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Alluring Reads

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

Taken

Taken - After seeing some not so favorable reviews of Taken roll in, I was pretty wary going into the novel. I was told by multiple sources to lower my expectations in hopes that if I did it would seem better. So lower my expectations I did, and it did not work. This novel was full of unrealistic conveniences, a terrible love triangle and a male MC who made me want to pull my hair out. I don’t really have anything positive to say about the novel so we will see how this goes. I’ll start with Gray. What a terrible person this guy was. He was so impulsive & full of rage and I hated him from chapter one (in which he punches a girl in the face and stomach.) His brother is getting heisted and even at the goodbye ceremony he has all of these jealous thoughts that made me so angry. You are about to lose your brother forever, let your shit go and give him a proper farewell you ass! I can see where his rage was supposed to have come from, he was living in his perfect brother’s shadow his whole life and found out he was lied to by both his brother and his mother but it was much too over the top for me. I also didn’t see much growth in his character, even at the end of the novel he is super jealous and does stupid things to get revenge on people he is supposed to love. Speaking of love, there is a love triangle here you guys, and it’s a doozy. Here is my favorite quote: “The best I do is nod in and out of consciousness, my arms always hugging Bree, but my eyes always lingering on Emma..” Oh please, first of all this guy was such an ass I can’t fathom why either of these girls wanted him. I guess when there is a shortage of men you will go for anything. Also, I never bought the supposed “love” between Emma and Gray. In the first chapter so much is done to enforce her distaste with his character and the fact that she has always had a thing for his older brother, Blaine. But once Blaine is heisted Emma and Gray immediately get up to all sorts of tomfoolery and are claiming love in a matter of days. I knew that he always had a thing for her, but her mood switch was far too abrupt to be believable.Speaking of believable (ha notice a trend here? Worst transitions ever, that is the trend.) The conveniences that popped up here and there to advance the plot were just way too perfect. Breaking into a final room and all of a sudden someone pops up that you had no idea existed prior to that scene who is on the right side in the right place at the right time, it was just far too easy. The novel comes with it’s fair share of twists but none of them felt that way because it was so easy to see what was coming a mile away. There is so much of the story that is just way too typical for the genre that it didn’t stand out at all. This is definitely not a novel that I can recommend. With a flood of dystopians hitting the shelves there has to be something special for one to stand out and this one just doesn’t pack the punch that it needs to. It’s terribly cliche, and is full of dialogue that feels uncomfortable and forced. If I can give you one tip for your Spring reading list it would be to avoid Taken as best as you can.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.

The Rules (Project Paper Doll)

The Rules - Stacey Kade I’ve never been a big fan of sci fi, I have to admit that up front. When I look back at movies that I have watched and liked in the genre it’s more so the ones that come across as predominantly horror more than sci fi. There’s something about other beings living out there somewhere that absolutely frightens me. Then when you add in the fact that they are possibly much more advanced than us and could be lurking in places we don’t know, yikes! What I am trying to say is that I am fascinated at the idea of aliens. With The Rules, Stacey Kade has taken that idea and created a circumstance that made it feel more real than I could imagine and she did so quite well.Ariane has known for the last 10 years that she isn’t really Ariane. She was rescued from the lab in which she was created and living in disguise out in the open, blending in with the population. I hadn’t known going into this that she was part extraterrestrial so as I found that out it was pretty exciting (had I just read the blurb I would have known, but you know how that goes.) I really liked Ariane. She was snarky and willing to defy people for what she believed was right. Her strong need to protect people who are being bullied made me respect her. I also loved how funny she was as she pieced together what it meant to be human and compared those things to daytime soap opera’s & cartoons that she had seen. I also came to really like the boy that she falls for, Zane. The story hops back and forth from Ariane’s POV to Zane’s and I think the method worked really well here. Each voice felt unique to themselves and I never had to question whose chapter I was reading at the time. Zane was the hot boy at his school, but he had so much going on inside that he became so much more than that. He was so sweet with Ariane and he had a lot to deal with at home with his not so great father.One thing I wish that we got more of here was backstory. I was told that Ariane was half human, half extraterrestrial but I never got information on how that experiment came to be. Roswell is mentioned in passing but I would have liked some more detail into what GTX was and how they managed to get away with as much as they did. While I did appreciate that The Rules had a more contemporary feel with sci fi elements in that much of the focus was on the drama at Ariane’s school, I don’t think the balance was achieved very well. Much of the story is focussed on petty high school pranks (which was fun to read about, don’t get me wrong) but I think there should have been more focus on what led to Ariane’s existence and instead of constantly mentioning GTX I wanted to know exactly what the company was. Reading through this review is funny, because in the beginning I said that I like sci fi that doesn’t really focus on sci fi but then I say I wanted more in the book. I’m someone who likes to have all the details and have my questions answered. Knowing that this is the first book in the series I know that those questions may be answered as the series progresses and I hope that is the case. If you are looking for a light science fiction read that comes across as more contemporary then this could be the one for you. I had a fun time reading it and am excited to read more in the series.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 to Save a Life

