After Alice by Gregory Maguire

24331115 (1)Published: October 27th 2015 By: William Morrow

Genres: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Format: Paperback ARC Source: Won My Rating: 3 Stars

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ARC Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz @hannahmosk

22456945 Release Date: March 3, 2015

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: YA Contemporary / LGBT

Format: eARC (304 pages)

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Rating: 5 stars

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Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself? 

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

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This is, without a doubt, a very moving book. It’s not only diverse with characters from different ethnic backgrounds, but it deals with a multitude of problems that are heavy among our society. I say problems because there are a ton of small-minded people in this world who can’t seem to grasp that everything isn’t evil, and more who find bullying to be some sort of sport. To make Etta Sinclair so much more than a cliche is a Godsend to someone, somewhere. These issues are heavily among us, and we, as the human race, need to take action because not all the stories end with survivors to tell their story. 

Etta Sinclair is an African-American teen who has never wanted for anything a day in her life, except be normal. What is normal? She loves to dance and hopes to get out of Nebraska and never look back. Being bisexual among her lesbian friends is hard enough, but when those said friends turn into bullies because she dates a guy, it’s like living in hell. On top of that, she is still recovering from an eating disorder, which she is doing remarkably well with. It’s like, the moment she started dating a guy, the world turned against her. She’s not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-friends, and she’s not straight enough for the rest of society to deem her worthy of living her life to the fullest. She has dreams of New York and theater, and being herself to her heart’s content. 

Bianca is another lost teen, still battling her eating disorder and her religious beliefs. She is not homophobic and just wants to be okay with her brother, Jamie, and his obvious reality that he is gay. She and Etta find strength in each other to get through auditions for Brentwood, a prestigious theater academy. While battling the bullies at school and trying to keep herself from exploding, can Etta be a friend to Bianca and help her through tough times if she is barely holding on herself? Their friendship really touched me because I just pictured this tiny girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders, just trying to find herself and get better. 

Okay, enough ranting. This is a great book to read. I’ve never read anything from Hannah before, but I will definitely put her down for previous and future books alike. I highly recommend this book!!!

5 STARS download (3)

Teaser: A Safe Space by E.M. Tippetts @EMTippetts

A Safe Space

Coming in mid-July

Everyone needs a safe space.

For Lizzie Warner, that space has always been in front of the camera on her hit show, or on stage to a sold out concert arena. Since before she can remember, she’s been a star, but that may be about to change.

She’s nineteen. Her show has been cancelled and now she’s going to play the lead in a new prime time drama series, but is the world ready to take her seriously, or will she be typecast as the cute tween queen forever?

Her network has decided to be aggressive and has invested millions of dollars in an ad campaign for her show, money she’s not sure she can earn back. Her co-star can’t stand her, and the writing for the show turns out to be poor at best. The only reason Lizzie didn’t walk away from the job offer to begin with is because she’s broke, the victim of a decade of bad money management.

Then there’s Devon, the personal trainer at her gym. Arrogant and abrasive, he’s the last guy she should ever find attractive, but she has a hopeless crush on him anyway, and he doesn’t seem entirely disinterested either. In fact, sometimes he’s downright sweet to her. If only he weren’t an untamable bad boy who uses and dumps women like they’re nothing. Though Lizzie’s friends warn her to stay away, he’s the only person who can create what she needs: a safe space. But is there any way she can break him of his years’ long habit of being a user?

TEASERS

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Review: Ashes and Ice by Rochelle Maya Callen

15864513 Release Date: February 4, 2013

Publisher: C&C Legacy Publishing

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Format: Paperback (284 pages)

Source: Won

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

From Goodreads: She is desperate to remember.
He is aching to forget.
Together, they are not broken.
But together, one may not survive.

Jade wakes up with no memory of her past and blood on her hands. 

Plagued by wicked thoughts, she searches for answers. Instead, she finds a boy who doesn’t offer her answers, but hope. But sometimes, when nightmares turn into reality and death follows you everywhere, hope is not enough. 

LUST. LOVE. LOSS. Sometimes, all that is left are Ashes and Ice.

My Thoughts: Jade is a mystery to herself. She has a sort of amnesia (I say this because the memories come very often), and wakes up covered in blood. So she really isn’t 100% amnesiac, which caused this book to be more of a drag for me. All of the flitting from scene to scene was exhausting to read. Especially, when each scene is explained in short detail. I like to get the gist of the events when I’m reading a book such as this one. I can’t even comprehend what the characters are trying to convey with incoherent thoughts. This was the big let down for me, and I truly hate that because the story line is good. 

