Two-Week Hiatus

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to let you all know that the blog is going to be very quiet for the next two weeks. I'm headed off to Book Expo America next week and since it'll be my first time not only at the expo but also in New York City, I'm making a vacation of it. I've decided that I don't want to stress about writing posts and making sure they get up and get promoted, I'd much rather just enjoy my time away. I've decided to extend it to go a little beyond my return from NYC so that I have a chance to get caught up. Since school ended there has been a large time-suck in my life called my first full-time job which has prevented me from getting ahead in reviews, so that's what I'm going to try to use the second week off for.

You can probably expect posts to resume around the second week of June (probably on Monday the 10th). In case you missed them, though, I have two exciting giveaways that will continue to run while I'm New York:
Interview with Katie McGarry & win a signed finished copy of Dare You To (US/Can).
Interview with Jennifer Castle & win a signed ARC of You Look Different in Real Life (US/Can).

Thank you all for understanding, you guys are absolutely the best :) See you again after! Hopefully I can pick up some exciting titles to share with you all. Have a great two weeks, everyone!


Review: Showtime by Chloe Kayne

Showtime by Chloe Kayne.

Published: September 20, 2012.
Source: Received e-copy from author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Goodreads Blurb:
The grandeur of the traveling circus is at its peak in the early 1920s when sixteen-year-old Laila Vilonia is searching for an escape from her bleak future. Behind the gates of the legendary Marvelle Circus, she is thrust into a mysterious world she never knew existed—a paradise populated with outcasts. It’s in this glamorous new home that Laila sparks a controversial romance with notorious sideshow performer, "The Disappearing Man," and learns just how dangerous her new life can be.

Touring the picturesque eastern coast of America, Laila’s immersed in friendship, vaudeville, festivals, sequins, and serial killers. But behind the curtain, a sadistic plan is brewing that will crack the very foundation upon which she’s become so dependent.

I was really intrigued by the idea of this one so when Chloe Kayne offered to send me a copy for review I was very excited. While I think this book has a lot to offer, I don't think it was right for me. There were different aspects of the novel that didn't work for me, however I don't think they made it a bad book. Just personal preference on this one. I truly this the story presented here could potentially appeal to a lot of readers, I'm just the wrong one.

Laila Vilonia begins her life at the circus very quickly, throwing readers right into what is a fairly quick paced story which is great for keeping the plot from lulling. She spends some time finishing school on the circus grounds along with her roommates, who become good friends of hers. I enjoyed having them around because Laila worried constantly about the troubled mother she abandoned for the circus and having these friends around gave me hope that she would find a new, healthier family. When she finally gets the opportunity to participate in the circus' shows, I felt the story gained more direction, which was great. However I also noticed a little more inconsistency once this part began because one day Laila was pretty terrible in her new role, but the next she had improved drastically. While impressive, I found it a bit too unrealistic to really get into it. It wasn't a huge deal though because there was a lot of drama going on in the plot to keep the reader's attention. This was kind of hit and miss for me, but I did like that it lent the plot some direction, the lack of which seemed to be an issue that cropped up occasionally for me.

As for the girl at the center of the story herself, I found myself often torn on the character of Laila. There were times I enjoyed her sense of humor and her interactions with her new circus friends, but there were other times I felt she was really rude and closed off to anyone outside her small group. This being despite her hating the way everyone treats the circus-pariah-turned-Laila's-bf, Dex (who actually has a reason to be disliked). She defends him to no end without even understanding why the rest of the circus dislikes him, yet takes quite the attitude with other performers for no real reason. That was a little frustrating to me. I can see, though, how that can happen with a teenage girl, so it may not get the same reaction out of other readers.

On the topic of Dex... Oh, Dex. I feel like a lot of readers will fall in love with Dex. He is mysterious and brooding and apparently very handsome, even winning Laila's affections over her friend James (who almost every other girl in the circus seems to lust after) and a few other guys. He is set up as the dark hottie that is a fan favourite in paranormal novels, so I think he has the potential to be a popular love interest for readers. I personally just didn't understand the fascination with him. I am almost never the one that goes for the troubled and/or bad boys. In Brodi Ashton's Everneath series, I like Jack over Cole. In Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, I like Adam over Warner. I'm a sucker for the good-boy-next-door. So I just didn't fall for Dex like I didn't fall for Cole or Warner. I also didn't understand where Laila's obsession with him came from; I wanted more development in that aspect. I was not intrigued in him like she was because I didn't see where she got it, however I don't doubt that there are many people who will be intrigued and would swoon for Dex!

