April 30, 2013

Faster We Burn by Chelsea M. Cameron

Faster We Burn by Chelsea M. Cameron
Release Date: April 20, 2013
Publisher: DRC Publishing
Pages: my epub has 266 pages
Series: Fall and Rise
Review Source: eBook for review from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Katie Hallman is done with douchebags. Done with guys who treat her like crap and leave her broken. But then Stryker Grant is there anyway. With his numerous piercings and bleached hair, he’s the polar opposite of all of her past relationships, which makes him the perfect candidate.

At first, Katie just sees him as a physical escape from her previous rocky relationship, and Stryker doesn’t seem to mind just being a distraction from Katie’s problems. But soon he’s getting under her skin, peeling back layers she’d rather keep covered. She tries to make it clear that she doesn’t want a relationship, but keeps breaking her own rules.

Then a tragedy sends Katie into the only arms who are there to catch her, and she’ll realize that she needs him more than she ever thought possible. But is she ready to let herself trust another guy with her already-battered heart? Or will she push him away to protect herself from getting hurt again?
My Thoughts:
I enjoyed ‘Faster We Burn’ even more than I did the first book, ‘Deeper We Fall’, which I liked quite a bit. There’s something magnetic about Stryker and Katie as main characters. These two are both quite damaged, but, unlike some damaged characters where you just feel like they should stay away from romance until they’re more healed, you can just sense that they belong together.

I really liked how there was a gradual shift in both the characters. You can actually see them changing throughout the book in small ways which makes it seem all the more real. I am pretty critical about the overuse of bad boy characters in New Adult books, but I like how Stryker is that ‘bad boy’ character without seeming cliche. He has a past and family issues, and he has the tattoos and an occasional overindulgence in alcohol (there’s also a past of overindulgence in women that’s hinted at). Yet with all that he doesn't seem like a stock character at all. Stryker is not interchangeable with that tattooed womanizer character from a lot of NA novels, and I think it takes a lot of talent to make that distinction.

What I loved most in ‘Deeper We Fall’ were the secondary characters, and I still enjoyed them a lot in this novel. Katie and Stryker are a lot more closed off in this book, so the friend group doesn’t make quite as much of an impression as in the first book, but they are definitely still there. I love the friend group dynamic that Chelsea has created; all the characters are so layered, and they’re a group that I’d love to be friends with and hang out with.

Chelsea M. Cameron has a breezy writing style that's easy to read, and that’s never more evident than in Faster We Burn. The book features lots of drama so you won't get bored, and I appreciated how the drama bordered the line of cliche, but never crossed over. I could never completely predict how the characters would react or how the situation would end up. I love how Chelsea’s books feature characters who you can really feel for and connect to. I feel like her books have something special that set them apart from other NA novels.

The Cover:
I really love that font.


Add Faster We Burn by Chelsea M. Cameron on Goodreads & find purchase links on Chelsea's site.

April 29, 2013

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 320
Series: n/a
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?
My Thoughts:
My first thought upon finishing this book is that it was so freaking cute. I absolutely loved the theme park setting -- it was so unique and it added an interesting flavour to the story.

Zoe is such a relatable and fun main character. She wants to work at the theme park because of the good memories she has there with her Mom, who passed away. I liked this aspect of the book because it was a part of Zoe and it affected her, but it wasn’t maudlin or just a plot device.

I basically loved all the different aspects of this book. There was humour and even a little bit of a satire with the description of the park and “the Queen”, who is their Devil Wears Prada style boss. There was lots of drama with the teen interns backstabbing each other to win the annual monetary prize, but it was done in fun and inventive ways. There were layered characters that didn’t fit into stereotypes (e.g. I adored how Zoe's cousin and BFF didn't fit into the typical trope of overbearing and loudmouthed. Jess was flirty but sweet, and I loved how loyal she was to Zoe). I also especially loved who became the real love interest for Zoe: he was so adorable, and they had such great chemistry.

Basically? This book was just fun and entertaining, and it was filled with relatable characters to boot. ‘How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True’ was great fun that I didn't want to end.

The Cover:
Not my fave, but it's cute.


Find How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

April 26, 2013

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Pages: 65
Series: Elemental
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.
My Thoughts:
My first thoughts after reading this book? "Nick, you really need a hug."

It’s not often that I fall in love with a novella. I know the point of them is that they’re shorter than a novel, but I usually find them too short. I tend to want more of the story, or more of that character. It helps knowing that we're getting a full book featuring Nick, but in this case I wasn't left wanting at all. To me, 'Breathless' is a perfect piece of fiction that captures a specific moment in time and a specific feeling.

It’s hard to review a piece of this length without spoiling the plot, but it’s safe to say that you never would have guessed at this side of Nick without being in his head. ‘Breathless’ features Nick’s struggles with his powers and with family expectations in a multitude of ways. ‘Breathless’ is about having to admit to yourself first who you are, before you can embrace it and share it with others.

