Tag: Disney-Hyperion

Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Posted October 24, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley ElstonReviewer: Rowena
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

What a fun book this turned out to be. I haven’t read too many books by Ashley Elston but I’m going to need to change that because if her other books are anything like this one, I’m all in. This book features Sophie who thought she’d be spending the holidays with her longtime boyfriend but ends up being dumped and spending the holidays with her big ol’ family instead. She shows up to her grandparent’s house and she’s heartbroken so in an effort to cheer her up, her family members set up her on blind dates, ten of them to be exact, and when she doesn’t completely hate the first date, she figures, why not?

Sophie really grows into herself over the course of this book and it was a lot of fun to be a part of her journey. As she learns more and more about herself, and as she grows closer to the family members that she drifted apart from, I grew to adore her more and more. She wasn’t perfect and there’s some shadiness going on that I thought was handled well by the author but overall, this book was a fun, holiday young adult romance. I’m super glad that I read it. It was a fast read, it was a fun read, and I closed the book with a giant smile on my face so needless to say, this was a successful reading choice and I am going to Goodreads right now to check out Elston’s backlist for more goodness to read. I really enjoyed the emphasis this book put on family relationships and I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

Grade: 4 out of 5


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Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Posted May 26, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderReviewer: Rowena
Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Publisher: Disney Electronic Content
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 232
Add It: Goodreads
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Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle. These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she'd be spending at her mom's home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart. Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there's no reason Sloane shouldn't enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn't always play by the rules, she knows he's the perfect distraction from everything that's so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn't nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane's carefree summer might not be as easy to come by as she'd hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

I came across this book on Netgalley and after reading the blurb, my curiosity was piqued. The best friend and the boyfriend cheating? Needing a summer away? A summer in Hawaii? Yeah, I was in.

So Sloane and her twin brother Penn spend their summers in Hawaii with their mother and the day before she’s to fly out, her best friend drops a bomb on her. The, “I slept with your boyfriend” bomb and it completely knocks Sloane on her ass because not only does her best friend Mick sleep with her boyfriend, she’s having his baby too. Talk about a shocker! When she lands in Hawaii, she’s got a cast from punching her ex-boyfriend in the face and breaking his nose. She’s also got a big ass chip on her shoulder that she’s hoping a summer away will help her get over.

Determined to make this summer about her, Sloane sets out to make new memories with her Hawaii friends..and a new boy named Finn.

Going in, I hadn’t read any reviews or read much of anything outside of the blurb so I didn’t really have any expectations. This was a very readable book, meaning it didn’t take me long at all to just jump right in. All that drama in the beginning had me turning the pages real quick to find out what was going to happen. There were times when I wanted to strangle each and every single teenager in the book but it wasn’t so mad that my enjoyment of the story itself was ruined.

I liked Sloane’s character and I really liked Finn as a love interest. Sloane was really put through the wringer and I liked that she took time to herself to figure things out. When stuff like that happens, when you’re betrayed by the people that are supposed to love and support you, time away is necessary. Sloane had every right to take time to herself, to not talk to both Tyler and Mick. I liked the support system she had in her friends in Hawaii and in her family too. She had great relationships with both of her parents and her brother. Maya was a great friend to her and the secondary stories surrounding Maya and Penn (and Shep) and Sloane teaching Finn’s little sister how to swim, finding out truths about her parents and just everything filled out this book really well and made the reading experience as a whole for me, a good one.

The story itself was well written and the characters were written true to their ages which I appreciated. It was a solid debut by Schneider and if I had any gripe with the story, it would probably be more Polynesian characters since they were in Hawaii. It would have been nice if Sloane or even Finn was more Polynesian than the tiny bit of Hawaiian that Sloane was, especially since the author is Polynesian herself. Still, it was a solid read with an interesting premise and great characters.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Posted February 12, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Starflight by Melissa LandersReviewer: Whitley
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight #1

Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 309
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: three-stars

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

This was quite a fun book, and I did enjoy the storyline and even the romance.  But I feel like every side character was phoned in, and the science fiction setting was not used to its full potential.  Plus, the final climax wrapped up a subplot instead of the main plot and apparently thought I wouldn’t notice.

