Review for Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

TITLE: Suspicion
AUTHOR: Alexandra Monir
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2014
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press & Random House Children’s
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Imogen Rockford’s teenage life is very different than her childhood one was. After her parent’s death, she was ushered away to live with her new guardians and live a typical New York life. She was haunted by her parents death, but she has done her best to move and has managed to build herself a normal life. Then she learns that the rest of her family has died (which consisted of a Grandfather and a cousin) and she now much become the Duchess and take control of the family estate in England. As soon as Imogen makes it home to Rockford Manor, she realizes that something is quite off and until she figures out what is behind it all, she is in very real danger. Can she be figure out the mystery or will she fall prey to the bad guy(s)?

Imogen was a character I liked immediately. She’s made the best of a bad situation and she’s worked hard to leave the past in the past. Now, she’s stepping up to save her family home and she is swamped with guilt for not keeping up with her relatives. Lucia’s life could have turned out vastly different if Imogen had just keep in contact. But ignoring her family was the best way to avoid thinking about her parents deaths, something that was incredibly difficult to overcome. Everything in Rockford Manor is so different and so incredibly the same. It’s a lot to take in and then we add Sebastian in the mix and things get even worse. Sebastian was her childhood crush. Sebastian is also Lucia’s grieving boyfriend. Right before her parents death, Lucia’s announcement that she planned to pursue Sebastian caused a small rift. Sebastian was Imogen’s special someone and how could Lucia not see that? Apparently Sebastian didn’t see it either, though, because he was clearly in love with Lucia by all accounts. That makes things even more difficult because from the moment she sees him, she knows she never got over that crush. She knows that said crush may have morphed into more after years of pining. Said crush may be the reason that she never had a boyfriend in New York or really seemed to have to urge to find one.

Speaking of Sebastian…
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If you ever become and actual person and not just an imaginary character in an amazing novel, give me a call….wait, I don’t think my husband would approve of that. NEVERMIND! Sebastian was a difficult character to get a handle on because at first he seems to like her and then once she becomes the Duchess he’s so standoffish that I want to punch him. And then he’s not. And then he’s helpful. And then he’s doing things I can’t mention because of the spoilers. Let’s just say the more you see of him, the more swoon-worthy he comes, k?

When I read the synopsis of this, I knew instantly that I wanted to read it, that I needed to read it. Contemporary Downton Abbey with a supernatural twist and an epic romance?

Not many novels live up to the tag lines they get, but this one does. This was far better than I expected. Even with the annoying love triangle aspect, I was still enthralled. Okay, I’ll admit I was a bit enthralled by the love triangle, because, you know, Sebastian is going to end up with Imogen, right? He loves her, right?
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This thing has enough mystery and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The whole dynamic between Imogen and the manor and the servants and Sebastian is fulled with just the right amount of tension. I especially love the relationship between Imogen and Lucia (prior to her death, naturally). You don’t get to see much of it, but it’s obvious they were close and Imogen blames herself for so much even though it is obvious none of it is her fault.

GRRRHHH…This review is so hard to write when I’m giving away spoilers. I’m trying to avoid spoilers because it makes posting the review elsewhere difficult, but this is so intricate that minor comments I make could be constituted as spoilers. The mystery here is so good and you don’t really see it come (or at least I didn’t) and the magic is so underplayed instead of making it the center of the novel like I expected it. I loved that. The magic is there, but it’s not the main thing and it’s not at the heart of the problem.

What should you take from this slightly convoluted review? This novel is awesome. It somehow manages to give you contemporary with a historical feel and the perfect mystery to keep you ignoring life for just one more chapter. It’s that amazing, need to read quality that we all look for in a novel. What more could you want? This has hot British boys, mystery, romance, and magic! And it’s a stand-alone, so it’s blessedly cliffhanger free. Seriously, it’s perfect, so go grab a copy!

****Thank you to Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

TITLE: Biggest Flirts
SERIES: Superlatives #1
AUTHOR: Jennifer Echols
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
PAGES: 336 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Tia is just looking for a senior year of fun. She’s a perfect flirt and has a hard-earned reputation as a party girl. She isn’t looking for anything serious as she has seen where that could lead to and wants no part of it. The first order of business on this year’s list of guys to fool around with is Will. Will, however, is looking for something serious. He is a stand-up guy and doesn’t much go for the love ’em and leave ’em hookups. When Tia refused to date him, he looks elsewhere, putting Tia in an awful position. Does she want him for herself enough to get over her fears or will she let him go and move on?

Tia was a character I instantly loved. Though I don’t have much in common with her, I love that a character like her has finally made her way into YA literature. She’s smart and confident and not a virgin. She’s the heroine who is okay with noncommittal hookups and is terrified of a relationship. For all intents and purposes, she is the typical YA male. I loved the role reversal. I loved that she wasn’t looking for more, that she was scared of more. She has good reason to be, seeing how her sisters lives have turned out. I also love that she hides her amazing drummer skills. She intentionally misses a beat or two so she isn’t the lead drummer and doesn’t have to tackle those responsibilities. She doesn’t want this. She is scared she’ll suck at them. I love that she is confident and not at the same time. I just love her.