One of the things I noticed that I wasn't crazy about is how this book is set in the early 1920s (even says so in the blurb), yet I didn't feel much of the historical setting come through at all. I was disappointed by this as I am a huge lover of history and was hoping to have that as part of the setting. I do think, though, that that is something that non-history lovers won't notice and may even actually appreciate, as I know that some people feel that history can get in the way of or bog down the story. It doesn't in this case, so many of you may actually enjoy that. I also noticed that Chloe Kayne has a way with words and some sections of the book I enjoyed purely for her writing, but I think a good editor would have made that truly shine throughout the novel as there were words misused or out of place, and some unnecessary repetition.

All in all, this was not a bad book. It had an interesting story and a lot of drama. I just wasn't a big fan of the characters and felt like some aspects were missing. These things were largely subjective, though, so though it wasn't for me, I'm sure there are others who would enjoy it more!
2 stars.


Sophomore Spotlight: Jennifer Castle

I'm so excited to welcome Jennifer Castle to the blog as part of Sophomore Spotlight! She is here with lots to say about her sophomore novel, You Look Different in Real Life!

To be published June 4th, 2013
by HarperTeen.

Goodreads Blurb:
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.

This one sounds really unique and I'm definitely looking forward to getting my hands on a copy! Jennifer was kind enough to answer some questions about the book and her process.

Welcome, Jennifer! Thank you so much for taking part in my Sophomore Spotlight feature! Describe your sophomore novel, YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE, in 5 words or less.
J: Justine and friends re-see themselves.

Where did the idea for it come from?

J: After working on "The Beginning of After" for so long, I wanted to get away from the themes of loss and grief and into more of a mix of fun-meets-serious. I've always been a big fan of documentary films, perhaps for the same reason why I love writing contemporary YA fiction: sometimes there's nothing more fascinating than real life. Then I often wonder about the people in these documentaries and even on reality TV, and how the experience of living on camera, even for a short time, changes them. One of my favorite documentaries is the "Up" series of films by director Michael Apted. He started by interviewing a group of 7-year-olds in England in 1964, and has checked in on their lives every 7 years, with the most recent being "56 Up." So I borrowed that premise; it just seemed like such a juicy setup that would let me create some interesting characters and explore their relationships.

That sounds great! I love that idea and that's definitely an interesting place to find inspiration. 

How did the journey for this book differ from that for your debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER?
J: YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE is the second book in a two-book deal I was offered with THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, so it was very strange to be writing a manuscript, knowing it was going to be published. That changed everything in good ways ("Cool! Someone will actually be reading this!") and not-so-good ways ("Holy Crap! Someone will actually be reading this!"). The other big difference was that I took six years to write THE BEGINNING OF AFTER and I wrote this book much more quickly; I had a deadline and an editor waiting to see it. At first, I kind of freaked out to be writing so fast. I didn't think I was capable. But it turns out I was, and the schedule forced me to dive straight into the core of the story and stay there without getting distracted. It made me a better, more disciplined, more focused writer. So, yay for forced growth!

Well hey, forced growth still counts as growth, right?

What made you want to stick with contemporary for your sophomore novel?
J: There's a lot I don't know about myself, but one thing I do know, fortunately, is that contemporary is my passion, my strength, my THING. I love writing it and always will.

Are you interested in exploring a different genre in the future?

J: I don't know if magical realism is considered a full genre, but I would love to explore that. It seems like a good balance between fantasy and contemporary that I could pull off. I'd also love to write historical fiction...but I'm wimpy about the amount of research and period-clothing description that requires!

Ooh, magic realism could be very interesting! And I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and can only imagine the hours of research those novels take. I think it'd be exhausting!