Some of the characters in this book just doesn’t seem to fit right with this story. Clara, for instance, has no sense of self preservation. I was like, “hello, Jade is a stranger whom you’ve just met. Why ask her to stay with you?” Then I kept reading and reading and reading, only getting nowhere. And then there’s Connor, who pulls at your heartstrings. He was so broken in his introduction to this story, but got his spark by the end. I actually preferred his POV to Jade’s, because he seemed the most coherent and had a story to tell. But Jade is the MC, why? 

The big mystery is revealed  at the end. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the author did this. I get that you want the reader to be on the edge of their seats, but if that’s the case, why not make the story more mysterious instead of the constant dragging? The last half of this book is what really made me give it 3 stars. I was about to DNF it, but I pushed on through to finish. The point of the story is actually good, so if you don’t mind waiting through constant drivel, then read this book. I’m not sure if I will actually read the next book. This was just too much and too less at the same time. 

3 STARS misc_58misc_58misc_58

Waiting On Wednesday #8

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. This week I’m patiently waiting on Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth. I’ve already read  The Transfer and Free Four (although this one isn’t included), and I’m eager to get back inside Four’s head. I was heartbroken after reading Allegiant. Not for long, because after days of wondering why my favorite author would do such damage to her readers hearts, I got it. Not everything is HEA, and I realized that she had the conclusion already when she wrote/typed the first word to Divergent. That ending fit what she pictured for that story, and that is perfectly OKAY. I get that younger readers really didn’t get the story, they only saw the “romance” between the two main characters. Trust me, I had a melt down last October! I was ranting for days afterward. But, it is what it is. Okay, enough ranting and back to the book.

9780062345219_p0_v3_s260x420 Release Date: July 8, 2014

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: YA Dystopia/Science Fiction

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From Goodreads: Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

What are you waiting on this week?

Stacking The Shelves #7

 

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Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, that highlights the books we’ve acquired to read. It doesn’t matter if they are purchased, checked out from the library, won, borrowed, or received for review. I only got a couple this week, as I’m not requesting books from Net Galley until I’ve read some of the ones on my shelf. I did, however, purchase a couple and even DL a few freebies from Amazon.

For Review

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Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton From Entangled Teen

Samantha Sanderson At The Movies by Robin Caroll From Zonderkidz 

*I’m excited to read Samantha Sanderson with my 12 yr. old cousin. She will be out for the Summer and is starting the Summer Reading Program at the library. So she asked if reading this book with me will count towards her reading goal, even though she didn’t check it out from the library and they told her yes. She squealed like a banshee!!*


Won via Goodreads First Reads

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Chantress (Chantress Trilogy #1) by Amy Butler Greenfield


Won via A Book Vacation blog

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The Darkest Joy by Marata Eros


Amazon Freebies

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Halo (Blood and Fire #1) by Frankie Rose

Love, Lex by Avery Aster

Silent Orchids by Morgan Wylie

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr


Purchased

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Me Before You by JoJo Moyes Hardcover

Speak by Laurie Anderson Paperback

Wicked Power (Someone Wicked This Way Comes #2) by Delsheree Gladden Kindle 

Blood Crown (Eden Project #1) by Ali Cross Paperback

ARC Review: Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

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Title: Land of Shadows

Author: Rachel Howzell Hall

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Publisher: Forge Books

Source: eARC via Net Galley (320 pages)

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 3 Stars

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From Goodreads

Along the ever changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, seventeen year old Monique Darson is found dead at a condominium construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished unit. Homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton’s new partner, Colin Taggert, fresh from comparatively bucolic Colorado Springs police department, assumes it’s a teenage suicide. Lou isn’t buying the easy explanation. 

For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self
made millionaire. . .and the man who may have murdered Lou’s missing sister, Tori, thirty years ago. As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. But her department is skeptical. 

Lou is convinced that when she solves Monique’s case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice. . .before Lou becomes his next victim?

Review

This is a good Crime/Mystery read. One that will keep you up reading all through the night. Not so good in my case, because it had me asking my fiance’ to walk me out to my car in the mornings on my way to work. I was kind of shook up after reading it, but I like reading about decades old cases coming to light, whether it be fiction or real life.

Detective Lou Norton gets assigned a case of a possible suicide. As she and her new partner, Colin Taggert, investigate the case, she is positive that it is no suicide. As they delve deeper into the mystery, she sees links that goes back to the disappearance/possible murder of her sister 30 years prior.

Detective Lou is one tough lady. I really liked her character. She has this no-nonsense air about her, and that’s a great thing to have if you are in law enforcement. Trying to solve the case, and also teach her new partner the ins and outs of the streets in LA, is what she is about. As she gets closer to the mystery behind her sister’s disappearance, she also becomes a target herself.

