108 Followers
25 Following
jenniarndt

Alluring Reads

I love reviewing books! (And I don't know what to put here yet because I am just trying the site out!)

Boy Nobody

Boy Nobody - Allen Zadoff I waited a bit to write my review and was really worried how that would affect it but I learned something in this process. The way to bring it all back is to describe the plot and happenings to my husband and feed off his reactions. As I described the twists & turns and characters in BOY NOBODY to him he got excited because it played out like an action movie that he would love to watch and through that I was brought back to the excited place I was in while reading it.Ben is an assassin. He is a highly trained operative who was brought up to be nobody. He knows how to blend into situations and get out completely unnoticed. I loved his inner dialogue, the way that he read every situation as a series of options he could take to deal with it. The novel definitely had a Jason Bourne feel which is always welcome with me. For someone who was so detached from everything I came to really like him and connect with him. When he meets Sam he starts to have emotions that are completely foreign to him and memories start to resurface that he had no idea were in his psyche. The romance in this one could definitely be looked at as pretty insta lovey but I think you just have to take it for what it is here. He has 5 days to complete a mission and get a girl to fall for him, which did not prove easy once he got to know the target. Sam was a feisty one and while she did seem to fall for him rather fast she never made it easy on him at all. These two were pretty evenly matched, they could read every thing the other did and they didn’t hesitate to call them on it. I loved how we would experience the thoughts in Ben’s head and in a snap Sam was calling him out on exactly the head game he was planning to play. I love a girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.The novel also comes along with it’s fair share of twists and I enjoyed watching the bad guy change from page to page. I never knew who to trust completely and I questioned everyone at least once. For a YA book it dealt with a lot of politics, which is usually a huge turn off for me, but there was just the right amount of angst and high school drama thrown in that it didn’t bug me at all. I actually came out really liking how it tied in the Israeli government and also some American politicians. A strong start to a thriller series that is sure to be a hit, I don’t think this is one to be missed. Filled with action from beginning to end, this is one you will not be able to put down. If you are looking for a story with some endearing characters, great twists and pulse pounding action definitely give this one a go. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Bruised

Bruised - Sarah Skilton I always find stories that deal with a traumatic incident and how it affects the characters minds (and essentially their day to day life) utterly fascinating. BRUISED dealt with just that. After Imogen lives through being one of the few patrons in a diner when it is held up she has blocked much of the event out of her mind. As she struggles with clearing the clouds in her memory of that day and with how mad she is at herself for not doing anything an interesting story unfolds but it left me longing for more of a connection to the characters.Imogen is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, her ranking and the fact that she didn’t do anything to take the gunman down during the heist is wreaking havoc inside her. Immediately after the event I really felt for her and I was sad that she was struggling so much with her self confidence. I could understand why she was beating herself up over it after having gotten so far and mastered her colors in TKD. But somewhere along the way her inner turmoil just lost me and I started to feel as if it was a bit grating. This is entirely personal and I know that there are tons of people who disagree with me but I started to kind of glaze over to her emotions. I longed for more to happen outside of her strife and inner dialogue that was essentially beating herself up. She does make a great connection with Ricky (another survivor of the heist) he was a sweet guy but failed to become more than that. I think there were quite a few missed connections in the story and looking back there was so much potential. Imogen is in a fight with her very best friend and I wanted to get to see them work it out, she is having a hard time accepting her brother’s sleazy ways and I wanted to see them work it out, but there was so much turmoil which led up to some very short resolutions in the end. I think had I gone on more of the ups & downs in these relationships I would have connected to them more, but it was pretty much always down and I never got to experience the peaks. One relationship that I could connect to was between Imogen and her father. As someone who has a father who struggles with overeating greatly affecting his health I could feel the frustrations that she felt when looking at him. I latched onto those moments and was happy that we got to go through more with those two than with the relationships I mentioned previously. An interesting look at PTSD and how it can affect a teenagers life, BRUISED was a read that kept me entertained for a day and a half but it’s not one that I will be thinking about for a long time to come. I think this is a solid read but I wish I had gotten more out of it. But hey, look at all the glowing reviews on Goodreads, maybe you will get something more out of it than me. --You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave - What a refreshing read this was! I haven’t been having the best of luck with dystopian/post apocalyptic stories lately so I was a bit hesitant going into The 5th Wave but that hesitation proved to be useless and I enjoyed this one very much. It brought forth wonderful world building, strong characters and an intense plot that moved at a break neck pace.What tops my list of things I liked in this novel is the world building. So often I go into a post apocalyptic novel and am left with so many questions as to how the world came to be in the situation that it was. That’s so not the case here. I had a clear picture of the strife brought down on the world and I truly felt the desperation of the people living through it. It’s pretty dark and creepy in that it seems as if it is something that could truly happen. It’s always frightened me to think that there are aliens out there and the thought of them one day coming to Earth is... just I can’t even. Yancey’s aliens (The Others) are super intelligent and have studied the human race for so many years that they are constantly able to be one step ahead. The Others tactics were gruesome and felt completely realistic to me (you know in a far-fetched way... I hope...)As we got to experience these waves through different people we came to see all sides of the war that was waged with Earth and that was something that I definitely appreciated. My favorite POV had to be Cassie, though I admit that this was much stronger in the beginning than it was in the end. Quickly upon meeting her as she is out on her own trying to figure out what the hell to do I came to like her. She had adapted to this tough world really well and wasn’t afraid to do what she had to do. We see her deal with the worst of the worst and through flashbacks we come to know just how much her character has changed since The Arrival. I do wish that she had maintained some of this strength-on-her-own-against-the-odds personality once she met her love interest because we do start to see that strength waver. I can’t say that I truly connected to the romance as much as I would have liked but I don’t necessarily think I was supposed to. Throughout the novel there is a level of distrust between Evan and Cassie which is brought upon by The Arrival and how The Others got into the humans heads and left them with no one to trust. So all along I never really felt that I knew Evan’s intentions and never fell for him as much as I could have. He was sweet and helped Cassie so much, but I always felt like there was an ulterior motive there. I also didn’t like how Cassie threw her instincts to the side when in the beginning of the novel she constantly stressed just how important following your instincts in the new world was. But I guess that’s what love does, it clouds your judgment, right? The story moves at a quick pace and there were definitely no lulls that had me yawning. I needed to find out exactly what was going on and if Cassie would make it to where she was going so that kept me turning the pages. We do get another perspective of a soldier who is recruited to fight in the war in the form of Zombie. I liked him and his determination quite a bit and I wanted to see him survive. The two POV’s are brought together really well even though the strings tying them together are completely convenient but I was able to not let that bother me and just go along for the ride. This is a strong start to a series that I think will be a huge hit, but you already know that from the mass of 5 star reviews on Goodreads, right? I don’t think this is one to be missed and I can’t wait to see where the story heads in the next installment. --You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Golden Boy

