Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review: The Replaced by Kimberly Derting


Title: The Replaced (The Taking #2)
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Release Date:
April 28, 2015
Format Read:
Finished Copy- Hardback

Description from Goodreads:
Romantic and action-packed, THE REPLACED is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.
Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the fun from NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with other who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted-- all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyrs knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the Returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost
?


Perfect for fans of THE FIFTH WAVE and the Body Finder series, THE REPLACED is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human.


THE TAKING was a fantastic read for me-- I have a hard time getting into sci-fi, and it gave me just enough of that element that I could enjoy it-- and so as soon as THE REPLACED hit the shelves earlier this year, I went out and got it. I devoured this book because, like the first one, it was the perfect amount of contemporary relationships and sci-fi aliens and abductions, as well as an ever-present aura of mystery that surrounds Kyra and her situation. It's not one of those sci-fi stories that throws you into a world and leave you with questions and things you don't understand, which is something that I appreciated, and the characters always feel very real in this series.

THE REPLACED was everything I had hoped it would be, from the intra-character relationships to the suspense, and the emotional chunks that left me in tears. There were some points in the story about which I would like a re-write because certain things were just too unfair, but that aside, I give this one four stars, with an antsy wait for the conclusion. 

If you like alien abduction stories, or sci-fi, or even if you're like me and have a hard time with sci-fi, this is a book for you. Also, if you like THE BODY FINDER, you'll like this series as well. It's the same writing style, same detail and writing talent, just with a bit of a different storyline.



Happily,
Stephanie

Friday, November 27, 2015

Finally Friday! (#5): The Anatomical Shape of a Heart



Finally Friday! is a weekly post on Doodle's Book Reviews that hilights a recently acquired book that I've been waiting to get my hands on. Feel free to leave a comment!



THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART is one of those books that I haven't heard much about, but has piqued my curiosity. I love anything to do with hearts-- especially anatomical hearts- so the title caught me immediately, and then there's the prose. Dead bodies, artsy-type people, and a "wildly attractive" graffiti artist? Um, yes please, sign me up.

This is one that I'll probably be reading pretty quick now that I have it, (and I have an ARC!) so be looking out for a review. I'm so excited to dive in and see what this story holds, and whether or not the book is as good as I'm hoping it will be.

Have any of you read this one? I know it's already been released, what did you think of it?




Thursday, November 26, 2015

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu


Title: Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Format Read: Paperback

Description from Goodreads: Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots-- a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic, but can they trust them or have they become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

It took me a lot longer than four hours to read this one (curse you, responsibilities! *shakes fist at sky*) but I finally got it finished, and was once again pleased with Marie Lu and her story-crafting.

As I read, I texted the friend who loaned me the books, giving him my predictions and perceptions of certain things and characters as I read, and while I won't know the accuracy of some of them until I finish book three, I know that the ones that were answered in PRODIGY were right. Usually, this would bother me, as I hate predicting major reveals and twists, but for some reason I was okay with it on this one and actually enjoyed the fact that I'd been right. 

Day and June's continued activities were great, the story-line well thought out and delivered, and the plot just as tight as the first. I love how Lu uses side characters and ties them in in some important way, versus the way that most authors do-- creating characters to serve their purpose as extra characters without intending them to be part of the book in some big way. So many of the characters introduced as acquaintances with few spoken lines are used in some major way throughout the books, and it's so much fun to see them come in when you least expect it-- whether it's a good or a bad thing.

I give PRODIGY 4.5 stars. I enjoyed this one better than the first because it got more into the meat of the trilogy, as the middle book generally does, and really showed the direction that the story is going, as well as put the end-game into view. Dystopian revolt is the best kind of revolt, and if you enjoy it then you definitely need to get your hands on PRODIGY.

Just be sure to read LEGEND first.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Awake by Natasha Preston


Title: Awake
Author: Natasha Preston
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Format Read: Paperback

Description from Goodreads: Scarlett Garner doesn't remember anything from before the age of four-- but a car accident changes everything. She starts to remember pieces of a past that frighten her. A past her parents hid from her... and a secret that could get her killed.

The Goodreads description for this one keeps it short and sweet. Let me see if i can tell you a bit more about AWAKE without giving it away...