Will is adorable in his attentions to persuade her into a relationship. Their friendship/whatever the hell it really is, is the stuff dreams are made of. I loved them together from the start. He’s so sweet, even from the start that I couldn’t help but love him. I’m a sucker for a sweetheart. He does what he can to help Tia, even when she’s being a bitch. He doesn’t take it all lying down, though, standing up when he thinks it’s appropriate and sometimes even when it’s not.
It feels so good to read another great Jennifer Echols story. I was a bit worried after I read her adult contemporary romance and didn’t love it. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t come close to the awesomeness that she portrays in her YA’s and I thought maybe she was losing her touch. But this proves that is not the case. Maybe I’m just not a fan of normal contemporary romance or maybe that was a fluke, but either way, this novel was fantastic.
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(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The writing is great, the story is interesting, and all the characters felt very well rounded. My only issue was that Tia and Will play the break up and get back together game a bunch. That always irritates me. Tia has her reasons for shying away from commitment, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for me. Either you like him enough to get over it or you don’t, but pick one.

What you really need to know is that this novel has everything you’d expect from Jennifer Echols. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s sweet. It’s the perfect combination of heart-warming and heart-breaking. It’s the perfect contemporary YA romance that breaks the tradition of virginity = good, smart girl. Tia is flirty and fun and not ashamed of how active (or inactive) her sex life may be. She’s a great role model for teens, in my humble opinion.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Girl On A Wire by Gwenda Bond

Girl On A Wire by Gwenda Bond

TITLE: Girl On A Wire
AUTHOR: Gwenda Bond
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1, 2014
PAGES: 370 pages
FORMAT: ebook
SOURCE: Amazon Prime First
RATING: 4.5 bows

Jules Maroni has been training and performing as a wire walker her entire life. Her father is the world’s best and she desperately wants to follow in his footsteps. When the Maroni’s are offered a spot in the new Cirque American, she knows all her dreams are about to come true. But the Flying Garcia’s, a rival family of trapeze artists have her grandmother worried that old rumors and bad accidents will occur. Jules thinks she is being superstitious until a bad luck charm ends up on her costume and almost makes her fall. Forced to consider the impossible, she confides in the most unlikely ally, Remy Garcia. They are supposed to be mortal enemies, but he is the only one who can help and together they are determined to find out who is behind the pranks. Can they unlock the mystery before it’s too late?

Jules is someone I envy greatly. To have the guts and the courage to step out onto a wire is an awesome thing. I’ve never been scared of heights, but some of the things she does terrifies even me. I’m sure training from an early age does a lot to eradicate some of that fear, but just reading about her stunts gave me chills. I loved reading about how close-knit this family was. We get a lot of dysfunctional families in YA (and especially in NA), but even though we see a bit of tension, Jules’ loves her family and they love her. It was also nice to see a family who knew how to trust their teenager. Mom and Dad don’t try to lock her up in an ivory tower to keep her out of trouble. Instead, they believe her when she claims to be ready for her outdoor walks and they trust her to keep herself out of trouble. Want to know something else I loved? She’s flawed. She’s not perfect. Things happen and she reacts the best she can, but it’s not always the right answer.

Remy is the opposite of a lady’s man. He stays focused on his act and doesn’t mess around. He could easily live up that Romeo image because he has the looks and the body to go with it, but he doesn’t. He plays it off. He’s such a sweet guy and I loved that he didn’t spend every moment chasing after women. He is also dedicated to his family. Things with his mom are rocky, but his siblings are everything to him. He spends a great deal of time with them, practicing their act, trying to get things right. It’s hard to really articulate what I loved about him. He’s so different from your typical YA male that I can’t even make a comparison.

All the other characters were memorable and lovable, especially Dita and Sam. They each bring something new and interesting to the table. Maybe they all fascinated me because I love reading about circuses and the people who make them come to life, but either way, I loved them all. I just think circuses are so interesting. These people work and sweat and work on their craft when their craft is some crazy feat of strength or endurance or balance. The amount of practice and training that goes into wire walking or trapeze or animal training is so extensive that I cannot even begin to fathom it. Remy spends his nights in the big tent trying and trying to make a quad happen. Several hours every single night, on top of his daily practices with his siblings. That kind of determination just astounds me.

Plot-wise, this gets even more kudos from me because I didn’t see the bad guy coming. I had it pegged as someone completely different. It makes complete sense, once it’s all revealed, so maybe I should have seen it coming. The whole mystery unfolds beautifully. Bond manages to balance the perfect amount of mystery and romance in this magical story.

