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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

[MINI REVIEWS] Catching Jordan + All Fall Down

Catching Jordan

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Published: December 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Rating

My Thoughts

A lot of sexist and infuriating characters. There's plenty of girl hate, too. Ack! I hate Jordan; she's so selfish and annoying! One moment she's confiding in and laughing with someone, the next moment she's judging them. WTF, Jordan?! The romance did not make me swoon; insta-love/crush/lust sucks. I would have rated it lower if not for Henry. He's funny as hell and a really great friend. I love his friendship with Jordan and he's almost perfect – almost because he also had an a-hole episode for a while. All in all, I was disappointed because I really expected to be head over heels in love with Catching Jordan. I didn't really enjoy the story. Sadly, this book was just so-so for me.


All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter
Series:
Book 1, Embassy Row series
Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery
Published: January 20th 2015 by Scholastic
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.


Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.


Rating

My Thoughts

Impressive story and good concept. However, I found it hard to connect with the main character, Grace. She has a traumatic history but I couldn't sympathize with her. Also, I hate Alexei! He's so arrogant and controlling. I felt like the romance between them is too forced. Grace's friends are another story, though. I love Megan and Noah and Rosie! They're like the YA version of Spy Kids. Megan's a genius! She's smart and sarcastic. Rosie's so innocent and loyal. And Noah! He's hilarious and really kind. I sure hope he and Megan end up together. ^__^

The world building is also good. The Embassy Row is interesting but I would have liked to know more about Adria.

The mystery is there and it's definitely intriguing. But, I didn't find it as exciting as I would like it to be. In the end, I was underwhelmed and left with a lot of questions. Still, I'll be watching out for the next books in the series.

Julie

Friday, February 20, 2015

[REVIEW] Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian

Tunnel Vision

Author: Susan Adrian
Genre: YA Paranormal, Sci-fi, Thriller
Published: January 20th 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Romance and action come crashing together in Susan Adrian's Tunnel Vision in which a teenage boy with incredible powers is brought to the attention of the government.

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He's decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he's also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there's a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to "tunnel" into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It's an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn't agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he's doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel's help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

Rating

My Thoughts

Tunnel Vision follows Jake Lukin, a teenager who has an ability he calls “tunneling”. He only has to hold an object and he can already locate its owner and even know his thoughts. It’s a unique ability that he has hidden all his life – that is until he makes a mistake at a party. Suddenly Jake and his family aren’t so safe anymore. Then a government agency tracks him and offers protection in exchange of Jake using his ability to work for them. Things got out of hand fast and Jake is thrust into a world of saving people and locating terrorists. As he finds himself caught in web of lies, deceit and betrayal, it’s up to Jake and his “tunneling” to save himself and his family from unknown danger.

Susan Adrian delivers a strong and remarkable debut with Tunnel Vision. The concept is unique and the execution is excellent. This gripping tale held my attention and didn’t let go. I immensely enjoyed reading this book! The writing is just flawless and smooth. The pacing of the story is perfect for a thriller novel. Tunnel Vision is definitely a page-turner.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Life Of A Blogger: Websites (Favorites & Most Used)


Welcome to my first Life of A Blogger post! This weekly feature hosted by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat lets us (bloggers) show a glimpse of our life behind books and blogging. This adds a more personal touch to the blog and it's nice to talk about something non-bookish once in a while. If you want to participate, head on to Novel Heartbeat and check out the upcoming topics. ^__^

This week's topic is:

Websites

As a blogger, it's a given that I spend a lot of time on the internet. And when I go online, there are websites that I just cannot NOT visit. What are those sites, you ask?
  • Facebook. Chatting and connecting with friends because I don't text that much.
  • Twitter. Lots of drama but lots of fun, too! I'm still shy to start conversations with Twitter peeps but I've started talking to some.
  • Goodreads. This is every book lover's heaven. I also cross-post my reviews here. I blame Goodreads for my huge TBR, though.
  • Pinterest. This website is highly addictive! I spend hours just looking at recipes, (although I don't cook) DIY projects (that I don't even try), and pictures related to my favorite fandoms. *coughLegolascough*
  • Blogger. Of course! I don't go online without logging on my blog.
  • Gmail and Yahoo. For both my blogging and personal stuffs.
  • Other blogs. Take a look at my sidebar and see my favorite blogs. ^__^

That's it, folks! Those are the websites that I visit most often. And now it's your turn!

What are your favorite and most used websites? Do tell!

Julie

Friday, February 13, 2015

[REVIEW] Hellhole by Gina Damico

Hellhole

Author: Gina Damico
Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: January 6th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Purchase from: Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
A devil is a bad influence . . . 

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max's choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food--and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high. With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin' Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out. 

Gina Damico, author of the Croak series, once again delivers all the horror, hilarity, and high-stakes drama that any kid in high school or hell could ever handle.

Rating

My thoughts

Hellhole follows seventeen-year-old Max Kilgore, (who's not as cool as his name sounds) crossword puzzle geek and typically awkward teenager. Max's daily routine consists of working shifts at the Gas Bag, playing video games with his best friend Audie, beating his own crossword puzzle record, digging for dinosaur fossils and taking care of his sick mother. It doesn't usually involve stealing hideous bobble heads. It certainly doesn't involve unearthing demons. So when the demon Burg appears at Max's basement, Max has to enlist the help of a former goth girl to get rid of his uninvited houseguest before the stakes get too high.

Hellhole is a deliciously funny tale that combined paranormal and dark comedy. This book made me crack up a lot with the snarky characters and witty dialogue. Max's awkwardness + Lore's sass + Burg's evilness = RIOT. The characters are rich and colorful and Burg, especially, is very interesting. One second he's evil and nasty, the next second he's nice and funny. You know he's a demon but he's a very unpredictable one. Max's character development is quite subtle, but it has a definite weight to it. The things Burg did? You don't get back from those things unchanged. Max definitely emerged as a different person after all those things he saw and did.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

[BLOG TOUR: Review + Giveaway] Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison


Welcome to the second day of the blog tour for Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! Today I give you my 4-star review of this amazing book. You guys, you should definitely read it! You can also visit the other tour stops to read more reviews, excerpts, interviews and Top Ten lists. Follow the schedule [here]. There's also a tour-wide giveaway at the end of the post so make sure to enter. Read on and good luck! ^__^

Of Sea and Stone

Series: Secrets of Itlantis, Book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: February 2nd 2014
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes&Noble
Of
All her life, clever Aemi has been a slave in the Village of the Rocks, a place where the sea and sky meet. She’s heard the stories about the fabled People of the Sea, a people who possess unimaginable technology who live below the waves in the dark, secret places of the ocean. But she never dreamed those stories were true.

When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.

Desperate to be free, Aemi plots her escape, even going so far as to work with Nol. But the sea holds more secrets than she realizes, and escape might not be as simple as leaving...

Rating

My Thoughts

*I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for the book tour.* 

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect from Of Sea and Stone because I've never heard of this book before I signed up for this tour. While I must admit that what drew me to this book in the first place was the cover, I also thought the blurb seemed promising so I signed up for a review copy. And boy, I'm just so glad I did.

Of Sea and Stone is an impressive story set in a fantasy underwater world. It follows Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks, who suddenly finds herself in the mercy of Itlanteans, the sea people – stuff of legends no one but a crazy old man believes. Wrenched from the only home she’s ever known and trapped in a city deep under the ocean, Aemi struggles to find a way to escape and find her mother’s home. With just an old nemesis to help her, she uses her wit and cleverness to explore the secrets of the deep. If only escape is that simple . . .

Thursday, February 5, 2015

[RELEASE WEEK BLITZ + Giveaway] Invaded by Melissa Landers

A fabulous Thursday to you, loves! As all of you probably know, Invaded by Melissa Landers released last Tuesday, February 3rd. And to celebrate, RockStar Book Tours and Melissa is having a release week launch party until February 6th! Yay! I'm really excited to share with you a short message from Melissa, plus there's also a giveaway so make sure to enter! ^__^

Invaded

Author: Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated #2
Genre: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Published: February 3rd 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe...until a threat to both their worlds reunites them.

Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life.

The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return?


Note from Melissa

Hey, fiction lovers. I’m Melissa Landers, author of the Alienated series (YA sci-fi from Disney-Hyperion), and today I’m bouncing with excitement because THE SEQUEL IS FINALLY HERE! 

It’s been a year since we left Aelyx and Cara onboard the intergalactic transport, and INVADED begins with an emotional goodbye as they part ways—Aelyx returning to Earth to salvage the alliance, and Cara continuing to L’eihr to serve out her part of the student exchange. While they’re apart, our star-crossed lovers will face assassination attempts, betrayal, crippling self-doubt, and a sadistic alien Phys Ed class. (Because there’s no escaping PE, even in another galaxy.) When Aelyx and Cara finally reunite…well, let’s just say it’s combustive. ;-) 

What do reviewers think? I’m glad you asked! 

