Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Promo and Giveaway: In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

Welcome to the book promo and HUGE giveaway for In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken!!

I'm thrilled to be a part of this exciting awesome promotion for this series. Check it out!

Check out In the Afterlight:

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Book Three of The Darkest Minds series
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Official Summary: 

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price. 

When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

Check out the novella, Sparks Rise:

Sparks Rise by Alexandra Bracken
Book 2.5 of The Darkest Minds series
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Official Summary:

Sam didn't think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam's dark childhood. 

Lucas has a deadly secret--he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk his everything to save her.

Check out the other books in the series:


(Click on each picture for the Goodreads information.)

About the Author:

Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.  She recently relocated to New York City, where she worked in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. 

Explore the five psi-groups!

The Giveaway:

Read on into the afterlight! Enter for your chance to win a book light for bedtime reading plus The Darkest Minds series & tote bag.

Prizing & samples courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.
Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

NOTE: This review was already posted on The (YA) Bookcase's blog. I'm reposting it here for link technicalities and because I'm lazy. Enjoy!

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Book One of the Dark Caravan Cycle
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher/The YA Bookcase

Summary (from Goodreads):

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself. 

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

What I Liked:

Ahhhh, jinni-related books are totally awesome, in my opinion. There aren't too many in YA literature, but in general. I LOVE them. The Fire Wish by Amber Lough came out earlier this year and I LOVED it. I mentioned this book in that review, so it's only fair that I mention The Fire Wish in this review. I'm so glad that I enjoyed both books! Especially since I saw a particularly negative review for this book (very professional, but not positive at all), which turned me off a little. Still, I read this one and really liked it!

Nalia, the last Ghan Aisouri, is an enslaved jinn. Her master, the cruel but persuasive and wickedly handsome Malek, has asked for two wishes, and is holding on to his third wish. Meanwhile, Nalia's homeland is in the midst of the aftermath of a war and the continuation of a rebellion and power struggle. Nalia's kind, the Ghan Aisouri, have been destroyed (except her) - but they were the royalty. When a Djan, an enemy of the Ghan Aisouri, seeks out Nalia for help, Nalia can't refuse. But is the price of her freedom enslavement by another?

In the very beginning of this book, I was iffy. I already had low expectations because of that Goodreads review, though I was still excited about a jinni-related book. But I immediately didn't like Malek, or even Nalia, though I felt sooooo bad for her. When Raif showed up at the party, then I started to feel more for Nalia. Him being there... I felt like I understood Nalia more, perhaps because she had to reveal more to Raif. 

I don't like Malek, won't like Malek, and will never hope for redemption for him. He's messed up, and totally out of chances, in my opinion. He hurt Nalia many times (mostly mentally, but physically too, by stuffing her in the iron jinni bottle, and grabbing her too hard). He thinks he's being merciful or whatever by not forcing himself on her. I hate him and his role in this book, though he is a totally necessary, well-developed character. Basically, Demetrios did a very good job of making me hate him (which was her goal, I'm sure).

I loveeeee Raif. He sees things very black-and-white, until he has to tangle with Nalia (he needs someone as powerful as a Ghan Aisouri for something very specific to help with the rebellion). They're enemies, their races of the jinni (Djan are serf, Ghan Aisouri are royalty), but he's totally smitten, by the end of the book. Raif is hardcore, but so sweet. He doesn't trust Nalia, but he falls for her.

Nalia... I like her. My heart aches for her, and the decisions that she had to make. I get it, even if I hate it. She IS brave, braver than I could be, in that regard. I love that she gets someone to love and someone to love her back, by the end of this book. She deserves it.

I LOVE THE ROMANCE. Okay, I hate the insinuated love triangle. I hate that Nalia has to do certain things with and to Malek (it never goes that far, trust me), and she basically has to deceive him to make him think she loves him. BUT. The real romance? The true pair? Love it. Love them. Raif and Nalia are a great forbidden romance pair.

There is so much history to this book. A huge part of the world-building is the amount of history and customs and prejudices and things of the jinni world. Nalia's kind, the Ghan Aisouri, were slaughtered, and the Djan are leading a rebellion. By historic and modern means, Nalia and Raif hate each other. Or they should. They're on opposite sides. But their budding relationship is symbolism, I suppose.