First off, I did really enjoy the two main characters.  Solara is a tough, gifted mechanic who’s determined to make a new life for herself.  Doran is an entitled rich kid who desperately needs to be taken down a few pegs (and then that actually happens).  Both of them have some good nuance to their personalities, and I especially liked Doran freaking out about Solara’s criminal past (it’s over the top, but supposed to be and makes sense).  As the novel goes on, they complement each other well and their growing affection is … well, would have been sweet if Doran hadn’t laid on the jerkitude quite so strong at the start.

The setting felt very much like the series Firefly, with a quirky crew on a ramshackle, beat-up ship off to the outer edges of space to do slightly nefarious things.  Which, great! I love that shtick. It’s just…it was Firefly.  And that’s it.  Anything that wasn’t covered by that show was basically the same as modern day.  There were so many little details exactly the same as our time period that it just weirded me out a little.  (For instance, senior portraits. Not sure why that stands out in particular to me, but it does.)  I didn’t feel like this book added anything new to the genre, because it was just a vague veneer of sci-fi pasted on top of a contemporary base.  The side characters felt the same way.  They were quirky, they were kind of fun, but they were thin and nothing we haven’t seen before.

The plotline of the book was quick and action packed and interesting.  I was not fond of the “Solara accidentally married a pirate” bit, mostly because it was so awkwardly shoehorned in there.  (Also, the gross patriarchy required to make it work.)  But everything else worked.  It was a rollickin’ fun adventure.  Again, until the end, when this big major plot came to a head…and a subplot got wrapped up instead.  Now, it’s a series, so leaving things open ended is fine.  Except in the last chapter everyone acted like the whole “Doran was framed” thing got settled.  It…didn’t.  It got more information, but it certainly didn’t get even a fraction of settled.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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Guest Review: Dark Star series by Bethany Frenette

Posted June 10, 2015 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Urban Fantasy

9781423148531_p0_v2_s260x420Whitley’s review of the Dark Star series by Bethany Frenette.

Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it’s hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she’s lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human–something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn’t fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers–livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person’s memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers’ next move. But Leon, her mother’s bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won’t let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything–and everyone–she loves.

This is a wonderful, light urban fantasy read that I wish more people knew about. It’s got everything you could want: action, romance, BADASS LADIES. And yet, the sales for this one were so poor that the final book — Fire Fall — was only released in ebook format. (Although there will be a paperback in August, so at least there’s that to look forward to?)

The story follows Audrey, who lives in a setting where demons occasionally slip through the barrier between our world and theirs. These demons are fought off by ‘Guardians,’ who are basically the elite super-fighters of a group called Kin. At the start of the book, Audrey doesn’t know about the Kin, or that she’s part of them. All she knows is that her mom has super powers and fights crime at night. When a demon starts killing off Kin girls while searching for a special one, Audrey finally gets clued in to her heritage and to her father’s side of the family, since they all neck-deep in Kin business.

Honestly, this set up is nothing we haven’t seen before. (It kinda sounds like Shadowhunters-lite, as much as it pains me to say that.) And it’s not a great setting if you’re reading for complex worldbuilding. Supposedly there’s enough going on in Kin society to have entire lessons about it, but in practice, they’re about as complex as a PTA meeting. However, I really don’t care, because there’s enough there to keep the plot going and it doesn’t contradict itself at any point.

No, the real selling point to this series is the characters. There are so many great ones, and SO MANY GIRLS. It’s one of the few I’ve read this year where the cast actually gets close to gender parity. And there’s such a variety of them, and all of them have great character arcs and stories and complications and sticky relationships. There’s Audrey and her mother, who have one of the best parent/child depictions I’ve seen outside of the contemporary genre. There’s Audrey and her best friend Tink, as Tink gets called to be a Guardian (and doesn’t want it) leaving behind Audrey (who does want it). There’s the pair of twins where one of them turns quasi-evil but is willing to throw both worlds under a bus for the sake of her sister. Audrey’s mother and paternal grandmother who constantly butt heads but still have a grudging respect for each other. (And Grandma Ester is fucking tough as nails, right on.) It just tickled me pink to see so many characters who, although they were secondary and tertiary characters, still felt like they had complete stories and relationships, even if most of said stories happened out of our sight.

The plot was great, as each story in the series had a complete and compelling narrative, but they still made for a good overarching story. No second-book-slump here; in fact I think the second book was had the best action out of the whole lot. Of course, these were definitely action books. Pretty light plots, just enough twists and betrayals to make it interesting, but laser focus in on bad guys and stopping them with punching power. And hell, yeah, bring it on. I think we’ve gotten too enamored of ‘complex’ plots that, without someone skilled crafting them, is just code for “shit, throw in some padding, we can’t reveal the bad guy yet.” I miss the light and linear, the fun and rollicking adventures. The Dark Star series has everything I want in a streamlined plot and make for incredibly engrossing reads.

And streamlined doesn’t mean bare bones, there’s plenty of romance between Audrey and Leon, especially in the last book. Dramatic romance, too, those kids are sweet as pie but trying to balance kissy-times and saving the world while your boyfriend is compelled by magic to protect you and also is your mom’s sidekick is going to stir up some trouble. The book handles it very well for my tastes; there’s not a whole lot of soul-crushing feelz, but they are in a new relationship and it’s treated as being exhilarating and fragile and also firmly in second place to stopping the demons from taking over the entire known world. You know, as you do.

Basically, I just love this whole series and I think more people should read it.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reading Order:

This title is available from Disney Hyperion.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Review: The Rules of Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Posted July 11, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Rules of Disappearing by Ashley ElstonReviewer: Rowena
The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing, #1) by Ashley Elston
Series: The Rules for Disappearing #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 14th 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

The blurb made the book sound really interesting which is why I chose to review it.  I didn’t know what to expect but I ended up enjoying this book.  I thought it was interesting to read about a character in the witness protection program.  Her name is Meg Jones this time around and she has no idea why she’s in this place and she hates moving from place to place, with no warning.  Every time they move, she tries to get the story out of her father and when he refuses, her anger toward what has become their life gets stronger and stronger.  By about the seventh time that they move, she’s furious at her father and she blames him for the way that their lives turned out.

Meg doesn’t have a clear memory of what happened before they were whisked away, leaving behind everything they knew and loved but she’s determined to find out.  Her family is put through the wringer in this book and my heart went out to each and every single person in her family.  From her Dad, who is trying to make the best of their situation and trying to do what he can for his kids, to her Mom who is having the most trouble dealing with their life as it is now.  Then there’s her little sister who is young enough that she doesn’t understand what’s going on and nobody will tell her so she’s scared.  She’s scared that her family is going to disappear and leave her behind and she’s tired of making new friends.

They’re in a new town and Meg is determined to not make friends and not have any close relationships because it gets harder and harder to leave people behind.  It’s easier to pack up and go, that way she doesn’t let anyone down.  But it’s a lot harder to not get close to anyone in this new town because there’s this persistent young man named Ethan who is determined to get to know Meg.  He keeps trying to get close to Meg and every time she tries to freeze him out, she’s unsuccessful.  Before she knows what’s what, she’s starting to remember things and she’s starting to like Ethan…a lot.

Things get really crazy for Meg once she starts remembering more about what happened right before they were thrown into witness protection and trusting those around her is getting harder and harder.

Meg was an interesting character to get know throughout the story.  She’s still a teenager so some of the teen angst that are common with YA characters is present in her but while there were times when I wanted to wring her neck, those times were very few in between.  I loved the hell out of Ethan and really came to love Meg’s family, oh and Aunt Pearl!  She was pretty great too.  It was interesting to see the dynamic between Meg and her friends from back home.  Before she left, she was really mad at them but when she came back, all of those feelings of resentment and what not were thrown out the window because she needed them and they helped Meg with whatever she needed, the way that friends are supposed to.

This was a really good story.  One that had me all caught up in what was happening, what was going to happen and all of the characters.  I thought Elston did a great job of wrapping the reader up in the world that she created for Meg and the rest of the cast of characters.  It was really interesting to get an inside look of what we can only imagine goes on when you’re in witness protection and seeing the dangers and the confusion made for a really interesting story.  I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA and authors like Sarah Dessen, Jennifer E. Smith and Jessi Kirby.  This was a good one.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Disney-Hyperion. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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