There was only really one issue. There is a death, a very depressing death. From a logical stand-point, I understand the death. I know it was necessary. I completely get that it was the only way to push the story in the direction it needed to go and to truly get Jules to believe in magic. I get that, but that doesn’t make me any less sad. That doesn’t make my tears any less real. On that front, the death accomplished it’s job to make me feel beautifully because I did and I do and even writing this now, I’m tearing up. It’s such a tragic one and it effects so many people and…just damn. Considering I gave Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep a one star rating due to an animal death (a bit extreme, but it really really upset me), knocking off half a star for this traumatic death isn’t that bad. I still kinda feel bad, but I try to be as honest as possible.

Besides the death, I loved everything about this. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the mysterious plot, I love the lure, and I especially love the cover. It’s completely perfect for this book. It’s hard to find a good circus tale. I feel like everyone is fascinated by them, but few authors broach the subject. I don’t know why that is exactly, but I know I have only read a handful of novels on the subject and they have all been spectacular. This goes right up there with Water For Elephants for me, maybe even a notch higher. Gwenda has a way of writing that captivates you from the moment you start the novel. Her book is fascinating enough that I ignored what I should have been reading all week to finish this. It was entirely worth it. If you are interested in circus lore, getting behind of the eyes of a fearless heroine, or are just looking for something a little different than what you’ve read before, this is the book for you!

5 bowshalf a bow
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Review for The Brokenhearted (The Brokenhearted #1) by Amelia Kahaney

The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

TITLE: The Brokenhearted
SERIES: The Brokenhearted #1
AUTHOR: Amelia Kahaney
PUBLICATION DATE: October 8, 2013
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 2 bows


Anthem Fleet was just a normal rich girl with a pushy boyfriend, barely there parents, and a drive to be the best prima ballerina she can be…..until she sneaks out for a party, meets a new boy who subsequently get’s kidnapped for ransom causing her to run away and fall into a lake where she is saved by a boy who takes her to a crazy doctor who gives her a chimeric heart because she’ll die otherwise. Then she goes all vigilante to save the oh so special boy and get vengeance on the people who took him in the first place.

Before I get started with the usual shenanigans that are involved in my angry reviews, I want to get something out of the way. I’m going to try something new here. Since talking with Lauren about this book and how absolutely insane it is, I have been inspired to make it a themed gif post. All the gifs used here will be taken from the Nostalgia Critic. This will happen for two reasons. The first being I’m a huge fan. The second is that this book inspired Doug Walker level rage and I feel his expressions can help me express my feelings to you. If it goes well, I may attempt to do more gif themed reviews, but we shall see. Also, instead of just giving you my thoughts, I’m going to walk you through the novel and it’s craziness. This may go horrible wrong, but I’ll never know unless I try. Now, back to the review.

We start off with Anthem whining about life. She is a replacement kid, you see. Her parents had another daughter who died and they had Anthem to replace the dead one. So we see her parents pressure her to fit into Rachel’s (the dead one) mold even though they are ssssoooo different (Hint: they really aren’t). She is supposed to attend this fancy party with her parents and meet up with her boyfriend of several years, but since he has been pressuring her to sleep with him and she doesn’t want to, she lies and tells her parents she is sick and stays home. Then she sneaks out with her friend and goes to a rave. She meets Gavin, a oh so hot, but sweet and sensitive, guy. The two talk a little and then the police break up the party so they get separated and she assumes she won’t see him again. Up until this point, I was fine. The novel was okay, but not amazing. Then we get to the next bit.

Anthem realizes that she doesn’t really want to be with Will because her night with Gavin showed her better things are possible, so she dumps him. She goes to ballet practice as normal and Gavin is waiting outside for her. Now, at the party, Anthem didn’t give him any of her info besides a fake name and the general direction of her home. The fact that he was able to find her suggests stalker tendencies because he had no logical way of knowing we she’d be. But Anthem, being the idiot that she is, is just overjoyed to see him and skips Ballet practice (something she’s never done before) to spend time with him. She ends up skipping practice all week, telling her instructor that she has an injured ankle which the instructor believes without any kind of corroboration from a doctor or her parents, to continue hanging out. Now, at the end of this single week, she follows Gavin home and gives him her virginity because she loves him so much.
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That’s right, Will, the obnoxious boyfriend of years doesn’t deserve it, but guy of the one week knowledge is worth it. After they get it on, things get really interesting. Or maybe interesting isn’t the right word because there was no point in this novel where I would have had a problem sitting it down for something else. But anyway, things take an unexpected turn with thugs break in and kidnap Gavin. They tell Anthem to get them an exorbitant amount of money by Friday or they’ll kill precious Gavin. They leave and Anthem tries to run back home, but gets accosted by a hobo. Then Ford, another random guy, saves her and tells her that she needs to give him a reward for such an act.
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Thinking he is a creep, she runs off again and ends up falling off a bridge into a river that kills her. But oh so heroic Ford jumps in and saves her and takes her to his demented doctor friend who gives her a heart transplant to save her. She gets a chimeric heart and she’s all healed.
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Now, when Anthem awakens, she realizes several days have passed. She runs home, against the good doctor’s recommendation, to beg her parents for the money to save Gavin. She decides they don’t need to know about her death and surgery and new heart. She begs them to save Gavin, but they refuse because they won’t negotiate with terrorists and they’ll probably just demand more money anyway.

