Review: Lies I Live By by Lauren Sable

Lies I Live By

Callie Sinclair is literally out of her mind; as the government’s youngest psychic spy, she finds valuable information for top-secret missions. Her work keeps her headaches at bay, but it means she must lie to everyone she loves, including her longtime boyfriend, Charlie.

When a new psychic arrives at the office, Callie can’t help but flirt; Jasper already knows her in a way Charlie never will.

But as her love life gets more complicated, so do her visions. People halfway around the world seem to be in danger...and people in her own backyard, too. If Callie can’t find a way to alter future events, she could lose the people she loves—and her mind. Literally.

I hadn't actually heard much about Lies I Live By before it popped up on Edelweiss and I decided to give it a shot. I actually really enjoyed this book as well, at least for the most part. Sabel has created a thrilling story with intrigue and action and she has made it relateable and enjoyable to the YA demographic. I think YA as a genre has been so saturated by books of a certain trend and Lies I Live By offers something new that I an lots of people enjoying.

Callie was a great character, not perfect by any means but very intelligent, very talented and just the right level of reckless to make for exciting reading without her coming across as stupid. I loved the way she had to deal with saving the world at the same time as the smaller issues like lying to her mum and boyfriend, and dealing with her feelings for another guy. I loved the fact that she seemed real - like someone I could meet on the street.

Charlie and Jasper were also great. Whilst I don't like cheating in books, it is something that occasionally happens and this love triangle didn't seem over-done. I think the difference is in the fact that Callie and Charlie have had a long term relationship so it isn't Charlie fighting to get her, he's fighting to keep her. Both guys were well written but Charlie is, of course, my favorite.

The issue that I had with this book, which stops it from getting a much better rating is the pacing. Whilst the end was high stakes, gripping stuff the first half of the book is quite slow and took a bit of a push to keep reading. The writing itself is great, so that kept me going, but the pace itself just seemed to be a little too slow. I hope that anyone else who reads this book will stick it out because it is totally worth it.

Overall, Lies I Live By was something different and I totally loved it. There was some issues with the pacing to start with but the plot and characters pull it through. A great read that I recommend for anyone looking for something fun and intriguing.

Book released May 31st by Katherine Tegen Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Change Places With Me by Lois Metzger (DNF)

Change Places with Me

Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was a little different. Her clothes and hair don’t suit her anymore. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There’s no more sadness in her life; she’s bursting with happiness.

But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because until very recently, she was an entirely different person—a person who’s still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.

I want to make it known before I even start this review that this book was a DNF for me. I got to around 30% and realised that this book wasn't going anywhere fast. It's a slow burn that maybe I may have been able to finish at a different time, but I read this after a couple of pretty intense reads so this book didn't really stand a chance.

This is a book which takes time to get to the point, putting in little bits of the creep factor to make the reader feel unsettled, I think for a lot of people this would work in the books favour but that isn't something that I really go for. 

The main problem that I think that this book will struggle with is that I just don't think it's something that will appeal to the masses. I know a few of my reader friends who would devour Change Places With Me, it's totally their thing. Then I know most of them wouldn't even pick it up in a bookstore.

Overall, Change Places With me just failed to grip me, but I think it definitely has it's niche in young adult fiction. I just don't think it's going to make waves, which is probably a crying shame because maybe the genre needs something new.

Overall Rating: DNF at 30%

Book released June 14th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

Ivory and Bone
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

I was super excited by the premise of this book. Prehistoric love story with allusions to Pride and Prejudice? How could I not enjoy that! (Hint: the answer to that question is pretty easy). Unfortunately, pages in I realised that this book was simply not going to live up to my expectations.

I think that the problem of the premise is the authenticity. It's hard to write about life in the stone age authentically because the general is idea is that they didn't have the most advanced communications methods. As a result, by writing in pretty modern dialogue, Eshbaugh jeapordised her own book and reduced the authenticity. That being said, the research is there - the lifestyle of hunting and gathering is well written, but this is also another weak point because that makes for some pretty monotonous reading. When Kol isn't communicating with either Mya or Lo, his general day-to-day life was just not good to read.

