Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Publisher-Harper Collins
Released-March 4th 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
My Thoughts:
I've read Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall and loved it, but sadly it was the only book that I enjoyed since I wasn't able to get into her Delirium series. But I've always loved the way Oliver can write and wanted to try another book by her, which I’m glad I did since I ended up really enjoying Panic.

Panic is a yearly summertime event played by the graduating class and is a series of different challenges for the contenders to compete in. Only one player can win the grand price, which is over sixty thousand this time around. The games are devised in extreme dares to see how well you do under pressure and try not to panic under the heat. The games can be fatal, but all of the players have their reasons for participating. Some do it for revenge, to prove a point or to escape what ever issues or problems they’re going through, but most of them play for the money. They want to win so they can get out of their small little town and be something or find something they can’t find living in Carp.

I really liked this concept, it’s very unique and nothing like I've read in other books. The challenges themselves were pretty wicked, edgy and crazy. The games are supposed to be a reflection of bravery, strength, determination and stupidity, but it turns out to be much more personal to the players. They want out of their town, out of their meaningless lives and they would do anything to get it, even if it means stepping on friendships or betraying the ones you care about the most.

Heather might have went into the games as a desperate attempt to avoid her ex-boyfriend and to prove that she’s more then some fragile girl, but as the story starts to unfold  we start to see that Heather has a bad home life, a dead-beat mother and a little sister to protect. The games felt more intense for her because she had something real to fight for. It was really something to see her after each successful challenge. She’s angry with the people in her life and uses that in the games and soon enough she becomes this fearless and unflinching version of herself that I was really proud of.
Nat wasn't a character that I liked very much. She’s very outspoken, confident and erratic character but she can also be manipulative and even vindictive to get what she wants. I didn't care for how she treated Dodge or even Heather and I also didn't find her reason to be in the games good enough for such contempt and betrayal.
Dodge was someone I really connected with, maybe because his reason was so cut and dry. He wants revenge for what happened to his sister and in a way I can respect that.
Bishop is Heather and Nat’s best friend and he played his part well. Maybe too well. He was so supportive, protective and  loyal so I was quite surprised and didn't expect the twist in his part of the story or how it affected the other characters.

While I liked the story, it does have it's share of flaws. I was a little disappointed by the ending, and thought it all played out a little to smoothly. It lacked any real closure by the things that were said and done by some of these characters,  it felt like it was missing something important and it also lacked that wow-affect that I was waiting for, especially for such a heart pounding and gusty plot. There is also little no romance in this one, which was also slightly disappointing, but the storyline itself is so busy that you don’t really miss it, unless you’re a sap like me.

All in all, I rather liked this one. Panic is all about desperation, and how far you would go to win no matter the consequences. Lauren Oliver writes a convincing and exciting story with daring and damaged characters that I couldn't help be invested with from minute one till its gripping conclusion. Entertaining and engaging from start to finish. Brilliantly done! 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                               4 Snowflakes 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, #1) Death Sworn by Leah Cypress
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world
My Thoughts:
Oh how I love assassin books!  For some reason I am all about this type of book lately and Death Sworn was another great addition to my collection!

Ileni has been sent by her people to train assassins how to use magic.  This has been the agreement set by her people and the assassins in return for their teachings the assassins help keep them safe from the Empire who exiled them long ago.  Problem is that every teacher they send winds up dead from mysterious causes.  Ileni is positive she will find out what happened to the previous teachers so she goes willingly down into the caves.

I felt like I was walking a high wire the whole time I was reading this.  I never knew if the next sentence would make me finally misstep and fall off.  In my eyes this makes this type of book beyond exciting.  It was dark and creepy with assassins lurking in the dark every where she turned. 
Ileni never knew who to trust which in turn made me question everything.  It was awesome!  

I loved the whole storyline behind this idea.  The master of the assassins really intrigued me and I am left wondering more about him and how his operation came about.  I would love a prequel so that I could understand this world just a bit more.  We are given facts but honestly those took a backseat in my mind, all I wanted was to read more about the caves and find out more about the assassins...yes I know I keep repeating the word and yes I love it ha!

The only part that bothered me was toward the middle where things took a little detour into romanceville. Don't get me wrong I love romance just as much as the next reader but I don't think this story needed one.  I felt like the world and idea were strong enough to hold the story up by themselves.  Maybe in later books this relationship could have been developed, but for this book I really wish the author would have stayed more with the major storyline.  I would have preferred more development and information on that then a love struggle between two characters.

