Saturday, 18 October 2014

Double Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall & Adrenaline Crush by Laura Crompton

A Little Something Different

Title: A Little Something Different 

Author: Sandy Hall
Publisher: Raincoast 
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Romance)
Source: Publisher
Format: Finished Copy 
Pages: 272
The distinctive new crowdsourced publishing imprint Swoon Reads proudly presents its first published novel—an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are ment to be together....
This book was cute cute cute! I was having so much fun reading it and I loved all the different point of views. I especially loved the squirrel's (YES SQUIRREL!) POV. It was so cute that I ended up reading passages of it to my sister. I like this new imprint at Feiwel and Friends because if this is an indication on what is to come, I'm excited to pick up their books. This is a love story.. told from many people's (animals, objects) POVs except the two people implicated in the love story, Gabe and Lea. We have the brother of Gabe, his friend, Lea's friends, a Starbucks barista, their writing professor, a bench, the squirrel, a bus driver, and so on. It is a long list however it really worked for this book. You didn't need any character depth from each POV because this story isn't about them. You're just watching Gabe and Lea's story unfold and progress from different people's eyes. In terms of the romance.. it was excruciatingly slow. We are talking about a super super super shy couple.It took them months to finally utter a single word to each other. Everyone was pretty much pushing them towards each other but it still took months (imagine if no one was pushing them?). It frustrated me a bit, I have to admit. Also, the book is super short. 272 pages? I really wanted more complexity and not them getting the happily ever after once they finally get together. 

Adrenaline Crush

Title: Adrenaline Crush
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Raincoast 
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Romance)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC 
Pages: 192
When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.
Adrenaline Crush was a very quick book. I had my doubts in regards to any character development with a book so short. When I started reading, I honestly wasn't a fan of the main protagonist, Dyna. Dyna seemed such a stereotypical adrenaline junkie. It's all about getting that rush rush rush. That is all that went in her head. Once she ended up splintering her ankle from a fall that she could have avoided if she didn't think she was indestructible, that is when the book became more interesting for me. Dyna starts going to a rehabilitation center and goes to group therapy. She meets a young war veteran with an amputated leg and they click. The only problem I had is that Dyna just recently got into a relationship with a guy. This wasn't even a love triangle, this was a cheating triangle. I do not condone cheating of any kind. How was I supposed to root for their relationship when Dyna is hurting her current boyfriend (even though he doesn't know at that time, he will). However, ignoring that, I did like the healing process for Dyna and all the other people she met during the group therapy. It was an interesting breezy quick book for me. I do think Dyna had some character development which was a pleasant surprise. I also really liked her parents and even though they were painted as stereotypical incompetent parents (tattoos, harleys, etc), they cared so much for Dyna and wanted the best for her. I do recommend this book for a quick fun contemporary read.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Review: Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Title: Ashes to Ashes 
Author: Jenny Hand & Siobhan Vivian
 Simon & Schuster Canada
Publication date: September 16, 2014

Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Paranormal)
Source: Publisher 
Format: ARC
Pages: 387
New Year's Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.
After Rennie's death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn't left with Reeve... If Kat had only stayed with Rennie... Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.
Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?
*may contain spoilers if have not read Fire with Fire* 
I have been waiting to get my hands on Ashes to Ashes for so long, because Fire with Fire sure ended in such a huge cliffhanger. Ashes to Ashes is the final book in the Burn for Burn trilogy, which means that everything is finally going to rap up in this book. So many questions have arose from reading Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire, and I just couldn't wait for this book to answer all of those questions for me. Ashes to Ashes immediately began with Mary, and to be honest, I just didn't like Mary anymore. I originally thought Burn for Burn was going to be a contemporary trilogy about friends and revenge, but I really disliked the paranormal twist that was added in the story. I just didn't get why Jenny and Siobhan decided to do that, but overall, the paranormal factors was what really bothered me in this book. 
Bothersome factors aside, I enjoyed this book. Although, if I had to compare it to the first two, this would be my least favourite. In Ashes to Ashes, we definitely got to know and understand all the characters, not just Mary, Kat, and Lillia, a bit more that we ever had.  The romance was also very interesting, and we got to really see who ended up with who. I guess this book was no longer about the revenge (boohoo!) and more about the conflict between Mary and the girls. Due to the fact that I'm not much of a fan of Mary, I really just wanted to get her out of the overall picture. 
Overall, the ending was a great one for this trilogy. Although it was definitely unexpected, it was still a good ending to the books. Would I recommend this trilogy? Definitely yes, but I would have to mention that it's not completely contemporary, and not get someone fooled like me (*cries*) Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian certainly delivered a good trilogy, and I can't say I'm not excited for future works by both of them!

