Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ARC Review: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don't TouchDon’t Touch

Author: Rachel M. Wilson
Series: -
Pages: 432
Publisher: HarperTeen
Amazon
Release date: 2nd September 2014

Synopsis:

A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together…which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

Includes back matter from the author.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

Don’t Touch is a story about a young girl named Caddie who has ambitions to be an actress but suffers from severe anxiety and has a fear about touching anyone. She created ‘games’ such as Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good as a way to justify why she doesn’t touch.

The characters Caddie was an MC I unfortunately found lacklustre, I definitely felt sorry for the way she suffered but she wasn’t honest or forthcoming with anyone at all, especially with her family and her childhood best-friend Mandy who I thought was a wonderful support and Peter who despite his own personal struggles was fabulous; she was surrounded by a great group of new friends at the academy who were all developed well and likable.

The plot was interesting and relatively slow paced as we watch Caddie face her fears, yearn for touch, play Ophelia in her favourite play, grow close to her peers and find love – Caddie had not only her OCD to deal with but also moving to a new school and her parents separation. I liked seeing the progress Caddie would make; the author wrote her issues and reactions perfectly and with kindness,

Rachel M. Wilson’s writing is engaging and sympathetic, she knew her subject matter extremely well and wrote with compassion; as a sufferer of anxiety myself I found myself nodding along to Caddie’s reactions on numerous occasions - her writing is personal and gets right inside the MC’s mind. It is a wonderful debut.

What I liked:
  • Don’t Touch is a standalone! We need more of these.
  • The romance was done very well and wasn’t at the forefront of the story.
  • The acting and Shakespeare scenes.
  • I want a best friend like Mandy!
  • I liked that Caddie was seeking professional help to deal with her problem; it wasn’t brushed off and ignored.
  • The authors note at the end.
What I wasn’t a huge fan of:

  • The MC came across as flat, her anxiety was the main focus and her passion for acting I didn’t feel was fully portrayed in her actions, I would have liked to have seen more of her personality shine through.
Overall, despite struggling with the main character, I did enjoy Don’t Touch and the overall storyline which I feel the author wrote extremely well.

Thank-you kindly to HarperTeen for the opportunity to read and review Don’t Touch.

 

Rachel M. WilsonAbout the author: Rachel M. Wilson is the author of the contemporary YA, DON'T TOUCH, forthcoming from HarperTeen, Sep. 2, 2014. 

She graduated from Northwestern University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Rachel grew up in Birmingham, AL, and she currently writes, acts, and teaches in Chicago, IL.

Rachel's all over the Interwebs: 
On Twitter @byRachelMWilson
On Instagram: @byRachelMWilson
On Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/rachelwilson...
On Tumblr:http://rachelmwilson.tumblr.com/

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: The Winners Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winners Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Pages: 369
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Amazon (Only $3.38 on kindle at the moment)
Release date: 10th April 2014


Synopsis. (Goodreads): Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

I was quite hesitant about reading The Winners Curse, fantasy is either hit or miss for me and the hype for this book was overwhelming when it was first released but I’m pleased to say that I found myself enjoying it.

Seventeen year-old Kestrel is the General’s daughter and needs to decide if she want to join the military or get married to an elite Valorian; she prefers to make music and doesn’t wish to conform to the rules much to her father’s dismay.  On a whim at an auction Kestrel purchases a Herrani slave at a ridiculous price, she’s intrigued by this stranger and eager to learn more.

Characters: Our MC was wonderfully developed! Kestrel was a strategist not a fighter, I enjoyed her passion and eagerness; she wasn’t without her faults but I really liked her, Arin was mysterious and I came to truly appreciate the moments he would spend with Kestrel, there was bitterness in his persona and as the story progressed we come to find out why.

Plot: I found the first part of the book extremely slow, we have a small inkling that something is going down but the what was a mystery - the plotting and scheming had me curious so I was eager to see how it would all unfold.

We do get a sweet forbidden romance, my favourite type. The conflicting cultures were intriguing as was the slavery aspect; the Valorians took over the lands and conquered the Herrani many years ago.

What a liked:

*Marie Rutkoski detailed imagery
*The romance wasn’t at the forefront of the story, I liked the forbidden aspect.
*The stunning cover
*Enjoyable, detailed world-building, the build-up was quite exciting and after the ending we were left with the next book has been set-up perfectly.

What I didn’t like:

* Some parts were slow and my interest was starting to taper off before something exciting would happen again.
* It lacked tension and frequent action sequences I tend to find myself enjoying
* That shocker of an ending! I neeeeed a HEA in my books and the outcome was not what I was expecting.
*Arin’s lack of a back-story.

Overall, The Winners Curse is a nice start to the series, I  look forward to reading the next book in the Winner's Trilogy.

 

Marie RutkoskiAbout the author: Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014. 

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/marier..

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Review: Surrender the Sky by Meradeth Houston

Surrender the Sky (Sary Society)Surrender the Sky

Author: Meradeth Houston
Series: Sary Society
Pages: 296
Publisher/Source: MuseIt Up Publishing via Netgalley
Release date: 2nd May 2014


Synopsis. (Goodreads) Young Adult Paranormal 

Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken. 

When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidently shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel Sary, intent on exposing them to the world, starts interfering with Gabby’s work. And there’s no denying her attraction to Jassen, who is torn between his duties and his heart. With threats at every turn and her immortality on the line, Gabby has to find a way to save the Sary or surrender the sky forever.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 star

I am such a sucker for a pretty cover and a unique sounding synopsis so I was eager to read Surrender the Sky by Meradeth Houston and thankfully it didn’t fail to disappoint and kept me interested from the very first page.

