Tag Archives: YA

REVIEW // “Hidden Gem” by India Lee

18 Apr

“Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem #1)
by India Lee

3.5 Stars

Hidden Gem is the story of Gemma, a teenage girl who, after spending the last year living the life of International teen pop star Queen Bee, has returned home to the good ol’ US of A to attend a public high school as herself.

Gemma thought being a pop star was tough, but that was before she developed a crush Lucas. The problem? Lucas is the boyfriend of Gemma’s new best friend Madison.

Can Gemma find a balance between her life as Queen Bee and Gemma? Will she have to sacrafice one for the other?

Overall I really liked this story. There were a few editing mishaps and at one point some “head hopping” that totally pulled me out of the story.

However, the good outweighted the bad. There was real conflict, what you expect to happen from the beginning doesn’t necessarily happen, and I liked that.

I think my favorite parts were the “news clippings” that preceeded some of the chapters. Little “articles” from the Internet or magazines about Queen Bee. They reminded me of the society pages clips before the chapters in The Luxe seires (by Anna Godbersen and Gossip Girl (though I never read the books, just watched the series.)

If you’re in for a fun, light read, give this one a shot. I’m already reading book two.

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REVIEW // “Play With Me” and “Ryan Hunter” by Anna Katmore

14 Apr

 Today I’m reviewing two books together because they are the same story, in separate books, told by each of the main characters.

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Play With Me by Anna Katmore

(Grover Beach Team #1)

5 Stars

If you are in the mood for a super sweet innocent romance, this is the book for you.

 

Liza Matthews has been in love with her best friend Tony Mitchell since forever. The summer between Sophomore and Junior year he comes home from soccer camp and to Liza’s utter dismay, begins spending time with a girl she dubs Barbie.

 

Enter Ryan Hunter. He’s the captain of that soccer team responsible for stealing away her quality time with Tony. Hunter is a playboy, a new girl every week but when he begins paying special attention to her she begins to wonder if she could actually love someone else.

 

Play With Me is a super fast read. I could not devour this book quick enough. Liza is so likable and Hunter is dreamy. My favorite scene involves a shot of tequila and some karaoke.

 

My only minor “issues” with this book are my moral qualms. There is quite a bit of underage drinking and specifically drinking after driving. The parents seem to let their kids do whatever the heck they want, for the most part. There were also a few typos/grammatical errors but considering I’m pretty sure the author is not a native English speaker I’m very impressed with the quality of this book.

 

None of my minor “issues” would prevent me from recommending this book to someone to read, though I wish there was some sort of disclaimer stating that the author doesn’t promote the underage drinking and so on. (Yes, this is the parent in me coming out!)

 

BONUS: The cover is adorable and fits the feel of the story perfectly.

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Ryan Hunter by Anna Katmore
(Grover Beach Team #2)

3 Stars

“Ryan Hunter” is the counterpart to “Play With Me” in that it’s the exact same story but from the guys POV. I love stories like this because I get to enjoy a story that I loved (if I didn’t love it I would’t bother reading the counterpart!)

This one I didn’t love as much though. I liked being able to see into Hunter’s head, but I couldn’t get over the fact that all he had on his mind at all times was sex. In “Play With Me” Hunter was mysterious and sexy. In “Ryan Hunter” he’s kind of sleazy. I was really glad I read “Play With Me” first because I’m not sure I would have read it had I read this one first.

As I said in my review of “Play With Me” I didn’t care for the underage drinking and basically bad moral behavior. There were also a few more grammar errors in this one than there were in the last. Not enough to pull me out of the story, but enough to remind me that the author is not a native English speaker. Honestly though, despite the few errors, I’m very impressed with her ability to write so fluently in her non-native tongue.

I’d say if you really want to find out what’s going on inside Hunter’s head you should read this. If you’d rather he stay mysterious and sexy stick with the first book and leave a little to the imagination.

…. I also don’t care for the cover as much. The blue text on the blue jeans just does not stand out enough to catch my interest.

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REVIEW: “Vampire Academy” MOVIE

6 Feb

I am a huge Vampire Academy fan (written by the beautiful Richelle Mead.)

When I learned they were making a movie I began following the production company’s Facebook page for the movie. Being able to follow the progress of the film was amazing. Watching the casting announcements come, the promo pics finally released and then the trailers. Not to mention contests mixed in.

Let’s talk about the trailers for a moment. A lot of fans were disappointed by the teaser trailer. They played up a lot of the vampire stereotypes and set it to some kick ass music. I didn’t mind the trailer but it left me wanting more.

Fast forward to the first real trailers. Now we’re talking. I thought they were fabulous. Rose is known for being very sarcastic and in your face and the trailers really played that up. But a lot of fans thought they had turned the film into a comedy. Trust me. It’s a supernatural high school movie packed with ACTION, DRAMA, ROMANCE and COMEDY. A good balance of all four.

Even when the darker more action packed trailers came forth they were still complaining. I guess you just can’t please everyone.