I did like the relationship between Mya and Kol and the way this developed and concluded, that was what kept me reading even when my interest in the book started to wane. There is also Lo and when she gets into the story, things started to be more interesting because there is drama and action, but it was just a bit too late to save this story.

The writing was also a little bit distracting - Kol is telling the story to Mya so it is written where when he is talking about Mya he says 'you'. It didn't work for me, but I can see why some people may find it a really effective device.

Overall, Ivory and Bone didn't live up to my expectations, but it definitely had some redeeming features. I did like the central relationship and the action towards the end but all the bits in between just didn't grab my interest. I can see why some people may find this book a great read but for me it just didn't mesh.
Book released June 7th 2016 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: What Happens Now by Jennifer Castle

What Happens Now
Ari Logan is battling to win her war against depression and the dark night she hurt herself on purpose. It’s not easy: her best friend is drifting away, her mom’s emotionally checked out, and she spends her days playing caregiver to her handful of a half-sister, Danielle. But it’s summer, and anything is possible...

That’s when Camden Armstrong steps onto the beach of Ari’s local swimming lake.

At first, Ari quietly longs for Camden from afar, seeing in him everything she wants to be. When the two discover a true connection the following summer, Ari lets herself fall not just for the quirky and self-assured Camden but also his friends, tumbling into their world of independence, adventure, and shared sci-fi fandom. As Ari’s romantic dreams come true, she must unlock the mysteries of the very real and troubled boy behind her infatuation, while also struggling with her own demons, obligations, and loyalties.

I've read another of Jennifer Castle's books, You Look Different in Real Life and I quite enjoyed it. What Happens Now intrigued me because I love it when authors manage to portray depression in a realistic sense. I loved the way Jennifer Castle tackled the issue in the book, and the way Ari tackles her issues. Overcoming an incident when she really hurt herself - she wasn't trying to end her life, just trying to tackle her issues, Ari falls in love with Camden from afar, then she meets the real deal and realises that sometimes fantasies differ from reality but it doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with that.

Alongside the main love story, there are some great intertwining stories - Ari's relationship with her mother, Ari's best friend Kendall and her search for the right man and of course, Ari dealing with her demons. This book does such a great job at making Ari real and her depression a real thing and this was amazingly done. I can't say that enough.

I also real enjoyed the Silver Arrow part of the book. Fandom is a big part of my life so I love any book which puts fandom in. Ari finding fandom and the way she was thrown in with Eliza and Max and the way these two influenced her life as well was well done. The way Silver Arrow made her strong was amazingly well done. I also love the meta-aspect, brilliant.

If I had one problem with his book it's that at times Ari and Camden's relationship got a bit monotonous - I wish there was a little bit more waiting for things to work out. I also wanted more of a focus on Eliza's because this was an aspect that was really intriguing for me.

Overall, What Happens Now was a really well done book with a painfully real portrayal of depression balanced out by a sweet summer romance. Jennifer Castle hasn't let me down!

Book released Juen 7th 2016 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Love and Other Man Made Disasters by Nicola Doherty

Love and Other Man-Made Disasters

Juno is scared of a lot of things. Climate change, urban foxes, zombies - the usual. So when she goes on a skiing holiday with her mum's adrenaline-mad new husband and his tearaway twins, she doesn't hold much hope of surviving. Then she meets Boy. Gruff, hairy and thrill-seeking, he's everything Juno doesn't like. Or is he? Juno's about to discover there's nothing more scary than falling in love.

This book was a cute summer read, despite the cold, ski lodge setting. I really enjoyed it despite the fact that I did definitely find a lot of faults and even a few inconsistencies.

Juno was an interesting character. At the start I thought she was a completely spoilt brat, she did become more likeable - I can't lie and say she was a great main character though. Boy was also an interesting character, interesting meaning that I actually liked him to start with but towards the end he became a complete idiot - I know that he had his reasons for his attitude towards the end but honestly I just couldn't get behind the two of them and their relationship.

The setting was great though, and despite the execution being lacking with regards to the main relationships I did enjoy the direction the book took. Doherty has a way of writing fun and sweet descriptions and dialogue. I loved Tara especially for this. I did find a few inconsistencies, Juno was taken on as a chalet host with very little training and no kind of CRB checks or anything even though she was working around kids. Also, at the start Juno's family state that Tara is a brilliant cook, but just a few chapters in Tara can barely make a soup - this really stood out to me as a lack of consistency.

