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Reading is my drug. I love to get lost in a great book to escape into worlds that are usually much cooler than mine! >.<

Currently reading

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Imogen Howson
The Beautiful and the Cursed
If I Were You (Inside Out Trilogy, #1)
Lisa Renee Jones
As The World Dies Untold Tales Volume 3
Rhiannon Frater

Monument 14: Sky on Fire

Sky on Fire - Emmy Laybourne *Spoiler free for the series*Sky on Fire, the sequel to Monument 14, is more action packed and exciting, but the writing is still filled with irritating quirks that doesn't allow me to give it a higher rating, no matter how much I might have enjoyed the rest--which was actually quite a bit.Since we're at it, let me tell you what I mean about the writing. I knew from the first book that the author likes to write as if her readers are a little… slow? The first novel was filled with commentaries and unnecessary repetitions to make sure we understood clearly what was happening. This sequel is, unfortunately, not without these redundancies. The best example:"Right before Castle Rock, there was a long stretch of open highway. ("Open" meaning that there was one clear lane with no obstacles to go around.)"--Thanks for that, Captain Obvious!This is an example from book 1:Niko half dragged me through the hail, down the "aisle" that was not an aisle but was actually the space above the seats (because, remember, the bus was on its side)."--Ooooh ok, I hadn't caught that when the bus CRASHED and flipped sideways 30 seconds earlier.Fortunately. these instances only appear a couple of times in each book. However this is not my only complaint on the writing. While reading, there are sentences and… peculiarities that stand out like a sore thumb, which both distracted and annoyed me. Here are some of them and maybe you'll see what I mean:"They had dirty faces and smelled not good."--You speak good."what I read in her expression went something like: Ah, this dumb kid feels like he's getting pushed around so he's taking a stand on a small, insignificant detail. But I guess if he needs to win this little victory for the sake of his pride, then I will give in."--That's very facially talented! O_O"Jean let me rub some toothpaste around on my gums so I wouldn't have breath like I ate a donkey's butt all day."--Gross! Worst analogy ever!"He's the worst person I ever met. 1) He had laid a trap for us. 2) We had fallen into the trap. 3) He still had a dad."--Umm ok, we better watch out for THIS badass villain!Also, the most dangerous side effect of this chemical: "O monsters"! Yep. *snort*Aside from this writing, I actually quite enjoyed the rest. With many characters, I was impressed that I was able to easily keep them all straight, and they became people I cared about--though some more than others. I also appreciated the neat way the recap was done with an " in case we die" letter at the beginning. It was only 3 pages, but it completely set me right back to where we had left off as if no time had passed. This time, the plot was a lot more exciting while still keeping the claustrophobic feel some loved from the first. This is achieved with two POVs: one from the supermarket, another from the outside, which raises the tension in the story, plus it answers the big question of what the outside has been like since this apocalypse. On this note, I found it to be a pretty realistic depiction of how people would act during such a catastrophe: violence and horror caused by other survivors are often the most dangerous of all. Although we still did not get answers as to what brought on the deadly chemicals, we do make some progress with which I was satisfied, knowing the explanations were (hopefully) saved for the final installment. Furthermore, since the outside POV constantly keeps us on edge, I actually enjoyed the more laid-back feel of the others in the supermarket this time, "playing house" as I called it in my review of book 1. It doesn't stay quiet for long there either, however. Overall, it does become a pretty exciting novel and by the ending I was frantically turning the pages with my heart pounding. It's really a shame that the writing puts such a damper on things.The writing problems I had are not something new to this sequel, so if you loved the first you might not be bothered by it in Sky on Fire either. I did think it was a strong sequel which is rare in itself, and despite my complaints, I'm looking forward to the 3rd - Savage Drift!--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

The Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh Plague - Jeff Hirsch MEEEEEEH!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - "Their faces were white. And grim. They glared at me, streaks of pale moonlight sweeping across their cheeks. They looked somber and gruesome and not like kids at all."Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is haunting novel. Highly atmospheric, this is a modern day tale of evil and family secrets for every Gothic horror fan. While most Gothics are set in the past, this one is not, but it takes place in a very old and tired estate which gives this book the perfect ancient feel. It's not long before strange things start happening in Violet's extremely small, quaint town, setting about hair-raising goosebumps that last throughout.First it's frightening legends about a kidnapper in a retired tunnel, then creepy kids walking around the cemetery claiming to have seen the devil, but it doesn't end there; from start to finish, this book emits a great and eerie vibe that is all mostly due to the excellent way the setting comes alive. I could easily picture myself walking these trails, visualizing the cemetery, the collapsed, seemingly haunted, tunnel, and the old house by the sea--Citizen Kane. Big enough to have its own name, this manor just vibrates with secrets and old family histories. I love how it gives you chills, yet it's sort of a beautiful kind of dramatic mansion. I could hear the house creak and feel the drafts. It was fantastically brought to life. Great effort was equally spent conjuring the town it's located in; Echo glows from its mystique. It is one of those tiny towns where everybody knows everyone else's secrets, and if one family has done something gossip worthy, the whole town comes together and shuns them--which is what is happening to our protagonists, Violet. Violet was brought up by artists who have since abandoned their kids for a life of paintings and museums in Paris. Consequently, living alone with her brother, Violet has becomes a little of a recluse, and I liked how eccentric this made her. She can often be seen wearing one of her grandmother's old-fashioned dresses with no care of how odd she looks. But mostly, I respected her for doing everything she could to keep food on the table, putting the guest house up for rent for instance. She never expected to have anyone respond, let alone the young man who arrives. It's not a secret that something is off with River from the start, especially when things start getting... bizarre, after his arrival. His character left me in constant anxiety and intrigue, I knew not to trust him, still, he has a way of charming you regardless. By their side stands Violet's brother Luke and their neighbor Sunshine who add an amusing tone to the book. I enjoyed the brother/sister banter as much as I adored Luke's protectiveness of her. It's a great cast all-around with sometimes clashing, sometimes matching personalities that I thought perfect for the story. There are also a few new faces that come into the mix for some surprises down the road. While it never became something I viewed as a negative aspect of the novel, the romance is one thing I was not completely crazy about. I simply didn't emotionally connected to it as much as we were meant to. I do place some blame on the simple fact that I never truly trusted River--we were not expected to either. The mystery surrounding his character kept my heart at arm's length, even--or in particular--when Violet was happy in her oblivion. Once his secret is out, I became leery for other reasons. It's not an easy romance. It is, however, definitely unique. When you learn of the secret River bears, you're made to be even more fascinated by him as we're still left unsure of both his true nature and his agenda. How evil is he, exactly? Because there is clear evil running around. From devil sightings to torture, some pretty disturbing images are generated from this book. Though I have read worse, it is not for the faint of heart. Mysterious, ominous, and also incredibly gorgeous, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea--aka Book of Long Title--is a story for all Gothic horror lovers who crave a rich atmosphere and originality. The cover portrays it perfectly."I liked to cut her, just a little, and watch her cry. It passed the time."--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Dare You To

Dare You To - Katie McGarry Hmm I might change to a 4 stars after my review, but I feel torn about this one. I didn't like the characters as much as PtL and the hot and cold tone of the romance went on a little too long for me. I also got tired of Ryan's good looks being constantly pointed out. We get it he's gorgeous, enough with the godliness! Oh, and there is a love triangle *gasp* (Though I am really looking forward to Isaiah's story next!)Also the string of similarly plotted NA books I've been reading lately might have contributed to my lesser patience for this one. Either way I still enjoyed it, I can see why so many love it, I did absolutely LOVE PtL, but anyhow, I'll sleep on it and see how I feel tomorrow.

