Kitty Doe is in a bit of bind; she's been officially marked as a III. AND she's be...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Kitty Doe is in a bit of bind; she's been officially marked as a III. AND she's been assigned to work in Denver, so far away from DC that she has not chance of ever coming back to visit her boyfriend, Benjy. Her choice is either accept her assignment and live her life compliantly or risk death to defy them and stay in DC. Then a third option presents itself: become a VII. Before she can even get all the details, she has agreed because anything is better than prostitution or life as a III, right? Turns out she has agreed to impersonate Lila, the prime minister's daughter, and that includes major masking (basically plastic surgery) to make her identical to said daughter. It seems, however, that Lila was on the brink of starting a rebellion and it's now up to Kitty to continue her work or put an end to it. With every person aware of the situation she gets different instructions, but which set would she choose to follow?
For someone who claims to be tired of dystopian novels, I'm reading bunchies of them lately. This, however, didn't have that overly predictable edge that seems to cloud over most of the ones I read. Yes, the government has gotten too powerful and need to be taught a lesson, but beyond that basic idea, I didn't see much of this coming. Aimee Carter really gets high praise from me for being able to keep me guessing through this entire novel. I have already been planning on reading her Goddess Test series for a while now, but I'm definitely more excited after reading this. The levels of this particular brand of dystopian made more sense than others I've read. At 17, everyone is given a test and their school determines what level of society they will be part of, the brains getting to be scientists or something equally important as V's or VI's and the more intellectually challenged individuals get the lower level jobs like farming and cleaning. If you score a I, then you are deemed too dumb to be part of society and are sent Elsewhere. Theoretically everyone has an equal chance at being a higher-up, but once Kitty gets her VII, she realizes that it might not be as fair as she has been lead to believe.
Speaking of Kitty, let's get down to the characters, shall we? She was easy to sympathize with in the beginning, being marked with a III and forced to leave her sweet Benjy. As the novel progresses, I was equally in supportive of and irritated with her. It's a tough choice she's faced with and I know that Benjy's life is threatened with every move she makes, but either go and help the rebellion or live under Augusta's thumb. Most of the time, a character's inner struggle with doing what's right versus what's expected is humanizing and grounding and makes it that much easier to connect, but here it bordered on annoying. By the end, though, she's made her mind up so hopefully book 2 won't contain so much inner monologue antagonizing over every decision.
Knox, Lila's fiance, is a big mystery. I really wanted to like him (and did enjoy his sarcasm and wit), but he was too secretive for me (or Kitty) to ever really trust. He comes off a little too smooth so you know he has to be hiding something. Then there is Benjy, Kitty's boyfriend. He's so smart that no one has a doubt he'll score well on his test, and...wait for it...he's bookish! There are so few bookish males in YA that I can't help falling for every single one.
Something else that may spark some interest is the lack of a love triangle. Kitty and Benjy are so adorably devoted to one another that no one has any hope of coming between them. I was very apprehensive when Knox entered the picture, but nothing beyond friendship ever develops between the two. Can I say how much I really loved that? How refreshing it was to read a character who doesn't discover someone new and drop her former "love" like a hot potato?
But my favorite character by far was Greyson. He's so observant that he catches onto EVERYTHING, especially the things his family tries to hide from him, like the fact that the real Lila is dead and Kitty is her replacement. Somehow in this family of manipulative asshats, he has managed to become a kind and compassionate young man. All he wants is to be able to spend his days tinkering with his inventions, but he's forced to train for his future role as Prime Minister.
Carter's biggest success here has to be the villain. Augusta strikes fear in everyone, but wholeheartedly believes in her cause. Despite the fact that I desperately wanted this bitch to die, it was fascinating to listen to her logic and come close to admiring her for doing what she believed was right for her country, regardless of the consequences. It was eerie to read a character so devoted to their cause that they were not only willing to murder for it, but sacrifice their loved ones if that is what it took.
This reminded me a great deal of Sarah Zettel's Palace Of Spies, with the body doubles impersonating royalty but learning that everyone around is lying or feeding her half truths. It is a fresh twist on a genre that is running a bit ragged. I recommend it for those who love all things dystopian, for those who are tired of the genre, and for those who have never tried it. It has enough intrigue to keep everyone guess and dying to get the next page to find out what happens, a light romance, and witty prose. It has something for everyone and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one!
