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Friday, February 28, 2014

[Review] Riot by Sarah Mussi

Pre-Order on Amazon UK & Book Depository

Title: Riot

Author: Sarah Mussi (Twitter, Website, Facebook)
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Hodder Children's 
Genre: Young Adult - Thriller, Dystopia

Synopsis via Goodreads:

It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.

The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair - the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won't.

It's time for the young to take to the streets. It's time for them to RIOT:



Riot takes place in 2018 which is only four years from now. With that said, there are a lot of parallels to real world events that have or are currently taking place. (Which is why I feel it's almost realistic fiction versus dystopian.) You see elements from the roles social media and the internet have played in citizen uprisings (Arab Spring, Egypt, etc.), the use of "hacktivist" networks to rebel against corporate and government entities, and the increase use of citizen surveillance. (Are we sure this didn't occur in the U.S.?) 

Riot keeps the plot moving with thrill from the first page and skidding into the last. Not to mention the chapter header quotes leading us into the next twist. It felt like a mix between Criminal Minds intros and voice from the modern day Anonymous. I was so caught up in the plot I was really wondering how it was going to wrap up. Needless to say it did wrap up quickly and I felt incomplete, but entertained.

Meeting our main character EVE/Tia Thomson, as both an elite "hacktivist" and the privileged daughter of a high ranking British official, was an interesting dynamic. I do like that Tia understood her privilege, which led her on the crusade to save the underclass from becoming "fixed". What did not settle well with me was the impression that her real motive was to stand up to daddy and show her independence versus really getting in the trenches with the people for the "issue". While the character did acknowledge her naiveté of government operations and wide spread influences, I felt like Tia never grew past her betrayal to know what being hungry, homeless or childless means. What I did like about Tia is that she was not dainty and she is computer smart! This girl will climb, jump, take a hit and keep on trucking. It's so hard to find female characters who are strong in technology or science fields so the feminist in me was happy about this. For what she lacked in traditional heroine qualities and emotional strength she displayed in physical toughness, problem solving skills and will. She's someone I'd pick for my hooligan crew, even if I was secretly jealous of her BMW. 

Last but not least in YA we all want to know about the lover. While I wouldn't classify Cobain as a lover, he is clever, street smart, has a bad boy edge, and stunning green eyes. There's so much potential here to develop his background and more depth into how he became Britain's most wanted, but sadly I'm found wanting more. What I did enjoy about Cobain is that he was always honest and acted sensibly to protect those he cared about. He is definitely our voice of reason and keeps Tia on track in the crusade to the British people and herself. See? Guys aren't always reckless and carefree. Tia and Cobain's interactions are refreshing in the sense that they are not automatically assumed, over dramatic or unbelievable. I would've like his point-of-view, especially in the last few chapters. ;)

Overall I enjoyed Riot and recommend it for reader's interested in cyber crimes, government conspiracy, social justice and civil rights issues. 


3 Stars - It's a good book, I enjoyed it but was not in love with the characters or other story elements. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

[Throwback Thursday] Happy 112th Birthday, John Steinbeck!

photo from

So it's John Steinbeck's birthday today, 112th birthday to be exact! Since Steinbeck's books make the rounds on most high school reading lists he's the YA Throwback Thursday feature. 

My favorite Steinbeck novel is Of Mice and Men

Tell me what's your favorite Steinbeck?

Check out a list of Steinbeck novels here.
The latest movie adaptations of his work will be East of Eden (starring Jennifer Lawrence) and Grapes of Wrath (directed by Steven Spielberg) in the next few years.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Waiting on Wednesday] Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This Week's Pick: 

Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins (TumblrTwitter)
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult- Paranormal, Romance

Summary on Goodreads: 

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.


I hurried out of the lobby and turned the corner into the English hall, so I didn’t see the guy in front of me until it was too late.

“Oh!” I exclaimed as we bumped shoulders. “Sorry!”

Then I realized who I’d bumped into, and I immediately regretted my apologetic tone. If I’d known it was David Stark, I would have tried to hit him harder, or maybe stepped on his foot with the spiky heel of my new shoes for good measure.

I did my best to smile at him, though, even as I realized my stomach was jumping all over the place. He must have scared me more than I’d thought.

David scowled at me over the rims of his ridiculous hipster glasses, the kind with the thick black rims. I hate those. I mean, it’s the 21st century. There are fashionable options for eyewear.

“Watch where you’re going,” he said. Then his lips twisted in a smirk. “Or could you not see through all that mascara?”

I would’ve loved nothing more than the tell him to kiss my ass, but one of the responsibilities of being a student leader at The Grove is being polite to everyone, even if he is a douchebag who wrote not one, but three incredibly unflattering articles in the school paper about what a crap job you’re doing as SGA president.

And you especially needed to be polite to said douchebag when he happened to be the nephew of Saylor Stark, President of the Pine Grove Junior League, head of the Pine Grove Betterment Society, Chairwoman of the Grove Academy School Board, and, most importantly, Founder and Organizer of Pine Grove’s Annual Cotillion.

