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

Thursday, 22 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:

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

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.

Sunday, 11 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

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Title: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Release date: February 25th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 219
Source: Edelweiss

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I wanted to like this. I really, really did. It sounds amazing, doesn't it? A YA fairy-tale retelling. But A Wicked Thing didn't live up to my expectations, and unfortunately both the story and the characters fell flat to me.

A Wicked Thing tells us what happens to Aurora after she's awakened by the kiss. I think the premise of this is great, because I've always imagined scenarios of what happens next in fairy tales. This one especially, since Aurora wakes up after a hundred years and of course everything has changed. I like that this is as far from a fairy-tale end as you can get. The city is nothing like what she's used to, and she has no one she can fully trust, not even the prince who woke her up.

I definitely sympathized with Aurora a little, since she's clearly not in an enviable situation. She's expected to marry Rodric, the prince who kissed her awake, but she doesn't know him at all. And his parents, the king and queen, are just using Aurora to gain more power for themselves. Aurora's even locked in her room at night, for 'her own safety'. But like I said, the characters fell flat, and I couldn't connect with even Aurora that much.

The other characters are even more two-dimensional, and I couldn't care for them at all. Rodric, the prince, is sweet - but that's about it. There is practically nothing else to him, and I disliked that. I think it's cool that the author didn't make him a typical arrogant prince, but he was just too awkward and timid for me to like.

There isn't really any romance, which was great, because I wouldn't have cared for it if there was any. There are two other guys, though - Tristan and Finnegan. Tristan is part of a rebellion against the royals, and Aurora finds herself drawn to him. I ended up not liking him one bit. No spoilers though! The other guy, Finnegan, is definitely a typical arrogant prince. But I liked him well enough, and he's my favourite of the three. But even so, I didn't see much depth in him either.

The plot seemed haphazard to me, and it's not clear where the story is going. There's some action, some drama, some politics, but not enough of any to keep me invested. I may pick up the next book to see what happens, but overall I was quite disappointed in this, especially since I was really looking forward to it.

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

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #88: The Death Code

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 Death Code by Lindsay Cummings

Title: The Death Code (The Murder Complex #2)
Author: Lindsay Cummings

Release date: April 21st 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ended. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fearlessly fight to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Code introduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read.

I can't wait to find out more about this world, especially since we don't get many answers in The Murder Complex, from what I remember. I'm really intrigued by the concept of this series, and I hope this book will have all the action and suspense I'm expecting from it!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Release date: December 23rd 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Pages: 342
Format: eBook

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

I don't usually pay much attention to the title of a book or try to connect it to the plot somehow, but for this book it just jumps out at you. I've never seen a book and title that fit this well together! 'This Shattered World' describes the novel perfectly, and I fell in love with the characters and world despite the flaws present in them.

This Shattered World follows two protagonists on opposite sides of a war. Lee is a soldier, a captain leading her own platoon. Flynn is a rebel trying his best to get Avon what it was promised, and that means he has to fight the soldiers. Flynn seems to be the only non-violent rebel, so it's lucky for Lee that he's the one who captures her. However, when the other rebels almost kill Lee, Flynn gets her out, and they're on the run together. But they can't forget that they still have clashing opinions, and love definitely isn't enough to stop a decades-old war.

This book is more serious than These Broken Stars, what with the bloody war and everything. Unlike the previous book, this one is set on a fully-functioning planet, so there are several other characters as well. But that didn't take away anything from the dynamic between Flynn and Lee. We get to see a lot of them together, and the way they slowly realize they're falling for each other.

I loved Lee, even more than I did Lilac! She's the kind of female protagonist I like. Strong, tough, badass, defying norms. She doesn't take anyone's crap, especially not Flynn's. I adored Flynn too, though Tarver trumps him by a little. You can't help loving Flynn immediately. He's sweet despite everything he's been through, and he has morals and a conscience unlike most of the other rebels.

A nice surprise in this book was seeing Tarver and Lilac again. I thought it would be just a glimpse, but we get to see quite a bit of Tarver at least. There is a plot thread that began in These Broken Stars which continues into this one, and I believe it will be resolved in the final book. I like how this mystery connects all the novels in the series, and I hope we get all the answers in the next one!

There's loads of action in this book, and a lot of mystery and surprises too. There's death, sacrifice, joy, betrayal. There are some things that will take a while to wrap your head around, but it's all fantastic. Though it's a long book, there's a lot packed into it, so don't skim any bits!

This Shattered World is an amazing companion to These Broken Stars. I'm sure I'll find myself rereading this one in a few months, just because I want to feel everything again! Lee and Flynn, though very different from one another, make a great team. The ending is perfect, and I hope to see more of these incredible characters in the final book.

Rating: 4.5/5