Roseblood by A.G. Howard

28818314Title: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books
Published Date: January 10, 2017

Buy Link: http://a.co/40XXFxw

Blurb: In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

My Review:  Roseblood was an unexpected surprise in January’s Owlcrate.  I mean, they give you hints about what you’ll be getting and I knew it was going to be a classic retelling, but from some of the teasers I was thinking it would be a ‘classic retelling’ in the vein of Pride and Prejudice or something of that nature.  I never in a million years would have guessed that it was going to be a Phantom of the Opera retelling!!!  I hadn’t even imagined one existed….now I’m wondering about others.

First, let me tell you, I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera…and it is by far my favorite musical ever.  I love everything about it.  And like the rest of the world, I was taken by the Phantom.  I love the music.  I own the movie version with Gerard Butler (and will be watching it again sometime soon).  And I truly loved being surprised by this book!

What I Loved:  This book wasn’t so much a re-telling as it was a world built off the original story.  I loved the pace set by this book.  I felt like the elements of the whole story were revealed perfectly, and it flowed quite nicely.  The setting, the characters, the story, all of it kept me captivated.  There were no mention of the actual musical’s songs or dances, the book still brought to memory my theater experience.  I enjoyed that.  As I said, this wasn’t a re-telling exactly, but there were scenes included that well-enough reflect the story we all know.

The romance between Rune and Thorn was so sweet and beautiful.  There are underlying layers to their relationship, things that in real life (or at least ME in real life)  would have had a hard time just simply accepting; Rune does accept easily, however the pacing of the relationship was still just right.  And without a touch of ‘unsavory events’ this couple still made my heart beat faster and me sigh with that contentment you get when reading about first love.

Not So Much:  There were a few holes in my opinion.  Or maybe not holes, but places where at first Rune was completely oblivious about things, and then suddenly she is completely in the know using terminology that she shouldn’t quite understand (as far as I could tell).  I don’t know if I missed something while reading, or if it was supposed to be in those gap-times where the characters do spend time together but it’s not written in the book in detail…however I did think, ‘wait…how did she know that, or come to that?’

The Verdict:  I loved this book!  There’s not much more to it than that.  It’s a clean read, I would let my 11 year old daughter read it if she wanted to.  (And she would LOOVE Diablo, the opera cat, if she did).

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

233956801Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Buy Link: http://a.co/2fOj0IS

Blurb: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Review:  My friend recommended this book to me, more than once actually.  And not just the book, but the audiobook.  Did I GET the audiobook?  NOPE, I had gift cards to Barnese & Noble, and while I was there shopping I saw these books – took a glimps inside and knew I just had to own them.

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What I Loved: This book was full of action, I want to say mystery, but it’s not a mystery really, it’s just an unraveling of secrets.  I love that.  While it’s going to be listed in my next category, the uniqueness of this book was part of what made it so appealing.  It’s not simply told in a collection of documents – but the format of the book makes them seem legit.  There are little post it notes, and pictures made of words; all sorts of beautiful treasures.

I loved the characters in this book.  Like – pretty much all of them.  I will say that AIDEN (the AI) might possibly have been my favorite character of them all.  Is it weird to want to comment on the character growth of a computer?  Yeah, probably.  I also loved both Katy and Ezra; Katy was defiant and daring, and Ezra was sarcastic and fun.  They made a fun pair.

Not So Much:  It took me some time to adjust to reading a book that was 100% documents.  I miss a lot of the emotion that way.  You get some, but you don’t get the picture created for you like you would in a typical book.  The little touches, or the room descriptions – things that really put you there.  At least….that’s how I felt at first.  But the more I read the book, the more I really WAS there.  I got used to the format and couldn’t put the book down.

The Verdict:  When describing this book to others, I’ve sort of mentioned Star Trek, but mostly the show Firefly – with the different plants and such.  I mean that only in a ‘setting’ sort of way.  I normally wouldn’t read a book about space travel, but I am so glad I started this series.  This book was clean, very YA appropriate.  A 5-star read for sure.

