Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Title: Hemlock
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal Romance
Release date: May 8th, 2012
Pages: 416 (ARC)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author  
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.

Since then, Mac's life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac's hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy's killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome--also known as the werewolf virus--is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy's murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy's boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

It's been years since the government first announced that werewolves lived among humans. Those infected with Lupine Syndrome, or LS, have never been much of an issue until now.  In the town of Hemlock, there have been several violent murders spanning over the past few months, one of the victims being our main character's best friend, Amy.  Mackenzie decides that she doesn't want to live in fear.  She believes that the Trackers are doing more damage than they're doing good.  With the help of a few unlikely heroes, Mackenzie's determination only grows.

Only days after burying Amy, Mac begins to dream of her best friend.  Each night she's plagued by horrifying scenes of her death, but sometimes they're able to converse in her dreams, and throughout the book, it's as if Amy is trying to help Mac uncover each of the truths that have been looked past.  It's only when the Trackers begin meddling in the school, attacking students over suspicion that they could be infected, that Mac decides to take a stand.  There's only one problem, and it's the fact that Amy's grieving boyfriend, Jason, has joined the war against werewolves.

The Trackers have given me a strange feeling from the start, and it won't take readers long to see why.  They're incredibly violent and they always seem to shoot first and ask questions later.  When they get their hands on any werewolf, no matter who they are or if they've been violent or not, they immediately ship them away.  Mac was a likable character for me, but she certainly isn't one of my favorite YA heroines.  Though she was intelligent, resourceful and gave others the benefit of the doubt, she wasn't as unique as I wished she would have been.

Overall, I found Hemlock to be an entertaining and fast-paced read with many twists and turns.  While I'm getting a little tired of the cheesy love triangles, I especially enjoyed one of the boys involved.  In fact, Kyle is the reason that kept me flipping the pages.  Each of the boys, while best friends, turn out to be complete opposites.  Even with it's slight cliches, Hemlock is definitely worth a read for any fan of paranormal romance.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #45

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: 34 Pieces of You
Author: Carmen Rodrigues
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse

There was something about Ellie... Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance, and kept watch.

Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 secrets of a brief and painful life.

Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along...

This just sounds like such a me book.  I can never get enough of these dark and emotional contemporaries.  This story sounds very similar to Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which is one of my top favorite books.  That alone boosts my excitement for 34 Pieces of You.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Title: Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal/Steampunk
Release date: July 24th, 2012
Pages: 371 (ARC)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author 
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother. 

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Susan Dennard has created an incredibly unique book that I will fondly look back on time and time again.  With its paranormal aspects and lovely steampunk imagery, this story grabbed my attention from the start and held it until the very end.

Though the dead rising is becoming a little more common at this time and place, there's no way that our heroine, Eleanor, can ever get used to the sight and smells of a rotting being shuffling among the living.  For some reason, her brother hasn't been able to make it home again, and she has reason to believe that he's being held hostage by the necromancer that started it all.  Eleanor seeks help from a motley crew of Spirit-Hunters in order to get to the bottom of it and slowly uncovers the truth, maybe even before it's too late.

This entire story is packed with important events and information, which will keep you turning the pages.  Eleanor is one tough cookie, and the determination within her is beyond belief.  It's easy to say that she truly cares for her family, and she'll go to great lengths to make sure that they're taken care of.  Another strong and oddly charming character is Daniel, one of the Spirit-Hunters that arrive in town just days after the dead have risen.  The relationship that develops between the two is enough to satisfy my need for romance, but not enough to overpower the actual plot.

Something Strange and Deadly is full of excitement, pleasing visuals, imaginative inventions and characters that stand out from the rest.  It's even turned me onto a new genre that I was a little hesitant to jump into.  The author did an amazing job with describing the Eleanor's world.  It's so packed full of action, which makes the entire story move at the perfect pace.  Though the end of the story doesn't leave the reader hanging, I'm anticipating the release of its sequel, just because I loved these characters and the stories each of them had to tell.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In My Mailbox #44

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
(signed finished copy from author)

-Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein
(ARC from Pixie @ The Bookaholic)

-Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L.J. Smith
-Thirst #1 by Christopher Pike
-Betrayed by Ednah Walters
(from Sarah @ Catching Books)


-Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
(free until 8/27!  Get it here!)

