Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday - Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

Welcome to Waiting On Wednesday here at

 Winterhaven Books!

This is a feature created by Jill at Breaking The Spine where we share some books we are anxiously awaiting.

This week's pick...

Starborn (The Worldmaker Trilogy #1)by Lucy Hounsom
Expected publication: April 23rd 2015 by Tor UK

 Death and destruction will bar her way...
 Kyndra's fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age - powers fuelled by the sun and the moon. Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man's terrifying response. She'll learn more in the city's subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic. If she survives the ordeal, she'll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong? 
Book One of the Worldmaker Trilogy

I don't know who I have to bribe at Tor UK to get my hands on a copy of this but any takers let me know!! I pay we11. KIDDING. I love the premise of course. I have always found people beliefs in superstitions to be a strange yet interesting thing. Thank goodness I don't have to wait to long for this one!

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Expected Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

My Thoughts:
Wow! Where to begin with this spine-tingling story....Told from first-person narratives alternating between Laia and Elia, whom come from very separate lifestyles, come together for one cause.

Elias is a Mask in the country of Serra at Blackcliff Military Academy. He is known as one of the most gifted. His mother is the Commandant, who is as awful as they come and mean as they get.

Laia's brother, Darin, is taken prisoner because of a sketchbook filled with drawings of swords etc, which are made for the Martials. Laia was given the chance to run and escape, which she did down into the tunnels beneath Serra, then runs into member of the Resistance. She begs the to help her free her brother, and eventually they would agree only if  she agreed to be a spy for them. The plan was to sell her as a slave to the Commandant.

Laia learns her parents are much more than that, they were involved with the Resistance to a degree Laia had never imagined. She would do whatever she had to do to get her only living sibling and family member back, so she fed what information she could to the Resistance and the boy Keenan whom was the first Resistence member she met in catacombs.

Elias knew he wasn't like his fellow Masks, he wanted something different and in order to escape the life he didn't want any part of, he had to find a way out.

Born enemies, Laia and Elias cross paths and develop a chemistry which in turn they both find an escape within one another.

Helene was a close friend of Elias, but was fiercely loyal to the empire. Both Elias and Laia were caught up with their own plan, but in able to move them closer to their final goal. There are four trials that determine the next Emperor, and the Commandant has a hand in whom will will the trial....and it isn't her son. (I tell you she is PURE EVIL!!)

This corrupted country filled with nail biting tension will leave you wanting to know more. More about the Auger who can read oracles and minds and creepy creatures like Jinns and ghuls. This story is full of complexities and enough romantic tension between Elias, Keenan, and Laia.  By the end you will be jonesing for the next chapter in these characters lives.

Without a doubt, Tahir has penned one stellar story that will be sure to sit in the forfront of your mind for some time. Loved the story. Loved the cast. And loved the world in which she created. I need number 2 now!!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

by Alice Hoffman 

Published March 5th 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK 

In her first novel for middle-grade readers , bestselling author Alice Hoffman tells a bewitching story of love and friendship that is truly magical.
Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.


Alice Hoffman has long since been a favorite story teller of mine. Some of her great works include Practical Magic, which went on to be a great movie, The Dovekeepers, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I feel she is so much more than an artist which is why I always refer to her as story teller. The magic she weaves is sheer brilliance. It might not be the most fancy face prose out there but she still knows how to craft some of the most well developed characters I have ever read about. That is her strong point, extremely character driven books.

This was such a light yet fulfilling read. In Nightbird, we follow Twig, a girl who does her best to be invisible just as she was always told to do. When a family moves into the manor at the edge of the property, Twig can't help but want to be friends with the sisters Agate and Julia. Even though this is the house that used to be lived in by the witch who cursed her family and the girls are direct descendants of sed witch. Twig and Julia both have people they love affected by this wretched curse so they will do whatever they can to reverse it. Twig and her family had so many secrets that slowly came to light. I loved learning about her parents relationship and her brother James, who is the most fascinating of them all.

