What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Wrap-Up

I can't believe September is over! It seems like 2013 has just been flying by. However, y'all know how much I love Halloween, and I have some great stuff in store for you next month! But before we get to all of that, we'll wrap-up all the September reviews real quick.

5 Shots
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Proxy by Alex London
The Originals by Cat Patrick
Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

4 Shots
Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Watermark by Krissi Dallas

3 Shots
Five Summers by Una La Marche (3.5 shots)

2 Shots
The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

1 Shot
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Whew! Okay, so it wasn't really that many books. Still some good stuff though! Anyway, like I mentioned before, Halloween will be arriving shortly here on FCB! Now, if you were here last year, or the year before, you may notice some changes this year. I won't be dedicating entire weeks to certain Halloweenish type characters. But my favorite features will be around, plus several new fun ones! Oh, I can't wait!! Hope y'all are getting excited because it's going to be as sweet as candy - minus the calories! It all starts tomorrow, so stick around!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

After reading Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (read that review here), I just fell in love with her writing. So I immediately began looking forward to her next release, Fangirl. Fangirl is another one-shot with a different aspect, but another interesting storyline.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

What I Liked: 1) Cath. I thought Cath was a beautifully written character. From a personal standpoint, I could definitely identify with some of Cath's personality traits. I sometimes spend time with my books instead of real people too. She was wonderfully flawed and spectacularly real. Her response to other people was almost comical in how familiar it was to me at times. I think a lot of people will find a part of Cath to identify with. 2) Regan and Levi. Starting off with Regan. How Cath survived a roommate as...brutal as Regan just astounds me. Not that Regan was mean to Cath at all, because she wasn't. But she was...all sharp angles. Kind of brutal honestly, never sugar coating anything, and not tolerant of anyone whining or feeling sorry for themselves. I think she turned out to be a great roommate for Cath because Cath learned how to be stronger, and not need someone to lean on from her. But at the same time, Regan looked out for her, especially when she thought Cath wasn't looking. And then there was Levi. As Regan's boyfriend, Levi is around a lot. Even when Regan isn't there. And Cath, who, despite having a boyfriend (that her sister calls an "end table") isn't very comfortable around guys (unless they are the one in her fanfics!) So she is pretty uncomfortable with Levi being around all the time, and it leads to some really funny moments. But Levi is an absolute doll who I just adored. He was charming and funny, and I completely fell for him. I actually didn't really see how he and Regan fit together. But it's all part of the story. 3) The realism in the story. I personally think that Rainbow had avid readers in mind when she wrote this book. (Not saying that the casual reader won't love Fangirl.) But it really touched me personally because I know how much time I spend in the fictional worlds that I love so much, and then how much of a slap in the face reality can be when coming down from a good book. And Miz Rowell captured that feeling perfectly. Several parts of Cath's reality, including her father, and her spiraling relationship with her sister. So it was easy to see why she chose to spend so much time with Simon and Baz (the characters in her fan fic).

What I Didn't Like: Her sister was a bit of an enigma to me, but I still think that her storyline was a necessary evil in the course of the story.

Overall Thoughts: Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is a coming-of-age story that many readers will enjoy. Cath is a main character that many will relate to, and her friends are charming and well-developed all their own. The storyline is something that I understood, especially from the standpoint of occasionally wanting to escape reality. Once again, Miz Rowell's hit one out of the park!

My Rating: 5 shots

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

About a month ago, I reviewed Daria Snadowsky's Anatomy of a Boyfriend. I knew I was going to jump into it's companion novel, Anatomy of a Single Girl, soon after I'd finished the story. Feel free to check out my review of the first book, Anatomy of a Boyfriend, here. A few days ago I finally had cleared some time to give this one a read and see how Dom's story had changed since last we left her in AOAB.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one. The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered. But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.
So how did this one measure up?

