Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
Release Date – December 31, 2013
Publisher Website –  Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother -- whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her...and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler's spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.
There is this little cult classic movie called Poison Ivy. It stars Drew Barrymore as a bad girl who lives up to the name, and Sara Gilbert as a sheltered, lonely outcast who gets in over her head when her and 'Ivy' become friends. Afterparty immediately filled me with nostalgia for this movie, because of the similar feelings in invokes. It's dangerous, sexy, and has a twisted female friendship at it's core. I knew I was going to enjoy this one as this began to unravel, and I wasn't disappointed.

The setting of the novel, Los Angeles, could not be more perfect for this story. It's sexy; all glitz and glamour. There is also an undercurrent filled with drugs, parties, and danger. It's the perfect mix of balmy nights and beach filled days that provides a pitch perfect backdrop for this story.

The tension in this novel is kept tight throughout. The build up to the 'Afterparty' is thrust into the spotlight in the very opening passages of the novel. We are told to expect something, and the countdown is torture. As things spiral out of control, the tension increases until it finally pops. It's effective, and engrossing.

There are a few fun twists, one of which made me gasp out loud. I was delighted that the ground work had been laid and I didn't put the pieces together until it was revealed. It's rare that it happens, and this one certainly took me by surprise. The way the story is told is fun, and thrilling because you're on edge the entire time, waiting for the next bomb to drop.

There is so much going on in this novel that will resonate with teens. It's like a heightened version of scenarios that are all too familiar. We have the classic struggle between family and friends. Emma is the 'good girl'. Her father pushes her to remain that way. She feels pressure and struggles with the side of her that wants freedom. Her father is over-the-top strict. He has his reasons (which added to the story) but Emma just wants to be a teenager. She wants to mess up, make mistakes. Her father just doesn't want those mistakes to be ones she can't take back, and so he is over cautious. This leaves Emma open to temptation, and Siobhan can tempt. This struggle of push/pull between parents and friends is a defining part of your teen years, as is finding that middle ground that is all you. Emma walks this line, and we see her begin to define herself.

The friendship between Emma and Siobhan is the definition of twisted. Siobhan pushes Emma, and at first it's thrilling and exciting. Things quickly spiral out of control though. We are left in the dark mostly about Siobhan's motivations. It's unclear how much she's lying, and what is the truth. This is Emma's story, and while I would have loved to know more about Siobhan, it's right that she remains just out of reach. It adds to her allure, and her danger.

My only minor issue is that after a stellar opening and set up the end doesn't deliver as big a punch as the rest of the novel. It tapers out a little. There are some deliciously wicked moments latter half of the novel that do stand out, it just doesn't feel as powerful as the very strong first half. The way that things are left ambiguous in the climax of the novel was a great touch. The fact that not everything is wrapped up felt authentic.

A story of getting lost while finding yourself, defining yourself, and learning that sometimes the only person you can save is yourself. Afterparty is sexy, tension filled read that had me turning the pages to see where this roller coaster would go next.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Most Anticipated - The Merciless

The next (and last) pick on my 2014 Most Anticipated list is one whose synopsis chilled me the second I read it. Danielle Vega's The Merciless takes exorcism and mixes them with highschool Shiver, right?!

Just check out this Goodreads synopsis and you'll be as desperate to get your hands on it as I am.
Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?
NEED IT NOW! If this is not enough to make you want to get your hands on this title, perhaps Danielle's Q & A will give you that extra push.

1. Describe The Merciless in three words

Blood. Sacrifice. Secrets.

2. How would you describe the narrator (or main character) of this book? 

I only need one word for this--lonely. Sofia Flores is an army brat whose mother is constantly dragging her to new cities. She'd be the first to tell you that making new friends is a challenge (and finding a boyfriend is borderline impossible.) So when three gorgeous, popular girls at her new school start acting friendly, Sofia's excited--so excited she overlooks the creepier parts of their personalities. Like how their smiles never seem to reach their eyes. And that they're all obsessed with Brooklyn Stevens--an edgy, hipster girl who's pretty strange herself.  

By the time Sofia realizes who the girls she's become friends with actually are it's much, much too late. 

3. Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

ALL of my characters have secrets. We're talking big, juicy secrets. The kind you can never say out loud if you want your friends to stay your friends. But giving away their secrets would spoil the fun so, instead, I'll give away one of my own. It's the reason I wanted to write horror stories in the first place. 

