What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Friday, May 31, 2013

Doomed by Tracy Deebs

Yay for Texas authors! Tracy Deebs (Tracy Wolff to you romance readers out there) has been on my radar for a while. She's been at some of the events I've attended, but I've never read anything she's written. Until now. When Doomed first crossed my radar, I was working my way through Ernest Cline's Ready Player One - catch that review here. Now, these two books aren't similar really at all, other than they both revolve around a video game, and both of our main characters/teams of characters are searching for something. Beyond that, no similarities. But I think the mindset I was in while I read reading Ready Player One made me somehow more interested in Doomed.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Beat the game. Save the world. Pandora’s an average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring photos of her as a child. Curious, Pandora enters the site, unwittingly unleashing a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there’s no Internet. No cell phones. No traffic lights, hospitals or law enforcement. Only Pandora’s Box, a virtual-reality game created by Pandora’s father, remains up and running. Together with her neighbors, gorgeous stepbrothers Eli and Theo, Pandora must follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father—and rescue the world. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.

What I Liked: 1) Irony. Not to be ignored, the blatant irony in this book begins with our main character's name, Pandora, and doesn't stop. I'm the kind of person who loves ironic humor, so I ate it up. It's done very well in this book, and I was laughing my way through most of it. It isn't just out and out a humorous book though, so don't go into it expecting a laugh riot. There are some pretty serious parts. 2) I liked the boys, Theo and Eli. What girl doesn't want a pair of gorgeous boys keeping her safe as they try to save the world? Both of these guys have hero written all over them. Since neither of them know Pandora well, at least at the beginning of the book, it's clear that they are going along with this crazy riddle she's trying to solve in order to save...well, everyone. 3) The plot. The major storyline of this book was nonstop. I hardly had time to breathe after Pandora would solve one little piece of this riddle, until we were off to figure out the next step. For anyone who enjoyed action-filled storylines, this one is for you! 4) I was also excited by all the little details that were included in the story. Since it was a puzzle that we, along with Pandora, Eli, and Theo, were trying to solve, the level of detail included in the story made it - not easier, but more manageable to understand how Pandora was coming to her conclusions.

What I Didn't Like: I wanted more depth from the characters, particularly the boys. They were frequently described as being polar opposites, but there were times I didn't even know which one of them was speaking, or which one of them Pandora was speaking too. I think maybe visually they were different, but their personalities, especially once Theo came out of his shell a little bit, were too similar for there to be much of a difference for me.

Overall Thoughts: Doomed was a fun book with lots of action and a unique theme. The details really made this book what it was, and I had a lot of fun using those to try and solve the crazy riddles right alongside the three MCs. I had some issues with character development (but honestly, it's never enough for me!), and got frustrated when I wasn't able to tell the two boys apart. But look beyond that and you'll find an inventive and enjoyable story from a very talented TEXAS author!

 My rating: 3.5 shots
 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Hi friends! Took a little break, didn't I? I'm knee-deep in Stephen King's Under the Dome, and he demands a lot of attention. Also, I kind of felt like I was slapped in the face by the wicked, adult-ness of that one. Do y'all, particularly if you read mostly YA, feel that way when you jump back into adult fiction? Anyway, after months and month and months of waiting, The Elite is finally out! I loved The Selection. I've read it several times since the first time, and every single time I'm reminded how much fun it was. So of course I was very anxious for book 2 of the series, The Elite, to come out!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Iléa. America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide. Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