This book is completely in third person (yay!), but it is not just Nalia's third-person limited perspective. We also get Raif's third-person limited perspective, and isolated chapters following someone else (see the next paragraph).

I love the rising action building towards the climax. There are chapters/scenes that break from Nalia's or Raif third-person perspectives - these chapters/scenes that are different are set in different countries, and follow this sinister ghoul who is preying on jinni females... looking for Nalia. This leads up to the climax - which is epic, by the way.

I really, really enjoyed this book! I'm really excited to see where the next book takes us. There are so many things to be solved/explored... the sigil, the dark caravan, Nalia and Raif's relationship... let's go, Blood Passage, I'm ready for you!

What I Did Not Like:

Obviously, I didn't like Malek and his relationship with Nalia and how Nalia had to convince him that she loved him. It was borderline sickening... but I suppose that goes to show how well Demetrios set up this part of the story. It will break your heart though, or piss you off. Just be warned.

Also, I think think this book could have been cut down some. It didn't need to be as long as it did - I hear some people saying that they're losing interest and might not finish. Well, personally, I think you SHOULD finish, but I understand what you're saying. It gets REALLY good in the second half though...

Would I Recommend It:

In my very honest opinion... YES! Of course! I love fantasy, I love jinni-related books, I love book with Arab influence, and I love a good forbidden romance. The romance in this book really is seductive and thrilling! Once you realize that there really is no love triangle.

I repeat, there really is no love triangle. Says the queen of I-hate-love-triangles-they-can-go-die.


4 (well-deserved) stars! Book two should be even more epic than book one - less focused on Nalia gaining her freedom, and more focused on the war and the sigil and freeing the jinni. And of course, Raif and Nalia. OF COURSE. Because what will everyone think, when they see an empress and a serf together? These are dark and troublesome times...

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Book One of The Young Elites series
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publisher: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

What I Liked:

Wooaahhh. Marie Lu should write fantasy. I mean, her dystopia series, the Legend trilogy, was excellent, but this FANTASY NOVEL. I am seriously impressed. Not that you shouldn't be impressed anyway, because it's Marie Lu, and the woman a is really talented writer to begin with. 

Adelina murdered someone, and she will be burned on the stake for this. She is one of the malfetto, a survivor of the blood fever, with some sort of marking and strange abilities. Her marking is the scar where her left eye should be - the doctor cut her eye out to save her from the fever. Her abilities - she never found out, until she killed someone. Rescued by the Dagger Society, led by Enzo Valeciano, Adelina must decide if she wants to support this rebellion group, or help the Inquisitor, who has her younger sister.

The synopsis is super creepy, and super spot on. "It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt." That line is PERFECT. It totally fits this book to the T. Adelina is used and hurt. Her own father treats her like less than nothing, because she is a malfetto, imperfect, scarred. He physically hurts her, like breaking her finger, but he also mentally and emotionally hurts her. When Adelina is rescued by Enzo and the Dagger Society (other malfetto with abilities), she does everything she can to learn as much as possible.

And the others in the Dagger Society know this. Raffaele, a beautiful male courtesan, has the ability to sense malfetto energy, and he knows that she is powerful. He urges Enzo (the Dagger leader) to kill Adelina, because he knows that her power is dark and bitter. Raffaele and Adelina become friends, but Raffaele is truly afraid of Adelina. Of course Enzo doesn't kill Adelina. But perhaps he should have...

This book has a seriously dark tone to it. Adelina has a lot of hatred and darkness in her past - as do all of the Young Elites (malfetto with abilities), but she also has raw power and ambition. Enzo wants her to fight with the Dagger Society because she would be a huge asset. If she can hone her abilities. She can create illusions.

I like Adelina. She is twisted and selfless and dark and complex - there is a light and dark side to her, which sounds cliche, but it isn't. The character development of Adelina is excellent. Enzo is already a static character, so I don't see too much character development in him, but I definitely liked him. He reminded me of Rowan in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Enzo has a hard, steely quality to him, with no room for arguments or contradictions. The supporting characters, like Raffaele and Violetta, the Spider, the Windwalker... I love the set of characters that Lu has created. She is a master at character construction and development. 

