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Genre: Adolescence

Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderSummer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 03 May 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 291
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Seattle Washington // Honolulu, Hawaii

First Line(s): The condom must’ve broke. Her words, not mine.

SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider was one of those books I was really looking forward too because I knew several people who had read it and loved it. This wasn’t an over-hyped book and the synopsis made it seem like it was such a me book that I was eager to give it ago. The start of SUMMER OF SLOANE was fabulous and everything I was hoping that it would be and more. That is until around the 75% mark where this book made a complete 180 and left me wondering WTF I just read. There was so much potential for SUMMER OF SLOANE and there was already a lot of drama in the book without the story going where it went. Those last final bits just pushed it too far over the edge into the ridiculous and had me wanting to toss the book across the room.

Sloane is a likeable enough character who is dealing with a lot. Like seriously, her best friend and boyfriend not only hook up behind her back but they also end up pregnant. Sloane does what any self respecting girl does, she yells at her friend and punches her boyfriend in the nose. Sadly she doesn’t know how to through a punch and ends up breaking her hand in the process. She then plans to spend the summer with her mother and twin brother in Hawaii trying to get over the past and figure out who she is without the two people who meant the most of her. Two people who refuse to give her the space she asks for and who badger her constantly to forgive them and take them back because losing her friendship is too much for them to bear. That’s right folks, the faux-BFF and Ex-boyfriend never really apologize or take responsibility for the shitty things that they do and only care about how Sloane’s ignoring them makes them feel. Oh how I wanted to slap them both a hundred times over!!!

Summer of Sloane Quote

But Sloane is doing ok without them. She has her brother, she has her summer friends in Hawaii and she also meets Finn who may just help her forget her terrible ex. These are the parts of SUMMER OF SLOANE that I loved and connected with. They are the parts that had me rapidly turning the pages as Sloane discovered who she was without being part of the trio that she was back in Seattle. Finn was a great character and I loved how he and Sloane where together. Then SUMMER OF SLOANE took a dive off the crazy train and went from being a great book to me wondering what the heck I just read. There are misunderstandings which happen often enough in books but its how these characters react to them that had me reeling. Rather than talking they make these grand assumptions and then think that cheating is the answer. Because it worked so well when it happened between Sloane’s ex and her faux-bff. *insert eye rolling here*

I get that these characters are teenagers and maybe their actions make sense to that demographic but its not something I was able to get behind. Mainly because I’ve been cheated on in the past and its not something that can ever accept as being a way to solve a problem. SUMMER OF SLOANE is a book that I wish I could stop at a certain point. That part where I was still emotionally invested and loving every word. The ending of SUMMER OF SLOANE was just a mess that almost ruined the entire book for me. I became annoyed at all the characters and the payoff just wasn’t worth much of what came before. I did think that SUMMER OF SLOANE was well written I just wish it hadn’t introduced all that WTF-ery into the story. While SUMMER OF SLOANE isn’t a book that works for me on every level I do see the appeal of it and know of many a person that I can recommend it to as I know they’ll enjoy it more than me.

irishdarkblue

IR - Summer of Sloane

 

Click here to add From What I Remember by  Stacy Kramer and Val Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Click here to add My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatick to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

three-stars
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Euan Morton
Published by Macmillian Audio on 06 Oct 2016
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Fangirl

Place(s) Traveled To: Hampshire, England // London, England // Watford, England

First Line(s): I walk to the bus station by myself.

When talking with my friends after reading Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL (my review) it seems like I am one of the few that actually liked the little excerpts from Cath’s fan fiction story called Carry On. So when I heard that she was turning that into a book I was excited. Until I was not. CARRY ON is the name of Cath’s fan fiction but for this story its presented as the very last Simon Snow story and as such, I feel, as though it should have been titled something along the lines of Simon Snow and the <<blah blah blah>>. Although that may have been too close to HARRY POTTER which the Simon Snow story is clearly a  spoof of. Title aside though I still had some excitement but it all sort of fizzled by the time I had this very large book in my hands.

