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Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden by Jessi Kirby
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: eARC
Pages: 288
Source: Received for review from the publisher via Edelweiss
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference. (summary from Goodreads)
 It is so hard to explain this book. Sometimes there are those adorable contemporary novels that tell a good story and provide a good distraction for a few hours. Golden is not like that at all. Kirby has told this incredible story, with such an authentic feel to it, about discovering dreams and thinking beyond what you're told.

Usually, characterization is my favorite part of reading. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the characters in this book, but they were not what made the book for me. Parker was a great narrator. She finally realizes that her life is her life, not her mother's. She realizes that she always plays it safe. She makes a lot of realizations throughout the book, some pleasant, others not so much. She's likeable and easy to relate to. Though all of the characters in this novel showed a lot of growth and I was pleased with them all in the end, I ended up being really proud of Parker.

Kat and Parker are, on the surface, opposites. Parker is a hard worker, follows her mom's order, and doesn't take a lot of risks. Kat is always doing reckless things, she's loud, and certainly not approved by Parker's mom. They balance each other out. I think their friendship is very realistic. It definitely isn't perfect, because no teenage girl friendship is. They may fight. They might not be 100% honest with each other at all times. They may be suspicious of things they shouldn't. But in the end, they support each other and are there for each other and would never really betray one another.

The romance between Parker and Trevor is not the center of the book. The triangle between Julianna, Shane, and Orion is technically the center of the book, but it's not about the romance, no really. Either way, I really like Trevor. At first he seems like the typical player, like, "Hey, let's go hook up in the art supply closet!" But then we realize that it is just a game. He obviously likes Parker, and he puts up with her more crazy moments. Just like Kat, he supports her and he understands her. I was really rooting for their relationship.

To me, the plot is what makes this book. I love quirky adventures like the one in this story. It's more than just a plot. It makes the characters come more alive. Reading this book was refreshing because it was different than the typical contemporary. The original plot line is what allowed this book to truly stick in my head and what made it memorable. Also, the pacing was very natural and flowed well. Between the Robert Frost quotes and references, Julianna's journal, and the school skipping, I was never bored.

So Pretty Much...
If you're a fan of contemporary novels, this is not one to be missed. Kirby has gifted the world with an original, meaningful book perfect for the end of the school year and summer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

"'In the light of day I began to remember the dreams. Just flashes at first. Geoff giving me a thumbs-up from across a white room with black desks. A large red-numbered clock counting down the time as my fingers manipulated three blue wires. A girl screaming.'" - The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (Pg 32, ARC)
"After the fire started, we escaped to the big soccer stadium. All around us the city burned; even the mountain was on fire. The smoke was so thick in the air that many of us were struggling to breathe. And the air was hot, like it was the middle of summer. But the heavy smoke meant that we did not have to see the horrible things on the roads..." - Deadlands by Lily Herne

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Fresh Out Of The Oven:
Erm...nothing. This is awkward.

Currently Baking: 
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
I've already read this, but it's summer; therefore, time to get my Dessen on!

Waiting On The Counter: 
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What are you reading? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Slated by Teri Terry

Series: Slated #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publication Date: May 3, 2012
Publisher: Orchard Books
Pages: 448
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth? (Summary from

A breakthrough in dystopian fiction and an outstanding debut from author Teri Terry!

Slated has gone up straight into my top 10 - it was phenomenal.

I truly do adore this novel, it's story and Kyla herself.

Kyla has been 'born again' if you like. She's had to learn to talk and walk all over again - her first step, her first word, every moment a struggle. She's 16 years old but has been stripped of the privileges of this youthful age, and of her childhood. She can't remember her old friends, her parents, who she was or what she did wrong to lose herself... 

Teri portrayed this so well as she showed Kyla struggling to open the door handle to the car and how Kyla felt almost privileged to be doing the washing up - though the novelty soon wore off. At first I thought "She's happy to be washing up? WHAT?!" But then I remembered how when I was younger I loved to do the washing (even if my Mum had to rewash everything afterwards - she thought I didn't notice!) and as I grew to my teen years the novelty had worn off and it became a chore - Kyla is having to experience all of this all over again. Teri put so much thought into this novel - it's incredible.

Something I loved about the story was the introduction of the "Levo". A device (like a watch I suppose) that monitors a slated's 'levels' - their emotions. It's designed to protect both the society and the Slateds from themselves - if their levels drop too low, dangerously low, they're deemed unconscious; or worse.

Teri wrote this novel beautifully - not just how she paced the story but how she actually chose to write it; I love her writing style.