Can you share a favourite quote from YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE? 
J: "I'm not sure how much I changed at all. There was just the version of me I created to show the world, and the version of me that felt like me...and I can't tell where they overlap."
(I won't say who that's from, since it's kind of a spoiler...Mwahaha!)

Ahh, you're such a tease! One of those "you have to read it to know more" things. Well done ;)
Do you listen to music while you write/edit? If so, can you share one song you listened to a lot while working on YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE?
J: I don't listen to music while I'm actually butt-in-chair, word-count-accumulation writing, but music plays a huge part in my overall process. I'll continuously form a playlist while I'm drafting and editing, and listen to it in the car, on walks, cleaning the house, or whenever else I want to be brainstorming about the story. The one song I practically had on a loop during this book was "Heroes" by David Bowie. It just felt like such an anthem for Justine, Felix, Nate, Rory, and Keira. So powerful and hopeful, but also full of doubt and angst. Epic Reads asked me to share my playlist in more detail, and you can check it out here:

Very cool! You happen to have a few of my favourites on there!

Are there any other sophomore releases you've either loved or are looking forward to?
J: My friend Louise Rozett is due out with CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST-GIRLFRIEND, the sequel to her debut CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL, and I can't wait to read it. I love her sense of humor and the character of Rose Zarelli.

Can you share anything about your next project?

J: Both THE BEGINNING OF AFTER and YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE have romantic secondary storylines. I enjoyed every minute of writing those elements. So the book I'm working on now aims to be a slay-you-dead-with-swoon straight-out romance. I want to make all sorts of hotness and recreate for readers that feeling of truly falling in love...and all the fun and not-so-fun bonuses that come after.

Oh, my... that sounds quite appealing! I'll be watching for that for sure. Thank you again, Jennifer. I think there is a lot to look forward to from you!

Jennifer has kindly offered to send a signed ARC to one lucky US/Can reader!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Jennifer nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Waiting on Wednesday #29: In the After

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
In the After by Demitria Lunetta.

Expected Publication: June 25, 2013.
by HarperTeen.

Goodreads Summary:
They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Why I'm Excited:
Confession: I am not over the whole post-apocalyptic trend. Not at all. So this one sounds so cool to me. And I was lucky enough to win a copy from a round of trivia at my local book club, so I'm very excited to dive in!

What are you waiting on this week?


BEA Grabby Hands (Or Ten Must Get Titles)

For the first time this year I will be attending Book Expo America. While I like to think of myself as a person who is able to exercise restraint, let's be honest. My friend Kathy of A Glass of Wine described this event to me as "book mecca." I can say with confidence that I will be totally overwhelmed and will be picking up plenty of books. However, I have made a promise to myself to be harsh with myself and totally underestimate my abilities to get through these books with the hope that it will make me a smarter BEA-goer.  That said, there are a few books that I do not want to leave the Javits Center without.

Autographing Area Books:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion.
After discovering a true love in Code Name Verity (my review here), I must get my hands on this novel. Elizabeth has also been so kind and wonderful to talk to in all my interactions with her, and I've heard that Rose Under Fire might do just as much damage to my heart as Verity did. Whatever it takes, I will be in this line.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake.
Publisher: Tor Teen.
I'm a huge sucker for mythology of any kind, so I am wildly excited for this one. The Greek Gods... falling? Dying? I'm so excited to see where she takes this idea!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab.
Publisher: Tor.
If you really need me to explain this one to you, you need to go look up the synopsis and all of the awesomeness that V.E. Schwab has tweeted and blogged and talked about regarding this book. Seriously, I can't not be excited. 

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young.
Publisher: Simon Pulse.
This is a story idea that has been cropping up a bit lately with books like Kasie West's Pivot Point, which I haven't had a chance to read yet, but I love the idea so I definitely want to give this a try!

Galley Drops or In-Booth Signings:

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins.
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
I have read and loved every single one of Ellen Hopkins' YA books. Every. Single. One. I will claw my way to this book (not actually... I'm way too shy and polite for that - I am Canadian, after all. But you know what I'm saying).

