Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: After Hours

After Hours
Author: Claire Kennedy
Published: June 16th, 2015
Paperback, 256 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Scandals and hook-ups abound in a summertime restaurant drama where four teens are all willing to do whatever it takes to make it through the workday and hopefully to win the money in the after-hours dare-based game of Tips.

Isa, Xavi, Peter and Finn know that a job at the high-end Waterside Cafe isn't just about waiting tables. It's about the gossip, the hook-ups, the after-hours parties, and, most of all, it's about Tips.

Tips, the high stakes game based on dares. Whoever completes the most dares wins the collected money. A sum that could change a wasted summer into a Summer to Remember.

Isa is the new girl with an embarrassing secret, and as long as she stays on top of her game, she sees no reason why anyone could ever find out.

Xavi will do anything for the money, absolutely anything.

Peter, Xavi's stepbrother, has been in love with her for years, and he thinks the game is the perfect time to confess his feelings.

Finn is in the game just for the thrill. He has enough tips coming in to keep him happy, even if those tips come with some conditions.

From seduction to stealing to threats, the dares are a complete free-for-all, and only the best can win.

This book was such a fun little read. It's the kind of book you can read in one hot summer day filled with drama, high stakes and crazy dares. Working at the Waterside Cafe comes with a lot of perks. It's high class so the tips are great, but the after-hours parties are even better. Those who qualify have the chance to play Tips, it costs to get in but the pot is worth it to win. And people will do anything to win the kind of money that could change lives. Our four characters, Isa, Xavi, Peter and Finn all have different reasons to play, all really good ones too, and base their summer around winning that pot. But with money like that, there's bound to be some drama and soon enough the whole game takes a turn for the worst and it's up to those four to fix everything that's gone wrong.

I really don't want to give anything away as you can see because the dares are great and the drama is even better. Everyone has secrets that come out throughout the book and some people use those secrets against each other in hopes to win the money. There's some romance, which I loved, and it fit really well into everyone's lives. Isa and Finn seem totally wrong for each other, but I totally get it and shipped it from the start. Their relationship takes some wild turns and is certainly challenged. Xavi and Peter have a much more complicated. They are step siblings but Peter has had feelings for Xavi for so long and now it's hard for him to do anything about them now that they are living under the same roof. All of their relationship drama is mixed in with work drama. Xavi wants to be promoted to waitress really badly so that she can participate in Tips and she will do anything to get that promotion.

Some of the situations in this book are scary real. I'm sure we've all had a boss that gave us the creeps but this one takes the cake. Parts of this book reminded me of Top Ten Clues You're Clueless with the taking place at work and having something stolen. This was a quick read that kept me on my toes and made me want to know how everything would turn out in the end. It was different and fun and a great summer read.

"Tips is a game that's been running for about thirty years. Every two weeks, the staff contributes about 20 per cent of their tips into a pot for a chance to take an unknown dare. A task or stunt, if you will, that isn't revealed until the night of the game."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: When We Collided

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where we highlight an upcoming release we're dying to get our hands on.

My WoW this week is:

When We Collided
By Emery Lord
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected Publication: April 5th, 2016

From Goodreads:

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power to save or destroy them. 

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

Emery Lord is amazing. If you don't know this, you're missing out and you must pick up Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You and find out. She is the new queen of contemporary if you ask me and I cannot wait to read another one from her. This sounds just as dramatic, if not more so, as her others and the bit of mystery in the synopsis makes me want to pick it up even more. This is surley a must read on my 2016 list, which of course grows by the day.

What are you eagerly anticipating?

Review: P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Published: May 26th, 2015
Hardcover, 337 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Lara Jean didn't expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren't. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean's feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to To All The Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that's part of what makes it amazing.

Lara Jean is your typical teenager. She loves her fashion, loves throwing parties and loves boys. When we first met her in  To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we met a young naive girl who hadn't really kissed a boy and who was experiencing her first real love. Now a little older, a little wiser and somewhat in love, Lara Jean will discover what it's like to be in her firs real relationship and how maybe it's not as easy as it looks from the outside.

Lara Jean and Peter are officially official. I loved seeing Lara Jean in a relationship. The cute romantic moments that they share are great and it was nice to see this new part of Lara Jean's life. She is very different around Peter, somewhat nervous about where the relationship is going and happy to be finally be his girlfriend. I certainly remember being in my first relationship and being nervous about how far it might go and whether I was ready for it. I'm glad Jenny Han had a focus on this and how LJ was feeling about sex. I'm also happy with how she handled everything thrown her way and never let Peter pressure her into anything. But the more LJ said no, the more distant Peter became. It's unfortunate that relationships can be difficult over things like that as a teen, but it's certainly realistic. And when John comes back into LJ's life (one of the boys she'd sent a letter to), things get a little more complicated. John is sweet and has a lot in common with LJ and he wants to make her happy. The more time they spend together, the more LJ isn't sure if her relationship with Peter is what she wants. Not many of us had to choose between two boys in high school, let alone other parts of life, and normally I hate a love triangle, but Jenny Han does them right. In her Summer series, I was always torn between the brothers, but in this one I gravitated right to John. He's my kind of guy and I was really rooting for him and LJ.

My favourite part had to be the party that LJ threw at the old folks home. I love a party, especially a themed party, and the 1940s USO party sounded like such a fun theme! The whole scene was adorable and wonderful and just made me want my own John to dance with me. He just seemed like a much better choice for Lara Jean, and I wish we had more of him in the book. What I loved most what how much Lara Jean grew as a character in this one. She was less naive and handled what came her way with dignity. She wasn't as annoying as I found her to be in the first book and she has taken over the older sister role now that Margo is in Ireland. Kittie is still a scene stealer, the cutest little sister ever. I'd love for a book about her as a teen, once she's grown into her craziness and will start breaking hearts.