This book was a mere 200 pages so it was quite the quick read. It started off a bit slow but Hoffman lays the groundwork for the setting in those essential first pages. I think there is some info dumping but it is so cleverly worded you never feel weighed down by knowledge. If you feeling a bit hesitant about Middle grade this might just be the perfect book to try.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling

When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling 

Published February 24th 2015 by Scholastic Press

"I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins. But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good."
16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She's a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind. Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter's heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the "old" Lacy starts to resurface. But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light? 


I feel like I just watched a really weird episode of Supernatural. You know the set up right before the Winchester's rush in to crack the case. The devil witch of a mother uses spells & drugs to keep her daughter by her side. She also uses some seriously black magic to steals her daughter's heart.

I must admit cover lust hit me hard on this one. I mean just look at it, it's gorgeous. I also was thrilled to see the blurb with the promise of a girl battling a wicked past and darker part of herself. This story was more along the lines of an abusive mother and a daughter feeling guilt for not being able to "fix" her. Cheyenne is the type of mother who just up and leaves her daughter one day to fend for herself. She also had burned Lacy for asking too many questions and tied her to a tree so she wouldn't wander off. I wish I was exaggerating. Then one day, Cheyenne up and just disappears leaving lacy to fend for herself for days until she finally calls her dad to come pick her up. Years and years later after lady's father death, Cheyenne is back to claim Lacy. Sadly the law is not a friend so, she must go.

The dynamic between these two was strenuous on good days and down right uncomfortable on bad ones. The bad outweigh the good ten fold. Cheyenne was a manipulative, irresponsible person and it made me so anger to see Lacy give in her to and not defend herself.  I also can very much relate to this. My mother was a raging alcoholic among other issues. She would leave me home alone at 6 to go to the bar up the street all afternoon and would yell at me for getting upset and calling a neighbor to come stay with me. She has long since passed away but there is something so fundamentally wrong with a situation when the child doesn't feel safe around a parent. This is one part of the story that Tricia hit right on the head. Her descriptions of Cheyenne's behavior was so very eerily similar to what I endured that I ended up in tears quite a few times out of sheer memory alone. This made me hate her and I wanted so desperately for Lacy to tell her to F off but she doesn't. It's so easy to forgot that other side of the coin where no matter what it is still your mother. The only one you have so you still long for approval and love no matter what the cost. Well, in Lacy case she lost her heart. 

The magical elements in this story were spread few and far between. I don't know if they were meant to be witches or not but there was way too little of this for my taste. Yes, there were a few binding spells but nothing huge. The magic was almost as it if peppered into the plot as an after thought. Perhaps it was meant to be a suggestive type of things but the story didn't have a very good flow because of this. It was choppy with weird flashbacks where all Lacy did was tell us what a terrible person she used to be. Well I didn't see a whole lot of that either. I CALL FALSE BLURBING! Yes she wished some bad things but she wasn't like the grim reaper or anything, which i what I was kind of expecting. Disappointing to say the least. Here is an example of a random chapter just dropped in between two other chapters discussing Lacy's school drama.

I am capable of bad things. Moved by jealousy I am capable of evil. When I was little I wanted to go to Paris. I wanted my mother to myself and I did bad things to make that happen. In the end it didn't even matter; she left me all alone. I wish I were a robot incapable of emotion. The best thing would be not to let myself feel anything at all. 
This is a sad, compelling train of thought but it just didn't fit where it was randomly dropped. This style of writing was highly disruptive to the flow. Had this story not been the length it was I would have most likely put it down or just skipped to the weird end to figure out what the hell was going on. When the plot crescendo finally did come to light it was resolved in a really cheesy manner. So meh! I will not be continuing on with this series, as if there is anything else to write about. The relationships were done well but that was all that held this story from falling completely apart.


Stacking the Shelves #78

A weekly meme hosted by, Tynga's Reviews, that features the books we bought, borrowed, were gifted, and were given for review.

Our recap for the week!


What landed in our happy hands this week!

