Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young

Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young (@suzanne_young)
Published: April 30th, 2013
Series: Chantress #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Simon Pulse
POV: 1st person
Pages: 408
Format: Ebook
Source: PulseIt
Rating: Tea Party
"In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them." 

Highlights: A story where a suicide epidemic forces adults to take drastic measures to "fix" their children with The Program? This claustrophobic, futuristic world is kind of horrifying, but it's hard to look away once you start The Program. The relationship between Sloane and James is utterly endearing and genuine. I believe it when these two are together -- their connection, their feelings, all of it is very well written. Sloane's memories of her brother were sweet and sad. For a story set in a world that stifles emotions, Sloane's life is a whirlwind of emotion, and I felt every bit of it. 

Lowlights: Realm, and the weak romance he had with Sloane. I felt a bit disconnected to Sloane's character, so nothing bad that happened to or around her ever made a lasting, meaningful impact on me. I had trouble connecting because Sloane seems to have no personality, and all I really know about her is that she loves James. I'm also curious to know more about how the suicide epidemic came about. It seems to me that teens that are committing suicide because all of the adults are forcing them to it, so I'm not sure if I buy into that aspect of the story.

Rating: Tea Party: Liked, 3+ out of 5. Despite the issues I had with this novel, I still really liked The Program. From what I've been able to gather, I seem to be in the minority with this book, since many people seemed to genuinely love it. So, if you're in any way curious, I say go for it! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: FALLING INTO PLACE by Amy Zhang

Title: Falling Into Place
Author: Amy Zhang (@amyzwrites)
Published: September 9th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA Contemporary
POV: omniscient narrator, past / present
Pages: 304
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

In all honesty, I'm always incredibly wary when it comes to novels written by very young authors. While young authors are usually capable of capturing an honest, youthful voice, their books rarely leave me thinking about the writing or story. I cannot even remember the last time I read a novel by a young author that I genuinely loved. So, going into this book, I was very critical and doubtful that the story would be anything special.

I was incredibly, foolishly wrong to have doubts. Fortunately, Amy Zhang's debut is the exception to my past experience with novels written by young authors. Not only does Falling Into Place feature realistic, flawed characters, it also manages to touch on a myriad of emotions and leave readers thinking about the story long after it finishes. The narration jumps around, following who Liz Emerson used to be, who she is, and how the people around Liz see her. Such a narration gives readers a glimpse into Liz, her friends, and her family. 

Highlights: Such a non-linear story could easily become confusing, but Zhang skillfully makes the structure of this story work. While this is Liz's story, it also revolves around Julia, Kennie (her best friends), Liam (a boy who likes Liz, despite her wrongdoings), and her mother. The focus jumps around to a few other characters, but it sticks with the previously mentioned ones the most. Zhang reveals Liz through them, and peels back the layers to all of their perfect facades. This is a story about people at their best and worst, and the way we see and treat each other. 

Lowlights: The ending seemed a bit abrupt. I never cared for any of the characters, but that distance didn't bother me too much (although, I would imagine that it would bother some readers).  

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf: 4+ out of 5. If you are in any way curious about this novel, I would urge you to check it out and give it a chance. Falling Into Place is an outstanding story that deserves to be on your to-be-read list, I'd highly recommend it. 

I received an electronic advanced copy of this novel for review consideration. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: ROOMS by Lauren Oliver

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: September 23rd, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: Adult Paranormal
POV: 1st & 3rd, multiple
Pages: 320
Publisher: Ecco
Format: Print ARC
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

I've been a fan of Lauren Oliver's work since I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced review of her debut, Before I Fall. Since then, I've devoured all of her books, and happily purchased them so I could savor her writing style. Oliver has a way with words, and the ability to evoke strong emotions through her work. Rooms, Oliver's first adult novel, does not disappoint, but it also did not quite live up to my expectations. 

