the curse their mission.  In the meantime, Penn is digging her claws into Daniel, Alex is struggling without Gemma, and Harper is supposed to be heading off to college.

This novel manages to interweave several storylines seamlessly, filling in lost pieces and even occasionally travelling back in time, without confusing the reader or causing one to lose the thread of the overall story.

Kat's Rating: A Good Read

This is a fun series that walks the line between sexy and suspenseful, all while keeping everything pretty PG.  The mythology is fun, and I'm truly curious to see how it all gets wrapped up when the final book is released in August.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cover Reveal: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Good morning, and welcome to the cover reveal for Secret, an Elementals novel. I have been pretty vocal before about how much I love this series, mainly because the author somehow manages to keep the characters pretty convincing as teenage guys, even while giving them some pretty cool powers. Secret tells Nick's story, and it sounds fantastic. If you haven't picked up this series yet, you absolutely should.



Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Kensington Books 

Release Date: January 28, 2014


ISBN: 0758294379

 

Summary:

Nowhere is safe. Not even home…

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.

Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.

Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

 
Brigid Kemmerer is the author of The Elemental Series, about a family of four brothers who control the elements, and their battle with those who want them dead. Storm, Spark, and Spirit are available now wherever books are sold. To read the novella introducing Nick’s story, be sure to check out Breathless (http://www.brigidkemmerer.com/books/elemental-novellas/breathless/) available as an e-book only from major e-book retailers. You can learn more about Brigid and the Elemental boys at www.brigidkemmerer.com.

Where to buy:

Amazon
 
 



 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Sharla Lovelace

Just One Day (e-novella)
 
Fans of both contemporary romance and women's fiction will love this smart, witty, and beautiful novella from national bestseller Sharla Lovelace. If you like Susan Elizabeth Philips, Susan Mallery, or Sarah Addison Allen you're going to fall in love with this author.
She has nothing but time . . .
Twenty-four hours. That’s how long Andie Fremont has to say yes—or no. At forty-four with a daughter in college, she’s no young kitten with starry-eyed ideas of what love is. Still, when the man who is everything she should want pops the question with a ring he knows isn’t her style, during a party she didn’t want to have, Andie balks. Something tells her that it isn’t right.
Looking to clear her head, Andie hits the Texas highway in search of an answer. And when she stumbles upon an old roadside diner she decides waffles might be it, at least for now. What she didn’t expect to find was Jesse Montgomery. The man who stole her heart and broke it all in one day, two decades earlier.
As a Texas-size storm takes shape outside, the electricity between Andie and Jesse builds inside. Suddenly Andie is faced with more than just yes or no. As the storm clears there are two men who will want answers.
Publisher: Beyond the Page
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
 
 
 
Kat's Review
 
I'll be honest, I didn't read this novella because of the comparison to the other authors because I've never read any of those authors. I read it because there was something about the description that pulled me in, particularly the fact that the protagonist wasn't a twenty-something looking for love, or even a thirty-something independent woman worried that she would never find the love of her life. No, this novella features a woman in her forties with a child, a relationship, and a decision to make. There's no talk of a make-over, or getting her groove back, or anything along the lines of making her a younger, better version of herself.
 
It's a novella, so there's not a lot of time to get to know the characters, but it's pretty clear from the start that Andie and her boyfriend are on different wavelengths. When she's surprised with a proposal, her reaction is one of panic, leading to an embarrassing, and very public, end to what was supposed to be their engagement party. When Andie is given 24 hours to think about what her answer will be, she takes off on a bit of a road trip to clear her head, and ends up in the diner of the man she lost touch with over twenty years ago.
 
This story is sweet but not overly gushy or unrealistic. Both Andie and Jessie have more than twenty years of life experiences between the last time they were together and  the present, and neither is in a healthy place. As they catch up, they get caught up in a huge storm that forces Andie to stay in the diner, and makes her question exactly what she wants from the future. There's only one small part that I felt was a bit out of place, but since I don't give away spoilers I won't say what it is, but it kind of felt out of place with the rest of the story. Other than that, this was a quick read about two people reconnecting after many years apart.
 
Kat's Review: Worth a Look
 
This novella is a great way to get acquainted with this author's work, without investing in a novel. I enjoyed it, and as I mentioned before, really liked that there was an older protagonist who wasn't portrayed in a stereotypical light or in some way trying to become someone else. Worth a look. 

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:



The Chaos of Stars
 
Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 10, 2013


I love the premise of this book, and the cover is beautiful.  Hopefully the story will be able to live up to the cover!

What are you waiting on this week?  Let me know in the comments.  Also, don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAYS that are going on right now. I have some fabulous books and an iPad 2 case to give away to some lucky readers!
 


 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Brazen is Celebrating a Birthday and You're Invited!