Beastly Bones (Jackaby, #2) Spelled Twist (Loop, #2)
For review:

*Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers, Sourcebooks Fire,  & St.Martin's Griffin*

That's it for us this week! Leave me a link so I can see all your pretties! 

Review: The Cemetery Boys by Herather Brewer

The Cemetery BoysThe Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: March 30, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.
My Thoughts:
Well I am pretty upset to tell you the truth.  I've read books before that fell apart at the last minute, but this one tops them all.  I cannot believe what I just read!

I actually really liked this story which is why I am so mad.  There were a few plot holes that I found a bit annoying, but for the most part I was really into Stephen and his story.  He's the new kid in town after leaving Denver with his dad to live with his bitter grandmother.  His life isn't easy and when Devon the town bad kid gives Stephen a chance to join his group Stephen jumps at the opportunity.  Stephens life turns into nights of drinking, trying to kiss Devons sister Cara, and trying to avoid his home life.  That is until the Winged Ones are brought up and a town myth starts becoming a reality.

At this point I was starting to get a bit upset because Stephen turned into a follower.  He broke several promises and really did a 180 on his character.  I wasn't happy with him, but I still had hope that he would see the light eventually. Well that does happen, but instead of asking for help from the one person who would help him he runs head first into a dangerous situation and that's when I really got mad.  I can't go into what happened because it would really spoil the book so I'll just say this ending was one of the worst I have ever read.  What happened didn't help the story and I thought really came out of nowhere.  I am so upset by this for many reasons and one of those is because I actually loved the twist that was thrown in.  It was brilliant and looking back I could see where this twist developed throughout the story.  So to have things end the way they did was just wrong and has made me rethink reading this authors other novels.

One other thing that bothered me was Stephen's mother.  I think that whole storyline could have been explored more.  It felt like the author was trying to connect his mom with the town, but then just decided to leave things alone.  To me it felt like leaving an itch unscratched.   Why connect the two if you aren't going to go down that road??  

Do I think this book is worth reading yes and no.  The town myth of the Winged Ones was pretty cool and this book did have a creepy Lost Boys feel to it, but on the other hand that ending was horrible and I don't think people would be satisfied with it.  So I guess I would say yes, but with a warning.  Tread carefully with this one and just enjoy the story before the last 5 pages or so.

I am giving this 3 stars because I did enjoy the story and it was interesting to see a guys POV. I usually don't read these very often and yes Stephen was a walking hormone but it was nice to have no angst and drama.  So I think the story itself and Stephen deserve 3, but I have to take 2 big stars away for that ending.  It was unnecessary and ruined the book for me.

3 snowflakes


Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside
Publisher-Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Released- March 24th 2015
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.
My Thoughts: 
Finding Mr. Brightside, is a touching and emotional story about two people who go through the motions of losing a loved one, but it goes a little deeper then grief, see Abram and Juliette may live on the same block and go to the same school but they don't really know each other well, and yet they share a very tragic connection. Abram's dad and Juliette's mother was having an affair and while that should be bad enough, a car accident took them away from their families and leaving in it's wake mixed feelings of betrayal and lost.

Wow, am I ever in love with the way Clark writes! Seriously, it's very strong and punches out some of the best dialogue and inner thought process that makes this so meaningful and thought provoking. Underneath this is a very sad and bitter story but the way Clark delivers this was surprisingly light and amusing given the complex situation. With an almost desperate-dry humor, witty moments and an adorable love story, I found this to be so refreshing different and what I loved about this book the most. I mean, how do you try to have a friendship with a person that reminds you of what you lost and yet is the only person that understands the pain and confusion you feel? 

Abram and Juliette  were such amazing characters. Realistic, likeable and easy to connect with. Abram has a wonderfully optimistic outlook on life and a confident spirit. He just has this way about him that accepts things for what they are. He doesn't need to fight his ghosts, even though they are still apart of him a year after the death of his father. Juliette on the other hand is a little more cynical, jaded, messed up and needs that push to bring her out of the dark.  I love that we have this in both of their perspectives, I loved being inside both their heads and seeing what the other thinks and feels. I also love the gradual but inevitable pull the two have with one another. At first it was an awkward encounter, then morbid curiosity, then finding comfort in just existing in the same space which leads to a strange but natural friendship. They test each others comfort levels, give that push when the time calls for it and try to help one another with they're reliance on medicating. But throughout all the confusion and mess that is their lives they find a genuine relationship that is so utterly adorable and incredibly sweet. They're good together, need each other, a brightside that allows them to remember the good and the ugly but finally be able to let go and move on from darker days. Beautifully done!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                               4 Snowflakes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Stones and Finger Bones by Jessica Minyard * Xpresso Book Tours*

Stones and Finger Bones by Jessica Minyard  
(The Black Towers #1)  
Publication date: February 10th 2015 
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.
Until the night she loses everything.
Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.
But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.
They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.
And if necessary, to destroy her. 

My Thoughts

Wow this was such a pleasant surprise. I saw the blurb and had to jump on board!! I am such a sucker for court politics and  magic and I was not disappointed in the least!!

This book started off a bit slow in the beginning but then once it took off I was able to see this captivating world that was created. There was bits of magic and twists and turns galore. The setting was definitely a favorite part of mine as I felt the world building was definitely one of the stronger points of the writing.

Another part of this book was the fact that the characters while fiction, seemed incredibly life like. They are had a certain shade in grey in terms of good vs. evil and I think that just add so many layers to the characterizations. It also makes for a much more believable story since let's face the is very few true good and true evil in the world. It always seems to be bit of both. There was an alternating narrative with a clever use of ancient diary to fill in the missing history and plot points. Even thought there was a lot of changing of perspective it still felt like a very subtle transition for me which was great since it didn't pull me out of the story once!

I am so very lucky to have been part of this tour! I would be remiss had I missed out on this unique title. I cannot wait to see more of Aurelia and if there are any upcoming books! If you are a lover of fantasy and just a strong plot this one will suit you!

4 Snowflakes



Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TGQKXLK --




About the Author

Jessica wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards...sometimes.
She likes to sing loudly and dance on occasion without being particularly talented at either. Her interests include reading, writing, procrastinating, animal advocacy, musicals, accessories, memes, Harry Potter, and sweet tea.
Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull.

Author links:




Tour-wide giveaway --
A signed paperback of Stones and Finger Bones and 4 prints of hand painted, original character portraits.  - ends April 9th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week One:3/16/2015- Moonlight Gleam ReviewsInterview3/17/2015- Seeing Double In NeverlandReview3/18/2015- YA BibliophileGuest Post3/19/2015- Owl Always Be ReadingReview3/20/2015- Library of a Book WitchInterview
Week Two:3/23/2015- Gone with the WordsReview3/24/2015- Bookhounds yaGuest Post3/25/2015- YA Series Insiders- Interview3/26/2015-Winterhaven BooksReview3/27/2015- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Queen of Shadows by Sarah j. Maas

Welcome to Waiting On Wednesday here at

 Winterhaven Books!

This is a feature created by Jill at Breaking The Spine where we share some books we are anxiously awaiting.

This week's pick...

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) 
by Sarah J. Maas 

Expected publication: September 1st 2015 
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

 Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . . She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return. Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.


Kidding! If you know me then you know my absolute unrequited love for this series since forever and a day! If I could only read one book the rest of my days, it would be one of these. I tear up everytime I read this through. I can't wait to see the heights our girl Celaena will go through to save those she loves. It is time for sweet sweet vengeance, if that is at all possible. There is so much up in the air at the moment, so many lives hanging in the balance. All I can say is September feels so very far away!

Teaser Tuesday #91 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays! Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.  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...

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 7, 2013

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Teaser from page 226

"Fingernail marks. He was desperate to get away--to drag himself by his fingertips, if necessary.He was alive the entire time that thing sharpened its claws on the stone while its master watched."

Teaser from page 227

He slid into the seat beside her, his leg brushed hers. "Is there a connection between all of these?"
"No." It wasn't quite a lie--though she had hoped for all of them to contain something about Wyrdmarks, or what they meant beside a corpse.