Adorkable – Cookie O’Gorman

28791088Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published March 31st 2016
Buy Link: http://a.co/iMRApZk

Blurb: Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

This is my second book of a sick-day read-a-thon. This time I went down the list of books I’ve purchased recently and picked the cover/title that appealed to me the most. Adorkable was another great choice on my part, no matter how random.

What I Loved I really enjoyed Sally’s obliviousness to Becks feelings, and likewise Beck’s obliviousness to Sals. It really did make for a fun time for the reader who was able to ‘read between the lines.’ It made Becks’ character even more adorable, because while Sally was the one who struggled the most in this book, for acceptance with herself and others, Becks was hopelessly lost in love and it was plain as day.

The opening of this book was so great, best beginning ever.

Sally as a whole was a great character. I loved the parts of her that were ‘dorky’ and absolutely adored her job reading to the kids. I almost wanted that job too!

Not So Much: I’m sorry, I don’t care how good her intentions were, I would have thrown Hooker to the curb a LONG time ago. No friends who can’t take no for an answer deserves the amount of chances she got. I was really annoyed with her, even if she did provide some entertaining moments. I kind of was aggravated at Sally’s mother for similar reasons. Yes, these things are there to make the story go – they were just so annoying and persistent, it drove me nuts!

The Verdict: While I was annoyed at parts, as a whole I loved watching this story play out. I even kind of enjoyed the torture Sally went through in the fake boyfriend process, knowing that Becks was feeling the same thing. This book is clean and great for Teens young and old.

View all my reviews

Dream Chaser – Angie Stanton

13037321Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published November 4th 2011 by Vanguard Management

Buy Link:  http://a.co/3RraFCA

Blurb: Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall.

With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before. To make matters worse, the kids in the musical hate her, her singing sucks, and her dog is sick.

Eli has grown up during their years apart and now possesses confidence and good looks, as well as a giant chip on his shoulder. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car.

Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

I picked up Dream Chaser this week due to a recommendation by Lenore over at Celebrity Readers, because while Lenore and I don’t always read the same style books….we usually do. As is probably evident by the [lack of] activity on my blog, I’ve not only been having a difficult time finding moments to read/blog, but I’ve also found myself in one of those inevitable reading slumps where every book you pick up and start gives you that, ‘meh’ feeling. I’ve even been having a difficult time getting into audiobooks recently – and listening to audiobooks while I work is one of my favorite things! Regardless, I think the slump has been broken, because on Saturday November 19th I read not one, but two books in their entirety. Granted, I was also pretty sick and allowed myself to be confined to the couch for the day…but still.

What I Loved: I wouldn’t pick up a book about cheerleaders on my own, not because I have something against cheerleaders, but because most of the ones I have picked up have come off so very cliche in the ‘cheerleader’ personality of the characters. I just couldn’t get into them. Dream Chaser was not a cheerleader book, it was more of a theater book. I’m so glad I allowed myself to read past the beginning to discover this. I adore most theater type books.

Willow was also not the typical ‘over achiever’ character. She WAS an over achiever, apparently single-handedly throwing the cheerleaders into National Championship winner status, and also good enough to be thrown into the leading role of a musical that was already several weeks into practices – so yes, definitely over achiever. However, she struggled with subjects in school, and her self confidence was really pretty low. She was humble and recognized that while she may be good, in both of her activities she realized the important part of being just a part of an entity. She understood the value of practice and hard work, and just work ethic in general.

The chemistry between Willow and Eli is what really had me devouring this book. Their history as best friends and former partners really helped to play into the tension that built between them. I loved their director, Tyson’s, little comments regarding this tension, and his role at helping them overcome their past.

Another favorite part is that regardless of how awful Jilly and the rest of Willow’s friends were treating her because of her decision to move on from cheerleading, I’m glad that this wasn’t a transfer from one group of friends to another, and that there was some healing and understanding that started to happen.

Every time I think that I’m done with this section, I remember something else about the story that I love….Willow’s family is AWESOME! I loved their support and understanding. I think that my favorite scene is when they come home and catch Willow and Eli on the couch. 😉

Not So Much: I feel like the gravity of Willow’s cheerleading accident was either overplayed at the beginning, or underplayed throughout the book. She could have easily died, and yet so few of the cast of characters of this book seem to really take that into consideration when dealing with Willow about her decisions or fears. I also think that something like that would take you out of the ‘game’ longer than half a week.

The Verdict: This is everything I could have asked for in a ‘sick day’ book. It was entertaining, passionate, fun and serious at times. I even shed a couple tears… I’m so glad I picked the book up and started reading almost immediately. This book is clean and perfect for your teens!

View all my reviews

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: YA – Historical, Western, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Date: September 1, 2015
Audiobook Narrator: Amy Rubinate

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B00QPIM66M

Blurb (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.

My Review:
This book was sort of a break from my norm. It’s not a fairy tale retell, it’s not straight up fiction, or even dystopian/fantasy. This can best be described as a YA-Western, complete with guns, small down salons, horses and Stetsons. Although I’m wondering…were the hats actually called Stetsons back then? Because I’m pretty sure that’s a name brand, right? I could be wrong.

What I Loved: It was just ever so different, yet the same. The setting is one that I’m not used to, and the southerny/western accent too. This was more a book about redemption than anything, but first comes vengeance. I think the thing that I liked most was Kate’s character, she was complicated. She was after the men who killed her father, but at the same time was able to be compassionate and understanding toward the Apache Indians, the race that everyone hated/feared/mistreated. However, even in that area, she was tainted by society norms and while she was trying to maintain a friendship and understanding, she continued to have disregard for their ways and was borderline offensive for a good portion of the book. There were events that helped her to gain more understanding and respect for the Indians as the story went on, and this growth was the most significant throughout the book, in my opinion.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Kate and Jessie. I felt like it was this low simmer sort of thing between them, rather than drama that extended throughout the book. This wasn’t just Kate’s story either, Jessie had his own redemption to find as well.

Not So Much: Despite any kind of redemption she found while on the hunt for her father’s killers, Kate really never did leave the thought of vengeance behind. For a small portion of the book I thought that she was going to find healing elsewhere, and I do feel like she kind of did – however she was still pretty set on her path. I would have liked to have had more of an emotional resolution for both Kate and Jessie. While there was character growth throughout the book, I feel like we stopped just shy of anything remarkable.

The Verdict:      

I enjoyed listening to this book. Again, it is nice to break free from the mold just a bit and read something a little different. I can’t say it was my favorite book of the summer, but I certainly do not regret reading it. This is a YA driven novel, though there is some stronger cussing in it..just so you all know.

One Paris Summer – Denise Grove Swank

Title: One Paris Summer
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Coming of Age
Publisher: Zonderkids Books/Blink
Date Date: June 7, 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/0310755166

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

My Review:
I recently went to NetGalley looking specifically for fun summer reads to take one. I came across two I felt I would like and would be fairly easy to commit to. One Paris Summer stuck out to me specifically because I’m an Anna and the French Kiss freak. I’ve read that book nearly 20 times (I really wish I were lying). It is my go-to book when I’m in a slump, or just want to reconnect with old ‘friends.’ One Paris Summer sounded perfect when I read the blurb, and I was even more excited when I was approved.

What I Loved: The setting and the language for sure top this list. It is one of the things I loved about Anna, I felt like I really could put myself there. I’ve never actually been to France, but I’m willing to bet based on Anna and now One Paris Summer, I’d be able to recognize a couple of places that aren’t actual landmarks (assuming they are real…). One Paris Summer was especially nice in the language area, I did take French in school, and since there were some French phrases, some well known while others weren’t, I was happy to know I could recognize what was being said before the book gave away the translation.

I also connected with the music side of this story. Sophie was a pianist, and she would ramble off pieces of music that most people don’t even care to recognize, but I on the other hand did know some of them – and probably all of them if I took the time to listen to the piece, since I don’t know every piece of music by name.