How to Save a Life - How To Save a Life was a book that I picked up on a Saturday afternoon and after reading a single chapter I knew it was a book that I was going to love. Just the honesty in every word and the astounding development of the characters alone is so great but when you throw in the dynamic relationships and all the emotions throughout, you have a truly touching novel. Jill became someone that I saw myself in at every turn, I felt her anger and sadness and loss. Mandy became someone that I want to wrap my arms around and comfort because she touched me so much. There is no shortage of emotions in this novel and it’s one that will stick with readers for a long time to come.The development that went into every character in How To Save a Life is no small feat. Each and every character came off the page and as I read I felt like I came to know these people. Jill, Robin and Mandy of course are the most developed and what is so great is that they are all completely different. I felt through their dialogue and their actions in every scene that they stood out from one another and watching them come together was something special. Not only did these three ladies stick out to me, but I also felt as if I came to know Dylan and Ravi just as well. Dylan was struggling in this rut that he and Jill had found themselves stuck in in their relationship. Since Jill’s father passed away they had this destructive pattern and they were just going back and forth, never truly moving forward, always taking two steps back. He was trying to break down the walls of Jill’s grief and get her to open up, but she was struggling opening up to him. In Ravi she found someone new, someone who didn’t know how she acted once her father passed away, someone who wasn’t constantly trying to get her to talk about her feelings. I guess this was a love triangle but it was in no way annoying or cliche. I saw both guys for who they were and came to care about each one.While Jill is fighting through her own demons, Mandy is running away from hers. I felt so bad for this girl. She moves in with Robin & Jill very quickly in the novel but we are fed tidbits of her home life here and there and I could completely understand her need to flee. Her mom’s only concern was finding a man, she was one of these women who doesn’t know who she is without a man by her side, I found that incredibly sad. Her words of wisdom that she passed on to Mandy just feed this lifestyle and I wanted to shake Mandy and tell her that everything her mother told her was crap. She was so hungry for love and thought that the only place she could find that was in the arms of a man. Readers get to watch Mandy’s eyes open, get to watch her learn what it means to be a strong, independent woman and the shift is truly awe inspiring. The characters and relationships in this novel have so many layers that get peeled back as the story goes on so it feels like you go on a journey with them. There is a huge part of me that feels like this novel could have just gone on forever relaying the story of these people’s lives and I just would have kept on reading. I find often that I check the page number to see where I stand in a novel and I can say that not once in this story did I find myself glancing at the bottom corner of the page. These are people that everyone should have the pleasure to meet so I definitely think that you should pick up this novel.__You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Pretty Girl-13

Pretty Girl-13 - Liz Coley Actual rating is 3.5, decided to go with the lower due to predictability.What a riot reading this book was! I have to say that I was surprised to check Goodreads and see that this book clocks in at just over 350 pages after reading my egalley. I breezed through Pretty Girl-13 so fast that I thought for sure it would be in the 200 page range. A story that plays games with your mind and keeps you wondering what will happen just around the corner with every page, this is not one to be missed for sure.Angie went missing on a Girl Scout campout when she was just 13 years old. Her parents exhausted all of their resources searching for her and right when they were about to give up hope, she re-appears. This is 3 years later, she is now 16 years old and remembers absolutely nothing of the last 3 years. According to her she just came home from the campout and is still 13 year old Angie. As the story unfolds it becomes a really great psychological thriller that I felt unraveled at just the perfect pace. One complaint that I do have, however, is that the novels glaring parallels to a certain TV show (that I can’t name for fear of spoilers) made it all a bit too predictable (DM me if you want me to extrapolate). I do have to say that not a lot ended up taking me by surprise and I figured out much of what happened chapters before it was revealed, but nevertheless I had such a good time reading this that it didn’t hinder my reading experience too much.Angie was way more levelheaded for someone who went through what she did than I could have ever imagined. All throughout the story she was able to joke about what she had gone through, I guess this is thanks to her “amnesia”. She didn’t know how to feel about anything because she had no first hand idea about what actually happened to her. She does find herself in a bit of a romance and while the guy who ends up being her love interest was a bit cheesy and cutesy for me, he was still so sweet and I could see how that was just what Angie needed in her life at the time. She also finds a great friend in Kate, who was very supportive of her. I’m not entirely sure that with all the things that happened to her everyone would have been so flippant about it all, including Angie, but for some reason the tone of the story worked. There isn’t too much I can talk about plot-wise here because pretty much anything that I mention would be a spoiler. So just know that this is a really good psychological thriller that keeps you turning the pages at an extremely fast pace. I couldn’t take in this book fast enough, and even though I always saw exactly what was coming, I had so much fun reading it. __An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Wonder

