What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How To Lead A Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

First things first, how can you not want to read a book called How To Lead A Life of Crime? I mean, come on! This one was just crying out to me. Secondly, I had to imagine Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer's character from White Collar) being involved in this book. Not because any of the characters remind me of him, just because if anyone was going to teach me to be a criminal, I think I'd like it to be him. Hello handsome!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer. Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear. Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

What I Liked: 1) I loved the idea. Just seeing the title of the book I was drawn to it. Does that make me sound like I want to learn how to be a criminal? No, I'd make a lousy criminal. But a school to teach kids how to be criminals, that sounded so interesting! 2) This book seemed different than a lot of other YA out there. It has a lot of the same elements, but it was psychological and kind of violent at the same time. Because of the background that these kids came from, their level of trust in each other was pretty much zero. So I wasn't concerned with discerning relationships between characters. That was the biggest difference between this and other YA books that I read. Because everyone was so suspicious of one another, those relationships didn't develop, but they didn't create a gap in the story because of how it was written. If that makes sense...3) Peter Pan. You have to read it to understand what this means to the story, but it was very interesting, and taught me a lot about who the main character (Flick) was, and what was important to him. It would not have been the same if the Peter Pan storyline had not been included, and it was one of my favorite parts to try and decipher.

What I Didn't Like: I think I expected more about the school itself. We got the information that we needed in order to understand the book, but I think I was expecting more about how these kids were being taught to be criminals. Instead of they were already criminals, and we're just pushing them further over the edge. There was a lot of potential in that aspect that just wasn't lived up to.

Overall Thoughts: How To Lead A Life of Crime is a book that I would recommend to teen guys who are looking for something that is different than a lot of the YA out there. Since it wasn't too focused on a romance angle, and was instead more physical and psychological. There was an interesting theme, and the ending was satisfying. I was hoping for something a little more to appeal to me personally, but I think that many people will be able to get into it based on it's unique storyline.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (70)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

This week my WoW is........

Icons by Margaret Stohl 
Release Date: May 7th, 2013 

I didn't even read the summary for this book before adding it to my TBR. Anything by Margaret Stohl, I'm ready to read it. But I'll share the summary from Goodreads with y'all now!

Your heart beats only with their permission. Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting. Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid. She's different. She survived. Why? When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy. Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions -- which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses -- may actually be their greatest strengths.

So it sounds really interesting as well! What are you waiting on today?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Once I read the summary for Pivot Point, I was hooked. It sounds like a super cool ability, to be able to see how each decision is going to affect you in the future!

Check out this summary from Goodreads: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . . Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not. In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

What I Liked: 1) Like I already said, I loved the idea of Addie having the ability to look into the future and see how her decisions will affect her. It's not about time travel, not about going into the future, although I think that she actually lives it, in these visions. It was all so creative, and it worked so seamlessly with the plot. The way Miz West describes and explains things that are intangible (like the crazy superpowers) is really fantastic. 2) Trevor. Awe...what a great, sweet guy! Kasie definitely wrote some boys that I could fall for in this novel. He seems to genuinely care about Addie, and has a funny and sensitive personality that drew me in from the first time he showed up. 3) How emotionally invested I got. I didn't expect to feel as connected to the story and the characters once we stumbled upon the ending where Addie had to make her big decision. But once we got there I was just thinking, "OMG, what's option three? What if I don't want either of those because it's too hard to decide?" I couldn't even imagine which way she was going to go. Even now, thinking back over it, I still can't believe it! That's how emotionally invested I became in this story. 4) Addie. It was easy for me to relate to Addie, because I understand her need to be cautious. Heck, if I had her ability to see how my decisions were going to affect my future, I'd totally use it. I loved seeing her in her two different atmospheres - inside the compound, and out in the Norm world. Because while everything changed around her, she remained the same. She wasn't as influenced by her atmosphere as I expected, and I definitely enjoyed seeing her strength of character. 5) I'm usually not a big fan of alternating narrators or storylines between chapters. But it couldn't have been more perfect in this case. Each chapter we switched between the two realities that Addie could be living. It made the book exactly what it needed to be.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing!

Overall Thoughts: I was surprised to find that this was Kasie West's debut novel. She has all the elements of a talented and seasoned author. Pivot Point was creative, unique, and very we--written. The alternating scenes of her two realities were so good that it didn't even seem like you were being pulled from one to the next with each chapter change. And it's so easy to get emotionally involved with the decisions and the consequences that will come with each one. I absolutely loved this book, and can't wait to read more from this debut author!