The Extra by Kathryn Lasky.
Publisher: Candlewick.
I did a whole month on the blog dedicated to historical fiction, so clearly that is a love of mine. This is on my must-get list, though, because it focuses not only on one of my favourite time periods from a historian point of view, World War II, but also on a perspective I personally have never considered or studied before, so I am so excited to be exposed to something new in the time period I love to read about.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.
Publisher: Scholastic Press.
While I wasn't totally in love with The Raven Boys (review), to which this is the sequel, I did still enjoy it and am curious enough about the stories and the characters that I definitely want to read this one!

Publisher: Viking Juvenile.
This one sounds so intriguing! I am so curious and excited and kind of out of words, actually. This one just seems like it could be so cool! Definitely want to try to get in  her line! 

Proxy by Alex London.
Publisher: Philomel.
I don't remember where I heard that this one was going to be at BEA but I really hope I heard right! (Update... it was Kirkus. They best not be lying to me about this). The June release date has me skeptical, but maybe they'll have finished copies, or leftover ARCs? I don't know, but I want to see it! Fiona Paul, who wrote a personal favourite of mine, Venom, loved this one so I'm hoping I can grab a copy and maybe love it as well!

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill.
Publisher: Disney Hyperion.
Despite the fact that this is the UK cover (rats), I'm totally excited for this one. The concept sounds amazing and with great execution this could be such an original story. Technically this one should be in the "autographing" section of this post but I'm fairly sure I won't make her signing, unfortunately. Fingers crossed for a drop at the Disney booth!

Honourable mentions:
This is W.A.R by Lisa & Laura Roecker, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, How To Love by Katie Cotugno, Bang by Lisa McMann, Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston, Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles. 

Are you going to BEA this year? Any of these titles you're excited about?


Sophomore Spotlight: Katie McGarry

I'm excited to introduce a brand new feature here on Read My Breath Away called "Sophomore Spotlight" where I plan on sharing info about exciting sophomore releases from authors you may already know and love.

I have a wonderful guest today to help me kick off this feature: Katie McGarry!

I'm sure many of you know Katie McGarry for her incredible debut novel, Pushing the Limits (for which I wrote a 5 star review here), but today we're talking about her follow-up companion novel, Dare You To.

To be published May 28, 2013
by Harlequin Teen

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

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

"I dare you..."

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

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

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

I can't wait to read this one! Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about Dare You To to help everyone get even more excited.

Welcome, Katie! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. To start off, describe your sophomore novel, DARE YOU TO, in 5 words or less.
K: Intense, romantic, gritty, hot, swoon-worthy!

I like the sound of that!
What made you want to share Beth's story with readers?
K: There’s a scene in PUSHING THE LIMITS where Noah walks into his foster parents’ house and finds Beth bleeding. Her mother’s boyfriend abused Beth when she tried to spend time with her Mom on her Mom’s birthday.
Beth was such a broken character in that scene, yet she was trying to be brave. It’s then that I knew there was so much more to her than the front she puts on for the world.
I knew then that Beth would be my next story.

Beth definitely interested me in PTL so I'm really looking forward to getting to know her better.
How did the journey for DARE YOU TO differ from that for your debut, PUSHING THE LIMITS?
K: The biggest difference in writing DARE YOU TO is that I had an editor to bounce ideas around with while I was writing the story. She was always there to help me if I found myself having a plot problem!

What is the best part of already having a book out in the world?
K: It’s cool to walk into a store and see PUSHING THE LIMITS on the shelf. I still have to pinch myself because I have a hard time believing it.

Can you share a favourite quote from DARE YOU TO?
K: “It’s our rain, Beth.” ~ Ryan

Aww! I can already tell that I'm going to love Ryan.
I am going to be mean and make you pick: Noah, Ryan, or Isaiah?
K: That’s like asking which of my children I love more. :)
I loved writing Noah’s intense love for his brothers and Echo.
I loved writing the poet that is Ryan.
I loved writing Isaiah’s loyalty and his need to protect the people he loves.
Sorry, can’t pick!

Okay, I guess that's fair :) It wasn't very nice of me to ask in the first place, was it?
What is the last book you read?
K: Just reread Trish Doller’s SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL. I just love that book!

Can you share anything about your next project, CRASH INTO YOU?
K: Expect some fast drag racing and hot kissing scenes!

Ooh, you have me excited for it already! Thanks again, Katie!

You should all be excited about Dare You To, especially if you loved Pushing the Limits! You can also find all things Katie McGarry, including info about a companion e-novella to PTL, Crossing the Line, on her website!

Thanks to Katie's generosity, I have one signed copy of Dare You To (with an awesome Pushing the Limits bookmark included) to give away to one US/Can follower!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Katie nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Five Summers by Una LaMarche.

To Be Published: May 16, 2013 (USA). May 21, 2013 (Canada).
Published by: Razorbill.
Source: Received ARC from Cuddlebuggery's Little Blogger, Big Ambitions program. Thanks, Steph!

Goodreads Blurb:
Four best friends, five summers of camp memories. 

The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring...
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth...
The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle...
The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar...
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart. 

Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance. Bittersweet, funny, and achingly honest, Five Summers is a story of friendship, love, and growing up that is perfect for fans of Anne Brashares and Judy Blume's Summer Sisters.

My Review:

I'm going to be honest here. It has been a little while now since I've read an honest-to-goodness contemporary novel that I've truly enjoyed. The last one that comes to mind is PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry. That was forever ago! I really hoped that this would be the one that broke that long dry spell for me because this one is different. This is not a "girl-meets-boy and they fall in love, awwww" kind of book. While those can absolutely be fantastic, they seem to be what have pushed me away from contemporary recently. But FIVE SUMMERS has brought me back. This is the contemporary novel that, while not perfect, has me interested in reading true contemporary again, which I think is a fantastic accomplishment.

This is primarily a story about friendship and how much it can change over the years, made clear by the reunion that brings four camp friends back together after years of not seeing each other. It rotated in point of view between the four girls as well as switching between "present day" (the reunion) and each of their previous summers together at camp while also incorporating the friendship "rules" they developed over these past summers. I think getting all these different perspectives really helped to not only develop each of the girls into someone I really understood, but also truly showed how their bond developed and why it was so important for them to try to find that again. I'll admit that it threw me off a bit at first but in the long run was completely worth it because I connected with the story so much more.

I found that for most of the novel I was really invested in three of the four girls. I connected most with Emma because I felt like I really knew what she was going through. It's possible that she is just most like me, or maybe I saw something in her that I latched onto, but she really became my favourite character, despite her occasional faults (which they all have because they are REAL girls. Loved that). I also found that I really felt for Jo and for Maddie, for their individual struggles and for their troubled connection to one another. The tension that came up between them was almost frustrating for me because I felt like I knew them both so well that I could have easily stepped in and fixed things between them. That's the kind of frustration that I don't mind in a book, though, because I really felt like I understood them both.

The only one of the girls I felt I didn't really like until the end was Skylar. For a large part of the book she drove me nuts, and the issue that arises between her and Emma over a boy at the camp named Adam did not help her case at all, in my eyes. (Note: Please do not write this book off because that sentence screams "love triangle". It is so much more than what that stereotype suggests). I didn't like the way Skylar handled it and it made me very frustrated (the not-good kind) with her. However, and I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much, Skylar and her chapters really helped me to see another side of Adam and helped me realize that yes, Skylar has done things wrong, but maybe I was in fact wrong about her. For a while Adam is romanticized because he is only seen through Emma's eyes, so I attached to her view of him. Skylar showed me that there truly are two sides, even three sides, to every story and my discounting her from the start actually helped me grow, which I thought was pretty amazing. While Emma remains my favourite after finishing the book, I can't discount the way that Skylar changed my perspective and showed me a whole other side to the story being told. I loved that there were so many layers to the girls and to the story; everything felt very genuine. And the ending in the ARC, without giving anything away, was perfect to me. I truly hope that it's not changed in the final copy because I think it was the best conclusion possible for that story.

My only issues with the book were fairly minor ones. Some of the sentences used seemed overly long, a little rambling, and hard to follow, but it's possible they were adjusted for the final copy since I am reviewing an ARC. I also found that while I did learn a lot about the four girls, it came with a fair amount of "telling" rather than "showing." However, I noticed this less and less as the story went on so that by the end it wasn't something that had me concerned any more. Just something I picked up on in around the first third of the book, for the most part. These didn't really seem to detract from my enjoyment of the book once I got into it, so I'd say don't let these things stop you from giving this one a shot. In my opinion, it's definitely worth it.