Anthem then steals some of her mom’s jewelry to try to negotiate with them. Her family’s body guard, Serge, helps her in this endeavor, volunteering to go in and make the trade. This goes badly and Anthem swoops in the save him because her chimeric heart gives her many new abilities. She’s super fast, super strong, super healing…basically a lot of supers. Why does the chimeric heart allow her to do these things? I don’t fucking know. It’s never explained!
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Anyway, after that she decides to find the baddies on her own because she doesn’t want anyone else she loves to get hurt. Meanwhile, in normal life, because she is a teenager and that means parents and school and drama, Will is black mailing her into being his girlfriend. Apparently after she dumped him he planted a camera in her room and recorded her acting like a chimeric heart freak and says if she doesn’t pretend to date him, he’ll post it online so the world can see what she really is. Instead of using her new found abilities to sneak into his home, beat him senseless, and take his computer with the files, she angrily agrees to his plan. Because she is powerless against him?
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So in real life she is going through the motions and in night life, she is using Ford to help her hunt down Gavin’s kidnappers. They find him, she goes to save him, he gets shot through the heart and dies. At which point I just freak the fuck out.
Doug Walker the hell was that gif
You make such a big deal about the instalove and how she can’t let him die and then just like that, you shoot him and it’s game over? Interesting. That wasn’t a twist I saw coming. I don’t like it, but kudos to you for shocking me. After that, Anthem goes into a short depression and then a rage filled training session with Ford to learn to fight. I personally think this is useless because she has super-human strength and super-human speed and super-human healing, so the basics are combat aren’t really necessary, but hey, it’s your life! She takes out the gang that killed Gavin one by one. When she gets to the ringleader chick, she actually kills her. The others she just gift wraps for the police, but the girl who actual shot Gavin gets to die.

Her quest is complete, so the novels over, right?
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No? Damn. Anthem, despite missing all those practices, is the lead in the ballet’s performance of Giselle. She performs and then finds a note about the boss of the gang that the kidnappers worked for is going to be at a party and she should go and handle him. And she does. Anyone wanna guess who the boss is?
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It’s Gavin! He’s not really dead! He faked his death and used Anthem to get her money!
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Apparently Anthem is dumber than we thought because even though he dies in her arms, she doesn’t notice the fake blood or how it’s cold or possibly how he is still fucking breathing!
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But yeah, they fight, he shoots Ford, who followed Anthem to save her and Gavin gets away while Anthem rushes Ford to his crazy doctor friend. Don’t worry people, he is fine. She uses her super-sleuth abilities…
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to find Gavin and throws him off a cliff, killing him. Then she realizes that her dad is in cahoots with Gavin and his gang and book over!

Oh! And somewhere in the middle, Anthem convince’s Will’s parents that he is on drugs and needs help so they ship him off to rehab while she makes off with is damning video! YAYAY!

Doug Walker I need my fuckital gif

The problem with this besides the insta-love and love triangle (rectangle?) and the crazy plot and my annoyance (read: hatred) for the lead character, is the complete lack of world building. It is apparent that this does not take place in modern day America (or modern day anywhere). It’s obvious that it’s a dystopian world of some kind. But we never get anymore information than that.
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Just like an explanation for why a chimeric heart suddenly allows her to do so many new things, we get no explanation about this world. We get no background or history on when things changed or why or how. We get nothing to explain away the crazy people names and don’t even get me started on the names for the drugs people take.
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What it comes down to is this novel was a big mess. It gets 2 stars instead of one because the last 50 pages or so were very intense and interesting and I like that she realizes what an idiot she was in the beginning with Gavin. This novel is billed as The Dark Knight meets Cinder and in that respect it fails hopelessly. It resembles neither work. It fails on all counts, barely keeping me motivated enough to put in the effort to finish it. And now I have to read the sequel because I requested it for review. This novel is why I’m going to stop doing that. I’m only going to request first books or books in a series I have already started to avoid having to force myself to read something I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy.

So there you have it! My very first novel walk through! What did you think? Did you like the themed gifs? Did you hate them? Are you also a Nostalgia Critic fan? Inquiring minds need to know! Mostly just I need to know, but I’m sure someone else out there is curious!

