Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: Titans by Victoria Scott


Title: Titans
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Format Read: ARC
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan's world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching then and their jockeys practice on the track. It's not just the thrill of the race. It's the engineering of the horses and the way they're programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she'll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid's who wager on them.

But when Astrid's offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year's derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it's more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

When I received an ARC of TITANS in mail, I nearly peed my pants. I am a HuGe Victoria Scott fan, and TITANS appealed to me when the announcement of it's future birth was released, so of course finding this in my mailbox was a moment of extreme joy.

This is the first book I've read in a long time that has a near-zero romance rate, and I absolutely loved it. The main themes of the story included friendship, family, and hardships, and it was an amazing tale of believing in oneself and risking everything to give your family a future. 

The girl-on-girl best friendship in TITANS was one of the main reasons that I enjoyed it so much. Astrid and Magnolia are closer than close, and they have no drama whatsoever throughout the book, even when times get tough and they go through their own personal struggles. It's always a beautiful thing to see flourishing female friendships, ones that consist of the girls lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down.

And then there's the element of these Titans-- part horse part machine-- and the technicalities that come with racing them. Scott thought this story out intricately, leaving no plot holes or missteps along the way that had me questioning the way the horses worked or the way the racing happened.

Also. Padlock. Ohmygosh. Victoria Scott has this incredible talent for creating the most lovable and adorable animal characters. She stole my heart with Madox and plucked its strings with Padlock. I want my own Titan, and I will name it Padlock and we shall run off into the sunset with Madox at our side.

I give TITANS a four star rating. I loved it, though not quite as much as FIRE & FLOOD, and it will definitely hold a special place on my shelf. If you enjoy horse stories, or stories of those less fortunate who fight to keep their family together, this is a book for you. And of course, if you're a fan of strong female friendships.

Happily,
Stephanie

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cover Reveal: Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #2) by Cate Cameron

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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #2) by Cate Cameron
presented by Entanged Teen Crush!

Scroll down to see the cover,a s well as get more information about this book AND it's series.

After that, if the book interests you, feel free to sign up for the blog tour!

So. The cover. 



Are you ready?









Are you sure?






Because I can do this a little longer...






Should I?





No?




Okay then, here we go...






TA DA!



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Title: Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #2) 
Author: Cate Cameron 
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
Release Date: March 14, 2016 

Description from Goodreads: She's out of his league...
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, swoon-worthy kisses, and sexy hockey players. It may cause you to watch a hockey game...or ten.
Sixteen-year-old Claudia Waring has never kissed a boy. Never been popular. Never been to a hockey game. All that’s about to change. Assigned to tutor Chris Winslow, a prank-loving, gorgeous hockey player, Claudia’s perfectly planned life immediately veers off course. And she kind of likes it. But as fun as Chris is, she knows she'll never fit in his world. After his latest prank lands him in hot water, Chris has to get serious about school or lose hockey. Not an easy thing for someone as carefree as the defenseman. The biggest problem, though, is how much he wants to help his cute, buttoned-up tutor loosen up a little. But while confidence has never been a problem for him, around Claudia, Chris is all nerves. Why would a girl as smart as her ever fall for a jock like him?
add to goodreads

 
OTHER BOOK(s) IN THE SERIES:
 
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Description from Goodreads: The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him… 
Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.
But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler. 
Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…
add to goodreads


 
About-the-Author2
Cate Cameron grew up in the city but moved to the country in her mid-twenties and isn’t looking back. Most of her writing deals with people living and loving in small towns or right out in the sticks—when there aren’t entertainment options on every corner, other people get a lot more interesting! 
She likes to write stories about real people struggling with real issues. YA, NA, or contemporary romance, her books are connected by their emphasis on subtle humor and characters who are trying to do the right thing, even when it would be a lot easier to do something wrong.



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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: The Revenge Artist by Philip Siegel


Title: The Revenge Artist (The Break-Up Artist #2)
Author: Philip Siegel
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 18, 2015
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: Three Stars

Description from Goodreads: The say money can't buy you love. Becca Williamson begs to differ.

