Dienstag, 23. August 2016

The Form of Things Unknown - Robin Bridges

Title: The Form of Things Unknown
Author: Robin Bridges
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
Natalie Roman isn't much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night's Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.

Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won't even meet her eye. But Nat doesn't need him. She's making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater's ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don't interfere with her partying, it won't be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.

Alright, it's official: I am a huge Robin Bridges fan! I read Dreaming of Antigone a few months ago and had it declared as one of my favourite reads this year. I think my rating of it was lower, probably a 3.5, but I can't really say which one I liked better, having now also read The Form of Things Unknown. So I'll just tell you that both reads are worth four full stars. They deserve all the positive comments they get.

Again, her love for poetic things is pretty obvious in this book. Never having read any of Shakespears plays before, I gotta admit, I found the way Robin Bridges included this, very enchanting. You'd think that a book in which the characters starr in a play is too childish, but nothing this author writes ever comes out as childish. Sweet and light, maybe, yes, but not childish. It can't be childish anyway, because the topic that gets described in this book is far too heavy. In a good way. I usually struggle with reading stories about mental illness. Most of the time, the characters either don't seen real to me, or the book itself bores me. I'd like to think that I wasn't too convinced The Form of Things Unknown would make me love the story because I knew what Robin Bridges was capable of. I'd rather believe that this story really capitivated me. And it did. So I am not even lying. What Nat was going through... It all had a spooky vibe to it and it was never too much to handle for the reader, because in the end, you never knew whether what she thought she saw and heard was real or not. But considering her past, you start doubting her without even wanting to. And by the end, maybe you'll even feel bad for thinking these things about her, because they make you no better than her so-called friends and what they did. I hope that's not a spoiler, but I am getting angry when it comes to bullying and that was what it was kinda about too.

So, anyway... Nat's brother convices her to take part in a Shakespear play. Without really giving it much thought, she decides to at least go to the audition. That's where she spots Lucas. Lucas is a boy (hello, new book boyfriend!) who attend the same mental health clinic as her, called Winter Oaks. But while everybody in town basically knows that he was there, Nat and her family are new in town, so no one knows her secret, her past. When the director of the play matches her a role and Nat, her brother and their new friends start working at the theatre, Nat also starts to see things, hear things, that can't be there. When she finally admits it to the others, they think it's a ghost that haunts the theatre and they come up with meeting, trying to talk to the spirit or whatever it is. But things just won't go back to normal and while she and Lucas grow closer due to that, she feels like she's on the edge of losing it.

As always, my "putting it in a nutshell" synopsis isn't the best and basically everything that can be read in the official blurb too.

While Dreaming of Antigone concerned a heavy topic too, I think Robin Bridges took a step forward with this current work. Of course, there are still light scenes, funny scenes and romantic scenes too. Did I mention I loved Lucas?! He was such a nice character, oh my. And I really liked how the book didn't revolve around him, but we found out enough about his past. Also, the book kind of had a Pretty Little Liars vibe to it. I can't exactly explain why. I have never read these books, but I've seen a few seasons of the show and the mystic part of it reminded me of it. And then I think it was important that we didn't get to read about Nat's presence at Winter Oaks. The story started after she was sent there, when she was back at her new home in Savannah.

So, if you're looking for an awesome read, I suggest you pick this one up. No, seriously. It's one of the best books about mental illness that I have ever read and the writing - especially Nat's thoughts (such a funny girl!) - is fabulous. I'm kinda sad the book wasn't longer, and I thought the ending, when Nat confronted her former friend (I won't say who), was a bit rushed. No bully gives in just like that. Would be nice if they did, but they don't. I can't read for the author's next book. Impatiently waiting!

Sonntag, 21. August 2016

Daring The Bad Boy - Monica Murphy

Title: Daring The Bad Boy
Author: Monica Murphy
Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
Annie McFarland is sick of being a shy nobody. A session at summer camp seems like the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself—gain some confidence, kiss a boy, be whoever she wants to be. A few days in, she’s already set her sights on über-hottie Kyle. Too bad her fear of water keeps her away from the lake, where Kyle is always hanging out.

Jacob Fazio is at Camp Pine Ridge after one too many screw-ups. Junior counseling seems like punishment enough, but the rigid no-fraternizing-with-campers rules harsh his chill. When a night of Truth or Dare gets him roped into teaching Annie how to swim, she begs him to also teach her how to snag Kyle.

Late-night swim sessions turn into late-night kissing sessions…but there’s more on the line than just their hearts. If they get caught, Jake’s headed straight to juvie, but Annie’s more than ready to dare him to reveal the truth.

This is what I call a summer read. And it also happens to be the exact kind of story that I wish I had written. Seriously, this Daring The Bad Boy is so similar to the book idea I've had in mind for over five years now, starting to write it down and then quitting again. To be honest, Monica Murphy has a better way with words than me, no arguing about that, but I am jealous. Because this is everything I hoped my book would be too.

Annie and Jake are about the sweetest characters you will ever come across. Granted, Jake is described as the typical bad boy, but you can't help but love him. Whenever he is around Annie, you just want to give him a push right into her arms, make them both see they are perfect for each other. Because they are.

Annie is this shy girl that would rather dig a hole into the ground and hide in it than ever make the first move on a boy. Which is why she kind of depends on Jake. There is a guy at camp called Kyle. Everybody has got a crush on him, everybody already had something going on with him, and Annie wants her share, this year being her first at camp ever. She's got a secret that she only shares with her best friend at camp and... Well, Jake. And in order to overcome her fears, Annie and Jake find themselves hanging around each other quite a lot.

I don't want to give away the story, which is why I'll be quiet on the characters and their background, but I absolutely enjoyed this book. I wouldn't have thought it'd end up as one of my favourite summer reads ever, but it totally did. When I got to the part they first saw each other, when I got to the scene in which Annie tries to prove she isn't a coward, I found myself wanting to read until my eyes burned, until I was so tired, I had to put my phone away and still couldn't fall asleep because the story had me hooked. That's what I call a page turner, a book worth loving. Now I can understand why so many German readers are obsessed with Monica Murphy's books. She's a genius. While this story could have easily been somewhat of a dull read, it wasn't. It was perfect, expect for one part toward the end, in which I kind of ended up hating Annie. Maybe, if you decide to give this book a try, you'll be with my on that point. Maybe not. I'm just trying to defend Jake, because he was this ultimate book boyfriend.

I don't know why there is a warning about sexual situations in the summary of this book. Truth be told, I didn't get the impression of that at all. Well, if kissing counts as sexual situation, then I guess you're right, but other than that, it's totally harmless. Felt like I had to say this at last.

So... Forget about your schedule, forget about whatever it is you wanted to do the rest of your summer (or any other season for that matter), make sure to go to your local book store and buy this beauty, or go to any digital shop and buy it. It's not that often that I love a book this much, but I did. Daring The Bad Boy was a highlight for me and if it happens to be a highlight for you too, share it with me.

Freitag, 19. August 2016

Keeping Her Secret - Sarah Nicolas

Title: Keeping Her Secret
Author: Sarah Nicolas
Rating: 2.5 - 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.

Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.

Neither girl can stop thinking about the other… but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.
Even two days after reading this book, I can't decide on a proper rating. It was nice, not my favourite read ever, but cute enough to continue.

Honestly, there need to be more lesbian young adult novels. There are too few of them out there, but I think it'd be important for publishers to support these kind of stories since a lot of teens struggle with coming out or their own sexuality. Maybe reading a young adult books that contain this topic would help them deal with it better.

Surprisingly, though the two main characters - Courtney and Riya (like that name, by the way!) - have got a past, there aren't any flashbacks or chapters written about that. One certain scene is mentioned, but that's it. I am not sure how to feel about that. I guess after kind of expecting flashbacks, I am still okay with the author not writing them down. The story itself didn't need those additional scenes. But we do get to find out that a lot has happened ever since. Courtney is a popular girl with strict parents that would rather forget she was ever friends with Riya, and Riya is exactly the opposite. During the story, Courtney is revealed as an insecure girl, while Riya is pretty upfront about everything. Opposites attract, don't they?!

I did like Courtney's brother. He was a cutie, not mentioned often enough, haha. Dee was a cool girl, too. Much like a confident rock chick or something. And sorry for comparing, but the whole story reminded me of Pretty Little Liars, minus the camp thing itself. Probably because it's the only teen TV show that I watch(ed), including a lesbian couple. In my mind, Riya was like Emily and Coutrney was like... Well, more like Paige, for example.

The pranks the girls pulled on each other annoyed me after a bit, but that's my taste. I was even annoyed by their talents and the talent show. That's not the author's fault, I just didn't enjoy that, sorry. And the volleyball match... (That makes it sound like I hated the story, which is not true.) Although, reading about how Courtney struggled with her sexuality and how strict her parents were wouldn't have been enough to fill out the story. So her talent and also Riya's were an important detail (sorry for only saying it's a detail) for the book.

So, if you're looking for a read about two girls instead of the same old bad boy and good girl kind of thing, I suggest you pick up Keeping Her Secret. It's a decent read, one that should lined up in school's libraries, public libraries and be recommented by parents, as well!

The Boyfriend Bet (Boyfriend Chronicles #02) - Chris Cannon

Title: The Boyfriend Bet (Boyfriend Chronicles #02)
Author: Chris Cannon
Rating: 2/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
Zoe Cain knows that Grant Evertide is way out of her league. So naturally, she kisses him. Out of spite. Not only is Grant her brother’s number-one nemesis, but he has zero interest in being tied down to one girl. She’s shocked—and secretly thrilled—when they start spending more time together. Non-exclusively, of course, but that doesn’t mean Zoe can’t change his mind, one PDA and after-school detention at a time.

Zoe’s brother claims Grant is trying to make her his “Ringer,” an oh-so-charming tradition where a popular guy dates a non-popular girl until he hooks up with her, then dumps her. Zoe threatens to neuter Grant with hedge clippers if he's lying but Grant swears he isn’t trying to trick her. Still, that doesn’t mean Grant is the commitment type—even if winning a bet is on the line.

I am so sad to say this, but I didn't enjoy this book. Like, at all. I really wanted to. I read so many great reviews for Chris Cannon books, but I got disappointed, reading The Boyfriend Bet. The main characters were annoying as hell. Grant was such a jerk, never deciding on what he wants. He is such a player, even worse than those you read about in new adult novels. And all he ever did with Zoe was taking her out for dinner. That wasn't creative at all. I can see that teenage boys are just exactly like that - uncreative, bored by their girlfriends quickly and all that stupid stuff - but bleh! I hated him. Same with Zoe, actually. She seemed so naive to me and I didn't understand why she even liked Grant. The first chapter... Yeah, uhm... Was that bitchy? Cheap? I didn't see the point. Honestly. Maybe it's difficult for authors to come up with a good idea about the main characters meeting each other, but that was just... Too much, too fast.

And I wish I could say positive things about this book. I do. But I can't think of any. Alright, one... I liked Grant's best friend. He seemed nice enough. A nerdy kind of guy. Of course, he was all messed up in the head, too, not admitting how much he liked Zoe's best friend and all that, but he was better than Grant himself. That's for sure.

So, I didn't see any chemistry between the characters and I think they would have been better off without each other. I was unpleasantly surprised by how fast Grant's mother changed her mind about Zoe, especially since she was so mean to her in the school office. Is that a spoiler? I hope not. His father was okay-ish and my favourite character might have been Zoe's brother, actually. He was the only smart one, to be honest. The relationship between Zoe and Grant seemed forced to me, but sadly, it isn't an unrealistic story since I know enough girls who run after guys again and again, no matter what they do, no matter what they say. I guess from now on, I'll call them The Zoes, haha.

A Beautiful Sin - A.M Hargrove & Terri E. Laine

Title: A Beautiful Sin
Author: A.M Hargrove & Terri E. Laine
Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Red Coat PR for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
Since I was a boy, my desire was to marry the church. To give my vows and life over to God despite the corruption in my soul.

I am a sinner, the embodiment of temptation, or so I’ve been told.

Yet, I’ve never touched, never kissed, never sought the company of another until her. She is my weakness, my salvation, my downfall and my freedom. Our sins are bound tighter than fate.

My name is Canaan. I am an ordained Roman Catholic priest, forever and always.

Her name is Haven. She may be my destiny, my destruction.

This is not a love story, but rather a confession of all my sins.

There are certain books that deal with a topic you're curious about. And then, though you've never read any book with this topic before, it's kind of disappointing in the end. That's how it was for me with A Beautiful Sin. I really enjoyed the writing of both writers, their styles unite as one and I couldn't tell you who wrote which part and who wrote another, so they did a good job. And the novel itself isn't bad, I am not saying that. But... It took so long for the main characters to meet. Basically, we got to read about their heavy and monstrous past again and again. There wasn't a page that didn't deal with their past, their background, and I got tired of it. I wanted them to be happy again. And it just took them so damn long.

I was impressed by how the author's described Haven's painting process. I imagine one of the authors must love drawing and painting as well, because everything was described detailed, unlike any book with an artistic main character I read before. So, the writers have a way with words. There's no arguing about that. I wasn't convinced of the choice of scenes though. The characters didn't go around a lot. Maybe that makes sense for a priest and maybe I am complaining without reason. Surely, if the authors had set scenes to many different locations, I would have complained about that too. So, maybe I'm just being quite critically today.

Of course, their pasts were traumatic and horrifiying to read about. I wanted to quit, because I hate imagining those things in my head. It's too brutal for me. But I continued and continued, because forbidden romances are my weakness and I wanted this story to be everything that I hoped it would be. In a way, it was. In another, it wasn't. As mentioned before, it took way too long for the two of them to meet, to actually have a conversation. A casual one that hinted at the respect they got for one another. In the beginning, Haven was mainly being mean to Canaan because for what he once did. And he gosh, he felt horrible about that, so get over it, Haven! I kind of disliked her. No clue why. In the beginning, she was described as kind of a slutty girl, but reading further along, I didn't get the impression. Still, I didn't like her. I'd always look forward to reading Canaan's chapters whenever I was stuck in a Haven chapter, haha.

About eighty percent of the book is about Haven crushing on Canaan, though he is a priest. Sometimes, she'd think of leaving him alone, only to end up knocking on the churche's door again later in the same chapter. And then all of a sudden, the end happened. Far too quick, considering how dragged their whole story was. The ending was rushed. That's my opinion anyway. Maybe other readers thought: "Finally!" and I was like that too, but at the same time, I thought to myself: "No! That's just... Not right."

I can't really give you an advice on whether you should read this book or not. It left me a bit disappointed, yes, but the writing was great, and reading about a priest who shouldn't fall in love with anyone is kind of thrilling too. Since this is my first read with this certain topic, I'd recommend it, yes.