There is romance in this novel, to an extent. It's not dominant or overwhelming, and honestly, it's quite strange, but it's there. So, for those of you that can't read a YA novel without romance, relax, there's romance in this book. For those of you who like it when the romance isn't the central part of the plot (like me), that's basically how this romance goes.

Lu's world-building is awesomeeee. I felt like I was living in Dalia, experiencing what Adelina was seeing or thinking or doing, etc. Lu is really good at describing a situation without boring readers, or setting up the scene without providing an info-dump. I love the imagery, especially! The Italian influence is awesome. The names, setting, masks, GONDOLAS... love the Italian influence.

This book is written in several points-of-view. Adelina's is in first person. Teren's (I did not mention him on purpose), Raffaele's, and Enzo's are in third person. This is a neat way to switch up things. It keeps you on your toes, so you must follow which character's perspective it is.

To round it all off... the ending was INSANE. Upon finishing the novel, I mentioned on Goodreads that I knocked a star off for one specific aspect of the ending. Trust me, you'll know what I mean. I'm not happy with this one aspect, but I suppose it's an excellent hook so that readers will keep reading. The cliffhangers... they kill me! 

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said before, one specific aspect of the ending knocked this book down to four stars. It was well on its way to five stars until that ONE BIT. But it's an excellent hook. I loved this book and was already extremely excited to read the second book anyway, but even if I had hated this book... I would have wanted to know what happens next. I wonder how Lu will salvage this situation...

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! Totally! Fantasy fan or not, you'll want to catch this one. Marie Lu is an excellent writer, and her books totally live up to the hype. She has a penchant for horribly twisted endings though, so watch out. 


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I cannot wait to read book two! I want to see more from the romance (hehe), and more from the "big picture", the overarching series plot. Here's hoping it'll be even more epic than book one!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre

As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Book Two of the 2B trilogy
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this book contains mature subject matter, and is for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever—until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. 

Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

What I Liked:

It's possible that I liked this one more than I liked the first book. I really liked the first book! But this one - this one seemed more like "my style". Not quite, but closer than the first one. Rob is not what I expected, to be honest. I'm not sure what I expected, but certainly not this sweet, kind man.

This book starts when Lauren moves out of Mount Albion, which isn't at the end of book one. It's somewhere in the second half. Honestly, I forgot about this, so when Lauren was talking about Nadia breaking up with Ty in the very beginning of this book, I was like whaaaaa?!!? But then I realized that this occurred in the second half of book one. Makes sense.

Anyway. So. Lauren is back home. Her mom is dating some guy named Stuart (totally okay with Lauren), Rob is still dating Avery (hopeless feelings), and Lauren is struggling to find a job, so she can buy a car, pay for her online classes... Lauren meets Rob in the grocery store. They start hanging out, fixing a house that he bought to flip. Rob breaks up with Avery (you'll have to read to see why) - but Lauren would never announce her feelings to Rob. Unless Rob noticed her?

Like I said before, I wasn't sure what to expect from Rob. I didn't like that he was with Avery in book one - but I understand him now. Rob is such a sweetheart. He's four years older than Nadia and Lauren, and he's got confidence issues. No one thinks he's good enough, smart enough, but he's hot enough. He's good-looking enough for anything. They don't see his talent with making furniture and remodeling houses and construction projects. Rob is super hot, super physical, super sweet, and super honest. He's every girl's dream, without seeming cliche. 

I like Lauren. She has her quirks (crowds, drinking to cope, etc.), but she's highly organized, detailed-oriented, tech-savvy. She's a genius - but since she failed out of college (on purpose though) and came home, everyone thinks she's knocked up or stupid (or both). But she works hard to get a job, take classes, etc. Lauren is a good person, and she's been completely in love with Rob since they were teens. Good thing he's been in love with her for quite some time - not as long as she had been. but long enough.

One of the things that I like more about this book than the last book is how fast the romance/relationship gets started. Lauren and Rob already know each other, but sparks start to fly from when they meet in the grocery when Lauren first comes home. Something specific happens, and Rob breaks up with Avery. Then it's all Lauren and Rob. It's not insta-love by any means, but I like that the buildup for them to state their feelings and get together didn't take long. But then, the intimacy... that took a while. I approve though - it was fun to watch the two of them get sexually frustrated!

I love the romance. The relationship is built beautifully - you can see the trust and love crafted into the romance. It's not just physical with these two, it's not just about them being friends since they were young... all of that is great, but they also love each other, and I like how this is developed.

The conflict/climax is well-crafted as well! It's not drama-filled and angst-ridden and cliche. Okay, there is heartbreak and angst, but the time apart is very much needed and well-spent. Distance definitely made the hearts grow fonder, in this case. 

I like the diversity of situations in which Aguirre places her characters. It's not just college females who got abused or raped or hurt somehow. It's not just college males who beat people up in the past or drink a lot. There are twenty-somethings, for one, with little children. There are twenty-somethings with real jobs and real lives. There are twenty-somethings with controlling, ignorant, cold parents. There are twenty-somethings with a single parent who is dating. Not every college student's life (or New Adult's life) is cookie-cutter perfect with a side of brokenness or hurt or rape or whatever. I like that!

Basically, I enjoyed this book! I love that Aguirre can create imperfect characters without them being broken, beautiful romances without unnecessary drama, and really great New Adult contemporary romance novels without me vomiting in disgust! That's actually a high compliment. Heh.

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything at the moment - but this one is getting a solid four stars!

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! I love Aguirre's books, but I'm really enjoying her New Adult books. Coming from the New Adult who hates New Adult books, this is a big deal. So. Read book one, at the very least! But I also really liked book two, possibly more than book one.


4 stars. So far so good! I'm not Courtney's biggest fan (thinking of book three), and I'm not sure about how I feel about her ending up with Max... but I like Max a lot!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#88)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, August 24th to Saturday, August 30th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Textbooks. Yay!

From Edelweiss:

A sampler is on Edelweiss. A SAMPLER. Still, better than nothing :D As you can see, I didn't go crazy with Harper's latest uploads. I already have Polaris, so I don't need an eARC!

Boring week in terms of books, which is totally fine with me, because I moved in on Wednesday afternoon! And then classes started on Thursday. Smart, eh? Hehe. The first two days were great though, I love my schedule and classes this semester! *feels happy*

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarry
Book Four of the Pushing the Limits series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

What I Liked:

This companion series and I have a love-hate relationship. Well, not exactly "hate" - I haven't rated any of the four books under three stars. Book one got five stars, book two got four, book three got three... and book four gets four stars. I haven't read the novellas (I'm very meh about novellas). Overall, this book had a lot of elements that I loved in the other books, minus a lot that I didn't love, plus a few that are new that I didn't like... but this is my second favorite book of the series, for sure.

West meets Haley when she jumps in front of his car, trying to get away from her drugged-up ex-boyfriend's brother. She was carrying her dad's prescription meds home, and they jumped her for them. And probably for more, given the past. But West is in just as deep as Haley, because West defended her that night, and effectively got himself a match against the ex-boyfriend's brother. Note about the ex-boyfriend (Matt): he's a boxer fighter thing, and he's part of Black Fire, along with his cronies and brother and whatnot. Haley's brother and cousin is of the rival team... and Haley used to be too, until she dated Matt. But Haley's not the only one with problems: West's sister in the hospital, West's dad kicks him out of the house, and West has a huge mess to deal with, in terms of the big fight in two months. Is it all worth it?

I didn't think I would like any males of this series more than I like Ryan... well, West and Ryan are now tied. I liked Isaiah, right up until he got his own book. I like Noah, but I like West and Ryan. I guess I like my refined bad boys, and not the actual "bad" bad boys. West isn't good though - he gets into fights and gets expelled from his rich-boy prep school and has a temper and too much pride to ask his father to let him move back in. Sleeping in his car, it is! Such pride, what a male ego.

No but seriously, I really like West. I think I understand him, even if I can't completely relate to him. He sounds like someone I know (here we go), except the guy I know gets along really well with his parents. Too well, I find. Good for him. Back to West. West is a golden boy fallen angel cat-ate-the-canary sexy and sweet and honest and devilish and flirtatious PHEW DID YOU GET ALL OF THAT. I like West.

