Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1)
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Published: February 7th 2012
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Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Whenever I pick up a book, I usually look at the average rating of my friends on Goodreads, because I only accept/request friends whom I have similar taste in books, therefore, I usually enjoy the same books that the majority of my friends seem to have liked as well. This happened with Born Wicked. I seldom read books about witches, but this novel held a tiny bit of literary magic in its pages with writing, plot and characters.

"To protect the people I love, I'd do it all over again."

The most intriguing part of the book was the prophecy and I loved watching Cate develop friendships with other young witches whom I didn’t know to suspect [being witches] at first. When we got to know them a little better, I realized that they had an agenda of their own, but I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad. Also, the prophecy part was sooo alluring. I found myself wanting to know more and more about it, even though I guessed the ending of the prophecy as soon as it was revealed in its not-entire form. It reminded me somewhat of The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, but it’s not that complex nor is it gothic, but the problem is that it will be true no matter what and it has deadly consequences for some people. I’m afraid for Cate and her loved ones.

Since the witchery is forbidden, a lot of time is spent on Cate worrying about her future. She falls recklessly in love with a basically forbidden love interest while her childhood friend declares his love for her and asks her hand. If she doesn’t make her choice soon, according to the rules, her choice of husband isn’t hers to make, but the brotherhood’s and Cate doesn’t want to be married to a guy the same age as her dad. Talk about awkward, right?!

The romance is quite a steamy one considering it’s the era of 1890. I loved it though. Yes, I’ve heard the complaints about there being not that much witchery stuff, but honestly, I didn’t mind the romance at all in this case, but let's bare in minds that these three young sisters are just coming to their powers. The romance goes well with Cate’s inner struggle to be true to herself, be a good sister and keep her promise to her mom without being discovered by the brotherhood. Plus, there’s the sisterhood which wants her all to themselves. I felt Cate’s struggles and worries and she became a dare character to me. I most definitely want to know what happens next for this young, courageous, sweet heroine of ours.

I’d say that it’s foremost a romance story right now with witchery elements and an historical environment surrounding it. I don’t mind at all though, because I found the romance to be beautiful and everything worked well for me in this case. I loved this lovely, poetic and gorgeous writing style as well. Dude, I can’t wait to know what happens next! That ending? All these intrigues? Oh, boy. I. Want. More. If you want to explore some stories about witches and magic, be sure to give this series a try.

Oh, and I listened to the audio version which the narrator managed very well. She was a joy to listen to.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

By the way, doesn't this book have a gorgeous trailer? It's awesome!

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

Title: Indelible (The Twixt #1)
Author: Dawn Metcalf
Published: July 30th 2013
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Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review*

Some things are permanent.
And they cannot be changed back.
Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.
Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.
Somewhere between reality and myth lies…
The Twixt.

What a pretty cover this book has! I was allured to it ever since I first saw it. Then I read the blurb and wowzaa!! I knew we were meant to be. Turns out though, our story wasn’t exactly written in the stars. What originally felt like an original, intriguing world, turned out to be a frustrating teenage romance disguised as a unique paranormal story.

“Lehman?" Joy said. The word sounded familiar. "What does that mean?"

Inq shrugged as she considered the overhead lights. "A human who has been chosen by one of our kind. Confidante, contact, significant ... "
"Slave," Ink said dully.
"What?" Joy snapped.
"Or lover," Inq added. "It loses something in translation.” 

When we first met Joy, I admit, I would have freaked out over that window and those creepy noises a little, too. Ok, I’m lying. I would have freaked out a lot. However, when she learns about Ink and Inq, it doesn’t take a lot of time for her to trust them. Her character—the often lonesome, completely average girl with a fabulous best friend—was so full of clichés. The one relationship I was actually invested in was Joy and her brother, but this wasn’t explored to the length I was hoping for.  Safe to say that there are some female character I just don’t resonate well with and unfortunately Joy was one of them.