Wonder - R.J. Palacio I went into Wonder with really high expectations. I had heard so much raving about how touching the story was and finally decided it was time to dig in for myself. All of the praise for this one is entirely warranted. I loved this story from page one straight through to the final page. It's probably the most heartwarming and hopeful story I have ever had the pleasure of reading. August Pullman is starting grade 5. This is a huge year for him because not only is it his first year of middle school, but it is his first year ever going to a regular school. See, Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity. He was in and out of surgeries all throughout his childhood and frankly dealing with the publics stares and comments just wan't something his parents were prepared to make him deal with. But once grade 5 came it was decided by Auggie and his parents that it was time to put himself out there. As I'm sure you can imagine many heartbreaking scenes come as a result of Auggie putting himself into such a public place. There were people he met in school that I wanted to punch because they were so cold, but what is so great about this story is that there were way more characters that I wanted to hug or give a hand shake.Sure Auggie meets his fair share of bullying as the story goes on, but he is always such a happy guy. I admire him, I think he has a lot of traits that people in his situation would kill to have. Helping him through everything is a great group of core friends, starting with Summer. I loved how summer was some random girl who just sat with him and day one and continued to do so. She always made him feel welcome and like he had something to look forward throughout the day. Then there is Jack, sure Auggie and Jack had their ups and downs but as we got to know Jack more I became accepting of his faults and saw that he was someone who really was trying to do the right thing, he just had to figure it out the hard way. As if these friends aren't good enough, we have Auggie's family also by his side.This novel had an amazing family unit. As his parents, his sister Olivia and Auggie all conversed with one another they became people that I loved. You could see in the witty banter between the parents that they really loved one another, I thought they were absolutely adorable. The character that I connected most with was Olivia. She really struggled with how she was often forgotten about because Auggie needed so much care. Her inner conflict with knowing that Auggie needed more attention but yet wanting to be in the limelight was portrayed so well in the story.One thing that ended up taking me by surprise in Wonder was that we were treated to multiple POV's. I had no idea going into this that it was told in that way and every time I switched the page and saw the name of who was coming up it was like a present. The POV's flowed together so well that I felt like I was always hearing from exactly who I should be in that point of the story. I also really liked the short chapters. Some are merely a page and others span up to 4 but they are all titled and tell of an incident. It feels like we are reading journal entries from each of the characters.I loved how this story was told, I loved the characters in the story and even more so I loved the relationships between all of the characters. This story dealt with some heavy bullying but it was so uplifting. I took away a message of hope for mankind, and how kindness really shines through in darkness. This is a must read for anyone and everyone. Pick this one up on your next trip to the bookstore, it will not disappoint. __You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

The Kings of Charleston

The Kings of Charleston - Kat H. Clayton I have to be honest and say that what sold me on THE KINGS OF CHARLESTON was the cover. I liked how, for a YA novel, it exuded a bit of sexiness that you don't normally see. It's pretty simple and yeah, it just worked for me. What didn't work was what was inside. A long drawn out story about a high society of complete riff raff that I cared nothing about.My hatred for this novel has to be started with the MC Casper (I know right? We have the friendly freakin' ghost here.) This girl was such a paradox of herself. Her inner dialogue spoke of a girl who had her head on her shoulders and knew that she needed to put herself first and not fall all over some guy that she doesn't even know. But then she meets Cal. To be honest, I didn't even really find him all that charming, he was a bit too forceful and creepy for my taste. But all along Casper knows that Cal is hiding something HUGE from her and yet she still falls head over heels for the guy and starts dropping love bombs after a week or so. Not only does she know the entire time that Cal is blatantly lying to her (or withholding may be a better word) but she also almost gets murdered and then agrees to lie to the police for this guy! I'm sorry, she had been on the hunt the entire novel to find out the secret behind these Kythera people and then almost gets murdered because of the group and then lies to the police for them! Hell to the no! Give your head a shake girl. Another huge turn off for me with this novel was Casper's parents. They were high society Richie Rich people and through the entire novel they are putting their need for money and a lavish lifestyle in front of their child's well-being. They make her move across the country the summer before she starts her senior year, which isn't the end of the world or anything but what comes next is. After Casper is almost murdered in a heist against the Kythera they decide to stay in Charleston and make her join the Kythera because otherwise they will be poor! They make her join this group who brands the members and has murderers after them! Loving parents if I've ever seen them! There were also quite a few technical parts of the story that irritated me as well. In the ePub that I read rather than italicizing words that were supposed to be emphasized by the speaker they were underlined and that felt really juvenile to me (entirely personal preference, I know.) Also the pacing was just all over the place. At one point, I kid you not, I took a nap. When Callie goes to take a bath we get every minute detail from her taking off her clothes, turning on the water, feeling the water to get it to the right temperature, turning the water off, getting in the tub, soaking, getting out of the tub, almost slipping, wishing she had cushy blue bath mats... you get the picture. There were some adrenaline infused moments but they came much too late in the story to really grab me, I had already pretty much checked out. I had so many problems with this story that the reading experience was far from enjoyable. The thing that kept me going for most of it was finding out who these Kythera people were and then by the time I got to find out I was so far gone that I didn't really care anymore. I think they might have been rich snobs? Who can get anyone they want? And they have lots of money. Yeah, money. I can't recommend this one to anyone, which makes me sad because I wanted this to be a mob type story that stood out in YA. It failed at that. Badly. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

