Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Dirty Rush

Dirty Rush
Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I won this ARC in a GoodReads challenge sponsored by Simon and Schuster*

Dirty Rush is the story of Taylor Bell, a freshman at CDU and a 3rd generation legacy to Beta Zeta sorority. Taylor has no interest in following in her sisters', mother, or grandmother's footsteps and pledging BZ, but she is quickly taken under the wings of some colorful upperclassmen BZs who dirty rush her all the way to initiation. over the course of her first semester Taylor attempts to find balance between the girl she thinks she is- a fiercely independent woman's studies major- and the girl she has always said she would never be- the partying sorority girl with the Frat Star boyfriend. But when Taylor returns from winter break and is accused of being the star of a sex tape circulating campus she finds out who her true friends are and just how far "sisterhood" can go.

I first heard about dirty rush from an ad posted on, it was advertising the "craziest sorority book you've ever read". Being involved in Greek life myself I tend to dismiss books about sororities as they tend to be highly offensive and grossly inaccurate-- much like the TV show Greek. But when the same website alos advertised a link to read the first chapter for free, I took the bait. And I really liked it. It wasn't so much that I fell in love with Taylor or her freshman journey, but more how impressed I was with how her college life was described. I found i could relate to her descriptions of situations and surroundings easily. Her first Frat party sounded vaguely like my own experience. I was pleased with how much they got the rules of the Greek system. And while i found plenty of this story to be outlandish and could never imagine such events of hazing or scandal happening in my own house, they are real stereotypes of Greek life and they are stereotypes for a reason.

I enjoyed the witty prose of this book and could identify characters with people in my own college experience. I found many of the minor plot points to be extreme representations of sorority and greek life, and while they did not align with my personal experience I found it relatively accurate. I didn't always care for the subjects or plots the book was covering but there was one underlying message from Dirty Rush that I really appreciated. Over and over, especially towards the end of the book, Taylor speaks of the true sisterhood that comes with Greek life. People who she just met taking her under their wing, people she knows relatively nothing about being some of her best friends- that's real. As cliche as it sounds that sisterhood is real. I am giving Dirty Rush 4 stars for two main reasons, one- I found the wit to be spot on, and two- because I think it really does get across a message of sisterhood -- even if it is cloaked in sex scandals and drug deals.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Heartstrings and Loopholes

Goddess by Josephine Angelini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Songs for this read: More Than I Should by Hunter Hayes, Angel with a Shotgun by The Cab, Birds of a Feather by The Civil Wars

I'm so sad right now. But it's a good kind of sad... if that makes any sense. I'm devastated our journey with Helen and those beautiful Delos boys is over. But I'm so happy that I'm sad about it. You see, it seems recently ending Trilogies and series have left me more upset, angry and down right frustrated with the final chapter. So to get to be sad, and yet content with the ending is the best feeling. Reading the end of this story only made me want to read them all over again.

Its the end of a trilogy so there is not much summarizing or explaining I can do without revealing everything, so enough to say that this book was just about as close to a perfect ending as you could hope for. I loved everything about it, despite the losses throughout, everything turned out for the best, for the most part. And I for one and going to dare to dream about the tempting little loose ends left dangling at the end there. I would appear to me Angelini left the door open for the legacy to continue if she so chose.
Fingers Crossed!!

In closing I just want to give a shout out to Hector Delos. Lucas is amazing and perfect for Helen, but Hector will always be my favorite Delos boy  man.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Number the Stars

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Songs for this read: Stars by Switchfoot, Broken by Lifehouse, Prince of Nothing Charming by Tyler Hilton

Goodreads Summary:
Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

10 million beautiful stars to this beautiful book. There are no words. I think this book just broke me. I have been shredded by this story and don't think I will ever be the same. I laughed. I cried. I sobbed. I hurt. I smiled. This book is a work of art-- no wonder it has one of the highest ratings I've ever seen. Anyone who hasn't read this book is missing out on a miracle. Seriously, this book was so powerful I almost couldn't take it at times. I've never experience anything like it. I wish I could express all of my emotions in words to let you understand what this book is, but I can't. All I can do is tell you to read it and hope you understand when I say this book is like nothing else you could ever experience.

Dean Holder fan girl for life.

Excuse me, but now I need to cruel up and cry for a few forevers and thank god that Colleen Hoover wrote this book.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Running from The Past

Shadowlands by Kate Brian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Songs for this read: Jump into The Fog by The Wombats, Did It Really Even Matter by The Rescues, Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men

