Review: A Shade of Vampire #7, A Break of Day by Bella Forrest

21466236Blurb from Goodreads

The greatly anticipated conclusion to Derek and Sofia’s journey!

Everything Sofia believed to be true has crumbled before her very eyes…

In this explosive finale, secrets will be revealed, loyalties tested and trust broken.

Are you ready to return to The Shade?

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published July 11th 2014 (first published July 7th 2014)
edition language: English
series: A Shade of Vampire
genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Despite I loved the series, Derek and Sofia’s final story was such a disappointment. Actually, the series much to my surprise slowly but sure meet its down fall. I can’t help to not notice things that I disliked in each sequel after book 4.

Looking back now, I think I can bear reading a lot of POV, if it means that I can get the clarity in the story. I don’t know, maybe Bella Forrest read my review or other Shaddicts have the same thoughts as mine about those POV, but this book is told mostly from Sofia and Derek’s POV. Just like the first book, A Shade of Vampire. The problem is both Derek and Sofia barely know anything. Reading their final journey to find True Sanctuary was like walking in the dark. They don’t have any idea what they are facing and what they have to do. It was just so frustrating!

I usually enjoy reading something that still unclear along the story as it sometimes means it’s unpredictable and there’s twist in the story. Not in this case. Derek and Sofia just go with the flow and mostly end up asking each other “What now?” Or “Now what?” Hence I felt like there isn’t clarity and certainty of where the story will go.

As Derek and Sofia keep in blind most of the time, other characters have the answer of their questions. It reveals slowly along the story. Unfortunately, before the answers finally reveals, I was already frustrated with them and the story. Thus it made me bored to death. I was so eager to finish it. Not because it’s so engaging but because so I can put it down for good so that I can move on to other books.

There are also things that really annoyed me while I read. Just like Derek and Sofia, I have questions about so many things. Some of them are finally answered but some other are just left behind. Even the characters who have answers, can’t answers those questions. And they are so casually tell me they don’t have the answers because it happened a long time ago or never happen before. They left it behind the reasons and I just couldn’t accept it.

I think this book isn’t about vampires anymore, as most of the time they rely on the witches/warlock. So you see, whenever things get hard, the witches/warlock come to help them. And suddenly it solves easily. It made the war that I really looking forward felt anticlimactic. And there is also thing that comes out of the blue, much for the characters convenience. I just don’t know what to call it, too coincidence or too easy?

According to Goodreads, 2 stars means it was an okay book. I think in a way it was an okay conclusion for Derek and Sofia. I liked the ending, for sure, too bad there are also a lot of things I disliked. I think I need a break from this series, though after this one there is a spin-off of Kiev’s story. And who knows whether there will be another spin-off of the vampire saga or not.

Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson

21825607Blurb from Goodreads

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

Kindle Edition, 121 pages
Published June 29th 2014 by Self Pub (first published June 24th 2014)
edition language: English
genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I haven’t read much story with characters whose have Asperger’s. The only one that teaches me much about it was Reclaiming The Sand by A. Meredith Walters. It was a beautiful heartbreaking story. So I can’t help not to compare it with this book, moreover both of them are YA books.

Although they are about Asperger’s, they are quite different in so many ways. I think in a tone, Puddle Jumping is sweeter and less brutal, if it’s possible, than Reclaiming the Sand. But it didn’t mean that I didn’t feel all the feelings I had when I read Reclaiming the Sand. It was there all over the book and to be honest, I learn something new and different here about Asperger’s as I learn from Reclaiming the Sand.

Unlike in Reclaiming the Sand, there is barely about bullying in this book. It’s focus on to show that Colton, seventeen years old boy who has Asperger’s isn’t much different than any other teenagers around the world and his relationship with people around them.

Aside the story, I fall in love with the main characters, Lilly and Colton.

I loved that Colton is eager to try as many things as his therapist suggests. He doesn’t afraid to try and in a way doesn’t care what his friends think about him. He embraces what happens to him and doesn’t let it avoid him to pursue his happiness.

I also loved how Lilly, the MC, is so persistent showing me that Colton in a way is as normal as his friends. It made me think that yes, he is indeed like any teenager boy who has a crush and fall in love. But I have a hard time to believe and love her as a character. At first I didn’t quite like her. She sounded so clingy and it was kinda hard for me to believe that she’s in love with him since she was young. And then, she does most of things based on him. It’s like she doesn’t have any idea what her future will be except to be with him. I just don’t quite like the idea that she’s ‘sacrifice’ herself willingly to be constantly with him.