Antigoddess

Antigoddess - Kendare Blake Antigoddess is all sort of freaky loveliness. For fans of greek mythology, this novel brings in a creative and original depiction of the well loved myth, where the gods are caught in a new story and facing the war of all wars--their lost immortality.First thing's first, you might want to brush up in your knowledge of the trojan war if you're not very well versed on that event in greek mythology--or at least have Wiki at the ready. As much as I enjoy this myth I have only dived into it in the past few years, so I had to read up on the specifics of this war a bit. You don't need to become an encyclopedia on the matter, but knowing who is involved, the basics of what happened, and the reason behind the war to begin with would help a great deal if you want to get everything you can from this novel. Regardless of what you know, Kendare does not make it complicated, and even if you knew nothing you'd still be able to enjoy and follow the story as she does guide you with the required facts and details along the way. Knowing it beforehand, however, does give this story higher significance when you're aware of what occurred during the war between these gods. Even though Antigoddess is, in it's entirety, about greek gods, a mythology that has been delved into by many authors in the past, its plots is undoubtedly unique, and Kendare's portrayal of the gods is creative; from their way of life to their rampant personalities. She also didn't forgo her touch of humour.Don't question me. I'm a god. Dammit. -OdysseusWe're introduced to the story with a prologue that tells us something is extremely wrong with the Greek gods, by way of Athena and Hermes bizarre afflictions. This prologue is intriguing and a little unsettling, which sets the tone for the book perfectly. Then we're thrown into the lives of Cassandra and Aidan, students in high school, completely oblivious of any kind of a war brewing. Cassandra is not even aware that she is anything but a regular teenage girl--well… a regular teenage girl who is psychic, at least. I liked Cassandra at the start ok, but I liked her a lot more after she learns who she really is and becomes truly herself; layering and strengthening her character. I didn't dislike her before, I just didn't find her particularly interesting aside from her visions. These visions--or curse as she calls it--she's not really sure what to make of them at first, but soon she starts seeing very disturbing, gory hallucinations that would make anyone fall to their knees. This is where Kendare's magic for horror comes out.[…] as more of the old woman's face detached and hit the pavement. All of her skin liquified; her hair slid down her head to reveal the skull beneath: obsidian black and covered in slime and scales.Hells yeah! We're also taken into Athena and Herme's perspective which is where we learn of the war that is brewing and just how horrific things are becoming. This was my favorite perspective of the two. Aside from getting deeper into the plot and their deteriorating situation, it's also more action packed with several visits from murderous gods, and even a bomb or two. This dual perspective, while enjoyable at first, turns up the intensity an anticipation to sky high proportions when the real shit starts hitting the fan. Both sides are weaved together--skillfully might I add--into a thrilling battle sequence that is fan-freaking-tastic. Imagine a bunch of strung up, pissed up, dying gods who are all wanting to off each other! Kendare does not let us down when it comes to the big finale. It doesn't end here, however, as this is only the first in the series. Even though the story is obviously not over, and the ending leaves us into an emotional upheaval both from the events that occurred and those awaiting, I found the book ended in a very appropriate and satisfying place. It leaves us with delicious intrigue that will for sure keep us excited for book two until the day it appears on the shelves. --An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Where She Went

Where She Went - Gayle Forman I think this audiobook was like 30 minutes O_O

Charm & Strange

Charm & Strange - Stephanie Kuehn This book takes mind-fuck to a whole new level--and excuse my french, but there is really no calling this one any different. Charm and Strange is... well it is very definitely strange. This is probably one of the most baffling books I've read. I was unable to stop thinking and questioning and wondering about every single thing that was going on in this book. It felt like it was going to go one route, only to leave me completely bewildered by the direction it did take. While you will likely want to discuss this book the second you turn the last page, once the ending comes, so does clarity. The confusion is not an irritation while reading either, on the contrary, it's a fascinating and spellbinding confusion that keeps you absolutely unable to think about anything else until you have finally come to understand. There is a pro and a con side to this novel. The big secret of the plot--what dumbfounded and what made this book truly brilliant in my eyes--will unlikely not stay a secret very long. It's one of those spoilers that simply can't be avoided. I can't even tell you why, but by simply glancing at how this book is described in many reviews in the most general of terms could completely change how you'll take the story. However this is not necessarily a bad thing. What you expect from this novel, and what you get from it in the end, will decide what you take from it. If you're expecting a certain type or paranormal tale, or a certain style of storytelling, then you may or may not hate what it actually is. I am probably making absolutely no sense to you right now, eh? If you take only one thing from this review, it's that you should read this book with ZERO expectations of anything--which is how I experienced it. Do not read the book synopsis, do not check out its Goodreads page, don't even check what freaking genre it is, just read it. You will thank me! And PS- this review is 100% spoiler free of any kind! ;) With that said, it's obvious that this review can't go into very much plot details, so lets talk characters and writing. Both are exquisite. Our protagonist is one of the most complex character studies I have seen in YA literature. He's created with such fine threads that you're truly afraid his instability will crack at any second. We're taken into his past with alternating past/present chapters where we learn of his upbringing, how he became the broken individual we were introduced to. On one hand, this makes you understand his state of mind, turning any dislike for his bizarre, unlikeable personality into sympathy, but on the other hand it can be a little hard to keep track of two different stories. Yes the two stories are interconnected, and they ultimately merge into one, they still remain fairly separate until then; each having independent characters and settings. I think it was extremely important to disclose the story in this manner so I wouldn't want it to be any different, just that it did take me a bit to situate myself every time I picked up the book--as if I needed to feel more confused!As for the writing, it's unblemished with a prose that is sophisticated yet simple. It doesn't rush nor does it bore. Its prominent feature is its ambiguity. From the very first page everything is cryptically described, from the past, to the family members, to the relationships, to the wolves, and finally to the present. Nothing is freely given, yet everything is left for us to take, to decipher. While some might think this would be hard to get into it's the exact opposite. We're so starved for meaning that it becomes the oil that greases the wheels of this penetrating story. An exceptionally perplexing novel, Charm and Strange is the type of read where you do not want to move after you're done. You need time to sit and process what exactly you just got through reading. If you want a book that stands out from the rest, this one has its own playing field!--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Doll Bones