Well, thanks to my diligent following of the aforementioned Facebook page, I won preview passes to see the film tonight at the Mall of America. It was a longish drive for my BFF and me (about 40 minutes, maybe longer, thanks to lots of city traffic and multiple car accidents – not us!) But it was worth it.

The film opens up with Lissa (Lucy Fry) and Rose (Zoey Deutch) out in our world, just like the books. We’re introduced to what the Moroi are and what Dhampir’s are. Soon after we get to see a lot of action, it’s been a while since I last read the book, but I think more action than we saw in the book. We’re then introduced to the Strigoi. The introductions are similar to Cady’s introductions in Mean Girls, but not exactly the same.

At school we see all the drama that was in the book. There’s the mean girl – Mia (Sami Gayle) – who is dating Lissa’s ex-boyfriend and is out to make her life hell. There’s the mysterious dead animals that are turning up everywhere Lissa goes. Lissa begins hanging out with the boy Rose does not approve of. And, oh yeah, Rose begins lusting after her instructor.


I swear, the names Rose calls Mia here make sense! 

The movie is hilarious. Zoey did a brilliant job of channeling Rose’s essence and bringing her to life.

Sami, as Mia, made me both hate her and feel sorry for her.

Christian (Dominic Sherwood) is dark and brooding and totally hot. The chemistry between Dominic and Lucy was great.

Lucy, as Lissa, was classy and regal, just as she should be. I think they glossed over some of her darker issues that were in the book, explaining it away in under a minute and casually mentioning it again (those who read the books should know what I’m talking about! Those who have not, I’m trying not to spoil it!)

Dimitri (Danilia Kozlovsky) was not quite as stoic as I’d hoped he’d be. He and Rose had good chemistry as well, though I think Lissa and Christian win in the chemistry department. Dimitri and Rose have some steamy scenes. And also very comical scenes together.

Natalie (Sarah Hyland) was hilarious as well. So dorky. So adorable. I don’t recall in the books her having much personality, she just kinda hung around. In the film she absolutely has personality. She even has a crush on another Moroi that I don’t remember being in the book, but that I absolutely loved in the film.

The action in this movie is awesome. The scenes were very cool. Dimitri really showed everyone what a “god” he really is when it comes to destroying Strigoi.

The one element of the books that could have turned out terrible in a movie translation is the fact that Lissa and Rose are spirit bound. This means that Rose will pop into Lissa’s head randomly. This worked great in the book to tell Rose’s POV, but also glimpse into what Lissa was up to. In the film they did this by giving Rose really cool gold eyes and a vacant stare. While in Lissa’s head she would talk to/at Lissa as though Lissa could hear her, though the bond only works one way. Those were some of my favorite scenes. Very nicely done.

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy

Basically, I think if you love the books you’re going to really like the movie. The changes made were minimal, that I can remember. None of the changes affect the plot/outcome. I was actually surprised that, with as many subplots as there were, they pretty much all made it into the book.

If you haven’t read the books, I think they did a good job of explaining what’s going on without dragging it on. It was fast paced.

And best of all? The end sequence sets this up PERFECTLY for the sequel, “Frostbite” to be made!

So, do us all a favor and go see the film opening day! (Friday February 7, 2014)

REVIEW // “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth

2 Feb

“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3)

“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth
3 Stars “I Liked It”
Young Adult Dystopian

When I recommend books to friends, the Divergent series makes the cut, but it’s not at the top of the list. From the beginning the main problem I had with the series was the ridiculous society that Tris, Four and the gang live in. A world where people are divided by factions? With the Divergent —able to be intelligent, selfless, brave, etc all at once— being the odd ones out? It just didn’t make sense.

Allegiant brings us closure to the trilogy, and answers as to how and why the world got to the point of separating individuals by faction. We pick up where Insurgent left off, with Tris, Christina and the rest of the gang (sans Tobias) in lockup for revealing the Edith Prior video to their entire city. Tobias’ mother has taken charge and is putting them on trial for treason. Blah blah, stuff happens, ultimately, they leave the city and discover what lays beyond Chicago and the Factions.

The story is full of emotions, I’m not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby at the end. Tobias discovers things about himself that make him question who he is, resulting in some poor choices. Tris, as always, stays true to her beliefs but realizes that when you love someone, you love them entirely, faults and all.

The back cover of the book proclaims “ONE CHOICE” all over and that is the central theme. One choice can make the difference between life and death, love and betrayal. One choice can change your entire world. And in the end, one choice did change their entire world.

While reading Allegiant I noticed the very matter of fact, staccato way the book was written. Both from Tris and Tobias’s POV’s. I can’t remember if the other books were that way but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I suppose I prefer more “flowery” text versus this very sterile writing style.

While this book, and series, is not one I’ll probably re-read, it is one that I’m glad I read. It was a book that at 500 odd pages I managed to devour in about six days. And I am by no means a quick reader.

When it comes to rating this book in stars, I have to go with dead center, 3 stars. I didn’t dislike the book, but I didn’t love it. Books with endings like this just leave me unsure how to feel. So…. 3 stars it is.

