Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 9.2.2014
Pages: 358
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: The Lone City #1
Source: ARC for

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.


The Jewel. Doesn't that sound so lovely and full of promise and happiness? Like it should be something good. Wrong! The title couldn't more deceiving. But yet it is perfect.

Violet, Lot 197, is such a strong girl and full of emotions. I can see myself in her in a few ways. She has such a strong will and her own determined mind set. She works so hard to do what is right even if it means it's wrong to her, and against her will.  I love how she knows who she is, despite everything she has gone through and the people who try to break her.

I love all the little twists. I can't tell you about them because it would ruin it. If you ask Hannah, as I told her, I let out a few strings of quiet expletives, almost whispering to myself. Saying them aloud would just have ruined the moment of complete and utter surprise.

And who doesn't love a book you can relate to or see the relevance in today's world. There isn't a lot of that but enough that I can imagine the life in The Jewel as a parallel to ours. There are stereotypes, which are wrong when you meet someone with out using their title and you get to know them. The feelings of people who can't have children and will do anything to have one of their own. And the ruined life of a "slave" surrogate.

I really loved this book. Finished it in a couple of hours because I could just not put it down. While there are some parts that will pull at your heart strings or make you madder then hades, there is determination and love, and a secret plot behind every pretty face in The Jewel.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: No Limits by Lori Foster

Title: No Limits
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: 8.26.2014
Pages: 432         
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Series: Ultimate 31
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Cannon Colter is quintessential hero material: chiseled jawline, shredded body—the works. He's also the guy who rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. These days, she's older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way. Even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon. 

Cannon knew Yvette wanted him three years ago. But she was young—and some things are worth waiting for. Thrown together by her grandfather's legacy, he realizes how deep Yvette's scars really go, and how much danger lurks in their quiet town. As pent-up desire explodes between them, protecting her becomes the only fight that matters. And he'll break all the rules to do it…

Oh, Lori Foster, how your books make me swoon and sigh and melt in all the right ways. For years, Foster has been one of my go-to authors when I needed a solid romance to sink into, and her newest book, NO LIMITS, is just as delicious as the rest.

I love the Yvette and Cannon back story. I love that they have a back story. Relationships that evolve from another place always seem to resonate more with me (maybe I'm a sucker for friends turning into more). Foster does a superb job of slowly revealing enough back story between these two, giving me enough details to keep me from being frustrated at being kept in the dark.

Yvette and Cannon are a great balance to each other--they enhance each others' best qualities, and that is what any decent relationship (fictional or not) should do. I loved watching them reconnect and become more.

Foster does an excellent job of setting up the beginning of a promising series here. She introduces a smattering of characters I cannot wait to revisit. Frequently. Definitely not a book to be missed if you like romance. And kissing. And hot guys. And strong females. And  ... Just read it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Title: On The Fence
Author: Kasie West
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 7.1.2014
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Few things make me as happy as a new Kasie West book. And you don’t want to know what I had to do, the hoops I jumped through, and the groveling required to get this book in my hands. So you must be thinking, “Then Hannah, why haven’t you reviewed it before now?” I would love to say it’s because I didn’t want my review to get lost amongst the shuffle of glowing reviews or because I wanted to wait for the buzz to die down before resurrecting it.

Truth is I’m having a hard time explaining just why I loved this book so hard.

It’s not secret I am a hardcore Kasie West fan. I have been since I read her debut almost two years ago, but ON THE FENCE is just a special kind of awesome. This book hit my heart in all the right places.

I loved Charlie. I loved how adorably clueless she was, how stubborn, how na├»ve, how innocent, and how jaded. She’s a total mix of all these things and she is a fantastic character to move through a book with. While I loved her interactions with Braden, I especially loved her time with her family. The entire Reynolds family unit was a total joy to read.

This book is a fun, feel-good read. It’s the perfect book to read at the tail-end of summer. I can’t recommend enough that people pick up this awesome gem of a book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BEA 2014 - The Video Recap

I know BEA ended several months ago (*sobs*), but I was playing on iMovie this weekend and decided to make a video to commemorate my time in the city with my friends and family. It was fun re-living those memories.

I hung out with a lot of amazing people this year and went to some incredible parties, so don't be shocked to see yourself in here:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recap: #YADC Tackles eBook Piracy

This weekend YADC converged at One More Page in Arlington, Virginia for the launch party of Jessica Spotwood's final book in the Born Wicked trilogy, but we also came together to help spread the word about a topic very near and dear to our hearts: eBook Piracy.

eBook piracy is growing at an alarming rate. Authors are losing money, publishers are losing money, and readers are suffering as a result. A lot of piracy is involving eARCs lately. Local author Martina Boone said that pirated copies of her debut COMPULSION were up on 15 sites six months prior to the release this October. 

YADC had the idea to create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about eBook piracy. The video is currently in the editing phase, but i had such a blast this weekend with my YADC friends that I needed to talk about it here.

I've met a lot of people who are fascinated by YADC and want to know how they can join something like this. Let me tell you about YADC:

YADC (Young Adult DC) was a group started by Andye at Reading Teen in late February of 2013. She had this brilliant idea to start a Facebook group to keep track of local signings and events that bloggers, authors, librarians, book sellers and fans could use in the MD/DC/VA area. Within months it exploded into a group of over 100 people.

I don't think any of us realized how many authors and bloggers we have in our little area, but it's amazing. It also means now we always have a familiar face when we go to a signing event. 

Here are 5 quick things to know about YADC:

1. The events are awesome, but the carpool road trips to get there can be awesome-r. Like that time I saw a man napping on the sidewalk in DC. At night. We hope he was napping anyway. 

2. When in doubt of a name, just yell, "Steph!" or "Jen!" I promise someone, if not 5 someones, will turn around.

3. Laughter is guaranteed. I've yet to wake up the day after a YADC event without a massive headache and/or sore throat from laughing so hard I cried.

4. Books and Cupcakes are the power couple of YADC and we all ship that pairing hardcore. Also, never tell Jen that the cupcakes have fallen over unless you're cool with her having a heart attack.

5. We have in insanely group of talented people in a relatively small space. From our writers to our bakers to our bookstores, I never cease to be amazed by how much talent and heart is in this area.

YADC Links:

Review: Rebel by Amy Tintera

Title: Rebel
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 5.13.2014
Pages: 340
Genre: Young Adult, SciFi
Series: Reboot #2
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: 3 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn't what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren's instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he's underestimated Wren and Callum.

The explosive finale to the Reboot duology is full of riveting action and steamy love scenes as Wren and Callum become rebels against their own kind.

Last year, Amy Tintera’s Reboot was one of my favorite debuts. What I especially loved about the series was that it was a duology. For some reason my psyche can handle a duology better than a trilogy or series, so I jumped at the chance to read this when it popped up on Edelweiss. I had been waiting a year for REBEL, but I think I lost some of the magic somewhere along the way.

REBEL picks up right where Reboot left off. Hardly any time has passed, for which I was grateful. Wren, Callum, and crew arrive at the reservation and you immediately get a hinky feeling. Something definitely wasn’t right. Think when the Walking Dead crew showed up in Woodbury.

You knew this Utopia was going to implode. But for some reason, this book plateaued around 45%. It just stalled and I wound up setting it down and not returning to it for several weeks. The drive and passion that kept my attention in Reboot was simply gone.

I finally forced myself to finish and I’m glad I did—the series has a great conclusion and the action/speed did pick back up. If it weren’t for that massive lull in the middle, this would be a solid 4-5 star rating.  But it’s still a satisfying conclusion to a great debut.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

Title: Bright Before Sunrise
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Publication Date: 2.18.2014
Pages: 277
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: N/A
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone . . . but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won't give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can—and does—happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel's energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.

Before reading this book, I heard all the buzz: Tiffany Schmidt is a great author; I love BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE; Dibs on Jonah … But for some reason, I kept passing over this book repeatedly.

Stupid, Hannah. *facepalm*

BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE is a brilliantly written book that I never saw coming. Schmidt has a flowing, almost poetic way of telling a story that immediately draws the reader into the heart of the story. She has created vivid, emotionally engaging characters and set them against a wholly unique plot that any reader would fall in love with.

While this may seem like a recipe for insta-love (I mean, two teens, one night? Come on.), I was shocked at how natural the progression of their relationship was. Yes, the story mostly spans a single night, but watching Jonah and Brighton go through an entire night together was almost magical. Is it conventional? No, but darn it if I don’t one single night just like this where anything and everything feel possible.

BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE is a book that totally caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting to love it nearly as much as I did, but this book and Tiffany Schmidt have firmly anchored themselves in my heart. If you’re looking for a sweet, poignant romance, then look no further.

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