Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Ink

Title:  Ink
Author:  Amanda Sun 
ISBN:  037321071X
Release Date:  June 25th 2013
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen 
Book Source:   NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:


On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Review:

Before I read Ink, I was very wary because of the huge amount of people hyping it up. Seriously, it reached worrisome levels because sometimes books get so hyped up, and you eventually read them, and sadly you're disappointed because they weren't as great as you had expected. Like The Hunger Games. The book was okay, but I didn't love it or anything. So I was worried Ink was going to be like that. Thank God it was just as good as I was told it is.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Japanese culture. Back in school I had worked on learning some of the words and a little about the customs, so it was pretty exciting to find those same words and customs immersed in a YA novel. I was so in love with the idea because personally I've always wanted to be Katie. I wanted to go live in Japan, go to high school there, meet new people, eat from a bentou, have a cool Japanese phone, travel by train, and see Cherry Blossoms in bloom. Basically, Katie was living my dream life. Only, it was much more cool, because she got to meet Tomohiro and accidentally stumble into something both inexplicable and thrilling. I am actually ashamed to say that the idea of Japanese Gods never even occurred to me before. Although, it did make sense that they of all people would have their own Gods, so I was definitely interested in learning more about their legends.

My favourite two characters in the story would have to be both Tanaka - who was sweet and absolutely adorable - and Tomohiro. He was definitely someone whose character growth was very easy to watch and follow through. I enjoyed how he'd be arrogant and cocky one second, but sweet and helpful the next. He was a constant surprise.

The way Amanda instigated the Kamis (paper Gods) into the story was very creative, so was the way Katie suddenly found herself a part of it. I very much enjoyed the pace of the story, the character development, the plot twists and the fact that the story is still shrouded with mystery. It was all very well written. I especially liked Amanda's writing style and the way it was told from Katie's point of view. Not just that it was in first person, but how Katie's character grew stronger and more confident throughout the story. Not only that, but I think the whole thing was well-researched enough to give you the feel of the thing, from her descriptions you could almost live it all through Katie's eyes, and wonder off the Japanese streets, into the Japanese culture with her. I loved that.

It was such an amazing story and I can hardly wait to read the second book in the series!

Rating: 4.5/5!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Stir Me Up


Title: Stir Me Up
Author: Sabrina Elkins
ASIN: B00DWRAK4E
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….


Review:

I personally requested this book from NetGalley because I was in the mood of a light contemporary read and I had seen a few good reviews on this book, which in turn made me request it. To start off, normally a cover like this would be considered as great, but frankly I'm sick of seeing the couple on this cover on a whole lot of other books as well, it's gotten to a very annoying level.

Cami lives with her father, a French Chef and his new wife Estella. She's about to start her senior year with her best friend, she has a great boyfriend who kind of wants to take things to the next level now that he's graduated, and a father who is hell-bent on her going to college and not becoming a chef like him. To top it all off, there's Estella's handsome yet very surly and rude nephew Julien who has to come stay with them as he recovers from an injury he sustained saving people at war. She also has to give him her room. Cami has her a lot on her plate as she tries to balance all of this off as well as figure out what she wants to do in the future, and she's not sure how to make that decision with Mr. Surly in the picture.

The premise of the book has the makings of a cute contemporary read, which I guess it is for some people. I am not saying I hated it, but I didn't love it either. It was a light quick read, and I did enjoy it. But I felt very disconnected from the characters, and had a hard time liking any of them, they weren't giving out a plausible feel. So yeah, it was an interesting fast and fun read. I enjoyed it, since it was kind of what I was looking for at the moment, but I wouldn't say it was one of my favorites.

Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Crash Into You

Title:   Crash into You
Author:   Katie McGarry
ISBN:   037321099X
Release Date:   November 26th 2013
Publisher:   Harlequin Teen
Book Source:   NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:


From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane 

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. 

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.


Review:
To fully understand my feelings towards most of the recurring characters from books one and two, click on "Pushing The Limits" or "Dare You To" to read their reviews.

After finishing this book I was convinced Katie McGarry had powers of some sort, since it's very difficult to write three amazing books in a row, but she managed it. Granted, this book didn't put me in as much of an emotional upheaval as the first two, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I didn't cry reading this book since the character with the most emotional damage was Isaiah and he wasn't one to exactly dwell on said emotions, it was difficult to truly understand where he was coming from. I will try not to put so many details here just incase any of you have yet to read the first two books in the series since they can work as standalones and read in any order. It's just that, Noah was much easier to comprehend due to his brothers and his love for them, but Isaiah kept a hold on his emotions the entire time. And with Beth, it wasn't exactly that she was self-deprecating and always thinking of herself, her story was mainly based on what was being done to her, the fact that she was a minor and  had no say in her life, and the crappy way she was treated by her family. It was easier to be swept by Noah and Beth and their lives, even with Echo - especially with Echo - but not that much with Ryan.