Overall, Love and Other Man Made Disasters was a very cute read but it wasn't stand out for me, it was sort of meh. I read it pretty quickly and I know it's not really going to be memorable.

Book released June 2nd by Hachette Children's group
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Unrivaled by Alyson Niel

Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols, #1)
Everyone wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

My main comment about Unrivaled is that whilst it was an interesting and fun beach red, and whilst I do want to read the second one in the series ASAP, the book felt like two parts. The first was the fun promoting parts: the crushes and the individual personalities coming together. The second was the mystery that doesn't really start until near the end, and this totally didn't seem to mesh for me.

I did really enjoy the book, that much is true. I read it next to a swimming pool under the hot summer sun and I think that was the perfect setting to read this book. The feel was really fun, really cool and not too deep and I did love all of the individual characters - Layla was my favorite to start with but she became a bit of a bitch throughout the book - I loved this element of character development. I also really liked Tommy, but I wish more had happened with him and Ira, this was something that really seemed lacking. Aster was a character which I didn't like at the start but I loved seeing her vulnerabilities towards the end. Their relationships and dialogues all seemed so natural and well written - kudos to Noel for this.

The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger which i wasn't keen on. It seemed like Noel, rather than planning this out, had just decided that she wanted to hit her next deadline and decided that was as good a place to end as any. I want to read the sequel but I feel a bit unfairly pushed into it. Maybe it's bad planning, or maybe it's good marketing.

Overall, I feel like Unrivaled  was a read that left me a little torn. I enjoyed it, but I can't say it was flawless or brilliant or everyone's cup of tea. The characters and their meetings were great but the abrupt ending and the way the book didn't mesh for me detracted for this. Will I read the sequel? Yes. Can I recommend this? Maybe, as a summer read.

Book released May 10th 2016 by Katherine Tegen 
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

I've been away... on vacation

See title. I have been away.

and it was brilliant.

I am absolutely sunburned on every inch of my body and now it's back to work  :(

But I read loads of books, so I have lots of reviews to catch up on!

Look forward to it!! :)

Review: Sing by Vivi Green

Multiplatinum pop icon Lily Ross’s biggest hits and biggest heartbreaks (because they are one and the same):

1. AGONY. (That feeling when her ex ripped her heart out of her chest and she never saw it coming.)
2. GHOSTS. (Because even famous people are ghosted by guys sometimes. And it sucks just as much.)
3. ONCE BITTEN. (As in: twice shy. Also, she’s never dating an actor or a musician ever again.)

But this summer’s going to be different. After getting her heart shattered, Lily is taking herself out of the spotlight and heading to a small island in middle-of-nowhere Maine with her closest friends. She has three months until her fall tour starts-three months to focus on herself, her music, her new album. Anything but guys.

That is . . . until Lily meets sweet, down-to-earth local Noel Bradley, who is so different from anyone she’s ever dated. Suddenly, Lily’s “summer of me” takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself falling deeper and harder than ever before. But Noel isn’t interested in the limelight. She loves Noel-but she loves her fans, too. And come August, she may be forced to choose

As I write this review, I have just found out that Taylor Swift, my spirit animal, has just split from her soulmate, Calvin Harris. RIP Tayvin, we love you! I know that my poor #BFF TayTay is going to get all these people saying she's a maneater and she's the problem in a relationship, even though any relationship in which they are being watched practically every second is going to be strained! 

Therefore, I feel like today is a good day to start my review for this book, because it's pretty clear that Green based a good part of Lily Ross on Taylor Swift - there are jokes about her writing songs about any guy she meets, comments about her falling in love to easy, she's a global superstar. It's pretty obvious, and that's a good thing because this book that could so easily come across as not very real seems much more realistic when you realise that these things are happening to a real life global superstar.

Now let me say this, Sing by Vivi Green is not an amazing book. It's not deep and the drama is actually pretty stripped down. That is the charm of this book. Our super-famous main character moves from the big city to Nowhere, Maine to find herself and falls in love in the process, but this is love in her own way. She finds a new voice, a new sound and she finds out that love doesn't always have to end painfully. I loved seeing Lily change and learn things about her, and I loved her relationship with her best friends as well as they develop themselves.

