Saturday, October 25, 2014

ARC Review: Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
192 Pages

When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.

Adrenaline Crush was a short, authentic story about staying true to yourself even when faced with the most difficult of challenges. This is the first book I've read by this author, and based on my experience, I would not be hesitant to pick up another. It was quite charming, and my interest never strayed from the story once I started it.

Dyna is an adventurous young woman who never backs down from a challenge. She has goals and plans and confidence, until a horrible fall that leaves her with an injury that may keep her from all that she loves to do. When her spirit declines, her parents send her to a new aging healing center and she meets people who are suffering through traumas much like herself. With the help of her new friends, and family, she must remember how to be the person she has always known herself to be.

I really liked the author's writing style. Once I picked it up, I read it to the very end. The book is pretty short, but it makes up for its length by being entertaining. I generally enjoyed the narrator's point-of-view, with just a few issues here and there. Adrenaline Crush isn't a heavy story. It does deal with some tough subjects, but ultimately, the focus is lighthearted in that it is really about a young girl coming into herself and taking pride in who she really is.

For being as short as the novel is (under two-hundred pages), it does deal with some serious issues like heartbreak, and war, and mental illness. I liked the way the author handles the subjects--it's easy to misconstrue these subjects, but the author seemed to really have a good grasp on the basic ideals. It's nice to read a story that deface human struggle, or make it seem like a completely negative thing. Reading about these characters facing their problems head on was interesting, and true to the nitty-gritty of real life. 

It was great to see how large of a part the story Dyna's family was. Stories with close families, or families that become close after an ordeal are more enjoyable to me. Familial relationships always seem to be downplayed, and that makes me sad. I adored the personalities of Dyna's parents. They are sweet, but have a bit of a wild, thrill-seeking side (that their children definitely inherited) which can be seen through their tattoos, motorcycles, and behaviors. The characters in this story were pretty assorted in that sense, and that was nice to see. I think it's sad that parents in fiction so rarely have diverse appearances because in this day and age it's quite common.

Is this the best book ever written? No. It definitely had it's faults. Dyna was not the easiest character to root for. She could be selfish, and sometimes it was a bit difficult for me to understand her perspective. Partially because I am not adventurous/outdoorsy/etc, but also because she was often too immature for my tastes. Her insecurities could drive me insane, as did her romantic relationships. This book is also quite predictable in regards to Dyna's love life. The "love triangle" and Dyna's final choice were obvious to me just from the summary. While I am satisfied with her choice, it would be nice for a more realistic romance. That being said, I am fond of Adrenaline Crush. It was a unique story with a familiar lesson. I think those who give this book a shot will find something in it they can appreciate!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

Friday, October 24, 2014

ARC Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
296 Pages

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

This book was just what I needed. A light, cute, fun read.

Charlie is a tomboy. Growing up in a household with 3 brothers (4 if you include the neighbor boy, Braden) and no mother will do that to you. She loves every sport and plays every sport. There is not a girlie bone in her body. When she's forced to get a job at a local boutique after racking up some speeding tickets, she slowly gets pulled into the world of fashion and make-up and starts discovering her feminine side.

But that's the problem. How can she hide this side from her brothers who will surely ridicule her to no end? Instead, Charlie becomes two people: the "girl" while at work and the "tomboy" at home. But things start bleeding over, especially when Charlie brings home a date. Soon she's forced to decide which part of her is the real "Charlie" and what if it's both?

This was my first read from West and I enjoyed it. Yes, it had romantic elements but the focus was more on family. I loved scenes with her brothers (Gage in particular). They were hilarious and I believed that this family loved each other and would protect each other at any cost. Good thing the dad's a cop, right? And speaking of the dad, I liked how the author showed his struggle on how to raise a teenage girl. This was a family that worked.

But it is a YA romance, so of course there's a boy. Well,actually there's two. There's the one who she met while trying out this "girl" thing, then there's the one she's known since she was a child and who she has conversations in the middle of the night through the backyard fence with. Both were good guys, but one guess who my pick was. Yup, Braden. The boy next door. Her other brother. I adored Braden and was also amused at his jealousy. But aside from being the perfect choice for Charlie, I also loved how he was already part of the family. I could see the friendships between them all.

After reading this I am definitely interested in more from this author. Sometimes we just need these feel-good books. 
I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ARC Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
338 Pages

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

I will start out by saying that at first it was hard for me to separate this book from Marissa Meyer’s fairy tale series. Both take place in a very sci-fi heavy dystopian world. Both are based loosely on fairy tales we all know and love. Both involve royalty. However, as I read more into it, I was able to see the differences and come to appreciate Stitching Snow on its own.

