Tag Archives: standalone

Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes

Release date: April 3td 2018

Goodreads: Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Why I’m excited: I’ve heard good things about Jenn Bennett’s writing and this reminds of me another book(The Distance Between Lost and Found) that I really enjoyed.

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Book Review: The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: August 17th 2017

3.5 stars

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.
Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.
When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

This book had made its way on to my must read list a while ago and once I had it in my hands, it didn’t take me long to settle in to read it. I really enjoyed the friendships, family dynamics, the relationship between Bee and Levi, and the whole concept of The Color Project. It’s the type of book that can make the reader want to go out and get involved the way these characters did. I also really liked all the scenes that involved Bee at her job at a florist’s, especially once she began designing her own arrangements.

Beatrice, Bee, was the second oldest in a family of four and I found she was a very easy character to relate to. When she found a project she believed in, she threw herself into it, like with The Color Project. She loved her family, sometimes they could annoy her, but when they needed to pull together or comfort each other, they were there. She had some great friendships with Gretchen, her best friend who had recently moved, with some of her brother’s friends, and new friendships with some of the workers at The Color Project. She went by her nickname, Bee, instead of her full name and only a few people even knew her full name. I liked that Levi made a game out of guessing her name. It was cute and playful.

The relationship between Bee and Levi was a huge part of the story so I was glad I enjoyed it. There was an immediately attraction and interest between them but it was a slow developing relationship. They were good for each other and I thought it was a believable relationship with the issues that ended up appearing, like the big one from the synopsis with Bee not wanting to reveal her full name. There were times when I wanted to yell at them to just talk to each other and to actually listen to what the other was saying, but it showed that as cute as they were together, they were not immune to having problems in their relationship.

There was a few times the book felt a little long. From the synopsis, I knew there would be an illness in Bee’s family but it seemed to take forever for it to be revealed. I think I was about halfway through the book before that storyline took place. It did make me feel like the story was dragged out a bit, even with all the cute interactions between characters(which I am always a fan of). I did find the plot easy to predict but the character dynamics did their best to make up for it.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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There’s Someone Inside Your House

Release Date: September 26th 2017

4 stars

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

This book was definitely a complete turn-around from the themes of Anna and the French Kiss and its companions. Is it wrong to call a book full of horror and gore a fun read? This book gave me the same kind of feelings I get when I am all comfortable, wrapped in a blanket with popcorn, waiting for a horror movie to start. I know I’ll probably be creeped out and wonder why I chose to do that to myself but I’m excited anyway.

Makani was the new girl in a small town, sent to live with her grandmother by her divorcing parents. She was escaping an incident back home and was hoping to hide her past from her new classmates. When the attacks started to happen, I could see why she feared it was linked to her past even before it was revealed what had happened back then. I liked the romance she had with Ollie, though it was pretty fast and got intense but it did provide a catalyst for some hilarious scenes between Makani and her grandmother.

This book was pitched as Scream meets YA and I can definitely agree with that. A lot of the murdered characters got little page time but still had little moments to make the reader feel when they died. The death scenes were gory but it was the smaller moments that were really creepy. There were still moments of friendship during the book as Makani tried to balance her new relationship with hanging out with her two friends.

It was an entertaining, creepy read and very different from Stephanie Perkins other books. I can’t wait to see what she has planned next

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Like Water

Like Water

Release date: October 1 2017

4 stars

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I started to read this book. I had an ARC of it and the cover caught my attention but I’d just glimpsed at the synopsis. It seemed interesting so it was the one that ended up getting picked from the TBR to read. It ended up being a very good, very relatable read. What I thought was going to be a pretty quick, light read turned into a very meaningful reading experience.

Savannah, or “Vanni”, was a girl who knew what she wanted from life. She had a plan to get out of her small town and make a life for herself that wouldn’t have her coming back to her hometown in a few years like most people who left. Her plans were derailed when her father got sick and she pushed away her friends, not wanting their presence to remind her of the future she thought was now out of her reach. When she met a new boy and his sister, she began to rediscover herself. She ended up with a new job and new feelings.

I loved the relationship between Vanni and Leigh. Both girls were searching for something and found it in each other. Both of them needed the other in different ways and I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect in terms of no bumps in the road, but it was meaningful and great to read.

