Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: The Testing

Title The Testing

Series The Testing, book 1

Author Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date June 4, 2013

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

If you've read any other reviews about The Testing, you've probably already heard the comparison between it and The Hunger Games trilogy. It was one of the very first things I heard about it. "If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll like The Testing." Well, I like The Hunger Games, but I didn't think it was fair to try to compare this book to it. It's bound to happen, though. There's so many similarities that it would be hard not to compare the two. While there are similarities between the two, there are enough differences between the two that it doesn't seem like you are reading the same story over again with different names and whatnot. I'll say I agree with the statement, though. If you liked The Hunger Games trilogy, there's a very good chance you'll enjoy The Testing. I know I did.

I felt like the first few chapters moved a bit slowly. Since they are building up some of the background to the good stuff, I don't feel like it really brings the story down. Once the story picks up, a few chapters in, it doesn't stop. When the story picked up for me, the book was really hard to put down. It sucked me in and didn't let me go, even when the book ended (mostly because the story isn't over). I'm really looking forward to reading the next book and finding out more about The Testing.


5 out of 5 stars

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.*

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review: Redemption

Title Redemption

Series The Bet, book 2

Author Francette Phal

Release Date December 20, 2012

Ellie Holbrook has endured a lot in her short life, but after so many years of heart break, she’s set to get her happily ever after and Devlin Westport, her boyfriend of three years, is just the man to give it to her. Fate, however quickly intervenes when the man who shattered her heart so completely ten years ago comes back into her life. But the worst of it comes when Nicholas finally discovers the two little secrets Ellie kept from him all these years. All hell breaks loose soon after that and it’s all Ellie can do to safeguard her heart against heart break once again.

Ruthless business magnate Nicholas Grayson has sacrificed everything to amass his global empire. Seated at the very top, poised at the helm of his corporation nothing can possibly touch him. That is until he learns the truth about the twin children Ellie kept from him. But just when he shakes off the astonishment and works on integrating himself into their lives, an enemy from both Ellie and Nicholas’s past brutally rips his children away from them.

A race against time will yield devastating events and Nicholas and Ellie must rely on each other to save their children.

I hoped and prayed that Redemption had seen an editor. Sadly, it was much like the first book. There were grammatical and spelling errors everywhere.

When I reviewed the first book, Beautiful Disaster, I had a hard time. I started the review thinking that I was going to give it rave review. The more I thought about it, though, the less that made sense. Now, after reading Redemption I have no idea why I ever thought Beautiful Disaster deserved rave reviews.

Besides the editing issues, the story just... I don't even know what. There's more going on in this book than there was in the first book. It felt messy and ridiculous. It seems like Phal just threw different story lines into the book to make it longer. Nothing tied together nicely.

I didn't like the characters this time around. While I wasn't too fond of them in the first book, I liked them even less in this book. I didn't care about them and I didn't really understand the craziness. The biggest disappointment for me was Nicholas 10 years later. Ellie wasn't much better. The only character that I ended up liking was Maddie. I liked her transformation into a more confident and happy woman. Everyone else was just nonsense.

There's much more sex in this book. While I was hesitant to call Beautiful Disaster erotica, there's no hesitation here.

After everything is said and done, I feel like I've wasted my time reading both of these books. They are both just a hot mess. My previous review of Beautiful Disaster had to have been influenced by... I don't know what. I do know that I wouldn't rate it as highly now as I did then. I doubt that I'll be reading any more of Phal's work, especially if she doesn't invest in an editor or at least let some beta readers help her with editing.


2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster

Title Beautiful Disaster

Series The Bet, book 1

Author Francette Phal

Release Date October 20, 2012

They created the game but eighteen year old Nicholas Grayson mastered the rules.

They are young and entitled and utterly bored with their lives, so they play games to entertain themselves. They call it the “bet” and new girl Ellie Holbrook is their latest target. Ellie is not the kind of girl Nicholas dates, but she is pretty enough to be his next conquest and so he sets out to seduce her and claim a nice little prize at the end. But her seduction proves difficult when she openly rejects his advances. In his dogged pursuit of her he slowly finds himself in her small circle of trusted friends and meets her two year old daughter, Sophie.

Life takes a startling turn for Nicholas when he realizes his happiness now lies with the young mother and her daughter. Falling in love with Ellie isn’t something Nicholas ever thought could happen to him and he’s completely frightened at how fiercely she makes him feel. But before he can further examine those emotions and clearly process them, enemies from Nicholas’s personal circle of friends conspire to tear them apart and he must now decide whether their love is worth saving or allow his friends to take away the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him.

First off,  I want to say that it's a shame that such a good book had so many grammatical/spelling errors. I'm not sure Beautiful Disaster ever saw an editor. With that being said, I still enjoyed the book and I'll read the sequel (here's to hoping that one is better edited).

When I sat down to start this review, I was sure that I was going to give it a rave review. Now that I'm writing it, I'm not so sure. There was so much going on in the book that it bordered on too much. I did like the book, though. I might not be 100% sure why, but I did like it.