Golden Boy - Abigail Tarttelin GOLDEN BOY is by far the most thought-provoking, eye-opening novel I have read in a long time. I was hit straight off the bat with an unflinching realism and thrown into a family who was dealing with issues that I knew barely anything of. Back in 1999 I watched the movie Boy’s Don’t Cry and it was the first I had ever heard of intersex (back then it was hermaphrodites) individuals. This book took me back into a mind frame where I was curious, emotional and almost in awe at the same time. Not only do we meet Max, who is intersex, but along with him we meet his family who is trying to do their best to find him his place in the world.The part of this story that stood out to me the most was the family dynamic of the Walker’s. None of them were perfect and they all had incredibly selfish thoughts here and there but in the end they were truly looking out for one another. In the beginning I questioned Steve’s (the dad) devotion to his family, he seemed to be putting his career before everything that was going on at home and he did for much of the novel. But once we start to see all the sides of the story (through the very well done multiple POV’s) we see that there is so much more to his actions and intentions. The mother, Karen, was a difficult person for me to come to understand but once again, once my eyes were opened to everything that was going on I’m not sure I can say I would have been much different if thrown into the same situations. Daniel and Max had a wonderful relationship and seeing the story through Daniel’s eyes was great. He was the innocent onlooker, I felt. He didn’t have all the details of what was going on with his brother or why he was feeling the way that he was, and he didn’t really care. He just wanted to know that he was OK and to get on with life. All of these characters came to life for me because Tartellin mastered their voices. Each one felt so distinct that I always knew whose perspective I was reading without question. This was done to the point that I was annoyed with Daniel’s POV at first because of how juvenile and repetitive it was, but that’s because it was so perfectly a 9-year olds way of thinking and speaking about things. The character that I connected the most to was Max. His struggles in finding out who he was were heartbreaking and I felt so incredibly sad for him as he forged his way through everything that was thrown at him. Not only did he have to make it through some rough patches but all of it brought to light that he didn’t know who he was or where he fit in the world which no one should ever have to feel. This novel was an eye opening experience for me as I saw first hand the struggles that an intersex individual can go through in their life. The feelings of displacement, of shame and of a disconnect to things such as sex and marriage really took their toll on Max and it was hard to read at times. As I said before I don’t know too much about the “condition” (for lack of a better word) but I found myself googling a lot throughout the story and finding real life stories that paralleled his in many ways. I also appreciated how we would get a doctors perspective at times which made it possible to teach the reader at the same time that they are reading.A strong novel that will get your emotions going and leave you wanting to talk about it for hours, GOLDEN BOY does not disappoint. The voices of the characters are strong and the relationships are ones that jump off the page. If you are in the market for a rather unconventional novel with a New Adult feel, this is the one for you.An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Truth or Dare

