Sunday, May 30, 2010

Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter Review

Author: Ryan Potter
Age: Young Adult (perhaps 14+)
Release date: March 1st, 2010
Pages: 312
Source: Author
Looming above Zach Ramsey's hometown of Blaine are the smokestacks of the truck assembly plant, the greasy lifeblood of this Detroit suburb. Surrounded by drunks, broken marriages, and factory rats living in fear of the pink slip, Zach is getting the hell out of town after graduation. But first, he's going to enjoy the summer before senior year.

Getting smashed with his best friend Tank and falling in love for the first time, Zach's having a blast until he uncovers dark secrets that shake his faith in everyone--including Tank, a wrestler whose violent mood swings betray a shocking habit.

As he gets pulled deeper into an ugly scandal, Zach is faced with the toughest decision of his life--one that will prove just what kind of adult he's destined to be.
Review: Realistic, unique, and totally awesome debut novel.

Onto the story, Exit Strategy is really Zach's coming of age story, mixed in with a lot of scandal, secrets, and a bit of romance. It all starts with what seems like an easy enough task for Zach to complete, and that's when everything goes downhill. Soon enough, Zach's falling for Sarah, Tank's twin sister, and everything he ever thought he knew is falling to pieces. After all, everyone has secrets...but Zach's just now discovering them all, and he feels like it's up to him to do something about it all. 

I have to say, Tank Foster (Zach's best friend) definitely stole the show at some points. His character was so intriguing, and I was always wondering when he'd snap. Zach was a great character as well. His personality seemed legitimate, and his voice seemed real. He has flaws, and he's not perfect, but he is still very likable. Potter describes all of his characters nicely, giving you the perfect idea of just what these characters are like and who they are.

Exit Strategy is filled with enough subplots to keep the story moving at a nice pace (and yet they never left me confused). This is one of those books where I can't tell you much (unless I want to spoil the plot), but I can say that it was a great, realistic story and worthwhile to read. 

Highlights: Potter creates a realistic and well developed character with Zach. The plot never ceased to be interesting and entertaining. I also loved how the ending wasn't your average ending, because it really makes the book stand out more.

Lowlights: Hmm...I guess I wanted a bit more of the romance angle? But honestly, I'm not complaining. 


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pretty Little Liars Secret Keeper Contest

Yep, I'm a secret keeper!

I was chosen to participate in a game revolving around Pretty Little Liars, in honor of the television series (premieres June 8th, don't miss it!). Naturally, I was all for it.
The Box!!
When my package came Tuesday morning, I opened it up to find quite the surprise...
Dirt. With a plastic covering saying "Some secrets you have to dig for.  -A"

After lifting this off, and digging through the dirt, I pulled out an iPhone (with some preloaded content like pictures, contact info for my fellow liars), charger/earphones, and a super secret object that I'm not allowed to talk about right now (and when I saw it, I was confused...and still am confused about it's significance, but I'm sure A will tell us what it's all about in time).
I'm Hanna!
In the game, we're all playing as different characters (40 people in groups of 4, with one Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily in each group). A sends us texts, with challenges we need to complete or else she'll spill our secrets (and we only get 10)! The game will go from May 24th to June 18th, so I'll definitely be sure to keep you all updated on what's happening!

I completed my first challenge on Tuesday, after quite a bit of web searching. I've got to admit, the A who's sending the messages is just as creepy as "book" A...

But A has sent a message on Facebook today saying to get ready with our fans, readers, and friends, because another challenge is coming up. Soon.

If you want to help, be prepared, because I might be posting soon asking/begging for help!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas Review

Author: Donna Freitas
Age: Young Adult (YA)
Release date: May 25th, 2010
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher in exchange for review
Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?
Review: This Gorgeous Game is simple, and slightly haunting. 

When Olivia wins a writing competition, she's honored and excited to be taken under the wing of Father Mark Brendan. The talented writer helps hone her writing skills, and she begins to feel like she's the luckiest person in the world until Father Mark's attentions turn into obsession. He calls too much, writes too much, sends too many packages. Yet the one he wants her to read most of all, a story he's written, Olivia can't bear to read the words because she fears what they will say...

Olivia seemed a bit bland at first, but then I grew to enjoy her narrative more. Father Mark's was especially intriguing, and the pacing with his character and the creepiness was perfect. I really couldn't help but to sympathize with Olivia, considering that she's grown up trusting these priests, letting them act as her own "father" figures, and so it did take her some time before she realized Father Mark's ulterior motive. 

With a slight eerie feel, This Gorgeous Game sends a shiver down your spine as the pages turn.

Highlights: The pacing was quick, and the creepy feel of the story grows gradually.  I think the author got the eerie feel just right. Olivia's actions at the end were slow coming, but I was pleased with the result. 

