Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: The Prince's Ex

Title The Prince's Ex

Author Nadene Seiters

Release Date April 30, 2014

Amelia Radley thought she had it all when she met a man in a bar and he ended up being royalty. Their love affair was anything but boring, and yet he dumped her almost exactly a year after asking her out to their first dinner date. While the wound was deep and fresh thirty days after their separation, she picked up the morning paper only to see that the man she thought she loved had already become engaged to another woman.

Her best friend, Tina, suggests the only thing she knows would make her feel better. Amelia should start dating any man she meets that she likes so that she can get over her ex. The idea is ludicrous, and yet Amelia agrees to a date with a man she has never met before. All the while, she considers herself nothing more than the prince’s ex, a woman who could not hold the affections of every woman’s dream.

When she finds love in an unexpected place, it’s challenged by the past and the future looks rocky. Amelia’s insecurities might get in the way of her finding true love, in more ways than one.

While the story had its interesting parts, the characters made the book more enjoyable for me than the actual storyline.

As for the characters, they were pretty interesting. There's Amelia. I have such mixed emotions about her, but overall I think it's safe to say that I liked her. I can't count how many times I wanted to shake her, but I realize that she's a typical woman. She's confusing (I'm not even sure she knows what she wants!), she's insecure, but above all she's relatable. I think lots of women can understand her. She wants to find someone to spend her life with, but she isn't exactly sure what she needs in a significant other. Then, there's Tina. She's the BFF and the polar opposite of Amelia. I enjoyed her character a lot and I wish we would have seen more of her. And of course, we've got the love interest. I adored him and I like that he brought his own baggage to their relationship. After all, we all have some. There's other characters that really brought life to the story, but I don't want to spoil anything.

The story was a pretty typical romance, but a few different elements thrown in to make it different than all the others. I think I would have liked to explore more of Amelia's relationship with the Prince, so it was a little disappointing that we were thrown into the story after it had ended. Other than that, really, I don't really have much to add about the story. It was sweet and had its funny moments. I would recommend this one for those that really enjoy HEA romances.


3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: Five Ways to Fall

Title Five Ways to Fall

Series Ten Tiny Breaths, book 4

Author K. A. Tucker

Release Date June 24, 2014

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

I will admit that since I've been reading the Ten Tiny Breaths series, I haven't really had a desire to read Ben's story. However, after reading it, I'm so glad it was written. In fact, this may very well be my favorite book of the series. The humor is what did it for me. While there may have been funny parts in the other books, this book had it in spades. And I loved it!

First, there's Ben. He's handsome and cocky. He's unapologetic about his ways. He's a great guy, though. He's a good friend and he's got love to give. Then, there's Reese. She's wild and a little bit crazy. She's unapologetic about her ways. She's perfect for Ben. Together, they were witty and funny. And full of sexual tension! It was a delight to watch these two come together.

K. A. Tucker stated at the end of the book that this is the last planned book of the series. While that's sad (I could think of a couple of characters that I'd like more insight into), I'm looking forward to reading other things by her.


5 out of 5 stars

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: Brutal Youth

Title Brutal Youth

Author Anthony Breznican

Release Date June 10, 2014

Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

As I was reading the prologue, I wasn't sure if picking up this book was my smartest idea. When I'm doubting whether or not I'll enjoy a book so early, it's normally a bad sign. I decided to give it a couple of more chapters before I gave up. Whenever I read a couple of more chapters, I was hooked. Brutal Youth ended up being so much better than the prologue wanted me to believe.

Brutal Youth is extremely well written. The flawed (very much so in some cases) and complex characters are freshmen and seniors making their way through a year in high school while dealing with bullying and abuse. I believe this book strongly illustrates just how out of control bullying can become whenever no one steps in to stop it or, in some cases, is "encouraged" by teachers or others in charge in the name of tradition. People can be unrelenting in the bullying and abuse with no regard to how their impacting someone's life. It's harsh and can, at times, be tough to read, but it's done wonderfully here.


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: Orange is the New Black

Title Orange is the New Black

Author Piper Kerman

Release Date April 6, 2010

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

I'm a big fan of the show Orange is the New Black. It wasn't until halfway through the second season of the Netflix original series that I decided to read the book.

Orange is the New Black is a memoir. It's a well-written and straightforward account of Piper Kerman's 15 month sentence in federal prison. Though there are similarities between the book and the series on Netflix, they are certainly different. You shouldn't pick up this memoir simply because you enjoyed the series. If that's your only reason for reading this book, you may find yourself disappointed. The show has taken liberties with the story and has more entertainment value whereas the book is simply Kerman's experiences. (I am not saying that one is better than the other, but that they are both good in their own respective mediums.) However, if you're interested in reading about a woman's stay in prison, you might enjoy this memoir.


4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: Graduation Day

Title Graduation Day

Series The Testing, book 3

Author Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date June 17, 2014

In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can't do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for - but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves--and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope--in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau's epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it's Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

Graduation Day is the (mostly, around 90%) satisfying conclusion to The Testing trilogy.

This was the strong finish I was hoping for after feeling somewhat disappointed in the second book. Throughout the book, I felt satisfied and engaged in the story. This story was much more fast paced and action filled than the second story. I actually felt like things were happening and it certainly reminded me of why I decided to stick with the trilogy after reading the first book.

The only real issue I had with the book was the last "big" scene (don't want to spoil things). I felt like it was somewhat rushed and glazed over rather than fully explained. While I understand the reasoning behind this (time is of the essence), I wanted to know more. I wanted answers! I guess things were written this way to be more open to interpretation, but sometimes I don't want interpretation. I want definitive answers. Oh well.

Overall, I have really enjoyed The Testing trilogy. I would recommend it to those that enjoy YA dystopian series.


4 out of 5 stars

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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Review: Remember Me

Title Remember Me

Author Melanie Batchelor

Release Date May 13, 2014

Jamie Richards has lost a lot. Her father died four years ago and her mother is consumed by her career. Jamie finds an escape through her artistic passion and her first love—the one person who hasn’t abandoned her, Erica Sinclair.

Overwhelmed by their own harsh realities, Jamie and Erica create a world of their own in an abandoned park—a place they call “Wonderland.” Jamie idolizes Erica until the two grow closer, and she realizes that her ideal image of Erica is nothing shy of fiction. When cracks beneath the exterior become more prevalent, Jamie begins to question the love she thought she had for Erica, and if that love was ever reciprocated.

And then it happens. A shocking event occurs that changes Jamie and Erica’s relationship forever. Jamie knows that there’s no escaping this reality—she’ll have to find a way to move forward without hiding behind her sketchbook.

I have no problem with books written in verse. In fact, Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite authors and she writes her novels primarily (always?) in verse. However, as strange as it may seem, I like to know that a book is written in verse before I start it. It's one of those weird things I don't enjoy being surprised with. The reason I'm bringing this up should be obvious, but in case it isn't, Remember Me is written in verse.

Though well written, this is a very short book (reading time was less than half an hour). I believe Remember Me falls victim to those problems that many other verse novels encounter. It's a very restricted way to tell a story and develop characters. I had a pretty good idea with where the book was headed and I ended up being correct. Even when it was all over, I didn't feel much. Considering the length and, likely, style of writing I didn't feel connected to the characters enough to have any sort of emotional reaction.

Overall, it was a well written story and it was good for what it was. I believe Melanie Batchelor potential and would like to see how she does in something longer and not written in verse.


3 out of 5 stars

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: 13:24 - A Story of Faith and Obsession

Title 13:24 - A Story of Faith and Obsession

Author M. Dolon Hickmon

Release Date March 25, 2014

A teenager named Chris knocks on the door of his mother’s ex-boyfriend—then shoots the man dead in premeditated fashion. Hours later, an officer responding to a loud music complaint discovers a second body surrounded by a gruesome scene. With few clues to explain ‘why’, blame for the crimes settles on Chris’s obsession with the dark and violent rock band, Rehoboam. Reporters broadcast this speculation under sensational headlines, but detective William Hursel is convinced there is a deeper motive. Trailing Chris, William uncovers an underworld where human traffickers ply the wealthy with unseemly indulgences.

Meanwhile, Rehoboam’s lead singer, Josh, thinks he may finally be ready to take the next step in his relationship with the band’s fiery female drummer. But when news of Chris’s crime spree triggers flashbacks of a harsh, fundamentalist upbringing, Josh finds his career and his romance unexpectedly interrupted. Linked to the widening criminal investigation by his cryptic responses to Chris's fan club letters, Josh must eventually choose between clearing his name and keeping the secrets of his past.

Sometimes, reviews are hard to write. It doesn't matter how much you like a book, it can be difficult to effectively express how a book made you feel. This is one of those books.

First, this book is well written. The story is told in both the past and present. It required a little more attention to remember what was happening when, but it certainly wasn't a big deal. At first it was a little jarring to jump, rather suddenly, from present to past back to present again. However, the jumps weave together perfectly to tell an intense story. Throughout the story, we meet different characters that really come to life. The characters make this disturbing book even more realistic.

Second, this book isn't for everyone. It's subject matter is disturbing and violent (done well and never over the top). Truthfully, even after reading the blurb and watching the book trailer, I wasn't exactly prepared for some of the things I read. In my case, though, I think that added to my overall enjoyment of the book.

I'm glad I took a chance and read this book. I enjoyed it and I'm sure the story will stick with me for some time.


5 out of 5 stars

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