Shadowands is the perfect blend of “two” of my favorite authors, Kieran Scott and her infamous pen name Kate Brian. The story, to me, was a mix of the mystery and suspense of The Private series (Brian) with the drama and elite setting of the newer series She’s So Dead to Us (Scott). Little did I know the extra element added in at the end that made this book very, very different.
Shadowlands is the story of Rory Miller, a highschooler who is attacked by her math teacher in the woods one day and miraculously escapes with her life. She soon discovers this man is a serial killer who the FBI have been tracking for over 10 years. And he is not done with Rory. When her safety at home is threatened a second time they are forced to take evasive measures and Rory with her father and sister Darcy, are thrust into the witness protection program.
The Miller family soon arrives at Juniper Landing, a quaint little vacation island, under the new name of the Thayer family. Rory and Darcy are quickly adopted by the carefree and beautiful group of kids on the island. And they all seem to have a special interest in Rory, which causes tension between the sisters. But Rory is standoffish and not ready to trust anyone. Her PTSD is back and she doesn’t know if she can trust her own eyes and ears anymore; that and she keeps have horrible flashbacks to that very vivid nightmare where her math teacher tracks her down and kills her and her family in the woods. All Rory does know is that the more she finds out about her new town, the less things make sense. It’s only when her sister goes missing that Rory gets any answers from her new friends. And even then they are not the ones she ever would have expected.

I love anything Kate Brian and Shadowlands is definitely up towards the top of that list. I have recently discovered I love psychological thrillers and the total mystery that comes from having an unreliable narrator. This revelation was thanks to the amazing Mara Dyer series (which if you haven’t read you simply must, must, MUST) which I really see a lot of in Shadowlands. I like to post-it my books and on more than one occasion I stuck a sticky in reading something like “omg! Like in Mara when…” or “gosh Rory is being just like Mara”. I’m sure to people who have read both you can see how the characters relate, especially with their PTSD. – To those who haven’t read Mara, I think Shadowland is a great kind of training wheels book so to speak, where if you like Shadowlands and can handle the mystery, creep-factor and frustration of it all then you are ready for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
But enough about Mara. Shadowlands is an amazing set up to this series. To me that was all it really was, a set up. Even about 200 pages in I was looking at how much I had left to read and remember thinking, I have way too many questions and relatively no answers and nearly enough pages to get anything done. So while this was just a very detailed prologue to me, I am very excited to see where Brian takes it. With the ended her gave us, the possibilities are endless. This is a great read, a new story line for Brian and ultimately unique to YA fiction. Brian is on to something, and it looks like she’s ahead of the curve.

4 ½ stars and a round of applause for Shadowlands

Now I think I need to sit back and process what just happened...

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Balancing Act

The Essence
The Essence by Kimberly Derting

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Songs for this Read: Northern Lights by The Dangerous Summer, and Warrior by Paradise Fears

To recap, Charlie, a vendor girl, has just defeated the evil queen Sabara and been pronounced queen herself. But she has a secret, the queen’s essence did not die with Sabara’s body, it is deep within her. Charlie has tried to keep her at bay but every day it gets a little bit harder. Now with a rebellion on her hands and an assassin out for her life she must flee her palace and set out for “the Summit” early. As Charlie and her friends head for queen Neva’s palace up north for the meeting of many queedoms, known as the summit, they realize the assassin is one of their own. And while Charlie is missing Max terribly, she meets an ambassador who makes her dizzy and conflicted about what to feel. As they make the long journey north, Charlie struggles to keep a grip on Sabara when she no longer can tell her own thoughts from the queens and must fight to see right from wrong. All Charlie really knows is that she needs Max and she would do anything to protect her family—Anything.

I love anything Kimberly Derting puts on the shelf at B&N. She is one of my favorites. The Pledge books never cease to amaze me because they are so unlike anything else out there. I could try to describe them by telling you they are something like a Shannon Hale book meets classic dystopian, but that really doesn't do them justice. These books are in a genre all of their own filled with Queendoms and revolutionaries and magic and so much more that really you just have to read to understand how well it all meshes together.
As everyone knows, sequels always cause me anxiety. It’s the middle book where, now that the story has been set up in the first, everything must go wrong in the second to be cleaned up in the third. And so I started this book with both excitement (because I love them) and trepidation (because I knew this was not going to be all rainbows and butterflies). I think one of the reasons I like I love Kimberly Derting’s writing so much is that unlike some other authors out there (i.e. Cassandra Clare) Derting doesn't torture her readers with every plot twist, there is a balance to her stories. Even when in one sense it seems all is lost, the next chapter will relight that flame of hope that there is still good in the world. That is probably the main reason why this is one of the best sequels I have ever read—ever.
And now for the character shout outs: To Charlie, she such a perfect heroine- she is strong but only human and her weak spots make her a beautifully dynamic character to read. Her best quality is that she is smart; I am never cursing her for stupid decisions. Next is Aron and Brook, these two really grew in this book and all I can really say is that they are some of the best friends a girl can have and that I love them. Thirdly, a quick round of applause for all of those crazy queens at the Summit, I loved all their eccentric queenliness, so fun. And then there is Zafir, who I would love to learn more about, he is quite the man of mystery. And finally, a shout out to my boy Max--> I think I'm in love with you. You wouldn't have to ask twice to be my king ;)

5 stars to Essence, one of the few sequels I have given 5 stars to. I would make it 10 stars if I could.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Beautiful and Broken

Shattered by Elizabeth Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Song for this Read: Joey by Sugarland