I did like the characters in the story and Ileni proved to be quite the badass.  I wasn't sure how she would turn out after something happens (you need to read to find out) but I have to give her major credit for doing what needed to be done and she did it herself.  I was beyond thrilled that she was in a cave full of assassins and she still chose to finish what she needed to on her own.  The last part though I think was a little rushed and the author did a great job of detailing why it happened and how it happened, but I am not sure if I completely buy it.  I think other players would have been more involved and it wouldn't have been as easy as it was.

All that being said I did really enjoy this book and I cannot wait for the sequel!  It is sure to be explosive since the decisions that Ileni made have yet to be revealed to certain characters!

4.5 snowflakes

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review& Giveaway: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott & Exclusive final sneak peek!

Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1)

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 27, 2014
A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Final Exclusive Sneak Peek...

“If you are hearing this message, then you have successfully completed the Pandora Selection Process. It also means you are now at the official starting line.”

Around me, Contenders whoop with excitement. Seriously? They’re about to plunge into a wild jungle, and that brings them happiness? Once again, I realize how out of my league I am. I don’t even have a change of clothes, for crying out loud.

“As you may have realized, you are on the outskirts of a rain forest. This will be the jungle part of the course. You will have two weeks to arrive at the jungle’s base camp. You will find this base camp by following the path of blue flags.”

Contestants glance around, immediately looking for the first blue flag. As for me, I’m watching the taillights of the semi and having a massive coronary.

“If you are the first to encounter a blue flag, you may remove it, but you may not remove the stake it is attached to. Doing so will result in immediate disqualification.”

I wonder why anyone would want to remove the flag to begin with. No one else seems concerned by this.

While the Cure will be awarded to a single winner at the end of the last ecosystem, we will bestow a smaller prize for each leg of the race. The prize for the jungle portion will be monetary.” The woman pauses dramatically. “I’d like to officially welcome you to the Brimstone Bleed. May the bravest Contender win.”

That’s it? That’s all she’s going to say? Because it seriously sounds like she’s wrapping up. So why aren’t I running after the trucks? Why am I not chasing after my only way out of this jungle like my life depends on it? I know the answer — though I wish I didn’t. Cody would do this for me. I am his only hope. I have to believe his cure exists. My only other option is to return home and watch my brother die. If I could even get back home.

I glance around frantically, looking for someone to tell me what to do. The Contenders have formed a long line, the kind you see at the start of a marathon. A few yards down from where I stand — I see him. My throat tightens when I realize his cold blue eyes are locked on me. It’s the guy from the Pandora Selection Process. The serial killer–looking dude who I thought was going to kidney punch me. He glares in my direction like he might take this opportunity to finish what he never started. I raise my hand in a small wave, hoping it says something like: See? Look how friendly I am!

He lifts his own enormous hand. For a moment, I brighten. I think maybe that — even though it looks like he hates every fiber of my being — he’s going to wave back. But he doesn’t. He holds up two fingers — his pointer and his middle — places them under his eyes, and then points in front of us.

Oh no, he didn’t. I think he basically just told me to pay attention. I’m still processing this when the woman’s voice rings in my ear.


My Thoughts...
Once again, I am amazed by the unique story Victoria Scott has crafted. Fire & Flood is a hit!
She broke through a heavily weighed down genre and slipped in a unique and refreshing action-packed story that will be a hit with tweens and teens!

Tella's family moved from the city to nowhere Montana. Her brother Cody is deathly ill and there hasn't been hope of a cure. Tella discovered a small device. Once she placed it and pressed the little red button, an announcement came on. It was an invitation to the Brimstone Bleed. Her father immediately took it away from her and in an attempt to destroy it, he threw it into a fire.

She recovers the device and listened to the announcement. She was selected for the Brimstone Bleed. All contenders were to report within forty-eight hours. The Pandora Selection Process is where the contenders select their Pandora and it's their only source of assistance throughout the race.
The race lasts three months and takes place across four ecosystems: desert, sea, mountains, jungle. The winning prize will be the Cure; a remedy for any illness, for any single person.

Tella sneaks away for an adventure of her life with one goal in mind: win the race, and save her brother, Cody.
The love Tella had for her brother was touching. Of course they bickered back and forth, but you could really tell she cared so much for him. She had no clue really as to what she would be faced with entering the competition. She's a strong protagonist and one easily relatable to.
Unlike many of the other contenders, Tella named her Pandora Madox (which is a fox). I knew right away that he was special and unlike the others. I loved the way these Pandoras were crafted into the story and became such a HUGE part of the race. They aren't a normal animal. They were genetically engineered with special capabilities to assist their Contenders.

