Nov 29, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Crash Into You - Katie McGarry

http://yaboundbooktours.blogspot.com/2013/09/blog-tour-schedule-crash-into-you-by.html

Title: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: November 26th 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane.
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers... and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.
Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.
But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.
Crash Into You ends my three-day Katie McGarry read-a-thon, and let me tell you that it does so in a very high note. Echo and Noah made my heart beat like it was on steroids, Beth and Ryan had me laughing one moment and then tearing up on the next, but Rachel and Isaiah? They gave me all those but with a bonus: adrenaline rush. I'd been excited to read the first two books in this series but I particularly looked forward to this one because I share the MCs' love for cars and speed. And props to Katie because I sure felt my blood pumping while reading the racing scenes.

When Rachel was introduced, I immediately thought, "Four older brothers?! Even Isaiah the Fierce is gonna have a problem with that." I loved how protective they were of their baby sister, but I could easily imagine how Rachel felt they were smothering her. At first, she'd felt like she had no choice but to do anything and everything that her family asked of her, living in the shadow of someone who'd died before she had even born. That's what made it so much fun to see her silent bravery coming out; she was also shy and awkward and would often get overexcited, and I totally understood how Isaiah saw her as an angel. Even with her spurts of rebelliousness, she really was just that good.

Isaiah, on the other hand, was the boy Rachel's family disapproved of—not that her brothers approved of anyone. His earrings and tattoos were meant as a beacon that signaled everyone to stay away from him, but beneath the tough exterior was a boy who only yearned to be loved and accepted. I liked how Isaiah never backed down and always kept true to his word. Even when things got rough, he would be the determined, trust-worthy one.

Rachel and Isaiah killed me with their brand of sexy and adorable. Until now, my brain tells me that their relationship took off way faster than it should have, but what else could you expect from two people who had a need for speed? (See what I did there? LOL) Aside from their six-week situation, one of the biggest hurdles they faced were their financial differences.
"Are you here?"
"At the gate. Do you mind informing your militia that I'm not here to rape and pillage?"
Oh, and apparently, Katie McGarry has mastered the art of writing a kissing scene. Jesus.

Unlike the first two books, Crash Into You had this sense of urgency and heightened stakes because the MCs' lives were in real danger, unlike Echo who battled with her past and Beth who had a choice of staying away from her demons. Isaiah and Rachel—they couldn't run. This book was so intense that it tired me out, the kind of exhaustion that comes from emotional stress. I had two mini-heart attacks in the last quarter of the story, and, seriously, what is it with this series and mommy issues?

MY FAVORITE PART was Noah walking in on Rachel and Isaiah in their new apartment. Oh, Noah =))

RATING:

About the author:
KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. 

Katie would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her website, katielmcgarry.com, follow her on Twitter @KatieMcGarry, or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

Giveaway!
Ten (10) finished copies of Crash Into You (US/Can only)

Book Reviews: Pushing the Limits; Dare You To - Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: July 31st 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with freaky scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
Um, wow. Tell me again why the hell I waited this long to read this book? BRB while I bang my head against a wall. If you've read this, yes, I now know what the fuss is all about; if not, well, you're missing out. Seriously. Just head to a bookstore or wherever and pick up a copy. You can thank me later.

Contemporary books are either a hit or a miss for me. From page one, I already knew Pushing the Limits would be the former, because Katie McGarry sure knows how to captivate her readers. Echo's and Noah's voices sounded so real, and I just felt this urgency to keep reading, to know what had happened for them to seem so... indifferent with life. I invested myself in them even though I knew it wouldn't be pretty, but I have no regrets.

Obviously, this book is a love story, but damn if it's not so much more than that. Echo and Noah each had their own issues, but they were tackled in a way that didn't push the story into a dark, deep end. If you're not one to go for issue books, don't worry, this one isn't much of that. Or maybe I just tunnel-visioned to the romance.

Echo Emerson is Miss-Popularity-turned-weird-freaky-loner. I really pitied her because she was so scared, totally clueless about the night that changed her life. How terrifying would that be, right? But then comes tattooed, smoking-hot, intense Noah Hutchins. The type of bad boy I will always fall for. Thanks to his attitude, they got off on the wrong foot, but that was what made it fun to watch them slowly opening up to each other, past the defenses that they'd put up. Life dealt them some real bad cards, and despite some bad choices, they both kept their heads in the right place and I really admired them for that.