Secrets, trust, friendship and love are put under tremendous stress as Kyla discovers that she's not like the other Slateds; Kyla is different. And this is her story of discovering the difference between right and wrong, between facts and lies, but most importantly between who she is and who she was.

A beautiful story, a compelling read...

It's disturbingly close to the undeniable nightmares of our future.

Kyla's story is heart-wrenching. 

It will haunt you.

A MUST READ for all dystopian fans and anyone else! I highly recommend this novel and can't wait for the sequel "Fractured" to be released in 2013.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Series: School Spirits #1
Genre: YA Paranormal 
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
Source: Received for review from publisher on NetGalley
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance! (Summary from

I'll be honest, I had no frackin' idea what to expect going into this book. I really enjoyed Hawkins's Hex Hall series. Though the Brannicks actually made an appearance in Spell Bound, they didn't make an enormous one. Still, I got good vibes from Izzy, so I was incredibly curious what it would be like to see the world from her eyes. I really loved it. School Spirits has an entirely different feel than Hawkins's other series.   It stands on its own, that's fasho! The best way I can think to describe this book is as an adventure. It was a quick read, and a lot of fun!

Like I said, I was getting good vibes off of Izzy in Spell Bound, and, about two years later (in book time--in reality...a day later), I get to delve into her head and discover that my vibes were right on! Izzy is great. She's determined, persistent, and sort of socially awkward. It was certainly entertaining to watch a girl used to battling monsters be thrown in to high school, totally clueless how to go about it. I mean, she totally breaks a guy's nose on her first day.

Despite that awkwardness, she makes friends right away. Anderson, Dex, and Romy are characters to love. They are the "outcasts" in their school. They started a ghost hunting club (named PMS), they don't dress like the others in high school, and people are rude to them. But they are so cool! They're supportive of one another, have hilarious banter, and they just don't give a crap what others think. Izzy may have befriended them for reasons that weren't entirely genuine, but she quickly cares about them and stands eagerly by their sides. The whole dynamic of their group is worthy of countless cheesy grins.

I've read in some reviews that people think it's a little unrealistic that Izzy moves to a new school and makes friends so quickly and captures the attention of one of the "popular" kids. I disagree. As a girl who has had her fair share of being the new kid, I know that it's not too hard to make friends the first day--especially if one is pretty, and especially if one immediately talks to the "outcasts."

There were a few potential romantic interests, but the romance was definitely more of a sub-plot than anything. It did not overwhelm the main story line or action. First there is Adam, who turns out to be a douchenozzle, which is okay because that makes room for Dex. Like, on the real here people, Dex is one of my fave YA boys. He's such an asthmatic goober! He's so funny. No joke, I highlighted my favorite quotes in the e-reader, and the majority were from him:
Satisfied, Dex went back to the salt. After a while, he moved to the foot of the grave, pouring it there.

"This is fun," he said. "Weird and disturbing and possibly illegal, but still fun."
“This is better than our regular PMS meetings,” Dex said once we had our food. “Those are sadly lacking in fries, I’ve found.” He reached past me for the ketchup. “And desecrating graves is a surprisingly fun bonding activity. I only defile the dead with my closest friends.” 
 “Bats live in caves,” I reminded him. “And where there are bats, there’s bat poop. Lots of it. Did you know there’s a cave in Mexico where they have a whole mountain made of guano?”

Dex leveled a fake-sultry gaze at me. “Are you coming on to me?” 
That is just the itsiest bitsiest fragment of all the quotes I loved. Another thing about Dex: he dresses like a total stud. Someone said he was kind of Magnus-y, and that is pretty spot-on. It's all peacoats and scarves for Dex!

However great Dex is, though, I still would have liked more Torin. Ya know, the man in the mirror. There's definitely something sizzlin' there, but it is not nearly as fleshed out as I would like. I actually like Torin a lot.

Okay, so no, this book does not have the most complex, unpredictable, original plot in the world. But who gives a spork? Hawkins is so good at delivering an entertaining read. Who needs something super complex when you have a severely bitchy ghost, a missing sister, and a dark warlock who lives inside a mirror, and a mom who is most definitely hiding something. The pacing is great, of course. It's so easy to just fly through this book.

But here's the thing. This is now a standalone. I think at one point it was supposed to be a series, but that is no longer the case. And it devastates me. No lie. COMPLETELY DEVASTATES. Because I loved this book soooooo much. I was looking forward to more Brannicks, more Torin, more Dex, I was looking forward to more Izzy being awesome. And now, not only do I not get that, but I also do not get to see how some major plot points get resolved. The obvious story was resolved, but what happened to Finley? Will a certain prophecy of Torin's come true? I will never know. It's not like majorly torturous, but I still hate it.

So basically...
Whereas a lot of paranormal books are exhausting nowadays, I thought this book was exciting, entertaining, and certainly a worthy read. I loved the characters and obviously the writing.There is a great big HOWEVER, though. If you think you'd be driven crazy by the loose ends, then this is a serious judgement call. But if you love the Hex Hall series and think you'd be okay with not knowing how every little thing turns out, I recommend this book. To me, it was worth it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: The Bane by Keary Taylor

Series: The Eden Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Apocalyptic
Publication Date: June 6, 2011
Publisher: Independently Published
Format: ebook
Pages: 352
Source: Received for review via Netgalley
Before the Evolution there was TorBane: technology that infused human DNA with cybernetic matter. It had the ability to grow new organs and limbs, to heal the world. Until it evolved out of control and spread like the common cold. The machine took over, the soul vanished, and the Bane were born. The Bane won't stop until every last person has been infected. With less than two percent of the human population left, mankind is on the brink of extinction.

Eve knows the stories of the Evolution, the time before she wandered into the colony of Eden, unable to recall anything but her name. But she doesn't need memories to know this world is her reality. This is a world that is quickly losing its humanity, one Bane at a time.

Fighting to keep one of the last remaining human colonies alive, Eve finds herself torn between her dedication to the colony, and the discovery of love. There is Avian and West – one a soldier, one a keeper of secrets. And in the end, Eve will make a choice that will change the future of mankind.

The Bane is The Terminator meets The Walking Dead with a heart-twisting romance.

Previously published as Eden, due to reader demand it has been revamped and rereleased as The Bane: book one in The Eden Trilogy. (Summary from
I'll admit, I was definitely hesitant to read this book at first, despite the fact that I requested this on NetGalley. I know that the whole apocalypse angle is one that needs to be approached carefully. And naturally, I'm weary of independently published books--I'm never really sure what to expect. But the concept sounded interesting, so I jumped in. I really am glad I did. Taylor has created a great book with a non-stop plot and fleshed out characters.

Though she blacks out quite a lot, Eve is a pretty tough girl. Okay, really tough. And she's always eager to throw herself into dangerous situations (if she thinks it will be beneficial to those around her). I'm not saying she's perfect. There were quite a few things about her that annoyed me, but all in all, I enjoyed being inside of her head. I liked that alongside the boy dilemma, she faced a moral dilemma. She knew that trying to juggle 2 guys wasn't right and she told both of them there could be no fraternizing until she made a decision. Avian and West are both great guys, and I was legitimately unsure at times who she was going to pick. There were different things about both boys that made Eve like them and I wasn't sure which she actually loved. I was pleased with her decision.

I think everything in this story was really thought-out. The characters' histories, the plot, the Banes. It was definitely an interesting world and I loved seeing how different the people in other areas lived.

And what good would an apocalypse be without some action? I really only like action when it is written well. Otherwise, my eyes just kind of skim the words and my brain floats off to a faraway land of unicorns and daffodils. Taylor writes some pretty epic stuff. The kind of action that carries the weight of the world on its shoulder, the kind with tension and fear and blood. There were certainly no unicorns or daffodils in my head while reading this.

Basically, this is a book that I enjoyed and I think you will too--if you're not completely worn out by apocalyptic and dystopian books.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Review: Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie

Series: Flynn #1
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 247

When River auditions for a part in an interschool performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo. But Flynn comes from a damaged family—is he even capable of giving River what she wants? The path of true love never did run smooth . . .

This is real life, not a rehearsal... (Summary from

River auditions for a female role in a local all boys' school production of Romeo and Juliet.

She has always dreamt of finding true love so she believes that she'll fit into Juliet's shoes perfectly. Then, she sees Flynn. He's playing Romeo and causes her to not only believe that she could be a good Juliet, but he makes her want it.

The only problem is that Emmi, River's best friend, is running for the same role. 

You follow River as she falls head over heals for Flynn and tries to find out if he feels the same way.

I don't like Shakespeare nor do I like Romeo and Juliet. BUT I adored this novel! I actually picked it up after reading "Star-crossed Romeo and Juliet" by Rachel Wing as the two books sounded similar-ish (only in that novel, the teens cast as Romeo and Juliet are enemies). It's another fabulous romance novel!

Anyway, back to this book! The soul focus of this novel isn't actually on the play 'Romeo and Juliet'. That's just a... catalyst, if you like? The book is actually more so about the characters. 

This novel isn't at all like I expected. When I first picked it up I thought it would literally be a retelling of Romeo and Juliet or a cat and mouse game - River chasing Flynn. It isn't at all like that. I thought the novel would be predictable and patronising but it is actually unique and mature. I laughed with River, I cringed for her and I understood her.