You know those urban legends you tell around a campfire? The ones you know aren't real because they always happened to someone's cousin's friend's brother? Well I happen to know that one of them is 100% factual. I know because it happened to my mom when she was a teenager. 

My mom had been sleeping over at her friend Debbie's house when they noticed something on the ceiling they were certain hadn't been there the night before: two tiny, little holes drilled into the plaster.

My mom and Debbie freaked out. Wouldn't you? Turns out the attic was directly above Debbie's room, and they got it in their heads that some crazed psycho killer had drilled the holes in the ceiling to watch them sleep. They told Debbie's parents but, of course, they came up with some nonsense parent explanation for what happened. Like maybe the ceiling was cracked or something? Or maybe the holes had been there all along. My mom and Debbie weren't convinced, but it was better than the alternative. Debbie's parents plastered up the holes and, after a week or so, everyone forgot about the whole thing. 

Then, a few months later, my mom was staying the night again. She and Debbie had just turned off the light and crawled into bed when they heard something. A kind of scratching noise coming from the ceiling. They immediately remembered the holes they'd found during their last sleepover, and leapt out of bed and ran for Debbie's parents. Together, the four of them crept up to the attic to see who was there. 

But the attic was empty. The only thing they found was the tiny spot on the floor where someone had started drilling a new hole. 

Now, my mom and Debbie were totally freaked. This just proved that someone was up there! But Debbie's parent's insisted the plaster was just caving in and told the girls to go to bed--they'd fix it in the morning. So Debbie and my mom crawled back into bed, but they couldn't sleep. They stared up at the ceiling, terrified, until finally--

"Someone needs to check under the bed," Debbie said. My mom immediately realized she was right. Neither of them would be able to sleep until they knew there wasn't a killer hiding beneath them. The girls played a quick game of rock, paper, scissors to see who would do it. My mom lost, so she crouched down on her hands and knees and peered into the darkness. 

There was something there. My mom reached forward, and pulled out an old shoebox. She took off the lid... 

Inside, she found a drill covered in fresh plaster.

4. This book revolves around girls attempting an exorcism. What kind of research did you do for this aspect of the book?

Let's just say I hope the police never look at my Google search history! I started by digging into all of the creepiest, strangest rituals of traditional exorcisms. But my characters are teenage girls, not priests, so traditional wasn't going to cut it. I had to get more creative than that. In the end, I researched everything from the most vile forms of torture (both mental and physical) to how to perform a bathroom baptism and what's the most delicious thing to eat late at night. Now I know lots of creepy things: like how to break someone's knee cap, that you can drown in a bathroom sink, and caramel corn dipped in Nutella is absolutely heavenly

5. What 2014 release are you most looking forward to?

Hands down it's Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor. My heart will not rest until I know what happens to Karou and Akiva and Zuzana and Mic.

A huge thank you to Danielle for taking the time to answer them! This title is one of the ones I am desperate to get my hands on as soon as possible. The answer to question number 3 is terrifying. I wouldn't sleep for a long time! VERY creepy. It gives me even higher hopes that The Merciless will be terrifying.

If you want to learn more, check out the author's twitter, or the publisher's website for more information.

The Merciless will be in stores August 7, 2014. Pre-orders for this title are available at some retailers if you want to take advantage of that.



Let me know in the comments what you think of the synopsis, or just flail over how much you want to read this too. Also, check back soon for a contest where you could win one of my featured titles (be sure to pay attention to these Question and Answers as they'll help).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

I hope you got some awesome books for Christmas. I sadly, did not. My family thinks I have more than enough to read (and let's be honest, they're probably right) but I did get my pass to Book Expo America in 2014 (so it's kind of like they gave me books right?).

I did get a few things in the mail. Epic Reads had their annual 'book cheer' tea time. I ended up winning a prize pack, and it's pretty awesome! Love the *book shimmy* tote.

The Book of Love by Lynn Weingarten (goodreads)
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (goodreads)
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting (goodreads)
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle (goodreads)

I also purchased an e-book. It's an adult title that I've seen bloggers raving about and decided to get it on Kobo to try out.

Unteachable by Leach Raeder (goodreads)

Hope you had a fantastic book haul this week too! Link me in the comments so I can come visit.

Happy Reading, and Happy Weekend!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Release Date – May 7, 2013
Publisher Website –  Penguin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  457 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**borrowed from fellow blogger**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
Some books are hyped and can not live up to that level of . The 5th Wave is one of those books that certainly deserve it's praise. However, I would have appreciated it even more if it had surprised me. It's a novel filled with fear, devastation, and yet also heart and hope. It's also a story to discover on your own.