Now, let me talk about our MCs' friends. Oh, they were so alike yet so different. Noah's friends were, like him, on the wrong side of the tracks, while Echo's friends had the perfect life she'd lost. They were all teens who only yearned to have a good time, but even with their stoner-rep, I liked Noah's friends more because they were real and understanding, unlike Echo's who only cared about what other people thought of them. Well, all of them except for her BFF, Lila—so she totally deserves that novella, okay.

Hilarious, sweet, riveting, and emotional, Pushing the Limits sure lived up to my high expectations. Echo and Noah gave me all the feels; they're one of the most perfect-for-each-other couples I've ever read, and their story is nothing if not inspirational.

MY FAVORITE PART was when Noah, Beth, and Isaiah were in Echo's garage to check out Aires' Corvette =))
"Your car obsession is unnatural." She acted like she didn't care, but Beth pushed off the bench toward Isaiah. "How on earth do you get girls to screw you?"
"Come on, you know the words 'big block V-8' make your panties wet."
"Oh, baby," Beth said dryly. "Take me now."
Echo checked out my eyes. "Are you sure you guys aren't high?"

RATING:


Title: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28th 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."
"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again...
"I dare you..." 
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does...
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...
After experiencing the awesome that was Pushing the Limits, I had my doubts about this one. I lowered my expectations because I knew this was going to be Beth's story, and she wasn't exactly the most likable character in the first book. But now I know that that was unnecessary.

Dare You To started out real well: chapter one and I was already guffawing from Beth and Ryan's verbal smackdown. In a Taco Bell. At night. Even now as I type this, I still laugh just thinking about it. We learn right then the kind of people our MCs were; Ryan, the innocent jock who never backed down from a challenge and one of the most gentlemanly guys I've ever read, and Beth, the firecracker who kept everyone at a distance with her sharp tongue.

But of course, there's more to them than that. Ryan's life wasn't as perfect as it seemed. His family was falling apart and he was starting to realize that baseball wasn't everything. Frankly speaking, though, his issues were mundane compared to Beth's, even when she only had one, really: her mom. Her mother is someone I've encountered in countless books and even in real life, and I've always abhorred her kind. I'll probably always will. That's why until now, I still don't get how Beth could've had this sense of loyalty and responsibility to her when all the woman did was rely on her and mess up her life.

Thanks to their getting off on the wrong foot plus all of their problems and reservations, Beth and Ryan's relationship had so much build-up. It actually kind of dragged at first, especially with Beth's attitudinal problems. But her comebacks were hilarious—as in snort-and-laugh-like-a-sailor hilarious—and didn't irritate me because, having read Pushing the Limits, I'd known why she detested jocks. What I didn't like was how she constantly put herself down. She had more than enough reasons, but I just can't sympathize with people who do that to themselves. But anyway, soon enough, sparks flew and bam, mutant pterodactyls in my stomach.

I didn't enjoy Dare You To quite as much as I did Pushing the Limits because the latter had better pacing, but I honestly loved Beth and Ryan's story more. Does that make sense? Sorry, it's almost 6AM where I'm at. Anyway, this book is another solid piece of writing from Katie McGarry, so excuse me while I binge some more with Isaiah's story!

MY FAVORITE PARTS were 1) Beth and Ryan's first meeting, as I've mentioned above, and 2) Ryan and Chris' little trip to Walmart :))
 
RATING:

Nov 26, 2013

Book Review: Vortex - Julie Cross

Title: Vortex (Tempest #2)
Author: Julie Cross
Release Date: January 15th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Finished copy borrowed from Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again
Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again.
(Spoilers if you haven't read Tempest yet.)

First of all, a friendly advice: Don't read this sequel without re-reading the first book; I assure you, you'll be at least a tad bit confused earlier than you should. It was easy for me to dive right back into Jackson's story because I picked up Vortex right after I finished re-reading Tempest, and if you take my advice, I'm sure the same will be true for you.

The story opens right after the events of Tempest. Jackson has moved his 'home base' to a few months earlier, preventing his meeting with Holly in an attempt to save her life from all the mess that he would inevitably bring. I pitied him, but honestly, I was more excited with the prospect of more action as he joined Tempest, the CIA division that was responsible for his existence. I thought we'd get more answers as he ventured into the devil's lair but instead, I just felt suspicious of everyone besides Jackson because they were all so damn secretive. 

