Book Review: Salt and Stone (ARC) by Victoria Scott

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through snail mail at the permission of Scholastic Press. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Young Adult, buy information pills  Dystopian/Science Fiction

Pages: 

320

Part of a Series?:

2nd Novel of the Fire and Flood Series

Release Date: 

February 24th, more about 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

In Fire & Flood, this site Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t quit–she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left–and only one can win.

My Review:

Please be advised that while there will be no spoilers for Salt and Stone, there will be spoilers for Fire and Flood. You can read my review for that book here

When I first read Fire and Flood, I was blown away by it. I had heard some comparisons to other books, in particular, The Hunger Games. And while I can see those comparisons, Victoria’s story and characters stand on their own and I became a staunch supporter of her right away. I’m proud to say I’m part of the V Mafia and I’m eagerly counting down the days (not many of them left) until this book releases and all of you can enjoy it. Fire and Flood was absolutely fantastic and I wasn’t quite sure where the rest of the story was going to take us so when I managed to get my hands on Salt and Stone, I was ready for an adventure of a novel and I was granted just exactly that.

What really gets me about this book, besides the fact that it COMPLETELY TORE OUT MY HEART AND MADE ME SOB INTO MY PILLOW (ahem, ahem), is that she’s not afraid to take it just one more step further, one more step further, one step further. Its incredible. The basis of this series is this: how far are you willing to go in order to save someone you love? How far are you willing to take it? Are you willing to kill? Are you willing to let others be killed? Are you willing to maybe die yourself? Its incredible. Every single person taking part in this…”game” of sorts has volunteered. They weren’t forced. Every action taken, its a choice they made, and its crazy. Some of those choices didn’t feel like choices because they want this cure and they want to win the game and they want all of that, and it feels like they have no choice, and this is getting a little tangent-y but it all boils down to…every single person in this game makes the choices they feel necessary to get them where they need to go.

Which is why this book is so good. Fire and Flood was brutal but when compared to this novel, its child’s play. Tella and the rest of her gang are faced with worse obstacles than they were before, including each other. They are pit against each other over and over again, struggling with the feelings that they have each other, whether its friendship or just plain straight out love, which is something that’s hard to feel when you’re all battling for the same thing, something that you can’t all win. But its also the struggle for Tella and Guy at the same time. Victoria creates such real characters and even when they’re in this completely incredible world…they still feel real to us. You don’t know if you would do any different if it was yours.

The best part of this book is the end. I can’t go into too much detail because spoilers and all that. But she pushes it to the limit at the end, that last sort of thing she makes the contestants go through just…oh my god, it kills me. It breaks my heart. I literally was clutching the pages, wanting to scream at her, how could you do this? It was really pushing the limits. She really takes it to the very tip…really, how much are you really willing to sacrifice in order to get what you want? Its incredible. And the ending just makes me want the next book. The book is brutal and harsh and incredible but I just love it. And I can’t wait for more.

 

Rating: 

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

17399160Genre: 

Young Adult, information pills Fantasy

Pages: 

422

Part of a Series?:

The first in a planned trilogy

Release Date: 

October 14th, story 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My Review:

Why did I read this book? Can I be completely honest here? I really liked the cover, I heard it was fantasy and I heard it was an incredible. I was technically on a book buying ban because I’m in the worst slump EVER but I saw the book and I thought, I can’t resist. Maybe a book like this will break me out of my slump. Now while it didn’t exactly break me out of this incredible slump that I’ve been in all year, it did completely blow my mind.

I’ve been itching for a really good epic fantasy for awhile. The last one that really blew my mind was the Seven Realms series by Cinda Chima. The world building and romance and everything of that series just…ugh, my heart is exploding with feels. But anyway, reading Snow Like Ashes…I felt like I’d finally found a truly great YA fantasy again, and by an incredibly talented debut author.

