Monday, April 13, 2015

ARC Book Review: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Still Waters by Ash Parsons
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars    
Source: ARC Copy from Penguin Teen
Publisher: Philomel Books, Penguin
Published: April 21st, 2015

A gritty, powerful debut that evokes The Outsiders. You won't be able to look away. 

High school senior Jason knows how to take a punch. Living with an abusive father will teach a kid that. But he's also learned how to hit back, earning a reputation at school that ensures no one will mess with him. Even so, all Jason truly wants is to survive his father long enough to turn eighteen, take his younger sister, Janie, and run away.
Then one day, the leader of the in crowd at school, Michael, offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Jason figures Michael simply wants to be seen with someone with a tough rep and that the money will add up fast, making Jason's escape plan a reality. Plus, there's Michael's girl. Cyndra, who looks at Jason as if she sees something behind his false smile. As Jason gets drawn deeper into Michael's game, the money keeps flowing, but the stakes grow ever more dangerous. Soon, even Jason's fists and his ability to think on his feet aren't enough to keep his head above water.

Still Waters is an intense, gritty thriller that pulls no punches- yet leaves you rooting for the tough guy. A powerful, dynamic debut.

** I want to thank Penguin for providing me with an early copy of this book **  

I've got a lot to unload for this book. Right now I'm pretty unsettled towards my thoughts and feelings but I have enough to sit down a write a proper review that will either convince you to read or leave you hanging. 

Unique and something else ~ Rarely do I ever get the chance to read a book where I'm rooting for the tough guy and where the tough guy always always turns out to be the most exposed and emotional in the end. I loved the change in direction that this book took. I really hope this isn't the end for Ash Parsons' writing. 
Great morals ~ This book does not only excel at its writing but it makes some great life lessons that can be carried through life. Don't make deals without reading their contracts first. Keep your head above the water, not just below. Don't make deals with the devil. Keep your head in the game and don't lose sight over love. I think those are mostly the predominant ones but there are definitely a lot more!
Dark YA ~ What makes a book 'dark'? Well to me it's mostly a book that depresses you or it can happen to be the tone of the author. When the tone of the author is painful or very touching, that's when you know you've got a dark book in your hands! Books with dark plots seem to circle around the story of abuse and violence because it's definitely shown here.
- Male Heroine ~ It feels really good to be reunited with a male heroine since most YA books these days focus on building up the proper confidence of women and young girls. I think I stated before that this book was pretty unique. 

A little violent ~ The book features an abusive father that hurts his children and the main protagonist is a just a violent person in general. I liked how although he was violent and a little rough, he had a sweet and lovable side as well. At some points in the book, it was clear that there was too much violence and blood. 
- Abusive Romance? ~ The reason there is a question mark is because I was really unsure of the romance really happening between the characters. It all really seemed cliche, like the popular and rich boy got all the cheerleaders and was in control of them. This book focused a lot on sex, which I didn't necessarily like and thought was pretty provocative.

I thought Still Waters was a beautiful read and definitely worth the try if you want a kick out of reading something unique and that will you blow you out of the water. It's a little dark in a sense but nothing you can't assimilate with. It has great morals that will teach you something in life and/or teach you something you already knew. Still Waters comes out April 21st, so go preorder your copy or get it in stores when it comes out near you! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars :star :star :star 1/2

Source: eARC via HarperTEEN | Edelweiss

Date of Publication: February 25th, 2015

Publisher: HarperTeen

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

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

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

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

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

My Review 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My (precise) Rating is 3.5 stars. I haven't used the half star too much this year, but hopefully after reading my review you'll understand why I think it's the only option here). ;)

This is kind of a difficult review to write just because I am bit torn with my overall feelings about the book. It was very interesting unique story. I think the most interesting "hook" was that we get a story about what happens to the beauty after the prince kisses her and wakes her up…after 100 years have passed. It's a fascinating thing to ponder. All your family and friends are dead. Everything you know is dead and the princess really has no one to trust, she's dependent on the prince and his family.

It was not a "true love" makes everything right and good and simple—type of book. I think that is definitely what made me keep reading it. Aurora was a different princess, sheltered but bold. Bold and stupid, yes but not to the point of me having to smh as I touch the screen of my kindle to turn each page (it's happened before).

