Category Archives: NGKnockout13
NetGalley Knockout 2013 Wrap-Up
NetGalley Knockout 2013 has come to a close! While I didn’t get as many books read as I wanted to, I still knocked some out and that’s what counts.
Here are my previous months’ posts.
Well, guess what. There is no September post because I didn’t read a single digital galley in September. I know. My tour review schedule was so busy, those books are all I had time to read. Also, if I’m being honest, I’m feeling a bit of blogger burnout.
I hope to do better next year!!
Netgalley Knockout–August Check In
If you’re unfamiliar with the Netgalley Knockout challenge, please see the initial post HERE!
REVIEW: It Was You by Anna Cruise
It Was You
by Anna Cruise
It Was You Series, Book One
Abby Sellers knows what she wants.
Enduring eighteen years in the shadow of her identical twin sister, Annika, she wants a fresh start. A chance to create her own life, separate from her conniving, deceptive twin.
Surprising both her family and friends, Abby ditches her plans for college and enrolls at a new school instead. There, she encounters West Montgomery, a sexy fellow student who immediately disarms her with his good looks and charm. West takes a liking to Abby and she suddenly finds herself walking a thin line, fabricating a fictional life created not by lies but by omission. She soon discovers West has secrets of his own, secrets that he’s not altogether interested in sharing.
Out from under the shadow of her twin, Abby’s life—and her relationship with West—blossoms. When Abby leaves town one weekend, something unthinkable happens and her relationship with West is shattered. Reeling from the discovery, Abby fears all of her plans have backfired and she’s created a mess for both of them, a mess that no one can clean up.
But West isn’t willing to let her go that easily. When he forces her to confront secrets they’ve both been hiding, Abby must decide more than if she’s willing to forgive and forget. She must also decide just what kind of life she wants…and who she wants to live it with.
MY THOUGHTS: 4.25 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Abby Sellers has just graduated and is ready to get away from her life: her locally famous parents, the people she’s gone to school with, and most of all, her twin sister Annika. Although they’re identical twins, Abby and Annika couldn’t be more different. While Abby is more reserved and virginal, Annika sleeps with nearly every guy she comes across and that does not leave the guys Abby is interested in off limits.
Suddenly, Abby decides being at the same college at Annika will not give her the fresh start she so craves. She decides to enroll in a junior college. On her first visit there she meets West Montgomery, whose looks are only rivaled by his smart mouth and arrogant demeanor. It doesn’t take long for them to become wrapped up in one another, but Abby and West are both holding back secrets that could spell the end of their relationship.
I’ve been reading a ton of new adult books lately so it’s easy for me to spot the patterns in the genre. Like most NA, this book contains a tattooed, cocky, too hot for words bad boy with a past and an innocent girl next door who falls quickly for this guy despite her best intentions. But this book has a pretty good concept that kept me enthralled.
I really liked Abby right off the bat, and you can’t help but feel for her, having a sister, a twin no less, so horrid. I totally got her need to get away from everything she’s known. Sometimes I wish I could have done the same, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that we can’t escape our pasts.
I thought West and Abby were really great for each other, and their scenes together were pretty hot. I think that each offered the other what they needed in their lives: Abby keeps West grounded when his temper starts rising, and West gives Abby the exhilaration she never knew she was missing in her life.
The conflict towards the end, I definitely saw coming…I just thought it would have been worse. I do blame Abby for what happened though. I’m not saying that she is the one that forced her sister to do what she did, but by withholding the truth from West it just made it obvious what was going to happen.
I do like the way the characters worked out their issues, and I even got choked up at the end. I kind of wish this wasn’t a series, because I liked the ending, but I’m glad I’ll get to read more about West and Abby.
ARC REVIEW: Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
Tumble & Fall
by Alexandra Coutts
Expected publication: September 17th 2013
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
MY THOUGHTS: 1 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
While this is set against the backdrop of a possible end of the world, this fact has little to do with the actual plot of the story…not that there is much of a plot. Unfortunately, the world-ending scenario was the one that drew me in to the book, so I was highly disappointed when I read half of the book and nothing of note had happened. Add this plodding storyline to a cast of characters that are vapid and hard to tell apart, and you can see why I couldn’t finish this book. I had high hopes, and sadly they did tumble and fall.
ARC REVIEW: Eats, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart
Eat, Brains, Love
by Jeff Hart
Expected publication: October 1st 2013
Two teenage zombies search for brains, love, and answers in this surprisingly romantic and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel with guts.
Jake Stephens was always an average, fly-under-the-radar guy. The kind of guy who would never catch the attention of an insanely popular girl like Amanda Blake-or a psychic teenage government agent like Cass. But one day during lunch, Jake’s whole life changed. He and Amanda suddenly locked eyes across the cafeteria, and at the exact same instant, they turned into zombies and devoured half their senior class.