My Rating: 5 shots

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

I have fallen hard for this series by Richelle Mead. It's hard for me to believe that I didn't even get into the Vampire Academy books or the Bloodlines books until after Bloodlines (book 1) was released. After I read that one, I went back and read all 6 of the VA books in succession. I am thoroughly hooked on this world!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

What I Liked: 1) Adrien!! I love Adrien! He's on my list of top ten hottest book boys, for sure! His blunt persistence with Syndey is hysterical, but sweet at the same time. Especially if you read the VA books and know about his past. I don't know what girl wouldn't fall for this guy. 2) The curve in the story arc. Of all the things I expected to happen, I wasn't expecting Sydney, Miss Good Girl to be getting involved in everything that was going on in The Indigo Spell. I wish I could go into more details without giving away major plot points, but know to expect the unexpected when you are reading this one. 3) Miss Terwiliger. This is one of Syndey's teachers at Amberwood Prep. She didn't make much of an impression on me in the first two books of the series, but her role really stepped up in this one. I started to recognize that she and Sydney were starting to form a bond that was almost familial, like a favorite Aunt or something, and it was nice. Because we all know what kind of family issues Sydney's faced with her father as a big guy in the Alchemist community. 4) Adrien and Sydney's relationship. It's hard not to love this one. She fights it so hard because of everything she's been taught, but every once in a while you get a glimmer of something that she feels for Adrien. I got swept up in the romance of it all, even though that wasn't the main focus of the story. The main focus, FYI, is Sydney's Nancy Drew escapades. 5) So much for wanting a pony. I want a mini, pie-eating dragon. Thanks alot for the unrealistic wants, Richelle!

What I Didn't Like: I love this series. Everything about it.

Overall Thoughts: I get so nervous every time I open another one of these books. Like, this is going to be the one that breaks my heart. But I'm uplifted every time. Richelle Mead has become one of my favorite authors. Her ability to weave interesting plotlines and develop characters that are so realistic - boys that girls like me can fall for, and girls we can imagine being friends with, has made every book I've read by her great. And The Indigo Spell is no exception. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, she threw in a curve that brought out new ideas, new pieces of these characters personalities, and new aspects of this world I've grown to love. I can't believe how long we have to wait until the next book arrives!

My Rating: 5 shots

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

A few weeks ago I was looking for an audiobook to listen to, and I came across Beth Revis's Across the Universe. I know this isn't a new series, but I hadn't read it, so I jumped in. You can check out my review of Across the Universe here. I enjoyed almost every thing about it, other than the narrator. So I was excited to get into A Million Suns, but decided to go the paperback route instead.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision--no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news, he and Amy must race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed, all the while dealing with the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

*no spoilers from A Million Suns, but there are some things from Across the Universe! 

What I Liked: 1) The change in leadership on the Godspeed. This added a whole new story arc to the series, and it became a little more serious. The fallout from taking everyone off Phydus is a lot of political unrest. It brought more of a sense of seriousness to the book that was missing in the first one. There was still a lot of humor in the book, but the air of seriousness made it obvious that Amy and Elder are both maturing. I really enjoyed seeing how they were growing into their positions. 2) The action. There were a lot more...big, explosive events that happened in A Million Suns. The action that was going on throughout this story was a huge part of keeping me more involved in the story. 3) Amy. I say this hesitantly because there were some points where I just did not like what she was doing. But for the most part, I appreciated who she was growing into on the Godspeed. Despite the continued hostility that she has to deal with from the citizens of the Godspeed, she is still concerned with their well-being, and trying to solve the mystery that was left for her and Elder from Orien. And I definitely liked her ability to make decisions for herself, and knowing that she didn't need to just settle for what was right in front of her.

What I Didn't Like: 1) Well, I mentioned that there were parts of Amy that I didn't like. Sometimes she seemed a little...immature. I had to remind myself that she was only 16 or 17 years old, and she was put in a world where no one knew or trusted her. But her one track mind got a little tiring. 2) Elder. I feel like Elder and Amy's love story is supposed to be a big part of this story, but there is just nothing about Elder that makes me think, ooo, Epic Love. Maybe it is because they don't know what real love is, since it's all been controlled by phydus. But the romance just didn't hold up in A Million Suns.

Overall Thoughts: I'm loving this series. There are things I love, and things that I don't, but overall, the humor and story arcs have definitely got me hooked. I'm glad that the third and final book is on the shelves and that I don't have to wait to find out how the story of the Godspeed wraps up!