What I Liked: 1) The first thing I noticed was that Dom had gained a level of maturity that she'd been missing in the first book. It was refreshing to see such clear growth, both from the character and the author. I truly felt that Dom was acting her age as a college freshman, and picked up on some of the changes in her just from the events that happened in book one. It was also obvious that Dom had learned from some of her past...mistakes, and was opening up again. 2) There were some great relationships explored in Anatomy of a Single Girl. A majority of the first book discussed first love, among other firsts and primarily that relationship with the first boy. But in this one, Dom opens up to different types of relationships with guys - such as discovering how to navigate the waters post-break-up, or having a casual summer fling. But my favorite, which was really a part of the background most of the time, was Dom's relationship with Calvin, and how she accepts that she can be happy being who she is as a single girl and having him as a true friend. This was one of the best lessons for Dom to learn, since she didn't have much experience with guys before Wes. 3) Some of the secondary characters really added a lot to the story. Dom's best friend Amy, for one, has a lot more experience with boys that Dom does, but is now in a serious committed relationship. It was so out of character for Amy that it was really interesting to see how she was reacting to the ups and downs of that relationship while Dom was exploring her own casual fling. 4) The humor. Miz Snadowsky has a great flair for humor, and it comes across through her characters, despite the fact that she's putting them in some trying situations.

What I Didn't Like: While I was pleased that Dom has matured to the level she needed to be at, she still did a couple of things that I thought was out of character. For example, when she suddenly became a horn-dog and bailed on all of her responsibilities in order to...scratch the itch. But hey, I guess I can't fault her too much.

Overall Thoughts: It was obvious to me early on, that author Daria Snadowsky is continuing to develop her talent and grow as a writer. The character development of Anatomy of a Single Girl was fabulous, and her storyline was almost seamless. There were a few glitches that just twinged the edges of my personal taste, but it was a very enjoyable read. It has a few graphic scenes, but that's to be expected based on the cover and description of the book. I definitely enjoyed reading Anatomy of a Single Girl and think a lot of other will too. As a side note: you don't have to have read Anatomy of a Boyfriend to understand what's happening in Anatomy of a Single Girl, but I'd recommend it. It just makes it better.

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (85)

It's Fall! My favorite time of year (or, one of them at least). It's still in the 80s and 90s weather-wise, but I'm still loving it. Anyway, 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...

Unsouled by Neal Shusterman
Release Date: October 15th, 2013

Okay, I picked up the first book of Neal Shusterman's Unwind series back in March. I wasn't even sure I was that interested in it, but I decided to give it a shot. I ended up devouring both book one (UnWind) and book 2 (UnWholly) in three days. They were fantastic. I didn't get a chance to review them here on FCB, but they both received 5 stars from me on Goodreads. So I am ready to find out what happens next in this series!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: The story that began with Unwind continues. Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human. With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.

I know Mr. Shusterman is very popular, but if you haven't had the chance to check out this series, I highly recommend it! Thankfully I don't have much longer to wait for UnSouled! So what are y'all waiting on today?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

I wasn't really sure what I was expecting going into The Boyfriend App, but I thought the concept sounded interesting, so that's how it made its way on to my TBR list. Because we live in such a connected world now, with all our smartphones and the apps and stuff, I was curious how it was going to play out.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring. But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?

What I Liked: 1) I think the cover art is very cute and clever. It really caught my eye, both on the shelf and on Goodreads. So that's one thing that is definitely going for it. 2) Audrey. Audrey was a pretty funny girl, in that geeky, funny way. She was dealing with some tough stuff in the book, and I really liked the way that she was handling it. Overall, she was very well written and was a great MC. 3) The technology aspect. I thought this was a fun piece of commentary on the world that we live in today. Because her app isn't just a "dating app" it was something entirely different that I don't want to give away or spoil.

What I Didn't Like: There was just no depth to the story. Not to the point where I would classify this as one of those good, light and fluffies. But it was just kind of...hollow is the best adjective I can come up with to describe it.

Overall Thoughts: The Boyfriend App was just kind of...meh. Nothing was particularly "stand-out awesome about it" (the highlight for me was the cover art) but there also wasn't anything that I could pinpoint as being particularly bad. I know there are people out there who will love this book. I think a lot of it depends on timing, and your mood. But I just wasn't particularly as entertained by the story as I like to be when I'm reading a book. But check out Goodreads for some other reviews, because I know there are others out there who've loved it!