This race was brutal to say the least. You never knew who was good or bad. It was like survival of the fittest out there. But, along the way, Tella made some friends, which she knew in the long run only one would win.
Enter the mysterious Guy. I have to say, I was very intrigued by this character. For some reason, he has been somewhat of a Guardian Angel to Tella. And I think there are developing feelings there between the two. Honestly, I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book between those two.

Each of the Pandora's were so unique and had a personality of their own. I was amazed by Madox, though. The chemistry between Tella and Madox was realistic and sweet. She cared for her Pandora unlike some of the other Condenders who treated theirs more as an object than a living, feeling creature.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started Fire & Flood. And don't let prejudices and opinions that say this is another 'Hunger Games' sway your vote not to read this. It isn't. Yes, there is a similarity when it comes to it being a survival game, but this is a totally different world, different circumstances and in my opinion, it's not even close.

I knew it would be good (No doubt there), but as far as how the competition would go, and the blend of Pandora's, it was fascinating to say the least. Lots of action, emotion, and chemistry between the character and their Pandora's. I'm really excited for this series. I know there is so much more to come and I look forward to it.

I'd like the Thank Scholastic Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this changed my opinion or rating.

                                                            4.5 Snowflakes

Now for the giveaway!!  I am giving away a copy of Fire & Flood to one lucky follower!  This giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships to!  
Good Luck!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

The Taking by Kimberly Derting 
Publisher- Harper Teen
Released- April 29th 2014
Pre- Order- Amazon / B & N

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.
Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.
Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
My Thoughts: 
It kills me that I couldn't love this book. Seriously, it hurts. One of my favorite series is The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. It's a great mix of thriller and romance and stars the cutest couple I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I was really looking forward to reading The Taking. The blurb has a very Flight of the Navigator feel to it, which is one of my favorite childhood movies, but at last I just could not love this one.

In a nutshell, this was just to dang fast. I had no time to feel connected to Kyra's life before the flash of white light that changed her life, so I couldn't feel any real sympathy for the time and people she lost. I didn't find Kyra to be very likable and thought she was closed-minded and immature. I totally get that yes, she’s been through this unspeakable ordeal, but I just couldn't understand why she didn't get that the people in her life missed her, loved her and mourned her, but after 5 years of believing she had died, had to go on with their lives. But I think it was the relationship between Tyler and Kyra that was my biggest issue. It was too much to soon and crazy instant. Like 7 days- I love you- fast. I had a hard time processing this new found love since Kyra was so hell-bent and head over heels in love with Austin just a week ago. I did find Tyler to be pretty adorkable -obsessed mind you- but he had some sweet moments. There is also a lot of loose ends, meaning we get zero answers as to why this happened to Kyra and others like her and what her new funky powers mean. I would have liked to have learned a little bit more then what we got.

With that said, I still thought the overall concept idea was fascinating. The storyline was freaky, thought provoking and filled with so much potential. But when it’s all said and done, I just didn't feel emotionally invested or personally connected by any of these characters and while the story had some entertaining factors, it wasn't the solid escape I was hoping for. This one wasn't for me, but keep in mind, this is probably just me. Kimberly Derting is an amazing writer and while I couldn't love this particular novel, it won’t stop me from reading more books by her in the future.

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                2 Snowflakes

Friday, February 21, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the DeadLove Letter to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Purchase: Amazon / BN
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

My Thoughts:
Okay I know I am supposed to be feeling heartbroken and tearful but I am TICKED!  This book is a prime example of what happens when parents are too wrapped up in their own problems and end up losing something precious because they were too self involved to notice signs.  Yep I am TICKED!

Love Letters to the Dead is about Laurel and her struggle to move on after losing her older sister.  All Laurel wanted to be was May.  To her May hung the moon and much much more, but Laurel knows deep down that May wasn't always on the straight and narrow.  Nope May would sneak out, lie, drink, and hook up with older guys.  To Laurel though this was just about growing up and she felt left out when May changed.  Mays sudden change took place right after her parents decided to split up after years of telling May that she was the reason her family was together in the first place.  Yep pretty harsh right.  Their mom moves out and well May just kinda goes in a different direction to hide her pain.  Unfortunately Laurel wants to be just like May and things go downhill from there.  When tragedy strikes and May dies Laurel is the only one who really knows what happened. One minute May was there the next she was gone and Laurel has to go on knowing that she might have been able to change everything.