At first, Jackson was the pariah in his group of trainees, and he didn't want to change that because he'd decided not to get attached to anyone, knowing how detrimental that could be. But in a job that involved teamwork, pressure, and danger, forming relationships was unavoidable, and I loved the dynamics between Jackson and the other agents-in-training, particularly Kendrick and Stewart. A guy with two girls as friends—strictly friends, no more, no less—isn't usual in fiction, and I enjoyed watching them get past each other's defenses and work together.

For the first half of the book, I felt pretty smug because I was keeping up with all the time travel shenanigans like Worlds A, B, and C; full-jumps, half-jumps, and Thomas-jumps; and all the years that Jackson visited. I even tweeted the author, saying I ain't one of those people who found the book confusing, and so I basically jinxed myself because right around then, the crazy went to a level that my poor brain couldn't handle. All the small details started slipping past me without my fully grasping them and if I hadn't read this in less than a day, I imagine I'd be totally lost.

While dealing with my confusion, a surprise came in the form of me not shipping Jackson/Holly as hard as I had after finishing the first book again. I just wanted Jackson to move on and focus on himself—God knows he already had enough issues to fill a magazine stand. Seeing Holly living a normal, happy life without him stung for me, too, and unfair as it was since she was absolutely clueless, I disliked her. But that bitterness didn't last long because Jackson's love dilemma was at the bottom of a very long list of problems, preceded by people he'd thought he knew but didn't, time travel being more complex than he'd presumed, and oh, new enemies. The poor guy seriously deserved some cake. 

If the first book had you bored at some point, you need not worry about the same happening here because Vortex is nothing if not unputdownable, unpredictable, and unforgiving. Someone just please remind me to take down notes or something when I read this again before Timestorm.

MY FAVORITE PART was Jackson's 'revenge' on Stewart :))

RATING:

Nov 25, 2013

Multimedia Monday {9}

'Multimedia Monday' is a feature that I created to share with y'all the movies or TV shows that I recently watched or music that I've been listening to—because a great library won't be complete without a multimedia section ;D

Nov 22, 2013

Book Review + Giveaway: The Severed Tower - J. Barton Mitchell

Title: The Severed Tower (Conquered Earth #2)
Author: J. Barton Mitchell
Release Date: November 19th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC from author
Holt, Mira, and Max have fled Midnight City with Zoey after watching her repel an entire Assembly army. Zoey's powers are unlocked, but who and what she is remains a mystery. All she knows is that she must reach the Severed Tower, an infamous location in the middle of the world's most dangerous landscape: The Strange Lands, a place where the laws of physics have completely broken down. But the closer they get to the Tower, the more precarious things become. The Assembly has pursued Zoey into the Strange Lands. Among them is a new group, their walkers and machines strangely bereft of any color, stripped to bare metal, and whose agenda seems to differ from the rest. To make matters worse, the group hunting Holt are here, too, led by a dangerous and beautiful pirate named Ravan. So is Mira's first love, Benjamin Aubertine, whose singular ambition to reach the Tower threatens to get them all killed.
Then there's the Strange Lands themselves. They have inexplicably begun to grow, spreading outwards, becoming more powerful. Somehow, it all seems tied to Zoey herself, and the closer she gets to the Tower, the weaker she becomes.
Quotable: 
Compassion comes in all kinds of flavors. But they don't all taste like pumpkin pie.

Holy cheesecakesThe Severed Tower was amazing! The book picks up a few days after the events of Midnight City, and I was so easily sucked back in to the author's crazy, perilous world. A bulk of the story takes place in the Strange Lands, and I imagine navigating the deadly, constantly-changing landscape was a nightmare for the characters, but for the reader who's safely tucked in a corner, it's a whole lot of fun.

The Severed Tower doesn't waste time with history lessons of what happened in book one, instead thrusting us straight back to action. This may confuse those who read Midnight City a while back, so I suggest a re-read before diving into this one—which is exactly what I did, so it certainly feels like I've been living in this fictional world for days now. I feel sad to be leaving it until the next book is out.

Part One in the first book was quite a struggle for me to get through, but The Severed Tower's was such a breeze. New characters are introduced, people from Holt's and Mira's pasts who give us a deeper knowing of just who they had been. Yep, I'm talking about love interests. I won't discuss them in great detail to avoid tiny spoilers, but know that the distorted love square frustrated me. But then the Assembly started firing their plasma bolts and blowing things up, so what little stagnancy that brought was quickly ended.