This was a really cute two parter. I love how much the characters evolved and how the relationships were tested and fixed. I may not be a hundred per cent happy with how everything ended, but the tree house was the perfect place for it all to come together. This was a nice, light read that should be on everyone's YA shelf.

"People come in and out of your life. For a time they are in your world; they are everything. And then one day they're not. There's no telling how long you will have them near."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: The Stars Never Rise

The Stars Never Rise
Author: Rachel Vincent
Published: June 9th, 2015
Hardcover, 368 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimate by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Melli's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

I've been waiting for a new Rachel Vincent series ever since Soul Screamers finished. She is the master of paranormal YA and this new book is the best beginning to what is sure to be a great series. Rachel has once again created a whole that I never could have thought of. In a distant future, souls are in high demand. You are not born with one, one must be appointed to you at birth and there are demons everywhere just waiting to steal yours. The Church is in charge and those who sin risk their own souls. Nina does everything she can to keep her and her sister alive, and this involves too many sins to count. So when her sister admits to one of the biggest sins of all, she knows she has no choice but to run from school, run from the church and protect her sister's life. During her escape, she's thrown into a world she's never known with people who act like exorcists but certainly don't look the part and the Church doing weirder things than usual. She must trust Finn, a strange boy with green eyes, and his group of rebels if she wants her and her sister to survive.

Rachel knows how to build a world like no other. I was sucked into Nina's life and feared my own whenever she encountered someone from the Church. I didn't trust them from the beginning. Nine has abilities she knows nothing about and with Finn's help, she can start a sequence that will hopefully make the world a better place. Finn was the perfect book boy. He is different yet so familiar and I loved his story arc. I can't wait to see him and Nina grow closer throughout the series as I know for a fact that Rachel writes romance beautifully. The secondary characters were equally as fun and brutal. Devi gives Sabine from Soul Screamers a run for her money and Finn's fiercely loyal friends are the kind of people everyone wants to have in their lives. The Church on the other hand, made for great bad guys. People you have been told to trust since your birth that are suddenly trying to kill you.

The plot was fast paced, another turn at every corner, and I just couldn't put this one down. There's so much more I'd love to talk about but I don't want to spoil very much. Unique relationships, strange powers and truths to be told made for a great new YA paranormal read that I think everyone needs to read. I seriously cannot wait for the next book in this series, and if you're like me and loved this one and are waiting for the next one with baited breath as well, pick up Rachel's first series if you haven't already. The Soul Screamers series seriously got me into YA and it forever holds a place in my heart. Rachel writes for adults as well and her adult series are equally as thrilling.

"The Unclean were hiding in plain sight, among us. Breeding their own hosts. Existing right under the Church's nose."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: 99 Days

99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Published: April 21st, 2015
Hardcover, 384 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone remembers everything - how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I'm serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn't finished. I'm expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it's just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. "For what it's worth, Molly Barlow," he says, "I'm really glad you're back."

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I'm actually having fun. I think he's about to kiss me - and that's when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who's supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who's never going to forgive me.

Katie Cotugno is the queen of mistakes and the consequences that come with them. In her first novel, How to Love, she showed what happened to a girl who got pregnant in high school and how she had to deal with that and losing the father of her baby. In this one, we've got a girl who's done something she shouldn't have. After having a fight and potential break up with her boyfriend Patrick Donnelly, Molly seeks comfort in the arms of his older brother, Gabe, and loses her virginity to him. It sets forth a domino effect and soon she is an outcast, none of the family that she used to spend so much time with wants to be around her. So she leaves, goes off to a new school and tries to put the Donnellys behind her. But when she comes home the summer before college, she's hoping to lay low, hoping she does not have to see the Donnellys, but life has other plans for her. Her ex best friend, Julia Donnelly, has not forgiven her for what she's done to her family and she does not plan on letting Molly have a quiet summer. Then Gabe comes home, happy to see Molly, willing to give her another shot. Just as things with Gabe start to heat up again, Patrick shows up, hate in his eyes and not ready to forgive Molly at all. What she thought would be a low key summer has suddenly turned into what she tried to run from, these two boys who she loves and the feelings they give her. She's got 99 days before she goes to college, can she repair everything that she's broken in such a short amount of time?

Molly has made some terrible decisions. She's certainly not a very good girl, but it didn't stop me from wanting what's best for her. When her and Gabe are together, I can see why she's fallen for him in the past. He's sweet, caring, and fun to be around. Then Patrick show up, someone she has tons of history with and she can't help but want to be with him as well. I understood everything going through her head, and though I don't agree with how she played things out, I can see why she couldn't decide between the two brothers. Teenagers make mistakes and Molly makes a lot of them. She has to deal with the consequences all summer, Cotugno does not let her get away with anything she's done, and watching her realize what she's done wrong and trying to fix it is enough redemption for me. I was worried about how everything would play out, but I'm quite pleased with the ending, thinking it was the best way for all of this to finish.

These characters really stood out to me. Molly, for all her problems, was a great character who actined liked a real teenager and made mistakes like one as well. Young love is hard to refuse, and both Patrick and Gabe were great boys, even I had trouble deciding between the two. I'm usually not one for love triangles, but this one worked really well to tie the story together. In fact, it was pretty much the plot so I was okay with it all happening. Julia as the antagonist was perfectly logical. Of course the sister of the brothers you fooled around with would be mad at you for leaving them both and then coming back into their lives and fooling around with both of them again. Her anger was well executed and her and Molly's relationship was really well written. The whole book was written beautifully. Cotugno has a way with words in the simplest way and her writing continues to blow me away. Two for two from this author and I can't wait for her to write something else.

"I was trying not to lose you. But I lost you anyway."

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