Weekly Wrap Up + Stacking the Shelves for 9-28-13

wrapup

Welcome to another bi-weekly wrap up! I really need to get better at this. Maybe I can use it as an excuse for my teachers to not give me so much homework. Sigh, in my dreams. Well, here we go!

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ARC Review: “Once We Were” by Kat Zhang

Once We WereOnce We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2) by Kat Zhang

Goodreads | Amazon

“I’m lucky just to be alive”

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

Four and a half stars

Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title will be released September 17th, 2013.

WARNING: This review WILL include spoilers for the first book, What’s Left of Me. Read my review for more!

Getting a hold of an ARC of this book became an absolute necessity after reading the first book. When Edelweiss declined my first request, I requested again – basically until they let me have it. I was like a dog with a bone for this book, and with good reason. What’s Left of Me blew me out of the water and then some. Of course, after that, it was impossible to like the second one as much as the first, but the book gave me a good go, anyways!

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ARC Review: “The Chaos of Stars” by Kiersten White

The Chaos of StarsThe Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Goodreads | Amazon

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this eARC! This title will be released September 10th, 2013.

When I saw that Kiersten was writing a book with an Egyptian theme, I nearly died of happiness. I am a HUGE fan of her Paranormalcy series (see here), as well as her Mind Games series (see here), so this … this just hit the spot in every right way. Well, at least the news she was writing it did. After all that, it’s not surprising that the book itself couldn’t live up to my anticipation…

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Weekly Wrap Up + Stacking the Shelves for 8-31-13

wrapup

Hey guys! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done one of these, so this isn’t so much of a “weekly” wrap up as much as a “here’s what’s happened since the last one.” My Stacking the Shelves this week is also huge, but mostly because I just bought a bunch of books for college. No, I’m not StS-ing with textbooks – I’m showing off the books I bought for one of my awesomest classes, “Studies in YA and Children’s Lit!” (Plus, you know, actual review books.) As always, watch the video for the views, and check out the links below!

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ARC Review: “The Bitter Kingdom” by Rae Carson

The Bitter KingdomThe Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

Goodreads | Amazon

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

Four and a half stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for this eARC! This title will be released on August 27th, 2013.

WARNING: This review WILL have spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers. Read my review of #1 HERE and my review of #2 HERE.

The one question you want answered is: is this a satisfying conclusion to an amazing series? Right off the bat, I’m pleased to tell you that yes, yes it does. On more levels than I may be capable of describing.

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ARC Review: “Transparent” by Natalie Whipple

TransparentTransparent by Natalie Whipple

Goodreads | Amazon

Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

4 stars

Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title is now available.

This is one of those instances where the blurb did not adequately prepare me for what was about to happen. As it turns out, it’s even better than I could have imagined.

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ARC Review: “Gameboard of the Gods” by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the GodsGameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

Goodreads | Amazon

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

3 stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and Dutton Adult for this eARC! This title is now available.

No, this isn’t a ya novel. But as a die hard Richelle Mead fan, I couldn’t resist requesting this when it popped up on Edelweiss. Perhaps it is because I’m such a die hard fan that I couldn’t help but be disappointed by this book.

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ARC Review: “Reboot” by Amy Tintera

RebootReboot (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera

Goodreads | Amazon

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

4 stars

Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title is now available.

Actually, I’m not sure if I should give this one four stars or four and a half stars. 4.25 stars isn’t in my rating system, per se, but if it was that’s what I’d rate this book. Here’s why:

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ARC Review: “Criminal” by Terra Elan McVoy

CriminalCriminal by Terra Elan McVoy

Goodreads | Amazon

A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

3 stars

Thanks to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title is now available.

I will be the first person to admit that I’m a fairly easy to please reader in a lot of big ways. Sadly, though I appreciated this book’s brutal honesty and unflinching storytelling, it failed me a couple of big ways.

The book opens up with a phone call. Dee and Nikki wake up to the news that the police want to talk to him about something. He tells her to follow, and she dutifully does. They make up a story on the way there to hide the truth: a cop was killed, Dee killed him, and Nikki drew the getaway car. She had no idea what was going to happen, or even what really happened, but she loves Dee and she wants to protect him. Though scared out of her wits, she goes along with his plan. But when the police start uncovering the lies and come after the people that have helped Nikki through everything Dee was never there for, she starts questioning her choices and realizing that maybe she is really being blinded by love.

To be honest, I hated Nikki from the second the story started. (Maybe it was the gratuitous sexual actions with which the book began and continued throughout the story.*)It is made clear that she’s always taken care of herself, from when her step-dad went to jail to when her mom spaced out on drugs. She pays her own bills, she has a job that she’s very good at, and she even looks after her friend Bird, Bird’s daughter and even her mother. From what is said about her, there is no doubt that Nikki should be able to stand on her own–and has done so on the past. This makes her complete devotion to Dee is ridiculously out of character. As far as I could tell, he had never done anything remotely large enough for her to destroy the self-made life she’d built for herself and made her dependent on him. Even he says he only bought her beer and weed when she asked for it. (Given the ease of which Nikki forgets her drug problem, she wasn’t really dependent on drugs anyways.) Dee is also never a fleshed out character. He wants sex, and he screams at her. That’s all there is to his character. There was just missing something from Nikki, because I never even felt sorry for her.

