Source: ARC won in a giveaway

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Review: Tides by Betsy Cornwell

June 22, 2017 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Tides by Betsy CornwellTides by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 4, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
Goodreads
four-half-stars
When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Lo is Chinese)
QUILTBAG: 4 (Lo and Noah’s grandmother is gay and in a relationship with one of the selkies)
Disability: 3 (Lo is recovering from bulimia)
Intersectionality: 2 (See: Lo)

Winning a giveaway feels ridiculously good, doesn’t it? I think the only way you lose that exhilarated feeling of winning is to enter and win giveaways all the time. And maybe even then, you might not. I dunno, I’m not a regular giveaway winner. But Tides is one of the few books I’ve ever won from a giveaway! I got it from the “retweet and win” style giveaway the publisher’s account @HMHKids held right before the book’s release date.

Yeah, that was in 2013. I’M SO SUPER PUNCTUAL, I KNOW. I heard good things about it back then and I’m happy I finally got to read it. Read more »

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Review: Insanity by Susan Vaught

November 19, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Insanity by Susan VaughtInsanity by Susan Vaught
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 18, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
Goodreads
three-stars
Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing....When the dead husband of one of Forest's patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.

With her deep knowledge of mental illness and mental institutions, Susan Vaught brings readers a fascinating and completely creepy new book intertwining the stories of three young people who find themselves haunted beyond imagining in the depths of Lincoln Hospital.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 5
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2
Intersectionality: 2

There’s a certain sickness among readers wherein we get excited for a book, acquire it, and proceed to not read it because we’re excited about a different book by the time we acquire the first. Repeat into infinity and you may understand why bookworms own so many unread books. Insanity is one book that fell victim to Excitable Reader Synrome and sat on my shelf for a year and a half after I got it. Thankfully, Halloween always comes around and that means getting out all the spooky readers for a great big Spookython. Insanity is entertaining, unique, and has a strong start, but its potential quickly peters out and it’s hard to finish the book by the time you’ve gotten to part four.

Read more »

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Review: Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang

January 5, 2015 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Echoes of Us by Kat ZhangEchoes of Us by Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #3
Published by HarperCollins on September 16, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Dystopian, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
Goodreads
three-half-stars
To change the world, I may lose everything

All Eva ever wanted was the chance to be herself. But in the Americas, to be hybrid—to share your body with a second soul—is not tolerated past childhood. Now Eva and Addie, her sister soul, are constantly on the move, hiding from the officials who seek to capture them. But the tide is changing. A revolution is brewing, and people are starting to question the hybrids' mistreatment.

Then Marion, an ambitious reporter, offers Eva and Addie a daring proposal: If they go undercover and film the wretched conditions of a hybrid institution, she will not only rescue them, she'll find a way to free Jackson, the boy Addie loves. It's risky, and Eva will have to leave Ryan and her friends behind, but if she succeeds, it could also tip the scales forever and lead to hybrid freedom.

As Eva and Addie walk into danger, they cling to each other and the hope of a better future. But the price they might pay is higher than they ever could have imagined.

Without ever expecting to, I became a massive fan of Kat Zhang’s books. What’s Left of Me surprised someone tired of all the dystopians, Once We Were wowed me beyond all expectations, and winning an ARC of Echoes of Us was kind of amazing and I may have danced with my book when it arrived but no biggie. Did Echoes of Us manage to match the other two books in the trilogy or even blow them out of the water? If only it had, but it’s still a fine novel and a sweet ending to the series even if it’s not necessarily one that feels right.

Read more »

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Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

April 3, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon CameronA Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron
Series: The Dark Unwinding #2
Published by Scholastic Press on September 24, 2013
Genres: YA Historical
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
four-stars
The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron's blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust--if anyone--to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

It took me over six months to get to A Spark Unseen and about two days to actually read it. The ARC I won all the way back around October has been languishing on my TBR for a while and looked like it might never get read, but when my schedule offered a small hole in which I could read it, I took it. Thank goodness I did! Though The Dark Unwinding didn’t wow me, its sequel certainly did. Read more »

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Dare You To by Katie McGarry

October 25, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★

Dare You To by Katie McGarryDare You To by Katie McGarry Published by Harlequin Teen on May 28, 2013
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
two-stars
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

To be clear, I liked McGarry’s previous novel. It was just as dramarific as Dare You To turned out to be and actually had more problems with the pacing, but Noah and Echo’s strong characterizations, the sizzling chemistry, and the enjoyable good-girl-bay-boy trope made up for it. Here? No. Dare You To is going to be great for people who loved Pushing the Limits without reservations, but anyone who had issues with the first novel of the series won’t find anything different with book two. Read more »

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17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

March 12, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★½

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Buy from AmazonBuy from The Book DepositoryBuy from Barnes & NoblePublished by Dutton Juvenile on March 21, 2013
Genres: Magical Realism, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
three-half-stars
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Winning an ARC of this book made my week when it happened. I was sick with an upper respiratory infection, dealing with pains in my side I feared were appendicitis (they weren’t, thank goodness), my parents had driven six hours that morning to get from home to my college campus in order to get me to a doctor, and I felt miserable. When I checked my email on September 10, 2012 and saw I’d won a signed copy of one of my most anticipated reads of 2013, written by one of my favorite authors, everything seemed better. When it arrived, I couldn’t stop jumping around like an idiot and squeeing at the top of my lungs–in the laundry room. The very public laundry room.

Was 17 & Gone ultimately worth that level of excitement? Read more »

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Everbound by Brodi Ashton

January 21, 2013 Uncategorized 0 ★★★★

Everbound by Brodi AshtonEverbound by Brodi Ashton Published by Balzer + Bray on January 22, 2013
Genres: YA Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
four-stars
Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Everbound drop-kicked me in my emotions. For about ten minutes after I finished it, I sat around muttering “Oh my God” to myself because it shocked me that much. Well, that and “I’m going to murder Cole.” The novella Neverfall left me with worries for the series, but the second book in Ashton’s fantastic series shook them all off.

Nikki’s unstoppable determination to save Jack from the Tunnels leads us into an action-packed book that introduces us to the Everneath outside the Feed caverns. It gets a little infodumpy at times as Cole and Max tell Nikki about the layout of the Everneath (rather like Dante’s Inferno) and the Walls of Water/Wind/Fire that keep people away from the center of their world, but it just barely manages to work because it makes sense for Nikki to know so little. The characters’ development never suffers from the action and a few characters are developed further than I ever thought they would be.

The only reason a star has been subtracted is the writing. For the most part, it’s readable and just right for the story, but it has its weaker moments. Like the word “whisper-yell” being used. I really do get that it’s trying to get across that someone is whispering loudly, but “whisper-yell” is a bad way to describe it. There’s also a section where Nikki helps Cole when he gets hurt and she directly tells the reader it’s because she considers him her friend now, not because she needs him to help her find Jack. That’s something we could have figured out ourselves.

The ending. Oh wow, that ending. Even though I finished the book last night, there are still times I pause what I’m doing (including writing this review; by my count, I’ve done it five times while trying to get this written) just to try and process what happened. You won’t be squeezing those secrets out of me, but it’s… I can’t even. I thought I knew Cole after being inside his head in Neverfall, but he turns out to surprise us. Never saw it coming, and it’s one of the best endings I’ve come across in recent memory.

It’s going to be a long wait for the third and final book in this series, which will come out in early 2014. Until then, I’ll just plot dastardly ways to kill Cole or make him suffer.

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