As for Rachel, sure, she was equally as twisted - it wouldn't be a Katie McGarry book otherwise - but the fact that she was fully aware of it yet never really fought the messed up way her family was treating her made it hard to feel sorry for her as one should have. On a side note, this was the first book I actually was completely convinced of my emotions all throughout the book, there was no conflict, no one person I was confused of how I'd feel about him. With book one it was Echo's parents and her step-mother. With book two it was Beth's uncle. But in this book the most likely candidate was Rachel's family yet, nothing, I hated them from start to finish. Maybe my feelings will change later on when I start reading their separate stories, since yes, the upcoming books will be based on them - I think. I'm not sure if all her siblings will make an appearance or just one.

I also came to the realization that Beth is a character you can only love in her own book. I hated her in Pushing the Limits and was back to hating her in this book. Echo was as incredible as always though, I really love her. I think she's the best female lead in all of Katie McGarry's books so far.

However, none of what I just mentioned diminishes in any way the greatness of this incredible book. The characters were well-developed. The plot had the necessary twists and turns, it was a quick and very realistic read. There's no such thing as an easy and happy ending with McGarry, the characters work hard to get there, and I like that about her books, the realistic element and perspective make her stories very enjoyable in my opinion.

Rating: 4/5.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday # 3




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Each week they will post a new Top Ten list  that one of their bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.



Welcome to this week's TTT, please take a seat, here's a cup of coffee, grab a danish and let's get started!


Top Ten Sequels I'm Dying To Read


10.  Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor
I didn't love the first book as much as everyone else did, but I still liked it and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and knowing what happens next!

9. Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo
The first book in this series, Shadow and Bone, was absolutely brilliant, I seriously loved the Darkness, and now I cannot wait to read Siege and Storm, but I'll probably have to until book three is out and I
can read both books together.

8. Asunder - Jodi Meadows

Incarnate was my first ever reincarnation book, and I found I enjoyed it way more than I had expected, so yes I am hoping to get around to the rest of the series soon.

7. The Forever Song - Julie Kagawa
This is one of my absolute favorite vampire series out there. At least my favorite this year, I  loved The
Immortal Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure, which also had an absolutely heart-wrenching cliffhanger.

6. The Evolution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
I haven't read this book yet because book one ended on a horrible cliffhanger and I am waiting for book three to come out before I can read it. That book was so good though! 

5. Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray
Sure I am not a huge fan of the cover of this book, but I absolutely can't wait to read it. It took me forever to recover from The Diviners, both emotionally and mentally, but that book was brilliant. It made me love Libba Bray's writing even more.

4. The Unbound - Victoria Schwab
The Archived was the first book I've read by Victoria, and I loved it. I hear the second book has more Wes in them so I am super excited about it!

3.  Sweet Reckoning - Emily Higgins
I am so in love with this series. I would kill for Kai, he's so delicious! That trilogy gets me so giddy. It's one of the rare books with nephilim and fallen angels that I loved.

2. Cress - Marissa Meyer
I am a huge fan of the books by Marissa, Cinder was my favorite book of 2012 and Scarlet is on my top ten books of 2013. So YES I am dying to read Cress!

1. Last Book in The Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. 
No information is out on this book yet, but my God, I'm dying to read it! I mean, have you guys read the first two yet? HAVE YOU? Because if not then you're missing out big time, seriously.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Straight to Hell Blog Tour: Guest Post

If you guys have known me long enough, you'd know by now that the first ever blog tour I hosted here was for the "Straight to Heaven" book release that was independently published back then, and so I'm super excited to know that 'Straight to Hell' is being published by Carina Press!



Title:   Straight to Hell
Author:   Michelle Scott
Release Date:   September 8th 2011
Publisher:   Carina Press 

Buy Now: Amazon and Amazon UK.

Goodreads Synopsis:




The moment Lilith Straight dies, the Devil appears to claim her soul and cash in on a family curse. Now, Lilith has no choice but to work for him. The job is bad, the boss is worse and she can’t imagine how she’ll explain her new reincarnation to her eight-year-old daughter. But then an arrogant, yet oh so yummy, incubus shows up…and hell heats up just a little more.