Told in the first person POV's of Alice and Sandra (ghosts in the recently deceased Richard Walker's house), and in third person POV's from Walker's ex-wife Caroline, his daughter Minna, his son Trenton, and granddaughter Amy. Needless to say, there's a lot switching between characters and POV style, and yet Oliver never lets it become confusing. Each character has their own specific tone, and way of thinking / speaking. And, they each have their own secrets, which are quickly unraveled as the new living residents clear out the rooms of this old house.

Highlights: Evocative and gritty, Oliver displays her characters as who they are - they try to keep up appearances, but underneath, they are broken or breaking. None of them are perfect, and only little Amy seems to be the purest, sweetest of them all. The secrets uncovered at the end were heartbreaking, and made the rest of the story make sense as the pieces of the puzzle came together.

Lowlights: I felt distanced from the characters. I'm used to getting swept up in Oliver's work, so that distance was unfortunate. I know that Oliver can write unlikable characters and still make me care (such as in Before I Fall), but with Rooms, I found myself growing bored with the story and characters. The only reason I didn't stop reading was because I wanted to see how it ended, and because I enjoy the way Oliver writes. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5). I highly enjoyed Rooms, but I was expecting a bit more from a Lauren Oliver novel. Regardless, this story is definitely worth checking out. 

My Reviews Of Other Works By Lauren Oliver

I received an advanced copy of this novel for review consideration 
This is in no way affected my opinion of this novel.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (153): THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Doller
June 2nd, 2015 from Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia Wells just wants to live up to her namesake. She wants adventure.

Cadie, as everyone calls her, is a recent high school graduate, who lives in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother. Since her mom died three years ago, Cadie's spent most of her time working in her dad's grocery store, going to school, taking care of the household, and raising her little brother. Then, one night, Cadie goes to a campfire party at the state park where she meets a couple of cute guys who are on a road trip. They invite her to accompany them—just the adventure she's been craving. But what starts out as a fun, sexy trip turns frightening when she discovers that one of the boys is not at all the wholesome boy she fell for

I will read anything by Trish Doller - her work is always honest and outstanding, so I am incredibly excited for this book! The wait for this novel is going to be so frustrating.... 

What are you waiting on? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: ILLUSIONS OF FATE by Kiersten White

Title: Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White (@kierstenwhite)
Published: September 9th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA fantasy
POV: 1st person
Pages: 288
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

For such a short novel, there is so much happening in Illusions of Fate. White builds the setting, which has a bit of a historical vibe, wondrously. It is both familiar and other, and the magic system that is in place in this world is equally fascinating and well written. Jessamin is a dedicated scholar from the island of Melei, studying on Albion in hopes of gaining more knowledge. From the first chapter, she displays her sharp, endearing sense of humor and her good intentions. She's a fiercely determined girl, so when she finds herself wrapped up in a magical feud, Jessamin uses her natural strengths to figure out the best way to solve everyone's problems. Illusions of Fate is a wonderful story filled with action, excitement, humor, romance, and one seriously awesome bird. 

Highlights: Jessamin is a strictly normal girl living in a city with magic, and it's fantastic to read a story where the heroine must rely on herself and her intelligence to get out of messy situations. Plus, she's incredibly amusing, making her voice a fun one to read. Side characters are incredibly well done, from Eleanor (who is so much more than you'd initially expect) to Lord Downpike (who is incredibly creepy). The setting of Albion is vividly brought to life, as is Melei, despite the fact that Melei is a setting we never really get to visit within the story. White creates the perfect balance between dark, intense moments and light, amusing ones, which makes this a fantastic story overall.

Lowlights: I feel like the romance developed strangely - I can't really wrap my head around it. I wish the story had been a bit longer, it would have been nice to spend more time with Jessamin, Eleanor, Finn, and Sir Bird. Also, my favorite side character was murdered1, so thanks for breaking my heart, Kiersten White. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf (4.3 out of 5)Illusions of Fate is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a few small issues, and would absolutely recommend Illusions of Fate to other readers.

1 Why do author's keep killing the best side characters?! *cries*

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review consideration. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Out Sick: Be Back Soon

Hello everyone!

I'm currently feeling not-so-great, and I decided to take a few days off blogging. I'll hopefully be back very soon and will catch up on commenting then. 

