Jul 30, 2012

Review | Boys Over Flowers, Vol. 1 - 5

Series: Boys Over Flowers
Volumes: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Story and Art: Yoko Kamio
Released: 2003
Age: Young Adult
Art Rating: ★★★
Story Rating: ★★★★
Tsukushi Makino has been accepted into the snobbish Eitoku academy. From a middle-class background and poor compared to her classmates, Tsukushi is determined to get her diploma. Standing in her way is the gang known as F4 -- four handsome but vicious rich kids who rule the school and attack anyone who gets in their way This popular series features drama, romance, humor, strong girls, and cute boys. When her only friend, Makiko, accidentally offends F4 leader Tsukasa, Tsukushi boldly defends her. Enraged, Tsukushi puts the dreaded red tag in Tsukushi's locker -- a sign that she is now a target for the abuse of the F4 and the entire school. But when Tsukushi fights the gang with their own weapon, Tsukasa finds himself falling for her.
I was itching to read a good manga, but not just any manga. I definitely wanted something that was long (20+ volumes) and I wanted something with romance. At the library, I looked at my options and my choices were between Fruit Basket and Boys over Flowers. I figured that BOF had more romance, so I chose that.

I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed. The first volume didn't me the way I had hoped, even the initial controversery that pretty much starts the story off happens within this volume. I didn't want to give up so soon though, and I continued reading. By volume 4 (or maybe 5?) I was hooked and wanted to know so much more!

Tsukushi Makino is a simple and poor girl who attends an elite school for her parents sake, pretty much. She feels out of place, but has a few friends. When she stands up for her friend, who is attacked by the infamous and popular clique, the F4 (which pretty much stands for "flowery foursome"...yuck!) she is immediately outcasted. Not only that, but she is also attacked and bullied by everyone in school, and threatened to be expelled from the school. Not one to be pushed around though (which I really liked about her!) Tsukushi stands up for herself against the leader of the F4, Tsukasa, who also happens to be the richest and most powerful student (towards their peers and faculty alike.) The story really starts when Tsukasa falls in and out of love/hate with Tsukushi, only to discover she might be in love with his best friend, Rui, the nicest of the F4. Too bad he's in love with someone else!

And the story only starts there. Soon Tsukushi's life spirals out of control as she finds herself in wild scenarios revolving around beautiful people and lots of money. I was sucked into the story and Tsukushi's misadventures, and couldn't stop reading.
While I wasn't interested in the art much because it wasn't anything special and I got sidetracked with random notes from the author -- which I learned to avoid eventually-- I enjoyed the beginning of Boys Over Flowers immensely. I was pulled into Tsukushi's life and wanted to learn more. I am sure many will enjoy this fun and unique story of love that is full of drama (yum) and "a whirlwind of love and confusion."

Jul 27, 2012

Review | The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

Title: The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Paranormal
Publication: 08.28.2012 by EgmontUSA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago.

Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle.

Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

May contain spoilers, but not really. Just proceed with caution.

Thoughts: I hadn't heard anything about The Demon Catchers of Milan before I started reading and wasn't expecting much. I read the back of the book and thought, "Hmmm, that sounds creepy and really interesting." But sadly, it was not. In fact, this book didn't have much for me to like and I struggled to get through it.

Let me start off with the positive side of this review though. The Demon Catchers of Milan takes place in Milan, obviously. I have never been to Milan, but the author made it sound like a very lovely place, which I am sure it is, and I hope I get to visit it one day. Mia, though, doesn't get to travel much, so the descriptions are quite limited and didn't really save the book for me.

Mia is a very bland character. In the first few pages she is possessed by a demon and saved by family members she has never met. While she seems a bit scared, she pretty much has no reaction to what happens to her. It isn't until much later that we actually get a feel that, yes, she was terrified but by then I was rushing to finish the book. All I have to say is that if I was possessed and then woke up and realized I had destroyed things in my home and threw my sister against a wall, I would have some kind of reaction. Not Mia though.