‘Breathless’ also gives us a deeper look at Quinn, a character who I never really cared for previously. While she's still not my favourite, you can't help but feel sad for her family situation and understand a bit where she's coming from.

Basically? Brigid Kemmerer writes absolutely amazing characters who have incredibly emotional journeys. This novella is no exception to her immense talent. I loved the story and the potential it gives us for Spirit (Hunter’s book), and especially for Siege (Nick’s book).

If you haven’t yet read the Elementals series, be sure to pick up Storm soon. You won’t be disappointed.

The Cover:
I have to say that these covers aren't my favourites, which is unfortunate, because the books are AMAZING.


Find Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer on Goodreads & Amazon.

April 25, 2013

Ultraviolet and Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Release Date: June 2, 2011
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pages: 303
Series: Ultraviolet
Review Source: For review from Monarch Books

Synopsis: (from Amazon.com)
"Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she's confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori's body has not been found, and Alison can't explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated--into nothing.

But that's impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind--like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood--until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison's case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her--and that she's capable of far more than anyone else would believe.
My Thoughts:
‘Ultraviolet’ was an incredibly interesting read. It’s been a long time since a book captured my attention so much and kept it throughout. I loved the Canadian setting (Sudbury), and I was immediately intrigued by the psych ward setting and the main character who right away claims that she has killed someone.

Alison was so interesting, because she has these abilities or senses, but just from her narration she doesn't seem crazy. She seems damaged, yes, but trustworthy. You can’t help but like her, and wish the best for her. All of the characters in this book are great, but for me the strength of Alison’s narration and her unique way of seeing the world is what made this book shine.

I had actually read some spoilery reviews for ‘Ultraviolet’ a while back, so I vaguely knew where the book was heading. Obviously this affected my reading experience somewhat. I think if you didn’t know the twist it would be pretty major, although in my reading I did notice a few hints or moments of foreshadowing.

Overall I just really enjoyed ‘Ultraviolet’. It felt fresh and unique. One description of the book calls it “genre-bending”, and I really find that to be true. I definitely recommend that you give this book a chance.

The Cover:
The colour is pretty, and I love how shiny it is in person.


Find Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pages: 320
Series: Ultraviolet
Review Source: For review from Monarch Books

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.

Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.

Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.

She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
My Thoughts:
‘Quicksilver’ is labelled as a companion book for ‘Ultraviolet’, and while I can see that you might be able to read them separately (different main characters, and quite a different situation), I personally would recommend reading ‘Ultraviolet’ first. It gives the story a lot of context, and gives the readers explanations that they might otherwise be lacking.

‘Quicksilver’ is very different, tonally, from ‘Ultraviolet’, but like that book it got my attention right away. Tori, or Niki as she is known in her new location (though I’m just going to refer to her as Tori), is so different from Alison. I love how we get to see her perspective and what she’s had to deal with over the years. She’s so different from what Alison originally thought of her, and I love that. It really shows how we can’t know who a person truly is.

This book automatically made me happy because it’s another Canadian setting, this time close to home in Southwestern Ontario (pretty sure it’s the KW area, though it’s not officially named). I was also nerding out at what I’m pretty sure was an ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ reference. There were definite nerd references and lots of science and engineering geekery. I loved seeing that sector represented, especially from a girl's POV.

While ‘Ultraviolet’ was very ‘mess with your mind’, psychological thriller, this one was more strictly sci-fi with a side of action. However I think what I loved most about this book was the relationship between Tori and Milo. I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say that Tori is asexual. This was very interesting for me, because I have to admit that I don’t really know anything about asexuality. Nevertheless, it felt like RJ did a fabulous job presenting it, in that it felt natural. Tori’s asexuality wasn’t presented in a preachy way at all, it was just a part of her. Because of this there was a lack of overt romance, but there was such a deep connection between Tori and Milo. I loved how there was pure friendship and respect between these two.

If you've been searching for a book with action and science that features great characters, then look no further. There’s a lot to like about these books, and I’m looking forward to reading more from R.J. Anderson in the future.

The Cover:
The image isn't my fave, but I like the colour again, and the general design (title font, etc).


Find Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

Publisher: Blink (Zondervan)
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Veronica doesn't think she's going crazy. But why can't anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna's great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica's daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they've longed for...or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the Alan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation.
Add to Goodreads

So, I haven't actually seen Brigadoon, but it sounds right up my alley. And this loose adaptation of it? Also sounds awesome! Scotland, other worlds, enchantments, and hot princes? Yes please!

