ARC Review: Marly's Ghost by David Levithan

Title: Marly's Ghost
Author: David Levithan
Publication: January 8th 2015 by Electric Monkey
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

A remix of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a Valentine’s twist

When Ben’s girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over and the prospect of Valentine’s day without her fills him with bitterness. But then Marly arrives – or at least, her ghost does – along with three other spirits. Now Ben must take a journey through Valentines past, present and future – and what he learns will change him forever.

2/5 Oscars: It was OK

    When his girlfriend Marly dies, Ben takes a painful journey through Valentine's Days past, present, and future to realize just how much his life has changed, with or without Marly.
     I thought this book would be a painful contemporary romance. It was anything but that. This leans much more toward the MG Fantasy genre not the YA. And unfortunately, I am not much of a fan of MG. I just can't concentrate on it for too long and I become bored quite fast.
     So, this is the deal. I was bored by most of this book. It couldn't keep me interested. Although the concept is quite unique, but I felt like Ben was a bit shallow and his thoughts were too two-dimensional. Actually, if he was written with an MG audience in mind, then it's perfect. But otherwise, this was not a book that I loved. I thought that something written by David Levithan would be perfectly emotional and exactly my cup of tea but it wasn't. I am definitely keeping my eyes opened for more from him though.

ARC Review: The Rise (The Originals) by Julie Plec

Title: The Rise (The Originals #1)
Author: Julie Plec
Publication: January 27th 2015 by HQN Books
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you're immortal, promises are hard to keep.

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they've escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus's attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus's volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?

4/5 Oscars: Really Liked It

     The Originals is one of my favorite TV shows that I watch quite regularly. The thrill, suspense and the romance keep me on the edge of my seat. And having the chance to review this book based on the show was such a delight!
     Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah Mikaelson are trying to settle down in New Orleans, but it is proving to be harder than expected. None of the other supernatural kinds accept them and enemies spring out from every corner. Elijah tries to secure the fate of his family with the help of a witch, Rebekah is trying to find out what the humans are occupied with, and Klaus cannot help but fall in love with the eccentric witch, Vivianne. Nothing will turn out as expected for the three, and their family ties will be tested to the extremes.
     It was wonderful reading about the Mikaelson family because I felt like I know so much about them already, but much of their history and background is still a mystery. It was refreshing being able to envision these characters in my mind's eye with the actors' faces and it made the story more vivid. It made me connect with the characters on a much deeper level.
     The characters are this book's strong suit. Klaus is as reckless and random as ever. His emotions take control of him, even though he doesn't want to admit it. Elijah is the level-headed thinker with a heart of gold. He will always be my favorite character, in the book and the show. Rebekah is a hopeless romantic, she thinks with her heart, and trusts people so soon that it gets her in trouble but she really has a beautiful soul. (are vampires supposed to have souls?!)
     Altogether, this book was much better than I expected it would be. It is a love story, with a touch of suspense and action. I cannot wait to read more from Julie Plec, she definitely knows what she's doing!

ARC Review: Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons

Title: Dating Down
Author: Stefanie Lyons
Publication: April 8th 2015 by Flux
Genre: YA Contemporary Verse
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

When a good girl falls for a bad boy

She thought she loved him. She thought she could change him. She thought if she just believed in him enough, his cheating and his drugs and his lying would stop, and she'd be his and he'd be hers and they'd love each other forever.

But for Samantha Henderson, X-the boy she will not name-is trouble. He's older, edgier, bohemian . . . and when he starts paying attention to Sam, she can't resist him. Samantha's family and friends try to warn her, but still she stays with him, risking her future and everything that really matters.

As moody and vivid as it is captivating, Dating Down is told in scenes and bursts of poetry that create a story filled with hurt, healing, and hope.

-- My Rating --

4/5 Oscars: Really liked it

     NOTE: I haven't written reviews for AGES now, and my blog has seen nothing since February, but I wrote this review months and months ago, so any of the thoughts I've had about this book are blurred now. And frankly, I do not remember much about it.
     Samantha fell in love. Hard. But sometimes love is not enough to overcome obstacles and the people we think we love the most are the ones who can hurt us beyond repair, and this is what Samantha learns.
     It's been quite a long time since I've read a novel in verse. I write verse and I read poetry constantly, but I don't know why i just don't stumble across any well-written novel in verse. Rarely do I find something unique and thankfully, this was.
    Samantha is heartbroken over a guy, but she will not name him, she will only refer to him as X. I thought this was a refreshing thing and throughout the whole book, we only know this character as X and not knowing the name never stopped me from connecting with Samantha and her worries and her heartbreak. There is also Samantha, our narrator. She has a wonderful voice, so unique and charming. I don't think I would have connected as much with her if the novel had not been in verse. I think I would have found her to be very shallow and one-dimensional. But the unique and powerful verses gave her a voice and a background. I loved that.
     It was definitely the verses that helped me fly through this book in only a couple of hours. There's not much more I can say about this book, you have to read it for yourself and decide. I didn't give this book five stars because it was talking about much milder topics than I initially thought, I wanted it to be a bit darker. But I will definitely be reading more from the author, she knows how to write verse indeed.

ARC Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publication: February 10th 2015 by Orion
Genre: YA Dystopia, Fantasy
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

5/5 Oscars: LOVED it

     Mare is one of the Reds, she's used to the less-than-poor life she leads and she is ready to go along the same path as her brothers did before her. But that is before she receives some unexpected job and finds things about herself she never thought were possible. And with two guys and her conflicted feelings, Mare is getting much more than she bargained for.
     The world-building hooked me right from the start, with the author's vivid imagery and her heart-wrenching portrials, it's not a surprise that I fell in love with everything I read. I thought this would be some typical dystopia with an okay but not-quite-advanced background for the characters and the history. But this is not the case, Aveyard manages to mix dystopia and fantasy in a perfect blend of originality and familiarity.
     The plot never allowed for one dull moment, I had to stop everything I was doing in order to finish this in no more than 2 settings in ONE day. It was that exciting! The characters also account for my love for this book. Mare is one completely fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters with hopes and dreams just like the rest of us; furthermore, she just felt right for her age, which is something that many YA authors overlook, making their characters behave in a much older fashion that they are supposed to. Cal and Maven were quite interesting, with believable background stories; enough spunk and personality to hook me and make me like them.
     The romance played a secondary but crucial part of the plot. I loved that the author did not overdo the romance, she kept it to a minimum, but when it was there, it was quite intense and beautiful. By far, my favorite parts of this book were the ending chapters, they were a huge BANG and surprised the hell out of me. I am quite excited to read the second book in the series now! This is the sort of gem that just pops up out of nowhere, and if you are a fan of dystopia and suspense, this is the RIGHT book for you!

ARC Review: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

Title: The Bargaining
Author: Carly Anne West
Publication: 17th 2015 by Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Paranormal
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

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

-- My Thoughts --

     I knew that this would be some kind of creepy read that bordered on the paranormal genre. But I didn't set my expectations so high. And man, was I wrong!
     Penny is stunned when her mother leaves her with her dad and his step-family. But things take another turn when she has to stay with her step mum for a summer renovating a house as old as the town around it. But there's something sinister connected to this house and Penny might be the only one able to tell what it is.
     This book didn't start off on such a good note. It was kind-of boring in the beginning and no matter how much I tried, I couldn't get pulled into the story. But towards the middle, the pace picks up and it doesn't slow down. Suspense after horror after creepiness, there's not one dull moment after the middle mark.
     I am a great fan of horror films and movies, it's mostly due to the fact that they DON'T scare me. But I was really creeped out with this book and I LOVED it. There's so much background that the author put into this book, it all sounds reasonable and spooky. The plot is multi-dimensional and well thought-out.
     Then, there are the characters. Penny was mainly the reason why I gave this book four stars. I just couldn't like her. Although I grew to like her more towards the end, but in the beginning, she was unbearable to me. But my favorite character was definitely April. I LOVED her. She was such a wonderful, three-dimensional character and her role as the step mum was perfect.
     There is no romance in this book. There's a potential of one, but you don't know if the author is gonna pursue it or not. The ending was definitely my favorite part. I loved it. And i loved the note on which the events ended. It wasn't cliche or weird.  Finally, if you are a fan of the suspense and paranormal genre or you are a genuine horror fan, then this book is for YOU!

ARC Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication: January 27th 2015 by Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

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

-- My Thoughts --

      When I was accepted to review this book, I was thrilled! Come on, it's Gayle Forman. And I loved If I Stay. So I guess that's the reason why I put so many expectations into this book and it kinda left me disappointed.
     Cody and Meg were two peas in a pod. But that was before Meg took some poison and ended her own life. Now, Cody is not sure of anything anymore. Did she really know her best friend? Who is the infuriating guy -Ben- who Meg never mentioned to her? And what is that encrypted file on Meg's computer?
     Well, I loved the concept of this book. It's kinda dark and a bit sad, but it's about suicide and the impacts it has on the people who remain behind. And it's mostly about Cody and her obsession with finding out why her best friend killed herself. And yes, I do mean it. An obsession. Not a good thing.
      The one thing that I hated about this book is simply Cody. It's really hard to get into a book when you don't like the main character. I am not saying that there weren't any redeeming qualities in her, but overall, she was stupid and a rapid decision maker. Half of the things she did were either invasions of privacy or out of her curious twisted mind. She. Was. Weird.
     Aside from that, this book was actually good. I loved Ben and his complicated relationship with Cody. He was so caring and understanding. I think the romance was what saved this book. I actually liked it a lot and I loved their moments together.
     The ending was a bit abrupt. I think the author rushed through the ending too fast. But overall, it was a nice closure. So, basically, I would have loved this book if it wasn't for the main character. This book is quite thought-provoking and at times intense. So, if you're into these, then you might like this book more than I did.

ARC Review: The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Title: The Oathbreaker's Shadow (The Knots Duology #1)
Author: Amy McCulloch
Publication: June 6th 2013 by Random House Children's Publishers (UK)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

A gripping YA action-adventure fantasy, the first part of a planned duology.

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

-- My Thoughts --

   I didn't know what to expect while reading this book. I guess I dove into it blind. And it took me by surprise. A superior level of imagery.
     Raim is 15-years-old and going to be a Yun Guard. But all that changes when the knot that has mysteriously been on his wrist for as long as he can remember, suddenly burns away when he binds his life to his best friend and the future prince, Khareh.
     This book is high fantasy and it has been a long while since i have read one like it. It had high levels of imagery and a whole new world to discover. I applaud the author for taking such an approach and making sure that even though the world was three-dimensional and complex, it was never hard to understand.
     Then, there are the characters. I think the only thing that irked me a little bit was Raim himself. He made some very dump decisions and he had such a blind loyalty to his best friend. It bordered on the edge of being irrational. The other characters were not likable either. I couldn't find one that I actually liked.
     There is a bit of romance but it does not take the center stage and I was happy with that. I liked the moments when the two love interests were together but I liked the action-packed moments more. There is also the way Raim acted which was definitely NOT the way a 15 year old boy acts. And the feelings he had were not for a boy his age.
     The ending was definitely very interesting. I liked it a lot. The beginning of this book was too slow for me and it took me a LOT of time to get into it and get interested. But it got better towards the end and I am patiently waiting for the second book!