It really picks up pace after about a quarter into the book. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about Detective Norton. If you love Crime Fiction, this is a good book to add to your shelf.

3 STARS misc_58misc_58misc_58

Series Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

 

I decided to review the series as a whole, instead of one book at a time. I read these over the course of a week and a half, so I finished them rather quickly. It took me a while to get to them, since my obsessiveness with sticking to my TBR schedule won’t let up. I usually don’t buy print books of series until after I’ve read the first book and enjoyed it. But my itchy hands had to click on the boxed set for sale on Amazon earlier this year. Don’t blame me, blame my fingers! I actually had to order the prequel separately, but it was worth it. Okay, lets get to the review. There will be no spoilers (hopefully), just a little rundown of each book.

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Series: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Released Between: October 6, 2009 – August 14, 2012

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Source: Bought (boxed set paperbacks)

Genre: YA/Dystopia/Science-Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic 

Series Rating: 4 Stars

Purchase: Amazon


SYNOPSIS: Imagine waking up in total darkness, unsure of where of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You’re in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and everyday some of the kids– the Runners– venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever -changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the new arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he’s unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?


REVIEW

This is a really amazing series. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire movies (I didn’t read the books), but I read Mockingjay, so when others started comparing the two, I thought i’d give this series a shot. I can’t compare the first two books of THG trilogy with this, but going by the movies i’d hazard to say this series is more dramatic than THG. I read The Kill Order first since it’s the prequel for the trilogy.

Mark, the MC, teams up with Alec and they try to find a cure for the plague that’s killing the survivors of the solar flares that nearly wiped out Earth. He is recalling all that happened the year before, while also living in the present. The details are truly frightening to me. I was so keen on stopping, but it kept getting to the point where I couldn’t. And while I appreciate details, I think that some of the goriness could have been left out. This is supposed to be YA after all. After reading all of the books, I realized that The Kill Order really left me with questions. I assumed that it would be better to read it first, but I was wrong. There were characters that added nothing to the other books, I’m pretty sure that they didn’t need to be mentioned at all. Yes, you get to know what happened before the Glade, but this felt like a different story. Maybe I should have just read the trilogy, then maybe I wouldn’t think it was such a waste of my reading time.

In The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up in the Glade with memory loss, surrounded by various teenage boys. He’s asking questions but getting no answers. There are multitudes of rules to follow, yet the place doesn’t seem half bad. Soon Thomas finds out what exactly is outside of the walls protecting the Glade. He and the others start to formulate a plan to leave the Glade. Apparently no one is allowed  inside the Maze, except the Runners. Once a girl is brought in, things change exponentially. The fight for survival is all to real for Thomas and the others. The author only gives out certain information in spurts, clearly to keep the reader wanting more. I immediately jumped to the next book.

The Scorch Trials nearly had me pulling out my hair. They are created to test out the survivors of the Glade by WICKED. It is really insane!! I couldn’t, for the life of me, stop reading. By the end, I was questioning my own mind. You never know who to trust, and there are new characters that make you want to hide under a rock. Seriously, it was just that gruesome. And yet, I kept reading like the masochist that I am. There is so much action in this one, much more than The Maze Runner. If WICKED isn’t enough to give you an idea of the dangerous situations, let me tell you what it stands for. World In Catastrophe Killzone Experiment Department, is that enough to make you cringe? This book was the least of my favorite in the trilogy. Again, Dashner gives you just enough to make you keep reading. It was beyond brilliant writing, but I can’t say that I would read it again. I’ll just wait for the movie (if there is a second).

Thomas goes through a lot in The Death Cure. And the character deaths were shocking, to say the least. I thought that a lot more would be revealed about WICKED, but it wasn’t. I’m not sure what to think about this book. The Maze Runner is the only book that I liked from the whole trilogy. James Dashner clearly doesn’t do too much character development here. We learn that the flare was created to control the population. Shocker there! (sarcasm intended)! In all the dystopian books, everything is about control. Yeah, kinda had that figured Mr. Dashner.

I was going to say that it was just okay, but that is an understatement of epic proportions. It is brilliant writing on parts, but others just made me want to throw it out with my garbage. I’m not so sure this should be classified as YA. It involves teens yes, but would I want my teen reading the gruesome details of this book? Not sure. Just like The Hunger Games trilogy, I am hesitant to let my cousins read it, simply because of all the deaths and kids killing kids thing. But, it is a good series to read, so therefore the 4 stars is warranted.

4 STARS misc_58misc_58misc_58misc_58