Guest Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Guest Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi AlsaidNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 4, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Amber here with a guest review for Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid.

You can find Amber on Book Stacks Amber and on Twitter!

Without further adieu, here’s Amber’s review! Enjoy!


Never, Always, Sometimes is the story of Dave and Julia. Before starting high school, they create a list of “Nevers,” things to never do in order to avoid become clichés. Flash forward three years to the start of senior year, when one of them rediscovers the list and Julia decides it’s time to tackle all of their “nevers.” The book revolves around this list, and that was my favorite aspect of the story.

Their story is told in third-person omniscient, which isn’t something I’ve seen very often in YA. It’s broken up into three parts:
Part One: Dave
Part Two: Julia
Part Three: Dave and Julia

Dave was my favorite character so I enjoyed his chapters the most. I thought the narrative style and the way the book was broken up into parts really worked well for this story.

Because the book revolves around Julia and Dave checking cliché experiences off their list, the story itself is full of clichés, which I thought was really interesting but I think some people who typically avoid YA contemporary for that reason wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. For example, one of the items on their never list is to never fall in love with your best friend. You can probably imagine where the story went. There is a love triangle but I thought it was handled really well. One of the things I really liked about this book is that the characters weren’t over the top and annoying. Sometimes I feel like teen characters in YA and written to be super dramatic people who overreact about everything. I felt like, for the most part, Dave and Julia were mature and had realistic reactions to the events that took place. There were times when I thought Dave could have spoken up more when Julia was enacting crazy schemes in order to check something off the list, but then maybe the story wouldn’t have been as entertaining.

The adults in the book didn’t have big roles, but I loved all of them and wish they’d had a bigger part in the story. Julia’s dads were both great, and it can be so hard to find healthy, supportive parent-child relationships in YA. Julia’s bio-mom is mentioned throughout the book, but didn’t lend much of anything to the story except to further explain/excuse Julia’s weird manic pixie dream girl persona and appeared and disappeared throughout the book. Julia tries to seduce one of her teachers for the sake of crossing an item off the Never list, and although I was cringing extra hard during those parts, and I wish we’d gotten to hear more from her teacher. Julia is SO MEAN to him, and although she later apologizes and they repair their relationship, I never got the closure I wanted from them.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but things took a turn that I was not expecting and it left me disappointed in everything that happened after. The POV the book was written in was interesting, but it always left me wanting to know more about what in the world the characters were thinking when they did something unexpected and out of the blue. Dave and Julia were the best of friends, so it was surprising that after a few terrible moments, suddenly they were completely unable to connect and understand each other. That wasn’t realistic to me and seemed out of character for them both.

Overall, I did enjoy the story but the second half dragged for me, and the ending didn’t give me the closure that I wanted. I think 20 more pages would have been enough to wrap up Julia and Dave’s story more completely.


Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Firstlife by Gena ShowalterEverlife by Gena Showalter
Series: Everlife #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 23, 2016
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon


Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

When I first started this book and found the opening pages (filled with emails between certain characters) absolutely hilarious, I was convinced this would be the book to get me out of my reading slump. It was definitely a unique, intriguing read on many levels. Despite that, I still had a small number of issues with it. And though it didn’t necessarily get me out of my slump, I did really enjoy it.

So, like I said, the opening pages consist of a series of emails between certain characters. These emails pop up a few times throughout the book. Everything about them – the subject lines, the content, everything – was hilarious! It was a fun, creative way to introduce us to the characters. And I definitely loved the characters (for the most part)!

Tenley “Ten” is hilarious, defiant and a spitfire. I loved the way she refused to cave and make a decision out of fear or force. She was also a pretty great fighter, refusing to let people fight her battles. However, after awhile, her indecision did become annoying and repetitive: “That’s a point for Troika. But maybe Myriad is better. But I refuse to do what my parents tell me. But I’ve thought about Myriad since I was a little girl but maybe Troika is the better place…” I mean, seriously. I hit my boiling point around page 300. Plus, how many times can one girl get knocked out, poisoned, stabbed, etc and yet keep getting saved and come back from death? Like… Really?

