Monday, June 29, 2015

The Social Code by Sadie Hayes

The Social Code by Sadie Hayes
Source: Library
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Series: The Start-Up; Book 1
Verdict: Buy

SummaryIn a world where anyone can rise to the top, the only rule is... watch your back.

Eighteen-year-old twins Adam and Amelia Dory learned the hard way to rely only on each other, growing up in a small town where they understood the meaning of coming from nothing. But everything changes when both are offered scholarships to Stanford University – and catapulted into the dazzling world of Silicon Valley, where anyone with a good enough idea can skyrocket to fame and fortune in the blink of an eye…

Amelia is almost as pretty as she is smart – almost. A shy girl and genius, she is happiest alone in the computer lab, but her brother has other plans for her talents: A new company that will be the next Silicon Valley hit, and will thrust Amelia into the spotlight whether she likes it or not. Where Amelia’s the brains, Adam’s the ambition – he sees the privileged lifestyle of the Silicon Valley kids and wants a piece of what they have. He especially wants a piece of Lisa Bristol, the stunning daughter of one of the Valley’s biggest tycoons.

As Adam and Amelia begin to hatch their new company, they find themselves going from nothing to the verge of everything seemingly overnight. But no amount of prestige can prepare them for the envy, backstabbing and cool calculation of their new powerful peers.

Welcome to Silicon Valley, where fortune, success – and betrayal – are only a breath away...

Review: Books with intelligent characters are always a win in my opinion. Oftentimes, books don't showcase the capabilities a character has beyond the usual meanderings, but The Social Code does more than showcase the brains behind it all. This book reveals the masterminds, the villains, the brainiacs, the privileged, and so much more. The Social Code is a story about what can happen when the thoughts and formulations of the brain create something worth fighting for.

I'm personally not a very tech-savvy person, so it was incredibly interesting reading about coding, hacking, and all the different sides of technology. What made it even better was that the best part of the technology revolved around a shy eighteen year old female mastermind. Talk about girl power.

Amelia Dory is the brains of this entire book. Without her, there would be no code, thus resulting in a lack of Doreye. And without Doreye, there would be no mayhem, drama, and craziness. Basically, without Amelia, nothing would have happened and this book and its plot line would not exist. Talk about girl power...

Her twin brother, Adam Dory, is (believe it or don't...) the more social of the two. He's the make-it-happen person in this book. He has ambition, and he sees opportunities when they come about. Without Adam, Doreye would not be Doreye. But then again, without Amelia, there would be nothing that Adam could do, because the coding for Doreye would not exist, and Doreye would be an unknown and unheard of application. So... there's that. (Disclaimer: In case you can't tell yet, I'm a huge fan of Amelia Dory. Seriously, she's the coolest.)

This book is thrilling and fun and unique, yet there was still a slight problem. Some of the drama seemed too fabricated. At some points, it got a bit annoying to read about, but not so much that I didn't want to read more, because let me tell you, I totally wanted to read more.

The Social Code is a book that incorporates action, intelligence, intuition, and cut-throat actions into something whole, distinct, and engaging. There may have been some details that were unnecessary, but all in all, this is a book that you won't want to miss.

 Really enjoyed

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London

Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London
Source: Library
Pages: 362
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: October 28th 2013
Series: Definitely Maybe; Book 1
Verdict: Buy

SummarySpring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

“Whatever it takes,” however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.

Henry is Spring's only hope at publication, but he's also the ├╝ber-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite. Too bad she can't help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. As they work on her thesis, Spring finds there's more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.

Review: I am a huge fan of modern takes on classics, fairytales, etc. If it's a new take with a unique twist, I'm going to want to read it. It's been awhile since I've read Pride and Prejudice, but I still remember the plot line and characters and I definitely remember that I love that book. I should really reread it sometime soon...

Anyway, sometimes these modern takes can take a turn in the wrong direction, but Definitely, Maybe in Love definitely, maybe took a turn in the right direction. Let me tell you, this book is a keeper. It was fun, energetic, hilarious, swoon-worthy, and all around awesome.

Spring Honeycutt is a character. She has a very special outlook on life, and her attitude and personality are engaging. What I really liked was that she was extremely intelligent. Well, all the characters were extremely intelligent. After all, they were attending Stanford University. But Spring is the character that we can really get to know, and boy, she is really smart and passionate about everything she does. 