CARRY ON started off really really slow for me and I wasn’t a fan of the fact that they didn’t use a female narrator for the female POV chapters. Euon Morton does a fair enough job overall as the narrator but as with all male narrators female voices aren’t where he excels. I did like his vocal choices for Simon and Baz but the rest? Not as much. Speaking of Baz, this is a character that takes his own sweet time in showing up in the story. Things in CARRY ON do pick up a bit when he does but its still kind of a hot mess with little to no direction. There isn’t a whole ton of plot and the whole book is just sort of ramshackled together and I found myself rolling my eyes. A lot.

Carry On Quote

CARRY ON is also billed as this great M/M Romance and it fails there too because for a lot of the book Simon has a girlfriend. Then when he decides he likes Baz it just never feels real. Simon is such a surfacy 2D character that its hard to believe any of the emotions that he’s supposed to be feeling. And for a book that is a romance there should be more push/pull/something that happens between the characters. But with CARRY ON this doesn’t really develop until a good three quarters of the way through the book and then it just falls flat. A lot of this I think is due to the poor writing and the very mediocre narrator that was Simon Snow. I think if Baz had been telling CARRY ON I may have liked it a little more. Maybe.

From a fantasy standpoint, CARRY ON only barely squeeks by. Its just cobbled together with a bunch of tropes and its so very predictable. I guessed all the big twists very very early on and as such just sort of rolled my eyes at the attempted mic drop moments. I also felt that at times the POV just shifted way too rapidly that I almost got whiplash. I also didn’t get why certain characters were in the story at all since they did nothing to move the plot along and just bogged down the story. In the end, I was pretty disappointed with CARRY ON as I just expected so much more from this story. I think in the future I’ll still to Rowell’s contemporary works and turn to others when I am looking for a fantasy read.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Carry On

 

Add Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

three-stars
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie PerkinsSummer Days and Summer Nights by Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Francesca Lia Block, Jennifer E. Smith, Jon Skovron, Leigh Bardugo, Lev Grossman, Libba Bray, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 17 May 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Anthology, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Demons, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me, The Raven Princess, Shadow & Bone, Six of Crows, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am going to talk about the anthology SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS which was edited by Stephanie Perkins. SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS is a collection of twelve stories from various authors in the YA world that all embody the lazy crazy days of summer. This review will be set up a little differently from my regular reviews as it won’t be one long rambling post of my thoughts. Instead I broke things down by each story in the collection and shared my thoughts on each after I read them.

HEAD, SCALES, TONGUE, TAIL by Leigh Bardugo

Place(s) Traveled: New York, New York (1986) // Little Spindle, New York

First Line(s): There were a lot of stories about Annalee Saperstein and why she came to Little Spindle, but Gracie’s favorite was the heat wave.

Rating: 3 stars

This was an odd little story but one that reads like an updated version of a hodpge of different myths. Its a short story (duh) but there is so much included in it. It spans a few years and there is a lot of character growth and development and even some heart-achy feels.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE END OF LOVE by Nina LaCour

Place(s) Traveled: Berkeley, California // Muir Beach, California

First Line(s): I don’t realize how early I am until I open the door.

Rating: 3 stars

I liked this story and the voice of the main character, Flora. She was sweet and filled with a sadness that just lept off the page. This is a girl who is going through a lot and doesn’t quiet know how to process it all. For this entire story I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her its ok to just cry it out. I liked the other characters in this story as well, with the exception of Flora’s parents who were such selfish asshats! My big complaint with THE END OF LOVE is that if felt unfinished as if there is still a lot more story to tell and more to explore and I’d have liked to see this one as a full length story.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LAST STAND AT THE CINEGOR by Libba Bray

Place(s) Traveled: Deadwood, Texas

First Line(s): On the last night of the Cinegore, the sky looked like it needed to call in sick, all yellow-green going dark around the edges like an infected cut, a summer storm heading in hard.

Rating: 2.5 stars

I liked the start of this one and thought that it would be a fun start to a summer romance. But then things took a crazy turn for the weird with the appearance of demons. Yes, demon demons and I guess it was supposed to turn spooky horror story but it just made me go…huh? Even with demons it might still have ended up a good story but it just sort of fizzled out and the ending just leaves you scratching your head.  It was rushed and just fell flat. Not a fan of this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SICK PLEASURES by Francesa Lia Block

Place(s) Traveled: Los Angeles, California // Studio City, California // Calabasas, California // Camarillo, California

First Line(s): It was the first night of summer vacation when my friends M and L and I piled into J’s VW Bug and drove to Phases, the teen dance club deep in the San Fernando Valley, to escape sorrow and find the thing that we were looking for.

