Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + Giveaway

Posted June 30, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 2 Comments

Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + Giveaway

Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + GiveawayFrayed by Kara Terzis
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Dear Kesley,

My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it's a stupid idea.

But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born...or died?

I'll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town...

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister's killer...although she'll wish she hadn't. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley's murderer could be much closer than she thought...

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Kara Terzis’s debut novel, Frayed, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m happy to be reviewing this creepy mystery today, and I’ll be keeping it very vague so as not to spoil anything for you. I find that it’s SO much easier to do that with mysteries than any other genre, so I’m keeping things short and sweet. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The synopsis claims that the novel will keep you guessing, and this definitely rang true for me. As the readers learns more about the circumstances surrounding Kesley’s life and death, they are continually adding and erasing people from the list of who they can trust. I was constantly suspecting that everyone did it… except the person who actually did. I read a lot of mysteries, and I’m happy when an author figures out how to keep me from figuring things out on my own.

2. We find out right off the bat (again, from the synopsis) that Ava is not doing too well with losing Kesley. She’s in therapy, and sections of the book contain pieces of the letter that her therapist suggests she write to Kesley. I found that reading these excerpts really added to the story. They give the reader a more detailed look at the troubling relationship these two sisters had, and that intensified the creep factor for me. Really, nobody in this book has their head on 100% straight, but these girls had a very toxic relationship beneath the surface.

3. I never grew to like any of the characters, so I had a bit of a tricky time caring or feeling sympathetic, especially towards Ava. Sure, I felt bad for her for the pain she was going through. But that was pretty much it. Each character gave me an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling so I never connected with anyone. I think that was kind of the point of the story, though, and it added to the mystery for me.

4. Frayed is very dark and depressing, so I was surprised to find that I didn’t ever feel like I had this weight of doom on my shoulders. I hate depressing, sad books… especially when characters are reeling from the death of a loved one. I was so curious that I never felt depressed, and I thank the author for treating the story that way.

5. The ending was great. I was completely surprised and had no idea things were going to go down like they did. Either I missed the foreshadowing completely, or there wasn’t any there. While I would have enjoyed a few more hints, the author’s choice to completely keep me in the dark made the ending that much more insane. It wasn’t the typical mystery novel climax, and that was refreshing.

All in all, Frayed was an enjoyable, intriguing mystery that threw me for a loop with its very unpredictable ending. I’ll be keeping an eye on Kara, and hope she continues writing books for us.

About Kara

Kara Terzis was twelve when she wrote her first novel, and hasn’t stopped writing since. Later she started publishing her work on Wattpad, where in 2013 she won the Sourcebooks Story Development Prize, leading to the publication of her debut novel, Frayed. She adores fairy tales, photography, rainy days, and film soundtracks. When she’s not writing, you can find her buried in a good book and daydreaming. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.

Her debut novel–FRAYED–will be out from Sourcebooks Fire on June 7th, 2016.

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Tour Schedule:

6/27: Here’s the Happy Endings – Q&A
6/28: Novel Ink – Letter to a Lost Loved One
6/29: Live to Read – Review
6/30: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
7/1: With Love For Books – Review
7/4: Lekeisha the Booknerd – Dream Cast
7/5: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review
7/6: One Night Book Stand – Top 10
7/7: Rebel Mommy Book Blog – Review
7/8: Just Commonly – Guest Post

3 Stars

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted December 5, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally | Book Review + GiveawayRacing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

This is the second book I’ve read in the Hundred Oaks series. I read Stealing Parker last year, and did not fall in love with it like I had hoped. I was really drawn to Racing Savannah, because of the horses. I’ve never been a horse person, but I loved the idea of a racetrack romance. After all, I’ve always had a thing for cowboys! I ended up liking Racing Savannah much more than Stealing Parker, and am glad I gave this series another shot! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I really loved the setting of Racing Savannah. I loved the stables, the racetrack, the horses. The author did a great job painting a picture of the farm and the horse racing. I actually really liked the horse races. They were exciting! When I was little I always wanted to ride horses, so this aspect of the story made me really happy. The horse that Savannah spent most of her time with, Star, had a sweet personality and I loved the time she spent with him.

2. The characters were fun, but I particularly liked one of the secondary characters, Rory. He also works on the farm, and is Savannah’s wacky friend. He writes questionable screenplays, and has the hots for Vanessa. I love these two. Vanessa is sweet and such a good friend to Savannah. I actually liked their romance more than Savannah and Jack’s, just because there was much less drama. I liked Savannah ok, but she was nothing special. I liked that, despite her family’s lack of money, her time on the farm inspired her to make more out of her life. I liked watching her fight for her future. I did get annoyed at her judgmental attitude. I liked Jack, but did not really like him in the role of owner of the farm. He’s just a little too young to be running things, and making such big decisions. And really, could Jack have been more perfect? I was constantly questioning him, because I could not find one thing wrong with him (except that he was a bit too scared of his parents). I liked both his and Savannah’s families, but I think Savannah’s dad was my favorite. I liked how much he cared about her, and what a sweet father-daughter relationship they have.

