Saturday, 4 July 2015

In My Mailbox #42

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren which allows us to share the books we’ve bought, borrowed and received.

Firstly, happy 4th of July to all the Americans! I hope that next year I'll be in the US at this time to celebrate with everyone, but for this year I'll stick to scrolling through my friends' Facebook pictures and Snapchat stories. Book-wise, I haven't got much since my last IMM but here they are anyway!

For Review

The Next Together by Lauren James*
Another Day by David Levithan^
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell^

*ARC sent by Pansing (thanks Sasha!)
^ARCs from NetGalley (thanks Random House and Disney!)

I'm really excited to read The Next Together, since it mashes so many different genres together. I'm curious to see how that plays out. I've read Another Day, and quite liked it. Look out for my review this month! I attempted A Whole New World, but it was sadly a dnf for me, and I'm really disappointed about that. I hadn't read any review before requesting it, which I now see I should've done. Oh well, I'll remember that for next time.

So that's my haul this week! Leave a comment if you've read or are looking forward to any of these :)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Review: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Title: The Cemetery Boys
Author: Heather Brewer
Release date: March 30th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Thriller
Format: ARC
Pages: 273

Source: Publisher

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

The Cemetery Boys is pretty different from most of the YA books I read. I'm still not entirely sure if this is paranormal or not! After reading about the legends of the Winged Ones in this book, there's still no proof that they actually exist. It's a nice change that Brewer left things to the reader's imagination.

Stephen hates that he has to uproot his life and move to Spencer, his father's hometown. Just him and his father, because they've admitted Stephen's mother in a mental facility. Gosh, I felt so bad for her and for Stephen... Especially since Spencer is such a dull, dreary place. Stephen soon meets kids his age and is pulled into a group of boys he's not sure he should be hanging out with. Devon, their leader, is charismatic, confident, and scary as hell. His sister, Cara, is scary too but in a different way. Stephen finds himself attracted to her in a way he's never been before, but his happiness hangs in the balance after discovering there's more to Spencer and the urban legends surrounding the town than he'd thought.

The only character we really get to know is Stephen. Devon and Cara are present quite a lot, but we never get to know much about them, so they remained very two-dimensional to me. Not just Devon and Cara, but the other 'cemetery boys' too. They just seemed to be there for the sake of it.

Stephen's search for the truth was pretty interesting to me - my favourite part of mysteries is the protagonist's process of figuring stuff out. And the description of Spencer was great; I definitely know that I would never want to live in a town like that! Its creepiness factor is pretty high, especially if you add in the Winged Ones legend and the 'sacrifices' that have occurred to placate them.

The biggest thing in this book is the climax towards the end, where there's basically a showdown and everything is revealed. There's a twist at this point, but I had my suspicions about it so it didn't really come as a surprise to me. I guess that was a little bit of a letdown. I was hoping to be appropriately shocked at the climax. This book is a fun quick read, and I'm glad it's a standalone because thriller books like this are best that way. Even though I wish there had been more depth to the characters, the plot was enough to keep me invested in the novel.

*Thank you to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Monday, 29 June 2015

Review: Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Get Dirty (Don't Get Mad #2)
Author: Gretchen McNeil

Release date: June 16th 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Format: eARC
Pages: 268

Source: Edelweiss

The members of Don’t Get Mad aren’t just mad anymore . . . they’re afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree stuck in juvie, it’s up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge.

The girls desperately try to discover the killer’s identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, Bree is under house arrest, and Olivia’s mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying.

I was super hyped to read this sequel after the amazing book that was Get Even. Well, I'm glad to say I enjoyed this even more than the first book! This is a duology, and I didn't know that going into this book. So everything is all wrapped up by the end of Get Dirty, and I loved the numerous twists that I never saw coming.

Margot is in a coma after she was attacked during the production of Twelfth Night. Bree is sent to juvie, and is then under house arrest after being released. That leaves Olivia and Kitty to try and figure out who the killer is, and also who the new copycat DGM is. Because there have been incidents where a potential DGM target is humiliated, except that it wasn't the real DGM that did it. The girls' lives and loved ones are being threatened, and they need to do everything in their power to stop the killer before someone else gets hurt.

