Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: Forevermore by Cindy Miles

Title: Forevermore
Author: Cindy Miles

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Point

Length: 288 pages
Original Publishing Date: June 25th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"On a misty cliffside, mystery and romance await. . . .

Ivy Calhoun's life has been turned upside down. Her new stepdad has uprooted Ivy and her mom, bringing them to live in an actual castle in the misty Scottish countryside. There are stone-faced servants and shadowy corridors, and the ancient walls seem full of secrets. Ivy is at once frightened and intrigued.

Especially when she meets Logan, a gorgeous, elusive ghost who has haunted the castle grounds for decades. Ivy is immediately drawn to him . . . but Logan is not the only spirit around. Something dark and deadly is afoot, and soon Ivy finds herself in mortal danger.

Is Logan exactly what he seems? Could his mysterious past be tied to Ivy's present? And can Ivy stop herself from falling in love with him?"

Main characters: 3/5

Ivy was pretty rad. She's a violin prodigy who loves 80s punk and has pink hair. And she had a really good head on her shoulders. The cool thing about Ivy is that I found myself picturing myself in her footsteps a lot, mostly for the way she interpreted the situations she was put in. I wish there had been a little bit more background/complexity to Ivy.

Secondary characters: 3/5

In contrast to Ivy's level-headedness, Logan was good-hearted but didn't know how to interact with Ivy at first. I didn't get a lot of insight or depth about Logan other than the fact that he was a musician too (he played the flute). It would have been cool to learn more about Logan. Niall and Ivy's mom get a little bit of a backseat in this novel, which is disappointing. They're actually some cool parents and I like how we learn more about Niall and see him develop as a new stepfather. Ivy's friend Emma was spunky and fun. The speed with which Ivy made friends with her was a little quick, especially given her earlier characterization.There was actually a pretty big cast of secondary characters for a pretty quick and easy to read book. Most of them were fairly well developed but a few could have used a little bit more time (the twins, the Munro family, etc.)

Writing style: 4/5

Miles has a way with illustrating the Scottish landscape incredibly well. Her descriptions aren't too dense and are easy to read but the visual illustrations are fantastic. I could imagine everything in my head which is so important to me as a reader. The pacing was also pretty darn impeccable. Right as I started to get tired of any one given scene, we moved right along.

Plot: 3.5/5
I adored the Scottish setting and especially how Miles used the setting so centrally in the plot. The plot/conflict itself had a lot of elements that I'd never seen before. Some of the plot itself wasn't explained quite to the fullest extent however so I was left with some question marks. Other things were explained at the very end which felt like an information dump.

Ending: 2.5/5

A little bit cheesy for my tastes but I liked the place that all the characters ended in and the final scene was pretty cool too. In a dream world, there would have been a bit more complexity to the ending as well.

Best scene: Any of the beginning scenes where Logan and Ivy first interact

Positives: Ivy and her awesome hair/violin/punk, cool plot elements, Scotland, writing style

Negatives: Underdeveloped and large secondary cast of characters, some cheesy parts, the end

Cover: Not exactly my taste, but I like that we get a good look at our main characters and the castle is pretty.

Verdict: Entertaining and light, Forevermore had a notable main character, setting and some cool plot points. 

Rating: 6.4/10 (4 stars)

What I Was Listening To: 
I think I found out about Ron Pope in high school and this is one of the first songs I heard. It's absolutely gorgeous and everyone should listen!

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Deeper by Blue Ashcroft

Title: Deeper
Author: Blue Ashcroft

Genre: NA Contemporary
Publisher: Blue Ashcroft

Length: 172 pages
Original Publishing Date: August 3rd, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Rain Wilson isn’t ever going to love again.

It’s a promise she made the day her boyfriend died in a water park accident, one she still blames herself for. Now she’s a senior lifeguard in a new town with a new pool and she’s just going to keep her head down and everyone safe.

Until a mysterious guy follows her into the waves at the pre-season bonfire and kisses her senseless. It’s just one mistake, and Rain is determined to put it behind her, until the dark haired, blue eyed hottie turns out to be her new co-supervisor Knight Mcallister.

Knight is hot, tatted, and carrying baggage of his own. He’s not happy about having Rain for a co-supervisor, and he’s even less happy about his attraction to her.