Rating: 1 star

Not a fan of this one at all. I hated how much distance there was between the narrator of the story and the reader. Its like you are trying to watch something from very far off. There was little to no emotion in this story either. No real purpose. Just words on a page that didn’t amount to much of anything at all. Just a sense of sadness and bitterness and I could have done without reading this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

IN NINETY MINUTES, TURN NORTH by Stephanie Perkins

Place(s) Traveled: Burnsville, North Carolina

First Line(s): Marigold hated this time of year.

Rating: 4 stars

Oh how this story hurt my heart!! Perkins brings back characters that she first introduced in her winter anthology and I just loved what she did with this story. I liked how Perkins wove in Marigold and North’s history without making the story one big flashback. Instead, it only made this story all the more heartbreaking. I totally teared up while reading this one and just loved all the feels that it made me feel. I really want a full length book of Marigold and North. Of all the stories in this anthology I think that this one will be my favorite.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SOUVENIRS by Tim Federle

Place(s) Traveled: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): Maybe I’ve been reading too much Charles Dickens recently, but today doesn’t seem dreary enough for a break up, you know?

Rating: 4 stars

This was another bittersweet story and I loved the progression of it. It felt like a complete story but I would have loved to have more words. I really liked Matty’s voice and would love to see what becomes of him after this story ends. SOUVENIRS made my heart ache and I was sad to see this one end.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

INERTIA by Veronica Roth

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): “There must have been some kind of mistake,” I said.

Rating: 3 stars

What is with the heartbreaking way these stories are going?!? This one started out a bit choppy and rough but my heart was totally invested by the end. I wasn’t a fan of how cryptic it was at first but the end does make up for the beginning. I liked the characters and I liked the story I just didn’t like it as much as I did some of the others in this anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LOVE IS THE LAST RESORT by Jon Skovron

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): Dear reader, I want to assure you that this is not a story about love or romance, regardless of what you may have read on the cover.

Rating: 1 star

I was not a fan of this one. It wasn’t a bad story but I hated how it was written!! The prose was stifling and I felt like I might drown in it. It was a poor written 19th century novel and the words totally drowned out the meaning behind them. I really didn’t care about any of these characters and if this was any long than it had been it would have been a DNF.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

GOOD LUCK AND FAREWELL by Brandy Colbert

Place(s) Traveled: Chicago, Illinois // Andersonville, Illinois

First Line(s): Audrey and I are lounging on the sandy banks of Foster Avenue Beach when she tells me she’s going to San Francisco.

Rating: 3 stars

This is another so-so story in the collection. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Rashida and Pierre and their story felt a little forced. I would have liked to have seen more of them actually talking and interacting and it just felt rushed.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

BRAND NEW ATTRACTION by Cassandra Clare

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): It was a dark carnival.

Rating: 3 stars

Another story with demons. Like the first one it just doesn’t seem to fit with this anthology. It was weird and choppy and another one where I really didn’t care for the characters. Events were rushed and feelings felt very surfacy and I was just glad to have it over because it was just weird.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

A THOUSAND WAYS THIS COULD ALL GO WRONG by Jennifer E. Smith

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, Illinois

First Line(s): When I spot him at the other end of the grocery aisle, I freeze.

Rating: 4 stars

I was ready for another disappointing read after the previous few stories but in the end this one is among my favorites. This is the sort of story I was expecting this whole anthology to be. Fun, contemporary romances that make your heart ache and bring a smile to your face. I smiled a lot while reading this one and its another story that I wish had been a full length book. I really enjoyed this characters and hated to say goodbye to them.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS by Lev Grossman

Place(s) Traveled: Lexington, Massachusetts

First Line(s): It was August 4th, and I guess it already had been for a while.

Rating: 3 stars

Another so-so story rounds out this anthology. It wasn’t bad but it just seemed to be missing that little something special that makes my heart ache. There wasn’t a lot of depth to it or character development and it just sort of blends in with the other stories in the anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS, like most anthologies, is a mixed bag of stories. I was expecting for there to be a bit more cohesion in this collection and so was surprised at the addition of things (ie demons) into the mix. Those odd ball stories took me out of these worlds and made it hard to pick the book up. There were only a handful of stories that I felt compelled to read and ones that I will probably re-read again. But there is nothing particularly wow inducing for me in SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS and I was left a little more disappointed than not. I just expected more from it than what I got and so that makes me more disappointed than I might otherwise have been as my expectations were so high. On the plus note, there is definitely something for everyone in this collection.

OVERALL RATING: 3 stars

 

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa YeeWonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee
Series: DC Super Hero Girls,
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on 01 March 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Fantasy, Friendship, Middle Grade, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Metropolis // Paradise Island

First Line(s): It was barely the third week of school, and already someone had been expelled.

WONDER WOMAN AT SUPER HERO HIGH by Lisa Yee is the start of a new middle grade series set at the fictional Super Hero High in Metropolis. This is the school where all the young super heroes go to learn how to use their powers and how to be a super hero. Or maybe not as not all those who go to this school have good intentions in mind. Wonder Woman is a total fish out of water when she starts at Super Hero High having been home schooled and fairly sheltered on Paradise Island by her mother. She knows of the outside world but she misses a lot of social queues and doesn’t always get the joke. She’s a very literal girl and so this makes her a tad bit socially awkward and that is part of what makes Wonder Woman, or Wondy as she begins to be called, a relatable character.

Going to a new school is always hard be it a transfer in, a move from home school to public, or even going from middle school to high school. Its easy to get overwhelmed at times or to sign up for too much. Not to mention all the pitfalls of making new friends (or enemies as the case may be) along with being part of the social media generation. Wondy learns all of these things, often at a comical expense throughout the course of WONDER WOMAN. Her roommate runs HQTV (aka Harley Quinn TV YouTube channel) and so often captures Wondy’s mishaps along with her fellow students much to Wondy’s embarrassment but its something she learns to deal with and become aware of. To think before she acts because you never know who may be watching and to learn to accept that she can’t be perfect all of the time.

Wondy is a bit naive at times and that wasn’t always the easiest things for me to read as an adult but I think that this is something that will really help her appeal to a younger reader.  Wondy is also filled with so much heart and dedication to do well and to be the best friend she can be. She’s the sort of girl who wants to be the best at everything and to win all the awards but she’s also humble enough to know when to share the spotlight with someone else. Even if doing so means sacrificing something else.

There were times when WONDER WOMAN made me laugh at loud, usually at something Harley Quinn said, and times where it made me cringe. I loved all the various characters that were incorporated into this story along with the superhero triathalon. I liked how this was a girl power dominated story in a universe that is typically overshadowed by boys. I thought that the mystery element was a little weak, choppy and highly underdeveloped but that is probably not something that will bother younger readers. But will also help in teaching them the impoartance of making assumptions and why that isn’t always a good thing. There are a lot of great teachable moments in WONDER WOMAN and its a book that I look forward to sharing with my niece as I think she’ll like it a lot.

irishdarkblue

IR - Wonder Woman

 

Add Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams to Goodreads (Click here for my review)

Add Gotham Academy Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy,
Also in this series: The Revolution of Ivy
Published by Entangled Teen on 04 Nov 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 282
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Revolution of Ivy

Place(s) Traveled To: Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one wears white wedding dresses anymore.

THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel is one of those books that I hadn’t heard much about until I recieved an ARC of its sequel THE REVOLUTION OF IVY (goodreads). It was also around that time that talk about BOOK OF IVY started to appear in my social media streams and while I haven’t been much into dystopian reads of late I decided to give this one a chance. Like most YA dystopians THE BOOK OF IVY is very thin on details. There isn’t a whole lot of world building or history given to why the world is how it is. As a reader you are immediately thrust into the every life of this society that has formed in the bones of the former United States and its up to the reader to figure out what’s going on.

At first, I thought THE BOOK OF IVY was going to be a standard ‘girls are only good for making babies’ sort of story which is all too common a theme in YA dystopia and so I was hesitant on the story. But then there was just something about this one that really lulled me into its pages. Amy Engel’s writing is seductive even as it doesn’t have a ton of substance behind the words. I found myself engrossed in Ivy’s story and found this book really hard to put down. I liked her struggle between what she had been raised to do and what she wanted to do. And most of all I liked Bishop.