Cassie's isolation and loneliness are palpable.  Her character fights with wanting to trust and needing to survive. Her devotion to her family, especially her little brother is such an integral part of who Cassie is and it's certainly captured within these pages. Cassie's struggle resonated with me because being in her position would create trust issues. It would create the kind of person Cassie is. She lives every day deciding between giving up, and continuing on.

There are multiple points of view in this novel, which isn't touched upon in the synopsis. Each of the view points adds another layer to the story. It also creates plenty of opportunity for foreshadowing. There are plenty of  what should be twists and turns. Some you see come and anticipate the fallout once the impact is felt. Others creep up on you with you praying that your intuition is wrong. The 5th Wave lacked any real jaw dropping surprise for me. It was here that the foreshadowing didn't pay off as well as it could have. The journey,  however, is more important than those twist and is the payoff of the story.

The alien invasion feels all too plausible. It creates an atmosphere of fear and foreboding. Waiting for something to happen would be the hardest part, and knowing it could happen at anytime would create a tension that never really leaves. The aliens are presented as determined, patient, and driven. As horrific as the previous waves had been, the 5th wave takes it up a notch. Once you realize what the 'others' have planned your heart breaks. It also shows how intelligent and cunning the 'others' actually are.

The romance hits the right balance. This is a story where everything is laced with danger and suspicion, and the romance ties into the main character's development. She has to learn to trust, open her heart, and take that leap of faith. It doesn't overwhelm the plot, but instead interweaves through it in a logical way. I appreciated that Cassie was even questioning why she was worried about romance when the world was crumbling. You see that she have to take the good moments where you can, because she is surrounded by the bad.

A novel that is terrifying because it's all too easily imagined.  A novel that reminds us that hope is a powerful thing, and that surviving sometimes means letting yourself believe. The 5th Wave never lets the reader, or Cassie give up hope fully, and therefore never quite destroyed me. It is, however, a chilling and thrilling start to a series that has a lot of potential.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Follow Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What books did Santa stuff your stocking with this holiday season? Do a holiday book haul for us! If you don’t celebrate just show off your books that you got this week. Pictures!!! .

I did not get any books from my family, but I did get some from friends, and my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa.

Happy Weekend and Happy Holidays!

Top 5 Most Interesting Characters from 2013

There are characters who stand out more than others while you are reading. It could be for a variety of reasons. Some you love and some you love to hate, but either way you're fascinated by them. Here is my list of the top five characters who made sure I wouldn't forget them when 2014 rolls around.

1 Anne Boleyn from Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

I would expect putting your own take on a character like Anne Boleyn would be daunting. She's been written about many times, and is probably the most well known of Henry's wives. Katherine Longshore created an Anne who was passionate, desperate to be heard, a woman who believed her voice was important. She also created an Anne who was clever, sharp tongued, and impulsive. She allowed the 'flaws' (as seen by those at court) to become the very thing that endears us to her. We also know they'll be her downfall. It results in a sympathetic, and vivid character. I've said before that Tarnish reads as extremely accurate and it's because Anne feels all too real.

2 Celeste from Tampa by Alissa Nutting (**ADULT CONTENT**)

Celeste is an enigma. You want to hate her. She's unflinchingly, unabashedly a predator. She's also very self aware, and doesn't make excuses for herself (or her behaviour). She's someone you won't soon forget, and neither is Tampa itself. She hides her true nature from everyone but herself. She's darkly funny, and there are a few moments where, as a reader, I found myself thinking she was clever. I've said that nobody in Celeste's life matters but Celeste and that is the reality. She is selfish, driven to make herself happy no matter what the consequences for others. Consequences for anyone but herself barely enter her thoughts. Alissa has created a character who leaves you conflicted, angry, and hopefully changed the way you look at predators.

3 Cress from Cress by Marissa Meyer

As this title has yet to hit shelves, I will keep this brief and spoiler free. I will say that Cress will win over your heart. She's everything I wanted out of a Rapunzel inspired character. She's adorably naive, braver than she gives herself credit for, and a hopeless romantic. She's resourceful, and eager to please. Marissa always manages to make her characters come to life, and Cress is no exception. Marissa also manages to make them use the skills and talents they do have, without denying them flaws. People are not perfect, and they certainly aren't capable at everything. Cress uses what she can do to help, and remains completely in character the whole time. This makes her character leap off the pages, and makes her easy to relate to.

