Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 19, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars
THE FACTS
• Julian Roman, age sixteen, is an escapee from the Fairmount County Juvenile Detention Facility.
• His parents, Michael Roman and Jennifer Roman, are dead.
• Julian is wanted for murder.

THE QUESTIONS
• Why is Julian Roman on the run?
• Just how dangerous is he?
• And who did kill Michael and Jennifer Roman, if not Julian?

Seventeen-year-old Day Baker views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she pictures and the truths she believes-neatly captured in black and white-begin to blur.

Julian is not the "armed and dangerous" escapee the police are searching for, but his alibis don't quite add up, either. There is more to his story. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture . . . whatever it reveals. Did he? Or didn't he?

Day digs deeper into the case while Julian remains on the run. But the longer her list of facts becomes, the longer the list of questions becomes, too. It's also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels for him. Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master of suspense and romance. In this page-turning thriller, Stolarz tackles dark truths with a powerful, contemporary voice. Shutter will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Welcome to my stop along the Shutter blog tour, hosted by the Irish Banana Review! Doesn’t the book synopsis sound awesome? I was totally on board as soon as I read about it, as I love reading mystery-type books in October. Shutter takes place during the exact same time of year as I read it, which I thought was a lot of fun. It got me so excited for fall and colder weather. I love this time of year, and the author did a great job of really capturing the season.

I liked Day a lot. Her obsession with photography was unique and fun to read about. I saw a lot of myself in her. I’ve always had an artistic outlet in my life, so I understood her passion and desire to always keep it close to her heart. I also understood her desire to help Julian. I would have wanted to do the same thing, especially since Julian is such a nice guy. I actually found him to be more interesting to read about, though. The chapters alternate between Day’s narration and Julian’s journal entries, and I liked getting more insight into Julian’s past and how he got to where he was even though some of it was very heartbreaking. He had a horrible family life as a child, and I really felt for him.

The story itself was very interesting, but not as mystery/thrillery as I expected it to be. I wasn’t biting my nails or wishing I could sleep with the lights on. It was a slower, more controlled mystery. Day goes on a hunt for the truth while hiding Julian in her barn in the backyard. It enjoyed reading his story and what other people had to say about him. His story never quite added up, so I wasn’t really sure I could trust him… and I wanted to slap Day for being SO trusting. He’s a wanted murder suspect! I could have done without the romance… I liked the story more before that happened, but it did add a complicated layer to things and that’s always entertaining. I was definitely eager to get to the end to see how everything turned out.

If you’re in the mood for a whodunit with a Nancy Drew-type detective, some heavier subject matter and a good dose of autumn, give this book a try!


About Laurie Faria Stolarz

Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. 

Laurie Faria Stolarz is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons), as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.

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Tour Schedule:

10/10: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review
10/11: The Irish Banana Review – Q&A
10/12: A Writer Named Charley – Review
10/13: Novelgossip – Guest Post
10/14: The Worn Bookmark – Review
10/17: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review
10/18: Bibliobuli YA – Guest Post
10/19: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
10/20: In Wonderland – Top 10
10/21: Stuck In Books – Review


Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book Review

Posted August 6, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book ReviewShadowlands by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

This book had the makings of everything I love. Serial killer. An escape. Witness protection. Suspense. What’s going on here? Paranoia. Stalking. Relocation to a quaint beach town that has creepy fog roll in at night. Shady people. I was all over this book and so super in love for about 96% of the story. The ending derailed my happiness, and I was frustrated and annoyed that such an amazing book had to end that way! It was honestly such a disappointing ending that I’m not even sure I care to read the other two books in the trilogy.

Kate Brian’s writing style and her ability to scare the living daylights out of you and keep you up all night are amazing. I’ve got no complaints there. I loved her descriptive writing style that made my spine tingle. The suspense was intense. The feeling of the book is very ominous and creepy, and I’m glad I read it while I was on vacation so that I was in a hotel room with my family and not sleeping on my own. I loved the alternating chapters, which go back and forth between Rory’s point of view and the killer’s. This guy is psycho. I liked the characters and feel like more attention was paid to them than most characters receive in a mystery or thriller. I enjoyed reading about them and grew to feel for Rory. I loved the setting of the book. It was the perfect location for a story like this because it was so sweet and friendly on the surface, but was hiding an uncomfortable reality underneath. There was a little romantic intrigue, but not so much that it took away from the creep factor. Really, I have very few complaints.