What I Liked: 1) I am Team Maxon. All the way. I think he's sweet, and funny, and a little bit nerdy. Very endearing. The innocence that he had when we first met him in The Selection has gradually faded as he's come to know some of the girls participating in The Selection, and I think his character growth has been wonderful. Yes, okay, he gets a little...egotistical, especially towards the end. But I'm not holding it against him. 2) The Six. It was a lot of fun getting to know not only America, but the other girls who have made it this far in the Selection. They really help us get to know Maxon better, because he acts differently towards each of them. Not different in a personality complex kind of way, we just get to see the different sides of him. It was a great device to introduce us to the many faces of Prince Maxon, especially since we get so little of the Selection process from his side. 3) The King and Queen. I was not expecting their reactions to America at all. It's nice when an author has the ability to surprise me. I actually would have liked a little more face time with them, as it seemed like a lot of what we got was through he said, she said from Maxon. But it was definitely a new angle to throw in and I liked it a lot. 4) There was a lot more action in this one. If you'll remember from the first, in addition to the main plot line (The Selection), there is some civil unrest going on within Illea. We get much more information regarding this plot line, and I finally was starting to piece a few things together. While we are still focused on the "Bachelor-esque" part of the story, it was nice to be bringing in some more about life in Illea. You begin to realize that while the choice may appear to be Maxon's alone, it really isn't. 5) The ending. It's about time we get some time outside the castle. That's all I'm going to say.

What I Didn't Like: Just two tiny little things. First off, Aspen. Maybe this is because I'm all Team Maxon and everything, but he just seems to always show up at the most inopportune times. Ugh! Secondly, I like America, and she seemed to be a strong character in The Selection. But she's become a little wishy-washy in this book. Every few pages she changes her mind, Maxon or Aspen. This started to get on my nerves a little. Maybe I'm just ready for her to make up her mind!

Overall Thoughts: I mostly love this series. I'm a little frustrated with America right now, but I still love the idea, and the plot keeps me very well engaged. If you haven't taken the time to start this series yet, now would be a great time. It's got some great romance elements, personable characters and a plotline that gives you someone to root for. I was pleased to see that this book did not fall into that old, second-book trap that I despise so much and it's left me very anxious for the next and final book in the series, The One (which won't be out until next May. *sigh*

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (77)

Morning friends! I took a little break, but am back now, at least for WoW today. I have a few reviews I'm working on as well, but they are proving to be a little difficult for me to write. Also, incase you read the scrolling ticker just under the banner, yes I am still working my way through both The Fifth Wave and Under the Dome. These two books probably shouldn't be read at the same time, just FYI.. Anyway, for anyone who doesn't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, which highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting.

 

 This week my WoW is...


Infinityglass by Myra McEntire
Release Date: August 6th, 2013

Okay, so I wasn't thrilled with the first book of this series, Hourglass. But then I thought Timepiece was fantastic, the characters were much richer and the plot was so engaging. So now I'm anxiously awaiting the conclusion of this series!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: The stakes have risen even higher in this third book in the Hourglass series. The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -­have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time trav­elers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order. With the Infinityglass (central to understanding and harnessing the time gene) at large, the hunt is on to find it before someone else does. But the Hourglass has an advantage. Lily, who has the ability to locate anything lost, has determined that the Infinityglass isn't an object. It's a person. And the Hourglass must find him or her first. But where do you start searching for the very key to time when every second could be the last?
So what do you think! What are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

I think I came across this one as a part of someone's WoW post a long time ago, I don't remember whose, but it definitely sounded intriguing. I have a strange interest in books about contagious diseases. I know, it's weird.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: First came the storms. Then came the Fever. And the Wall. After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born. Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
What I Liked: 1) Well, again the whole contagious disease thing freaks me out in one of those, "I can't look away!" ways. And I thought it was very well researched and presented in a way that I understood it easily enough. But it wasn't so scaled down that it was unbelievable. This was one of the coolest parts about it, that I could actually see how it happened. 2) In the very front of the book, there is a letter signed by the President of the United States as well as the Governors of a number of the Southeastern states that says that the US basically can't figure out how to save everyone, so these states are no longer going to be a part of the US. My jaw practically hit the floor. I mean, I know it was fiction and everything, but just the thought of that, I was like, OMG! So, the inclusion of that was VERY COOL! 2) I admired Fen's determination. There was a lot to her, development-wise, and her backstory was revealed slowly but you learn quite a bit about her. Daniel, while he seemed more forthcoming, ended up being more of a mystery. And I never quite figured out why these two stuck together, but that made it even more intriguing. 3) Even though this story is set in the future, there were pieces of that world's history that was recongnizable. Places, names, events that all struck a chord with me while reading, and lent credibility to the story. Made it even freakier in that it made me think, OMG, well, that actually did happen (Hurricane Katrina is what jumps to mind) so it isn't too big of a leap to get here!