2 bows
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Review for The Geography Of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith

The Geography Of You And Me by Jennifer E Smith

TITLE: The Geography Of You And Me
AUTHOR: Jennifer E Smith
PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2014
PUBLISHER: Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 337 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Lucy and Owen meet on a stalled elevator. They are both heading up when the lights suddenly go out and the elevator stops, somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floor. They eventually get rescued only to learn that it is a city-wide blackout. The whole city is dark and in the darkness, these two develop a fast-friendship that never quite disappears…even when they both move out. Lucy moves to Edinburg with her parents while Owen embarks on a cross-country drive with is father. Though the two are far apart, neither can forget the other. Through postcards and the occasional email, they keep in touch, but they wonder if they will ever reunite in the most important way or if they should move on. Can they make it work? Or will they be move on?

Lucy is a sweet, smart girl who is the epitome of a loner. No friends, beyond her brothers, and no desire to go out and make them. Sometimes she is lonely, but she cozies up with a book or goes out to explore NYC and everything is alright. So when the idea of spending the electric-less night alone (because her brothers are off to college and her parents are on yet another world-exploring trip) is too much, she invites Owen to join her. The two connect in a way that shocks them both. They don’t really know each other and yet they feel like they do. She’s an interesting character for me because she is the daughter of obviously wealthy parents (how else could they afford to always been off in Rome or Paris or Barcelona while the kids stay home with a nanny?) and yet she isn’t that snobby rich girl we always imagine. She gets left alone a lot and she doesn’t spend an excessive amount of money (in fact, I think we hardly see her spend any money). She’s bubbly and sweet, which are qualities you don’t expect in a loner. I thinks he’s lonelier than she wants to believe, especially since her brothers left for college.

Owen is definitely lonely. He was decimated by his mother’s death and is just roaming through life, trying to get by without being crushed by the grief. Though we never find out exactly what he listens to, it’s mentioned several times that he is constantly wearing headphones. Owen is just lost. He doesn’t really below in New York City, but he doesn’t below anywhere really and he wants to see the continental US a lot. So when the trip with his dad becomes a reality, he’s thrilled at the chance….but still worried about his dad. And life. And how he is ever going to decide his future.

I loved that for once we get a contemporary YA novel isn’t focused on how attractive this guy is. Don’t get me wrong, both leading characters are pretty enough, but it’s not the sole focus of their relationship. Lucy doesn’t just see him across the room and instantly love him because he’s so hot. Their attraction is so much deeper and more than that. I’ve been reading way too many NA’s lately and they mostly focus on the physical aspect of the relationship. It was so refreshing to get a different take on it, something I think is closer to real life. A relationship based on a connection and caring as opposed to the need to get each other naked as fast as possible. I get that hormones are a big thing, but it was nice to have something leave that bit out for once.

I really want to go on and on about the writing and the story and the well thought out plot (because all of those are true), but my brain is just mush at this point. I’m so in love with this story that I cannot find adequate words to articulate my joy, which is a problem I’m finding a lot lately. Jennifer just has this awesome ability to draw you into her worlds. You love the characters, you want their happiness as if it was your own, and your hopes are endlessly dashed as the story progresses because you don’t know if they are going to make it work. You want it more than you can express, but there is always that niggling possibility that it won’t happen and how depressed would that make you? Obviously since I love it, that is not the case, but it could have happened!

Another tiny thing about this emotional ride is that Jennifer manages to incorporate just the write amount of wit and humor to keep me giggling. This novel will run you through the ringer, but when they get it right, it’s pure magic.

All you really need to know that Jennifer E Smith is a writing god and we should all worship her. I don’t think this was quite as good as The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, but it was damn close. Now I’m even more determined to fit This Is What Happy Looks Like into my reading schedule soon because this woman just knows how to make me fall in love. If you’re a fan of Jennifer’s previous works, like contemporary YA, or are just looking for a story to make you fall in love, this is the one for you. It has that magical quality that makes you hope that you’re life will turn into a romance when you get stuck in an elevator. 😉

****Thank you to Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Born Of Illusion (Born Of Illusion #1) by Teri Brown

Born Of Illusion by Teri Brown

TITLE: Born Of Illusion
SERIES: Born Of Illusion #1
AUTHOR: Teri Brown
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 373 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Anna Van Housen is a very gifted magician. She is the opening act for her mother’s mentalist show, but sometimes she wishes she owned the stage. There is something amazing about being up there and causing people to gasp in wonder. Anna also has a little secret, she has a few unusual abilities. She can senses peoples emotions and see the future and keeping that information from everyone can be a bit tricky. Lately, her powers are getting stronger and she keeps seeing her doomed future loom before her eyes. Can she figure out who means her harm and save the day or is she cursed to live out her vision and perish?