She doesn't do, think, or say much else. She has to be cooped up in the apartment pretty much the entire book because she can't go outdoors without protection. She sits around and reads and complains a bit. Talks here and there to some relatives. But nothing really happens. There is over 250 pages in this book and about...15 pages actually have any sort of possession/exorcism scenes. Three different exorcisms and about five pages each. That's all. Other than that, we get a lot of nothing. There is information on the family history but everything is so vague and the conversations so un-interesting that I had a hard time finishing this book.

Overall: The Demon Catchers of Milan had a unique and promising premise, but was anti-climatic and a disappointment, overall. I am not too interested in reading the next book¹ even though the conclusion offered no real resolution in the story. If you think that this book will offer a lot of exciting/terrifying moments of demon hunting, prepare to be disappointed. If it sounds like something you'll enjoy though, give it a shot. This one just didn't work out for me.

Jul 25, 2012

Review | Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Title: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
Series: N/A
Author: Kat Rosenfield
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 07.05.2012 by Dutton Juvenile
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

Thoughts: I was overly enthusiastic to start this book. I was ecstatic when I got my hands on it and immediately started reading it. Of course, my expectations were too high and I was sad when it turned out to be different than what I had hoped for. While I really wanted to love this book, I didn't. But I also didn't hate it. Actually, I finished it and put it to side feeling "mehhh" about the whole thing.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a well-written story told in alternating points of view. Rebecca just graduated from high school and is a bit terrified of moving away, especially since her boyfriend will be staying behind. On the night of her graduation, Amelia is killed on the side of the road. The author then interweaves both their stories as the mystery unfolds and we see how Amelia ended up in this small town and how she was killed.

I was definitely intrigued in finding out what would happen, and while the story was written in poetic way that captured my attention at first, it quickly became overwhelming. The prose was too much to make it enjoyable and the writing was overly poetic. It became the basis of how everything was described: characters, the town, settings, etc., making it both confusing and depressing.

While the story unfolded, I found it very slow paced. Nothing really happens and I wanted to skim through and only read Amelia's side of the story, since it was the most straightforward and interesting part in the book, and the only part that seemed to be moving along, but still stretched unnecessarily long.

The twist at the end wasn't as surprising as I had originally anticipated. There is a lot of suspense leading up to the final revelation, but by then, I had pretty much guessed where the author was taking it. There was a bit of overshadowing that pretty much gave the ending away, and while I felt it was executed well enough, it still didn't offer the shock that I was hoping for.

Overall: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone just didn't work for me. I thought that there were too many unnecessary details, followed by tangents that felt disconnected with the story. I had a hard time connecting with Rebecca, and while I did like Amelia's parts, we didn't learn enough about her to actually connect with her either. This book contains some sexual content, a little suspense and mystery to hold the readers attention, and definitely some gorgeous, but overwhelming poetic writing that might not be for everyone. If it sounds like something you enjoy, I say check it out. It was not for me, but I am one of the few that I have seen that did not like it as much as the rest.

Jul 24, 2012

Review + Giveaway | The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa [CLOSED]

Title: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden, #1
Genre: YA - Paranormal/Dystopia
Publication: April 24, 2012 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: "In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity."

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for.

Thoughts: Well, where to start? I have to say that I am still surprised at how much I loved this book; I am almost speechless (but not really.) While I haven't read Kagawa's Iron Fey series, I have heard only fantastic things about and was really excited to start this new series. I was blown away from the start by The Immortal Rules and am so glad I picked it up. I loved her writing, characters, and everything else about the book. Kagawa hooked me in with an amazing story and her wonderful world-building skills. I loved this book from beginning to end and can not say enough about it.

The story starts off in New Covington, a town run by vampires who feed off of humans. No sparkly vampires here. In exchange for their blood, humans receive food and protection. In the outskirts of town, the Unregistereds hide and struggle for survival. Allison, our protagonist, has always lived in the Fringe and refuses to become part of the human cattle for the vampires, who she loathes. Instead, with her small gang, she keeps herself alive by stealing and hunting down food. Determined to survive and keep her small "family" alive, she goes to great lengths and danger to keep food on the table. Spilt into several parts, we get a feel for Allison while she is human, and we quickly understand her hatred for the vampires who control her town. She is definitely a courageous girl, who proves it when she risks her life to save her friend. When she is viciously attacked by rabids (think: vampire zombies!) she is on the brink of death, but offered the chance for immortality. Like any human, she is terrified of dying and only wants to live, that she lets the vampire turn her into what she hates the most. Then the story really takes off.