But the ending. UGH. I finished it, threw my book down on my bed, and immediately began venting to my mom. I remember saying, “I spent all my time on this creepy book, looking for an amazing climax… and THIS is the resolution?” I don’t even know why there are two more books in the trilogy. It’s no longer a mystery or a thriller for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to ay anything other than the fact that there’s a genre change. If you look on Goodreads and see how this book is classified, you’ll see what I mean. Needless to say, I was so disappointed. I loved everything else about the book, so I’m sad! This is really just a case of the author going in a direction I was not happy about. But oh well. I’m still glad I read it, and I would not refrain from recommending it to others. I would just preface my recommendation with “expect the unexpected.”


Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter | Mini Book Review

Posted October 13, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter | Mini Book ReviewUncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Series: Heist Society #2
Also in this series: Heist Society
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 21, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 298
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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4.5 Stars
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

I have really missed Ally Carter’s writing. She writes characters you love and stories you wish you were a part of. It’s been way too long since I read Heist Society (and LOVED it), so I was worried I would not remember enough to know what was going on or who everyone was. Seriously, though, it was like being reunited with old friends. We just all picked up right where we left off. Oh, how I have missed Kat and Hale and all their thievery and romantical tension! Uncommon Criminals was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be.

I mentioned in my review of Heist Society that I thought Uncommon Criminals would contain a little more romance, and I was right. But again, it was not even close to being the focus of the story. And again, I loved it. The mission and the mystery were much more integral parts of the story, and I was extremely satisfied. The tiny bits of sweet romance left me swooning and excited to see what the next book brings.

Kat has changed a lot since the last book. She’s grown up a lot, and has gained this strong independence. She knows she can succeed on her own, and has actually ruffled some feathers by performing missions without her team. I liked her independence, but was also a little sad that she felt too good for the team that made her successful in the first place. I love how her friends fought for her, though. Rather than being mad and saying, “We’re done with you.”, they did everything they could to help her this time around. These people are true friends, and I wish I had some people like this in my own life.

We do not get to see as much of everyone this time around, which was a little disappointing. Kat was the main focus, with a little here and there from Hale. Gabrielle was kind of an afterthought, and the other boys mostly fade into the background. If I had not gotten to know all of these characters so well in Heist Society, I would have no complaints now. But I missed them this time. Still, though, I really like Kat and Hale is adorable, so it’s not like I’m complaining all that much anyway.

Ally Carter is an amazing storyteller. She writes books that read like movies, and her plots are always full of excitement, humor, and even some tenderness. I’m so in love with these books, and am really sad there’s only one left (although I’ve heard rumors that Ally is writing another. Who knows?)! I recommend this trilogy to everyone I know, and can’t wait until I have time to read Perfect Scoundrels!


Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

Posted April 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewDon't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Holy. Moly. I’ve been in a major reading slump for about the past month, so I went to Twitter and asked people what I should read. One of my friends recommended I read this one because she was hooked so quickly! I love mysteries, so I was all about it. Guys, this was amazing! I absolutely loved everything about Don’t Look Back, and am so happy to say that it pulled me out of my slump! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. There are not a lot of good mysteries out there for YAs these days. And the ones that ARE out there usually ends in some annoying way, like the main character dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing, or there’s not really a mystery after all because the main character is mentally ill. Don’t Look Back is a good, nail-biting, spine-tingling, gripping mystery with all the elements one looks for when they are in the mood for such a book.

2. Usually mysteries don’t do well with a romantic element because there ends up being way too many things and emotions to keep track of. The romance actually enhanced the story in this case, though. Of course, I’m happy about this because we all know I drink love stories like some people drink diet soft drinks.

3. I could not GUESS who did it! I thought for sure at two different times in the book that I had figured out who it was. I was feeling so smart and smug that I had figured everything out. NOPE. I was no Nancy Drew here, which was a very pleasant surprise.

4. Ok, I’m sorry… but I LOVE the whole “I’m caught in a post-traumatic stress induced bout of amnesia, so everything is even scarier because I don’t know anything or anyone” kind of storyline. I know it’s been done before, but I honestly do not care. There’s just something about a person with no memory of the evil that happened to them just makes my spine tingle and my skin crawl.

5. Our main girl, Samantha, does not have the Rapunzel Syndrome as a result of her memory loss. She is not this scared, timid, little naive thing with no reason or common sense. She knew to question things and she knew to keep things to herself when she needed to.