Anna is amazing. She’s clever and determined, but somehow manages to come off as completely vulnerable and maybe just a touch naive. For someone with the ability to sense people’s emotions, not to mention the years of picking people out of the crowd for her tricks, she’s still a bit blind to others. She completely misjudges several people and she doesn’t see the bad guy coming until the very end, despite the mixed emotions she gets from him constantly. She is a completely interesting character and the question of is she or isn’t she Houdini’s daughter is one I was begging to be answered. There are so many clues leading either way and I WANT TO KNOW! I NEED TO KNOW!
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Besides the obvious mystery of who is out to get Anna, that’s the biggest conundrum of this tale and, like I said, I need to know!
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You’re not going to tell me, are you? Damn.

Cole, my dear sweet Cole, is so adorable cute that there aren’t words to describe him. Maybe a GIF will help….
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See how cute that is? That’s Cole. He’s spent his childhood in a boarding school for boys and he’s so easily embarrassed around Anna that I just want to hug him. It’s clear from moment one that he is hiding something, but it’s equally clear (at least to me) that it’s not something malicious. He tells her quite frankly that they aren’t his secrets to tell and that’s the truth. He could have cleared a lot up if he had just let her read him so she could feel his honesty, but alas, things can never be that simple. I just loved how squeamish he was around her, how much he wanted to be around her, but he didn’t know what to say or how to act and kept blushing over every fumble. Like I said, adorable.

There is also a host of well formed side characters, everyone from Marguerite (Anna’s mother), to Cynthia (a soon-to-be friend of Anna’s), to Houdini himself. I especially loved Mr Darby, Cole’s uncle. He’s that crotchety old man who seems mean, but is really a big softie. I love (love love) him. I wish he was real and would be my neighbor so I could harass him good-naturedly. Cynthia surprised me a bit because I wasn’t expecting her to become such a big part as she was. I was expecting her to play her role in the beginning and then leave, but she doesn’t. She sticks around and becomes fast-friends with Anna.

The writing and world-building are just as amazing as the character development. I am not an aficionado of the Jazz Age, but I feel like Brown put a lot of research into making this world as realistic as possible and it shows. The language, the old words I knew anyway, felt spot on and authentic. There were even terms I’d never heard of before, such as four-flusher, that I enjoyed learning about. The plot was a bit predictable to me, but it was predictable in that way that I’m not sure if everyone will find it predictable. I saw several twists coming and I faintly suspected who would be the villian early on.****SPOILER****I knew the minute the cleaning woman for Mr Darby didn’t show up that she was in on the scheme, that she was the woman’s voice Anna recognized. As soon as the love-triangle angle started up, I was sure that Anna would end up with Cole and I thought maybe Owen would be a bad guy, so I was pretty accurate there.****END SPOILER****

I have been dying to read this for quite a while. Both the title and the cover have called my name. Normally covers with chick’s faces on the cover are a bit overdone, but the contrast here is just so striking that the result is lovely. And the book is just as good as the gorgeous cover promises. I think everyone who enjoys historical YA or mystery YA or just a good novel that’s a bit different than what you were expecting will love this. It’s blessedly cliffhanger free and that just makes me want the next one more!

5 bows
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Review for Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

TITLE: Vivian Divine Is Dead
AUTHOR: Lauren Sabel
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
PAGES: 388 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 2 bows

Vivian Divine is a teen acting star who has received a very serious death threat. Now, she’s on the run in Mexico with only her wits to keep her alive until she meets Nick, a guy who is the polar opposite of Hollywood boys. He’s kind and genuine and seems to be determined to help Vivian. But with the baddies closing in are these two enough to take on the big bad and live to tell the tale? Or will Vivian get murdered as predicted?

Vivian has been depressed since her mother was murdered six months ago. She is just going through the motions, acting and spending time with her Hollywood Hotshot boyfriend, until he cheats on her with her best friend. This pushes her deeper into depression and when the death threat surfaces, she doesn’t need much of push to run off to a Mexican safe house. Things don’t go according to plan, when her money gets stolen within the first bus ride and that stupid Mexican boy Nick mocking her. And soon she feels the bad guy hot on her trail and makes a break for it by running off into the woods with Nick. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with her because you have to sympathize with what she’s lost, but she is so damn naive I wanted to slap her.

I had the same type of Love/hate thing going with Nick. On one hand, he’s sweet and charming, but it’s clear he’s hiding something. He’s not being 100% honest and it irked me through the entire book…until you get close to the end where it’s painfully obvious what his secret is. I can’t be the only one who predicted that. I also can’t be the only one who predicted the Mary thing. That was a big problem I had with this novel, it’s very predictable. I saw every twist coming, every single one.