4 Victor and Eli from Vicious by VE Schwab

I am including both of them, because each is intertwined with the other. Victor wouldn't be the Victor we know without Eli (and vice versa). Two incredibly intelligent, and driven young man who are both beyond competitive. Their friendship is always borderline antagonistic and that's woven in perfectly throughout the story. They are both a little skewed and while this leads them to become friends, it also allows for them to turn on each other. Two man who are obsessed with power and harness it to create superpowers ultimately show that power does corrupt. Victoria uses both of these characters to twist how you view villains and heroes. These two characters are so well written that you'll want to visit them again (and perhaps beg Victoria for a sequel).

5 Judith from All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

Judith is a survivor. She's resilient, strong and brave. She is also clever, determined, and due to inability to talk she's quite perceptive. Following her story as she tries to reclaim her voice that has been ripped away from her is inspiring and that's how you end up feeling about Judith.

When I first picked up All The Truth That's In Me, I wasn't expecting to adore Judith as much as I did. She lets you in slowly, but it's worth the way. She's a remarkable character who hasn't let her spirit be crushed by the unthinkable. That makes her voice not only memorable, but engaging.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my followers a happy holiday season, and a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate). Hope you're enjoying some wonderful books, time with friends and family, and have a safe and wonderful start to 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My 2013 Book Survey!

We're almost at the end of 2013. Every year Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner creates an awesome end of the year quiz. Be sure to check out her answers and visit her site. She's awesome, and you probably already know that, but if not, check her out!

Here are my answer for this year's quiz..........

Best in Books 2013

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Whoa. This is a hard one. I love too many. How about I just link you to my Top Ten Books of 2013? I can not narrow it down more than that.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I think The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney. I had high hopes, and it didn't quite meet them.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

Hmmm. Most surprising YA novel was Allegiant. I wasn't expecting that ending.
Most surprising Adult novel was Tampa. I didn't know what to expect, and I certainly got more than I bargained for. 
 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Either Tarnish by Katherine Longshore, or Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Both are excellent and worth the read.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, or Pawn by Aimee Carter. Both are excellent starts to new series. 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Alissa Nutting, or Marisha Pessl.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Tampa. It's THE definition of uncomfortable, but so well written. (Tampa is an adult novel. VERY adult.)

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Just One Year by Gayle Forman, and Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Cress by Marissa Meyer. Love every single bit of this cover.

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Celeste from Tampa by Alissa Nutting, and Anne Boleyn from Katherine Longshore's Tarnish.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

Hmm. maybe Just One Year by Gayle Forman. It, and Just One Day, really spoke to me.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013? 

Too many to list. I can't choose just one.

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest book at 602 pages is Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Shortest book at 50 pages is Glitter and Doom by Bethany Griffin (I am guessing enovellas count)

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

A whole bunch. The Dream Thieves, Vicious, and Tampa all come to mind.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Blue and her Raven Boys from The Dream Thieves. Also, Victor and Eli from Vicious. 

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

I only read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein because of Jessica at Read My Breath Away. (Thanks, Jess!)

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

I think mine was pretty mixed this year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Willem from Just One Year.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Tampa by Alissa Nutting (for the writing) and The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd for the potential in that series.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

The world created in Vicious

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Cress by Marissa Meyer. SO MUCH FUN!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Code Name Verity. Ugly crying (Kiss me, Hardy. Kiss me quick)

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Book Blogging Life 2013

1. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

My review of Tarnish.

2. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

Kelly, from KellyVision, did a post about spoilers, and when it was acceptable to talk about them. It also brought up the idea of avoiding spoilers, and when it becomes the responibility of the person trying to avoid them.
3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Every year I say the same thing, but it's always true. Book Expo America. I love getting to see bloggers I normally don't get to hang out with. It's a week long book party, and I love every moment.

4. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

Hanging out with everyone at BEA. SO MUCH FUN!

5. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My review of Tarnish.
6. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The 50 Book Pledge site by Harper Collins/Savvy Reader Canada. LOVE IT!

7.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Only my Goodreads challenge to read 120 books (which I accomplished).

Looking Ahead 2014

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Um, probably Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

Brazen by Katherine Longshore, or The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Either Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, or The Merciless by Danielle Vega.

 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin or Cassandra Clare's City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

I say this EVERY year, but commenting more. I am horrible. I promise to do better.

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