Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Winger, by Andrew Smith

I really enjoyed the characters and relationships that developed during my time with Winger, but the ending just left me feeling cheated.

Ryan Dean (aka Winger) attends a boarding school for rich kids. He's very smart, so he's two years ahead of his classmates -- he's a junior who is 14 years old. This causes a lot of problems -- for Ryan Dean -- but not anyone else. He has such a chip on his shoulder about being younger that it makes him whiny and kind of obsessive about it. But no one else EVER seems to care. Yeah, they call him "kid" once in a while, but he acts like that's the biggest insult EVER.

He's obsessed with girls. Especially Annie, who is his best friend, but Ryan Dean wants more. Is there any way he could possible get a girl that's two years older? Annie's and Ryan Dean's slowly evolving and changing relationship is one of the high points of Winger. Their banter is priceless and had me laughing out loud.

Winger and his friends play rugby, so that's an interesting aspect to the story, Also, the rivalry between the rugby players and the football players is expected, but entertaining. Winger is in a "special" dorm for those who have misbehaved. He has fewer privileges than some of his friends, but he makes new friends (and enemies) in this dorm.

The relationship between Winger and Joey, who is gay, is also a special part of the story. Winger doesn't have a lot of plot, but watching these kids be stupid and make mistakes, watching the relationships develop and change, and watching the romance was all entertaining enough that the "action" didn't really matter.

I know teen boys are a unique breed (I work with them every day) but I found Winger to be too volatile. His extreme and instant jealousy was over the top. He's very quick to anger, impulsive, and violent. I wanted to shake him and tell him to calm down. I think that school needed some counselors! (yea Doc Mom!)

Now ... the ending. Wow. I just didn't expect that, and I wish if Smith were going to write it that way, that he would have had this happen much sooner. I felt like I got dropped off a cliff and was left hanging onto a tree branch. I needed more ending. More something. I really loved this book until the ending, which I hated. Not that it happened, but the way it was written.

Still gonna recommend Winger, though. It's a good contemporary that I think teens will enjoy, but also take something away from. Just....that ending....

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
439 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Interesting Review Books

It's time to show off the books we have added to our pile. Thanks again to Team Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves.

For Review:

Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick from Edelweiss

The Kiss of Deception, by Mary E. Pearson from NetGalley

Bleed Like Me, by C. Desir from Edelweiss

So, what did you get? Leave me a link so I can stop by. Thanks for visiting! While you're here, you might want to enter my giveaway for a copy of Notorious, by Allison Brennan.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - A Picture!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

It's been a crazy week. It's time for some Friday Fun.... Here's this week's question:

Snap it Time! A picture is worth a thousand words. Anything and anything. Just give us a pic.

One of my favorite subjects!

Have a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Parajunkee & Alison for hosting!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: The Ring & the Crown, by Melissa de la Cruz @MelissadelaCruz

The Ring & the Crown is a beautiful, fascinating romance that will surprise you!

I got lost in these characters and this world. We're in the early 19th century, but it's an alternate history. England is ruled by a monarchy, but really it's the Merlin who controls everything with his magic. The U.S. didn't win the revolutionary war, and there is no magic in the states.

We follow several different characters and story lines, and they are all delicious. Marie-Victoria, the daughter of the Queen of England,  must marry the Leopold, the Prince of Prussia to cement the peace between their two countries. She is not at all happy, because she's in love with her guard, Gill, and thinks Leo is a fake.

Marie's childhood friend and the Merlin's daughter, Aelwyn, will help her get through this difficult time (and make her beautiful using all her magic.) Aelwyn also has a unique magical ability that will add to the intrigue.

Isabelle of Orleans was betrothed to Leo, and must give that up to allow Marie to marry him, but still loves him. Leo thinks Isabelle can be his mistress and nothing will change, but Isabelle can't live like that.

Ronan Astor is from the U.S. and wants to find a rich, English title-holder to marry and save her family from financial ruin. So she travels from the U.S. to attend all the parties and balls of The London Season, and find a husband.

There's so much more, but you get the idea. This is a complex plot, with lots of twists and turns. You may at times settle in and think you know where the plot is headed, but you will most likely be wrong. This is not a typical "the royals are forced to get married to save the kingdom but they rebel" story. The addition of the magic and the evil characters make The Ring & the Crown shine.

I wanted so badly the Happily Ever After ending. But, while I liked the ending, it left me feeling a bit unsettled that everything didn't turn out perfectly. Part of that is because everything at the end happened pretty fast! I could have used a few more pages and time passing a bit more slowly to wrap it all up. I think the ending, while surprising, is probably more realistic than the HEA.

I did have difficulty with the history and the time-period. But it didn't really matter, because the story and the characters carry you away.We start out with the history of the countries, in 1429. I guess I didn't read carefully enough, because we are all the sudden at the beginning of the twentieth century. It took me a while to catch up, but now that I re-read the introduction, I realize it was totally my fault.

So, now I have nothing bad to say. The Ring & the Crown absorbed me. I can't wait to show this book to my teens. And, the beautiful cover is just icing on the cake!

Published by Disney-Hyperion, April 1, 2014
eBook obtained from NetGalley
384 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Infinityglass, by Myra McEntire

Infinityglass kept my interest, but didn't blow me away like the first two novels in the Hourglass Series.

Infinityglass is the story of Hallie, whose has the ability to change her appearance. Her father keeps her tightly under wraps, because of his position as head of Girard Industries and his reputation as a gangster. He's really the head of Chonos, and he and his loved ones are always in danger.

The only thing Hallie is allowed to do are jobs for Chronos. She completes these jobs with Poe, who can teleport. They steal things. But only for good reasons, right?

Back at Hourglass, Dune is always in search of the Infinityglass. He discovers that the Infinityglass is not an object, but a person. You guessed it -- it's Hallie.

Hallie's powers have become stronger and she doesn't know why. Dune pretends to be her bodyguard, as he tries to determine just what's happening to her, but things progress and he eventually tells her the truth and also falls in love with her.

Hallie is in danger, because she's actually entering the time rips, and sometimes taking others with her. She's afraid at some point she will get stuck and won't be able to return.

I didn't really get the feeling of tension and build up like I did in Hourglass and Timepiece. I thought Hallie and Dune were both cute characters, and I liked the way their relationship developed, even if some of it was a bit sappy. There is a culminating exciting event, but in general the plot of Infinityglass was a bit weak except for the romance.

The POV changes between Dune and Hallie and I got confused at times between who was "I." Sometimes the dialog goes back and forth so fast and for so long that I lost track of who was talking.

It's short, and the pacing keeps you going, so I still think if your are invested in this series Infinityglass is a worthwhile read. You could actually read this book as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the others first, just for the background information (and I liked them better.)

These are still some of my favorite covers ever!

Published by Egmont, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
293 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Notorious, by Allison Brennan @Allison_Brennan

I found Notorious to be a thrilling page turner that kept me guessing until the very end.

Max is an interesting character. She's colorful, tough, and determined. She's up against her family in Notorious because she's back home trying to solve an old murder -- and the victim happened to be her best friend.

Max is an investigative reporter who has a TV show, so she's recognizable to many. She returns back to California, to her home town, to attend the funeral of one of her high school friends who committed suicide. Kevin was accused of murdering one of their friends. He was tried but not convicted because of a hung jury. Kevin has lived with this for years, and Max was the only one who truly believed he was innocent.

Also, when Max is recognized in the airport, she is approached by some people who want her to investigate the murder of their grandson, which also happened to occur in the same town.

So Max can't help but become twisted up in these cases, and also involved with a sexy police officer who she is helping with the investigation (much to his chagrin.) She pisses off a lot of people, but she's feisty and keeps on digging until she gets to the truth.

The pacing of Notorious is excellent. It moves quickly, and keeps you guessing as the plot twists and turns and ends up in places you would never guess. I'm interested to read more stories about Max. She kept referring to a college friend who was murdered and the killer was never convicted. I'm assuming she's going to tackle that case in a future book. I hope the sexy police officer comes along....

Add Notorious to your list of fun, intricate murder mysteries. You won't be disappointed. Although this is an adult book, high school students will really enjoy this one too.

Published by Minotaur Books, March 25, 2014
eARC obtained from NetGalley and the publisher
336 pages



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Short Stack

It's the end of the week again, and time to discuss the new books we have added to our piles. Here's mine...

For Review:

  Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett, from the publisher

After my huge haul last week, that is it for this week. Thank goodness. Hope you got some great stuff. Let me know in the comments. Thanks for visiting and make sure you visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: Fire & Ash, by Jonathan Maberry @JonathanMaberry

Fire & Ash is a brilliant conclusion to the Benny Imura Series (or, is it now called the Rot & Ruin Series?)

The world building and complexity of the plot is what makes this series stellar, and Fire & Ash is no exception

I probably don't really need (or want) to say much about the plot. It's more of the story, so if you've read the first three, you know what I"m talking about, and if you haven't, well, go read my reviews of Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, and Flesh & Bone. The world has been attacked by a killer virus that makes everyone turn into zombies when they die. There are a lot of zombies!

But, this is so much more than a zombie series. Yes, I love the violence and all the encounters with them. But the other stuff is my favorite part. The REAL bad guys aren't the zombies, and I don't want to say much more about that.

Maberry is a master of reminding you of things that happened in the other books without just retelling the entire story.  He gets the characters to discuss or explain something that happened, and all of a sudden it all comes back. I really enjoyed delving back into this world. It was very easy to do.

There is so much character growth. Our main characters are forced to grow up because of the horrible situations they must face. And they face every challenge with such bravery and creativity.

I'm so happy with the ending. It takes a lot to get there. Fire & Ash is a long book! But, it reads incredibly fast for two reasons. It's action packed and never stops. And it has short chapters and there are a LOT of half pages. You will fly through once you get going.

I don't have anything bad to say about Fire & Ash. I will recommend this series to every teen who is an adventure/survival fan (and I do). You don't have to love zombie books to love this series. But of course, it helps.

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
537 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life is an original story that those who love music will thoroughly enjoy.

Elise has never fit in. She' been ignored and made fun of her entire school career. She works all summer before her sophomore year to do what popular kids do. When her desperate plan to become popular fails, she goes home one afternoon and slits her wrists. Then she calls one of those popular girls who has never paid any attention her.

Elise recovers from her attempted suicide, but still doesn't fit in anywhere. She forces herself to sit with two girls who are "friends" during lunch, but that's about as far as she will go. She takes long walks in the middle of the night. During one of these walks, her life changes. She meets two older girls and they take her to a secret overnight dance party in a warehouse. This party occurs every Thursday night. Elise begins attending regularly, sneaking out of her house. She gets to know the DJ, Char, and becomes interested in learning to DJ. She already has an extensive knowledge of music, and her dad belongs to an old band that was a "one hit wonder." So, when she asks for DJ equipment, he's happy to oblige.

This Song Will Save Your Life also contains some other dramatic elements. Elise's parents are divorced and she's part of a blended family on her mom's side. She stays with her dad about half the time. There's romantic tension (but I won't tell you who.) And, Elise really has difficulty figuring out who she is, and what this all means. She's leading a double life and while she loves her secret one, it's causing a lot of stress. And, there is really the only problem I had with the book. It's impossible to believe that Elise regularly sneaks out of her house that many times without being caught. I just can't buy the "dumb parent" scenario. But, with that said, you just have to let it go...

This Song Will Save Your Life flows well. The story moves along, and Elise's struggles are portrayed realistically. You really root for her and want her to be happy, but she goes through some really awful low times on the way. The story ends on a hopeful note.

There are a lot of song titles mentioned in This Song Will Save Your Life, so music lovers will enjoy it. (But you have to like older music, because that's what Elise is into.) There's also a suggested song list at the end of the book for reference.

Teens who love contemporary novels about the struggles of adolescence will be drawn to This Song Will Save Your Life.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
276 pages

Rating: 4/5

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