Now Jake definitely has Amanda’s attention-as well as Cass’s, since she’s been sent on a top-secret mission to hunt them down. As Jake and Amanda deal with the existential guilt of eating their best friends, Cass struggles with a growing psychic dilemma of her own-one that will lead the three of them on an epic journey across the country and make them question what it means to truly be alive. Or undead.
Eat, Brains, Love is a heartwarming and bloody blend of romance, deadpan humor, and suspense that fans of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies will devour. With its irresistibly dry and authentic teen voice, as well as a zombie apocalypse worthy of AMC’s The Walking Dead, this irreverent paperback original will leave readers dying for the sequel that’s coming in Summer 2014.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart
This was definitely a fresh take on the zombie genre! No post-apocalyptic wasteland, no surviving, no hordes of undead. In fact, the zombies in the book aren’t even really dead! It’s more like…a shift, like werewolf-ish; were-zombie if you will.
The story is told from the points of view of Jake and Cass. Jake is a high school boy with not a single thing special about him, until the day he and the most popular girl in school start eating their classmates then go on the run. Cass is a sort of psychic detective, on the team tasked with bringing Jake and Amanda down. What Cass doesn’t expect is developing a crush on this guy.
It was pretty cool getting to see events from both sides of the table. It really twists what your idea of a villain might be. I liked both Jake and Cass, and kind of tolerated Amanda. I can’t really wrap my head around the way Cass’ crush developed though…they didn’t really know each other. There is kind of a love triangle feel going on that I think will definitely be further explored in the next book.
Before I started reading this book I didn’t know it was going to be the first in a series, but judging from the ending that is definitely going to need to happen. I hope we get to see more on the background of Jake and Cass; I’d like to see them interact with their families as well.
I am excited to see where this interesting new zombie series goes!
Netgalley Knockout – July Check In
REVIEWS: Wish and Hope by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser
by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser, illustrated by Odessa Sawyer
Faerieground Trilogy, Book One
Never wish in the woods.
With one wish made in Willow Forest, Soli and Lucy are pulled into Faerieground—and into the middle of an ancient battle. In the faerie kingdom, an evil queen searches for her daughter while the palace crumbles. To save her best friend, Soli must find her hidden strength.
This is a story about friendship, growing up, and the power of wishes. This is a story about faeries and spells, queens and lost princesses, fireflies and four-leaf clovers. But mostly, this is a story about love.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Wish by Beth Bracken
This is a quick but spirited middle grade read. Best friends Soli and Lucy have had a falling out, and Soli unwittingly makes her friend disappear into the realm of an evil fairy queen. To save her, Soli must find bravery within herself, and both girl learn a shocking secret.
The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful! I loved that they so accurately captured the characters and what was going on in the book.
Soli and Lucy are getting older, and are having a fight over a boy. They have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Events move really fast, which I’m glad of in a way, because I know this book is set for a tween/middle grade audience and you have to move fast to keep their attention.
I think girls will love this book; it’s got classic fairytale elements, cute boys, a bit of romance, and best friends. This is the first book in a series so I think there’s much ahead for Soli and Lucy!
Faerieground Trilogy, Book Two
Back in Faerieground, Soli must lead her kingdom to safety. But Lucy becomes ill, and her wellbeing is her best friend’s first priority, even if it means sacrificing the crown.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Hope by Beth Bracken
This book picks up right where Wish left off. Soli has discovered she’s a real life fairy princess, and she and her best friend Lucy must travel back to the fairy kingdom to attempt to save it from those who would see it destroyed. Unfortunately for them both, Soli may be forced to make a choice that will change their friendship forever.
I liked this book just as much as the first. It’s a very fast read with gorgeous illustrations, although this sequel didn’t have as many pictures as the first book did.
The book is split between Soli and Lucy’s points of view, along with a couple of others thrown in to get the entire picture of what’s going on. I’m glad I finally got to learn the truth about the seemingly evil queen. No one was really as they seemed in this book.
Soli must decide if she’s going to leave her familiar home behind, or become the queen of the fairy people who desperately need one. The girls both have a lot of growing up to do, and I think they’re on their way.
About the Authors
Beth Bracken is a children’s book editor. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, Steve, and their son, Sam. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing books, Beth spends most of her time knitting endlessly while watching reruns of old TV shows and drinking lots of tea. —Website
Kay Fraser is from Buenos Aires. She left home at eighteen and moved to North Dakota—basically the exact opposite of Argentina. These days, she designs books, writes, makes tea for her husband, and drives her daughters to their dance lessons. —Website
About the Illustrator
REVIEW: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Expected publication: October 22nd 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?
In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
This was the first novel I’ve read in free verse, and I have to be honest, it isn’t my favorite way to read. The line breaks and shapes interrupt the flow of reading. The subtle messages aren’t so subtle. But I get it, this novel wasn’t really written for someone like me. In spite of all that, I enjoyed it.
