Saturday, November 30, 2013

Brad About Books: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Read on July 27, 2013
Expected Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 416 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: Kingdoms, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read book one, Falling Kingdoms.

Rebel Spring is an electrifying, sizzling sequel that not only lives up to the expectations made from Falling Kingdoms, it exceeds them. I'm not sure how Rhodes did it, but she made an even more epic, more stunning novel than the first. This is easily one of the best fantasy series out there.

I'm a huge fantasy fan - no, seriously, I love getting wrapped up in the incredible world-building, characters, and everything that the author creates - and this is one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. My favorite part about any fantasy series is the world-building; this series offers such a rich, complex, and fantastic world that is played upon even more in Rebel Spring. I loved how we got to see the most darkest of regions in this sequel, and the stakes were kicked up to a new notch. There was never a dull moment during Rebel Spring. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I couldn't ever put it down. It made me feel all of the feels. Everything about Rebel Spring blew me away - I absolutely adore this series. If you loved Falling Kingdoms, prepare to be dazzled by Rebel Spring.

We get to follow four main people in this series: Cleo (a princess), Jonas (revolution rebel), Lucia (not everything is what it seems), and Magnus (royalty with a few tricks up his sleeves), and the most amazing thing about these characters? They all evolve and develop in this sequel. Each character changes in some way - some for the good, some for the worse - and layers upon layers are added to these characters, giving them even more depth than before. Morgan Rhodes did an incredible job at crafting together this sequel. You know that dreaded Sequel Slump Syndrome? It completely passed over this series. Rebel Spring is one of the best sequels I've ever read that adds to a rich, vibrant series that shouldn't be missed.

The ending! Just like the ending of Falling Kingdoms, it's action-packed, epic, and nail-biting-worthy. Rhodes throws betrayal and action scenes at the reader so quickly - it is impossible to put this series down. If you're needing something to complete enthrall yourself in and get lost in, this series is a must-read. Epic and marvelous, Morgan Rhodes nailed it with Rebel Spring! One of my favorites of the year!

Overall, Rebel Spring is a fantastically incredible sequel that will have readers turning pages as fast as they can. Brilliant!

M Y     R A T I N G

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brad About Books: This Strange and Familiar Place by Rachel Carter

Read on July 21, 2013
Published: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 264 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: So Close to You, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read book one, So Close to You

This Strange and Familiar Place is a very nice sequel, however, I felt that it was lacking in progressing the story along in certain parts of the plot. Though I had this problem with this sequel, it was still entertaining. 

I'll start with what I did enjoy about This Strange and Familiar Place: more questions appear and the stakes are raised to a new notch. Book one set up the whole conspiracy theory, but book two plays on it and evolves it into something so much bigger than what the reader - and Lydia, the protagonist - ever imagined it to be. When there's an action scene in This Strange and Familiar Place, you're in for a wild ride that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

But my problem with This Strange and Familiar Place was the parts that weren't action-filled, and unfortuantely, there's quite a lot of them. Even though the book clocks in at just a little over 250 pages, the story feels very dragged out over parts - and the middle of the book felt filler, in my opinion. Nothing evolved from the plot in the middle, and I didn't find anything that pushed the storyline further. I am happy, though, that the ending of This Strange and Familiar Place saved the book for me. It was fast-paced, and there were things that really made my jaw drop. I just wish that there were more scenes like that consistently throughout the sequel. The ending did set up a very nice overview to the conclusion of the series, so I will definitely be checking out book three, Find Me Where the Water Ends

My favorite part about This Strange and Familiar Place has to be Lydia's character development. In So Close to You, she was very naïve to everything around her, but in This Strange and Familiar Place, she knows what she needs to do to take charge, and I really appreciated her character development. Carter did an exceptional job at building up Lydia's character, and I adored how she wasn't afraid to break her down. While This Strange and Familiar Place was just okay for me, it still grabbed me like book one did. I can't wait to find out how everything wraps up!

Overall, This Strange and Familiar Place is a pretty good sequel with a slow middle chunk but an ending that makes up for it.

M Y    R A T I N G

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brad About Books: Pawn by Aimée Carter

Read from November 11 to 15, 2013
Expected Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Page Count: 296 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

The first move is hers...

Pawn is an intriguing, exceptional story that grabbed me from the first page and held me captive far after I turned the last page. It's been a long time since a book has made me feel this way, and I absolutely adored Pawn. A perfect start to a very promising series!

My favorite part about Pawn? It's not your typical dystopian by any standards. You've got rankings that determine how well you do in this world, and I loved how we follow a broken girl throughout the story. Kitty is at the bottom of the barrel, but she's given a rare opportunity to join an elite, yet lethal, society. There is so much scandal and betrayal in Pawn, and it's impossible to set this book down. This book completely took over my mind. Every chapter makes your heart race and your pulse pound even harder than the last - this is definitely a standout for books I've read this year. If you're craving something to fulfill your dystopian needs, Pawn is a must-read.

Like I said earlier, there is so much betrayal. I loved how our protagonist goes from zero to hero, but she's thrown into an insanely deadly and shadow-filled world where one wrong move will cost her her life. Kitty has had to study everything about Lila, the person she's become, and if she can't pull it off, all will be lost. Carter did an exceptional job with tackling and evolving this situation into such a gripping, fast-paced story. Seriously, this book was the only thing on my mind. Pawn is a one of a kind gem that shouldn't be missed - an incredible novel that shines out!

Holy ending, Batman! The final 100 pages of Pawn are non-stop, wham-bam kind of scenes that had me turning pages as fast as I possibly could. I loved traveling with Kitty through the entire story - she's such a fantastic protagonist! She's broken and flawed, and that's what I love most about her; she didn't try to be anything more than what she was. Highly absorbing and electric, Pawn will have readers fully enthralled in the story and begging for more.

Overall, Pawn is a stunning dystopian that is unlike anything I've ever read. Epic in every sense of the word!

M Y     R A T I N G

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brad About Books: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Read from September 27 to 28, 2013
Expected Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Page Count: 474 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: Pushing the Limits, #3

Read my reviews for previous novels in this series:

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane 

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. 

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Crash Into You is an electric read that will have your heart soaring and your mind completely entangled  with Rachel and Isaiah's relationship. Katie McGarry has managed to top herself once again with this completely absorbing novel - such a fantastic read! One of my favorites for the year!

In my Dare You To review, I talked about taking chances and risks for love and just for the thrill of it - oh man, Crash Into You is even more explosive and dangerous than before! There's so much peril and danger running rampant throughout these streets, where car races and gambling are ablaze. McGarry had my heart racing and pulse pounding many times throughout Crash Into You, and I was turning pages as fast I could, always on the edge of my seat. This series is definitely one of my favorite contemporary series out there, simply because of how each book brings new, exciting characters and a one of a kind plot. Crash Into You was incredible by every means!

Isaiah and Rachel were stunning as a duo. It seems that with McGarry book, the relationships become even better. Rachel is the good girl with a wild side to her, and I loved seeing that balance of good and rowdy in her. She may be naïve at times, but I couldn't deny that she was an awesome protagonist. Isaiah is equally as awesome. He protected Rachel throughout the entire novel - though they did have some rough patches here and there, they were a force to be reckoned with when together. McGarry is fantastic at weaving together such marvelous characters!

That ending! All. The. Feels. It's dynamic and explosive and I couldn't get this book off of my mind. Every book in this series has managed to top its predecessor, and Crash Into You definitely set the bar very high. I can't wait to see where it goes in book four, Take Me On! Everything about this book will rock your world - absolutely amazing. One of my favorites of 2013!

Overall, Crash Into You is a wonderful addition to this ever epic series. With love, action, and just the right amount of what-in-the-world-will-happen-next, Crash Into You is a must-read!

M Y     R A T I N G

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brad About Books: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Read from July 23 to 24, 2013
Published: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 456 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Pushing the Limits, #2

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again...

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

Dare You To is a stunning, captivating read full of deeply passionate romance and heart-soaring moments. Not only were my expectations met, they were blown out of the water. I fell so hard for this book!

I enjoyed Pushing the Limits, but oh man, Dare You To rocked my socks. I'll start off with the romance first: I absolutely loved Beth's story. Beth is a troubled girl, but she's also a risk-taker, and I loved reading about a fearless heroine who has her share of flaws. She wasn't afraid to back down and stand up for what she believes in - Beth was fantastic. And Ryan was great, as well. Ryan is the golden child of the town, but he's not all glitz and glamour. With Beth, his true side comes out, and I loved how they just connected so well when they came together. Their love felt real and authentic, and I appreciated how McGarry created this pair to fit and click together so well. Needing something romantic with that kick of spunk? Dare You To is a fantastic choice. 

So much scandal and betrayal in this one! A lot of dares and risks are taken in Dare You To, and I adored how fast-paced and pulse-pounding this sequel was. I can't believe, but I loved it even more than the first book! The writing style, the characters, the flawless progression of romance, everything was kicked up a notch - you know how some sequels are disappointing compared to the first book? That's not the case with this series whatsoever. Absolutely amazing!

Katie McGarry's writing style? Outstanding. Each character has their own unique voice, and I loved the compare and contrast between Ryan and Beth. Each line flowed off the page like a melody - Dare You To is easily one of my favorite contemporaries of all-time. Katie McGarry has proved herself again of being an incredible YA romance writer; Dare You To shines bright with love, heartbreak, and the outbreak of taking chances.

Overall, Dare You To is an extraordinary tale of starcrossed misfits that captured me right from the beginning and never let me go. A new favorite of mine!

M Y     R A T I N G

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brad About Books: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Read from October 20 to 21, 2013
Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 394 pages
Source: Purchased

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home―and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin―a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

Woah! Origin is a fast-paced, gripping read that had me turning pages as fast as I could. Jessica Khoury is an outstanding voice in the sci-fi genre; this book was awesome!

I've never read a story about creating an immortal army - especially hiding an immortal girl - and Khoury did an exceptional job with handling this story. I was always intrigued by the scientists and how they created Pia - I couldn't get this book off my mind. And I just loved that it was set in the jungle! Again, I don't think I've ever read a book set in the jungle directly before, and Origin definitely spun a unique, thrilling tale unlike any other. I was turning pages as fast I could, totally caught up in all of the epic-ness that Origin provides so well. If you're needing a read that will hook you in right from the beginning, Origin does just the trick.

Pia was such a great protagonist. We get to see her struggle through adapting to the world and settling with becoming immortal, but she's also a rebellious teenager when she joins forces with Eio. Getting to see both sides of their vastly different worlds - Pia's being a laboratory with scientific things at every corner, and Eio's being a village in the dangerous jungle - was a treat, and I loved the entire world-building of both places. Jessica Khoury did a phenomenal job with balancing Eio and Pia's character development and their majorly different worlds. I fell so hard for this book - fast-paced, climatic, and fantastically incredible, Origin shouldn't be missed.

I loved how Khoury created her own version of immortality, instead of following the tropes and norm of what we, as a whole, consider legends of immortality. Pia is unlike any heroine you've ever read about, and you won't be able to shake this book loose long after you've turned the final page. With Origin, each word is smart and clever, and all of the characters are stunning and unique. In fact, this entire book is stunning and unique. Origin was marvelous in every way possible; definitely a new favorite book of mine.

Overall, Origin is a true gem. Powerful and outstanding, Origin is an incredible take on the truth about "forever" and the effects of it - one of a kind.

M Y    R A T I N G

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brad About Books: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee

Read from July 17 to 18, 2013
Published: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Format: ARC
Page Count: 272 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel any better about what they’ve done. Merciful calms her guilty feelings but only until, from the other room, she hears a voice she thought she’d never hear again. It’s her mother’s voice, and it’s singing a lullaby... 

Engines of the Broken World is a chilling young adult novel from Jason Vanhee.

(Brad About Books note: This book will mess with your mind in the most fantastic ways.)

WOAH, YOU GUYS, THIS BOOK. Engines of the Broken World is an eerie, chilling read that will have you looking over your shoulder and keep you up into the late hours of the night. This book messed with my mind - and I loved every second of it.

Let's go ahead and state something: this is not your typical book. Right from the first page, Engines of the Broken World is a creepy, unique novel that begins with something out of the ordinary. In fact, everything about this novel is out of the ordinary. You will never find another book like Engines of the Broken World, and I was so entangled with this world. Merciful and Gospel have to bury their dead mother, but now that she's hearing her mother singing to her, she knows something isn't right. Engines of the Broken World sent chills down my spine - it's the perfect book to read in the dead of night. Needing something creepy or deliciously eerie? Engines of the Broken World is the perfect choice.

The world is completely falling apart, and I love how the reader is never quite sure what has happened to the world. Another fantastic thing about Engines of the Broken World is how you can never trust anybody. Something is wrong and creepy about every character (especially The Minister), and deception is always lurking. Vanhee's writing perfectly matched the uniqueness of the book. Each word and sentence is haunting, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Engines of the Broken World has easily become one of my favorite horror, creepy reads.

Oh gosh, the ending. Fast-paced and heart-racing, Engines of the Broken World kept me biting at my nails and turning pages in anticipation. I was so connected to Merciful so much, and I loved traveling through these odd, scary situations with her. Unique and thrilling, I couldn't get my mind off of Engines of the Broken World. If you're needing to be creeped out, read Engines of the Broken World - it's terrifying and marvelous, all at the same time.

Overall, Engines of the Broken World is one whirlwind of a ride. Bizarre and fantastic, Engines of the Broken World shouldn't be missed.

M Y    R A T I N G

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brad About Books: Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce

Read on July 4, 2013
Expected Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Format: ARC
Page Count: 336 pages
Source: ALA
Series: Fairytale Retellings, #4

Read my reviews for previous books in this series (you do NOT have to read the books in order): 

Unforgettable love. Unforgiving magic.

Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora – a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Jackson Pearce, author of the acclaimed SISTERS RED and FATHOMLESS, has returned with a unique vision of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” one about power and redemption, failure and hope, and the true meaning of strength.

Cold Spell is a phenomenal, spellbinding novel that can melt any icy heart and will make readers fall in love with Jackson Pearce even more. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books of all time. From the world-building to the characters to the romance, everything about Cold Spell is fantastic. 

Pearce can weave together one brutal, beautiful world. We've been through so many worlds throughout Sisters Red (the woods), Sweetly (the hidden South), and Fathomless (the ocean), but Cold Spell brings something even more epic than before. We get to see the heart of an endless winter, and the way Pearce brings this world to life off the page was amazing. The endless winter put our protagonists, Ginny and Kai, to the test, and I loved how Jackson Pearce wasn't afraid to knock her characters down. Speaking of which, Kai and Ginny made a fantastic duo. They complimented and contrasted each other in a wonderful balance; they're one of my favorite pairs of all time. Cold Spell knocked it out of the ballpark. I absolutely adored this book.

The writing style is so unique and captivating. It lures you in - almost like Mora! - and you can't escape this book. If I set it down for a single moment, it was the only thing that was on my mind. And oh Mora, how I love thee. She's so interesting and deadly, and I was never quite sure if she was all wicked or if there was some good buried within her. I loved the contrast of light and dark that was played on Mora - she was an exceptional character.

Oh man, how this book took so many plot twists! So many turns! All the feels! If you're needing a series to get attached to and fall head over heels in love with, this is the series for you. They're fun, addictive, and overall, an original gem that shouldn't be missed. I absolutely love this series to pieces. I'm sad to see it go, but every single book was phenomenal in its own way. Jackson Pearce, thank you so much for this series. It was marvelous!

Overall, Cold Spell is a fantastic novel that leaves a mark in YA. What a finale to a stunning series! Love, love, love. So incredible.

M Y    R A T I N G