Lowlights: The plot could have been developed more, and some of the characters seemed underdeveloped as well. A few characters seemed entirely unbelievable. I also really disliked the complete and utter clueless attitudes that all the characters had, and I'm still shocked that no one could have realized this earlier on. 


Saturday, May 22, 2010

In My Mailbox 27

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren

For Review:
The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (not pictured, as a part of Other Shelf Tours)
This is Me from Now On by Barbara Dee (Thank you Barbara!)
Deception by Lee Nichols (Thank you Kate!)

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead (Ahhh! It's awesome so far!!)

Received From Tera (thanks!):
Splash Team kit (bookmarks, button, and tattoos) for Tera Lynn Childs upcoming Forgive My Fins novel

And that's it! Hope everyone has been having a wonderful weekend! :)


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Age: Young Adult (YA)
Release date: March 16th, 2010
Pages: 244
Source: Borrowed
Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Bianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

Review: This book was my first attempt at reading an Elizabeth Scott novel, and it was almost my last.

The characters in this story are kind of blah, boring. The writing is great, it's easy to see that her writing is wonderful and engaging, but I couldn't connect with or even like the characters. Ryan? I didn't like the guy. I thought he was too weak to do the right thing, and a complete moron to top it off. Sarah is quiet, loyal and soft spoken...which is why I'm surprised I was having a hard time connecting with her. Briana is a lot like a girl I knew in high school, so I cannot deny that she was definitely a realistic character. It seemed like Scott attempted to make us sympathize with her by giving us reasons for why she is the way she is, but I could hardly care less. 

The story, however, was slow. Sarah spends the whole novel going "Oh, I feel so bad" or "I really like Ryan" or "I wonder when Ryan is going to tell Brianna that they're over and he likes me instead" (I'm paraphrasing, since I'm too lazy to double check). It took too long. The only thing that kept me reading was the insistance that Scott was a fabulous writer, but the plot/characters dragged the story down.

Highlights: While I wasn't fond of the characters, some of them are realistic. I could easily go to any place in my city and find a Brianna. Plus, Scott's writing is wonderful. Even when I didn't want to continue, I couldn't stop. Her writing is just my style, and it's weird that I even liked it when I disliked the novel. 

Lowlights: Plot. Slowness. Annoying characters who can't seem to be honest or discuss anything. Boring. In the end, I felt like I wasted my time with reading The Unwritten Rule. My biggest complaint is just that the idea wasn't strong enough to carry the entire story, and the characters were completely frustrating. 



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black Review

White Cat 
Holly Black
May 4th, 2010
310 pages (hardcover)
Publisher - McElderry
Source - Borrowed/Bought
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Addictive, deadly, and a bit surprising, White Cat delivers an excellent and intriguing story.

For my first time reading a Holly Black book, I wasn't disappointed. Cassel has a lot to sort out, especially since he's discovering lies and loose ends everywhere he turns. After waking up from a sleepwalking incident, he's starting to discover more things about his family than he can even imagine. Cassel's brother's are hiding something from him, and figuring everything out will take every con that he has in him.

When it comes to the plot, it is fairly easy to see what's coming next. However, it was still very enjoyable. I'm going to try to keep this review spoiler free, because it there are a few surprises tossed in. Black's writing keeps you addicted, and wanting to learn more about the curse workers and the abilities they all have. Even the end, I knew what was coming, but the way it played out surprised me.

Highlights: Sympathizing with Cassel was easy. He was always being left out of all the secrets and conversations, which is easy enough to relate to. After finishing  White Cat, I desperately wanted more. I also really liked the ideas behind curse workers, just a touch and someone can change your memories, kill you, harm you, et cetera. It was completely fascinating.

Lowlights: A lot was very predictable. It tends to bother me when I can see a storyline coming from the first fifty pages. I want surprises, and shocks (there were some, so I was pleased). There were also some blah, boring moments. Yet, as a whole, I was enjoying this story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

The Tension of Opposites
Kristina McBride
May 25th, 2010
288 pages
Source - Publisher
When Tessa's best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eight grade, Tessa's life changes completely--she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa's life is about to change again as she tries to revive the best-friendship the two girls had shared before Noelle--now Elle--was kidnapped; puts up a futile resistance to the charming new guy at school; pursues her passion for photography while trying to build the bravado to show her photos to the public; and tries to balance her desire to protect and shelter Elle with the necessity to live her own life and put herself first.
When Noelle, or now Elle, shows up after being kidnapped two years later, Tessa's world begins to change. The girl she used to know just isn't the same: she's harsher, more distant, and even looks different. But Tessa refuses to let their friendship drift away, even when at first Noelle wants nothing to do with her. I can't even imagine what both girls went through, and the people that have actually lived this. On the one side, you've got Tessa, who lost her best friend and consequently felt horrible and guilty about ever living her own life to the fullest. On the other, you have Elle, who lived through a life of hell.

The emotion in The Tension of Opposites is raw, real, and heartbreaking. This story isn't all dark, so fear not romance lovers, because a sweet boy makes an appearance as he tries to get Tessa to not only fall for him, but also live for herself. There are dark moments, but there are also enough cheerful, sweet moments to balance the novel out so you do not get overwhelmed.

Highlights: The plot definitely grabs you, and forces you to pay attention. The pages turn quickly with this debut novel, and McBride keeps you curious as to why Elle didn't escape sooner, and the answer really tugged at my heartstrings. McBride is capable of doing something spectacular: making you care about the characters.

Lowlights: Sometimes, Tessa seemed just a bit too bland. Sure, she was a photographer, but she needed more of a spark, a dash of a bit more personality. I also really wanted more about Elle, and more with the relationship between her and Tessa. 

Image from Goodreads, Summary from Egmont USA

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

WOW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine

Book: Linger (sequel to Shiver)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release date: July 20th, 2010
Summary: Didn't have time to post one! Check out the link above, but in the meantime also check out the trailer below!

Isn't that trailer awesome? Linger looks like it's going to be spectacular!! What are you waiting on?


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks Review

Age: Young Adult/Adult
Release date: September 8, 2009
Pages: 390
Source: Bought
Seventeen-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, particularly her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she and her younger brother spent the summer with him in North Carolina.

Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will be the centerpiece of a local church. Resentful and rebellious, Ronnie rejects all of his attempts to reach out to her and threatens to return to New York before the summer's end. But soon Ronnie meets Will, the town's local heartthrob, and the last person she thought she'd ever be attracted to. As Ronnie slowly lets her guard down, she finds herself falling deeply in love, opening herself up to the greatest happiness--and pain--that she has ever known.
Review: This is my first time reading a Nicholas Sparks novel, and I definitely was not disappointed.

The novel is told in third person, with four different narration changes. Ronnie, Steve (Ronnie's father), Will (the love interest), and Marcus (the creeper, to put it bluntly).

Ronnie first comes across as a sullen teenager, itching to have some freedom now that's she done with school. Instead, she's stuck with her little brother Jonah and her father Steve for the summer. Barely even a few minutes after she arrives, she wanders off to the festival in town. It's there that she meets Will, Blaze, and Marcus.

From there, the summer really begins. Drama, betrayal, friendship and heartbreak all follow. This is one of those novels that tugs softly at your heartstrings.

Highlights: The change in narration helped keep the story moving, and helped to really give me a feel for everything that was happening. Also, and more importantly, the message of honesty. So many relationships in this story had been hindered because the characters hadn't been honest, and I was especially upset with one in particular. The characters were also very realistic, which I enjoyed.

Lowlights: At times, it all felt like a bit too much was happening. Also, I really seemed to grow bored of Steve's narration, and actually would have preferred more of Marcus. I was also very upset with Ronnie's mother, for reasons known later in the story, and the consequences of her actions.

Movie comments: Great movie, Miley Cyrus did better as Ronnie than I expected. A few characters weren't portrayed well, though (like Marcus-who always looked wasted, Scott was horrible, and same with Blaze). Liam Hemsworth did well, and I was pleasantly surprised because I thought he really captured Will perfectly. But Bobby Coleman (Jonah) and Greg Kinnear (Steve) stole the show. Some bits here and there are different, but the movie is still, overall, enjoyable.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

In My Mailbox 26

I am now officially (seriously) off of Hiatus!!! YES!! I'll be taking it easy for this week, though, because I'm now preparing for finals next week. However, you can all expect a couple reviews this week! 

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren

For Review:
This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas (Thanks Ksenia!)
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Thanks Penguin! The cover is gorgeous!)
Prophecy of Days by Christy Raedeke (Thanks Tricia!)

Random Gift from a relative:
Night Runner by Max Turner (aren't those eyes intense?)

Won (Thanks Tera!!):
Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs (signed to me)
Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs (signed to me! How cool!)

And that's it! 

Also, if you've ever dropped by the blog before, you might have noticed the different template! What do you guys think? I love how bright and fresh it looks, just in time for summer! :)

Glad to be back!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Just One More Week Off (I Promise!)

All right, so I've seriously been slacking on the blog, but I promise once I get my last presentation/essay assignments done, then I'll be right back on track with posts.

I promise to start posting again on either this Saturday night or sometime on Sunday with an IMM (and a BUNCH of reviews I'll have to schedule for the next few weeks!!) post.

I hope you all haven't been stressed too much with work/school! And to those of you with finals, good luck! :)