Brazen Books, who brought us Wrong Bed Right Guy, Officer Off Limits, Seducing Cinderella, and Tempting the Player - to name just a few - is turning 1 this month, and they’re celebrating in a big way. They’ve got a ton of great things going on this week, including Twitter parties, FB events, and even a huge sale!  Full deets below:



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: Peregrine Harker & the Black Death by Luke Hollands

Peregrine Harker & The Black Death
by Luke Hollands
 
MURDER. SPIES. EXPLOSIONS. REVENGE.

Peregrine Harker is about to learn you're never too young to die.

London 1908: A secret society stalks the murky streets, a deadly assassin lurks in the shadows and a series of unexplained deaths are linked by a mystery symbol…

When boy-detective Peregrine Harker stumbles across a gruesome murder he sparks a chain of events that drag him on a rip-roaring journey through a world of spluttering gas lamps, thick fog, deadly secrets and dastardly villains.

Every step of Peregrine’s white-knuckle adventure brings him closer to the vile heart of a terrifying mystery – the true story behind the Brotherhood of the Black Death.
Publisher: Sparkling Books
Publication Date: June 3, 2013
 
 
Kat's Review
 
If you're going into this book thinking it will be the typical contemporary Middle Grade or Young Adult book, you will be disappointed.  If you're in the mood for an old fashioned adventure with a young boy in the eye of the storm, this might just be the kind of adventure for you.  This book is fun, and reminded me of the typical adventure story aimed at boys in the 10-13 year range.  There is also a pretty fearless young female character, so there's certainly a character for young adventurous girls to enjoy as well. 
 
The story is set in London in the early 1900s, and follows young Peregrine, orphaned when his adventurous parents went missing, and trying to earn a living by working at a newspaper.  When he's sent off to investigate the reasons behind the rising tea prices, he instead stumbles upon a smuggling operation and a mysterious brotherhood.  He is soon entangled in the adventure of a lifetime, using both his wits and a good deal of luck to try and get to the bottom of the story.
 
This book isn't for everyone, but for the right reader, it's a great adventure. It's a bit of a tongue in cheek throwback to the old serials that used to publish stories in installments many years ago.  I could see myself reading this to my sons before bed in a few years, and watching their eyes go wide with excitement as they imagine themselves in the lead role.  For an adult, the story is predictable.  It follows a pretty straightforward formula and the ending wasn't much of a surprise.  For a young boy or girl though, the twists and turns would be exciting and unpredictable.
 
Kat's Rating: Worth a Look
 
I think this book will polarize readers, but for the right reader, it could be a great adventure of a read. 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

A YA Summer Giveaway!

Hello wonderful readers! It's like Christmas in July around here, and I've got a great giveaway!  If you're a fan of Amanda Hocking's Watersong series, you'll know that the last book is set to release in August. I'm as excited as you are to see how this series wraps up!

Only, what are you planning to read AFTER the series is over?

I have three suggestions of titles both old and new, and I'd love to send you a copy of each to keep you reading through the summer.  Oh, and since I know many of you also love to read on your iPad, I've also got an iPad two case to include in the package, so you can keep your IPad safe and sound.

The Books:

If you've read the Watersong series but haven't read the Trylle series, I have the first title in the series, Switched, to give away. 

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

GOODREADS


I'm also giving away Fated, by Alison Noel, the first title in the Soul Seekers series.
Until now, he's existed only in her dreams -
but fate is about to bring them together.
I shove through the crowd, knocking into girls and bouncing off boys, until one in particular catches me, steadies me.
I feel so secure, so at home in his arms.
I melt against his chest-lift my gaze to meet his. Gasping when I stare into a pair of icy blue eyes banded by brilliant flecks of gold that shine like kaleidoscopes, reflecting my image thousands of times.
The boy from my dream.
The one who died in my arms.

Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter’s sanity, Daire’s mother sends her to live with the grandmother she’s never met. A woman who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness her mystical powers. But it’s when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, that her whole world is shaken to its core. Now Daire is forced to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

GOODREADS

Finally, I'm including the acclaimed novel Charm & Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn.

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

GOODREADS

And don't forget, an iPad 2 case will be thrown into the mix for good measure! Want to win this amazing prize pack?  Enter below!  Open to residents of Canada and the United States.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (20)


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:


Elegy

by Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Press | August 6, 2013 |           
                                                                  
     
"In a frightful world of dark magic and savage beauty, two sisters are about to discover that love is the most powerful weapon of all. Don't miss the mesmerizing final chapter of the Watersong series "

An ancient curse robbed Gemma Fisher of everything that matters most--her friends, her family and the guy she loves. But now that she found the scroll that binds the curse, she finally has a chance to get her old life back. She just needs to destroy the scroll--but it's not as easy as she hoped. Protected by ancient magic, it seems utterly indestructible. Making matters worse, Penn has grown even more obsessed with stealing Daniel for her own...and she's about to succeed.
Gemma's frantic search leads her to someone who might be able to help--the mysterious immortal who cursed Penn and her sisters thousands of years ago. As Gemma and her friends unravel the tragic history of the curse, they plunge deeper into a world of shocking secrets and twisted vendettas--and it'll take all their courage, love and the power of their friendship just to survive. Gemma has so much to fight for and she's never wanted anything more, but will it be enough to stop her enemies?
Source
 
 
 
I'm really excited about the release of this new book, especially since it's the last in the series and should hopefully tie up all the loose ends.
 
