My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

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Title & Author: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins (All authors listed at the top of the book cover)

Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press/2014

Source: Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4hearts*

*I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others. Some I would give a 5 heart rating to while others I’d give a 3, so I felt a 4 heart rating was fair since it was right in the middle.

What This Book Is About

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I would have loved to have had this review posted BEFORE the holiday but unfortunately I didn’t finish it until December 23 and I have a prior commitment to post a review on another book by December 25 at the latest.

As I said in the rating area, some of the stories I loved a lot more than the others. I would love to see some of these stories be made into a standalone novel, especially Rainbow Rowell’s, Kiersten White’s and Ally Carter’s. I will rate each of the stories individually, but they were all entertaining and fun to read especially with the approaching holidays.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell: 5/5
The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link: 2/5
Angels In The Snow by Matt de la Peña: 4/5
Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: 3/5
It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: 3/5
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: 4/5
Krampuslauf by Holly Black: 3/5
What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: 4/5
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: 3/5
Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: 4/5
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: 4/5
The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor: 2/5

I loved how the stories involved characters of all different races, backgrounds and even sexual orientations. They were all original and not your typical cookie cutter holiday romance stories. They also were mixed genres as well, some were contemporary and others fantasy. I definitely enjoyed this book and would recommend it to every single reader who is into young adult fiction. It would also make an excellent gift if you have a young adult reader in your life. You can’t go wrong with this book during the holiday season. There is a summer themed one scheduled for publication in 2016, also edited by Stephanie Perkins but featuring 11 different authors that I cannot wait to read.

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Compulsion by Martina Boone

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Title & Author: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse/October 28, 2014

Genres: YA Paranormal, YA Romance

Format: Paperback & eGalley

Source: Around the World ARC Tours & Edelweiss

Other Books by Author: Debut YA Novel

Rating: 5hearts

What This Book Is About

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts On This Book

I was a bit skeptical when I first saw an ARC copy of Compulsion on Edelweiss. I was kind of interested but at the same time I wasn’t too sure about it. I requested it, as well as signed up to read it on a book tour. I am so incredibly I happy did because I absolutely, positively loved Compulsion! It wasn’t what I was expected and was a lot better than I had expected as well. I was sucked into the story and fell in love with the main characters almost instantly.

When the book began, I fell right in love with Watson Island and the plantations. The author does a great job giving you the perfect visual of the island and the homes. If Watson Island was a real place, chances are I would have left the following day to go down there. The island itself along with the location of Barrie’s aunt’s house, Eight’s house, and Barrie’s cousin’s house really set the scene up for the story. It almost seemed magical and too good to be true, which of course we find out is true.

I immediately liked the main character Barrie. Although in the beginning of the book her mother had just passed away, she was never really miserable or sulky. There were some moments when she would hold back when she was around Eight and I wanted to yell at her to stop. As for Eight, where can I find a guy like that around here? He was so caring and sweet and always seemed to be around when Barrie needed his support the most. He is definitely my new fictional book crush. Other characters like Pru, Barrie’s aunt, were great too. Martina Boone did a amazing job describing the characters and making you like the good ones and despise the bad.

The curse and “gifts” that surround the island really drew my interest when I began reading. Barrie has a gift of finding lost things and in the beginning of Compulsion she thinks it’s just something she experiences. Later she learns that her mom and aunt both posses(ed) the same gift as well and Eight and his family have their own gift of reading people’s minds. Unfortunately for Barrie’s uncle and cousins, they were stuck with the curse of wanting what the Watson’s have. The story of the fire carrier and yunwis and how the families came to possess either their gifts or curses really was the icing on the cake. Add in a semi-heated romance along with some family drama and there you have it.

I really enjoyed Compulsion and will be buying a published copy for my bookshelf later this month. The second book of The Heirs of Watson Island is scheduled to be published towards the end of 2015. I am so incredibly anxious for it to come out because I cannot wait to see what happens to these characters next. I would absolutely recommend Compulsion to anyone who enjoys YA fiction. Warning though, you may have a book hangover when you are finished because I certainly did. Also take your time and savor this book! Do not rush through it because taking my time was definitely a very smart choice.