The writing was great and fast paced and interesting, but the basic story line was muddled. And fully of instalove! Nick and Vivian spend just a few days together and though there is attraction, I didn’t feel like there was enough for them to claim “love” before the scant 280 pages were up. I can buy into falling in love in a few days if they are an intense few days. In The Taking by Kimberly Derting, the main two characters only have a few days to fall in love, but it was an intense few days and while Vivian’s time with Nick was meant to feel intense, it falls short. Every time she thinks something about loving him, I was rolling my eyes. I found her antics a bit over the top. But, assuming the author did want me to believe her love was real, then she is in for a nasty surprise. Things with Nick don’t end well. Things with Nick end rather badly. Don’t go into this with the expectation that they will ride off into the sunset because they won’t. And, as if you really need reminding at this point, I hate bad endings. So you can imagine my reaction…and if you can’t

All you really need to know is that I found this disappointing. I wanted to love it. I love the cover and it’s got a great premise, with a prissy actress having to rough it in Mexico, but it just fell flat. The story was funny and charming, but it didn’t have the heart to back it up, if that makes sense. It’s like a hot guy with no personality whatsoever. It builds up to an epically predictable climax and then it just ends. There is no falling action or time to recover from the climax, it’s just over. I feel like that’s happening a lot in the novels I’ve read recently. ACTION and then it’s over. Maybe you’ll see more here than I did, but I didn’t love it like I thought I would.

****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

2 bows
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Review for Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

TITLE: Life By Committee
AUTHOR: Corey Ann Haydu
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
PAGES: 304 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 5 bows

Tabitha is a bookish high school girl with an odd relationship with her parents, an internet romance with a classmate, and only one friends. She used to have 2 besties since childhood, but when she jumped a cup size, they decided she had changed and they could no longer be associated with her. Who knew that becoming attractive would make her less popular? She spends her nights IM-ing Joe, a classmate who she is falling hard for. The problem? Joe has a girlfriend, a fragile girlfriend he loves and can’t bare to leave. Just when Tab thinks she can’t hold in the joy she feels when Joe confesses her feelings for her, she finds Life By Committee, an internet site that pushes her limits. It’s simple, reveal a secret, received a challenge. You have 24 hours to complete to challenge to keep your secret or risk exposing it to the rest of the world. She quickly becomes obsessed with this site and all it’s other members. But when does a challenge go to far? Kissing someone else’s boyfriend? Smoking weed with your father? Exposing some else’s secret? Soon Tabitha will have to choose whether this community is really worth all she puts into it.

Tabitha was someone that I identified with quickly. How can I not identify with someone who shares my name? She’s so lonely and doing things that aren’t right and her life is more or less falling apart, but she’s just trying to continue to push forward. She is more hurt by her old friends betrayal than she’ll ever let on, but how can she allow them to put her down? She hasn’t changed at all, just her bra size and her desire to wear makeup. Is wanting to be pretty so wrong? I wanted to simultaneously hug her and slap her, because this “relationship” with Joe is bad, really bad. He’s never going to leave his girlfriend and it’s clear to anyone else that she’s just a hookup who doesn’t know it yet. Once she becomes embroiled in Life By Committee, there was no putting this thing down. The challenges and other peoples secrets and challenges and successes and failures were just as intoxicating to me as they were to Tab. I wanted to know more. I needed to see how these people’s lives turned out.

The more you go in, though, the more you question Life By Committee’s leader. The main guy that hands out the challenges start asking for impossible things. These challenges seem to help some of the members, but how far is too far? Proposing after a single week together? Flying across the world to ask a guy out? Turning a family member in for drug abuse? When do you call a halt to the shenanigans?

Many things in this novel called my interest. Tab’s relationship with her parents is so intense and different than any other I’ve read. Mommy is pregnant again, determined to “do it right” this time, which just begs the question “what did you do wrong before?” Tabitha seems to have turned out well enough, so why change something that’s not broken? Their relationship goes from awesome to abusive and then back to awesome. It was intense and different and far from perfect.

I also loved the idea of “active reading.” As much of a reader as I have always been, I have never approached a book like she did here, highlighting and note taking and commenting in the margins. Writing in a book has always seemed a bit sacrilege to me. But I love the idea of finding a marked up copy that makes you feel like you are sharing an experience with another anonymous reader. I’m gonna have to find a copy to used copy to markup and see how I feel. I worry that taking notes and such will pull me out of the story, but I am willing to try!

I was dying to get my hands on this novel as soon as I heard about it. I LOVED Corey Ann Haydu’s previous novel, OCD Love Story, which was the most realistic portrayal of OCD I’d ever read in a YA novel. I knew this would be just as amazing and I wasn’t disappointed. Haydu manages to write a perfectly flawed story with morals and meanings and still have a realistic ending that made me grin like an idiot. If you are looking for something amazing but a little different than your typical contemporary YA, this is for you!

****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for House Of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

House Of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

TITLE: House Of Ivy & Sorrow
AUTHOR: Natalie Whipple
PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2014
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Josephine Hemlock has always known that the old witch under the bridge wasn’t a myth….because that witch is her grandmother. And, like her grandma, she’s a witch. She’s spent the majority of her life hiding from the Curse that took her mother’s life (as well as many of her other relatives) and it’s going rather well until a mysterious man shows up looking for her mother. So now she must figure out who is behind the curse and destroy them before the curse claims her or her beloved Grandma. Will she succeed or will she succumb to the curse?