As a side note, I have two giveaways for fabulous books in progress, so check them out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Giveaway & Interview: Kiersten White

Thanks to Rosanne at HarperCollins, I had the opportunity to ask Kiersten White some questions (and receive some very wonderfully amusing answers) about herself and her latest novel, ILLUSIONS OF FATE

QUICK! Describe ILLUSIONS OF FATE in 7 words or less!

Rectangular! Containing paper and ink! Book! Wait, no, I did this wrong, didn’t I. How about: Magic! Romance! Tea! Birds!

I kind of love both answers! Both are accurate....Do you have any favorite teaser lines from ILLUSIONS OF FATE that you can share?

“Clearly he does not know me if he thinks I am ever in a condition where arguing is not possible.”

What makes Jessamin unique from the main characters of your previous novels? What do you admire most about her?

I always like exploring what it means to be an outsider and how we find ourselves. With most of my main characters, their big arc is discovering themselves. Jessamin, however, knows exactly who she is--and values herself. The society around her tries to tell her what she is (lesser), but she fights against it. I love this about her. It would be very hard to hold onto that sense of self-worth when everything around you tells you not to. Fortunately, Jessamin is very stubborn.

What steps did you take to build the world and setting of ILLUSIONS OF FATE?

Since I was dealing with magic and fantasy, I wanted to layer it onto a very familiar world setting. I based Albion on late Victorian/Edwardian England, and Jessamin’s home on the Polynesian islands. I think it was Laini Taylor who said the more you ground your story in the familiar, the more liberties you can take with the fantastical, and I think that’s very true. Everything I needed was already in place: post-colonialism, a strict and archaic gentry system, and magic, because everyone knows England is just a bit magic already.

If you could spend 24 hours in any fictional world (book, film, TV), where would you go and which two people (real or not real) would you take with you?

Iceland, because everyone knows Iceland is too magical to be real. I would go with Stephanie Perkins and my husband, both of whom are too delightful to be real, and we would watch the Northern Lights, which are too beautiful to be real.

Do you ever leave any calling cards or Easter eggs (literary references or signature characteristics, such as reoccurring themes, symbols, names, style, etc.) in your books?

Oh, so many. As far as reoccurring themes, someday I will write a literary analysis of my books and tell you exactly the ideas I seem to fixate on (identity, the nature of mortality, responsibility to self versus responsibility to others are just a few). Eleanor’s last name, which I think is maybe never even mentioned in the book, is Wynne, after Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl’s Moving Castle. And she lives on Fitzwilliam Lane, after a certain Fitzwilliam Darcy. Other than that, I like to think my work is subversively dark beneath the humor and magic. Much like myself.

What type of story are you working on next?

I’m working on an epic historical fiction series about Vlad the Impaler, a brutal Romanian prince whom I am turning into Lada the Impaler, a brutal Romanian princess, her brother, Radu the Handsome, and their contemporary, the brilliant young Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

Thanks to Rosanne from HarperCollins and Kiersten for the interview!


Available Now
Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.


I received a finished copy of ILLUSIONS OF FATE from HarperCollins, and I want to pass it along to one of my readers! US only (sorry!), enter using the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS by Leigh Ann Kopans

Title: First World Problems
Author: Leigh Ann Kopans
Published: September 2nd, 2014
Genre: YA / NA contemporary
POV: 1st person
Pages: 300
Publisher: Self-published
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

Sofia's had a really rough year - busted for cheating at prep school, dumped for the first time ever, and her new non-profit working stepmother is turning out to be an uppity bitch.

She deserves to treat herself. But when she throws herself a birthday party with 20 of her closest friends in Paris and (accidentally!) maxes out her dad's credit card in the process, he’s had enough of her attitude. As punishment, he switches her planned gap year touring Europe to one doing community service work with the evil stepmother’s relief organization in Guyana.

The rural village of Dabu needs help in every area from education to getting safe drinking water. But Sofia’s more concerned about her roommate Callum, the gardening expert, who calls Sofia "Princess" and scoffs at her distaste for sweaty, muddy, iguana-eating, outhouse-using life in Guyana.