This week wasn't nearly as exciting as the last, but I'm excited to finally read Cold Kiss!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

Title: Beautiful Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Mystery
Release date: August 7th, 2012
Pages: 422 (e-galley)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins-so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they've lived with since their parents passed away, can't tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong-especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself?

Beautiful Lies will shock and mystify readers with its suspenseful story and the author's eccentric way of telling it.  My mind is completely shaken and I'm still not sure if I can differentiate what's real and what's not.  That's how I know I've read an incredible book.  Seeing things from this girl's perspective, who may or may not have inherited her grandmother's mental illness will leave you completely confused for hours, maybe days after reading the book.  Is she really getting glimpses of her sister, or is it just her mind playing tricks on her?

When Rachel and Alice switch places for the night, neither of them think anything of it.  It's not the first time and there was no reason for them to think it was the last...until Rachel goes missing.  Alice knows that running away is something her sister would never do, but no one takes it seriously because it is, however, something Alice would do.  She takes it into her own hands to find Rachel, all while pretending to be her in front of her family, friends, and peers at school.

This is one book that holds so many unexpected twists and turns that you are forced to keep reading if you want to find out what is really happening.  One concern may be that the author will leave things unclear or unanswered, but there's no need to worry about that.  By the end you find just about everything that you need to know.  The twin phenomenon is also completely intriguing.  Reading about Alice and Rachel's unique connection to each other captivated me, and it's definitely the main reason I was drawn to this story in the first place.

Jessica Warman surely knows how to tell an incredible story.  From start to finish, my mind was spinning with all of the information I was thrown along the way.  There were many scenes that will stay with me for a long time and I know that some of them will even make other readers go "WTF did I just read?".  Of course, being a lover of anything psychological, Beautiful Lies has made its way to my favorites list, ensuring that I'll be reading more of the author's work in the future.

Beautiful Lies Blog Tour: Guest Post

Today the Beautiful Lies blog tour is making a stop at The Hollow Cupboards with a guest post from the author herself, Jessica Warman!

What inspires you to write novels with mystery elements? 

I write mysteries (or novels that contain mysteries) because I love them.  As a kid, I was obsessed with the book “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin.  (It’s amazing, if you haven’t read it.)  There’s the expression “write what you know,” but I’d also add “write what you love” to that sentiment.  Every so often, a well-meaning family member will ask me, “Why don’t you write a book about vampires?  Vampires are so hot right now!”  And I try to explain that I don’t have much interest in vampires – so, as a result, I don’t think I would be very good at writing about them.  If the story I’m working on doesn’t’ interest me, then how can I expect it to interest my readers?  If there’s no heart behind a novel, I think it definitely shines through onto the page.   

The reason I’ve dedicated my life to being a writer is because I love my work.  I’m not going to write something because I think it will sell a million copies, unless I really love the story.  My goals in life don’t include going through the motions or resting on my laurels.  I want to write the best books I possibly can, and in order to do so, I know I need to write the kind of book I’d want to read.  Hence, mysteries and thrillers.

Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!  It was a pleasure to take part in your blog tour.

Connect with the author!
Goodreads | Blog | Twitter
Jessica Warman is the author of Breathless, which received three starred reviews and was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Where the Truth Lies. The idea for Between came from an incident in her childhood, when a local boy went missing after a party on a yacht (he was eventually found, alive).

Buy the book!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

I'll be posting my review shortly, and trust me when I say that Beautiful Lies will knock you off your feet!  I was speechless; I'm still having trouble finding the right words to describe this thrilling book!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #44

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

I've been a fan of David Levithan's work for years and Every Day sounds like it would be the perfect book to add to my collection.  The summary makes it seem like the kind of story that could easily become a new favorite.

