Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Hungry by H.A. Swain

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & friends
384 Pages

In Thalia’s world, there is no more food and no need for food, as everyone takes medication to ward off hunger. Her parents both work for the company that developed the drugs society consumes to quell any food cravings, and they live a life of privilege as a result. When Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that there is an entire world outside her own. She also starts to feel hunger, and so does the boy. Are the meds no longer working?

Together, they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food. It’s a journey that will change everything Thalia thought she knew. But can a "privy" like her ever truly be part of a revolution?

Imagine a future where there is no food and the only nutrition you get is through a synthetic substance called Synthamil. Your daily dose of Synthamil is carefully calibrated to your body’s needs and eliminates the need for actual food. So none of this:
Or this:

Nothing! Just a small liquid tube of nutrients. Sounds yummy…

In this future, all forms of food (seeds, animals, etc) have been eliminated or lost to wars. Scientists have found a way to sustain society without the constant struggle of people fighting for food and money. Or so they think. Enter Thalia Apple, daughter of one of the founding scientists of Syntamil. Thalia comes from a life of privilege, having both parents who work for the OneWorld Corporation, until one day her stomach growls.  She’s scared at first; constantly trying to hide whatever is happening to her body, but it just gets worse.

Then she meets Basil, another person like her who also feels hunger. Thalia is then thrown into a world of lies, deceit, confusion, and corporate domination as she struggles to find the truth in what’s going on in the world. 

Honestly, I’m on the fence about this one – not sure how I actually feel. On one hand, I loved the concept. It was original and interesting. And I liked Thalia – she questioned everything, she never followed people blindly instead she challenged them to further understand. I also liked Basil. He was adorable if not a little too easily swayed. Their relationship, although a little insta-lovish, was cute. I loved how they always looked out for each other. 

What was confusing for me was the world set up. I felt like there was so much thrown at us that it was hard to grasp and even harder for me to visualize, especially the Inner Loops. Everything was so hi-tech and scientific that I felt like I was in the Fifth Element.

The pacing was another thing that felt a little off to me. I lost some interest about halfway through and didn’t end up going back to the book for a few weeks. Parts felt extremely cultish and that whole idea freaks me out, so it may have just been me. 

And then there was the ending. At about 90% in, the book enters this crazy, non-stop action ‘omg what’s going to happen’ phase. Its built up so much that you just know something bad is going to happen and I started to wonder how anyone is going to get out of this and how this book was going to be wrapped up in 10%. Well, basically, it just ended. It was so abrupt that I was left feeling unsatisfied. Now, I just want to say, I’m not upset or dissatisfied with how the story ended for our characters, it’s more the way it was so rushed that ultimately I felt let down.

Overall, a good concept and a decent read. 

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Review: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

I am very happy today to join The Midnight Garden in their blog tour of All Four Stars as a review stop! You can find all of the tour stops here.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 10, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
288 Pages

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Timesbestselling author of The False Prince

Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.

But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

This giveaway is for US/CA residents.

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Four stars go to All Four Stars!

Gladys Gatsby is a foodie. At eleven years old, her greatest hobby is cooking, and she would rather spend her break making new dishes than playing with her friends. Too bad her family finds the idea of cooking repulsive and after a (minor) cooking accident, she is banned from the kitchen for the foreseeable future. A mistake at the New York Standard newspaper gives Gladys a grand opportunity--to write a food review for the paper! But pulling off the story may not happen as easily as she expected.

This book was utterly adorable, and so fun to read. It was so light-hearted, and had me laughing aloud several times! The descriptions were phenomenal, and by the end of the book, I was dying for home cooked meal. Dairman did an excellent job putting this story together. It flowed very well, and reading about the different dishes that Gladys tried making and/or ate was quite neat. Her reviews of said dishes were fantastically funny, as well, and truly made the book. Reading about Gladys' parents meals were grotesque. They made my stomach hurt just thinking about them! But when she spoke of the desserts? There was actual drool.

Gladys perspective is very interesting to read from. She's a determined character, with a good head on her shoulders and watching her grow as the book progressed was wonderful. Gladys really grew into herself, and became more confident in her future and desires by the end of All Four Stars. I really love when that happens. I adored watching her make friends, and become close to those around her. This book isn't just about one girl's passion, but how she comes to realize that there is more to life than just food/cooking--though that's quite important as well! 

This is a great book for middle grade fans. It's short. It's sweet. And absolutely delicious! I really would like to see what's next for Gladys, and her career as a restaurant reviewer. This book is so perfectly adorable. Anyone who gives it a shot will be able to find something within its pages to love.
Thank you to the ladies at The Midnight Garden for allowing me to join the tour, and to Putnam for the e-copy for review!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Real" Book Challenge June Recap

Real Book Challenge on Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

Well, June probably wasn't the best month for reading books - at least not for me. Damn work and real life getting in the way. But I was able to read a few to count towards my goal.