Eventually, life on the equator, her work in the village, and especially Callum - with his brooding eyes and bewitching New Zealand accent - start to grow on Sofia. Life is rough in Guyana, but it’s roughest on the girls, whose families are too poor to send only the most promising boys in school. They’re trapped in a cycle that will keep them from ever making a better life for themselves, or for the village. Worse, Callum doesn’t seem to think any of the changes Sofia envisions are actually necessary.

Determined to change the girls’ futures, she comes up with a strategy to help them and, ultimately, the village. But what starts out as a plan to convince Callum and her father that she’s fallen in love with Guyana, turns into the realization that maybe she’s falling for Callum, too. And that by changing these girls’ lives, she might also be changing her own.

Sofia is the girl who has it all - or that's at least what she wants everyone to think. After her father misses her birthday and she spends a ridiculous some of money on an even more ridiculous party, Sofia finds herself being shipped off to Guyana to give back through community service. From sleeping in a hammock to completing unpleasant tasks, Sofia has a lot to do to convince her parents that she's truly changed so she can go home....Charming and hilarious, First World Problems is a wonderfully entertaining story to read.

It's obvious from page one that Sofia isn't the type of girl most people would like, and Kopans doesn't shy away from revealing all of Sofia's flaws and putting them on display. She's privileged, knows it, and doesn't hesitate to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. But, somehow, Sofia grows into a character you want to root for. And, I eventually found myself appreciating her brand of humor, intelligence, and newly acquired outlook on life. The lush, descriptive Guyana setting and variety of characters make First World Problems an engaging story. The story builds at a slow pace, but there's never a dull moment. A humorous novel with a wonderful message, First World Problems is entertaining from start to finish. 

Highlights: Sofia's development is gradual, realistic, and in the end, she becomes a better version of herself. This story is about coming of age, learning to appreciate what you have, and giving back, and Kopans portrays every theme perfectly. The romance is very slowly developed into something sweet, but there are a few realistic bumps in the road. The setting is incredibly easy to visualize, and Kopans brings the village and its inhabitants to life with every word. The side characters are fantastic, I only wish a few had been featured more. While the storyline is easy to predict, the characters and setting make this novel unique and a pleasure to read. 

Lowlights: A bit predictable, with few overly dramatic moments (but I think the latter is to be expected with a character like Sofia).

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5)First World Problems is great and worth reading, and it earns a spot on the bottom shelves of the royal library. I enjoyed it enough to want to read it more than once, but I do have some issues with the story that I cannot ignore. Regardless, a vivid setting, diverse characters, and fun writing make First World Problems an incredibly enjoyable read. 

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
This is no way affected my opinion of this novel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


The ebook versions of Ally Condie's Matched, Crossed, and Reached are each available across many e-retailers for $2.99 each (all 3 books are less than $9.00 - such a deal)! Grab them while you can!




Also, in case you're curious about Ally Condie's next novel, ATLANTIA, you can read an extended sampler of ATLANTIA online!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: LIV, FOREVER by Amy Talkington

Title: Liv, Forever
Author: Amy Talkington (@amytalkington)
Published: March 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA Paranormal
POV: 1st person
Pages: 280
Publisher: Soho Teen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier. For the first time ever, she has her own studio, her own supply of paints. Everything she could want.

Then she meets Malcolm Astor, a legacy student, a fellow artist, and the one person who’s ever been able to melt her defenses. Liv’s only friend at Wickham, fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols, warns her not to get involved, but life is finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy the ride.

But Liv’s bliss is doomed. Weeks after arriving, she is viciously murdered and, in death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that has claimed many lives. Cursed with the ability to see the many ghosts on Wickham’s campus, Gabe is now Liv’s only link to the world of the living. To Malcolm.

Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham. But Liv must fight alone to come to grips with the ultimate star-crossed love.