****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****
Rachel Young has lead a lonely life. Though she is surrounded by family, no one rea...moreThe review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Rachel Young has lead a lonely life. Though she is surrounded by family, no one really gets her and she has no friends outside to close circle of brothers. No one really wants to deal with the weird girl with panic attacks, though as far as anyone knows she hasn’t had one in several years. The only thing that sooths her is being behind the wheel of her mustang, letting the speed set her free. So when the opportunity to race comes along, she’s all for it. Unfortunately that sets up a chain of events ultimately leading to her needing to come up with $5000 or else be put in the hospital for fucking with the wrong guy. Isaiah Walker is the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, with nothing to his name but the car he drives and the clothes on his back. He shouldn’t be getting involved in this rich girl’s drama, but she helped him when everyone else ran and that kind of favor deserves his upmost attention. Now, he finds himself feeling much more than gratitude towards her and wonders how this could possibly end well.
I was over the moon when I was granted access to this E-ARC. I’ve been dying for Isaiah’s book since I finished Pushing The Limits. Actually right when I finished, I was dying for the book where we see Beth & Isaiah finally be together…yeah, that didn’t happen. It was clear from the moment he appeared in PTL that there was more to him than meets the eye and he doesn’t disappoint. At first, I had a bit of a hard time really loving him he because he’s outer appearance (and the fact that he drives a fourth generation Mustang) reminds me way too much of my best friend’s husband (whom I despise beyond reasonable logic). But the further into the story you get, the more you see that shell fall away, leaving a vulnerable guy who really just wants to be loved. Poor Isaiah has been abandoned by everyone (except Noah) and he doesn’t understand what he’s doing or what’s so wrong with him that no one will love him. He’s literally waiting for the day when Rachel realizes she deserves better, just like Beth did. And Beth is the thing that stings the most. He did everything for her, helped her when she was down, fought for her when she went away, and she still didn’t want him. Watching him become more and more protective of Rachel, even though he does it in a sometimes pig-headed manner, was all the reason I needed to start swooning. Don’t get me wrong, I think I still love Noah more, but Isaiah is a close second.
Rachel was even more of a surprise. The level of emotional abuse this girl is put through without a second thought from her family is astounding. She is boxed into this role of being like her dead older sister even though it’s apparent to anyone who pays even a little attention that the two are nothing alike. But she plays the role, even though it literally makes her sick, because her mother’s happiness is paramount. Her hidden panic attacks are a small price to pay to see her mother smile, instead of seeing her mother spiral back into depression. She’s lonelier than she’d care to admit, with no one outside her brothers daring to even breathe close to her. So when Isaiah saves her from the cops, she’s grateful enough to not leave him behind when he’s car fails him. There is something mesmerizing in his grey eyes and she can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to finally get her first him, from him. She’s this amazingly shy form of brave, doing things she desperately wishes to avoid just to please a mother who doesn’t even care enough to realize that it’s killing her.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Katie McGarry knows how to write tortured characters. The plotline of this, finally learning more about Isaiah’s past and seeing how blind Rachel’s family is to what’s happening with her, was just as heart-breaking as the previous novels. Isaiah’s past isn’t as bad as Beth’s, but he’s definitely been through some bad shit and you can’t help but sympathize with his dilemma of hating the system but being so dependent on it that the thought of finding means to support himself after is ages out is terrifying. Despite not wanting to be a criminal, sometimes the illegal options look infinitely more appealing than flipping burgers.
I’ve seen several reviews complaining that they couldn’t get into this because both characters are so obsessed with cars and that took them out of the story. I whole-heartedly disagree. Seeing them connect about their passion made it all the better for me. I’m not a fanatic like them, but I can appreciate a pretty car as much as the next girl. My issue was more that they both obviously loved the fourth generation Mustang, which is my least favorite incarnation of the classic car. Okay, I’ll go ahead and say that a rant awaits below, so if you want to skip the next few paragraphs, feel free. You won’t miss anything particularly important pertaining to the writing or the plot, just my personal opinion about the cars and a few inconsistencies with them. It’s nothing that will bother the average person, but it really irritated me. The first one being that Rachel prefers the 2004 Mustang Cobra over the 2005 Mustang GT. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll provide pictures (this is eerily similar to my review for Dare You To): 2004 Mustang Cobra:
2005 Mustang GT:
As you can see, the 2005 is a throwback to the original design and, in my opinion, so much prettier. But hey, I guess I can respect an opinion that differs from mine. Whatever floats you boat. But then, if you look at the cover of this novel, I really start getting annoyed. The car color is the first thing that pops out at you. It’s red. But Rachel’s is white and Isaiah’s is black so….where’s the red come from? Then, for those of us who look a bit more closely, you’ll notice that they seat they are in does not resemble the seat of a newer model Mustang. In fact, it looks a lot like the 60’s model Mustang’s…which is what lead me to believe there would be one within these pages. There isn’t. The oldest one that appears is 1989. Then, there is the same issue that bugged me in Dare You To. It’s made clear that Rachel’s car has a manual transmissions. There are multiple mentions of them shifting gears and only a moron would race an automatic. SO THAN WHY THE FUCK DOES IT MENTION RAHCEL PUTTING HER CAR IN “PARK”? Come on, really? Again? I know the average person wouldn’t even notice this, but it obvious bugs the shit out of me. It completely pulls me out of the story. Out of all the people who proof-read this, did no one notice this? Did not one of you drive a straight drive? Seriously people, it’s not complicated. When you “park” a straight drive, you just kill the engine. If you are on a upward incline you can leave it in first gear or pull up the emergency break to keep it from moving or if you are on a downwards incline, you leave it in reverse (or pull up the emergency break) to keep it still, but there is not “park.”