So I forced myself to smile even bigger at David and said, “Nope, just in a hurry. Are you, uh… are you here for the dance?”

He snorted. “Um, no. I’d rather slam my testicles in a locker door. I have some work to do on the paper.

I'm waiting...

I won't be able to pre-read this release so I will be anxiously waiting for its arrival! I'm thinking a Southern Buffy? Something similar. Being a product of the South and living in the South I'm really hoping for a strong female lead, a lot of action and a love interest that is ready to accept her protection and love her strength!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books We'd Play Hooky For

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme is "Rewind" and we're taking it back to number 91.

Books I'd Play Hooky For!

I have to admit, I'm guilty of sneaking in a reading break when I'm supposed to be doing things like school or work... ekk. Some books are just that good! 

The Top Ten Books I (Did or Will) Play Hooky For (In no particular order...)

  1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (There may have been sneak reads during lunch and breaks at work.)
  2. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks (I remember reading this during high school math class.)
  3. The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa (I'm pretty sure I missed foreign beach water to keep reading!)
  4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Sped through these at lightning speed.)
  5. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (Dang hold list at the library is keeping us apart!)
  6. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (Follow up to The Fifth Wave. CANNOT WAIT! Sept. 16 release)
  7. Fire & Flood 2 by Veronica Scott (To be named. More of a Sci-Fi take on Hunger Games and post-U.S. destruction.) 
  8. Slammed by Colleen Hoover (My students have been begging me to read. I like her other books.)
  9. Talon by Julie Kagawa (Julie's done fey, vampires and now dragons! Set for 10/28/14 release.)
  10. Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica Cameron (The reviews have been good and I'm curious about adventuring into a dream world. Releases on March 4.)
What books would you play hooky to read? Leave a comment below!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Music Monday: Love Like The Movies by Victoria Van Tiem

Music Monday showcases a newly released book with an unofficial fan-made soundtrack.
Leave a comment to add your musical pick to the list.
The songs chosen are in no way endorsed by the author, publishers, artist or songwriters.

Buy for $1.99 on Amazon for a limited time!

Love Like the Movies 
Author: Victoria Van Tiem (BlogFacebookTwitter)
Publisher: Pocket Books by Simon & Schuster - February 24, 2014
Genre: Adult Fiction - Contemporary Romance

Unofficial Fan-Made Playlist for Love Like the Movies

What songs would you add? What movie soundtrack favorites were left out of the book?
Leave them in the comments below!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

[Second Look] Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Second Look is an original feature showcasing books that
       have been sitting on the "to read" shelf for too long! 

Thirteen Reasons Why 
Author: Jay Asher (BlogFacebookTwitter)
Publisher: Razorbill - October 18, 2007
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary, Thriller
13 Reason Why Project

Need help or know someone who does?

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


When I started reading this book I thought it would be about Hannah and her decision to commit suicide, and it is. More so, to me, it is Clay's story. This is about surviving a friend's death, understanding consequences when bystander intervention is absent and moving on. Asher has taken the time to highlight incidents that occur in most (if not all) high schools in the U.S. and abroad which further reaffirms issues of bullying in young people's lives. 
This book is also great for starting conversations with youth around bullying, social pressures, stress and suicide. 

I'll admit, when I finished this quick read I ventured over to Goodreads to mark it as "read" and read other reviews posted. I had a lot of mixed emotions and so I went for a walk... 

*Climbs onto soap box*

Below are some of my random thoughts for processing:

  • Suicide does not need a valid reason. What I mean by this, is even if Hannah's thirteen reasons feel petty, they weren't to her and that's the point. Every human handles stress differently. Any one of these thirteen reasons have been someone else's one reason. For some people it's one bad report card for another it may be year's of abuse, and for another it maybe a life long struggle with mental illness. All equally valid reasons and with equal loss.
  • It's not your fault. Clay says this often as he listens to Hannah's stories. He tries to replay events in his head to see when he could've reached out to Hannah and Hannah experiences/witnesses several incidents of her own, all bad things but none of them their fault. It's not even the "Baker Dozen's" fault. 
  • We need bystander intervention training in schools/workplaces. You see this halfway play out in a scene with Justin and Bryce along with the effect of a failed intervention on Bryce's part. You also see this play out with Hannah and Jenny later on the same night. And you see plenty of characters stand by idly as things happen that should not. Hannah goes through great lengths in her tapes to explain why each of the situations are not acceptable and how they've built onto her snowball of non-escape.
  • Move on. The last person Hannah calls out is Mr. Porter, her guidance counselor and English teacher. "Move on" is one of two choices he presents Hannah, which she uses as affirmation of her decision because she already knows that she cannot "move on". However, Clay uses the same advice to act as closure and spark a new hope. It's our ability to "move on" which allows each of us to wake up and start a new day. That doesn't mean forgive, forget, remain silent or become an activist. It simply means to finish today and begin tomorrow. Just move on. 
*Climbs off soap box*

The book was fast paced, thrilling and a page turner. Asher exhibits a really interesting take on writing with multiple points-of-view. It took me a minute to sort out the voices in my head, but I really enjoyed not having to wait a whole chapter until I could get input from the other POV. I'm looking forward to more writing from Asher.


4.5 Stars - Read it in one sitting. 99% chance I'm reading Jay Asher's next book.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood 
Author: Victoria Scott (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Fire & Flood #1
Publisher: Scholastic Books on February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult - Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Fantasy, Thriller

Disclosure: Thanks to Scholastic Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?


I really dislike going into a new series with any expectations or comparisons. With that said, yes, there are some elements to Flood & Fire which resemble other YA series, and that's okay. In fact I'm hard pressed to find a YA book without a less-than-perfect family, a love interest, an act of rebellion or a challenge.

Moving on... I really, really enjoyed this book!!!! While Tella is not my favorite person, we wouldn't be friends in school, she is real with real thoughts. Her mannerisms, vanity and random thoughts are all real. This was usually followed by chuckles and highlights on my part. She is not perfect or leading the feminist manifesto and I think I like her better that way. It's refreshing to see a lead female character who isn't stone cold and Ms. Bear Grylls, but is able to navigate through a survival situation without being completely dainty or fragile at the same time. Dare I say, her journey is almost believable.

The secondary characters make for an interesting bunch in diversity, strengths, motivations and mystery. Slowly the layers are pulled back without much confusion but definitely a few surprises. Each character is provided a "Pandora" for the journey, but not every Pandora is equal. Each character is motivated by the well being of a loved one. Every character has an identifier but they are not so complex you feel like you're having to take notes or draw a family tree. Our antagonist, Titus, is evil and not just because the book tells us so. I'd like to think the evilness stems from an innate desire to survive, but I have a feeling "creeper" was the descriptor well before the Brimstone Bleed come into the picture. Definitely the character we love to hate. Which brings us to our brooding and mysterious love interest, Guy. No, it's not love at first sight (what a relief!), overly cautious or campy either. All things that were refreshing. There's nothing incredibly "swoon" worthy about him but he's got a nice body, deep voice and awesome eyes. So the YA male lead checklist is fulfilled. I look forward to exploring more of Guy's character background as we move forward.

I also really enjoyed the pace of the book. It was detailed enough to get what I needed and quick enough to keep me engaged. I actually got really nervous about half way through that the book was going to wrapped up into a neat bow in 200 more pages. Luckily, this is a series and Victoria Scott was in no rush to push us out the door. While there are some answers to questions in this book there are twice as many questions when we reach the stopping point.

Last, but not least, thank you Victoria Scott for having a sense of humor. The most laughing I did was when the author/ main character would poke fun at the situation she was in or the thoughts she was thinking. Often times pointing out stereotypes in YA stories or pop culture. Seriously, who doesn't come up with witty retorts when they're asked to be quiet, which then creates a "backlog" of inner dialogue? It's organic and reminds me a lot of the anxious inner dialogue I carry around with me most of the time.


5 Stars - You should read it. 99% chance I'll re-read it. 100% chance I'm reading book #2.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Little Blue Lies by Chris Lynch

O and June have built their relationship on playful banter, jokes and... lies. When June abruptly ends their relationship O struggles to cope with his newfound single-dom while teetering on the edge of adulthood. In an attempt to win June back, and save her, O discovers that he may lack the white knight quality and still does not know what he wants to be when he grows up. Hurdling through an array of fun characters ranging from his hovering, mean-to-do-well mother to June's father, an unapologetic enforcer for the local mafioso, we embark on a modern romance/ coming of age tale with the jagged edge of American classism.

This was a very quick read! Immediately what caught my attention was the intentional word choices and witty phrasing, like "money-humping", that kept the story moving and entertaining. Not to mention the giggles and nostalgia of high school lingo. Teenage romance has been done in many ways but Lynch keeps it real where job, money, figuring out the future, family issues and the need to escape reality are presented in very real characters. While the ending was not a "big twist" or "shocker" it was impactful and kind of reminded me of a good "Boy Meets World" episode. I definitely appreciated it as I approach the big 3-0 even more than I would have at 18. The language can come on strong for a YA novel but levels out as the story moves on and even more so as the characters move on.

Fav Quotes:
"She's the World Wildlife Fund of self-pleasure."

"I take walks sometimes. It's not stalking. I don't take binoculars, or rope, or flowers."


3 stars

This book was released by publisher Simon & Schuster on Feb. 7, 2014. I have not been compensated in anyway for this review. I checked the book out from the library (yay, libraries!).

Launching March 2014!

Thanks for stumbling upon my brand new book blog!
I know there are thousands of like blogs out there so I do appreciate the stop in. I will be reviewing a book a week beginning in March 2014 and featuring some other cool bookish things throughout the week.
My review policy will be posted shortly and I will be getting busy!