For a story about friendships made and broken, having to recognize and own up to mistakes, and a true "I wish it were summer" read, absolutely pick up FIVE SUMMERS. It surprised me how much I truly enjoyed it and how much it impacted me, and I will now stop shying away from contemporary thanks to this one. It reminded me that I don't always have to escape to a fairy tale world or to the past for an honest story that I can love; there is opportunity for depth and true enjoyment in everyday life.
4.5 stars!


Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

Series: The Raven Cycle #1.
Published: September 12, 2012.
Published by: Scholastic Press
Source: Won from Young Adult Book Reviews. Thank you!

Goodreads Blurb:
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

My Review:

I have to admit, it really took me a while to connect with this novel. I was interested from the very beginning but I wasn't loving it. I'm not entirely sure why, to be honest, but it's possible I had just set my expectations too high. I absolutely loved The Scorpio Races when I read it last year and hoped that I would love this one just the same. I wish I could say that I did love it, but I did at least enjoy it.

I think part of the reason I didn't totally connect was the whole magic aspect. I thought it was a really cool idea, but the way it sat on the cusp of paranormal from Blue's end and magical from Gansey's end just didn't seem to sit quite right in my mind. It almost felt like there was a disconnect between the two that threw me off. Not that I didn't enjoy it or that it didn't interest me, it just didn't enchant me the way the not-quite-real aspects of The Scorpio Races did. I also felt myself waiting to understand Blue's fortune and how it would come to pass, which meant I liked the idea but just wanted it to develop already!

I will say that I really enjoyed the shifting perspectives. While it may have been part of the reason I didn't really connect (because it meant I formed no strong bond to any one character in particular... okay, not entirely true, I did love Adam, one of Gansey's "boys"), it worked well for the plot. There were just so many people involved that it was great to get not only different ideas of the situation but also of the other characters. It really helped to better understand where everyone was coming from, especially because of the way I saw the characters hiding things from one another. There was definitely an interesting dynamic going on, and connections between people that I didn't see until they were plainly revealed, so that was interesting to follow.

Overall, I had gone in with expectations that the book couldn't meet and a brain that didn't want to connect the two otherworldly ideas together. I did, however, find it a very interesting novel and thought the way the characters were presented and revealed definitely kept me reading. I will check out the sequel because I'm curious to see where it goes next and if certain characters can keep themselves together.
3 stars.


Waiting on Wednesday #28: Dare You To

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Dare You To by Katie McGarry.

Expected Publication: May 28, 2013
by Harlequin Teen.

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

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

"I dare you..."

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

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

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

Why I'm Excited:
Pushing the Limits was probably my favourite contemporary of last year and really took me by surprise. I'm so looking forward to hearing Beth's story and apparently Ryan is quite the hottie!

What are you waiting on this week?


Promo and Excerpt: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

If you haven't checked out this book yet, read on for an excerpt that may just get you on board!

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood. She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains. Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince. Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night. Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?