Scarlett has a gap in her memory. She remembers nothing before the age of four, and that's how it's always been. And then one day, a new student arrives in her class, a student that is instantly attracted to her-- and the attraction is mutual. As Scarlett grows closer to this boy, he encourages her to try to remember what she's lost, but then a car accident is the trigger she needs to jumpstart her memory, and what she finds in those memories aren't the pieces of the childhood she had been looking for, but something much more sinister.

Okay so I didn't do that much better, but I'm going to go ahead and move on.

I picked up AWAKE, expecting a decent creepy story, and what I got instead was a thrill ride that I won't be forgetting for quite sometime.

This story is so intricately woven that I don't want to say much about WHY I loved it, because I'm worried that I'll unintentionally spoil it, and with this book, it would be a terrible thing to do. But I did absolutely love this story and will go ahead and say that, as far as thrillers go, this is hands down my favorite. Hands. Down.

It was creepy, it kept my attention from cover to cover, the characters were near-perfect... I read the book in about five hours, which is something I can do pretty easily when something really has my intrigue and attention, so that should say something! 

Five stars. Absolutely. Five stars to this beautiful thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Any fans of psychological thrillers, or stories that border on creep-tastic horror, will sure to be AWAKE when reading this new one from Natasha Preston.

Now, let's see if I can get my hands on THE CELLAR.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz


Title: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1)
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Format Read: ARC

Description from Goodreads: What's your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it's the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it's bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it's their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake's latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn't even link scary movies, but she's ready to face her real-world fears. Parker's sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up... at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It's bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group-- the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; "Mister Sensitive"; and the one who's too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what's really at stake, it's too late to wake up and run.


I generally can't handle horror, but after reading SHUTTER and loving it, I decided to try another YA horror. I'd seen WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE a few times before at the store, and I had been tempted to grab it, but I never did. So thanks to #booksfortrade, I was able to acquire an ARC and read it in a single day. 

WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE wasn't so much scary as it was downright creepy. I enjoyed the plot to this one, especially as the story went on and things started developing and getting juicier. The multiple POVs from the essay contestants were perfect, giving an inside look to each of them and the way they think, the way they viewed the Dark House. And then there's the Nightmare Elf , which... just... *heebie jeebies*. As of the end of this book, I'm still not sure whether my prediction about who's behind everything is right or not, but I hope to find out.

I give WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE a 3.75 star rating. It was good enough to make me want to read book two, but it wasn't as scary as I was hoping for. If you're a fan of creepy YA, and YA horror, this is for you. Dark, mysterious, and chilling, WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE is a red I'll be recommending.

Book two, here I come.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman


Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Format Read: ARC

Description from Goodreads: Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers-- and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate's quest for revenge may prove fatal.


Oh my gosh, you guys.

I requested an ARC of VENGEANCE ROAD when I first heard about it, as I was eagerly awaiting the release of this new YA western, and I was over the moon to have received an Advanced Copy from HMH. I read it as soon as I got it, and then became part of the street team (Shout out to my Vengeance Road Posse members!) because I loved it so much.

Now, you may be asking why I have waited so long to review it if I had my hands on it in June.

My review policy is that I post ARC reviews the Monday before their release. That being said, the Monday before the release of VENGEANCE ROAD, I was still on my hiatus. 

Why didn't I post it before now, after coming back?

Here's why:

Today is Thanksgiving. And for this day, I want to post reviews of books that I'm thankful for (Notice, there will be no negative reviews today). Of course, VENGEANCE ROAD is one of the books that I am extremely thankful for.

VENGEANCE ROAD is a YA western (Where can I find more of these? Can someone whip me up a stack?) And I love westerns, so I was super pumped to start this one, and it did not disappoint. This was another 2015 release that had a good amount of hype and actually lived up to it.

First off, Kate. Kate was such an amazing protagonist. I enjoyed every second of her story, hearing her narrate it and seeing how she felt about everything. She had such a true, strong voice, and I found her character to be relatable in so many ways. So I connected with her, and enjoyed her development and taking the VR journey with her. And then there were the brothers, who I loved to pieces from start to finish, and the friendship that grew between them (as well as the romance). AND THE PLOT. Wow. Yes. The plot was uber good and fresh for a western, which is pretty hard to do when you consider all of the western books and movies there are in the world today. I would put VENGEANCE ROAD up there with the greats, and I'm pretty sure The Duke would support my decision.

