Review: NIL Unlocked (NIL #2) by Lynne Matson

Book Title: NIL Unlocked
Author: Lynne Matson
Published Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: YA/Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 in NIL trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die. Rives is now the undisputed Leader of Nil City, but keeping the City united is tougher than ever.

Raiders have grown bolder, supplies are dwindling, and non-human inhabitants have taken a turn toward the deadly. New arrivals cause rifts within the City, putting the Search system at risk, and calling everything Rives knows into question. Desperate for answers, he teams up with the only other person searching for them: Skye, a new arrival with a mysterious past of her own. Soon the duo find themselves locked in a desperate race to save all the residents of Nil—and possibly destroy the island forever. But at what cost? And who will pay the price?

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

Review:
Holy crap, I didn’t expect NIL Unlocked to be better than NIL, but it was!
I didn’t mention this in my review of NIL, but my only criticism was that we didn’t get any information on the history of NIL and how it came to be or any other kind of backstory on NIL. Thankfully, in NIL Unlocked, I got some answers. I got answers about NIL and how it worked. In some ways, this was my favorite part of the book.
We wouldn’t have known anything about NIL if it weren’t for Skye. NIL wasn’t a mystery to Skye and although I’d love to say more on that front, I can’t because of how spoilery it would end up being and I really want to avoid spoilers as much as I can. Skye was awesome though and as much as I loved Charley in book one, I loved Skye equally.
As fascinating as Skye was, I was very curious about Rives. I had loved him in NIL and was excited to see what was in store for him. I had loved Thad, but I think I actually loved Rives more. I’m not sure exactly why, but Rives was awesome and he was a leader and he had a whole lot of strength.
Unlike with Charley & Thad, Skye and Rives’ romance didn’t start until the book was nearly over and I think I liked that better. I love slow burn romances and Skye & Rives fit that to a T. Truthfully though, I do wonder if Skye’s NIL knowledge was really what attracted Rives to her. Yeah maybe that’s a bit cynical, but I wonder if Rives would have fallen for her if she didn’t have this “insider information”
The secondary characters were once again, awesome. I loved Jillian and Dex especially and it was because of them, that the ending of this book had me pretty much sobbing into the pages. I wasn’t expecting the feels to be quite as intense in the second book, but in many ways, the feels were more intense. I don’t know how Lynne Matson does it.
I loved this book even more than I loved book one and I will be ordering a finished copy of this book soon. Needless to say, I’m giving it 5 stars and I cannot wait to see where the story leads in the final book.

Review: The Cage (The Cage #1) by Megan Shepherd

The Cage (The Cage, #1)
Book Title: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Published Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Series: Book One in The Cage trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Review:
I was nervous about this book because I didn’t enjoy The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. I wanted to give Shepherd another chance to impress me. This book looked like something I’d love, so I was also excited.

This book really surprised me in the best way. It was fascinating, and the world building was really well done. I was nervous about the world building because it can either be really awesome and help contribute to the story, or it can be underdeveloped and ruin the story. I could picture the different enclosures and the people well.

Cora, Lucky, Nok, Leon and Rolf are already one member short when the book opens, the sixth member of their little group is dead, and for awhile we don’t know what happened to her. That question is eventually answered as are countless more questions.

There are three rules in this place:
1. Solve the enrichment puzzles
2. Maintain their health by eating the food provided, get enough sleep and cooperate in routine health assessments.
3. Engage in procreative activities to ensure the continuation of the species.
If they do not complete all three steps in 21 days, they will be removed from the enclosure. We don’t find out until much later where they end up if they don’t cooperate.

Cassian was interesting and I’m not 100% sure I trust him at this point in the story. He knows far more than Cora or any of the others do at this point and he’s very reluctant to share what he knows, even with Cora. He does bend the rules at times, so you start to think that he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He seems to care for Cora by the time the book ends, but like I said, I’m not sure I trust him yet.

Now Mali was so freaking fascinating, I actually liked her the best out of all the characters. She was so mysterious and intriguing. I was never quite sure whose side she was on, if she was really as messed up as she seemed. So getting parts of the story from her point of view was awesome and I actually wished there was more of her in the story.

The writing style was interesting. It had been a long time since I had read something in third person present tense, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get invested in the story. Thankfully the story itself was captivating and I had no issues with the way it was written.

I was really impressed by this book. I was hooked from the beginning and I never wanted to put it down. It was such a unique story, and I cannot wait for book 2 to come out. It’s going to be a long wait until then. I am giving this book 4.5 stars. It was nearly perfect and I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction.

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

Review:
Legitimate question: How does Kasie West do this?