Beyond that little blimp, this novel is near perfect. It gets 4 stars simply because it doesn’t quite live up to Pushing The Limits amazing-ness. It’s great, but PTL is better. I’m still super excited to read the next book. I am excited to see West’s story, though I’d be more interested to read about Abby. It’s obvious she has a bad past and an…interesting life and I would adore seeing more of her.
****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****(less)
Lady Belinda Featherstone is a happy widow. Though her marriage was a painful expe...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Lady Belinda Featherstone is a happy widow. Though her marriage was a painful experience (she loved him, but he was only in it for her money), her husbands death pushed her into the world of matchmaking, something she is quite talented at. Now, she is a respectable member of British society, assisting young American heiresses in making smart matches. So it was nothing out of the ordinary when Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, winds up on her doorstep asking for her assistance. The problem? Well, Trubridge is only marrying because his father has cut him off and he needs money. To Belinda's eye, he is a fortune hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of making it easy to trap some poor naive heiress into matrimony just so he can replenish his coffers. With the decree that she is not only refusing to help him, but will actively attempt to ruin his prospects, the gauntlet has been thrown. Will Nicholas find a wealthy heiress to marry? Or will Belinda stand in his way?
Belinda is my favorite kind of historical romance heroine, sassy and mouthy, but still able to conform to societies expectations when in public. She's managed to create quite a reputation as a matchmaker, the good kind of reputation. She's built her personal fortune by helping American heiresses find matches with titled peers and she is an excellent judge of character. However that ability to accurately judge most people with a cursory glance means she trusts her opinion and doesn't really realize that she can be wrong at times. She immediately sees Nicholas as a scoundrel who is exactly like her late husband and refuses to even consider that she is wrong....until it's inescapable.
Nicholas was a character I could identify with a little too well. He's broke and he has to do something to keep himself afloat because he can't subsist on air and sunshine. He has to marry well because the only other option is an occupation. The fact that titled men don't have normal jobs doesn't bother him as much as the fact that he has no such training for any jobs. Who would hire him at a wage that he could keeping living in the style he is accustomed to for what meager skills he has? A feeling I understand all too well....but ANYWAY, marrying is the only resort. He intends to be as honest about it as possible with the chit lucky (or unlucky) enough to be his bride, going into the marriage all his cards on the table. Why Belinda is so eager to put him in the shoes of her deceased husband, he has no idea. Sure, he has the reputation of a rake, one he quite enjoyed building, but he has no intention of tricking some poor infatuated girl into matrimony. And it doesn't help that he compares every society airhead to Belinda and they all come up short. But marrying Belinda is out of the question....isn't it?
The banter and wit between these two had me grinning like a maniac for the entire novel. It's got all the good parts of a romance with a lower level of angst than most of the recently published book. I loved everyone bit of it. I love Belinda's stubborn nature and Nicholas's determination to win her respect and how well they fit together. It has just the right amount of fluff to keep me happy. Oh, who am I kidding, I'd be happy with nothing but fluff.
This is exactly what you would expect from Laura Lee Guhrke, a love story with wit and charm and the fated happily ever after. What more do you need?