My Rating: 2 shots

Monday, September 23, 2013

Proxy by Alex London

It was the cover and the title that drew me to Proxy in the first place. I figured that if something could interest me this much by title and cover art alone, it must be unique. So I read the summary.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own. Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

What I Liked: 1) First of all, I think this was a very unique idea. It immediately intrigued me and kept me guessing from the very beginning how everything would pan out. The writing was cleverly spun around a tale that I finally recognized (at the very end.) But despite finding similarities to an old classic, it was still remarkably unique! 2) Syd. I couldn't help but like this guy. He had a...Katniss type quality about him, that person who just wants desperately to live in the shadows but is forced into the spotlight in order to save the people he cares about. His emotional state was very easy to decipher without feeling "dumbed down" and his drive was pretty inspiring. 2) Knox. Can't talk about Syd without talking about Knox. Oh, I have to point out that despite Syd being his "Proxy," they look nothing alike. It's not that kind of deal. While I was reminded of that fact several times throughout the book, my imagination was having a hard time separating the two - looks-wise. Anyway, Knox is everything that Syd isn't. Spoiled, privileged, and selfish. Afterall, he's been "acting out" his whole life and never been punished - Syd takes his punishments for him. But one of my favorite parts of the book was watching him evolve under Syd and Marie's influence. Great character development here. 4) The ending. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even talk about it, it was so good. You know those endings where you think - if that book ended in any other way it just would not have been as good? That's what this one was. It absolutely made the book (and for me, it finally clicked that this story had its roots in a classic favorite - despite the fact that there is a major and very obvious hint from the very beginning). It was beautiful and perfect.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing!

Overall Thoughts: Proxy was a big surprise to me. I had no idea who Alex London was (though I've since visited his website), so reading his writing was a completely new experience. The story was wonderfully creative and unique, and multi-dimensional characters added a level of richness that I love to find in books. From beginning to end, Proxy was a gripping surprise. And that ending! Ah, it just killed me. I highly, highly recommend you take the time to check out Alex London's Proxy - nothing about this book will leave you disappointed!

My Rating: 5 shots

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I know a lot of folks were waiting for this one to drop, myself included. So when I was approved to read it from NetGalley, I was thrilled. Feel free to check out my review of the first book of this series, Throne of Glass here before diving into this review (it's five espresso shots in case you are curious.)

Here's the summary of Crown of Midnight from Goodreads: After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes. Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

What I Liked: 1) Well, I liked Celaena much better in this book. When I reviewed Throne of Glass the biggest thing that was an issue for me was how Celaena was always staring at herself in the mirror. Well, I am so excited to say that she seems to have finally gotten over her fascination with her own face. Yay. That was one of the first things I thought when I finished reading: She didn't stare in the mirror as much!! (This is both exciting and sad). 2) There was much more of a romance in this book than in the first. I...think I like that. Actually I know I did. We were given the opportunity to get to know Chaol and Dorian both much better than we had in Throne of Glass. It was clear that author Sarah J. Maas has upped her game when it comes to character development, because I really thought we got to know these two a lot better. 3) There is a sense of strength and power that I got from this book. Each of the characters exude their own kind of strength and power, and even the flow of the story arcs is powerful. This is one of those elements that makes Crown of Midnight, and Throne of Glass also, unique. 4) There were several new characters that I don't want to bring up for fear os spoiling it for someone. But these characters came with new settings and added a new dimension to the story. 5) There was something kind of shocking at the end. It's not shocking when you happen upon it, because you start to get the sense that it's being led up to. But if you've only read Throne of Glass so far, it is shocking in that sense because you can tell it's a hugely significant piece of the story and wasn't really mentioned in the first book.

What I Didn't Like: Something was missing from Crown of Midnight. I won't come out and say that it fell into the dreaded "second book trap" because it didn't. But it just wasn't as exciting for me as Throne of Glass was. Maybe because the element of the contest was missing since obviously that contest was over, but the energy level of the story line dropped once the contest for the King's Champion was completed and there was not anything that picked up where that energy level left off. Also, Nehemia=my favorite character. Once you've read it, you'll know why I included that piece of information in this section of the review.

Overall Thoughts: Despite the fact that the energy level left a little bit to be desired, Crown of Midnight is still a nice addition to Sarah J. Maas's series. New characters, even better plot development, and the exploration of a romantic story arc are all elements that I loved about this story and I know many readers will too. It should not surprise anyone that the author has produced another wonderful work, and I am now anxiously awaiting the next part of Celaena's story (especially after the big reveal!)

