Category Archives: ARC
Book: The Wild Ones by M. Leighton, Berkley Trade, On Sale Now
Book Info: Contemporary Romance, Review copy courtesy of the publisher, Paperback 336 pages
The Wild Ones is the first book I’ve read by author M. Leighton. You know I’ve been on a New Adult kick lately, so that plus the horse ranch setting got my attention. There’s a forbidden romance vibe about the book and I liked that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a fun and fast paced ride with charismatic characters.
The Wild Ones centers on Trick and Cami, two people from different worlds that are drawn to each other like magnets. Cami is the wealthy daughter of a horse breeder, and Trick works in their stable to support his family. Trick has a gift with wild horses but the boss is not too impressed with him and wants him to stay away from his daughter. Can their love beat the odds?
We get to know Trick and Cami through alternating POV. Since the two haven’t known each other long it’s interesting to learn more about them through their own POV. They each have their friends, and personal and family dramas that give insight into their character. When the pair is together their scenes crackle with chemistry. I wanted to root for them, even though they have an insta-love/attraction.
There is a twist that makes the forbidden love aspect even more forbidden. I have to say I was relieved to find out what the twist was- my mind was making it darker than it was. It’s a little soap opera-y like an episode of Nashville, though the story is entertaining.
I like the unusual nickname Trick for Patrick and how the author has fun with the trick or treat name with some of the dialogue:
Pick ‘treat’. Please, for the love of God, pick ‘treat’. -Trick
The Wild Ones is a cute read, and I liked the wild horse tie-in and that it makes the most of the ranch setting. It’s heavy on the romance and written in a casual style with a strong character voice. If you like cowboy romance or New Adult type books give The Wild Ones a try. Trick and Cami’s story wraps up in The Wild Ones, but there is a sequel in the works about another couple in the story, Rusty and Jenna. Look for The Wild Child in the fall.
To learn more behind the scenes info, check out my interview with author M. Leighton.
Book: Escape Theory (Keaton School #1) by Margaux Froley, Soho Teen, On Sale Now
Book Info: YA Contemporary, ARC via Edelweiss, Hardcover 272 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
There’s a crop of YA mystery type reads out lately, and the boarding school setting of Escape Theory makes for even more fun. In TV scribe Margaux Froley’s debut, high school junior Devon Mackintosh is a new peer counselor at a California boarding school who talks to students about everything from drugs to shoplifting to grieving. The school is reeling from the shocking suicide of Jason Hutchins (“Hutch”), the Keaton legacy student and all-around good guy. Devon feels the suicide is out of character and aims to set the record straight. Escape Theory is the first book in the Keaton School series, and is funny, mysterious and a little dangerous.
Hutch is “the boy that got away” from Devon. Ever since they shared a late night snack of Nutter Butter pancakes one night freshman year, they’ve had a bond. They ran in different circles, though they kept track of each other over the years. Something doesn’t sit right about his alleged suicide, and Devon in her peer counselor role is in a unique position to do some digging.
Escape Theory is set at Keaton School, a fancy-pants California boarding school. Devon is a scholarship student and feels like an outsider among the privileged student body. She does make friends though, and adds some new connections to her circle that she meets after Hutch’s death. The good life at Keaton includes parties, surfing and easy access to pharmaceuticals. As a peer counselor, she learns that there’s more than meets the eye to the troubled students of Keaton.
I liked Devon; she’s hard working, analytical, and tries to see the good in people. She has a good sense of humor and a strong moral compass. Devon makes some allies in her search for the truth, and I especially took to Cleo, the gossipy kleptomaniac who becomes a sleuthing sidekick in Devon’s Nancy Drew type investigation.
Even though the book begins with Hutch’s obit, we get the chance to meet him through flashbacks. He was one of my favorite characters and his personality lights up the page. It is interesting to get insight into his character through Devon’s eyes. He had more facets to his personality than she realized.
The book is eminently readable and engaging. The dialogue is snappy and the plot moves at a brisk pace. I liked the use of flashbacks to tell the story and the way that setting is used to full advantage. I was turning pages quickly towards the end to find out what happened to Hutch.
Escape Theory is entertaining and witty, and has pop culture references that made me smile. From the book blurbs I expected a Pretty Little Liars/Gossip Girl type book, and there are some similarities, though this book reads a little older to me. If you like boarding school settings, or YA contemporary mysteries like Also Known As or Heist Society, give Escape Theory a try.
To learn more behind the scenes info, check out my interview with author Margaux Froley.
Book: Also Known As by Robin Benway, Bloomsbury, On Sale February 26, 2013
Book Info: YA Contemporary, ARC via NetGalley, Hardcover 320 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I’m a big fan of Robin Benway’s YA contemporary gem Audrey, Wait and have been waiting for lightning to strike twice. Also Known As also features Benway’s trademark humor and this time centers on a family of spies. I found it highly enjoyable, witty and fresh, and AKA even made me LOL at times.
Also Known As (AKA) is the story of a teen safecracker named Maggie. She is always on the move with her spy parents, making the world safe from bad guys. Her current assignment is her first solo outing, and it ‘s a big one. Maggie has to go undercover as a student at a Manhattan prep school to get close to fellow student Jesse Oliver. Jesse’s wealthy dad has the names and photos of Maggie’s family and other members of the spy group known as the Collective. If Maggie can’t retrieve the file in time, their identities will be leaked to the media. What Maggie didn’t bank on is falling for Jesse for real, and finding a real friend (not air quotes friend) in Roux.
I expected AKA to be a kind of funny Heist Society type novel, with lots of gadgets and dangerous missions. Where this book is a little different is that the main character gets to experience a normal life for the first time. She’s always lived the life of an international spy, never putting down roots anywhere. Now she’s getting her first taste of high school and being around teenagers, and it’s out of her comfort zone but in a good way.
There’s a great cast of characters in AKA. Maggie has a mentor and coffee buddy in the forger Angelo, and Maggie’s parents walk the line between over-protective mom and dad, and stern bosses. Maggie is clever and sarcastic and is used to talking to adults all day. Her new friends are independent and loner types (but the filthy rich kind) like her. But together they click as a band of misfits.
I loved the smart and snappy dialogue in AKA. The novel flows in a conversational and easy way and is a quick and fun read. Benway’s wit shines through the pages, and the story is full of action, friendship, and heart. The New York setting is also used to advantage with several scenes taking place in familiar landmarks. I found it humorous that Maggie has to be a “spy” for her Halloween costume and doesn’t know how to dress the part.
In addition to Maggie torn between the spy world and wanting a normal life, there’s also a mystery to solve and the clock’s ticking. The stakes are high for her family and for the first time Maggie has friends that she doesn’t want to let down.
I think anyone that enjoys humorous YA contemporary books will love Also Known As. The spy twist is fresh and a blast to read. And even though there is a sequel in the works, this book has a satisfying conclusion on its own. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Thanks to Bloomsbury for inviting me to participate in the Triple Threat Blog Tour and providing a review copy of AKA!
Check out Robin Benway’s Also Known As Spotify playlist, and read more about where the songs take place on her blog.
Book Info: YA Contemporary, ARC via NetGalley, Hardcover 316 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
High school student “Butter” is a lonely obese guy who can’t get out of the over-eating cycle. He needs to lose weight for his health but lacks the support at home and motivation to stick to the plan. Butter is usually ignored at school but has also been a bully target at times. After a particularly bad day, Butter’s thoughts turn to self-harm and he determines to eat himself to death live via webcam on New Years Eve. He announces his plan on his website and is startled to find his classmates embrace the idea and encourage him with comments, invitations to parties, last meal suggestions, and friendship. But if they are his friends, how can they let Butter go through with his plans?
The premise is so morbid that I was worried I’d be able to get through this one. But the writing is so compelling I had to keep reading to see how it all turns out. It’s hard to read about Butter’s depression and his treatment at school, but there have been stories similar to Butter’s on the news unfortunately. Though many of them make mistakes along the way, the adults and kids in the story are not all good or all bad and makes you think about how you’d handle the situation if it happened to you.
One thing that makes this read a little easier to digest is that Butter has a great sense of humor. He wants people to see past his appearance and get to know the real him. He’s a nice guy, clever and talented – he’s a gifted saxophone player and the band teacher really wants him to join their music group, but he doesn’t want to put himself out there that way. One person who does like him (personality-wise) is a girl he chats with online anonymously. She is a popular girl at school named Anna and doesn’t give him the time of day there. But, she falls for him online and wants to meet face to face, something Butter of course is reluctant to do.
The subject matter is intense and hard to read at times and brings feelings of anger at the people in Butter’s life and at Butter himself too for letting the situation get so out of control. The whole situation really makes you think and would make for a great book club discussion. The bullying, depression and eating disorder topics are relevant to today and should resonate well with readers of realistic fiction. Erin Jade Lang writes a powerful book with strong characters and a great message.
Book Info: YA Science Fiction / Romance, ARC via Edelweiss, Hardcover 336 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
I’m always excited when there’s a new David Levithan book out, and Every Day may be my favorite yet. The concept caught my eye immediately – a being who wakes up every day in a new body, wow! It works as both a science fiction book and a contemporary love story and really draws you in.
“A” is a genderless entity and spends every day in someone else’s body- going through the motions of their life and trying not to disrupt anything. No matter what, the next day there will be a new body, could be male, female, straight or gay, a drug addict, a loner, an athlete, or a social butterfly. A has learned to adapt, and race, gender, and sexual orientation is no big deal to A. A can access the host body’s memories to get by, but still has a unique personality and thoughts, just without a physical body. It’s lonely never being able to form attachments or stay in one family for more than one day. Everything changes one day when A falls in love and begins to question everything. Sounds like a cool concept, yes?
This exercise of A’s really made me think when I was reading it, trying to imagine what it would be like to experience the world through someone else’s eyes every day and all the good and bad that comes with it. It’s a big responsibility to hold someone’s life in your hands for a day! It definitely takes someone kind and compassionate with a good moral code to handle that role. There is the temptation to meddle in the life of this temporary body, but should you?
Given A’s situation of being without a permanent body, the romance is on the angst-y side. It takes a special person to be accepting of their partner regardless of their ever-changing appearance and gender. It is really sweet to see A make a go at romance and let someone in on the secret. Talk about relationship challenges!
I liked learning about all the different characters A personified and seeing how A handled the reactions of others to each different body. The situation inspires a great deal of empathy. A is respectful of each character’s choices, but the different experiences can’t help but color your view of the world.
Of course I questioned why A has this role, and if there are others like A, etc. But I also was really interested in the story Levithan was trying to tell and not too concerned with the whys. Every Day is really gorgeous, thought provoking and special, a little melancholy and intense. This is a good choice for fans of Levithan or John Green, and should appeal to young adults and adults of both genders. I liked the ending too, but can’t help thinking about what happens next…
Every Day is in stores Tuesday August 28. Hope you check it out!
I’m thrilled to be part of the Once blog tour, and share a review, playlist and giveaway of the book.
About Once – Spoiler alert for Eve:
When you’re being hunted, who can you trust?
For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She’s living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.
But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.
Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past—and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together—but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.
In this breathless sequel to Eve, Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.
Once is the middle book in the Eve trilogy by Anna Carey. If you haven’t read Eve yet, you can still follow along with the events in Once, but as always it will be a better reading experience if you start from the beginning.
I found Once to be even more enjoyable and surprising than Eve. The story picks up a few months after the events of Eve, and Eve is getting acclimated to her new life in the safe haven of Califia. She’s missing Caleb though and plotting to see him again. Things are going pretty smoothly but it’s not long before there’s a game changer that moves the plot in an unexpected direction that throws Eve off balance.
The new setting and characters are an exciting change of pace and I liked how I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. Sometimes middle books can be a disappointment and feel like they are stalling for the final book. But Once is intense and so much happens that got me invested in the story and wanting to know more.
I liked all the references to California locations, and the City of Sand/ Las Vegas. The new characters kept things interesting and surprising but I was glad to see familiar characters pop up too. The story is very much about Eve’s journey though, and she has grown a lot through all her experiences. I enjoyed learning more about her and her past this time around.
Once the emotional story gets going it’s hard to put down. The pacing is good and a nice mix of action and romance. The romance is surprising and bittersweet, and the cliffhanger ending will have you dying for the last book in the trilogy, Rise (April 2013). If you like romantic dystopia, give this series a try.
Anna Carey put together a playlist for Once, and after reading the book I think these songs are a great fit for the emotional story.
The Eve Trilogy: Once playlist
Bon Iver, Skinny Love
The novel opens with Eve living in Califia. She’s spent months thinking about what happened to Caleb, wondering if he’s alive and where. This song reminds me of that churning, torturous place she’s in—wanting to be with him, but hating the pain of the situation.
Ani DiFranco, Swan Dive
There’s a moment in the beginning of Once when Eve sets out to find Caleb. This song perfectly captures the risks inherent in loving someone. Eve knows it’s dangerous, but cares about him more than she does herself.
Jose Gonzalez, Crosses
The imagery in this song reminds me of the first night Eve goes to meet Caleb in the City, how the streets are dark, how there are shadows in the windows above. His is the reassuring voice that sees her through.
Ryan Adams, So Alive
This song is all energy. There’s a scene in Once that takes place under a bridge, and I could nearly hear this song playing as I wrote it. It speaks to how exhilarating it is to be in love.
Passion Pit, Sleepyhead Acoustic version
Sleepyhead was originally one of my favorite dance songs, but when I heard the acoustic version it nearly made me cry. Slowed down it’s so tender and intimate, and the lyrics capture this simple, private moment between two people.
Iron & Wine, The Trapeze Singer
Eve makes several painful decisions throughout the course of the story. In one, she says good-bye to Caleb indefinitely. This song is one of the most painful and beautiful love songs I know. “Please, remember me” is repeated eight times.
Sia, Breathe Me
There’s a scene at the end of Once where Eve is in intense pain, and can’t fully comprehend what just happened to her. This song articulates that confusion and loss.
Florence and the Machine, Seven Devils
This song builds to a slow, simmering rage, and reminds me of the last chapter in Once. I can’t say more than that for fear of giving too much away…
The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Natasha and Anne – they have each won a copy of ONCE!
Book Info: YA Contemporary Romance, HC 320 pg, received for review
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Such a Rush is a perfect summer read and probably my favorite Jennifer Echols book. Prior to reading Such a Rush I had only read Love Story by this author, but after finishing her latest I immediately picked up (and finished) Going Too Far and Forget You. Not even my painful broken wrist could keep me from finishing this one! Echols’ blend of romance, interesting characters, witty dialogue and dramatic intrigue makes her latest book a favorite of mine.
Echols writes romantic dramas and romantic comedies, and Such a Rush is her latest drama. One thing I’ve enjoyed in her books is the interesting careers/hobbies she features, from law enforcement, swim team, and creative writing, and with Such a Rush, aviation.
In Such a Rush, the cards are stacked against Leah Jones. Her mom frequently leaves her alone in the trailer they share in Heaven Beach, South Carolina. To help make ends meet, Leah takes a job as a receptionist at the nearby airport. But soon Leah falls in love with airplanes and sees flying as her ticket out of town. Leah’s boss Mr. Hall sees potential in Leah and agrees to give her flying lessons. Flash forward a few years, and Leah’s flying is coming along great, but she suddenly loses her mentor, and Mr. Hall’s teenage sons Grayson and Alec want to take over. Leah’s welcome to stay and fly for the brothers, but there are strings attached, and the added complication of a long-time crush Leah’s had on Grayson.
I love the concept of this one – Leah has had a rough time of it no question, but flying is her escape. She goes to school with kids wealthier than her and has to buy her own groceries and help her mom pay the bills. She has a certain reputation at school that has given her peers the wrong impression. She has one close friend named Molly, but there’s always a divide between them as well. Flying planes is the best thing that has happened to her, along with learning from her mentor/father figure Mr. Hall. Leah is strong and wants to make something of her life, even though she has a lot of obstacles in the way. She’s not the type to ask for help and I admired her work ethic and self-motivation.
The twin brothers Grayson and Alec also made some assumptions about Leah that make their working relationship awkward. Grayson is arrogant and reckless but is trying to change his ways, while Alec is the more sweet and even-tempered brother. Not to worry though, there is not a traditional love triangle per se, which is not to say things are not complicated between the three of them.
Echols knows how to write romantic tension and this book is exploding with it. Besides the flying and family drama going on with Leah, sparks will fly and there is plenty of heat. It is on the A side of YA so keep that in mind.
The scenes with Leah flying planes are awesome and made me feel a sense of freedom right along with her. The airport setting works really well and along with the romance delivers the rush that the title promises.
Echols’ fans will eat this one up, and if you’re looking for the perfect summer beach read look no further. It even snapped me out of a mini reading rut. Such a Rush is fun and exciting but has some depth to it as well. Look for Such a Rush to hit shelves on Tuesday July 10. Look for Echols’ first romantic comedy for adults called Star Crossed in February 2013.
Congrats to Brittany who has won a copy of SUCH A RUSH!