A number of mysteries had to be solved in this book: Zoey's real purpose, why the Strange Lands was getting even more insane, and the Assembly. As if the heart-pumping action wasn't enough to keep me reading, these ticking time bombs had me at the edge of my seat. I looked at each lengthy chapter and told myself, "Just one more", but it was simply too hard to stop. And aside from the Menagerie and other Freebooters, another group of characters added color and kickass to this book: spear-wielding, post-apocalyptic ninjas who could see without their eyes. Their reckoning brought totally-unexpected tears to my eyes.

Everything about The Severed Tower is eerily close to perfection. Action-packed and unpredictable, this is one of the most fast-paced books I've read this year, maybe even ever. This sequel gave answers as much as the first book held them back, and the ending was nothing if not a shocker. Just give me the next book already!

MY FAVORITE PART was Zoey getting her answers.

RATING:

Giveaways!

Nov 21, 2013

Get Addicted Tour: Series Playlist + Giveaway

It's no secret that I have absolute love for this series, so when I found the chance to spread even more word about it, I immediately jumped to take it! Today, I have the authors to share with us the music that they listen to while writing the books. They have good taste, I tell you ;D

Nov 20, 2013

Rewind Review: Midnight City - J. Barton Mitchell


Sometimes, I read a book for the second time and just think, "Is this the same book that I read before?" Well, Rewind Review is my answer to that. In this feature, I will re-review a book that I've previously read and reviewedbut only when my opinions on it have changed.

Title: Midnight City (Conquered Earth #1)
Author: J. Barton Mitchell
Release Date: October 30th 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: signed copy won from author
Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tonea powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach their early twenties, which means that there is one group left to resist: Children.
Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, an infamous treasure seeker with a price on her head. It’s not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn’t something he bargained for. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after. Venturing inside, Holt finds a young girl who remembers nothing except her name: Zoey.
As the three make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, they encounter young freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and the amazing powers that Zoey is beginning to exhibit. Powers that suggest she, as impossible as it seems, may just be the key to stopping the Assembly once and for all.
Previous Rating: 4.5/5

What's the same?
The world-building was still amazing and the characters endearing, but I appreciated those even more during my re-read. The post-apocalyptic world that the author created was very easy to picture in my head, and I can just as easily see this as a movie. Seriously. It's one adaptation that needs to happen.

What changed?
I think I ignored it the first time I read this, but part one of Midnight City just dragged. It wasn't exactly boring, but it didn't keep my eyes glued, either. But patience, grasshopper, because after two hundred pages you'll find that this book is quite the gem. Everything gets crazy on part two—the part that I read in one sitting on both my first and second reads, so it's tried and tested, really.

New Rating:

Nov 19, 2013

Book Review: The Elite - Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 23rd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illéa.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
The Elite was nothing if not confusing. Yes, it was even more addicting than the first book—I wouldn't have put it down if not for class—it was intense, shocking, and emotional, but it was absolutely confusing, above all else. It had me questioning myself as soon as I'd decided on something. Or, as America graciously summed up for me:
"Mostly how confused I get about them. Like how I'll think I understand what's happening to me, and then something shifts, and my feelings change."

So why was I confused, you ask? The goddamn romance. More specifically, the Maxon-America-Aspen love triangle. I've encountered numerous love triangles before, but none of those had me furiously pulling at my hair every few chapters or so as much as this one did, and I can attribute that to America's indecision that spanned the length of an entire book. Thinking about it now, it's actually hilarious in the way something frustrating can be. At first, it seemed like choosing between Maxon and Aspen was impossible because she liked them both equally, but eventually it became clear that America was just falling harder for Maxon. Still, America couldn't completely let go of Aspen, but to her defense, he practically begged for her to keep giving their love a chance. So then he ended up being her plan B, much like the other girls were Maxon's back-ups in case America decided to quit the Selection.

But despite her indecisiveness, I never got irritated with America, and that actually surprised me. She couldn't give up on the enchanting future she could have with Maxon, but she also couldn't let go of the possibility of continuing what she had with Aspen. Despite her romance troubles, though, America was still the same brave, loyal, loving redhead that her father was proud of. (Seriously. The bits with her dad made me teary-eyed.) Say what you will about her writing, but Kiera Cass has a way—at least for me—with making her characters relatable and understandable. 