“Readers will love the seamless blend of suspense, humor, and romance set against an interstellar landscape. Dual narratives and a tightly plotted mystery keep the suspense running high, and the chemistry between Aelyx and Cara smolders.” –Booklist

“Excellent character development and integration between modern reality and science fiction. Teens will be rooting for the galactic couple while enjoying the action and suspense that runs through the two volumes.” –School Library Journal

“The protagonists' forced separation gives greater depth to their romance. Each learns to turn a critical eye upon the flaws of their native societies while confronting genuine obstacles to a future together. These complications only underscore the growing sense of menace that propels the narrative to an action-packed climax.” –Kirkus

I hope you’ll make tracks to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of INVADED! If you’re snowed in, here are some easy links to bring the sequel right to you:
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping) 

Meet the Author

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information, or just to say hello, visit www.melissa-landers.com.


Giveaway


To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble and an autographed swag pack, complete with mini posters of BOTH books! This giveaway is open internationally, and due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

[MINI REVIEW] In A Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

In A Heartbeat

Author: Loretta Ellsworth
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: February 2nd 2010 by Walker Childrens
When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart.

When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different—dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy—her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan’s life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.

Told in alternating viewpoints, In a Heartbeat tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart.

Rating

My thoughts

Simple and good. The plot is interesting but there's not much twist and weight to the story. But I liked it. I even cried towards the end. I mean, it's always so sad when someone so young and promising and vibrant dies so suddenly. It's tragic and I kinda wished Eagan didn't die, but then how about Amelia, right? 

There are just some things I'm quite not satisfied with. Like, Eagan's mom's skating career wasn't explored in the story. If she used to be a good skater, why did she stop? How did Eagan's baby sister die? Why did her family keep it from her? What happened to the rocking chair? Was Amelia able to get rid of those nasty habits (e.g. talking back) she 'got' from Eagan? I also didn't like the idea that Eagan just checked that 'organ donor' box on her driver's license just because she didn't want to stand in a long line again. 

Thinking of these unanswered questions made me feel frustrated and disappointed. It was like reading an unfinished book. Honestly, I didn't even realize I was heading towards the end. I was waiting for some back stories and I was like "That's it?"

But still I can say it's a good read. I enjoyed this book okay.

Julie

Favorite lines

"Hearts are like stones on an ocean beach. And people are like the tides that leave permanent marks on them."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flavor of the Month: February 2015

Flavor of the Month is a new monthly feature here in Books and Insomnia that features new book releases this month.

Who's excited for February? MEEEE!! Not because it's Valentine's Day on the 14th but because of AMAZING BOOK RELEASES this month! ^__^ If you're as excited as me, check out what February has in store for you, bookworms!

February 2015 New Releases

(Book titles are linked to Goodreads)

February 3

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
City of Savages by Lee Kelly
Invaded (Alienated #2) by Melissa Landers
Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis
Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

February 5

Scripted by Maya Rock

February 10

Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) by Victoria Aveyard
The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead
Rebellion (Extraction #2) by Stephanie Diaz
The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin
Seeker (Seeker #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton
The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

February 12

Half the World (Shattered Sea, #2) by Joe Abercrombie
Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

February 17

The Return (Titan #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Better than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

February 19

Emeralds & Ashes (At Somerton #3) by Leila Rasheed

February 24

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury
A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab
The Ghost of You by Amanda Burckhard
Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan
Quake (Pulse #3) by Patrick Carman
Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Unchanged (Unremembered #3) by Jessica Brody
Vendetta (Vendetta #1) by Catherine Doyle
Dove Arising (Dove Chronicles #1) by Karen Bao
Salt & Stone (Fire & Flood #2) by Victoria Scott
Kalahari (Corpus #3) by Jessica Khoury
Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy #1) by Lynn Carthage
Breakout by Kevin Emerson
Dreamfire by Kit Alloway
The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu
Stone in the Sky (Tin Star #2) by Cecil Castellucci


Purchase your books from:


Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


Which of these new releases are you most looking forward to? Have you ordered them yet? Let me know what you think! ^__^

Julie

Mugs, T-shirts, Iphone cases, Tote bags, Throw Pillows, etc. available at REDBUBBLE!

^