ARC Review – Hereafter by Kate Brian

Hereafter (Shadowlands, #2)

Title:  Hereafter

Pages:  320

Author:  Kate Brian

Series:   Shadowlands #2

Type/Genre:  Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Date Published:  October 1, 2013

Source:  from publisher

My Rating:  *****

Goodreads Summary:

Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She’s also made friends with a local clique–including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.
But Rory’s world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn’t what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory’s every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she’s ever known ends.

My Thoughts:  After reading Shadowlands and how it ended in a cliffhanger, I was really looking forward to reading Hereafter.  I was not disappointed.  Brian has written another fast-paced book full of suspense and action.  As far as sequels go, it was well written.

Likes:

  • I like the fact that it is told in two POV’s – Rory’s and the creepers, even if the creeper’s is a little weird.
  • Rory’s relationships with her family and the other Lifers, like Joaquin and Krista, evolve more in this book for the better.  In Shadowlands I didn’t like Joaquin very much.  I thought he was too cocky, but I saw a different side of him in this story.
  • Hereafter leaves you wondering if they will be able to fix the issues with the Shadowlands.  I can’t wait until the next book.  I’ve got questions that need answered.  🙂
  • I love the cover.  It looks very mysterious with the fog rolling in and the girls looking back over their shoulders.
  • It was interesting to see certain roles in the book reverse from what they were in Shadowlands.  A few of the people Rory thought she could trust became someone she couldn’t and she ended up relying on other ones that you would not expect.

Dislikes:

  • I thought the “who” of the story was predictable since I figured it out early on, but there was a lot of mystery surrounding the details which made not too bad.
  • That I have to wait on the third book in the series.

About the Author:

Kate Brian is the prolific author of many books for teens including the Private series, the new Privilege series, and Sweet 16. She lives with her husband in New Jersey. She writes under the pseudonym Kate Brian, instead of using her real name: Kieran Scott.

A Few of the Author’s Other Books:

  • The Private Series
  • The Privilege Series
  • Shadowlands #1

Would I Recommend This Book?  Yes

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

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Review – Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Shadowlands (Shadowlands, #1)

Title:  Shadowlands #1

Pages:  328

Author:  Kate Brian

Series:  Shadowlands #1

Type/Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Contemporary

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Date Published:  January 8, 2013

Source:  library

My Rating:  *****

Goodreads Summary:

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

My Thoughts:

I flew through this book in two days.  I have read a lot of Brian’s books this year and enjoyed almost all of them.  This was definitely what I can tell is Kate Brian’s knack for the right amount of suspense with twists and turns, and then she leaves you with a cliffhanger at the end.  Of course I wanted to go straight to reading Hereafter but I already had other books that needed read first.

Likes:

  • From the first page Brian builds up the suspense with Rory’s teacher chasing after her until she just stops the story with a cliffhanger.  I had to keep reading to see what would happen next.
  • I didn’t expect several things that happened during the book like with Mr. Nell and I definitely didn’t expect the ending, but I can’t say too much more without revealing spoilers.  Definitely creepy though.
  • The fast pace and action of the story.
  • Krista was one of my favorite characters.

Dislikes:

  • I disliked the fact that Rory is supposed to be in hiding and although she doesn’t disclose the details of her past, she is still very quick to trust everyone.  I thought she would have been more cautious.  I know that she knew who was after her, but she didn’t know any of them and was somewhat naive.
  • Her sister, Darcy, got on my nerves.  I understand she was a teenage girl.  She wanted to go to her senior party and have a normal life, but she was just so selfish.  Hello!  After her mother died and then her sister is almost killed you would think she would care just a bit more, wouldn’t you?

About the Author:

Kate Brian is the prolific author of many books for teens including the Private series, the new Privilege series, and Sweet 16. She lives with her husband in New Jersey. She writes under the pseudonym Kate Brian, instead of using her real name: Kieran Scott.

A Few of the Author’s Other Books:

  • The Private Series
  • The Privilege Series

Would I Recommend This Book?  Yes

ARC Review – Until It Hurts To Stop by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Until It Hurts to Stop

Title:  Until It Hurts To Stop

Pages:  256

Author:  Jennifer R. Hubbard

Series:   no, standalone

Type/Genre:  Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher:  Viking Juvenile

Date Published:  September 12, 2013

Source:  from publisher

My Rating:  ***

Goodreads Summary:

In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick. Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?

My Thoughts:  This was the first time I have read anything by Jennifer R. Hubbard and I liked it.  This book took a realistic take on the issue of bullying and the lasting effects it has.  I liked the message that it sends about standing up to your bully without violence or stooping to their level.