April 23, 2013

Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

Mortality by Kellie Sheridan
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Snarky Books
Pages: 271
Series: The Hitchhiker Strain
Review Source: eBook from author for review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.
My Thoughts:
Are you in withdrawal from 'The Walking Dead' and looking for your next zombie fix? If so, 'Mortality' may be the book for you. It features awesome action and two heroines who are incredibly strong and capable. I love how the reader is brought into the action almost right away, and I really enjoyed the dual narration from Savannah and Zarah. It was interesting to see from two very different perspectives, and from different times (Zarah’s narration starts back when the infection first hit, whereas Savannah’s is the present).

I did have a couple of questions about the book. I wasn’t sure why Savannah’s group hadn’t been targeted by the militia if getting able bodied fighters was such a huge goal, or why Savannah and her people were so out of the loop with the current state of the world. That being said, these questions didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I loved the action and excitement from dodging Zs and militia groups, and I enjoyed the quieter moments as well.

Where Kellie Sheridan really excels is character building. I felt she did an excellent job with this, where even the minor characters felt real. This contributes to how powerful the ending of ‘Mortality’ is. It actually broke my heart a little. It takes a lot for me to be moved to tears, but I definitely was in this case.

If you’re a fan of zombie novels, or if you’re looking to break into the genre, ‘Mortality’ is not a book to miss.

The Cover:


Find Mortality by Kellie Sheridan on Goodreads, Amazon, Amazon.ca, & Barnes & Noble.

P.S. Kellie is a fellow Canadian (and Ontarian) blogger. You can find her at Snarky Books (formerly reawrite.com). You may also know her as Joan of ARCs for Spencer Hill Press. =)

April 22, 2013

Rochester Teen Book Festival 2013

Do you live anywhere near Rochester, NY? If so, have you heard of the Rochester Teen Book Festival?

What: A FREE event featuring 34 (!) YA authors. A day of author panels/presentations finished off with a big signing session. Basically, an AMAZING time.
When: Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Where: Nazareth College in Rochester, NY

All of these amazing authors will be at TBF this year:

Gennifer Albin
Tom Angleberger
Charles Benoit
Coe Booth
Alexandra Bracken
Kate Brian
Jessica Brody
Susane Colasanti
Andrea Cremer
Matt De La Peña
Lauren Destefano
Kevin Emerson
Andrew Fukuda
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Faith Erin Hicks
Ellen Hopkins
Amy Ignatow
Stacey Kade
Dan Krokos
Robin Lafevers
David Levithan
Lisa McMann
Marissa Meyer
Megan Miranda
Michael Morpurgo
Mary Pearson
Prudence Shen
Mark Shulman
Jennifer E. Smith
Margaret Stohl
Laurie Faria Stolarz
Stephanie Kate Strohm
Terry Trueman
Sara Zarr

I KNOW. I don't even know how to describe how excited I am to meet these authors.

This event is so much fun. It's definitely geared toward teens and the local high schools (as it should be!), but if you're not-so-YA anymore, don't worry, because my Mom and I felt perfectly welcome last year.

You can check out my recap post from 2012 to get an idea of what the event is like.

Any & all information about TBF can be found at

Will you be attending TBF this year?? If so, let me know! I'd love to meet up. =)

Twisted Lit Contest Opportunity!

In honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday (celebrated on April 23), authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, have dropped by with a guest blog post to announce a special contest!

Get A “Twisted Lit” Character
Named After You!

We reimagined William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “Macbeth,” with our “compulsively readable” YA books, Tempestuous and Exposure. Ever since the novels were published a few months ago through Merit Press we’ve encountered a frequent question: Which of Shakespeare’s plays will inspire your next books in the Twisted Lit series?

While we’re currently hard at work putting our own spin on the Bard’s “Romeo and Juliet” we thought we’d look to you, the readers, to help us pick the fourth Shakespeare play that will inspire our next book in the series. Got a hankering for a new spin on “Hamlet?” Love to see “King Lear” get a YA update? Would you make much ado over our take on “Much Ado About Nothing?”

Go to our Facebook page (Facebook.com/Twistedlitnovels) and write on our wall to weigh in on which Shakespeare play you’d like us to revamp next. In doing so, you’ll be entered to have your very own name mentioned in one of our upcoming books (either as a character or some other fun reference). If you’ve always wanted to see your name in print — in a YA novel, no less — now’s your chance! The winner will also receive autographed copies of our first two novels, Tempestuous and Exposure.

We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions! (And don’t forget to follow us on twitter at @kaskew and @amyhelmes.)

* Winner will not be compensated for use of his or her name, and publication is not guaranteed. Details of plot and character used in connection with the name as it appears in the book are up to the sole discretion of the authors. Contest ends June 1.

-- Kim & Amy

Thanks so much for sharing this, ladies! I know I'm incredibly intrigued to read a modern day YA version of Romeo & Juliet, and to see which play you end up taking on next.


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