Beautiful Disaster is a real page turner. I was hooked from the very beginning. It was a fun and emotional roller coaster. There was even a little bit of sexy time in the book (not enough for me to consider it erotica, but some might).

There's also some things that I just didn't like. It just really bothers me whenever we're presented with supposedly smart characters that do incredibly dumb things. Ellie is supposed to be a smart girl, right? She's been through so much with having a child and all. Well, why in the hell didn't she insist on Nicky using a condom?! Doesn't she know how that first baby happened? Even better, Nicky apparently doesn't use a condom with any of his conquests. Ew ew ew. Gross. I also had a few other problems, but I don't want to spoil anything. I will say they were problems with Gabe being too overprotective and Nicky's Dad. Like I said before, it bordered on too much for one book.

In general, I liked the book and I plan on reading the sequel.


3.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: White Trash Beautiful

Title White Trash Beautiful

Series White Trash Trilogy, book 1

Author Teresa Mummert

Release Date September 29, 2012 (First Edition), July 9, 2013 (Expanded Edition)

First in a stunning new trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Teresa Mummert.

“I’m not naive. I know I don’t get the happily ever after. My knight in shining armor took the highway detour around this god forsaken shit hole. I’ve made peace with that. That doesn’t mean I’m going to lay down like a doormat and let every cocky prick in the trailer park have his way with me.”

Cass lives a depressing life in a small trailer park in Eddington, Georgia, with her mother and abusive boyfriend Jackson. She works hard to barely make ends meet. But everything changes when Tucker White, the lead singer in the band Damaged, walks into her diner. He tries to show her that there is more to life than the hand she has been dealt, but Cass soon learns that being with Tucker will come at a high price.

This review is of the (currently) unpublished expanded edition.

I've found that the more I enjoy a book, the harder it is for me to review. I might have mentioned this once (or twice) before. White Trash Beautiful is no exception. I really liked this book.

Mummert's characters really come to life. Out of all of the characters I've read about recently, Cass has to be at the top of my favorites list. I liked that even though her life wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, she wasn't willing to lie down and accept it. She was working and fighting for a better life for her and her mother. While I didn't like Jax, his character was done wonderfully. Another character that I enjoyed, though I didn't at first, was Larry. One character that I didn't connect with very much, though, was Tucker. Even though he's a main character, I didn't feel much of anything for him. While I absolutely loved that he wanted to protect and care for Cass, I didn't see how he fell in love with her. There wasn't ever a defining moment. It felt weird for me.

The story was pretty good. The pacing was nice up until the last few chapters. The ending felt very rushed. Since it's the first book in the trilogy, I don't understand why the ending was so rushed. I believe it would have made more sense to keep up the initial smooth pacing and either make the book longer or just continue the story on in the second book. Other than the rushed ending, I liked the story and I cannot wait for the second book in the trilogy.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: The Children's Story: A Novel, Not for Children

Title The Children's Story: A Novel, Not for Children

Author Robert A. Krueger

Release Date October 22, 2012

One morning young teen sisters decide to go for a walk, not realizing that this outing will change them forever. They become trapped in a strange land where the outrageous and bizarre seem normal. They only wish to find their way home; but this journey, which is not of their choosing, has a different purpose or so it seems as they are forced on their way. The people and animals they meet are outlandish or eccentric or sometimes normal. Each has a lesson to teach or perhaps not. They are bombarded with sense and with nonsense that may or may not be nonsense. In their minds, they fight to remain children, but they are neither child nor adult. Deep inside the sisters progressively understand that there is a purpose to their journey and that it has to do with good and evil. But they are neither free from torment nor from the absurd. They must overcome the temptation of evil if, in fact, they can recognize it.

Interwoven with the sisters' story are other tales of good and of the arrogance and depravity of evil (as in the Holocaust). Allegorically, this is everyone's journey and everyone's story.

This was such a strange book.

First off, the writing style is very unlike anything else I've read before. The closest I can compare it to would be Alice in Wonderland (though I've never read Alice, I have seen the movies). I assume that the reader will either love the style or hate it. I don't see much of a grey area here. That being said, I'm not sure which side I fall on. In the nonsensical portions of the story (those involving the sisters), I wasn't favorable of the style. However, during the realistic portions of the story, I enjoyed it more.

In the beginning, I felt like I was reading two separate books squished into one. I couldn't see how the two stories were related at all. I was rather confused and I wasn't sure I even wanted to finish the book. I felt like it might be a little too strange for me. As the book progressed, though, the stories meshed together and made more sense.

If you enjoy strange and interesting books, this might be the book for you. The Children's Story blends reality and non-reality smoothly to provide an enjoyably odd story.


3.5 out of 5 stars

* This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Review: The S-Word

Title The S-Word

Author Chelsea Pitcher

Release Date May 7, 2013

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

The writing in The S-Word is unfocused and all over the place. There were far too many "big issues" crammed into one book.
In another book, these issues might be able to flow nicely together, but in The S-Word it felt like the author was just trying to cram them all into one book. The entire book was sloppy and poorly put together.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to recommend this book to anyone. The only reason I even finished it was because my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know who was responsible for the graffiti on Lizzie's locker.


1 out of 5 stars

* This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *