Friday, August 30

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 352

Summary: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

My Thoughts: I picked this novel up for the first time about 3 months ago. I read the first few pages on a road trip, and then I set the book down. I never did get back to it until now. Why in the heck did I wait to read it? I loved it!

We are introduced to Cia who lives with her family. Her dad is great at growing things and it helps the community out a lot. The United States is basically set up in communities and everyone strives to make their community better and a good place to live. Some communities live in poverty, while others at least can eat.

But the most valuable thing is getting chosen for The Testing. Nobody has gotten chosen from her little part of the world in years. She doesn’t understand why her brother wasn't chosen last year, he’s really smart.

Well, this year Cia and a few others are chosen. Including a boy named Tomas. He and Cia have known each other most of their lives. They aren’t really that close but they get along.

Well, Cia gets chosen and gets taken to The Testing. Basically, each student will go through many tests. If they don’t succeed there is a risk of dying. The last test they are all taken to Chicago and they have to make their way back to the place The Testing is held. Sound easy? You would think so, but with no cars, and not many supplies this is quite the task. People will die, people will fight, its hectic out there.

Cia also realizes there is so much more to this process than she could have ever imagined. At times I was happy to see things progress with Tomas, but at other times I just wanted to cry for Cia. Very emotional time for me.

I loved all the characters and getting to know their personalities. I loved how smart Cia is. She sees things others don’t see. She’s caring. She’s nice. And, she’s brave. I loved seeing all the tests even though they didn't all end too smoothly.

The Testing was a wonderful debut and I can’t wait to read more of this story! A lot of twists and turns I didn’t see coming.

Most of all, I liked Cia and Tomas together and I’m glad most of the story revolves around the two of them together.

Overall: Loved it! Read it within a few days and enjoyed it so much. I loved the characters and the plot. I loved how everything was described pretty intently.

I enjoyed the flow of the story and now I need to read the next one to see what happens!

Cover: Like it! I like the colors.

What I’d Give It:

Tuesday, August 27

The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider

The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 330

Summary: Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

My Thoughts: I have heard really great things about this one! And I really enjoyed it alot.

We are introduced to Ezra who was popular, had a lot of friends, went to the coolest parties, and was a tennis player. Until one night, when a horrible accident left him hurting and a gimp. He has to walk with a cane, he’s sore, and he’ll never play tennis again they say.  Nobody comes to visit Ezra in the hospital, none of his friends, so when he’s back in school he’s went from being popular to just a normal person. Nobody really shuns him but everyone is talking behind his back.

Enter a new girl named Cassidy. She’s new to the school so she didn’t know the Ezra before. They become friends and really hit it off. She’s nothing like his old girlfriend but she also has a lot of issues of her own.

The only real friend Ezra realizes he has is his old friend Toby from elementary school, and of course there is Cassidy now. He just has so much trouble with everything, I feel for him.

But this was a funny book. I enjoyed it. I laughed so hard sometimes, I snickered in the middle of sentences. It was interesting, fun, and Ezra had such a great way to say things or explain things. From the first page on, I was hooked and couldn’t get enough.

I don’t want to say too much but I felt like this was a deeper book, it wasn’t all sunshine and happy moments either. It was real and emotional for me.  Cassidy’s back story was crazy intense. Everything was!

This is a book you’ll enjoy if you like contemps or books with real story and emotions.

Overall: I recommend it, especially if you're doing the debut challenge this year! Add it to your TBR pile! Loved the characters, the plot was interesting, and Ezra was so real!

Cover:  Makes total sense, right? I think so! Roller Coaster!

What I’d Give It:

Sunday, August 25

Crown Of Midnight (Throne Of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Crown Of Midnight (Throne Of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 432

Summary: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

My Thoughts: I loved Throne of Glass when I read it last year so I was very excited for Crown Of Midnight! And it didn’t disappoint one little bit.

We are back with Celaena and she is now Assassin to the King. She does his odd jobs and handles his disputes basically. He sends her out to kill people and she attempts to finish each job.

The King gives her a new job where she has to figure out who is a trader. He tells her he will give her name after name until they find the person responsible. First, it starts with her old friend Archer.

Celaena sure does get herself tangled up in some webs. She has so much in front of her that she has to handle.

And Celaena has some hard decisions to make regarding Dorian and Chaol. I still like them both so much. Each one is so different and it makes me fall for them both. I want her to be with both guys. That is the problem with boys in books. Sometimes, you just like them both and its so hard to decide!!!