Doll Bones - Holly Black Holly Black is one of few who can write something as cute as it is creepy!Doll Bones is a Middle Grade novel that is full of adventure and friendship--really the only type of MG books I read and enjoy. It's the story of Zach, Poppy, and Alice who have been friends for such a long time that their friendship feels familiar even to us. I immediately felt attuned to their mutual trust and support. Not giving in when the other kids laughed at them for playing with action figures. But then one day the game got a little bit more real, and it involves a creepy devil doll who is made of little girl bones!"Her clay was made from human bones. Little girl bones. That hair threaded through the scalp is the little girl's hair. And the body of the doll is filled with her leftover ashes."*shivers* Obviously, there is a fantastic creepy factor to this book, mostly all due to this hell's creature doll, but the fact remains that it is an MG novel so it's the fun kind of creepy-- nothing to give you nightmares over, but still enough to appease the creep fanatics such as myself. A lot of it is due to it being open to interpretation: Did the doll really move itself during the night, or was it the animal who trashed their campsite? This is why movies like The Blair Witch Project became so popular, or why most books are better than movies; imagination can be most powerful. Imagination is what's at the heart of this whole book; it's what brought the friends together from day 1, and it's what turned this story into a fantasy adventure. If imagination is at its heart, it's the friendship that keeps it beating. These kids, determined and stubborn, go through a fair amount of difficulty to get to where they want to go and, even though there are many arguments and disagreements, they stick up and care for each other until the end. The narrator being Zach, we're privy to what it's like to be a young, hurt, pre-teenaged boy who wishes he could stay a kid for just a little while longer. These kids are 12 year olds, thus are still in that imaginative stage without being too childish. So we get a pretty balanced read with some dangerous happenings, a little thievery, risky antics, but it's all in good fun. To keep things even more interesting, aside from the doll we're kept from forgetting, we get a mysterious and quite disturbing story that surrounds the death of the girl whom she was created from--or so we're told ;)Delightfully sweet with a deliciously eerie vibe, Doll Bones is perfect for the young at hearts who like to plunge into a fun adventure that has all the innocence of a child's story, but the excellent storytelling any adult can enjoy. --An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Game. Set. Match. (Outer Banks Tennis Academy)

Game. Set. Match. - Jennifer Iacopelli It's funny how I can not sit through any sports game and stay awake to save my life, but movies and books on the subject, I love! Game Set Match is the perfect example of why; ultimately about sports, the story is really about the characters, the dynamics between players, romances that bloom (what's better than 1 romance? 3 of them! ;), and feeling the excitement of the game by wanting these characters to win so much. Not into Tennis? Honestly, don't let that deter you at all for one second. No one can be as clueless as me when it comes to how that game is played, but never did I feel overwhelmed, confused, or bored by it at all. On the contrary, I found myself enjoying the tennis matches the most. Jennifer makes you care about the characters so much that the matches become as intense to you as if you were the one playing. You want these girls to win so badly that I was literally holding my breath during one of the big matches. The only complaint is that I wanted to experience more of these games. Some are faded to black, and once or twice they're skipped completely and we just get the end result. This is what happens when matches are written to be so exhilarating, it leaves you disappointed when others were skimmed over. Still, I loved all the energy they radiated; even those we didn't get to see fully were bristling with so much anticipation that in one way it was fun to get treated to the result right away. My blood: it was pumping, dude! *jumps up and down ready to fight a bitch*The matches wouldn't have been half as fun if there weren't such fantastic characters to root for. We're treated to three amazing point-of-views in this novel; these are 3 determined and confident girls who are attending tennis academy. Each one is dealing with her own difficulties towards the game, some towards other students as well--we get a hint of mean girl-ness caused by jealousy-- we also get romance entanglements, and most importantly, we get great and authentic friendships that bloom between the girls. Penny, Indie, and Jasmine, are all as incredibly likeable as they are genuine. They are the heart of this book. I enjoyed all three perspectives just as much as the other, and even now I have a hard time deciding who I would pick as a favorite--though I've been leaning towards Indy a little. Their voices never had me confused as to which POV I was reading, they're distinct with very different personalities. They're also at different stages in their lives and tennis careers so that we get to experience different degrees of accomplishments as well as the excitement that comes with them. New Adult = same old same old? Not in this one. This is a story about 3 girls who are dead set on making it big; they are on the path to a very challenging and rewarding career, they're building new friendships, they're experiencing post high-school romance; they are new to adulthood. (Not a one with a dark past! I know, right?) To me this felt like the true meaning of New Adult, sex or no sex. That's right--no sex. These girls are in college, over 17 and independent, and there is definite talk of sex, as well as other mature content like drinking and swearing, yet it doesn't actually have any sexual content. We know they have sex, but we aren't privy of these experiences. From the New Adult I've read so far this does make it stand out in its genre, but I was completely fine with this. To be honest, it wasn't needed. NA is not just "YA with sex" like some think. And while there is romance, it's made part of the book, it doesn't overrule it (the cover might be misleading). I found it to be a perfectly balanced feel-good book, a little reminiscent of Miranda Kenneally's Catching Jordan. Filled with vivacity, Game Set Match surprised me in the best of ways and turned out to be an absolute favorite. I was filled with pure contentment whenever I sat down to read (which was really only twice since I devoured it in mere hours). It's exactly what I needed at the time. My initial disappointment at the end feeling abrupt was quickly extinguished when I found out it's a planned series--previously thinking this was a stand-alone. There is no cliffhanger, but its made obvious there should be more to the story. My only hope is that we don't have to wait too long!--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Easy