I think I like Haley too! I struggled with Beth and Rachel, but I really liked Echo, and I like Haley. Haley isn't too bad a character, even if she is totally messed up and scared and a bit wimpy, in my opinion. She learns, she grows, her character development. It's all good. The same can be said for West, though I like him more than I like Haley, by a lot.

I love the romance, honestly. I couldn't necessarily say that about book three, but I enjoyed the romances in book one, and mostly, in book two. This romance was a bit easier to follow, less constrained by doubts on the female protagonist's part, and with more boldness on the male protagonist's part. Go West!

I like how crazy this book gets, without getting too crazy. In book three, the craziness felt like too much. All the drag-racing and threats and whatnot... it felt like too much, and definitely NOT easy to relate to. Even in books one and three, and this book, the content isn't easy to relate to, meaning the story, the plot, the nature of the story. Most people I know (and I know A LOT of teenagers and young adults) don't drag-race or sell hardcore drugs (though this is debatable) or fight (as in boxing) or fight (as in fistfights) or so on. But that doesn't make the stories enjoyable. For the most part. Back to the crazies - the climax of this book isn't super hyped up towards the fight - THANK GOODNESS. Not everything is high stakes fighting in this book, which is totally fine with me.

I love that college is such a huge part of each of these books, especially this one. My respect grudgingly went up several notches for Haley, because she is determined to put herself through college and pay for it herself or earn it herself (via merit or skill). I'm the same way. I refuse to let my parents pay for me to go to Johns Hopkins. Granted, Haley will NOT be attending such an expensive university. But given her circumstances, I'm proud of her. She's got the fighting skills for athletic scholarships, which is great.

Overall, I liked this one. After the disappointment that was Crash Into You (although I still gave it three stars), I was not entirely thrilled to read this one. BUT WEST. I liked West from the start. So many issues are tackled in this book, and I love how important relationships are, like brother-sister (Rachel/West, Kaden/Jax/Haley), father-son (West/Dad), and the good old couple (West/Haley). I'm very pleased with the development of relationships in this book! And with the book overall.

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said above, it's hard to relate to these characters and their situations. I'm not exposed to abuse, drugs, alcohol, violence, gambling, promiscuity, etc. - mostly because I don't put myself in situations to be exposed to these aspects of life. So, personally, I can't relate to people like Isaiah or Beth or Abby or Haley. Doesn't mean I can't like them or sympathize, but I can't put myself in their shoes. I would never be in their shoes, to begin with.

I wasn't Haley's biggest fan throughout the novel, though I understood her. I believe she hides and shuts down and runs away and it's such b.s., but I get it, more so with her than with Beth or Rachel or any of the other McGarry heroines. Not saying that I like this trope. Not every teenage girl handles problems like that.

Would I Recommend It:

If you've read any of the books in this series, it's totally worth it to read this one. And honestly, if you're like me, and thought that the series was on its way to a terrible slump, don't be afraid to read Take Me On! You should read book three though (as not-so-impressive as it was), because West and company are introduced in that book. Not in books one or two.


4 stars - a solid 4 stars. I'm glad I gave this one a shot, despite the slump in the series, after Pushing the Limits! I'm curious about McGarry's next contemporary books - so much contemporary. Be warned - McGarry's contemporary novels are NOT just romance-based. Romance, yes, but tough issues and a lot of highly flawed characters!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It All Ends Today.

Cue the noisy sobbing and grab the popcorn, because we're in for quite a post! Don't worry, it's not what you think. 

Today is my first day of sophomore year at Johns Hopkins.

And to be honest, for the first time ever, I really, really don't want to go to school. I mean, every person, as a kid or teen or young adult doesn't necessary WANT to go to school - the early mornings, the homework, the time-consuming classes... don't get me wrong, I'm a true nerd, I love learning and really enjoy the content of classes I take. But for the first time, I just DON'T want to go back. I dread starting classes.

I'm the type of person that never stops. I dedicate myself to whatever I put my mind to, and I put my 100% in. All the effort I can give, and then some. That is what has happened my entire life - but it was different when I went through freshman year (at Hopkins). 

Freshman year, I gave 200%. I was the student who started studying for midterms (like, REALLY studying) weeks before the midterm. I was constantly at professors' and TAs' office hours, and I always did my homework ahead of time. Yet, being ahead never meant that I stopped working. It just meant that I finished early, so I could start the next thing early. And it certainly paid off - my GPA is excellent, especially for an engineering student at Johns Hopkins. But clubs, organizations, club sports, a highly active blog, and a great social life, and basically...

I burned out over freshman year. But I still haven't stopped working.

I worked all summer. I took five credits of summer classes at Hopkins, from May 27th to June 27th. Then on June 30th, I started working - full-time. 40 hours a week, plus a 30-60-minute commute each way (traffic sucks). Still managed to do a post a day on my blog. Still managed to hang out with my friends here at home, and the ones staying at Hopkins over the summer. But... I never got the break I *needed*, from freshman year.

It wasn't any one thing that got to me - each "thing", be it the academics, the sports, the blog, the clubs/organizations, the social life, I could handle, no problem. But the combination of everything got to me at times, for sure. It's weird to say that finals week was actually one of the most relaxing couple of weeks while university was still in session, because, no classes, no organizations/clubs, and good excuses for not hanging out with friends or going to the gym or attending practice. Ha.

So here I am, entering sophomore year. Don't get me wrong, I am so ready to work. I need to be busy, to be working, to have thirty things to do. I'm a great multitasker, and I love being busy. Pressure keeps me focused, instead of stressing me out. But it's really said when you dread going back to class but feel a small amount of relief at being able to wake up a few hours later because you don't have to commute anywhere.

Anyway. So what does this boil down to? In the end, I'm not changing too much in my routine, for now. I'm still going to have a post up every day. In October/November, I'll be launching a new meme (hopefully), and that will decrease my reviews per week from four to three. I NEED THIS.

In terms of school, I'm doing seventeen credits, plus ten hours of work (at the same office I worked at over the summer), plus the same clubs, organizations, sports, and social life (hopefully LOL). Something might have to give, and that will definitely be the blog first, if anything. Right now, I've got a good hold on things... of course, classes start TODAY, so I haven't actually tested out my plans. Consider September a trial run of all things new. I'll definitely post something similar to this post if I need to let you all know anything about a hiatus or decrease in posts or so on. 

In the meantime... wanna see what projects I accomplished over the summer? :D

- Took an advanced physics course and lab in four weeks - and got a 4.0!

- Worked 38-40 hours a week on campus.

- Cleaned out and organized my Hopkins email account: this hadn't been cleaned out since I opened the account, in May 2013!

- Added links to all of my reviews on Goodreads: any review on Goodreads that was originally posted on my blog now has a blog review link embedded in my Goodreads review. Yay!

- Cleared out my Bloglovin blogs: okay, I'm "following" many blogs via Bloglovin, but I'm not visiting a good number of them. So, I weeded through the ones I'm genuinely interested in, and the ones that I probably just followed for giveaways or that stopped blogging.

- Cleared out my GFC blogs: this one took FOREVER, because what I was going through was nearly 300 blogs that simply are not active anymore. So, I said goodbye to about 300 GFC blogs.

- Edited my visible tags: this was already good to go, I just hide a couple that were too specific for anyone to actually care to use.

- Got about a week and a half in scheduled reviews and posts

Most of the blog/book-related things were done at work :D When there was downtime, I would take a few hours and simply edit something, like all of my Goodreads reviews (adding the links), or clearing out thousands of emails in my Hopkins email account. This downtime started getting scarce in August, when things started picking up (remember, I work on campus, in an office that concerns students).

So. That's been my life. What exactly is ending today? My summer "vacation", my working full-time, my sanity, possibly? We'll see. I'm not looking for anyone's sympathy, or pity, or anything. Trust me, this post was more for me than it was for you.

In the end (of this post, that is), I want to thank all of you for supporting me, my blog, reading in general, publishers, authors, and so on. Especially for what you do for me - I see every Facebook/Goodreads/blog comment, tweet, message, email, pageview, and I appreciate everything. There would be no blog success without people liking my blog, and every and any little thing you do is so very appreciated. I love you all <3