Also, Spring has really good friends. They look out for her, and accept her for who she is, even with all the changes she goes through, physical and mental. Their cheeriness was infectious, especially considering that Spring could sometimes be... rougher around the edges.

Of course, there's also Lilah, who is mean and spiteful towards Spring. But you can't really have this book be this book without someone trying to stop all that is good. She had her endearing qualities, though... like her ability to huff and puff her way through arguments. Seriously, it was funny.

And then there's Henry. He's the definition of a nerdy swoon-worthy guy. Henry is smart, witty (although sometimes also snarky), and a good guy, despite his first impression. And he wears argyle (socks, sweaters... you name it). Not only does he wear it, but he can rock it, and that's hardly an easy feat. Sure he has some faults, but really, who doesn't? In the end, though, Henry is great because seriously, his chemistry with Spring is ridiculous and that alone makes this book worth the read. Who am I kidding, though? This book is a must read because of everything, everything, and everything.

The only issue I had, and it was minor, was the little situation in regards to Alex, but I suppose it was necessary in order for this book and its plot line to really work. Other than that, there aren't any complaints coming from me because this book was really great. It had an effortless way about it, and I just couldn't put it down. And oh, the ending. It was a bit surprising and suspenseful and ahh, sah-woon. Be still heart, be still. Really though, get ready to be shocked a bit by how it ends exactly and everything that leads up to it.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a book that you definitely want to pick up and read. It's a retelling that truly does the original version justice. There's romance, witty banter, sarcastic comments, smart talk, and everything in between. This is a book that I'll be reading again for sure. 

Why, hello Mr. Darcy... err, Mr. Knightly...

Really enjoyed

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Source: Library
Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Buy

SummaryThe last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

Review: Let me just start off by saying that this is a beautiful book. It tackles a really sad subject - suicide - and the authenticity really captured my attention and heart. 

Lex is a character that I could really feel for. I could see how broken up she was and how much everything in her life has affected her. Her parents went through a rocky situation that ended up in a divorce and a broken home with broken members. And then her little brother kills himself, leaving nothing but a collage and a post-it note as a final goodbye. 

Lex goes through a lot during the course of this book. It's understandable how she feels lost and empty. Then more tragedy strikes, and everything and everyone around her is wary of her as she becomes wary of everything and everyone around her as well. She really has nobody that she can confide in. Everybody either doesn't know how to react around her, or they're overly sympathetic. And she can't handle that considering her situation.

But then there's Steven. Poor, sweet Steven. He truly cares about Lex and wants nothing more than her attention again. He has an innocent hopefulness that is so endearing. But Lex broke up with him after her brother killed himself, but we don't find out why until the very end. And it's a heartbreaking revelation that makes everything seem right again, while simultaneously showing how wrong everything still is.

Throughout the entire book, Lex hints about something big, something life-altering. She shares her guilt. She's haunted by the fact that she could have possibly done something, but didn't. Her nightmares and seeings are overwhelming and there is a lot of inner turmoil and remorse and sorrow. 

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a heart wrenching book that brings out the grief, sorrow, hope, and genuineness that comes with a life-changing event such as the one that Lex goes through. It's an engaging book that is written in the most expressive manner. This is truly a timeless and worthy read, a read that is one for the books.

Really enjoyed

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Clocked by Elle Strauss

Clocked by Elle Strauss
Source: ebook
Pages: 49
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Release Date: June 2nd 2012
Series: Clockwise; Book 1.5
Verdict: Buy

SummaryWritten from Nate Mackenzie's point of view, this new companion novelette to the Clockwise series is a much expanded version of the short story found in the In His Eyes Anthology (from 3k to 15k). Ever wonder how Nate got talked into asking Casey to dance on a dare? And what it felt like for him to experience 1860? How he really felt about Casey Donovan? Now you can know!

Review: In this short follow up to Clockwise, readers get to see Nate's side of the story. It's short, simple, and sweet. 

Being able to see how Nate felt about the whole time traveling experience with Casey was great, because I was able to connect his thoughts to the thoughts that Casey had during their epic adventures in Clockwise. And I've got to say, Nate is as adorable as he was in the first book, if not more.

Clocked had me wishing there were more pages, because Nate is a wonderful and charming (although, sometimes endearingly clueless) character. Plus, the relationship between him and Casey is just so cute. I love their dynamics. This novelette may be short, but it sure is good. It's definitely worth the read. 

Now, onto the next time traveling adventure...

Really enjoyed

Monday, June 15, 2015

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
Source: Library
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 21st 2015
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Buy

SummaryWhen Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Review: First things first, let's talk about this cover. It's transitioning from the human heart to the symbolic heart, and it's artsy, creative, and just completely wonderful. 

Now, onto the actual content of this book. This book tackles so many things, and executes them in a manner that is both eloquent and raw. The honesty (and is some cases, lack of) that is this book creates a bond between the reader and the character. I really felt with Quinn. When she felt happy, I felt happy. When she was in a slump, I found myself in a slump, because I didn't want Quinn to be in a slump. When she was feeling guilty, I could feel with her. When she began falling in love, I got the feels too. And the list goes on...

The topic of Things We Know by Heart is sensitive and unique. I have never read a book about finding who organ donors' organs have been transplanted into. In the beginning, it seems like Quinn is a bit obsessed with finding out where her boyfriend's heart went, but I think it's one of her coping methods. The heart she loved now belongs to somebody else, and Quinn just wants to identify that huge component of her life with a face. She never expects to develop feelings for that person, though. Lies by omission take place as both Quinn and Colton want to avoid the biggest obstacles in their lives. 

I can understand why they can't tell each other their sides of their stories, though. They both went through terrible times, and then they meet each other. Neither knows the whole truth, and it's nice to believe that you're getting a fresh start. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. 

Their blossoming relationship was fantastic. There was a carefree quality that made me want to do everything they did. The water and those scenic views were breathtaking, and I wanted to be transported if only to float on the water and see the lights. The writing is truly magical.

Books that bring on the feels are honestly the best kind of books, because it allows readers to relate and understand. I've got to say that I am officially a Jessi Kirby fan. I fell in love with all the characters. The writing was serious, yet surprisingly hilarious. It could go from somber to ridiculous in a few sentences, and for me, that was one of the book's defining qualities. Sometimes, all a sad moment needs is a good laugh... or two.

Things We Know by Heart is a stunning book, and it's so worth a read, or two, three, four... I'll have to read all of the other books that Jessi Kirby has written now, because if they're even half as good as this one, they'll be amazing. And something I know by heart is that if you read this book, you won't regret it.

Really enjoyed

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Clockwise by Elle Strauss
Source: ebook
Pages: 259
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Release Date: April 11th 2012
Series: Clockwise; Book 1
Verdict: Buy

SummaryCasey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she's accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward. Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just "brotherly" protectiveness? When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again. Which of course, she does.

Review: Time travel is always fun, and this book is no different. Casey Donovan is your typical teenager. She experiences insecurities, struggles of high school, and unrequited crushes. Normal, right? Here's the thing, though. She can also travel back in time. So, maybe not so normal after all. 

The thing about her ability to time travel is that she has no control over it. Makes being a teenager a bit more complicated than it already is... Fortunately, she always knows where she'll be going, so she has friends and supplies ready at hand... back in the 1860s of course. 

Casey is amazing. I mean, what a trooper. When she discovers that she's travelled back in time, she's efficient and strong. And when she discovers that she's travelled back in time with Nate, long time crush extraordinaire, she still manages to stay poised... kind of. 

Casey's knowledge of everything in regards to the weirdness of the time traveling situation is endearing, and she's sassy and charming. I found it impossible to dislike her. Her edges and quirks made her hilarious and fascinating. It was so fun reading about her two different lives, one in her own time, where she stays on the down low, a regular teenager, and another in the past, where she's the belle of the ball, a not so regular teenager, being pursued by an older suitor. 

Nate turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The way he treated Casey changed as the book went on, and I'm so glad, because they are just so cute together. Their banter and awkwardness was a captivating quality of this book, and it made everything ten times more fun.

Clockwise made me wish time traveling was a real thing. Even though time traveling had its downsides, it definitely had upsides that made everything worth it. This book was lighthearted, fun, and delightfully sweet. I'm so happy this book found its way to me, and I can't wait for more time traveling adventures with Casey and Nate. 

Really enjoyed

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison

It's a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison
Source: Library
Pages: 240
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: October 3rd 2006
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryIt's too bad they don't give out diplomas for what you learn at the mall, because I  could graduate with honors in that subject.  No really.  Since I've worked there, I've become an expert on all things shopping-related. For example, I can tell you right off who to distrust at the mall:

1) Skinny people who work at Cinnabon.  I mean, if they're not eating the stuff they sell, how good can it be?