The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

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Title/Author: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse – February 17, 2015

Genres: YA Paranormal, YA Horror, YA Thriller

Format: ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy)

Source: Edelweiss

Other Books from Author: The Murmurings

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What This Book Is About

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I was so excited to be granted access to an ARC of The Bargaining on Edelweiss. I LOVE creepy, scary young adult books and was eager to jump right into this one. The Bargaining definitely delivered the creepy factor and much more. The first night I began reading this, I started dozing off and waking up, so by the next day I had to start all over again because I couldn’t remember anything I had read. I had been about 35 pages in and was just like…

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Once I started rereading the book, I was instantly sucked right in. I will admit that I began reading the book from the beginning for the second time in my Western Civilizations class, and I continued to read through the entire class. (Gotta love crazy old college professors…see Saturday’s post.) Luckily Monday was one of my short days, so I immediately went home and continued reading. In all honesty, and sorry for my choice of words, The Bargaining scared the shit out of me. Already being pretty afraid of the dark, reading this in bed in complete darkness (it was on my iPad so my lights were all off) may have not been my smartest choice. I was actually afraid to roll over because I thought someone or something would be standing next to my bed. I never experienced “scary goosebumps” from a book until I read this one. Seriously, read when it’s still light out!

I really liked the storyline of The Bargaining and how Penny’s and Miller’s pasts tied into it. I was constantly left guessing what was going to happen next and overall what really went on in those woods. Penny seemed like your typical moody, curious teenager. At first she annoyed me a little bit because she made no effort with her stepmom, but I ended up really liking her in the end. Miller on the other hand, we get to know his story in the prologue of the book. Knowing who he was and what he caused I think automatically influenced my feelings towards him. Even as he became friends with Penny, I still didn’t really like him too much. The huge shocking secret Miller finally shares with Penny at the end was so unexpected and surprisingly that I couldn’t believe it.

The Carver House reminds me of the many abandoned, haunted places that are all over the state of New Jersey. I’m a hug scaredy cat, but I’ve always wanted to check some of them out. (There were two specifically that really set the picture in my head for the Carver House and if you’re interested in reading about abandoned places and the rumors behind them here are the two houses. Demon’s Alley and Purgatory House. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a justifying article for Purgatory House.) I think I really was interested in the Carver House because of the mystery behind it. You don’t know what happened there or who previously lived there, just that a lot of people talk and have stories to tell about it. If the Carver House was real I may consider flying across the country to find it.

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(A house from Demon’s Alley, inspiration for what the Carver House looked like in my mind.)

Overall I think The Bargaining was great. It’s labeled as a chilling and suspenseful novel, and that it definitely is. It was truly terrifying at some points and I love when a book can deliver that level of terror. I will be purchasing a physical copy of The Bargaining in February when it is published and rereading it in the future. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in young adult mysteries, thrillers, paranormal, horror genres or anyone interested in local legends and abandoned places. I cannot wait now to read Carly Anne West’s other young adult book that has been on my TBR-list for so long, The Murmurings.

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender

I knew right away that Famous Last Words was going to be amazing. I loved the Bad Girls Don’t Die trilogy by Katie Alender and was excited to read another thriller/mystery from her. It was way better than I was expecting it to be as well.

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender

Expected Publication: September 30, 2014

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour, Also was just approved on Netgalley

(Netgalley is a free to join site where bloggers can request digital review copies of upcoming books)

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Willa is freaking out. It seems like she’s seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It’s almost as if someone — or something — is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles — a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa’s strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There’s Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there’s Reed, who’s ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There’s also Wyatt, who’s super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

(Summary from Goodreads)

Wow this book was absolutely amazing. I loved the story line and I loved the characters. It felt like I was reading an episode of Criminal Minds if that makes sense. What I liked most about Famous Last Words was that Katie Alender didn’t wait until the last two chapters for everything to unravel. I cannot stand when the author just tries to throw everything together in the last couple of chapters. When everything really began to get crazy and intense, there was still about 50 pages left. I found myself almost jumping over one paragraph to get to the next because I was so on edge about what was going to happen that I couldn’t even read fast enough.

I really enjoyed all the characters in Famous Last Words, even the annoying/bad ones. They all gave a lot to the story and had one been left out, the story would not have been the same. The main characters were awesome. I loved Willa and Wyatt and the journey they go through together. Marnie had her moments when I liked her and others when I wish I could have reached through the page and slapped her. Reed just seemed like your typical Hollywood heartthrob. What surprised me the most was finding out who the Hollywood Killer was. When I was reading I was going back and forth between two characters and just when I would start to think, “Yes I was totally right!”, something happened to change my mind again.

I loved that there wasn’t just a murder mystery, but ghosts as well. I love, love, LOVE all that paranormal stuff (to an extent I would say…yes to the spiritual, no to the demonic). I thought the ghost part of the book was going to be similar to the ghosts in Liv, Forever, but when I found out who the ghost in Willa’s house really was, I was shocked. The way Katie Alender tied everything together in the end made Famous Last Words one of the best young adult thriller/mysteries that I have read. With the creepy and spookiness of the story, along with the thrills, mystery and ghosts, Famous Last Words would be great to read around Halloween (but is amazing to read at anytime).