Easy - Tammara Webber An amazing story involving first loves and true loves, Easy by Tammara Webber is highly emotional as it involves the topic of rape and a dark past, but in the end it remains a very heartwarming love story.In a story like this the characters--their development and likeable qualities--are the most important, and this is where Tammara excels. As much as Jacqueline is created with tons of layers and a personality you can't help but adore, Lucas' character, with his tattoos, his Harley, and an extremely kind soul, is not neglected with his development one bit. These two characters become real, breathing, living beings that are effortless in getting us to care for them. Even though the chemistry between them is a character in and of itself, with palpable electricity and obvious attraction, the relationship never felt overly embellished, too perfect, or fairy-tail-ish. The imperfections and obstacles they endure make it less of a fantasy romance, and more a romance that you believe could truly happen. As a side but not a lesser character, Erin--Jaqueline's roommate and new best friend--lends the book a nice dash of humour, with my favourite being her amusing relationship advice. Her loyalty and support gives the perfect example of what a true friend should be. Throughout the story, the complexities of these characters become even more exposed as we discover layers that weren't immediately obvious, especially when Lucas' past comes into play, proving once again that character growth is just as important for a story like this to have its full effect.The college setting is a great aspect to this novel. Having gone to college in business I found the economic chatter amusing and nostalgic. College days is a time in your life that will always stay with you, and while High School will (unfortunately) never be forgotten, college is where we really find ourselves--at least for a lot of us. This is one of the biggest allures of this New Adult genre for me, and this book portrays it perfectly. It's a time where, like Jacqueline, you make new friends, you start learning realities of the real world, and you say goodbye to your high school mistakes. Some darker consequences than what most will have to live through is introduced in this story, however, which keeps the tone of this college life on a slightly darker side than the norm, giving the story a bit of an underlying suspense. It provides it with a little oomph, alongside the romance, without it being overly dramatic to the point where it becomes emotional manipulation. Overall it's a wonderfully told romantic story.I really have no complaints about this one; I mean, it has your expected "broken character with worst case scenario dark past", but even so, it was beautiful, sweet, romantic, and fantastically crafted. The only reason I hesitate to give a 5 is because of how it compares emotionally to my last 5 star NA read (Hopeless) which was a lot more affecting for me--that one truly gutted me until I was bruised. Easy is more a love story with some dark tones, while Hopeless is more dark tones with a love story. And yes I'm comparing the two because I'm thinking that, for some, whichever of these you will read first might possibly trump the other.--For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

The Rules for Disappearing

The Rules for Disappearing - Ashley Elston Another fake identity for "Meg" means another town, another school, another life altogether. In a book like this, mystery becomes the main element of the plot; why and who are they hiding from. Even though the book is actually a pretty good contemporary with decent characters and a compelling romance, the mystery element lost its flair for me fairly quickly, leaving me with a lukewarm read with some sparks, but not enough to hold its flame. The fire of this one initially died when the plot kept beating around the bush. It left me exasperated for some answers already. Then it lost its biggest appeal when the big mystery ended up being a little too underwhelming. It's the answer I was expecting; the one we don't even consider, or at least we hope it's not it because it's the obvious direction the plot could take. You also have to take it all with a grain of salt when you think how things would work in reality, this all made it difficult for me to take it seriously.Although I don't mind predictability for the most part--seeing as it has become quite rare for me to be caught by surprise nowadays--I come to expect a certain amount of intelligence, or perception, when it comes to the characters figuring things out. In this case, Meg was a little too clueless, or dismissive. With a feeling of being watched, of being followed, then witnessing a couple of suspicious situations, Meg assumes it's "all in her head", every time. Then she puts her trust into someone who's acting "out of the norm" which, to the reader, immediately becomes a red flag. While some may forgive this with her excuses of chalking it up to paranoia and not wanting to be relocated again, I found myself incredibly irritated. In these types of stories, the smarter and more cautious the character, the more I connect to them. If this was a movie, Meg would be the heroine I'd be screaming at angrily for not seeing things clearly. This leads me to think it's more of an "not for me" type of read. Furthermore, when all is said and done, the ending left me with nothing but a cocked eyebrow. Not only is it anti-climatic, the last few pages didn't really make any logical sense when you think of the grand scheme of things--why would they care about her anymore? To be honest, it felt like a gimmick to get us interested in the sequel and nothing more.Despite my issues with the plot it's not a complete loss. Aside from the previous mentions, I did like Meg's personality, how caring she was of her sister especially. Then the relationship she forms with a certain boy in town became my favorite part of this novel. Meg has a hard time allowing herself to fall in love or get attached to a guy since she's aware her family could be moved any second. This causes a hot and cold relationship where you both understand her hesitation, yet you hope she goes through with it anyways. And who could resist Ethan? Your adorable farm boy with a heart or gold and eyes only for Meg. Due to this reluctance, their relationship is slow paced, steadily sparking, with a great forbidden fruit flair. You really can't help but sigh at their adorableness!A mysterious premise, good characters, and a sweet romance, I can see this book being a hit for certain readers, especially those who have not read as many similarly plotted books. Sadly for me the mystery--the heart of the book--fell short of my expectations. --An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken, #1)

If You Stay - Courtney Cole Actual Rating: 3.5 starsStarting with a bang--and I mean really: check out the opening paragraph for yourself ;)--If You Stay is narrated mainly by Pax, a drug addict with a past that has led him to want to give no shits about his life. Our second POV is a sweet and innocent young girl, Mila, who meets Pax in the most unfortunate of ways. I think this is one instance where a single POV would have been much better for me. While I understand the appeal of a dual POV when it comes to a love story, especially of this nature where both characters are such opposites, I felt like one character (Pax) was much more developed than the other, more likeable, too, which might seem improbable when you first meet him, turning this book into a good read that could have been great if only I had cared for both sides equally. Fortunately for me, it's Pax's story above all. We meet him in his lowest of the lows as a drug addict who just doesn't give a f*ck. He's the ultimate bad boy whom every girl should stay away from. He's not created for us to "like" him as a character, not to mention a love interest, but he was created as an obviously broken character who you have the strange impulse to want to fix. This is what makes his character sympathetic. You get to understand what's going on in his head and how badly he wants to change--which makes all the difference. I came to see him as someone very sweet who needs to be given a chance. Mila takes that risk. This girl, though, did not click with me. She is the definition of a "good girl", but this is not the reason why I disliked her. She was simply too naive for my taste. She jumps into a relationship with this guy with the immediate belief that he will change to become the perfect boyfriend material, even after Pax tells her that "he will try not to her her"--he emphasizes on "try". Automatically, this would have become a red flag for me, Mila seemed to be oblivious to this warning, giving her heart to him so easily. I also didn't like how she reacted when Pax finally unfolded his past. Getting pissed at how he shut her out when he was dealing with such a traumatic memory was just not ok for me. He needed someone to understand and leave him to deal, not someone who made him guilty for it. Our personalities just did not mesh, mine and hers. Even without our clashing minds, however, I never felt like I truly understood or got to know Mila. She wasn't as fleshed out a character as Pax, which leads me to think I would have enjoyed this book much more had we not gotten her perspective at all, and only saw her through Pax's eyes.The romance in the book is extremely hot and definitely R rated, they also do not lack chemistry, but on that note it's a primarily physical relationship. Instead of taking time throughout the book to get to know each other on a more emotional level, they focus on their physical attraction; which, in reality, is fine as some couples do base themselves on their physical relationship, but as a reader I felt like the romance was more superficial.This book, however, is more than a love story. It's ultimately about Pax dealing with his past, and finding a way to get through it without ruining his life in the process. It was an emotional read, for sure, with some very hard to imagine scenarios where you can't help but want to put yourself in the MC's shoes to try to take some of their pain away. This is the part of the book that I liked the most and I think it was well executed. Hard to read at times, but If You Stay is also an inspiring story when you consider how far Pax comes. While I didn't love both characters, I predict that Mila will resonate with some readers better than I, making it a great reading experience all around as it's far from being a bad book. --For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