Because it wasn't just America who could have ticked me off; Maxon did a lot worse. And that was another one of this book's surprises! I'd always thought of Maxon as this angelic prince who couldn't do wrong, but turns out he's probably the most complex character in this trilogy. Oh, he sure tempted me a lot of times to go over to Team Aspen. I mean, the way he flirted with the other girls when he kept on telling America that he loved her? Ugh. It was disgusting to watch at times, but I let that slide because America was doing the same to him without his knowing. Still... why, Maxon, why?

Bottomline: I still loved America and Maxon, and I still shipped them, but Aspen was the hero here.

If you're thinking that The Elite only has romance in it—you're wrong. There was also much to learn about Illea's history, the rebels and just what they want, and the secondary characters. The other Elite aren't just pretty girls vying for the crown, and in this sequel we see just how much they're willing to fight for Maxon's heart. Admittedly, the stakes weren't upped too much, but the tension went off the charts. A lot of new questions were raised and left unanswered, so just tell me how many future children I have to give up so I can read The One asap!

MY FAVORITE PART was Halloween! ♥  

RATING:

Nov 18, 2013

Multimedia Monday {8}

'Multimedia Monday' is a feature that I created to share with y'all the movies or TV shows that I recently watched or music that I've been listening to—because a great library won't be complete without a multimedia section ;D

Nov 13, 2013

Book Review: The Naturals - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Naturals (The Naturals #1)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 5th 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.
The Naturals is nothing like I expected it to be. It doesn't hold back on the blood and violence, and, unlike other's opinions, it's certainly not paranormal. There's just a girl who's really good at understanding how another person thinks, plus four other teens who have talents of their own, living in a single house.

I started reading this book during a train ride home. I was standing up, with little leg room and gripping a handrail, but Cassie's voice just captured me. It wasn't hard to relate to her, how she felt loved by her dad's extended family but just couldn't fit in. She hadn't known why she'd always felt different, until the FBI invited her to join their program as a Natural. Suddenly, she had a purpose, not that she didn't enter without a motive of her own.

With a serial killer on the loose, Cassie was often taken back to the worst day of her life: the day her mother went missing, leaving behind what could possibly be a bloody murder scene. But these episodes of terror didn't stop her from learning and doing what she joined the program for. Cassie was born with an extraordinary talent for profiling, but just like any other talent, it had to be honed, and watching that process was really cool and fun. And because of the author's own skill, I felt like I was there right beside her, getting inside a killer's head and trying to think just like the UNSUB. 

Perhaps my only qualm about The Naturals was the love triangle. Yep, there's one. On one side was Michael, the rich boy who might as well have been a mind reader, and on the other was Dean, Cassie's fellow profiler. They both had the mysterious thing going on, but I liked Michael more because even with his own share of messed-up, he was cordial, unlike Dean who just tended to be downright rude. 
I waited until our visitor was out of earshot before I turned to him. "How do you do?" I repeated incredulously.
Michael shrugged. "Sometimes," he said, "when I'm in a social pickle, I like to ask myself, WWJAD?" I raised an eyebrow, and he explained. "What Would Jane Austen Do?"
Cute, right? Anyway, this triangle didn't hinder the overall creepiness of the story, and towards the end, I could perfectly understand Cassie's confusion.

The Naturals is a fairly short book, and add to that its fast-paced, shocking nature and a dynamic cast of characters and it's just unputdownable. You have no idea how happy I am that this is the first in a series, because already I want the next!

MY FAVORITE PART was the Truth or Dare game :))

RATING:

Nov 11, 2013

Multimedia Monday {7}


'Multimedia Monday' is a feature that I created to share with y'all the movies or TV shows that I recently watched or music that I've been listening to—because a great library won't be complete without a multimedia section ;D

Nov 8, 2013

Book Review: The Summer My Life Began - Shannon Greenland

Title: The Summer My Life Began
Author: Shannon Greenland
Release Date: May 10th 2012
Publisher: Speak
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: signed copy won from author
A great summer beach read filled with sunshine, cooking, and—of course—romance!
Elizabeth Margaretbetter known as Emhas always known what her life would contain: an internship at her father's firm, a degree from Harvard, and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is, it's not what she wants. So when she gets the opportunity to get away and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em learns that her family has some pretty significant secrets. And then there's Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can't resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels that for the first time ever, she is really living life on her own terms.
I picked up this book from my out-of-control TBR pile in an attempt to bring out some metaphorical sunshine on a rainy day. That title, the beach, the girl on her bike—very summer-y, right? So imagine my surprise when with just one chapter, I was already scratching my head in dubiousness. The Summer My Life Began may just be the worst YA contemp I have ever read, and I blame that mostly on the writing.

