Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book Review: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
335 Pages

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls -- until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as "top girl" -- both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death -- and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as "total authority and an almost desperate intensity," provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.



I dare you to not feel something when reading this book. Whether it’s disgust, anger, camaraderie, kinship – I guarantee something will strike you. And that’s why it’s so hard for me to rate this book. If you’re looking for your average YA love story, then Dare Me is not for you. If you’re looking for something a little dark, then you just may like this.



Dare Me is a story about a cheerleader. A very popular cheerleader. Basically, your stereotypical mean girl cheerleader. The story starts with their coach leaving and the girls getting a new one in her place. They soon find out that the new one isn’t so easy to bend to their will as the previous. However, one girl, Addy, goes against the will of the Queen Bee (captain) and falls into a very unhealthy relationship with the new coach. As the book goes on, more and more girls follow Addy’s lead until the lines are blurred on the student/teacher relationship.This is where things take a dark turn. The Queen Bee, angry that her followers have left her, decides to take down the new coach.



Addy idolizes her new coach. And why shouldn’t she? Coach has a loving husband, a beautiful child, and she used to be the Queen Bee of her day. But as the story goes on, we learn more about Coach and turns out, she never really grew out of the Queen Bee faze. Her actions are downright despicable for a person in a teaching role – giving alcohol to the girls, inviting them for sleepovers at her house, involving them in her infidelity. The lack of any sort of parental guidance makes this story even more unsettling. These girls, and their coach, basically go unchecked throughout the entire story with almost no repercussions for their actions.



Abbott is a great story teller. Her words and descriptions really drag you into this dark world of high school. However, I'm not sure you really want to connect with any of these characters. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? No. But I'm still really not sure how I felt about it. I guess, I just really didn't get it. This is definitely one to judge for yourself and not go in with expectations

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review: Too Late by Colleen Hoover

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 30, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published

Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn't approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan's disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

 

Oh Colleen Hoover does love her drama so.

Not going to lie, happy that this was a freebie as it seemed to lack any emotional connection that I've had with her prior works. Not sure why, but something was really off about this one. Maybe it was the absurd nature of the overall plot line. This just didn't read like a CoHo book to me.

Let's start with the characters. Carter was your classic hero of the story, literally Prince Charming. But he was very one dimensional. It seemed like Hoover just wrote him to be the glaring opposite of Asa in every way. If Asa liked up, the Carter liked down. If Asa liked black, then Carter liked white. It was a little hard to fall in love with him unless you were Sloan.

As for Sloan, we were told often how strong she was but you need to do more than tell us. You need to show this in the story. Don't get me wrong, there were aspects of her character that showed strength, but overall she was very naive and not very smart about life considering all that she had gone through in her past.

Then there was Asa. I don't even know. Were we supposed to like him? Hate him? Feel sorry for him? Obviously he was a very despicable person and was screwed up in the head. My main feeling for him was pity and disgust. So if that's what you were going for, nailed it.

The insta love was another factor that didn't sit well with me. Sloan basically fell for another version of Asa- or so she thought - but this one held her hand and told her pretty things. Wake up, sweetie. I know Carter ultimately turned out to be the good guy but you didn't know that in the beginning and were basically just repeating the cycle you had with Asa.

Also, anyone else feel like this was much more graphic and vulgar than anything else she's ever written?

I will never deny that Hoover can write, and I will probably read everything she writes. But I've noticed that it's starting to feel like drama for the sake of drama rather than natural progression.  

 
 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Book Review: Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #2) by C.S. Pacat

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley
404 Pages

The second novel in the critically acclaimed trilogy from global phenomenon C. S. Pacat—with an all-new chapter exclusive to the print edition.

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…



The second in the Captive Prince series delves more into the relationship between Laurent and Damen. Set against the backdrop of war, two unlikely allies form a bond that goes above and beyond master and slave. 
 
While the first book introduced us to the characters, I felt that in the second we would get more story, more outcome, just basically more plot. And yes, there was progress in the relationship of the two main characters, there was little much else.  Honestly, this book reminded me mostly of the final Harry Potter book. You know, when they're walking through the woods forever and ever and ever and ever and...

So I"m saying basically not a lot happened. Which was surprising considering this book was over 400 pages. A little too long, honestly. A lot of descriptions that really didn't need to be there. Having not read the final book yet, I'm assuming it's just setting up the finale. We have the characters mapped out, the loyalties have been shown, deceptions uncovered, secrets unveiled, and now we get to look forward to the outcome of all of this.  

The character development was the best part of this book. Because it was an army marching across miles and miles of land, there was plenty of time to delve into the personalities of each person. The ice around Laurent faded, Damen stepped up his role as leader, minor characters came to the forefront. Development made up for lack of action and the final page left me excited for the last book because everything is finally coming together. And I believe the confrontation that's to come is going to be an explosion heard throughout the land. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review: Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: MacMillian
369 Pages

he universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

--
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...


 

I feel like my love for Marissa Meyer just knows no bounds. She is one author where I could say that I would read literally anything that she writes. I mean, The Lunar Chronicles is on the top of my list of favorite series. And I, like most people, were sad to see it come to an end. Then Stars Above happened.

While most of the stories in Stars Above aren't new, that didn't tame my excitement for the book. In fact, I was super happy to have all of the short stories that take place in the Lunar world all in one book. Plus there were bonus stories that I hadn't read yet, especially one with the hint of a wedding! I could barely contain my excitement (in case you couldn't tell).

In this collection of short stories we see all of our old friends again, and we meet some new ones. Most short stories are just fun scenes that the author thought of and didn't fit in the original story, hence why they release them separately. What Meyer has put together here, with the exception of one of the stories, is tie up lose ends and answer questions that were lingering in everyone's mind after the conclusion of Winter. How did Cress end up in that satellite? How did Wolfe become, well, Wolfe? Who all was in on the hiding of Princess Selene? And what happens after the last book?

As I mentioned, there is one story that doesn't really have any base except that it takes place in the same world. That's The Little Android. While I liked it, it just didn't fit in with the rest of the book. It was the only story that didn't have any of the characters we previously knew and it was hard to get a sense of where it fit in the time table of events. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, cause I did, it just didn't really fit for me. 

All in all, super happy to get more of these characters and also get the closure they deserved. I cannot wait to see what Meyer thinks of next. 




 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1) by C.S. Pacat

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley
270 Pages

From global phenomenon C. S. Pacat comes the first in her critically acclaimed trilogy—with a bonus story.

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…




I have a tendency to just dive into books without knowing anything about them other than what the cover looks like. The Captive Prince was one of them. Sometimes it's just nice to go into a book with no expectations. Not going to lie, in the beginning I wasn't quite sure if I was going to like it, but I carried on and what I found was an interesting story of deception, rivalries, and survival.

Let's start with why I was hesitant in the beginning. Mostly it had to do with the presentation of information. For a story that takes place in a different world, there needs to be world building and it needs to be done in a way that your readers can grasp. Pacat just kind of threw it all out there. World, people, plot...all of this came within the first chapter without any buildup. Yes, there was a prologue which drew me in. And yes, there was a character log at the beginning, but having to turn to the front and then back to where I was in the book was time consuming and I still couldn't remember who everyone was.

What I liked was the how this wasn't a love story. This is a story about a Prince who wants his kingdom back and the way he has to side with one enemy in order to get it. These were strong, interesting characters and I could never guess where they were going to go next. While I'm not a huge fan of sex slave story lines and public humiliations, the story wasn't weighed down with them and I was able to stay in the story.

This isn't normally the style of book that I read but I liked the complexity of it and how different it was for me. Basically, how do you know you don't like it if you don't try it? And this, I ended up liking. I am invested in Damen and want to know how his story plays out. On to the next one...


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blog Tour + Giveaway: How Willa Got Her Groove Back by Emily McKay


Hey guys, I so happy to be part of the Crush blog tour for How Willa Got Her Groove Back by Emily McKay. The lovely folks hosting are also offering up a chance to win a $25 gift card to Amazon and an awesome T-shirt that I'm sure anyone would love. So be sure to check it out!

How Willa Got Her Groove Back
By Emily McKay
 

The blurb as seen on Goodreads: 
Release Date: February 22, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen 
258 Pages


When your life feels like a bad movie, rewrite the script.
 
When Willa Schofer’s father comes home from a business trip with an über-famous new fiancée, Willa’s senior year blows up in paparazzi-fueled flames. Overnight, she has a new house, a new car, and a new soon-to-be stepbrother—the unbelievably hot, unbelievably arrogant, Finn McCain. Thank god he’s constantly pushing her buttons, or she might do something irresponsible. Like fall for the jerk. 

Just when Willa’s decided to avoid him for, oh, ever, Finn lands in the center of her senior project team. Seriously—how hard is it to shake a guy? At least her work on the project snagged the attention of the (second) hottest guy in school. He might only be into her because of her famous stepmom, and he’s not quite as exciting as a certain annoying housemate, but at least she’s allowed to crush on the guy. 

Because crushing on your annoying stepbrother? So not cool.

This Entangled Teen Crush book contains an unbelievably hot bad boy, an unbelievably famous actress, and all the drama that comes with adding both to your family. Oh, and a forbidden flirtation with a soon-to-be stepbrother.  


 




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Willa Schofer has a life and a routine that works for her. She goes to the amazing art school in Austin while her father works on movies and travels quite a bit. But this doesn't faze her. What does is when her father returns home from his latest movie and is engaged to the main star of said movie. Willa is suddenly thrust into this world of fame and paparazzi that she was in no way prepared for. Along with her future stepbrother, Willa must figure out where she belongs in all of this.

What I liked about the book was the real feelings behind a broken home merging with another. While Willa is content in her life with just her father, she never really thought about what he wanted until suddenly it was everywhere. McKay showcases the confusion that comes with change like this well, and while Willa acts like a spoiled brat sometimes, you can understand why and not really fault her for it.

I also enjoyed the character of Finn, the future stepbrother, and learning how he viewed the world. Finn and Willa grew up completely different - one with a parent in front of the camera, one behind it. As Finn tries to help Willa navigate this new world, we also got to see how lonely it can be and how trust is something that has to be earned, not just willingly given.

My issues with the story are mostly character based. The father, for one. How he handled everything and treated Willa (or ignored, depending on how you look at it) was very inconsiderate. I get that new love is exciting and can be all consuming, but you're a grown man with a daughter. You have responsibilities and a duty to your daughter that should come first. The there's Willa herself. The immaturity and self-pity that came page after page was tiring. For a father and daughter who seemed to have good communication skills, they really sucked at communicating. There wasn't really growth in the characters.

Another small annoyance was not knowing this book was not going to have a definitive end. This one may be on me though. I went into it thinking that this was a standalone book only to have the ending come and nothing get resolved. I will be reading the next book only I hope to see a bit more growth in the characters and not just the "moral of the episode" moment that came here.

All in all, a quick enjoyable read set against the exciting background of Austin.

Thank you to Crush and EntangledTeen for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review: Never Never: Part (Never Never #3) by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Hoover Ink
77 Pages

New York Times bestselling authors Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher are back with the much-anticipated final installment in the Never Never novella series. 

Together, Silas Nash and Charlize Wynwood must look deeper into the past to find out who they were and who they want to be. With time ticking down, the couple are in a race to find the answers they need before they lose everything. Can they regain what they once had? And will it restore who they once were?






So that ending...

This series was an odd one. The first book had me confused and disliking the characters, but I was interested. The second book had me liking Silas and throwing around theories. And then the third came out.
 
Whereas the first two had intrigue and mystery, the third felt just like a sappy teen romance novel. Now, I've never read any other of Fisher's works, but I've read all of Hoover's and I know that there's talent in this writing so I expected to be blown away and shocked by the big reveal. When the "theory" of their memory loss was first presented, I scoffed. No way would the authors go that route. It's too, umm..., wishy-washy, for lack of a better term. But alas...

The reasoning behind everything just made no sense. In a sense I felt let down by it all. Here was a series that was so unique in it's plot and there's so much information being thrown around and that's what the author's chose to do with it? 

It wasn't horrible. I did enjoy the story, even if I didn't like one of the main characters. But the ending was weak.








 
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