 What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary
Release date: August 28th, 2012
Pages: 288 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author 
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. 
Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

Chelsea has always loved to gossip.  Any rumor she hears about someone else is instantly reported to everyone she knows.  It's all fun and games, because no one is really getting hurt, right?  Wrong.   One night, things are taken too far because of a secret that Chelsea blabbed.  People get hurt in more ways than one and she's guilty for causing it all.  If only she'd kept her big mouth shut...Well, that's exactly what she plans to do from now on.

After a terrible mixture of bad timing, spilled secrets and alcohol, Chelsea finds herself responsible for all of the damage that's been done.  Her best friend won't return her messages and by the time she gets back to school after winter vacation, she sees why.  The entire school hates her for what she's done.  Not only did she start this mess, she's ruined a handful of lives, including her own.  By then, her vow of silence is in full effect.  She read about it in the National Geographic and decided that it's perfect for her.  If she doesn't talk, there's no way she'll dig a deeper hole.  When the entire school is against you, who do you turn to?

I loved every moment of this book.  The change that Chelsea goes through in just a little over a month is remarkable.  She learns just how bigoted and disgusting her so-called friends could be and that being like them is something that no one should aspire to be.  The characters, whether good or evil, were perfectly created.  They were so entirely believable that it's easy to get emotionally attached.  A few of my favorites have to be Asha, the girl who gives everyone a chance and Sam, an incredibly sweet boy that goes unnoticed for far too long.

Hannah Harrington isn't afraid to write about tough issues that teens are forced to deal with.  The bullying and ignorance that takes place in this story is heartbreaking, but will hit close to home for many people.  Our protagonist will learn how much power words hold.  Overall, Speechless isn't just a book about taking a vow of silence, it's about being able to get over anything.  Chelsea learns to do the right things, and that you can't necessarily change the opinions of others, but you can do your part in trying not to spread the hate.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In My Mailbox #43

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Gone by Michael Grant
(Paperback from Aurora @ YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy)

-Partners in Crime (Sleuth or Dare #1) by Kim Harrington
-Sleepover Stakeout (Sleuth or Dare #2) by Kim Harrington
-Framed & Dangerous (Sleuth or Dare #3) by Kim Harrington
-Infinity (Numbers #3) by Rachel Ward
-Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver
-The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
-Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
-Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot
-Grim by Anna Waggener
-Across the Universe by Beth Revis
-Deadly Decendant (Nikki Glass #2) by Jenna Black
-Blood on the Bayou (Annabelle Lee #2) by Stacey Jay
-Changeling (Meta Wars #2) by Kelly Meding
-Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell #2) by Jenn Bennett
(Box of books from Donna @ Eve's Fan Garden)

Receiving boxes of books is one of the best things ever.  I've already read and reviewed Take a Bow, but I was excited to get a finished copy of it.  Also having reviewed Pandemonium, I'll be using this ARC for giveaway in the future.  Though I read mostly YA, the 4 adult urban fantasy books caught my interest but because they're all sequels, I can't read them yet, so I hope to get my hands on the first books (especially Stacey Jay's Annabelle Lee series).

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Title: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal/ Horror/ Dystopian
Release date: June 19th, 2012
Pages: 323 (Paperback)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Gifted
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

It's no secret that Sloane has had an awful past. When her sister follows their plan to run away without her, Sloane's world falls apart.  Life as she knows it comes to an end and she finds herself face-to-face with the dead.  Zombies attack and surprisingly, she makes it to the only safe building in town, her high school, with a small group of teenagers.  Though she feels like giving up on life, and has since the day she found her sister's note, she turns out to be one of the most determined characters in this story.