As for the romance, the L-bomb was so unexpected that I remember to have blinked my very rounded eyes multiple times since I just could not believe what I was reading. I do think there’s insta-attraction and you can take a very quick liking to another person but come on! You can’t possibly love someone you’ve practically just met. Who isn’t even human, tried to stab your eyes and take away your sight and has managed to put you in danger by doing that because many weird non-human creatures are intrigued by you. Doesn’t that weird you out? Apparently it doesn’t seem unnatural to Joy. Also, I have this weird dislike for ears and Ink practically devoured them when he touched her. Nope! Not creepy at all. All this time while I was reading Indelible, I kept imagining Bella and Edward and, in my opinion, there wasn’t much of a difference between the two couples.

All that said, I did like one thing in addition to Joy and her brother—the world. As a whole, it was fascinating and kept me turning the pages. On the other hand, I still don’t understand the system in its entirety because there are nuances I couldn't grasp or they just weren't explained thoroughly. Lehmans, Ink, Inq, demons—there’s a lot to keep up with. Also, at first I took a liking to Inq, but then she became so self-absorbed and what with all the talk about humans being just a fun way to spend time? There went the half point I would have added to my rating for her character.

I’m tempted to read what happens next and if the world is developed to even greater lengths, but I’m also not sure if I want to spend time with Joy. I guess a 16 year old me would have enjoyed this far more and I hope that teenagers who pick this up will swoon like I swooned when I read Twilight back in the day. Now, 5-6 years later it doesn’t feel all that natural or special and Twilight jokes have become a regular thing in my life. Unfortunately, all the other YA books I read prior this gorgeous arc, were far more enjoyable for me, hence me ending this review with a 2 star rating.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: September 11th 2012
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Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?
I've read about people having so many mixed feelings regarding this pretty and I must admit that it made me intrigued to know which category won me overthe haters or the lovers. After reading, I can say that it's neither. I honestly didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it either. However, cross my heart and hope to die, I did enjoy it. Let's get down to business and break it down piece by piece.

“Sorry-in-the-Vale, Sorriest River, Crying Pools," said Jared. "Is the quarry called Really Depressed Quarry?” 

The story. Kami is a very ravenous journalist craving for new stories to showcase them in her school newspaper. When the infamous Lynburns return to her hometown, strange things start to happen and Kami feels the strong need to invastigate what's wrong, who these people are and what do they want with her town. After all, the legends don't say a lot of good about them. Then, she discoveres that the voice of a boy inside her head isn't a voice at allit's one of the young Lynburns and he isn't exactly happy that Kami turned out to be real.

My thoughts. I listened to an audiobook and, in my opinion, the narrator did a great job. It was hard to get into at first, but once I got the hang of it, the reading experience became quite enjoyable. She made Kami sound very quirky and exciting, rather than a nosy clueless MC as some of the readers see her. I had heard so-so things, but it's been a lot of time since the book was published so I had mostly forgotten other people's thoughts and it paid off big time! I went into it expecting nothing and I believe that helped me enjoy the book way more. Plus, I enjoyed the humor. Like the quote above, it made me at least smile if not laugh.

I found the town itself to be awesome! Coming from a small town where rumours and small talk are the jazz, it was fun to see how presumtions and rumours can form a story. I also didn't know who to trust since someone was supposed to be behind all of this nonsense what started to happen after the Lynburns returned and I really didn't know who it was. All these different connections among the cast and their relationships are complicated, therefore, it takes a while to grasp everyone's full identity and intentions. I'm usually pretty good at guessing things and predicting the big bad, but the joke was on me this time since I couldn't pinpoint one certain person as opposed to multiple suspects. Also, turns out, Kami and one of the Lynburn boys are tied for a reason and it goes back to wayyyy before they were even born. The history of the Lynburns was my favorite part of the story and I hope it'll be explored to even more depth in the sequel. Oh, and despite the cliché, I'm all for team Jared. Ash is not the one for Kami, that's for sure.

I enjoyed discovering all the revelations and for me it wasn't as bad as some people claim it to be. I agree, it didn't raise to its full potential, but as I've stated before, some of my favorite series haven't all gotten 5 stars for the first book. I will definitely read the sequel and I hope that the Lynburn legacy will be explored to further depth and the villain will create havoc among our beloved characters because it'd be interesting to see who's strong enough to survive, emotionally and physically, and what's next to come.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Published: August 28th 2012
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A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.
Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.
Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

I seldom write reviews right after I have finished a book, but my emotions are so strong that I know, if I don’t write my review now, it won’t be a true painting of my feelings. I can list the things I feel, or rather am, after reading If I Lie on one hand: emotional, broken, hopeful.

“Sometimes a moment defines you, defines how people see you for the rest of your life. You can accept it or fight it. If you're lucky, you'll recognize the moment when it happens.” 

The story. Quinn has done something wrong in the eyes of the people of Sweetheaven. She has the power to stop her former friends and the whole town from bullying her—the girl who cheated on the town hero—but she can't because she will not break her promise. Even her own father blames her. It’s an everending cycle of hurt for Quinn and the only person who can save her from this hell is the guy who left her face it all alone and may not ever return.

My thoughts. I can tell you right off the bat that the real synopsis is quite a bit misleading and it’s not what we think we’re getting ourselves into. I am thoroughly surprised by how raw and painful this read was. I was expecting to be emotional, yes, but I didn’t think it would turn out to be this bad. It... It isn’t an ugly cry book, but it was a never-ending silent cry one. I'm telling you, these tears just didn’t know when to stop. Quinn is so lost due to a secret she once told, because it was about her mom, and when it all came out, her whole world was torn apart. She has learned her lesson and won’t spill the secret that’s killing her inside and outside. I did not see that secret coming at all. This situation was so complicated. The person Quinn supposedly cheated with is close to Carey—Quinn’s boyfriend. If the three of them had talked everything out, none of this would have happened, but it goes to show how critical our society is about these kinds of situations. Quinn should have never gone through that.

In addition to being the town’s most hated inhabitant, her father sees the ghost of her mother in her so he is pretty much ignorant towards her. I hated how he didn’t notice her. Didn’t see her until it was almost too late and in some ways it was. What do you have if your parent doesn’t believe in you and blames you for everything that has gone wrong in one's life? If everyone else has turned their back on you? When a person you love doesn’t stand up for you because they feel betrayed, but you can’t explain because it’s not your secret to tell? If the person who’s basically responsible for all the horrible things that have happened to you by keeping their secret is afraid to tell the truth? It’s amazing how much Quinn grew thanks to these horrible situations. She may have made one mistake, but all she ever did was try to protect the person she loved. I wish she had loved one less. The only person who sees the real her is George—a veteran who Quinn takes care of at a hospital. I found him to be the best part of this book and his words, attitude and friendship with a high school senior was admirable and inspiring.

All in all, I didn’t expect any of this. It’s a novel that will stick with me for quite some time. If you want a book with swoon-worthy romance, beautiful words and a gorgeous love story, then this is not the book for you. Foremost it was raw and sometimes even depressing, but it shows that sometimes things will go from bad to worse before they get better. The ending.. I’m a happily-ever-after kind of girl. This wasn’t one. I didn’t expect it to be, though. I think this ending feels real and it couldn’t have been any other way. I cried during that last scene. I cried after I had shut the cover of my kindle and after crying..? I felt hopeful. Should you read this? Most definitely yes.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1)
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published: December 1st 2011
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What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

During my 1.5 years of blogging, this book, or rather series, has been everywhere. All the bloggers I'm more close with have all been raving about the sensation that is Miranda Kenneally. Did I believe them? I must admit that I was sceptical. Come on! It can't be that a book is just that good, can it? When I ordered Hundred Oaks’ books from The Book Depository, I kept my fingers crossed like no other that they wouldn’t be a disappointment.

“One thing I learned a long time ago is that even if you think you're meant to be with someone, that doesn't necessarily mean you get to be with them.” 

I’m not going to recap the synopsis in my own words or try to make the novel appealing, because the real synopsis isn’t spoilery and it’s short, accurate and doesn’t give away jazz. If you're not familiar with the synopsis, scroll up a bit and read it :) 

I thought I had it all figured out. I guess the joke is on me—Catching Jordan was nothing like I expected. Jordan was a great main character. I liked her strength which was spiced with a touch of vulnerability and insecurities. What I enjoy about contemporaries are the characters since fantasy, dystopian and paranormal novels usually require a lot of world-building. Contemporaries, however, are all about the characters and their daily struggles. Jordan made some doubtable decisions I was frustrated with, yet let’s not forget how much pressure was on her by being a senior quarterback, plus the issues with her dad, never having had a boyfriend and having to compete with someone for a starter place in her own team. That’s a lot to deal with and I understand how that can push one’s character down a few steps.