My Rating: 4 shots

Also big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Watermark by Krissi Dallas

Finally! After month and months of waiting (and harassing Krissi) Watermark is FINALLY in my hands. Or...my Nook. Watermark is the fourth book in Krissi Dallas's Phantom Island series (read my reviews of the first three here: Windchaser, Windfall, and Watercrossing) I was so excited when I received the eARC of this book (Thanks, Krissi!) that I dove in that very night.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: Relationships on the White Island are volatile and Whitnee, Morgan, and Caleb aren’t sure who they can trust—even each other. Politicians are lying, history is being rewritten, and motives are questionable. Whitnee sets out with Gabriel and a band of rebel spies to take back the enemy's biggest weapon—Whitnee's father. However, a shocking turn of events proves once again that the Island's secrets have the power to destroy more than just the truth. Separated from her friends, Whitnee battles her own fears in order to survive and protect the ones she loves. But when Morgan's illness finally comes to light, Whitnee faces a decision that could alter her future—and Morgan’s—forever. And whether she ultimately stays on the Island or leaves might not be her choice, after all.

I have to say, with some of the teasers that Krissi was releasing as we were waiting, I was halfway excited and halfway terrified about what would happen to my beloved characters in Watermark.

What I Liked: 1) Well, at this point, I know these characters as well as I know some of my friends. I've said before that these are some of the nearest and dearest characters to my heart. And believe it or not, with how well I've come to know them, Krissi's unmatched talent for character development enables her to continually surprise me. It's the continual development of the characters that brings this book feel real to me. Once we've hit the fourth book in a series one might assume that the characters have been fully flushed out and development would begin to lag. But much like "real people" never stop changing, nor do the characters who populate the Phantom Island World. 2) Suspense. I haven't described any of the PI books thus far as particularly suspenseful, although it has been. But this one...I'm having trouble finding words. Watermark is the crescendo of suspense for the Phantom Island series. Imagine a scary movie. You know that music they play as the main character enters the creepy house and you JUST KNOW there is an axe murderer hiding in it? This book is the loudest part right before the murderer jumps out at the MC. (I hope that made sense to one person - that's really all I can ask). But Watermark in particular is suspenseful to the point of breathlessness. I liked it. Good stuff. 3) The setting. I can't write a review about this series without mentioning the setting. Because of the author's attention to detail, the Island comes to life around you. It's been that way from the beginning, but for the first time the reader gets the opportunity to explore something *and I'm editing my words to avoid spoilers* off the sandy shores of the Island (no, I'm not talking about Camp Fusion). The entire book, series really is a study creating three-dimensional settings. 4) There is something about this series that just gets me emotionally. I get so involved in the story that to emerge from the story is like coming back down to earth. And Watermark, like its predecessors, is no different. From page one I was hooked and fully invested in what was happening. I was so fully on the White Island that I'm not sure I would have noticed if the smoke alarm went off.

What I Didn't Like: Two itty-bitty tiny little things. Okay, one little thing, and one sorta bigger thing. First of all, this book felt so final. If I'd been prepared for the series to end, it might not have surprised me as much to feel like my tenure on Phantom Island was ending. Although it could be said that I was so attuned to some of the characters that I was channeling some of their emotions. I'm not saying who may or may not be returning, so no spoilers. But if that's the case it is just more proof of how well Krissi develops her characters. But I was shocked at the end when everything was wrapped up and it felt truly like an ending. So that was just a little tiny thing. As for the other thing, I've talked about sacrifice as a theme in books before and so I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up here. I have a tendency to complain when characters seem to get everything they want without sacrifice *um, hello...Breaking Dawn much? And I still read that series over and over* and it seemed a little like Whitnee's story wrapped up a little like that. She wasn't completely without sacrifice, but it still felt a little easy, like the thing she gave up didn't really affect her life moving forward. (I can practically hear Krissi saying "EASY? YOU THINK THIS WAS EASY?") Keep in mind that because this read like a finale to me (though Krissi's website assures me it isn't) - I had a hard time seeing what future repercussions this decision was going to have. But I guess I'll find out later! 