Oh gosh, the amount of twists and turns in this book! There's so much suspense, so much at stake, and the clock is ticking. Things are way more dangerous right from the beginning, and the members of DGM have so much to deal with. Margot really isn't in the book much since she's in the hospital, so the rest of them rely on new members to help them out - Ed and John. They're sworn in when things start getting rough. Ed's technological abilities are super useful to them, and John becomes Bree's eyes and ears while she's under house arrest.

The plot is really the main focus of these books, but I felt we did get to know the characters more in this one. I liked Kitty and Olivia a lot more, and I also really liked the ones we didn't get to see much in the first book, like John and Ed. There are even more character to keep track of, but it was pretty easy since all of them were introduced in Get Even.

As for the mystery aspects, I did not see any of the twists coming. It was incredible! The race to find out about the mysterious Christopher Beeman, the threatening notes left with each of the DGM members, even the new ones... The climax towards the end was the explosion I'd been waiting for. Trust me, this book will exceed your expectations.

So many incidents got me at the edge of my seat with my heart pounding. I knew that literally anything could happen, and Gretchen McNeil is fantastic in her delivery of this plot. No obvious clues, not many little ones either. In fact, I kind of want to go back and read this one to see if I can catch anything I might've missed the first time. That's the kind of mystery/thriller book I love! And I have no doubt anyone who enjoys this genre will love it too.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Review: Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan

Title: Maid of Wonder (Maids of Honor #3)
Author: Jennifer McGowan

Release date: August 25th 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 328

Source: Edelweiss

“Death comes to Windsor.”

Sophia Dee, the most unusual spy of Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honor, has run out of time for her psychic skills to fully manifest. A terrible new prophecy now haunts Windsor Castle, and the Queen demands answers before the next doomed soul dies.

Thrust into a dangerous and horrifying competition to solve the deadly prediction, Sophia finds herself pitted against the most celebrated mystics of Europe: John Dee, her devious uncle and the Queen’s personal astrologer. . . and Nostradamus, the renowned prophet-seer of France.

In a court where whispers of witchcraft, poisonous plots, and grim assassins threaten her at every turn, Sophia needs answers fast. But does she dare trust Marcus Quinn, her uncle’s striking and over-ambitious assistant? Or, instead, should she turn to the tortured dark angel of the spirit realm, who whispers to her only of sorrow and death?

As new dangers surface and dire prophecy sweeps toward its final victim, the five Maids of Honor prepare to do battle. Only then will the girl who so often sees the future finally discover if she can save the Crown—and herself.

So for starters, I love everything about this series - the history, the danger, the mystery. Maid of Wonder is no exception, and though it wasn't as fast-paced or riveting as the previous two books, I enjoyed it a lot.

Sophia's gifts have developed quite a lot since the last book, when they were just emerging. Now, she sees visions of the future and can communicate with the angels. But Sophia is still a novice, and her increasingly frequent visits to the other side of the spectral plane have consequences. She also sees that the Queen is in grave danger, but cannot gather enough proof to be taken seriously. On top of that, she has to deal with the return of her uncle whom she despises for the lies he told her, and the arrival of Marcus, her uncle's assistant and a man she feels a real connection to.

Sophia has always been the most elusive of the five spies. After all, the others have very distinct characteristics - Meg is sharp and witty, Jane is tough and dangerous, Anna is intelligent and prudent, and Beatrice is beguiling and seductive. But Sophia? I can't really describe her. So it was an interesting journey to get to know her in this book. We see that she has just as strong a character as the other maids. She's naive, yes, but also stubborn and curious and defiant. Though I didn't warm to Sophia as much as I did to Meg in the first book, I like her.

My favourite parts of the book were the times when Sophia would use her gift for scrying or to contact the angels. There is one in particular, the one she calls her dark angel, who is the most interesting. At first he scares Sophia, but she realizes he's protecting her. But why? And how is he different from the other angels? I was really eager to find out all the answers. The main plot, though, dragged a bit in my opinion. I don't care much for the Queen portrayed in this novel, so I didn't care about her impending danger at all. She's petty and can be quite cruel, and though I sympathize with her situation, I can't bring myself to like Elizabeth much.

I did really like Marcus. He seems like the perfect match for Sophia, and not just because of their shared abilities. Marcus is gentle and kind, and just the guy Sophia can count on and trust in this castle with betrayal at every corner. I also loved seeing all the other maids again, and even Master James from the circus. He and Jane still have a weird thing going on, and I wonder if those two come together at some point in Jane's book.