I really loved the way this book was written.  It was really interesting to see Laurel connect with so many famous people that have passed away.  I learned so much more about quite a few people that she wrote too and it honestly changed my views on a few of them.  What was heartbreaking to see was Laurel taking the same wild path that May did.  I wanted to scream at her parents to wake up and see what was right there!  Laurel needed help working through so much and her mom just up and leaves her!  Yes I get it is beyond tough to lose a child but you have another one who needs you! STEP UP!  I am so infuriated that so much that happens to Laurel could have been prevented.  What happened before May dies was something that should have been prevented but I can see where it might not have been obvious but it is now so why did both her parents check out??!!  Laurel deserved better than what she was handed.

Another thing that really bothered me about this is that nothing was done to a particular character that abused another character.  I get that it happened a long time ago, but I still think criminal action should have been taken.  Nobody should ever be allowed to get away with that and I wish the author would have said just a few lines about something being done.  I'm not saying I wanted to see the whole trial and case, but please tell me that this person was being dealt with.  I think that was the toughest for me.  I know in real life these things don't always get punished but when I read a book I want them always to be punished.

All in all I did feel sympathy for Laurel but I just honestly feel enraged at her parents.  She needed  both of them and they both just checked out on her.  Her friends weren't the best in the world but at least they were there for her in the end and they cared enough to let her cry on their shoulders.  I am not sure if I got out of this what I was supposed to but it was a good read that will stay with me for quite a while.

3 Snowflakes

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher- Point
Released- Feb 25th 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?
My Thoughts: 
Daww, this book was just too sweet. Better off Friends, is my favorite kind of romantic since I simply adore friends-turned-romance above all. But this isn’t in the traditional swoon-worthy way I typically find in my reads, instead this really focus on the friendship and going through the motions of having a best friend of the opposite sex and trying to figure out how to handle all of the wonderful and conflicting emotions that comes with it. This book asks the question everyone at one point in their lives asks, can a guy and a girl really be just friends? Since I married my best friend, I’m not sure how to answer that one, but it’s still a rather profound question and absolutely charming and lovely to see how these two best friends experience the comfort and complications of their relationship.

Levi and Macallan meet in 7th grade, bonded over a television program nobody knows about and have been friends ever since. They’ve helped each other out in so many ways. Levi was the new kid in town but Macallan made him feel welcome and made him see what home really means. Mac lost her mother in a car accident and Levi was there to help her cope with the loss. They banter like an old married couple and have wicked witty wars, and inside jokes no one else understands. They work through the angst and drama of high school and dating and try to push aside any resentments or jealousy. They are simple a solid couple that made me laugh out loud and smile a stupid smile, but they also made me want to shake them straight a few times when they were being stupid or stubborn. They’ve made their share of mistakes, but through it all, they are undeniable and you really can’t help but root for these two best friends and hope they finally get it together long enough to realize how perfect they are for one another. 

I really adored Elizabeth Eulberg’s writing style. The natural ease and flow of the story was brilliant, making this an unputdownable and absorbing read from start to finish. The commentary conversations at the beginning of every new chapter were my favorite part. Combining the present as we learn about their past and giving us a hint for what’s to come was so amusing and touching to see what Levi and Macallan think about the moments that cemented their history together. Cute, cute, cute!

I really loved all of these characters. Macallan is a firecracker! Feisty and full of spunk. I love how she doesn’t take any crap and that she stands up for what she believes in. She doesn’t care about what people think and tries to do the right thing. But she also has a little bit of a wall that fortunately Levi always seems to be able to break through.
Levi is your dude’s dude. While he loves having Mac in his life, he still seems like he’s looking for more in his life. He wants to have a girlfriend, be on teams and be with the in crowd at school. While he’s made a lot of mistakes with his friendship with Mac, he’s always been there for her and I love how protective and sweet he can be.
Both of their families are such good people and I loved that Mac was able to have a mother to go to when she needed one. I also liked all of their friends and even though they have their share of drama and angst, it wasn't overly done or distracting.