I like how Flynn has his flaws and how you have to debate with yourself whether or not his actions can be justified. How friendships and family relationships are put to the test under the pressure. The characters are all so real and their stories are heart-wrenching. This book is way more in depth than I thought it would be and has a few twists you won't see coming.

I read it in one sitting and recommend it to any romance/contemporary readers out there. :) I do recommend it for 15+ though as some of the topics covered (though handled lightly) might not be appreciated by younger readers.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide To Getting Girls by Tellulah Darling

Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Te Da Media
Pages: 244

Why the hell can’t chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn’t change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam’s best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It’s Sam’s chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam’s Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it’s driving him nuts. Told from Sam’s and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow.” (Summary from
Hilarious! A down to earth novel with characters you want to hit over the head, laugh with and laugh at. I devoured this book in one sitting and will probably re-read it again in the future. A must read for teenagers 15+

The characters had great personalities. They were funny, kind, stupid, selfish, ; they were human. Typical teenagers who managed to stay unique in their own way.

The story is simple and realistic but at the same time is highly unpredictable which made it all the more enjoyable! With so many scenes being easy to relate to, I really can't think of anyone who wouldn't really enjoy this book! It was funny but had enough 'serious' scenes in it to keep it real. I certainly cracked a smile, heck, I laughed my socks off!

A cringe-worthy yet hilarious novel! A must read!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Series: Hex Hall #3
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 327
Source: Borrowed from friend
Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?
Who knows how to write a great ending to a great series? Rachel Hawkins does! I regret that it took me so long to read it after its release. It's hard for me to review a book that is the last in a series, because I want to be like, "Everything was just as good as the last books but it's better because it's the end and things are concluded."

As usual, Hawkins exposes us to a cast of charming characters. Sophie is still sarcastic and entertaining--definitely not a character to be forgotten--and making her toughest decisions yet(it's crazy to think about how much she has grown since this journey began)! Should she take back her powers and risk being controlled by the enemy? Should she quietly plan an attack or face the enemy outright? What kind of attack could she possibly plan? And how in the world is she handle the two guys pining after her? Speaking of which--Cal and Archer? Yes. I love that it's not so much a love triangle. I mean, Sophie is kinda confused about her feelings, but she knows who she wants to be with. It doesn't seemed tried or tiresome like a lot of YA love triangles. Not to mention both guys are really great in their own ways (Archer's...well...hotness and Cal's kindness--both willing to do anything for Sophie). I want to say more, but I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read it yet. Jenna is still Sophie's loyal companion, and a great example of friendship in YA. And Sophie's parents are always looking out for her, which is something I admire in  a book.

I loved that we meet the Brannicks in this book and find out that they're not at all who we thought they were. The whole plot really is just enthralling and the pacing is speedy. I was dying to figure out what happened after Demonglass and I was not disappointed. However, Hawkins did not give me the answers easily. In the beginning, she granted us very little reprieve and left us wondering what happened to certain characters. Once the characters are reunited, it is not exactly an ideal situation. Throw in some plot twists (one of which was MAJOR) and ba-ba-BAM. If there is one thing Hawkins is good at, it's throwing in wonderfully awful obstacles. In the end, I'm really happy with the way things were wrapped up, though there were a few things (one in particular) that really devastated me.

This whole series is an adventure that, even if you're paranormal-wary, you don't want to miss. It's exciting and interesting and engaging. Definitely something to read when you're looking for a distraction. It's been a few weeks since I've read this book and I've forgotten a lot, but I have not forgotten how enjoyable the experience of reading this book was. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books When I Need Something Light and Fun

The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook - This book is so full of shenanigans and letting loose! 

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - Evie is such a fun narrator and I love all the different paranormal creatures.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade - Alona is bitchy and full of herself to the point of humor. Will has that whole "let the world burn" attitude. An unlikely romance blooms between 2 flippant characters creating an altogether fun read.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Paris atmosphere, cute boys...YUM! This book is super cute and fluffy.

The Collector by Victoria Scott - Dante's voice is definitely something you don't find every day in YA. It was a fun read.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill - London. A hunt for a mystery boy. With a hot boy at her side. It's one awesome adventure!

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - Using magic to fight evil paranormal creatures with a side of sarcasm. All of Hawkins's books are quick, exciting reads!

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger - Power to women!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally - I love the concept of this book: a team full of awesome, funny football guys and one girl just trying to figure things out among them. This book is really fun.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - This book may not necessarily be "light" but it is an interesting story without a whole lot of depth and very easy to lose yourself in.