I did get caught up in this story line of this book (and not just the setting). The dynamic between Sophie and Camille and Camille’s friends was great. I loved the growth of Sophie and Eric’s characters throughout the book as well. In the opening chapter I thought that we were going to encounter the brother/sister cat fighting pretty much throughout the entire novel, but I loved that wasn’t the case. Some of my favorite moments were when Sophie and Eric were spending time alone. Of course, the blooming relationship between Sophie and Mathieu was front and center, and totally gush-worthy.

Not So Much: So I hope I don’t sound too hypocritical in my next statement, since I picked up this book because it reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss, but the similarities of a few of the scenes in One Paris Summer to Anna almost had me putting the book away. They happened in the very first few chapters and thankfully, once they had passed, the similarities ended rather quickly and One Paris Summer became its own. But still, if it were me I probably would have avoided that as much as possible (and if it was a coincidence…then that is super crazy, and sorry for calling it out!)

Camille played the perfect antagonist, however she might have ended up being a tad bit over the top at some points. Not the climax, mind you…but in some of her tantrums. And I kind of wish we got to “experience” more of her reformation in this book.

The Verdict:        

This really was exactly what I was looking for. I think it is very likely that I will add this to my “re-read” books…but first that means I have to buy my own copy rather than the NetGalley version!  The book is clean, and perfectly suitable for Young Adults.

Dalysian Hope – Jamie Summer

Title: Dalysian Hope
Author: Jamie Summer
Genre: YA – Fantasy/ Paranormal/ Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Pub Date: March 23, 2016

Buy Link: http://smile.amazon.com/dp/1530803020

Blurb (From Goodreads):One night that changed everything.

Sophie Evans is sure about one thing: she’s a normal teenage girl. Until one night her life is turned upside down.

Attacked in her own apartment and saved by two handsome strangers, she’s thrown into a whole new world. Suddenly dealing with powers she knows nothing about and having half-truths thrown at her from every direction, she realizes that the definition of normal might not fit her after all.

When Sophie is told that she has to fight in a matter of life and death, she’s left wondering what chance does she really have? And how can she be the only hope of a race she never even knew existed?

Can Sophie fight the odds stacked against her, or will she lose herself in the process?

My Review:

Dalysian Hope was a review request sent to me. I’ve slowed way down on accepting requests, just because the time I used to spend on reading/blogging/promoting just isn’t available anymore. But since I was interested in the blurb I was given, and the cover of this book was beautiful, so I decided to give it a shot.

What I Loved: This story is very unique in many ways, and yet still falls into what is popular in YA-Fantasy/Dystopian type novels. I enjoyed Sophie’s character. She was witty and strong, yet at the same time took things in stride and didn’t have a tendency for the dramatic ‘this is not fair’ attitude that sometimes comes with these novels. This book was not too forthcoming with information, but there were some elements that of foreshadowing I was able to pick up on, and I love when I’m able to do that.

The chemistry between Sophie and Ash….and Sophie and Ren was pretty decent. Yes, unfortunately we have the makings (not exactly there yet…) for a love triangle here. I have my ‘side’ but I will keep that to myself for now.

Not So Much:
As previously mentioned, this book is not too forthcoming with the information. I was just as frustrated as Sophie about this, but mostly because it caused some of the story to just not make sense, or even flow very well. Keeping information so far under wraps that nearly the entire book is us discovering Sophie’s abilities, her training, and her internally swooning – it really just could have used a little more movement. There were things happening, lies that were being told (though not very well at times) and plots forming; however we never really figured out the reasons behind some of these things. I have my suspicions on a few of them…but no confirmation. That is not to say the book wasn’t without its action, and once there was some information starting to get shared, the book picked up pace considerably. It was just that I had to wait until the final 3/4ths of the novel for that to really happen.

The Verdict:  

    

 

I did enjoy the concept of this story, it was a unique idea with a lot of potential. I will be interested to see what more can be made of it as the series progresses. This book is clean, very YA appropriate.