Once upon a time, Becca was the Break-Up Artist, tearing apart unhealthy relationships at her school for just $100 dollars via PayPal. But after a job went really wrong, she went legit for love and now brings couples together. Crushing on that supercute guy in Chemistry but too shy to say hi? Becca has the right formula. Pining for that artsy girl who vowed never to date a jock? Becca will ensure love conquers all. She's even engineered a relationship of her own: the funny, sweet, and unbelievably cute Fred Teplitzky, the one guy who knows exactly what to say to make our unflappable heroine... well, flappable.

But before she can pick out a graduation robe and enjoy her last months at Ashland High, Becca has to deal with a new Break-Up Artist on the block. And this master manipulator is dead set on one thing: revenge. Someone is going around destroying all of the couples she's worked so hard to unite. Now Becca has to outwit and outscheme her new foe in a dirty cat-and-mouse chase filled with hacked emails, video surveillance, reputation ruining, and a few candy hearts. Especially when she realizes that the Revenge Artist's number one target is her and Fred.

Looks like there are no such things as clean breaks.

In 2014, I read THE BREAK-UP ARTIST and fell in love with it. I could not wait for the sequel, something that both the readers and the author were extremely excited about. But then, due to troubles, book number two became something that wasn't going to happen. This was devastating, until Philip Siegel stepped in and announced that he was going to self publish THE REVENGE ARTIST. Even though it was a long and trying road, book two appeared online last November, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy.

For me, sequels are never as good as the original story. I always enjoy book one more than two, and while REVENGE ARTIST was still a great read, it, too, fell into my "Not as good as the first" category. I loved getting thrown back into the world of Becca and her high-school life, seeing her progress from breaking couples up to getting them back together and containing her character development from book one. Certain character additions made for a fresh touch on the story, and while I did predict the outcome of who the Revenge Artist really was, I didn't guess how most things would end up happening, so it was still an enjoyable journey.

Another thing that made the reading experience interesting was that Becca went through so many NORMAL high school experiences that were so easy to relate to. At times, you knew exactly how she was feeling, because these same things had happened to you. And that was a major comfort in this story, since some of the things that I related to the most were things that aren't often brought up in mainstream books and movies. The complications with friendship and keeping balance in your life being two main ones.

I give THE REVENGE ARTIST a three star rating. It was an enjoyable read, but like I said earlier, I did love book one a bit more. If you read and liked the first one, don't hesitate to read this one! I recommend this one to fans of realistic YA contemporary, and hope that you'll pick it up.

Happily,
Stephanie

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday Thinks: DNF


(Image from Goodreads)

There are times when you're reading, and you find yourself making excuses as to why you should put the book down. Don't deny it-- it's happened to all of us. 

Or maybe you're the kind of person that has a permanent stack of books that you're "reading" and yet you know that you'll never finish them. You get that strike of guilt in your stomach every time you pass them.

My friends... you are not alone.

We've all heard the term DNF. What does it stand for? Did Not Finish.

That's right-- there are so many of us that do this that we have our own term for it.

The big debate is whether or not it's acceptable to place a book in a DNF stack. If so, WHEN is it acceptable? How much of the book must be read before we can place it in the stack? And what are the terms of deciding not to finish it?

All of these things as personal preferences. For me, it has to be a pretty bad book to get me thinking:



My rules are this:
1.) I have to be at least halfway through a book before I can label it as a DNF
2.) I have to have a good reason (i.e. boring, too sexual, over-my-head, etc.)
3.) The cannot base my decision to DNF the book on someone else's opinion

If I'm reading a book, and the novel meets the above factors, then it's possible that I may DNF it. Though, this happens very rarely, for me, as I'm the type of person that always tries to finish the book, even if it's become a major struggle. In fact, some of the books I've thought about DNFing have turned out to be high star reads for me.

THat being said, I do have a stack of books on my shelf that I call my "Currently Reading" shelf, even though I haven't touched some of them in quite some time. About half of these books, though, I will eventually go back to finish, as I still remember where I am in each of them. The other half, like an ARC I recently sat on the stack, will not be read again, and will instead go to be used on #booksfortrade.

To me, there is no shame in DNFing a book. If you don't like it, you don't like it. No shame, but I still hate doing it. What if there's something at the end that makes everything else ten times better now that you know a certain secret? What if the ending makes the rest of the book invalid, and you end up loving the story?

I'm curious, though. What do YOU think about setting a book on a DNF shelf? WHat are YOUR terms?

Let me know in the comments!
Happily,
Stephanie

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: The 5th Wave



Title: The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1)
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Format Read: Hardback
Rating: Four stars

Description from Goodreads: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother-- or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I finished THE 5TH WAVE last Friday, at like four in the morning because I couldn't go to bed without finding out what happened in the end. Which ended up being a terrible idea, since the book ended in a bit of a character cliffhanger, and I ended up having to spam my best friend and gets some answers, since I know it'll be a while before I finish my current TBR and can get my hands on THE INFINITE SEA. But anyway, THE 5TH WAVE wasn't quite what I had expected...

The concept of this story was ingenious. The idea of aliens looking like us and invading earth, causing us to not be able to trust anyone-- to turn on each other-- it's a perfect showing of human nature. And the plot was so extremely juicy and enrapturing that I hated having to put the book down. I have a soft spot for sibling rescues, especially when the sibling is as adorable and perfect as Sammy, so this story had all of the elements that stole my attention and made me want to read faster. 

It even had fantastic quotes. There were quite a few good ones, but I wanted to share my favorite with you. Part of the quote is spoilery, so I'm going to cut that chunk out with a "---".

"But if I'm it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I'm going to let that story end this way. 
--- 
Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity.
And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield."

Said quote gave me chills and set me reading faster. Just saying.

I loved nearly every part of this book, though I did predict most of the twists and turns. (I think that happens when you read dystopia and post-apocalyptic YA- things start to seem familiar and you can draw parallels to predict the outcomes- but as long as the story's main elements and characters are fresh, I don't mind.) The only things that I really didn't like about the story was the inconsistency with which it switched POV's, and the way that it backtracked. For example, one instance was a Cassie pov, and it ran through her day, and then when it switched to a different pov, it backtracked time, documenting THAT character's day. 

Those are the two small things that bugged me, so obviously it was a pretty solid story. 

And I have to admit, reading this book was a bit of an interesting experience, because in many ways, Cassie is a lot like me. Her snark, determination, dedication, are a few to name. But there are also ways in which we differ, and those ways were tremendous. The biggest one was the way she treated Evan, in which we were exact opposites, but I cannot explain in case some of you reading this haven't read the books yet. 

I would give THE 5TH WAVE four stars, and recommend it to those who enjoy thought-provoking alien encounter stories, or dystopian/post-apocalyptic. Even though I'm getting to where it's hard for me to read books from this genre, THE 5TH WAVE was a fantastic read, and I'm glad that I finally picked it up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey


Title: Wenny Has Wings
Author: Janet Lee Carey
Publisher: Anthenum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 1, 2004
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: Five stars

Description from Goodreads: In the fight with the truck barreling toward them, Weeny and Will lost big. Wenny lost her life. Will lost a sister-- and lost faith in himself.

But then Will starts writing letters to Wenny. he tells her all about the secret of his near-death experience, and the troubles he's having at home. Some letters are funny. Some letters are harsh. And when read together, they tell the story of a boy who finds a way to move past death and learns how to live again...


The first time I read WENNY HAS WINGS, I was eight years old. I remember checking it out from the library, and I remember it being a deep read for me at my age. Years passed, and I had flashbacks of a book about a little boy whose sister died, and an adventure in a tunnel, and I absolutely could not figure out what book it was from. Last year, I did some research and ultra-mega-googling, and found WENNY. As soon as I saw the cover, I recognized the book, and since then, I have wanted to get my hands on a copy and reread it. 

The issue with that is that this is a crazy hard novel to find in stores, due to it being twelve years old. I mentioned my struggles to a good friend, and guess what I found in my Christmas present from him? Yep. WENNY HAS WINGS.

Rereading this book was like a blast from the past. It was so familiar, yet it was as if I were reading it for the first time, since it had been ten years. I loved being thrown back into this story, following Will as he struggled with the loss of his sister and the new family dynamic that evolved after her death. Told from an eleven-year-old's point of view, the story is simple and sweet, brutally honest as only children can be, and absolutely worth reading for a second time.

A quick and easy read, I give WENNY HAS WINGS a five star review, for not only being such a moving and emotional read, but for being one of those books that sticks with you as you go through life, and makes you try to find it ten years later. I recommend it to anyone who likes deep reads that revolve around familial deaths, and grief handling. It's an extremely beautiful book in all of its innocence, and it deserves to be well-loved.

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