Every single character in The Immortal Rules is written with depth, an amazing feat I thought, since there were a lot of different kinds, but each relatable in their own right. Allison (aka Allie, but I don't think it sounds as good) was a compelling character that I really loved. She was brave, but stubborn as hell; she cared for those she got to know and is definitely bad-ass and not afraid to kick some butt. I really liked Kanin and really wanted to see more of him because we learn so little about him; he was a great vampire: handsome, scary, mysterious, brooding *sigh*

Of course, there had to be a bit of romance involved, but it's not what you think! When Allison comes across the stragglers trying to find a legend, she meets Zeke. And no, it's not insta-love. In fact, he has a gun pointed to her face and is weary of trusting her. After a while though, she is accepted into their group, where she must learn to hide her true nature and fight against herself as she struggles with her thirst for human blood. Zeke is the kind of guy that we love to love. He is, first off, good looking, really sweet, caring, brave and a great guy all around.

The world-building was pretty much awesome. Part dystopian, part paranormal, Kagawa created an amazing world that I could see clearly and wanted to learn more of.

The concept of The Immortal Rules was surprisingly fresh and the plot was captivating. All the characters were amazingly written , the villain(s) were despicable, and the setting was pretty much perfect.

This book had a little bit everything -- suspense, action, adventure, romance, gore -- and I loved how gripping the story was. I was thoroughly impressed with Kagawa's ability to engage the reader from the start and giving us a thrilling and unique take on an extremely popular genre that I thought I would be bored with soon. The Immortal Rules definitely piqued my vampire interest once again and I really looking forward to the rest of the series.

Overall: I definitely recommend this to other fans of this author¹ and to others looking for a refreshing, but oddly familiar, take on vampires and zombie-like creatures. The Immortal Rules is definitely a new favorite book for me and I can't wait to read more by Kagawa!

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Think you'll love The Immortal Rules as much as I did? I think so too! Thanks to the Harlequin Teen, I have a hardcover copy of The Immortal Rules to offer to one reader!
US Only

Jul 20, 2012

Review | Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1
Genre: YA - Paranormal
Publication: 02.07.2012 by Putnam Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Thoughts: For some reason, I don't think I would've picked up Born Wicked if it had not been chosen by my book club. It sounded like something I would enjoy a lot when I read the description, but sadly, I was one of the few (it seems) who didn't enjoy this book as much I had originally expected.

Cate Cahill promised her mother to care for her two younger sisters when she was only fourteen. She is then faced with the responsibility of protecting them from watchful eyes and the dangerous Brotherhood, the leaders of her society that hates witchcraft and arrest women without remorse or proof when they are suspected of being involved with witchery. Now at the age of seventeen, she must make a decision about her future, which becomes quite a problem for Cate and her sisters, Tess and Maura, because they happen to be very powerful witches.

Born Wicked sounded like a delightful mixture of genres with a unique and promising premise, but it fell flat in delivery and the historical, paranormal and romantic aspects did not live up to my expectations. While Born Wicked sounds like a book full of magic, it actually lacked the magical aspects that I was hoping for and instead focused on other, obvious points of the story.

The characters aren't anything special either, and this was disappointing, but also made me want to put the book down. Cate definitely loves her sisters and only wants what is best for them, but her stubborness and hate of her magical powers, makes her too overprotective and tries to supress them too much. The way she treats her sisters becomes quite annoying, and their relationships are really forced. Tess and Maura aren't too much different either. They are both hardheaded and while Tess is a particularly enjoyable character to read about, she isn't included as much because of her young age. While I wasn't fond of any of them, I did think that their relationship was very realistic and this kept me interested enough to keep going in the book.