I did find that Lily and Noel's relationship was a little bit... sudden. Like, I felt that there was some chemistry but it didn't really seem like they clicked, I would have liked a bit more development because whilst I never thought that Noel was interested in Lily because of her fame, I would have liked to believe that he got to know her. There were some other brilliant characters though: Sidney, for one, was brilliant and I loved getting to know her.

The ending of this book was my favorite part of it because it ends on a bittersweet, hopeful note. Lily goes back to her life, but she's grown up and she's realised what really matters to her and that just really clicked for me. It made the whole book seem worth it.

Overall, Sing isn't an amazing book, but it passed the time and it did have some really great things about it.

Book released May 31st 2016 by HarperCollins
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Even If The Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

Even if the Sky Falls
Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.

In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.

But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.

I've been putting When The Sky Falls off because one night stories are hit or miss. For one part, one of my all time fave reads ever is The Statistical Probability Of Love at First Sight, which was super cute and takes place over one day, but they can also seem too shallow and over-rushed. Thankfully, and I can say this with great pleasure, When The Sky Falls clicked for me, and nothing seemed rushed or too fast - or at least the bits that did fit in with the Mardi Gras festival feel.

Now I'm not from the US and New Orleans is a place that I have only seen on TV and movies, or read about in books. I did, however, do a degree in Environmental Geography focusing on natural disasters and Katrina was a case study that I will never forget learning about. The resilient nature of the residents even through what they went to, even though other disasters pummeled at them is shown in this book and I love it for that. I also loved the history and setting encapsulated.

Julie is a great character for the most part. I wasn't keen on her actions at the start of the  book - Tavis may have been annoying and she may have felt trapped but running away in another city at 16 years old is not a responsible thing to do. It didn't work for me... then again, it led to the events of the book, during which I absolutely grew to like Julia. I like the snippets of her past that show up in the book, showing us her past and what exactly she needs to escape from. The magic of the first part of the book is the carefree nature, then just like the hurricane hits and pulls Julie and Miles part, the memories hit and we realise that Julie is completely allowed to act the way she does. It's well done on Garcia's part.

The other characters, whilst not wildly well-developed were also fun. Miles was swoon-worthy, my one flaw with him is that he didn't (or I don't recall him) asking Julia's age, and his age isn't strictly stated though I think he's probably a year or two older than Julia. She talks about school, she's sixteen but they still get intimate which I think could have been played better. I still loved the character though, and his friends: Taj, Danny and Dominguez were brilliant as well.

The ending of this story really threw me - it seemed to ramp up the anxiety and tension too fast and then the book just ends - I would have liked to know how Julia and Miles were going to go from there and I would have really liked for Julia to have to face the consequences of her actions and have to face her parents. She acted out, I didn't like that we just assume it all worked out for her.

That being said, I can't deny that Even If The Sky Falls is one of the most gripping contemp reads that I have read this year, and that despite it's glaring flaws I am able to look past them and see this book for what it is -  an ode to taking chances and moving on. Ugh, that was corny, but it's true. This was a brilliant read, and I definitely recommend it.

Book released May 10th  2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Waiting on Wednesday (1st June)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Anyway, here are my WOW picks, let me know what you think and link me to yours!

Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas
September 2016 - HarperTeen

Rose & Thorn (Ash & Bramble, #2)
After the spell protecting her is destroyed, Rose seeks safety in the world outside the valley she had called home. She’s been kept hidden all her life to delay the three curses she was born with—curses that will put her into her own fairy tale and a century-long slumber. Accompanied by the handsome and mysterious Watcher, Griff, and his witty and warmhearted partner, Quirk, Rose tries to escape from the ties that bind her to her story. But will the path they take lead them to freedom, or will it bring them straight into the fairy tale they are trying to avoid?

Set in the world of Sarah Prineas’s Ash & Bramble fifty years later, Rose & Thorn is a powerful retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale where the characters fight to find their own Happy Ever After.
 My thoughts:
I really, really enjoyed Ash & Bramble and I did love the concept and this one sounds even better. I am totally excited for this now!