Overall Thoughts: Krissi Dallas ranks right up there with other favorites of mine like Jodi Meadows, Veronica Roth and Cat Patrick. The level of creativity she's brought to Watermark is phenomenal. The beautiful setting remains as Whitnee and her friends discover a more dark and sinister side of the White Island. The tension will leave you breathless as more of the Island's secrets are revealed through a crescendo of events that are so vivid you'll forget you are reading a book. Did I run into some issues at the end? Yes. But they don't overshadow the beauty and high-caliber writing of Watermark. This is yet another feather in Krissi Dallas's proverbial cap (or perhaps it's real). Overall, Watermark is an enchanting addition to a marvelous series, bringing new challenges to truly authentic characters, and a level of detail that is rare in it's beauty. If you haven't started reading this series yet...well, what's your excuse? ;-) **Note: Watermark hits shelves on October 29th, 2013!!!

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (84)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting! Fall is chock-full of awesome new releases, so I've got a ton of WoWs coming up in the next few weeks!

This week my WoW is...

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: October 1st, 2013

Here's the summary from Goodreads: On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil. Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

I loved Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden series and am excited to see what she's come up with us now! So what are y'all waiting on?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Originals by Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick is one of my all-time favorite authors. If she's writing it, you can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to be reading it. So I was definitely ready for The Originals when it was released. Also, top that off with the fact that twins and triplets have always fascinated me, so I was even more excited about this one.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: 17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life... Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.
Sounds interesting, right?

What I Liked: 1) After a few books where I was just not finding the character development of individuals to be that great, it was so refreshing to find this one! Despite Lizzie, Ella and Betsey being clones, and basically being forced to live one life, they were beautifully written as individual characters. Each girl had her own personality, her own likes and dislikes, and it was easy to see that they all had a mind of their own. 2) Let's focus on Lizzie for a minute. Of the three girls, Lizzie is the character we spend the most time with. And naturally, she's the rebellious one. She was so much fun. I loved hanging out with her, watching her struggle to live the life that was being forced upon her, and seeing her find her own way. She's well-written and is someone I could envision being friends with (this is something I've come to find in all of Cat Patrick's writing). 3) The action - Okay, so this isn't a book where there is a lot of fighting and people throwing punches, or blowing up buildings or anything. But there is a lot of mystery, secrets, sneaking around and sleuthing. And while it's not fast-paced running around, it was one of the many things that kept me hooked. 4) Attention to detail. Call me crazy, but writing three identical (CLONED!) girls could tend to get hard, and it might get easier to be a little more vague about the details. But that wasn't the route that Miz Patrick chose to go. I thought the attention to detail was wonderful, and it really enhanced the story. 4) The concept. Miz Patrick always comes up with creative story ideas, and this is no exception. From beginning to end, this one was original and captivating.

What I Didn't Like: I loved it all!

Overall Thoughts: Cat Patrick's The Originals is creative, gripping, and entertaining. With the original and well-developed characters, the secrets and mystery, and a storyline that lives up to everything I could have hoped for, Miz Patrick's newest is a must-read. Once again she's hit it out of the park with her inventive story-telling. If you like to read, at all, this one will capture your attention from the get go and leave you thinking.

My Rating: 5 shots

Monday, September 16, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

I thought this Jennifer Castle story sounded cute when I was shopping around on the Nook site. It wasn't available just then, but I downloaded it when it was released, and I read it shortly thereafter. I was in the mood for something light, and thought, based on the summary that this one would fit the bill.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life. The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star. Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment. But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

What I Liked: 1) I enjoyed Justine and Felix. Over the course of the book you get the chance to explore this relationship and it's kind of...well, a little off-balance, like some of the most interesting relationships can be. There is a lot of humor in it, and also a fair amount of heartache. 2) I can't ignore the relationships of the other kids involved in the "Five at Five" series. They've changed so much over the years that these relationships had to be hard to write, and I definitely appreciate the care that Miz Castle took with them. 3) My favorite thing about this story was the idea. Five kids, chosen at age five that would be documented as they aged together, and the whole world would watch them grow up. I thought this idea would play out very interestingly, no matter what direction she came from it.

What I Didn't Like: Unfortunately, much of this book did not hold up to the expectations I had. The idea had great potential, but none of the major changes that the kids made were fully explored, definitely not enough to make me feel as if I was truly understanding them. There was no depth to the story, and I missed it. I understood going into it that it was going to be a lighter book, but it really could have floated away. There was nothing to hold my attention. And I would have liked to see more attention to detail. Sometimes, in a more lighthearted story, it's the details that grounds it to reality. You Look Different in Real Life was missing that element. And finally, more attention to characters as individuals (I feel like I'm repeating myself...) I'm starting to notice a pattern with stories that revolve around a group of people, that the group dynamic is fully explored but characters as individuals are not. I can't get behind that as a writing tool. I need more from each character if I am going to relate to them.