Dakota becomes captivated by Luka Visraya, the bassist in Viscious, a super popula...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Dakota becomes captivated by Luka Visraya, the bassist in Viscious, a super popular rock band, when they perform at a local club. Determined to make him and the band the center of her Spring Showcase, she negotiates a deal to live with the band for a month to gather all the shots she'll need. But when she arrives, she realizes that she wasn't really prepared for what life at the Manor will be like. Luka continues to draw her attention as she becomes fond of all the band members. She's determined to fight her attraction to him, she's strives to stay professional...and fails completely. Something about Luka makes it impossible to fight her attraction to him, even though it's obvious he is hiding something. Maybe the whole band is?
The idea of this novel intrigued me instantly. Eye-patch wearing photographer? That's certainly not something you read about every day, so count me in. There's a hot rocker who shows interest? Fuck yeah, let's get to it. And I wasn't disappointed. Dakota is a snarky smart-ass who obviously hasn't had a great past, but is determined to not let the past rule her future. She's truly interesting and I'm dying to know how she lost her eye, though we never learn in this installment.
I'm a little undecided about Luka. I liked him initially, dark and rocker-y and intense. But the further we get in, the more fucked up he seemed. He seems wise one moment and then so unbelievably immature the next. At one point, he literally throws a temper tantrum, destroying an entire damn room. Seriously? Grow up. There is no need for that kind of bullshit. For a bit, it almost felt like he was leading Dakota on because he's all over her one minute and then ignoring her the next. By the end, I'm no closer to deciding if he's swoon-worthy or a man-child who needs to be slapped than I was midway through.
The rest of the band are an odd band of characters. I loved them all, especially Dray, with his quirky scientific personality. Each member added their own twist to the book that I wasn't exactly expecting, but none of them were as fascinating as Luka. I can say definitively now that I desperately want to read Evangelista's Taste now. I didn't realize going into this that the Vicious Feast series was a spinoff of Taste. I almost wish I'd read Taste first so the mystery of what Luka (and the rest of the band) is would already be solved, but I guess it's good that I haven't read it. It keeps the mystery alive and fresh, though I'm dying to know what the hell they are.
Evangelista's writing style is clear and easy to understand, with that great addictive quality that reminds me a little of Jennifer L Armentrout. Once you start and get going, it's incredibly difficult to put it down. The massive cliffhanger at the end is a bit of a bummer, but it's not a deal-breaker since the rest is pretty awesome. It doesn't make it impossible for me to rate it higher than four stars, but that's still a great rating.
I highly recommend this for anyone who is looking for a New Adult novel that is a little out of the ordinary. It contains a bit of humor, mystery, and a bunch of smutty scenes for the romance lover in all of us. I'm going to add Kate Evangelista to my "authors to watch" list as I impatiently await the sequels release!
****Thank you to Kate Evangelista and Paranormal Cravings Blog Tours for providing me with a digital in exchange for an honest review****
Isabella Cale has set up a nice life for herself in Scotland, with an imitation je...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Isabella Cale has set up a nice life for herself in Scotland, with an imitation jewelry making business creating a profit and a daughter whom she adores. Everything is going rather smoothly until her husband shows back up. Ten years after he abandoned her, she wants nothing to do with him. After all, he helped her family steal royal jewels and then vanished with his share of the spoils. But when she sets eyes on him, he seems furious with her for setting him up and deserting him, which she most certainly did not do. Is there more to this story than the main two are aware of? Can they find their way back to each other?
Isa is the hardworking type of heroine that we don't see overly much in historical romances. Working women were shunned in that time period, so it's completely understandable that they were dependent on their husbands or fathers or various other relatives for their livelihood. After she was abandoned by her husband, she refused to continue living with her controlling sister and brother-in-law, not with the happiness of her future child hanging in the balance and she convinces a fellow imitation jewelry maker to become her partner in the business he was moving to Scotland. She has worked and toiled to build their business and is now considered a respectable woman. She has even caught the eye of a Baron, though she knows nothing but friendship will even come from it. She was strong and determined to protect her child, regardless of any consequences.
Victor, her husband, is the upstanding citizen that was left holding the bag after Isa's sister and brother-in-law made off with the jewels. Since there was never any concrete proof, he could not be hanged for the crime, but that doesn't mean they didn't interrogate and torture the poor fellow. He harbors such bitter rage over the theft and Isa's abandonment that it never even occurs to him that maybe she was just as much of a pawn as he was. He's not the most swoon-worthy HR hero I've read, but I definitely could sympathize with his situation.
This is my very favorite type of historical romance novel. Lies and misunderstandings separating our beloved couple and then smackdown confrontation and love when the two figure out they were mislead or duped. I love the dancing around each other trying not to reveal too much of their current situation while fighting the ever-present desire for each other. I love (love love) reading the confrontation where both parties learn of the deception and go all lovey-dovey because they realize they both are still in love. I love that whole bit.
Sabrina Jeffries has never been my favorite writer of this genre, but she is quickly gaining my respect. This novel in particular was intriguing and addictive, even if the love scenes were a bit mediocre. I found it impossible to put this book down, anxious to find out if Isa's sister (and brother-in-law) were going to find her and what would happen when they did. Also how Victor would take the news that he had a child he was unaware of. Sooo much drama, but the best kind of drama. The kind that keeps you coming back for more instead of rolling your eyes in exasperation.
I know I keep saying this, but I really must make reading these more of a priority. I know I love YA (and NA), but there is just something more magical about this particular genre. I don't know if it's the writer's talent or the setting or just the storyline itself, but reading these are my biggest comfort read. It's like slipping into an old pair of jeans that magically still fit perfectly even though you are not the same as you were when you were them in the past. You can find everything you'll ever need in a historical romance here and I highly recommend it to all my historical romance readers!
****Thank you to Pocket Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****
Tabitha is a bookish high school girl with an odd relationship with her parents, a...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Tabitha is a bookish high school girl with an odd relationship with her parents, an internet romance with a classmate, and only one friends. She used to have 2 besties since childhood, but when she jumped a cup size, they decided she had changed and they could no longer be associated with her. Who knew that becoming attractive would make her less popular? She spends her nights IM-ing Joe, a classmate who she is falling hard for. The problem? Joe has a girlfriend, a fragile girlfriend he loves and can't bare to leave. Just when Tab thinks she can't hold in the joy she feels when Joe confesses her feelings for her, she finds Life By Committee, an internet site that pushes her limits. It's simple, reveal a secret, received a challenge. You have 24 hours to complete to challenge to keep your secret or risk exposing it to the rest of the world. She quickly becomes obsessed with this site and all it's other members. But when does a challenge go to far? Kissing someone else's boyfriend? Smoking weed with your father? Exposing some else's secret? Soon Tabitha will have to choose whether this community is really worth all she puts into it.
Tabitha was someone that I identified with quickly. How can I not identify with someone who shares my name? She's so lonely and doing things that aren't right and her life is more or less falling apart, but she's just trying to continue to push forward. She is more hurt by her old friends betrayal than she'll ever let on, but how can she allow them to put her down? She hasn't changed at all, just her bra size and her desire to wear makeup. Is wanting to be pretty so wrong? I wanted to simultaneously hug her and slap her, because this "relationship" with Joe is bad, really bad. He's never going to leave his girlfriend and it's clear to anyone else that she's just a hookup who doesn't know it yet. Once she becomes embroiled in Life By Committee, there was no putting this thing down. The challenges and other peoples secrets and challenges and successes and failures were just as intoxicating to me as they were to Tab. I wanted to know more. I needed to see how these people's lives turned out.
The more you go in, though, the more you question Life By Committee's leader. The main guy that hands out the challenges start asking for impossible things. These challenges seem to help some of the members, but how far is too far? Proposing after a single week together? Flying across the world to ask a guy out? Turning a family member in for drug abuse? When do you call a halt to the shenanigans?
Many things in this novel called my interest. Tab's relationship with her parents is so intense and different than any other I've read. Mommy is pregnant again, determined to "do it right" this time, which just begs the question "what did you do wrong before?" Tabitha seems to have turned out well enough, so why change something that's not broken? Their relationship goes from awesome to abusive and then back to awesome. It was intense and different and far from perfect.
I also loved the idea of "active reading." As much of a reader as I have always been, I have never approached a book like she did here, highlighting and note taking and commenting in the margins. Writing in a book has always seemed a bit sacrilege to me. But I love the idea of finding a marked up copy that makes you feel like you are sharing an experience with another anonymous reader. I'm gonna have to find a copy to used copy to markup and see how I feel. I worry that taking notes and such will pull me out of the story, but I am willing to try!
I was dying to get my hands on this novel as soon as I heard about it. I LOVED Corey Ann Haydu's previous novel, OCD Love Story, which was the most realistic portrayal of OCD I'd ever read in a YA novel. I knew this would be just as amazing and I wasn't disappointed. Haydu manages to write a perfectly flawed story with morals and meanings and still have a realistic ending that made me grin like an idiot. If you are looking for something amazing but a little different than your typical contemporary YA, this is for you!
****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****