Truth or Dare - Jacqueline Green Why is everything a series these days? When I first started TRUTH OR DARE I was really into it. It had a strong Pretty Little Liars vibe and I was thoroughly enjoying the mystery but as I got farther in it began to feel dragged out and far too long. Clocking in at 416 pages this is a pretty hefty book. Had the plot packed more of a punch I would have had no problem with that but around the 30% mark I started checking the page numbers way too often and finding myself wanting to stop reading after each chapter.The story is told in the third person with the POV alternating each chapter. We get to be 3 different high school girls Tenley, Caitlin, & Sydney and I have to say that not one of them came to be someone that I really connected with. I had a strong feeling of being an outsider as all of this was going on so I never got as wrapped up in the story as I would have liked. Tenley was probably the worst of the bunch, she had just moved back to the small town of Echo Bay from Nevada and was doing anything she could to get her title as Queen Bee back. She was full of selfish, vain thoughts and beyond that she didn’t really have any substance. Caitlin was the smarty pants of the bunch, running for class president and getting her extracurriculars under her belt for Harvard. Syndney took the role of artsy photographer so we had 3 very different girls who were thrown together because each of them was getting these dares. I felt like more of the mystery in this one was finding out the girls’ pasts instead of finding out who the darer was. Much time is spent talking of Sydney’s time in an institution, how Caitlin was kidnapped when she was younger and Tenley’s “enhancements.” Those histories slowly came to light as the story wore on but it wasn’t enough to keep me sucked in.I had high hopes when I went into this one that I was going to get a full story but sadly, because this is a series, we are left hanging. Had the story kept me much more attentive I don’t think I would have taken too much issue with that but I spent much of the novel bored and waiting for the dares to actually go somewhere and reveal something. There are a bunch of tiny threads that are wound up throughout the story and we do get some minor reveals as the story goes on but it just wasn’t enough for the amount of story here. As I said before I always felt like an outsider watching a movie here, I never got sucked in so I never became invested in any of the friendships or romantic relationships either. I wanted so badly to root for Guiness and Sydney but I just never got a real sense of either character, especially Guiness, so even that fell short for me.If you’re looking for a very one dimensional mystery series to get started on then this one could be for you but if you are looking for great character development and relationships I would say lower you expectations. In the end I don’t think I care enough to continue on with the series and see how everything wraps up which is weird because I am super nosey and normally can’t stop until I know everything, I guess that can attest to how much I didn’t like the novel?An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Golden

Golden - Jessi Kirby At this point in the year I am so ready to just throw in the towel and declare myself a contemporary fangirl. I have been having no luck with dystopians, paranormals or even post apocalyptic stories but every single time I pick up a contemporary I am sucked in and emotional. Those are the best kinds of reads, aren’t they? GOLDEN is no exception, I absolutely adored this book. From the beautiful writing to the amazing characters and the magical inclusion of great poetry. Parker Frost is an overachiever, she is at the top of her class and doing anything she can to get a full ride to Stanford to chase her dreams. We meet her as she is in the final weeks of her senior year and helping out as TA to english teacher Mr. Kinney. One of Kinney’s most successful assignments in his role of teacher is when he hands his outgoing seniors a journal and asks them to fill it with the answer to this question: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Pretty loaded question, right? I love the idea of this assignment so much and how it weaved a bit of mystery into the story. See, Parker finds among the stack the journal of Julianna Farnetti. Julianna went missing on the night of her graduation 10 years ago with her boyfriend Shane Cruz. They were the small towns golden couple and their bodies had never been found. As Parker takes Julianna’s journal and reads her innermost thoughts she begins to see that this romance wasn’t everything that it seemed and unravels some shocking truths. What always makes a contemporary for me is the characters and this one had a cast of great ones. I really liked seeing Parker change as she did throughout the story. We met her when she was on a strict and disciplined path to get into Stanford and we watch her begin to stray in order to find out who she is. All the while her best friend Kat is there pushing her to do something wild & crazy in her final days of high school. Kat was so awesome! I loved her free spirit and her loudmouth ways. She always had Parker’s best interest in mind and was quick to support her in any way that she could. There were so many little things she did throughout the novel that made her into a best friend that I would love to have in my own life. Even Parker’s mother was incredibly supportive of her (even if she went a little overboard) so it was refreshing to see a present parent in the story as well. Not only do we get to see great friendships and parenting but we also get two sweet love stories.There is so much romance in these pages! We get to see what Julianna had went through 10 years ago which is romantic, beautiful and sad all at the same time and we also get to watch Parker’s crush slowly grow. I liked her love interest, Trevor. He was really funny and because they had known each other for so many years they were able to poke at each other. It was cute because they were incredibly sarcastic with one another and were always forcing the other to read between the lines. Trevor really went out of his way to put himself into Parker’s life and he became someone that was incredibly supportive of her as well. As you can see there are so many great relationships in GOLDEN and also a page turning, slow burning mystery. All of these elements came together perfectly and I was enraptured by the story until I reached the very last page. I had told myself at about halfway through that I was going to make myself read a chapter an hour to drag it out because I didn’t want it to end but that didn’t happen. I read this in a single day and wouldn’t change a thing about it. If you don’t have this one on your TBR you need to put it there because this is a beautiful story you don’t want to miss. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

Hopeless - Colleen Hoover HOPELESS has been read by pretty much everyone on my Goodreads and at this point in the game there isn’t too much new that I can point out that isn’t out there already. So what I am going to do with this review is just give you what I liked and what I didn’t like. I know that a lot of people will probably disagree with me but I have to say that this novel just didn’t have the WOW factor that I went into it expecting. Maybe it’s a case of my expectations getting the better of me? I guess we’ll never know, but here is my take on it all:What I liked: I loved the characterization of Sky and her relationship with her best friend, Six. Sky was very head strong and she didn’t let all of the garbage that the girls at school put her through get her down. I loved how even though she was in a completely new setting she was able to walk away with her head held high and just brush everything off. Her and Six were perfect, they completely understood and supported one another. Sky also had a very good relationship with her adoptive mother, Karen. They were very open with each other and there was a level of trust that you don’t always see. I also adored how all of the little threads that were exposed throughout the story weaved together beautifully in the end. This story is definitely much more than a romance, it’s also a mystery and it turns out to be quite a psychological one. As it all wrapped up I found myself looking back on little details that were presented throughout and realizing just how significant even the littlest of details were. What I didn’t like: Ok. So, there were only a few scenes where I was completely sold on Holder. The way that he came off in the beginning of the story was always in the back of my mind and you never knew when he would fly off the handle. I don’t think that would have bothered me too much if maybe Sky wasn’t so damn quick to forgive everything because she apparently needed him so badly. Sky was written as a character who wouldn’t put up with such bullshit but the minute that Holder came into her life she was a swooning puddle and it kind of annoyed me. What really annoyed me about this story is much of the dialogue, especially near the end. These people did not talk like real people, they talked like trained psychologists who have spent years getting their pHD’s in physiological trauma. This is what Holder says in the middle of a love scene: “The negative connotation you’ve been associating with physical touch your whole life doesn’t apply to me.” That’s just not something an 18 year old boy would say in the heat of the moment so it completely took me out of the scene and actually garnered a laugh from me. There are pages and pages where these two talk about their feelings and even do an exercise in embracing who they once were and it just came to be way too much. I think the story could have been much shorter if a lot of the annoying unnecessary meat was cut out and I would have appreciated that a lot more. The wrap up of the story came across to me like a cheesy after school special where everything comes together in it’s own twisted/perfect way and it was just far too over the top for my liking. I know that if the majority of people on my Goodreads were taking a survey on how much they agree with my assessment of this novel they would check “strongly disagree” so there is definitely something here that people are loving, it just didn’t work for me. I can see how getting wrapped up in the romance can sweep you away and there were definitely a few scenes I found pretty swooney but this story just failed to blow me away. There was some gritty realism to it but the way that the characters responded to these terrible events was a bit too cheesy for me. If you are reading this amongst the sea of 5 star reviews just remember to go into this one with a bit of trepidation and maybe you will come out much more pleased than I did. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Thousand Words

Thousand Words - Jennifer Brown I was quick to bump THOUSAND WORDS to the top of my reading pile because of my love for author Jennifer Brown. She has fast become one of my favorite contemporary authors because I love the way she deals with gritty issues in such a head on manner & creates characters that I can really empathize with. Her latest novel delivered everything that I have come to expect from her and while I did long to be a bit more moved emotionally, I came out having met characters that I really connected with in a story that is very relevant in this modern world.Ashleigh was a high school girl who was definitely not without her flaws. From the very beginning of the novel she comes across as someone who has selfish thoughts and is quite susceptible to peer pressure. In these ways I could put myself in her shoes quite easily. I remember being that age and how easy it was to be swayed by the people around you and I could also really connect with her attachment to her first love. I was that girl, I had my first serious boyfriend and he became my world and I quite literally thought that I would never survive without him. As we watch the rocky road that Kaleb and Ash have found themselves on there was a lot that I could latch onto and I think that is due to Brown’s wonderful writing. It’s not flowery or over the top, it is straight and to the point, I really felt as if I was in the head of a teenage girl. At the core of this novel it is really about the decisions that we make and the repercussions those decisions can have on us and our loved ones. Not only does Ashleigh pay the consequences for the photo that she sends out but her parents also face some pretty heavy tribulations. I liked how we got a wide picture of the whole scenario, we didn’t just get a tunnel view of how what happened affected Ash. I did long to see more of the consequences that Kaleb faced, he did a pretty heinous thing in the heat of the moment and ended up in some pretty hot water. We do get to see what has come of him but I would have liked some more resolution to know where he was at the end of the story. I think this is an incredibly relevant story at this point in time and I think it has a very important message. One thing that I truly appreciated was that it didn’t make everything pretty. Even at the end of the story Ash’s life isn’t back to perfect and when we leave her she is definitely still struggling with figuring everything out. I would have been sorely disappointed had everything ended up perfect because life doesn’t usually work like that. She does have a better outlook as she brings some new people into her life and works on relationships of her past. In her community service hours she works after school everyday in a program for teens who create information pamphlets on whatever crime they had committed. I haven’t looked into this too much yet but I hope programs for community service like that really exist because not only is it giving the kids their hours but it’s making them face what they did head on and become more fluent in the issues they are facing. A novel that feels like it could have been ripped from the headlines, THOUSAND WORDS is sure to please fans of issue books and contemporary in general. Jennifer Brown is remaining on my favorites list and I can’t wait to see what topic she tackles next. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Reboot

Reboot - Amy Tintera When I try to think about how to describe my reading experience with Reboot, the only thing I can think of it that it was like the most not fun rollercoaster ever. That sounds really negative and like the whole book sucks but that’s not the case. The beginning of the book was like that rollercoaster going up, up, & up. Exciting things were happening; I was introduced to a world that was intense, I met characters that I really liked and the seeds for a sweet romance were planted. However, once a rollercoaster reaches the top of that climb it has to go down and down this one went. The problem is that once it reached that plateau it just continuously went down and never made its way back up again. We are introduced to Wren who is a Reboot. Reboots are people who have died and in this world where a disease has run rampant they come back to life after a certain amount of time, they are “rebooted.” Wren took the longest in history to reboot, coming back after 178 minutes. The length of time that you are dead weighs heavily on a reboot and it shows in her. She is very mechanical and empty when we meet her. She has been trained by a company called HARC (who owns all reboots upon them waking up) to be a machine. I loved how vicious this little blonde girl was, the detachment that she felt to the things going on around her lent to some hilarious dialogue and really sucked me into the book. When Callum enters her world at HARC he is one of the shortest reboots ever, clocking in at a mere 22 minutes. He had so much humanity left in him, so much life. He was someone that I really liked right away as he forced his way into Wren’s life. I rooted for Callum, he was a really great love interest and was so funny. The best part of their romance was how the growth of it was such a stark contrast to the environment in which it was growing. While they were training for combat we watched these two fall for one another which was pretty fun.Once the relationship was solidified the book started going downhill for me though. In the second half of this novel it became more of a gooshy romance story and Wren changed far too much which caused me to lose a lot of respect for her. She lost her strength and was so clouded by this love she felt for Callum. I missed who she was in the beginning, I missed her kick ass first & take names later personality, I really wish she kept more of her earlier traits instead of losing who she was in the romance. The only thing that kept me interested despite all the cheesiness of the second half was the effects on the under 60 characters of the testing HARC was doing to them. That was a great element to have added to the story and I was anxious to find out exactly what was going on.This novel started out as a solid 4 for me but lost a star in the second half because there were so many eyeroll moments. I can’t go too into detail about what happens because that would be spoiler territory but I just wish it was handled better and focussed a lot less on the romance. It is really saddening because two characters that I really liked came together and I thought I would definitely be a fan of the love story but the way the characters changed too much and lost who they were just didn’t work for me. I still found this to be a really fun read despite my issues and will most likely continue on with the series. If you’re looking for a more romance heavy tale with heavy doses of action this one could be for you, just be prepared for a pretty drastic shift at the 50% mark.An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

How I Lost You

How I Lost You - Janet Gurtler As a Canadian I am always quick to support Canadian authors, so last year when I found out that Janet Gurtler was not only from Canada but lived in Calgary, I was quick to pick up some of her books. Prior to HOW I LOST YOU I had only gotten to read one, WHO I KISSED and I have to say that HOW I LOST YOU blew that one out of the water. This was a novel full of characters that I connected to emotionally and at the heart of the story is one of the most wonderful family units I have had the pleasure of reading about.The real charm here kicked off in the very first chapter when it came to light that Grace (our MC) and her best friend Kya are kickass paintball players. These girls don’t just play the game here and there but they excel at it. They take part in tournaments and most of the time they whip the guys butts. They have earned a level of respect in the paint balling environment as they compete and work at Grace’s dad’s indoor paintball arena, Splatterfest. The added element of the sport and camaraderie gave me a feeling reminiscent of what I have always felt when reading Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series, which was definitely a welcome feeling. I loved what a headstrong character Grace was and watching her function in this primarily male environment. This novel doesn’t only have the adrenaline that the sports scenes lend to it, it also throws some strong emotion at the reader as it deals with some pretty heavy issues. Grace, Kya, and their other friend James’ relationships are really put to the test as they harbor secrets and hidden feelings for one another. I couldn’t really peg James for much of the novel but as his story came to light and we find out what he has had to deal with with the girls and with his mother who is ailing from MS I really felt for him. He was a caring, present friend in their lives despite all that he was going through. Kya was someone that I felt really bad for but I also wanted to slap some sense into her. She was incredibly impulsive to the point of being self destructive. We also get to watch the characters grow and along with that comes relationships and hurt feelings. Grace’s romance with Levi was incredibly sweet and I loved watching it grow very slowly and naturally.The relationship at the forefront of the novel is Grace and Kya’s. These girls have been best friends forever and we watch them grow apart. There is an elephant in their closet that has been letting Kya get away with her unhealthy antics for too long and watching Grace come to that realization was pretty emotional. It was intense to see her come around and start putting herself first. Helping her get there is a great support system in the form of her family. Her parents were awesome! Her dad was an ex-cop and her mom an ex-lawyer with quite the personality. Their witty banter with one another was heartwarming and I loved her mom’s dry sarcasm so much. HOW I LOST YOU is an exceptional novel with so many layers that it has a little something for everyone. Chalk full of great action sequences, layered relationships and well-developed characters, it’s a fun, empowering read that isn’t scared to draw out emotion. I think Gurtler has hit it out of the park with this one and I can’t wait to see what she throws at us next. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided bu the publisher in exchange for an honest review.__You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

One Plus One Equals Blue

One Plus One Equals Blue - M.J. Auch I was so excited when I picked up ONE + ONE = BLUE and saw that the book deals with synesthesia. When I read about the condition in R.J. Anderson’s ULTRAVIOLET I quickly became fascinated with how people associate every day things with colors, or taste emotions. Could imagine being able to smell fear? M.J. Auch didn’t delve into the logistics as much as I was hoping she would, but with this novel we got a really cute story about relationships and family.Basil is a 12 year old boy who has just entered the public school system for the first time after being homeschooled by his grandmother. Quickly we see that he is having a lot of trouble in math due to his condition. When he looks at a worksheet instead of seeing numbers and problems, he sees a rainbow. What’s worse is that some numbers in his pallet have the exact same color (1 & 0 both being white for example.) I felt really bad as he struggled with keeping up with the students around him. It was quite frustrating at the same time because he just wouldn’t ask for help and instead tried to BS his way through everything. Through this and other aspects of his life it became clear that Basil was pretty thick headed and stubborn. Oftentimes I found myself really frustrated with him because he had a tendency to be downright rude. But we do get to see a softer side of him as Tenzie begins to break down the barriers that he has had up for so long. Tenzie had such a big personality, she knew who she was and didn’t follow all of the social norms. I liked what she brought out in Basil (or Pesto as she would have us call him.) She was an incredibly sweet girl who showed Basil that he wasn’t alone as she pretty much forced herself into his life. As these two get to know each other we learn a lot about their families and things aren’t always great in that department. Tenzie’s story broke my heart. She had ever present parents but ones who didn’t pay attention to her at all. They were so tied up in their work and they didn’t make time for her. They were also pretty selfish, always putting what they needed first and what Tenzie needed (like school supplies) second. Basil’s home life had issues too. Sure he lived with his sweet grandmother (who was awesome and artsy by the way) but he was left there by her mother as she shipped off to pursue her Hollywood dreams. As you can probably imagine, circumstance sets Basil and Tenzie off on an adventure that brings them and their families together in a great way.A fun story about relationships and characters, ONE + ONE = BLUE is a sweet story for any middle grader. It is definitely one of the more simplistic and innocent stories I have read in the genre but it was a fun read nonetheless. I do wish we had gotten more about the synesthesia that Tenzie and Basil both had because I feel like for much of the story that was put on the back burner and only mentioned here and there. Touching lightly on junior high bullying and heavily on the importance of family this is a cute story that is sure to please any young reader.An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Transparent

Transparent - Natalie Whipple Oy. Looking back I may remember reading TRANSPARENT as one of the most unpleasant reading experiences I have had. Ringing in at only 231 pages on my Kindle I was hesitant to DNF because it was such a short read but those 231 page took forevvvvver. This book lost me so early on because it failed to make me give a damn about anyone or anything that happened in the story. I mean it’s the story of an invisible girl on the run from her father. I repeat: It’s the story. Of an INVISIBLE girl. On the run from her father. Forgive me for not worrying about her safety.In the dystopian world of TRANSPARENT people are born... different. There are some that are born with purple or green skin and some that are born with super powers. We see telekinetic’s, strong men, and people with x-ray vision. All of this came to be because of a pill that was widely distributed during the Cold War to protect people from the effects of radiation, well that didn’t go well and it forever changed the gene pool. Fiona is the only person who was ever born invisible, she is our MC and I hate her. This girl seriously had nothing going for her that made me empathize with her in the slightest. She was impulsive, thick headed and annoying. I think that these attributes were supposed to make her come across as strong and independent to the reader but they were so over the top that they just made me want to punch her. Essentially anything that happened to her in this novel was due to her stupidity and inability to listen to the people around her. It’s one thing to be smart and independent, it’s another to be dumb.There were hints at a love triangle for much of the book but that ironed itself out pretty smoothly which was a relief but I didn’t care much for Brady or Seth. Much of their life is kept such a mystery that I didn’t get to connect with why they were the way they were until very late in the book. Even the details that we do get are sketchy at best when it comes to their father. Sketchiness seems to be a theme in this book because even the details surrounding the state of the world are not fully developed which left me longing for some solid world building. We know that there are syndicates running different parts of the US, and China is mentioned in passing near the end but I didn’t have a sense of how the world was at all and to be a strong dystopian these days there needs to be some good world building.My final complaint about this book is that some of the actions were just so weird. Like when Fiona befriends Bea and they get onto the topic of whether or not her spit is invisible. Well to test this out Bea makes Fiona spit on her in the car, yes you read that right, she talks Fiona into spitting on her. She then touches the spit and comments on its goopiness and then book goes on, that’s so ridiculous! I don’t care if spit is invisible! Fiona is invisible and she is still a tangible human being therefore her spit is spit! Also, when Fiona is staying away from her house because she thinks there is a chance that her father has found out about where her and her mother are she deems it important enough to go home and grab a bathing suit so that she can go swimming. I mean come on, if you are going to put a character in a dire situation for some reason, at least make it a good one.There was so much to this story that was worthy of eyerolls and not enough to make me give a damn so I don’t have anything good to say about it. It’s definitely a novel that fell flat for me and one that I won’t be remembering (for any good reasons) in the future. Skip this one folks. An Advance Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring reads.

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell This is a novel that I went into with incredibly high expectations. So many of my Goodreads friends and people that I talk to on Twitter have been raving about this book the last few weeks. I was honestly a little nervous that my expectations would get the better of me because I really didn’t think there was any way a book could live up to them. This book surpassed those expectations, it blew them away, it left them in the dust, it was perfect. I have no idea what I could bring to the ELEANOR & PARK fanclub that is new so I am going to keep this short and talk about my favorite things in the novel.The real gem of this book is the portrayal of the main characters Eleanor & Park. They are incredibly flawed in their own ways and live completely different lives and yet through some shared interests they begin to slowly (very slowly) open up to one another. There was an innocence to their relationship and a sense of wonderment as they explored their emotions for one another. I loved that even after they fell for one another their worlds didn’t stop and focus solely on their love for each other. They were still incredibly self conscious and even pretty damn selfish at times. Eleanor had a lot to deal with, not only did she have to put up with bullshit at school but she had to put up with just as much (if not more) of it at home. I felt for this girl so much you guys. I hated her stepdad, I hated her mother for being so weak and I hated the bullies at her school. But through those things I came to really admire Eleanor, she was herself through and through. She didn’t parade around trying to be something that she wasn’t to make those crappy things in her life go away, she faced them. Park leads a much different life, he comes from a stable family with two parents who are madly in love with one another. I thought he was so adorable. He had this dark rebellious side to him that wasn’t really brought out until he had Eleanor and he realized that some things are worth fighting for. Their relationship is exactly the polar opposite of insta-love (how refreshing, right?) This is definitely a slow burn romance, the slowest I have ever read and I loved every small step that these two took with one another. As I had mentioned there was an innocence to it as it was new to both of them and they didn’t know what they were doing at all. Most of the romantic scenes were actually pretty awkward which is perfect because at that age they are awkward! Where do you put your hands? How much is too much? You can never be sure. What made these scenes, and everything in the novel really shine was the dual POV. There were random switches between Eleanor and Park's POV some spanned a few pages and some mere sentences but they were perfectly placed to really give you both sides of the story. I don’t think I would have picked this book up based on the cover, actually I know I wouldn’t have because at one point I did get a review request for this one that I turned down. What a fool I am! Now when I look at the cover there is absolutely nothing that I would change because it is so perfect for the novel. Filled with real life turmoil, a relationship that will warm your heart (seriously I thought at one point that my heart might actually burst) and a general honesty about life that is hard to find, ELEANOR & PARK is a story that you don’t want to miss. --You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

The Program

The Program - Suzanne Young This is the kind of review that I hate writing. I read THE PROGRAM and really really liked it. There are so many aspects of the story and happenings in the plot that I want to talk about but I just sat down to write this and saw that 90% of what I had wanted to talk about isn’t even mentioned in the blurb and would therefore be a spoiler. Going by the blurb I can only really talk in depth about the first 120 pages of the book, so here I go, watch me be vague.In the story we have a very vivid dystopian setting painted for us. We meet Sloane who knows that even the smallest outburst of sad emotions could land her spending 6 weeks in The Program and lead to her having everyone she has ever known outside of her family being completely wiped away. She was a great MC, she was an incredibly smart girl who questioned everything around her. I also came to care about her core group of friends and her boyfriend James. James, oh James. He was everything that I look for in a book boyfriend. He was so supportive and fiercely protective of Sloane. These two knew each other inside & out and had been through hell and back together which really had me rooting for their relationship. There is an immediate intensity to this story as we are thrown into this world and watch Sloane live day to day in hiding. The handlers are constantly around when she is at school and their lingering makes you realize that with a moments notice one of the characters could be taken away to have their memory wiped and be “cured” of their depression. While I won’t talk about this too deeply I have to point out that I really liked the explanation for what led to the suicide epidemic in this story, it is frightening in that it was something that could very well happen in our future, so kudos to Young for that. There are 3 parts to this story (which was cool, yet super weird because each part started back at page 1 & chapter 1, strange right?) All of the parts went together really well and felt as if they were stories that could have held their own apart from the novel.What I took away from this story is a strong message about true love and how important all of the happenings (the good and the bad) in our lives are in shaping who we are. You can’t just forget all the bad crap in your life and move on because it is a part of you and you don’t really know who you are without it. A story that focusses heavily on relationships, THE PROGRAM is the kick off to a series that I am very excited for. I can’t wait to be in this world again with the characters that I came to really care about. The ending of the novel sets up for some definite excitement and the epilogue had me grinning because it was so well placed. Read this book people, this is going to be a series that you don’t want to miss. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.__You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Criminal

Criminal - Terra Elan McVoy Being a heavy reader I feel it’s safe to say that I have read all kinds of romances. I have read some sweet ones, some boring ones and some pretty twisted ones. CRIMINAL definitely falls into the twisted category. As we meet Nikki and see how helplessly (and unconditionally) in love (or maybe a better word is obsessed) she is with Dee I found myself hating the romance in this book and pitying Nikki so badly, but that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel.I could not empathize with Nikki personally, but she did feel like a girl you would see on that A&E show Beyond Scared Straight. She had fallen in love with a gangbanger and embraced the lifestyle in a very unhealthy way. It was incredibly sad as the reader to see the romance for what it was, to see Dee for who he really was and watch Nikki lose everything for him. He didn’t really care about her, he used her and what’s worse is that generally, he wasn’t even nice to her. After he gets called in and questioned by the cops he’s not in the mood to talk so when Nikki tries to get details out of him and work on their alibi this is what he says: “What if I put my fist straight through that mouth of yours, crush your pipes so you can't talk anymore, huh? What if that?” Straight after this (what Nikki views as a) romantic weekend Dee is gone and as she struggles to deal with the fallout from the crime he completely cuts her out of his life. There was a point where I felt really bad for Nikki because she was so naive but as she continuously thought of how much she needed to be in Dee’s arms, or just hear him call her baby I got so frustrated with her! He treated her like complete crap and yet the only thing that she yearned for was to please him in any way possible.The one solid relationship in Nikki’s life is with her friend Bird whom she lives with because the living situation with her drug addict mother is not good. Seeing Nikki lie to Bird, even when she was pulled into the investigation for the murder frustrated me just as much as her need to please Dee. Bird was the one person in this novel that I had some shred of respect for, she had grown up and gotten her crap together. She was trying to live on the straight and narrow and didn’t stand for what Nikki brought into her life. I think the way that she reacted to everything was completely fair. I guess this is where Nikki’s character starts to grow in the novel, we see her confess to the cops so that the heat is taken off of Bird. As the story progresses we see Nikki (slowly) come to terms with what she had done once she is in jail. She gets blindsided when she gets arrested, she thinks that since she was just driving and didn’t actually kill anybody she should be in the clear which just further enforces her naivety. I’m not really sure how to feel about CRIMINAL. The novel is full of unlikeable characters who make terrible decisions but I couldn’t put down the story. I haven’t come across a book remotely close to this before and while it was uncomfortable at times to read, I really enjoyed it. I felt bad for Nikki in the beginning, got to a point where I was angry with her and then finally just felt scared for her. I think any book that can pull that much emotion out of you is a good book. I couldn’t put myself in her shoes, her situation was very different from any life I have ever known but there are teens getting themselves mixed up in these criminal lifestyles everyday. I really enjoyed McVoy’s writing here, it was straight and the the point, not flowery. It served the tone and setting of the story perfectly. She does an excellent job crafting characters that feel authentic and creating a love story that is really about how blind love can make you. What served this story best is how linear the plot was, it was constantly moving forward in the aftermath of the murder and didn't stray at all from the story at hand which makes it a story that you don't want to put down.An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Game (Jasper Dent, #2)

Game  - Barry Lyga Upon finishing GAME the first thing that popped into my mind was “do I really have to write a review for this? I don’t want to!” The novel is chalk full of twists and turns and you are never sure who you can trust. Like its predecessor, GAME has a much more adult feel with its intensely gory scenes and the players who take the stage. But thrown in the middle is our core group of teens, Jazz, Connie & Howie, so YA it is. One of my favorite things about this series (besides the awesome gore) is the relationships between the three teens. Jazz and Connie are still together and as their relationship becomes much more serious they are struggling with just how far they should take things. There is a darkness inside Jazz and he thinks that since he is the son of the worlds most notorious and feared serial killer the act of sex with spark something in him and he will become like his father. Needless to say this leads to quite a bit of angst between the two of them and I love how Connie handles it all. I actually love how Connie handles everything, she is a no nonsense, straight up girl and she calls Jazz on his bullshit at every turn. I love how strong she is, I mean you would have to be to get yourself mixed up with the Dent’s, right? We also have good old Howie along for the ride here and he adds some much needed comic relief to the novel. He is freaking hilarious! Every scene that he is in leads to at least a chuckle and now that he and Connie are closer we even get some witty banter between the two of them. What tops my list of favorite things with these novels though is the gore-filled twists and turns that lie within. GAME takes us to New York where the Hat-Dog Killer is on the loose. After his success taking down The Impressionist the NYPD wants Jazz on the scene so they can use him to get into the mind of the serial killer and catch him quickly. There were points in the novel where I felt like I had to stretch my imagination a bit to believe that the NYPD had really called in a teenaged boy and were showing him crime scene photos, suspect files, and taking him on a tour of crime scenes. I do think that Lyga did the best that he could to make it as believable as possible, but there was always that seed of doubt in the back of my mind scoffing at some of the stuff Jazz had access to. I think that I didn’t have the same problem with I Hunt Killers because it all took place in the small town of Lobo’s Nod and Jazz’s father was at the center of everything so the sheriff’s office going to him didn’t seem too out there in the setting. So stretch my my mind I did and getting lost in the story proved to be a lot of fun. I remember reading reviews of I Hunt Killers and them mentioning how gory it was, yet while I was reading it it didn’t feel overly so. I am a big horror movie/crime TV show fan so I think I kind of glaze over the gory details sometimes because I am just so used to them. But in this one I felt like the icky details were definitely amped up and it was more than welcome. There were a few times that I caught myself actually saying “ewwwww” out loud and re-reading the scene to take it all in. Definitely bring a strong stomach to the playing field with this one folks! With a cliffhanger that will have you wanting to throw your book out of anger this is a worthy followup in what is proving to be a fantastic series. I haven’t read anything quite like this within the YA genre and Barry Lyga is the sole author giving me hope for murder mysteries in this age group. He pushes the limits and has created some wonderfully twisted characters while at the same time ones who get you laughing at every turn. If you are a fan of whodunit stories this is a series that you definitely need to get going on because you don't want anything spoiled for you!An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.