What I Didn't Like: Biggest problem I had was the language. Fen, while obviously educated, she spoke what is referred to as "tribe" in the book, which was supposed to keep her safe. It was mostly some reversed parts of speech and dropped words, but my brain had a hard time following along. It worked, and definitely made sense with the book, but I personally had a hard time with it. I also had some issues with the flow of the plot. It was like, a series of events with white noise in between. Does that make sense? Like what bearing does this have on the storyline? It was very similar to the stopping and starting that I've discussed with other books. I just think some it was a tad unnecessary.

Overall Thoughts: An intriguing idea that translated okay into book form, Orleans had several bright spots, including the determined, loyal, and fearless Fen, and the well-meaning Daniel. So much of this story was historically accurate that it came eerily close to a believable and scary future. Other than some personal problems that I had following Fen's "tribe speak" and the "white noise" problem with the plot, I thought Orleans was an interesting and very unique story.

My Rating: 3 shots

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (76)

Good morning/evening/afternoon, whenever you happen to be stopping by, and welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we just can't bear to wait for any longer! Eek! Can't wait!!

   
This week my WoW is....


Born of Illusion by Teri Brown 
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Here is the summary from Goodreads: Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

This is one of those books that's been on my To-Read list for a long time, just waiting and counting down the days until it's released. You all know by now how I feel about the Roaring Twenties, so I'm very excited about this new piece of historical fiction! What are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday? Leave me links so I can come visit!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? I do. And I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about all those firsts as I fell head first into Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: "Bono met his wife in high school," Park says. "So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers. "I’m not kidding," he says. "You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen." "What about Romeo and Juliet?" "Shallow, confused, then dead." ''I love you," Park says. "Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers. "I’m not kidding," he says. "You should be." Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under."

What I Liked: 1) I loved the all of the emotions that swirled around this book, and the emotions that it stirred in me as I was reading. We see a lot of "insta-love" in YA fiction, or even the, not quite insta-love, but where the characters will suddenly realize they love each other after spending a week arguing about something. The most poignant thing about Eleanor and Park is their slow, sweet slide into love. It's not something either of them are looking for, in fact they silently fight it for a while. And their love story develops without many words being exchanged at all. It's a different kind of romance, very moving and sweet. 2) Nothing about this book is simple. Eleanor is living in a harsh world where she has no privacy, and even less stability from adult figures in her life. Her psyche is damaged but still she manages to find beauty in certain things in life, and is truly inspiring in both her ability to find strength in unlikely places and her devotion to her siblings. Park's life, while it's been much easier than Eleanor's, isn't a bed of roses either. Yet even though neither of them know or understand deep and true love, they manage to find it within each other. 3) Bright spots of humor. I was chuckling aloud at some parts of this book. They fit so perfectly with the tone of the book, not out of place jokes just brought in to punch up dialogue. 4) This book was beautiful. There was beauty in the devastating and simple act of two misfits falling in love, and believing it can last when everything they know seems to be against them. Even now, days after having read it, their story is still on my mind and in my heart. It triggered nostalgia deep in me that made me think of the first time I fell in love, that sweet, woozy feeling, pounding heart, fireworks, and sweaty palms. 5) The ending. It was bittersweet, but also perfect in the way they made sacrifices for each other. Again, I'm struck by how beautiful I thought it was.

What I Didn't Like: I liked everything!

Overall Thoughts: I loved Eleanor and Park. It was a beautiful story than will touch anyone with a soul! ;-) Rich characters will tug at your heartstrings both with their back stories, and their love stories. But most of all, their tumble into an undiscovered land of love for both of them is stirring and emotional, and very raw. Readers of all ages can fall head over heels for these two, and will leave you remembering the passion and nerves of your first love.

My Rating: 5 shots

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

I came across The Rules for Disappearing while perusing NetGalley one day, and thought it sounded really interesting. The cover is very different than anything else out there right now, and I don't think I've ever read a book with a storyline that includes witness protection! So I jumped at the chance to read it when it came my way!