The Program

The Program - Suzanne Young If I wasn't so bored with dystopians lately, this one might have been more enjoyable for me. Although it has a little contemporary feel to it more than most, and the plot direction it takes is different from the expected and clichés "run and hide from the big bad government", in the end I still felt that it was yet another dystopian novel that doesn't particularly stand out from the rest.A little reminiscent of Delirium, The Program involves teen suicide and how its become an epidemic, and the cure involves wiping them out into a clean slate. This means memory removal of anything that could cause negative feelings. Thus, if you're a teenager and you show any sort of negative emotions like crying, you better make sure no one sees you! I liked the idea of this world and I personally found it much more believable than Delirium, in the sense that I can see how society agreed to this mind erasing program if it will save their children from suicide (I had difficulty believing that society could be convinced love was a disease--but that is a review for another time >.

Hopeless

Hopeless  - Colleen Hoover Wow where do I start? At the amazing characters? At the sky rocketing chemistry? At the scenes that are so powerfully emotional that you want to curl into a ball and cry for days? I have nothing but praise for this gem that Colleen has created. This book rocked my world, and then it broke it in two. Before we get down and heavy into the depths, let's talk about what started it all, and that is the characters. Sky is our protagonist and she could not have been a more enjoyable character for me. She does not have an ounce of superficiality on her body. This girl is honest, so honest that she blurts out the most random and embarrassing things because she doesn't want to play games or make assumptions. She's probably the most authentic character I have met in a book thus far. Her straightforward attitude is the cause of a few comical moments between her and Holder, but moreover, it's the reason she fits so well with him. Holder is definitely intense--especially at the beginning. He clearly has issues that he has a hard time voicing, which leaves him balancing on the edge of his abyss. I found their personalities to fit together perfectly, actually. I was not sure about Holder as the love interest at the start as he came off as a little forceful, but I was left intrigued by the reasons behind these actions. It's obvious he has motives beyond our understanding, and he never crossed any lines in my "book of unforgiving behavior", he's just a little... determined. It didn't take long until we got to see more sides to him, showing that his character is much more complex than the bad boy he's rumored to being. Together, these two sizzle! I have rarely come upon a romance that sparked as much as this one. Their chemistry is coupled with a shared connection that is positively explosive, yet convincing. I was lost to lala-land entirely while reading this novel. Much darker than I had expected, Hopeless is a harsh read that will clobber your heart, leaving you bloody and broken. While I did guess at a lot of the events that would occur, this novel still left me disturbed and shocked, even when I did know what was coming. It's the kind of story that is not meant to leave you flabbergasted by the sudden twist of events--although the less perceptive than I might be--rather it's meant to rattle your bones with its raw, visceral intensity. The last half of the novel delivers some violently emotional scenes that displays exactly what kind of talent Colleen possesses to be able to embed so much power into the written word. I'm telling you, some of it took my breath away--I literally had the urge to look away until it passed, not because of anything gory (though one part is a little bit), but because of how much pain it entails. I was not expecting so much grit from such a pretty blue skied cover.On the subject of covers, take a look at the full mockup and tell me you don't get chills (especially those who've read it):Such a perfect representation. I'm hoping the published version is not changed as the front cover was modified slightly for the Atria release. What else can I say? This novel was an honest to goodness extraordinary read that mesmerized me every step of the way. It's undeniably haunting, crazily romantic, and the type of story that you just don't get over.--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