There wasn't much action in this novel since the focus is on Sophia's psychic powers, and I guess that made things feel slow to me. I prefer the more fast-paced environment we saw in the previous books. Regardless, I liked getting back into this historical world and I'm excited to see whose story comes next!

*Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #103: Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick for this week's WoW is...

Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Release date: July 28th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Some loves will last ’til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

Though I'm not a fan of the cover change, I'm so freaking excited for this book. It's the final book in the series, and I'm so stoked to see what side Layla finally picks. Also, Jen's writing just sucks me in so there's that too!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Title: Seed (Seed, #1)
Author: Lisa Heathfield

Release date: April 16th 2015
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Pages: 331

Source: Pansing

Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it's too late.

Okay so I read a few reviews of Seed before going into it, so I know it's about a cult society, focusing on a girl who has no idea she's living in a cult. I've never read a premise like this before, so I was pretty intrigued. And the plot definitely kept me interested! Though I have to admit - things get really, really weird.

At Seed, everyone worships Mother Nature and their leader, Papa S. Yep, that's what they call him. It's isolated from normal civilization, and there is no contact with Outsiders other than the occasional market visit. Because of this, the only knowledge Pearl has of the outside is the lies told to her and some twisted truths. The children in Seed are clearly brainwashed into believing everything their elders tell them. But something out of the ordinary happens - three Outsiders come to live with them. And Pearl realizes how different Seed is from what she always believed it to be.

I want to say I loved Pearl and her innocence, but I really didn't. At first I did sympathize with her and her situation, because it's not her fault that she's kept in the dark. I felt anger on behalf of her, because of the normal life she's deprived of. But really, her naivety got on my nerves at times. After Ellis, the boy from the outside, tells her what's wrong with Seed and even shows her, she refuses to believe it. Even her best friend Kate has begun to realize that Seed is wrong. But Pearl, despite being old enough to make her own decisions, spends most of the book in firm denial of the facts. If everyone around her felt the same way, I would understand. But if her best friend is smart enough to understand what's going on, why isn't Pearl?

It was really interesting reading about the lives they lead at Seed, though. Don't get me wrong - it angered me a lot. Especially the convoluted traditions put in place by Papa S. The other men at Seed also made me furious with their actions. But what I liked reading about is Pearl, Kate, Jack and Ellis. The three best friends accept Ellis into their little group, and it was nice that the four of them got a substantial amount of freedom to relax, as they should, being kids.

The plot picks up about three-quarters in, when Pearl begins doubting her faith in Seed and Papa S. And the budding romance between her and Ellis was cute. I wish they'd explored it more! I had an issue with the ending, though. Things happened way too fast, with no explanation, and suddenly I had reached the end. My mind was still reeling from the overload of action in just a few pages. I'm glad there's a sequel coming, because I really need some answers! But overall, I enjoyed Seed and how different it is from anything I've read before.

*Thank you to Sasha at Pansing for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 20 June 2015

In My Mailbox #41

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren which allows us to share the books we’ve bought, borrowed and received.

It's been ages since my last IMM so I thought it was time to start it back up again! I just went to the library today, and got a bunch of YA books I've been meaning to read. It feels so good to finally have time to read! I also received a couple of HarperCollins ARCs a little while ago, so those are featured here too.

(the ARCs and library books)


Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Parallel by Lauren Miller
Talon by Julie Kagawa
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Guardians by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan

I just read Nobody, and I've already started Parallel. I'm excited to read all of these books I didn't have time to read when they came out! I'm especially excited to start Talon, because I absolutely adore Julie Kagawa.

For Review

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting*
Until the Beginning by Amy Plum*
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch^
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas^
Rogue by Julie Kagawa
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan^
Descent by Tara Fuller
Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant^
Reckless Hearts by Sean Olin^

*ARCs sent by HarperCollins International (thanks Megan!)
^ARCS from Edelweiss (thanks HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster!)
†ARCs from NetGalley (thanks Harlequin TEEN, Entangled Teen, and Angry Robot!)

I know I've missed a few out because I can't remember everything I've got since my last IMM. But these are the most recent ones. I'm so stoked to read Ice Like Fire and The Immortal Heights! Both series are among my top favourite YA fantasies. I've read a few of these already, of course, and I enjoyed them. I hope I'll get to the rest of them soon!

Well, I clearly need to do these posts more often. I promise to do another in two weeks, and then maybe every two weeks until the summer ends. Hope I stick to it! Let me know if you've read any of these and if you liked them :) And also what you got this week!