Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Title: Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Release date: March 24th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Format: eARC
Pages: 237

Source: Edelweiss

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Liars, Inc. is Paula Stokes' second YA novel, and I enjoyed the writing style just as much as I did in her first. It's an intriguing story, with a light-hearted feel in the beginning that quickly turns into something like the beginning of a horror movie. Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic. But I liked how the story develops in this book.

Max and his best (and only) friends, Preston and Parvati, decide to start a business called Liars, Inc., where they forge permission slips, create alibis, etc. for other students. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why the book is called 'Liars, Inc.' or why this was introduced in the first place, because it has nothing to do with the plot or anything else in the novel. We barely get to see it in action. But basically Max gives Preston an alibi when he wants to go to Vegas for the weekend, but Preston never returns and Max becomes a prime suspect. He needs to figure out what happened to his best friend before he's locked up for a crime he didn't commit.

I couldn't connect too well with Max or Parvati as they searched for clues to find Preston. I don't know what it was about them, but they seemed a little two-dimensional to me. Especially Parvati, even after finishing the book I don't know what to think of her. She and Max are together in secret but I also couldn't see any chemistry between them at all. I think they would have worked together as two friends trying to find the third member of their trio.

I definitely liked the plot twists in this, because though they're hinted at by the characters themselves, you never know for sure what's happening. And I really didn't expect some of them, so that was exciting! Max and Parvati follow a trail that leads them to what happened to Preston, and it was fun going along with them. Although I have another point about disconnection with the characters - I didn't feel anything when Preston's body was discovered, and it didn't seem like Max felt much either. I guess I was just expecting more emotion at that point, but I found it lacking.

Overall I enjoyed Liars, Inc., particularly the crime/thriller aspect and the conclusion of the mystery. I had a couple issues with it, but none too great, so I'd definitely recommend this one - especially if you enjoy this genre, or if you've read The Art of Lainey, Paula's first YA book.

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

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review: All That Burns by Ryan Graudin

Title: All That Burns (All That Glows #2)
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 260

Source: Edelweiss

In this thrilling sequel to All That Glows, the worlds of magic and mortal are colliding as London celebrates its new king, marking an era of unity between the Faery realm and the human one. Emrys, the Faery guard to the British royal family, sacrificed her powers to be with King Richard, choosing love over immortality. But now, as Emrys struggles to navigate her place between the Faery queen’s court and London’s lavish galas, danger looms beyond the Thames.When a prisoner with dark, strange magic breaks out of Queen Titania’s labyrinthine prison, endangering Emrys's king and sparking an uprising, Emrys must make the hardest decision of all.

Will she reclaim her magic to save Richard’s life and lose him forever? Or stay powerless as the kingdom goes down in flames?

All That Burns is a book I didn't think was going to happen. I read All That Glows as a standalone, since it was one at the time, and I thought it worked great as one. But I'm glad I got to read this, because it tells us what happens after the 'happily ever after.' Sort of.

In the previous book, Emrys gave up her magic to be with Richard, the mortal prince-turned-king. It was a hard choice, but at the same time not a choice at all. But now, Emrys feels wrong without her magic, and she doesn't even get to see Richard much. She begins to wonder if she made the right decision. Meanwhile, things start to go wrong in London as people start rebelling against the Faeries and their existence in London. Richard is kidnapped, and Emrys will do anything to find him before it's too late.

The thing I liked most in All That Glows was the Arthurian legend incorporated into it. Well, we get to see a lot more of that in this book! Every version of the myth is different, and I like seeing the little changes here and there. I won't say much more about it, but that's one of the things I really liked in this book as well.

Emrys has a lot of thinking to do now, and I totally felt for her, with everything going on. She gave up her immortality, her essence, to be with Richard in the mortal world. Firstly, I can't imagine ever doing that, and secondly, it sucks that they barely get to spend time together, with Richard's kingly duties and all. But though Emrys is weaker as a mortal, she's just as strong-willed. She shows awesome courage while risking her life to find Richard.

We don't get to see much of Richard at all, because the kidnapping takes place pretty early on. The book is mostly dominated by Emrys, Anabelle (Richard's sister), and Kieran (an Ad-hene, a.k.a. a Manx spirit). The three of them dash around London and places in the Faery world to find out who took Richard and why. I really wasn't a fan of the growing spark between Emrys and Kieran. Just because the love interest is missing doesn't mean we need hints of another one! I just couldn't bring myself to like Kieran much, he annoyed me quite a bit.

All That Burns is a quick read, even though it's not actually that short. I liked the dynamic between Emrys and Anabelle, as Emrys strove to make sure Belle's blood magic stayed under control while also keeping faith that they will find Richard safe and sound. I didn't get much of a sense of danger while reading, and nothing really jumped out at me at any point. It's a mellow, light read, which is good in some ways. Overall, it was enjoyable, and a nice take on the Faery world and the King Arthur myth.

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

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Cover Reveal: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Holy smokes are we excited to bring you the cover for Cora Carmack's ALL PLAYED OUT! ALL PLAYED OUT is a New Adult Contemporary Romance and is the 3rd book in the Rusk University series, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. It is due to be released on May 12, 2015! If you haven't had a chance to read this sexy, fun series yet, be sure to grab ALL LINED UP and ALL BROKE DOWN!