But between lifeguard drama, hot underwater kisses, and a growing attraction between them that can’t be stopped, Knight and Rain are being pulled deeper into their pasts, and realizing that sometimes too much broken can make a relationship impossible.

Then again sometimes it’s the broken parts of us that fit together best."

Main characters: 2.5/5

Rain was intriguing but beyond her traumatic past, I didn't feel like I got to know her that well. Sometimes she was easy to connect to because she was a character that I connected to at the base level, but the way that her mind worked about the accident sometimes made me just shake my head. Ultimately, I just didn't have enough to go on with Rain. Just when I thought Rain was going to be the "messed up" one in the relationship, Knight comes into the picture with his own load of baggage.  I actually liked the fact that both of them were a little screwed up in their own way. Knight was altruistic and tried to hard to save Rain. I just wanted to shake him sometimes and yell, "What are you thinking?!" but I like that he was imperfect and had his own stuff to get through. The relationship between Rain and Knight had a lot of believable chemistry but I felt like there were so many back and forth moments. One minute they're a couple, the next they're not? I was over it by the end.

Secondary characters: 1.5/5

I was going to put Knight in this secondary characters category but he got equal attention in the story (the POV even switched back and forth) so I bumped him up to a main character. Amy's character was fun and I liked her unique inputs to the situation. However, she seemed pretty strong and witty at first and then seemed to lose characterization through the novel. There were a lot of other secondary characters who didn't get enough development time and just became names in a crowd. Secondary cast definitely fell flat.

Writing style: 3.5/5

There were a couple minor issues where characters would get mixed up. A character would be "Nate" one minute and then "Patrick" the next. Beyond that minor issue, Ashcroft's writing had some definite positives. There were some beautiful descriptions and Ashcroft could seriously get into her character's heads. This also became a negative at points because it held up the pacing and left me wanting more action and dialogue. When there was plot action, the writing moved well and left me tense and involved in the story. Another minor flaw was that sometimes the writing seemed a little melodramatic and over-the-top. Sometimes I became turned-off of the story because of how romance-novel-y it became.

Plot: 3/5
I loved the water-park setting. I've never read a book set at a water-park and the interactions between the lifeguards was fascinating. Who knew there was such a distinct lifeguard culture? The plot itself could move a little slowly at times and sometimes felt a little thin, but because the story focused on the romance and character development of Rain and Knight, there didn't need to be a lot more plot points. Majority of the plot was predictable, so don't go in expecting to be surprised.

Ending: 3/5

It's tough to make a short novel feel like it has a truly satisfying ending. I feel like Ashcroft did as well as could be expected, although some parts did indeed seem rushed. I loved how determined Knight was and that endeared him to me. The final note was sweet and did was it was intended to do.

Best scene: The opening scenes where Rain is introduced to the rest of the lifeguards. 

Positives: The fact that both main characters had their own problems to overcome, some beautiful descriptions by Ashcroft, the unique waterpark setting and lifeguard interactions

Negatives: Slightly underdeveloped main characters (outside of their traumatic pasts), large and one-dimensional secondary cast of characters, melodramatic writing, predictable plot.

Cover: The simplicity in this cover is stunning. It's seriously gorgeous!

Verdict: A quick summer/beachy read with a fun setting and equally damaged main characters.

Rating: 5.4/10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? How does it compare to other time travel books you've read? Let me know!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: When the World was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach

Title: When the World was Flat (And We Were in Love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach

Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Length: 272 pages
Original Publishing Date: September 3rd, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself."

Main characters: 2/5

Lillie seemed a little bland. I knew that she liked photography and that her mom was really into some quirky New Age stuff. One interesting thing about her was how she used repetition of words to calm herself. I would have liked to see a lot more development and a little more backbone from Lillie.

Secondary characters: 2/5

The cast of secondary characters were also a little bland and fit into tropes and stereotypes. For example, Lillie's two best friends are Jo and Sylv, one of who is described as larger and "mannish" and the other who is described as sexually promiscuous and an aspiring model. I'm not even sure how to describe Tom, which I guess denotes how underdeveloped he was as a character. Even Lillie's mom was "the kooky new age lady" and we didn't see a lot more development than that.

Writing style: 3/5

I'm never a huge fan of novels that have a reminiscing writing style- I'm sure this has a more technical term but for example, Lillie states "Looking back now, I understand...". I feel like these sort of "looking back" statements ruins a lot of the surprise and tension in the writing. Beyond this minor nitpick, I generally enjoyed Jonach's writing style. The pacing could sometimes drag a little and I wish we had learned the "big secret" slightly earlier but the dialogue was generally believable and the descriptions were neither too weighted and long or too meager.

Plot: 4/5
Okay, I knew as soon as the word "soulmates" was uttered that I was in for an instalove treat. No surprises there and I definitely wasn't a fan. However, the plot itself was mind-boggling- in a good way. It made me think and consider different possibilities. Some of it was a little over-the-top- and I'm not even talking about the basic plot but rather some of the small details that Jonach chose. I loved the entire premise however; it was thoroughly original and mind-bending.

Ending: 4/5

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the ending. I appreciated that it left some things open to interpretation because the plot/premise itself was so mentally challenging that I think leading the reader to the exact ending would have been a cop out. Instead, Jonach leaves an open ending with the promise of hope.

Best scene: The train scene

Reminded Me Of: Sort of The Time Traveler's Wife meets Source Code (the movie)

Positives: The unique premise, writing style, ending

Negatives: Bland and underdeveloped characters, some minor pacing issues, the "looking back" style

Cover: It's really pretty and I love the font (and the title! Did I say that yet?)

Verdict: A novel with a unique and interesting premise weakened by bland characters and some minor other issues

Rating: 6.0/10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry

Title: Out of Play
Author: Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry

Genre: YA Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Length: 320 pages
Original Publishing Date: August 6th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a drug problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—just need a little help taking the edge off sometimes. After downing a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska. 

Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers to all the best schools, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absentminded gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered to come home from work, let alone deal with their new tenants next door.

Penny’s not interested in dealing with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps and begins to see what he’s been missing. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time.

Main characters: 3.5/5

I LOVE the fact that Penny plays hockey- especially on a guys team. I am a huge hockey fan and I was thrilled with the fact that Out of Play integrated my favorite sport. Penny's determination and tenacity coupled with her hot temper and fear to leave what she has always known made her a complex and interesting main character. I think one of the coolest things about Penny and Bishop is that I would have never pictured them together. Unfortunately, I also didn't feel the passion/romance that much either.

Secondary characters: 3/5

Bishop was an interesting guy: a famous drum player with a fear of crowds and a drug addiction. I thought that the fear of crowds aspect was unique and quirky, especially because it helped explain part of the reason why he started taking pills.
Other cool secondary characters: Gramps. That's about it. We didn't get much about Penny's mom, Gary was chill but not very interesting, Mitch seemed like a sweet best friend but a little underdeveloped.

Writing style: 2/5

I wouldn't call the writing style bad but it was difficult to wade through at times. The pacing was pretty slow and although I enjoyed the plot and characters for the most part, the story moved so slowly. In some parts, slow pacing was good. For instance, the romance was definitely not instalove. However, I was overall disappointed in the pace of the writing. Especially in scenes like the hockey games- they are so exciting and I felt the writing sometimes took the tension out of it.

Plot: 3/5
Okay, so this story has everything that I love: hockey, snowmobiling, and love. As stated before, the pacing was slow, but the progression of Bishop and Penny's romance was a little quirky. They seemed only vaguely attracted to each other and then suddenly the heat was turned on and then they were in love. I wasn't sold on their romance. Beyond the romance however, I liked Bishop's progression of learning that he had a problem and working to solve it.

Ending: 2.5/5

Kind of an odd exodus after the climax. There's so much tension and then it's all just... gone. I did like the places where Bishop and Penny ended up: emotionally and in their relationship.

Best scene: The snowmobiling scene

The unique characters, the premise, Gramps,

Negatives: The pacing, length, unmemorable secondary characters, flat romance

Cover: a) Meh, it's not very pretty. b) I feel like the hair color on both Bishop and Penny is wrong.

Verdict: I wanted to like this unique romance more than I did.

Rating: 5.6/10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!