Why Can't I Be You: A Novel

Why Can't I Be You - Allie Larkin Let’s be honest here, the cover isn’t what sold me on reading Why Can’t I Be You. No folks, this is an elusive, practically unheard of case of me reading a blurb for a book and wanting to read it based on that. I can hear your collective gasp at the fact that I read the blurb for this book, I is growing up! I’m happy that I read the blurb and didn’t just write the book off for the cover because I did end up enjoying the novel quite a bit. Now, I can’t say that I loved it but the story was really good and had just enough to keep me reading so I could find out how it would all end.Jenny is having a rough go; she got dumped as her boyfriend dropped her off at the airport when she was leaving to go on a business trip. To make matters worse, in the midst of all the dumping and crying he drives off with her luggage! By the time she got to her destination I think we got know know a lot about Jenny, just enough that I could completely understand her longing to be someone else at the time. This isn’t the most realistic of stories, but there is enough there for the reader to grasp onto to let their inhibitions go and just go along for the ride. Jenny was a mess and her progressively finding out that she needed to start putting herself first in the novel was really great. She was constantly doing things to make other people happy and pushing things that were important to her to the back burner.The group of people that she finds herself in when one of them mistakes her for a long lost friend was also great. I did feel at times that the dialogue was a little over the top in their banter with one another, bordering on cheesy but I understood what was trying to be conveyed. Myra, Heather, Robbie, and Fish had themselves a little family and they served to show Jenny how people should be treating one another and that blood isn’t the only thing that means family. I loved Heather & Robbie’s relationship. They had been together so long and weren’t afraid to rib each other and be dorks in front of one another, you could really feel the love between these two. Myra was a bit too much for me, she seemed a bit too chipper and her personality always came across as over the top. She was definitely someone that I would want to punch the constant smile off of her face. No one can be that happy all the time!The romance was sweet and completely awkward. Sweet because Fish was such a great guy and awkward because Jenny was pretending to be Jessie the whole time. But I liked that Larkin had written the story so that Jenny had incorporated so much about her life into being Jessie. Sure she was using her name, but these people had completely lost touch with her for 13 years so Jenny was able to use details of her real life to explain what she had been up to all that time.If I had to complain about one major thing here it would be the pacing. A lot of the story felt like it was a bit dragged out and like the book could have used a bit of a page trim. I did enjoy reading the story, meeting the characters, and going on adventures with them but some of it began to feel tiring. I think all of it did serve its purpose though and had me come to really care about these people’s well beings, so at least there is a plus side. This reminded me of a plot you would see in a chick flick movie and is executed fairly well. If you are on the hunt for some good ol’ humerous and sweet chick lit, this could be the one for you!__You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

This Is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith Actual rating is 3.5If I could put off writing this review forever, I would. This is What Happy Looks Like and I had a very strange relationship and one that I just can’t find the words for. In the beginning this was such a sweet story and I loved how these two people were brought together by a fluke & an intense online correspondence ensued. I read the first 30% of the novel with a happy grin splayed across my face and was heartwarmed by the story, but somewhere along the way I just stopped caring that much. The story remained really good (the writing and use of perspective is unparalleled - more on that later) and yet I didn’t find myself caring about some of the plot as much as I should have.The first thing that I want to talk about is the writing and use of the third person perspective here. I oftentimes find myself getting frustrated with this perspective and unable to connect to the characters. I find it hard to get a feel for who they are when we are simply this all seeing person and not inside them dealing with their emotions. That was not the case here at all. There was actually a point about 20% in where I sat back and thought “holy crap this is third person!” I was blown away by how I was connecting with the characters and feeling everything that they went through. I also loved the writing in general, the use of flashbacks didn’t feel too heavily relied on and were always welcome additions to the story. It’s written in a very pretty, yet relatable way, Smith achieves a great balance here.The characters were also well developed and each flawed in their own way. Ellie was an intelligent girl who had grown up with a family secret that she kept from everyone. In keeping the secret from her best friend, Quinn she realized that it’s kind of easy to keep things to yourself and kept her email relationship a secret as well. There was a lot of conflict between Ellie and Quinn in this novel because of that and I felt like I never really got a grip on their relationship, it didn’t feel as strong as it was supposed to be because they were not talking for 85% of the book. Quinn had seemed like a sassy girl who really cared about Ellie’s well being but I wish we got more of that in the book, instead of simply being told that’s how she is.The romance is very sweet and I liked Graham a lot. I think a lot of the story was Ellie and him having to come to grips with the turmoil in their own life in order to finally work on things with each other. I liked the moments when they were together, Graham was incredibly sweet to Ellie and really struggled with her finding out who exactly he was. I also liked the star side of Grahams story. The paparazzi are always on his tail and it’s pretty intense how in his face they are. I think his story is a relevant one of how someone thrust into stardom might feel. He was really displaced in this new life, and was trying hard to have his parents realize that he was still the same boy he always was. Having liked the characters and the writing so much you are probably left wondering what went wrong? Well I’m not exactly sure, somewhere along the way, I think probably when Ellie set out to find her father the story just lost me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, maybe it just felt a little too long and dragged out to me. I wanted more of the romance between Graham and Ellie that had me smiling in the beginning, but the book kept stepping away from that. I had come into the book wanting a sweet romance and I feel like for much of the story I was robbed of that to deal with their family issues.My issue with the book is entirely personal and I am sure that a lot of people will disagree with me but it’s just how I felt about it. The story is full of charm, fantastic writing and really good characters but everything just felt a little too easy for me. I am a huge fan of Jennifer E. Smith’s writing and can’t wait to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but this story just went off in too many directions for me and because of that the romance fell flat towards the end.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver "You know how rumours start? Because someone feels like it."Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is officially #1 on my favourite book list (ya I said it). It is the most relevant book I have ever read. Reading it brought me back to the time in my life that I hated the most, high school. That little blip in your life that, at the time, feels like the final stage of your life. That's it, your an adult, who you are is who you are going to be for the rest of your life, who your with is who you will marry and who your friends are will be your friends till the end. But in the end, that's all it is, a little blip in your life that in the expanse of things doesn't mean much. I hated high school with a passion, and it was all because of girls like Samantha Kingston and Lindsay Edgecomb.The characters in this book are masterfully crafted. I absolutely loathed the girls in the beginning of the book, they made me so mad that I actually felt angry. But as Before I Fall goes on, the layers of them become exposed through memories Sam has of the past. The transformation our MC goes through is beautiful. We watch her come out of her little bubble and have some shocking realisations about her life and how her actions affect the people around her. My feelings for Lindsay also changed throughout the book, at first I hated her guts, but by the end I just felt bad for her.The issues presented are faced with an unflinching realism that brings you back to that place and makes you feel exactly how you did at that time in your life. Everything from body image, to bullying and teen suicide is handled so well that I am in awe of Lauren Oliver. This is a beautifully written book that every high school girl should be required to read just for the faint hope that something sticks. I highly recommend Before I Fall to anyone looking for an Alluring Read.

