Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Berkley Trade
304 Pages

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.


This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

Meet Ellie – a 21-year old virgin, not by choice. Her only goal is to lose the giant V that’s hanging over her. It’s not like she hasn’t tried. Oh no, she’s tried – multiple times and has failed each attempt. One tragic incident in high school dubbed the ‘Bite Job’ has scarred Ellie and now she’s that awkward girl in the corner at parties that doesn’t know how talk to boys. With the help of her new friend, Emma and her new gay BFF, Ellie makes a vow that she’s going to lose her virginity before she graduates from Uni. 

This book was a surprise. I’ve seen a few reviews comparing it to Bridget Jones but in my opinion this far surpasses it. Virgin takes the unknown, all the questions most of us have had at some time, and answers them with humor and wit. Everything from what type of wax should a girl get to how to give a proper BJ – this book covers it all. 

Ellie was slightly neurotic but I believe that people will connect with her whether it’s because she’s a 21 year old virgin or just her self-doubt that constantly plagues her. Sanghani calls out how in media most girls just know what to do and everything is perfect. Most girls on TV and in film and books that I’ve come across just automatically know how to give perfect head and are sexual goddesses when in reality most girls are struggling to find out how to even begin. Virgins are labeled as dorky and nerds or most often losers. Virgin shows us the other side of that – someone who’s far from perfect and who has a lot of questions. It also touches on how we girls have the ‘Prince Charming’ complex (thanks Disney) and that sometimes skews our view of what’s right in front of us. 

This book made me laugh, it made me cringe. There were times I wanted to hi-five Ellie and times I wanted to shake her and tell her to move on. This wasn’t a girl who was waiting for ‘the one’, she wasn’t even just waiting for ‘right now’. She was human and flawed and made wrong choices. It was nice to read that and also to have fun with it. I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends.  

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


Monday, August 11, 2014

ARC Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
368 Pages

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

Horror is such a hard genre to write, I feel. It takes timing and precision, along with just enough detail and imagination to pull it off. And then there are the characters – you need a hero to root for. Welcome to the Dark House took nightmares and made them real. And while some of the descriptions and scenarios definitely had the creep factor, it was lacking in character connections and a decent wrap up. 

Fans of horror master Justin Blake were asked to submit an essay telling him about their worst nightmare. From the entries, seven were picked to fly out and meet Justin Blake on location and get a sneak peek at his new movie – once they survive the Dark House. Our participants: Ivy, Parker, Garth, Shayla, Frankie, Natalie and Taylor. However, once they arrive, they realize things aren’t exactly what they seem.

I read this book in an eformat that was horrible. Going in I didn’t know that it was a multiple POV book and the copy that I had never alerted me when the change happened. I spent most of the book trying to figure out whose POV I was reading.  The fact that most of the characters were one dimensional, lacking any real characteristics, made it hard to keep them straight. It was fairly obvious from the beginning that Ivy was a protagonist, even though her voice got lost in the jumble a few times. Ivy was different from the rest because she wasn’t a fan of Blake’s. She was there for a completely different reason. She makes a connection with Parker and they become our hero/heroine mix. 

The climax of the story is when our characters enter a carnival built on their nightmares. In order to survive, each person must brave a ride tailored to his or her own fear. The fear sequences here were, in my opinion, the best part of the book. They were creepy with that nice shadow of a nightmare hanging over it. But the ending left me with too many questions.

What makes a good horror story ending is that moment when it all comes together and you realize why everything is happening and how it’s connected to the characters. I didn’t get that here. Now when I started this book I didn’t know it was going to be a series, but even after knowing that now, I still think Dark House needed a more rounded out ending. Why were they picked? Why did this happen to just them? Who is behind this, because it obviously wasn’t Blake? Where did Taylor go and why did she call them? Just why?

Even horror series have cohesive endings and this was lacking. I will read the second one mainly just to get some answers.

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Mead

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
380 Pages

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

I’m going to start things off by saying that I enjoy the Bloodlines series much more than I ever enjoyed Vampire Academy. The characters are more likeable and then there’s Adrian, who, honestly, was the best thing to come out of the former series. However, as much as I love Adrian and have grown to love Sydney, the latest installment in this series didn’t sit well with me. I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but just be warned, I will be mentioning past books.

The last book left us with our group in shambles. Sydney, having been betrayed by her family, was captured by the Alchemists and hauled off to their reeducation camp. Adrian is drowning his pain in alcohol. Jill, who is linked with Adrian, suffers his pain as well. Eddie feels guilty for Sydney getting caught since she was with him that night. Everyone is just basically depressed and down.

Silver Shadows jumps right in, opening with Sydney being held who knows where. She quickly realizes that the only way she may ever get out is to go along with what the Alchemists are selling. So she slowly begins reciting the words they want to hear, but not without some fall backs. Meanwhile, Adrian has been frantically searching his dreams every night hoping to get through to Sydney. With the help of Marcus, former Alchemist, they start narrowing down compounds where she could be held.

What I liked about this book was Sydney’s strength. I felt in the last book it was missing slightly. She became more the love-sick girl that is in every YA book. It was nice to see her surrounded by her “people”, yet not really a part of them. She held true to what she believed in and even though she kept putting herself in more danger, she stayed true to what we have come to know her as: a helper and a leader. 

What I didn’t like was basically the whole ending. It felt wrong and completely out of character for both parties involved. I didn’t know where she was going to take the story, but I definitely didn’t expect it to go there. So I guess that is a plus on the fact that this was anything but predictable. But I didn’t enjoy the last few chapters as much as I enjoyed the rest. 

However, the plot point that was brought up on the very last page does give me hope that the final installment will be up to par. And also, can we get an Eddie book? I’m in love with that character and am so happy whenever we get more of him.

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Real" Book Challenge July Recap

Real Book Challenge on Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

So July came and went super fast. Between Comic Con and moving I hardly had time for anything else, especially readying. I was only able to read 3 books to count toward my goal.

Total So Far: 46
Current Level: Real Book Hoarder

Next month, I'm hitting Queen for sure!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cover Reveal: Night Sky (Night Sky #1) by Suzanne Brockman

I am excited today to join Sourcebooks Fire and Suzanne Brockmann in releasing the cover of the first book in a new series, Night Sky. It sounds to be full of action, magic, and suspense. Three things that make for a good series. Can't wait to see how this one turns out to be!

 The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
 Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
496 Pages
In Night Sky, sixteen-year-old Skylar Reid is thrown into a strange world when she discovers that she has unique telekinetic and telepathic powers. After Sasha, the child she babysits, is kidnapped and believed to be murdered, Sky and her best friend Calvin are approached by Dana, a mysterious girl who has super-abilities similar to Sky’s. With the help of Dana and her sidekick Milo, the four teens — two from the rich part of town, and two living hand-to-mouth on the streets — embark on a quest to discover who killed Sasha, and to bring the killers to justice.

With Dana as Skylar’s surly and life-toughened mentor, Sky attempts to harness her powers to aid them in their quest. Complicating an already complex relationship with the older girl, Sky starts to fall for the dangerously handsome and enigmatic Milo–and begins to suspect that the attraction is mutual. But then Sky realizes that Sasha might still be alive, and the unlikely foursome’s mission becomes one of search and rescue, pitting the heroic teens against a very deadly enemy.

Night Sky is the first book in a YA trilogy set in the same dark future as Suzanne Brockmann’s Born to Darkness, a New York Times bestselling hardcover, published last year as the first installment in her Fighting Destiny series. Night Sky has the same mix of suspense, romance, humor, and the paranormal, and deals with many of the same themes, including society’s relentless exploitation and devaluation of females, and the empowerment that comes when women and girls recognize their strength and intellect, and stand up, fight back, and save the day.

Big thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Suzanne Brockmann for allowing Book Jems to join them in this release!  

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.

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