Initially, my expectations were incredibly low for this book. For whatever reason, the combination of the cover and summary only made me roll my eyes. The only reason I decided to read this story is because I read a glowing review from Melissa at I Swim For Oceans. I think she has fabulous taste in stories, so I took a chance. Even so, I entered with the feeling I might be disappointed, and was pleasantly surprised. Liv Bloom is only at her ritzy school for a short time – long enough to fall in love with legacy Malcolm Astor, start her art work, and unfortunately become murdered. Awakening as a ghost, she's determined to find out what happened to her with a little help from Gabe – a student who sees all of the ghosts of girls who have been killed at Wickham Hall – and Malcolm, the three of them seek the truth.

While a few aspects are a bit transparent regarding the mystery, Talkington's novel is still undeniably entertaining. Liv is a protagonist you want to succeed, and the horror aspects of this story are written in the just the right way to give you chills. The relationships within Liv, Forever sold this novel for me. Liv and Malcolm are a surprisingly sweet couple, and Liv's friendship with Gabe is wonderful too. There's plenty of small moments of humor mixed in with the serious, and Liv, Forever proves to be a book that will keep you reading long after you meant to set it aside for the day.

Highlights: The rules of being a ghost were interesting to discover – Liv can interact with the world around her, somewhat, but it's limited. The pages detailing the deaths of the other girls were incredibly eerie, and set the right tone for the story. Liv's a great protagonist, and her artistic nature shows through (I liked her references to other artist's works). The mystery was interesting, and the ending was a surprise. Descriptions were fantastic, Talkington excelled at bringing her setting and characters to life. 

Lowlights: I saw a few aspects coming, and a few more seemed a bit cliched. But, still a highly entertaining story.

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (4 out of 5)Liv, Forever was much better than I expected, and I think this is a story worth reading. It's dark, mysterious, amusing, and full of surprises. 

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

February 24th, 2015 from Tor Books

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

I read VICIOUS in August, and loved it so much. I'm excited to see what Schwab's next adult novel will be like! It sounds fascinating.

What are you waiting on? 

Monday, September 8, 2014



Title: Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley (@joynhensley)
Published: September 9th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary | mystery
POV: 1st person
Pages: 416
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss | Publisher
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

Highlights: While reading, I marveled many times about Sam's strength, guts, and sheer will to complete her goals. This is a girl who has such a fierce determination, and I was rooting for her to succeed every step of the way. The obstacles are both physically and mentally brutal, but Sam uses every ounce of mental and physical strength  she has to prove that girls are capable of completing this training. the atmosphere of the academy is perfectly written, and the romance surprised me with its slow burn, building into something over time in a truly genuine manner. Hensley builds the tension slowly, raising the stakes until finally finishing with a shocking, action-packed conclusion. Rites of Passage is one of those stories that makes you feel - anger, joy, and everything in between. 

Lowlights: A few times, it did seem to get a little this-is-too-dramatic-and-over-the-top-to-be-true, but I don't care. I was sold by that point. My other lowlight is a spoiler involving her brother (I simply feel he could have been more honest with her, and I'll just leave it at that). Also, while the ending settles some aspects of the story, there are few more that are left open. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel!

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf (4.7 out of 5). If this book isn't on your to-be-read list, it should be. Rites of Passage is a story filled with secrets, humor, action, and a dash of romance. 


Published: June 2014
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Genre: YA mystery / thriller
POV: 3rd person, switching
Pages: 263
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (BYR)
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publicist
Rating: The Courtyard
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

Highlights: The Body in the Woods is a tense mystery that will make you second guess your suspects and eagerly turn the pages to the final reveal. Henry builds tension and suspense nicely, and the short chapters from the killer's POV were incredibly intriguing and disturbing. Henry's descriptions were great, especially with the forest settings. 

Lowlights: Third person POV is a hit or a miss with me, and in this case, I feel like it was a miss. I didn't care for the characters, and I only kept reading because I wanted to see if I guessed correctly regarding the killer. Perhaps Henry's writing style isn't for me, because this book didn't have that spark I look for in novels.

Rating: The Courtyard (very low 3 out of 5). While this story didn't quite hit the mark for me, The Body in the Woods did provide a fascinating mystery to unravel. 


Published: May 2014
Series: After the End #1
Genre: YA sci-fi / dystopia
POV: 1st person, dual, alternating
Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

Highlights: Juneau and Miles are as different as night and day - one is highly intuitive and one with nature, while the other is your typical teenager, making their interactions extremely amusing at times. I found Juneau's point-of-view more intriguing, if only because her background and abilities are more fascinating and creative. The secrets that are revealed didn't disappoint, and I was left curious to see what happens next with these characters. 

Lowlights: The middle of the story lagged a bit. The beginning was fantastic, and the end was interesting, but I grew a bit bored during the chapters between. I kind of wish more of the story had taken place in Alaska, but that's just because I don't read a lot of novels set there. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (very low 4 out of 5). A unique, creative story, After the End is a novel full of surprises. 

I received advanced copies of these novels from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. 
This is no way affected my opinion of each novel. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mini-Review: EVEN IN PARADISE by Chelsey Philpot

Title: Even In Paradise
Author: Chelsey Philpot (@ChelseyPhilpot)
Published: October 14th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: Contemporary
POV: 1st
Pages: 368
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

Even In Paradise tiptoes quietly into the life of luxury, giving readers a glimpse into a magnetic friendship and a family hiding a secret. Despite how absurdly easy it was to guess the big secret, Even In Paradise managed to give me something more fascinating to focus on: Charlie and Julia's friendship, and Charlie's growth as a character from beginning to end. Being taken in under Julia's wing gives Charlie the chance to glimpse a different life from her own, and it's a life that is as dark as it is vibrant. Even In Paradise is a story where you know things cannot possibly work out perfectly or end in the way you hope, and Philpot executes this story in a perfect, bittersweet fashion. A story about falling in love (both romantically and in the friendship sense), Even In Paradise is a charming debut that will capture your heart. 

Highlights: I'm not sure if it's intentional, but this story is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby – from the names to the glimpses of the upper class, and it's a very nice vibe. There are some moments between chapters where Philpot includes short snippets and scenes, and they feel like glimpses into something that you're not quite sure of at the moment – kind of like overhearing a conversation. Both girls are wonderfully realistic and complicated as they stumble through life and make mistakes. Also, descriptions are quite lovely at times. 

Lowlights: I dislike (but understand) how Charlotte could pull away and ignore her old friends, and her dependence on Julia grew tiresome. Yet, those actions made her realistic. The secret was also incredibly obvious from the very beginning, so that was hardly a mystery. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5). I quite enjoyed Even In Paradiseenough to want a copy somewhere in the royal library. It had a few issues, but kept my attention easily. I'd recommend checking this one out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway & Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with the lovely Sarah Beth Durst, where she discusses a bit about her writing and her most recent novel, THE LOST. 

QUICK! Describe THE LOST in 7 words or less!

Town of lost things and lost people.

Which came first – the main cast of characters or the story’s concept?

Actually, for THE LOST, it was two ideas merging together: the town and Lauren.

I remember sitting at a traffic light and thinking, "What would happen if I just went straight and didn't stop?" In that question, Lauren was born -- a woman who doesn't turn left the way she's supposed to and instead just keeps driving and driving.

The answer to what happens is that she runs out of gas in the town of Lost, a town full of only lost thing and lost people. Once I combined these two separate ideas, the story was able to grow.

THE LOST is your first adult novel. What was it like to make the switch from middle grade / young adult novels to writing for adults? Any challenges?

For me, the key is to not think about who you're writing for and instead think about who you're writing about. If you're writing about a twelve year old and see the world through her eyes, then the novel will come out middle grade. If you're writing about a twenty-eight year old and see the world through her eyes... then you'll have a novel with the right tone, style, and story for adults.

Do you have any favorite teaser lines from THE LOST that you can share?

One of my favorite moments is after a six-year-old girl holding a teddy bear and a knife saves Lauren from a hostile mob:

The girl switches direction, pulling me into the alley between the barber shop and a decrepit triple-decker house. She still doesn't speak.

I don't know why I'm trusting her. "Are you helping me, or dragging me someplace private to cut me to pieces and feed me to your teddy bear? Just curious."

The girl looks at me with her wide eyes. "My name is Claire. And my teddy bear is not hungry today."
SCENARIO: You’re on a mission to find something of yours in Lost. What two fictional characters (yours or someone else’s) would you want to help you succeed?

I'd want Peter from THE LOST, since he knows the town so well. (He's the mysterious wild man who helps Lauren. He's a bit like a grown-up Peter Pan who lives in a rundown, twisted kind of Wonderland.) And I'd also want someone very clever, like Sherlock Holmes. (Have you seen BBC's Sherlock? So, so good.) Or better yet, someone with the psychic ability to find things... Or a bloodhound with a really good sniffer.

Failing that, I'd settle for someone with excellent survival skills, like Katniss.

Yes, I love BBC's Sherlock! Excellent choices....Do you ever write any easter eggs or calling cards (signature characteristics, such as a style of writing, a reoccurring theme / name / joke / location / symbol, etc) into your stories? 

Not intentionally, but I do know things from my life sneak into my writing. Sometimes I don't even realize it until long after the fact!

I can say that the ring that Lauren finds in the void -- the star sapphire ring -- is based on my mom's engagement ring. It's an opaque blue stone, and when you hold it up to the sunlight, a white star appears in the center. I always thought it was magical.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on a middle-grade novel called THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, about a girl whose family owns a secret store where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, but who can't have any of her own, and the adventure that she and her pet monster go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers. It's coming from Clarion Books in fall 2015.

My next book out will be CHASING POWER, a YA novel about a girl with telekinesis and a boy who can teleport. It's sort of an Indiana-Jones-style adventure, with teens and magic. It's coming on October 14th from Bloomsbury.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

And thank you so much for the wonderful interview! I loved THE LOST, so it's nice to get some bonus information about it. 

And, because I enjoyed this novel, I want to share it with one of my readers. One winner will receive a finished paperback copy of THE LOST (international, so long as The Book Depository ships to you). Enter using the rafflecopter below. 

THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Available Now

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassable dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing--and what she's running from--before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found...

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey...and her quest to find her fate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: THE VAULT OF DREAMERS by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien (@CaraghMOBrien)
Published: September 16th, 2014
Series: ?
Genre: YA sci-fi | dystopian | thriller
POV: 1st person
Pages: 432
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publicist (accepted for review)
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Peculiar and creative, this is a story unlike any other. Rosie Sinclair is on her way out of the prestigious Forge School – and consequently the Forge Show, a popular reality TV series that follows the students through their day life – unless she can get her rank up. But, she soon finds that there's more to worry about than her ranking, because strange things are happening while everyone is asleep. Secrets, lies, deceptions, and twists, The Vault of Dreamers is a wild maze that concludes with an astounding surprise. 

This is a story best described as intriguing and unnerving. There are elements that give me chills, simply because I see certain aspects of this story becoming true in a more technologically advanced future. Rosie's discoveries are horrifying, unnerving, and each time you feel as though everything is figured out and revealed, a new piece complicates the puzzle. Add in the intriguing futuristic technology and society to the already wonderful mystery, and you've got an incredible story. Thrilling and fascinating, The Vault of Dreamers is a page-turner that will haunt your dreams and stay on your mind long after finishing. 

Highlights: There are many twists and I was constantly debating what was true or false, who can or cannot be trusted. The Forge School was actually quite intriguing, and one of Rosie's assignments was hilariously creative and helpful to unraveling the truth. Rosie's new friends are great characters, and I only wish they had been given more page-time. The creativity of the story was fantastic, and I found it difficult to set this book aside (which is exactly what I want from a novel). 

Lowlights: A few questions are not answered, so that's frustrating. I didn't believe in the romance, and I feel it mostly developed off-page. I wish a few characters had been developed more. I feel like one part of the ending is unrealistic (regarding the guardianship). The ending is torture, I hope there will be a sequel because I need answers!

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf (4 out of 5). The Vault of Dreamers is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a few small issues, and would recommend this novel to other readers.