[Review] Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Between the Lives
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Expected Publication: August 7th, 2014 by Orchard Books
Page count: 336
Genre: YA – Contemporary, Paranormal
Goodreads

The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her ‘other’ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.
With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she’ll choose?
A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives – this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience.
Thank you Hachette Children’s Books for the review copy. This does not affect my review or opinions at all.

 

Review

I was immediately intrigued by the premise upon reading the blurb. I love stories about parallel universe and so I felt like I had to read it at some point. Between the Lines was far from being the perfect book but it obviously left me feeling good.

“I am two people. Neither better than the other, no superpowers, no mystical destinies, no two-places-in-one-time mechanism – but two people.”

First of all, let’s talk about the main character, Sabine. To be honest, I didn’t always love her throughout the book. She isn’t annoying by any chance, it’s just that her character isn’t fleshed out enough to make me root for her. I wish that her emotions and desperation had been conveyed much more realistically. She has gotten used to living literally two lives but one incident changes her view and tests her knowledge of her strange existence. In order to find out more, Sabine conducts a series of experiment that might as well be a little disturbing for me, such as hurting herself. Other than that, I thought she was an okay protagonist.

I also liked Sabine’s relationships with her siblings. In Roxbury, she has an adorable little sister that looks up to her and it really shows that they both care for each other. In her other life (Wellesley), she has two older brothers she isn’t close to but I really enjoyed reading the development of their relationship.

The plot was enjoyable. Although the book switches between two lives, I could easily follow the story without getting confused. It was actually nice to read about how Sabine can maintain such different personalities in both lives. However, the thing that definitely got a frown for me is the paranormal element. I’m not sure that the “Shift” had been explained thoroughly and I remember feeling baffled many times.

There is also what could be one of the most-cliched twist ever regarding the romance but luckily, Jessica Shirvington managed to stir my emotions with how well the scenes are written and if it hadn’t been for that emotional feelings I got in the last 100 pages, then this book would have definitely had a lower rating.

I thought the ending was much too convenient and a lot of my questions about Sabine is still unanswered but overall, Between the Lives is a really great book. I read it in one sitting and I would recommend to for people who are looking for a quick, meaningful read.

 

[Review] Played by Liz Fichera

Played
(Hooked #2)
Author: Liz Fichera
Expected Publication: May 27th, 2014 by Harlequin TEEN
Page count: 352 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Contemporary
Goodreads

This Game Is Getting All Too Real 
He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the Rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.
She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can’t get over, I’ll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.
Thank you Harlequin TEEN for the review copy! This does not affect my opinions or review at all.

Review

Played started off as a pleasant read with its light atmosphere and diverse characters, but sadly things went downhill after that.
Riley and Sam go to the same leadership camp. They hate each other, so when they are stuck as partners for the scavenger hunt, they get into an argument which results in Riley running away and fall off the Mogollon Rim. Turns out, Riley is slightly injured and Sam decides to help her, but then the rain starts so they have to take shelter under a tree. Riley manages to get Sam to spill his secret – that he is in love with her brother’s girlfriend. After they have been rescued, Riley promises to help Sam the girl he loves and so their friendship starts.

I liked how Riley and Sam’s relationship evolves from hatred to friendship and it was actually pretty fun to read about Riley matchmaking Sam and the girl he likes – Fred. I also liked the characters enough at first that I was greatly enjoying this book. Riley is this bubbly girl and I loved reading her enthusiasm toward the whole matchmaking project, while Sam is almost like the complete opposite. He’s calm and quiet and what makes him even more interesting is the fact that he’s a Native. I genuinely appreciate the diversity in this book and we get to see glimpses of the culture. Though I was hoping I could learn a bit more.

Unfortunately, Played then took the wrong turn and I began to feel irritated with the characters after a while. Between Riley’s stubbornness and refusal to listen to other people’s advice and Sam’s sudden change of character and lack of gratitude… I just can’t. I completely understood Riley’s thirst for popularity but I didn’t like it when she ignores people’s advice to stay away from a guy because obviouly he’s a jerk, and she STILL defends him even after seeing what he has done to her *shakes head*

And then Sam. The previous week he won’t ditch school to visit his sick friend because he has exams – and I was like YES. Finally a character who is responsible and cares enough about his exams! Wonderful! Sam, you just gained my respect. But the following week he runs away from his consequences/detentions. Honestly, I don’t like people who refuses to take responsibility upon his actions. And you just don’t agree to help someone – who is grounded – to run away to another town without a second thought. (SPOILER) Sam picks up a fight to defend Riley and he immediately ditches school because he doesn’t want to face the principle. HUH? He goes to Riley’s house – who is grounded at that time – and when Riley asks him to run away with her he just agrees?? WHAT. What I disliked the most is when Ryan helps him with his motorcycle and Sam gets mad?? Dude, show some gratitude.(END OF SPOILER)

On the bright side, I totally adored how Riley’s brother tries to cheer her up or apologize to her. They have a heartfelt moment near the end and it surprised me how the sibling relationship appealed more to me than the romantic one. Additionally, the writing is very easy to devour. Played is written in alternating POVs between Sam and Riley and I was delighted that their voices are distinct enough.

If you haven’t read Hooked, fear not because Played can be read as a stand-alone. I haven’t read the first book, yet I didn’t feel confused for once. But I’m willing to give it a shot because to tell the truth, I liked Fred and Ryan’s characters more.

[ARC Review] Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch Finder
(Witch Finder #1)
Author: Ruth Warburton
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2014
Pages: 374 (Paperback)
Genres: YA – Historical, Fantasy
London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.
Thank you Netgalley and Hodder Children’s Books for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review in any ways.

Review

I haven’t heard much of Witch Finder actually but I was quite excited for it because witches, people. How cool is that? Turns out, it was horrible. It was like my experience with Reboot all over again — only this time it’s less infuriating and more like a trip to Snoozeville.

So Luke is facing an initiation to join Malleus Maleficorum Brotherhood — some sort of secret organization that hunts witches. He has passed the first two initiation, the trial of knife and the trial of fire. He only needs to face the trial of hammer and that is killing a witch he has chosen blindly from a book. The witch he has to kill is Rosamund Greenmood.

Witch Finder is written in 3rd person perspective and there are double POVs. Honestly, I could barely stay awake reading this. Both characters are very one-dimensional and for the whole time I felt nothing toward them. The pacing was unbelievably slow I was on the verge from DNF’ing it but I decided to carry on and I couldn’t help but to skim the second half of the book. Plus, there are too many names introduced in the beginning without any further explanations, making me confused most of the time.

To make matters worse, the romance seems to pop out of the blue for no absolute reasons. I mean, Rosa and Luke barely interacts with each other and yet suddenly Rosa kisses him and Luke doesn’t want to kill her because she’s oh-so-pretty and kind-hearted. Well, maybe they’ve spoken for a few times but that’s certainly not enough. I didn’t feel any tension between them — where art thou chemistry?
The synopsis seems to be misleading too. There aren’t many witch actions and to be honest I wouldn’t mind so much if the book was actually still enjoyable to read like The Chaos of Stars. At least, the main character’s personality in The Chaos of Stars shines through the writing but THIS. -_- Truthfully, Luke and Rosa’s POVs sounded practically the same to me.

I feel like I have wasted my time reading Witch Finder and I truly have no interest left to read the sequel.

[ARC Review] Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: February 18th, 2014
Pages: 368 (eBook)
Genre: YA – Contemporary

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.
Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?
Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

 

 

Thank you MTV Books and Edelweiss for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review at all.
 

Review

Before starting Me Since You, I’d heard that this was a very devastatingly realistic book so I couldn’t help but to increase my expectations. I thought it was going to be TFIOS kind of sadness but apparently it was WAY MORE.

The beginning is rather perplexing that I had to keep frowning – took me quite a while to understand. For example, it is talking about A and then suddenly B and then go back to A again. Additionally, the writing didn’t help at all. Like, one sentence is so long you can just make a paragraph out of one. Fortunately, I grew accustomed to the writing and eventually it didn’t bother me anymore.

Me Since You tells the story of how Rowan deals with the grief and emptiness left after her father committed suicide. I’m just gonna go straight to the point. The fact that I’ve never experienced loss and grief as big as Rowan possibly resulted in my failure to connect with her character – or actually relate to the whole book. There were also times that Rowan’s actions just flat-out irritated me. For instance, when she just assumes something before hearing the explanations. Blah, she claims to do it because of grief but at that point I felt almost completely disconnected with her I could barely care. (Seriously, I feel like a heartless bitch for writing this review -_-)

Due to its character-driven nature, there isn’t much happening and the plot moves slowly. I managed to enjoy some parts but then things felt like dragging most of the time. However, I appreciated that the romance just stays in the shadows even though I wouldn’t mind if Eli appeared more because I liked his character haha.

Through Me Since You, I came to conclusion that heavy contemporary is not my thing. I highly recommend it for people who are up to depressing reads. It’s not the book, it’s just me. I may be the black sheep but I won’t stop any of you from reading it as many people have loved it.

 

[ARC: In Bullet Points] The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

The Almost Girl
Author: Amalie Howard
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Science Fiction, Dystopia

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. But coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
Thank you Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review at all.

 

In bullet points…

What I liked:

  • The main character. Being an ex-general, Riven is a very cold and brutal character. She doesn’t let her walls down most of the time. What I’d like to appreciate is the consistency of her character. When you have this tough kind of protagonist, usually she will transform right away into the typical kind of teenage girl. However, Riven still shows a considerable effort to focus on the task at hands instead of melting to goo every time the love interest appears. She does eventually give in to hormones, but luckily the couple isn’t too lovey-dovey.
  • The plot isn’t as predictable as Howard’s other work called Waterfell. Although the beginning didn’t immediately grab my attention, I managed to gradually enjoy it.
  • I think the ending emphasizes how responsible Riven is compared to the other female protagonists once they have got together with their love interests. (For those who have read it will understand what I’m talking about lol.)
  • I really liked how tense and action-packed the book was. There were plenty of gory and excited battle scenes plus some unexpected twists.

What I didn’t like:

  • I found the romance pops out of the blue at first because the two barely interact with each other yet the guy seems to be in love with her after only meeting her for a few times.
  • The love interest is pretty bland and it seems like he’s too perfect.
  • There is a very confusing explanation near the ending and I failed to understand that even though I read it for a few times.
  • Please do not make out when you’re in a dangerous place and need to escape quickly. Duh.

Conclusion:
Despite having some flaws I couldn’t ignore, The Almost Girl was better than Waterfell in many areas. Overall, I thought the book was decent and enjoyable, but I would still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a tense and action-packed science fiction.