Now onto the guest post:

Writing Characters



Socrates is given credit for the adage, “Know thyself.”  While this is an important mandate, I have an even more important mandate to writers: “Know thy characters, and know them well.” 
Too often, writers write about themselves instead of creating a separate character (thus my hatred of books with authors as main characters.)  Sorry to say, we writers are not interesting, but our characters are, and it’s the main character whom the audience wants to read about. 
Knowing your main contract will determine much of what you write.  For example, the Harry Potter books are about Harry Potter (who else?)  But what if they were the Ron Weasley books instead?  The events might be similar, but the details would be vastly different.  Not just because Ron and Harry were at different places at different times and therefore had different experiences.  No, because Ron and Harry are completely different people. 
At first, getting to know your characters can be awkward.  It’s like you’re on a blind date.  You might have some idea of what your character looks like, and what his/her name is, but the rest is generally a blank.  You’ve got to spend time with them because if you don’t know them, your novel won’t take flight. 
When I started writing Straight to Hell, the only thing I knew about Lilith was that she’d been run over by a car and sent to Hell.  Her love of designer clothing, her disgust at her ex-husband, her abandonment issues, and the fact she has a cat named Drinking Tea all came later on.  Writing a character is like coloring inside a black-and-white outline of a person.  The more you work with the picture, the more realistic it becomes. 
So how do you make this connection happen? 
Like any relationship, the author/character bond develops over time, and you learn about your character the way you would learn about anyone else.  When I start on a new project, I study the main character.  I think about what they’re wearing, what’s in their purse or pockets, what music they enjoy, and even how they answer the phone.  I try to listen for their voice.   These observations help me get a general feel of what this person is like. 
My next step is to watch how they interact with others.  For example, Lilith loves her daughter and lights up whenever Grace walks into the room.  But her shoulders slump when her niece, Ariel, enters because Ariel is almost always in trouble or causing trouble.  Lilith loves her father – he’s her main support system – but has an antagonistic relationship with her stepsister.  Watching your character for clues – eye rolls, sighs, smiles, grins – when others are around will teach you a lot about them. 
Here’s a terrific bit of advice I once heard: figure out what makes your character angry.  For Lilith, it was minor things like a messy house and having someone (her stepsister) borrow things without asking.  Then there were big issues like her relationship with her mother, and the fact that no one in Hell saw fit to ask her permission before turning her into a succubus. 
After these three steps, I have a pretty good idea of what my character is like, but I usually want to go deeper.  That’s because I love complex, interesting characters.  The final step I take is to question them.  Not just questions about what they like or don’t like, but questions like, “Whom do you most admire” or “If your house was on fire, and you could only rescue one thing, what would it be?”  Answers to these kinds of questions can bring a lot of insight. 
Remember, who your character is will determine how they see their world and how they respond to the events in your novel.  If you don’t know your characters, your audience won’t know – or care – either. 

*****


 
Michelle Scott received her MFA from Wayne State University.  Her stories have appeared in such places as “Tales of the Unanticipated”, “All Possible Worlds” and “Realms”.  Straight to Hell, the first book in her Lilith Straight urban fantasy series, will be released from Carina UK on Oct. 24.  Michelle lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and three children. 

To keep up with Lilith and the other members of the Straight to Hell cast, visit Michelle’s blog, Urban Fae


Review: Confessions of an Almost - Girlfriend


Author:   Louise Rozett
ISBN: 0373210655 
Release Date:   June 25th 2013
Publisher:   Harlequin Teen
Book Source:   NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...

...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.

When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.


Review:

After reading book one in this series I had promised myself I wasn't going to read book two, no matter what happened and no matter how tempting it got, I was not going to read this book. 

I lied.

As to why I hadn't wanted to read that book, well, book one was very frustrating, I didn't want to continue with the frustration, especially when I wasn't even sure if it was the end of the series.

It wasn't.

Let's clear some things out first:

1- The writing of the book was incredible, I really did love Louise Rozett's style, I loved the new word at the beginning of each chapter.
2- The pace of the story was just right, not too quick or too slow.

Now onto the rant, why I found book two to be just as frustrating as book one:

1- No proper confrontations. I mean there are confrontations, but they're all messed up over the weird things. I would be sitting there, thinking of how unbelievable something that just happened is, and when the protagonist finally has the guts to speak them up to the person that's in the wrong, she's complaining about all sorts of things I didn't get why she was concentrating on them in the first place, and not complaining over what appeared to be the obvious choice.
2- There were characters that I found completely ridiculous. Like, Jamie and Kathleen (Rose's mother). Jamie's character was so screwed up in this book, I found myself constantly wondering if he was right in the head. A guy can't be that thick and obtuse. He was always hot and cold and kept my head reeling. As for the mother, I'm not sure if it's because she was a psychiatrist and that's how she dealt with things, but I found her to be magnanimously obsessive and selfish. 

As to the rest of the characters? I reserve judgement on that for now. Because I don't think I found one that I liked. I have tried repeatedly not to bang my head on the table whilst reading this book. Thankfully, I'm grateful I managed to resist the temptation.

Barely.

I think the main reason I am having trouble with this book is that I'm not comfortable with contemporary books being series. Unless they're companion novels or concentrate on a different family member every novel, I'm more likely to avoid the book.

Did this book personally provoke me to no end? Yes. Will I be reading the next installment in this series? Probably. I need to know how it ends at this point.

Way to go with the cliffhangers Louise Rozett.

Rating: 2.5/5