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 Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes


First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

 And don’t miss the first two books in the Rusk University Series…

RU books 1and 2 Banner



About the author:

HeadshotCora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Find Cora on:

Waiting on Wednesday #90: Skandal

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...

Skandal by Lindsay Smith

Title: Skandal (Sekret #2)
Author: Lindsay Smith

Release date: April 7th 2015
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction/Paranormal

The dramatic sequel to Sekret, this psychic Cold War espionage thriller follows Yulia to Washington, DC, where she fights to discover the truth about her family without losing control of her mind.

My mind is mine alone.

Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia's allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal.

This is definitely one of my most anticipated 2015 releases. Sekret was a book that really stood apart from most YA books, and I loved that. I also love Russian/Cold War history, so that's a big part of the reason I love this premise so much. And add in espionage with paranormal abilities? It's amazing! I know this one's going to blow my mind for sure.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

In My Mailbox #39

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.

Hi guys! I'm pretty excited about this week's review books :)

For Review

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting*
The Leveller by Julia Durango*
The Cage by Megan Shepherd*
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon*
Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott^

*ARCs from Edelweiss (thanks HarperCollins!)
^ARC sent by publisher (thanks Scholastic!)

All the Edelweiss books up there are sci-fi, which I think is an awesome coincidence since that's my favourite genre at the moment. I'm so excited for all of these, especially for The Replaced, which is the sequel to The Taking. Also, Salt & Stone arrived over winter break but since I was back in Singapore, I could only collect the package when I returned to Boston. So I got it yesterday, and freaked out when I opened it! I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

Yep, that's it for today. Hopefully I'll get time to read these sometime soon. Uni is already becoming filled with work, so I don't know when I'll get to them.. but I will this semester for sure! What did you guys get in the mail this week? :)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #89: The Fill-In Boyfriend

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...

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Release date: May 5th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Yay, another Kasie West book! I've read all her previous books and adored them, so of course I can't wait for this. Especially because the premise, though common, is something I find amusing and interesting.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Review: Polaris by Mindee Arnett

Title: Polaris (Avalon #2)
Author: Mindee Arnett

Release date: January 20th 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 292

Source: Edelweiss

Following the events of Avalon, Jeth Seagrave and his crew are on the run. Jeth is desperate to find the resources and funding he needs to rescue his mother from an ITA’s research lab and leave this whole galaxy behind for a new life somewhere else. But the ITA is just as desperate, and soon Jeth finds himself pursued by a mysterious figure hell-bent on capturing Jeth and his crew—dead or alive. In a last-ditch effort to save everyone he holds dear, Jeth enters into a bargain with the last person he ever thought he'd see again: Dax Shepherd, the galaxy’s newest and most fearsome crime lord. And he’s not the only one: upon arriving back at Peltraz spaceport for the first time since he witnessed the death of his old employer, Jeth discovers Dax has a new partner: Jeth’s mother, Marian.

This shocking turn of events is only the first in another breathless, action-packed sci-fi adventure rife with danger, love, and betrayal, as Jeth has to once again ask himself how much he’s willing to invest in a morally bankrupt galaxy in the hopes of saving those he cares for.

Avalon wasn't such a great read for me, but unfortunately Polaris wasn't either. In fact, I think I liked Avalon better. This one drags quite a bit, with not much going on, and when things do happen, they're unbelievable even for this sci-fi series. I was hoping for something closer to Firefly, since I loved that show, but the only thing they have in common is the premise.

Jeth is focused on finding his mother now that he knows she's alive. And he's also on the run from the ITA along with the rest of the crew. One instance as they're carrying out a job, things go wrong and Jeth is face-to-face with a new enemy. His relationships with his crew get messed up, and Jeth slowly loses confidence in himself. He turns to Jax out of desperation, and finds his mother there with him. But she's not the woman Jeth knew as a child, and he needs to figure out a way to get his freedom before he loses even more.

I really didn't like a lot of the decisions Jeth makes in this book, and I still couldn't bring myself to like Sierra, his girlfriend. And then something happens that makes me dislike two of his crewmates, ones that I really liked before. So in the end I didn't end up caring about any of them, really. And that's a problem in a YA book because I feel like what sets YA apart is that we can connect more easily with the characters.

A couple things I did like - we get to know more about metaspace and why it exists. That was a cool revelation. I also like Lizzie, Jeth's sister. One of the only logical, not crazy people in the book. There are also more shockers in this that I didn't see coming, and though several of them are pretty far-fetched, I liked that the book could still catch me by surprise. Of course, most of this happens towards the end of the book, like in Avalon. Except for one incident right at the beginning that I think should not have happened at all, as there was no reason for it.

I was pretty confused about the new villainous character - the Storm that Rises or whatever he calls himself. It was super random, and we don't even know his backstory or why he does what he does. He's just popped into the book and he becomes the main villain around which the climax sets itself? It was weird. 

Three-quarters into the book, I began skimming, because honestly I just wanted to get it over with. The last thirty-odd pages brought me back in, though. Those were great, a nice climatic end to the series. But thirty awesome pages out of the entire book can't redeem it in my eyes. Polaris was a disappointment for me overall, which really sucks because the premise is fantastic. I just wish we'd got to see more of the space and planets instead of random drama among the crew and Jeth's implant struggles.

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

Rating: 2/5