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Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Pages: 352  Untitled-1

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date Published: January 7, 2014

Source: ARC provided by Random Buzzers in exchange for my honest review. 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life. 

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over. 

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. 

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs is a cute, yet predictable, story.

In order to truly enjoy this book, you have to suspend your belief for a lot if, which is something I’m not good at doing. I had a hard time believing that a) no one would notice the girls switched, considering Sloane Emily’s face has been in magazines and the like and b) they are attending camps for experienced skaters and hockey players. No way would someone not question the girls’ lack of experience when they are supposed to be the best of the best. The book tries to be logical, and, while I appreciated it, some things were a little too hard to swallow.

Putting aside the lapses in logic, I enjoyed how the book focused on hockey and figure skating, two topics I don’t know much about. I haven’t ever seen hockey come up in a YA book about girls at all (though I am sure they are out there somewhere).

The hockey and figure skating really do play a large role in the novel. Reading about practice after practice became monotonous and slowed the pace of the book. Constantly, I was waiting for some new development to occur, but it was usually just more of the same thing again and again.

The romance takes a back seat to the friendship between the girls, but it made things much more interesting. Sloane Devon’s romance was sweet, and I wished we got to see more of her with her love interest. On the other hand, I wished Sloane Emily’s would just walk off the page. He is a real piece of work and shows little to know character growth, going from one personality to another without explanation.

While the transitions between each girl were needed and well-placed, I found myself liking Sloane Devon’s perspective more than Sloane Emily’s. Sloane Devon had more personality and a developed backstory that Sloane Emily was missing. Still, both girls were likable and reading their antics was always fun.

The cover of the book is misleading because this is, above all else, a story of friendship, not a romance. However, the title couldn’t be more accurate. The book takes a look into the lives of both Sloane Jacobses at an important moment in their lives. The story isn’t anything new, but it would be a good contemporary to read if you are tired of romances dominating the plot.

Honestly, I think this book ended up being a case of It’s Not You, It’s Me. Readers who are okay with crazy, unbelievable shenanigans will probably adore this book, while those who enjoy more realism in their stories might want to pick up something else.

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Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell 

Pages: 320 rebel blue

Publisher: Amulet Books 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters.

—  

Review:

After reading a fantastic bucket list novel earlier (The F-It List), I couldn’t wait to start Goodbye, Rebel Blue due to its somewhat similar premise. 

Rebecca’s (aka Rebel’s) story is a vivid one, full of emotion and angst. I had to adjust to her personality at the beginning because she was more annoying than quirky. Luckily, she grew out of this pretty quickly.

Reading about Rebel completing another’s bucket list wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. A lot of the action seemed to happen “off screen”. The novel isn’t truly about one giant life-fulfilling adventure so much as one teen’s coming-of-age story.

Along the way of her mission, Rebel starts to see and hear the ghost of the author of the bucket list. This element just didn’t work for me because Rebel had enough making her feel isolated that it just felt like overkill. These scenes were just odd and unnecessary.

I wanted more from Nate than I got. I think parts of his development were missing. He would jump from one decision to another without really explaining why. It was mainly a problem at the end of the novel because he changes his mind without any hint of doing so.

I think a stronger conclusion would have really increased my appreciation of the novel. Rebel’s motives and story are all wrapped up, but not Nate’s nor their respective family’s.

The unique bucket list element was enjoyable, but in the end it just joins the pile of angst-y finding yourself novels. 


The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4) by Richelle Mead

Pages: 438  fiery heart 

Publisher: Razorbill 

Synopsis from Goodreads: In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . . 

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever. 

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

Review:

The Fiery Heart was just about what I expected, which was good and bad. The Bloodlines series seems to have fallen in a comfortable pattern for me, which is nice but not exciting. I can’t help but compare the series to Mead’s previous Vampire Academy novels. This series is missing some of the passion I expected from VAyet I keep reading book after book hoping to find it again.

Honestly, I think my issue is that I’m impatient and these books are taking their sweet time. We’re four novels in and the this felt like the first one where something major occured.

Between one book and the next it feels as though Sydney and Adrian change personalities. Their overall characteristics stay the same, but Sydney especially is doing things I never would have believed just a few book prior. Sydney and Adrian’s relationship failed to deliver, in my opinion. All of the right elements were there, but things just got way too repetitive. The Sydney in this installment was a pale version of herself because she was so consumed with Adrian. The majority of the novel was about them trying to find time together instead of the exciting world of moroi and dhampirs.

The plot was back and forth until the end, when it finally started to redeem itself.

As negative as this review seems, I did enjoy The Fiery Heart, just not as much as I hoped. Everything was comfortable and familiar but never delivered a new experience I hadn’t already felt.


The Vow by Jessica Martinez

Pages: 432 thevow

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: pulseit.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends? 

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him. 

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love? 

Review: 

I didn’t know what to expect from a book about a false marriage. I could only picture something like that Sandra Bullock movie The Proposal, and The Vow is nothing like that at all.