Likes:

  • It was sad that Maggie spent so much time waiting and worrying when the next attack from Raleigh, who wasn’t even thinking about her, instead of concentrating on her own life.  She lost focus of her relationships because of it.  It was such a real portrayal of what someone goes through when being bullied that it was heartbreaking.
  • I admired Maggie’s strength of character that kept her going back to school, even when she expected an attack, and kept pushing her to climb that mountain, even when she was scared.

Dislikes:

  • I liked Nick’s character mostly, but I could not stand how passive he was.  I guess that comes from his issues with his father, but he should have stood up to him also.  I have to remember that these kids are in high school but it drove me crazy that he liked one person but couldn’t talk to her about it so he got involved with a different girl instead.
  • The pace of the story was a little slow.  I guess I have been reading a lot of fast-paced, action-packed stories lately, but that is not what this story was supposed to be about.

About the Author:

Thanks for visiting my page. A few words of explanation about how I use Goodreads:

I find it difficult to rate books with stars, or to review friends’ books. Therefore, I don’t list reviews or ratings here. Rather, if I like an author’s work, I will become a Goodreads fan and list him/her as a “favorite author” here. I also have one shelf listing some contemporary, realistic YA books that you might enjoy. On my blog, http://writerjenn.livejournal.com/, I do sometimes recommend books using the “recommended read” tag.

I accept fans and friends here, and browse the bookshelves.

A Few of the Author’s Other Books:

  • The Secret Year
  • Try Not To Breathe

Would I Recommend This Book?  Yes

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

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Review – The Book Of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

The Book of Broken HeartsTitle:  The Book of Broken Hearts

Pages:  368

Author:  Sarah Ockler

Series:   no, standalone

Type/Genre:  Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Date Published:  May 21, 2013

Source:  library

My Rating:  ****

Goodreads Summary:  Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

My Thoughts:  I really wanted to read this book especially after seeing it so much on other blogs, but I had a hard time getting into this story.  I think because of the title and cover I expected more romance and that’s what I was in the mood to read but this was more about family.   It was a good book though.

Likes:

  • Jude’s relationship with her father was very sweet.  She took her last summer before going to college to spend it with him and take care of him when she could have been out with her friends.  It was heartbreaking that his Alzheimer’s progressed so fast.  At first I didn’t know if I would like Jude’s character but as hard as she tried to get her dad’s bike working won me over.
  • I loved Mari, the overprotective, bossy sister.  She was a bit overwhelming, but her character was well written for the part of Jude’s sister.
  • The best part of this book was Jude’s family and Emilio’s family relationships.
  • The cover was my biggest reason for picking this book.

Dislikes:

  • The “romance” between Emilio and Jude.  I felt like the only reason Jude liked Emilio was because she knew they weren’t supposed to be together.  I just didn’t connect to that part of the story.
  • Jude’s “best friends” were a complete joke.  Jude and her family were going through a lot of issues and all they cared about was themselves and not being embarrassed.  I felt that Jude could have tried harder to spend her rare free time with them, but that they should have been more mature to handle what was going on with her father.  They were getting ready to go to college but acted a lot younger.

About the Author:

Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of novels for teens, including Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and the critically acclaimed Twenty Boy Summer, a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee and IndieNext List pick. Her latest, The Book of Broken Hearts, hits the shelves in May 2013.

Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she’s not writing or reading at home in Colorado, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.

Visit her website at sarahockler.com or find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

A Few of the Author’s Other Books:

  • Bittersweet
  • Fixing Delilah
  • Twenty Boy Summer

Would I Recommend This Book?  Yes

Review – Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Forget YouTitle:  Forget You

Pages:  292

Author:  Jennifer Echols

Series:   no, standalone

Type/Genre:  Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher:  MTV Books

Date Published:  July 20, 2010

Source:  library

My Rating:  *****

Goodreads Summary:  WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . .  AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?

There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.  But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all–the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug–of all people– suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life–a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

My Thoughts: After I read Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, I had to check out her other books.  I loved Forget You.  I think this is one of my favorite books for 2013.

  •  I like the type of story where two people feel attracted to each other, but for some missed opportunity, it doesn’t happen.  They don’t stop thinking about the other person though.  Then, on down the road, they meet again and get a second chance.  This type of story always draws me in.
  • I like Echols’ writing style also.  It just flows and before you know it you’re already through the book, which can be a bummer.
  • I can relate to Zoey’s need to hold everything together and keeping everything that is going wrong to yourself.  Sometimes I worry what other people think too much and it’s a struggle trying to overcome that.
  • Doug was my favorite character.  He was so sweet and protective of Zoey.  No matter how she treated him he was always there for her.

About the Author:

Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

A Few of the Author’s Other Books:

  • Going Too Far
  • Playing Dirty (on my Kindle waiting to be read)
  • Love Story
  • The Boys Next Door series (already checked out from the library, just need to get time to read them)

Would I Recommend This Book?  Yes

Review – Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Title:              Hate List

Author:    Jennifer Brown

Pages:     432

Series:    none, standalone

Publisher:       Little Brown Books

Publish Date:   October 5, 2010

Source:    library

Genre:  young adult, contemporary, realistic fiction

My Rating:      *****

Goodreads Summary:

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

My ThoughtsThis story is very powerful and heart-breaking to read, but it’s real.  It’s hard to write a review because there are so many feelings and thoughts stirred up by reading something like this.  It is never okay to end another human being’s life.  A story like this you can see Valerie’s and even some of Nick’s point of view and realize how hopeless and hurt they felt by being bullied every day they went to school.  In Valerie’s case she didn’t even have a supportive family to come home to that could have made it better.  I guess I understood the Hate List they made up as a way of venting, but then Nick took it too far.   Bullying is a very serious issue and parents have to teach our society’s kids that it is wrong and needs to stop, but not in a violent way.

Likes: 

  • Valerie was probably the only character who showed any growth and learned from her mistakes, besides maybe one of the other survivors.  From the days after the shooting until a year later her story shows her growth as a person.  It took a lot of strength for her to walk back in that school and for what she does at the end of the book.  Besides Dr. Heiler, she doesn’t have anybody but herself in her life to count on so she had to face everyone alone.  She also knew she made a mistake with the Hate List, she just didn’t realize it would go that far.  She took responsibility for her part in it as far as the list went.  I think she was a little naïve when it came to Nick and how much bigger his anger was than hers.
  • I liked Dr. Heiler.  He didn’t try to judge Valerie.  Even when Valerie thought she might be evil and doubting herself, he just listened and was supportive and encouraging.   
  • For being Jennifer Brown’s debut novel, I think she did a very good job and I will be looking up her other books to add to my ever-growing TBR pile.

Dislikes:

  • Valerie’s parents were awful.  It seemed like they were this before the shooting since they were already having problems.  Not much was mentioned about Valerie’s relationship beforehand, but I didn’t take it that her parents were a big part of her life. All her father cared about was himself.  Neither one of them ever tried to talk to her about Nick, the shooting, nor why she felt like she did to write the list in the first place.  I realize the evidence at first was piled up against her, but they automatically assumed her to be guilty.  I just don’t get parents like that.  I talk to my kids as much as I can.  Teenagers might not always be forth-coming, but parents at least have to make the effort.
  • I was a little bothered by the fact that not a single one of the kids that bullied Valerie and Nick ever apologized.  A few parents or kids implied Valerie was hero for stopping the shooting and saving Jessica’s life, but I thought that one or two might come forward and apologize for treating her that way.  Jessica kind of glossed over that.  She says Valerie saved her life and starts becoming her friend, but she never she’s sorry for calling her Sister of Death.  I realize that what Nick did was worse and Valerie shouldn’t have talked about killing people or making a Hate List, but didn’t any of those kids realize what they did was wrong too?  One girl expresses some guilt, but there still isn’t an apology there. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but it should have went both ways.

About the Author:

Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer’s weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.

Jennifer’s debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association’s Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association’s Taysha’s high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association’s Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer’s second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha’s high school reading list pick as well.

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

Review – What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye

Title:              What Happened to Goodbye

Author:    Sarah Dessen

Pages:     402

Series:    standalone

Publisher:       Viking Juvenile

Publish Date:   May 10, 2011

Source:    library

Genre:  young adult, contemporary

My Rating:        *****

Goodreads Summary:

Who is the real McLean? 

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading

My Thoughts:

I’ve read several books from Sarah Dessen and this one was no different, a good read with real characters that make you feel like you are part of their story.  I liked the dynamics of Mclean’s group of friends.  They were an unlikely bunch, but it worked for them.  Deb was one of my favorite characters.  She was a surprise to everybody, with her hobbies, talents, and take-charge attitude.  I would have to say my least favorite character was the mother.  She just kept pushing Mclean, but she didn’t try to understand her daughter at all.  Too many parents are like that these days though.  It really bugged me that she when she wouldn’t talk to Mclean about the past or the divorce, but just wanted her to be okay with it.

My favorite quote:

I love the part when Dave says “Two a.m.’ He swallowed, then said, “You know. The person you can call at two a.m. and, no matter what, you can count on them. Even if they’re asleep or it’s cold or you need to be bailed out of jail…they’ll come for you. It’s like, the highest level of friendship.”  Found on pages 215-216.

Dislike:

  • The romance was missing.  Not that a book HAS to have romance but I kind of expect it when reading a book by Sarah Dessen. Dave and Mclean were more friends than a couple.

About the Author:

Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of several novels, including Someone Like You,Just Listen and Along for the Ride. A motion picture based on her first two books, entitled How to Deal, was released in 2003. Her eleventh novel,The Moon and More, will be published in June 2013. She lives in North Carolina.