The book is written from three different characters’ points of view. Brendan, high school jock who’s beginning to think maybe being a boy isn’t what’s right for him. His girlfriend, Vanessa, who is in love/infatuation with Brendan, to the point that she’s left all her other friends behind. And Angel, who runs a teen center in Brendan’s town, and happens to know what he’s going through, being trans herself.
The Brendan sections by far stood out the most, but I understand why we needed to hear from Vanessa too. When something as huge as your gender identity is in flux, it doesn’t only affect one person. Brendan’s whole world is changing. You can’t help but feel sorry for him, as going through something like questioning your gender is hard enough; but add in the stress of high school and it’s almost too much to handle.
This was a quick read even though it’s over 400 pages, because the pages contain so little text. I hope other kids who may be struggling with questions such as Brendan had will find solace knowing that they’re not alone. For that reason, this book needed to be written.
About the Author
Kristin Elizabeth Clark lives and writes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Northern California. She hikes with her dog and reads to her cats… but she’s not one of THOSE people. Really.
She has worked as a child advocate within the juvenile justice system, as a children’s theater producer, and is a proud volunteer at Project Outlet in Mountain View, California.
REVIEW: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
You Look Different in Real Life
by Jennifer Castle
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they’re real life.
The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.
Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.
But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.
Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.
MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
I was initially excited to read this book, because it had a really unique premise that is different from anything else I’ve read recently. But unfortunately, events fell flat for me, and the book just left me with an overwhelming sense of meh.
The novel revolves around the five teenagers whose lives have been filmed for documentary audiences every five years. Our narrator, Justine, Keira, Nate, Rory, and Felix have all grown apart since the last doc was filmed. When the directors don’t get enough interesting film, they put all five kids together to try to make something happen–and something does, but nothing that they expected.
I didn’t feel like enough was revealed about each character…I actually felt they were all one dimensional stereotypes. For example, Rory has been diagnosed with autism…so she’s quirky, and Nate is a jock, so he’s handsome, charismatic, and able to pretty much get away with anything. We don’t get to know much of anything past the shallow descriptions of the characters…least of all, Justine. Even though she was the one telling the story, I felt I knew her least of all.
I guess this could be classified as a coming of age or friends reconnecting novel…but just not that much exciting happened. There were “surprises” I definitely predicted, and the ending was just too clean. Maybe I’m just too old to relate, and teens closer to the age of the characters will enjoy this book more than I did.
About the Author
Jennifer Castle’s first novel, The Beginning of After, was named an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” Book. She wrote many unproduced movie and TV scripts before returning to her first love, fiction . . . but she’s still hooked on film and the way we can find and tell our stories with images. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley.
REVIEW: The Collector by Victoria Scott
by Victoria Scott
Dante Walker, Book One
He makes good girls…bad.
Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:
Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.
Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The Collector by Victoria Scott
I’m going to give this a verrrrrryyy reluctant 3 stars.
There was so much hype for like a YEAR leading up to the release of this book, of course I had to request it on NetGalley! The hype was mostly centered around the book’s protagonist (?) Dante Walker, and how he was so much of a bad boy that you’ll hate to love. Oh I hated him alright, but it never even came close to the love part.
Dante is cocky, egotistical, and just plain mean. He’s a Collector of souls for the bad guy downstairs, so essentially a demon. His job is to corrupt people and make sure their souls go where they need to go after death. He’s really good at his job and has become the bad guy’s favorite…until he gets an assignment to collect Charlie.
Charlie is unattractive, clumsy, and lacking self confidence, which is pretty much everything Dante hates in a person. Yet for some reason, he is inexplicably attracted to her. As she gets closer and closer to having her soul collected, Dante begins to think that maybe his job might be worth giving up for her.
As I said before, I’m not one of those girls who was charmed by Dante’s attitude and uber-coolness. For essentially the first 75% of the book, he said and did so many things that turned my stomach, I almost quit reading several times. He’s dead, but still so shallow and vain…I would have thought dying would show a person what was really important in life. He actually calls Charlie ugly and worse, albeit not straight to her face.
I also didn’t get his feelings for her. It wasn’t insta-love per se, but it was fast nonetheless, happening in less than ten days. It’s a bit unbelievable to me that someone as vain as Dante could have fallen so quickly (or at all) for Charlie…though I’m sure the wishes she made to make herself more beautiful helped him balance things in his mind.
So why did I give the book 3 stars at all? Well, it barely made it. The premise of Collectors and Liberators is an original one, and I like it when I can come across something new in paranormal YA. And although I have a strong dislike for the main characters, there are secondary characters that are way more interesting…Valery, for example. The end was pretty unexpected but still good, and I feel like a showdown is coming.
Hopefully Charlie will change Dante, because if he stays the same, I don’t think I’ll be able to read any more Collector books. Here’s to change.