Essie (not really a fan of the name) is on the run from her home planet and has found refuge on a small mining planet called Thanda. Here she builds drones that help the local miners. She flies under the radar mostly and that’s how she likes it. Until the day a ship crashes bringing treasure seeker Dane into her life. Against her will, Essie befriends Dane and helps him rebuild his ship. It isn’t until he’s about to leave that she realizes he was there for her the whole time.

Snow White is not one of my favorite fairy tales in all honesty. But we all know the story: evil stepmother is jealous of her stepdaughter and does everything in her power to get rid of her. So right away I knew not to trust the King’s wife, but it was the King that I was unsure about. Did he know what his wife had done (and was still doing), or was he just blissfully ignorant?

Then there’s Dane, the love interest. He was an interesting one – brooding, quiet, not quite honest. It was obvious from the start that he would be the one our heroine fell for, it just became a mystery of how considering her all but kidnapped her. I’ve read other reviews where people have said he was forgettable or just okay and I can see it. There wasn’t really anything amazing about it and I didn’t get feels when reading about him, but I liked that he was a solid character who changed and grew over the course of the book. A lot was thrown at him, most of it contradicting what he thought he already knew, and yet he still managed to handle everything.

But the character (or characters) that stole the book for me were the drones. All 7 of them (I’m sure you can figure out who they were supposed to be). I found this to be a very original way to portray the dwarves and I loved them. Cusser and Dimwit were standouts. Dimwit reminded me of Wall-E so much. Not going to lie – I want one. 

It’s not often that we have standalone books anymore, especially with fantasy novels. This was one where I wouldn’t mind having another book to just to wrap up everything and to see how Princess Snow unites the kingdom. 
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ARC Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
354 Pages

Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers - a skill at which she's remarkably talented. 

Her secret: she is blind. 

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. 

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

This is the first book that I've read by Sedgwick, and based on my experience, it will not be the last. She Is Not Invisible is a tale of familial bonds, strength, bravery, and coincidence. From the moment I heard about this unique story, I was determined to get my hands on a copy. Wendy, from The Midnight Garden, had been telling me to read something by this author for quite awhile and I'm ashamed that it took me so long to pick his work up!

From whatever viewpoint you look at, this story is imaginative. Laureth is a blind young adult, who is embarking on a huge adventure. Her father, once a renowned novelist, has disappeared. Sneaking away from her home in London with her little brother as her guide and companion, Laureth must use clues left behind, and brave New York to find her dad.

Some of the subjects that were brought up went over my head, but the intrigue of the plot kept me reading. The relationships between these family member also made this book that much better for me. Families in YA fiction are not generally shown as realistically as they are in this novel. Sure Laureth's family has their problems, but at the heart of it all, they have a deeply-rooted, unconditional love for one another. That is such a nice thing to see when so many recent books portray parents as dead/absent/abusive.

The plot is paced pretty slowly with quite a bit of build-up for the end. Though what the big mystery did not end exactly like I had expected, I still very much enjoyed this story. Laureth's point-of-view was mind-blowing. Her strength, as an individual struggling with a disability, astounded me. She does not want, nor need anyone's pity. She wants to be independent, and I sincerely admire that. The author does an excellent job of addressing the stigma of disability, and his character's struggle against is very well done.

She Is Not Invisible may have been my first book by this author, but trust me when I say, Sedgwick's other novels have become top priority on my to-read list! This book won't be for everyone, but I would still recommend giving it a shot. Unique, heartfelt and utterly captivating, She Is Not Invisible is a novel I won't soon forget, and is sure to leave its mark on readers.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pre-Release Celebration + Giveaway: Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Hey guys, I'm sure most of you have heard about this new book from author Brighton Walsh (if you haven't, get on it!). I must say, I just started reading it and I'm already in love with the characters (especially Cade). So thank you for joining me today in anticipation for the release of Caged in Winter. We have an excerpt from the book as well as a giveaway.


The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Berkeley Romance
304 Pages

In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

Open to US residents only

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“Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”
She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.
“Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”
“Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”
She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.
A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”
“Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.
“I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”
“In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”
I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”
“Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”
“No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”
“You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”
“You did not just do that.”
“Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”
Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.
I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”
Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.
I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. “I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.
“Want me to stop?”
I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.
“Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”
I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”
“Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”
“We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”
I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.
When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

Well, I definitely haven't gotten to that part yet! Whoa! A BIG thank you to everyone at Berkeley Romance for allowing me to participate in this awesome celebration!

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