Review for School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

TITLE: School Spirits
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2013
PUBLISHER: Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group
PAGES: 297 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Izzy Brannick’s life has been anything but ordinary. She has been trained to fight monsters since she was old enough to walk and she’s pretty good at it. After a botched first solo job (really, how hard should capturing a vampire alone be?!?), Izzy’s mom decides to give her an easier task, catching a high school haunting ghost and laying her to rest. For this task, she must enroll in high school, a much scarier task altogether. Izzy quickly learns that this isn’t your typical haunting….and that when this is all over, her newfound friends will be hard to leave behind.

This novel is exactly what you’d expect a spinoff of Hex Hall to be. It’s mysterious and monstrous and funny and endearing and heartbreaking. Izzy isn’t as quick with the one-liners as Sophie was, but she’s just as spunky and funny and relatable. She’s easy to sympathize with as she navigates the treacherous halls of high school for the first time, making friends and trying to pass all her classes. Trying to balance that with witch hunting with the school’s paranormal group who are so clueless it’s all Izzy can do not to laugh in their face.

Torin was another great character and a great mystery. You never quite know what he is up to or what he wants, besides being freed from his mirror prison. The affection between him and Izzy is obvious but it’s unclear if it is of a romantic nature for the most part. I personally think the love triangle aspect will be played up in the next novel (especially considering that’s how it happened in the Hex Hall series), but I guess we’ll wait and see.

My favorite character though, has to be Dex. I thought I loved Torin’s character, and then Dex showed up and my mind was completely changed. I LOVE Dex. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

He’s funny and smart and self-assured and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about him, except his small circle of friends. He’s just so damn quirky and adorable and, just wow. I’ve never been one for fashion, but this boy with his pinstripe pants, purple pea coat, and an endless supply of scarves fashioned into cravats definitely won my attention right off the bat. Any guy who even knows what the word cravat means in this day and age would probably catch my attention! ::swoons:: For once, it isn’t the guy who rushes in to save the girl, because Dex isn’t really capable of that, with is severe asthma, but damned if he still isn’t noble as hell.

The rest of the cast was just as interesting, if not as amazing. Romy is unique and geeky and adorable, if a little obsessive and strange. Watching her and Anderson dance around their obvious attraction to one another was a fun little side story! Aislinn, Izzy’s mom, was annoying and overbearing, but ultimately tried to do right by her one remaining daughter.

The story was a bit predictable to me. I pegged it pretty early on who had summoned the witch, but I still didn’t see exactly how so there is a lot of mystery. The whole thing with Dex at the end was shocking as hell! I mean hes….he was…it….well, I won’t spoil it for you guys, but just be prepared because it’s a bit of a doozy. I was pleasantly surprised that this contained neither a love triangle nor a cliffhanger. Though I think Izzy’s is attracted to Torin and just refuses to admit it, it never comes into play. As for the ending, the entire main plot of the novel wraps up nicely, leaving loose ends only on major things that you should have known wouldn’t be wrapped up in a single novel.

This novel was exactly what I needed, a book that I had high expectations for that definitely lived up to them. I recommend it to everyone who enjoyed Hex Hall and all YA paranormal lovers.

****Thank you to Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Towering by Alex Flinn

Towering by Alex Flinn

TITLE: Towering
AUTHOR: Alex Flinn
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 304 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 3 stars

Towering is a retelling of Rapunzel. Rachel has lived her whole life in a tower, guarded by Mama, not her real mama, of course. But she says that her real mama was murdered and Rachel must stay hidden in the tower because those people might still be out there to harm her as well. Wyatt’s life is in desperate need of change. He’s mom decides the best thing for him is to ship him off to this little town in the middle of nowhere to live with her teenage best friend’s mother. But when Wyatt arrives, he is immediately plagued by ghosts and strange voices that sing to him that no one else can hear. Drawn by the beautiful voice, Wyatt sets off to find its origin and stumbles across Rachel’s tower. Then they are off to fulfill Rachel’s destiny of saving the town.

Let me just preface this review with two statements.
Statement A: This is just MY OPINION and I hope that everyone else’s opinion differs.
Statement B: This is the type of review I dread writing because I was looking forward to reading this so much and am so disappointed with it.

I was overjoyed when I got approved for this eARC. I have adored all of Alex Flinn’s previous fairy tale retellings and couldn’t wait to dive into this one. Rapunzel isn’t my favorite fairy tell, but I loved the recent Disney retelling and was overly excited to see Alex weave her magic….but it just fell flat for me. Both Rachel and Wyatt (all of the characters actually) seemed extremely one dimensional. The plot twist was extremely predictable and the whole story just felt a little blah to me. Then, once you get towards the end and the prophecy starts to unfold, it just all seemed too farfetched to believe. Crazy, right? It’s a fairy tale retelling and those are always rather fanciful and I never have a hard time buying into it, but not this one.

