Review: TITANS by Victoria Scott

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Adventure, Sci-Fi
Synopsis from Goodreads:

From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

my ramblesSpecial thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

When I first heard about Titans soon after its announcement, I knew I had to read it. I say that a lot, but I loved every aspect of what I heard about it. It seemed like it would be unique in ways that other YA books aren’t. Mechanical horses, a protagonist who is financially unstable, and a story centered around friend and family relationships instead of a romance. Add in the adventure of the Titan Derby, and you’ve got one heck of an awesome book!

The book is really fast-paced. The chapters are quite short, which I like when reading adventure stories. It makes me feel like I’m flying through the story, and that kind of writing style is definitely fitting for a book like this. The race scenes are intense. I was on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth, rooting for Astrid to go for the win!

Speaking of Astrid, the characters are an aspect of this book that make the story what it is. Astrid was an incredible main character. She’s strong and fierce, and will do anything to save her family. She’s also incredibly stubborn, but you can’t help but root for her. The relationship between her and her entire family, particularly her and her father, was touching. Magnolia, Astrid’s best friend, was another part of the book that I loved. The female friendship was refreshing to see. Both girls are in similar situations, and it’s clear the love they have for each other. Then there’s Rags, first introduced as a grumpy old man, but you’ll come to love him. He becomes the much-needed father figure for Astrid. The dynamic of the whole group is one that is both comical and heartwarming, seeing the relationships build.

But possibly my favorite part of the whole book was the star of the show: Padlock, Astrid’s Titan. Unlike the other Titans, Padlock is given the ability to have emotion. It was sometimes hard to envision a metal horse having feelings and showing affection, but Victoria Scott wrote it pretty darn convincingly! I loved Padlock just as much as her Pandoras. The relationship that formed between him and Astrid was definitely different, but a memorable one. The Titans in general were really cool. I would have loved to have learned more about their build and operation, other than the quick remarks Astrid mentioned for racing. Like, how did Padlock get programed to have emotion? It seems we’ll never know.

Titans is action-packed and intense, but also filled with heart. The characters, relationships, and story is not one that I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. Another win for Victoria Scott!



Review: THESE VICIOUS MASKS by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Series: These Vicious Masks, #1
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

my rambles

Special thanks to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

This book was pretty darn awesome. But couldn’t you just tell it would be from the very first line of the synopsis? Um, YES! Well, These Vicious Masks combined two genres that I love to read: historical fiction and paranormal, in a way that was witty, snarky, fun, and exciting! The story was super fast-paced. There was tons of banter. And Evelyn was reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet. In other words, I was smiling throughout the entire book.

These Vicious Masks is one of those books that you can’t help but adore from the moment you begin reading. From the very beginning, only a few pages in, I was hooked. Right off the bat, the story is filled with everything I mentioned before that I loved: all the banter, all the wit, and lots of mystery!

The characters were one of my favorite parts of the story. When I said that Evelyn was like Lizzie, I wasn’t kidding. She’s snarky, clever, funny, and can hold her own. There’s of course two handsome men, Mr. Kent and Mr. Braddock. Both of them are equally swoony and each brings something different to the table. Mr. Kent is the happy-go-lucky, silly guy with a warm heart. And Mr. Braddock is the brooding, tall-dark-handsome. Evelyn totally calls Braddock on that fact, too. I loved those scenes between them! The banter between Evelyn, Kent, Braddock, and even the other side characters is light and oh so entertaining.

Not only were the characters awesome, but the story, of course was too. The paranormal abilities of the characters are freaking cool, and I can’t wait to learn more about them. Where did they come from? Where will it take them? We don’t yet know… The mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Evelyn’s sister Rose was made even more interesting thanks to those abilities. And of course there’s a revelation at the end that I can tell will be further investigated in the next books. I was getting a very Clockwork Angel vibe from the whole thing.

Well, now I’ve compared this book to two others. I don’t like it when I compare books, but to get the feeling of the book across to you, I can really only do it by way of referencing other titles. Not that These Vicious Masks is like a copy of either of the books — it’s definitely not. But I think that it takes the best qualities from those two novels and puts them together in a great way, and creates an awesome new story.

My one problem was the ending. I thought it seemed a bit rushed, and ended out of the blue. I would have liked more closure to bring the first installment of this series to a less convenient end. But, that was the least of my worries when looking at this book as a whole.

