Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Hemlock by Kathleen PeacockTitle: Hemlock
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Hardcover: 416 pages

Where’d Ashley Get It: For review from the publisher.

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:

A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome–also known as the werewolf virus–is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.

Ashley’s Thoughts: Hemlock introduces you to a world in which werewolves are real and everyone knows this to be true. But forget about full moons, silver bullets, or Native Americans with rock-hard abs. You won’t find that here. What you will find is a girl trying to come to term with the recent loss of her best friend, who was killed by a werewolf. When Mac decides to find Amy’s killer on her own, she discovers that almost nothing is as it seems. The story is captivating and filled with enough twists to keep you on your toes, but not leave you scratching your head. While it is ripe with political conspiracy, human rights and prejudices, the heart of the story lies with a clever and loyal girl, determined not to lose the two best friends she has left. However, Kyle and Jason are both keeping secrets that could ruin it all.

I thoroughly, albeit unexpectedly, enjoyed Hemlock! It pulled me in and I almost couldn’t put it down. I finished so quickly that, in the interest of a fair review, I decided to read it again and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I’m looking forward to the next books in the trilogy and can’t wait to see what is in store for Mac!

Rating: 4 of 5

Ree’s notes: Wow, I just re-read Ashley’s review and saw that she read it TWICE! Oh my goodness, now I’m definitely going to have to read it myself.  This girl knows a good story when she sees it! :)

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuireTitle: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
eBook: 434 pages

Where’d I Get It: Lindsay’s NetGalley account.

Synopsis (From Goodreads): The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Lindsay’s ThoughtsUm…WOW!  I feel like  a tornado just blew through my mind!  This book was insanely addicting, the only thing keeping me from finishing the book in the first sitting was life (pfft who needs life anyways, right?).  I could feel the chemistry almost immediately between Abby and Travis and it kept building and building until both of the characters explode into some kind of frantic  and chaotic romance.  It was scintillating and disturbing all wrapped into one.

Travis does have a total lack of self control, which in some parts of the books make you want to grab a sedative and inject it into his arm, because he can clearly be destructive to himself and those around him.  While it makes for a interesting read, I’d never want to meet him in person.  The books starts to slack off when Abby’s past starts creeping up on her with her low life father and a one night trip to Las Vegas that ends on a crazy note.

I would give it five stars but after rehashing some of the violence in the book and the strange ending, I have to take it down a notch.  Worth a read, but not everyone will love it!

Rating: 4 of 5


Top Ten Tuesday #14

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Posts…
That Give the Best Picture of ME 

Hrm. This is a hard one. I’ve got a fairly bold personality and it seems to, at least most of the time, show in my posts.  But, well, let me see what I can pull up.

  1. Any post about the Thirst series by Christopher Pike - Since this series is probably one of my favorite of all time (partially because of pure nostalgia but mostly because it’s just awesomesauce vampire yumminess) and is one of the series of books that got me interested in Fantasy sorts of stories, I feel like my fangirl giggliness over this series is a fairly accurate picture of the Ree.
  2. My review of The Selection by Kiera Cass - Because I am a blunt, honest person and sometimes my snark gets a little out of control. I’m also OCD and I tend to write things down as I’m reading if something annoys me enough. This review is a prime example of how nitpicky I can get.
  3. The post about the super-pretty Penguin classics covers - I’m a tomboy, but I have some serious girlie girl moments. These incredibly gorgeous froo froo covers make me gleeful and happy.
  4. This post about YA love triangles - Because, yeah.  Ugh.
  5. Any Banned Books Week post - Mmhmm. I am passionate about this.
  6. Where I announce the arrival of Baby Literary Obsession - Do I need to explain this one? ;)
  7. My “Why I Don’t Like Twilight” post of doom - This post used to get me a lot of hate mail. I haven’t gotten any in a while, though…how odd!
  8. This review of Speak - It’s a powerful book. It touched me, and I say as much in my review.
  9. This speaking up for Speak post - This kind of ties into my review of Speak, and the Banned Books Week posts.
  10. For the life of me, I cannot find a #10.  Oops!
Leave me a comment with a link to your Top Ten list…I’ll pop by and have a look!  :)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Hardcover: 464 pages

Where’d I Get It: Purchased

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

My ThoughtsYou know those books that are talked about and spotlighted and there’s so much hype that every time you turn around you’re hearing about the bloody thing…so you buy it because OHMIGOSH everyone loves it…and then it SUCKS?  Yeah, this isn’t one of those books.  The hype was there, the twittery fluffy hyper flurry of crazy talk was there, and the book kind of lived up to it.  Was it perfect? No.  Was it pretty awesome, anyway? Yes.

The funny thing is, I didn’t buy this book until I received an ARC of the second one.  I kind of felt like I might as well read the first so I could read the second, and, well, here we are.

To be honest, I had some mixed feelings about the book as I was reading it.  There’s a lot of backstory, but not a lot of action. However, Michelle Hodkin’s writing is such that I really didn’t care. As a reviewer, I was aware of the lack…but as a reader I was engaged enough with what I was reading that it just didn’t affect the experience.  I wanted to know more, I wanted to keep reading, and I got frustrated every time I had to put the book down.

As a busy woman with a 14 month old little boy who is constantly on the go and a house that seems to always need cleaning and errands that always need running…for me to want to just block everything out and read is pretty rare nowadays.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that the story is so FRESH.  It’s not just the same old YA story parroted back in a slightly different style with renamed characters and a few frilly details tossed over to camouflage the lack of creativity – it’s ACTUALLY a good, new, exciting story. Yay!

This book makes you run the gauntlet of feelings and I sympathized with Mara so.very.much. as we got further into the book.  I became invested in the characters and in the story and boy was I glad that I had the second book in the series to start immediately after.

As I write this, I’ve already finished the second and I am wishing I’d waited to read both of them til the third was out..but, alas, I did not. And I will have to sit and stew and think and wait…

You can better believe, though, that if I don’t receive an ARC, I’ll be buying it the day the thing’s available. This story rocks.

Buy it. Buy 2 and give one to a friend.  Just make sure you read it.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

SeriesMara Dyer, Book 1 | Second: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Review To Come)| Third: TBR November 4, 2014 The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryTitle: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Hardcover: 416 pages

Where’d I Get It: For review from the publisher.

Synopsis (From Goodreads): “I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.”Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins?His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?”No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

My ThoughtsThis book was unique in its deliverance. Each chapter is from the viewpoint of either Echo or Noah, and I’d have to say that it worked for me.  Most of the time you only get one point of view and by doing it this way I was able to grow closer to both main characters and understand where each one was coming from.

I couldn’t really relate to either of the characters as I’ve never been in either of their positions before but the pain they felt seemed real to me. I do feel like Echo and Noah were almost too mature for high school students in some aspects and then the author would turn around and “dumb” them down a bit. There was a bit of inconsistency there.

One aspect of the book that I loved is in the back of the book where the author listed songs she listened for inspiration for each of the characters and some of the scenes in the book. It was really neat to get some insight into the mind of the author.  There will be another book coming out with Beth’s story and I will read it based on what I read in Pushing The Limits.

Rating: 3 of 5

Frost – Wendy Delsol

Frost by Wendy DelsolTitle: Frost
Author: Wendy Delsol
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
Hardcover: 384 pages

Where’d I Get It: For Review from the Publisher

Synopsis (From Goodreads): In this sequel to STORK, Katla Leblanc has to employ her grit, spirit, and special gifts to rescue the boy she loves.

After the drama of finding out that she’s a Stork, a member of an ancient and mystical order of women, and that her boyfriend, Jack, is a descendent of the Winter People able to control the weather, Katla Leblanc is delighted when all signs point to a busy and peaceful Christmas. That is, until the snowstorm Jack summons as a gift to Katla turns into the storm of the century, attracting Brigid, a gorgeous scientist who, in turn, attracts Jack. Between the school play, a bedridden, pregnant mother’s to-do lists, and keeping an eye on her aging grandfather, Katla doesn’t have time to question Brigid’s motives or deal with Jack’s increasingly cold behavior. But Katla’s suspicions mount when Jack joins Brigid on a research expedition to Greenland, and when the two of them go missing, it becomes clear that Katla is the only one who can save her beloved Jack from the Snow Queen who holds him prisoner. Adventure, romance, and myth combine in this winter escapade for teens who like a bit of fire with their ice.

My Thoughts: After not entirely falling in love with Stork, the first book in this series, I was hesitant and skeptical when diving into the sequel.  I do love a good fairytale retelling, and this book is…of a sort.  There’s some hints of The Snow Queen by Andersen, but what could have been a lovely story was bogged down by smatterings of other tidbits of folklore from different cultures and times.

Katla has only grown up a little bit. To me, she seemed to still come off as the shallow little chit she was in the first book. I cannot believe someone like that would be tasked with such a hugely important thing.

Also, why in the world is this series called the Stork series? It’s not about babies being given to families, it’s about a teenager’s love affair.

I can still appreciate the author’s writing style.  I finished the book even though I didn’t really love the story – and it’s all because she knows how to weave words nicely.

Anyway, I’ll just stop there.  I probably will not read the third in the series, Flock.  Or maybe I will, just to see if there’s ANY focus on the actual business of storks.  You know, the baby bit that was promised?

Rating: 2 of 5

My review of the first in the series, Stork.

Top Ten Tuesday #13

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Characters…
I’d like to Switch Places With for 24 Hours 

Bahaha, fun! Let’s see if I can come up with 10…

  1. Sita from The Last Vampire/Thirst series  by Christopher Pike - Because oh my gosh, how freaking awesome is SHE!
  2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter - Oh come on, you knew that was coming! I’d pick a 24 hour period when there was nothing scary happening, though! I’m a wuss. ;)
  3. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre - Yep. Would love to experience her life for 24 hours. How eye opening would that be?
  4. Bella from Twilight - Because I would tell old Eddie to STOP BEING A STALKER and tell him to take a long walk off a short pier, just like that twittery little fussbudget should have done about 3 pages in. UGH!
  5. Nancy Drew - You know you want to be her for 24 hours…you just can’t admit it!
  6. Elphaba from Wicked - Mmhmm, sure enough. Green and all.
  7. Jacinda from Firelight - I love dragons. I want to fly around for 24 hours and eat sheep and stuff.  Ok, maybe not the eating of sheep, but still.
  8. Amy Harper Bellafonte from The Passage - She is made of awesome.
  9. Alice from Alice in Wonderland - How trippy would that be?
  10. Daenerys Targaryen - Told you, I have a thing for dragons. :)
Leave me a comment with a link to your Top Ten list…I’ll pop by and have a look!  :)

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

My Name is Memory by Ann BrasharesTitle: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Hardcover: 324 pages

Where’d I Get It: Purchased

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

My Thoughts: If you’re looking for a not-so-typical love story, this is the book for you. Ann Brashares brings to life a story of love, redemption, faith, and retribution.  It’s a story full of twists and turns with a lot of lovely detail, but flows smoothly and easily enough to keep the attention of even the most casual of readers.

I was drawn into the story from the beginning and became invested in the characters almost immediately.  They are likable and believable and they grow through the story. Daniel is deep, Lucy is sweet, and the villain is just villainous enough to make you want to scratch his eyes out.  Totally love it.

What I think truly got me, though, was the beautiful prose.  Brashares quite possibly could have written absolute drivel and made it sound good; she’s able to weave words into a gorgeous tapestry of literary goodness that really must be acknowledged.

Now, despite all that glowing happy lovie yayness, I have to say I -hated- the ending. I loathed it. It was a cliffhanger of epic proportions…and there’s absolutely no promise of a sequel in what was once proposed to be (and apparently written to be part of) a trilogy.  Were it not for the ending, it’d have been a 4 star review; since there’s absolutely no resolution to the story, however, I knocked one star off.

You should still read it – just don’t expect the ending to be tied up in a nice little bow.

Rating: 3 of 5