I can’t believe what happened and who died. I wanted to cry so hard. It was devastating and heartbreaking. And, then once we find out the true history of Celaena’s life. I didn’t see it coming and I was so surprised I wanted to throw the book across the room. It makes so much sense though. And, it was so crazy that I wanted to laugh and laugh.

Once again, I just love this story. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. They are must reads for me and favorites. I just love the characters, I love how badass she is and I love both love interests. I also love the plots of these. They are just “magical.” I feel like I’m engulfed in this other world where I am right there with her experiencing everything she feels.

Overall: Love Love Love! I will keep recommending this series to my friends. Another one of my favorites of the year.  Love the characters, love the plot, such an amazing story.

Cover: Like it!  It totally fits since she is awesome and tough.

What I’d Give It:

Friday, August 23

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368

Summary: You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

My Thoughts: Alright, so I had heard both really great things about this one, and some not so good things. I always try to give a novel a chance anyway, to see if I like it. And most of the time, I end up loving it!

This one, it was alright. I finished it, but I just felt like something was missing.

We are introduced to Violet who lives with her brother. Her parents are away right now. They tend to do this a lot. She lives down the road from her best friend, and they live in a really quiet sleepy town. Not much happens here. There are the old ghost stories of course. Violet’s grandma used to tell her a lot of them.

A new boy shows up. His name is River and he’s here to rent one of the rooms. She needs money so she put up an ad about having extra space.

River brings with him a whole set of problems. He’s mysterious, charming, and Violet takes a liking to him really fast. River was a little scary for me.

I did love how they would go and watch old movies. So cute!

A girl goes missing and everyone thinks the devil did it. Children are out hunting in graveyards just waiting for the devil.

I liked Violets brother and best friend the most. They were interesting characters, never a dull moment with them.

River, I didn’t really feel drawn to River like I wanted too. I didn’t love him. He had a lot of problems and at first I wasn't quite sure what they were or who he really was.

I’m glad I did get some answers though. The plot of this one was interesting enough. I just didn’t fall in love with this one.

The setting was neat though. I liked how quiet the town was, and how peaceful Violet was at times.

Overall: I did finish this and it was ok. I am hoping maybe I’ll get sucked into the next novel and things will improve for me from there. A lot of people loved this one, so maybe it was just my reading mood, because I had a hard time really getting into it, and I would find myself sitting it down and not really wanting to come back to it. It was weird, but in a good way, and I did finish it. Probably more of a 3.5 cupcake rating for me!

This series has potential, I just think it needs more time to grow on me I guess.

Interesting premise, and characters.

Cover: Its spooky, I like it! 

What I'd Give It:

Tuesday, August 20

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 352

Summary: If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She’s been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father’s barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she’s on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all.

My Thoughts: This was one so cute! We are introduced to Nora who just wants to cook, like her father. She enters a competition that airs on tv and whoever wins gets to go abroad and cook. Sounds perfect, right? It is, except that she has to leave her family and her best friend Billy whom she thinks is becoming more. Maybe a new potential boyfriend?

Nora gets to the competition and things aren't what they seem. Nobody is really that trustworthy except for a few friends she makes. Of course, she also meets a boy there. His name is Christian and everyone knows who he is. His dad is famous so that makes him a huge competition for Nora.

I loved seeing Nora interact with all the contestants. It was fun. I loved listening to her cook and what recipes everyone tried. And, I loved the constant banter between Christian and Nora. They sure did get under each other’s skin, even if I did sense some major chemistry.

When people start getting hurt, Nora starts to get cautious. She doesn’t understand why anyone would hurt the contestants and she’s on a mission to find out who's doing it.

This novel was cute! I really enjoyed it! I was a little surprised by the ending but that threw me for a big enough loop that it made the book even better.

Loved Christian and the few moments spent with Billy. Tough choice there!

Liked the plot and characters.

Overall: This was a cute one! I do not watch cooking shows at all. So this was a nice little book for me that I normally wouldn't read. I really enjoyed this debut. And I liked Nora a lot. I could relate to her in many ways.

Cover: Like it! Its really bright and neat.  And love how we can’t see their faces so we can imagine what they look like.  

What I'd Give It:

Sunday, August 18

The Prince (The Selection 0.5) by Kiera Cass

The Prince (The Selection 0.5) by Kiera Cass
Release Date: March 5, 201 3
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 64

Summary: Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection...

Before Aspen broke America's heart...

There was another girl in Prince Maxon's life...

Don't miss this thrilling 64-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection. Also features a teaser to The Elite, Kiera Cass's hotly anticipated sequel to The Selection.

My Thoughts: This was a cute little novella. This one is told from Maxon’s point of view right before the Selection happens and during it. It shows us things from his way of looking at it, and we get to see his thoughts.

It was very enlightening. I loved going inside Maxon’s head and seeing how he got to see this. I loved seeing his first interaction with America from his eyes. I loved seeing him get to meet all the girls. And I loved seeing how he is with his parents especially when they are alone. And the other girl in his life. I didn't feel it was even that big of a part of the story.

This was a very short novella but I liked it. It was a quick glimpse and I would have loved to read it before reading the others but I still enjoyed it.

Overall: I really enjoyed seeing things from Maxon’s point of view! Very neat!

Cover: It’s alright. Not really much of a cover though.

What I’d Give It:

Thursday, August 15

Truly Madly Deeply by Hannah Jayne

Truly Madly Deeply by Hannah Jayne
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 272

Summary: They Said It Was An Accident...

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You're welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren't the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer's every move..

My Thoughts: What a freaky little novel. It was creepy actually!

We are introduced to Sawyer who was dating Kevin. Kevin was popular and Sawyer wanted to keep him, but he was abusing her, even though nobody knew it. So, when Kevin is killed in a car accident Sawyer is a bit relieved. I think she was sad too, nobody deserves that, but her problems were also relieved.

But, soon after someone starts leaving Sawyer notes. Notes that make her believe they had a part on it. And then people around her start to die. People who have crossed her; treated her bad.

Sawyer doesn’t know who to trust. She has a best friend, and a family. She also has two new guys in her life. I liked both boys for their own personalities. But, throughout the story I wondered which boy would end up to the stalker. One minute, I would think it would be a certain one, and then the next my mind would change!

This was a creepy novel. But I also felt it lacked something. I liked it enough to keep reading and I did finish it. I don’t like not finishing books.

Was I glad with the outcome? I guess so, it threw me off enough.

I didn’t really like Sawyer very much. Just felt a little annoying I suppose.  I kind of just felt this one was really drawn out.

Overall: It was ok. It was a quick read and when I was done, I was happy I finished it. But not one of my favorites of the year. I know, I know I’m not going to love every single book.

If you like mysteries you will probably like this a bit more than me!

Cover: Its alright. I think the darkish feel to it fits. 

What I'd Give It:

Wednesday, August 7

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304

Summary: Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

My Thoughts: When I started this one, I wasn’t sure what it was about. I remember downloading it to my kindle, but then I kind of forgot what the subject was. One day, I just decided to read it. And I’m so glad I did. Wow, what an interesting and devastating topic. Not the light read I was expecting.

We are introduced to Lucy who is in high school. Her biggest challenge at the moment is getting the part of Juliet in the school play alongside her boyfriend Ty who is auditioning for Romeo. Lucy has two dads that have remained stable and a mom that has come in and out of the picture throughout the years. She has two best friends Courtney and Max and enjoys spending time with them. She’s happy, carefree to an extent, and just being herself.  She has a rival named Elyse who tends to get on her nerves.

So it figures that Lucy’s life would change so quickly. She loses the role of Juliet, along with her boyfriend. And guess who he cheats on her with. Yep, with Elyse. Yuck. She’s devastated so she lets loose for one night and goes out partying with her best friends. The next day she wakes up in a strangers bed. This can’t be good.

Lucy gets a lot of rude awakenings from one mistake. One huge mistake. The worst she figures is maybe she has gotten an STD. But that isn’t it. She tests HIV positive. She goes through a bit of denial and depression sets in. She can’t deal with any of it. She loses focus, her dreams become nothing, and she’s just a shell of a person.

I liked Lucy. I thought she was so strong at first, but everyone has a soft side. And hers did show. She was real. She felt things that a normal person would feel. She was devastated at this, and the first person she tells basically runs away, at least for a while.

And this brings me to the love interest. It was a sweet romance, and it wasn’t the main focus of the story. It was earth shattering.

Lucy is strong but not always. Everyone has a weakness. But she realizes she must lean on other people to get her through this.

I liked this one a lot. I don’t read many books that deal with HIV. I think its actually the first one of I’ve read. I liked learning about her struggle. And it was dramatic. I could see how one mistake could change your whole life, and it happens everyday. One action can make you a whole different person.

Overall: Everyone should read this debut. There were times I felt so bad for Lucy and I wanted to make everything better. Her dads were awesome, and even going to the group sessions was awesome for Lucy. It’s what she needed. A friend who knew what she was going through.

I would recommend this to teens just to show them what can happen. Heck, not just teens, everyone! It could happen to anyone, no matter who you are.

This was such an emotional real story! And so raw!

Cover: Like it. It’s definitely pretty and makes me think of the theater but also how your life can change in an instant.

What I’d Give It:


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