ARC Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publication:March 18th 2014 by HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: For Review

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

-- My Rating --
4/5 Oscars: Really liked it

-- My Thoughts --

     I love books about cancer and fatal diseases. It has this feel to it that I have always liked, and this book was no exception.
     Alice had cancer and she thought she would die. So, she convinced her best friend Harvey to plan somethings with her. To bring revenge on some people and do some good and kind things. But then, she goes into remission, and she has to live with the consequences of the things she did.
     I haven't read any reviews of this book, but one thing i am sure of, is that I'll find a lot of people complaining about Alice and how they didn't like her. Alice is not the kind of character you like, let alone love. She is stupid, snarky, selfish, and in total, a b****. But THAT didn't stop me from liking her. As always, I love characters with broken souls and anger-control issues. I  have to admit that, at most times, I didn't like her at all. But she kinda grew on me and I started caring for her.
     The plot of this book is not mainly about cancer, but about what happens when you are cured from your cancer. It took a different approach, and i loved the author's concentration on the side effects of our actions not on our actions themselves.
     Then, there's the romance, which is a main part of the book. Alice uses Harvey and he knows it and lets her. He loves her that much. I LOVED Harvey. He's the kind of sweet, innocent, lovable guy that all girls want to have, but never appreciate if they do. I loved the interactions between them and how Alice learned the true value of love from her best friend.

    This book didn't make me cry, as I expected to, and it's not the best cancer-related book out there, that's why it didn't get five stars since it wasn't as emotional as I had hoped (it had tons of raw emotions in it, though!).

ARC Review: Witchfall by Victoria Lamb

Title: Witchfall (The Tudor Witch #2)
Author: Victoria Lamb
Publication: March 25th 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Romance, Historical Fiction
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

Her darkest dreams are coming true.

In Tudor England, 1555, Meg Lytton has learned how powerful her magick gift can be. But danger surrounds her and her mistress, the outcast Princess Elizabeth. Nowhere is safe in the court of Elizabeth's fanatical sister, Queen Mary. And as the Spanish Inquisition's merciless priests slowly tighten their grip on the court, Meg's very dreams are disturbed by the ever-vengeful witchfinder Marcus Dent. 

Even as Meg tries to use her powers to find guidance, something evil arises, impervious to Meg's spells and hungry to control England's fate. As Meg desperately tries to keep her secret betrothed, the Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, out of harm's way, caution wars with their forbidden desire. And with her most powerful enemy poised to strike, Meg's only chance is a heartbreaking sacrifice.

-- My Rating --
3/5 Oscars: Liked it

-- My Thoughts --

     I read the first book in this series a while ago, and I was really happy to be provided a copy of the next installment in the series. I had been hoping for more from the author and a better book than the one before it.
     Meg and Lady Elizabeth are in the Queen's court now. But they are not out of trouble. Dangerous and dark forces are lurking around every corner and no place is safe. Neither is Meg's love for Alejandro De Castillo, the young priest-to-be. Because Meg's oldest enemies are not about to let her get away -alive.
     I am still a huge fan of the setting in this series. The whole historical acknowledgements from the time of Queen Mary's reign are precise and they sure needed a lot of research. I admire the author for her hard work and for choosing such a perfect time setting. Then, there's the reference to witchcraft. I was disappointed by the previous book because it didn't show a lot of details of the craft, but this one was much better.
     Then, there's the romance. I didn't like the romance, at first, and I found it unbelievable. But it grew on me, and the author has managed to make there love as forbidden and as beautiful as it can be. I am still not a huge fan of Meg and her decisions, but I am okay with her. The other characters interest me more, specially the stunning and powerful Lady Elizabeth. She is a strong female character. This book is full of them.
     Although this book dragged a bit at times, it was still very enjoyable. And I am happy that I was able to continue with this series. The ending was fabulous but you know that there is much more potential for this series. I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for her characters.

ARC Review: Camp Payback by J. K. Rock

Title: Camp Payback (Camp Boyfriend #2)
Author(s): J. K. Rock
Publication: April 29th 2014 by Spencer Hill Press
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher..

Alex has big plans for camp this year, starting with making it the best summer ever. Having fun and breaking some rules will get her the payback she wants against her parents and her ex-boyfriend. Because of his disgusting texts, she's headed to a super strict all-girls school in the fall. Then she meets Javier and revenge doesn't seem nearly as important as getting to know the troubled loner determined to keep a low profile at camp. But Alex's trouble-magnet personality and Javier's need to stay in the background don't mix nearly as well as their irresistible chemistry. With her home life eroding under her feet and her last year of summer camp speeding to a close, Alex wants to make her mark on the world and squeeze every bit of fun out of her time with Javier. Too bad her old plans for revenge turn back on her just in time to ruin everything. Will she lose Javier too?

-- My Rating --
4/5 Oscars: Really liked it.

-- My Thoughts --

     I loved getting back into the lives of these characters in a companion novel to the amazing and sweet Camp Boyfriend (my review here).
     Alexandra is tired of listening to her parents and trying and trying (but failing) to be the wholesome kid that they want. So, she is thrilled to be going back to her friends this summer at Camp Juniper Point. But what she doesn't expect is the new chief's assistant; the troubled, hot-as-sin boy, Javier. And she definitely doesn't expect sparks to fly between them after a surprise encounter.
     Okay, so I was quite surprised to know that the second book  would be about Alex, Lauren's best friend. But it was probable from the beginning since we don't get much of a background about Alex in the first book. There is the whole idea that her parents are bloggers and that really made love the story even more. Her parents are the strict kinds and they blog about everything rebellious that their daughter does and every good thing that her perfect older brother does.
     When this story starts, all Alex wants is revenge on her ex-boyfriend and a chance to rebel without her parents' continuous hold on her life. You end up not liking her at first. She is a lot different from the quite attitude of Lauren. Alex is talkative, big-mouthed, but open-hearted and sincere. You end up loving her as the story progresses and she definitely goes through a lot of changes over the course of the book.
     I love that J.K.Rock's books are not just about one fixed story-line, but they revolve around a lot of issues. There is the issue of divorced parents, sex, revenge, and the ignorance of privacy. The authors never fails to entertain me with her valuable lessons learned throughout their books. And it is quite surprising to know that they are two authors collaborating on this book. J. and K. (Rock is the family name). I am always a fan of authors writing together, and it seems that I have been reading a lot of collaborated works lately, but J. K. Rock's work is seamless.

     I loved the ending and how everything turned out. not to many loose ends and not everything resolved out. I wouldn't want to change a thing, and I am definitely waiting to see if the authors are writing another companion novel, because i am definitely reading it.

ARC Review: Camp Boyfriend by J. K. Rock

Title: Camp Boyfriend (Camp Boyfriend #1)
Author: J. K. Rock
Publication: July 2nd 2013 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher

The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn't be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren's nerves and she can't wait to return to summer camp where she's valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she's broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn't even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn't giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn't really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she's more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren's friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she's changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

-- My Rating --
4/5 Oscars: Really liked it

-- My Thoughts --

     I read this book a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. Then, I got the second companion novel to this one, so I decided to finally jot down my thoughts.
     Lauren transferred from her old school to a new one. but she also changed from the geeky girl to the beautiful, most popular girl at school. But deep inside, she is the same old Lauren and she wants nothing more than going back to Camp Juniper Point and to her old friends and to her secret camp boyfriend, Seth. But there is also Matt, her boyfriend in her new school, whom she always thought was a dump jock, but has feelings deeper than she could imagine.
     When I dived into this book, I expected one of those cute, happy-feel contemporary novels with no deep subject. But I was dead wrong. This is a contemporary novel about love, about finding your true self, about being kind and good to other people. It delivers tons of powerful messages and I could not have been happier with the outcome.
     I loved the main characters. They are almost-stereotypical. But then, when the story progresses, you get to see that this wasn't the author's main point. She developed a whole bunch of three-dimensional supporting cast of characters. Lauren is a brave, kind, although confused girl. She acts like a teenager, and it feels real. But the ones who really added to the story are Seth and Matt. I absolutely adored Matt and how much he cared for Lauren but didn't know how to show her. This book wouldn't have been the same without him.
     The plot revolves around a lot of different subjects and that has really added to the story. There is friendship, family, finding yourself, and love. I really wouldn't want to change anything about this book. It was a wonderful experience and I am so happy to be able to read the second companion books, Camp Payback!

ARC Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Publication: May 1st 2014 by Hachette Children's Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher..

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong, because Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim - not Emma.

Inspired by a true story, TEASE is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt you long after the last page.

-- My Rating --
3,5 / 5 Oscars: Liked it

-- My Thoughts --

     I really liked the concept of this book when I first came across the blurb. A whole book about the consequences of bullying, it sounded right up my alley. And it really was a good book.
     Sarah is not sure why she and her friends are blamed for Emma's death. Even though Emma's parents have taken the matter to court, it still doesn't mean that it was Sarah's fault. Sarah never considered herself a bully. But now, her life is being turned upside down, everyone in her town looks at her with dislike. And the only bright light in her life might be the cute weirdo, Carmichael.
     You go into this book not liking the main character. She blames everyone around her for everything, while the one at fault is herself. She treats people cruelly, and wrongly. But Sarah has a way of creeping up on you, and I loved her at the end. She really changed into a better person and i admire the author's evident character development. It shined through Sarah and you can really see her growing up like a real person.
     The plot is a great and powerful subject. I also admire the author's courage for choosing such a sensitive issue and handling it from the bully's point of view. She put her heart out into this book and you could feel her love for the characters and for the story as a whole.
     We have a small set of characters in this book. And many of the characters, you don't really see or hear about that much. The main stage is left out for Sarah and her memories. Since, some chapters in the book are the NOW in the story and some of the others are the BEFORE. this is a hard technique for authors to master without disturbing the flow of the story-line. Amanda Maciel mastered it, indeed.
     I liked the cute, teenage romance. It's nothing serious, but you can see the potential in the future for the characters. The ending was to my taste. Although this book is not perfect, and it was a bit not-likable at parts, I really enjoyed my ride. And I am looking out for the author's next books, hopefully.

ARC Review: Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn

Title: Searching for Beautiful
Author: Nyrae Dawn
Publication:March 4th 2014 by Entangled Publishing
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher..

Before, Brynn had a group of best friends, a loving boyfriend, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And after…she had none.

When Brynn lost the boyfriend who never loved her, the friends who feel she betrayed their trust, and the new life just beginning to grow inside her, she believes her future is as empty as her body. But then Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of.

But can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life’s own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?

-- My Rating --
3/5 Oscars: Liked it

-- My Thoughts --

     I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. It's my first experience with the author, but she is quite famous. And I am glad that she lived up to her name.
     Brynn was in love with Jason. Until she found out the other side of him. Now, she's alone and in shame and out-casted by all her friends. But then, there's Christian. The boy next door. And he might just be the one Brynn was looking for all along.
     The world building in contemporary novels is not quite present. But there's the scenery development, the background of the story. I found that Nyrae Dawn concentrates more on the characters themselves, not on their surroundings. Even though there wasn't much description present, I still liked Nyrae's writing style. It's simple and delicate and delivers everything to-the-point.
     Then, there are the characters. There are ones you love and ones you hate. I didn't like Brynn. She never connected with me and that is the main reason why my rating of this was knocked down a bit. She was stupid, and she fell for every single sweet thing every guy ever said to her. It felt so wrong, and I don't think someone as naive as her could exist. She reminded me of Bella, from Twilight.
But Christian was a character I LOVED. He was truly one-in-a-million kind of guy. He had his flaws, yes, but altogether, he was as perfect as you want the love of your life to be.
     The plot was a very interesting concept. I liked that the author added a lot of different subjects into one whole big one. There is abuse, pregnancy, dead parents, broken friendship, gay/lesbian society. Everything. The plot never failed to entertain me and I loved that about this book.

     The ending was a happy one. I liked that it didn't give much about the future, but it stayed to the point and gave us a joyful moment. I liked Nyrae Dawn's book and i am definitely going to be checking out her other ones.