REVIEW // “Bloodmark” by Aurora Whittet

11 Dec

It’s mid-December and the holidays are quickly approaching!

By some miracle I survived November. I even have 50,000 words to a novel to show for it! Despite “winning” NaNoWriMo, my novel is not finished. I see that as a good thing though, 50,000 words novels for me are typically not long enough. I know I have many places to go back and add details, change things, work on my characterizations, but I’ll save that for after the New Year!

In other news, I’m still up to my eyeballs going through the backlog of submissions for the YA publishing company I work for. Who know acquisitions would be such hard work! I’ve closed the doors to new submissions until I can get caught up, hopefully by mid January, if not sooner.

I did however, find the time to read a book for pleasure. The following review I received a request for in my email and it sounded like my kind of book. Once NaNoWriMo ended I dived right in!

“Bloodmark” by Aurora Whittet

3 Stars “I Liked It”
Young Adult Paranormal Romance

“Bloodmark” is the first in the Boodmark Saga by author Aurora Whittet and follows the story of a young Irish werewolf princess named Ashling.

From the start I liked the character Ashling. She has lived a life sheltered by her mother and brother. From a young age she is sent away from her fathers territory and, unlike all other werewolves, she is not branded at birth with the Bloodmark of her pack. Due to her abnormal upbringing, she doesn’t really play by the rules. In Ashling’s world women are subordinate to the men. Because the werewolves don’t age like humans, many of them are thousands of years old and refuse to change with the time. Having grown up away from most of her pack, Ashling was able to grow up with the freedom to think for herself.

Despite liking Ashling’s character, I had a hard time getting into the story. It wasn’t until Ashling was sent away yet again, this time to America, that I started to get into the story. The character Grey is introduced and immediately he and Ashling hit it off. To be honest, I found the beginning of their romance too quick and cheesy for me. I have a hard time buying into Insta-Love, and that’s what they had.

The end of the story did bring me around again. I loved the ending and it leaves the door open for book two, “Bloodrealms.” This book has a satisfying ending in my opinion, but I really do want to find out what happens next.

Now, this book did have its flaws. I felt some of the characters lacked consistency. Also, the story is told from Ashling’s POV and yet she tells us visual things that she can’t possibly know. Additionally, there was at least one dream sequence that came out of nowhere and there was no real segue out of it, leaving me confused and trying to figure out what I missed.

The two other things that I wished were different was calling Ashling’s species “Werewolf.” I wish they had some other name because they’re not true werewolves that change only on the full moon. I’d compare them more closely to the “werewolves” in the Twilight Saga, although the moon does play some role in the Bloodmark werewolf lore. The other thing being the “Bloodsuckers” — the enemies of the werewolves. The name implies vampires, which they’re not, but they sort of are. I just wish they had a different name because I totally rolled my eyes when I came to these villains in the book.

I also don’t care much for the cover. To me it doesn’t scream YA, I feel it would fit an adult novel a little more. It’s nice, it just doesn’t do it for me.

Overall I think that Ms. Whittet is a promising writer with a good story on her hands. If you can look over some of the inconsistencies and Insta-Love I think you’ll enjoy this young adult werewolf romance.

** A copy of this book was provided by the author free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

*** Fun fact – the author of this book is from Minnesota, just like me!

 

REVIEW ~ The Lying Game (#1) by Sara Shepard

4 Sep

“The Lying Game” by Sara Shepard

4 Stars  “I Really Liked It”

Cover Art: I like it. It’s simple, somewhat mysterious and interesting. Not the coolest cover I’ve ever seen, but definitely eye catching. I like that the whole series follows the same trend with the same girl.

The Lying Game is not necessarily a very well written or in depth book… but it is highly addictive.

I honestly didn’t expect to really like this book. I had seen part of, if not the whole, pilot episode of the TV series and did not particularly care for it. Now however, I think I may need to give it another shot!

Emma Paxton was a foster kid, stuck in the system after being abandoned by her mother. After happening upon a video of a girl on the internet who looks exactly like her, she sets out to find the twin sister she never knew existed. She contacts the girl in the video, Sutton Mercer, via Facebook and receives a message telling her to meet her. Emma hops on the first bus out of town, ready for her new life to begin.

What Emma doesn’t expect is to become trapped as a replacement for her Sutton, who has mysteriously gone missing – except nobody believes Emma, after all, who would believe a girl with a police record a mile long? A girl who founded a secret club called The Lying Game.
To make things worse, Emma receives threatening notes telling her she’d better keep up the act or she’s in for it.

I can’t really relate to any of the characters in this book, and normally, that pulls me right out, but The Lying Game kept me booked. Sutton and her friends are those evil girls in school that you can’t turn your back on. They pull pranks and drink and party and are just not the kind of people I would hang out with. However, Emma is not at all like those girls so watching her take Sutton’s place in life and having to act just like Sutton is quite the adventure.

I got this ebook from the library and as soon as I finished, I checked the ebook of the second book in the series, “Never Have I Ever” which I actually liked MORE! (Review on that one coming very soon.)

I highly recommend this series.