Then there is some romance. A love triangle to be exact. And while I usually love them, I wasn't particularly fond of either Finn or Paul and really didn't connect with Cate's feelings for them. It is pretty obvious who she is going to choose in fact, but I was also clearly aware of how the ending was going to turn out. Overall, it turned out that the romance wasn't really too interesting, although there were a few moments where some sparks were flying. It was a major part in the book and the author focused a lot more on the romance aspect than the witchcraft, and this was very disappointing.

I must admit that while I was disappointed, I found the writing to be beautiful and accurate to the time and place. While most of the characters and the storyline wasn't fulfilling enough, Spotswood was able to weave a beautiful setting, that included amazing dresses, majestic homes and lands, and a language that suited the time-frame of the book. I have a special place in my heart for historical novels, and she was able to pull together some descriptions that saved the book for me.

Overall: Born Wicked was definitely not what I had originally expected, but I am a bit interested in where the author will take the story. I might not pick up the next book immediately, but maybe one day I will. The characters weren't ones that I connected with and the romance fell a little flat for me, but the relationships among some characters and the writing definitely made this book a little better for me. While I gave this book a lower rating, I definitely think that others will enjoy it. I definitely suggest you check it out. It comes with small amounts of magic here and there, but some twists and turns that will keep you engaged until the shocking (but a bit obvious) ending.

Jul 13, 2012

Author Event Recap | L.A. Festival of Books 2012

Back in April I went to the L.A. Festival of Books. It was awesome! The day was warm, but not too hot, and I was ready to get some books and meet some authors. I had a vague idea of who was going to be there but I was not ready for the crowds.

I stood in the line to meet Alyson Noel and it lasted about an hour! I was able to get away and got to meet Deb Caletti and Ann Redisch Stampler. They were both super sweet! I spent a few hours walking around, checking out new books, getting food and just enjoying the day. Since it was the second day, there weren't as many authors signing as there are on the first.

I was looking forward to meeting Maggie Stiefvater though, but had a little while to wait.

I wandered a bit more, got a glimpse of Judy Blume, met Seth Grahame-Smith when I realized he was signing, forgot Kendare Blake going to be there also (I think!) and ended up being the first in line to meet Stiefvater.

I left early-ish in the afternoon, but the day was winding down and there wasn't much else to do. It was a great experience and I can't wait for next year!

Jul 12, 2012

Review | I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Title: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Paranormal/Romance
Publication: January 8, 2008 by Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl gets boy back...

...sort of.

Ava can't see him or touch him,
unless she's dreaming.
She can't hear his voice,
except for the faint whispers in her mind.
Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.

The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with.
He's back from the dead,
as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

Thoughts: I had been meaning to read this for years. Seriously, it has been years since I first heard of it and I wanted it. While I did enjoy it, I did not find it as memorable as I had hoped, even though it is a emotional read that almost made me tear up.

Ava's boyfriend Jackson dies in a tragic accident. Full or guilt and sadness, Ava is having a hard time dealing with his death and the fact that she will never see him again. It is tough to even imagine the kind of pain she is going through. Then she feels his presence and sees him for an instant in the mirror. She begins to hope he'll be around and wants to spend her time at home instead.

I love verse and I really liked the emotion Schroeder was able to pack in such a short book. I really felt for Ava, and while I felt sad with her, I really wanted her to get better and move on. Her feelings were raw, but I didn't really connect with her throughout the book. There wasn't a lot more to the story, and I suppose that is okay since it is such a short story. There is a bit of conflict when she meets a boy and then has to deal with her friends. She just has to learn to move on and not feel such guilt about it when she does.

Overall: Full of touching moments, I Heart You, You Haunt Me is a quick, emotional read that I am sure fans of verse and poetry will enjoy. It is definitely a sad love story, but a fast and sweet read that I am glad I finally read.

Jul 7, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday | Recommended Read-a-Thon Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I can never seem to resist a good read-a-thon. On Monday, the Once Upon A Read-A-Thon begins and I am really excited. Lori (Pure Imagination,) Angela (Reading Angel) and Candace (Candace's Book Blog) are hosting it and yesterday they posted up a few books that they recommend the other participants to check out for read-a-thon's. I decided to play along and recommend a few as well, and while I tried to stay away from contemporary, those are the ones I love most and seem to finish up the quickest. Here are 5 books that I think would be great to read during a read-a-thon:

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler 
I read this book a few years back and I still treasure it.
It is a fast, emotional read that I adored and definitely recommend.
| Review |

Leftovers by Laura Wiess
Told from alternating points of view and with a shocking ending,
this is a bit of a mystery that kept me intrigued until the end.
| Review |

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
This one is definitely still one of my favorite paranormals.
It has fun characters, action, adventure & more! 
| Review |

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
This one is heartwrenching and will most likely make you cry.
I could not put it down because I became so attached to the story. This is a must read for sure.
| Review |

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
An incredibly sweet love story that I think everyone should
read. Definitely one of my all time favorites.
| Review |

And there you have it! These are all pretty short reads, some sad and a couple that aren't, but all worth reading. What books do you recommend for a read-a-thon? Share your suggestions with me :)

Want to join the read-a-thon? Hurry! It starts this Monday (July 9th)
There will be fun challenges and prizes for participants. Just click the button above.

Jul 5, 2012

Review + Giveaway | The Syndicate by Shelena Shorts [CLOSED]

Title: The Syndicate by Shelena Shorts
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Fantasy
Publication: 07.09.2012 by Lands Atlantic Publishing
Format: ARC
Source: Author
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: For centuries, the Petrescu family has been protecting society from a danger that moves among the population undetected. Eighteen-year-old Vasi Petrescu has never had a problem carrying out his duty, but, when ordered to eliminate an eighteen-year-old girl, he is immediately taken out of his comfort zone.

The Syndicate has never targeted a female before, yet somehow this one has ended up on more than one hit list. Vasi would like to find out why, but there may not be time.

Now, he'll have to decide whether or not to keep her alive even if it means going against his own family.

The action, mystery, and conspiracy in The Syndicate will take readers on an immersing journey in which decisions are not only life changing, but irreversible.

Thoughts: I was excited to read The Syndicate since I first heard of it because it sounded so interesting. It didn't seem like a book I would normally read from the summary, but I am really glad I picked it up because I loved it. The Syndicate turned out to be a well written story about family, conspiracies, romance, betrayal, and even included some paranormal elements.

Setting: The Syndicate takes place in a world very much like our own, with one exception: Hybrids. And because Hybrids exist, so does the Syndicate. Hybrids are men who have turned into evil creatures (think zombies) and the Syndicate hunt them down and kill them before they can do much damage. Since they are an undercover and live on their own, it was easy to find this world a believable one. It would not surprise me if these secret societies actually existed in our world.

Characters: Vasi is a trained assassin, a Guard, and one of the best at what he does. He was born to kill Hybrids and at the age of eighteen, he is a no-nonsense kind of guy who does his job and does it well. Every month, the Syndicate meets and figures who have become Hybrids and who will kill them. As usual Vasi has his sister Rosie, a Scout, find out about his assignments, but when she comes back with news that Riley is a girl, he begins to question what he has always known as truth. Vasi is definitely a more serious character; he's brave, honest and loyal. I wasn't sure if I liked him at first, but he grew on me really quickly. He changes a bit as the story develops, but only becomes more likeable. He is determined to get answers, is hesitant about his feelings but also turns affectionate, stays loyal but his loyalties change, and proves his bravery as the plot thickens.

Rosie, Vasi's sister, is a more fun character, adding a more humorous and lighthearted addition to the family of serious men. While she is also very good at her job, she is less hesitant to turn on what she has always known and follows her instincts instead. Vasi is the only blood family she has remaining and she accepts and believes in him and what he does. She was definitely a favorite.

Riley is an innocent girl who comes off a little week, but proves to be quite brave when she has to be. She decides to trust Vasi, even though he is sent to kill her, and we can definitely see why they connect. We don't get to learn that much about her, but I did like her a lot and definitely was rooting for her to survive what she was going through.

Supporting characters: While there were plenty of other characters involved, it didn't get confusing to keep track of them. They were also each unique, well described, and played important roles that made the story a lot better for me.