All in all, These Vicious Masks is simply tons of fun! There’s laughs, there’s action, and there are the slightest hints of a romance. It’s not your typical deep and dark historical fiction novel. There’s something in These Vicious Masks for everyone!



Review: Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer (+GIVEAWAY & BLOG TOUR!)

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When I saw the sign-ups for this tour I just knew I had to do it! I was really into Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series before I started blogging (LOTS OF HOT GUYS BROTHERS GO CHECK IT OUT), and after reading the synopsis for Thicker than Water I was sold! There’s murder, mystery, and a hot romance…

thicker-than-waterPublisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: December 29th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

my rambles

Special thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for hosting this blog tour and to Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

Okay, this books was SO addicting! I find Brigid Kemmerer’s books to be that way. But, if I were to think back to when I read the Elementals series and compare it to Thicker than Water, I would say that this was even more so. I read the majority of the book in one sitting, it was that hard to put down.

Continue reading “Review: Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer (+GIVEAWAY & BLOG TOUR!)”

Review: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on the right track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manage to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

my rambles

Special thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light was like no book I’ve ever read before. It tells the story of depression and suicide through a lense that is completely unique and beautifully written.

I’m trying to diversify my reading and tackle reading some tougher topics. This book is definitely one of the darkest contemporaries that I’ve read. But the way that Ann Jacobus writes made parts of the story seem almost like magical realism.

The title is extremely fitting as there is a huge juxtaposition between giving in to the dark or living in the light. I won’t say much about it, but by the end, the revelation about one of the boys was so interesting. You’ll probably get an inkling about one of them from the very beginning, but the development of the character continually gives subtle hints about who he really is.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Summer, but I did like the depth of Moony and Kurt. I felt like even though most books like this are character-driven, the story was driven not by Summer, but by the mental illness itself. I liked how there was almost more of a focus on the mental illness being personified as a character and its actions against Summer.

As I said before, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light was so different. If you love contemporary, and like reading darker books, this is the perfect choice for you!



Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (+ GIVEAWAY!)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 292
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Synopsis from Goodreads:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

my rambles

Special thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I’ll start out this review by saying that this is NOT a book for everyone. I don’t normally tend to read lots of books that are focused around tough issues, such as school shootings. The reality of the story is sometimes too much for me to handle. But something about the summary for This Is Where It Ends made me pick it up. Maybe the idea of it being told over such a short amount of time. Maybe the fact that it follows so many people, each of whom has a connection to the shooter. I can’t quite pinpoint the why, but this was a book I was immediately intrigued by.

I knew I had to be in the right mindset to read a book about a shooting. They happen much too frequently in the United States, and around the world, for this book to be one that is read lightly. But in light of the recent events around the US, I was already almost numb, I’ll say, to the horrible events of mass shootings.

The main focus of the book is the school shooting, but there are also other tough topics conquered by This Is Where It Ends. There’s physical, mental, and sexual abuse. There’s sexuality. You may be thinking, “Why cover so many tough topics in one book, where the main story is already so hard to take?” Well all of those other topics factor into the life of the shooter, and make this book truly emotional. There’s romantic and familial relationships. Friendships. All of them are extremely important to this story.

The story is told through multiple POVs, and their parts in current as past events. While this allows us to learn more about the POV characters, and even bits and pieces about the shooter, we don’t get to learn about the internal struggle that is clearly happening inside his mind. I was warned about this before starting the book, but I agree that the inclusion of the shooter’s perspective would have made this a truly unique book, and not so typical.

What I really loved was how the book was told over the span of only 54 minutes. The flashbacks did make it seem like it was a longer span of time, but I still liked the chaotic tone the book had. I read this in almost one sitting, which I think is a good thing to do, especially considering the timing. Reading practically all of it at once made me feel immersed in the story, more so than the normal book I’d read in one sitting.

Yes, there were things that I would have liked to have been different. No, the book wasn’t perfect. But I think that it’s extremely relevant considering the world we live in, unfortunately. And I think that Marieke Nijkamp did a wonderful job of portraying so many of the current issues and relationships in today’s society.

Not for the faint-hearted, This Is Where It Ends is truly an emotional and heart-pounding read that will make you wonder how you would act in the character’s places and question the inner turmoil of those around you.


Continue reading “Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (+ GIVEAWAY!)”