Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Sia

Title: Sia
Author: Josh Grayson
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

Review: The action in Sia started from the very first page and kept my attention until the end. Waking up on a park bench with no recollection of her memory, Sia has no idea where to go or what to do. The fact that a seventeen-year-old girl, who is both athletic and healthy, loses her memory out of no where surprised me. I was naive to think that teenagers only lose their memory as a result of a physical accident, not from stress overload. She quickly learns why she was so stressed in the first place after her parents identify her and bring her home to their mansion. Sia's family is beyond rich, she's beyond spoiled, and she's also beyond mean. Sia acknowledges the fact that her family maid and driver appear to be skittish around her, but doesn't understand why. The ugly truth slowly unburies itself from the depths of Sia's past life, and she's disgusted. She wants to be a different, better person and will stop at nothing to change her personality.

I couldn't help but cheer Sia on after she promises herself to change. She participates in activities that the old version of her never would've imagined doing including living on the streets with a sweet, homeless lady and helping run a fundraiser for the Red Cross. She breaks up with her old boyfriend, quits cheerleading, leaves her old clique and joins a new one. A clique she used to make fun of. A clique who slowly accepts her, but leaves one on the edge, nervous what will happen once Sia regains her memory.

Kyle was a mysterious character who was nervous about opening up to Sia. She had been mean to him in the past, as were her friends, but he couldn't help thinking that once she regained her memory, she wouldn't remain the better, changed person she wanted to be. He kept his walls high and didn't allow Sia in until the awards night, but he quickly regretted it, letting his conscious get the best of him. I understood why Kyle was so cautious around Sia after she had lost her memory and it made him appear to be a stronger character. He was a genuinely sweet, intelligent guy who quickly made me fall in love with him. He was like Kristoff from Frozen. (Oh, how I love Kristoff). (:

The awards night wins favorite book scene in Sia hands down. I applaud Josh Grayson for his magnificent imagery skills that made me feel as though I was at the Grammys. Or Oscars. In person. Let's face the facts: Sia was well written overall. It was the perfect popular girl/nerd guy story that every bookworm is sure to enjoy.

Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cover Reveal: Orenda

Title: Orenda
Author: Ruth Silver
Expected Publication: Spring 2014
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Cover Design: Erica Crouch

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Lil has a gift, one she never thought possible as she finds herself awake after a strange dream with the tell-tale sign that what she dreamt was in fact real. The dreamscape, was more than just a premonition it happened. She’d been momentarily tossed into another dimension. Where most would consider her crazy, not her best friend Bray. In another reality, one similar and yet slightly different Willow has been kidnapped by the sorceress turned demon, Eilith. Rawlie, Willow’s friend and companion crosses to our universe for help and brings Lil into his world. Filled with frightening creatures and magical elements, Lil demands to go home, until she discovers Bray has been taken by Eilith as well. Unable to watch her best friend die, she joins forces with Rawlie, Jamie and the others to hunt down Eilith and rescue those they care about.

Extra Info: Add Orenda to your shelf on Goodreads.

Author Bio: Ruth Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005.  While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004.  Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories.  Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia.  Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing.  She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories.  Her debut novel published by Lazy Day Publishing and Patchwork Press, ABERRANT, was released April 2013.  The second novel in the series, MOIRAI, continues the saga. ISAURA, is the final installment in the ABERRANT trilogy. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager.  Her current writing projects include a YA science-fiction fantasy series, ORENDA, and a YA/NA paranormal series, DEAD GIRL WALKING. Both novels are due for release in 2014. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.

My Thoughts: This cover is so beautiful. It screams PHOTO SHOOT at me. Which means I will have to get on that this summer. An Orenda inspired photo shoot. Sounds good to me. (:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: Double Crossed

Title: Double Crossed
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Macey McHenry—Glamorous society girl or spy-in-training? W.W. Hale V—Heir to an American dynasty or master thief? There are two sides to every coin. Whether these two can work together is a tossup. Born into privilege, Macey and Hale are experts at mingling with the upper class. But even if they’ve never raised an eyebrow at the glitz, neither teenager has ever felt at home with the glamour. When Macey and Hale meet at a society gala, the party takes a dangerous turn. Suddenly they’re at the center of a hostage situation, and it’s up to them to stop the thugs from becoming hostile. Will Macey’s spy skills and Hale’s con-man ways be enough to outsmart a ruthless gang? Or will they have to seek out the ultimate inside girl to help? The worlds of Heist Society and the Gallagher Girls collide in Ally Carter’s fast-paced, high-stakes and tantalizing new story. Get a behind the scenes glimpse as Ally delivers an irresistible thriller that is full of her signature style and savvy twists.

Review: Short stories aren't usually my cup of tea, but after reading Heist Society by Ally Carter, I was immediately drawn to reading Double Crossed. It was a fun, simple read packed to the punch with spy/thief action that Ally writes best. Now, not only am I intrigued to finish reading the Heist Society series, but I also want to start reading the Gallagher Girl series.

Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: Shine

Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Review: This was yet another book on the Battle reading list. Another girl on my team read it before me and I read it, thinking nobody else had yet. Whatever. (: Anywho, her reading it too was a bonus because we could have book discussions about it. Trust me, you'll need to talk about this book with someone.

Like I said, I read this book because I didn't think anyone on my team had read it yet, so I picked it up without reading the synopsis. I had no idea what it was about. After reading the first chapter, it's safe to say I was more than surprised about the topic. An attempted murder on a gay teenager in a small town. In Shine, because Patrick is a gay teenager, it changes the way the investigation is handled. The sheriff department labels it from an attempted murder to a hate crime. And that's about as far as they get on the situation. That's what Cat thinks anyway.

Being sixteen-years-old myself, I could easily put myself in Cat's shoes. She took it upon herself to find the person who put Patrick in a coma, no matter how dangerous it was. She sent herself and those closest to her on an adventure that un-buries dark secrets that haven't been dug up in years, or secrets that nobody knew about in the first place. I fell in love with Cat quickly because she's a strong female character that learns how to take care of herself and not depend on others. After she was raped by her brother's best friend at thirteen, her world was turned upside down and she felt helpless and alone. She pushed all of her friends away and came to the conclusion that her older brother, Christian, never cared about her in the first place. After Patrick's attack, she decides to stop hiding from everything and everyone and face her fears to help her friend. It was hard not to applaud for her during her investigation of Patrick's case.

Another character I fell in love with was Christian. Whether Cat knew it or not, he always had her back. He cared about Cat so much that he risked his life for her. If I had an older brother, I imagine he would be like Christian. I don't usually get confused by characters, maybe their thoughts or actions, but never the character themselves. Jason was the first character that confused me. He was rude to Cat at the local library and called her a nickname, then all of a sudden he's willing to help her find Patrick's attacker. Anybody else confused by this sudden change of heart, or was it just me?

I'm a big fan of crime shows, (I watch Castle and Criminal Minds on a daily basis), but I've only read a few crime/mystery books. I enjoy plot twists and not knowing who the real "killer" is until the end, and Shine did not disappoint. I strongly urge readers to pick this book up and read it ASAP. The thrill aspect is great, but the way Lauren Myracle writes about modern issues (gay marriage and rape) is tastefully done. Because of that, Shine gets a 5.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Review: Steve Jobs - The Man Who Thought Different

Title: Steve Jobs - The Man Who Thought Different
Author: Karen Blumenthal
Publisher: Square Fish
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): "Your time is limited. . . . have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."--Steve Jobs. From the start, his path was never predictable. Steve Jobs was given up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college after one semester, and at the age of twenty, created Apple in his parents' garage with his friend Steve Wozniack. Then came the core and hallmark of his genius--his exacting moderation for perfection, his counterculture life approach, and his level of taste and style that pushed all boundaries. A devoted husband, father, and Buddhist, he battled cancer for over a decade, became the ultimate CEO, and made the world want every product he touched. Critically acclaimed author Karen Blumenthal takes us to the core of this complicated and legendary man while simultaneously exploring the evolution of computers. Framed by Jobs' inspirational Stanford commencement speech and illustrated throughout with black and white photos, this is the story of the man who changed our world.

Review: I am participating in another year of my school's "reading battle" called Battle of the Books. Not only do I enjoy this competition because I have the best team in the world, but I also get to read a handful of books I probably wouldn't have before. Biographies never really were my thing, (I'm more of a fiction girl), but this one kept my attention for the most part.

I've had my iPad for a couple of years now, and I never really thought about what exactly triggered the idea of the tablet in Steve Jobs' mind. This, along with many other facts about Steve Jobs and the Apple company, surprised me. I don't exactly know why I was stunned by some of Jobs' behavior or the development of Apple because I never was on the inside of the whole operation, but what would have offended others inspired me.

Steve Jobs strived for perfection. This makes sense due to the fact that most, if not all, Apple stores are spotless. Not only did Apple products need to be simple for all to use, but they also needed to look flawless. Jobs hated power buttons, therefore, the first models of iPods lacked them. Jobs didn't always like his employees' ideas right away, but would more than likely warm up to them on a later date. He built Apple from the ground up, the idea born in a garage. He was fired from his own business, started a new one (NeXT), became the largest shareholder of Disney-Pixar after Pixar's several movie successes including Toy Story and Cars, and, finally, made a deal with Apple scoring him his old job back. How can Jobs not be an inspiration?

I was pleasantly surprised after reading Steve Jobs - The Man Who Thought Different. Karen Blumenthal did a fabulous job mapping out Steve Jobs' journey from meeting Woz to presenting his last Apple product. Now, I just have to get myself a copy of the new movie, Jobs. The similarities between Jobs and Ashton Kutcher are ridiculous. Seriously though, Ashton Kutcher and Steve Jobs could be related. (Image from