I mean, this is her 3rd contemporary novel and she just has this ability to create swoony boys and put them together with imperfect girls. God, her formula is awesome. The Distance Between Us is still my favorite Kasie West contemporary, but The Fill-In Boyfriend is fighting for 2nd place alongside On The Fence.

We meet Gia just as she’s getting dumped on prom night by her boyfriend, Bradley. That was rough to read. High school can be a cruel place, especially if you attend a promo solo. For Gia, the idea of attending prom on her own is not something she wants to face. Not when Jules, her frenemy, has doubted the existence of Bradley since the beginning. The last thing Gia wants is to be seen as a liar.

On a whim, she asks a guy who just dropped his sister off, to be her date to prom. She wants him to pretend to be Bradley, and after a little bit of bantering, he agrees. The night ends a little rocky, and Gia doubts that she’ll ever see Fill-In Bradley again.

Until it’s revealed that she’s been sitting behind his sister in one of her classes all year.

Now it’s time for Fill-In Bradley to pass Gia off as his girlfriend at a party that his ex will be at. Fill-In Bradley is clearly still in love with his ex, and is willing to do whatever he has to do in order to get her to come back to him. His sister is all for this plan although she intensely dislikes her brother’s ex.

More craziness ensues at the party, but my favorite part was seeing the sparks increase between Fill-In Bradley and Gia. I could feel the chemistry between them, I felt like I could root for them as a couple. That, right there is an awesome feeling. 

I loved the romance between Gia & Fill-In Bradley. It worked for me because there were things that balanced each of them out. When things went sour between Fill-In Bradley and his ex, his self-esteem took a nosedive. Gia helped his confidence. Gia started off the book a bit uptight and rigid, but Fill-In Bradley helped relax her.

I loved Gia’s character arc. At the beginning of the book she is so obsessed with doing everything perfect, being friends with the right people, never showing her true emotions, but as the book unfolds, Gia starts to crack, she starts becoming more flawed, she starts expressing her true emotions, especially around her family.

On the surface, her family seems normal, loving and supportive of each other, but as the book continues on, we realize that Gia doesn’t really share anything with her parents, and her mom especially, keeps her emotions bottled up, just like Gia does. I did love her dad though. Her dad was awesome and protective.

“I hate boys.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No, well, he just hurt my heart.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”

This book explored the complexities of sibling relationships as well. I spent most of the book detesting the hell out of Gia’s brother Drew. He just seemed like such a jackass and most of the time, the things he would say would enrage me. Things between Drew & Gia were complicated, but I liked how it ended.

Friendships in your teen years are difficult as well. For Gia, her friendships with Claire, Laney and Jules were difficult. I truly think that Jules was awful, but that she was also the Alpha. Claire & Laney were the Betas. I also feel like Gia was never her true self around these girls. Like she had to behave a certain way for these girls to even tolerate her. The exploration of teenage friendships was truly great.

I really enjoyed this book, and it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Kasie West book. I am giving this book 4.5 stars. I’m not actually sure why I cannot give it the full 5 stars, but I definitely recommend it very highly for contemporary lovers.

“We’re not perfect and we don’t have to be.”

Review: Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold (Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend #2) by Katie Finn

Book Title: Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold
Author: Katie Finn
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Book Two in Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The war rages on between Gemma and Hallie in the second installment of the Broken Hearts and Revenge series.

After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma’s trying to handle the fact that Hallie knew who she was all along, and she was the one who stole Teddy from her. Gemma vows revenge, but things get more complicated than she planned. Ford, Gemma’s long-time crush, has arrived in the Hamptons cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after she lied to him, and Teddy is playing champion to his beloved Marsh Warbler (in Gemma’s backyard, no less).

Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle. Just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever. This exciting sequel to Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend will leave you begging for the third installment.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this ARC from a fellow blogger.

Review:
I needed something fluffy and summery after finishing a book full of feels right before this. And fluffy and summery was exactly what I got. I was surprised how much I liked the first book in this trilogy, Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend as it’s not normally my thing. I go for the “dark YA Contemporaries” I don’t usually go for the fluffy ones. Since I enjoyed the first book so much, I was eager to get my hands on the second book. 

Thanks to a fellow book blogger, I got my hands on it!

The second book of a series usually has the sophomore slump issue. It’s hard to write or read a book that has no real beginning or ending. Thankfully, this book did not suffer from that problem. We finally got to meet Ford and Gwynneth. I had been very curious about those two since book one and we finally got to meet them and they both had significant parts in the book. 