Overall Thoughts: I was bummed that I didn't enjoy this story more. This is my first Jennifer Castle book, and I hope it won't be my last, but I just was not impressed with the elements of the story. There was some great potential, so clearly Miz Castle is very creative. But I think character development and story depth can definitely use some work. This was a one-shot, so I'm hoping for something better on Miz Castle's next one out of the gate.

My Rating: 1 shot

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Well, now that summer is coming to a close, I'm going to try and wrap up my summer reading list reviews. Una La Marche's Five Summers was something I downloaded on my nook when I ran across it back in late May, but I saved it because I thought it felt like a nice summer read for my cruise.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: Four best friends, five summers of camp memories. The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring... The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth... The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle... The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar... Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart. Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance.

What I Liked: 1) Well, first of all, this book is pretty much what I look for in a summer read. The setting was summer camp, and nothing was super emotional or so deep or dark that you just feel like it's dragging you down. I would definitely call this one a "light and fluffy" read (and please don't take that to mean a bad thing, check out this post from last summer regarding "beach reads" or what I think of as "light and fluffy.") So it held up to what I wanted from that aspect. 2) The book had a great mix of characters. While I can't really pinpoint one main character because we jumped around between perspectives frequently, I can say that the blend of personalities from the four girls was very interesting and reminded me of my own group of friends. No matter how different these girls are, they have formed a strong friendship, and that was fun to see. 3) I also enjoyed getting to see how their friendship developed and changed over the course of five years. The course of their relationship is portrayed as each girl reliving memories of herself and her friends together, so it feels less like big jumps in time and more like memories. I thought this was a great way to bring that into the story. 4) The story has a definitely air of predictability. While that is not really viewed as a good thing, for my purposes, it worked. I knew what was coming, but the book managed to keep me interested because I was curious about what the reactions of the girls would be. That is one of the places that having these four girls as MCs worked in favor of the story.

What I Didn't Like: I knew going into it that the girls' friendship started when they were nine (I mean, it says so right there in the summary, hello!) but still, it seemed the age jump was a little much to be a YA book, but then towards the end, some of the things that they get into become such that it couldn't be an MG book. Do you know what I'm saying? That was one of the biggest things that kept me from really digging into the book. I would have also liked to see some more depth to the characters individually. While I thought their friendship was very well written, their individuality was lacking.

Overall Thoughts: Five Summers definitely fits the bill for an interesting summer read. There is some clever writing that creates well-developed relationships. The storyline is decent, though it leaves a little to be desired. It is definitely predictable, but it's the reactions from the characters that you are most looking for, so that isn't that big of a deal. And there needed to be a bit more development in the individual characters, but it was pretty good overall.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

I was on the fence for a while about the first in Shannon Messenger's Sky Fall series, Let The Sky Fall. I don't know what it was, but I just wasn't sure about it. But I finally broke down and decided to give it a read.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is. Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life. When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

What I Liked: 1) I always like stories with elemental magic as a basis. So that was the first thing that drew me into the story. And this one definitely took the element of wind in a unique direction, and it was very different from other books I've read with an elemental magic aspect. 2) Building on the elemental magic story, I thought Audra was very interesting. She had a lot of strength and power, so she was a pretty hard core character. But as hard core as she was, and however hard she tried to stay that way with Vane, he managed to bring out a more playful side, and a more thoughtful side in her. I really liked the way that Vane and Audra complemented each other. The relationship was one of the most well-written I've read in a while. While Vane on his own wasn't that great, when he came together with Audra, the two played off of each other very well.

What I Didn't Like: While I thought the character relationships were interesting, the plot line just didn't hold up that well. I think the idea was good, and creative, but the execution just wasn't that great. It felt like...I was begging for more action.