The Rules for Disappearing hits shelves May 14th, 2013.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last. Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself. But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

What I Liked: 1) The prospect of reinventing yourself intrigues me. I always thought it would be fun to be someone different for a while. I suppose that's why I spent a lot of my childhood in theatre. But Meg brings to light a lot of the downfalls of her current lifestyle. There is a lot of depth in the storyline with how much Meg has had to deal with in her 17 years, and author Ashley Elston approaches it with just the right mix of sincerity and lightheartedness. 2) Do you ever think about how well an author knows their characters? I know that sounds crazy, right? Since they made them up, then of course they know everything about them. But I think that there are huge differences in how authors approach their characters, some know them really well, and some let their characters develop over time. I have to say that I knew going into it that this one was going to be tough. Since MC Meg has lived 6 different lives, how do you create someone that has pieces of all of them? Well, if anyone needs tips, ask Miz Elston. Meg was wonderfully developed from the very beginning, with emotions so raw I could feel them myself. But it wasn't just Meg. Her mom, dad, and little sister Mary all handle this lifestyle in different ways and it's easy to sympathize with each and every one of them. 3) Ethan gets his own little section here because he is one of the most realistic and genteel guys I've met in a book recently. His farm-boy persona tugged at my southern-girl heartstrings and I found him to be very loveable. The way he interacted with Meg's younger sister was very endearing and I was rooting for he and Meg from the moment he crossed the page. 4) The romance. What a refreshing change for a romance to be as slow and sweet at this one was. Instead of a love-at-first-site deal which is ever so popular right now, they just kind of drifted into love. I thought it was very realistic and made me all melty inside. 4) The story-arc. This plot had all of the elements that make me love books. Her plotlines were so brilliantly woven together that each piece fit perfectly with the story and nothing ever felt disjointed or out of place.

What I Didn't Like: I loved everything about this book.

Overall Thoughts: The Rules for Disappearing is a fantastic mix of drama, humor, romance, mystery and action. I felt as if I was living this story, every pain, every fear, every ounce of determination, and every apprehension, and every piece of hope that our MC Meg felt, I felt it right along with her. The emotions ran high as I kept hoping that with every new day Meg might find some scrap of evidence that might give her a semblance of normalcy in her life. I wanted it for all of her family members. Rich and realistic characters put this already awesome story over the top, and the refreshingly sweet romance was something that touched my heart. I loved every piece of this story, and talked about it nonstop for days and days after closing the final page. I highly recommend you add this to your TBR lists!

My Rating: 5 shots
 
Special thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

Genies, huh? Other than Aladdin, I have no exposure to genies - they don't seem to be something that pops up in YA literature (or any other literature) very often. So when I came across Lindsay Ribar's The Art of Wishing, I thought "well now, here's something new!"

Here's the summary from Goodreads: He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life. Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's hands? But Oliver is more than just a genie -- he's also a sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him. A whole lot more.

What I Liked: 1) Margo. Margo was a pretty real character. Real as in, real emotions, real feelings, real thoughts. At one point she's trying to convince herself not to hate someone just because they got something she wanted and it struck me as both funny and genuine, because how many of us have had someone in our lives that we've thought, okay, it's not their fault I didn't get that part, or they got the higher grade, or whatever? It just made me laugh and enjoy her all the more because she did become a very real and genuine person. 2) Oliver. Who exactly is Oliver? Well, I'm not sure anyone really knows, but Margo got a pretty good idea. He was veeeeeeeery smooth, and any girl in her right mind would be a little wary of a guy who is that smooth. Not to mention the magic and other various things that I don't want to give away. But despite all of that, I still thought he was a sweetheart and could see exactly how someone could fall for him. 3) Genies. Okay, since genies are few and far between in the (my) lit world, I was super excited to see how this would play out, how similar it would be to genies in other stories (ahem, Aladdin) and what kind of wishes Margo would ultimately make. 4) The ending. Wow, didn't see that one coming. Although, in hindsight, it was the only way it could play out and leave it truly satisfying. I am glad to see where it ended, and to see that there is going to be a follow up, because after that sneaky little twist, there are a ton of things I am curious about now!

