Waiting on Wednesday: Mayday

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Mayday
Author: Jonathan Friesen (Twitter)
Publisher: Speak
Publish Date: April 10, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 304

Why’d I do it? I suppose it’s the only question that really matters.

Seventeen-year-old Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. First, she won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t exactly as clear-cut as she remembered.
You know me and dark books, guys. I get the feeling from this itty bitty synopsis alone that Mayday is going to offer us all that and more. I love that it's vague enough to hook me, but tells me just enough to know that there are some hard-hitting stakes at play. Plus, I love books that play off of a powerful family dynamic, which it sounds as though this does. I'm sold. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Best & Worst Book Endings

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

The Top Ten Best & Worst Book Book Endings

1. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - I'm usually not a fan of epilogues, but after growing up with this series, watching the endless toils and struggles and really rooting for that happily ever after, I was glad there was a true conclusion to this series. Plus, even before the epilogue, we get to see this story come to completion. Epic. Win.

2. My Sister's Keeper - Some of you might fight me on this one because, no, this is certainly not a happily ever after. It is not a feel-good ending, but it is perfect. This is the type of contemporary ending that I want to read - something plausible, real and heartbreaking. I still want to kick the movie producer/writer/everyone in the face for ruining the film.

3. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Well, you know me and cliffhangers, right? I hate them. I pretty much always stay away from them if I can, and I've previously stated that I will avoid books that openly feature cliffhangers. However, I have to say that this aptly-titled "cliffhanger of doom" is the exception to the rule. Well played, Michelle. Well played. 

4. The Fault in Our Stars - Again with the realistic, powerful and emotional endings. I think that with a book that is as emotionally-charged as this one, we don't need ribbons and bows at the end. We need, perhaps, a touch of hope, but even more so, we want to believe we've been on a true journey. That's what this book end offers us...perspective.

5. Not a Drop to Drink - This is one of those books that's had a lot of mixed reviews, but I ended up really liking it. I didn't like the ending prior to the epilogue - I felt it was hurried - but the epilogue redeemed the story. Watching these characters come full-circle and seeing that it wasn't just a love story disguised a dystopian was refreshing.

6. This World We Live In - Ugh. If you remember, I told you that I loved this series. And, trust me, I really do. I adored the first book, and I was so committed that I even read the fourth installment. This book, however, garnered a two-star review from me in large part because of the utterly hopeless ending. "Love and lies"...pshhhh, b*tch, please. Ugh.

7. Mockingjay - Honestly, I was so wrapped up in this series, that I thought I liked the ending of it for a long time. The more I thought about it, and the more I read it though, the less pleased I was. I felt like it hurried to this boring conclusion where, yes, she ends up with the guy I wanted, but no, I didn't feel like it was a conclusion. It just felt...blah.

8. Various Positions - This book...where to start? First of all, this book is not young adult. We're given a 14-year-old MC that lives in this hyper-sexualized, completely atrocious world of ballet that, frankly, offended the crap out of me. It's one thing to tastefully broach the topic of such indiscretions. It's another thing, entirely to give us a story like this where no lesson is learned in the end. 

9. Carnival of Souls - I was so iffy on this book as a whole, that this might be a bit of a copout for me to even list it up here. However, this book was touted as "the next big thing," and if you remember the media hype for it, you were probably as excited as I was to read it. This confusing book, however, bears a lackluster conclusion that's pretty much, well, forgettable.

10. The Time Traveler's Wife - Perhaps it's the theory of time, or perhaps it's the simple paradox of it all that made this ending just feel extremely bleak, melodramatic and hopeless for me. I get the romance of it all. Trust me, I do. I do not, however, understand why it had to end this way, and perhaps I'm too blonde, but it was too much for me to comprehend anyway.

Giveaway: Percy Jackson & the Sea of Monsters Movie Tickets & Book

Monday, July 29, 2013

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that I was convinced a very long time ago to give this middle grade series a shot, despite my staunch protests and great hesitation. And, well, I loved it. Since devouring the entire Percy Jackson series by author, Rick Riordan, we've had the great fortune of watching this series become an epic  adventure film series. 

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is the second novel in the Percy Jackson series, and Sea of Monsters is the second film in this great new franchise. Today, I'm lucky enough to offer up my amazing followers a fantastic giveaway from the kind folks over at 20th Century Fox. So, without further ado...here's a bit about the film:

Based on the publishing phenomenon, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters continues the young demigod’s epic journey to fulfill his destiny. To save their world, Percy and his friends must find the fabled and powerfully magic Golden Fleece. Embarking on a treacherous odyssey into the uncharted waters of the Sea of Monsters (known to humans as the Bermuda Triangle), they battle terrifying creatures, an army of zombies, and the ultimate Evil.

Starring Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Douglas Smith, Stanley Tucci.

Like I said, one lucky winner on this blog will have the opportunity to win an amazing prize pack from 20th Century Fox. One winner will receive a $15 Visa gift card to see the film in theatres, as well as The Sea of Monsters movie tie-in books. Want to see this prize pack? Yeah, me too.