Book of Ivy Quote

Bishop is one of those book boyfriends that I’m surprised I don’t hear much about. He’s smart and funny and he appreciates Ivy for who she is. He doesn’t have lofty expectations of her nor does he expect her to be a simpering housewife with him the general of the household. He’s sweet and caring and the sort of character that you really wish you could meet in real life. He’s the bright light in an otherwise cliched and fairly typical YA dystopian novel.

THE BOOK OF IVY is what I’d call a brain candy read and would be perfect for a day at the beach. It doesn’t take a lot of thought and makes for a good distraction. Its a really fast read with a likable main character even though it does lack for a bit of a plot. As I said the writing is seductive so while you are reading the story its easy to forgive its flaws and just get lost in the nuances and flow of the words. THE BOOK OF IVY is one that I think would be great on audio with the right narrator as it really is a lyrical story. I was invested enough in Ivy’s story to read the sequel but its not a series that will win any awards. If you like YA dystopian then you’ll probably enjoy THE BOOK OF IVY. I also think those new to dystopia will enjoy it as well.

irishdarkblue

IR - Book of Ivy

 

Add Matched by Ally Condie to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle MeadBloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines,
Published by Razorbill on 23 August 2011
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 421
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice

Place(s) Traveled To: Palm Springs, California

First Line(s): I couldn’t breathe.

BLOODLINES is the first book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy spinoff series and focuses on alchemist Sydney who we meet in those books. As the events in this book directly relate to how LAST SACRIFICE (my review) ends I strongly suggest that you read the Vampire Academy books before moving on to BLOODLINES. In the Vampire Academy books I wasn’t a huge fan of Syndney so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy a series that revolved around her and so was a little reluctant in picking these books up. But friends I know and trust say that this series is better than Vampire Academy so I thought why not take the plunge now that I’ve finally finished VA and this series is fully available in stores.

As a first book in a series, even a spinoff series, I found BLOODLINES to be really slow. It took a bit to find its groove even though there were many returning characters from the Vampire Academy books. There were also some new ones introduced and they were complete douche nozzles and I just wanted to set fire to those pages. Like for real, Sydney’s dad and the ‘golden boy’ Keith were terrible terrible characters who frustrated me so much that I almost DNF’d this book because of them. I don’t expect all characters to be likeable but my stars at least have some potential for redemption! But its really had to come back from being an asshole so I think we are stuck with them as they are. *le sigh*

Bloodlines Quote

There were many things in BLOODLINES that I found really predictable and so when the big reveals happened I was left underwhelmed. I also thought that the main plot lines/mysteries were very anticlimatic in how they were wrapped up and dealt with. So much time was spent on the tattoos that these normal teenagers were getting and then instead of a bang it was all resolved in a wee little poof. Not even a poof….more of a puh. And then the story dragged on longer than I expected it to with other big moments that really weren’t ending in what I think was supposed to be a mic drop moment but left me going…eh, why do I care?

The main bright light in this book was Adrian, I adored him as always and I kind of hate how he’s tied to Jill. That kind of squicks me out a bit since there is such an age and personality difference between them. I also really liked how Adrian and Sydney interacted with each other. She added some grounding that he needed and he made her character a lot less annoying that she’d been in previous books. I do also think it helped a bit that we got this story from her POV but she’s still not a favorite character of mine. Nor is BLOODLINES a favorite book that I’ve read. I was left underwhelmed and I don’t know when or even if I’ll continue with this series.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bloodlines

Add Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill to Goodreads.

Add City of Bones by Cassandra Clare to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Contest, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel HarrisThe Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending
Also in this series: The Fine Art of Pretending
Published by Spencer Hill on 05 April 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 297
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Taste the Heat, Seven Day Fiance, Accidently Married on Purpose, The Fine Art of Pretending, You're Still the One

Rachel Harris’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US is already getting swoons from readers everywhere! We can’t wait for you to get your hands on it. Known for her sweet romances, Rachel’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US, is no different! Check out everything we have for you on this amazing title and then go grab your copy today. Justin and Peyton’s story is sure to put a smile on your face and keep you turning pages long into the night!