*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, March 23, 2015

Review: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Review Copy from Edelweiss

High school senior Jonathan Aubrey creates worlds at will. In Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend, he’s given himself everything he doesn’t have in real life-–the track team, passing grades, and his dream girl–-until one day he confuses his worlds and almost kisses the real Kylie Simms. Now his girlfriend Kylie and the real Kylie are changing, and Jonathan must solve the mystery of his own life to save his love from a gruesome fate.

My Thoughts: 

After recovering from a coma as a child, caused by a tragic accident in which Jonathan lost his mother, father and sister, he has been wanted to disappear and had dreamed about a life in a world where he is not scarred, pitied and a social outcast. Fortunately for Jonathan, since the tragic accident, he has been able to do just that. Jonathan is a world-maker, an individual who can create and inhabit alternative worlds, worlds in which he can have what he wants, what he cannot get from the real world. First, his worlds where ones in which he was the leader in missions against aliens, worlds where he was the leader and looked up to by other children. During his sophomore year, he created 'Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend', a world exactly like his own in outlook, but different in ways that really matter to him – he is popular, part of the track team, on his way to college and most importantly, loved by Kylie Simms, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

After juggling between the alternative world and his real world for years, Jonathan makes a mistake that spirals out of control – he confuses the worlds and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, the Kylie that has not shown any interest towards Jonathan, the Kylie that has not even acknowledged his existence before. As a result of this mishap, the real Kylie starts to feel things that she never expected to feel and very quickly gets obsessed with Jonathan without knowing why. In Kylie-Simms-is my-girlfriend, Jonathan's fantasy world, Kylie starts to feel differently about Johathan and though she still loves him (mostly because Jonathan created her to do so), she finds it difficult to be around him. Jonathan is starting to lose control of these two worlds and the only way he can try to gain the control back is to bring the worlds and the two Kylies together.

The concept of In A World Just Right is quite different from anything I have come across before. Though these are several YA novels that play around with two different realities, I have never seen it being done quite this way and with so much detail. Jen Brooks's world building is masterfully done and the world-maker aspect of the novel is extremely well established. Though this novel can definitely be categorized as fantasy, to me it read more like a contemporary novel – the fantastical element is established so well that very quickly, I just started to accept it as reality.

What I really loved about this novel is the fact that instead of making the two realities very different, Brooks decided to portrayed them as very similar and gave me, as a reader, a chance to find the little differences between them. I feel like my role as a reader was almost like one of an investigator trying to find the little things that made these two realities different. This similarity of the worlds and the fact that Jonathan has created a world that is almost like his, inhabit by the same people than his real world, instead of a world in which he is for example rich and famous, emphasizes the fact that in order to be happy, you don't necessarily need big changes. For Jonathan, happiness means that he is not invisible and that he is loved by someone – the ingredients for happiness identified universally by the humankind. But as he creates this happiness himself, he fails to see that with a little effort, he could get the same from the real world.

I feel like usually when it comes to YA novels, I am somewhat able to figure out the twists and turns while reading towards the conclusion. This in one way means that I think all YA is predictable – it just means that as an avid reader of the genre, I have started to notice generic conventions, as a result of which I very rearly am completely surprised about the twists and turns that take place. While reading this book, I kept making predictions about what would happen, but I must admit that none of them ended up being right. Some insane things take place and most of them came to me out of the blue. Since this book is so unique in concept, I never quite new what to expect, and I say that it was really refreshing, but also kind of unnerving, to read a book that did not really fit into any of those generic conventions I usually look for while reading YA.

I always find it a bit difficult to read novels, especially YA ones, narrated entirely from the point of view of a male character. It took me a little time to get used to Jonathan's narrative voice and throughout I felt like I cannot fully trust him since it seems like he does not himself even realize the extent of his world-making powers. Since I love unrelatable narrators, I very quickly got into Jonathan's narrative voice and wanted to know more, wanted to find signs of what is actually true. Brooks excels in making Jonathan problematic, especially in relation to the way in which he treats the Kylies, but also treats him with sympathy, making sure the reader understands why Jonathan has made such decisions. As the novel processed, I started to feel for Jonathan more and more, and though I never really fell in love with him, I understood him.

Jen Brooks's prose is incredible – the voice she gives to Jonathan is intelligent and funny, and the detail she has put into this novel blew me away. Brooks writes with confidence and bravado – she's an experienced world-maker, careful in her draft, full of surprises and promise. 

4 Snowflakes

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Release date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

My Thoughts:

The moment I read the synopsis of this book making a reference to Friday Night Lights, I knew I would have to get my hands on it. FNL is one of my favorite shows and since watching it, I have been extremely interested about every possible chance given to think about that show and how much I love it, and fortunately this book brought back so many wonderful FNL memories.

NA has been one of those genres for me from which I have either completely loved the books I've read or the total opposite. I don't mind the sexual content but often I find it being used in new adult novels just for effect, meaning that the narrative of the book would not really change if they were cut away. Think of TV shows that use a lot of nudity for no effect (pretty much everything on cable) and connect that to new adult books... Yeah, I bet you can find some similarities. Also, unfortunately, it too often feels like that in order for the love interest to be swoon worthy, he also needs to be ridiculously mysterious and in worst cases, abusive. After reading All Lined Up, I am happy to say that Carmack does not take either of these routes – her steamy scenes really do have a narrative purpose and in order for the reader to fall in love with the love interest, she does not need to employ the “mysterious bad boy” tropes.

For her whole life, Dallas has traveled around Texas with her father, following him and his passion for football and she has often felt like she's second best to her father's passion for the sport – someone he just needs to bring with him, a baggage on the road he has dreamed about. When Dallas's father is appointed to be the head coach for the Rusk University football team, Dallas, rather than following her own dream to a prestigious dance school, has to follow her father, once again, and enroll for the dance program at Rusk. Right away, Dallas senses what a joke the program is – it does not challenge her and it really does not help her own the road to becoming a professional dancer. And her wish of escaping football after high school fails too, when it very quickly becomes clear to her that as the coach's daughter, all eyes are on her.

Carson, a transfer to the Rusk team, is determined to train harder than anyone else to make sure that he won't be QB2 forever. His decision to avoid all distractions and to focus on training enters a slippery slope when he meets Dallas. As they come to the realization about their connection – Dallas's being the coach's daughter and Carson being a member of the team – they realize that it might be better for them both if they do not keep on going with their budding relationship. But how can Dallas stay away from someone who makes her feel like herself? How could it possibly be bad for her to spend time with a guy who understands her and her passion for dancing, for her need to express herself through her body? And why should Carson avoid a girl that is quickly becoming his only and closest friend?

I really love Dallas as a character. She is passionate and strong, but also very confused and torn apart. Her relationship with her father is problematic, and though she tries to understand his reasoning, sometimes it is just hard for her to see what his father is trying to do and from what he thinks he's protecting her from. Having been forced to put her dreams on hold, she is aimlessly wandering around, trying to find a purpose for her existence at Rusk. What makes it so incredibly easy to like Dallas is the fact that she is so real – she's flawed, she makes mistakes, she says the wrong things, but she also learns from her mistakes and tries to avoid making them again.

Carson is nice, charming and honest. What I really appreciated about his characterization is the fact that he really is one of the good guys Рhe shows that he is willing to prove that he's worthy of Dallas's love and her trust. The encounters between him and Dallas are so real and filled with chemistry Рthe romance never feels clich̩ and makes you swoon just in the right kind of ways. Carmack is brilliant at writing funny, slightly awkward encounters and her characters are incredibly easy to fall in love with. Writing romantic scenes seems to come naturally to her and I am glad to say that the scenes involving sexy times never feel awkward or unrealistic. Finally, as a huge fan of team sports (ice hockey is my fix), I was able to instantly connect with the way Carmack describes the atmosphere of the games. Reading those scenes really made me miss hockey and count the days towards the next time I get to see a match live.

5 Snowflakes



Saturday, March 21, 2015