I started Shattered and by page two my heart was already wrenching for Alyssa Boyd. A newly graduated high school senior, Alyssa carries a lot of guilt and pain on her shoulders. It has been nine months since her best friend Garret died and her other, Jesse, left her without so much as a goodbye. Garret and Jesse had taken a sad little Alyssa Boyd under their wing in 8th grade and ever since they have done everything to keep her smiling. Jesse has been in love with Alyssa since he first laid eyes on her but has never made his move from best friend to boyfriend. Nine months after he left in the wake of his best friend’s untimely death, Jesse is back in town. And this time he isn’t chickening out.
When Alyssa Boyd is first presented she is a mess of raw emotions and hurt and anger. Her voice is desperate and delicate and my heart broke for her. As Jesse entered the story and told his side more of the pieces fit together and as they both retold tales of their escapades with Garret I found myself totally falling for these two amazing boys who would do anything to see Alyssa smile. I could help but see them as two big brothers to Alyssa, always looking out for her. The whole first half of this book, two words kept coming to mind to describe it: Beautiful and Broken. But somewhere in the middle there the beauty was lost. The story just became broken and frustrating. I would read one chapter full of Alyssa doing stupid things and get to the next chapter just to tell me everything that just happened in the last chapter from his side. It was going nowhere. So when Things finally did come around I noticed something else was lost. No long was the story about them being broken either, it seemed that I was just to forget about the fact that all of a week ago Alyssa could walk into the gym because of memories of Garret and now all the sudden Jesse is here and she is completely fine, she is over it. Well that was disappointing, because what I was really looking forward to most was the two of them working through moving past their pain of losing Garret together. The storyline seemed to turn from this brooding, grief filled plot full of raw emotions to this fluff piece where everyone is just looking for trouble where it doesn’t need to be. It was really disappointing.
I’m giving this book four stars (out of five) because the beginning really was spectacular, it had me want to cry and smile all at the same time. The second half had potential, I just feel that the essence of the book was lost and that is saddening to me. But overall it was a great read.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Devils Playground

Every Which Way
Every Which Way by Calia Read

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Songs for this Read: Just for Tonight by The Spacepimps

Goodreads Summary:
Severine Blake has seen far too many friends taken down in the crossfires of dating. She devises a precise course of action to protect her heart. The plan is working very well...until she meets Thayer and Macsen.
When the Sloan brothers come into her life, nothing is the same.

Thayer is self-possessed, arrogant and used to getting what he wants. Being near him leaves Severine unsteady and shaken. He makes her question everything.
Macsen contradicts his brother in every way. His calm personality captivates her. Severine is drawn to him instantly.
But Severine quickly discovers that when you want something, that want can turn wicked. Giving in is not always easy, especially when your heart refuses to give up the fight.

What little illusion of love Severine has is soon destroyed. Every option is broken, and the protection she has built around her heart instantly crumbles.

There's just no right way with the Sloan brothers.
(I don't think this summary gives you any idea what it about to go down. You really just need to read it for yourself. Do not judge this by the summary)

*Quick note: I have now written this review three different times. The first time, I went to save and it disappeared into cyberspace. The next I simply hit a few too many buttons on my keyboard while typing and next thing I know the page reloaded and my review was no longer in existence. But hey, third times a charm right??
This book was so much more than I was expecting. It was funny, and frustrating and raw. At times it had me so angry I wanted to slap the characters and then I would turn the page and just want to hug them. More often than not I was perplexed. Severine is one of the single most confusing protagonists I have ever read. Her thoughts are tangents of contradictions; she has no Idea what she wants and she is so prideful more than once it came close to suffocating. But for all her fault she was someone I wanted to read about. What really kept me apart from this story is that I don’t relate to Severine at all. Her motive and reasonings were never quite clear to me, her thoughts were murky and twisted in my mind and her actions were never the logical ones. She was always either thinking too much or acting entirely on impulse; she was a mystery even to herself. Much of what Severine did I didn’t understand, she was so unlike any leading female character I had ever read I didn’t really know what to make of her. But finally about 150 pages in a decided I did like her. She still frustrated me and I struggled to follow her trains of thought but she intrigued me; her and the Sloan brothers both.
These characters came out completely different on the other side of 600 pages than when I cracked the spine. (Ok, let’s be honest, I read this on my ereader. But “cracked the spine” has a nice ring to it, right?) I would have to go back and reread it, which I more than likely will, but I can’t help but feel that many of these characters I just finished reading about are not the same ones who were presented to me on page one. I can’t decide if I just chock this up to character development which some of it definitely is, or if at some point the author kinda took control and bent these characters so they would fit. Either way it worked out great, I’m just curious.
Only one last thing to address here, I think. That ending, it would appear Read is spoiling me with a sequel. How I will ever prepare myself for a round two after all that she just put me through, I have no idea. But who can say no to another 600 pages of Thayer Sloan?? (Didn’t think so :) ) I see frustration and pain in my future thanks to these Sloan boys, but if Read is willing to dish it out, well then that is a challenge I’m willing to accept.

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