It leads to the ending of the story. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t like it either. As much as it’s a sweet happy ending and surely an ending that Lilly wants, I have different opinion about it. But then, I understand her, for all her reasons she told me throughout the story.

I just wish the story is longer than what already is. It feels I couldn’t let them go only after I started reading it 4 hours ago, at the office between my works.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

21800975Blurb from Goodreads

Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

Kindle Edition
Published August 19th 2014 by Flirt
edition language: English
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
I think there is nothing new in NA contemporary books nowadays. Most of them are similar with the same pattern. Actually, I don’t mind with the similarities but if it feels like they are only the same old story with different characters name and setting, I lost my mood to read it even before I start it. Yet I can’t help not to read it over and over, as I hope I’ll find the one that I really like. The Real Thing is one of those one I really liked.

First of all, The Real Thing feels real to me. Everything in this book is what happens nowadays in my daily life. I see it, read it, feel it, listen to it. Mia is a girl who addicted to social media. She literally puts her face in front of the screen. It’s either her phone, her laptop or her eReader. Like most people around the world, I also have my own social media accounts. I feel close with my Goodreads friends, though I never meet them, I often change my status updates, I stalk and sometimes communicate with my favorite authors. But I know that I’m not like Mia. I can put aside all of those things. I know that a lot of people are like her. I don’t judge them but to be honest, I don’t quite get it either. I don’t understand why they can be so addicted and sometimes obsessed with it. Mia helps me to understand it. Her feelings and thoughts about her addiction are so clear to me. Now I think I can say that I understand why people so addicted by it.

The story is like any other NA books out there. It’s about two characters who have baggage trying to make their relationship work. One of them is more broken than other and needs each other to overcome their weakness. Again, surprisingly I enjoyed reading it. Mia’s love interest, Eric, once had an abusive relationship and it haunts him every time he tries to have a relationship. I just really like the way Cassie Mae describes his anxiety. His episodes and panic attacks feel real. I can easily connect to him and feel him. I feel sorry for him and frustrated with him when Mia doesn’t get what he wants.

And one thing I love the most in The Real Thing is the main characters. Although it’s kinda hard to love Mia at the beginning, Eric isn’t easy to love either. They have flaws. And make mistakes. I like the fact that both of them have a hand destroying their relationship in the first place. I can’t point out my finger and blame one of them. It makes none of them are better than the other.

The Real Thing is a good example where there is nothing new and has similarities with other stories BUT I think it also feels different at the same time. I’m glad I get the chance to read it in the first place as this is my first experience with Cassie Mae’s stories.

ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Lunar Chronicles #1, Cinder by Marissa Meyer

12973964Blurb from Goodreads

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Kindle Edition, 390 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
edition language: English
series: The Lunar Chronicles
genre: Sci-fi, Romance, Retelling, Young Adult
My Thoughts
When I read Cinder’s blurb it sounds so scifi it picked my interest instantly. I thought it would be an unpredictable story as I don’t think I ever read this kind of book. But the first few chapters I can already guess most of the important things in the story. And with all of those computer stuff I’m not familiar with, it was quite confusing for me to understand the whole cyborg, human, and android thingy in this book. But surprisingly despite the predictable plot and the story that reminds me a lot of a manga (Japanese comic) I read 19 years ago, Sailor Moon, I enjoyed reading this book.
Although at first I was kinda hesitate to continue reading because of the resamble of Sailor Moon, I can’t help not to curious of the story. I mostly curious of what Prince Kaito will do regarding Queen Levana. And there are characters I really want to know which side they are. They aren’t main characters, but they picked my interest as I already guessed mostly what will happen with the main characters.

As one of main characters, Cinder is a lovable character. I think she’s brave, strong, and definitely smart, though in some way she’s naive and quite annoying. There were time that were quite annoying and frustrating when she doesn’t see things clearly while it’s so obvious for me. Maybe it’s because she’s still 16 years old, or maybe it’s because she always thinks herself unworthy, but as a cyborg, I think she can see and do more than most human can do.

However, I wasn’t sure with Kaito at the beginning. He doesn’t act like a future emperor mostly, though at the same time I know it indeed makes him ‘approvable’ and makes his relationship with Cinder make sense. I just didn’t quite like how easy he believes and lets other characters tell him what to do. But I love his relationship with Cinder, it feels so natural since they don’t instantly talking about love and all.

There also things that are quite unclear for me in this whole New Beijing and Luna Realm setting. I didn’t find more ‘Beijing’ except for one Chinese character name, if I wasn’t wrong and a formal calling addressed to Cinder when Kai feels like he wants to call her in formality. The Luna Realm, as much as it’s interesting to read, doesn’t explain much either. The same case happens with Cinder’s cyborg thing. It’s the first and one thing that confused me, to be honest. Questions of whether she’s capable to have feelings and all when in a way she has to be rebooted are in my head while I read it.

All in all, I think Cinder is a good Cinderella retelling. In some way it felt like it has its own originality. And it really has sci-fi feeling, unlike most YA sci-fi books I read nowadays. I just hope the unclear setting will describe more in the sequels. So yes…it means I’ll read the sequels for sure.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

18114909Blurb from Goodreads

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by HarperTeen
edition language: English
series: Faking Normal
genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
My Thoughts
To be honest, it was kind of hard for me to feel and connect with Alexi in the beginning. She’s silent and keeps most everything to herself. It was like she didn’t let me close to her. Moreover allow me to understand her. Hence, first part of the book felt a bit slow and boring. But it didn’t mean that the story didn’t interesting, far from it. In fact, this is my kind of books and yes, in the end I ended up love it.

I think what I love most about it is it felt real and true. I know everyone has different coping mechanism, as hard as I was connected to Alexi it was one of her coping mechanisms. I guess once I see it I could understand her more. Bodee, the good boy next door seems too good to be true but he also has his own problems and dealing with it too. Thus, I didn’t feel like he’s Alexi’s knight in shining armor, though he indeed helps her throughout the story. And the most I love from their relationship is it takes times and (again) felt real and both of them are helping each other. Aside Alexi and Bodee, there are characters that left me feel so many emotions. The most prominent one is Alexi’s sister, Kayla. I dislike her, even after what she did for Alexi. She’s such a bully and selfish sister. On the other hand, I think I can feel all of those emotions because they are that good as characters.

As for the story, there isn’t something new in it. I’ve read many similar books but it’s delivered differently and makes its own story. Although I can guess who is the reason Alexi has coping mechanism and her reason to always go to school, the author didn’t make it easy for me to point them out. There are possibilities that made me wondering whether my guesses were right or not. Though in the end I was right of both of them, I really enjoyed that wondering and guessing part. There is also one thing that I wasn’t quite sure about in most part of the story. But it was clear and made sense once I understand it. At the end of the book, Alexi got her closure, at least her closure for what happened to her 3 months before the story began. It wasn’t a sweet rainbow kind of closure. It was a bittersweet ending that begins her journey. And I loved it that way because I believe and agree with the author at her notes, it’s a long way journey for Alexi and her life just begins.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Athena Effect #4, The Redcastle Redemption by Derrolyn Anderson

18006303Blurb from Goodreads

Things finally seem peaceful for Cali and Calvin, but the twins are still struggling with their new-found freedom. Layla senses that more trouble still lurks in her future, while Michael’s happiness is being crushed under the weight of a terrible secret.
When someone new discovers the girl’s special talents, he will stop at nothing to put them to use. The cousins must face their most brutal adversary yet, and everyone is forced to fight for both their lives and their loves.

Published (first published June 2nd 2014)
edition language: English
series: The Athena Effect
genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I think The Redcastle Redemption is a good final book for The Athena Effect series. Everything that happens with Cali, Layla and Michael wrap up nicely. The story begins with an unexpected scene which leads to a lot of action scenes. It felts so fast but not in a rush. I mean, in that one single moment the characters indeed need to think and act immediately since their life are in danger.I loved that Layla grow so much since I first met her and so does with Michael. He’s different now. He knows his mistakes and wants to make it right. I think among the three, he’s more real to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s because he doesn’t have power, unlike Cali and Layla. He’s jealous with their power and makes mistakes because of it but he knows it, admit it and want to be a better man because of it. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t love Cali and Layla, though. I do love them, it’s just I also see Michael differently now.

As for the romance, it’s still as sweet as when I read The Athena Effect, for Cali and Cal’s relationship and The Caledonian Inheritance for Layla and Ramon’s romance. But I have to admit that I missed reading Cali’s unpredictable-innocence questions about ordinary things. I think it’s what makes her unique as a character I’ve ever read.

Although I loved the action in this book, it didn’t feel as creepy and thrill as in The Mackenzie Legacy. It made my heart beat fast but at the same time it still felt too easy. I guess I want the characters struggle more as this is their final journey. Geez…it made me sound like a bad reader wanting the characters to have a very bad experience before their happily ever after 😀

I was also not quite satisfied with the reason of Cali and Layla’s power. To be honest, I want more explanation about it, not just it’s a hereditary and some paranormal thing and that’s just it.

It’s always a bittersweet reading a final book of series I loved. I like that it ends well but I’m also sad that I won’t be able to meet the characters again in the future. The Athena Effect series is surely one of those series. Now the only thing I can do is reread the books when I feel like I miss Cali and Cal, Layla and Ramon and Michael and Mina.

ARC was provided by the author in exchange for honest review.
Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Wild Cards #1, Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

13065327Blurb from Goodreads

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

Kindle Edition, 353 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Walker Childrens
edition language: English
series: Wild Cards
genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
As the sixth book of Simone Elkeles books I read, I have a high hope to this one. I think Perfect Chemistry series was one of the first YA series I read years ago, back when I didn’t have a clue what YA books mean. I really liked it and it was fun to read. I also enjoyed reading Leaving Paradise series and fall in love with Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong. To be honest, I still reread them if I feel like I miss the characters. They are still enjoyable to read as when I first read them. Wild Cards is not the case.
The Characters. I find that the main characters aren’t as strong as characters in both previous series. The blurb says Derek is a bad boy, I don’t see it while it was easy to recognize who are the Fuetes brothers and Caleb Becker when I first read them. I don’t mean Derek has to be in a gang member like the Fuentes brother to become a bad boy, it’s just he seems couldn’t decide whether he wants to be a bad boy, or a jock, or a jokester, or something else. I couldn’t see him clearly.

And so does with Ashtyn. Derek says she’s a warrior. She’s indeed a badass as she’s the captain of the football team but in a way I think Maggie is stronger than her. Maggie is a shy girl who has to walk in limp because of the car accident. Yet, she’s more badass than Ashtyn because she knows what she wants and stands for it. Unlike Ashtyn who spend more than half of the book couldn’t decide who she wants and what she has to do to achieve what she wants. And when she doesn’t get it she’s jealous and whines all the time. I think the characters don’t have to be in gang member or being the captain of the football team to become badass characters. All they have to do is make up their mind of what they want to become and stand for it. That’s enough for me to see them as badass characters.

The Writing. It’s still told from first person. Both from the main characters POV like in other series but it feels different and isn’t as engaging as in previous books. Derek and Ashtyn like to talk the same things over and over. Like Carlos and Kiara in Rule of Attraction, they like to challenge each other. While I really enjoyed Carlos and Kiara’s banter, I can’t say the same thing for Derek and Ashtyn. There are a lot of time when Derek tries to be funny but I don’t think it funny enough to make me laugh or even just smile.
The Story. This book is supposed to be about football, well…at least that’s what I thought when I see the cover and read the blurb. However, I don’t read much about it. Ashtyn is the only female in football camp, Elite. But I don’t see her describe it while she is there for a week. As a reader who isn’t familiar with football, I expect to read about it to understand more and feel Ashtyn struggle as the only female in the camp. But I get nothing. If you want to read YA book with football as its story, Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is much better than this one.
Everything in this book feels too fast and in a rush. It’s like there is no time to develop the feeling for the characters. Thus, I don’t buy it. Derek and his half-brother, Julian, relationship feels forced, unlike Carlos and Brandon relationship. In Carlos and Brandon relationship I feel it real because I can see the process. They need time to become close to each other while here, Derek barely knows Julian since they don’t live in the same house before they move to Chicago. They rarely spend time together but suddenly Julian looks him like a hero, worship him and he feels like a big brother who has responsibility to his little brother. The same case happens in Derek and Ashtyn’s relationship. Ashtyn spend more than half of the book by ‘hating’ Derek and suddenly, out of the blue she admits that she has a crush on him and is in love for a long time with him. I just couldn’t buy it, though she and Derek keep telling me there is ‘electricity’ between them since the first time they meet.

All in all, most of the time I don’t believe the story and the characters. I also don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy Perfect Chemistry and Leaving Paradise, though it still has same formula as previous series.

Result: 2 out of 5 stars