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What Light — Jay Asher

13 Dec

whatlight

 

Publisher: Razorbill
Released: Oct 18th, 2016
Genre: YA
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

From Goodreads

This is the PERFECT December read if you are into YA love stories that are just awesome. It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of romance books but love stories, if done well, just suck me right in. I sat down with What Light and didn’t get up until I finished it. Folks, I’m talking no pee breaks. I read it all at once and was kind of sad when it was over.

I love that the plot wasn’t overly complicated or overly done, and it drew me right in. Asher doesn’t need a whole lot of bells and whistles. His writing is on point and the plot believable. My test of whether or not a love story is believable is if I roll my eyes at all while reading. And I didn’t. I really cared about Sierra and Caleb and their relationship. I felt invested in their story and whether or not they’d make it. They were believable characters, both flawed in their own way.

And as I already mentioned, the writing is awesome. I was so into it that I had to make myself slow down so that I was really reading the words, not just skimming. And to me, this is always the sign of awesome writing.

 

The Love that Split the World — Emily Henry

19 Sep

split

 

Publisher: Razorbill
Released: Jan 26th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

From Goodreads

I love, love, LOVE how this book starts. Right in the middle of the story, no preamble or backstory or lead in. Just BAM! there you are. Why this works so well is that it really gave me a sense of being off balanced, which is how Natalie feels for a large part of the book. Things are going on, weird things, and she isn’t sure why. Or even what sometimes. So the opening really put me in the middle of her feelings, and I just loved that.

The friendship between Natalie and her best friend Megan was spot on. As was the dialogue. So realistic and snappy and fun. But these two had a deep bond and that came across strongly, even during the moments of banter.

The timey wimey stuff was cool, too, although I have to admit I didn’t 100% understand it. And I’m not sure what happens at the end of the book. But I think that is more about me than the story or the writing. I tend to have a hard time wrapping my brain around that kind of thing.

Even though I was a bit unsure about the ending, I really, really enjoyed this book.

 

Robbed of Soul — Lois D. Brown — Blog Tour

3 Mar

robbedofsoul

Released: January 1st, 2015
Genre: Mystery
Source: eBook for review from author

 

 

 

Rescued but psychologically damaged from a failed mission, ex-CIA officer Maria Branson takes the job of police chief in the quiet town of Kanab, Utah. Rest and relaxation are the doctor’s orders. She gets neither. Instead, a missing mayor, the spirit of a dead Aztec warrior, and the over-confident-yet-attractive head of Search and Rescue await her in a town whose past has almost as many secrets as her own. As Maria investigates a modern-day murder, she disturbs a world of ancient legends and deadly curses. Yet most lethal of all is Maria’s fear someone will discover just how empty her soul really is.

Whether you’re interested in the treasures of Montezuma, enjoy squeaky clean mysteries, or have a soft spot for light romance and suspense, Robbed of Soul fits the bill.

From Goodreads

OMG guys, so you know how I’m not a super fan of romance and sometimes I don’t read a book because I have a sneaking suspicion that the level of romance will make me all cranky and such? When I agreed to review Robbed of Soul, I knew that it was technically a romantic suspense. Or romantic mystery. Anyhoo, I knew that there was romance in it. But I LOVED the cover and the premise and thought “Hey, let’s give it a try.” And I am so happy that I did. Because this was an awesome read and it was super light on the romance. There was just enough of the boy-girl stuff to make the characters more rounded and believable but not enough that it took over from the main story.

And the main story? Well, there are technically two: the missing mayor and the search years ago for Montezuma’s treasure. I really liked how these two stories were running parallel to each other and how they were interconnected. It didn’t seem forced at all and really upped the element of mystery and suspense in the book.

As did Maria’s past. We are slowly let in on what happened on her failed mission and why she ended up so damaged. I spent a lot of the book trying to figure out on my own what had happened to her. I love mystery books where I really don’t know the full story and I’m left wondering for a while. I also like when the reveal finally happens and it totally makes sense.

I really liked Maria as a character. She was definitely damaged, but she didn’t come of as weak or whiny. I also really liked Rod, although he didn’t seem nearly as overbearing or overconfident as Maria thought he was. I would have liked to have seen more interaction with Beth. She seemed like a really interesting character, but we don’t see her a lot.