First off, she creates these amazing characters. Meira, Mather, Sir, Theron, all of them are so incredible. They feel like they could be these real people, which is incredibly important in a fantasy. The thing about fantasy is that its supposed to take you out of our world and into a world that doesn’t feel familiar. Exciting, sure but not familiar. What is supposed to pull you in and keep you there and make you care about it is the people. The people, their lives, their personalities, their successes and struggles have to feel real in order for you to fall into this world. And that’s exactly what Sara does. She instantly makes you love every person in this novel. From the moment I read the first page, when Meira is struggling in a mock fight with Mather, I knew that I was madly in love with her as a character. Every character was so developed and changed over the course of the novel and I just loved that.

And then there is the story itself. The thing about fantasy is that there are so many similar stories but it is the way you tell the story that makes it so unique. Meira and the people of Winter, what few of them are left, are hanging on a thread of hope that is King Mather, in the hopes that they can bring their kingdom back together, that they can go home. You feel it in every single page, from the elder members of the group who remember everything about their home and even in Meira, who feels such a strong tie to a place that she never even knew. I wanted them to get their home so badly, it hurt. I wanted them to do anything and everything to make it happen. I knew nothing about Winter except stories but it felt real and I wanted them to get it back. I wanted Mather to be king and I wanted Meira to figure out her place and I wanted Sir to realize how important Meira is and all of that.

The world building of the book is perfect. Its really perfect. When there is an issue in world building, it can cause the believability of the story to go down. Everything about the world felt real, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, everything. The stories, the myths, the cultures and music, the way they fight, the things they believe in, it all felt so natural. It read easily. I felt like I knew the place without having to be confused or having to flip to the map constantly. There was no over explaining or any of that. It just felt real. I love that about a good fantasy. You don’t question it. I want to go there, and be a part of that world.

But I think what really makes this a great book is that she completely takes you by surprise. Completely. Obviously most books have a really good twist but this one…I didn’t expect it. I thought something was a little wrong, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite what it seemed but when it was revealed, I definitely was surprised. There was so much more to the story than previously expected and that’s what made it even better than what it had been before. I am already dying for the next book, because I’m ready for the next one. Its an absolutely fantastic debut by Sara and I’m so glad to read such a great fantasy. I’m SO ready for it.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

13449677Genre: 

New Adult, buy information pills Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 

352

Part of a Series?:

The first in the Dante Walker trilogy

Release Date: 

April 2nd, 2013

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time now. I absolutely ADORE Victoria’s Fire and Flood. I just recently finished the sequel to that, Salt and Stone, and I just love her. She’s super sweet and her books are great and I’ve been wanting to read The Collector for awhile now. So when it went on sale for Nook for only 99 cents, I was SO there.

I nearly finished it in one night except I had to go to work fairly early the next day so that was a total failure but I immediately finished the next moment that I was able to. I LOVE this book. I love that its told in the point of view of Dante because you alternately want to punch him in the face and throw him down on the bed and make out with him? I mean, a bright red Escalade? Who does that?! But then he’ll do something incredibly sweet for Charlie, like carry her out of the woods and it KILLS my heart. He’s addicting as a character, and he has a natural character progression. Nothing about his transformation through out the novel seems forced or wrong. You watch as Dante changes and its beautiful. Its my favorite part of the book.

But I also just love Charlie as well. She’s SUCH a great person, which would kind of drive me crazy but it doesn’t because everything she does seems so genuine and real. As soon as you meet her for the first time in her room, dorky and fantastic, I knew I was already madly in love with her. She’s not your typical heroine. Most heroines are always beautiful, even if they don’t know they’re beautiful. They think they’re ugly or average but of course, they’re extraordinary. But that’s not Charlie. She’s straight up not classically beautiful at all. She has frizzy hair, a limp, crooked teeth, freckles, the whole nine yards. And I know it can sound kind of stereotypical and all that but Charlie really wins everyone over with her beautiful personality. She’s so beautiful on the inside that she brings in her best friend and, eventually, Dante, because she’s such an incredibly beautiful person. Obviously that’s a huge part to the general plot of the story but I loved that about this book. Its good to see a character that is so genuinely good on the inside that Dante slowly falls for her, not immediately. I really really enjoyed the freshness of that.

