Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Player’s Game

37704117

TitlePlayer’s Game

Author:  Desirae Clark

Publisher:  BLVNP Incorporated

Pages:  186

Genre:  YA Romance

Setting:  Scottsdale, AZ

Source:    I received this novel from DigiWriting via NetGalley for my honest review

Publication Date:  Dec 2017

Blurb:

And when I turned around, I expected to see my annoying little sisters but was instead greeted by a familiar face. In the threshold stood Parker Brady with a devious smirk on his face and the looks of a god. 
Samantha Valentine’s life turns upside down when she finds out her family is returning to her old town, Scottsdale. It took her a while to make the city her home, and now all of that is for naught, as she has to learn to settle in a quiet town again.

Parker Brady is perfectly happy to make a mess of his life after his best friend, Samantha, left him. He felt betrayed by his most trusted friend, and now he doesn’t care about anyone anymore. The only thing that matters to him is getting girls.

The two are not so thrilled when they meet after years of being away. Old grudges resurface from the past.

Will Samantha and Parker restore their broken friendship? Or will something else rise from its ruins?

What I say:  

The book opens in Manhatten with Samantha finding out that her mom’s been given a transfer (or new job?) in Scottsdale. This means returning to the town from which they had moved six years prior. Samantha had to endure the painful process of moving, leaving her friends behind, and starting a new school only to turn around and do so again, ending up where they started. The only part of this story that made perfect sense was Samantha’s angst and worry about moving, which she gets over the very first day at her new school.

Enter the old “best friend”, Parker, she left behind who’s turned into a teenaged Lothario and has made his way through all the girls at his high school. Samantha turns to him as her friends from her NY school fade out of her life. He spends the night at her house and her mom even says that it’s ok for Samantha to spend the night at Parker’s. Who does this?

Speaking of her mom, barely three months after they move back to AZ, the mom finds out that she has to take a business trip to London. It could last a few days or a few months (at one point, Samantha says she hopes it isn’t years) but that’s ok because Samantha can stay by herself for an indeterminate amount of time and Samantha’s 14-year-old twin sisters can conveniently stay with a couple that the mom has just met. Who does this????

Even more strangely, Samantha’s old classmates turn up at her AZ high school as part of some alien off-world exchange program in which private Manhattan schools drop their kids off at public, rural-type schools in Arizona. Who does this?????

The romance that blossoms between Parker and Samantha was cute and it played out as it’s played out in dozens of YA romance novels throughout history. This bothered me a bit too as the writing style and level of writing is suited to the YA set but the sexual themes were more than I’d want my 15 or 16-year-old to be reading. But this is very much my own opinion and personal to me.

I could go on about other things that were wrong with this book. For instance, how the book ends with talk about their upcoming senior year when throughout the entire book, I was thinking these kids were already seniors and guessing Samantha’s age to be about 18 from context clues (doing the math from when Samantha says they moved to NYC and how long they lived there). Or how about when their class goes on a “field trip” that spanned a weekend and the principal gave some of the kids (conveniently, Samantha and her group of friends) to stay in their own vacation houses that were owned by their families. Never in a million years would this happen at a school-sanctioned event.

I hesitated writing this review because there was so much wrong with this book. Another reviewer pointed out that a lot of the problems could have been solved if Clark has just set this in college and not high school. Still, if some of the off-the-wall, confusing elements of this book were slightly altered, it’d have great potential as a YA romance.

1 Heart

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Posted in blog stuff, Community

2017 Anti-Bullying Readathon

I hate that it’s Nov 16th and I’m just now writing about this!!!

I’m not going to soapbox here, I’m just going to say that raising awareness about bullying, learning about bullying, and doing my part to prevent it is important to me on a personal level. If you’ve never heard about this readathon or participated before, you can still jump in. Who cares that it’s the middle of the week??? Please check out the official Facebook page. This year, Sarah is putting together a super box of bookish goodies that will be raffled off to those who choose to donate to Anti-Bullying Pro. This is totally new this year and I was so excited for the opportunity to not only participate in the readathon but to be part of a group donating to a great cause.

So far, I’ve read three books for the readathon and I have three more planned. I’m not going to turn this into a book review post so I’ll just share a few thoughts on each book.

  1. Wonder Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book was truly beautiful. It was heartfelt and emotional. Honestly, it should have come with a trigger warning, lol. I’m happy that I read this book, but I will most likely never reread it and I absolutely DO NOT want to see the movie. I was so emotionally drained from reading this book that I made myself ill.
  2. Simon I followed up Wonder with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and I’m glad that I did. While this book also had some heavy, emotional scenes, it was also funny and irreverent. I loved reading this story through Simon’s voice.
  3. Aristotle My third pick was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. This book was a bit heavier than Simon, but I still very much enjoyed it. Dealing with themes such as LGBT, hate crimes, family drama, and teenage angst in the 80s gave this book a bit of a different spin than the other two.

All three of these books deal with bullying in very different ways and as such, impacted me and my views of bullying differently. All three also hit me in the emotions department so if you’re not looking for something that will make you teary, I suggest setting these aside for a different day.

If you want more information on the readathon, the links aren’t working, whatever, leave me a comment. I’d LOVE to help you out and get more people participating!

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Iron Cast

iron-cast

Title:  Iron Cast

Author:  Destiny Soria

Publisher:  Harry N. Abrams

Pages:  384

Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Setting:  1919 Boston, MA

Source:    I received a copy of this novel from SocialBookCo in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date:  Oct 11, 2016

Blurb:

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

What I Say:

What I liked about this book:

  • It has a diverse cast of characters.
  • The pace is steady.
  • It talks about racism, both real and with the fictional hemopaths.
  • The dialogue and use of period colloquialisms.
  • The cover is beautiful.
  • Soria’s writing makes you care about the characters.

What I didn’t like about this novel:

  • Having finished this book, I am still unclear as to what hemopaths are and the extent of their “powers”.
  • Some of the plot twists were predictable.

Iron Cast takes place during such an interesting time in U.S. history. In 1919, World War I has ended, but people are still scarred and recovering. It’s also on the cusp of the Roaring 20s. Prohibition is getting ready to pass, jazz and new dances are all the rage, fashion is beautiful and expressive of the atmosphere of the time and the slang and lingo is outstanding and fun. This story is about Corinne and Ada who had very different backgrounds growing up, but their hemopath affliction threw them together and they become thick as thieves…literally.

I liked both girls but Corinne is my favorite. She’s the spoiled rich girl in the story, but she’s also dynamic, funny, and Soria gives her more depth than she does Ava. Ava is the daughter of African immigrants and she knows nothing of a life of privilege. Together, she and Corinne are spunky, brave, and adventurous but alone, Ava is a bit one dimensional, which is a shame.

There are bits of romance in the story, but it would be on the bottom of the list of themes in this novel. The romance added just the right amount of spice without it becoming the main focus or feeling like Soria was trotting it out just to cross off boxes. Mostly, this story is about friendship and loyalty with some fantasy thrown in, in the form of hemopaths, and action and suspense from the cons that the girls run for their gangster-type boss. When Ava becomes imprisoned, you very much feel the suspense wondering if she’ll be tortured or killed and if Corrine will be able to rescue her. It was, at the foundation, a fun read.

However, Soria was light on the details surrounding hemopaths. We know from the blurb that Corinne and Ada are able to create illusions from singing and playing instruments. We also know that their abilities come from some sort of mutation to their blood. The reader also discovers that other hemopaths have different abilities all coming from different aspects of art. But why and how and how many people? When did the mutations start? Is it hereditary? This type of fantasy writing, overall, is pretty unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with characters with these type of abilities. Still, it would have been a much more satisfying story to have some of these questions answered, for Soria to have gone into more detail and background on the hemopaths.

Overall, I had fun reading this book and enjoyed it. It’s a great young adult novel and would have been fantastic with just a bit more detail. Still, for me, I read it in a couple days because I had a great time with it and I would recommend it to anyone who likes young adult novels with some unique fantasy topped off with suspense and romance. Check it out for yourself at SocialBookCo

(Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.)
Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Timekeeper

timekeeper

Title:  Timekeeper

Author:  Tara Sim

Publisher:  Sky Pony Press

Pages:  368

Genre:  Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk?

Setting:  Victorian England

Source:    Net Galley

Publication Date:  Nov 1, 2016

Blurb:

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

From Me: 

Timekeeper was an intriguing novel. Set in Victorian England, the story is about Danny who is a clock mechanic. Without Danny and others like him, clock towers would not continue to function properly and thus, time would not function properly.

On a job, Danny meets a clock’s spirit, Colton, and they fall in love. It’s kind of a star-crossed lovers type of romance.

This book has a lot of romance and suspense. It’s definitely a page turner. The writing was good and Tara Sim doesn’t lose focus despite writing about several themes:  Victorian England, LGBT, science fiction, and fantasy. Other than the clocks controlling time, this novel was pretty light on the steampunk elements, which is why I added the ? in my beginning description. The time element itself was pretty unique. I can’t recall another book that I’ve read that used this theme in quite this way.

I was mildly annoyed by the relationships that Danny had with the adults in this book. They constantly doubted him, made decisions without Danny’s input, and generally were negative aspects in Danny’s life. Sounds pretty typical when you think of a 17 year old and adults. However, at times, it felt contrived and nitpicky rather than moving the story forward. This was minor though but still felt it was worth mentioning.

Over all, I enjoyed this novel and I can see the appeal to a younger audience. It was a fast read and I was surprised when I saw that it’s almost 400 printed pages since I read it as an electronic advanced copy. I’m not sure I’ll follow this series through and read the next one though.

 

Posted in Community, meme

Mid-Week Update

Just giving a brief update as to what I’m reading or planning on reading via a couple bookish memes.

whatareyoureadingwed

First up, What Are You Reading Wednesdays hosted by It’s a Reading Thing.

Grab the book you are currently reading and answer three questions:
1. What’s the name of your current read?
2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.
3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?

Funnily enough, I started my current read last week after writing up the Shelf Control meme. It sounded so good to me, that I just couldn’t put it off another day. I’m currently reading The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. From page 34:

“This bruising suggests the victim was grabbed forcefully around the throat and struggled somewhat before finally being despatched. There’s nothing of the perpetrator left at the scene, but it certainly matches the profile of the other killings.”

Based on this passage, I wouldn’t choose to live in this world. Seems awfully dangerous. However, in general, I would love the chance to live in a steampunk version of Victorian England. It’s a time in history that I find vastly interesting and it’d be enhanced with steampunk inventions.

shelf-control

My book for this week’s Shelf Control is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Blurb:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

I bought this book at Barnes & Noble somewhere around June 2015. Honestly, I bought it because it’s a Rainbow Rowell book and because it’s a signed copy. If you’re familiar with Rowell’s books, you know that Carry On was taken from her Fangirl novel. In Fangirl, the main character is obsessed with a Harry Potter-like series of books and there were quite a few passages (that I skimmed more than read.) taken from those “books” and quoted in Fangirl. So, Rowell took those fictional characters from within a fictional world and wrote Carry On as its own story. From the very first, I thought that Simon and Baz’s world sounded too much like a spin off of Harry Potter’s world and it doesn’t sound too original. As such, I really don’t have any plans on actually reading this book. It was more of a buy for collecting reasons than because I’m interested in the story. Who knows though? Someday…

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: This Adventure Ends

 

this-adventure-ends

Title:  This Adventure Ends

Author:  Emma Mills

Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.

Pages:  320

Genre:  Contemporary, YA, Romance

Setting:  My neck of the woods in Florida

Source:    Net Galley

Publication Date:  Oct 4, 2016

Blurb:

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

What I say:

There was a lot about this book that I liked. It was fast-paced, witty, and had modern YA themes. Sloane is an easily recognizable character as a 17 year old high school student with the usual angst. She’s also funny, smart, and talented. Moving to a new state and a new school, she adapts rather well and finds herself ensconced in a group of nice, good, friends. Sloane is also flawed in that she lets her mouth run away with her and can say hurtful things.

The entire time I read this book I kept making comparisons to The Gilmore Girls because of all the wordy, smart, fast quips that Sloane makes. I also compared it to Rainbow Rowell’s Fanfiction. There were a lot of similarities to that book in my opinion. Both of these are good things, just not all that original. I also kept thinking that teenagers, at least in my recollection and experience, aren’t nearly this witty and adult-sounding.

What I didn’t like about this book is that Mills tried to do too many things at once. She focused on the relationships between too many different characters, the rift in Sloane’s parents’ marriage, Sloane’s dads’ writer’s slump, the quest to find the painting, her struggle with her singing and auditioning for college, and Sloane trying to figure herself out in general. As a result, the details were light and there were a few plot holes. I felt like the issues with all the characters were solved in a 30 minute sitcom kinda way.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it about five hours, in one sitting, staying up until after 4 am to finish it, lol. I think the theme of this book could be called “sweet” and it was. The glossed over ending is what kept me from giving this book a 4 out of 5 hearts. I’d recommend this book to Nicholas Sparks (another comparison I kept making) die hards. 😉 I also LOVE the cover.

3 Hearts

Posted in Book Review

Extracted by Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Folley

extracted

Title:  Extracted (The Lost Imperials #1)

Author:  Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler Folley

Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing, Inc.

Pages:  320

Genre:  YA, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Setting:  All over space and time!!

Source:    Net Galley

Publication Date:  November 12, 2013

Blurb:

Welcome to the war. The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it. The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens–their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream. Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war. When Lex’s girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Tesla Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It’s there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both…again.

What I Say:

I requested this book off of Netgalley based solely on the cover. Then I read the blurb and thought that it still sounded interesting. What should be noted, however, is that the steampunk element of this book is minimal and not as well-developed as the other aspects of the book. It’s definitely more young adult romance than it is science fiction.

The writing is decent and the story flows. There’s lots of action and fight scenes and I thought that the backstory of the Tesla Institute was explained nicely. I just wish that, on the whole, the story had more depth and detail. At times, I felt like I was reading the second book in a series instead of the first. I think this book would be better suited for the younger teen set. I give it 3 hearts out of 5 because it’s entertaining and the writing didn’t feel amateurish. Still, 2 3/4 might be a better, more honest rating.

3 Hearts