What I Didn't Like: The Art of Wishing was a little...shallow in some parts, toeing the light and fluffy line a little to much in some places. But overall it held it's ground.

Overall Thoughts: So many paranormal or fantasy stories out there cross the line into dark places, and The Art of Wishing doesn't do that at all. With it's almost comical view of a magical world, this story was very light and a little fluffy. Margo is a great and genuine character, and Oliver is...well, he's hard to describe but loveable all the same. If you're looking for something to add to your summer reading list that will leave you surprised and pleased without getting too dark for poolside, I'd definitely recommend Lindsay Ribar's The Art of Wishing. Also, isn't that a fun guitar on the cover? I applaud anyone with the talent to play, because I had my first lesson last weekend and my fingertips are KILLING ME! :)

My Rating: 3.5 shots
 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

So back in October, or maybe it was September, I went to the Austin Teen Book Festival (for the second year in a row). And I have to say that Sarah Rees Brennan was probably my favorite moderator there. She was hysterical and adorable. I think she and I should be bffs, like no joke. Anyway, I didn't get the chance to meet her because I was busy fangirling over Ally Condie, Jessica Khoury, and the duo of Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. Also, I hadn't read anything by SRB yet, and didn't want to admit that to her. Anyway, I finally got the chance to read Unspoken by SRB a few weeks ago, which is the first book in her new series.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head. But all that changes when the Lynburns return. The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?
Ooo....intrigue! Also, it's set in England. Although I had a tendency to forget that as I was reading.

What I Liked: 1) I definitely liked the MC Kami. She kind of reminded me of SRB, at least for the hour or so I was listening to her. Kami is funny, curious, and not afraid to get a little dirty to get what she's after. She's exactly the kind of MC who I like to read about in YA fiction. Though there is definitely a romance lurking somewhere in there, she isn't so focused on boys that the other parts of her life are ignored. 2) Jared. Hm....okay Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious. Jared has had a tough life and my heard immediately went out to him for all of the problems he's had to face in his life. It's so much for a guy who is only 17, so no wonder he's a little screwed up. He fights his initial instincts to care about anyone, and has this massive walls up around himself that no one can get through. But he and Kami's shared history give us a glimpse into what he's really thinking and feeling. And while he may try not to care....I can tell he really does. *swoon* 3) Sorry-in-the-Vale. So there is this little bitty town so consumed by magic that I'm surprised it doesn't explode. I kind of started thinking of it as Storybrooke (you know, from Once Upon A Time?) where magic has almost become like currency, and one family is hoarding it. Talk about craziness. Around every corner there was something new to learn about what, from the outside, would look like a boring little town. 4) Angela and Holly. As far as secondary characters go, these two are some of the best. They had great personalities, and as different as they (and Kami) were from each other, they created a nice little threesome of girlfriends. They complimented each other nicely and brought out different sides of each other. Loved their relationships. 5) I'd be crazy not to touch on Kami and Jared's relationship a little more. They have a rough go of it once they discover they have been in each other's heads for their whole lives, each thinking the other was a figment of his or her imagination. It's emotional and sometimes painful, but definitely raw and real. I loved it.

What I Didn't Like: There was some unnecessary drama that made the book longer than it should have been. I can do without that stuff. But it's still pretty funny.

Overall Thoughts: For a gothic mystery, Unspoken was funny, quirky and even a little lighthearted in some places. Great character interactions create the foundation for the story, and a tantalizingly mysterious plot will keep readers engaged from beginning to end. For fans of gothic mystery, I highly recommend this new series from Sarah Rees Brennan for laughs, gasps, swoon-worthy boys, and great friendships!

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (75)

This is my 75th WoW post! That's kind of awesome to me! I love that FCB is still going strong, 75 WoW posts later! 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...


Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance 
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Check out this summary from Goodreads: Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy. Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either. So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death. But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes? With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

This sounds like a cute and playful summer read that I can't wait to sink my teeth into! What are y'all waiting on this Springy Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April Wrap-Up

Okay, so I'm a little late on my April wrap-up, but I was too focused on some of the reviews and the RAIs that I forgot to put it together. So here it is, May 7th, and we finally get an April wrap-up. So incase you missed a review, here's your chance to see what all we discussed here on FCB in April.

5 Shots
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

4 Shots
The Collector by Victoria Scott
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Revenge of the Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Eulberg
That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Renegade by J.A. Souders
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

3 Shots
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (3.5)
When We Wake by Karen Healey (3.5)
Cross My Heart, Hope to Die by Sara Shepard
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

2 Shots
The Rules by Stacey Kade
Mind Games by Kiersten White

I was kind of stingy on the 5 star reviews this month... :-/ And what did y'all think of the Reverse Author Interviews? That was a lot of fun for me to participate in, and I hope we get to do it again next year!
Thanks for all y'all's support, and look forward to more fun things from FCB!

Courtney

Monday, May 6, 2013

Starstruck by Rachel Shukert

I found Starstruck while I was just searching the Nook store one night. I wasn't in the mood to read anything on my list, so I was looking for something different. So when I came across this one, I thought the summary sounded fun!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: A golden age of glam . . . Every week they arrive in Los Angeles--beautiful and talented young hopefuls who dream of becoming stars. It's all Margaret Frobisher has ever wanted—and when she's discovered by a powerful agent, she can barely believe her luck. She's more than ready to escape her snobby private school and conservative Pasadena family for a chance to light up the silver screen. The competition is fierce at Olympus Studios and Margaret—now Margo—is chasing her Hollywood dreams alongside girls like Gabby Preston, who at 16 is already a grizzled show-biz veteran caught between the studio and the ravenous ambition of her ruthless mother, and sultry Amanda Farraday, who seems to have it all--ambition, glamour . . . and dirty secrets. Missing from the pack is Diana Chesterfield, the beautiful actress who mysteriously disappeared, and there are whispers that Diana's boyfriend—Margo's new co-star—may have had something to do with it. Margo quickly learns that fame comes with a price, and that nothing is what it seems. Set in Old Hollywood, Starstruck follows the lives of three teen girls as they live, love, and claw their way to the top in a world where being a star is all that matters.

What I Liked: 1) I don't know how I didn't pick up on this from the summary, but I didn't realize it was historical fiction until I started reading. It's actually set in the late 1930s, right in the middle of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Something about this time period fascinates me, and always has. The 20s and 30s always seem kind of glamorous, the hair styles and the clothes. So to discover that this book was going to explore that setting was very exciting. And luckily it was done very well: events, phrases, clothing, even some of the big players in Hollywood at the time were references. I found it all true to period, and loved that aspect. 2) The plot. Starstruck is a very plot-driven story. As we go through the different storylines, each one has it's own action and breath that brings the story to life. 3) The mystery. At first I didn't think the book was going hold as much mystery as it did. It's not mystery in the suspenseful way, it's more like...a mysterious kind of charm. Like the book itself was a clever character.

What I Didn't Like: There was not enough character development among any of the six or seven (six or seven???) main characters. I think that Margo is supposed to be the main Main Character (does that make sense?) But there was so much going on with the other characters that focus was being pulled in several different directions. And with something like that going on, it makes it hard to get to know any of them very well. I would have liked to see a lot more character development in this story.

Overall Thoughts: If old time Hollywood settings and mysteries on the edge of film noir intrigue you, then Starstruck might be right up your alley. It's not dark but instead light and funny with a charming mystery and thoughtful plot that has the potential to pull a reader in for hours. The lack of character development creates a slew of secondary characters but an unclear main character, but if you look past that, the plot can certainly keep a reader engaged long enough to enjoy this quick and easy read.

My Rating: 3 shots
 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reverse Author Interviews: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Ah, my favorite day of the week, Friday! And to celebrate, how about another Reverse Author Interview? Today we are welcoming Jodi Lynn Anderson, author of the Peaches series and most recently, Tiger Lily (among other things!) I read Tiger Lily and thought it was a fun companion piece to the Peter Pan story! You can read that review here. If you're new, Reverse Author Interviews is an event hosted by the ladies of BookMunchies where authors get the chance to question their readers! It's been a very fun twist on traditional author interviews! Now, onto Jodi's questions!

JLA: What makes all the work and effort of book blogging worth it for you?