2) The salesladies at department store makeup counters.  No matter what they tell you, buying all that lip gloss will not make you look like the pouty models in the store posters.

3) And most importantly--my best friend's boyfriend, Bryant, who showed up at the food court with a mysterious blonde draped on his arm.

Yeah, I saw it, and yeah, I told my best friend all about it.

You would think this would mean trouble for Bryant, but you would basically be wrong.  Somehow, the evil boyfriend turned everything around, and now I'm the one who has to prove myself!  But I will. Even if Bryant--and more importantly his best friend, Colton--keep trying to stop me.

Review: It's a Mall World After All was an unexpected find. It's lighthearted and silly and just pure fun. If you're looking for a quick and witty read, this one's for you.

Charlotte, the main character, works at the mall and is extremely skeptical of all people around her. Thinking that her best friend's boyfriend is cheating, Charlotte embarks on a journey filled with twists, turns, and... most unexpectedly, love. 

I suppose the content of this book could be labeled as cliche, but I thought it was done quite nicely. There was lively banter, which I loved. While reading this, I laughed a lot. Charlotte is definitely a character, and seeing her deal with all the problems and people is a treat.

I did find that there was a lot going on, though. It could seem a bit scattered and unorganized, but I like to think that it reflects the character of Charlotte, who is a bit scattered and unorganized herself. But overall, it was pretty awesome, just like Charlotte.

Everything that happens is quirky and odd, but it works. There were characters that I could relate to, characters that I could dislike, and characters that had swoon-worthy charm. I'd definitely say that It's a Mall World After All is a cutesy teen novel, and I'd like to think that people of all ages would enjoy this funny, entertaining, and enjoyable book. Plus, what I think is the main message of this book really does ring true. It truly is a mall world after all...

Really enjoyed

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Source: Library
Pages: 490
Publisher: Anchor Books
Release Date: March 28th 2006
Series: Robert Langdon; Book 2
Verdict: Buy

SummaryAn ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

Review: I'm ashamed to say that this book became my bag book. You know, the book that you stick in a particular bag and that you only read when said bag is with you... 

Back in April, I read and reviewed Angels & Demons, which was the first Robert Langdon book. And I immediately wanted more, so I went and got The Da Vinci Code. But here's the thing... That was almost two months ago. Apparently, that's what happens when a book becomes a bag book. It takes forever to read it, even though you really want to know what happens, because other books get in the way, the bag with the book isn't always within reach, and it's just always nice to have a book on hand when out and about. I'm definitely guilty of demoting amazing books to bag books because of many reasons, but those reasons are just not okay. There are no excusable excuses for what I did to this book (and many other unlucky titles), because all books are created equal. Well, that's a lie, but seriously, whatever you do, don't make The Da Vinci Code a bag book. It just cannot happen again.

This book was fast-paced, action-filled, and all around awesome, just like its predecessor. Dan Brown has the ability to create different stories that connect to form one huge and amazing plot line. The amount of information in the book is mind-blowing, and while I can't say that I truly, fully understood everything, I can definitely say I tried my best.

The references to the higher powers, divinities, and exploration of ancient history is mind-blowing. The main topic in this book is The Holy Grail and its unattainable status. It was truly fascinating reading about the journey Robert Langdon embarks on, solving the unsolvable and finding the unfindable. 

More great relationships were built in this book, and they were certainly very memorable. Robert Langdon is man with character and passion, and it really shines through the pages. There is a definite creep factor that occurs throughout the book, but it is completely necessary and fantastic. The ending shocked the lights out of me and I was once again left speechless.

I found The Da Vinci Code to be slightly more enjoyable than Angels & Demons, but I think that's because of how things ended and how everything flowed. Maybe it was the relationships, the dynamics, the protagonists, or even the antagonists. I'm not sure, but I do know that I can't wait to sit back, relax, and enjoy the next of the Robert Langdon series... while clutching my hands in fists, hunched over, and reading intensely, because how else is one supposed to enjoy the works of Dan Brown? Just kidding... kind of. 

In all seriousness, The Da Vinci Code is exciting, adventurous, and suspenseful... basically everything that a bag book should not be. That's in the past, though. I'll make sure that the next Dan Brown book I read won't become a bag book. 

So, tell me... Have you ever had, or do you currently have, a bag book?

Pure perfection