Per rules from 20th Century Fox, this giveaway is open to US Mailing Addresses only. The total retail value of this sweet prize pack is $22.99 and all prizes will be mailed directly from the source. This giveaway will run for exactly one week until Monday, August 5, 2013 at 12 am EST, at which point one winner will be selected by Random.org and notified by email.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Online
Like Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters on Facebook
Visit the official website
Follow @PercyMovies on Twitter and Instagram
Watch the trailer, clips and more on YouTube
Follow on Tumblr

Winners have 24 hours to respond with their mailing address and information, or a new winner will be selected by Random.org.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is W.A.R. by Lisa & Laura Roecker Review

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Title: This is W.A.R.
Authors: Lisa & Laura Roecker
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publish Date: July 2, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 278
Source: Won

This is W.A.R. begins with a victim who can no longer speak for herself, and whose murder blossoms into a call-to-arms. Enter four very different girls, four very different motives to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan, and only one rule to start: Destroy James Gregory and his family at any cost.

Willa's initials spell the secret rallying cry that spurs the foursome to pool their considerable resources and deliver their particular brand of vigilante justice. Innocence is lost, battles are won—and the pursuit of the truth ultimately threatens to destroy them all.
Willa can't speak up for herself anymore. The time has come and gone for her to fight against the hands that held her underwater until she succumbed to the dark water and her untimely death. Now, stuck in a town run by wealth and fear, four girls will stop at nothing to avenge Willa's death. Each girl has their own reason to avenge Willa's death, and each girl has their own part to play in the Gregory family's destruction. Just how far are the willing to go to do so though?

This is not my first read from author/sister duo, Lisa and Laura Roecker. This is W.A.R. promises the same whirlwind story, teen cult mystery story and engaging characters that their previous novels have. With an engaging premise and a dynamic cast of characters, readers are promised a not so much a guessing game, but rather a telltale story of no-holds-barred revenge. From page one, This is W.A.R. pulls you in to the murky waters with the central character of the story with Willa, and we watch helplessly as she draws her last breath - giving us as much a reason as the characters to hope for righteous justice to be served.

I was immediately pulled in by the premise of this story, and the promise of another great title from the Roecker sisters who seriously delivered with The Liar Society. The book offers us a solid plot, fast-paced writing, dynamic and unique characters and a world that is so chock-full of lies, it might just make your head spin. Our first look into the world of This is W.A.R. is through Willa's eyes, though we know her death is imminent. It's just enough, however, to capture our attention and ensure our investment in the plot to avenge her death. We're then introduced to four equally unique characters; Madge is Willa's stepsister, Rose is the daughter of one of the top-ranked employees of the Club, Lina is the rich rebel, desperately seeking her parents affection and Sloane is, quite simply, dumb as a rock. Normally, I would hate these cut-and-dried stereotypes of characters, but it works because we see the story from each of their points of view. The transitions are well done, the thoughts are unique, and I felt it was a good way to access the story from different angles. However, I did find that some of the characters' POVs were weaker than others. Sloane, for example, was pretty forgettable in the end. She just seemed to almost fill the void for another character. I also had a bit of an issue with the way these girls sought revenge. Trust me, I believe they were invested in the cause for retribution, but their actions spoke differently. I expected true, raw vengeance, but instead saw the girls resort to near-petty pranks to bring down the powerful Gregory family. I guess, perhaps, I was expecting more along the lines of Amanda Clarke's win-at-all-costs type of plot from the show, Revenge. Instead, however, we see hormones slipped into drinks, "damning" pictures coming to light and payoffs left, right and center. While, yes, they're teens and it might not seem really all that plausible, but I really wanted to see them go the darker route that showed a true investment in their cause. This is W.A.R. does manage to redeem itself with the speed of the plot, the fluid prose and the dynamic premise that will, nevertheless, keep you interested.

All in all, despite being a bit let down by certain elements of the story, This is W.A.R. was a pretty solid book with great writing. I'm sure it will please a lot of readers looking for a light revenge tale. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and mysteries.

False Memory by Dan Krokos Review

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Title: False Memory
Author: Dan Krokos (Twitter)
Publisher: Hyperion
Publish Date: August 14, 2012
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher

Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.
Miranda, quite literally, doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got to the park bench, she doesn't know where she came from and she has no idea what this power is that causes people around her to riot and rebel. Lost and alone, Miranda is surprised to find that Peter, a complete stranger, knows more about her than she knows about herself...and the truth is shocking. Miranda isn't just a teenage girl anymore. She's dangerous, she's lethal, and she might very well be the ultimate force of destruction.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for science fiction novels, yet for some reason, False Memory seemed to fly under my radar for the longest time, simply collecting dust on my shelf. I can say with complete certainty that I should have picked it up sooner. Starting with a bang and sending readers into a maze filled with questions, hidden agendas, immense power and enough drama to keep you awake for days, this book is a winner. Dan Krokos has written a story that even the most reluctant science-fiction reader will love.

