Title: A Beautiful Dark  [indie bound] [amazon]
Author:
Jocelyn Davies [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre:
Paranormal Romance
Publisher:
Harper Teen
Series:
A Beautiful Dark
Format: Paperback
Source:
Publisher
Reviewer:
Andi
Parental Advisory:
drinking, violence
Teachable Moments: 
good vs. evil

“When you like someone, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to let them in. Love is messy.”

Summary(from the publisher):
On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

Opinion:
This book is the perfect example of not giving up on a story too soon. I was about 75 pages in, my usual limit for when a book isn’t grabbing me, and on the verge of giving up. I had no idea what was going on and didn’t know if there was a point. I checked the page count and saw the book is close to 400 pages so I kept going, and thank goodness I did. If I had given up and not pushed through for another 50 pages or so I would have completely missed out on a book that was surprisingly great. And that is exactly what A Beautiful Dark turned out to be…a great great story. A story of good and evil, light and dark, choice and no choice. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but it is a paranormal romance so I have to mention some of the weirdness. :-)

Basically the book is about Skye, an orphaned girl living with her mother’s best friend in Colorado. Her parents died when she was small so Skye has been with her “Aunt” Jo ever since. Anyway, on the night of her 17th birthday she meets two mysterious boys and from that moment on nothing is the same for her. Things start happening that Skye can’t seem to explain. The more she tries to brush off what is occurring as coincidence, the stranger things seem. And then there is Asher and Devin who seem to be showing up seemingly out of thin air every place she is and who she is inexplicably drawn to. As the book draws on and Skye’s destiny, along with Asher and Devin’s, are revealed, it is clear that everything Skye thought she knew about her past isn’t as cut and dry as she thought and the battle between darkness and light is just beginning.

Really it is a wonderfully told story about destiny and choosing sides told from the perspective of Skye, the girl caught in the middle of it all who just wants her life to stay normal. But the thing is, Skye is no longer normal. She is something else entirely and yet she is still a teenager. She still has homework and friends and a life.  She just wants to enjoy her life in the beautiful scenery of the Colorado mountains and she can’t. The arrival of Devin and Asher take that away from her. Now she is torn between her old life and her new one, what she knew and what she is learning and the two boys that have pulled the rug out from under her with the story of her past. And because of this I really found myself liking Skye. She was stuck in a love triangle with more at stake then someone getting a broken heart, she was all alone unable to confide in anyone and her world was on its axis. She could have thrown in the towel and quit yet she didn’t. Sure she had stubborn temper tantrums and tried to hide, but she was only 17, of course that would be her reaction at times. But for the most part she accepted what she was and her destiny to choose the path she wanted to take. She rose to the challenge and figured out that she was the one with all the power both literally and figuratively and tried to use that knowledge in her favor.

What I didn’t like about her was how cavalier she was about this power thing. Her eyes were flashing silver for crying out loud and she acted like that was nothing. That along with the weird heat thing that happened when she was around that she barely batted an eye at really bothered me. But in the long run just a minor complaint. Skye all in all was a great character.

And now on to the boys…Asher and Devin. Obvious enemies from the get go. One a rule follower and the other a rule breaker. One from light and one from dark. They had nothing in common, well nothing except one thing…they were both crazy about Skye. Sent on a mission for different reasons to watch over Skye they weren’t supposed to get attached to her. For me I liked Asher almost immediately. There was something charismatic and trust worthy about him that I just didn’t get from Devin. He was more shifty and shady. He had secrets and no free will and I just didn’t trust him. Asher on the other hand was there to protect Skye and watch over her. He tried to do the right thing and stay away but he couldn’t. He needed to be with her and damn the consequences. The addition of the two of them added to the story and I appreciated that.

A Beautiful Dark really was an excellent story and the perfect set up for what I can only imagine to be an action packed sequel with many twists and turns. Take a chance and read it. I’m surprisingly glad I did.

Title: A Midsummer’s Nightmare [indie bound] [amazon]
Author:
Kody Keplinger [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre:
Contemporary
Publisher:
Poppy
Series:
None
Format:
Hardcover
Source:
Purchased
Reviewer:
Andi
Parental Advisory:
drinking, language, sex
Teachable Moments:
family dynamics

“…Welcome to Hamilton! As soon as I saw that exclamation mark, I knew I was doomed.”

Summary(from the publisher):
Whitley Johnson’s dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She’s just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée’s son? Whitley’s one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin’ great.

Worse, she totally doesn’t fit in with her dad’s perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn’t even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she’s ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn’t “do” friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn’t her stepbrother…at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Opinion:
It pains me how amazing a writer Keplinger is at such a young age! She has this uncanny ability to tell the teenage prospective like it is. She did it with The DUFF(my fave Keplinger book) and with Shut Out. And yes, she managed to of it again with A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I waited along time to read this one and it was definitely worth the wait. Keplinger did not let me down!

A Midsummer’s Nightmare is about Whitley Johnson, a recent high school graduate that wakes up after a graduation party in bed with a boy she can’t remembers name. Not even bothering with pretenses Whitley chalks up the encounter as a one night stand and heads home to pack so she can spend the summer with her father, a time she has come to cherish since her parents divorced years before. Looking forward to a summer of hanging by the lake with her dad and drinking with him, Whitley is in for a surprise. Her dad has met someone and they have not only moved into a house together and are getting married, but her dad’s fiancé has two kids, a young teenaged daughter and GASP, Whitley’s one night stand Nathan. Suddenly Whitley’s relaxing summer isn’t going as planned and soon she has to figure out not only where she fits in with this new family, but where she fits in with her own. And is it really a one night stand when the boy is suddenly living across the hall from you?

I just loved Whitley. She was so lost in the world. Her mother was a PITA that had no clue what end was up and only wanted to bad mouth her dad and her father was a selfish piece of work that used his teenage daughter more as a friend then his kid. No wonder Whitley turned to booze and boys to get some attention. All this girl wanted was someone to notice her, to yell at her, to punish her and her parents just didn’t seem to care. It really was infuriating because Whitley was really awesome! She was funny and charming and really sweet when it came to her soon to be stepsister, and yet her dad essentially wanted nothing to do with her. I mean she was being bullied and he still didn’t care. ARGH!!! I really couldn’t stand him. LOL

Who I could stand was Nathan! Man was that boy just beyond adorable! I loved watching him with Whitley and with Whitley’s new friend Harrison( yes, Harrison from The DUFF!!). He was so funny with both of them there was no way not to love him! He made Whitley be the girl she had buried just by being there for her and not letting her get away with her antics. He was kind and patient and just the complete package. There was a sweetness in him that he brought out for Whitley and it totally made me swoon.

This book was equal parts romance and a coming of age story like Keplinger’s books of the past. Watching these characters grow and transform was purely entertaining and a joy to do. Each page turn was better then that last and at the end I was left with wanting more. Well done Kody! I can’t wait for more from you. You have a fan in this girl for sure!

categories : Review

Title: The Selection  [indie bound] [amazon]
Author:
Kiera Cass [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre:
Contemporary Dystopian
Publisher:
Harper Teen
Series:
The Selection
Format:
Paperback
Source:
ARC from a friend
Reviewer:
Andi
Parental Advisory:
violence, sexual innuendo
Teachable Moments:
individuality, independence, politics

“. . .true love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”

Summary(from the publisher):
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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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.

Opinion:
I am so confused why I have heard mixed things about this book. It was fantastical! I lived the characters and the story and the setting. I loved everything about it. I don’t quite understand why it has been compared to The Hunger Games other then the fact that America has maids and there is a host that questions the girls, but that aside, this book was a fun take on The Bachelor and I hate that show.

Basically The Selection is about America Singer, a girl from a lower caste number, that is “forced” to apply for the selection, by her mother and her boyfriend of two years, so Prince Maxon can find himself a wife. Heart broken and shocked when she is picked America moves into the palace with 34 other girls determined not to be the chosen one. What America doesn’t expect is to find herself an ally behind the palace walls and for that ally to be the Prince himself. Slowly America opens herself up to the possibility of a life with him. And when something unexpected happens she must decide where her allegiance lies and who her heart ultimately belongs to.

Now I know I should start with talking about America, and I will, but I need to first gush about Prince Maxon. I’m in love! Or in serious crush! He was simply put, an amazing character. Where you would expect a stuffy, snobbish Royal, you really got a down to earth, fun-loving guy that was trying to do the right thing for himself, his family and his subjects. His interactions with all of the girls was real and not contrived in the least. I believed everything about him and not once thought he was putting on a how for the cameras or the girls. He was so swoon worthy that I found myself wanting to be his princess! And his interaction with America made me like him even more! And America for that matter.

I feel like we got to know the real America through him and it made her endearing. When she was home she was always doing/thinking for someone else. But with Maxon she was finally thinking and feeling for herself. She was one of the least selfish people in the story and I admired that. I actually found myself rooting for her to open her eyes and see Maxon for the amazing creature he was.

On top of loving the characters I loved the story as a whole. Everything was paced out perfectly and the set-up for future books was there. I loved reading about Maxon and America’s time around the palace and her being his confidant. The fact that there was an added element of suspense with the rebel attacks just added to the whole story. And the use of a caste system really brought out that dystopian feel that I so love.

So basically I completely fell in love the Cass’ world and characters. The Selection is Cinderella meets The Bachelor in a world that was torn up by war and is still unsettled. Cass did an amazing job of drawing me in and keeping me there. Ignore the comparison to The Hunger Games and jump in. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Like me you’ll be praying that 2013 gets here quickly so you can pick up The Elite and that the CW gets there act together so you can watch the TV show. :-)

categories : Review

Title: Dreamland [indie bound] [amazon]
Author:
Sarah Dessen [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre:
Contemporary
Publisher:
Speak
Series:
None
Format:
Paperback
Source:
purchased
Reviewer:
Andi
Parental Advisory:
domestic abuse, drug use, sexual situations
Teachable Moments:
self-awareness

“I wondered if he ever thought of me, and hated the pang I felt when I told myself he didn’t.”

Summary(from the publisher):
Rogerson Biscoe, with his green eyes and dark curly hair, is absolutely seductive. Before long, sixteen-year-old Caitlin finds herself under his spell. And when he starts to abuse her, she finds she’s in too deep to get herself out…

Opinion:
Sarah Dessen, Sarah Dessen, Sarah Dessen! She is by far the queen of contemporary Ya novels. She has this way about her stories that manages to pull you in even when the book a d that characters aren’t your favorite. She once again did it to me with Dreamland. Definitely not my favorite of the Dessen’s I have read but still an emotionally gripping story about not feeling like you are enough, being left behind and abuse. I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but with all Dessen books I find it hard to keep my mouth shut.

Dreamland is the story of Caitlin, a teenager whose life was turned completely upside down the morning of her 16th birthday when her seemingly perfect sister leaves home with only a note. With Cass’ sudden absence Caitlin is all of a sudden trying to find her place and fill the void her sister has left. Always having felt second best to Cass Caitlin doesn’t know where she stands anymore. And then one night she meets Rogerson and her life is no longer her own. What starts out as an exciting relationship that is so different from anything her perfect sister had soon becomes abusive and unhealthy. Before Caitlin niws what is happening she has to revolve everything around Rogerson in fear that his next beating will be worst than the last. Slowly she starts not only losing her sister but the parts of herself that made her who she was.

Domestic abuse is always a hard subject to read not matter how old the people involved are. As a reader you don’t understand how someone in that situation can stay. I didn’t get why Caitlin would allow herself to be hurt by Rogerson the way she was. It was hard for me to wrap my head around it. But as someone that has luckily never been put in that situation it is easier for me to be on the outside looking in and saying she should have just walked away. And what I really liked about this book is that not one person said that to Caitlin. People just seemed to understand that leaving a physically abusive relationship isn’t as easy as it would seem to people on the outside and not one person judge her for that. Caitlin was lost enough as it was and just didn’t need the added scrutiny.

What Caitlin did need was her sister. She needed her the morning if her 16th birthday. She needed her when she was being wrapped up in Rogerson’s world. She needed her when her parents were weepy on Christmas because Cass wasn’t there.  For page one I thought Cass was incredibly selfish. I mean as the story went on I understood why she left, but she took the cowardly way out and left her sister to pick up the pieces and in the process alienated Caitlin even more. Their mother was so wrapped up in Cass not being there that she almost completely forgot she had another daughter and that irked me. Was that the mother’s fault, absolutely. But Cass fed into it. She ran like a child instead of standing up for what she really wanted. I just thought she was a terrible sister.

I guess in the long run this just wasn’t the kind of Dessen book I enjoy. Sure it was a quick read and the plot moved along in typical Dessen fashion, but it just didn’t do it for me. There was just too much that annoyed me. But I do give major props for tackling a really touchy subject mater and bringing it to life. Now that right there was what I liked about this story. You read it and tell me what you think!

categories : Review

Title: Revived [indie bound] [amazon]
Author:
Cat Patrick [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre:
Contemporary
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series:
None
Format:
Hardcover
Source:
Purchased
Reviewer:
Andi
Parental Advisory:
death, drinking, sexual, violence
Teachable Moments:
death

“Carefree, peaceful… those words reminds me of you.” Matt says without hesitation, surprising me with his frankness.”

Summary(from the publisher):
As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.

Opinion:
Okay it is official, I am a complete fan girl when it comes to Cat Patrick! When I read her first book Forgotten I was 95% in love. She told such a gripping, entertaining story, how could I not be. And now after reading Revived, I’m totally over the moon! Ms. Patrick has woven such an unforgettable tale of tragedy, life and death you won’t be able to put it down. Plus it doesn’t hurt that she knows how to write a really cute boy. ;-)

Revived is the story of Daisy, a 15 year old girl that is part of a secret government test group. On the outside Daisy seems to be a perfectly normal girl; but she is holding a secret. The truth is, Daisy has died, 5 times to be exact, and each time she has been brought to life by a mysterious drug called Revive. Under the cover of secrecy Daisy and her “parents” must move to a new location every time she dies causing Daisy to never really put down roots or to make any friends. Well that all changes for Daisy when they move to Omaha after her last “death” and she meets Audrey and Matt McKean. Now Daisy has people she cares about and that care about her. As things become intense in her personal life Daisy starts to realize Revive isn’t really all it claims to be and that there may be something sinister and secretive going on, more then she originally thought.

I have to say that I absolutely adored Daisy. She was this closed off girl that was never able to call a place home. Her whole life revolved around Revive and that was fine with her until she realized there was more out there. With the McKean siblings, I’ll gush about Matt shortly, Daisy was able to actually feel alive and to know what it was like to have a connection to someone. She was able to figure out what death really meant and how it affects families. She was able to open her eyes to the program that had raised her and to see it wasn’t exactly as she perceived it to be. Matt and Audrey taught Daisy what it was like to live and to be alive.

Oh Matt, where do I start with Matt. He was one of the cutest boys I’ve read in a long time. He brought out the absolute best in Daisy and helped her grow as a person. He was flawed and perfect because of those flaws and I fell head over heels in love with him. Did I hate the tendency he had to shut people out? Definitely. But that was what made him him and what helped the character to grow and mature in the end. The relationship he had with Daisy was spot on. There was a sense of naivety between them but also a sense of maturity. And the way that Matt loved his sister really warmed my heart. The dynamic between all of them was spot on and bettered the story.

Basically Cat Patrick created a great story of love, loss and finding out the truth. She did it through amazing character development and a wonderful story line. She knows how to weave all together magically and I look forward to reading more from her.

Better In Pink