Every character played their roles perfectly.  No one unnecessary was mentioned and you open your heart up to these young individuals to realize that they could so easily be you.  There are the twins, Grace and Trace, who are two peas in a pod.  They'll do anything for each other, the way that Sloane used to be with her sister before she was abandoned and left to fend for herself.  There's Rhys, the caring one.  Cary, the one that holds the weight of death on his shoulders.  Harrison, who knows no one and can do nothing but cry over the lives they've lost.

The writing was perfect for this story; brilliant and just enough detail to make your skin crawl, but not enough to give you nightmares.  I loved everything about this book, right to the last page.  The fact that Sloane had been hurt by so many people in her life, yet she never completely closed herself off to others is inspiring.  The fact that these kids are terrified of what's going on, yet none of them give up.  They always keep pushing to survive.  There are times where they don't get along because the pressure is so high, but they always do whatever they can to help each other out in the end.

This is Not a Test is an incredibly horrifying and perfect zombie novel told from the perspective of a girl who has no will to live, yet finds herself fighting for her life when it comes down to it.  She also realizes that even though she's been abandoned by the only person she thought she could trust, she finds friendship in an unlikely place.  I loved that this book was more about the psychology rather than the actual zombies, and there is no doubt that I'll be adding Courtney Summers' other novels to my list of books to read.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Over You by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Title: Over You
Author: Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary Romance
Release date: August 21st, 2012
Pages: 304 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Gifted
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you're put in a situation where you're forced to see your former beau every day. Max has devised a foolproof method for broken-hearted teenage girls on how to get over their exes.  I honestly wish that I had someone like Max to scrape me off of the floor and put me back together again when I had my first break up.  She's right where she belongs, doing something she loves and living happily ever after...until she unexpectedly runs into the boy that broke her own heart.  Now she'll have to trust that her advice will not only help her move on, but make her realize that she's much better without him.

While this story wasn't  filled with much substance, it was surely entertaining.  The dialogue was witty and although Max was a difficult character for me to relate to, I still admired her.  She had a likable personality and intuition, which made her perfect for the role of heroine-in-disguise.  No one but she, her clients and her assistants knew anything about the business she was running, cleverly named Ex, Inc.

When Max is dealing with her clients, the reader will see how much she truly cares.  She spends so much time being the friend that they need, but when she begins to relapse and fall head-over-heels for her less-than-deserving ex, she fails to take the advice she had no problem dishing out to others.  Along the way she meets another completely sweet guy named Ben and her vision becomes a little less blurred.  She realizes her worth and that she's important; much more important than that jerk, Hugo, ever acknowledged.

Overall, I found Over You  to be unique and heart-warming.  The fact that a teenage girl could come up with such a successful business dedicated to helping other girls her age is what made it such an entertaining story.  Everyone should be able to relate to something in this book, and because of that, I think it's worth a read.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #43

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: Defiance
Author: C.J. Redwine
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

I'll be honest and say that I never paid much attention to this book when I saw it on other blogs.  The summary doesn't make the book sound like something I'd instantly be eager to read, but then I realized that some of my favorite books are the ones that have taken me by surprise.  Needless to say, after all of the awesome things I've heard about Defiance, I can't wait to start it!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 14th, 2012
Pages: 395 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Samantha has known one thing since the Garrett family moved in next door--her mother was not pleased.  She's been told to stay away from that disorderly bunch, but that never stopped Sam from silently watching them from just outside her bedroom window.  When one of the older siblings, a boy named Jase, introduces himself after more than 10 years of being neighbors, Sam is thrown into a complete new world where she feels wanted, relaxed and like she finally fits in.  She's found a home with this new family, but when it comes down to it, will she be able to choose between right and wrong?

I knew that My Life Next Door was the book for me the moment I heard about it.  I waited for months to get my hands on it and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  I fell head over heels for the characters, especially Samantha and Jase and the romance that blossoms between them.  It's safe to say that most aren't going to like Sam's mom just by reading how judgmental and how perfect she constantly has to try to be, but if you dig deep, you'll find compassion.  There will be more characters that the readers will learn to despise, but the Garretts stayed true to themselves the entire journey.

What I loved about that large, chaotic, fun and completely close-knit family is that they welcome just about anyone.  They turn the other way when someone voices one of their rude opinions and they don't let anyone stop them from being happy.  Sam has known a very small family of just her mother and older sister, and just as her sister's leaving for college and her mother's spending more time in politics, she needs something like Jase's family.  As it turns out, they need her too.

This story has to be one of the best contemporaries I've read all year.  Not only is it filled with a steamy romance and a swoon-worthy boy, but it doesn't stray very far from its main and most important topic--family.  Sam learns what it's like when her nearly-perfect life takes a turn and crashes, leaving her to pick up the pieces.  She's faced with a very hard decision between honesty and betrayal and at least one of her families will have to suffer no matter what.  My Life Next Door is what I call a perfect debut.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

In My Mailbox #42

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
(signed, from Tt @ Never Ending Stories)

-Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
(from Random Buzzers)

-Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
(from Harlequin Teen)

-Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
-Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
(personalized with swag, from author)

-Surprise box full of Pretty Crooked swag
(from Willa, aka Elisa Ludwig)


-Lullaby by Amanda Hocking
(ebook from St. Martin's Griffin)

I'm so completely psyched that I now own a signed copy of Under the Never Sky.  It was, without a doubt, the best book I've read this year.  If you want to read my raving review, I'll link it here.  Overall, I'd say that this week was pretty AWESOME.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Title: Glitch
Author: Heather Anastasiu
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Release date: August 7th, 2012
Pages: 371 (e-galley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

When Zoe begins to feel human emotion for the first time, she's fully aware that she's glitching, which means that she has to keep it all a secret or risk getting deactivated.  Up until the point where she comes in contact with another glitcher, she has thoughts of turning herself in.  After all, glitching hasn't made her life any easier, especially with the looks of suspicion she begins to get when her powers unexpectedly occur while trying to save a little girl's life.  She then meets a mysterious boy at school named Adrien, who she believes may be a Monitor, watching her every move in order to take her away.  Instead, he takes her to the Surface, where Zoe finds out the truth about the place she's always called home.  Now she'll do anything to escape.

Glitch was filled with action and excitement that grasps all of your attention.  There wasn't a certain point in the book where I felt as though I could predict what would happen, and because of that, I found it very difficult to put it down.  I loved being able to see this unique and terrifying world through Zoe's eyes, getting to learn everything she thought she knew about the Community, her passions and even just how much she truly cares for others.  I had a few issues with how naive and trustworthy she seemed to be, but now I realize that it's expected from someone who is just learning the truth. 

With the help of other people like her, Zoe realizes that controlling her Gift is possible and it will be put to good use.  The aspects of technology is one of my favorite parts of this book, and I believe that the author did an amazing job creating the entire world.  I could honestly get lost in all of the brilliant descriptions of what these characters live like, from the Link right down to how their hardware is supposed to work.

This small group of glitching teenagers begin to find themselves being controlled and taken advantage of by the Community and this is the story of the stand they take to change it all.  Glitch will hold onto you until you flip the last page.  Though I'm not the biggest fan of the dystopian genre, this is one series that I hope to continue, and as many readers will easily see, it's filled with a lot of potential.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #42

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Words cannot even explain how excited I am to get my hands on this book. Here, just watch the trailer and you'll see why.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Title: Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2)
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal/ Horror
Release date: August 7th, 2012
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Review
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live--not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with. Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. 

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Last year, readers were fed a horrifyingly delicious tale about a ghost hunter named Cas and the tortured spirit that changes it all.  Ever since Anna willingly threw herself into the pits of Hell in order to save Cas from the extremely dangerous Obeahman, Cas hasn't been able to get her out of his mind.  He's certain that there's a way to get her back, to save her from whatever torture she's going through, and in Girl of Nightmares, we  find out just how he plans to do so.    

With the help of his two best friends, Thomas and Carmel, Cas finds that seeking the doorway to Hell is a near-impossible task, but for the sake of Anna, he never gives up.  I just have to say that I love Cas.  Though gruesome visions of Anna keep appearing in front of him, he's still able to grow tremendously throughout this book.  He doesn't let anything get in the way of his determination, and even when he feels the most alone than he's ever felt, he keeps pushing himself after being told countless times that what he's trying to do is hopeless.

The writing is just as breathtaking and terrifying as ever.  The reader is shown a whole new side to Anna, a side that seems vulnerable when it comes to the Obeahman.  Although Girl of Nightmares didn't seem to scare me as much as Anna Dressed in Blood did, there were definite scenes that will make your skin crawl.  Scenes where Anna's skin peels back from her skull, scenes of rotting corpses chomping on human flesh.  Those scenes couldn't be more perfect, and I'm actually craving more.  The only thing that bothered me in the entire book was that the Suicide Forest was relocated to Scotland to fit the story line.  GUYS.  This is a real place, called Aokigahara Forest, and it's located in Japan.  If that isn't enough to give you nightmares for the rest of your life, I don't know what will.

Kendare Blake is brilliant.  Girl of Nightmares was the perfect sequel to my favorite horror novel and like the first in the series, this book will stay on my mind for a long time.  Though I expected Anna to play a larger role in this book, I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, and I'm sure any lover of this series will too.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

In My Mailbox #41

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
(Finished copy and swag from Tor Teen)

-Drain You by M. Beth Bloom
(ARC from Pitch Dark)

-Saving June by Hannah Harrington
(Paperback and swag from Ashley @ What's Your Story?)

-Once by Anna Carey
(Finished copy from June @ Writing is a Blessing)

I can't even tell you guys how excited I was when I opened the package that contained Girl of Nightmares.  I actually squealed!  After reading Anna Dressed in Blood and being left with that cliffhanger, I had to find out what happens next.  I have no doubt that I'll be finishing the book very soon because it's just that good.  A huge thanks to Tor Teen for the best surprise ever!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?
BTW, I'm currently holding a giveaway you might want to check out!
-Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (US/CAN only- ends 8/10)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Title: Wake
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Fantasy/ Romance
Release date: August 7th, 2012
Pages: 309 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Review
Goodreads | Amazon | Author 
Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets

Upon the first few chapters, we learn that our main character, Gemma, is a strong and determined young swimmer on the track to the Olympics and nothing will get in her way of that--not even her dad's rules or her sister's complaints.  After all, the only reason that Harper cares so much about her sister is because boys have mysteriously gone missing and being the older of the two, she feels the need to protect her, but Gemma takes midnight dips in the bay with no concern about that.  When Gemma unknowingly catches the interest of three mysterious girls, she begins to find herself in more trouble than she could have ever imagined.

I found Wake to be a fun and interesting read; perfect for summer and any lover of mythological creatures.  The characters, while mostly entertaining, were a little difficult to relate to at times.  While I liked Gemma, I instantly developed hard feelings for Harper, who seemed to do nothing but nag.  Once the reader learns what happened to their mother, it's easy to understand why she does act so protective, but it's still hard for me to empathize with her.  Out of all the characters, it's pretty easy for me to say that I fell in love with Gemma and Harper's love interests the most.  The romances were simple, but so sticky sweet.

After what Gemma thought would be another ordinary night swimming near the cove, she's faced with two very difficult and very crucial decisions.  Either way, nothing will be the same and she'll have to say goodbye to everyone she's ever cared for.  Whether or not she'll be able to is the real question.  It all comes down to kill or be killed.

The author did an incredible job telling this ominous tale about three very beautifully disturbing Sirens and how they came to be, how they try to take what's not theirs and leave people brokenhearted.  Wake was easy to follow and perfectly-paced with no unnecessary parts strewn about.  Being interested in Sirens and Greek mythology for a while, I'm very pleased with the story overall and can't wait to find out more.