Tomorrow I'll be posting a great new giveaway, with an amazing prize pack that includes books and more. Be sure to check back tomorrow for all the details!
 
Want to enter to win something RIGHT NOW?  Check out my hardcover giveaway of This is W.A.R.
 
What are you waiting on this week?  Let me know in the comments!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: INK by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods #1)
 
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 5, 2013

GOODREADS

PURCHASE
 
Kat's Review
 
I really liked this book.  It's certainly not perfect, and I found myself frustrated with the heroine more often than I would like, but overall I thought this was a fresh new addition to the YA genre.  I especially enjoyed that it incorporated Japanese culture in a way that seemed authentic, and that made it clear that the author had experience with it.  I've seen many reviews of this book, and I think that maybe I liked it so much was because I didn't have any expectations for it going in.  Many of the negative reviews I've seen have been from people who were eagerly anticipating this book as the book of the year, or who have a huge  emotional investment in all things Japanese, which is cool, just that they had something to compare this to that didn't always measure up in their eyes. 

I didn't.  I looked at it as another book on my TBR list, with a fantastic cover and an intriguing storyline.  I'm not a huge anime fan, and I don't really follow Japanese pop culture.  I'm mentioning these things not as a comment on other reviewers, but more as a way to explain where I'm coming from as a reviewer.  INK for me was an intriguing departure on YA books set in the US, and a way to learn a little about Japanese teen culture along the way.
 
Katie moves to Japan to live with her aunt after her mom dies.  After the initial culture shock and dreams of returning home to live with her grandparents, she begins to settle in, making friends and adjusting to the new culture.  And, of course, falling for the bad guy.  Only one gets the sense right from the start that there's more to Tomohiro than meets the eye.  There was certainly a mystery to be uncovered, and Katie wasted no time in trying to figure out what it is. 

I liked this book.  I think there's a need for more diversity in YA (in all genres, really) and having a male love interest that isn't white, is great.  Watching Katie learn to fit in, and ultimately embrace life in Japan, was part of what I liked best about the book.  I'm hoping that next book delves even more into the mythology and ancient traditions.

Rating: A Good Read

I thought this book lived up to the description.  It's not perfect, but it's a pretty solid debut effort.  I enjoyed the Japanese setting, and never felt that the author was relying on stereotypes.  I also must mention that Amanda Sun is a Canadian author, and I'm always happy to support Canadian talent.  Well done.
 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog Tour: This is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker & Laura Roecker

Welcome to my stop on the tour! In addition to my review of the book, I've also got a great giveaway for a hard cover copy of the book!  Keep reading for more info!

This is WAR
  

This is W.A.R. begins with a victim who can no longer speak for herself, and whose murder blossoms into a call-to-arms. Enter four very different girls, four very different motives to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan, and only one rule to start: Destroy James Gregory and his family at any cost. Willa's initials spell the secret rallying cry that spurs the foursome to pool their considerable resources and deliver their particular brand of vigilante justice. Innocence is lost, battles are won—and the pursuit of the truth ultimately threatens to destroy them all.
 

Publisher: SOHO
Publication Date: July 2, 2013




Kat's Review

This story begins with the death of a teenage girl at a party, and gathers speed as the reader learns the lengths her friends are willing to go to find out her killed her and get their revenge.  In their privileged world, money can make most problems disappear, and the girls are determined not to let that happen this time around.  They dedicate their summer to the destruction of James Gregory.

This is clearly a world that I don't belong in.  The girls ante up a ridiculous sum of cash to dedicate towards taking this boy down, and they meet in a secret room at the country club their parents frequent.  As the book progresses, the narrative changes to provide a glimpse inside the minds, and secrets, of each member of the club.  What started off as a simple revenge mission changes into more- a way to protect their own secrets, to prove themselves to their peers, to change who they are.

Some of the ideas for revenge are silly or unrealistic, but the twists and turns of the plot kept me reading, eager to uncover more secrets along the way.  As each girl reveals her motivation for taking down the killer, we learn that the murder wasn't as cut and dried as was originally believed.  Everyone has secrets they're trying to hide, and figuring out where the true guilt lies isn't as easy as first believed.

I found myself drawn into the story. It's so different from most YA out there that it won points from me for originality alone. 

Rating: A Good Read

This is the perfect summertime book, with a dark twist. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of this title from Edelweiss & the publisher in return for an honest review. 

Want to read it for herself?  Here's your chance to win a copy! Open to residents in Canada and the United States.

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:



Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1)
  
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: August 15, 2013

Everything about this book makes me want to read it, from that gorgeous cover to the oh-so creepy description.  This is a read for a dark and stormy night. 

What are you waiting on?  Let me know in the comments! If you're a new follower, tell me in the comments so I can return the favour.