I ship Ford & Gemma by the way. You may not remember how much I didn’t like Josh & Gemma together. I mean Josh was a gentleman and he was kind and sweet, but I didn’t feel a true romantic connection between him and Gemma. Now Gemma & Ford on the other hand, they have chemistry and it sizzles. Please make them happen, Finn. Pretty please?

The drama was definitely amped up in this one. From cheese to shoplifting to betrayals, it was all in there. There was romance, there was friendship and there was a lot of scheming. Now did I always agree with what Gemma was doing? Nope, sometimes I just wanted her to stop and think about what she was doing. Then shit would hit the fan again and I would be pulled right back into this crazy ride.

This book was even better than the first book. Maybe because I loved Gemma and Ford together. Maybe because the drama was ramped up a degree. I’m not sure, but I loved this book. It was exactly what I needed to read at this time. 5 stars to this drama filled, summery book with a cliffhanger that you won’t see coming.

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Book Title: Made You Up
Author: Francesca Zappia
Published Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 


Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Greenwillow Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Review:
I knew instantly this book was right up my alley. There is such a shortage of YA books dealing with mental illness, and that disappoints me. Mental illness is such a taboo subject, but by writing this book, Zappia shows us the realities of schizophrenia, and we see clearly that these teenagers are just trying to be as normal as possible.

At first, the book is kind of slow, but as the book continues, and we’re introduced to the rest of the group that Alex will be doing community service with, I could tell that I was going to fall in love with this book, and boy did I ever. I fell in love with this book more and more every single chapter. That’s how special this book was.

Alex is a paranoid schizophrenic, and she copes with that by doing perimeter checks, taking pictures and taking medication. She’s starting over in a new school after being kicked out of her previous school for spray painting the word communists on the gym floor, with bold red paint. Over the summer she’s been working at Finnegan’s, a restaurant and she met Tucker there. Tucker was an absolute sweetheart. He was by her side throughout this book. Even when she begins spending more time with Miles. Many years ago, Miles and Tucker had a serious falling out which resulted in their friendship ending. Tucker doesn’t trust Miles, but he worries about Alex, even as Alex tries to assure Tucker that Miles is not a bad person.

She’s sure she remembers Miles from ten years ago when she freed the lobsters at the supermarket. He helped her, of that, Alex is certain. Even though her own mother is insistent that wasn’t what happened. I wasn’t sure if I liked Miles, and for awhile there I wondered if Miles was even real or was he just another delusion.

Miles has his own demons and while it takes him awhile to open up to Alex, he finally lets her in and that moment is beautiful and heartwarming. He’s not afraid of her. Even when she lets him in on what’s going on with her, he doesn’t run away. Neither do any of the kids in the after school community service group. Even when the cat is out of the bed metaphorically, they stand by her side. I looooved that part. So many kids who have mental illness don’t have any friends because the mental illness scares them. Plus the very negative stigma that having mental illness brings with it. Teens that deal with mental illness also deal with the isolation that often accompanies it.

I loved Alex’s family, they were so supportive, though to be honest I was peeved at her father a lot of times. He should have been there physically more than he actually was. A lot of the stress fell squarely on her mom’s shoulders and I worried about her mom too. She was trying to keep everything afloat, but it was clear to me that she struggled.

I didn’t realize how much I had fallen in love with this book and it’s characters until I reached the end of it. I hugged my Kindle and bawled my eyes out as I finished this book. This book was so important, and I would even make the argument that it needs to be considered required reading. I know it changed me in ways I was never expecting. 5 stars to this book that combines and important topic with a likable protagonist and an endearing boy.

Review: Apple & Rain by Sarah Crossan

Book Title: Apple & Rain
Author: Sarah Crossan
Published Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s USA
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads
When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels almost whole again. In order to heal completely, her mother will have to answer one burning question: Why did she abandon her? But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bittersweet. It’s only when Apple meets her younger sister, Rain—someone more lost than she is— that she begins to see things for how they really are, allowing Apple to discover something that might help her to feel truly whole again.

From the author of the acclaimed The Weight of Water comes a beautifully-crafted, moving novel about family, betrayal, and the ultimate path to healing.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Children’s USA in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
When I first saw the synopsis for Apple & Rain, I was excited and hopeful. Sister stories are some of my favorite things, and I was hoping I’d love the book as much as I loved the cover. Unfortunately I spent the majority of the book metaphorically banging my head against a wall. These characters all frustrated me in varying degrees.

Apple wanted her mom to come back. She held her mom up on this pedestal. Even when she did come back and make some extremely questionable decisions, it took a long time for Apple to even realize that just because her mom was back didn’t mean everything was perfect. Apple was a very frustrating character, but she was also the one who had the best character arc. By the time the book ends, she realizes that her mom isn’t perfect and that her grandmother was more of a mom to her than her own mom.