6. Speaking of Samantha, she was a HORRIBLE person before she lost her memory. I mean, she had every single mean girl stereotype going on. I LOVE that this memory loss gave her a second chance, and I loved how mortified she was every time she received new evidence of her evil past life. It just goes to show that people can change, and that you don’t HAVE to be a mean person.

7. There is such a strong sense of family and companionship in this book, and I loved that. Samantha’s brother almost immediately steps into the role of “you touch my sister, you die” even though she has been an absolute jerk to him for years. This loyalty he has for her makes him one of the strongest secondary males I’ve read about in a long time. I love that he was able to set aside the hurt she caused him to help her. And Carson, ahhhhh. She was even worse to him, yet he is able to forgive her and help her as well! I was just amazed that so many people from her younger kid days of being sweet and loving possess the ability to gather around Sam in her time of need.

8. I gotta say this: I LOVE it when a former mean girl gets to tell off her mean girl clique and leave them speechless.

9. The suspense just killed me! I read this book mostly at night, and I was too scared to run across the dark hall to go to the bathroom! There were some moments just dripping with danger and mystery, and I could not handle it! I loved it.

Thank you, Jennifer Armentrout, for pulling me out of my reading slump! Thank you to my Twitter friend (I can’t remember which one of you recommended this!) for pushing Don’t Look Back on me. I had no idea I was in the mood for a mystery, but apparently I was! Definitely get your hands on this book, friends.


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan | Book Thoughts

Posted March 10, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade / 5 Comments

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan | Book ThoughtsThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 1, 2005
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

(I read this book for my children’s lit class as part of my fantasy unit. I’m not really going to review it, but more discuss my thoughts on it.)

I really, really love greek mythology and I studied a lot about it in elementary school. I thought Riordan’s idea put a really fun spin on those myths. I enjoyed seeing the “familiar” faces of Zeus, Poseidon, Medusa, and others show up.

I really loved Grover, Percy’s satyr companion. He’s kind of wacky and silly, but an absolute delight to read about. I was so-so on Annabeth, Percy’s partner in crime. And honestly, I’m not really in love with Percy himself yet. Grover made the book for me. I feel like I would have liked this more as a younger child. I had a hard time relating to the characters. They acted really young, whereas some books for kids seem to have characters that span a variety of age groups.

My favorite theme of the book is a mother’s love. Percy’s mother is a wonderful sweet and caring woman, who is married to an absolute idiot. He is skummy and sleezy and abusive. He smells horrible. And Percy always wonders why such an amazing person would put up with it. It’s not until later in the book that he discovers why, and I ended up really loving the tender moment that discovery created.

Even though I had some issues with the book, I am definitely interested in continuing the series. I’m intrigued by some of the other story lines, and I’m excited to see Percy grow up a little.


These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | Book Review

Posted November 18, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | Book ReviewThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I’ve always been a little iffy on outer space books and usually pass on them, but These Broken Stars sounded too amazing to pass up. It ended up being everything I could have hoped for! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a unique idea! A ship of vacationing passengers flying through space, only to be knocked out of orbit and crash land on a mysterious planet. These Broken Stars is a combination of Titanic and LOST.

2. I mention LOST, because this planet is wacky. There are whispers and visions and crazy animals and signs of former habitation. And this is all happening for some unknown reason. Are these characters crazy? Are they going insane? Is the planet haunted? Is someone these playing a trick on them? Are they being tested? What s going on!?!

3. These characters are amazing. Since the book really only includes two of them, the authors had to make them interesting or readers would get bored very quickly. I loved Tarver. He is a war hero who is trained in surviving situations like this one. He also comes from a tough life, and has a lot of depth. I loved his strength and his power of motivating Lilac to push on through the pain of hiking in heels and a fancy dress. He has a weak moments in the story, though, which made him more down to earth. His tenderness and dedication are quite endearing. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe, and she is completely thrown out of her comfort zone when she has to take a risk and save herself and Tarver from dying in the crash. She’s not as pretentious as I had expected, which was nice. She quickly adapted to this new life, and grew in maturity. She’s strong, confident, and capable of much more than she realized. 4. The story is told in dual points of view, which I really liked. I find that this is commonly done in survival books, and I always enjoy reading what’s going on in each character’s head.

5. What I did not like were the snippets of Tarver’s post-rescue interrogation at the beginning of every chapter. Because this was done, I knew immediately that they would be rescued. I did not like having the ending spoiled for me, and would have enjoyed the book much more if I had not known this ahead of time.

6. I liked the slow burning romance between Lilac and Tarver. They met on the ship, and while they were both intrigued by one another, they were from two different worlds. Lilac really shot him down and bruised his ego. When they ended up crashing together and being the only two survivors, they were forced to work together or die. They really hated each other for a while, but that began to change and they really cared for each other before they fell in love.

7. There is this mind blowing plot twist that happens, and OH MY THE FEELS. I won’t go into this anymore, but OH MY. I did not know what to do with myself.

8. Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner did an amazing job team writing These Broken Stars. I did not even know this book was written by two authors until I started gathering information to write my review. I’m so impressed that I could not tell! The writing was absolutely lovely.

I can’t wait for the next book! These Broken Stars really surprised me, and was a wonderful way to introduce myself to outer space. I’m so proud of these 2013 debut authors, and hope they continue to write lots together.


All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Book Review)

Posted October 4, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Book Review)All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

I almost passed on All Our Yesterdays, just because I had not heard very much about it, but then I learned it’s a time travel book and that changed my mind completely. I love time travel books. Love them. And… Oh. My. Gosh. You guys! It’s amazing!! AMAZING! My mind was blown, and when I closed it I immediately thought, “How in the world am I supposed to review this?” I’ll do my best, but I can’t guarantee it won’t be just a bunch of fangirl. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The story itself is so amazingly unique, and I can’t tell you why because that will spoil everything. There are so many twists and turns, each giving you bits and pieces of information until you figure out what’s going on. And once the picture is completely painted, and the blanks are all filled in, you will look like this:

There’s really no better way to describe my thoughts on the book, actually. Your mind will be blown, and your eyes will get huge, and your brain will try to comprehend it but it’s really wacky. And amazing.

2. I loved the explanation of how time travel works, and the paradoxes and all that great stuff. I kind of felt like Sheldon Cooper was teaching me a science lesson at times, and it was really fun to read all the ins and outs.

3. All Our Yesterdays goes back and forth between the past and present/future. We read all about Marina and her life with James and Finn before the world took a turn for the worst. I loved the sweet relationships between Marina and James. To me, it kind of felt like Corey and Topanga from Boy Meets World. They grew up as great friends, leaning on each other during hard times, and then things start to change into something on the more romantic side. James is so unbelievably caring, and Marina is devoted to a fault and secretly insecure. And then we have Finn, who is just like Sean–the goofy friend who tags along with James and drives Marina crazy.

We also get to read about Em and Finn, who are from the future. I liked Em a lot. She’s strong and realistic. And Finn is daring and romantic. They have been through a lot, and are out to save the world no matter what.

4. James is a very complex character. He’s a prodigy, comes from a wealthy and famous family, and seems to have everything going for him. But there’s just something in there that’s not quite right, and he ends up being a ticking time bomb. He fights with his emotions, is scared about his future, and wants everything in the world to be perfect. His intentions are good and true, but he teeters on the edge of insanity because he does not know what to do with himself. He captivated me, and I was very interested in his story.

5. The romance was so special and unique, even though it was a very small part of the story. I can’t give much away, but I loved seeing different relationships changing in different ways throughout the book. Romance blooms, romance fades, new feelings grow, old feelings are explored. People flip flop. Lots happens. In the midst of all of it, the characters learn a lot about themselves.

6. I loved the constant feeling of hope that was presented. The future is dark and dreary, the present is a little crazy, and through it all everyone is optimistic that things will turn out for the best. I loved that. So often, books like this tend to be downers. All Our Yesterdays is a book that makes you wish good things on everyone, even the villain.

7. So. Much. Action. I could hardly handle it, but I loved every second!

8. Cristin Terrill tackled a majorly hard subject for her debut, and did an amazing job! I’m not sure I could wrap my head around writing a book like this one. With shifts in time, shifts in characters, and shifts in emotion, I never got lost. I always knew who I was reading about and what was happening. That’s true talent, right there. Her writing is amazing, too.

All our Yesterdays is an amazingly wonderful and unique addition to the time travel genre. Things felt fresh and exciting, and the writing was perfect. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would, and I cannot wait for the next book! Luckily the cliffhanger is not too heart stopping, since I have a while to wait!

 


Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone (Mini Book Review)

Posted September 23, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 6 Comments

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone (Mini Book Review)Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: Time Between Us #2
Also in this series: Time Between Us
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Time Between Us was one of my absolute favorite books last year, and kept me thinking for a very long time. I loved the unique take on time travel and the wonderful characters. I was immediately hungry for more of Anna and Bennett’s story, but did not know yet that there was going to be a second novel! I was delightfully surprised to learn of Time After Time, and was even more excited when I received an eARC from the publisher. It’s an amazing story, and I am so happy I got to read more about what’s in store for these two love birds.

This time, we get to read the story from Bennett’s point of view. I have always loved books that place us in the hearts and minds of the male character, so this was a treat. Bennett’s voice is so strong and full of emotion and longing. I love the lengths he will go to for Anna, and the sacrifices he makes to make her happy. Even though traveling has become even more of a challenge both physically and mentally, he is committed to spending as much time with her as he can. The love these two feel for one another is so sweet, and the fact that it can withstand the parameters of their relationship is amazing.

Because Bennett is doing the narrating, we get to learn a lot more about his life in 2012, his family, his talent, and how he feels about everything. He has to make some pretty serious decisions for himself, and I loved the bewilderment he went through as he tried to decide what was right and what was wrong for him. We get to travel with him a lot more, and we are with him when he witnesses an event that makes him question everything he thinks he knows about his an Anna’s future. This deep insecurity and doubt he feels is so real and so heartbreaking! I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything would be ok. The turmoil he goes through is tangible. I also loved the tender moments he shares with his dad and his sister, two characters who really grew in Time After Time. I ove Bennett so much more than I did in Time Between Us, and appreciate that Anna was taken out of the spotlight this time around.

The romance is sweeping and swoony. We still get to travel to exotic places and read romantic exchanges between Anna and Bennett. At the same time, though they know this entire relationship is unconventional and has its risks. They are realistic, and act very mature about the trials the relationship is causing them. They are forced to make hard choices. I appreciate that the author did not make things all rainbows and sunshine for them. Struggle builds character, and I really respected both of them as they worked things through.

I loved the ending. Everything ends up as it should, and I’m fully satisfied. :) Definitely pick up Tamara’s books, especially if you love time travel and amazing romances!


Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland (Book Review)

Posted July 16, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland (Book Review)Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 7, 2013
Pages: 294
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

I’m not typically a fun of summer romances with a little meat on their bones. Typically, I go for the light and fluffy summer romances on the beach. I was a little scared going into Nantucket Blue for this reason, but I ended up enjoying it, even though it fell a bit short. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. My absolute favorite part of Nantucket Blue was the setting. I love the descriptions of quaint, little Nantucket. This is the kind of small town environment I love–where everyone knows each other, nobody locks their doors, and there are more bikes than cars driving down the stone streets. Secluded beaches are abundant, and the perfect place to fall in love. This book made me want to visit Nantucket, and I hope to find more books that take place there!

2. Cricket. This is the summer she’s going to find herself, and after losing her second mom suddenly, the companionship of her best friend, and the admiration of a boy she was crushing on, she’s definitely in need of a summer of soul searching. After the invitation to spend the summer with Jules on Nantucket is retracted, Cricket finds a job that brings her to Nantucket anyway. After a twist or two, she ends up taking a job at the local Cranberry Inn (I love this place) as a chambermaid, and becomes an intern for a journalist. She cleans rooms, tries not to fall in love with her ex-best friend’s younger brother, assists the injured journalist, jumps out of her comfort zone, and makes a few new friends. I’m not sure how I feel about Cricket. She’s kind of a pushover, and I was hoping to see some major growth throughout the book, which I didn’t really get.

3. I have a really hard time seeing people push away all the good in their life in the face of tragedy. I’ve seen it happen with numerous friends and acquaintances in my life, and it makes me sad. Why not grab hold of the things you love as you grieve the things you’ve lost? That’s why I had a hard time with Jules. She changed into an unrecognizable person, and got so snotty and rude. I felt awful for her when she lost her mom, but this transformation made me not like her very much. She just did not seem to be a very good friend, and I was frustrated with Cricket for fighting so much to keep her in her life.

4. This book is just not happy. There were a few sunshiney moments, which were nice, but there was the constant sadness weighing on me. It felt like everyone was hiding behind a facade, and it made emotions and thoughts feel less genuine. Characters are at least supposed to open up to the readers.

5. I LOVED the supporting characters at the Cranberry Inn: Liz, Gavin, and George. They made this entire book for me, and are the reason I kept reading. Liz is a quirky Irish girl, who wants so badly to bring Cricket out of her shell. She’s so funny! Gavin is like a concerned dad type, and George is the journalist who was the funniest, most genuine character of them all. They became a supportive family to Cricket, and they all meshed so well together.

6. I’m iffy on the romance. It seemed kinda insta-lovey, with no real build-up. I liked the guy ok, but there was an age difference that rubbed me the wrong way. He’s 16 and she’s 18… and I just wasn’t feeling it.

7. Leila’s writing drew me in and kept me there. I loved her descriptions and her writing style.

Overall, this was kind of a “meh” read for me. I loved the setting and the secondary characters, and everyone else was jut ok. I feel like the ending was rather lackluster, but Leila Howard’s writing throughout the rest of the book kept me going. I never considered not finishing the book, but I was not entirely invested in the story. Still, though, I am now in LOVE with Nantucket. I want to go find the Cranberry Inn and hug everyone there!


Heist Society by Ally Carter (Book Review)

Posted May 24, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Heist Society by Ally Carter (Book Review)Heist Society by Ally Carter
Series: Heist Society #1
Also in this series: Uncommon Criminals
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 9, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 287
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I don’t come across many YA mysteries or adventure stories that sound good very often, but after reading Heist Society‘s synopsis and so many wonderful reviews, I pretty much knew I would enjoy this one! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I really like Kat. She tried so hard to leave the family business, but re-entered the crime world because of her family. I love her devotion to her dad. She is confident, but not to the point of cockiness. She understands her limits, but has no trouble pushing those limits as far as possible. She also has this constant battle going on in her head between her conscience and her mission. She’s pretty awesome.

2. Kat’s friends and family, Hale, Simon, Hamich, Angus, and Gabrielle are all amazing and fill the spots in Kat’s heist society. Each of them has a special talent, and when put together, they form this amazing band of criminals. I absolutely love the strength of their relationships, and the lengths they will go to for one another. These people are willing to put everything on the line to protect Kat’s father. I love that. Talk about pure devotion. I have never read a book with such strong familial relationships, and I loved it so much more than I thought I would.

3. I loved Hale so much. He’s rich and classy, and is always looking out for Kat. His previous life goes to show how unlikely a candidate he is for Kat’s crew, but he fits in so well because you can tell how much he cares for her.

4. In the midst of all the hard things they have to go through, these characters say some of the funniest things! Here are a few of my favorite quotes and excerpts from the story:

“Can I see you outside for a second?” Kat glared at Hale, then walked to the patio doors and out onto the veranda. As Hale closed the door behind him, Kat heard Angus say, “Ooh, Mom and Dad are going to fight now.”

“Thanks to you, Gabs, we just figured out a half dozen ways not to rob the Henley.”

 “If you die of pneumonia, I’m pretty sure there are at least a dozen guys who’ll try to kill me and make it look like an accident.”

“Do you understand any of this?” he said, pointing to the lines and symbols that covered the massive screens.
“Some people understand the value of an education.”
Hale stretched and crossed his legs, the settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.”
“I’d settle for the ice cream.”
“Deal.”

SO fun! I love their interactions and silliness. They are all so mature and worldly, but their dialogue helps remind us that they are just a bunch of extraordinary teenagers.

5. Heist Society travels to so many awesome places in the USA and Europe. We get to visit New York, Las Vegas, Sabina Valley, Naples, Vienna, Warsaw, London, Paris, and Rome. I loved all the jumping around the globe we got to do!

6. I read so many YA contemporaries, that it was rather refreshing to have so little romance this time. There’s a little tension, and a little sweetness… but, for the most part there’s no romance. I have a feeling there will be more in the next book, and I’m SO excited about that because I just love the characters so much.

7. The writing style was so perfect that I barely noticed it. Does that sound strange? It just fit the story so perfectly that I forgot I was reading. So often, I focus on a writing style because it is SO bad. And yes, there are other times when I focus on it because it’s so beautiful. This time, though, not noticing it is the best compliment I can give.

This was my first Ally Carter book, and I absolutely loved it! I need to go check out her Gallagher Girls series now, because I love Ally’s strong characters and her storytelling. I’d definitely recommend this to people who are looking for something outside of the normal romance, vampires and werewolves, heavy issues kind of YA books.

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