I think Erin Bowman must have been a cowgirl in another life, because her dialect and descriptions and way of life were so accurate and fluid that it felt like I had stepped back in time. To Arizona Territory in 1877, to be exact. This was one of the things I enjoyed most about the story-- that it made me feel like I was there. Like I was walking and riding alongside Kate, watching everything play out. And to me, that's one of the best feelings you can have when you read a book. That's how you know it's good.

Five gold stars for VENGEANCE ROAD. If you ever read a book because of my reviews, let it be this one. VR has easily galloped its way to the top of my favorites list, and I want it to do the same to yours. For any fans of westerns, books with honest and courageous characters, and true-to-life descriptions, this is for you. Read it. Love it. Cherish it. Pass it on.

Oh, and Miss Bowman? I know this is supposed to be a standalone, but... More? Please?

Happily,
Stephanie

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#6): Glass Sword


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that hilights upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.






Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 9, 2016


Description from Goodreads: Mare Barrow's blood is red-- the color of common folk-- but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.


The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince-- the friend-- who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.


Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join the struggle against her oppressors.


But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of the rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?




If you saw my review of RED QUEEN then you know that I had some majorly positive feelings about book one. It hit me with feels, had me on the edge of my seat, not wanting to do anything but finish the book. And then when I finished, I had a spazz-out moment and immediately wanted more. I had to wait nearly a year, but here's the more, finally going to be released in February. Knowing how RED QUEEN ended, I desperately need GLASS SWORD. I NEED TO KNOW THINGS! 

This is definitely one of my most anticipated novels of 2016, and I just can't wait.

Happily,
Stephanie



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynne Barnes


Title: Raised by Wolves (Raised by Wolves #1)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders returns. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?



Earlier this year, when I went to NTTBF, I met Jennifer Lynn Barnes and got to tell her how much I enjoyed RAISED BY WOLVES. As I write this review, I'm seeing the comments of other readers on Goodreads, and I'm noticing that a good few of them are negative. Um, why?

Sure, there are elements to RAISED BY WOLVES that have been used before-- a girl being adopted by a wolf pack, for example-- but Barnes crafted this world in such a unique way, that I didn't mind it. This book gives you more of an insight to the meaning of "pack mentality", which I loved, as well as providing a fresh new way to look at werewolves. It showed the functionality of a pack, and what it means to be part of one, and how each member plays a significant role in keeping things running. 

And then there's the storyline, which was incredibly intriguing. Bryn's obsession with finding her parents' killer, and her fascination with the boy in the basement combine and twist into something that makes for a fantastic read. 

I give RAISED BY WOLVES four stars, and recommend it to lovers of paranormal romance, as well as those who enjoy a good, non-cliche werewolf story. I can't wait to start the rest of the series.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi


Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Format Read: ARC

Description from Goodreads: A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she's lived her entire life.

But Matt- the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town-- was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying "yes" to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella's heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own-- to relive the night that brought them together-- Ella isn't sure whether Matt's worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and , ultimately, finding out how to be brave.


THE NIGHT WE SAID YES was such a fun read. With each chapter, more and more of Matt and Ella's story is revealed-- the first chapter leaves you with questions, and those questions get answers as the story unfurls. The uniqueness of this story was one of the things that I loved most about it, as well as the friendship between Ella and her best friend. Another thing I enjoyed was reading about the past, while experiencing it in the present as Ella and Matt re-created that night. 

The only negative I found for this story was Matt's reason for leaving. I kept waiting for more-- for him to be lying and then have a completely different excuse. But he didn't and I'm okay with how it turned out, I just find that to be the only low point for the book.

I would give THE NIGHT WE SAID YES four stars, and recommend it to contemporary fans,a s well as lovers of timid romance and out-of-the-box high school fun.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Kissing In America by Margo Rabb


Title: Kissing In America
Author: Margo Rabb
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Format Read: ARC

Description on Goodreads: In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels-- 118 of them, to be exact-- to dull the pain of her loss that's still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva's grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness-- and, perhaps, her shot at real love-- Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls "Gorgeous, funny, and joyous," readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows o heartache as Eva contends with love in all of its forms.


I had the opportunity to read KISSING IN AMERICA as an ARC, and though I was rather interested in it, I didn't fall in love with the story.

Eva is struggling with the accidental death of her dad, and she uses romance novels to fill the void until she meets Will-- a boy from school who she falls fastly and intensely in love with. And then he moves, and Eva becomes obsessed with the idea of following him, convinced that their relationship is strong enough to last from New York to California. In order to do so, she and her best friend become contestants on a teen tv show that is to be filmed in the same city that Will lives in, and head out west.

And I feel like that is such a far-fetched story. 

I realize that this is a book of fiction, but with contemporary I think there's a line, and once you cross it you've gone into iffy territory. To me, that was what happened in KISSING IN AMERICA. What are the odds that Eva would find a tv show that needed two girls, one of which had to be super smart like Annie, that was going to be filmed in the exact same city as where the boy moved? And the fact that they had family to stay with every few hundred miles? It just didn't sit well with me, and KISSING was a bit of a flop in my personal opinion.

I give KISSING IN AMERICA one star. I didn't find anything about it that I could love, and the main character was a bit too naive for my taste.

(Un)Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Joyride by Anna Banks


Title: Joyride
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are son in over their heads-- with the law and with each other-- in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It's been years since Carly Vega's parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber's dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn't acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they've been living according to others. Carly and Arden's journey toward their true hearts-- and one another-- is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.


I'd been excited for JOYRIDE ever since I saw ARCs start popping up. I was unfamiliar with Banks' previous work, but thanks to seeing so many of her fans getting excited for the standalone, I too got excited. 

I enjoyed this story. Carly is the goody-goody type girl, who never wants to do anything out of line, which I could really relate to (I follow the rules and schedules to a tee), and Arden is the kid who girls like us generally despise. Reckless and carefree and trouble-causing. Watching their friendship grow and develop was a blast, especially as it turns to something deeper, and the conflicts ensue. Arden and Carly both have their demons, and though I wasn't expecting a certain connection between them, it did make for interesting reading. You'll know what I'm referring to once you read it.

JOYRIDE is a 3.5 star review from me. It was good, and I liked it, but it wasn't one of my favorites, and there were some things that I noticed flaw-wise and couldn't help but let bug me. If you like a good friendship-turns-romance, and books with diverse characters with issues that pop up due to their heritage, this is for you.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes


Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bay
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There's only one problem: she's not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (Aka Roman) who's haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to life so they can discover the potential of the energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.



This is probably going to be a short review. 

Suicide is a topic that I don't take lightly. It's something that I think too many people are aware of, yet so many people don't care enough about to help, and generally I'm fine with reading books that deal with suicide. But everyone loved MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, and I didn't care for it.

In MY HEART, Aysel and Roman meet, and you can pretty instantly feel their connection. You know they'll either be more than friends by the end of the book, or that they'll be constantly on this edge of friends-or-not-friends. Aysel was ready for suicide until she met Roman, and then she started having doubts, and that's when things just... went downhill, for me. It was too predictable a storyline from there on out, and the ending was a bit bland in my opinion. I couldn't connect to the characters very well-- I felt like they were page characters and not real-to-me characters-- and I felt emotionally detached from the story.

MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES is a one star read for me, based upon those points, but I know that it received a ton of praise. Did I miss a crucial point to the story?

(Un)Happily,
Stephanie

Monday, November 23, 2015

Series Review: The Selection (Books 1-3) By Kiera Cass


There are a few times when I've started a series and been so enraptured in it that I've read the books back to back to back, and when I've sat down to review them, I ended up not doing so. Here's the reason for that: If I've binged a series, sometimes it's hard for me to remember which details happened in which books, and I would rather not review the books than rick spoiling them for you. 

But guys.

I loved The Selection series so much.

And I know like one person who has read it, so I need more Selectioners to spazz with. 

That being said, I'm gong to do a series review for the first three books, and when THE CROWN comes out, I'll do a series review for THE HEIR, THE CROWN, and HAPPILY EVER AFTER. 

After this, you may find me doing Series Reviews for other binged series.. who knows?







Author: Kiera Cass

Titles:
THE SELECTION (The Selection #1)
THE PRINCE (Novella, The Selection #0.5)
THE ELITE (The Selection #2)
THE GUARD (Novella, The Selection #2.5)
THE ONE (The Selection #4)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Dates: 
THE SELECTION- 4/24/12
THE PRINCE - 3/5/13*
THE ELITE- 4/23/13
THE GUARD - 2/4/14*
THE ONE- 4/6/14

*Novellas released as a paperback bind-up 2/4/14

Formats Read: Hardbacks and paperback bind-up


Description from Goodreads for THE SELECTION: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself-- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.



Description from Goodreads for THE PRINCE: Before Thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection...

Before Aspen broke America's heart...

There was another girl in Maxon's life...

Don't miss the thrilling 64-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel THE SELECTION. Also features a teaser to THE ELITE, Kiera Cass's hotly anticipated sequel to THE SELECTION.



Description from Goodreads for THE ELITE: The Selection began with thirty-five girls.

Now with the group narrowed down to six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever-- and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Macon, who could make her life a fairy tale? or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want-- and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.



Description from Goodreads for THE GUARD: Before America Singer met Prince Maxon...

Before she entered the Selection...

She was in love with a boy named Aspen Leger.

Don't miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection Trilogy. This brand new 64-page story begins just after the group of Selected girls is narrowed down tot he Elite and is told from Aspen's point of view. THE GUARD also features a teaser from THE ONE, the thrilling conclusion to The Selection Trilogy.



Description from Goodreads for THE ONE: The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown-- or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose-- and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants. 



Let me start off by saying that I had heard about these books for quite a while before I read them. I'd heard some really fantastic things, but I stayed away from them because (*sigh* such a stupid reason) they had fancy dresses on the covers. Sad, but true. I am not a girly-girl, and you have to force me into a dress. I go down swinging. So I stayed away from The Selection series, until I met Kiera Cass on her tour for THE ONE, and bought the trilogy. It still took me a while to read them, but I did, right before THE HEIR came out, and I totally should have read them sooner.

THESE BOOKS ARE FAN-FLIPPING-TASTIC. DID YOU KNOW?

I mean, this whole concept of a Selection is gorgeous. I don't like the Bachelor, which was another reason I had stayed away from these books, as I was told they were like the Bachelor but with a prince, but it works in this world. It works beautifully and I ship America and Maxon so hard you guys don't even know.

A certain blogger friend of mine will also tell you that I ship myself with Maxon pretty hard, but I mean come on. It's Maxon. He's perfect. And I want him. *Heart eyes*

Anyway, the entirety of these books were lovely-- the dystopian society that America lives in is so interesting with the way the castes are set up, the Selection process from beginning to end so well thought-out, both boys being just good enough to drive you crazy when she isn't sure who to pick, the friendship between America and Marlee, and, of course, the ending. Which was just perfect.

The Selection series has easily climbed it's way to the tip-top of my favorites list, and I am not ashamed of the feels and emotions that get me just by talking about the books. They are masterpieces and they need to be loved by everyone. 

They hold a special place in my heart, and I cannot say enough good things about them. Now to get the rest of my friends to read the books so I can freak out with them...

WHERE ARE MY FELLOW SELECTIONERS?!

Happily,
Stephanie

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finally Friday! (#4): Forget Tomorrow


Finally Friday! is a weekly post on Doodle's Book Reviews that hilights a recently acquired book that I've been waiting to get my hands on. Feel free to leave a comment!



 

FORGET TOMORROW first snagged my attention by the cover. It's absolutely gorgeous. And then I read the synopsis, and I was officially intrigued. I told myself that I'd go out and get it soon, but only once I'd finished my current stack of a TBR... but then EntangledTeen hosted a giveaway on instagram.

And I won.

So now I have this beautiful thing in my hands, and I'm going to have to carve out some time to read it because YES! So excited to be able to start in on this one, and I will be doing that within the next couple weeks.

Thank you, EntangledTeen, for totally making my day and putting FORGET TOMORROW on my shelf. I'll take very good care of it and I'll be posting a review for you soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi


Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Format Read: Paperback

Description from Goodreads: It's all Ryden's fault. If he hadn't gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he's failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it's not like he's had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She's fun and energetic-- and doesn't know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg's journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden's convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can't let go of the past?



I picked up WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND because there aren't too many book in the YA section that deal with teen pregnancy. Even fewer from the dad's pov. So I was interested in this one from the start and picked it up on release day. It took me a day to read it, and honestly, it was kind of bleh.

First off, Ryden was a terrible father. He took his grief and anger from Meg's death out on the baby, and while that may be accurate to how some people would act, I think Ryden took it a little too far. Also, there was a lot about Meg that didn't feel believable, and the journal idea seemed a bit overdone.  I was expecting a deep and emotional read with that premise, but instead I got a book that felt superficial and trivial, not to mention the language and the inappropriateness of a few scenes. A lot of the characters' actions didn't make sense, and I felt like this one was just kind of spastic. 

I would give WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND a single star, though I can't help but notice that it has almost a complete four stars on Goodreads. Maybe I'm the only one that really didn't like this one, but that's okay. Just wasn't my thing.

(Un)Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard


Title: Ensnared (Splintered #3)
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles... and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world-- a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?



ENSNARED was my favorite of the trilogy, hands down. It flipped so many things and turned elements on their heads, and it was a stunningly beautiful conclusion. It even made me change teams... Goodbye #TeamJeb, Hello #TeamMothra. I never thought I'd say that, yet here we are. What have you done to me, ENSNARED? 

Though I have to say that there was something about the book that bugged me, but for spoilery reasons, I cannot explain or tell you why: The ending... I wasn't in love with it. (Poor miss A.G. Howard knows this already, as I tweeted her quite furiously about it and may or may not have accosted her at NTTBF about it... *looks away, whistles*)  The ending did not satisfy me, which is why I'm extremely pumped for UNTAMED, which comes out in a mere ***25 DAYS***

Four stars to ENSNARED, which was beautiful and near perfect and YES. If you read book one, if you read book two, you have to read book three. Even if you didn't like either of them (Is that possible?) you have to read the third one. It tops the first two books and shimmers in all of it's netherling glory, and as far as conclusion books, it definitely makes my Top Five list.

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa


Title: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: October 28, 2014 
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humankind nine the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter or perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted buy the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruit in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey; and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence, and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him; and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth bout dragons.



It's not often that I come across a book and can't decide who I ship the main character with the most, but this is what I ran into with TALON. Garret or Cobalt, Garret or Cobalt? I STILL DON'T KNOW. Today I'm leaning towards Garret, but if you ask me again tomorrow... well, you get the picture. I can't tell you my reasons for shipping each of them, but I can tell you that Garret is more of the "safe" type, and Cobalt is more the "dangerous". Which is funny, if you read the book.

TALON was full of action, whether it be a fight-scene, a training scene, or an argument of some sort. Action, and twists, and just enough romance-- so well executed, too. The way that the dragons are able to become human, and mingle with people was so intriguing. It was the reason I picked TALON up in the first place, which ended up being a great choice, as it introduced me to the world of Kagawa and now I can put her faerie books on on my TBR.

I give TALON four stars as I wait for a time where I can go out and get book two. If you like dragons, and action, and books that have you question the governmental powers that be in their world, this is for you. 

Happily,
Stephanie

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS: Book Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard


Title: Unhinged (Splintered #2)
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Format Read: Hardback

Description from Goodreads: Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland-- where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus's unsettling presence in her real world with her trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he's forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her at and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns her that Queen Red won't be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps though the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.



After reading and loving SPLINTERED, I had to read book two, and I was so pleased with the continuation and the fact that the story didn't go downhill. It's always nice to see that, especially when sequels-- to me-- generally aren't as good as book two. 

UNHINGED was such a fun read. Being thrown back into Alyssa's Wonderland was like leaping into the arms of an old friend, and the adventure that ensued in this book was so much fun to tag along with that the last page left me pining for book three. I think my most favorite thing about UNHINGED was getting to see Morpheus outside of Wonderland-- seeing him navigate high school with his general cockiness, driving Alyssa nuts. I always enjoy the idea of taking a character out of their normal, every-day setting element, and dropping them into another, and that is exactly what happened here. Many thanks to A.G.

I would give this one 4.5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys retellings, especially retellings on the darker side. Also for anyone who loves Alice in Wonderland, this is a fresh, new perspective on the world and story we've come to know, and it's interesting to see the differences and similarities from the original to UNHINGED.

Happily,
Stephanie

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#5): Riders



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that hilights upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.




Title: Riders
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 16, 2016

Description from Goodreads: For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death had brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen-- Conquest, Famine, and Death-- are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now-- bound, bloodied, and drugged, Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for-- not to mention all of humankind-- he needs to convince the skeptical government officials that the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?




The idea of bringing the four horsemen of the apocalypse to YA is more than intriguing to me. RIDERS sounds extremely different than most of the things I have on my shelf when it comes to apocalypse-related novels, so I'm eager to have this one in my possession.

AND! I've started to see ARCs pop up, so hopefully we'll be getting reviews in soon and I can see what everyone's thinking about it.

Happily,
Stephanie

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