Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Best Of Her Best: Dangerous Lies - Becca Fitzpatrick

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick 
Date Released: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 

Pages: 400 pages 
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review from Teenreads.com
Rating: 4 Stars!
Series: Standalone!

Goodreads Synopsis: A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

From Goodreads


I went into Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick with no high expectations. Her other novels, Black Ice, was an okay read and I still have yet to pick up her Hush, Hush series, so I knew I couldn't set any high expectations. 

But wow, I was so wrong with that!

Dangerous Lies was a perfectly weaved witness protection program novel that had elements of action and suspense with a strong romance. I was so surprised on how much I greatly enjoyed the book, especially how far Fitzpatrick was able to develop her writing more. The dialogue was fluid and the plot was moving.

Dangerous Lies begins with Stella Gordon whose life has been turned upside down every since a violent crime involving her mother and Stella sent her to the Witness Protection Program. I enjoyed Stella, she was well-written and I think one of Fitzpatrick's best characters written. She goes through so much in the novel from a druggie mother who has a relationship with a leader of a drug cartel to the adjustments she makes moving to Thunder Basin, Nebraska, any reader can't help but relate to her. As she makes her way in Thunder Basin with the care of Carmina, Stella meets Chet Falconer who changes the person she become. The characters in Dangerous Lies might be a small size, but each one was well developed. There is such a flow between the characters and what they say, it very much felt real. In addition, I loved how fast the book started right away. Right from the first page, you get hit with Stella's situation and it all climaxes until the very end. 

I absolutely love witness protection program books, especially when it's filled with tons of suspense and action. Dangerous Lies was a great novel that tackles so much more than just living the consequences of your action. It was about coming face to face with what is really going on among it all and identity. I love how Fitzpatrick grew Stella's character throughout the novel. Despite the novel centering on Stella's relationship with Chet, Fitzpatrick brings up other aspects of the novel such as Carmina's past, Stella's mom, that are weaved throughly.

Ultimately, Dangerous Lies was a home run. Complex characters and a fast paced story line will have any reader on the edge of their seat. Check this one out!


Find Dangerous Lies On:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just Good: Break Away - Kat Spears

BreakawayBreak Away by Kat Spears
Date Released: September 15, 2015
Pub
lisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Pages: 290 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Rating: 3 Stars
Series: Standalone!

Goodreads Synopsis: When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick.

Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold on to the friendships he has always relied on. 

A witty and emotionally moving tale of friendship, first love, and loss, Breakaway is Kat Spears at her finest.

From Goodreads


You know when you are hyped up for a book, the moment when you can't wait to sink into the pages of a promising story? Then after finishing it, it was nothing special just good? Yeah, that how I felt with Break Away by Kat Spears. I was greatly looking forward to picking up her latest one. Everything about it seemed liked the perfect young adult contemporary novel, but it was just a good book. Nothing special here or there, just good. Average.

Break Away begins the story of Jason Marshall whose younger sister recently passed away. Jason was a great character, I believe any teenager could easily relate as he deals with family issues to friend problems and his girlfriend Raine. Jason also deals with a mother who is stuck in her own world grieving and a father who was never there to begin with in Jason's life. Having his life turned around he knows he can count on his friends - Mario, Jordie, and Chick to help him get through it. Spears does a wonderful job crafting each of Jason's friends. From Chick's social awkwardness and shyness to Mario, a upbeat friend and even Jordie who helped introduce Raine, a girl who is ready for change, to Jason. Spears definitely hit the mark on the characters, everyone felt real and true to what teens would experience today. 

The book does focus greatly on Jason and Raine's relationship. From Jason dealing with family issues to Raine finding her way and place in school and in the world, I could easily relate to it all. It was so easy to step into Jason's shoes and experience what he went through, and I thought that is what made it a good novel. The relationship between Jason and Raine felt honest and true. It was not any of those fast paced relationships typical in young adult contemporary novels. 

Overall, Break Away was a solid novel. Nothing special, but well written and crafted to match the nature of teens and life's issues. I feel like every reader can relate to any of the characters and be sure to check this one out!

Find Break Away On:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Historical Thriller: These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow GravesThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly 
Date Released: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Random House Delacorte 

Pages: 496 pages
Format: ARC
Source: For Review Fr
om Teenreads!
Rating: 4 Stars!
Series: Standalone

Goodreads Synopsis: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
 
From Goodreads


These Shallow Graves was such a complex, rich historical novel that brought me back into reading. Everything about it, from it's quirky, emotional characters to a dark plot had me racing through the pages. I read Donnelly's other novel, Revolution, and loved it. It was great knowing These Shallow Graves lived up to my expectations!

The novel circles around the Victorian era. Girls forced into arranged marriages. The corrupt media spreading lies. The powerful men dominating the social classes. Donnelly creates such a rich and detailed setting, I was automatically drawn into it. The protagonist, Joe Montfort is from a rich, well-established family. She has big dreams to become a new reporter, but as her father's fatal death comes crashing into her life, that dream is far from reality. Her dad's death instantly sets the dark, suspenseful tone of the novel. I greatly enjoyed how Donnelly took the type to establish Joe and her motivating and strong personality within the first few chapters. 

As Joe searches for the answers to whom killed her dad, she meets Eddie Gallagher, a new reporter, someone she would never see herself talking with. Or much less fall in love. Joe and Eddies were great foil characters for each other. Joe is such a determined and strong willed character she balanced out Eddie's whimsical, caring attitude. The novel delves upon dark secrets hidden within Joe's world, but also the world Eddie comes from. While Donnelly's idea is not new, she presents it in her own way and provides a twist that I never saw coming!

The novel definitely kicked up as Joe and Eddies uncovered clues pertaining to her dad's killer. Joe and Eddies go through many emotional journeys from Joe's arranged marriage with Bram to a close betrayal from a family member, you can't help but be in her shoes. Another great thing was that Donnelly did not circle the whole novel around them. It was all about the killer and uncovering her family secrets. The romance between it all added to the emotional appeal of the novel and added a great depth to the novel. 

In all honestly, I believed Donnelly could have sped up on revealing who the killer is. 496 pages was a lot and she could have produced a much stronger novel with fewer pages. Some chapters just dragged me down and I felt like it didn't contribute to the novel as a whole. 

Ultimately, These Shallow Graves is one of my favorite historical YA novel from this year! Donnelly is back with a richly drawn novel filled with complex characters and a killer that will have you on the edge of you seat!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Life Updates: College Apps, Stress, Looking for Blog Designers



September was just brutal...I was so stressed out with everything and barely had time to do the blog, I feel like such a let down :/ As October approaches, I hope to still have time to read and blog just that senior year and college and stress reached a whole new level!


But I'm glad I have been reading much more and keeping up with emails and being active on social media! College apps have been pretty intense for the most part. If you guys have any advice please tell me here or on social media! And especially dealing with stress and school/time management!

I will definitely still be reading behind the scenes, I just need to find the time to write reviews and posts, I'll just see how October treats me. I MISS blogging!

ALSO! I am looking to change up my blog design, if you know anyone please tell me on social media or here in the comments section! 


Be sure to follow me on my social media to keep up with me :)
Instagram: https://instagram.com/patrick_castro_/
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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/PatrickkCastro/
Tumblr: http://castropatrick.tumblr.com/

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Best of The Best: The Fixer - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer (The Fixer, #1)The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
Date Released: July 7, 2015
Publisher: 
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 384 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: LOVED IT! (5 Stars)
Series: Standalone!

Goodreads Synopsis: This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.


From Goodreads


Wow. Just wow. I loved everything in Barnes's new book The Fixer, from it's strong heroine to a suspenseful story line set in the scandalous DC, it was perfect! I've read a couple of Barnes's other books, but The Fixer tops all of them off, and possibly is one of my favorite reads of 2015 so far! 

The Fixer begins when Tess Kendrick's life is turned in a whole different direction when her sister, Ivy Kendrick takes her away from her grandfather. Tess's relationship with grandfather has been strong ever since the death of her parents. Ivy then whisks her away into the political, social bubble of DC where she is enrolled in Hardwicke Academy, where all the rich and powerful elite children go. But Tess knows something is up and she begins question who her sister really is and the power she hold in DC, known as "the fixer". I absolutely loved Tess, she was a good smart, sassy, and knew what she had to do. She was the type of person you know would do anything to undercover a mystery and Barnes wrote her well. Plus all the other characters, such as Ivy, Adam, Vivie were all great, they each had their own struggles that brought the novel together. I honestly felt sooo sad for Vivie, especially the things she goes through, that was brutal!

Action and suspense are the bread and butter to the novel. I loved the suspense after each chapter, Barnes always leaves you hanging making you read more and more. Tess learns so much more about her family, herself, and the world she is now part of, I did feel sad for her, but she is a tough character and she fought it through. Another aspect I loved was the whole Scandal vibes I got from this! I felt like I saw Ivy as Olivia Pope and it oozed Scandal. If you have not picked up that TV show, it is a must watch! 

Overall, I LOVED The Fixer a perfect balance of romance, action, scandal, and drama. Perfect for any reader looking for a great suspenseful, scandalous novel, YOU NEED TO PICK THIS ONE UP!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#86) - These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly


Waiting on Wednesday is Hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine

These Shallow Graves
Goodreads Summary: Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.

Why I'm Waiting For It: I absolutely loved Donnelly's Revolution so when I received the book from Teenboard to review I was beyond happy!

These Shallow Graves sounds amazing and I love how it is set in the gilded age New York. But also the topic of dealing with the past and secrets. I already expect this one to be mind blowingly amazing! And if you haven't picked up Revolution from her, you must!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Western Inspired: Vengance Road - Erin Bowman

Vengeance RoadVengeance Road by Erin Bowman 
Date Released: September 1, 2015
Publisher: 
HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 pages
Format: ARC
Source: For Review From Teenboard
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Standalone!

Goodreads Synopsis: When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

From Goodreads


Thrilling. Racing. Action packed. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman was a great novel that was so unique and fresh, I enjoyed reading it. Featuring a strong protagonist with a passion driving her around the dry, hot desert of the West. 

The novel begins with Kate Thompson, who is disguised as Nate Thompson in hopes of finding her father's journal. Her father was killed by the Rose Riders and now Kate has no one left but herself. She was a strong, fierce character is absolutely radiated off the pages. She has one goal and she achieves it. While there is tons of action and suspense in the novel, Bowman balances it with a growing romance between Kate and Jesse. She introduces two guys: Jesse and Will that help her on her path to vengeance and I enjoyed seeing how they worked together.  I thought Kate and Jesse were great for each other and I love the companionship they each had for one another. The novel may have a small cast of characters, Bowman does a fantastic job weaving in the Rose Riders, the wild West, and Kate. 

One thing that stood out from the novel that I enjoyed was the ending of the novel. It took me by surprise! Bowman mind blows you with a twist that I did not see coming at all. The least I could say was that it was suspenseful! I love how the book came together and it was well done :)

Overall, Vengeance Road was a great novel. I do wish the novel was more complex in terms of Kate as a character overall and her family relations. But that being said, it was still a fantastic novel that will have you looking at the West in a whole new light.

Pick this one up now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What's On My Playlist? (#3)


I hope you guys had an amazing Labor Day weekend! I was mostly busy with school and college apps, but I did manage to go places and I went to a new cafe so be on the lookout for a new In LA feature! 

This week's playlist is definitely upbeat and fun! I think these songs are great to listen to if you looking to start your day or need a pick me up :)

1.) Should've Been Us - Tori Kelly

2.) In The Night - The Weeknd 

3.) Search Party - Sam Bruno 

4.) Runaway (U & I) - Galantis 

5.) Photograph - Ed Sheeran

That is it for this week's "what on my playlist"! Hope you listen to the songs and if you have any suggestions for music or new artists, I'd love to check them out, so leave a comment below!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Quick & Simple: Hide & Seek (Jess Tennant #3) - Jane Casey

Hide and SeekHide & Seek by Jane Casey 
Date Released: August 25, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Pages: 288 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review (Thanks!)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: (Jess Tennant #3)

Goodreads Synopsis: Jess Tennant's classmate is kidnapped right before the Christmas holiday in this third novel in Jane Casey's brilliant young adult mystery series.

It's Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. She wasn't sure how she felt about moving away from London when her mom dragged her to Port Sentinel right before the beginning of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There's a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink, and fairy lights decorate the bare trees all over town.

For one of Jess's classmates, though, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She's been kidnapped and is being held in a dilapidated cottage near a deserted beach. And Jess might be the only one who can figure out where she is in time to rescue her.

Hide and Seek is another delightfully clever young adult mystery from beloved author Jane Casey.


From Goodreads


I greatly enjoy the Jess Tennant series and the third book was a bit overshadowed by the first two. Don't get me wrong, I loved the second one, but the third one just felt flat, it was good, but I wished it was more complex in terms of mystery and plot. Ultimately, it turned out a great read and definitely still worth picking up seeing how everything in Jess's life turns out. 

Hide and Seek just by the title relates to a lot of what goes on in the novel. It is Christmas in Port Sentinel and the mystery begins when one of Jess's classmates is kidnapped and held in a cottage near a beach. The tensions in the novel were intense and everything moved pretty quickly. Jess is just as great of a protagonist as she is in the previous books, and in this one, she deals a lot more with her emotions towards Will and family circles. Casey does a great job with weaving together a mystery, but also exploring Jess and her emotions as well.

I'd have to admit, the mystery of the novel was bit cliche, but I didn't suspect who did what until the very end. I wish Casey added more plot to the whole novel, things just needed to be more developed. The action was okay, nothing super crazy, just was hoping for more out of Jess and her incredible abilities to rescue people and solve mysteries. It almost seemed too easy...

But overall, I enjoyed reading the finale to the Jess Tennant series! It was a quick and simple book and goes straight to the point. Be sure to pick this one up if your reading the Jess Tennant series or looking for a new mystery series to start!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Interview/Video + Giveaway: Dream Things True - Marie Marquardt



For my stop on Marquardt's Dream Things True tour, I'll be doing an interview, video, and giveaway! Be sure check out everything below as I update the post with an interview and a video clip from the author! :) Thanks so much for St. Martin's Press for reaching out to me and I'm glad to be on this tour!

Interview: 

1.) What was the inspiration behind the book?
Because I’ve written non-fiction books about undocumented immigration, I often get asked to talk with groups of non-immigrants about these issues. I know a lot of facts and figures, and these help people think about immigration in new ways, but I find that what really matters is relationship – knowing and loving a person who faces these issues is what makes a person care. Not everyone gets the chance to know and love an undocumented immigrant, but fiction can give us all the opportunity to step into others’ lives – in this case, the lives of undocumented immigrants and the people who love them.  This is powerful, and I believe it is so important – it helps us to overcome all of the politicized rhetoric, and simply see each other as human beings deserving of love and respect. So I decided to take all those years of research and write a love story with them. 

2.) Which character best resembles you and why?
Like Alma, I was a very driven student, and I dreamed of becoming (of all things!) a cultural anthropologist. Like Evan, I sort-of lived in a world of Southern comfort, but I never felt at home there. Probably, as an adult, I can relate most closely to Alma’s middle school counselor and mentor, Mrs. King. I have worked with many undocumented teens and, like Alma’s counselor, I have experienced the pain and frustration of trying to help them overcome barriers, knowing that those barriers are almost insurmountable. 

3.) In 140 words or less (Twitter style!), describe Dream Things True!
(Yikes. This is hard.)

Alma is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Evan is a privileged Southern boy. They fall in love, in a world that wants to keep them apart.

4.) Do you have a music playlist inspired by the book? If so, give a couple of the songs!

There’s a story in this answer! I sort of have the reverse – a book inspired by a music playlist. A few years ago, I reconnected with one of my best friends from high school who would always give me fabulous mixtapes. After we finished lunch he gave me a mix that had “18 Songs from JRB” (his initials) written on it.

I listened to the mix as I was driving across Florida, and when the eighteen songs were over, I pulled over and texted him: listening to this music felt like coming home. I had never heard of any of the songs on the mix. I didn’t even know the bands. It’s a totally random assortment of songs – from  “Boy with a Coin” by Iron & Wine to “Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups to “Be Mine!” by Robyn.

I listened obsessively to the mix and built Evan and Alma’s story around it. The music gave me the emotional arc for the story. It took me a very long time to write Dream Things True, because I kept having to set it aside. But whenever I listened to “18 Songs from JRB”, I was immersed right back into the story. So: Thanks JRB (and send me another mix ASAP)!

5.) One Wish. A Fav Quote. A Fav TV/Movie.
On days like today, it would be really great to slow down time. So I guess I’ll go with that wish, even though I suppose it’s a bit more selfish than, say, world peace. 

6.) What book are you currently reading? 
Like No Other by Una LaMarche. I’m loving it.


Giveaway:

One winner, US/Int will win a brand new copy of Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt!

Enter the giveaway through the rafflecopter entries below!


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