Josephine is that perfect combination of spirit and fear. She is fiesty and determined to do the best she can, but she’s also terrified of her grandmother dying and of catching the curse. She has a great group of friends and a new romance with the hot, sweet guy at school, but somehow still manages to feel lonely because she can’t share her magic with anyone. She’s so beautiful and awesome, but still self-conscious in the most adorable way around her new beau. Her determination to save her Grandmother was endearing as hell.

Winn, said beau, is absolutely awesome. I’ve read a multitude of bad boy types, and he’s nice guy image was a great change. He’s genuinely a good guy, who always does the right thing and really likes Josephine as she is. He’s a nice looking, muscly guy, but the muscles don’t just miraculously appear where they have no business being on a teenage boy. They are the result of days working on his parents farm. I loved that. I’m sick of reading about characters that are all toned and hot but for no apparent reason. It was nice to see that there was a legitimate need for him to be all muscly, not just because, you know, it’s hot.

There are is a parade of additional characters, including Jo’s two best friends Kate and Gwen) and the inevitable other point in the love triangle, Levi. Who I kinda liked better, because he has a bad boy vibe. I know, I know, I just went on a spiel about how great it was to read about a nice guy and I like the bad guy more. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just fucked up. Anyway, I liked all the characters. I loved that the friends get let in on the secret and not pushed aside. What I really loved though, was the darkness of it. I’ve read a review or two claiming this wasn’t dark enough. I wholeheartedly disagree. What I really loved about this was it’s darkness. I’ve read a lot of YA’s or witch stories in general, where the people are just born with the ability and they don’t have to cast spells or make potions or anything, just wave their hand and poof! Problem solved. That’s not the case here. Everything has a cost and sometime it’s as simple as pulling out a flew strands of hair or going color blind for a day or two. Other times it’s yanking out a fingernail or a tooth. The debt must always been paid. I loved (loved loved loved) that darker take on it. It felt more like witchcraft or voodoo, less like pansy-ass hand waving.

This is exactly the novel I was looking for when I started reading it. It’s a little slow to start, but has everything you need for a great novel, with dark voodoo, a great mystery, and a light romance. This is the best witchy novel I’ve read since Once A Witch!

****Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

TITLE: Enchanted
SERIES: Woodcutter Sisters #1
AUTHOR: Alethea Kontis
PUBLISHER: Harcourt Children’s Books
PAGES: 308 pages
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Audio Book Sync
RATING: 5 bows

Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, so her life was destined to be magical. However, beyond having everything she writes somehow come true, Sunday’s life is on the boring side with her large family. Until she meets Grumble, a talking frog who insists on hearing the stories about her family’s past exploits. After a few days and a magical kiss, Grumble transforms back to Prince Rumbold of Arilland. Too bad Sunday was too far off to see the transformation and has no clue…also that her family hates the Prince. Now he returns to his life of privilege determined to find Sunday and make her fall in love with him in human form. The task will be far from easy, but the can’t live without he’s lady.

I’m a bit unsure what to say here. This is the first novel that I’ve “read” entirely via audiobook. I’ve listened to quite a few novels, but I always end up lapsing back to the physical or ebook form within the story because it’s faster. Or because it’s easier to sneak and read during class or while waiting than it is to get out headphones and start listening again. I can say that the narrator was amazing. Katherine Kellgren has this great British accent and different voices for each character. I don’t know why audiobook form makes it harder for me to review, but it does. Let’s see what if I can work my way through it, shall we?

Sunday was quite an interesting character to follow. She’s a bit more mousey than the heroine’s I’m used to, but still brave enough to stand up for herself when the moment is right. Her strange family and magical ability made her a bit unique from her siblings. She does get a touch insta-lovey with Grumble because they are only acquainted a few days before her kiss magics him back to his human form which is far too quickly for love to blossom in my humble opinion, but this issue is solved when Rumbold spends so much time and energy to woo her back to him.

Rumbold is a prince easy to sympathize with. He finally gets back into a human form only to realize that he was a much better individual as a frog than as the bratty prince he used to be. He desperate wants Sunday to love him as he is but is terrified she’ll only see the prince he was. He wants to just demand that she marry him so he can have her by his side always but can’t bring himself to do anything so drastic and take her choice away.

The two make an adorable couple, once they jump through all the necessary hoops. My only real complaint is that this was a bit too short. I hear/read a lot of people complain that too many things are too long and how they prefer books that are 250-350 pages. I can completely understand that logic because it’s quicker to get through if it’s terrible, but it’s still enough space to adequately tell a story, but with stuff like this, it always feels too short. There are many characters here and we don’t get enough time to marvel in the wonderful world Alethea has created.

All you need to know is that this is the best kind of fairy tale retelling and if you like that sort of thing, give it a try! I’ll be reading the next one shortly, you can bet on that!

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