Tuesday, May 28, 2013

review - Callum & Harper

Callum & Harper Cover Image

Three Stars
Callum & Harper
by: Fisher Amelie | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: December 24, 2011
Publisher: Self-Published
Series: The Sleepless Series #1
Format: eBook
Page Count: 256
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: Life sucks for orphans Callum Tate and Harper Bailey.

Kicked out of their foster homes because they suffer the 'eighteen disease' with nothing but a hundred dollar check from the government and a pat on the back, they're forced to rely on a system that failed them miserably.

So they sit. They sit inside Social Services, waiting for their social workers to call their names and offer them the miracle they know will never come but they sit anyway because they have nowhere else to go, no other options on their very literal and figurative empty plates.

But as they sit, they notice the other. Although captivated, they each come to the conclusion that life is complicated enough without throwing in a boiling tension that can't ever be acted upon because they're both too busy thinking about where their next meal will come from but when their names are called and both are placed on a year long waiting list for permanent housing, suddenly relying on each other seems like a very viable plan B.

And, oh, how lovely Plan B's can be.

Well, except for the psycho from Harper's past that haunts her and, oh, yeah, there's the little issue that neither of them knows they're in love with the other.

Needless to say, Callum & Harper's life just got a bit more complicated.

“One day, you and I are gonna’ wake up and be alright. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day. One day. I promise you.” - Callum Tate

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Callum & Harper Header Image
My Review
This story reminds me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, thank you freshman business! Callum and Harper are trying to meet their basic needs of shelter and food. Once they feel comfortable with these, their hearts and minds were ready for safety they found in each others' presence. Belonging followed close behind for Harper, in that she was accepted by Callum's group of friends. Friends who really provided depth to the story, because they were a little older and more mature. This allowed Callum and Harper to lean on them and that support seem believable. They also saw the undeniable attraction between Callum and Harper, making them (and us) more willing to root for the young couple. And boy did these two have some obstacles to overcome.

Harper really had a split personality, on one hand she gets moved around to multiple foster families due to her clashing personality (and some extenuating circumstances). But at her core she is a not-so-street-smart, naive girl, almost to the point of being dangerous. The very calm, too calm, way she handles graduating out of the system, lacked the listlessness most would feel. I realize Callum provided a lot of support and comfort, but I know I would have had at one emotional breakdown or moment of feeling utterly alone.

For being these children of the foster care system and seeing a lot more than their most their age, Callum and Harper talk like they stepped out of a Leave it to Beaver episode. I found myself adding my own dialogue of "Gee wiz!" and "Golly!" It just did not fit with the story and the characters' backgrounds. I also felt that there were some unreasonably contrived scenarios (Hello, full scholarship to NYU at the last minute???) But I let them go; suspend reality and all that.

As for the romance, talk about misunderstandings and failures to lay your emotions all on the line. I just wanted to shake these two; someone really needed to buck up some courage and show their cards. They came so close, so many times. There's a rooftop scene where I thought, this has to be it, but no! In the end, Callum and Harper really were perfect for each other. Their relationship might have started out as one of convenience but became so much more, one filled with love and undying devotion to each other and how their unspoken love has only grown into something deeper that that first shared glance across an office waiting room.

Overall while the story did not blow me away, it was an enjoyable read that had its moments. The saving grace was plot after the time jump, where we get to see how Callum and Harper are living with their well-crafted lies. The threat of Harper's past life also added that extra drama, taking the plot to the next level. The final climatic scenes were heart-pounding and had serious consequences. Over looking the rocky start, I was enthralled by Callum and Harper's story of love and overcoming their painful pasts.

Did you read Callum & Harper? What did you think?

waiting on wednesday | 9 - Losing Hope

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we can't wait to get in our hands.

Losing Hope Cover Image Losing Hope
by: Colleen Hoover | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: Hopeless #2
Page Count: 256

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Summary: In the follow-up to Colleen Hoover’s #1 New York Times bestseller Hopeless, the charming and irresistible Dean Holder tells the passionate story that has melted thousands of hearts.

In Hopeless, Sky left no secret unearthed, no feeling unshared, and no memory forgotten, but Holder’s past remained a mystery.

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Why the WOW: Dean Holder's POV, one moment while my heart restarts. He'll have yours all aflutter, too; trust me! I was entirely captivated by Hopeless back in December 2012; here is my short gushing (um review) I quickly added to goodreads.

I LIVE this book, no make that Love this book! Colleen Hoover has had three slam dunks this year, Slammed, Point of Retreat, and Hopeless. Each one was utterly all-consuming. The writing is very real and easy to lose yourself in the story.

Hopeless, while heartbreaking and emotional, still manages to put a huge smile on your face when reading it. (A lot of that has to do with one Dean Holder)

In the style of Walking Disaster, Stealing Harper, This Girl, and I'm sure many more, the new trend in NA is to write a smash-hit, then go back and write the guy's POV as a sequel of sorts. Out of these, I've only read Walking Disaster and didn't really feel that it warranted its own full-length book. But looking at the page counts of the other alternate POV sequels, I'm more inclined to believe they'll pack more of a punch with the condensed page numbers.

Walking Disaster cover Stealing Harper cover This Girl cover

What are you waiting for?
Thoughts on alternate POV's written as whole, separate books? Do you like this trend?

Friday, May 24, 2013

review - The Memory of After

The Memory of After Cover Image

Three Stars
The Memory of After
by: Lenore Appelhans | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Format: eBook on PulseIt
Page Count: 304
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Paranormal
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

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Summary: In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

The Memory of After Header Image
My Review
After following Lenore Appelhans' blog for about two years, I was so excited to hear that she signed a YA book deal. Originally titled Level 2, it was recently renamed The Memory of After and got a cover redesign. And as redesigns go, this one was perfect; the photo was actually from the original photoshoot and maintained the same look.

While some might tout The Memory of After as a dystopian tale; I would actually call it a paranormal afterlife story with futuristic touches. The story pleasantly surprised me, because while I knew it would focus on a character's life after death, it didn't seem to fall into any cliched limbo/heaven scenarios. There weren't clouds and cherubs, rather a Matrix-like setting, a 21st century afterlife if you will.

We meet Felicia, who is stuck in a bizarre limbo along with a hive of other girls following their untimely deaths. To pass time, everyone relives their memories via interactive pods. (I always pictured the TV show Dollhouse-like pods) Outside of their pods, all the girls seem to lose track of who they are, but Felicia seems to be slightly more with it memory-wise, being able to maintain certain truths and memories. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashbacks and how they were introduced as YouTube-like video with stats for each memory file and that watches basically amount to a form of currency. There are really three timelines in the book; living with her parents (aka Julian timline), living with her grandma (aka Neil timeline), and living in Level 2 after her death. The consequences of her actions are revealed through her memories of the past. There is also this ever-present feeling of self-loathing; Felicia's past really haunts her.

Wondering if she'll spend eternity stuck in this rut with her fellow zombie-like hive occupants, Felicia's world is turned upside down when Julian barges into her hive. Thus begins her journey to discover answers and find the boyfriend, Neil, she lost when she died. Julian acts as her guide outside of the hive, and this is where (around 45%) the story slipped into a repeating pattern of running to the next hive, reliving and repowering via her memory files. I was just starting to think that something had to give, when Felicia finally makes a stand and demands answers before she'll blindly continues.

Like every good YA dystopian/paranormal story, there is a rebel force, fighting against those in power. Felicia just happens to be the key to winning this battle against the Morati, or fallen angels, who rule over Level 2. Here's where the action starts and reveals are made.

While reading, there are some clues, coincidences that started to tickle my brain, but I did not guess their true meanings. At one point, I actually thought that the whole thing was taking place in Felicia's head. But fear not, that was not the case and it was so much better and heart-wrenching.

Have you read The Memory of After, aka Level 2? What did you think?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

swoon thursday | 2 - Wait for You

Swoon Thursday
Swoon Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by the awesome ladies over at YA Bound to share your swoon-inducing bookish moments.

Here's how to join in the fun: From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering. Shout it out on Twitter with the hashtag #YABound

Wait for You Cover Image

Add to Goodreads
Wait for You
by: J. Lynn | Website | Twitter
Series: Wait for You #1
Kindle Location: 4966

Placing one hand on his shoulder, I climbed up onto the bed, my knees on either side of his thighs. His hands landed on my towel-covered hips. "Cam?"

His lips tipped up on the side and the dimple began to appear in his left cheek. "What are you up to?"

"Nothing," I said, recognizing the breathlessness in my voice. "Everything."

This is towards the end of the book; after the slow burn of a growing romance.
Here's my review in which I officially melted into a puddle on the floor.
Cameron completely stole my heart; he was prefect for Avery.

Have you read a great swoony scene lately? Let me know!

waiting on wednesday | 8 - Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we can't wait to get in our hands.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters Cover Image Dreams of Gods & Monsters
by: Laini Taylor | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: April 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3

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No official cover or summary, but the title and the following Q&A were released on EW's Shelf Life last week.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can fans expect from Dreams of Gods & Monsters?
LAINI TAYLOR: Dreams of Gods & Monsters picks up where Days of Blood & Starlight leaves off, and you can expect to see: seraphim in the human world (which will never be the same again), scientific excavation of “the pit”, enemy armies trying to fight side by side, the possibility of love rekindling, and … new threats that make Jael seem but a minor nuisance. At the barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of?

Q&A and cover image from EW.com.

Why the WOW: While I was slightly indifferent about Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight completely owned me, in the best way possible. From my review, I finally got hooked when Karou's backstory and other life were brought to the forefront, turning the slightly paranormal story into one that had more of a fantasy feel (right up my alley). Now I can't wait to read the epic conclusion.

What are you waiting for?

Friday, May 17, 2013

review - Wait for You

Wait for You Cover Image

Four Stars
Wait for You
by: J. Lynn | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Series: Wait for You #1
Format: eBook
Page Count: 332
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Wait for You Header Image
My Review
I meant for this to be a mini-review, but I starting writing and couldn't stop! So prepare yourself, this review might contain a lot of gushing over this amazing, hot, and slightly angsty story. It starts by introducing Avery, who is more or less running away from her hometown and all the bad memories and relationships (or really the lack of any true friendships). On her first day of class, she literally runs into the rock-hard body of Cameron Hamilton. Already late, she refuses to walk into class and once again runs away, leaving Cam alone in the hallway and beginning their habit of running into each other.

Avery is very skittish and closed-off; we know something awful has happened in her past. Her past is slowly revealed in reverse, in that we see all the consequences of this awful event. That her parents have basically abandoned her, simply to keep up social appearances. These revelations build throughout the story, which in the world of NA stories/tropes that can be overused added a great twist.

Back to Cam, BMOC; he stole the show being the ever-swoonworthy gentleman. It was the little details that made me love him; like his always present cap, worn backwards if he's really listening to Avery. Cam's story is not free from some angst. I loved his protective big brother side and his family in general. I totally see why Avery felt comfortable when she visited. Emotions were running high in a certain scene with Cam's mom and Avery, ohh feelings!

Due to Avery's refusal to go on a date with him, Cam approaches her with the "let's be friends," while I make plans to become more. I was a sucker for this method. This actually reminded me of Beautiful Disaster, but much more believable and sweeter. My one concern with the romance was WHY was Cam so infatuated with Avery in the first place? Was it the challenge? A one-chapter POV from Cam could shed some much needed light on his reasoning. Its just that their first interaction was so short, and while it grows into something beautiful, I wouldn't want this rooted in some insta-love moment. [Just saw on goodreads that Trust in Me (#1.5 novella) will be release in Oct 2013 and is in Cam's POV. Wish granted!]

After that initial attraction, the romance is fairly gradual; the way lasting relationships truly are. The kind where things always remind you of the other person and you miss their general presence in your life. Cue the cliched fall-break scene where this realization hits Avery. Did I see this coming from a mile away? Yeah, but I loved reading it. Avery finally sees the potential of a relationship with Cam.

There was one small issue that the pragmatic me couldn't let go. There was no way an incoming freshman is allowed to live off campus. I understand its need for the story to work, but most universities require that all first-year freshmen live in the dorms on campus.

Sidekick-wise, Brittany was a grounding force for the story. When Avery is about to lose it or needs a friend, Brit is always there. Her straight-forward, tell/ask it like it is attitude made me very happy. I loved that she kicked fellow side-kick, Jacob, out of the room, when there was real issued to discuss. She wasn't just an outgoing (read: partying co-ed) friend, meant only to bring Avery out of her shell. No, Brit actually cared about Avery's well-being.

The pacing was perfect and realistic, allowing Avery to grow and adapt to her and Cam's relationship. The ending provided poignant closure for Avery and leaves readers with a giddy sense of hope for her and her future with Cam. So much to fan-girl over, but I'll stop and let you discover how awesome Wait for You is. Extremely excited to continue this series with Cam's sister, Teresa, coming Feb 2014.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

waiting on wednesday | 7 - Rebel Spring

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we can't wait to get in our hands.