I loved this book and was a bit bummed when it ended. I wanted more!  If you are a fan of interesting mysteries with just the teensiest bit of romance, then I think you’re going to want to pick this one up.

Bargains and Betrayals – Shannon Delany

12 Oct

So, you know when you’re reading a series and you’re thinking “Okay, not blowing me away, but not horrible either. Think I’ll keep going.”? I have to admit, that’s where I was with Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life Series, published by St Martin’s Press. If you read my review of the first two books then you know I had some issues with both of them.  But man, I frigging LOVED Bargains and Betrayals. I mean it. The issues I had with the first two books vanished. This was a kick ass, well written YA paranormal book.

The main issue I had with the first two books (don’t read any further if you haven’t read them) was the whole Pietr dating Sarah but smooching Jessie all the time story-line. I felt that it just didn’t groove with either Jessie or Pietr’s personality. I’m so beyond happy that that was taken care of at the end of the second book.

I also felt that the pacing was a heck of a lot more even in this book. Never once did I feel that things were happening way to face. Yes, things happened quickly, but it felt like it was the right speed.

I loved that the book switched from Jessie’s point of view to Alexi’s point of view. It really, for me, showed off Shannon’s mad writing skillz. Alexi’s sections were written so differently from Jessie’s, something that’s hard to do. But Shannon does it flawlessly. Never once did I get confused about whose section I was reading.

A lot of the mystery that’s introduced in the first two books is explained, but in no way are things wrapped up nicely. I mean, Holy cliffhanger. It left me yelling “Nooooo, I need to know moooooore!”

So, yeah, sometimes when you aren’t in love with a series, it pays to stick with it. Because I so can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Secrets and Shadows – Shannon Delany

10 Oct

I wanted to love this book. But I didn’t. I liked it, though. For the most part. But, there were things in Secrets and Shadows that just made me kinda unhappy. If you haven’t read the first book but plan to, then read no further. I’m about to get a bit spoilerish on ya.

I really, REALLY had issues with the whole Sarah-Pietr-Jessie story line. To the point that I almost didn’t finish the book. I guess I just didn’t get it. Jessie said Pietr had to stay with Sarah as a favour to Jessie. But they still snuck around for a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. I thought it was mean. And childish. So, yeah, I really, really didn’t like this aspect of the book.

I also felt that the middle of the book was a bit of an info dump. There was A LOT of stuff thrown at readers and for me it just put the pacing of the book way, way off. Sure, it was information that we needed to know, but the quantity that was unleashed in a few chapters left me feeling unbalanced.

But the ending! Wow did it ever draw me in. A bit of a cliffhanger, as soon as I finished I immediately wanted to start the next book, Bargains and Betrayals. Which I did. So in the end, I’d have to recommend this book, especially after finishing the next one. (review to come tomorrow)

Thanks so much to St. Martins Press for the review copies.

Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

31 Jan

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: June, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal, romance
Gifted from the wonder Bella.

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

From St. Martin’s Press website.

*This review is slightly spoilerish*

While it may seem like I drool over every YA book out there, it’s not true. Honestly. Each year there are actually only a hand-full of YA books that I must read or I’ll die a slow, painful, whinny death. Well, not really but that’s what it feels like. 13 to Life was one of those books that I desperately wanted to read. When Bella from Bella’s Bookshelf sent it to me as part of a book swap I was uber-excited. There may have been some screaming.

Any-hoo I pretty much instantly dug into it and I wasn’t really disappointed. Sure, there were a couple of things that niggled at me a bit, but they weren’t monstrous enough to make me not enjoy the book.

I loved the mystery surrounding the Rusakova family. Who were they? What was their story, really? From the moment we meet Pietr, it’s obvious the boy is hiding some deep, dark secret. And then we meet the rest of the clan, and, well, things get even more secretive.

Jessie was a solid female lead, but, well, she does some things that just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and seemed a bit mean. And here’s where the spoilery stuff comes in, so if you haven’t read the book you may not want to read the rest of the review.

