Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

Title: Firewalker (Worldwalker #2)
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in these second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

“You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified.”

Lily is back in her own universe, and she’s ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fuelled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily got that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial by Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini.

It’s no secret that Josephine Angelini ranks among my all-time favourite authors. I love everything she writes and everything of hers I read leaves me wanting more. Firewalker was so much more than I could have hoped and I loved every single page of it.

Lily is back in her world, this time with Rowan by her side. But after the months she’s spent in New Salem, it’s hard to just slip back into her old life. It doesn’t help that something, or rather someone, in New Salem keeps wanting to pull her back. Lily can only resist Lillian for so long before she finds herself going back to the Pyre and transporting herself, Rowan and her newfound mechanics back to New Salem. Back in this universe, Lily starts to question everything she thought to be true, and finds herself making decisions that may cost her everyone she loves.

I’m always a little apprehensive going in to a new Josephine Angelini book. Not because I’m worried I won’t enjoy the story because I have complete faith in her on that front, but rather because I’m never sure if I’m going to come out the other end with my heart intact. She is particularly gifted at writing stories where my emotions are put through the wringer but I still wouldn’t change any moment of that story. Firewalker was no different. Firewalker wastes no time jumping into things: the story picks up just moment after where Trial by Fire ended. So right from the start, something is happening. And honestly, it doesn’t let up until the very last page. And even at that point, I was kinda hoping there were still pages left to turn. And like I had predicted, Firewalker pretty much put my heart through the wringer. I was constantly worried about the fate of the different characters I have come to love over the course of these two books. And by the end of the book, let’s just say it’s kind of up in the air as to whether some of them are even alive anymore or not. And now I have to wait a whole year to find that out, and it’s going to be painful. 

But for real, though, Josephine Angelini wrote an absolutely fantastic story in Firewalker, and dropped so many hints as to what might actually be going on and it made me all the more curious about what’s to come. And like with any of her books that aren’t the last one in a series: THAT ENDING. WHAT WAS THAT EVEN? Aside from the fact that I’m not sure about the status of some people, I just need to know what happens next and what is going on. As a reader, you reach the end and you’re just left hanging. But in the best way possible. 

One of the things I loved about Firewalker was seeing how much Lily had grown. Where in the first book, she was kind of trying to find her footing as far as this whole magic and multiple universes thing was concerned, in this one, Lily was strong and fierce and ready to do just about anything it took to protect the people she cares about. In my review of Trial by Fire, I had predicted that Lillian was just sort of made to look like a villain and after reading Firewalker, my prediction seemed pretty accurate. Granted things might still change by the time I get to the end of the final book, but I found out so much about Lillian in Firewalker and it had me seriously reconsidering my opinions of her. She definitely isn’t the villain she seems to be and she has pretty valid reasons for doing what she did. It will definitely be interesting to see how it all plays out. And that brings me to Rowan. Who I am still all about. Even if there were a couple moments where I kinda wanted to smack him. But then I have so many unanswered questions where he’s concerned and all I will say is that Rowan better be coming out of all this in one piece otherwise I will be PISSED. 

Another interesting aspect of Firewalker was that it kind of introduces and spends time with different characters than the first book. I mean the story still very much focuses on Lily, Rowan and Lillian and whatever love triangle there is there, if you can even call it a love triangle at this point. But Firewalker also allowed me to get to know Lily’s Tristan (as opposed to the Tristan from New Salem who was very present in the first book), Breakfast (whose name cracked me up every time I read it) and Una, three people from Lily’s world who end up in New Salem because they become her new mechanics when Lily and Rowan are back in our world (are you confused yet—I might be and I’m the one writing this and I’ve read the book). I loved getting to find out more about this Tristan because I definitely had questions about him after the first book and at times what I found out about him and his story broke my heart a little. I’ll definitely be curious to read more about all of them in the future book, even if I am concerned about what my growing attachment to them will do to my heart in the next book.

If this long and rambling review wasn’t a dead giveaway, I absolutely loved Josephine Angelini’s Firewalker and I have a lot of feelings about it. And those feelings are confused and complicated but completely worth it. And I’ll be pining for the final book in the series. For real, Traitor’s Pyre can’t come soon enough.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler

Title: Infinite In Between
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years…

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.

Considering the amount I read, there isn’t much about contemporary books that I haven’t said before. And that can make writing some of these reviews a little tricky. So I’ll just say this, I loved Carolyn Mackler’s Infinite in Between a whole lot more than I expected to.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor and Whitney all had their own concerns and apprehensions about starting high school. When they’re put in the same group at their freshman orientation, they decide to write themselves a letter that they’ll open at the end of high school. But a lot can happen in four years. As they go through high school, each of them goes through their own share of happiness and heartbreak, coming in and out of each other’s lives without thinking too much about it. What will they all think when they meet again at the end of their four years of high school?

Fun little story about Emilie for you: to this day, I still remember the first Carolyn Mackler book I read. I was in eighth grade and I would sit in front of my locker during my lunch break and read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. So it’s fair to say that Carolyn Mackler is one of the YA authors I’ve been reading for the longest time. And I still enjoy reading her books all these years later. As you can guess, I had a pretty good idea going in that I would really enjoy Infinite in Between. What I didn’t expect was to love it as much as I did. Infinite in Between was a story that kind of creeps up on you. At first, it’s a little tricky to follow since it quickly jumps around between five different characters. But at the same time, the story draws you in quickly. And before you know it, you’re curious about finding out more about these five people’s high school experiences and seeing how their lives intersect over the course of those four years. And by the end of the book, I was a lot more emotional than I ever thought I would be. Like I said, this story just creeped up on me in a way that I really didn’t expect.

What Infinite in Between really hit on the head is the way that people come in and out of each other’s lives in high school. How everyone always kind of seems to be on everyone’s periphery no matter how big the school is. And it really showed that no matter how much your life seems perfect from the outside, nothing is ever as it appears. And it also perfectly showed how, at the end of the day, everyone in high school is just trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. That was more than the case for Jake, Mia, Gregor, Zoe and Whitney. Each one of them was basically trying to figure out who they were and who they wanted to be. And it wasn’t always easy, there were obstacles along the way and I was rooting for all of them throughout the book. Most of all though, I loved seeing the way their paths all crossed at different times during their high school career and how at the end of it all, they were able to come together in ways that I didn’t really expect. Reading from five different perspectives was a different experience, but it was definitely worth it in the end.

I loved reading Carolyn Mackler’s Infinite in Between in ways I didn’t expect. This story was understated in the best way possible and accurately portrayed the high school experience. This might be a quieter story, but it’s absolutely worth the read. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

Title: A Little in Love
Author: Susan Fletcher
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Inspire by Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine.

Paris, 1832

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart.

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend. 

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship—the love of a boy?

Though I may not have ever fully read the original text, I am a big fan of the different versions of Les Miserables. Therefore, I was excited about the idea of a book telling Eponine’s story. Though A Little in Love didn’t quite deliver in the way I had hoped it would, I still really enjoyed it. 

All Eponine has ever wanted was to loved and she would have done anything to earn her parents’ love. As a child, that meant stealing for the guests of her family’s inn and being mean to the one person who could have been her friend. She remembers nights secretly caring for her baby brother with Cosette when she was happiest. But that was before Eponine’s family was forced to flee to Paris and live a life of poverty. But Paris is also where Eponine falls in love with a boy and gets one more chance at friendship.

So I love Les Miserables and am more than happy to read or watch anything related to this story. And I’ll admit that when it comes to the musical, the one song that is guaranteed to get me every time is On My Own. To me, what you see of Eponine’s story is just heartbreaking. So when I heard that someone was writing a book that was all Eponine’s story, I was basically all over that. When the time came to read said book, I was fully prepared for all the possible emotions that were likely to come up while I was reading. I knew that there was a strong likelihood that tears should be shed by the time I got the end. Unfortunately, I’m sad to report that A Little in Love didn’t quite deliver the emotional punch I thought it would. While I was reading, I kept waiting for the big emotional punch to the gut to happen, and it never seemed to get there. At least not in the way I had hoped. But that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. Because I did enjoy reading A Little in Love and seeing a story I’m very familiar with from a different perspective. 

Being a fan of Les Miserablesto begin with, I already had a good idea of who Eponine was. But reading A Little in Love, I got to find out more about her, and get a better understanding of who she was. And even if the story as a whole didn’t give me the emotional punch I had hoped for, my heart does go out to Eponine. All this girl ever wanted was to be loved, and from an early age she was told the only way she could do that was by stealing, lying and cheating. So whenever I saw her caring for her younger sister and her baby brother, basically giving them the love she wanted herself, my heart broke a little. As I got further in her story, I also had to admire how hard she was trying to make a better life for herself, even though it wasn’t exactly easy. So all that to say that even if the story wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be, Eponine herself still broke my heart little. 

Though the story wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be, I still found myself enjoying Susan Fletcher’s A Little in Love. If, like me, you’re a fan of Les Miserables, this book is worth checking out.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the Dark by Monica Murphy

Title: In the Dark (The Rules #2)
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from WordSmith Publicity
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Stuck spending the summer with his screwed up family, Gabriel Walker is bored out of his mind and looking for adventure. And he seems to find it with the hot girl who lives next door. The attraction between them is instant. Electric. Soon they’re spending every stolen minute together. Talk about the perfect summer fling…

Lucy isn’t what she seems. She doesn’t live next door—she’s the girl who’s been hired to house sit for the summer while the family goes on a worldwide vacation. If Gabe wants to believe she’s a spoiled rich girl looking for some fun, she can go along with that. After the summer, she’ll never see him again.

They don’t count on running into each other at college. Now Lucy must keep up the prettiness of being a rich girl—and it’s exhausting. She knows she’s falling in love with Gave and she’s scared he feels the same. Will he still care about he discovers the truth?

Earlier this summer, I loved reading the first book in Monica Murphy’s The Rules series. It was fun, it was flirty and had some awesome banter. And the second book in this series, In the Dark, was just as good as the first.

The last thing Gabriel Walker wanted to do the summer before his last year of college was be stuck in a house with his parents. Gabe was counting down the days until the end of summer, but when he noticed the hot girl staying at the house next door, things started looking up. Lucy scored a great summer job: house sitting a house on the beach and spending her days reading by the pool. When Gabe, the hot guy staying next door, comes around and assumes he’s just a spoiled rich girl, Lucy goes along with it. After all, once summer is over it’s not like she’s going to see Gabe again. At least, that’s what should have happened. When they run into each other at school, Gabe and Lucy will have to come to terms with the fact that maybe what they had wasn’t just a summer fling after all.

When I read Monica Murphy’s Fair Game earlier this summer, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I mean, I knew going in that there was a very strong likelihood that I would enjoy the story. It’s New Adult and it’s romance, basically it had my name written all over it. But I quickly fell in love with what I was reading and by the time I finished, I was more than looking forward to reading more. So I was totally excited about In the Dark. And it absolutely didn’t disappoint me. Much like with the first book, I loved that this story was more than just a fluffy and flirty romance. Sure, the romance was fun and I loved every minute of it. But there were also deeper elements to the story, especially with the romance that only made me love it that much more. It’s all hard to explain without diving too much into the details and spoiling things, but just no that with In the Dark you’re getting more than just a fun romance. And I loved the way the romance happened. How it felt like it happened all at once, and then it happened all over again. Have I mentioned that the romance in In the Dark was great? In case it wasn’t obvious let me say it again, the romance and the relationship between Gabe and Lucy was fantastic and I loved it.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved Gabe and Lucy. I had gotten glimpses of Gabe in the first book and I’ll be honest and say that he didn’t exactly make a great first impression. But at the same time I had had the same thoughts about Shep and that turned out for the best. And the same thing happened with Gabe. As much as I didn’t think much of him in the first book, from the moment I started reading In the Dark, I really liked him. Sure, there were times when I questioned why he was doing certain things but that didn’t mean I didn’t like him. And I loved Lucy as well. Granted I didn’t always agree with her lying about her family and her background, but at the same time I could understand why she was doing it. Outside of that, I loved Lucy. And it should go without saying that I loved Lucy and Gabe together. I loved their summer relationship, and I loved their relationship once they were together at school. And when unexpected things happened, they were there for each other. Well for the most part, but it worked out in the end and that’s all that really mattered. So moral of the story, I loved Gabe and Lucy.

In case it wasn’t super obvious by now, I absolutely loved Monica Murphy’s In the Dark. This is the kind of book that you start reading and don’t want to put down until you’re finished. Though I’ll be sad to see the end of the Rules series, I still can’t wait to read Tristan’s story in Slow Play.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Title: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1)
Author: Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two year ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father, son the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

This is where I admit that I have never read a book by Abbi Glines. At least that was true until last week when I read Until Friday Night. And though there were parts of the book that weren’t my favourite, I still found myself really enjoying this story while reading it.

Everyone in Lawton, Alabama knows West Ashby as one of the stars of the high school football team. And that comes with certain expectations that West is more than happy to live up to. But at home, things are different. At home, West is trying to just keep it together while he slowly watches his father die of cancer. Just when he things he can’t hold it all in anymore, Maggie Carleton comes to town and West sees her as the perfect person to talk to. It’s not like the girl who doesn’t talk could tell his secrets to anyone. Maggie has been through her fare share of trauma and grief and she hasn’t spoken since she told the police everything that happened on the night her father killed her mother. But spending time with West, Maggie finds herself wanting to talk again, wanting to him because no one was there to help her at the time. And before either one of them knows what’s happening, a connection they both need and rely on forms between them. 

If you want a foolproof way to get me to read a book, compare it to Friday Night Lights. Or say that it’s for fans of Friday Night Lights. Basically, just mention Friday Night Lights in some way, shape or form in relation to the book and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll want to read it. So I’m sure you can all guess what happened when I heard Abbi Glines’s  Until Friday Night being compared to Friday Night Lights. If you guessed that I suddenly desperately wanted to read it, you guessed right. I was excited about Until Friday Night, I couldn’t wait to read. But then I started seeing reviews and I got a little nervous. People seemed to either love the book or completely hate it. Based on that, I got a little worried I would fall on the hate side of things and then I would be disappointed because I had been so excited about the book. But as scared as I was, I started reading and quickly found myself enjoying the story. And that kept up throughout the whole book. Sure, there were some things that I wasn’t completely okay with, but that’s true for a lot of what I read. And some of those things along the way that I was really not  okay with, and many of those were addressed which made me happy. Until Friday Night might not have become quite the favourite I had hoped it would be, but it was till a story I found myself really enjoying while reading and got me curious enough to see where Abbi Glines will take the series next.

Despite having some issues with him along the way, I liked West pretty much right from the start. Granted, I would sometimes get frustrated with the front he would put up around people, I really liked his more vulnerable side, the side of him that saw his father as his hero and would do anything for his mother. That side of West I was more than happy to get behind and it was the side I wanted him to show to everyone. At least he showed Maggie that side of him pretty quickly so threw as that. And that brings me to Maggie. I can only begin to imagine the horror of what she had gone through and the strength it took to come out of it on the other side. So I was hoping that West would treat her right. And he did. Until some of his behaviour really rubbed me the wrong way. And without revealing too much, the behaviour in question was addressed in no uncertain terms. And that made me happy. Because it needed to be addressed. And then there were the other female characters in the story. Without getting too into it, let’s just say that they weren’t exactly portrayed in the best light and it felt like at times that was done to make Maggie look better. I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with the way the girls behaved, but there were some troubling elements to their depiction. So there was that. But other than that, I liked the characters and I’m curious about a good number of them and I’m looking forward to finding out more about them in future books. 

Though it wasn’t entirely what I had hoped it would be, I still really enjoyed reading Abbi Glines’s Until Friday Night. And I still very much look forward to seeing what Abbi Glines will do with the future books in the Field Party series. 

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