A Sary is a form of immortal angel who are charged with helping humans that are contemplating suicide; Our MC Is a Sary named Gabby who at the beginning of the book failed to stop the boy she was in charge of from causing chaos in class which inadvertently caused her to expose her true identity – her wings, after being accidentally shot, something forbidden for her kind.

When punishment is to be dealt, the future Sary leader, Jassen arrives and offers her an opportunity to make up for her mistake and deal with the people who saw what she really was. The premise was quite interesting and I found myself enjoying the authors’ creativity and endearing characters. Jassen was enigmatic and a great love interest, the forbidden aspect made things all the more exciting and Bea was the most wonderful best friend, I adored her forthright attitude, the interactions between the characters was great. The villain, a rogue Sary named Leon was also written well and I enjoyed learning about why he was the way he was but I would have loved a few more background details, I felt he lacked the angst and evil vibe needed to make him truly terrifying.

The plot was detailed and filled with many surprising moments,the writing was entertaining and the details vivid; I had no idea this book was a part of a series; I don’t feel I missed anything from not reading the other books as the main characters aren’t continued from the previous books.

Thank you to MuseIt Up Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Surrender the Sky.

 

Meradeth HoustonAbout the author: I've never been a big fan of talking about myself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about me:

>I'm a California girl. This generally means I talk too fast and use "like" a lot.

>I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people's DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.

>I've been writing since I was 11 years old. It's my hobby, my passion, and I'm so happy to get to share my work!

>My other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology!

>If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because I'm terrified of heights

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel & The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Hi everyone!! thank-you so much for stopping by today.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW’s for this week is The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel & The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout, both sound amazing!

The Book of Ivy 
Author: Amy Engel
Series: -
Genre: Young adult
Amazon pre-order
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: 4th November 2014


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

In a future where girls no longer control their own fates, sixteen-year-old Ivy Westfall has the power to give girls back their choices. If she’s willing to commit murder to do it…

After a brutal nuclear war, followed by famine and disease, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over who would govern the new nation. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. This year, it is Ivy Westfall's turn to be married. Only her bridegroom is no average boy. He is Bishop Lattimer, the President’s son. And Ivy’s mission is not simply to marry him and bear his children. Her mission, one she’s been preparing for all her life, is to kill him and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer turns out not to be the cruel, heartless boy her family warned her to expect. And as Bishop and Ivy navigate a tentative friendship that evolves into something more, Ivy is torn between loyalty to her family and following her own heart. She is a teenage girl caught in an adult web of manipulation, lies, and the struggle for power. Ultimately, she must decide what sacrifices are worth making for the lives of those she loves.

The Dead List
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: -
Genre: New Adult
Amazon pre-order
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: 31st March 2015


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

It’s Ella’s senior year of high school and she and her best friend Linds plan to make it the best year ever. At Brock Cochran’s end of summer pool party, the girls vow to have as much fun as possible before they head off to different colleges in the fall. 

But when Ella is mysteriously attacked on her way home from the party, everything changes. Ella’s carefree senior year plans disintegrate as she finds herself at the center of an attempted murder investigation.

Ella is determined to move on; to get her life back to normal, but she can’t seem to shake the feeling that she’s still being watched. Suddenly, the people closest to her seem the most suspicious, like the elusive Jensen Carver. In her seemingly safe West Virginia town, Ella starts to wonder who she can actually trust

What are most anticipating this week?

PS. If you are interested in children’s book reviews (3-12 years), I have started a new review blog (with the odd toddler snack thrown in) Here – Little Ones Read with a current Giveaway at the moment.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

ARC Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, #1)The Beautiful Ashes

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Broken Destiny
Pages: 304
Publisher/Source: Harlequin
Release date: 26th August 2014

Synopsis (Goodreads): In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate. 

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. 

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series so I was super excited to see she was releasing an NA paranormal series about angels and demons, this was an instant download and read for me and I was riveted from the very first page.

Our MC is Ivy who has had strange visions since she was a child, always believing she was crazy she soon discovers that her sister is trapped in a parallel realm and her visions are in fact very real and the reality more disturbing than what she could have imagined. In order to save her sister she needs to put her trust in a guy who is ‘supposedly’ destined to betray her and find a relic to defeat the demons.

Adrian is bound by an ancient legacy and despises demons so he is hell-bent on destroying them and agrees to help Ivy to enter the realms in order to find the ancient artefact they need as well as save her sister but along the way he withholds a lot of important information so I wasn’t quite sure whether this guy could be trusted or not.

Ivy and Adrian were both interesting and I liked the way their fates were connected. Adrian came across initially as gruff and broody but as the book progressed we seenot only his dedication but also his vulnerability and I liked the way he devoted himself to protecting Ivy; in the initial stages I wasn’t sure if Ivy would be a character I would enjoy but I did – I liked how mature and capable she was despite the odds that were against her.

I am a sucker for forbidden romances and despite the relationship between Ivy and Adrian not being at the forefront of the story, their chemistry and attraction kept things entertaining. This is definitely no Cat and Bones romance but I’m really keen to see how it progresses; I want a few more gushy moments.

I really liked the overall premise of this story and the intricate world Jeaniene Frost has created which was quite disturbing and frightening at times, it was an interesting concept. The demons in this book were freaky and the angel aspect was unique. My only gripe with this book would be the ending seemed to be quite rushed.

Overall, I cannot fault Jeaniene Frost’s descriptive writing; the interesting plot, characters and the setting - it was all blended together beautifully. I was hooked from the very first page; the wait for the next book is going to be painful.

Thank you to Harlequin Publishing via Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review The Beautiful Ashes.


About the author: Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her.

For information on Jeaniene's books, reading the first 20% of each book free, book trailers, deleted scenes, creature mythology, and more, please visit: www.jeanienefrost.com