Overall Thoughts: Shannon Messenger's Let The Sky Fall was a creative idea with some great character development. I definitely wanted more to grip me from the plot line, it seemed to just move too slow with no big punches that a story like this one should have. I do plan on giving this story another shot when book two arrives on the scene. But for now, while I believe that it has potential, I'm left feeling a little deflated. My

Rating: 2 shots

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (83)

Good morning this lovely Fall(ish) Wednesday. I say ish because it's still 98 degrees here. But hey, pumpkin spice is back at Starbucks so I'm a happy camper. Anyway, Wednesday means WoW, which 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...

Altered by Gennifer Albin
Release Date: October 29th, 2013

Altered is the second book in Gennifer Albin's Crewel World series. I fell in love with this series from the moment I opened Crewel, and after that ending, I just cannot wait to find out what is happening next with Adelice and the rest of the characters. If you haven't read Crewel yet, you can check out my review here!

And here is the summary of Altered from Goodreads: Life. Possibility. Choice. All taken from Adelice by the Guild—until she took them back. But amid the splendid ruins of Earth, Adelice discovers how dangerous freedom can be. Hunted by soulless Remnants sent by Cormac Patton and the Guild, Adelice finds a world that’s far from deserted. Although allies are easy to find on Earth, knowing who to trust isn’t. Because everyone has secrets, especially those Adelice loves most. Secrets they would kill to protect. Secrets that will redefine each of them. Torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must choose what to fight for. In this thrilling sequel to Crewel, Adelice is about to learn how tangled up her past and future really are. Her parents ran to protect her, but nothing can save her from her destiny, and once she uncovers the truth, it will change everything.

I know I'll be picking this one up as soon as it's released. Now, on another note, does anyone have any suggestions for November releases? My list for November is severely lacking, so either make a suggestion in the comments or if you've got one posted as your Wow, leave me the link! (Leave the links to your WoW post anyway so I can come visit!) Have a magical Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Good morning! Did everyone enjoy their long weekend (if you had one?) I definitely enjoyed mine though I can't believe that it's already September. My reading has slowed significantly over the past few weeks, and I have to admit, it's been kind of refreshing. Hardly a day has gone by since I started this blog that I haven't dedicated at least a little bit of my time to reading, finishing a few books a week at least. Now, I haven't finished a book in at least two weeks, and like I said, it's given my brain a bit of a break. Now I feel like I'm refreshed and can come back and give better reviews for y'all!

I stumbled across Brigid Kemmerer's series almost by accident, and picked them up thinking "eh, this might be decent." Well, I was surprised to find out how easy it was to get into the story and the characters. After enjoying both Storm and Spark, I knew I was Spirit was going to be great.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: With power comes enemies. Lots of them. Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies. He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait. Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too. With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

What I Liked: 1) Hunter hasn't been one of my favorite characters so far - Gabriel gets that title. But it was great to get to know Hunter better in this story, and he's more of a bad boy than I was expecting. Dark and broody (not unlike the Merrick brothers). But Hunter's back story, and his life in general is so very different than theirs. Because the Merrick brothers have each other, they have some sense of support. Hunter has a Grandpa who is not supportive at all, and his mother is so overcome by grief (at the death of Hunter's dad) that she can't even stand up for her son. So Hunter is very much on his own, and I immediately felt for this guy who is living a tough life because of his elemental heritage, and has no support. And of course, in his role as a fifth (I'm not telling you what that is, but you'll know if you read either of the first two books), he has enemies even in the Merrick brothers. So I really felt for Hunter and loved getting to know him. 2) Kate Sullivan. Every book seems to add some new blood to the story, and Kate was very refreshing. She was kind of...different than most female characters out there right now, and definitely different than any of the mild-mannered ladies we've run into so far in this story. But that made her all the more fun. 3) The storyline. This story has gone in so many different directions, I'm not even sure how it all works. But it definitely is. While in both Storm and Spark we've focused on the Merrick brothers and their lives as Elementals, now we get to learn a bit more about life as a fifth (because now instead of just two, we've got four in the mix). It changes up the story a lot, but some of the pieces I've loved before are still there, such as the detailed plot, the twists, and the action.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing!

Overall Thoughts: Another great addition to Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series. I love all of these characters, though Fire Elemental Gabriel is my fave! Spirit gives us a chance to learn a bit about someone outside the Merrick circle and see his reaction to the brothers, and their reaction to him. For anyone out there who enjoys stories with an elemental magic plot, this one is right up there with the best! Give this series a read if you haven't!

My Rating: 5 shots