There is also the matter of the entire action part of this plot being over by the time the book starts. The murder is rehashed, yes, but in flashbacks. Most of it is waiting, whining and crying. (And doing other inmates’ hair in prison.) The amount of self-discovery that Nikki was undergoing was enormous, yes, but since her character never caught me I cared less and less as each paragraph flew by. It was mostly thinking and self-rumination that guided 95% of the book, and I got bored.

Don’t get me wrong, this book was beautifully written and tackled serious subjects with brutal honesty that was impressive. This just isn’t the kind of book that meshes with every kind of reader, and I admit without shame that I am not the reader for which it was intended. I tried, but I could never connect with any of the characters and so the rest of the self-exploration that occurred never felt important to me.

This book is not one for someone looking for a light read (which you can guess straightaway, let’s be honest). It is also not for someone looking for an action packed thriller. This is an examination of the human psyche that takes its strength from the exploration it takes into the human mind. If you’re looking to wax philosophical, check it out. If not, you’ve been warned.

*The act of sex is only described once, but not in the overt language used in a romance novel. However, there are a few description of sexual actions that take place before sex and a few uses of mid-vulgar language.

ARC Review: “The Boyfriend App” by Katie Sise

The Boyfriend AppThe Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

Goodreads | Amazon

In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring.

But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?

4 1/2 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins Children for this eARC! This book is now available.

First all, we all need to admit something. Some times it is just SO FANTASTIC to have a book that is utter mind candy in our hands. I really needed one of those, and this book jumped right up to fill that gap SO perfectly. If you require that your books be completely believable…you may want to step away. If you think this is a contemporary romance that won’t have scifi elements jumping up and screaming GOTCHA, then you are wrong. Now you have been warned.

The Boyfriend App opens up in a pretty cliche place. Proud geek Audrey is hanging with her geeky friends, staring longingly at the popular table where her ex-best friend Blake sits with Xander, the handsome lacrosse player that Audrey is convinced that Blake only dates because she knows that Audrey liked him. Audrey is also completely immune to the obvious wanting of friend and fellow geek Aiden, who is almost pretty enough to make her forget Xander. Almost. Blake makes a scene and Audrey ends up having to go to the counselor, in whose office she hears about an app contest worth her college scholarship. Since her dad died, she and her mother have very little money, and this could be the ticket to her dream school: Notre Dame. Audrey comes up with the best idea: Why not create an app that finds your perfect boyfriend?

I will be the first person to admit that I found this premise completely cheesy and ridiculous. I honestly don’t even remember why I requested it. But as I read on, I fell in love with Sise’s quirky characters and storytelling ability. The pace was fast, the dialogue was funny, and the characters had enough quirks to stay mostly out of the realm of cliche. There was actually a lot of serious tech speak in this book that I wasn’t expecting, but it both flowed naturally into the story while also convincing me that Sise really knew what she was talking about. The amount of tech speak that happened could have drowned this cute and fluffy story, but it didn’t, and I’m impressed by that.

So there I am, zooming through the pages, and suddenly in the middle of the book it seems like everything’s going to pot. The App isn’t working correctly, her friends are getting hurt. This is usually the point where the real boy she’s supposed to be with swoops in and tells her that winning isn’t everything and friendship is the real prize and blah blah blah. But it’s the MIDDLE of the BOOK. Is this book going to drag out the emotional touchy feely stuff? Am I going to have to learn moral stories for 50% of this thing? The answer is no. What’s really happening is:

THE STORY IS GOING CRAZY.

All of the sudden, Audrey breaks her phone and realizes what’s so special about the technology in her phone. (I can’t tell you or it’d be spoilers, so run with the vagueness for a second.) She hacks in, steals the technology, and uses it to create a new and improved Boyfriend App. I am not kidding about the crazy part. Her new app causes legit worldwide riots of love. The cute and the quirky are suddenly put on acid and start freewheeling across the pages.

I’ll be honest. If you want to look at it critically, then the second half of this story are pretty unbelievable. The logical part of your brain will without a doubt be standing and shouting SHENANIGANS! But the great thing is, I was having so much fun I wasn’t listening. (Plus, even the love triangle gets almost sidelined because there are RIOTS OF LOVE HAPPENING, PEOPLE!) It’s completely crazy and ridiculous, but the entire charm of the book is just that.

Like I said before, if you want a contemporary romance of completely believability, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a crazy, cute ride that’s more scifi then it appears, then GIVE THIS A GO. This is a super fast and fun read that might be the perfect option if you’re looking for a little mind candy to amuse you for a while.