C@FCB: You know, that's a good question. I never really thought about it. I love seeing conversations spark up about books. If I can have some influence on that then I'm happy. Same with hearing that someone has fallen in love with a new book. I just enjoy being able to share my passion with other people. I've also met a lot of new friends from book blogging, and that's a huge bonus. The community is much bigger than I could have ever imagined, and everyone is friendly and helpful, and there is always someone around willing to talk about a book. But my favorite part is watching people discover and fall in love with new stories. As long as that continues to happen, I'll love book blogging!

JLA: What are your favorite classics -- both adult and young adult?

C@FCB: Favorite classics:
 

Just to name a few... :)

JLA: What has been your favorite interview and why?

C@FCB: My favorite of the RAIs? They've all been wonderful! Jay Kristoff's and Kendare Blake's were particularly funny. Marissa Meyer is one of my personal favorites, so that was thrilling. But each one of them has given me some insight into what y'all (authors) wonder about, so I've learned a lot about what would make reviews more useful to authors, and not just to readers. So I don't think I can pick a favorite! But thanks for asking!!

Big thanks to Jodi Lynn Anderson for stopping by FCB today to participate in the Reverse Author Interviews! And also to the ladies of BookMunchies for organizing the event! They've done a great job! Make sure you visit their site for links to other bloggers who've been answering the authors' questions!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A couple of weeks ago, Giselle over at Xpresso Reads reviewed this book, and it was the first time I'd ever heard of it (and I was not alone!) Her review of the audiobook really compelled me to check out the book as well, so I decided to go the AB route too.

 
Here's the summary from Goodreads: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?


What I Liked: 1) The narrator. I can't even imagine anyone better to narrate this particular story than Wil Wheaton. He does a great job expressing the different emotions Wade is running through as he plays Halliady's game, and he also modulates his voice expertly for different characters (although it's Wade most of the time). Wil Wheaton was a great choice. 2) The pop culture references. I loved all of the pop culture references, and actually knew a lot of them. As a child of the 80s (well, sort of), how could I not? And I appreciated how cleverly Mr. Cline worked the references into the story. They had meanings and reasons for being there, instead of just random filler or comic relief. This is enough alone to persuade me to read the book. 3) The chase. A majority of the book is dedicated to the contest that began when James Halliday died. And though it's been years since the contest began, because no one has made any progress everything is still up for grabs. Wade spends almost all of his free time working on this intricate puzzle. Wade is chasing the answers to these riddles and pop culture quizzes throughout the whole story and with each new discovery comes a new spark of excitement. 4) The pacing. Major props for the pacing on this story. It's never slow. From the first page the story (at least with the audiobook, which technically doesn't have pages) everything moved quickly and smoothly, high energy blazing a path for me as a reader to sail right along side with Wade. 5) The Oasis. I thought the Oasis sounded cool. I don't know much about virtual reality and how any of that works or might work in the future, but the idea is intriguing. I think that I'd go to the beach, especially if it was a cold winter day. Though for me, really good books are almost like virtual reality - if I can imagine it, and get into the story so much that I feel like I'm there, then it really it like VR.

What I Didn't Like: I loved this story!

Overall Thoughts: Ready Player One was something new to me, and a bit outside the norm of what I usually read. But it was funny, smart, and so energetic that I couldn't help but enjoy myself. The pop culture references were all so familiar and the puzzles were clever and just challenging enough to keep you guessing, but you could find the trail to figure out the answer. And with Wil Wheaton narrating, the story came to life as he read it. There is something for everyone in Ready Player One and I would recommend everyone check it out. If you're a fan of audiobooks then try this one as an AB, because the narrator makes a huge difference!

My Rating: 5 shots

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (74)

Happy May! Summer is almost here, and it promises to bring lots of new books! Speaking of new books....Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that throws a spotlight on all those new books that we are desperately wanting! This meme is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

 
This week my WoW is...

 
Rush by Eve Silver 
Release Date: June 11, 2013

Here's the summary from Goodreads: So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know? When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Oooo....this one sounds like it's going to be very suspenseful and intense! So, what are y'all waiting on this week?