With Wyatt, again, he felt extremely one dimensional. His recent past has a major tragedy and I truly sympathize and cannot imagine going through something similar, but the whole thing with Astrid on New Years and not feeling anything and then Rachel magically inspires feelings upon first meeting her? Instalove. Ugh. I was also irritated because Josh goes out of his way in the beginning to be nice to Wyatt and invite him out and stuff and Wyatt just basically forgets about him once he meets Rachel. I HATE that quality. Yes I realize your significant other is extremely important to you, but they shouldn’t become your entire life! You’ll end up with Bella Swan syndrome if they leave you. X_X

Then there was Rachel, who I just couldn’t get behind at all. One on hand, hurray for having a YA heroine who saves the guy in the end instead of the other way around, but she just felt as blah to me as Wyatt. She didn’t illicit much of an emotional response from me, even when doing dangerous things. The only thing about her that I liked is I found her lack of knowledge of the outside world amusing. The only character that felt fully fleshed out was Mrs Greenwood because we get to see all different sides to her, the mother, the protector, the sad old lady, and so on. I felt pretty bad for her.

The plot was predictable, the writing felt bland, and I am just wholly disappointed. I don’t know if I feel this way because I’ve changed or if it truly is a step down from the level of awesomeness that was A Kiss In Time and Bewitching. I know I’ve stepped away from YA lately, reading more NA, and I really hope that that’s why I didn’t love this like I wanted to. I hope everyone else reads it and adores it as much as her previous works. So my advice for everyone is just give it a try, hopefully you’ll love it.

****Thank you to Harper Teen, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for True (True Believers #1) by Erin McCarthy

True by Erin McCarthy

TITLE: True
SERIES: True Believers #1
AUTHOR: Erin McCarthy
PUBLICATION DATE: May 7, 2013
PUBLISHER: Intermix Books, published by Penguin Group
PAGES: 222 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

This is your classic good girl meets bay boy scenario. Rory is a smart, premed college student on the track to becoming a coroner and Tyler is a tattooed boy from the wrong side of the tracks going to an EMT degree so he can better himself. It’s an unlikely pair, but the attraction between the two is undeniable. Will Rory risk her future to be with Tyler? Will Tyler allow her to do that? I guess you’ll have to read to see.

Rory and Tyler are both pretty much your typical new adult characters. She’s a good girl with a nice unbringing in the upper middle class and he’s lower class with a drug-addled mother. She’s that nerdy girl who has never really had a boyfriend and is therefore still a virgin at 20. He’s sexually experience from all his years as a manslut and even has a bolt through the cock to prove his manliness. The only thing that sets them apart is the fact that for once it’s the guy who is the literature-whore. He loves to read. When he shows up to a Halloween party wearing normal clothes claiming to be a muggle, I was snorting with amusement. The guy is rarely ever the booknerd, so I loved seeing that. I wasn’t overly fond of Rory, but I think I did like Tyler quite a bit. Once you learn more about him, it’s easy to sympathize with him. My only issue with him ****SPOILER****besides the fact that he goes all Edward-y towards the end with the whole “I can’t be with you anymore because I’m no good for you.”****END SPOILER**** was his nicotine addiction. I don’t care what Rory says about that shit being “sweet smelling,” it’s gross. In fact, considering that Rory’s mom died of cancer, it’s difficult to believe she didn’t have a bigger problem with his cancer sticks, but she doesn’t.

All the side characters are great. I didn’t like Kylie or Jessica initially, but they definitely grew on me. I loved Rory’s dad’s girlfriend, Susan and Tyler’s brothers. Susan never tries to be Rory’s mother, only helping when she can and staying out of it when she isn’t wanted or needed. Tyler’s brothers are just downright amusing. Their camaraderie won me over almost instantly.

The plot was good, if more than a little predictable. The writing was intriguing and addictive, making me want to continue when I know I should be doing other things. My only issue with the writing was the overuse of the word penis. It’s not so much that she uses it too much, just more of the fact that I don’t like that word particularly. It just sounds so clinical. In my humble opinion, cock or dick is better, but that’s probably just me.

This won’t be my favorite read of the year, but it was definitely good and I think anyone who enjoys new adult or contemporary romance will enjoy it. I look forward to reading more books by Erin McCarthy!

****Thank you to Intermix Books, published by Penguin Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

TITLE: Levitating Las Vegas
AUTHOR: Jennifer Echols
PUBLICATION DATE: May 7, 2013
PUBLISHER: Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc
PAGES: 300 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Holly Starr can’t wait to freshen up her dad’s tired magic show, but until he keeps his agreement to share his secrets with her, she can’t do anything but wait and perform as his magical assistant. But before that can happen, Holly’s prescription of crazy pills runs out and the pharmacy doesn’t know when they’ll get more. Terrified that her old delusion of being about to levitate objects will come back, Holly is desperate to get her hands on more. Elijah Brown, her old high school crush, just happens to suffer from the same brand of crazy, except he thinks he can read minds. He is also terrified he’ll go completely coo-coo for cocoa puffs, he ends up taking Holly on a road trip to a small town in Colorado where the pills are manufactured. But on the way, they discover that maybe they aren’t crazy and maybe that attraction that flared between then all those years ago is still alive and well. Can they beat the odds to make a life together?