I felt terrible for Rain. Clearly she had a lot of problems and I hated how her mom handled them. Yeah she carried around a baby doll, who she swore was a real baby. Most moms would have been extremely concerned about that and would have done anything to get her the help she needed. Yet, Rain and Apple’s mom didn’t give a crap. All she cared about was her career and the parties she would have (which involved plying her oldest underage daughter with alcohol)

Apple and Rain’s mom, Annie, was incredibly selfish. She didn’t give a crap about how Apple felt about anything. She would randomly pull Apple out of school for the hell of it, or even to babysit Rain while she went on auditions. So instead of being selfless and focusing on what her daughters needed, Annie focused on herself. Her career seemed to be all that mattered to her. It was utterly infuriating.

As for Nan, Egan and Del and the other secondary characters, they were woefully underdeveloped, which bummed me out. I wanted to know more about them, particularly Del. I thought there was a lot more to him than met the eye.

The book definitely improved by the ending, and in fact I was able to bump it up one full star. I was excited about that because I had felt so frustrated by the book so far. I am definitely bummed that this wasn’t an emotional read like I was expecting. I didn’t laugh or cry at all and I think that was simply because I didn’t connect with the characters. I’ll be giving this book 3 stars.

Review: A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

Book Title: A Matter of Heart
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Published Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by a fellow blogger.

Review:
My feelings about this book are really complex because I’ve had heart problems since birth and so I’ve always known I would never be able to do competitive sports or allow my heart rate to go too high with exertion. 

For Abby it’s different. She’s been the picture of health since she was born and now, out of nowhere, she has developed a potentially fatal heart condition called Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM. So she definitely struggles with the diagnosis. She struggles with the knowledge that she will not be able to compete at the level she has always competed at. She struggles with the fact that a medication called a beta-blocker must be taken every day to keep her heart rate low.

I know several people had issues with how she handled things and how much she fought her own body. I totally understood it though. She longed to control something that was out of her control. At one point, she chooses to stop taking her medication. That was her way of attempting to assert control over the situation. About ten years ago I began having issues with abnormal heart rhythms and had to stop drinking coffee and eating chocolate and that was tough on me. 

Eventually my cardiac team and I realized that my chocolate & coffee consumption did not effect my arrhythmias & that I was still having arrhythmias even when I was not drinking coffee or eating chocolate. I decided to make my own choice in the matter and I felt like it wasn’t a big deal for me to eat chocolate & have coffee. Should Abby have stopped taking her medications? Of course not, but as a teenager who once wanted nothing more than to be normal, I sympathized with her. 

Even when she makes the decision to keep swimming at a competitive level despite her doctors warnings, I understood. She didn’t want to quit. She didn’t want to be a failure and she was scared that if she did quit, she would be a failure to her coach and to her father. Her father was the one she was really scared of letting down, and her father wasn’t ready for the dream to be over. I do think her father realized his mistakes by the time the book ended though. He knew he needed to stop pushing her or the worst would happen.

I was so thankful that she had Jen. Jen was her best friend and she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. As teenagers, friends become more important & influential than parents. I hoped that Jen would be Abby’s voice of reason. Keeping friendships when you have what is often considered an “invisible illness” is so important and often overlooked.

I wanted to string Connor up on a tree. He was beyond repair and I found myself so angry with him. He basically showed that he was terrified of Abby’s heart condition and that was painful to read because I’ve been interested in guys who pretty much wouldn’t touch me when they found out about my heart. So I was pissed that he was too afraid to kiss her or be intimate with her at any level. 

I was relieved when that relationship ended because I loved Alec. He was concerned about Abby and Abby’s heart, but he wasn’t afraid to kiss her. He wasn’t afraid of her illness which really made me happy. Alec had his own stressors that centered around swimming just like Abby. He’s got a great sense of humor which was something I didn’t really see in Connor.

“I’ve always had a thing for girls on beta-blockers.”

Alec also reminds Abby of something else. The simple fact that swimming wasn’t always about winning. As children, swimming had been something they had done for fun. Abby still had a chance to remember that and to help the younger kids that she coached, remember that as well. She tells Alec of something she experienced during a near death episode, something that I wasn’t sure she’d ever express.

“Alec, listen to me. When I woke up in the gravel, I though of everything that I’d nearly lost. Everything that mattered. And I never once thought about a medal or the shelf or even a swimming pool. I thought about my parents and Jen. I thought about you.”

