Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Release date: May 16th 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry's brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. 

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O'Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn't need a better reason than that. She's an O'Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O'Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June's father's mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can't seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn't exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe. 

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it's finally time for her—and all of the O'Donnells before her—to let go.

Emily HenryAbout the Author
Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Release date: January 3rd 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.

But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.

Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

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

After reading the blurb, I became curious and wanted to understand what was going on with Norah. Agoraphobia and OCD should never be brushed off or taken lightly. Norah definitely had a mental issue, and every page depicted the physical and emotional turmoil her illness took on her. I mean, there are times when I don't even want to go to my mailbox or attend a social event, but I don't panic or get on the verge of passing out when I do. And Norah had those just from the thought of leaving her house, or if the probability of danger tugged at her mind. It was quite a story to read, and I loved the writing and how the author was able to deliver awareness and better understanding of something so serious and realistic. Many go through the same thing as Norah and I feel her story can be related to. 

There were instances where I would get frustrated with Norah and wanted her to just take that step or try and relax. But then I'd remind myself that this is an illness. This is really happening to the girl. She's not being melodramatic and cannot simply snap out of it. That became even more clear when Luke came into the picture. Like everyone, Norah had the desire of having a relationship, whether a true friendship or dating, and her illness made that hard. Many just didn't understand or laughed at the situation, and I was happy that Luke was genuinely interested in Norah and could accept every part of her as he grew to understand her illness. 

For the most part, Norah's condition and how it affected her life kept me intrigued. But I noticed that as the story went on and somewhere in the middle, it started to feel prolonged for me. And I didn't care for the drama that happened toward the end between her and Luke. Even though I had suspected that he'd end up doing that, I still feel like the resulted conflict should've gone a different way. Regardless of losing a little interest, I continued with the hope that something was going to help Norah and give her a good leap at having a speck of normalcy, especially since she acted out her anxiety in other sad and painful ways. And I liked how the author presented that horrible situation in the end for someone dealing with Agoraphobia, and showing us how the mental illness could be paralyzing even when it was life or death. It took a lot for Norah to make that move, but it was great to see her overcome something so tremendously hard. 

So overall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a good story with great writing and a very realistic issue. Hopefully someone will find it relatable and realize that they're not alone and can receive help for this illness.

Louise GornallAbout the Author
Louise Gornall is YA aficionado, film nerd, junk food enthusiast, and rumored pink Power Ranger. Under Rose-Tainted Skies is her first novel, and she can be found on Twitter @Rock_andor_roll. She lives in England.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Release date: April 4th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. 

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him. 

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Claudia GrayAbout the Author
Claudia Gray is the author of the bestselling Evernight series, Fateful, the Spellcaster trilogy, and the Firebird trilogy. She is also the author the young adult Star Wars novels Lost Stars and the forthcoming Bloodline. 
She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Release date: July 12th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

*Received a finished copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All Is Not Forgotten is definitely not meant for the faint at heart, especially when details about gruesome events started to unravel. I barely made it through some parts and had to step away from the story at times to take a breather. That said, I did end up liking it because it kept me both intrigued and eager to learn how things would work out for each character. 

Many readers might find it disappointing that the story is narrated by someone other than Jenny, and even I was a bit bothered with that because I wanted to see things from her point of view; get inside her head, feel her emotions, and better connect with her. But if you can see past that, you'll delve deeper and discover how everything related. You may even say it came full circle. 

So the story went like this: 
After Jenny's attack, her MOTHER (because the father was pretty much ignored and overpowered in the decision-making) agreed to have doctors give Jenny a drug that'll block the memory of her assault. Mrs. Kramer believed it was best for Jenny to forget what had happened in order to go on living a normal life. But in all honesty, the mother was thinking about herself and wanted to put it all behind her. See Mrs. Kramer had issues of her own and she was used to sweeping things under the rug and dealing with them in other ways. I don't want to give those issues away, but throughout the story, we're told how unfair it was to judge the mother for her behavior and the way she treated her husband. That was hard for me, even as the story progressed and we learn more about her past. Her character was just too intolerable.  

Not saying the father didn't have issues of his own. The narrator explained a lot about both of Jenny's parents and I understood how certain factors in their upbringing contributed to who they were now as adults. Jenny's father never seemed to stand up for himself. I got mad at him for that, always letting his wife control things the way she did. But once details about his life were revealed, I totally got it from a psychological standpoint. And really, you just had to look at things in that way as you read, so you could understand these messed up characters. 

As for the narrator, he came into the picture after the parents sought out help for Jenny. And his conclusion was to help her remember the terrible night, because even though they'd used the drug to block the memory, the emotions were still there. Jenny knew something had happened to her and she still had a hard time coping, no matter how her mother pretended everything was fine. Besides, the police had no suspects and no leads. It was imperative that Jenny remembered, not only to deal with it properly but to find the monster before it happened again.

A lot transpired once Jenny started seeing the narrator. We uncovered more about his character and family. And another client's life entered the story. A soldier who was also given the drug. He and Jenny began spending time together, relating emotions and situations. And a good chunk of the story was spent on understanding this other person. At first, I was like, "why is he being mentioned?". Then we're told about all the things he'd dealt with and how a dreaded experience in the military had caused him to have PTSD. Hence, why he was given the drug. 

So much went on in the book and the more I read, the more I got pulled in, especially when something started to seem off about the narrator. When it became clear what that was, he certainly shouldn't have continued seeing Jenny, much less speaking to the police.  But he did. And with his involvement in Jenny's situation and what he'd stirred up for her mother and father, along with the soldier, it was almost mind-blowing. I couldn't believe the manipulation and how he was able to keep it all together. Then again, he had a dark secret that he'd kept for years. And by the end of the story, like me, you'll even hold him accountable for a lot that had happened.

Overall, this one was intriguing and made an impact on me in the sense that you never know what some people are going through, what they could be hiding. Sometimes sinister, sometimes gruesome. I wasn't expecting the story to be told in the way it was, based on the blurb, and I'm not too happy with the ending. Regardless, it's still worth the read.

Wendy   WalkerAbout the Author
Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: The New Bad Thing by Michael Ebner

Release date: March 2017
Publisher: Pen and Paper
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Teagan can’t have what she wants most in life. Now everywhere she goes and everyone she knows are constant reminders of this. Desperate for a distraction, she needs to focus her energy elsewhere. Suddenly a foreign news story shocks her to the core. From that moment, she takes matters into her own hands and starts a special project. It could become a global game changer. But not everybody will be happy about these plans. If successful, governments and terrorists, will want her and this new thing terminated. 

Despite early success for the project, an internal problem comes to light, which consequently wipes out the entire scheme. She travels to Paris to deal with the so-called problem in person but wakes up in the middle of a real life terrorist siege. Or is it a planned attack on her life? 

Teagan will quickly be forced to make a choice that will threaten her and her family forever. It's the new bad thing.

About the Author
Michael Ebner's work has appeared in New York Magazine, SPIN, Inside Film, Wallpaper and Kirkus Reviews, among others. His debut novel All The Talk Is Dead was named one of Best Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews. Movie Game is his second novel.

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