Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Remember Me Always by Renee Collins

Release date: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository{Affiliate Link}

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Shelby is nervous to start her senior year after spending the whole summer away from home. After all, it's hard to be carefree when you're trying to protect a secret.

Shelby was in a devastating car accident, and everyone in town thinks that she was undergoing more physical therapy in Denver. Instead, Shelby's mother enrolled her in a clinical program to stop the panic attacks that started after the crash. The treatment erased Shelby's memory of the accident, but she can't help feeling as if a piece of herself is missing, that the treatment took more than the doctors claimed.

So when Shelby starts hallucinating a boy with dark and mysterious eyes, she knows it must be a side-effect of the clinical program. Except you can't kiss hallucinations. And this boy insists that they know each other and are in love...

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I fell in love with Renee's writing in Until We Meet Again, which turned out to be one of my favorite romance novels. So when I saw Remember Me Always I just knew I had to read it, especially after getting pulled in by that blurb.

The story starts off with Shelby returning home after receiving some sort of procedure that wiped away her memory of a terrible accident, along with other things that mattered to her. This is the second time I've read a book surrounding the erasure of bad memories and while I disagree with altering the mind, I'm understanding of this treatment being used on individuals with PTSD, like soldiers or others who have experienced abuse.

Right away I'd suspected there was more to the accident and to this boy trying to convince Shelby they were in a relationship. Her apprehension to talk to him came off a tad annoying at first but then I started to see things from her perspective, in the sense that she wasn't sure about who to trust since she couldn't recall important details. Once her defenses came down and she realized that her heart refused to deny this guy, I liked how she opened up to the idea of relearning about herself and the intense feelings that came so naturally toward him. The whole thing seemed sort of strange though and I had a lot of questions throughout, but those were all answered as the story progressed even though by the time the truth was revealed I had already figured it out.

In regards to the characters, Shelby was the only one I trusted since she was a blank page who didn't know anything and was pretty much a confused girl desperate for answers. Her "boyfriend", best friend, and even her mother were all hiding things. The latter, mind you, I could not stomach for the majority of the story. I found her rather insensitive at times and very controlling, which was something Shelby struggled with. As for her step-father, I wish he was more present in the story. I would have liked to know his feelings about the whole thing and how he could tolerate being married to Shelby's mother. I kid you not, the woman was a trip. She encouraged her daughter to run away from her problems instead of facing them head-on, and basically pressured Shelby into doing the procedure. The woman even dragged her back when she felt like her daughter just wasn't conforming to her ways. Like seriously, I could hardly stand her scenes.

Aside from that, loved the premise of the story and how Shelby dealt with the situation before and after everything was revealed. And even though I had figured out the truth a tad earlier, it still was an interesting read and I liked how it ended with new beginnings for each character. It left me feeling hopeful for them, yes even for the mother. 

Overall, this is another great Renee Collins book. Loved the writing and the perseverance of Shelby's character. She's not perfect but I found her quite likable in spite of what happened. Please do give this one a read if you're curious about the memory erasing thing and most importantly, how powerful love can be. As crazy as it seems, somehow the heart always know even when the mind doesn't remember, and the truth always comes out no matter what lengths are taken to forget it. So yeah, definitely check this out, especially if you love emotional young adult stories.

Renee     CollinsAbout the Author
Renee Collins grew up on a beach in Hawaii. Sadly, she never met anyone from the past on those shores, but she did go on to get a degree in History, which is almost the same. She currently lives in Colorado with her family. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: The Other Twin by L. V. Hay

Release date: November 15th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? 

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth.

Lucy V. HayAbout the Author
Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who runs a writer's consultancy. She is the associate producer of the films Deviation and Assassin, head reader for the London Screenwriters' Festival and the author of Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays and Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Guest Post: Author Cyndy Etler on 'We Can't Be Friends'

Release date: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository{Affiliate Link}

Synopsis via Goodreads:
High school sucks for a lot of people. High school extra sucks when you believe, deep in your soul, that every kid in the school is out to get you. I wasn't popular before I got locked up in Straight Inc., the notorious "tough love" program for troubled teens. So it's not like I was walking around thinking everyone liked me.

But when you're psychologically beaten for sixteen months, you start to absorb the lessons. The lessons in Straight were: You are evil. Your peers are evil. Everything is evil except Straight, Inc.

Before long, you're a true believer.

And when you're finally released, sent back into the world, you crave safety. Crave being back in the warehouse. And if you can't be there, you'd rather be dead.


Why Do I Write Provocative Memoir? Because I Have No Choice

There’s a writing maxim out there that strikes me as heavy-handed. It goes, “You know you’re a writer if you have to write, to live.” So maybe I’m not a real writer, because I can exist, you know? With just food and water. I don’t die if I’m not writing. Same way I don’t die if I don’t eat desert.
Actually, I write for the same reason I eat desert: because I really frigging love it. Because writing, like sugar, makes me feel extra-alive.
But I didn’t write my memoirs—first The Dead Inside, then We Can’t Be Friends—because I wanted to eat desert. I was compelled to write them, for the same reason you were compelled to puke up that shellfish that gave you food poisoning: I had a plague inside me, and I had to get it out.
The abuse I endured at home as a child is describable. People know what to visualize when you say the words “chased,” “hit,” and “molested.” The abuse I endured at Straight Inc.—the notorious “troubled teen” facility where I was locked up at age 14—is not so describable. Because the things they did to me in there, and the things they made me do, aren’t done.
Try this. Ready? In your mind’s eye, picture what I’m talking about when I say these words:
Spit Therapy.
Attack Therapy.
You know what I’m saying? Nope. You don’t. Unless you were in a Straight-related program, or you’ve read about them, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Now, let’s try this: think of the phrase “drug rehab.”
Now we’re on the same page, right? Brown cushioned chairs, lots of talking, lots of…I don’t know, coffee and cigarette breaks and shuffling around the program’s grounds, I guess?
Yeah, no. Not at Straight Inc. I mean, Straight called itself a drug rehab. But there was no coffee. There were no walks. And I was no drug addict. Not unless you can call a barely-teen kid who’s barely smoked weed an “addict.”
No, Straight was a—was a—was an abuse factory. A cult. A “concentration camp for throwaway teens,” according to the ACLU. Straight was a warehouse packed with broken children, a brilliant money-making scheme where parents, for a fee, could disappear the kid they didn’t want to deal with.
When I finally woke up to my memories of Straight, 15 years after the fact, I had to get them out. I had to tell people about it. I had to have it validated that, “Holy crap, you got messed up!” Like that skanky shellfish, I had to purge it from my system.
But there was no way to describe it to people. If I say to you, “I was sent to rehab, and it made me want to kill myself,” what’re you gonna think? Take your pick:
A) Oh, you were a bad kid, an addict. You deserved it.
B) Rehab? Made you want to kill yourself? What kind of baby are you?
C) Poor little priv-kid thinks “rehab” is hard times. Ha! Hahahahaha….
So I had to write my experience. I had to take you in there. I had to have you live it, this “rehab.” This psych abuse. This brainwashing, this torture. I didn’t have the words for it, but I had the emotions. The setting. The dialogue. The spit therapy.
I can’t tell you about Straight Inc, or what it was like trying to reintegrate to the world when I finally got out. But by writing a book so hot you can’t put it down, I can make you experience it.
Maybe that’s what that smug writing maxim is actually trying to say. Here, let me fix it.
“If the story inside you feels like a sickness, kid? You better write, that, book.”
Right. Much better.

About the Author
A modern-day Cinderella, Cyndy Etler was homeless at fourteen, summa cum laude at thirty. Currently a young adult author and teen life coach, Etler spent sixteen years teaching troubled teens in schools across America.
Before she was paid for teaching Etler did it for free, volunteering at public schools and facilities for runaway teens. Today she speaks at fundraisers, schools and libraries, convincing teens that books work better than drugs.
After years of hopscotching, Etler now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and dogs.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

Series: How{ to Hang a Witch #2
Release date: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository{Affiliate Link}

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous “ship of dreams”—a story made all the more fascinating because the author’s own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one. 

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship. 

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

*Received a physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Haunting the Deep turned out to be quite engrossing. Adriana Mather delivered an enthralling story that blended a great event in history with ghostly elements and the urgency to solve a complex mystery. 

After seeing news about a follow-up to her first release, I was curious as to where Mather would go next with the story and the descendants. In Haunting the Deep, the premise pulled me in from start. First of all, it was a delight that Sam's father had recovered and was now home with her. His presence in the story was significant to me because I truly got to understand his character better and his reasons for wanting to stay away from Salem. I loved the relationship he had with his daughter and his friendship with Mrs. Meriweather and Jaxon. He's such a likable character and I want more of the father-daughter moments. 

So now, on to the main story-line. Sam's trying to move on from what happened with her wicked stepmother, along with trying to cope with seeing spirits. Neither of those things is working out for her. When life gets even stranger, she finally caves and decides to reach out to the other descendants for help. But things go awry. Spells get messy and objects and spirits connected to the Titanic begin to physically affect the girls, especially Sam, who finds herself on the historic ship on certain occasion. These moments pull her further away from reality and more into a curse that the descendants cannot seem to break.

I was super excited that Elijah came back. I know he's a ghost and should move on, but you can't help your emotions and the connection between him and Sam is just too beautiful and real to say goodbye to. He did all he could to help the girls uncover the identity of the spell caster and their link to the Titanic. And in midst of everyone being caught up in unraveling this chilling mystery and trying to understand the objects, I was completely immersed in all the history and how well Adriana fused everything together to make such an interesting story.       

I must say though, that while I did like the author's previous release, How to Hang a Witch, I did have some issues with it and found that one issue, in particular, has appeared in the sequel as well. There were times I felt like things were a bit draggy and could have moved along at a faster pace. Also, there didn't seem to be enough spells and witchery, but I guess the whole mystery with the ship and the warlock was a giant spell in itself. However, those two things were minor and didn't throw me enough to not enjoy the story. The writing and overall plot were too intriguing to not keep going. And I loved that it was a surprise for me once the warlock was identified. I had never suspected that character so I liked how the ending wasn't predictable. 

With that said, I'd love for Adriana Mather to keep going with this series. It's just really interesting and I enjoy the creepiness of it all. And maybe I had interpreted inaccurately but I could've sworn at the end of this book she hinted that there could be a third? Either way, I love her writing and will always look forward to her next.


Adriana Mather
About the Author
Adriana Mather is the 12th generation of Mathers in America, and as such her family has their fingers in many of its historical pies – the Mayflower, the Salem Witch Trials, the Titanic, the Revolutionary War, and the wearing of curly white wigs. Also, Adriana co-owns a production company, Zombot Pictures, in LA that has made three feature films in three years. Her first acting scene in a film ever was with Danny Glover, and she was terrified she would mess it up. In addition, her favorite food is pizza and she has too many cats.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire #2
Release date: September 19th 2017
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository{Affiliate Link}

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

*Received a physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After falling into this dark and magical world in book one, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. I loved the characters and wanted to see how they would grow and where the author would take us next. And while I enjoyed the story once again, I must say I'm a bit disappointed with the situation of Henrietta and Magnus. I absolutely loved the latter in the previous and wanted so much more for his character, sadly it seemed he was ignored for the most part of the book, even though he was still very much present. 

Yes, I know readers don't always get what they want, but I could have sworn things would have taken a different turn in this book. I definitely did not expect how it went with Blackwood. Maybe I missed something previously but his character had me mind-blown, and I just couldn't understand why Henrietta could react in that way toward him. But anyway, we'll see how it goes in the third book because there were certain revolutions that became clear about Blackwood's character and I'd like to see how he develops further. 

Speaking of development, I think Henrietta has grown somewhat, but still has ways to go. After all, she's a teen. They're all young adults who have to put up a strong front and take on a horrible situation such as fighting horrific creatures. Henrietta did have naive ways about her but like I said, she's still a teen girl figuring things out. And the whole thing with her childhood best friend is quite sad, but I honestly never felt like it was the type of love you feel in a relationship. Not in the way Rook or Henrietta believed. I think it's because both grew up together leaning on each other and had developed this sense of reliance. Indeed, they had a special bond. But as for being in love, I don't think either truly felt that or even understood what that was.  

The topic of love and character growth aside, I liked how there was some more inclusion of adventure, finding powerful weapons, learning more about the ancients and Henrietta's ties to one in particular, and also the introduction of Maria. She's a lovely character. I figured her out right away so it wasn't a surprised for me when the truth was unveiled, but I still loved her presence throughout the story and the blossoming friendship between her and Henrietta. Maria is another one I'm looking forward to learning more about in the next book. 

In conclusion, A Poison Dark and Drowning continued the intrigue and reinforced my interest in the story. Once again, great writing from Jessica Cluess. She had my emotions all over the place. I liked how she kept it dark and twisted, but still gave a few moments of vulnerability and lightheartedness. It is a series I'm not sure I want to end, and with Henrietta facing such turmoil, I'm anxious to find out how she will overcome. What will happen next with her and the other characters, especially Magnus? I'm hoping he will return because he definitely has a sweet spot in my heart. If you haven't started this series I highly recommend you do asap. You'll enjoy it!  

p1216467493-2About the Author
Jessica Cluess is a graduate of Northwestern University and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

www.jessicacluess.com | twitter.com/JessCluess 

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