This novel is so addictive. I couldn’t stop reading and I was immediately draw into this strange world of readers, changers, and levitators. Holly and Elijah were easy to sympathize with, considering all their parents put them through. After all, it was the fact that Holly’s parents made them break off their date that caused the onset of both of their powers. It starts off a bit confusing because you feel just like the characters and you aren’t sure if what they believed happened or what their parents tell them happened is real, but once you get passed that, it all starts to fall into place.

Holly was a great leading lady. She’s spunky and rebellious, but her love for her parents and fear of her “disease” keeps her pretty well in line. Go to college, assist dad in his magic show, and be a good girl. Once she realizes what’s really happened, we get to see that rebellion really show its face. She’s angry and she isn’t afraid to show it. Her parents better be on their fucking guard because there is no excuse for lying to her for the past seven years. Elijah is less inclined to be angry about it. He’s mother has always tried to do what’s best for him and knowing she’s done everything on her own since his dad is dead, he’s a bit more sympathetic to her cause, but still more than a little miffed about what they took away from him. Elijah is definitely a swoon-worthy leading guy. He’s sweet and funny, with bright green eyes, wavey brown hair, and a muscled body from years of lacrosse and carpentry work. Once he knows Holly really does like him and wants him, he’s determined to keep her and protect her….even if she is determined to walk head first into trouble. Their romance is intense and I spent a good portion of this novel just waiting for them to finally get through their shit and be together because it’s obvious that’s where they belong.

So if the storyline is great, the writing is addictive, and I love the characters, why only four stars? My issue is that (at the moment) this novel is a standalone and so many things felt unfinished. There is no cliffhanger. Holly & Elijah’s story resolves and all is well, but there just feels like there is more that needs to be explored ****SPOILER****Like the obvious attraction between Kaylee and Shane or what’s going to happen between the Casino and the Rez or how the hell Kaylee plans to keep Mr Diamond’s death a secret indefinitely because eventually someone is going to demand to see him that won’t take no for an answer.****END SPOILER**** It’s an odd feeling for me because I’m typical that person who doesn’t understand why a book needs 5 sequels when the first one was perfect and I’m the one hesitant to start any series that has more than 3 or 4 books in it because I feel like that’s a bit too long to drag it out. Seriously, the House of Night series has like 13 books now and I KNOW those weren’t worthy of 5 books much less that many. I’m the person who gets irritated at the fan girls begging for sequels to a storyline that is definitely over. I get that you loved the characters, but you realize another book means more torment for them, right? There has to be conflict and do you really want to see them suffer more? If you want more, just go re-read the already published novels or explore the land of fanfiction! I’m not asking for a whole series, in fact that would make me angry, but the content of this book feels to me like the novel itself should be longer (it was only 300 pages), or they should do a sequel just to wrap up the loose ends.

Regardless of this issue, I did wholly enjoy it and I think anyone looking for a good paranormal romance/new adult story would definitely enjoy this.

****Thank you to Pocket Star Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Ten Reasons To Stay (School for Heiresses #2.5) by Sabrina Jeffries

Ten Reasons To Stay by Sabrina Jeffries

TITLE: Ten Reasons To Stay
SERIES: School For Heiresses #2.5
AUTHOR: Sabrina Jeffries
PUBLICATION DATE: May 6, 2013
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 150 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Eliza Crenshawe is beyond desperate to runaway. Her uncle is trying to force her to marry a stranger and everything she has done to prevent it has failed. With no other option, she sneaks out in the middle of the night to “borrow” a neighbor’s horse and run to London to prevail upon her friends to assist her. Colin Hunt, Earl of Monteith, just arrived in his new estate when he notices someone sneaking to his stables. These damn English lads think they can steal right out from under him. Loaded with a pistol and a good bit of anger, he follows the thieves to the stable and confronts him. Only to discover that it’s a she and a very attractive one at that. This confounded woman has quite a bit of nerve to try and steal his horse and then refuse to tell him why.

This novella has everything I look for in a historical romance. It has romance, a compelling story, a bit of mystery, and a whole lot of passion. Somehow Sabrina Jeffries manages to work in not one steamy scene, but two, in this tinsy tale. Colin a bit of different from the typical HR hero because he is half Indian (as in his mother is from India, not as in Native American). As such, he’s not really welcomed into the ton. Eliza is exactly my favorite kind of HR heroine, with enough determination and pluck and courage to find her way through even the toughest of situations. My only complaint is the same as it is for all HR novellas, it was just too damn short.

****Thank you to Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****