Category Archives: Simon and Schuster

Review: Wrecked by Anna Davies

Wrecked by Anna Davies
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 1, 2012
Source: Purchased

Secrets of the sea have never been sexier than this.

Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

I really wanted to like this book. I love mermaid stories, and I absolutely adore the cover to this. But Wrecked just didn’t work for me.

Short explanation starts now. The characters didn’t really feel all that fleshed out. I didn’t understand why everyone automatically hated Miranda just because she was driving the boat during the accident. The writing was not great, and things were sometimes repeated or were contradictory. There were choppy sentences sometimes, and then there were just wordy sentences that felt like filler. I also couldn’t understand how Miranda could fall in insta-love with Christian after the crash. The story was just full of little holes that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

Every now and then when I read a debut I’m sometimes flabbergasted by how awesome a book is and surprised it’s the author’s first. That was not the case this time. I could tell this was a debut. If you like mermaid stories give it a try, but I would definitely suggest borrowing this from a friend or the library, instead of buying.

Review: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 1, 2012
Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:
The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…

Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been… even as their carefully constructed façade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one… the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.

I was so incredibly excited for this book. It’s one I had thought about trying to actually request a review copy from the publisher, but decided to wait and just purchase it. I have to be honest though, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It felt a little bit like a rip off of Downtown Abbey.

There are two sisters, Maggie and Lila. Maggie would be Mary, and Lila would be Edith. Lord and Lady Darlington are trying to marry off Maggie to a rich old guy, or the rich young guy that’s recently come to stay with the Darlingtons. There was no real character growth for any of these characters since we’re dropped into the middle of the story at the beginning. The two rich twins that come to stay didn’t really feel necessary at all, because as soon as Maggie spurns Teddy, it’s like they’re instantly forgotten, and only a small bit is said about them at the end of the book.

The focus is mainly on the romance between Maggie and someone on the staff, and a shocking secret that is revealed. Actually two shocking secrets, because one of the other staff has something revealed that was entirely predictable. I didn’t really like the newspaper satires that were inserted throughout the story, they felt more ridiculous than they should’ve been and just felt like interruptions. The only thing I really enjoyed was the ending, because that did surprise me just a little bit.

Overall, this book suffered from being short. I think it could’ve been fleshed out better plot-wise and character depth-wise if it had been longer than just 276 pages. I know many of us are feeling the void of no airing Downton Abbey right now, and while this definitely will not fill it, it may help temporarily. If you like historical fiction give it a try, but it just wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: February 21, 2012
Source: Around the World Tours
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Purchase: Book Depository

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.

I have to say, I vastly enjoyed Fever more compared to Wither. It just felt like things were moving more quickly, and there was more action, especially in the very beginning and at the end. And wow, that end. While the first novel was definitely dark, this one goes beyond the darkness of the first one.
There isn’t anything really revealed that was astonishing or a plot twist, but the action picked up right at the beginning. Fever also starts off exactly where Wither left things. As soon as Rhine and Gabriel escape the mansion, they’re almost immediately prisoners of another kind, temporarily. Despite how dismal the place was, Lauren DeStefano described it in such a way that made it seem colorful while decaying, which is an image that fits perfectly with her world.
I liked Rhine in Fever. She seemed to become more confidant despite the various circumstances they found themselves in, though near the end she seemed to do a 180, which kind of confused me. Even with her being sick around the same time as this 180, I didn’t feel the sudden change was smooth. I have to say I felt bad for Gabriel. A lot happens along their way to Manhattan, but man he stuck it out and never complained. I seriously hope we see more of him in the third book.
The only thing I didn’t like about Fever was the lack of information about the virus, or whatever this defect is. We still don’t know how it came about, or all of what’s being done to counteract it. We only know vaguely what Vaughn is doing, which we see more of definitely in Fever. I really hope this is finally explained the in the last book.
Like I said in the beginning, Fever better than Wither and kept me hooked until the end. And once I read that last page, and what is revealed there I knew there was no way I’d miss what is sure to be an explosive ending to this series. Even if you have lukewarm feelings to Wither like I did, I suggest you read Fever. It definitely changed my opinion on this series.

Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Around the World Tours
Series: Incarnation #1
Purchase: Book Depository

People say ‘love never dies’… but love might be the death of Seraphina. Seraphina has been alive since the Middle Ages, when her boyfriend, Cyrus, managed to perfect a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. Sera ran away from Cyrus years ago, when she realized that what they were doing—taking the lives of innocent people—was wrong. She doesn’t want to die, so she finds young people who are on the brink of death, and inhabits their bodies. When we meet Sera, she has landed in the body of a girl named Kailey who was about to die in a car accident. For the first time, Sera falls in love with the life of the person she’s inhabiting. Sera also falls for the boy next door, Noah. And soon it’s clear the feelings are returned. Unfortunately, she can never kiss Noah, because for her to touch lips with a human would mean the human’s death. And she has even more to worry about: Cyrus is chasing her, and if she stays in one place for long, she puts herself—and the people she’s grown to care for—in danger.

I finished The Alchemy of Forever last night, but it took me five days to read. It’s only 256 pages, which at my normal pace would only take me two days, unless I absolutely loved it in which case I could’ve finished it in one. I did not however. I’ll be honest, this book and I were not a good match, which is unfortunate because I thought I would love it.

I think for me what killed is that I didn’t really feel like there was any character development. We have two six-hundred year old kids, and yet I don’t know anything about them, except that apparently Cyrus is controlling and evil. And while I did see that that was true, he was barely present for the entire novel. The book would have been more suspenseful and page-turning for me if he’d been more involved with the plot than just being the ghost of a threat.

The rest of the characters, including Sera herself, weren’t much better. I’m sorry but I just couldn’t find any real personality in these people. Except in Sera/Kailey, who is clearly someone wracked with indecision with any major decision she has to make. Kill herself, don’t. Run away, don’t. And we hardly got to know anything about the others. The only thing we learn about the coven is how each member was met and made into an Incarnate. I would’ve loved more character development, especially more back story about the time these people have spent together, the bonds created from that.

There were also some things that felt like they got dropped. Sera/Kailey helps a girl named Taryn, who ends up supposedly stealing Sera’s bag of important stuff. While it’s a likely assumption, we don’t actually know that’s what happens, and Sera makes a paltry effort at finding Taryn, then seems to forget about that entirely near the end. And the ending was completely WTF. If what I think has happened did happen, that just ticks me off.

Overall, this book just didn’t do it for me, which definitely saddened me. Usually I know what I’m likely to enjoy so this doesn’t happen very often, and is the reason why there aren’t very many reviews like this. I have not decided yet whether I’ll read the inevitable sequel for this book.

I didn’t love this book, but here are some who did. Get both sides of the spectrum!

Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: July 26, 2011
Source: Publisher, for an honest review
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Challenge: 350+ Page challenge
Debut Author Challenge
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
Every flame begins with a spark.
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

When I first saw this book, the cover is what intially drew me, because let’s be honest. It’s awesome. Then I discovered the authors blog, and all his vlogs. I watched them and they made me laugh so much. With such an awesome sense of humor, I was definitely curious to see what kind of book he wrote.

The beginning of the book was written in such a way that it had a cinematic feel to it, I could really see it vividly in my mind. That doesn’t happen very often for me, so I always love it when I do. Wildefire was descriptive enough for that without going overboard like some books do. The writing flowed very well, making this a fast 400 pages.

I loved Ashline. She was a kick-butt female who didn’t need the man to save her. I loved how the men, while present, kind of took a backseat during action scenes, and Lily and Raja, along with Ash, were given the spotlight. I love an author that isn’t afraid to do things with their characters, even hard and sad things. It makes the book feel more real. Eve, Ash’s older sister, was someting else. I would have liked more backstory on how she became the way she is, so I’m hoping that might show up in either of the two sequels. But wow, was she crazy. I’m also hoping for more development for all of them in later books, as I felt like we didn’t get to see much behind who they are.

In terms of Colt and romance, there is some present in the book, but it is not the main storyline. While Ash does think about him a lot even when he isn’t around, her mind isn’t consumed by him, which was nice. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of him, but it works out for the story that he wasn’t present as often as main love interests usually are. Gives him an air of mystery.

I had read somewhere last week that Karsten leaves Wildefire on a cliffhanger. I got to the last chapter before the epilogue, and with the way it ended I was wondering what the cliffhanger could possibly be. After the epilogue, my mind was blown. It never occured to me that that would be a possibility. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how that plays out in book two.

This book had all the hype, it was definitely one I was excited for. And I was not let down. This is an awesome debut and I can’t wait to read more. If you like YA books that revolve around mythology in the plot, this is definitely for you.

Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Source: Good Golly Miss Holly Arc Tours
Format: ARC paperback, 232 pages
Challenge: Debut Author
Purchase: Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

Summary from GoodReads:
I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I’ve thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna’s life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It’s bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna’s mother’s death- stays buried forever.

My thoughts on Moonglass

Moonglass is one of those books that starts out lighthearted, but as you dive deeper into the story you watch as Anna and her father deal with the repercussions of her mother’s choice to end her life. Their inability to deal with each after this threaten to tear them apart even further, but in the end they work it out.

The pacing of this story was excellent, nothing felt rushed. We watch as Anna comes across many things that remind her of her mother and what happened, unavoidable situations that now that they’re back in her mother’s hometown. And each time they keep building up the pressure in her until she breaks, but that is when the real healing finally starts.

While romance does have play a part in this, it’s definitely secondary to primary plot of Anna discovering more about her mother than she previously knew. Tyler was awesome. One of the most real leading male characters I’ve come across. He actually reminded me of someone I know, with that little bit of cockiness, but overall caring personality. And I loved Ashley. She’s definitely the poster girl for the saying “Dont judge a book by it’s cover.” You think you know who she is after first meeting her, but throughout the story she surprises you by how thoughtful and caring she really is. I would definitely love to have a friend like her.

This book definitely put me in the mood to be at the beach, that’s how awesome Jessi Kirby was with her descriptions. I felt like I was really there. This is definitely a summer beach read you don’t want to miss.