3. I’ve never been a fan of the clash between classes kind of storyline. I felt like there was too much emphasis placed on rich people vs. poor people. Savannah’s dad was worried he would lose his job if Savannah dated Jack. Cindy, Savannah’s dad’s pregnant girlfriend, was scared to ask for time off because she would be fired for being sick. Jack was worried his parents would be mad if he dated Savannah. She was referred to as not being girlfriend material. Savannah had a really bad attitude towards rich people, figuring that they were all heartless people who only cared about getting more money. It just frustrated me. Is this still a valid concern in this day and age? I know this was a problem in the olden days, but I thought it had mostly died out. I don’t understand why money makes a difference.

All in all, I enjoyed Racing Savannah and am happy I read it! The horses made the story unique and enjoyable, and the romances were sweet. Even though I liked Vanessa and Rory’s story a bit more, I did like reading about Savannah’s life-changing decisions and her romance with Jack. There were some pretty sexy scenes, so I would not really recommend this for younger young adults, but it’s a fun new contemporary romance that I’m sure many readers will love. I have not read all of the Hundred Oaks series, but I could tell from some of the names dropped that characters in the previous books check in and let you know what’s going on with them now. I always love it when authors do this, so I’m sure fans of the series will be happy to see them.

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Want to see the boots? Here’s the link! I think they are adorable.


Thanks for visiting my stop along the Racing Savannah tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!
If you are interested in following the tour, you can find the schedule here.

3 Stars

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book Review

Posted October 21, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book ReviewSix Months Later by Natalie Richards
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Chloe didn't think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life. Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her?
And why can't she remember?

I’m loving these new mystery thrillers Sourcebooks keeps publishing! Mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres, and I’m very excited that they are starting to trend in the young adult book world! Six Months Later is an awesome story from a talented debut author! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The cool thing about this story is that we know no more than Chloe does. She has completely forgotten six months of her life, and has no idea why. Her best friend won’t talk to her, her parents thinks she is crazy, and she’s got this boyfriend who didn’t even know she existed six months ago. Nothing feels comfortable to her. I wasn’t comfortable either! I was squirming, trying to figure out what was going on. I was also intrigued by the bad boy with the bedroom eyes…

2. I liked all the characters for the most part, yet the story took my attention away from them. Chloe is your typical confused heroine. I appreciated the fact that nobody could convince her she was insane. I also liked that even though her memory is gone, she has this innate sense of distrust in people even though she does not know why. She blindly trusts her intuition, which is the sign of a strong character. I adored her best friend, Maggie, even though she played a small part for most of the book. She’s just so sweet, and seemed like a wonderful friend. Clearly, Chloe did something to ruin their friendship, and I kept rooting for them to mend fences and figure everything out. Blake is creeeeepy. He made my skin crawl. Adam is swoony and kind of scary and dangerous. He kept me guessing. My biggest issue with the characters is Chloe’s parents. They are terrible! They don’t like anything about their daughter except for the fake parts, and they don’t trust her either.

3. The mystery aspect was interesting. Why can’t Chloe remember? Why is this new life of hers completely unrecognizable? Who are we supposed to trust? The climax was pretty exciting, and the mystery was finely woven into an exciting plot line. I was able to predict the ending, which was a little disappointing. The author left too many hints, in my opinion. There were some extra details I had not thought of, though, so that was a nice surprise.

I feel like this is a super short review, but at the same time my mystery reviews usually are. My focus is always on the plot. Who did it? Everything else takes a back seat. There was no world building in Six Months Later, and not a much character development because we were not allowed to know much about the characters for the sake of the mystery. I enjoyed it, though! It was a fun, quick, entertaining mystery and I would recommend it to those of you who are looking for just that!

4 Stars

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Book Review)

Posted July 11, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Book Review)Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 2, 2013
Pages: 262
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3.5 Stars

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."