This novel was packed with awesome people and that was what I loved the most. If you were to ask about my favorite one, I’d say it was Sam Henry, no doubts. At first, it was hard for me to connect with Jordan, but when I read about her relationship with her best friend, I was able to somewhat identify with her and little by little she took a place in my heart. Also, I have never taken interest in American football. Soccer? Um, yes, most definitely. They’re not exactly the same though, are they? ;) It was a bit confusing at first, but Jordan was able to make me interested and keep my focus on the plot throughout the entire book. This one wasn’t an ugly cry for me, but I cried a lot. Jordan, Henry, JJ, Carter, Jordan’s family, Marie and Carrie—they all sneaked their way into my heart and it was hard to watch everything fall apart. I guess when you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. That's exactly what happened with this cast.

The only reason I’m not giving this pretty 5 stars is that I didn’t connect with the characters right off the bat. I absolutely adored how permanent and there Jordan’s family was, how the problems she had were so real and relatable. I had lots of laughing out loud moments and shed more than a few tears. I think the hype around Miranda and this series is completely justified. Catching Jordan couldn’t have ended any better and I’m eagerly looking forward to continuing this wonderful series of companion novels. If you haven’t tried them yet, I advise you to do it soon. Read on, lovelies!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Title: Thousand Words
Author: Jennifer Brown
Published: May 21st 2013
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Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.
Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.

I actually don’t know why this book has such a low rating on Goodreads since it voiced an important issue that my generation most definitely has: everything is pictured and filmed and instantly published without no shame or thoughts about the consequences. In my opinion, Thousand Words is a great novel for teenagers to read and offers thoughts to grown-ups as well.

“People talked. Let them talk. Nothing I could do to stop them. They knew the thousand words, but they didn't know the rest of the story.” 

The story. Ashleigh is one of the popular kids and has a ton of friends. She’s in the school’s track team, has a very respected family and a great boyfriend. However.. her boyfriend Kaleb is leaving for college soon and all he cares about is spending time with his boys from his baseball team. With a little encouragement from her friends, Ashleigh sends a compromising picture of herself to her boyfriend. This could only make things better. There’s no way that this is the turning point to something horrible, is there?

My thoughts. I found Ashleigh a little hard to connect with but once I did, I was totally rooting for her to get everything worked out in this awful situation. I knew this book was about sexting, but I had no idea how the whole picture would come together. I don’t think Ashleigh was innocent and she provoked the situation a little with her attitude and doubts in some situations, but I think the one who forwarded the picture, was a total d-bag! I’m aware of teenagers showcasing their body very freely, but I had no idea it would ruin a person’s life to this extent. I found this solution to be very realistic though and actually liked that it wasn’t all flowers and candy for Ashleigh, but she, therefore us, had to suffer for acting irrationally and the one who forwarded the message, got what one deserved! It’s never okay to publicly humiliate someone, no matter how angry you are.

What I liked best were the parts where Ashleigh spent time doing her community service. They were educational and showed us different teens with different problems which I found interesting and captivating. Also, Mack—the sort-of-love-interest-slash-friend—was a great change since he was hard to crack. That nut had a tough shell around him and Ashleigh had to twist and shake him to get him to open up a little. Moreover, he wasn’t one of the good-looking swoon-worthy guys. No—he had his secrets and definitely falls into the mysterious category, but he was a total opposite from Kaleb who was a very handsome guy. Point: good looks don’t make for a good personality. Oh, and the way this harmed Ashleigh’s family and friendship with her best friend—it was hard to read about, but by the end made me smile. Trust is hard to earn back and Ashleigh had to earn it as well as give it.

At the end of the day, it was my first ever Jennifer Brown book and I read the interview with her at the end of my e-copy. I love how she said that she wants to basically educate teenagers and give them something to think about and write unconventional stories rather than follow the formula. That is exactly what she did! She most certainly doesn’t follow any trends, but speaks the truth and paints a very painful, realistic picture in front of us. I definitely want to explore some more!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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