Our prince is also a bit unique. Rodric is not cocky (there's another character that fills that description), nor is his feeble. He's just had a tough life in his own sheltered way and wants to please his parents, yet feels miserable and also feels sad and empathizes with Aurora's situation. In the end he really gained my respect by his actions.

"They love you," Rodric said under his breath. Was he talking to himself or to her? The lie cut into her chest, and something like panic bubbled up in her throat. They could not love her. No one could, not here, not really. Not the prince, not the crowd, not anyone. They were all deceived, by her face or her silence or their own desires." -Loc 2291 eARC*
As you can see the writing is quite good and I did enjoy the way it was written. The pacing was a bit off at times, because I felt like the book was one big introduction. It was strange, almost like the author needed to write this book but that she really isn't getting the story in motion until the sequel. There was a lot of setting up of the characters, time period, setting, backstory, etc…which was essential but I think maybe too detailed? I don't 'know. It's hard because as I was reading it it was fine, but I thought it was going to be a lot longer ( I blame the kindle because I can't judge really…especially because percents with eARCs can be misleading! Sometimes it happens to me where it says 80% and it's over already…so I never really trust the percentages when I'm reading a galley on kindle.

“‘I’m lost’, she said. Nettle continued to sing, words of longing and heartache. Aurora held her breath, and Tristan smiled against her cheek. ‘Me too,’ he said. ‘Maybe we can be lost together.’” -Loc 1473

Tristan, by the way is a love interest. No, he's not the prince who awakes Aurora with true loves' first kiss (that’s Rodric). To my relief (and to yours should you read it) Tristan isn’t the second man in a love triangle. There isn’t really a love triangle in this book. I was worried at first that there would be, but there wasn’t. There may be some fling(s) involved in the novel. Overall though, Aurora is just being young and discovering that “true love” may not have been the reason that she awoke from her long long sleep.

The ending had me excited and thrilled, to be honest. I was glued to the last chapter or two…just dying to see what was going to happen. I loved all the build up, and action that was in the latter chapters. However, as I said about he pacing, this is where it really became apparent at the pacing of the bulk of the book was slow because the end was quicker but felt more organic. It felt right. Which made me feel like the introduction was too long (2/3 of a book is too long to feel like an intro!) 

When I read the last page I was like— WHAT?!?! THIS IS IT?! I kept staring at the 100% in disbelief. I guess yeah, cliffhangers will do that. But, more than that, I felt a bit cheated. I mean, it just felt a little wrong. I wanted to read more. I really honestly think it would've worked better to have a long ass book (you know fantasy novels can do that…maybe it's harder in YA but still…) and then at the end have a Part II. Instead of having to wait for another book. I think it would've flowed better that way and I would have kept reading. 

I did enjoy this unique retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales and Disney movies. Although I had some problems with the story, I very much enjoyed reading it and am glad I read the book. 

I recommend this novel for lovers of fairy tale retellings. If you like your books sweet but not cavity-inducing, plots with conflict but not blood-drenched, and characters that are unique but still (mostly) relatable, you should read this book. A Wicked Thing is a good start to what I predict will be an outstanding series. My prediction is that the sequel will far outshine this book as the setting has been established and the sequel will really get us into Aurura's choices and the evil queens part in her future and how much she shaped Aurora and Alyssiana's past?

*Please note: quotes were taken from the advanced reader copy of the book. Quotes may not be the same in the published copy. 


Have you read this book or are you planning to read it? Did you enjoy it? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

YALL West! Upcoming Book Festival

I wanted to post a quick thing about the upcoming YALL West book festival this coming weekend! If you live in the Los Angeles County area, head to Santa Monica High School and check it out! There is free general admission. You can buy tickets to events, but there are only af ew that aren't sold out! Head to the site asap to get tickets, I'm going to Tea Time with Marie Lu and Veronica Roth. Also I'm going to the Libba Bray musical even thingy on Saturday as well. :party



 Other Authors Appearing at the Festival (among many more!) 
They will be signing books all day! 
Check the schedule on the website.

Richelle Mead
Kimberly Derting
Robin LeFevers
Melissa de la Cruz
Libba Bray
Ransom Riggs
Andrea Cremer
Lauren Oliver
Susan Ee
Kami Garcia
Margaret Stohl
Marissa Meyer
..and more!!

Tea Time with Marie Lu and Veronica Roth! 
Very excited for this event! It's happening on Saturday, April 11th! 
Tickets are still available! They're only 5$ so head over to buy!
Are you going? Let me know if you are! Let's meet up! If you don't live in the area, or can't make it stay tuned for an update. If I win anything I'm going to give it away on here. So fingers crossed!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Harry Potter World Experience (Day 1)

After taking a recent trip to the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was totally shocked by all the amazing things it had to offer and just about how much fun I had. It's actually no secret that I haven't finished the series, and yet I've watched all the movies to know about the characters and the story. Everything was extremely real and intricate and the makers obviously payed attention to detail. For those who didn't know, Harry Potter world is structured exactly like Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts castle, which can be reached by taking the train. The service is extremely wonderful and the workers wear costumes, which I thought was so rad! 

I ended up buying a Gryffindor shirt with 'Potter' in the back and Hermione's interactive wand :D
Tasting some extremely good butterbeer 
At Wand Showroom where we got to pick out some wands! 

So was it worth it- all the money and traveling expenses? HELL YES! I mean I didn't even have any expectations to how it was supposed to be but it was an experience of a life time! One thing I do recommend- check out the Gringotts ride. It's kind of thrilling but I love rollercoaster and fast rides so it was really nice for me. I hope you guys all love this post, and I know some of you already went to HP world. Share your experiences, I would love to know! I also wish I had more pictures but it was so hot and I refused to stop to take pictures. :P 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dust Off Your Classics: Rebecca review!!

Dust off your classics is a challenge I created two years ago with Trish @ Between My Lines. Basically we both agreed to start a super chill challenge where the only goal is to try to read 6 classics a year. In this second year we have decided we can do 6 and are trying to go for more! Feel free to check out the page and join the linky here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Marier

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars :star :star :star :star

Source: Paperback via my collection

Originally Published: 1938

Publisher: HarperCollins

A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house's first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.

My Review

One of the things I love about this challenge is that it has and continues to push me to read the classics that have been on my TBR for many years. Rebecca was one of those classics that made me feel like I'm the only one in the book blogosphere that hadn't read it! So many of my book bloggy pals and Goodreads friends had raved about this book, but it was just another one of those books that seemed like it'd be forever on my shelf. Until one of my favorite aunts told me it was her absolute favorite book. She's not a big reader and I hadn't ever heard her talk about a novel like she did with Rebecca. That and the fact that I got a gorgeous copy for Christmas last year cinched the deal for me. I just knew I'd have to read this book and I'm so glad that I did!! 

The Beginning: 
Although intriguing, overall it was kind of slow moving. It took me a LONG LONG time to get into it.

I liked how it started, but the first part was actually the epilogue which threw me off and at the end I had to reread it. Then I thought it was brilliant and perfect ;) Everything came together and in the beginning when I read it I felt sufficiently spooked and melancholy.

Our nameless heroine meets Maxim. Her attitude and demeanor made me feel kind of sorry for her. She was just so hopeless and never stood up for herself. That was her personality though and it was completely authentic, so I loved that.

The Middle:
As our heroine moves to Manderly, the mystic surrounding the epic manor and grounds is intensified and I was so excited yet nervous as she drove down the long driveway for the first time. Some great foreshadowing and then when she enters the house it's crazy how much it seemed like a horror movie (in the start of the movie, that is).

The End: 
My favorite part! The middle brought up the mystery and I loved how everything built up. I also just enjoyed getting to know the characters (there was a great cast of characters). I was surprised by the ending and thought I knew what was going to happen. I mean…I read the introduction which is the epilogue so I kinda knew ..but didn't realize how many surprises there'd be!

While this isn't my top favorite classic, or even top 5…I did still really love it. It's a great novel. I'm so glad I read it and I can see how it made the favorite list for many people. It was the pacing that got me to give it 4 stars instead of 5..if the pacing was better it'd be higher on my list of favs. But still, I'd read more by Daphne du Marier.

What am I going to do now? 
…watch Hitchcock's version of Rebecca 

..and choose the next classic I'm going to read! I'm going to list some of the books I'm thinking to read next and please comment on which one you think is the best choice!

-The Turn of the Screw
-Silas Marner
-The Age of Innocence
-The Haunting of Hill House 
- Ayesha/Return of She/She 
- Heart of Darkness


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