Review

Place(s) Traveled To: Fairwood City, Texas

First Line(s): They say once rodeo gets into your blood, you’re never the same.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US by Rachel Harris is a companion story to THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING (my review) which I read and enjoyed last year. In FINE ART the main character Aly wants to date her long time crush, Justin, and uses her BFF Brandon to help her out. Things don’t work out the way Aly plans and while she finds her HEA Justin does not. I liked Justin’s character in FINE ART so was really curious to see who Harris would pair him with in THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US. In this book we meet Peyton who is a smart, quiet girl who just happens to share a past with Justin. We learn of their history via flashbacks as they reconnect in the present when they are forced to work together on a school assignment. Which Justin sees as an opportunity to win her back and Peyton sees as the worst punishment ever.

While THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US is told in classic Harris style there was just something missing in it for me to love it completely. For me, the flashbacks just took away from the story as they were overly long and the lead ins to them were a bit too cliched. Learning the history of Justin and Peyton is important but I think it was just too drawn out and I wanted more of them in the now. There was just so much potential for their story and in the various class assignments that the two of them had that just weren’t really explored. But the think that bothered me more about THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US was how Peyton had a boyfriend for a good 75% of the book. I do not like love triangles and while this wasn’t as angsty as they tend to be it still could have been a cleaner story without the added complication of a boyfriend.

What I did like was how Justin and Peyton interacted together. They were cute together and their personalities fit well. I do think that Peyton was a little too forgiving but I also liked how Justin worked to prove himself to her. I liked how his character changed for the player to the committed boyfriend and I would have liked to see this story continue on for a few more chapters just to see them as a couple. Justin’s backstory hurt my heart at times as well and I thought that he was a boy who really needed a hug and I liked that Peyton saw beyond the facade and saw the real him.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US isn’t a perfect book but it is a quick read and is out just in time for beach season. This is a great book to read on the beach or by the pool as its just not overly complicated. Its a fun coming of age story with some more serious undertones as Justin and Peyton are both working through some life issues that they are both too young to deal with. I adored Peyton’s family and her BFF Faith and really wish that they’d had more on page time. In the end, I liked THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US but it I just wanted sometimes more from this story so I didn’t love it. But I do think that it will appeal to many of my readers….after all….I do tend to be harder on books than all of you. If you liked THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING then you will most likely like this one.

 

irishdarkblue

 

 

Excerpt

“Hold out your hand.” At the expression on his face, I rolled my eyes. “Just do it.” Cautiously, as if I was going to put out a cobra or something, he uncurled his fingers and lifted his palm. I dropped a small silver coin in the center. “For luck.”

Wonder warred with confusion in his gorgeous brown eyes and my heart melted.

“On this side there’s a horseshoe,” I said, my cheeks warming with a blush. “You know, the universal symbol for luck… and a small reminder of me.”

I bit my lip, hoping he didn’t think that was too corny—or that it revealed too much.

I flipped the coin over, exposing the other side, and my fingers slid across his rough skin. My breath caught. When I lifted my eyes, I found him watching me with so much intensity, so much heat, that an actual shiver rolled through me. Just like in my favorite books.

Huh. So that was what smoldering looked like. Good to know.

I swallowed hard and noticed him do the same, and nothing could hold back my smile. Justin glanced down and laughed. “Kick some ass!” he read, skimming his fingernail over my initials.

“I figured…” I cleared my throat. “I thought you could hide it in your sock or something,” I said, unable to tell if he liked the gift or not. He just kept staring at it. “If it’s dumb, you don’t have to—”

“No.”

He’d said it so quietly I almost wasn’t sure he’d spoken at all. But then he closed his hand around the coin and raised his head. Time ceased to exist as Justin’s eyes trailed across my face. I held my breath waiting and a sweet smile crossed his face.

“Damn.” He shook his head softly. “You’ve done it now.”

“What?” I asked, hoping whatever it was that it was a good thing. “What did I do?”

Justin merely shook his head again and smiled. “Wait for me after the game.” Shifting his gaze to the old concession stand, he took a step back and said, “Over there, okay?”

When I nodded, excitement lodging in my throat, making it impossible to speak, he winked and then took off to join his teammates. As I watched his cute butt in those uniform pants run across the field, a giddy grin found my lips.

 

 

 

TNHoU - Signed Books

You can order a signed and/or personalized copy of THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US now through April 8th HERE!

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About THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US:

One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who’s forever owned his heart.

Justin Carter has a secret. He’s not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy…and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she’d ever forgive him.

Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she’s done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she’ll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate’s given him a shot at redemption, he’s determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton…well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.

Order THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US Today!

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Rachel Harris - Author photoAbout Rachel Harris:

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

 

 

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Rachel Harris’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US– Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

March 28th

For the Love of Books & Alcohol – Excerpt

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March 29th

A Crave For Books – Review

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March 30th

Bookish Things & More – Review & Excerpt

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March 31st

Dazzled by Books – Review & Excerpt

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We All Make Mistakes in Books – Review & Excerpt

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Bookaholics Reading Haven – Review & Excerpt

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April 2nd

Collector of book boyfriends – Excerpt

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Andi’s ABCs – Review

My Slanted Bookish Ramblings – Review

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Defiantly Deviant – Review

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April 3rd

The Romance Reviews – Review

Cheyanne Young – Review & Excerpt

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Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Review

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Blogging For The Love Of Authors And Their Books – Review & Excerpt

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The bookworms obsession blog – Review

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April 5th

Book it – Review & Excerpt

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April 6th

Books and Boys Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

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April 7th

Southern Vixens Book Obsessions – Excerpt

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April 8th

Alpha Book Club – Excerpt

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Audio Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Narrator: Amber Faith
Series: The Naturals,
Published by Listening Library on 05 November 2013
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Fixer, The Long Game

Place(s) Traveled To: Denver, Colorado // Washington, DC

First Line(s): The hours were bad.

THE NATURALS by Jennifer Lynn Barnes first came out in 2013 and while it was on my radar then it got shuffled off to the side enough that I forgot about it. Until recently when there just seemed to be a renewed interest in the story as it was mentioned all over my social media. Not long ago I’d read Barnes’s THE FIXER (my review) and I liked her Scandal meets Veronica Mars story and so I requested the audiobook of THE NATURALS when I saw that it was available. THE NATURALS can almost be described as a teenage Criminal Minds as all the kids in the book have these natural profiling abilities. The FBI has collected a bunch of them to live together and to hone their abilities for future careers within the FBI. But of course things are never that easy when it comes to a mystery novel.

There are some added complexities to THE NATURALS first you have an eclectic cast of characters from Cassie (who is our narrator) to numbers nerd Sloane (complete with all the social awkwardness that is sterotypical of the ubersmart) and Lia the natural lie detector. And no YA book would be complete without your broody, chip on his shoulder male love interest and this one has two: Dean and Michael. Which will lead to a love triangle I am sure because you can see the beginnings of one in THE NATURALS but thankfully while there is some teen angst over liking boys and kissing boys the focus on this book isn’t the romance.

The Naturals Quote

One must suspend a lot of disbelief with THE NATURALS, not that there aren’t people out there that aren’t naturals at reading people or a crime scene but that the government would recruit and train them as teenagers. And then of course there is the complex backstories of all the main characters along with the revelation that a killer has turned up over a decade later who is killing woman in the exact same way that Cassie’s mom was killed. A case that was never solved and has haunted Cassie for a variety of reasons.

For me, THE NATURALS was a very slow story. There was a whole lot of sitting around and doing nothing with a few instances where we were supposed to be wowed by Cassie’s ability. There was a lot of angst and indecision and then things just sort of happened and boom the book was done. THE NATURALS was filled with set up and background and as such it suffered by not having a ton of plot on its own. I didn’t fully buy the mystery aspect of it and was just left underwhelmed by it all. I did like the narration of Amber Finch though like most female narrators she suffered with her male voices but overall I enjoyed her style. Her voice is soothing though which doesn’t go along well with a slow and plodding story so this was one that I couldn’t listen to when sitting still else I’d space out.

I didn’t love THE NATURALS as much as I had hoped but I do see the promise of the series.  I think that I will continue with it for at least one more book though the love triangle aspect does concern me. I’m also unsure if I’ll try the audiobook version or switch to a physical read as I liked the narrator but wasn’t all ZOMG must listen more! In the end, this was good not great and I’ll just have to see how things go in KILLER INSTINCT.