Bottom line, this book is so sweet and so adorable. It’s the kind of read that makes you feel good, makes you smile and makes you laugh. It’s warm and touching and tugs at your heart. I recommend this to fans that are looking for a light, funny, clean and quick escape as you follow Levi and Macallan's friendship as they struggle with their fears and excitement of the possibility of needing and wanting more. A great read!! 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                 4.5 Snowflakes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday, # 59 Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays! Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teaser Tuesday is for the following...

Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy, #3)Sweet Reckoning By Wendy Higgings
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: April 29, 2014

*Teasers are from an Advanced Readers Copy. They may change in the Final Edited Version.

Teaser From EBook Page: 112

"This is right, Kai. We love each other."
He closed his eyes. "I'd do anything for you."
"Just love me," I whispered

Teaser From EBook Page: 184

"Stop!" I pinned him with a serious look. "No more. Get it out of your head, Kai! We are not running. This is happening whether you like it or not. It's time to get your game face on and get ready to kick some ass."

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here if you don’t have a blog Thanks!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

Today WinterHaven Books is participating in the blog tour for My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak hosted by Sourcebooks Fire!

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
Publisher- Sourcebooks Fire
Released- March 1st 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

Sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard is devastated when her parents are killed in a car accident. She has no one to turn to except for her mom's best friend Katherine Walter. Jackie quickly discovers that Katherine is no stranger to being a mom-she's got twelve boys! And every single one is a handful...Adjusting to life with the Walter boys is not going to be easy, especially when two of them start to show an interest that definitely goes beyond brotherly.

My Thoughts:
After the horrific car accident that killed Jackie’s family and leaving her orphaned, Jackie doesn't have much of a choice but to leave all the comforts of her New York home and move to Colorado with Katherine Walter, her mothers oldest friend and Jackie’s new Guardian. But leaving home to move to a horse ranch is one thing; living with 12 other Walter kids is an entirely new story. One, Jackie isn't sure she’s cut out to handle.

Ha, this was fun! I really enjoyed the concept for My Life with the Walter Boys.  I come from a large family (just not this large) so I understand what its like is when you’re surrounded by chaos, maddening noise and bodies everywhere you turn. So it was really quite amusing seeing how Jackie handles living with 12 boys (well, ones a tom-boy) that range from 5-21 years of age. This was also pretty laid back given the circumstances as to why Jackie had to move in with the Walters in the first place, which was surprising. This still had its heavier moments, but all in all it was a pretty light read filled with lots of drama, some angst and a good old fashion love triangle. But what I loved the most was when the whole family was together. Everyone was such a handful and it was fun trying to see disorganized chaos at its best. Some of the older Walter boys are also pretty intimidating, gorgeous and unpredictable and most of them didn't exactly give Jackie a warm welcome, and proceeded with the practical jokes, snide remarks, bets, rude gestures and even some light sexual comments, but eventually the boys came around causing Jackie to slowly come out of her shell and loosen up enough and start living.

I didn't really have any problems with any of the characters. They all have their own unique personalities, maybe not always likable, but still good people.
My heart really goes out to Jackie. She lost her entire family and feels guilty for being alive when they aren't. She’s come from very prestigious lifestyles, so she’s a rather prim and proper little thing, something that isn't going to work out to well being on a horse ranch with 12 other Walter boys. But what I liked the most about her was that even though the boys might have put her through some hell, she’s a fighter and I liked the sass and fire that came out when provoked. She’s been through a lot but still takes on any challenge, I liked that she’s a survivor and doesn't let anyone walk all over her..or her heart.
I liked all the Boys and Parker. Will, Nathan and Danny were the cool ones, very kind, understanding and supportive. Isaac and Lee were harder to like since they didn't like Jackie very much at first and didn't have a problem showing it.
As for Alex and Cole, well, this is where our lovely love triangle starts. Cole is your typical player. He rules the school. Every guy wants to be him and every girl wants to date him. He’s done a lot of ass-moves in this book which makes him look like a total jerk about ninety percent of the time, but Cole can be smooth and even charming and still has his moments where you can start to see the act slipping and see the real him.
Alex is a cutie-pie, I really liked him and Jackie together. He has a natural goodness to him and I thought it was cute that he geeks out on video games and Star Wars. He has a lot of unresolved issues with Cole given some of their history, but I grew too really like Alex and thought he was a good friend when Jackie needed it the most.
The whole tug-of-war competition between Cole, Alex and Jackie was a little bit ridiculous and immature at times but I have to admit it was still addicting and intriguing to see how it would all play out.
The only really part I didn't care for was the high school gossip blah blah. Every girl at school was either swooning or jealous of Jackie for living with the Walter boys and it didn't take long before I was annoyed at all the eye-rolling drama.