Mo and Annie are best friends, with really only the other to count on and trust. (Their lack of friends, or even other acquaintances, was a bit hard to believe. Mo has one friend besides Annie, but Annie has no one else.)  So, when it’s a choice between marrying each other or having Mo get deported, I could see why they made the decision they did.

The platonic boy/girl friendship is almost unheard of in the contemporary genre, so I really liked the unique perspective. On the topic of perspectives, the narration flips between Annie and Mo. The transitions between each chapter are very odd though and interrupt the flow of the story.

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t like Mo. He’s incredibly whiny and quick to play the victim. It was very, very frustrating. And, for being a supposedly intelligent guy, I found it unbelievable that he wouldn’t know marriage fraud was a felony. He even researched it before making any decisions! Also, towards the end of the novel he starts acting out of character and it really undermined the message of the book.

I found Annie much more pleasant to read. She is the one always saving Mo and seemed to be the far more loyal friend. When she meets her own love interest, Reed, I wanted her to drop Mo and say hello to him instead. Annie and Reed’s romance was so sweet that I wished there would have been more to it since it was a bit underdeveloped.

Overall, I just found too much of this book to be unbelievable. The ending was predictable and, like I said earlier, a bit undermining to what I thought was the theme of the novel. I really liked Annie and want her to have her own story with Reed, whom obviously cares for her more than Mo. The book explores some difficult themes, like racism and true sacrifices. If you do have the opportunity to read The Vow, take it. As much as the book annoyed me, it was nice to read something unlike anything I had read before. 


Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

Pages: 353  Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

Publisher: Bluefields

Source: Received from author in exchange for my honest review

Summary from Goodreads: 

An accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities. To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High’s resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special. Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat? More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him? 

Review: With a comic book-like atmosphere, Being Jamie Baker is a fun super hero-esque read.

It was exciting to read about a girl with super powers plain and simple. Each discovery of her powers is new to her and the reader, so I liked not having expectations as to what would happen next.

The beginning hooked me, but the middle started to lose me. Jamie has a unique voice which is most evident in the opening chapters. Later, I felt like the middle got a bit bogged down with some repetitive events. More on that in a minute.

A major conflict of the novel is Jamie opening up to others and learning to trust herself. Ryan, Jamie’s love interest, is at the center of this conflict. Jamie constantly goes back and forth between being his friend and avoiding him for “his own good”. I admit that I found this very frustrating, even though I could sort of understand where she was coming from. I think the middle of the book would have been stronger if Jamie had picked one decisions and stuck with it.

The end picked up the pace once again. While the evil foe is obvious, the ending battle makes up for it.  I think that Jamie could have handled a situation with another enemy a lot better than she did, but it will be interesting to see how she deals with it in the sequel, More than Jamie Baker.

Many pop culture references are in this novel. (I plan on having a discussion post on this topic soon.) These references felt a little dated. I found it out of place to be reading a book with super abilities only to have Smallville or Borders the bookstore mentioned.

The writing style is quite easy to read. However, I feel that more transitions are needed to make the story easier to follow along with.

One thing that didn’t sit quite right with me was a certain plot point I can’t discuss because of spoilers. Suffice it say I didn’t think it got the attention it demanded and was brushed off a little too casually.

The super hero feel of the book makes Being Jamie Baker a fun paranormal/urban fantasy read. I would recommend BJB to younger YA readers who are looking for a place to start reading the UF/PNR genre.

For a limited time, Being Jamie Baker is available for $.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!


The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

 Pages: 375   theforsaken 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Summary from Goodreads:

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway. 

Review: The Forsaken is an average blend of dystopian tropes that is very action-packed, but not overly unique. 

I saw this gorgeous cover and knew I would have to read The Forsaken. But alas, I liked the cover more than the actual novel.

To me, The Forsaken was a been-there-done-that kind of book. There was one point where I liked the turn that happened, but the book never really explored it. Other than that, each plot twist was hinted at to the extreme. Some of the events in the book struck me as simple shock value. Some thing would be brought up that was designed to get a gasp of surprise, but then it would just become background noise to the next thing happening.

An interesting thing about Alenna, the main character, is that she supports the government, at least at first. I got a little bored of her to be honest. I liked when she wall kick-butt, but for the beginning half of the book she didn’t stand out.

I couldn’t stand Gadya, the “best friend”. She was an awful person and friend, having a major freak out over a boy twice. She was psycho, but not in the way I like. Supposedly, she is this feminist who thinks girls need to stand up and fight. Okay, I can agree with that. But then, she would say these blatantly sexist things. (I forgot to note my prime example, but I think you can get my point from the following: 

“She shows me how to throw a punch like a boy… And how to throw a rock like a boy too.”

Alenna says that quote, but Gadya was the one to say those things to her I bet. I was like, “Excuse me? I thought you believed girls were just as good fighters. Or did you not mean that?” I just can’t buy that this warrior girl goes crazy over a boy and then asks for forgiveness like she didn’t just completely flip out. Alenna just accepts all of this, but I would have dropped Gadya the first chance I had. Gadya just had too much craziness going on and was poorly-developed.

I didn’t feel as though The Forsaken added anything innovative to the genre. It was certainly full of action and the story never slowed. However, The Forsaken wasn’t a book for me, but some others looking to read a death-filled dystopian adventure will probably like it more.

The sequel, The Uprising is out now.


The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski theshadowsociety

 The Shadow Society is unique in that I haven’t really read any other books that take place across multiple dimensions.

I liked Darcy and enjoyed her friends, yet at one point her friends fall off the radar once Darcy gets wrapped up with Conn. It felt like a good majority of the books is just about Darcy and Conn doing not very exciting things.

I appreciated how Darcy didn’t immediately forgive Conn when he betrays her. (I promise this is not a spoiler! It is written in the summary.) Conn was one moody character. He went through some personality changes throughout the whole book. Sometimes I couldn’t take him seriously.

“He clapped a hand over his mouth. ‘I did not just say that.'” – Conn, pg 277

To be honest, I just sat laughing after reading that quote. He’s supposed to be some super tough guy, yet his actions don’t match that description.

Overall, The Shadow Society is enjoyable, but not a book that I think I will be reading again.

Despite not having an overwhelmingly positive experience with Rutkoski’s writing, I am still looking forward to her forthcoming book, The Winner’s Curse

Have you read The Shadow Society? Looking forward to The Winner’s Curse? Let me know!

 


Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4) by Alyxandra Harvey

Pages: 304                                         Bleeding Hearts

Publisher: Bloomsbury Teens

Summary from Goodreads:

As vampires from all over the world descend on the Drake farm for the Blood Moon gathering, security is ramped up. Lucy has been temporarily banned, for her own safety—and to allow Solange some time to adjust to her new existence. But their enemies realize how much Lucy means to the family, and plan to abduct her to use her for leverage against the new royal family. Instead, Lucy’s cousin Christabel is kidnapped by mistake—and Connor Drake immediately heads off in pursuit, but isn’t in time to prevent Christabel’s infection by the Hel Blar. He can’t save her human life, but he can still try to save her new vampire life, and is willing to put his own life on the line for the girl he has grown to care so much about. Can he save Christabel, the Blood Moon, and his mother’s newly forged Vampire Alliance?

Review:

A fun vampire read, Bleeding Hearts stands out from other paranormal romances.

The female characters in the Drake Chronicles always do a lot of nose punching. Lucy and her cousin Christabel are pretty sassy and five the book a light hearted feel. Even though Bleeding Hearts is about vampires and kidnapping the book always stays fairly humorous.

The pace is like a rollercoaster: Took awhile to build up momentum and then quickly began to rush towards the end. The beginning doesn’t have very much serious action going on and the end moves so fast that there is hardly any time to process what’s happening.

I wasn’t feeling the romance in this one. It doesn’t really serve a point. Sometimes Christabel and Connor were cute together, but I never felt any connection between them.

The multiple POVS is aggravating. Connor was very bland to read about. Christabel was slightly more interesting, yet got repetitive with her constant reminders that she lives and breathes historical literature. Lucy’s perspective was the most fun to read, yet it felt out of place since the story is mainly about the story of Connor and Christabel. Lucy has her own subplots going on, so sometimes I thought I was reading two different stories.

Many, many plot points are brought up and never fully addressed again, but I assume they will be answered in the next installment.

I enjoyed visiting the Drake world once again as the books are always pleasant read; however, this one isn’t my favorite of the series.


The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

Pages: 363            The Treachery of  Beautiful Things_JKT.indd

Publisher: Speak

Summary from Goodreads:

A darkly compelling mix of romance, fairy tale, and suspense from a new voice in teen fiction.

The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she’s lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice–and not just her own.

Review:

The Treachery of Beautiful Things tries very hard to be a fairy tale. It has dragons, damsels-in-distress, and magic quests. However, at some points The Treachery came across as trying too hard.

The writing style is descriptive — to the point where it’s distracting. Some odd sentence structures are used, an effort to be more of a traditional fairy tale, I’m sure. Lots of metaphors and similes fill the pages, all factors contributing to an over-the-top setting.

Jenny, the aforementioned damsel-in-distress, certainly doesn’t think about her actions. She constantly rushes into dangerous situations and then requires the help of Jack, her guardian, to rescue her. This got old pretty fast. I thought it was funny how Jenny kept saying she would finally save herself, only to end up having Jack save the day. The best way to describe Jenny would be to call her a Mary Sue. She could do no wrong, and when she made mistakes, it is only because she is so pure of heart. *eye roll*

The romance is one typical of YA: Girl + boy = instalove! Besides being awkward and not at all understandable, the romantic element was uninteresting. 

Being modeled after a traditional faerie book, The Treachery has a cast of characters including Puck, Oberon, and Titania. Having read many books featuring them, The Treachery won’t stand out in my mind.

What fairy tale would be complete without a happily ever after? The conclusion is a happy one that tied up some loose ends and ignored others. Honestly, it is more of an ending than an actual conclusion.

The prose at times is pretty and the plot definitely has a lot going on. Containing both positives and negatives, The Treachery of Beautiful Things is a fairly average faerie book. 



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