IR - The Naturals

Add I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Audio Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Armada by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Published by Crown on 14 July 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dystopian, Friendship, Sci-Fi, Survival Stories, Suspense, War & Military, Young Adult
Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Beverton, Oregon // Unknown, Nebraska // Moon Base Alpha

First Line(s): I was staring out of the classroom window daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.

When I went to BEA last spring there were only a couple of books that I needed to get and one of those was ARMADA by Ernest Cline. I loved his first book, READY PLAYER ONE (my review) and was so excited to see what he came up with next. But then I became torn because it was announced that Wil Wheaton would be narrating just as he did with READY PLAYER ONE and I decided to wait until I could get my hands on the audiobook.

The wait for the audio was a great decision because, as always, Wil Wheaton was most excellent in his narration. I just love Wheaton’s reading style and the energy and life that he brings to a story. It especially helped with ARMADA because I found the actually story to be a bit slow and hard to get into. There was a lot of repetition to the story and the story was a little bit too similar to READY PLAYER ONE mixed with ENDER’S GAME mixed with WARGAMES.

Armada Quote

There were no surprises in ARMADA and each big “twist” was just anti-climatic and predictable. The build up was overly drawn out which left very little time for the big climatic battle. Which left the ending something to be desired. If I’d been reading this one in print than I may have DNF’d this one or just ended up skimming to the end to see how it all turned out. The only reason why I didn’t was because of Wil Wheaton.

I’m still a fan of Ernest Cline and I am looking forward to his next book but sadly ARMADA just wasn’t the book for me. The writing was ok it was just the plotting and the pacing and even some of the characters that really didn’t mesh with me.

irishdarkblue

IR - Armada

Add Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer to Goodreads.

Add The End of All Things by John Scalzi to Goodreads.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: The Distance From A to Z by Natalie Blitt

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Distance From A to Z by Natalie BlittThe Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
Published by Epic Reads on 12 January 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Pages: 316
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Merritt, New Hampshire // Montreal, Canada

First Line(s): It starts when Jed makes the final turn off I-495.

From the moment I first heard about THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z by Natalie Blitt I was curious about it. And with a pitch like this “perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract” it made it even harder to resist. It also didn’t hurt that my friend Andi at Andi’s ABCs who is a HUGE fan of both Perkin’s and Kenneally loved DISTANCE FROM A TO Z. So I picked it up with high expectations and then found myself disappointed in the end result. I think that I wanted to love it so much that it was just hard for this story to meet those expectations.

My main problem with DISTANCE FROM A TO Z was Abby, our heroine. This girl had a chip on her should a mile wide and just as high. She was so judgmental of everyone around her and was often mean to others as well. Well, not to everyone, mostly to Zeke. THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z is billed as an opposites attract story but in reality Abby and Zeke have a lot in common. She just has this irrational hatred towards baseball that drives a wedge between her and anyone around her that happens to like the sport. A sport that she once loved as well since she grew up in a baseball fanatic sports store owning family until she had some bad experiences dating baseball players.

Distance from A to Z Quote

There is much I could say about Abby and her baseball issues but I won’t get into all of them here as there just isn’t enough space. Let’s just say that Abby often rubbed me the wrong way and leave it at that. Zeke though, Zeke was a sweetheart and I don’t get why he put up with Abby and her shenanigans but he did and that makes me love him even more. Even if he had a hard time choosing a baseball team to like. It kind of bothered me a bit that he’d wear the shirts/hats of every team and while there is kind of a reason for it, its not enough of one to satisfy me. A person usually is a fan of one team and you don’t intermingle the gear. It just isn’t done.

THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z is a fairly quick read and its one that I would have finished faster if Abby didn’t bug me as much as she did. What kept me reading was Zeke and the promise of a good story when I hit the end. While I didn’t love THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z as much as some I still mostly enjoyed the book. If Abby had been a little less mean and judgmental then I probably would have rated this higher than I did. I also really liked Natalie Blitt’s writing and I know that she’s an author that I look forward to reading more stories from. And I think that you will like this book, as well as her future reads as well. So go on….head over to Amazon and one-click this one today.

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irishdarkblue

IR - Distance from A to Z

Add The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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