Sunday, 29 July 2012

Review: Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel

from goodreads

At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.
Lurlene McDaniel's signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.

Review

A bomb, planted by two unnamed students who resent the school and the people who rule it, goes off at Edison High. Nine die and fifteen others are critically injured. Edison High will never be the same again.

Red Heart Tattoo was a compelling take on the lives of the students at Edison High before and after the bombing. There are the popular kids, the loners and the invisibles. And then the bombing that shakes up the clique system; bringing it to light and then redefining it. 

Two characters who stayed in my mind well after I read Red Heart Tattoo: Morgan and Roth. The tragedy transforms them both in ways they could've never imagined. The other characters also cope with the aftermath of the bombing in different ways. I loved how the story showed the larger picture... the ways in which the bombing scarred them and at the same time brought them together.

While Red Heart Tattoo was without doubt well written and thought provoking, it could've been so much more. The characters weren't as well developed as they could've been and the intricacies of the plot could've been explored more. It was a little too fast paced and the resolution of various conflicts seemed a little too rushed... While the heart of the story was phenomenally crafted and heartbreaking, aspects of it weren't as fleshed out as it could've been.

Told in five points of view, Lurlene McDaniel captures the loss, love, frustration, grief and anger felt by these teens as they slowly piece their lives back together.

Publication date: 24th July, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

From goodreads

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Review

Pushing the Limits had me hooked from the first page. It was impossible not to be involved in this intense and gripping read that evoked a multitude of emotions!

Noah and his brothers lost their parents in a fire. Noah wants nothing more than to graduate high school and take his brothers away from foster care so that they can be a family again. Echo used to be a popular girl before a horrible night she can't even remember that left her with scars everyone is gossiping about. Their worlds unexpectedly collide when they are both mandated by the State to attend therapy sessions with Mrs. Collins, a clinical social worker.

How can I describe my feelings towards this book? It had me thoroughly involved. Noah and Echo were as much a part of my week as the zillion trivial and/ major things that happened to me in real life. The minute I turned on my e-reader and got back to where I'd left off, it felt like I was sinking back into their world. Would Echo be all right? What was her mind not letting her remember? Would Noah lash out and do something reckless? What was Mrs. Collins up to?

I've never rooted for anyone more than I rooted for Noah and Echo to get their lives back on track. And thanks to Mrs. Collins, they do... step by step. She was definitely one of my favourite characters of all time. Others in Noah's and Echo's life also made all the difference. I was on the fence when it came to Noah's friends, Beth and Isaiah but grew to really like them. Echo's friends, on the other hand, were a mixed bag. Grace, who avoids Echo in public because she does not want to be "seen with her", felt all too familiar to me. People like her are everywhere!

And the things you've heard in and around the blogosphere about Noah? All true. He was swoon. I could picture firecrackers being lit in the background as they fell for each other... the chemistry between Echo and Noah was mind blowing! I'm sure Echo wouldn't have been able to survive her senior year without him... what with things at home being equally complex for her. The horrible night that was lost to her for a long time was filled with multiple family betrayals.

Pushing the Limits is amazing on so many levels and I guarantee that Noah and Echo's story deserves your undivided attention!

Publication date: 24th July, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Links:  Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Review: Fall For You by Cecilia Gray (AToMR blog tour stop)

I'm thrilled to post my review of Fall For You by Cecilia Gray as a part of the AToMR blog tour.

From goodreads

Jane Austen meets Pretty Little Liars in this fresh, new young-adult series!
~
The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. Please. They need to stay focused on something that lasts much longer: an acceptance letter from an Ivy. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it's about to turn the Academy--and the lives of its students--totally upside down...
~
To say Lizzie and Dante are polar opposites is the understatement of the century. He's a snooty Exeter transfer with more money than Google. She's a driven study-a-holic barely keeping up with tuition. It's obvious that Dante thinks he's way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons. But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie's quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets... Secrets Lizzie can't seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries...

One of the things I live for: Pride and Prejudice retellings! I think they are amazing, especially when they succeed in bringing back the swoony feelings I got while reading the original! I guess you can see why I wanted to read Fall For You!

Fall For You was as adorable and cutesy as the cover and blurb seems to indicate. I loved that it was set in a boarding school called Jane Austen Academy and was totally with Lizzie when she goes on a quest to save the school from the changes being imposed by the new owners (including changing the name of the Academy)!  Boys are allowed to enroll for the first time and it was great to meet Edward, Dante and even catch a brief glimpse of Wickam. I was happy Lizzie's first encounters with Dante were every bit as heated as Elizabeth Bennett's encounters with Darcy!

Lizzie was definitely a character I could root for. I enjoyed getting to know her... she was ambitious, hot headed and passionate about what she did. Unfortunately, Dante wasn't quite the Mr. Darcy. I just couldn't feel anything when Lizzie and Dante were supposed to be falling for each other. It felt like their chemistry sort of fizzled out... though it was still great to watch them work as a team to unearth the true identity of the new owners of the school.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of Jane Austen Academy and that's what truly drew me into the novel! Jane Austen Academy felt like an amazing, safe and Austenacious place and it was great to watch bonds being forged and new relationships develop while the stage was firmly set for the future installments. If you're a Jane Austen fan, you will love this utterly adorable and heartwarming retelling!

Click on the banner to check out the rest of the blogs participating in the Fall For You tour

Publication date: 10th February, 2012
Publisher: The Alpha Division, LLC
Source: A copy of this book was provided as a part of the blog tour

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

About the author

Cecilia Gray lives in Oakland where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She also pens her biographies in the third person. Like this. As if to trick you into thinking someone else wrote it because she is important. Alas, this is not the case.

Cecilia has been praised for “instilling a warmth and weight into her characters” (Romancing The Book Reviews) and her books have been praised for being “well-written, original, realistic and witty” (Quills & Zebras Reviews).

Her latest release, FALL FOR YOU, the first in a series of young-adult contemporary Jane Austen retellings received a starred Kirkus review and was praised for being a “unique twist on a classic” and offering “a compelling action of action, drama and love.”

She’s rather enamored of being contacted by readers and hopes you’ll oblige.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

From goodreads

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.
But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.
So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?
The choice isn't as simple as you think.

Review

You know what they say... be careful what you wish for ('cause you just might get it).

Annie Nutter is plain and invisible. She wishes, more than anything, she could be rich and glamorous until one day, when she is zapped by one of her dad's inventions and lands in a parallel universe where she is perfect and privileged Ayla Monroe. Annie learns that privilege and popularity come with a price and that maybe Annie Nutter had a thing or two Ayla Monroe never will.

Don't You Wish was an extremely cute book that I'm sure I would've loved reading in the ninth grade. Annie, as Ayla, discovers what it's like to be popular and realises that being the topic of conversation and dating the 'it' boy isn't all that it's cracked up to be. I loved how thoroughly the intricacies of the cliques in high school were explored.

I loved the romance between Annie/Ayla and Charlie Zelinsky, branded the "homeless boy". It was easily the sweetest and most heartfelt part of the book. I also loved Annie's father's wacky inventions and the way the existence of parallel universes were explained. It definitely helped add colour and quirkiness to the premise!

I loved how the book made me think of the various points of my life when I'd thought, What if... The grass always seems greener on the other side and this book made me wonder if while we were so busy chasing after things that had crept out of our reach, we lost sight of things that were always there. It's so easy to take things for granted!

All in all, Don't You Wish was a sweet, fluffy and empowering book. Unfortunately, it was also a bit on the forgettable side. As lovely as the message was and as adorable as the main characters were, there were way too many stereotypical characters and situations that made the plot formulaic and predictable. Still, for what it's worth, Don't You Wish was wonderfully charming and left me smiling!