All in all, this turned out to be a decent read. The writing is strong, the story line was a little overwhelming at times but it’s the characters that kept me invested and turning the pages till it’s all said and done. This was an amusing entertaining YA contemporary about family, lost and finding strength in numbers. Surviving means living and it was good to see Jackie with a new family to do just that. Well done, I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                               4 Snowflakes

Friday, February 14, 2014

Non-Review: Insanity by Susan Vaught

InsanityInsanity by Susan Vaught
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing....When the dead husband of one of Forest's patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.

With her deep knowledge of mental illness and mental institutions, Susan Vaught brings readers a fascinating and completely creepy new book intertwining the stories of three young people who find themselves haunted beyond imagining in the depths of Lincoln Hospital
My Thoughts:
In the past few years I have discovered that I love creepy books.  The creepier the better and when I saw Insanity I knew I had to have it.  Unfortunately it didn't quite work for me and I ended up putting it down at 30%.  I know my rule is 50% but I sometimes you just know something isn't going to get an better for you and this was the case for me.

Insanity started out very creepy and at the point I was a very happy reader.  That ended soon after I finished chapter 2. What followed after the prologue felt like a totally different story and honestly if felt like a totally different author.  The writing in chapter one was very choppy and very scattered for me.  I couldn't ever really grasp what was going on.  One minute Forest is running down the hall and the next there are hounds and darkness around her.  I know this place is supposed to be creepy and crazy things are going to happen but I just feel like the author left out a lot of details that I needed to know.  I wasn't creeped out I was just lost.

I had problems with the characters as well.  Forest was really hard for me to connect with.  She seemed very young for being 18 if I hadn't known she was 18 I would have thought she was 15.  I'm not sure if it was her dialogue that made me feel that way or just how she acted overall but it didn't work.  Her part of the story felt very predictable as well.  When Levi was added into the mix I will admit I had an eye roll moment because he felt like every other bad boy out there.  He was fiercely protective of Forest even though she can hurt him with a singe touch.  Just to cliche for me.  I'm not sure where their storyline would have gone since I DNF this book, but I'm pretty sure they found a way to be together.

I have read other reviews that say the POV skips around and I did skim ahead and see this, but I'm not sure if this was a good thing or not.  The part I did read where Forest skips a whole bunch of time seemed very weird and out of place.  I don't know what the author was trying to accomplish and I'm guessing if I had read the whole book I would have found out but I don't want to have to dig through 100 pages of nothing to get that one page of creepy.

I know the author was going for creepy and weird, but there were too many low points that filled up the story.  I really wish the story would have stayed true to the prologue.  It was beyond thrilling and I loved it.  So for now I am going to set this one aside and let it go.

no rating

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout


White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher- Harlequin Teen 
Released- Feb 25th 2014
Pre- Order- Amazon / B & N

One kiss could be the last.
Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world
My Thoughts:
Ever since I read the prequel, Bitter Sweet Love, I was hooked in this irresistible world of Wardens and Demon and couldn't wait to get my grabby hands on the first installment in the Dark Elements series,White Hot Kiss! There is absolutely nothing like curing up with a JLA novel. I’m always guaranteed solid entertainment, sensational writing and swoon-worthy romance that Jennifer delivers time and time again. This is one author that I will follow for life!
I really can’t believe this outstanding storyline. It feels like I had a good intro into this world after reading the prequel, but there is just so much more to explore and devour in this novel. Jennifer gotz some mad skills when perfecting her worlds. I loved learning about the Wardens and love seeing them phase into gargoyles and ready to kick some serious ass. It’s not usually an element I find in my paranormal escapes and I am completely fascinated by this refreshing lore. But, this installment really focuses on the sinister side to Layla’s heritage, demons, and who better then to give us an intriguing demonic tour throughout the novel, then the most favored Upper Level demon himself, Roth! The Lux books has its Daemon, but the Dark Elements has its own brand of badass and it comes with tattoos, piercing and unusual pets. The moment Roth comes into the picture, we just know it’s going to pierce everything Layla has ever known about her world, specially when there’s been some increase in demonic activity that has been linked to Layla and the deep dark secrets that the Warden’s have been keeping from her.