Plot & Pacing: Told from a male POV, which I have not gotten too used to, turned out to be quite entertaining. Vasi isn't as emotional, complicated or confused as a girl would have been and gets things done. He is ready to defend what he cares for at a moments notice and this definitely provides a lot of action. The book is filled with faced-paced scenes as Vasi struggles to figure out what is going on and what to do about the secrets he uncovers. Never a dull moment, The Syndicate kept me hooked until the end.

Writing: For the most part, the writing was smooth and easy to read. I only thought that the first few pages had too much explanation, but this did not drag the book down. I definitely wanted to learn more and was not deterred by this minor problem I had with the beginning.

Romance: While the romance isn't as emotionally attaching and instant, it definitely felt more realistic because it starts off with only an unexpected physical attraction between both characters. It definitely does become a little sappy, but in no way overwhelmed the story with too much gushiness.

Overall: I really enjoyed The Syndicate and definitely recommend it to others. It has plenty of twists, shocking turn of events, mystery and an interesting romance. It is a unique book that will leave you wanting more (and like many others, I hope that there is a sequel coming in the future to answer some questions!) I look forward to reading more from this author in the future, and I can't recommend The Syndicate enough.

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Thanks to Shelena, we have a special giveaway for you! Shelena is offering two prizes for one winner! The first is an ARC copy of The Syndicate, as well as a swag pack. Just go ahead and enter below using the form.

Jul 3, 2012

Review | What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Title: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Historical Fiction
Publication: 11.01.2008 by Scholastic Inc.
Format: Audio book
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis: Murder and intrigue surround a girl in this mystery set in American in the aftermath of WWII.

When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe's company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
Thoughts: What I Saw and How I Lied was not what I was expecting when I picked it up. Actually, I am not really sure what I was expecting from this, but from the back blurb it sounded interesting enough. While What I Saw and How I Lied turned out to be a slower read, it was nonetheless a quick and simple coming of age story about a girl, her family and her first love. And how sometimes, the past can damage the lives of everyone who .

The book starts of in the mid-1940's, shortly after WWII ends, and it seems that back in those days, time went by slower. People weren't in such a rush and Blundell was able to capture this essence well in her writing and her vivid descriptions of Evie's world. Evie is fifteen and lives with her mom, stepdad Joe and Grandma Glad. When Joe comes home, it is obvious that he is different, that the war has changed him, but Evie being a naive young girl who hasn't been exposed to the world yet expects things to go back to normal.

Her life gets turned upside down after Joe abruptly decides to take them on a (what seems) endless vacation to Palm Beach, and soon a young Peter Coleridge shows up. It is obvious that Joe and Peter have unresolved issues that they aren't willing to deal with. Instead, he begins to spend a lot of time around them and soon, Evie finds herself in love with him. While Joe finds himself busy making plans to start a business, Evie, her mom and Peter spend the hot lazy days by the beach, driving or at the movies. I thought it was obvious from the beginning what was going to happen, but Evie's ignorance keeps us guessing.

When tragedy strikes, Evie is not only heartbroken and confused, but also feels betrayed by the people she loves the most. Faced with scandal and legal matters to deal with, Evie is left to deal with her emotions, which were palpable with each word. When she makes her final decisions, she does so with a determination that is admirable and shows how much and how fast Evie is forced to grow up, no matter how hard her parents tried to keep her safe.

I do not want to spoil the story for those of you who might be interested in reading it, but the ending was surprising and left me feeling relieved but at the same time, curious. I wanted to know where life would take Evie, how her decisions were going to affect her family as a whole. There was one question that was purposefully left unanswered, but helped in developing the story and caused Evie to become she was. She would never know the answer to her question and that would always affect her.

Overall: What I Saw and How I Lied is a short mystery that will keep you guessing even after you are done. It is an intriguing read about a family that falls apart after secrets are revealed and a young girl who must grow up after having to deal with a web of lies. I definitely recommend it to other fans of books from this era, as well as other historical and mystery lovers. This is a fast read that fascinates the reader and will keep you trying to figure out how it will all end.