Sloan was incredibly annoying in the beginning, embodying a version of the dreaded “mean girl” trope. As the story went on, though, I really liked her and the relationship between her and Ten. The ending shocked the crap out of me, though, and and I was super disappointed. I understand the WHY, but I just still didn’t like it.

I loved both Archer and Killian. There’s a thing that happens in the beginning with Archer – I can’t explain it without spoilers, but it was HILARIOUS! He was like the Protector. And Killian was over-confident and cocky, but he often showed a softer, vulnerable side, which I loved. They both had their faults, but overall, I just adored them. As for them being Ten’s love interests… I got more of the friend vibe from Archer. But I seriously shipped Ten and Killian, like, a lot. But then again, I’ve always had a soft spot for the bad boys! Both boys were seriously hilarious, adorable and epic. I’m REALLY upset about Archer’s fate and I’m worried what Ten’s decision will mean for her and Killian going forward.

There were a lot of secondary characters, so I’ll just mention a few briefly: Ten’s parents were awful to her, but especially her dad. Her mom kind of redeemed herself in the end. Her father didn’t, though his fate was still shocking. I wanted to punch Vans the entire time! And Pearl. And James.

This was my first Gena Showalter book and the writing and tone were INCREDIBLE. Showalter is HILARIOUS. I especially loved her dialogue! I mean.. ‘whore galore,’ ‘He-slut’ ?!? Bahaha!!!! I was cackling out loud as I read this book! I couldn’t help it! I mean, I dare you to read the below quotes without laughing out loud:

“I didn’t fail with her, puppy, I cleared the way for you. You’re welcome.” – Levi to Archer

“Persuade the girl to make covenant with us, but keep your pants zipped while you do it.” – Pearl to Killian

Ten: “You leak liquid glitter when you’re injured!”
Killian: “Glitter? How dare you. My manliness is offended.”

Now, a few complaints I had… Unfortunately, I definitely think this book was too long. Certain scenes felt dragged out and some felt unnecessary. As I mentioned, Ten’s constant Troika vs. Myriad back-and-forth was REALLY repetitive. And that added to the too-long dragging of this book. My other complaint is that, I couldn’t nail down the exact traits for Myriad or Troika. Mostly because, depending on who Ten was talking to, either place could be the equivalent of heaven or hell. I think, by the end, I had each place pretty much figured out, but it was a bit frustrating how confusing it was in the beginning.

The ending was INTENSE. So much happened and I STILL can’t wrap my mind around it all. So many thoughts and feels and I don’t know how I feel about everything that happened. I’m REALLY excited for the second book and can’t wait to see what happens next! I have a feeling book two is going to be action-packed, since the end is just the beginning for these characters! (See what I did there? Hehe!).

Overall, I really loved this book. Though it was too long and Ten’s indecision added to that feeling, the plot was intriguing, the characters were amazing and the writing was epic! I highly recommend this one!


Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy LukavicsDaughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 29, 2015
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

Lately, I’ve really been in the mood for a creepy, scary, “keep the lights on” book – Something that scares me as much as my favorite horror movies, maybe more. Which is why I’ve been desperately anticipating Daughters Unto Devils for over a year now. But as a horror buff, not much scares me. So, sadly, neither did this. But beyond that, the entire book fell kind of flat for me.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters, nor did I particularly like them. They were very flat and had very little character growth or development throughout the book. Not to mention the fact that they were all pretty nasty and mean to each other. Pa was such a cold man. Ma seemed broken. Amanda was bland. Henry was completely using Amanda. And though Emily had reason to be angry with Amanda, she also didn’t have to stay so angry. Wasn’t Amanda punished enough with everything that happened to her? I just didn’t see any love at all between these characters. Also, I didn’t trust Zeke or Doctor Jacobson at all.

Though the majority of the book didn’t scare me, the last page did gave me a small chill, but it was nothing near what I’d hoped to feel with this book. Rather, it was like watching a horror movie that you’ve already seen – you know what’s coming, yet you still anticipate that moment when you’re going to be scared and jumpy, but you’re never actually scared, just jumpy. It’s unfortunate that this book wasn’t creepy because the setting – the isolated prairie in the 1800s – had such creep-factor potential.

Despite all that, I will say the plot was intriguing! With the right music and special effects, I could completely see it being a successful movie or TV mini-series. Also, the pacing was pretty spot-on. I finished this book in a matter of hours – mostly because I was desperate to get to the creepy part (which didn’t happen), but also because the writing flowed very nicely and it was an easy read.

If you love horror, give this one a shot! And if you’re easily scared, you might want to read this during the day.. With all the lights on.. Just in case..!

So.. Short review is short. But I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this one. I’m very sad panda that I didn’t enjoy it more; however, this book had all kinds of potential and I’m still excited to see what Amy Lukavics comes up with next.


Review: Captive by Aimee Carter

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Captive by Aimee CarterCaptive by Aimee Carter
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on November 25, 2014
Pages: 304
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

Captive was a crazy, intense book with one “Oh, crap!” moment after the next. While I enjoyed Pawn, I had several issues with it, so I was uncertain about moving forward with the series. But I’m so, so glad I did! Captive kept me on the edge of my seat and refused to stop messing with my head until the very last page.

I’m still really not a fan of Kitty. In Pawn, she was boring and passive, which was bad. But in Captive, she either said she wanted to help, then backed out and refused at the last minute OR she tried to take matters into her own hands – and that got her into a LOT of trouble. Seriously, I get that it’s hard for her to trust people, but every time she opened her mouth or tried to “help,” she ended up getting someone killed or she ruined a perfectly-crafted plan. I just wanted to grab her, shake her and smack her. Not necessarily in that order. I definitely think she matured a lot by the end of Captive, but she still has a long way to go.

I’m still not a fan of Benjy as a love interst, either. I usually go for the “best friend” or the “underdog” in love triangles, but I just can’t see them together. I really can’t. When I picture them, I really do just see him as her friend and nothing more. I still ship Kitty and Knox. Knox was… frustrating in this book, though. Oh, man, was I annoyed with him.. I don’t quite remember Knox and Kitty hating each other that much in Pawn, but they sure were at each other’s throats in Captive. Their batter was, at times, hilarious. At other times, it was frustrating beyond belief. But the way things ended…

We met a lot of new characters in Captive. Some that stood out were Scotia, Noelle, Mercer and Hannah, to name a few. It’s REALLY hard to discuss these characters without spoilers, though. I will say this: those I thought were trust-worthy, weren’t – and those that I didn’t trust, surprised me. If that makes sense without being too spoilery. I think that was my biggest issue with Captive.. It was very back-and-forth with the “Trust this person.. No, don’t… Actually, you can.. Wait, never mind, don’t.” It made me dizzy. Some of the fake-outs annoyed me, too – There were just too many of them! When you read the book (cause you should), you’ll know what I mean.

Despite my annoyance with all the deception and lies, I will say that those deceptions and lies kept me on my toes and constantly wondering/guessing/cursing. I had the worst time figuring out who to trust and who would be revealed as a traitor. Everything Kitty did, everyone she spoke to, I was leery that she was putting her trust in the wrong person – and she did, several times…

Elsewhere was brutal. More brutal than we were led to believe in Pawn. When I say this book was intense, I mean it. And the sections in Elsewhere were the most intense. It was just an epic bloodbath – which, honestly, was sad but realistic. In most YA books that deal with revolutions and over-throwing governments, everyone miraculously gets out alive. Sometimes, there are small casualties with secondary characters, but not with anyone we’ve grown to like or love. But Aimee Carter didn’t hold back at all in Captive and people – even ones you wouldn’t expect – were killed and sacrificed. My heart still aches for some of those loses.

The most important thing with Captive? It never felt like Second Book Syndrome. Only once, for one small section of the book. Otherwise, it was crazy good – better than Pawn – and full of intense action and craziness. And the revelations.. Holy crap, the second half of the book was so riddled with revelations and shocking twists, I could barely turn a page without being shocked and surprised. There were several revelations, especially, that I’m very excited to see unfold in the next book.

Despite some issues I had with Captive, I’m really glad I read it. While Pawn was enjoyable, Captive was epic. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this series and I’m really excited to see what happens in the third and final book, Queen – though 2015 is a long way off! I have no idea how I’ll make it to 2015!

So yeah, if you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend Captive! If you haven’t read Pawn, I say go for it! Binge Pawn and Captive! And if you read Pawn and were unsure if you wanted to continue on with the series, I highly recommend you give Captive a chance. It might surprise you!


Review: Oceanborn by Amalie Howard

Review: Oceanborn by Amalie HowardOceanborn by Amalie Howard
Series: The Aquarathi #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on July 29, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon

The coronation is over.

But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.

I think by now it’s obvious that I adore Amalie Howard, her writing style and her unique plots. I absolutely loved Waterfell and I remember being desperate to get my hands on its (untitled, at the time) sequel. And Oceanborn did NOT disappoint!

The amount of character growth that I saw in Nerissa from Watefell to Oceanborn was incredible. She’s really come a long way from the bratty, snotty, “I’m better than you” character she was in Waterfell. She really embraces her heritage and destiny in Oceanborn – at least in the beginning (though I won’t elaborate, for fear of spoilers). She’s still very stubborn and single-minded in Oceanborn, though, especially when it comes to… certain things.. and she refuses to listen to reason on… certain things… At times, this got her in trouble. But it also lead her to exactly where she needed to be in the end. She also reaches a level of maturity in Oceanborn that allows her to look at things more objectively, to make choices that are for the greater good. She followers her heart, even when it means letting go of certain things.

And then there’s Lo. He’s still just as swoony as ever, that I can promise. But Lo not remembering who Nerissa is, what he is (which, not a spoiler if you read the synopsis!), it just broke my heart. He wasn’t the Lo we all came to know and love in Waterfell and it was pretty tough to read. The reasons behind his memory loss were horrifying, but they really played into the overall plot of Oceanborn and led to some startling revelations and shocking plot twists.

Jenna was amazing, as always. She truly personifies the role of best friend. She’s the voice of reason and Nerissa’s confidant. I loved that she could stand up to Cara and her group of mean girls, where Nerissa couldn’t and wouldn’t. She was fiercely loyal and willing to stand up for herself, for what was right and for her best friend. But she also knew how to push back when she felt excluded, refusing to be seen as weak just because she isn’t Aquarathi.

Speio is a tough character to talk about… He confused me and annoyed me at times. But he was always so fierce and loyal. One second, he was fighting with Riss like they truly were brother and sister. The next, he was angry and distant for seemingly silly reasons. But what happens in the end… Oh boy. I can’t even. It was shocking, unexpected, crazy, insane… I’m still trying to process it!!

Cara, like Speio, was both confusing and annoying at times. I really wanted to punch her for the majority of the book. But I’m really happy with the direction her character went in and, if there’s a third book (FINGERS CROSSED!!!!!!!), I’d be really interested in seeing where her character goes next, what kind of character development she goes through.

We meet a LOT of new faces in Oceanborn. It’s impossible to talk about ANY of them without spoilers. So I’m just going to say that one revelation didn’t shock me at all, but the other one completely caught me off guard and (as I mentioned above), I’m STILL trying to process it…

The ending was explosive! I mean, I had my suspicions for a good portion of the book, but still. I knew something was up, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I had one theory that was proven wrong, but I was close! All I know is if there isn’t a third book after that ending, I’ll throw a temper tantrum!

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from my gushing review, I absolutely adored Oceanborn. It was amazing, incredible and well worth the wait! I’m desperately hoping for a third book – fingers crossed! And, as always, my parting words to you are this: If you haven’t read any of Amalie’s books… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?! She’s definitely an auto-buy author for me, I highly recommend her books and I suggest you go check them all out RIGHT NOW! I don’t think I even need to say it, but I DEFINITELY recommend this book!


Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Forever Song by Julie KagawaThe Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 15, 2014
Pages: 416
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon


Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa was an epic adventure filled with heart-stopping moments – as well as some incredibly heart-breaking moments! If tears feed Julie’s muse, then her muse must be well-fed! This book was pretty much the perfect ending to an incredible trilogy. I’m both satisfied with how it ended and deeply saddened that I have to let it go. I’ve grown to love this series and these characters so much.

As a quick side-note.. It’s really, really hard to write a spoiler-free Julie Kagawa review without breaking into gibberish feels and such. So, please forgive me!

Let’s start with Allie. I’ve loved Allie from the beginning. She always exhibited a lot of character growth. She’s a survivor and she does what has to be done. In the beginning of The Forever Song, though, she kind of annoyed me – for the first time ever, pretty much. She was very whiny and had this “pity me” attitude. She had a LOT of inner conflict over things. It really got on my nerves. By the end of the book, though, she was back to being the Allie we all know and love. She reflects a lot on who she was and who she has come to be and I think, through her eyes, we really see how far she has come.

Zeke… I don’t know what I can say without being spoilery. But I love Zeke and there were so many things and feels and… Ugh, I don’t even know! I’m… not happy with what happened to him, but I’m satisfied with the way his story turned out in the end. Yeah, that’s all I can say without spoiling things. Sorry, guys! But this is incentive to read the book!! *Evil grin*

I’m pretty sure Jackal was my favorite part of the story. I love his whitty, sibling-like banter with Allie. I love his little one-liners and quips. I love how far he’s come and how much he’s grown and changed, yet stayed exactly the same as he was. Does that make sense? No? Too bad – read the book!!! You’ll see what I mean! *Another evil grin*

Kanin… Oh boy. Oh boy. All the feels! I don’t even know what to say… I love, love, LOVE Kanin and.. At 13% into the book, I updated my Goodreads status to this: “I love Kanin so much. He’s the voice of reason. But knowing Julie Kagawa… *Shakes head*” — And.. Umm… *Glares at Julie.. Chin trembles.. Shakes fist and runs away*

There were so, so many moments that nearly gave me a heart attack, it’s not even funny. Seriously, sometimes I was afraid to flip to the next page. Julie Kagawa is really great at making you fall in love with her characters… And she’s really great at destroying your soul and bringing on the feels. It’s inevitable, and something I’m always prepared for when I read her books!

On the flipside, I can count on one hand the number of things that annoyed me. Like I said, I wasn’t crazy about Allie’s behavior in the beginning, there were moments with Zeke that made me pout, Kanin…Just..Kanin! And I didn’t like two things that happened near the end, though I completely expected them to happen, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Overall, despite the small handful of things that kind of annoyed me, I loved The Forever Song. With the evil, evil cliffhanger we got in The Eternity Cure, I was desperate to get my hands on The Forever Song and I was definitely not disappointed! I will forever and always be a Julie Kagawa fan – She’s one of my auto-buy authors and I can’t wait for her next book, Talon, to come out!


Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Pawn by Aimee CarterPawn by Aimee Carter
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on November 26, 2013
Pages: 296
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

I went into this book expecting one thing, and it was something else entirely. I don’t know how it happened or how I got so confused. I was positive I had read that, in order to move up in society, Kitty had to go through a labyrinth and fight her way to the end. And that, if she made it to the end, she would be rewarded with the society rank of a seven.

Despite the HUGE confusion this caused when I realized it wasn’t about that at all, I still really enjoyed this book. The plot and the writing were really interesting and very unique to the Dystopian genre. A lot of the “twists” and “shocking revelations” were not shocking, unfortunately. I found a lot of it very predictable. But again, that didn’t deter me from reading and I still found it interesting and unique.

As far as MC’s go, Kitty was kind of boring and passive. I felt indifferent towards her, I didn’t care what happened to her. It was almost like she was detached from her situation. She didn’t fight for anything, she just let it happen to her. I mean, being a good girl and behaving kept her alive, but all she did was complain about how she hated it and didn’t want to be a pawn and yet.. She didn’t fight. It wasn’t until the last twenty pages or so that Kitty finally started to stand up and rebel. She finally stood up for herself and what she believed in, and she did it with everything she had. At that point, I finally, finally liked Kitty.

Other characters I liked: Celia, Knox and Greyson. Celia was a bit crazy and intense, but she was also strong, brave and feisty. She believes so strongly in the things she fights for, even if her judgement is slightly clouded. And, above all, she stands up to Daxton and doesn’t let him shut her up.

While the love interests in this book weren’t exactly in a love triangle, I definitely felt myself taking sides. Benjy was okay, but I really, really loved Knox and I totally wanted him and Kitty to end up together. And finally, with Greyson… I can’t explain it, but there was just something about him. He was detached from his family and their craziness and he just wanted to be friend’s with Lila and be left alone to invent things.

Clearly, I hated Augusta and Daxton. Augusta was just crazy and insane. And Daxton was a manipulative jerk who.. Well, I don’t want to give anything away, but the revelation with his character was very intriguing!

Overall, despite the flat MC and predictability, I did still enjoy Pawn. I would have rated it a 4, had it not been for those things. I’m still looking forward to the second book in the series, especially since Kitty showed some promise at the end of Pawn. I’m excited to see what happens next.


Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarryDare You To by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 28, 2013
Pages: 456
Format: Hardcover
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Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

I was really looking forward to Dare You To, thanks in large part to the sneak-peeks we got of Beth in Pushing the Limits. Dare You To definitely did not disappoint!

I really wasn’t a fan of Ryan in the beginning. He was cocky and way too full of himself. He was also highly amusing – The big, tough jock boy who hits on girls for dares, yet he doesn’t like a girl who curses. It was kind of hilarious. He definitely does grow throughout the book, though it happens very slowly. He’s stubborn and refuses to give up the dares right away, which in my opinion, holds him back a lot.

But Ryan also has a lot going on in his life that makes him vulnerable. He has a tough home life, one that looks perfect on the outside but is far from it on the inside. His parents fight, his dad threw his brother (Mark) out for.. reasons that I won’t go into to avoid spoilers. But I will say they were dumb reasons! We don’t see a lot of Mark, but the few times we do, I really loved him! And, of course, Ryan wants to do one thing with his life and his father wants him to do another, so that causes all sorts of drama.

About halfway (maybe a little more) through the book, Ryan reveals something to Beth and, it’s silly, but it made me really like him a lot more. He and Beth were so sweet together when they let their walls down, and Ryan could really be pretty romantic when he wanted to be!

Beth is great. Honestly, so far she’s my favorite of the female characters. She has a really tough life. She has a lot of trust issues and refuses to let people in. She builds this wall up and refuses to let it down. I completely shipped her and Isaiah the whole time, from the beginning of Pushing the Limits until the end of Dare You To. Several people told me I’d understand why their relationship ended the way it did in Dare You To and that I’d stop shipping them, but I still totally want them to end up together! Maybe my feelings will change in Crash Into You, when I see Isaiah with Rachel. We’ll see. But for now, I want Isaiah and Beth to fall happily ever after!

Beth deals with so much in Dare You To: her mom’s self-destruction, her uncle swooping in to “save” her, a new school, new friends and way too many changes than she is comfortable with.

I had a lot of trouble figuring Scott out. One second he was an ass and I hated him, the next he was like a big Papa Bear, ready to defend Beth from all the evils of the world. It was hard to figure out his motives at first. I really wanted to trust him and I really wanted Beth to be able to trust him. I do like where there relationship ended up, though, when all was said and done.

Lacy was such a great character! I loved that she wasn’t completely popular, wasn’t torn between befriending Beth and staying in with the popular crowd. She stuck by Beth no matter how many times Beth tried to shut everyone out. She stood up to Gwen and even fought with her best friends – Ryan, Chris (her boyfriend) and Logan – when she felt she had to in order to defend Beth.

And Chris and Logan were… Ah. Well, they had their moments when they were great friends to Ryan, but they also had moments where they let Beth’s reputation and their obsession with baseball get between them and Ryan. It was a slippery slope throughout the book.

The end was heart-pounding and insane. The stakes were much higher for Beth and Ryan’s actions in Dare You To then there was with Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits. Lives were literally at stake at the end of Dare You To.

Katie McGarry is an amazing writer. I love how she can tie up all the loose ends at the end of each of her books while still leaving enough open for the possibility of a sequel. I also love the way she carries her main characters from one book over to the next book. They play integral parts in the storyline, but they don’t overshadow the true main characters of the book. It leaves you truly excited for the next book in the series! I know, for me personally, I’m DYING to start Crash Into You! We saw a good amount of Isaiah in Pushing the Limits but because of his ties to Beth, we saw a lot of him in Dare You To and I’m really eager to see how his story unfolds now.

While I didn’t like Ryan as much as Noah, I loved Beth and Ryan did grow on me! Overall, Dare You To was an amazing read and I can’t wait to read more of McGarry’s books!


Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 1, 2012
Pages: 391
Format: Paperback
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So wrong for each other...AND YET SO RIGHT.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can PUSH THE LIMITS and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her HOW TO LOVE AGAIN.

Pushing the Limits is one of my favorite YA contemporaries, by far. I cried so many times, I lost count! I loved Noah and Echo so much, I couldn’t put this book down! I had to get to the end as fast as possible so I could find out the truth and see how it all ended!

I did.. 49 status updates on Goodreads while reading this book. Pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever done for any book. There were so many feels! I cried.. a lot. I was angry, mad, sad – My emotions felt like they were on a roller-coaster! And books rarely make me cry.. Maybe I cry once or twice, and usually at the end. I was only 16 pages in to Pushing the Limits and I started crying!

Echo was an intense character. She was that popular girl that everyone loved, until the accident that stripped it all away – an accident she couldn’t even remember. To add insult to injury, her brother – the one person who understood her and made her feel better – is gone. The fall-out from that event, which happens before the book begins, was tough enough but the domino effect it caused is truly what ruined Echo’s life.

Echo does everything she can to please her father, but it’s never good enough. And her bimbo step-mom says all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Intentional or not, she doesn’t help the situation. Throughout the majority of the book, I wanted to punch her father and bitch-slap her step-mother!

Noah is such a complex character. Deep down, he’s a good guy. But the people who should have loved him unconditionally are gone, and the foster system has stripped away any trust he might have had in adults and authority figures. The only people he can truly rely on are Beth and Isaiah. Until he meets Echo. Noah’s relationship with his brother’s brought out his soft side, the person he kept hidden from the world. Those moments, in my opinion, were the most real and raw.

Noah’s biggest issue? He was very judgmental in the beginning, refusing to believe that someone as “perfect” as Echo could be imperfect. She was the popular girl with daddy’s money and the hot boyfriend. He never stopped to think that maybe her life wasn’t as perfect as he assumed. And that was another problem – he just assumed things. He crossed a lot of lines and he’s lucky Echo forgave him!

At one point, Echo said the following about Noah, “What an odd combination of romantic gesture and horribly crude wording.” I think this one sentence, above and beyond anything else, sums Noah up completely!

I loved Mrs. Collins. The symmetry between her relationship with Noah and her relationship with Echo was interesting. Neither Echo nor Noah wanted to trust her, and they rebelled against her at every turn. But she never gave up on them and never let them shut her out, no matter how hard she tried. I loved that she stood up against Echo’s father and I loved that she helped Noah push back against the same system that had screwed him over years before.

All the secondary characters in this book were amazing. They all had a part to play and they all played their parts well. I seriously loved Beth and Isaiah. They each get their own books in Dare You To (Beth) and Crash Into You (Isaiah). I’ve already read Dare You To (review to come soon) and I can tell you, it was amazing. Pushing the Limits gave us a great sneak-peak of Beth and what was to come in Dare You To. And I’m completely in love with Isaiah and can’t wait to get his story in Crash Into You!

Echo’s friends were… interesting. Lila was the ultimate best friend, standing by Echo no matter what. Natalie was a close second, though she seemed to waver a little bit when it came to defending Echo. Grace was an utter failure of a friend. Honestly, she really can’t even be called a friend. She was too wrapped up in social standing and popularity to see that she was pushing away a friend in need. Who you date shouldn’t define your self worth or your social life. But Grace didn’t understand that. And Luke.. Ugh, I can’t even with Luke. I refuse to give him the time of day. He was just a jerk!

By the end of the book, I was an emotional wreck. The revelations were shocking and horrifying. But, in the end, all the dominoes fell into place. Noah and Echo were complete opposites, yet exactly the same. They hid from the world, they had secrets they wanted to keep from others and wounds that would never heal. And then they met each other and they complemented each other perfectly. I rooted for them from start to finish, and I would do it again!

Honestly, I don’t read many contemporaries, and I don’t often fall head-over-heels for the ones I do read. But I fell for Pushing the Limits and I would read it again and again if I could. Anyone who isn’t a fan of contemporary should DEFINITELY give this book a chance! It might just surprise you!


Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarryCrash Into You by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on November 26, 2013
Pages: 474
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Crash Into You absolutely broke me and I loved every minute of it. Forget Book Hangover, this is a Book Coma! I have so many feels… The last third or so of the book was such an emotional roller-coaster! I’m pretty sure this might be my least coherent review ever…

So, let’s start with the obvious: I frickin’ LOVE Isaiah. We see small glances of him in Pushing the Limits and I knew I liked him and the dynamic between him, Noah and Beth. His personality was rough, yet it was obvious there was more to him. Because of his connection to Beth, we saw a lot of Isaiah in Dare You To. He had moments where my heart broke for him, and moments where I just wanted to slap him for the way he was treating Beth. Yes, he did it so she could create a better life for herself, because he was protective of her. But I still hated that they were fighting. I shipped Isaiah and Beth so hard in Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, it’s not even funny.

But in Crash Into You, Isaiah takes center stage and I swooned so hard over him. I was only twelve pages in when I fell hard for Isaiah, and he continued to sweep me off my feet the entire time. He opens himself up to Rachel and has moments of vulnerability that allow us to see underneath the tough exterior he has built around himself. He is fiercely loyal to those he calls friends/family. He doesn’t trust easily, but once he does, he puts it all on the line.

Rachel starts off painfully shy and, as she sees herself, weak. Rachel’s situation broke my heart for so many reasons and I could kind of relate to her and what she was going through – though my situation wasn’t nearly as bad as hers. The way her family treated her, especially her parents.. I just wanted to punch her parents! They were so obsessed with the past, so focused on pretending everything was okay and protecting one another from the truth. Secrets and lies invaded this family to a frightening degree and it cost them a lot. It almost cost them everything, in fact. In the end, they seemed to work things out, though they have a long way to go.

Rachel’s brothers irritated me a lot, too. They were way, way over-protective of her – though I also found some of the things they said and did hilarious! Ethan and West definitely grew on me, and I’m really excited for West’s story in May! Some of the things they put Rachel through, though, absolutely gave me a heart attack!

I hated Abby in the beginning. And then, about halfway through the book, she did something that surprised me and completely changed how I felt about her. As the story progressed, she came to be one of my absolute favorite “best friend” characters. I really hope she gets her own story at some point! I’d love to learn more about her and her life.

To be honest, before I started reading it, I wasn’t sure about Crash Into You. I’m not a big fan of street racing and though I know cars, I’m not a fanatic. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Isaiah with someone that wasn’t Beth. But Rachel and Isaiah are amazing together. They have chemistry that can’t be denied and I absolutely love them as a couple! They are, without a doubt, my favorite couple of all Katie McGarry’s couples! And Crash Into You was absolutely my favorite of the books!

The ending was… INSANE! CRAZY! HEART-POUNDING! GASP-INDUCING! I mean… If you follow me on Goodreads, you can see my reactions to the last 25 or so pages. And if you don’t follow me on Goodreads, this is what it looked like (Apologies for the language! I was freaking out!):

Picture 3

Basically, I lost the ability to form coherent thought. INSANE! ALL THE FEELS! TOTAL BOOK COMA!

Katie McGarry is a truly gifted story-teller and I’m anxious for Take Me On (West’s story, May 2014). I’m fully prepared for all the feels *Stocks up on tissues* And if you haven’t read these books… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO GO GO!!!