What really got me about this story was that its something I haven’t really read before. Dante is a collector the devil, basically. Its his job to go around, marking people for their sins and collecting them for the devil’s collection in hell. He’s sexy and kind of addicting but he’s a bad person. He’s working for a bad guy and yet you kind of can’t help but be on his side, no matter what he’s doing. Dante is kind of an anti-hero who eventually becomes a hero and its not really something we see a lot in books, not written this well, with this kind of story line. I read a LOT so sometimes I need a really good, fresh story to keep me addicted and satisfied and this book definitely did that. After reading this (now I need to read the next two), and reading the first two books of the Fire and Flood series, I’m completely sold on Victoria Scott as a writer. She’s fantastic, she’s great at world building and her characters are unique and fresh and relatable. I can’t wait to see more. I’m hoping to get The Liberator soon!

Rating: 

4 out of 5 stars

Blog Tour: “Afterparty” by Ann Stampler + Giveaway!

Welcome to a blog post that I am MASSIVELY excited about.

A little over a year ago, salve at the Ontario Teen Book Fest, I met an author by the name of Ann Stampler. Not only is she a fantastic, unique young adult author (amongst other books), she’s fantastically sweet and she’s amazingly supportive of the entire YA community: authors, aspiring authors, bloggers, everyone.

And I’m happy to talk about Ann’s most recent release, Afterparty. It was released this past January, but due to some hiccups, it didn’t get nearly enough credit or recognition or promotion so my dear friend from Read Now Sleep Later put together this amazing tour to tell all of YOU amazing readers about this fantastic book :)

But first, let’s learn more about Ann!

About Ann Stampler 

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Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of young adult novels Where It Began and Afterparty, as well as several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband.

About Afterparty 

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Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother–whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her… and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle. 

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop… 

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut,Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

About the Blog Tour  

Make sure you follow the entire blog tour, either at all the stops below, which feature giveaways, reviews, deleted scenes and more! Also, follow the tour with the hashtag #afterpartybooktour!

Mon, Oct 6 – Read Now Sleep Later
Tue, Oct 7 – What a Nerd Girl Says
Wed, Oct 8 – Fiktshun
Thu, Oct 9 – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Fri, Oct 10 – Recently Acquired Obsessions

Mon, Oct 13 – Nite Lite Book Reviews
Tue, Oct 14 – The Windy Pages
Wed, Oct 16 – A Bookish Escape
Fri, Oct 17 – Movies, Shows and Books and Once Upon a Twilight

Mon, Oct 20 – She Reads, She Blogs
Tue, Oct 21 – Books Unbound
Wed, Oct 22 – The Consummate Reader
Thu, Oct 23 – Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Oct 24 – The O.W.L. for YA

Mon, Oct 27 – The Thousand Lives
Tue, Oct 28 – Books Turn Brains
Wed, Oct 29 – Fangirlfeeels
Thu, Oct 30 – Romance Bookie
Fri, Oct 31 – The Reader’s Antidote

Mon, Nov 3 – Proud Book Nerd
Fri, Nov 7 – Girls with Books

Giveaway!

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Not only will you get a copy of the book, but you will also receive a ton of stuff that is directly related to the book, which Ann spent some time tracking down, which is just plain awesome. Those items include:

Emma’s contraband Sephora make-up
Emma’s Kate Spade make-up bag
Emma’s Bob Marley t-shirt
Emma’s vintage mother-of-pearl barrette
Emma’s cat’s eyes sun glasses
Emma’s ice blue nail polish
The sparkly hair pins Dylan pulls out of Emma’s hair
Dylan’s Kurt Cobain t-shirt
Siobhan’s gold nail polish
Mara’s Bakelite-style orange bracelet (+ two more)
Mara’s (tiny) Felix-the-Cat ring
An Afterparty tote bag

Here’s how to enter! (For full rules in this giveaway, please visit this link)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: “Get Dirty” by Gretchen McNeil

Okay, case this isn’t an official cover reveal, but I’m making it an official cover reveal here on my blog because I absolutely adore Gretchen McNeil and I LOVED the first book of the series and I’m ready to reveal the super cool cover of the second book!

But first off, let’s learn more about Gretchen, the series itself, and then we’ll talk about “Get Dirty”.

About Gretchen McNeil

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Gretchen McNeil is the author of a handful of YA novels, mostly known for the high body count that tends to show up in her books. Her first novel is Possess, about a teen exorcist, followed by Ten, which follows ten teenagers, trapped on an island with a serial killer. 3:59 is her science fiction parallel worlds where two girls, who are basically each other, switch places in their worlds and things kind of go haywire from there. Her most release is Get Even, about a group of four girls who form a secret society to get revenge on teachers, students, and bullies in their school. The sequel, Get Dirty, will be hitting bookshelves next summer. She is a former opera singer, has a wicked sense of humor, and got married at one of the best bookstores in the entire world. Because this is all important to know.

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / GoodReads

About Get Even

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Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Check it out on GoodReads!

About Get Dirty 

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

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

Check it out on GoodReads!

This book will be hitting shelves on June 16th, 2015! Make sure to pre-order this (and check out Gretchen’s social medias because she always has awesome things going on with her book releases) and pick up the first book, Get Even, if you haven’t read it yet!

And even better!

Head over to Me, My Shelf and I to get your hands on the VERY first ARC of the book! I know I entered and you should too! 

Book Review: 100 Sideways Miles (ARC) by Andrew Smith

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Continue reading

Book Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables (ARC) by Shannon Alexander

20757521This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through NetGalley at the permission of Entangled Publications. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Young Adult, visit web Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 

352

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

October 7th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck. 

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy. 

By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

My Review:

When I saw this title on edelweiss, it immediately caused me to pause. Math things like that always kind of catch my eye because my boyfriend has a bachelors degree in math and he actually likes reading books about math. For fun. I know, he’s weird. But by extension, math things catch my eye too now. Not because I particularly love math but it reminds me of him. I also saw that it was an Entangled publication and immediately hit request. I love Entangled to death.

I love the characters so much. I think characters are the most important part of a novel and that is exactly what brings me into this book. Charlie and Charlotte both seem incredibly real to me. Charlie especially so because even though he’s kind of too smart for his own good and it almost gets irritating, he’s also incredibly genuine. He can figure out these weird crazy math problems but…he can’t figure out how to act around a girl, and he’s still a total teenager. I love that. I also love Charlotte because she’s full of life and full of sass and literally brightens up a room, which is why finding out she’s so ill is such a damper. Seriously. I was like, oh come on, but she’s awesome, she can’t be sick!

What really caught me in this book is that it could just run into other books. Romance is not new. Cancer is not new. Kids with cancer with romance laced into it is definitely not new (The Fault in Our Stars anyone?) What easily could have been a book that I tossed aside because of a simple “been there, done that” was actually proven quite wrong when I pushed past the revelation of Charlotte’s illness and kept reading.

Because there’s so much more to the book. The book is centered on Charlie and while his romance with Charlotte is incredibly important, its also the effect that she has on the rest of his life. She shows him the beauty of other things besides math and science. She unintentionally brings him to his elderly neighborhood, who teaches him so much and leaves an incredible impact on his life. She brings him to her sister, his literature teacher, and helps him develop a new love for reading. And she also brings him closer to his own sister. I think that’s the biggest part of the book that I love. This book could be wrapped up simply as a book about kids with cancer but its so much more than that. Its a book about how much a person can impact our lives in such a short amount of time and how beautiful and sometimes incredibly devastating it is.

Plus, its just funny. I related to Charlotte so much and Charlie reminded me of my boyfriend and their initial runaround each other is just so sweet and believable. They kind of fumble their way through their friendship and more and I loved it. It was more than just about everything going on around them. Their romance was sweet, genuine and addicting and I was rooting for them the entire book.

Basically, it comes down to this: I stayed up until 2 am to finish reading this book. And I had to read it on my phone because my Nook wasn’t charged…which is NO easy feat. But I super enjoyed it and I’m anxious for it to be published so that I can share it with others. It hits bookstores in early October so make sure to get your hands on a copy!

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Rating: