Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cover Reveal: Four of a Kind by Kellie Sheridan

Four of a Kind

Kellie Sheridan

Publication date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Find it on Goodreads

The odds of giving birth to identical quadruplets: 1 in 13 million.

The population of Fairview, a town so small that all anyone talks about is the Fairview Four returning after fourteen years: 7208.

The chance of Reagan blending in with the crowd after a boy in her new town starts to see her for who she really is: zero.

Following in the footsteps—and all too often, the shadows—of her sisters was nothing new to Reagan. But after fifteen years of fading in to the background, she’s finally finding her own way. Amidst all the gossip and assumptions, one person sees Reagan for what she’s always wanted to be. One of a kind.

Finally feeling like she belongs, Reagan wants to enjoy every possibility her new life has to offer, but things aren’t going as smoothly for her sisters. How can Reagan possibly let herself be happy—or maybe even fall in love—when her family is finally turning to her for support?

About the author:

I have been in love with stories in all of their forms for as long as I can remember. Admittedly, sometimes that means falling into places like Stars Hollow and Sunnydale, but books have always been my true love. In early 2011 I began writing a book blog in order to share my favorite reads with book lovers. From there, the bookish community encouraged me to stop sitting on my own stories and share them instead. Since then I’ve been madly devouring everything I can about digital publishing.

For the past two years I have been mainly obsessed with young adult books, but my favorite stories still come from the adult fantasy genre. As far as I’m concerned, Briggs, Bishop, Vincent and Vaughn are all must reads.

I spent part of my twenties living in Galway, Ireland and swooning after various lilting accents but am now back home in Ontario, Canada. My family includes two Glen of Imaal Terriers and a Green Cheek Conure.

You can visit Kellie's website or follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book review: Populatti by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

Getting in is hard. Staying in is harder...

Joining social network let sixteen-year-old Livi Stanley trade her awkward middle school past for the social life of her dreams. Because Populatti isn't just a social network. It's a club, providing access to friends. Parties. And Livi's crush, star baseball player Brandon Dash. Yet lately, online rumors have been threatening Livi's place in the group. And not even her friends are doing much to stop them. Leaving Livi to prove them wrong, and fast.

Before her life as a popster is over.

Received as a free ARC from Netgalley.

I feel like Populatti tried really, really hard to be what its author wanted it to be and fell horribly short.  Considering there isn’t a single review below three stars that I’ve been able to find, I was expecting it to be pretty good, but most of the time I just felt underwhelmed.

As you can see from the summary, this book is about a girl whose social life depends on a social networking site her friend made.  The friend, Crystal, is trying to get into a computer science program at MIT and plans to use the site for her portfolio, so a lot of love has gone into it.  Supposedly Populatti is what rules the social scene at school.  Unfortunately, I’m just not seeing it.

Does anyone remember the skit from The Amanda Show, The Girls Room?  It had a few girls hosting a show in the girls bathroom, and one of them was named Amber.  She always introduced herself saying “I’m popular!” and her friends would back it up (and even enforce it with violence).  But then it turns out most of the people in the school either don’t like Amber or don’t even know her name.

Now imagine an entire novel of Ambers, only the writer was trying to make it seem like they actually ARE popular.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing inherently against books that are about high-class people who are popular and maybe a little bitchy.  But these guys are sophomores in high school, spending all their time worrying about a site that boils down to an exclusive clique that even the book admits a lot of people see no value in being a member because they’re pretty much required to only socialize with other members.

That and I just don’t get Livi’s progression.  She was apparently bullied in middle school, before she moved to Golden Hill, called ‘drumstick’ because of her supposedly large thighs.  It’s implied she had no friends, and spent a lot of time alone.  And then in high school she proceeds to exclude and gossip about people who aren’t in Populatti, doing the same thing.  She doesn’t even realize it the entire book.  Instead of realizing that Populatti is toxic and getting out, all she can think of is that her friends would stop spending time with her if she wasn’t part of the site, not realizing that they probably aren’t actually her friends if that were true.  Sure in the end she realizes that Populatti isn’t perfect, but the ending left me underwhelmed just like the rest of the book.  There’s really no resolution to anything.

The writing itself is problematic too most of the time.  There are times when it’s great, usually descriptions, but a lot of the time, it’s much too simple, and it’s made clunky by the fact that the author likes dropping in brand names.  And, I usually don’t complain about the formatting of a book since it’s an unproofed galley, but to be honest, the formatting errors were way horrid.  Entire chapters would be smashed to the left, about five words per line, and often coupled with that, there would even be times when words were shifted around in sentences so that I had to read vertically to understand what the sentence was trying to say.  This book was already self-published, but it only shows up at print, so I’m guessing that since it was picked up by a commercial publisher, they decided to add an e-book version, which is what I obviously got.  But as I said, the errors were just a little too gross for me to overlook.

So yeah, this book was probably a little below mediocre.  As I said, it tried so hard, but it just didn’t get where it wanted to.

Banned Books Week: My Top 5 Banned Books

September 21-27 is Banned Books Week this year, celebrating reading and specifically, reading books despite people who want to censor what we read for various reasons, such as religion, or thinking that the books are inappropriate for children.  You can see a list of the Top 10 banned/challenged books each year from 2001-2013 here, and these are my top five from the lists, in no particular order:

ttyl, ttfn and l8r g8r

Lauren Myracle

Lauren Myracle has gotten pretty popular over the years; the first book of hers I read was Kissing Kate, which doesn't show up on the top ten lists, even though there's plenty reason for it to.  These three books were banned frequently for language, sexual explicitness and the fact that one of the characters is pretty religious, which pretty much covers the spectrum.

What My Mother Doesn't Know

Sonya Sones

What My Mother Doesn't Know follows the adventures of Sophie, a Jewish girl discovering love.  It's also written entirely in poems.  I loved this book as a teen and read is way more than once.  And, of course, it's on the banned list because teenagers apparently aren't ready to deal with sexuality.

Harry Potter series

JK Rowling

And what would a list of banned books be without Harry Potter.  The reason listed on the site is occult/Satanism, which is funny considering how much of a deal they make about Christmas at Hogwarts.

My Sister's Keeper

Jodi Picoult

It isn't necessarily a YA book, but because it centers heavily around a young girl, it was banned partly for being 'unsuited for age group,' among a laundry list of details.  Considering this book was meant to be controversial, I'd say Picoult did a good job, wouldn't you?

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

And finally, Thirteen Reasons Why is a fairly popular book that deals with the journey a young girl experienced, as her resolve was chipped away and she finally committed suicide.  And, of course, the book has been banned specifically because it talks about suicide.  Whether you like this particular take on it or not, suicide is something that happens, and brushing it under the rug is a lot more offensive, in my opinion.

What are some of your favorite books that you 'shouldn't be reading'?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott

The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott 

Publication date: November 18th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Emily Charles knows how to run away. Away from her overprotective, agoraphobic mother. Away from her biology-obsessed, autistic sister. Away from her quiet sheltered claustrophobic homeschooled life. When Emily’s escape plan involves starting her junior year at Kennedy High School, she realizes she’s no longer running away. Now she’s running towards. Towards her quiet thoughtful cross-country teammate, August. Towards her zany enthusiastic lab partner, Miles. Towards friendship, love, independence, and life.

Thanks to her sister’s special interest in biology, Emily knows all about the birds and the bees. Boys are a lot more confusing!

You can find it on Goodreads here.

Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway. COUNTING TO D is her first novel. When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family. Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciency things and is a licensed professional engineer.

Follow her on Twitter or visit her author's site!

Kate Scott is holding a giveaway to celebrate the reveal!  If you'd like to enter, simply see the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: The Edge of You by Theresa DaLayne

He left home to escape. She made a new life out of guilt. Neither one expected to find love—but not even the Arctic can cool this steamy romance.

Maya knows she’s doing the right thing by moving to Alaska with her parents, but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it. Forced to give up a scholarship to a prestigious art school, she relocates to a Podunk town with one college the size of her high school cafeteria, all to help hold her family together after the death of her little sister. But a fresh start can only do so much.

Jake doesn’t like handouts and he certainly doesn’t need any distractions. Working on a salmon boat in Kodiak, Alaska is the only way to pay for his mother’s surgery back in the lower forty-eight. Juggling college courses and constant worry about his mother’s health, Jake couldn’t imagine anything else fitting into his life. That is, until he meets Maya, the sexy Californian artist who tints his world in technicolor.

But when Maya’s family starts to crumble and Jake’s mom takes a turn for the worse, will they drag each other down, or can they find what they were missing all along?

A free ARC was provided to me through Netgalley.

The first thing most people really notice about The Edge of You is that it does have a really unique setting.  Alaska is a far from common setting; this is probably the first book I’ve encountered that used it where it wasn’t some kind of wilderness survival plot.  And the setting is used well, with details dropped about it without seeming overbearing or too casual.  There are certain times when a special setting really does need more details than usual, and I’d say this is it.  Kodiak is pretty unique, and the fact that Maya is an artist worked really well, I think, because she’s the type of person that would have an eye for the type of beauty the island exhibits.

Overall, though, I’d say that the book was average.  The plot wasn’t anything special; a typical ‘broken people find love’ plot set against an interesting backdrop, and I found myself annoyed with the characters sometimes.  Most often Jake’s mother in the beginning.  I have a lot of sympathy for someone in positions similar to hers, but I just saw no reason at all why she’d stay with her boyfriend.  If he had spent even a little time taking care of her or earning money so she felt like she was dependent on him maybe, but he sucked her dry and didn’t give a darn about her, so I honestly had no sympathy that she didn’t just kick him to the curb earlier than she did.  Not to mention Maya’s mother was a pretty horrible person and her father handled things incredibly badly for… no apparent reason.  It even says in text near the end when he doesn’t contact her after she starts staying with Jake that he had no reason to stay silent.  He could’ve at least called and made sure she was okay.  He didn’t have to let her in on the Big Reveal.

I also found that the writing got really simple near the end, like the author just wanted to get it over with or something, which made those last few chapters a bit of a slog for me.

So again, I’d say this book was average.  I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I was hoping I would.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

I will fully admit that I haven’t read any of the books that are apparently being compared to it, though I do have The Selection in my queue once I get through a bunch of books I requested from authors and all that fun stuff.  My first impression of the book was that it was a bit unsettling; I mean, why wouldn’t it be?  It seems to go back and forth on its impression of surrogates, whether they’re slaves or they’re girls who’ve gotten a great opportunity in their life.

I really did enjoy most of the book, mostly because the problems Violet faces and the ways she reacted made sense to me.  She’s torn on her life in the Jewel, one she feels like she should hate and yet, every time the Duchess gives her something for acting good and staying in line, she can’t help but think, “Well, maybe this isn’t so bad.” I have to admit that I didn’t really like the fact that she started right off with thinking how unfair it all is; it’s becoming a cliché in dystopian, I think, for characters to be Rebels From the Start.  One of the things some people seem to have a problem with is that she’s special, as in has “better” or “more” as far as other surrogates (as in her Augeries, in this case) but I’m one of those people that’s of the opinion that in a lot of cases, main characters do have to be special in some way.  If they don’t have special powers, or a “tragic” background, then they’re just some random person thrown into the events for no reason, and I’d find that boring.

A part I can honestly say I enjoyed was the Duchess.  I didn’t find myself hating her, even though we probably were supposed to.  She has her obviously mean moments, of course, such as when she threatens to break Violet’s hand, and when she has Annabelle drug her so they can try to impregnate her again without even telling her it was happening.  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s obvious that she’s not the worst person ever.  The reveal about what the Electress is trying to do as far as surrogates makes that clear, if it’s true (though I personally am a bit skeptical, considering the Electress came from the Bank, not the Jewel, and so wasn’t raised like the royalty).

One of the problems I did have with the book, however, is the “instalove.” As in she’s in love with Ash as soon as she meets him.  And I was actually fine with quite a lot of the book after they met, however… I couldn’t help but slam my head on the nearest hard surface sometimes.  When she sees him and Carnelian kissing in the ballroom, for instance, even after she heard during that very first encounter that he might be obligated to kiss her or even have sex with her, if that’s what she wishes, she freaks out and thinks that he’s a traitor.  I mean, seriously?  I know you’re smarter than that, Violet.  It seemed like it was just put in there to create drama and, in the end, the same ending could’ve been achieved by a lot of other means.

Also the ending is a cliffhanger and the worst kind too, where you’re left thinking “Where’s the rest?” as in “That’s more like the end of a chapter not a book,” and people who’ve read some of my past reviews would know I hate that device.  It doesn’t stop me from being interested in the next books, but I still hate it because I find it sloppy.

Still, I think it’s worth a shot, so happy reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read to help book bloggers get to know each other and spread the following love around.  Each week there's a question or activity.

Question of the Week: Before blogging (dark times people!) how would you find out about new books or did you?

Honestly?  I mostly just trawled my local library for books that they got in new.  They were pretty good at getting new ones in, at least from authors they already carried, and even if the book wasn't new (as in it came out within the last month) it was new to me.