My favorite part of any JLA book is meeting all of her wonderfully put together characters. She has such a natural ability when crafting the perfect people to tell her stories. Each one of them all has such a unique voice and personal depth that make them complex but compelling in their own ways.
Layla is stuck between two worlds. One that she doesn't want to be apart of and the other she can’t ever really be apart of since she’s a half warden/half demon hybrid.
Because of her demonic side, she can’t phase like other Wardens and can’t have a real relationship because of that whole pesky soul-sucking kiss thing, but she does have an uncanny ability to see into souls and tag demons for the Wardens to take care of after and while Layla is happy to do her part, she still can’t help feeling empty and alone and really struggles with her inner-demon and the rush she feels when taking a soul.
I really loved Layla, she’s smart, strong and so sweet. I loved watching her take action of her own life and grow throughout the story. This life can’t be easy for her, but with a little help from Roth, I think Layla is finally accepting that she’s more then a Warden, she’s a Demon too, but she doesn't have to cause all manners of hell to be one.
I loved Zayne!  We first meet him in Bitter Sweet Love and even then he’s always been such an important force when it comes to Layla and it’s quite clear that they are still very close to this day. But Zayne wasn’t always easy to like. I’m not sure if he’s doing the big bother protective act or if he wants to keep her safe for more personal reasons. Maybe it’s both, but at this point in the story it’s still not clear. Still, Zayne is an amazing character and I loved all the little moments between him and Layla.
But my favorite character would have to be Roth! This guy completely owned this book. I absolutely loved his quirkiness and sometimes awkward social behavior. He’s cocky, infuriating and sexy as hell. Being an Upper Level demon, I wasn't always sure I could trust him, but he made me so want to. The way he was with Layla was hilarious but we also get to see a much warmer and seductive side to him that had me glued to the pages and want to live in those moments a little bit longer.
The only character I didn't care for was Abbott. I found his demanding and strict ways a little too forceful and demeaning. I understand that he was the one who saved Layla when she was a little girl, but he doesn't seem to treat her like his own and always seems to remind her of what she really is even thought she’s being raised as a Warden. I don’t care for double standards or the fact that Layla acts immature and childish because they've never given her a chance to prove what she’s capable of for their own protective but selfish reasons. I believe he cares about her, but he has an awful way of showing it.
I also really liked Stacey and thought she was a good best friend who encourages Layla to live in the moment. I also loved Sam and his random fountain of knowledge. They gave the storyline that amusing touch that balances the book beautifully. I also loved Bambi! 
As for the romance, well it’s not a love triangle yet, but it’s on its way. I’m very conflicted here since I liked both guys. Funny enough, Roth seems the likely choice given they don’t have to worry about having a physical relationship and like-attracts-like. Layla can’t have that kind of connection with Zayne, but I've always been a sucker for forbidden denied love so I’m mighty curious and excited to see how this will all play out.
Bottom line, I couldn't love a book more and am thrilled to have a brand new series to love and play in. White Hot Kiss has everything I love in my escape. Great plot twist, unpredictability, heart pounding action, outstanding characters and a huggable romance. I couldn't ask for more.  Loved this book, JLA is freaken unbelievable! MORE!!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                  5 Snowflakes

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review's: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Captivate by Vanessa Garden
Publisher- Harlequin Teen AU
Released- Jan 1st 2014
Purchase- Amazon 

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...
My Thoughts:
Our story begins on a midnight swim in Bob’s bay, Australia. Lauren and Miranda are visiting their grandparents and spend every summer at the old holiday shack since they were born. It was the first time in almost a year the sisters spend any real time together or were really speaking to each other since the death of their parents, but before they could clear the air about what really happened on that faithful night, Miranda gets dragged underwater, drugged and taken captive. When she wakes she finds herself in a large bed, in a beautiful room filled with mermaid art, and shockingly discovers she’s under the deep blue sea in an underwater civilization.
Marin city is ruled by the young king, Marko, who is trying to perverse and protect his underwater palace by producing an heir so as to prevent his twisted older brother, Damir from taking over the throne. The only problem is, Marin’s women are barren and no child has been born in eighteen years. So Marko, went along with his sister Sylvia’s, decision to capture a young women from above, make her his queen and bear his child. While this doesn't exactly sit well with Marko, what real choice does he have if he wants to save his diminishing civilization and protect it from his sadistic brother who is obsessed with the idea of cutting up girls legs open and sewing them together to make mermaids tales?