Absent

Absent - Katie Williams While perusing Edelweiss one day the cover for Absent caught my eye and upon reading the blurb I was quick to put my request in. Am I ever happy that I did. Absent is a quick read, clocking in a just shy of 190 pages but it is a novel that packs a punch, a novel in which every page matters because the story moves along quite quickly. In Absent we meet Paige who was a senior in high school that fell off the roof during her physics class egg drop and has now found herself doomed to roam the hallways of her high school for eternity. She is not alone, also stuck in this high school purgatory is Brooke, a girl who died months before Paige, and Evan, whom has been roaming the halls for years and whose death is a mystery.Reading this story felt a lot like reading Lauren Olivers Before I Fall with a huge dose of the movie Ghost thrown into it. I ended up really, really liking Paige. She was by no means perfect nor was she the nicest girl you had ever met, instead she was heavily flawed and I loved watching her grow. As she watches the popular girl at school, Kelsey begin spreading rumours that instead of a freak accident her death was really a suicide I felt her intense struggle to set things right. She didn't want the ones who were closest to her to think that she would do something like that which is completely understandable. I don't think I got to know enough about Evan to say that I really liked him on a deep level, but what we did get to know about his story had me feeling really sad for his circumstance. There is a bit of mystery surrounding him throughout the novel, which was definitely a welcome aspect to the story. I longed to find out when he died and how he died and the reveal is about as touching as it could have been. Brooke was a bit of a loner in the afterlife but her story also becomes much more intense as the story wears on.As Paige learns that she can inhabit the body of whomever as long as they are thinking about her at the time, we also meet a host of live characters as well. There was the schools resident queen bee, Kelsey, who goes through an awesome progression herself. Also Lucas, the boy that Paige was secretly dating up until her death. I wasn't a fan of Lucas, he seemed as if he always had something sneaky on the go, and he wasn't exactly the nicest or most forthcoming person ever. He doesn't change too much throughout the story but his actions get some explanation at the end that really threw me for a loop. The best character among the living was Wes. Wes was a "burner" as Paige would classify him. He was a stoner who was always outside smoking but he turned out to be a wonderful guy that any girl would be lucky to have by her side. In the progression of Absent we are presented with a wide array of issues as it tackles its fair share of them. These high school kids are dealing with sexual relationships, drug use/dealing, vicious stereotypes and peer pressure to name a few. None of it felt over the top or preachy and even the scenes that touched upon religion were presented in a questioning way and served to make me wonder in a really good way. With all the issues this novel tackles and the break neck pace it is definitely a story that you can read in a single sitting. I was so absorbed in this story and went on a rollercoaster of emotions with the characters.I was quick to add Katie's other book to my TBR upon finishing. She is another author who has written a novel that makes me wonder how so much emotion and connection can come from so little pages. I didn't feel as if I didn't get enough of anything from this story, I didn't feel as if I was robbed of any details or empathy for the characters, I was emotionally present for the whole thing. As our ghosts come to grips with the circumstances surrounding their deaths a beautiful story is woven. Absent is the story of acceptance and of taking responsibility for our actions. This is not a novel to be missed. 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.

White Lines

White Lines - Jennifer Banash Somewhere between 2.5 and 3, I can't decide.We all know that I have an intense relationship with YA contemporary issue books, so you can imagine my surprise when I sat back to think about it and realized that I had never read one that dealt with drug abuse. I’ve read all kinds of issue books; eating disorders, physical abuse and emotional abuse, among others, but White Lines is my first venture into drug abuse territory. I hadn’t been too sure what to expect with this one as I had read nobody's thoughts on it nor had I seen any number ratings for it and I have to say that that whole experience was very "middle-of-the-road" for me. Cat lives in New York and is a “club kid”; she works the door at the underground clubs and is not afraid to put anything up her nose. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, with an abusive, mentally ill mother and a father who doesn’t give a crap, she has ended up living in downtown New York in her own apartment at 17 years old. I felt bad for her, when it was deemed that she could no longer live with her mother her father simply signed a lease and never even entertained the idea of her going to live with him and his new girlfriend. Being thrown away like that at such a young age has taken it’s toll on Cat and she has been losing herself in her nightlife. I think Cat’s way of dealing with her situation was handled really well; she has a lot of issues with intimacy and just conversing with others. She has a few good friends who are there for her along the way in Giovanni and Sara. I liked both of these characters. Giovanni was pretty cliche as the gay best friend who is always dressing her, but I loved how present he was in her life and his willingness to hold her hair as she vomitted at 4 AM. I loved Sara for her brutal honestly, she didn’t sugar coat things and when Cat was acting like an idiot she was the first to let her know.While I did like the characters in the novel, I think what I took issue with the most is the pacing. There was a lot of reminiscing right in the middle of scenes. Cat would pick up the phone, hear her mother say “hello” and then we would go into a two page memory from when she was living with her mother before getting back to the conversation. This happened a lot and while I did enjoy getting the back story in the beginning, it became quite draining from the middle on because I just wanted to the story to progress, to actually go somewhere. There isn’t much of a plot here, it’s more the story of some time in Cat’s life as she slowly delves down to rock-bottom. I appreciated watching this unfold, but I was constantly in a state where I wished I had something to look forward to, an end point that I could work with I guess. It felt a little aimless at times I guess is what I am trying to say.There is a bit of romance here and even hints of a love triangle. Not too much happened in this department because of Cat’s inability to open up but I did really like her time with Juliann and watching her figure out that she was being an idiot with the creepy Christoph. I did enjoy this glimpse into Cat’s life and the ’80’s references were pretty fun but I found myself getting bored from about the 50% mark on. I would have liked a bit more of a story and little less back story. This was a touching read about a young girl forced to grow up way too young, but one that I don’t think I will remember a month down the road. 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.

Graffiti Moon

Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley I’m sitting here trying to decide how to start this review and I can’t figure it out. So I figured I would start out by telling you that I’m trying to figure out how to start it. I’m pretty late to the party with reading this one, about 90% of my Goodreads friends have read it and loved it, so I kind of feel as if I can’t really bring anything new to the table, all I can do is enforce Graffiti Moon’s awesomeness in some small way. And that’s exactly what this novel is; awesome. It’s a story that takes place in a single night but has characters and a plot with so much development that it feels like it spans much more time. I guess that’s where my love for this novel really begins. I have always loved movies that take place in one single crazy night; Dazed & Confused, Can’t Hardly Wait, Go and Superbad are some that come to mind and this novel is up there with the best of them. What always surprises me with tales such as this is how well I end up feeling like I know the characters even though I only meet them for a single night of their life. Lucy was such a great character. She struggled with what was happening at home (who wouldn’t worry when their dad starts nailing a new address on the shed in the backyard) and she is on a mission to finally meet Shadow, the graffiti artist she has been lusting over forever. I loved her inner dialogue, she was so intelligent and funny & those elements of her personality are really brought out around her two best friends, Daisy & Jazz. I freaking loved all of these girls! Daisy was a tough cookie and she gave men such a hard time, it was hilarious. And Jazz was a really good friend and such a free spirit. I loved all of these girls and the moments when they were locked inside a bathroom stall plotting were the best. We also have the boys in this tale Ed & Leo (or Shadow & Poet) and they were just as wonderful as the ladies. They were deep, they had substance, & they weren’t just looking to get into the girls’ pants (though there’s no denying they would have loved that perk.) I loved how into art and literature they were. Ed knew all the greats and had took such great joy in looking at pieces and conversing about artists. Poet’s poems were amazing and raw, I loved the snippets that we got from him here and there in verse, they worked so well. As I had said in the beginning and as I have enforced now the characters, though we only know them for a short snippet of time, are so well developed and full.I think much of the characters development can be attributed to Crowley’s perfect use of flashbacks. There was lots of reminiscing but never did the flashbacks feel out of place or awkward. I came to love these characters so much and I wanted to know their history so that I could get a better understanding of them so I always appreciated going through memories with them. It’s a pretty fast paced story, as you can imagine from the time line, and a novel that I breezed through pretty fast. Another thing that keeps you sucked in is the wonderful imagery in the novel. I loved hearing about the richness of colors in all of Shadow’s paintings and his yearning for the perfect shade of blue. It was all so beautiful and I could have easily read another 200 pages.A novel full of romance, full of humor and full of art; Graffiti Moon is not one to be missed. Don’t let the hype scare you because this one has earned every single bit of hype it has ever received. Crowley has just put herself on my authors to watch list and I will be picking up her previous book as well as watching for anything she does in the future. --You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.

17 & Gone

17 & Gone - Nova Ren Suma After reading Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls last year she fast became an author to watch for me. After reading 17 & Gone she has solidified herself as an author that I will buy & read anything that she does. Her writing is remarkable; the eerie, dreamlike quality of her prose sucks you in and leaves you questioning everything that you read. 17 & Gone is a novel about missing girls, not only girls that are taken but also ones who have run away from their life. Lauren was someone that I really connected with. She struggled with what was happening to her and she wasn’t afraid to put what she needed to do ahead of the boy in her life. This was such a refreshing aspect to her personality because so often in YA the girls put the boys first, it was a breath of fresh air to see a girl who wasn’t afraid to throw her relationship in the back seat and do what she needed to do for herself. That being said, I also really did like her boyfriend Jaime. He was super supportive and I loved how he would go along with her and have very little questions. Their relationship was really sweet and as Lauren reflected on the path they had taken together and how they had opened up to one another I became invested in the relationship and where they would go. The real gem in the relationship department in this novel is between Lauren and her mother. I loved how her mother was portrayed as a completely unconventional mom; an ex stripper covered in tattoos who was always there for her daughter and really took an interest in the goings on in her life. The mother daughter relationship was fantastic and their openness with one another was exactly as it should be. While reading this novel you don’t only get to meet wonderful characters and experience their relationships, but there is also a mystery going on. Lauren is seeing missing girls not only in her sleep but in her waking hours as well. Throughout the novel I wasn’t sure what was real and what was not and it made reading every page that much more chilling. I was a little nervous that this would be one of those stories that doesn’t really wrap up in the end and leaves a lot for each reader to take from it what they will but I am happy to report that I loved how it wrapped up. I wish I could talk about that aspect of the story a little more but I don’t want to spoil anything.Much of this tale is Lauren working through the mystery as the elements just keep piling up. She meets more missing girls and as she meets each one we get snapshots of their stories leading up to their ultimate disappearance. Getting each girls story and realizing that no two circumstances are the same kept me absorbed in the story. This novel packs a punch and the writing is absolutely stunning. Once again Suma has come out with a story that I will be recommending to anyone who will listen. 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.

MILA 2.0

MILA 2.0 - What fun reading this book was. I admit, when it came time to buckle down and read it I looked at the whopping 480 pages and was worried it would be a dragged out read. That’s pretty long for YA and oftentimes when I tackle a book like this it suffers from a lot of pacing issues that drive me crazy. That wasn’t the case with Mila 2.0 at all, in fact I had so much fun reading this that I ate it up in 3 small sittings and could have easily read more. A fast pace is set right at the beginning of the novel and it doesn’t let up hardly all the way through. This seriously felt like a Jason Statham movie, the action just keeps coming!We meet Mila as she has just moved to a small farm town and is dealing with the loss of her father. It’s pretty clear right off the bat that she didn’t make the best of friends. Kaylee was driving me crazy in the beginning! I was so happy that their friendship didn’t last long and that the story moved quickly away from the high school politics presented. As Mila realizes she isn’t who she thinks she is her whole world changes and from then on it’s a high speed chase that keeps you on the edge of your seat.The people who built Mila want her back and will do anything to get her. As Mila’s “mom” lets her in on all the details of where she came from and how she came to be free I really started to care about the bond these two shared. I liked her mom, I liked her fierceness and her protectiveness of Mila. She was an incredibly smart woman who stood up for what she believed in no matter the cost. One bond that I didn’t really connect with was that between Mila and Hunter. They meet at school and go on one date and he became someone that Mila thought about often and dreaded leaving. I don’t think there was enough substance to make me fully buy into her need for him but I do hope that gets much more developed in the next book.I’m actually having a really hard time writing this review because all I want to talk about is how much fun I had reading it. There are so many chase scenes and just being in Mila’s head as she learns who she is and how she functions was awesome. She is also pretty funny, oftentimes her inner dialogue and shock at the things she didn’t know she was capable of achieving were so well placed that I found myself chuckling a lot. On the flip side there is also some very serious moments in the novel and at those times the tension had me almost to the point of holding my breath (though I totally would have known that I was doing it, it wouldn’t have been a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Happy we cleared that up.) Some of what Mila has to endure and dish out is super intense. Mila 2.0 had a bit of everything going for it; intensity, humour, a great “mother/daughter” relationship, and copious amounts of action. I definitely recommend getting started on this series and I think Driza is definitely a debut author to watch. I can’t wait to continue on with this series!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.

Marco Impossible

Marco Impossible - Hannah Moskowitz Hannah Moskowitz became an author I’m very excited about after I read and loved her YA novel Teeth. Her writing style was a fast favorite of mine and I really enjoy her ability to be gritty and honest while weaving a pretty fantastical tale. Marco Impossible showcased everything I love about her but in a much more innocent way. This story dealt with issues such as bullying and tackled the confusing dynamics of many types of relationships.Stephen has grown up being Marco’s best friend and detective partner. When there is a mystery going on the two of them always pull out their trusty notebook (full of information on everyone and everything) and hop on the case. I really liked how this habit of theirs showcased them striving to remain young in the face of entering high school and attending different schools. With their final heist of getting Marco into the prom so he could profess his love to his crush of 3 years, Benji, you could feel that they were grasping at straws and trying to live inside the heist rather than face reality. While all of their hijinx is taking place you also have Stephens large family in the background which brings a whole other aspect to the story. His now single mother is tasked with taking care of six children and through that everyone really pulls their weight in the family. I really loved the family dynamic here, all of the siblings would step up to help out the mother and their fellow siblings in any way they could and you really felt a strong family bond from all the characters. I loved that we got the story from Stephen’s perspective. The novel really revolves in most ways around Marco, but we get a much more well rounded view of what is happening from Stephen. His need to protect Marco in the face of the bullying that’s happening is definitely admirable and you could tell he thought of Marco as another sibling of his. Marco didn’t come across as the nicest, most personable guy on Earth but as the story wears on you see that he kind of always has his guard up and I started feeling bad for him. He was ignoring all of the ugly in his life, only showing the pretty and fabulous, and letting everything build up inside. He was nervous about his new baby sister and feeling down because of how people treated him. All of these feelings were building up and really taking a toll on Stephen and Marco’s relationship and the progression their friendship goes on in the novel is really what kept me reading. They drive each other crazy and are holding so much in so I was dying to see the point where everything would finally come to the surface.For me this story was really about the great relationships between the characters and I loved how well developed everything was. This is so much more than just your average MG novel and I’m happy to have finally read one that features a gay teen on a mission to profess his love. There needs to be more books like this because there is definitely an audience that needs these types of stories and I am thankful to Moskowitz for putting this out there. Marco Impossible is a quick read that will most definitely leave an impact on any 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.

Emblaze (Embrace)

Emblaze (Embrace) - Jessica Shirvington I don’t know if I have ever been as conflicted as I am right now by this book. I read Embrace last year and became a fast fan of The Violet Eden Chapters and I loved Entice even more than the first. Did I really like Emblaze? Yes. Will I continue on with the series? I don’t think so. So I am going to do this review in two parts, I’ll start off with what made me like Emblaze and then move onto why, even though I really liked the book, I won’t continue on with the series.So, what did I love about Emblaze? This series so so action packed and Violet is one of the most kick-ass female MC’s I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. She is so head strong and physical, it’s awesome. She takes charge of every knife in the road that is thrown at her and refuses to sit back and be protected by the men around her. She is more than capable of kicking ass and taking names and is by no means afraid to do so. I also adore Lincoln, he is a total alpha and utterly oozes sexiness to me. He knows Violet so well and is perfectly willing to take a back seat because he recognizes just how capable she is and is constantly praising her for it. Those are the two characters that are most talked about from the series but I have to say that the supporting characters here are just as great as the main ones. Everyone from Hades bar owner, Dapper to Violet’s father are so well developed and feel like they are just as important as the heads of the tale.I also have come to really love the unique angel lore that Shirvington has so expertly weaved. The back history of the exiles and the role of the Grigori in the grand scheme of things all comes together so well to create a backdrop of an epic war of the worlds. I definitely appreciate that while this is a tale of angels and those that have fallen, it does not feel like a religious tale at all. There was even a scene where Violet had mentioned seeing someone praying and was uncomfortable with doing so herself because that had never been a part of her life. I am always so pleased with the authors ability to have such religious figures be so present in the story and yet make religion feel like a subtle undertone to it all.So at this point you are probably thinking “that is all so positive, why would you not continue on with the series?” Well I really think that the angst is what has killed it for me. Through the three books in this series that I have read I have loved Lincoln and Violet and thought that there reason for fighting their attraction to one another was well done and believable. I understood why they fought it so adamantly and while I wanted them to be together it made sense why they weren’t. But by the end of Emblaze I have to say I am over it. I am done with the back and forth. I mean these two people KNOW that they are soul mates, they ache when they are around each other and they ache even more when they are apart. I had hoped that we would get some resolution and togetherness from them by the end of this one but I really felt like there relationship went no where, and I can’t deal with them fighting it anymore. The worst part is, had they decided to stop fighting the attraction when Emblaze ended, I most definitely would have continued on with the series so I could have had the pleasure of finally reading about them together. But this is an instance where it’s just getting dragged out far too long and it’s really becoming quite tedious and too annoying for my taste.My reason for not continuing on is totally a personal reason and I know a lot of people probably won’t agree with it but I am just ready to say goodbye to the characters. I will definitely read spoilers to see where these characters go in the last two (possibly 3) books in the series but I won’t be putting myself through them, that’s for sure. So take this review as you will, it’s a positive review that ends in an unhappy way I guess.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.