Rebel Spring Cover Image Rebel Spring
by: Morgan Rhodes | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Falling Kingdoms #2

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Summary: Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world…

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Why the WOW: I've been on a fantasy kick lately, and Falling Kingdoms stood out in this genre. Morgan Rhodes has no fear of killing characters and killing often. Her and Beth Revis probably get right along. Haha! Things were definitely left up in the air with the end of Falling Kingdoms. Not necessarily cliff-hangers, but I felt like I wanted to pop the next DVD in. What? I have to wait a year?

What are you waiting for?

mini-reviews | Hopeless, Beautiful Bastard, Word and Deed

Hopeless Cover Image

Add to Goodreads

Five Stars
by: Colleen Hoover | Website | Twitter
Publication Date: December 19, 2012
Series: Hopeless #1
Format: Kindle

I LIVE this book, no make that Love this book! Colleen Hoover has had three slam dunks this year, Slammed, Point of Retreat, and Hopeless. Each one was utterly all-consuming. The writing is very real and easy to lose yourself in the story.

Hopeless, while heartbreaking and emotional, still manages to put a huge smile on your face when reading it. (A lot of that has to do with one Dean Holder)

Colleen Hoover has a certain chapter written from Holder's POV; it's free over on her website. Oh, Holder, sigh. Be still my heart! Get insight into Holder's head and see everything that he is thinking during this toe-curling scene.

Beautiful Bastard Cover Image

Add to Goodreads

Three Stars
Beautiful Bastard
by: Christina Lauren | Website
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Series: Beautiful Bastard #1
Format: PB from the Biblioteca

This was a quick and steamy read. The hate/love (really more like "I love how you infuriate me") relationship between Chloe and Bennett was smokin'. But beyond that the story was kind of flat. There was some good angst about how or it their relationship would work, with her being his intern. But it felt like the story was just skimming the surface.

I connected more with Bennett, probably because he was the first to commit to the relationship, in whatever form he could have. Chloe was the one fighting it. That role reversal (or that the reader gets Bennett's POV, fully displaying his emotions) was refreshing and interesting to read. This is what I wish the story as a whole had more of, some deeper emotion.

Still planning on picking up the sequel. Funny note, despite all the passion in this book the following was my favorite line.

"Would you have gone back to the room?" I asked into her ear as she carefully read an undergraduate poster on a rebranding idea for some small cellular company. Graphs were taped to the poster board, for crying out loud. - page 227

Word and Deed Cover Image

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Three Stars
Word and Deed
by: Susannah Noel | Website | Twitter
Publication Date: December 15, 2012
Series: Wordless Chronicles #2
Format: Kindle

Earlier this year, I picked up Word and Breath. I absolutely loved it. I guess it came as a breath (haha) of fresh air in the genre of books I had been reading. A lot of YA that fell into the same old story lines. Word and Breath reminded me how much I loved reading thriller/crime books, while throwing in some paranormal, dystopian, and romance.

While I loved Word and Breath, I felt that Word and Deed fell a little short. Probably just the dreaded middle book drag, where story lines have to be moved forward and setup for that final book. All the same characters are back, more Connor! Definitely a fan of the Librarian!!!

Look forward to future Wordless books and anything by Susannah Noel!

Have you read any of them? Let me know what you thought!

Friday, May 10, 2013

stacking the shelves | 3

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to share the books added to the ever-growing TBR pile.

Stacking the Shelves Books
Purchased - BN.com
Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3) by: Melina Marchetta
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by: R.L. LaFevers

Purchased - Amazon
Callum & Harper (The Sleepless Series #1) by: Fisher Amelie
Thomas & January (The Sleepless Series #2) by: Fisher Amelie

Bookstore Trade
Blood Bound (Unbound #1) by: Rachel Vincent
Shadow Bound (Unbound #2) by: Rachel Vincent

What's new: Headed out to Utah to see the Arches National Park.
So, I've got my kindle loaded and a backup paperback for the flight.
Pictures when I get back, or follow my Instagram on the top right margin.

Can't wait to read the last installment of the Finnikin Series; it'll be bittersweet.
Grave Mercy was one of my favorites last year, ready to read Sybella's story.