So that's 5 more for this month.
Total So Far: 43
Current Level: Real Book Hoarder

So close to being Queen! July may not be the month because of Comic Con, but I will definitely be making my goal! If you're interested in joining us, you can sign up here. See you next month!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: All Of You (Between Breaths #1) by Christina Lee

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade
304 Pages

In this powerfully emotional New Adult novel, Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor.

He’s irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she’s perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother’s bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, Avery can only handle a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking-hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won’t accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straitlaced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery, and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him too.

So she needs to make a choice: Let Bennett go or finally let him in.

Thanks to the lovely ladies over at NAL Trade, I have one copy of ALL OF YOU to offer to one lucky reader. The only catch is you have to have a US address (Sorry international folks!)
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Unfurl your muscles
Slip off your skin
Drop your guts in a heap on the floor
Nuzzle inside the hollow of my bones
Let our breaths mingle as one
Turn liquid for me
Only for me
Bury your essence inside of my soul

Bennett and Avery – two people who are on the different spectrum of relationships. One wants them, one doesn’t. One lost trust a long time ago, the other believes that trust is the only way. And one is a virgin, while the other one sleeps around to forget. 

This is the first book in the Between Breaths series and I wish I would have read this one first. It’s hands down my favorite of the three out so far and the one I would recommend to anyone. The New Adult genre has been a hard one for me to get behind, but every once in a while I find one that gives me just a little hope that this new genre could possibly survive. 

Lee writes a believable struggle between two people who want different things. Their fights with each other along with their inner struggles just added more depth and realism to the characters. I liked that one didn’t give up their values or what they believed just for ‘insta-love’. Both characters were honest from the start about what they wanted and it was nice to read them grow and change together. Because one was a virgin, there wasn’t a lot of hot and heavy sex (which was a good thing, because let’s face it, that seems to be a majority of NA books now). Instead, there was this slow buildup of UST that just drove you crazy until you found yourself screaming, “Just do it already!” But I’m glad they didn’t listen to me.

Avery was a strong-willed, no backing down girl. Her guard rarely comes down and only in the presence of those closest to her. She was sarcastic, funny, determined, and vulnerable. They always say that college is about finding yourself and I think that’s true for Avery who does the most growing in this book.

Another thing, I rarely find swoonworthy guys in NA book but Bennett in up there. From the way Lee describes his physical traits to his personality, I want one. Simple as that. From the five word game they play to the flowers to the art…I was swooning. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It wasn’t a new concept but I liked the spin that Lee put on it. 

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review. Big thanks to NAL Trade for allowing me partake in this giveaway!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ARC Review: Whisper to Me (Between Breaths #3) by Christina Lee

The blurb as seen on GoodreadsL
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Intermix
262 Pages

A hot and consuming New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded…

At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she’d had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson—except one person…

Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But maybe it had been more all along.

Now I enjoyed this Christina Lee book much more than I liked the other one that I read, I believe it was the second in this series. Whisper to Me felt more natural with real characters in real situations. If you’re going to write contemporary, the situations need to feel like they could happen to you. 

Whisper to Me tells the story of Rachel and Kai, two friends whose friendship fell apart but end up finding their way back to each other. Rachel suffered a severe head injury during a motorcycle accident that left her scarred and without a boyfriend. Kai, the older brother of Rachel’s best friend, ends up spending his days in the hospital during Rachel’s recovery trying to keep her positive but also just enjoying being able to spend time with her. They grow closer but ultimately leave each other out of fear of losing the others friendship. Rachel heads off to college and Kai heads overseas. Then summer comes and they’re both home for the first time.

Unlike a lot of NA books out there, I understood Rachel’s struggle. She went off to college to get a new start. No one knew her. No one knew her story. She could be anyone she wanted to be. But when she comes home and sees her best friend and her best friends brother, she realizes hiding may be harder than she thought. Her feelings for Kai are confusing, her feelings for her ex who left her after the accident are hurtful, and her relationship with her best friend is strained. I liked reading about Rachel’s journey to basically become free from the past that had defined her for so long.

Kai was your typical lost and confused guy who instead of confronting and talking about his feelings, chose to hid in music, drugs, and girls. He was swoonworthy at times and I could definitely see his appeal, but Kai to me was a side character. I was more invested in Rachel growing. 

I wasn’t sold on this series from the first one I read, but this one sparked my interest and I think I will definitely be checking out the others and giving them a shot. 

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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