I’d been meandering along the shore for about an hour when I suddenly sensed that I wasn’t alone. Someone was approaching me from behind. My heart leapt. I was so sure it was Ben, that when a stranger showed up beside me, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.
He must have noticed, because a smirk formed on his lips. “Were you expecting someone else, love?”
I eyed him suspiciously, remembering how many times my father had told me not to talk to strangers. I looked him over, taking in his appearance. My eyes widened. I couldn’t find words to describe how fine a man he was. He was almost beautiful. The first thing I took notice of was how his blue eyes were about three shades brighter than any I’d ever seen before. It was such a stark contrast to his pale – almost white – skin and dark hair. Standing beside me, he was easily more than half a foot taller. His height, broad shoulders and lean build reminded me of Ben, but he had a presence that was far more imposing than my best friend’s.
My gaze settled on his face.
I realized that he was inspecting me just as closely as I was him. His eyes on me suddenly made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I gave my father’s advice a second thought, but quickly canceled out all notions of heeding to his counsel when I reminded myself that he stopped caring a long time ago.
I straightened to my full height and mustered all the courage I had to keep myself from running away from this stranger.
Big mistake.
The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment.
“Like what you see?”
“A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?” I scoffed, annoyed by his audacity.
He stepped forward, closer to me, and leaned his head toward mine.
“Don’t I have the right to be?”
He knew he looked good and wasn’t about to act like he didn’t.
“Whatever,” was my oh-so-brilliant comeback.
My shoulders sagged with defeat as I took a step back, unsettled by how close he was now. I rolled my eyes and did a one-eighty, not quite in the mood to play whatever game this stranger was proposing.
I would soon realize that I was about to play his game whether I liked it or not.
He grabbed my arm and turned my body to face him. This motion alone made every single internal alarm I had within me go off in a frenzy.
This man was danger and I knew it. I tried to wriggle away from his touch, but I was no match for his strength.
“Tell me your name,” he commanded.
I was about to refuse, but was horrified to find myself blurting out my name in response.
“Sofia Claremont.”
As soon as I revealed my name, his eyes lit up with a kind of sinister approval. Then he reached for my face and traced his thumb over my jaw line.
“Hello, Sofia Claremont. You’re one stupid girl for taking a walk alone at this time of night. You never know what kind of evil a pretty little thing like you could happen to come by.”
I found myself wondering exactly what kind of evil he was. But I was suddenly overcome by the sensations that were surrounding me. My senses took in everything at once. I heard the waves, felt the sand, smelled the ocean salt, tasted the flavor of cherry and saw the stranger’s manic appearance as he stuck a needle to my neck. The effect was instant. I was barely able to gasp, much less scream. I went from sensing everything to sensing absolutely nothing.
My last conscious thought was that I may never see Ben again.

You can also get an exclusive FREE “sneak preview” of the first 6 chapters by clicking here!: http://forrestbooks.com/sneakpeek.html
(Make sure you check it out now because this preview will not be available for long).


Buy A Shade of Vampire...



Add A Shade of Vampire to your Goodreads shelf: 

Author Website: www.bellaforrest.net


Blog Tour Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Today I am thrilled to be part of the Maid of Secrets blog tour, hosted by Sel of Bookcase to Heaven, with my review of the novel and a spotlight.

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.

To Be Published: May 7, 2013.
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Received e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss for the tour.

Goodreads Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril. 

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

My Review:
I was very excited to be accepted for this blog tour because this novel seemed to encompass some of my absolute favourite things in novels: historical setting, royalty, and spies. All three are winners for me, and may I just say: check, check, and check! This one totally delivered and I am a big fan!

In many ways this was a novel about characters, which I thought was used very powerfully. One aspect I really loved was Meg's connection to her troupe and how it wasn't cut off when she was brought into the castle. Instead, Meg's constant comparisons of palace life to troupe life and the surprise visits along the way help to strengthen the understanding of Meg's past and show just how strong her bond to the group she grew up with really is. I think that was really excellent for helping develop Meg as a character. I also just grew to like Meg because of who she is. She is clever and observant but not perfect, which was fantastic to see because it really showed how she was a product of her upbringing. It tied in her background with the girl she became perfectly.

I also loved how prominent the other characters became as the story went on. It wasn't only Meg's story being told, she was just at the centre. I thought it was brilliant to have the other characters each be somewhat mysterious in their own way. I had suspicions about so many of them, but they seemed to be changing constantly as I discovered more about each person. Rafe is a prime example of that as I never knew whether I (or Meg) should trust him or not! I was also so glad to see the other Maids of Honor playing important roles as it is a great set up for the rest of the series. Finally, the portrayal of Elizabeth was absolutely wonderful. There was so much depth to her character and seeing as she is the monarch and the reason all the girls are there as maids/spies, I was so pleased to see so much of her as more than just "the boss" or "the queen".

The writing is also something I want to comment on. Ms. McGowan makes great use of lines that bring you in and make you extremely curious about what's coming, which is a huge asset to a longer book (400+ pages). She really manages to bring things to life, which kept excitement up. While I did occasionally wish the story had moved faster, I do think that the depth helped me really get to know the characters and feel for Meg in particular. I also noticed that there was a sense of exploration that ran throughout the novel and I definitely loved it. Exploring the castle, the court, the mysteries, the men, and even the girls themselves. It added to the sense of wonder and the interest that often comes with historical fiction, while also providing great growth and movement.

In all, this was a fabulous debut that leaves me very excited for the next novel so I can get more of the wonderfully mysterious characters and the excitement that comes with being a Maid of Honor!
4 stars!

Author Bio via Goodreads:
Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Age: Royal Secret
Came From: A small town in northern Ohio
Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon (& Schuster).
Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway while you're here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


May Clean Sweep ARC Challenge

This month I have decided to take part in the Clean Sweep ARC Challenge, hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Windy Pages. I feel like with my Into the Archives April feature taking up all of last month I need to sit and prioritize what comes next, and for this month I have made ARCs that priority. I'm going to try to get through as many as I can by the end of the month, but here's a look at the books I'm hoping to read:

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Release Date: May 7th
Done Reading 
Review goes up on Monday for the Blog Tour!

Five Summers by Una LaMarche
Release Date: May 16th
Currently Reading

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker
Release Date: May 28th

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Release Date: June 4th

The Loop by Shandy Lawson
Release Date: April 30th

Mind Games by Kiersten White
Release Date: February 19th
For Book Club!

Now, I do have more I could try to get through, but I just started working full time for the summer, which cut back on my reading time so I'll be lucky to complete all of these plus the three finished copies I MUST READ before I head off to BEA at the end of the month! But more on that later.
Hopefully I'll be able to get through these and clean up my shelf a bit. Wish me luck!


Review: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Poison by Bridget Zinn.

Published March 12, 2013.
Published by Disney Hyperion.
Source: ARC from publisher via Ottawa Blogger Meet-up. Thank you to Disney Hyperion and to Kathy at A Glass of Wine!

Goodreads Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

My Review:

I was really looking forward to reading Poison simply because it looked so darn adorable! I loved the sound of it and needed something fun as a break from all the dystopian/apocalyptic novels I was reading!

It definitely lived up to my expectations in terms of how fun and cute it was. I thought it was a great story for a fairy-tale, with a heroine on the run meeting a very cute boy who comes along for the ride. Kyra was overall fairly likeable, although sometimes I felt like she got distracted by Fred too easily and let him tear her away from her mission. She just wasn't all that consistent, unfortunately. Even though their scenes together were often funny, she was too willing to just hang out and be buddies with him when I thought she had serious kingdom-saving business! It also seemed to me like a fair number of the characters felt quite stereotypical, which I guess isn't so bad if you look at it like a fairy tale. Out of all the characters though, Rosie the pig and Fred's wolf companion were my favourites. They were adorable and I loved how Rosie influenced the scenes she was in. Honestly, I want a little Rosie. She was pretty much the best part of the book for me.

The journey was fun to follow, with all its twists and adventures, though I wish they had been explored in more depth. There were villains to bargain with, mysteries to solve, and poisons to use, which I did enjoy. In the end the way the story came together was fun, but very light. A lot of things, including Kyra's romance with Fred and the origin of the whole princess problem, felt like they were just being skimmed. There just wasn't a lot of depth to this book, which can work in some circumstances. I just think I went in with expectations that were a little too high. While I found it cute, it was a bit more fluffy than I had wanted. If you're looking for something fast-paced and fun, this is a good choice, but don't expect too much depth from it.

Overall this was an adorable fairy-tale like novel with interesting character types (that I only wish had been used to their full potential), potions galore, and the cutest pets around! However, I was a little let down by how quickly everything went by, with some parts feeling simply glossed over. I also wouldn't recommend this for a big fantasy lover, as it didn't feel as... epic, I guess is the word... as so many other fantasies are.
3 stars.


Waiting on Wednesday #27: Chantress

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield.

Expected Publication: May 7, 2013
by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Goodreads Blurb:
Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Why I'm excited: Go read that blurb again. This book seems to have everything! How could you not be intrigued by this one? Less than a week to go!

What are you waiting on this week?