Jessie likes Pietr. Pietr likes Jessie. But Jessie’s best friend Sarah also likes Pietr. So Jessie says she’s stepping back and tells Pietr to date Sarah even though he wants to date Jessie. He does. But then he spends the rest of the book sneaking kisses with Jessie and spending as much time with her as possible. Not really a nice thing to do to a friend. I mean, if you say you’re going to step back, then step back! I really liked Jessie and Pietr as a couple but I was put off by this weird love-triangle. The reason Jessie does this is explained, but I just didn’t think it was a strong enough explanation.

I also found the pacing a bit off at places. Things happened quickly and emotions and feelings changed in the blink of an eye. And before anyone says anything, I know teens can be moody little beasts, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I found at certain parts of the novel (like the Homecoming dance) that it went from crying to laughing to angry back to crying way too fast for me to feel vested in any of it.

With that being said, I really, really enjoyed 13 to Life. The plot and, like I said, the mystery of the story kept my attention. In fact, I stayed up until 4 am finishing the book in one sitting. It ended in a major cliff hanger and even though I’m on a bit of a book buying ban, I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, Secrets and Shadows, when it comes out in February.

Oh, and I in case you aren’t quite sure how much I liked this book, I’m also part of the MAX-imum Exposure Tour. On February 1tth, I’ll get the chance to interview Max, Pietr’s older brother. Tres cool.

Review and giveaway: Purpose by Kristie Cook

17 Dec

Publisher: Ang’dora Productions
Released: December 15th, 2010
Genre: Adult paranormal, romance
For review from author

Defending souls is her purpose…but can she save her own?

Lost in despair, Alexis teeters on the edge of an abyss, her lifeline of hope fraying into a thin thread. If it snaps, she’ll plunge into complete darkness. With the help of her son and her writing, she’s been able to hold on. Until now. Erratic impulses, disturbing delusions and her own demonic blood threaten her sanity. When she’s forced to choose between hanging onto hope or letting go to serve her Amadis purposes, she faces a decision with inconceivable sacrifices.

Alexis runs to the one place she thinks will provide answers, only to find herself at the center of another battle of good versus evil, not only with the Daemoni, not only within herself…but also against the worst opponent imaginable. But even if she wins, what will she lose?

From the author’s website.

*Disclaimer*
I know I said this review would be up yesterday and that had been my plan. But my crappy mattress and insomnia banded together and my brain was like mush. If I had written the review yesterday it would have sounded much like all the adults in the Peanut cartoons.

I love when a sequel blows me away. You know, when you enjoyed the first book in the series, but then you hit the next book and it’s like “Whoa, this is some great stuff!”.  Well, that’s what happened when I read Kristie Cooke’s second book in her Soul Savers series, Purpose.

I really, really liked this book. Really, really. While there is some romance in it, it wasn’t as romancey as the first book and that was just fine by me.  There was more mythos, action and bad guys and a lot more Owen (who, BTW, is my fave).

Purpose takes place a few years after Promise, and Alexis is not in a good place. I think my only issue with the book was that the first third of it was so frigging depressing. I honestly wanted to reach into the pages and shake the crap out of Alexis. She wanders around pretty depressed and teary-eyed for the first part of the book. She’s gone through something pretty traumatic and can’t seem to get over it. I just wish she hadn’t been quite as gloomy as she was. But she does eventually snap out of it, and for me that’s when the book really took off.

The writing in Purpose was better than the writing in Promise. I know that seems like a bit of an obnoxious thing to say, but it’s true. While Promise wasn’t badly written, there just seemed to be a better to flow to the writing in Purpose. Kristie was really in a cool writing grove.

I think some people that read and enjoyed Promise for the romance may be a bit surprised that Purpose isn’t as romance based. At least it didn’t seem that way to me. And for a chick who prefers her paranormal with just a dash of romance, it was the perfect balance.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!

Yay! So, I have one copy of Purpose to give away to a lucky reader. All you have to do is comment below and let me know of a sequel that  you enjoyed more than the first book or what sequel you are most looking forward to (beside Purpose) in 2011. The contest is open to Canada and the US and I’ll pick the winner on Christmas eve.*

*Yeah, so I’m going to extend this contest until the 8th of January because I took a bit of a blog break and so wasn’t promoting it.