Captivate turned out to be something much different then I originally thought it was. Truth, I thought this was about mermaids, and while it kinda relates to it in a very unusual and nontraditional way, it really isn't a mermaid book after all. But I’m actually glad that this turned out to be something else entirely. The concept is really quite nifty. I liked the idea of a vast civilization deep under the sea, ruled by a firm but kind king and learning about the history and traditions. I also thought it was pretty wicked to have an evil brother who liked to experiment on girls and turn them into mermaids. It’s sick of course, but the conflict and threat was still freaky cool. And even though there is the question between right and wrong regarding Miranda’s captivity, despite her circumstance, like her, I too was mesmerized and curious about this world and couldn't wait to explore more.

Marin is a stunning thriving city complete with built in oxygen vents, trees, plant life and even birds. It’s filled with thousands of people who have either come to the city willingly or been saved as drowning victims.
I really liked Miranda. She’s a feisty little thing that’s full of spunk and fight. Even though everyone seemed to be genuinely kind to her, she never stopped planning her escape. But the more she stayed in Marin, the more intrigued she became and eventually started to have feelings in her new-found friendships and was compelled enough to even want to stay.
Robbie is my favorite character. He was the one who originally took Miranda when she was enjoying her midnight swim with her sister and while he’s really the one to blame, he was just playing the part of the ever loyal guard to his best friend and king and was only doing his duty. His regret and remorse weighed heavily in his eyes and ever gesture. He hates what he had to do and makes sure that Miranda is as comfortable as possible. I liked how understanding, protective and kind he was, and really, he was the only friend Miranda had.
Marko was hard to like at first, but I think it was only because it took so long for Miranda to ‘want’ to get to know him. Understandably of course, but when she finally did we see a side to Marko that I’m sure not even his kingdom sees. He’s an arrogant and overly confident man but can also be playful, tender, sweet and alluring. He makes Miranda feel valued and attractive for the first time in her life. So while the connection may have took awhile to get there, eventually Marko won Miranda’s heart, as it did mine.
I did however have a little issue with how he treated Robbie at one point of the story, but since it worked out in the end, it’s easy to overlook. 

All in all, I rather liked this book. The ideas might be a little far fetched for some, but it’s a solid and unique concept with wonderful world building and back story. Vanessa Garden’s writing is absorbing and smart and the characters are beautifully put together, making me feel invested from minute one. There isn't a love triangle, but it’s well on it’s way of becoming one and since I like both guys, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. The ending was satisfying and quite perfect when you’re looking at it from a redeeming angle. But I also know the story doesn't end here and I’m really looking forward to seeing where Miranda’s story will venture next.

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                           4 Snowflakes 

Amber's Thoughts...
Since Tina summed Captivate up beautifully, so I am going to add some of my personal thoughts and not get into the storyline itself. (But it was great :) )

First of all...that cover! Love! It's as intriguing as the story itself. This actually was a quick read. Once I started the book, I was easily swept into the protagonists life. When she was taken by Robbie (whom I totally adore!) her emotions absorbed into me and was very believable. The descriptions of Marin were perfect. I was able to imagine the underwater world and the castle Miranda was in. I could picture the room, the garden with the trees and the bird cage as well as the city itself.

While I adored  Miranda, Marco and Robbie, Marco's sister added quite a bit of fuel to the fire. I knew from the get-go she wasn't one to be trifled with. As much as we hate Sylvia and Marco's brother, Damir, I think Sylvia is just as malevolent and is up to no good. I have my theories about her and seriously cannot wait to see where her story goes next.

The relationship between Marco (Swoon) and Miranda began on a resentful and bitter note, but it slowly builds into something wonderful. He seemed to be a loose cannon at first, but after I learned about him and what he's been through I changed my opinion of him. There was a particular scene (which I used a few lines in a previous Teaser Tuesday) that melted my heart. I wanted to jump into those pages and kiss the crap out of him :D

The ending...gosh, I was a bit torn up on that one. The whole time I was reading, I cheered for Miranda and wanted her freedom as much as she did. By the ending I changed my mind. I wanted her to stay wrapped in Marco's arms and have babies with him LOL
I certainly will be awaiting that next book. Where it left off, I know this couple will be together again. And... I am crossing my fingers that Miranda's sister Lauren and Robbie meet and fall in love. (This is just my wishful thinking here)

Overall? Loved Captivate! It was original, mysterious, adventurous with romance, angst and a cast of great characters. I need #2!!!
                                                                         4 Snowflakes