Despite the fact that I knew nothing about this book going in, I was hooked from page one. Instead of simply offering us backstory and filler prose to bait us, False Memory leaps straight into the plot and surges forward at breakneck speed. We watch as Miranda, our protagonist, wakes up without any knowledge of who she is and where she came from. For a split second I worried that her lack of knowledge regarding herself would hinder my ability to understand her, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Because she doesn't know herself, she kept me guessing. She wasn't very predictable, but that element made her all the more believable because, let's be honest, how would you react if you woke up with no memory at all? I loved that even the secondary characters in the novel engaging and unique. They didn't really take the backburner at all, and every single character played a specific part, which was really refreshing after a string of books where the other characters were just part of the backdrop. What I loved most about the book, however, was this mysterious dark mastermind behind all of these superpowered kids. This evil genius kind of lurks in the shadows throughout the story, but the impact is highly apparent and definitely adds depth (and intrigue) to the overall plot. There is also a touch of romance in this novel and yes, it errs on the side of a triangle. However, never fear - this love triangle is totally different and really engaging. I was actually pretty pleased, and that's saying something. My one and only real issue with the book is that, at times, the first-person narrative felt a bit clunky. Writing in this manner is awesome, but it definitely takes a delicate hand.

Overall though, I was pleased with False Memory, and I think it's a fantastic addition to genre. I'll definitely continue on with this series. I give it a 4 out of 5 and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy sci-fi and dystopian stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Let's Talk: Your Reading Habits

Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Talk is a weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.

And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
How would you describe your reading habits?

This might sound like a complicated question, but it really isn't. I was thinking about it the other day, and I discovered that I have rather strange reading habits. I read rather sporadically, at best, and at odd hours of the day. I do most of my reading either very early in the morning, or rather late at night. I simply struggle to read in the middle of the afternoon.

Furthermore, I have a bit of a rough time if I force myself to sit and read for a long time. Rather, if I allow myself to read whenever and wherever I please, I find I'm able to read for far longer. Plus, I do my very best to read both for pleasure and for reviews more often than not. If I don't, I seriously lack balance.

There's also the matter of what I read since I began blogging again. I used to only read books sent by publishers and authors for review. These days, however, I'm not so afraid to turn down a book that is offered for review if it doesn't spark my interest. I read what I want and, for the most part, when I want.  I think it's important not only for me, but also for my blog. I'm proud to feature titles that don't always have the most hype.

Above all else though, I read for enjoyment these days. If I am really struggling with a book, I don't finish it. I don't think it's fair for me to taint my reviews with the struggle I faced reading them. This just means that I feature books I'm proud to share with my thoughts, whatever they may be, with my readers.

What about you? How would you describe your reading habits these days?

Shallow Pond by Alissa Grosso Review

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Title: Shallow Pond
Author: Alissa Grosso (Twitter)
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: July 8, 2013
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: Author

Barbara “Babie” Bunting is constantly mistaken for her sisters, but she’s determined not to end up like her family. She doesn’t plan to stick around Shallow Pond after graduation, and she certainly won’t be ruined by a broken heart. That is, until fellow orphan Zach Faraday walks into the picture, and Babie can’t deny their chemistry.

When her oldest sister, Annie, comes down with a mysterious illness—initially dismissed as “love sickness”—Babie and Zach start investigating what exactly killed the girls’ mother and why their late father became so consumed by grief. What they find changes everything.
Barbara is the baby of the family. An orphan with two older sisters raising her, she's certain of only one thing: her life is messy...and weird. Shallow Pond is a tiny town - too tiny for Barbara's dreams - and she's counting the days until she can go to college and escape her past and the town's nothingness altogether. But there's something that's holding Barbara and her family in Shallow Pond. There is something darker and more unknown about her very own destiny, and she'll have to uncover that before she can ever truly find herself and escape Shallow Pond forever.

There's something to be said for reading books with little, to no hype at all. I love being able to go into a book entirely blind, formulating my own opinions from the get-go and never having those other reviews fighting for their views to come to the forefront of my mind. Shallow Pond offers readers an intriguing, mysterious and engaging premise. From veteran author, Alissa Grosso, we're given a story of sisters who, outwardly look similar, but they couldn't be more different underneath it all. Fast-paced and well-plotted, Shallow Pond is a guessing-game from start to finish, never revealing the truth until readers are absolutely ready for the big reveal.