I didn’t realize how much of an impact this book had on me until I started writing the review. I think it was a really good book, and I think a big part of me liking it was that I understood where Abby was coming from. I too am very competitive and I cannot say I wouldn’t have done the same thing she did if I got the same diagnosis at her age. Her choices were questionable, but unless you’ve been in a similar position you will not understand her reasons for making these choices. I will be giving it 4 stars, and I will likely pick up a finished copy of this book.

Review: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Book Title: The Last Good Day of the Year
Author: Jessica Warman
Published Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s USA
Genre: YA Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author ofBetween.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Children’s USA, in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, I was excited for it, but I was also really nervous to read it. It was definitely slow in the beginning, and it took me awhile to really get into it. I actually picked it up and put it down a few times before I just read it all the way through. I am really glad I did this as it just got better and better as I kept reading.

We’re introduced to Sam’s family, including her older sister Gretchen and her younger sister Hannah. Hannah was born five years after Tabitha “Turtle” was kidnapped. Everyone knows that Hannah was conceived just to pull their mom out of her deep dark depression, and from early on, we learn that Hannah is already learning that being pretty makes things better. That, right there, gave me the creeps. She was a small child who really shouldn’t need to worry about that stuff. Not only that, but Hannah is still unaware of Turtle’s existence.

Steven was looked at as the prime suspect from the beginning. Not only did Sam and her best friend, Remy named him, but also because Steven had had arguments and disagreements with Gretchen’s father. Things between Gretchen and Steven ended abruptly when Steven was arrested for murdering Turtle.

I know Steven’s mom was standing by her son, but I gotta say, her derogatory language about her son’s girlfriend was definitely something that pissed me off. She clearly didn’t think her beloved son could have done anything wrong. She may have turned a blind eye to the truth because even if Steven didn’t kill Turtle, he was not totally innocent. As the book went on, I began to realize that even if he didn’t kill Turtle, he was still a creepy guy, borderline obsessive.

There was an odd little love triangle thing, Sam feels a connection to Noah because she met him at a support group for people whose have had a family member murdered. But she is also still connected to Remy. Remy represents her childhood and all the carefree things that happened before Turtle was kidnapped.

As the book continues, more suspects pop up, including an Amish guy by the name of Frank Yarrow and an old family friend. This is when things start to get a little crazy. Secrets come to light and we find out who was really a part of this whole mess. I guessed the twist before it was revealed, but I didn’t mind that at all because I didn’t figure out the entire story.


The ending was insanity, I wrote this review the day after I finished this book and I was still thinking about it. Still thinking about one certain part that I would love to talk about, but can’t because it’s massively spoilery. I do recommend this book, but only if you are patient enough to read it because the beginning is definitely slow, but it is definitely worth it. I am giving it 4 stars because the story and how everything is weaved together is done really well.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Book Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publish Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book One in A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about faeries, or if I have, it was forgettable. This book is definitely not forgettable. This book has Tamlin & Lucien, both of whom will make you melt into a damn puddle. They are hot, sexy, swoony fae men, who ooze hotness at every page turn. They both are distrustful of Feyre at first, but slowly, she begins to win them over.

Both Lucien and Tamlin have their own sad stories, stories we learn about as the book unfolds. They each have their own reasons for feeling, thinking and acting the way they do. My heart will always belong to Lucien due to some of the things we learn about him. Plus I’ve always had a thing for guys with red hair.

The romance between Tamlin and Feyre was so incredibly hot. I mean I don’t think any book has ever caused me to blush this hard. Maas knows how to write steamy, sexy things so, so well. I am forever grateful that I did not read this book in public. Don’t read this book in public guys. Unless you are one of the few who don’t mind when people see you blush. Because you will blush during certain sexy points in this book.

But it will be well worth it.

The lengths Feyre goes in order to prove her love for Tamlin are inspiring. I did a lot of thinking about this and the things she’s asked to do in the name of love, I don’t think I’ve loved anyone to the extent that I’d be willing to take part in terrifying things. Reading this book, and watching Tamlin & Feyre’s love story develop, made me realize that I would never have done what she did for my ex fiance. 

That right there was a startling revelation.

The world building was amazing, and it really made me feel like I was right there, in the action with Tamlin, Lucien, Feyre and the others. It was my first Maas book, but it definitely will not be my last. It was sexy, fast paced and exciting. Fantasy books are quickly becoming my second favorite genre and right now, as I type this, A Court of Thorns and Roses is my favorite Fantasy book of 2015. I cannot wait for everyone to read this awesome book. 5 stars to this fantastic book full of romance, intrigue and beautiful words.