Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Next Forever by Lisa Burstein

* * *

One night in college can change everything…

Away at college, Amy just wants one night alone without her high school sweetheart, Joe. So when he invites her to go to the library, she heads off on her own instead. How she ended up at a house party with the mysterious bad-boy Trevor is another story…

Joe so isn’t going to the library. He needs space from Amy, too, so he’s decided to rush a fraternity, to get back the swagger he had in high school. But it doesn’t take long for the brothers to invite him to the real rush—where the beer is flowing and one particular girl has set her eyes on Joe.

Over the course of one wild night, both Amy and Joe will have to decide if their futures belong with two new people, or whether the next forever will have their first loves in it.

The Next Forever is an interesting story about two people whose relationship is at an impasse. Amy and Joe have known each other since high school. While there’s something comforting for Amy about being with someone who knows her so well, she’s feeling restless and thinks of Joe as stifling her. Having a shared history is great but it no longer feels like the anchor it once was. The alarm bells go off when Joe casually suggests that they move in together. She’s unsure if this is where she wants to be with her life and with whom. Joe happens to feel the same way where he’s grappling with his feelings about Amy. There's some misunderstanding and apprehension happening on both their parts. Going their separate ways this one night is a test of their commitment to each other and what they want out of their relationship.

The sense you get from Amy’s point of view is that she’s rather unhappy and is unsure if she should stay with Joe. Joe’s perspective is that he knows how much he loves her and doesn't want to lose her - hence his suggestion to move in together. However, he also wants more independence. Since it’s very short, I found elements of the story to be wanting. For example, I would have liked to have known what was so bad about Amy back in high school that worries her so much. Her persona back then is mentioned many times and worries her but it’s not elaborated on. She's very much stuck in her head and doesn't really offer much up in the way of conversation. Joe's issues in contrast are more obvious so I knew where he stood.

Overall, it’s a quick and simple story so if you’re looking for something decent with a tidy ending then this is a good pick.

~ Bel 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (50)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)By Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date:  February 5, 2013

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young

* * * *

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

All the things that captured my attention in Blood Red Road were intact in Rebel Heart. It was a much needed distraction and it felt great to be transplanted back into that world again.

You’d think it would be a happy reunion now that Saba has found and rescued her twin brother Lugh. Wrong! Their separation at the hands of the Tonton have scarred and changed them. Lugh, who was once the protector of his family now feels displaced as a result of his time away.  He has experienced things that have obviously affected him but he’s not ready to talk about them. Jack’s presence in his sister’s life only adds to his insecurities. They are increasingly at odds with one another especially when Saba receives word that Jack may be in trouble. To everyone else, he's a traitor who betrayed their closest ally, the rebel Hawks. Saba though trusts her heart and her instincts tell her that she should go after Jack to save him. This decision only deepens the chasm between her and her brother.

Moira Young does not skimp on the action. The plot twists and turns as many times as the characters end up changing direction on their many quests. It’s every bit as exciting as the first book and this time there are events in motion that are bigger than Saba could have even imagined. Aside from the rift between brother and sister, Rebel Heart also explores the strange connection that was hinted at between Saba and the mysterious Tonton leader DeMalo who she encountered when she was captured previously. Though I'm uncertain how I feel about the direction of that story arc, it added an element of surprise, a new layer to the already growing questions about her destiny. My only disappointment - there is not enough Jack in it. I had to satisfy my Jack addiction by staring at the rather lovely cover. He is quite stunning, isn’t he?

Okay, back to the book.  The Dust Lands series is one of my favorites. And since Blood Red Road the movie is currently in development according to IMDB with none other than director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner) at the helm, I couldn’t help but picture this sweeping tale in widescreen. I love the language and the landscape. Above all, I love Saba. Her abrasive exterior masks an independent and frustrated young woman whose allegiances are torn between family, friends and visions of a hopeful future. The problem is that there seems to be a cost no matter where her loyalties lie. But knowing Saba, she won't be anyone's pawn. Whatever happens, it will happen her way and she'll kick some major ass along the way!

~ Bel

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Peek In The BiblioBin #48

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

* * 3/4

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys  is a story of breaking down and growing up.

Uses For Boys has stumped me. I had a hard time with this and it took me a while to come up with this review. Why did it take me close to a month to write this review? Mostly because I found the entire dysfunctional relationship between Anna and her mother so disturbing. Her mother is a self-absorbed, absentee parent leaving Anna to grow up alone. Seriously, this girl has not one adult in her life to guide her, comfort her or talk to her. She's left to her own devices and frankly I was amazed that she didn't end up in a ditch somewhere.

