Saturday, June 25, 2016

Book Review: Only Ever Yours

Title Only Ever Yours
Author Louise O'Neill
Release Date May 12, 2015

Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O'Neill's world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called "eves") are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. freida and isabel are best friends. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions--wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives--life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)--are too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty--her only asset--in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. freida must fight for her future--even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22716613-only-ever-yours
Review

This is a difficult book to talk about. Forgive me if I don't make much sense.

On the one hand, Only Ever Yours kept me steadily engrossed. I needed to know what happened. It took some strength on my part not to give in and look up spoilers.

On the other hand, I just don't know if I liked it. Sure, the writing was interesting, but I feel somewhat indifferent towards the story. There was plenty of aspects that I enjoyed, but overall I was left feeling a bit disappointed. I'd like to point out that my indifference wasn't about how women were treated in the book. Though disturbing in many ways, I actually found that to be quite interesting. My indifference comes from (I think, it's hard to tell, really) the ending.

Other than an ending, I had another big issue with Only Ever Yours. In a dystopian, I'd like to know how things got to the point that they are in the book. I really feel like world building in these sorts of books is important. While the lack of world building can be explained away since the book is in freida's point of view (lack of proper education as well as being cut off from the outside world), it doesn't work for me. It feels like an excuse to not expand on, what I consider, an important topic. Surely even the eves would know what has happened to bring the world to the point it's at.

I totally get the negative reviews. I totally get the positive reviews. I can clearly see both sides. On that note, I'm not sure I can recommend Only Ever Yours, but I'm also not sure I can say you should stay away. I will say, this is a really unique book. I'm glad to have read it.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#8)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because everyone loves a good list, don't they? We love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Top Ten 2016 Releases So Far


In no particular order...





Click on each cover to go to the Goodreads page for that book.

What are your top ten books in 2016 so far? Leave your TTT in the comments below and I'll be sure to visit. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Book Review: Look Both Ways

Title Look Both Ways
Author Alison Cherry
Release Date June 4, 2016

The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21825761-look-both-ways
Review

Look Both Ways ended up being nothing like what I thought it was going to be. This was highly disappointing for me. Thus, we have the mediocre rating.


The blurb and the cover lead you to believe that the book is about a girl falling in love with another girl. That is what I signed up for. That is the book that I wanted to read. That is not the book that I got.

We've got Brooklyn. She's never been with a girl before, but she seems open to dating one (or at the very least dating Zoe). Then there's Zoe. She's bisexual and claims to be in an open relationship with her boyfriend. This possibly ends up being a lie, which then means Zoe is cheating on her boyfriend. Hello cheating bisexual cliche. It's wonderful to see you here. /sarcasm

Brooklyn and Zoe like one another. They form a sort-of relationship. The girls make out and even tell one another they love each other. This is the girl/girl relationship I was hoping for! All good right? Except no. Brooklyn likes kissing Zoe, but that's it. She doesn't want more. I absolutely believe Brooklyn is entitled to make that decision. I'm all about being in control of your own body. Your partner should always respect your boundaries. Zoe being pushy certainly was a turn off and definitely made me like her less.

Brooklyn obviously isn't feeling Zoe like she previously thought. It happens. It wasn't what I thought was going to happen, but whatever. They break up, understandably. I'm still bitter, though. I really wanted my happy ending.

The final disappointment was Russell liking Brooklyn. She's never thought of him that way before (after all, her entire summer was spent pining after Zoe). Fine. Leave it at that. Just because she's not into girls or Zoe (whichever) doesn't mean she needs to automatically have a male love interest. That could have been left out of the book all together and I would have enjoyed it more. Yes, I know they didn't get together at the end, but it's an option that's left open for the future.

Rating

2 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review: Desperately Seeking Epic

Title Desperately Seeking Epic
Author B. N. Toler
Release Date March 23, 2016

Paul James loved Clara Bateman.
Hating her would have been easier.
She was the past, and he was hell-bent on keeping her there.
Or so he thought...

Craigslist Ad: DESPERATELY SEEKING EPIC

You’re my father.
I don’t know much about you. I know your name is Paul James, you’re a thrill seeker, and once upon a time you did stunts and people called you ‘Epic.’
I’ve been told you don’t know about me. That it’s complicated.
But for me it’s simple.
Here’s the thing: I’m twelve years old…and I’m dying.
And as much as this could crush my mother, I have to meet you before I go.
In time, I’m sure she’ll understand. She’s still in love with you.
So, Epic, if you read this, please come back. You don’t have to be my dad. You don’t even have to tell me you love me or you’re sorry. Just come see me.

Patiently waiting, but running out of time,

Neena
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28943693-desperately-seeking-epic
Review

Desperately Seeking Epic was a truly emotional story. It was the right mix of heartbreaking and heartwarming. Life, love, friendship, happiness, death... it's all covered here. And yes, of course I cried.

I absolutely loved how the story was set up. We got the current story line as well as seeing Clara and Paul's past together. Seeing it from both of their perspectives was exactly what the story needed.

These characters were absolutely great. Clara was a wonderful heroine. She was a fierce and loving mother. Paul was a pleasant surprise. Neena was a wonderful and strong girl. She brought so much life to the story. I loved that her story line didn't fade into the background among the romance in the story. Also, Marcus! I loved him. I really think he deserves major props for his role in the story.

Great book that I definitely recommend.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Ceruleans Print Party (Giveaway)

Now available in paperback!


Buy Links


Author Bio

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in the village of Standish, Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

Links

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Giveaway

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Review: Frayed

Title Frayed
Author Kara Terzis
Release Date June 7, 2016

Dear Kesley,

My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it's a stupid idea.

But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born...or died?

I'll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town...

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister's killer...although she'll wish she hadn't. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley's murderer could be much closer than she thought...
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29057066-frayed
Review

Normally, mysteries are pretty easy to figure out. Sure, there will be a few twists and turns that try to throw you off your guessing game, but typically you can see past all that to the truth. This is certainly not the case in Frayed.

Frayed didn't have many twists and turns. In fact, when I realized I had reached the 60% mark, I was wondering if anything was going to happen. I was worried that I'd be disappointed at the end of the book. I was worried the ending would be rushed and truth would be a letdown. Oh no, not at all! The truth of what happened to Kesley threw me for a totally unexpected loop. Seriously, it was pretty awesome. The ending was better than what I could have hoped for.

While the majority of the book was a slow build, the ending made it worth the read.

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: One True Loves

Title One True Loves
Author Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release Date June 7, 2016

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27189194-one-true-loves
Review

My heart feels so full after reading this book. I absolutely love it.

I've heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid before, but this is the first time I've ever read anything by her. I'm impressed by how realistic and true to life her characters are. I'm even more impressed by how brilliantly she crafted this story of heartbreaking, bittersweet, emotional love.

I don't envy Emma. This is an impossible situation to be in. My heart breaks for her. While the ending didn't feel as intense as the rest of the book (and that was the tiniest bit disappointing), I'm overjoyed at how it ended. It was so wonderfully perfect.

One True Loves is a compulsively readable book that I recommend to anyone that loves a good romance story.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Frayed

Title Frayed
Author Kara Terzis
Release Date June 7, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492631736

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought…

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29057066-frayed

An Excerpt

Dear Kesley,

My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Every time I see her, she asks whether I’ve started, and every session I tell her it’s a stupid idea.

But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. I tried saying it’s morbid, but that ran dry when she said it could be therapeutic. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper.

I pondered over where I should start the letter. Where, after all, did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died? I chose the latter, thinking that at least the letter would be done quicker that way.

Starting this letter is one of the hardest things I’ve done, Kesley. There are so many places I could start, but I chose this place. So here goes nothing, Kesley, because it began, and ended, with you.

And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town.


CHAPTER ONE

The unhealthy growl of a car pulled me from my thoughts. I fixed a smile onto my face as my best friend, Lia Zhang, pulled up to the curb.

The window slid down with a hum and she poked her head out the opening. Her long curtain of glossy black hair looked sleek and model-like, achieving a quality that all those hair product ads promised. Lia’s half-Filipino, half-Chinese heritage showed through in the flawlessness of her skin, too.

“Get in,” she said. “You must be freezing your ass out there.”

I shivered at her words, only just then noticing the way that the cold seemed to bite at my skin, but I ignored the foreboding feeling that crept up on me. I walked around to the passenger seat and slid in, the warmth from the heater engulfing me. Oddly enough, I didn’t find it comforting at all.

Music pumped from the car speakers, but on seeing my gaze flicker toward it, she rolled her eyes and turned it down. She knew I hated music.

“You were ten minutes late,” I said. “Why?”

She pressed her lips together before she laughed. “Yeah, I know. Such a rebel, right? ‘Cause, like, I have a record of being so punctual anyway.” Lia was always known for being late. Fashionably, but still——late was late. Time was precious. It could seep past you without you even knowing.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it could vanish.

I tilted my head in her direction. I knew Lia like I knew the back of my hand. Better, probably. And by the way her eyes were too focused on the road ahead, I knew that something was wrong. Just like it always did, her facade cracked.

“Just don’t be angry at me, okay?” she whispered.

“You know I won’t,” I said, and despite the thick cloud of depression that still covered me, I managed a small smile. Or a replica of what used to be my smile, anyway. Most people didn’t look deep enough to see the difference.

Lia shot me a skeptical look, but answered. “I ran into someone this morning, at the café.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Rafe Lawrence.”

My mind went blank for a moment as I stared out the window. I was distantly aware of the thumping coming from my chest, getting louder and louder as the seconds ticked passed. Breathe, Ava, breathe.

“Yeah,” said Lia. “I know, right? He leaves, and suddenly, a few months after Kesley dies—” She broke off with a stiff glance in my direction. “Anyway,” she continued, “he’s back now. He told me that he wants to talk to you.” I swallowed, but my throat was dry. It felt like I was swallowing parchment. My tongue felt too thick in my mouth and I couldn’t seem to form any words.

“Right,” I managed.

“You’re not going to go, right?” she said.

I hesitated. Was I?

“Don’t be insane, Ava. You know the boy has issues. I never understood what Kesley even saw in him, anyway.” Her jaw tightened for a fraction of a second.

“They weren’t together like that,” I said, cutting her off swiftly. An instant defensiveness had sprung up inside me of me.

“If you say so,” Lia muttered, eyeing the marked road that stretched ahead of us. I sighed and glanced out the window once more. Lia and I were both stubborn; we both thought that we were always right. That was where we clashed. Continually. But she was also the best and only friend that I had, so I clung on tight to her.

She and Jackson were the only ones I had left

But I also knew Lia had seen Rafe as more than just a friend of Kesley’s, something she’d deny profusely, as he’d rejected her on multiple occasions.

I’d always wondered just how bitter she felt toward Kesley about that.

The pine trees were a blur of green and brown as we sped past, heading in the general direction of the one school that Circling Pines had. Winter was drawing closer by the second, though the thought didn’t bother me. At least it would give me an excuse to stay indoors all day.

“What exactly did Rafe tell you?” I asked Lia as we passed the only shopping strip: a collection of café’s and overpriced clothes shops.

“Not much,” Lia admitted. “Only that he wanted to meet you for coffee this afternoon to talk.” There was a pause, a very deliberate, prolonged pause. “I also told him that you wouldn’t go.”

“Lia…”

“I know! I’m sorry! But you can’t actually be considering this.”

I folded my arms over my chest and glared at the pine trees. My hands shook, and I resisted the urge to ball them into fists. “Until you give me a good reason why, then I’m going,” I said in a surprisingly calm voice.

Lia tapped the steering wheel in a melodic sort of way, though I knew it was more of a nervous habit than a conscious thought. It looked like she was fighting against something she wanted to say, as if she was worried it might get me upset. I’d seen that look plenty of times in the past weeks.

“What’s bothering you?” I said.

“What do you really know about Rafe?” she blurted out.

“Um. He was a year younger than my sister, spent way too much time in juvenile detention, my foster mother never liked him much—”

“Okay, okay,” interrupted Lia. “But I mean, what do you know about Rafe and your sister?”

“I don’t know, she never told me much about him, all right? Can we just leave it at that?” The school gates were coming into view, iron-wrought and impressive looking, with ivy that clung to the metal like a winter coat.

“Fine,” said Lia. She angled the car into a free parking space near the back of the almost full parking lot and killed the engine. The lot was deserted. Everyone must have been in class already, meaning that Lia and I were horribly late. Lia pulled the car keys out of the ignition and stuffed them into her jacket pocket with a brief glance in my direction. “All I’m saying is that your sister was murdered, and there’s a killer on the loose.”

Her words sent a chill through me more than the bitterly cold air outside.

Buy Links


About the Author

Kara Terzis was twelve when she wrote her first novel, and has not stopped writing since. Later she started publishing her work on Wattpad where in 2013 she won Sourcebooks Story Development Prize. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia. You can visit her online at www.diaryofateenwriter.wordpress.com.

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Giveaway

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: Of Dust and Tides

Title Of Dust and Tides
Author A. G. Russo
Release Date May 21, 2016

Chance encounters, voices from the past, or challenging choices can change the course of a life. In this short story collection, young people starting on their journey to full adulthood find themselves on unexpected paths.

THE NORMAL FILE – A young Army veteran struggles to find a new life, and gets help from a childhood friend with issues of her own.

OLLIE’S DAUGHTER – An 18-year-old girl is determined to know if she is the daughter of a rock god.

PORTRAIT OF JORI – The day a beleaguered art student learns he will graduate he’s offered an incredible opportunity.

SICK GRANDMA – English Comp ain’t what it used to be.

WALKING WILD – A sensitive, sheltered, but spirited girl’s first experience with the bar scene.

DOUBLE VISION – A legally blind young woman has a vision.

ESCAPE – A distraught son seeks to break free.

IMPURE EARTH – Hundreds of years after nuclear holocaust, society has been remade.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30331836-of-dust-and-tides
Review

I really enjoyed A. G. Russo's Our Wild and Precious Lives when I read it. Whenever they contacted me to read Of Dust and Tides, I happily accepted.

I enjoyed all of the stories included in the book to varying degrees. It's hard to pick a favorite as I really enjoyed each story. My favorites (in order) were "Impure Earth", "Sick Grandma", "Double Vision", and "Portrait of Jori". The others were great, too, but those really stuck out to me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and it reminded me why short stories are such an enjoyable read.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#15)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Look Both Ways
Author Alison Cherry
Release Date June 14, 2016

The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21825761-look-both-ways

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave your WoW in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by!