I read Shallow Pond in one day. Actually, I read it in about six hours total. It's an engrossing tale that winds you into the mystery from page one. There was a lot that I loved about this book, but I definitely had a few issues with it, as well, though some of them might by petty preferences. Barbara was a tricky character for me. She was so carefully guarded that it made it difficult to get a firm grasp on who she was as person. Plus, her identity was so wrapped up in those of her sisters, Annie and Gracie, that we're never exactly sure who she is and, instead, define her by her desire to escape Shallow Pond for good. When Zach Faraday enters the picture, we watch as Barbara's shell slowly cracks around her, but she keeps replacing it again, and again, and again, though I'm sure she didn't even really know what she wanted. There were times when we got to see this vulnerable girl succumb to the desire to be around Zach, though we're not sure where the desire stems from. Other times, however, she pushes him away almost violently, and we can't help but get annoyed by the constant flip-flopping. It was almost like whiplash over and over. Her sisters are clearly defined with Gracie being the boy-crazy middle child and Annie being the soft-spoken eldest daughter - though the latter remained somewhat of an enigma throughout. We're also offered a handful of secondary characters including her best friends but, at times, they felt more like filler characters, simply adding elements to the pages. Plus, there was a constant sort of derision between Barbara and her friends, which eventually just felt too much like the age-old teenage drama that I wanted to so badly to escape. In terms of highlights, however, the author does a fantastic job with the mystery element and subsequent reveal. I'll be honest and say that of all the scenarios in my mind, that was never even an afterthought. Plus, the foreshadowing is carefully balanced, so we never know too much too soon. Now, if I might be petty, I did have an issue with some of the action verbs of the novel. In normal conversations, despite the frantic and frenzied nature, I would not use "screamed," "shrieked" or "shouted" throughout. I think they pulled me out of the moment and displaced me a bit, which was unfortunate. Furthermore, I think that the final chapters of the novel could have been drawn out further, giving us more backstory and more of an understanding as to why, exactly, their lives had been molded as such.

All in all though, Shallow Pond is a quick, fast and engaging read. The writing style is easy to follow, and the mystery element is extremely well done. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I definitely recommend this story to fans of YA looking for a fast-paced, mystery and sci-fi story. 

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Salvage

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Salvage
Author: Alexandra Duncan (Twitter)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Pages: 400

With one life-altering decision, a sixteen-year-old girl from an isolated community in space is exiled to the over-populated and crumbling Earth.
Wait. What? That's all you're gonna tell us, literary gods? F'reals? C'mon...just a bitty bit more? Guys, I can't tell you how long I searched for a longer synopsis. There is nothing to be found. I both blame and admire Miss Alexandra Duncan for this extreme lack of information that has me salivating for her novel. Legit salivating. I digress. Seriously though, I'm hooked on the sci-fi genre lately, I love me some dark and messy post-apocalyptic dystopian nonsense, and I'd like to curl up inside that book cover. I can has? What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me NOT Read a Book

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

1. Love Triangles - My aversion to these geometric phenomenon is uncanny. I seriously cannot stand the trend. If you MUST have one...why can't it be two girls and one guy? Huh?

2. Catfights - Catty, bitchy girls just grate on me. Perhaps it's a memory of my adolescent years, but the thought of these horrible girls tends to make me avoid them. There are exceptions (Some Girls Are), but for the most part...blergh.

3. Vampires - Colour me burned out on this entire realm of paranormal beings. I missed the boat on the Twilight phenomenon, and I really just don't like them, as a whole. Again, there are exceptions (Vampire Academy, Vampire Empire...etc).

4. James Patterson - I'm in a minority here. I'm okay with that. I read Witch & Wizard by him when I first started blogging, and I wanted to rip my own eyeballs out. I can't un-read it, so what am I to do?

5. Amish - I have an immense respect for the Amish way of life, and I've yet to read a book that doesn't pollute the idea of how they live with our own Western ways. If I'm wrong and you have one, please share!

6. Insta-love - Do I really need to go into this? Love is not instantaneous! Attraction might be, but LOVE is not. I'm sorry...no me gusta! 

7. Animal Cruelty - I swear that, while in school, my educators had a hidden agenda, making us read about animal death 24/7. I cannot fathom what makes people hurt animals, and I will not read books that depict it because I just can't stomach it.

8. Petty Contemporary - Guys, I like me some issues. I like dark, realistic fiction. I want gritty and raw and emotional. Sometimes I can do the fluffy stuff but, more often than not, it's just not for me.

9. Cliffhangers - Here's my beef with these cliffhangers. Sometimes these are done crazy well (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer). Other times, however, they're just a lead-in to the next novel...a ploy, if you will. That is what I don't like.

10. "The Next..." - Okay, let me explain this one. I have a very strong aversion to books being touted as "the next Harry Potter," or "the next..." fill in the blank. Each book deserves its own glory. Why do we have to put them in the same vein? Compare the two, and I expect the same...it's the doom of a book for me.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis Review

Monday, July 22, 2013

Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis (Twitter)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: September 24, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it...
Lynn's life is defined by water...or the lack thereof. Born after the Shortage, she lives in a world where water is so scarce that people live and die in a quest to find it. Raised solely by her mother in this world ravaged by carnage, she knows that, above all else, she has to protect the pond. This, their sole source of water, is the key to their mutual survival, and she must always put the pond first. Without it, and without water, they will die slow, painful deaths. But the water isn't the only thing worth killing for, and Lynn's world is about to turn on its head when she learns that everything she knows might not be enough. 

Although I've been fairly put-off by the dystopian genre in general, I've been intrigued by the premise of Not a Drop to Drink from day one. Offering readers a story that that is dark, terrifying and, frankly, entirely plausible, we're invited into a world so broken that young children learn to defend themselves and their water sources with guns from childhood. Author, Mindy McGinnis, has crafted a new spin on the dystopian genre, inviting readers a story that's dynamic, provocative and incredibly memorable. It's the type of story that will linger; haunting and baiting you with every sip of water you drink.

I'll be entirely honest and say that I wasn't sure what to think at the start of Not a Drop to Drink. It's a very internally-driven story,and although it's written in third-person, we're immediately drawn within Lynn's persona and state of mind. Because we begin with just two primary characters, we see the world in distinct and stark shades of black and white from her perspective, which can be a bit limiting. The story, however, progresses, and we get to see Lynn change from a girl with one sole purpose into someone that welcomes change and evolves as the world begins to change around her, as well. In large part, I loved Lynn's character. She had this aura about her and a carefully-constructed facade of protection around her that shielded her from the worst of her pain. Although, at times, I wish she showed more emotion, it was actually an asset to the storyline that she distanced herself from the worst of her emotions because it made the story a lot more plausible. I also loved that we got to watch as she gradually evolved throughout the novel. The changes weren't immediate, and we never lost sight of her as a person, but as the secondary characters such as Stebbs entered the picture, we began to see the walls melt. Lucy was a brilliant addition to the novel. Her innocent persona perfectly offset the frankness of Lynn's, and they counter-balanced each other well. I was worried that when Eli entered that we would suddenly have an insta-love on our hands, but their careful budding friendship and romance really heightened the tension, the drama and the ultimate stakes of the novel. I did have a few small issues with the novel including the revelation of the backstory. We don't understand how the world became the way it did until the final third of the book, which works, but left me a bit confused until I became too absorbed in the story to care. Also, I felt that the final events of the novel were rushed. The revelations of Lynn's father, the constant mentions of a city we never actually see and the untimely events that we hoped to avoid all happen in an instant, and I do think that the novel could have easily worked with a hundred or more pages. And, although I'm not a fan of epilogues for the most part, I have to say that seeing the story come full circle was a truly beautiful touch. 

All in all though, I really enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink. It's not a happily ever after tale, and it's certainly not a feel-good book, but it's profound and powerful. Despite a few flaws, I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA who enjoy darker dystopian novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

All These Lives by Sarah Wylie Review

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Title: All These Lives
Author: Sarah Wylie (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 245
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.

To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.
Dani's lucky. She seems to avoid death every chance she gets. Jena, her twin, however, is not so lucky. While Dani seems to thwart death's attempts to capture her, Jena's cancer is causing her to knock at death's door, and there is nothing that anybody can do about it. Or can they? Convinced that she has multiple lives and that she, alone, holds the key to her sister's survival, Dani sets about finding a way to give her sister her multiple lives. But life isn't so cut and dried, and sometimes the best of intentions can't even save us in the end.

All These Lives presents a challenge for many a YA reader. Offering what could be a very tried-and-true take on contemporary fiction by giving us a novel that centers around cancer, the book winds us in with a careful, steady hand until we're unable to let go. Author, Sarah Wylie, takes a unique approach to the book though. Rather than offering readers bittersweet sentimentality and saccharine sadness, she gives us a main character that's losing hope, a family that's falling apart and a world that's every bit as bleak as you might think. All These Lives is a maelstrom of emotions, but it leaves the cliches at the door and welcomes you wholeheartedly into reality.

I took my sweet time reading this story, though I've had the book on my shelf for over a year now. It's not that I didn't love the premise though. It's merely the fact that cancer is a tricky topic to tackle in young adult fiction. I find that, more often that not, we get either super sad, tacky and, ultimately irrelevant tales. Or, we're given a story that spins you into a web of flawless prose and literary prowess. All These Lives kind of takes the road less traveled in this respect. It leaves the shock value at the door and, instead, gives us the bleak, cold-hearted truths of this deadly disease through the story of a flawed, but relatable, main character. Dani was a tricky character to get a handle on at first. She never seemed to be able to make up her mind, and her own story is riddled with indecision. At first, it made it difficult to relate to her because I wanted her to just make up her dang mind. However, we slowly watch as she makes mistake after mistake, and we realize that that is the true beauty of her character. Her recklessness is her remedy to the pain and fear that she feels toward her sister's disease. Furthermore, the reactions and interactions between all the characters within the novel felt genuine and real. We watch as her mother turns to prayer to save herself from pain, her father withdraws from it all and Dani is just masking every ounce of pain with attitude and fierce pride. I will admit that All These Lives had a bit of a slow start for me though. The author writes in very subtle and carefully crafted prose that seems slow just for the sake of being slow at first. However, as I moved on through the novel, it began to resonate more. The writing, though quiet and and rather minimalist is in stark contrast to much of the rest of the genre, giving it a truly honest and pure narrative to a bleak, hopeless story.