'Show, don't tell' is one of the most common writing tips you'll see and hear, and for good reason. Admittedly, I've read a handful of books that have violated this rule, but never in the scale that this one did. And oh, was it excruciating. I actually almost DNF-ed this but I pushed myself, knowing I wouldn't have to bear with it for long because the book's a fairly short one to begin with.

Another problem I had was the characters. I'm not quite sure if this had something to do with the writing, but all of them felt flat and were just impossible to connect with. They had little to no depth at all, because any attempt to provide one was quickly moved to the end of the list and never gotten to. This was particularly disappointing because the variety of characters could have added more color to the story.

Now, I can focus on how Em's parents and grandmother's stuck-up-ness sounded irritating and forced, or how for someone who'd had to be careful her whole life, Em sure was insensitive and tactless, but let me go straight to the romance. Oh, Cade, the sexy surfer and handyman. You have no idea how high my eyebrows went when he finally said something that required more than three words. And you know when that happened? At about halfway into the book. So attractive, right? Right? *flips table*

I have to tell you, though, that the last third of this book made me glad I persevered. The characters, the romance, and even the writing went up two notches, and the last scene actually made me cry! Talk about a surprise. And if there's one thing The Summer My Life Began didn't do wrong, it's got to be the food. I'm a picky eater, but I would have eaten everything that Em made.

MY FAVORITE PART was Gwenny, Em's hilarious sister.
"I don't kiss and tell."
"TO ME YOU DO!!!!!!!!!!"

RATING:

Nov 7, 2013

Book Review: Olivia Twisted - Vivi Barnes

Title: Olivia Twisted
Author: Vivi Barnes
Release Date: November 5th 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC from publisher
Olivia
He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.
At least at this moment, I don’t care.
Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…
Z
I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.
It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.
Except that she’s not.
Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.
If there's one thing Olivia Twisted made me realize, it's that I had no idea what Charles Dickens' classic book is about. Seriously. And I dare call myself a book addict.

Okay, back to this retelling. Uh, holy mother of shizz, talk about awesome! I wanted to read this book because of the computer hacking, and you don't know how happy I am that it didn't disappoint in that aspect—not that it disappointed in any aspect. I was hooked right from chapter one, with Liv's and Z's engrossing voices.

It's hard not to like and relate to Liv. Not counting all the horrible stuff with being a foster kidwhich I pitied her forshe really was just a simple girl: shy, uncertain, innocent. And prideful, too, which she showed the most when she took Z up on his hacking challenge, knowing that that was exactly what he's doing. Being a computer engineering student, I know that feeling all too well. Anyway, she did irritate me one time. It was unbelievable how Liv was so... good. Like, for someone who'd been through a lot, I'd imagine Z's job would be easy for her to stomach. Or maybe that's just me and my messed-up morality lol.

Now let's talk about Z. Oh, Z. He was a walking enigma, and with his long-ish blond hair, black leather jacket, sexy glasses, and oh, a freaking Ducati, he's as swoon-worthy as a guy can get. Plus, he's an expert in social engineering! He wasn't all tough and manly though; he cared genuinely and deeply for the other kids in the group home he was in, putting their needs and safety before his own.

Even with Z's douchebag act at the start of the story, the attraction between him and Liv was immediately palpable. And when that turned into a full-blown romance? Yowza. They were sweet and steamy (nothing R-18, don't worry) but also mature, showing just how much they'd been hardened by their experiences, and that was sad and heartening at the same time. And they were perfect for each other, really, because they both wanted a better life for each other.

Exciting and intense all throughout, Olivia Twisted is the kind of book that I would just love to read again and again. I'd say I want to read the next chapter in Liv's and Z's lives, but nah, I'm happy with how the author left them in the end. They both seriously deserved a break, anyway.

MY FAVORITE PART was the epilogue :3

RATING: