Monday, August 24, 2015

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Source: Library
Pages: 276
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryQuinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Review: If I Lie tackles quite a few sensitive topics. This book demonstrates the terribleness that rumors and bullying can cause. It demonstrates the amount of love, faith, and trust a person can have for another being. But most of all, it demonstrates how one promise, one action, and one moment can change a person's life completely.

I liked Quinn a lot. She's someone who is going through a lot. Labeled a cheater and an overall insensitive and bad person by all the people she calls her friends and loved ones, Quinn takes a huge hit. 

Yet, as a reader, I knew that she hadn't really done what everyone said she did… at least not technically. It was hard to understand why she was doing what she was doing at first, but then it all became clear, and I couldn't help but admire the person she was. She truly was a friend worth knowing, one who would put others before even herself.

I couldn't help but understand what everyone was going through. It was a difficult time for them all. I can't even begin to imagine what Quinn, Carey, Blake, and everyone else were going through. It was crazy, it was tragic, but still, it was beautiful.

One of the characters that I couldn't help but adore was George. He was so sweet and wonderful, and his connection with Quinn was magnetic. Carey was an enigma that we learned about in bits and pieces. And Blake, well, Blake was something. He had charisma and I just loved every bit of it.

Engaging and breathtaking, this book shows what it's like to experience grief, happiness, misery, pain, love, and life. Quinn evolves during the course of this book, and it's a wonderful thing. If I Lie portrays what it's really like to hold the weight of the world on your shoulder, and what it's like to make a decision that changes everything you could have ever imagined… changing yourself in the process.

Really enjoyed

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
Source: Library
Pages: 347
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 6th 2015
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryMaddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. 

Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.

But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?

Review: I honestly still don't know how to feel about this book. I was looking forward to it for awhile, so maybe I set my expectations up way too high, but I don't think that's the main thing. This book fell a little flat in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, it's still an enjoyable book, but it's not one that really kept my full attention. 

The concept of friendship turned to relationship is a classic YA topic, and this one was quite unique since it deals with figure skating, which I love, but rarely see in books. Done right, it becomes a fantastic read, one worth shelving for future rereads. But done wrong, it becomes a pain to complete, a book that will not be revisited.

The characters were alright at first, but as I got to know them more, I found my attention waning. Maddy and Gabe are best friends. They're figure skating partners. They're neighbors. And they both like each other. So, what's the problem? Maddy wants more, but Gabe is scared to mess things up. But that's exactly what messes things up in this book.

Maddy goes and acts in ways I really didn't find necessary as the book progresses, while Gabe seems to be fighting all his instincts. Things get intense, but not the kind of intense that I enjoy. The content spirals out of a control a bit, becoming messy and hard to follow. 

I love that one of the main topics revolved around an athletic activity. I'm a big fan of books with sporty people and plot lines, and The Boy Next Door caught my attention because of that. Yet, I discovered that with all sporty kinds of books comes lots of drama. Sometimes it's good, even great. But other times, it's not so good and not so great. In this case, there was a situation of the not so good and not so great. The drama that occurred was sloppy and random, and I couldn't get my mind around much of what was happening. It got crazy, but not the good kind.

The Boy Next Door has its cute and memorable moments, but all in all, it wasn't really worth a read for me. It had all the potential, but unfortunately, it didn't quite play out the way it could have.

Could've been better

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Source: Bookshelf
Pages: 372
Publisher: Broadway Books
Release Date: June 5th 2012
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Buy

SummaryIt's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

Review: I'm a huge fan of sci-fi, action-filled, old-timey, mind-blowing, and intensity-ridden books. Ready Player One meets all of that criteria, and much, much more. Futuristic books can be hit or miss. And ones that try to tackle as much as this one did? Don't even get me started, because those ones are really hit or miss. However, let me tell you, Ready Player One is by far, one of the best books I've read all year. To be honest, it's one of the best books I've ever read, period. It captured my attention, my heart, and mind, my body, my soul, and my entire being. It's seriously fantastic.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, I'd choose the word, "intense." This book is seriously intense. There's something happening at every corner. Nothing is expected. Okay, maybe some things are expected, but even then, something crazy happens to blow you away. 

I get obsessed with anything that combines a bunch of different things into something that makes complete and total sense. Ready Player One does just that, and that is why I'm completely obsessed with this book. There's the futuristic factor, which is a topic that I adore. There's the down-to-earth character who has more down-to-earth character friends, which is always very nice. There's the evil villain group that is always necessary. There's the huge amount of knowledge on old video games that I  was really into, especially since I don't really play video games. It made me want to play everything that was mentioned. And of course, there's the competition of a lifetime, which was dangerous, thrilling, suspenseful, and crazy amazing.

Ready Player One has so much in it. There's passion, intensity, thrill, and danger. Yet, there's also friendship, values, trust, and determination. All of this combines into a literary work of art, and that is what makes this a must read book. 

I've got to say (again) that this book is now one of my favorite reads of all time. It combines everything that I love and executes it amazingly. There were rough goings for the characters, but no rough goings for me as the reader, and that's what I like to look for in a good book.

Whether you think you like sci-fi or not, whether you think you like awesomeness or not, Ready Player One is a book that I feel everybody can connect to. Technology takes on a whole new role as people take on virtual lives on top of their real ones and discover that while things may not be what they seem to be in regards to online personas, they can turn out to be life changing in connection to one's real life.

Read, reread, and never stop reading. Ready Player One. Let's roll.

Pure perfection

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Source: Library
Pages: 288
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Series: Sweet; Book 1
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryEmmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly wrong!

The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli—the hottest guy ever!—and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a 'romance' with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.

Review: I've had my eye on this book for quite some time, and I'm glad to have read it. It was... interesting. I was extremely surprised by the creep factor included. Some people would do anything in order to alter their body image, and this book demonstrates how extreme it can get. Of course, what happens here is something that most likely (hopefully!) won't happen in reality.

Sweet is the complete opposite of sweet. It begins in a calm manner, but it quickly escalates. But going into this book, I already knew that it would be different and extreme due to the subject manner. What I didn't expect was how tragic and deadly and scary it would become. 

Laurel is an incredibly sweet character. She's only on this trip because her best friend begged her to join in on the Solu fun. Yet, Laurel doesn't buy into the diet sweetener, since she's happy with how she is. She's calm and goofy and fun. 

And then there's Tom Forelli, cute guy extraordinaire. He takes an instant liking to Laurel, who has had a crush on him since he was a child star, and does everything to gain her attention. It's really quite endearing. He also doesn't take the sweetener because of the wariness of new things and side effects. Turned out to be the smartest decisions anyone could make.

Viv, Laurel's best friend, was sweet and innocent and just a girl who was insecure. It's hard for me to comment on her character because of everything that happens. Like everyone else who consumed Solu, things get out of control and terrifying.

There were so many twists and turns, and I was shocked by how evil, crazy, and dangerous everything got. I found myself disgusted by many of the events that took place, and I honestly would have liked this book more without all the gruesomeness of the Solu aftermath. It was truly disturbing and cringe-worthy.

Sweet tackles body image and the extremes people go to because of it. However, while I found this book to be unique and interesting, I'm just not a fan of how things went down. It ended on an odd, cliffhanger-y note, and I'm curious to see what happens next. That being said, I'm not so curious that I need-to-want-to-have-to know immediately. I honestly may even skip the next book, but we'll see how things go. Either way, things turned out to be not so sweet after all...

Eh, it was alright

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A French Diva in New York by Anna Adams

A French Diva in New York by Anna Adams
Source: ebook
Pages: 263
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: December 15th 2014
Series: The French Girl; Book 4
Verdict: Buy

SummaryMaude Laurent has made a decision: she wants to sing opera, and she wants to be a pop singer. With Matt and Cordelia Tragent by her side, she visits London, Berlin, Prague, and Milan to establish her place as an opera diva. But new challenges await her return to New York as she tries to save her uncle’s record company and relaunch her pop career. It will take all of Matt’s love and all of her family’s support to face them. 

Review: It saddens me to say that this is my final review for The French Girl series, but like they say, all good things must come to an end. 

A French Diva in New York, the final installment in this enchanting series, does not disappoint as it delivers all that I expected and more for the grand finale. 

In the previous installment, A French Princess in Versailles, Matt makes a lot of appearances, and I am absolutely ecstatic to say that he is constantly present in this book, and it is so very fab. He not only provides a familiar (and swoon-worthy) face, he also provides more dimension to the storyline as he travels with Maude and Cordelia through Europe in order to create a career for Maude in the opera industry. 

This book really emphasizes Maude's passion for music and her drive to follow her dreams and instincts. A lot happens in this last book and the three prior books, and her tenacity is to be admired. I love, love, love her character and personality, and it's one of the main reasons this book, and this series, is one that I can say is a must-read for all contemporary fans. 

There isn't much else that I can say without ruining this wonderful ending, but what I can say is that Anna Adams is a writing genius. She puts together and effortlessly whole series that oozes (in the best way possible, of course) personality and spirit, and it's everything I could ask for in a book and a series. 

A French Diva in New York is the perfect ending to a spectacular series, and there's no other way that I'd imagine it ending. Sure, I suppose it could continue on some more, but I think it's the right time to end this series, and it was done in the most appropriate and worthy way.

All in all, The French Girl series is one that I'm so glad to have stumbled across. Like any series, there were ups and downs (many ups and very few downs, mind you), but everything was worth it because Maude, Matt, and the whole crew made it one worth the positives, the negatives and everything in between. 

I'm sad to have to say goodbye to Maude's world, but I'm so grateful that I had the chance to say hello to begin with. Until next time...

Really enjoyed

Monday, August 3, 2015

A French Princess in Versailles by Anna Adams

A French Princess in Versailles by Anna Adams
Source: ebook
Pages: 443
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: June 30th 2014
Series: The French Girl; Book 3
Verdict: Buy

SummaryDetermined to escape a failed pop career and focus on her classical training, Maude Laurent moves back to France and enrolls at the prestigious National Academy of Arts. 

Between balls, concerts, and navigating in the French elite, Maude has to prove she’s cut out to become a professional opera singer in a world where pop music is regarded with disdain. 

Though she fights it, her past catches up with her when she meets an English teacher who takes her down an unusual musical journey where the risk is great and the reward uncertain and forces her to see a world beyond the safety of the Academy. When a chain of events bring her and Matt back in the same town, Maude will learn that music can bring people closer or tear them apart forever.

Review: In this third book of The French Girl series, A French Princess in Versailles, Maude's journey is further documented. After the second book, A French Star in New York, it is unknown what Maude decides to do. In this part of the series, we learn that she decides to go back to France and attend the best school for arts and music in the country. But of course, where she goes, chaos, scandal, heartbreak, and romance follow.

Maude remains innocent, passionate, and lovable. I love that so far, through the three books out of four, Maude's personality and character remains somewhat the same. Sure, she matures and develops, but her overall authenticity, spunk, and kindness remain a comforting constant as turmoil, drama, and scandal break out in her surroundings. 

Maude is able to go through challenges and go after her dreams. Her hard work is depicted clearly and it's nice to see her hard work pay off. As the book progresses, so does she, and it's all very wonderful. Plus, this book takes place mainly in Europe, and the detail is described so beautifully.

I'm also very happy to say that Matt has a huge role in A Princess in Versailles. Matt and Maude are together a lot, and every single time they were together (which I must say again, was a lot), I got the smilesies (a very happy symptom to have, which causes one to smile uncontrollably). They're just such a good pair. They push each other personally and professionally, and I think that is what makes them one of the best dynamic duos ever... at least in contemporary YA.

It does get a bit odd at some points, though, with details that I felt didn't have to be there. For example, many things that happened with pranks and friends seemed a bit too much, and there was some tragedy involving children and teachers (not as major as you'd be thinking, but still, pretty big of an event... which I won't spoil, of course) that I felt was just thrown into the mix. However, all of this was so minor that it didn't bug me that much. It really didn't stray away from the actual story, and because of that, those oddities were easily forgiven and forgotten.

Of course, like the two books before, A French Princess in Versailles ends in a way that leaves readers, like me, wanting more. However, this time, it ends on a peaceful note. There is obviously more waiting, but it's nothing urgent. It's just a go-with-the-flow kind of setting, and I love it so very much. 

And once again, and for the last time for this series, I will say, please stay tuned for the review of the next (and final... *cue the tears*) book of The French Girl series. 

Really enjoyed

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A French Star in New York by Anna Adams

A French Star in New York by Anna Adams
Source: ebook
Pages: 241
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: July 29th 2013
Series: The French Girl; Book 2
Verdict: Buy

SummaryMaude thinks her life can’t get any better: her first music album is a hit, she’s about to meet her extended family, and she’s looking forward to her first date with teen pop star, Matt.

But when scandal strikes, Maude must part ways with Matt and watch Soulville Records fall into the hands of an ambitious Alan Lewis, who will stop at nothing to turn Maude into an unparalleled star. 

Between glamorous parties, an unauthorized tell-all book, a web of lies, new revelations about her French past, and her rivalry with Lindsey Linton attaining a whole new level, Maude must fight for her voice to be heard and decide if being a star is more important than her love for music.

Review: In the first book of this series, A French Girl in New York, Maude and the crew are introduced. As Maude starts to get more and more successful, it seems like everything is finally going right. But unfortunately, in this book, we discover that as things seem to be going smoothly, obstacles will make their unwanted appearances.

In A French Star in New York, Maude is still great. However, her decisions get a bit chaotic. That isn't a bad thing, though. It just shows that through all the additional challenges, Maude is still able to think on her feet. 

I was sad that Matt and Maude faced some struggles in their personal lives together, but I still loved how everything happened. There was depth and intrigue, and honestly, every time Matt and Maude were together, it was a swoon-worthy moment. Don't worry, though. There's definitely a lot of Matt and Maude and Maude and Matt scenes that are hilarious and great and of course, swoon-worthy.

Through Maude's rise to fame, her newfound New York family has her back, but as Soulville gets taken over by the conniving and manipulative Alan Lewis, things get messy, because Alan Lewis is a great guy... said no one ever. He's truly terrible, and I say that with a degree of admiration, because it takes a certain drive to try and control others in a purposefully negative way. That being said, Alan Lewis adds the necessary villain-type character that brings the plot of this series to a whole new level. And I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Additionally, there are many twists and turns. They could have the ability to cause unnecessary drama, but Anna Adams crafts them in a way that leaves a reader (also known as, me, yours truly) looking forward to the next time something unexpected comes along. All the characters handle each situation, whether they are expected or not, in a surprising manner, and that in itself creates a book worth reading.

A French Star in New York, like its prequel, is light, funny, and refreshing. The storyline and characters and everything in between were enjoyable and smoothly created. I hit no bumps, and only wanted to keep reading and never stop reading. 

I kept reading, of course. And boy, was I glad I did. This book ends on an awesome cliffhanger, and the result of it will change everything. Everything happens so quickly and craziness ensues throughout A French Star in New York, but it's a great kind of fast-paced crazy, one that I just can't get enough of.

So, in the fashion of my review of the first of The French Girl series, please stay tuned for the next wonderful book in the world of Maude and her journey of following her dreams.

Really enjoyed