Overall, I was ultimately impressed with All These Lives. Despite the fact that it took me a bit to get into the story, I think it was ultimately really well done, and I look forward to reading more from the author. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans YA, especially those who enjoy realistic contemporary fiction. 

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Rift by Andrea Cremer Review

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Title: Rift
Author: Andrea Cremer (Twitter)
Publisher: Philomel
Publish Date: August 7, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 430
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess.

When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.
Ember Morrow knows what her fate holds for her. She's destined to live and die by her father's rules, and she'll be married off at a very young age without her consent. But when circumstances change and she is called to the Conatus Guard, she jumps at the chance, relishing the opportunity to escape the rigid confines of her life. Ember learns that the world outside the Conatus is darker than she ever knew, and the magic she learns will come in handy...if she can stop herself from falling head over heels in love first. But nothing is black and white, and Ember has choices to make - ones that could cost her more than her life. 

I have a confession to make. I have not read the entire Nightshade trilogy, and that is in large part to the seemingly overwhelming dissatisfaction with the series' end. I did, however, read the first book, and I loved the characters, the writing style and the journey through the pages. Rift is written in the same voice that I grew to love in the authors previous works, and I'm thrilled to say that author, Andrea Cremer, crafted a thoughtful, passionate and action-packed prequel that's every bit as thrilling as her other novels. With careful precision and expert craft, we're drawn into a world of magic and intrigue that, despite the danger, we're not certain we want to escape. 

I'll admit that I was a bit hesitant to read Rift because of its daunting size. While I know that it takes time to establish a real paranormal world full of magic and multiple character arcs, I worried that I'd be stuck in a maze of a novel from which I couldn't escape. I couldn't have been more wrong. From the very first page, the book sets off at warp speed, delving into the inner workings of this world in which Ember lives. The magic is tangible and forceful, and it's clearly defined, which makes the story easier to become absorbed in. Because we're offered every intricate detail, we can see this world in sharp focus, and I had a clear vision of the light and dark elements of the story, all of which fueled the plot. Though I was worried that the time period in which Rift is set, I was pleased to find that it's an element of the story that is entirely necessary - and poignant - in terms of every event, action and setting we see throughout the book. I do have to say though, the characters are what truly made the story for me. Ember was such a well-rounded character with clear motives, intentions and personality. She wants nothing more than to break free of this mold her father seems to have in mind for her, and she has this powerful force inside of her that drives her to be (and do) more than others expect of her. Her courage and determination made it easy to become invested in her plight, and I'm thrilled to say that she's become a new favourite in terms of heroines for me. There is a also a steady, beautiful, budding romance that soars throughout the novel, rivaling that of another student/mentor relationship I loved (ahem...Vampire Academy). It's a powerful, developing relationship though; one which we see evolve from mutual admiration, to friendship and, ultimately, into a careful, steady and searing romance. Though there is a touch of a love triangle, which you probably know is the kiss of death for me, Ember's choice is always quite clear, and for that I can forgive the blasphemy of yet another triangle. My only issue with the story is that, though I loved the writing style, I struggled with the language of the story for a bit before getting comfortable with it. I'm sure it will work better for others. 

Overall though, I was extremely impressed with Rift and with the adventure I took through its pages. I give it a very strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal stories, paranormal romance and fantasy

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Let's Talk: Books That Would Make Great Movies or Shows

Friday, July 19, 2013

Let's Talk is a weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.

And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
What books do you wish would be made into TV shows or movies?

I'll have you know, this is kind of a double-edged sword with me. I love a good movie and show, but I love a good book, and when an adaptation is made, you always run that risk that, perhaps, the visual interpretation just won't measure up, you know? That said, I never stop wishing (or imagining) about my favourite books being made into films and movies. The following, in my humble opinion, would just be amazing. And awesome. Yeah, I'd die.

A. If you haven't read Code Name Verity yet, I swear you're missing it. It's one incredibly powerful read, and I think it's one of those books that could translate perfectly onto the big screen with the right cast. 

B. This series is a bit of a hot-button issue with me, as you'll probably know if you've been following this blog for a while. I loved how it started, but I hated how it finished. I can almost guarantee it would be amazing as a TV show though...we'd get to know the characters so much more. 

C. I'll bet dollars to donuts that 99% of you haven't read The Last Silk Dress. It's probably my favourite historical fiction of all time - and I read it long before I started blogging. This book would be so, so, so awesome as a movie. With Orlando Bloom. Obvs.

D. I don't know about you guys, but the Gossip Girl TV show bugged the bejeesus out of me. The Daughters series is vaguely reminiscent of it, but without all the trite, socially demeaning drama of the show. I think it would make a wonderful, sweet and fun show. 

What about you? What books do you think would make great films or shows?

TMI Book Tour: Patty Blount Interview

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guys, I am super excited today to be a part of the book tour for TMI, the newest novel from acclaimed author, Patty Blount! Tackling some of the biggest hot-button issues of our society today, including the Internet craze, online personas and even the whole second-life phenomenon.

With a story revolving around our living in the digital age, you'd better believe I was all over this book from the moment I heard about it. Patty offers a daring, tension-filled story that readers are sure to love, and I'm so excited to feature her on the blog today. So, without further ado...the interview!
1. Online friendships and relationships are becoming far more prevalent these days. What interested you in the topic, and what made you decided to base your novel around it?

Strangely enough, the news. I’d seen a story about a mom who created a fake Facebook account to pose as a boy interested in her daughter’s friend just so she could break her heart. It kind of hit me that none of us really know if the people we’re talking to online are who they say they are. Practical Megan would tread very carefully but spontaneous Bailey could get into a lot of trouble – and does.

2. While I was reading TMI, I couldn't help but think about a "catfishing" scenario. Have you ever watched the show, Catfish , or did the concept inspire you in some way?

*laughs* I’ve never heard of Catfish until you mentioned it. I had to look it up! But, the Manti Te’o story was just coming out as I was editing TMI.

3. TMI is extremely character-driven, and that drives the suspense of the novel through the roof. How did you balance fleshing out the characters with developing the mystery between Ryder's online vs. real persona?

Ryder was ‘born’ when his real-life counterpart got his feelings hurt and he wanted revenge. But he started having regrets and second thoughts and that’s when you see his real-life persona enter a scene. Hopefully, you didn’t realize this until the big reveal!

4. Would you describe your personality more like Bailey's: fresh-faced and highly trusting, or would you say you're more like Meg: skeptical and cautious.

Oddly, I’m more like Meg minus the artistic ability. I’m skeptical and cautious. I have developed some real friendships with people I met on Twitter, but that was after months of chatting. The first time I decided to meet one in person, I did so in a public venue only after verifying that person was really scheduled to sign his books there that night. And even then, I didn’t go alone.

5. What books would you say were your greatest literary influences when creating the story of TMI?

Oooo, good question. I read a lot and I read fast, so it’s hard for me to remember what I was reading last year when I wrote this story. Luckily, I have Goodreads to remind me… oh, here’s a good one! An Abundance of Katherines. This was my first John Greene novel and it featured a strong friendship that I wanted to show in TMI. I also read Divergent and wow, I may have developed a small crush on Four *fans face*.

6. If you could have your readers take away just one thing from TMI, what would you hope for that to be, and why?

I think all stories have a message in them. Sometimes The Message is huge and obvious but look closer to find the subtle messages. TMI on the surface is about the dangers of sharing too much information with people you don’t know, and if you didn’t look any deeper, I’d be happy if you didn’t let that happen to you. But if you did want to look deeper, I’d hope you’d notice the roots of friendship can be twisted and stretched and maybe even redefined but can they really be severed? Or do those roots remain alive, buried perhaps, but ready to bloom when conditions are right again?

Patty: OK, my turn! I have some questions for you! Do you have a best friend? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

TMI is on sale everywhere on August 6, 2013 from Sourcebooks Fire!

Find Patty on:

Waiting on Wednesday: Pointe

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Pointe
Author: Brandy Colbert (Twitter)
Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: April 10, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: Unknown

Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
I love ballet books. I also really, really love issue books. And darkness...and twisty, unnatural things. I digress. But seriously, the combination of all of the above in a novel? Sounds too good to be true, right? However, it appears that Pointe might just offer us all that and more, which I'm totally okay with. Plus, I love the dark vs. light on the cover. It's very striking (and it would look amazing on my shelves). What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors That Deserve More Recognition

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

1. Chris Howard, author of Rootless - He's a remarkable writer that writes with a purpose, though we never, ever feel as though he's preaching or talking down to us as readers.

2. Romily Bernard, author of Find Me - Her debut novel surprised me in the best possible way, full of dark twists and turns, all the while asking the reader to become invested in a fantastic mystery.

3. Kirsty Eagar, author of Raw Blue - She has this innate ability to bottle human emotion and turn it into something magical, even for the most reluctant of contemporary readers.

4. Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List - She captures the essence of human nature and crafts stories around it that are poignant, powerful and, most of all, real.

5. Mary E. Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox - In a time when sci-fi didn't seem to have a true audience, she made it popular by merging it with an unbelievable, heart-wrenching tale.

6. Savita Kalhan, author of The Long Weekend - This little-known author wrote one of the most powerful books I've read on this blog that far surpasses the YA genre.

7. Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch - With a fluid, melodic and poetic voice, she spun a tale that was equal parts magic, mystery, sweet romance and thriller.

8. Joanna Philbin, author of The Daughters Series - In a time where I swore off contemps, her sweet, lighthearted books about a trio of friends broke the mold with her fun and engaging writing voice. 

9. T.M. Goeglein, author of Cold Fury - True crime has often lacked an audience in YA, but this lesser-known author wrote a hard-hitting, powerful and thrilling tale that transcends the genre.

10. Darby Karchut, author of Griffin Rising - Even when I swore of paranormal for being completely formulaic, I could resist this sweet story full of heart and soul (and engaging writing).

Find Me by Romily Bernard Review

Monday, July 15, 2013

Title: Find Me
Author: Romily Bernard (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: September 24, 2013
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 307
Source: Publisher

"Find Me." These are the words written on Tessa Waye's diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa's just been found...dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target. Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick's deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare. But she's going to find this killer no matter what. Because it just got personal.
Wick's life hasn't been easy. She's bounced from foster home to foster home with her little sister, barely escaping the notoriety of her father's bad rep with the authorities and her hacking prowess which, for all intents and purposes, should and needs to remain hidden from the rest of the world. But someone knows what Wick does behind closed doors, and somebody is sending her on a wild goose chase to uncover exactly what happened to Tessa. But just in case she needed a little more motivation, this time, the creep is after Lily.

Many a reader will agree with me, I'm sure, when I state that there is nothing like a good mystery tale to keep you awake at night, guessing throughout and pondering the turnout long after you've closed the last page. Find Me is that tale; preparing to burst onto the market with a tense, atmospheric and, often times, terrifying guessing game. Romily Bernard carves a name for herself on the YA market with this fantastic and thrilling debut, offering readers a tangible tale, likable characters and a heroine worth believing in. 

I've been a bit let down by the mystery aspect of the YA genre as of late, so when I heard about Find Me, you'd better believe I was intrigued. When I read a mystery story, there are a few things that I absolutely must have. I want action, first and foremost. I want real, palpable tension that makes me cringe at times. And, above all else, I don't want the answers before I'm supposed to receive them. Find Me delivers all that and more. From page one, we are thrust into an early-hours game of cat-and-mouse which, in all honesty, left me on edge and had me double-checking the locks on my doors. And, from the start, we got to see Wick's personality. She's a bit edgy and rough, but we're privvied to just enough of her backstory to give us a glimpse as to why she strays from conformity and why she spends her private hours hacking. Although she seems a bit scrappy at times, there is a softer, more vulnerable side when it comes to Lily, her sister. Speaking of Lily, she was the perfect counterpart for her sister - just innocent enough to make it believable that Wick truly did have to play the role of heroine and caretaker for her little sister. In terms of the mystery, the author delivers pieces and tidbits of information just when we need it most, making certain not to let the foreshadowing and clues reach the limelight too soon, distracting us and making us lose interest. Plus, we're given a touch of a romance, which I am pleased to say was not heavy on the insta-love. Griff is an edgy, alternative hero that plays well into Wick's character, exposing more emotion than her desire to just find the culprit and the person after her sister. I will say that I wished we'd seen more of Griff, his background and how it played into Wick's present in Find Me, but I can only hope we're given a sequel. 

All in all, I was really pleased with Find Me. I think it's an excellent debut novel, and the writing has a distinct, memorable and appealing voice, which makes it all the more enjoyable to read. I give it a very strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book. 

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne Review

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne (Twitter)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: July 2, 2013
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin.

When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."
For the longest time, Sawyer was stuck in an abusive relationship from which she could see no way out. Nobody knew of the abuse, and nobody would have really believed it anyway because in public, they were the picture-perfect couple. But life gets a whole lot easier - and messier - when Kevin dies in what seems to be a cut and dried car accident. But when a note appears, seemingly claiming responsibility for his death, this are about to get tricky and dark. Can Sawyer found the culprit before it's too late?

There's something to be said for eerie, dark tales that give you the creeps long after you close the book on the last page. Truly, Madly, Deadly sets the stage for exactly that, inspiring readers everywhere to sleep with the lights on. Author, Hannah Jayne, has written a classic mystery tale, but adds the twisting, compelling drama of YA into the mix giving readers the best of both worlds. With a fast pace, and carefully-revealed details, Truly, Madly, Deadly will stick with you.

There is a lot about Truly, Madly, Deadly that works in its favour, making readers anxious and eager to weave their way through the tale. First and foremost, the mystery element of the story is perfectly eerie, with just a touch of gleaming danger that makes you a bit hesitant to find out the truth behind it all. With that said, however, there is a lot within the story that is, indeed, teased through the synopsis, but we're left wanting upon reading the story. From the premise, I assumed that the abusive relationship in which Sawyer found herself would play a significant role in her character development. Much to the contrary (and my dismay) though, we watch as that element is placed on the backburner and, instead, we simply watch Sawyer chase her tail as she searches for this unknown "saviour" in vain. In my humble opinion, had the abuse of the relationship been more prominent through the story, I would have been far more invested in Sawyer's plight to find Kevin's killer. I think that the mystery element was set up well through the novel and, though I was able to pick through it all quite quickly, the mystery was well done. I do have to say that I wished it had been a bit twistier because I think that a bit of extra development in terms of the unknown would have gone a long way. But, the book was not bad by any means. I enjoyed the fact that I could read the book in a single sitting, and I found that the author's writing voice was engaging and empathetic, making Truly, Madly, Deadly stand out.

Overall, though there were some elements I wish we could have explored more, and though I think more mystery would have worked in the story's favour, this book was quite well done. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


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