Oooooo. I really love creepy mysteries, and I’ve been reading very few as of late. Anyone else noticed that plain old suspense, without paranormal or magical elements, is pretty rare in the YA book world? Or am I looking in the wrong places. Anyway, I was SO excited when I read this book’s summary. And it was a lot of creeptastic fun!As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. So, Sawyer is being stalked by some secret admirer who wants her complete and undivided attention. And honestly, I think she handles things really well… until this admirer starts framing her for all the tragic mishaps that have happened in town. She has no idea who this person is, who she can trust, where they will strike next, and how to stop them. This person sees her every move. This person has, unbeknownst to her, been in her house. She feels completely alone, with nobody to confide in. So she hides in fear, pretty much dealing with things internally. This situation would make anyone freak out, and she does. Not only is she secretly recovering from an abusive relationship and the death of a guy she loved once, she’s now being targeted by a psycho. As she tries to figure out what’s going on, flashbacks from her relationship with Kevin keep bubbling up in her mind. I was in an abusive relationship once, so I really identified with her. She knew she was worth more than she was being treated, but it was so hard to stand up for herself. And then he died. Everyone thought he was so amazing, and that they were an amazing couple. Everyone kept checking in on her and consoling her, all the while not knowing she was almost relieved to have escaped the violence from him. This girl has baggage, and I’m not sure I’d be able to handle everything the way she did. I’ve noticed a few reviewers mention that they really did not like Sawyer because she was weak, and lacked a little in good judgment. I didn’t feel that way at all. Sawyer gained strength as she dealt with all this, and I think she learned a lot about herself. Her weakness was believable, and sometimes it’s nice to see a heroine act human. 

2. Hannah Jayne’s story-building was so exciting. There were so many ups and downs as Sawyer received more and more cryptic notes and more “accidents” happened to the people she knew. I was glued to the pages!

3. I grew up reading mysteries, yet the ending of this book completely blindsided me. Usually I have a pretty good idea who the culprit is. I seriously had no clue things would wrap up this way. And I’m kind of unsure as to how I feel about it.

4. I think my biggest criticism is the fact that major elements of the book fell to the wayside in order to make room for the mystery. We get very little character analysis and development, and very little focus is made on Sawyer’s home life (her parents split, and the new woman lives with her and her dad… and she’s pregnant). Honestly, I can’t remember the names of anyone in this book and I actually had to look up Sawyer’s name before I started my review.

All in all, this book is a wonderful mystery. I enjoyed the suspense and the creepiness, so I was ok that the characters lacked memorable qualities. As a result, my review is rather short and vague, but that’s ok too. If you’re looking for a plain old, bare bones scare, this book is for you! It’s a quick read that will keep you up at night and make you jump 4 feet high when your cat pushes your bedroom door open and climbs in bed with you.

3.5 Stars

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Book Review)

Posted April 29, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Book Review)Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 1, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

Top Twenty Reasons He’s A Slimy Jerk Bastard

To help you get over your trainwreck of an EX, I’ve enclosed 20 envelopes. Each one has a reason why Sean is a jerk and not worth the dirt on your shoes. And each one has an instruction for you to do one un-Jessa-like thing a day. NO CHEATING!
Ciao! -- C"

When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie "The Boob Job" Stone three days before her drama club’s departure to Italy, she completely freaks.

Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend's care package and open her heart to new experiences. Enter cute Italian boy stage left.

Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar, it’s finally time to take a shot at being a star.

I was sold when I found out about Jessa’s coming-of-age journey through Italy! And that cover! I think I did what this cover girl is doing a lot while I was sightseeing across Europe. I just knew this was a book for me, and Kim Culbertson took me right back to Italy with this one! I loved it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Poor Jessa. I loved her because she was normal. She was cheated on, and she griped and complained and mourned the loss of what she had with her boyfriend. And who wouldn’t? I’ve seen reviewers complain that Jessa whines to much, and I say to you: “Have you ever been cheated on?” I have. By an idiot. And you get mad and sad, and yes–you whine. And you flip flop. “I love him, I hate him, I want him to die, I wonder how he’s doing, I miss him, I’m better off without him, Let’s see if I can run into him somewhere while looking hot, I never want to see him again…” I know you know what I mean. Jessa was human, and seriously… I’ve had weepy friends whine more than Jessa did. I loved watching her get through all these emotions! I’m not sure I could handle a trip to Italy after a bad break-up. I admired her for not letting her boyfriend ruin the opportunity to see Italy. And I loved watching her discover herself. I think that when we feel strong emotions, we come out with a better understanding of who we are and how we want to be. Jessa learned a lot, and she matured SO much during this 10-day trip.

2. Carissa, Jessa’s best friend, is… unique. I can’t say I liked her because I did not get to know much about her at all. And honestly, I don’t think she’s a very good friend all things considered. She wrote up 20 envelopes for Jessa to open during her trip. Each envelope had something sucky about Sean in it, followed by something totally out-of-character that Jessa had to do. I liked that Carissa pushed Jessa a bit, but I also felt like some of her instructions were way too catty and immature. As Jessa got further along through the healing process and came to grips with her situation, I felt more and more like Carissa’s silly envelopes needed to be thrown in the river.

3. Tyler and Dylan Thomas (named after the poet) were Jessa’s two male compatriots throughout the trip. They helped her cope, talked some sense into her when she needed it, and sat with her when she just needed to listen to her show tunes on her iPod. I liked them a lot. Both are just nice, nice guys.

4. Oh, Italy, my love. You can tell the author actually WENT to Italy. I get so annoyed when authors write about a place, and you can just TELL that they have never set foot even close to it. I’ve been to many of the places in this book, and Kim wrote them right. It made me really miss Italy, and want to go back and visit the places I didn’t make it to!

5. Obviously, the romance is minimal, but there’s a little glimmer of possibility that was sweet. 

6. This book had so many pretty quotes! I’m going to paste a part of my favorite quote below. It’s actually a huge quote, but I don’t want to ruin things by posting it all. So here’s my favorite piece. I love it because traveling does do this to a person. Traveling fills holes, heals you in so many ways, and sends you home with a much better understanding of yourself.

I get to take Italy home with me, the Italy that showed me you and the Italy that showed me—me—the Italy that wrote me my very own instructions for a broken heart. And I get to leave the other heart in a hole. We are over. I know this. But we are not blank. We were a beautiful building made of stone, crumbled now and covered in vines. But not blank. Not forgotten. We are a history. We are beauty out of ruins.

Really, there’s not a ton I can say about this book. It’s about a teenage girl who gets hurt, and then has to go on a dream trip to Italy with the person who hurt her. It’s about healing, forgiveness, self-discovery, and growing up. There’s a lot of scenery, a lot of theater references, a lot of introspection, and a lot of emotions. The plot was predictable in places, and some might feel like this subject matter has been done and overdone, but I ended up really enjoying it! The ending made the book for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves traveling, coming of age stories, and light contemporary, summery reads!

5 Stars

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (Book Review)

Posted September 14, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (Book Review)Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #2
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2012
Pages: 242
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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2 Stars

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

*NOTE: I read this book without reading its companion, Catching Jordan,  and was totally fine. There were no spoilers or confusing moments. Jordan and Sam do get mentioned, but it’s minimal.

I witnessed all the raving reviews for Miranda’s Catching Jordan, and was very excited to find this companion novel at ALA. I got to meet Miranda, who is extremely nice and fun to chat with. I wish I loved her book as much as I loved her, but that’s ok. I always worry that, after meeting an author, if I do not end up liking their book that it will make them feel like I did not like them. That’s totally not it. The author is great. I just did not like the book, and I’m really sad it turned out that way. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. It is brought up many times in this book that Parker is a good Christian girl. Religion is actually a very big theme in the book. Since I am also a good Christian girl, it bothered me how many times Parker went against her beliefs, and then got upset that her prayers were not being answered. She wasn’t even trying. And it’s not that I mind that she went against her beliefs. I totally get the whole “question your religion” thing. It happens a lot with everyone. It bothered me that she continually did it, though, and then got mad at others for her choices. I’m not going to go deeper into this point, just because I don’t want to spawn a religious discussion or anything.

2. I didn’t like Parker very much. Of course, a part of that is because of my first point, but I also because she came off as being a broken individual with no real desire to put the effort into piecing herself back together. There was a lot of moping and continuous bad decisions that ended up making her feel worse about herself. PLUS to compensate for her mother becoming a lesbian, Parker has decided to create a reputation for herself that marks her as a slut who “hooks up” with everyone. She’s not a strong character, and she’s not even one that young girls can look up to.

3. Brian, the assistant coach that Parker has a thing for, is completely unlikeable. I get that he’s attractive, and that getting attention for an older man is appealing and exciting. But he’s going against school rules to be with Parker, plus he is walking a very thin line legally as well. And for nothing. He’s totally using her, and she’s totally letting him. You can tell that very early on, so don’t worry. I haven’t spoiled anything. Really, this whole storyline just bugged me. I understand that age does not always matter, but when you’re dealing with the LAW and you’ve got an adult and a minor, it’s just not something I enjoy reading about.

4. I liked the supporting characters on the baseball team, and her best friend Drew. Corndog/Will (the third side in this semi love triangle) is really sweet I absolutely loved him from the very beginning.

5. I appreciated that this book tackled some heavy issues, like homosexuality. I enjoyed watching Parker and her family go through the healing process, and I really liked Parker’s mom.

6. This book is too graphic for younger readers. There were some pretty steamy scenes that I wish had been watered down more. (I mean, we read about specific body parts and descriptions of what those body parts are up to.)

Overall, the elements of this story just did not gel with me. There were so many names and things going on all over the place. I didn’t really like either of the main characters, and the supporting ones were not given a ton of attention. When all was said and done, I wasn’t even very satisfied with the ending. It was very anti-climactic. I wanted to love this one a lot. I really did. I’m still intrigued by all the hype surrounding Catching Jordan, so hopefully I enjoy that one more. :)

2 Stars