Other books by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Friday, 10 October 2014

Review: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez - Surprisingly addicting

Kiss Kill Vanish

Title: Kiss Kill Vanish
Author: Jessica Martinez
 HarperCollins Canada
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 432
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.
I must admit. I have had friends who read Kiss Kill Vanish and weren't impressed. I try not to let other people's opinions affect me in regards to judging a book I haven't read but I have to say I do become wary of the book. I wished I didn't request it for review but still, I tried emptying my pre-reading judgements and started it. I must say, I was surprised! The beginning is slow. That is a given. The author took a while trying to set up everything and get the ball rolling.. still, I wasn't bored or disliked the protagonist. It's funny how I actually really liked Valentina. I loved the plot and thought it was addicting. I especially loved all the well crafted twists. Even I, someone who loved mysteries and usually solves them rather quickly, wasn't able to see the twists coming my way. 
To spare you the details, Valentina witnessed her boyfriend kill someone in cold blood when her dad ordered him to do so. She couldn't take it and fled. She found out her father is pretty much a drug lord, trafficking drugs and making millions and millions of dollars. Valentina decides to runaway and goes to Montreal (she lived in Florida). I felt, for such a pampered sheltered rich girl, she did fairly well. She barely complained and wasn't naive. She didn't have a misconception that everything should come to her easily because that's how it has always been. She lived in a closet sized room with other people and worked as a model for a rich guy. Yea it seems fishy, but let's be real, someone like her can't do manual labor! I do understand that about her. Heck, I've never had a job which has more to do with our culture where the parents take care of the kids and kids shouldn't be worrying about money than my family or all arabs/muslims being rich. So I get why some people think she's too sheltered and should look at reality and get an actual job.. this is easier said than done.
The romance in this book.. guys it is so unpredictable and I LOVED IT TO PIECES. THANK YOU THANK YOU Jessica Martinez for finally letting an underdog win the girl. THANK YOU for finally making my guy bias win the girl. I don't want to mention which guy I'm talking about (because there are several, though NO love triangle (square?) at all). All I can say is that I was very very happy with the romance. 
The last is the plot and plot progression. As I mentioned earlier, the beginning was slow, that's the reason why I took half a star off. It took 100 pages to really get into the novel and get hooked. However after the 100 page mark, things got crazy with a capital C. I'm not even kidding. Deaths, conspiracy, murder plotting, ambushing, everything you can think of. It was so addicting. however there are also the sweet moments with Valentina and another person that I can't help but gush about. All in all, this book took me by complete surprise and I loved it. I couldn't stop reading it and ended up marathoning the last 250 pages on a friday night. Kiss Kill Vanish is definitely worth the buy and read! 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Series Review (so far): The Rephaim by Paula Weston - AMAZING!!

I rarely stumble upon a paranormal (creatures) series that I enjoy. The last two I've loved were The Violet Eden Chapters series by Jessica Shirvington and recently The Dispossessed trilogy by Page Morgan. So If you're a fan of the previous mentioned series, then you'll 100% love The Rephaim series. 