My Rating: 4 shots

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I waited a long time for The Archived. Did y'all see the 5 chapters that were released on NetGalley? I refrained from reading it, because I knew it would just tease me even worse. So I waited until January!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

What I Liked: 1) The unique-ness of the story. This story was unlike anything I've ever read, and that's saying something since I read so much paranormal YA. There are ghost stories, there are other world stories, even ghost hunter stories. And The Archived took elements from so many different genres and put them all together to make a completely unique plot. 2) Mac. I thought Mac was an interesting MC. She's been through so much, and now that she's been dealing with The Archive and all of those responsibilities, and it's made her very guarded and closed off. I thought at first that would have made her not very likeable, but what she is is understandable. She was written in a very real-life way that you could almost imagine her being a person and not a character. Aside from the supernatural stuff, I mean. 3) The surprises. A lot of the surprises really jumped out at me, and I didn't even see them coming. Miz Schwab has a great talent for keeping the suspense flowing and only revealing enough to keep you turning the pages.

What I Didn't Like: I didn't connect as well to some of the secondary characters that were playing a big role in the story. But it's entirely possible that, because so much of Mac's history was important to this story, that we just didn't get to know them as well. We spent a lot of time on Mac. I expect we'll see more of some of these secondary characters in the following books, now that we kind of know Mac's history.

Overall Thoughts: The Archived is a great series opener from Victoria Schwab. There were surprises around every corner, and the suspense kept me turning the pages late into the night. Mac, the MC, is very well developed, and she is very realistic in her actions and feelings. It's very easy to get to know her. I'm hoping to get to know some of the secondary characters a bit more in the next book, and I can't wait for that!

 My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (69)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting (and it's pretty much my favorite meme! I always add a ton of new books to my TBR!).

This week my WoW is.....

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Release Date: March 19th, 2013
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity. Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her. What happened to the past three years of her life? Angie doesn't know. But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
Oooooo, it sounds very suspenseful! I'm definitely curious to see where this one is going! What about y'all? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows' debut Incarnate was one of my favorite releases last year. So the countdown to Asunder's release was long and torturous.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: DARKSOULS Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place. SHADOWS Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves. LOVE Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

What I Liked: 1) Ana - I loved how Ana has changed and grown from Incarnate to Asunder. I liked her from the beginning, but the character growth that Jodi Meadows added in Asunder made her even better. Instead of acting apologetic about her very presence, she starts to stand up for herself and her right to be there. Her strength made her a very likeable character. 2) Sam. I still love Sam, though his life is infinitely more complicated than I could have imagined in Incarnate. You learn a lot more about Sam and his past, especially his relationships in Asunder. It helped me to get to know him better, and understand a little more about who he was and who the people around him were to him. 3) The action. There were some pretty big battles in Incarnate, but there was a lot more action and mystery in Asunder. Especially amongst the citizens of Heart. Instead of being attacked by outside forces, the citizens were turning on each other and creating the underlying conflicts. This added a new dimension to the story, a fissure in the community that at first only thought they had one enemy. 4) Probably the best thing about this story was the addition of more Newsouls. I can't wait to see where this goes in the upcoming book. This is really what is tearing the community apart but I can already see how a new society is forming. This is one of the most exciting things to happen in Asunder.

What I Didn't Like: This book was a little...jumpy. We bounced around between settings and events pretty quickly, and it left my head spinning a few times. Not a big complaint, but it didn't flow quite as smoothly as Incarnate did.

Overall Thoughts: Asunder is a great follow-up to Incarnate. The character growth was perfect, and the plot advanced without feeling like the story paused. No second book conundrum here! Adding some more Newsouls to the scene added a whole new story arc and gave Ana something more to fight for - it wasn't just her place in the world she was fighting for. Asunder sets us up for another great novel, and the countdown for book 3 is on!

My Rating: 4 shots

Monday, March 4, 2013

February Wrap-Up

Morning, everyone! Please excuse my absence last week. On Friday (the 22nd), while I was on my way to a rehearsal for a wedding I was in on Saturday, I got a call from my sister informing me that I would be going to Disney World with her at 5am Monday morning (the 25th). So in the midst of hosting a Bachelorette Party, and being in a wedding, I was rushing around trying to get myself ready to leave town for a week. I love Disney World, so I was all for it. But it didn't give me time to finish my posts for last week, so for that I apologize. I had an awesome time celebrating my sister's 21st birthday at Disney World! Anyway, while I was gone, we rolled over into March, so it's time to wrap-up February!

5 Shots
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Also Known As by Robin Benway
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

4 Shots
Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett

3 Shots
The Ruining by Anna Collomore (3.5 shots)

2 Shots
Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Override by Heather Anastasiu
The Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Also read and potentially to be reviewed soon:
Asunder by Jodi Meadows
Gone to Texas by Randolph B. Campbell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
A Million Suns by Beth Revis

I have a lot of reviews to write for y'all, I better get to work on it!