David Levithan, a writer Nat and I absolutely adore, had said before that we should treat books not as just mirrors but also as windows into other lives. Keeping that in mind, I still found looking through this window to be immensely upsetting. I dreaded every moment of watching Anna being left to fend for herself. What a lonely life! As she got into various predicaments especially sexual situations, I was so uncomfortable and repulsed. I understood why Anna did some of the things she did to feel close to people but her idea of emotional and physical intimacy are so distorted. Now I readily admit that I felt so strongly because I am a mother and I can’t fathom a parent being so completely useless and uncaring. I know that this has colored my perception of this book and I am genuinely interested in hearing another reader's point of view.

Here is a good point though: it's provocative. Despite its graphic nature, Scheidt's delivery of Anna's story is emotionally raw and blunt. There are many painful and disturbing moments throughout  that will make you shake your head and want to punch something. But the silver lining is that Anna despite all the crap that happens to her is resilient and does eventually come into her own. Don't get me wrong - she confused the hell out of me. There were times when she was almost robotic about the events happening around her. I don’t think she fully comprehends some of the things that have happened to her in the past but she ends up with more clarity about her mother and her best friend, Toy. To be honest, her empathy towards her mother shocked me.

So I give Uses For Boys 2 and ¾ stars - only because I can't describe it as an enjoyable read. While it was difficult for me to read this, I'm glad to have had something that pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me plenty of food for thought. 

~ Bel

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter


From Author’s Website:

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

I did not think it was possible, but Uncommon Criminals was even better than Heist Society.  The situations were more fun, the interactions between the characters more interesting and well, it was just awesome.  I love the way Ally Carter has brought Kat’s crew together.  I love the glimpse we get into the past and the future in this installment.  I cannot wait to see what Carter does with Perfect Scoundrels (coming in February just in time for my birthday!!!  Ally Carter does love me!!!)! 

And for some serious fun, check out Carter's cross over between Heist Society and the Gallagher Girls Double Crossed (I may have to call in sick to read this one!).  


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (49)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire, #3)By Courtney Allison Moulton
Publication Date:  January 29, 2013

Your strength in heart and hand will fall. . . .

Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:

She must fight for Will.

The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a hole into Heaven.

She must fight for humanity.

As the armies of Hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.

And Ellie must save herself.

Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

In this final installment in the Angelfire trilogy, Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing bright conclusion.

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)By Megan Shepherd
Publication Date:  January 29, 2013

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shadowhunters and Downworlders (A Mortal Instruments Reader) edited by Cassandra Clare

* * *

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, epic urban fantasy set in a richly imagined world of shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and more, has captured the imaginations and loyalty of hundreds of thousands of YA readers. Originally a trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass), the series has extended to six titles, plus a prequel trilogy, the Infernal Devices, and a planned sequel series, the Dark Artifices. A feature film is planned for 2013.

Shadowhunters and Downworlders, edited by Clare (who provides an introduction to the book and to each piece), is a collection of YA authors writing about the series and its world.

Anyone who is a fan of Cassandra Clare and both TMI and ID will most definitely appreciate Shadowhunters and Downworlders.  Imagine if there was a class where you could dissect and analyze the series. And imagine that class being taught by various guest speakers who happen to be some pretty amazing writers themselves.  Now that’s a class I would sign up for!

I’ve enjoyed both series so far and I never once thought to break them apart like this to study the different characters and subtexts.  Reading through the various perspectives was both amusing and informative - though some ideas discussed did come with more thought than expected. Things that hadn’t occurred to me before were “oh yeah” moments.  Best of all you can tell how much all these authors admire the books and have taken them to heart as the rest of us have.

Add Shadowhunters and Downworlders to your TBR pile - it's a good companion to the series especially if you're one who enjoys to scrutinize the various details throughout the books. There's plenty in there that's insightful and honestly, it makes me want to read through the entire series all over again to see if I can pick up on some of those details I missed before.

~ Bel

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Peek In The BiblioBin #47

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

This is what we have in our Biblio-Bin this week. Tell us what's in your biblio-bin!

(for review)

(for review)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heist Society by Ally Carter


From Author’s Website:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I love Carter’s Gallagher Girls.  I try to get everyone to read them (hint, hint).  Heist Society was a natural progression while I wait for the next installment of the GGs.  I found I love Kat & Hale almost as much as Cammie & Crew.  I find Heist Society to be for a slightly older reader than I would recommend GG, but such a fun series.  If you like Leverage or White Collar, you will enjoy Heist Society.

I cannot tell you how excited I am for Double Crossed, a cross-over story between the two series!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (48)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

Everbound (Everneath, #2)

By Brodi Ashton
Publication Date:  January 22, 2013

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Good For You (Between the Lines #3) by Tammara Webber

* * * *

SPOILER ALERT!!!  Due to the nature of this trilogy, it is impossible to review this book (or even read the synopsis) without giving away the ending to the previous book.  So stop now if you haven’t read Between the Lines and/or Where You Are and don’t want to know how it ends.

Reid Alexander's life is an open book. His Hollywood celebrity means that everything he does plays out in the public eye. Every relationship, every error in judgment is analyzed by strangers. His latest mistake totaled his car, destroyed a house and landed him in the hospital. Now his PR team is working overtime to salvage his image. One thing is clear—this is one predicament he won’t escape without paying for it.

Dori Cantrell is a genuine humanitarian—the outward opposite of everything Reid is about. When his DUI plea bargain lands him under her community service supervision, she proves unimpressed with his status and indifferent to his proximity, and he soon wants nothing more than to knock her off of her pedestal and prove she's human.

Counting the days until his month of service is over, Dori struggles to ignore his wicked magnetic pull while shocking him with her ability to see past his celebrity and challenging him to see his own wasted potential. But Dori has secrets of her own, safely locked away until one night turns her entire world upside down. Suddenly their only hope for connection and redemption hinges on one choice: whether or not to have faith in each other. (GoodReads)


Remember how I wanted Reid to take a long walk off a short pier?  And then at the end of Where You Are I thought there might be a slight bit of hope for him after all?  Well, Good For You (Between the Lines #3), was Tammara Webber’s chance to make me like Reid Alexander.  Maybe even love him.

Reid is quickly falling into a life of regular binge drinking and blackouts.  When one of those blackouts results in him driving his car into a house, his life can’t possibly get any lower.  One of the terms of his plea bargain is that he must help rebuild the home that he destroyed.

Dori is unimpressed with his forced community service and expects the minimum from him.  What she learns is that for all his publicized carelessness, Reid is a hard worker and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.  A friendship slowly develops between these two but quickly ends once Dori shows no interest in continuing their friendship after Reid’s community service is done.  Then something terrible happens in Dori’s life and somehow Reid Alexander is the one person she can turn to with all her doubts and fears.  Their friendship starts off where it left off and slowly develops into more.

All I have to say is this.  Congratulations Tammara Webber.  You managed to make me accept and love a character that I have up until now despised.  I mean, I can’t tell you how much I disliked Reid Alexander in the last two books.  And even though he showed some hope at the end of the last book, it wasn’t enough to make me like him.  But in the end?  Well, I almost loved him.

Ms. Webber managed to set a perfect pace for this story.  Nothing happens quickly but at the same time I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  Dori’s character is rather uptight and pretentious but I couldn’t help liking her anyway.  Part of that might be because of how quickly she deduced Reid’s jerk-like qualities.  And then there was Reid.  He was every bit the ass that he was in the previous two books.  But the author took that fragility that only the reader caught glimpses of and made it slowly blossom through out the book so that, by the end, we had a hero that had believably redeemed himself.

This was indeed my favorite book in the series.  I would recommend the whole series for this story alone. If you like a page turning teen romance, I can’t recommend this one enough.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A Peek In The Biblio-Bin #46

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the Biblio-Bin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

This is what we have in our Biblio-Bin this week. Tell us what's in your biblio-bin!

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer

Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt

Transcendence by C.J, Omololu

Friday, January 11, 2013

Where You Are (Between the Lines #2) by Tammara Webber

* * * 1/2

 SPOILER ALERT!!!  Due to the nature of this trilogy, it is impossible to review this book (or even read the synopsis) without giving away the ending to the previous book.  So stop now if you haven’t read Between the Lines and don’t want to know how it ends. 

Graham Douglas doesn’t do romantic relationships, but he was knocked for a loop when he met Emma Pierce on the set of his last film. As they grew closer, he did everything in his power to keep from falling for a girl being pursued by superstar Reid Alexander. Now home in New York, his life is once again under control, until Emma appears and shows him how not over her he is.

Emma Pierce is forsaking an up-and-coming Hollywood career to embark on a life she’s only dreamed of—the life of a regular girl. After spending months burying her feelings for the two night-and-day guys who vied for her heart while filming her last movie, a twist of fate puts her in a coffee shop in the middle of Manhattan with the one she still misses.

Brooke Cameron was a fresh-faced Texas girl when she arrived in LA. Now she’s a beach sitcom star turned conceited heiress on the big screen. Having just survived three months on location with her ex—Hollywood’s reigning golden boy—she’s older and wiser and has set her sights on her close friend Graham. The only thing standing in her way is the girl he can’t forget.

Reid Alexander can sum up his life in one word:
boring. Between film projects, there’s little going on outside of interviews, photo shoots, and the premiere of the film he finished last fall. The next-to-last thing he expects is to get a second chance with Emma, the girl who rejected him. The last thing he expects is for his still-bitter-ex to be the one to offer it to him on a platter. (GoodReads)


Remember how I suggested that if you like the show Gossip Girl, you MIGHT like Between the Lines?  Well, if you like Gossip Girl, you will DEFINITELY like Where You Are.

Where You Are alternates between 4 different points of view – Emma, Graham, Reid and Brooke.  I think that might be the most POV’s I have ever read in a single book but it definitely works.  Emma and Graham are trying to make their very new relationship work while living on opposite coasts and dealing with publicists that want Emma to maintain the fa├žade of a relationship with Reid during the publicity spree of their new movie.  Brooke, Graham’s long time friend (and Reid’s ex-girlfriend), has decided that Graham is THE guy she wants to spend forever with and will stop at nothing to make that happen.  She enlists the help of Reid to ruin the relationship between Graham and Emma and in turn send Graham running into Brooke’s arms.

I enjoyed this story much more than Between the Lines.  In Between the Lines I was unsure who I should be rooting for.  Should Emma be with Reid even though I couldn’t stand him?  Or would she end up with Graham even though he had no voice in the novel?  I had no such dilemma in Where You Are.  I knew from the start that I wanted Emma and Graham to stay together.  I also knew that I would be thrilled if both Brooke and Reid took a long walk off a short pier. 

I won’t tell you what happens.  All I can say is that are three books in this series (and possibly a fourth in the works).  What I WILL tell you is that the end left me with hope (just a little bit) that Reid Alexander just might grow into a decent human being.

Between the Lines wasn’t my favorite of stories but I am so glad I enjoyed it enough to move on the next book in the series because I definitely enjoyed Where You Are and would highly recommend it if you are looking for mature teen romance.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday


From HarperTeen:

Twittercide: the killing of one human being by another while the victim is in the act of tweeting.

Call me crazy, but I figured writing for the Herbert Hoover High Homepage would be a pretty sweet gig. Pad the resume for college applications, get a first look at the gossip column, spend some time ogling the paper's brooding bad-boy editor, Chase Erikson. But on my first big story, things went . . . a little south. What should have been a normal interview with Sydney Sanders turned into me discovering the homecoming queen–hopeful dead in her pool. Electrocuted while Tweeting. Now, in addition to developing a reputation as HHH's resident body finder, I'm stuck trying to prove that Sydney's death wasn't suicide.

I'm starting to long for the days when my biggest worry was whether the cafeteria was serving pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos. . . .


Social Suicide is the sequel to Halliday’s Deadly Cool.  In this installment, Hartley once again stumbles upon a body, except this time, everyone thinks Sydney committed suicide.  Except Hartley.  She sets out to prove Sydney was murdered.  Hartley is endearingly awkward in her interactions with Chase and reminiscent of bumbling detectives like Stephanie Plum, Hartley somehow not only survives, but always gets her man.  Social Suicide is a fun, light-hearted mystery with just enough suspense to keep you guessing.  If you like a mystery with your romantic comedy, I would definitely recommend any of Gemma Halliday’s books. 
In addition to her young adult mysteries, Gemma Halliday’s thoroughly enjoyable High Heels series has a new release, Danger in High Heels.  You should check it out!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)By Beth Revis
Publication Date: January 15, 2013

The final book in the  New York Times bestselling trilogy, perfect for fans of Battlestar Galactica and Prometheus!

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Between the Lines #1 by Tammara Webber

* * * 1/2 

When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always—film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels—opposite the very hot Reid Alexander—isn’t going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance. (GoodReads)


After reading Easy, I was interested in reading Tammara Webber’s other books so I downloaded Between the Lines.  It took me a little bit to get into this story but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. 

Emma Pierce is hot and cold on her new project – the lead in a major motion picture.  Hot because she is playing opposite sexy movie star, Reid Alexander.  Cold because she is thinking about doing “normal” which a starring role in a major movie doesn’t really allow.  When she gets to the set she finds herself making lots of new friends as well catching the eye of one very randy teen heart throb. Very soon she becomes the focus of all the gossip sites and magazines and has decide to if dating a movie star is worth the absence of “normal”. 

I enjoyed the entire “cast” of this book.  I really loved Emma’s character.  She was one of those imperfect perfect characters.  In some ways she was very mature for her age and in other ways she was just a 17 year old trying to figure it all out.  Graham was nice but we don’t find out much about him until the end.  He seemed a bit too mysterious. It was hard figuring him out since nothing was ever told from his point of view.  And then there is Reid - a complete and utter jerk.  Since the story alternated between his and Emma’s POV, I kept hoping something would happen to make me like him.  But my hopes were dashed.  He ignores the small twinges of conscience he does have in favor of following the amazingly self centered path he has always walked.   The supporting characters were all instrumental in furthering the story or putting focus on certain attributes of Emma, Reid and Graham. 

I wish I could say more about this but I am finding it difficult to say anything more without giving it all away.  What I can say is that I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something with a bit of a Gossip Girl feel. 



Friday, January 4, 2013

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

From HarperTeen:

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she'll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she's there.

What Ellie doesn't anticipate is Graham's infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect that something powerful and ancient will awaken in her and that strange whispers will urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, suddenly there's a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it's up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring, Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl's unexpectedly epic coming-of-age.

I found Valkyrie Rising to be fascinating.  I am not nearly as familiar with Norse Mythology as I am with the Greeks, so this was fairly new territory for me and Paulson made it worth my time.  The premise was familiar, but fantastically executed, a young girl discovering that she is a part of an ancient mythological race of warriors and coming into her power.  The characters, twists and turns, myths – all of it was seamlessly integrated into Paulson’s version of Norse Myths. 


In my humble opinion, Ingrid Paulson is a strong new talent to watch.  Valkyrie Rising was *this* close to making my Top Ten list for 2012 and I look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next. 



Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 YA Contemporary Challenge

This year I will be participating in the 2013 YA Contemporary Challenge hosted by Katie's Book Blog.  Contemporary YA is one of my favorite genres so this challenge is pretty exciting for me.

I am commited to:

Level 3: 15+ books. 

That is 15-plus YA Contemporary books that will be published in 2013 and that I will read in 2013.

Here is a list of books that I have scheduled to read this month. 

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

I will probably check in time to time with an update of what's been read and what's on the reading schedule.

Happy 2013!


Masque Of The Red Death by Bethany Griffin

* * * *


Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


Masque of the Red Death is bursting with conspiracy, espionage and deception. It's hard to narrow down when this takes place but that only adds to it's draw.

I was initially struck by Araby’s self-destructive nature and that of her best friend April. They go to the Debauchery Club regularly to engage in nefarious activities that help them forget the miserable reality of their day to day lives. Mind you their plight is not quite as bleak as the rest of the unlucky population who live in abject poverty. Because of a plague that no one quite understands, everyone has taken to wearing masks to prevent from breathing in the toxic air that kills without discrimination. And it's only the rich whocan afford that necessity.  If there’s anything most startling in this book, it’s the grotesque difference between the haves and the have-nots.  That glaring discrepancy is what makes Araby view her good fortune as a burden especially when she’s exposed to Will’s life. She is overwhelmed with guilt when she sees firsthand how her secret crush struggles to survive daily. Her guilt over how the other half lives is what informs her burgeoning political ideology.

Masque has a well-crafted plot featuring complex relationships and characters. Her fractured relationship with her parents is sad and uncomfortable. They are a very disconnected family. Will is the guy you automatically fall for. He’s sweet, considerate and works hard to help his family. But is he too good to be true? Then there’s Elliott. You can’t quite put a finger on him.  He’s aloof, sly, adept at spinning words and when combined with his sharp intellect, he's dangerously sexy.

Here’s what completely threw me. Despite the fact that I knew Elliott had his own personal agenda, that smug, arrogant guy quietly seduced me. He is hard to figure out but he carries himself so confidently and is unapologetic about his principles. He is flat out honest about his intentions and ambitions but is still ambiguous and unreadable most of the time. He’s quite the conundrum.

But don’t think Masque of the Red Death is simply about a love triangle. That is secondary to Araby’s introduction into the world of political intrigue and what she chooses to be her life’s purpose. I did feel jittery as I read along having no idea who could be trusted. As her alliance shifted I was so worried she would end up being the pawn in someone’s evil plan. But the clever girl holds her own proving that she should not be underestimated.  I sat at the edge of my seat as the climax built and after a few harrowing scenes, I was so crushed when it had to end. I want more damn it!

~ Bel

Masque Of The Red Death is also featured in Bel's Top 10 Of 2012.