This will be a series review of the first two books, Shadows and Haze. They won't be separated because I read them almost back to back and feel a combined review of the two books is more informative than separate distinct reviews. 
Shadows (The Rephaim, #1)Haze (The Rephaim, #2)
It’s been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant.
It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. 
Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth – and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly – who can she trust?
The beginning of Shadows was so gripping. I was so intrigued by everything. I mean, have your sad the synopsis of it? Gaby lost her brother a year ago, barely has contact with her parents, and is now trying to move on. Her pain through losing her brother was so playable.. my heart was aching for her. However when a guy suddenly appears claiming to know her brother.. all hell breaks loose. Let me tell you, whatever you think the direction of the book will go.. I can guarantee you, it isn't that. I was looking out for the typical paranormal cliche plot falls and I received none. From the mysterious Rafe that isn't mysterious at all, to the big mystery behind her memory loss and her nightmares. It is all just well written. The attraction, the romance, the friendship, and the introduction of an onslaught of new characters were all brilliantly written in a way that gives depth to ally he characters, as well as makes them all memorable, including the secondary characters. 

The plot guys.. it was just so addicting. Everything is laced with mystery. Yes it is paranormal and a sub-genre that has been excessively done, but this is so unique in the memory loss aspect. Also, can we please crown Gaby the most kick butt character ever? I loved how all the characters didn't hold back. There was no censorship going on. They said what they wanted, swore when they couldn't hold it back.. this is something typical of seventeen to eighteen year olds. There was no air of innocence that is usually present in YA books. The first book was one heck of a book. I knew instantly this is going to become one of my favorite series, however I could only confirm it by reading Haze. 
Paula Weston took no time to jump right back into the action. Haze didn't suffer from a lack of action scenes. It was definitely an adrenaline pumping book. Haze literally started less than 10 days from the beginning of Shadows. I loved that. I felt like I'm experiencing what Gaby is feeling in a real timeline. The introduction of a new plot in Haze was freaking fantastic. Since I can't spoil Shadows for you, I won't be saying what it is but it is very hard for me to keep my excitement over what happened in this book. The romance between Gaby and Rafe is so natural and totally a secondary plot line. Don't fear from romances overtaking paranormal books here. 

With Haze, I became even more invested in the characters and their well beings. I love Paula Weston's writing too. I'm big on visualizations so the way she describes everything without spending paragraphs on it and doing it right, as well as the dialogues; it was all done brilliantly. I never got tired reading Haze to the point of not knowing that I was in the last chapter until I flipped to read the next chapter but found out the acknowledgments page. I might have screamed a "NOOOOO" in the middle of my house. I definitely recommend The Rephaim series to paranormal fans in need of something original and unique as well as YA fans in need of something a bit more mature and interesting. I am so excited for Shimmer! Us North American citizens won't get the book until mid 2015, but it's already out in the UK (just an FYI, I might order it form The Book Depository #Sorrynotsorry). 

She is the author of the Rephaim series.
She is also an avid reader and blogger, a huge fan of Australian literature and fantasy/paranormal stories, a closet comic reader and TV addict...and she's borderline obsessed with the Foo Fighters.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fall tv shows are back! What are you watching?

I'm a tv show addict. There I've said it. I love watching tv shows and I watch at least an episode of every show out there to see if I'll like it or not. I've compiled several shows that I've stuck through and I've been watching for at least a season or two.
Of course, it being Fall, so many new shows are premiering, which I'll also mention. Let's start off with the returning shows shall we?
One of my top three favorite shows, The Good Wife is everything I want in a show. It has an independent, kick butt female character, a wide array of memorable and interesting secondary characters, and law themed but with an actual continuing plot that carries on throughout the whole season. Alicia Florrik is a woman I personally look up to. Season 6 just started and that episode killed me. I have such high expectations for this show but I have never been disappointed. 
I initially started watching it for the law theme and Matt, since I loved him as Logan in Gilmore Girls. However right now those are carrying the show beautifully (no, there is no romance between them)

 Season 11 just premiered a couple of days ago and I teared up four different times watching the 40 minute episode. How the hell do the writers of Grey's Anatomy do that? I am always tearing up or full on crying while watching this show. I am happy to see all my favorite characters back: Derek, Meredith, April, and Jackson. This episode lays down the issues that most of the characters will face for the rest of the season. I'm somewhat afraid but I'm very excited!
Aren't they adorable? Derek and Meredith are one of my all time favorite screen couples

The Mentalist completes my current favorite three shows (with The Good Wife and Grey's Anatomy). Season seven unfortunately has gotten a mid season slot.. don't ask me why because I'm fuming over here. Why CBS would do this, I've no idea.. at least it's better than it getting cancelled, which is something my heart can't take. Patrick Jane has been a part of my tv life for the past six years and I am not ready to let go! especially after that last episode! 

 I love Modern Family, it never fails to crack me up. It is one of the few american comedy shows that I enjoy. The first episode of the new season, season 6, was hilarious and a ton of fun. I can always count on this show to put a smile on my face! 
I miss having my extended family live close by me

This show is totally random I know. I personally don't care much for country music so how did I stumble upon this? I was bored. However, I'm glad I was because this show is unbelievably addicting! I love all the drama and while I sometimes skip the performances (I always always watch Clare Bowen's performances), I still love the show. The first episode had my heart pumping like crazy and I'm excited for more!

The third season's finale was a long series of gasps. Also, turns out season 4 will now be narrated by Victoria.. and we'll be following her revenge… wait what? yes, yes that isn't a mistake. It will be very interesting to see how the writers will set this up because a) while I love Victoria, I love her as a villain and b) she did something unforgivable that makes me now hate her, and not love her. However, Revenge gets better by each new season so I'm excited to see how this goes. 

The Mindy Project is another comedy added to my to watch list. Mindy Kaling is an amazing writer, producer, and actor. I think her character is hilarious on the show and I find myself cracking up all the time. So far, based on the first two episodes of season 3, I'm quite happy with the new season!

Awkward is finally back on after taking the mid season break. It is currently on season 3 and I'm liking this whole season a lot more than last. It is probably due to the change in writers as well as some secondary characters (though I dearly miss Ming). The first episode (episode 12) was interesting but a bit rushed to resolve the problem that we've been facing for the past 11 episodes. I'm very excited to see what's coming up for this show

I've experienced a roller coaster ride with The Big Bang Theory. Initially I wasn't the biggest fan.. however over time I started to love it and the characters. I recently watched the season 6 premiere episode(s) and I was left slightly disappointed. I'm hoping the show picks up its hilarity and shows me why I've loved these characters for the past 5 seasons. 

I was told Madam Secretary is the sister to The Good Wife, and as you all know.. that is some serious labeling. I decided to give it a try though and I really enjoyed the first episode! Another very strong and independent female lead with a really good plot. I'm already itching to watch the next episode. 

I watched the series premiere of How To Get Away With Murder around six hours before creating this post. I only went into it knowing it revolves around law students who get implicated in a murder. I then found out it is one of Shonda Rhimes' creations.. you guys know how much I love Grey's Anatomy right? However, I also tried her other show Scandal but didn't like it so it was a 50/50 chance in terms of whether I'll like it or not. However Rhimes delivered! the episode kept me, literally, at the edge of my seat. I was so engrossed in the episode, i loved the pacing and the way the timeline was created. I'm seriously excited for the next episode of this! 
What shows are you guys excited about starting? Recommend me any new shows too! I've tried A to Z as well as The Mysteries of Laura and they weren't that great. I am going to check out the series premiers of Gotham and Scorpion. Also, any old shows recommendations? Not knowing and checking out Nashville until a couple of months ago indicates that I might be missing on some prime tv.