I really enjoyed the strong sense of family and community that flowed through the book as well. It was a huge part of who Vanni was and a huge part of her growth arc as she had to figure out where she fit into the world and her future. It made for a very character-driven plot and a much deeper book than I was anticipating. In a good way.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Click'd

Click’d

Release date: September 5th 2017

3.5 stars

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D.
Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?

I really loved Every Last Word, which dealt with the world of poetry, so I was really excited to see how Tamara Ireland Stone would handle the world of technology and apps. As this is a middle grade novel, I thought the author did a great job using the world of app development and the technology required in a way that felt realistic but without getting too detailed to overwhelm the reader. It was really great to see a middle grade book with a female character focused on coding and friendships. The writing was beautiful in a way I’ve come to expect for Tamara Ireland Stone and, while it was a short, quick read it still had a good message.

Allie was a young character, only twelve years old, so I thought it was understandable that she could be a little selfish and immature. She got caught up in the hype surrounding the app she designed and didn’t want to admit to her parents when there were glitches. Asking for help and taking responsibility for mistakes is a huge part of growing up and it was something Allie slowly did through the book.

I really liked the dynamics in the relationships Allie had with her friends, her parents, and her nemesis. The book was short so the turnaround between Allie and Nathan going from enemies to friends felt a little rushed and it would have been nice to see it fleshed out just a bit more, but overall it was really good.

I also liked the whole idea for the app. The scavenger hunt aspect of it sounded like a lot of fun and it’s always fun to find people you have something in common with and make new friends. The glitch in the app sounded like a legitimate problem that could easily happen, one that could end up being an app-killer if not solved. It also led to some good questions being raised about privacy on the internet and could create some good discussions.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

Art of Feeling

The Art of Feeling

Release date: August 15th 2017

3.5 stars

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.
But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.

This book ended up being a quicker read than I’d originally thought it would considering it was dealing with a family grieving and attempting to move on with their lives after the death of the mother of the family. It also dealt with a boy who couldn’t feel pain and how the teenage daughter from the family and the boy became friends. They were helping each other in ways no one else could. Both teens had interesting family dynamics. Both family fought quite often but they also very obviously did care about each other.

Sam was a likeable character. She struggled with the fact that she’d been in the car with her mother during the crash and has been unable to remember any details about the other car or person who took off. She’d pushed away all her friends during her time out of school right after the accident and was finding it hard to connect with them again when she returned. That led her to becoming friends with Eliot, who both intrigued and frustrated her with his lack of self-preservation. Their dynamics was really interesting and I loved seeing their friendship unfolding.

Sam’s family were all struggling with their grief in their own ways. Her father lost his soulmate, her brother was self-medicating his pain away, and her sister simply stayed away as much as she could. Eliot and his older brother had a very interesting dynamic. His older brother was his primary guarding because their parents were never around. Eliot resented his brother trying to be a parent and his older brother struggled with balancing letting Eliot have independence and making sure he was safe.

Other than these two characters’ developing friendship and Sam’s struggle with her grief, we had some side plots of Eliot being bullied, both of them caught up in being targeted by a childhood friend of Sam’s who was trying to rebuild his image as a tough drug dealer, and the mystery of who was in the other car that hit Sam and her mother. None of them felt too overwhelming and they all tied nicely into the main plot. I thought the author did a good job making sure everything connected.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

If there's no tomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened. For what she let happen. With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Jennifer L Armentrout has been a favourite author since I fell in love with the Lux series and as long as books like this one keep coming out, that isn’t going to change. It didn’t take long to get sucked into the plot, feel a connection to Lena, and just generally fall in love with this book.

Lena was a character I liked immediately. She started off pretty early talking about books so that is always a way for a character to win my heart. It was her senior year and she was looking forward the parties, volleyball games, and just having an epic last year before her group of friends graduated. When the tragedy alluded to in the synopsis happened, we saw Lena struggle with guilt and grief. It was hard to read but also very realistic. It was Lena’s struggle to move on and her grieving that was her story arc.

I really enjoyed Lena’s relationship with Sebastian. It was the familiar plot of best friends where one was in love with the other but they were still great together, either as friends or maybe one day more. I loved how supportive he was of her.

This was a very, very emotional book. It didn’t take long for the waterworks to start and once they did, they were impossible to stop. There was also laughter, the book wasn’t all darkness and sadness. I love when Jennifer L Armentrout’s characters are bookworms because they often read books that actually exist and it’s always fun to see them reading books that I also love.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Foolish Hearts

Foolish Hearts

Release date: December 26th 2017

Goodreads: A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Why I’m excited: I love Emma Mills and I love A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This could be a perfect match.

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Book Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine

This Darkness Mine

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved. But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all? Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

It’s hard for me to say that this was my least favourite of the Mindy McGinnis books that I’ve read because I did really enjoy it. It’s more that the other ones I read blew me away and this one didn’t quite live up to them. It still had the dark tone, twists, and great characters that I’ve come to expect from her, and I can’t say that I was disappointed in it, I just didn’t like it as much as her other books. Still liked it though.

Sasha was a very interesting character. She could definitely be described as a goody goody but also a mean girl. All that was thrown into question when she got a text from bad boy Isaac after she supposedly gave him her cell phone number but she remembered nothing of that. The plot took a turn to the dark and strange when we found out Sasha had a twin in the womb that she absorbed and this twin could take control of her body. It added a creepy vibe to the plot that made the book impossible to put down.

I really liked Isaac. Bad boy with a sweet side might be a cliché but it’s also a huge weakness of mine. I liked the supporting cast as well. It was Sasha’s story but they still had some great standout moments.

I loved how much the book made me second guess myself. Sasha was an unreliable narrator but I wanted to believe her. It was one that kept me second guessing to the end. I love when that happens. This is great for anyone looking for a creepy, twisty plot that will hopefully keep you guessing as well.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C Stevens

Dress Codes for Small Towns

Dress Codes for a Small Town

Release Date: August 29 2017

4 stars

The year I was seventeen, I had five best friends…and I was in love with all of them for different reasons. Billie McCaffrey is always starting things. Like couches constructed of newspapers and two-by-fours. Like costumes made of aluminum cans and Starburst wrappers. Like trouble. This year, however, trouble comes looking for her. Her best friends, a group she calls the Hexagon, have always been schemers. They scheme for kicks and giggles. What happens when you microwave a sock? They scheme to change their small town of Otters Holt, Kentucky, for the better. Why not campaign to save the annual Harvest Festival we love so much? They scheme because they need to scheme. How can we get the most unlikely candidate elected to the town’s highest honor? But when they start scheming about love, things go sideways. In Otters Holt, love has been defined only one way—girl and boy fall in love, get married, and buy a Buick, and there’s sex in there somewhere. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple. Can the Hexagon, her parents, and the town she calls home handle the real Billie McCaffrey?

I’ve read two previous books by Courtney C Stevens and they were great, some of my favourites. She writes amazing relationships and friendships and since this book seemed like it would focus on a group of friends, I had high hopes for some interesting dynamics between these characters. And they were definitely present, just not completely in the way I was expecting from the synopsis.

The main character was Billie, and we were mostly in her POV during the book. She was just starting to discover who she was, what she wanted, and it didn’t fit into her town’s usual ways. She already had to deal with a lot of judgment for the way she dressed and acted, and being the preacher’s daughter just added more judgment from the townspeople. Her group of friends, called the Hexagon, was her only safe place. We also got a little of Davey’s POV, the newest member of the Hexagon. He was sweet, complex, and it was interesting to see how different he was when he was with the Hexagon compared to his old group of friends.

The plot revolved heavily around self-discovery, the antics of the Hexagon, and the story of an epic summer. The Hexagons did cause some trouble but they also did some good. I could see why some people in the town thought they were a disturbance or delinquents but the kids just wanted to have fun. Their biggest problem was they didn’t always have the foresight to think about the consequences of their actions.

The book had a familiar feel to it, like hanging out with your own friends in the summer, creating adventures and trying to make memories. There wasn’t a whole lot of extra action, the plot was very character-driver, but when it’s Courtney C Stevens characters, that is not a bad thing at all.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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