Publication date: 10th July, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
Review

Every once in a couple of years, I happen to read a book that leaves me filled with awe... reminding of what words can do. Code Name Verity took my breath away with a story that broke my heart. The cover haunts me, now that I am aware of the meaning behind it. I can't forget Verity and Maddie and their friendship that was plain beautiful.

You couldn't make these people up, Elizabeth Wein says in the Author's Debriefing and I couldn't agree more. This book was filled with characters that felt so real... I could see them, hear them and feel the intensity of everything around and about them.

“It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
“KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!”

"Verity" is a British spy. She looked at the wrong side of the road and now she's at the mercy of the Gestapo, forced to give a full written confession to avoid the worst of consequences. In her confession, Verity writes about her friendship with Maddie, a pilot and the events that led to her capture. Everything about this raw and compelling account had me glued to my e-reader; I could not take my eyes away from the screen, even when I had to muffle a chuckle or blink away tears that threatened to fall.

I do not want to say more about the plot or the characters because it might just give everything away. All I want to say is this: Code Named Verity seemed full of technicalities about flying, codes and World War II that I wasn't sure I would be able to stomach. All those details about something that was alien to me... I couldn't make head or tail of it in the beginning. But I was sucked in soon as the beauty of the relationships and sentiments it was filled with broke through the practiced confession.

I loved the way the story was narrated. Every character, including Verity's captor Hauptsturmf├╝rer von Linden, was multi-layered and intrigued me from the beginning. There are shades of gray in each one of them, including the protagonist. I appreciated the research that was done to give us a vivid picture of the setting behind Code Name Verity. It was especially amazing how the history of the ball point pen was incorporated into the story!

Code Name Verity is definitely one of my favourites of 2012! I want to give a copy of this book to each and every person I meet and say, Read this! For this book was vivid and poignant and crushed my heart into pieces; something that hasn't happened to me in the longest time.

Publication date: 15th May, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sunday Post #6 and why I've been MIA



The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!
~ Inspired by the meme In My Mailbox.~
It's a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week,
showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

I've been MIA for the past week... mainly because this week has been a bit of a blur with college, assignments and my internship. It might take a while before I can settle down and get back to my usual blogging schedule.

I do find time to read and just finished reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein which was fabulous. I could not stop thinking about it for days. My review should be up soon!

My week(s) in review

It's been a while since my last Sunday Post. I'm sharing five of my fave posts since then!

© On books!
Guest post by Justin Ordonez on Sykosa, Part II

Review: Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1) by Anne Greenwood Brown

Review: ALIBI Vol. I-IV: The Complete Series by Annie Miles, Isabel Eckersley, John Byrne, Sorrel Provola

I never thought I'd say this but...: On E-books versus paperbacks

Review: Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu (Novel Publicity Whirlwind tour stop)

I am currently reading

I have started reading Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. I've just read two pages so far and the first line definitely succeeded in holding my attention:

"My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has...well...issues. How do you think I'm doing?"

And here's my book haul for the week

Bought

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson * Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Since I'm a psychology student, Psych Major Syndrome sounds absolutely amazing! It sounds like a really cute read! I also finally purchased a used copy of Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta which is my favourite book of all time!

And I finally got a Kindle! It's the basic Kindle and it is definitely easy on the eyes. I ❤ e-ink!

There was also a sale at my favourite bookstore... I won't be reviewing these but I can't wait to read them:



I've been wanting to read The Sense of an Ending for quite a while. I've also wanted to read a book by Georgette Heyer for the longest time but never got around to it. Same goes for The Upside of Irrationality... I am fascinated by Daniel Ariely's work on irrationality!

For review

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill * The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman

Meant to Be sounds adorable! I was so excited to get it! I got The Jelly Bean Crisis for a blog tour by AToMR. Don't you love the cover?

What are you currently reading? And what books did you get this week?