Chantress

Chantress - Amy Butler Greenfield Sadly, it's not a heart that she's holding on the cover, it's her stone necklace! Boo! Just wanted to get that out of the way first. A gorgeous cover, however--though slightly less interesting than when I thought it was a heart--Chantress is pretty on the outside, and intriguing on the inside. We begin this book in an interesting setting while we learn how Lucy was told never to sing or bad things will occur. I was made both curious and alarmed at the uncertainty surrounding Lucy's life and lifestyle. She became a compelling character right away; I yearned to know more about her and to my impatient nature's delight the answers started arriving just as quickly. We learn early on who she is exactly, what happens when she sings, and why she should have stayed blissfully hidden and unaware. We also get to meet a lot of great personalities that become surprisingly memorable throughout the story. Even those with the smallest roles all have something that makes them stand out from one another. The lore that we get introduced to is impressive; imaginative and clearly well thought out--especially the Shadowgrims; although I wish they had a bigger part inside the book aside from a hovering threat, they were still a fascinating aspect. While the premise is original and interesting, I found it a tad too slow for my taste. Hardly anything happens in this book at all except a flurry of events at the end that was maybe a little too easy. Even with the violence and deaths that occur I found it was over and done with as quickly as it had started, with nothing extremely heart shattering about it. It would have helped if the villain of the story was seen as a more threatening enigma, I suppose. We only meet him briefly, keeping him as nothing more than an afterthought for the reader. I feel his part in the whole thing should have been played out with much more show rather than tell to validate his wickedness. The same could be said for the Shadowgrims, as mentioned before; while we observe more of their presence than their master's, these instances are nothing more than a few close calls. Instead, most of the book is spent underground where Lucy is hiding, training to use her powers. This training is slow moving and grueling. It's good--even great--for character development to see her slowly learning and understanding her powers as a Chantress, however it does get mundane after a hundred pages of this. The one good thing to come of it aside from character development is the equally slow moving romance, which may not be anything mind-blowing, but it's sweet and realistic. It's also kept to a minimum. I would even describe it as the slow beginning of something to come.Great, spirited characters and a unique lore is what fans of fantasy/mythology can expect to enjoy from this novel. If the plot had a little more bite to it, it would have been a truly great read, as it stands it's still a book I would recommend to those who enjoy the genre, I would just advise to not expect to be swept away into a twist riddled, exhilarating plot--because that, it is not. --An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave - Now THIS is how you write a book, ladies and gentleman! With the slew of dystopian and post apocalyptic novels coming out you can only imagine how refreshing it is to stumble upon a truly refreshing, incredibly well created novel about an alien apocalypse. And don't let this term fool you, aliens may not be running rampant on our planet (yet), but Yancey has succeeded in making this event just as realistic as any other world disaster. Plus, in my opinion I think it's a little naive to believe we're the only life form with intelligence in the universe. Could this happen to us? Absolutely! I believe it! Told via multiple perspectives, this novel begins with the introduction of our main character; Cassie. With a lot of luck, sure, but bravery and purpose is what keeps her alive when it really matters. And truly, what are we without purpose? This girl is one I would want by my side if a future like this ever came to fruition. She's one of those heroines that you positively want to root for, with a fierce determination mirroring the likes of Katniss (THG) and Katsa (Graceling). The first part of the novel explores her time with her family--or what's left of it. There is some powerful writing that went into this story, and not just with creating the plot which I'll go into in a bit, but in the emotional consequences of this situation, as well. Families have been literally torn apart in some of the cruelest of ways, Cassie is lucky to have what she has and this bond is so powerfully gripping it had me longing for a little brother I never even had. The other POVs are just as distinct with just as much emotional investment; I was found easily hooked into to their every word brought about through a seamless transition. As I enjoyed being surprised by who the other perspectives were I won't spoil it for you, I will just say that I found the choices to be a great way to direct the story. These aliens have not gone easy on humans. As the book title conveys, there have been 4 waves of shock and terror thrown our way, each one rousing up your fear for what the 5th wave is going to be. There is one primal fear that is investigated throughout this novel which is the fear of being truly alone. When the enemy takes the face of should-be allies, how can you trust anyone at all? How does humanity survive? A poor guy with a gunshot wound who only wants help might just be a trap. Anyone you could ask for help yourself might be the last person you'll ever see. Together, humans can fight back, separated by mistrust, humans become their own enemy. This is one of the most crucial aspects of this book, it's what makes it so upsetting and desperate. Like Cassie, the reader is not able to let themselves trust anybody at all, not to mention garner any hope. Yes it's a very dark, very despairing read. Together with this apprehension, the harsh realness of the plot makes it such an intensely compelling read. The creation of the alien invitation is done without fail. If there is a plot hole in here I did not perceive it. Yancey imagined every leg of this race and he ran with it. I am wholly impressed with its complexity, one that didn't feel complex, really, just elaborated, or sensical. I have not read a book in this genre that had me so thoroughly--and I mean entirely--caught up in it since The Hunger Games and Ashfall--and I do not say this lightly. I'm in no way comparing the books themselves, just their engrossing factor; they're all consuming from head to foot and every single pounding heart beat and every clenched muscle, and that is so very rare--at least for me. This book, it's a ticking time bomb, and you feel it with each fiber of your being! Then we come to the ending, and this time bomb of a book counts down into a frenzy until you can hardly stand it. I devoured it. Every single page I devoured greedily and if I had to pick a book to re-read for ever and always this one would be in the top running (with a very fair chance)! This book… this book = love, guys!--An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads