*REVIEW* Mayday


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.

Powerful and hard-hitting, this is a compelling story about what it means to live your life—for your own sake—from an award-winning author.

I've been putting off writing this review because I just can't seem to figure out what I want to say. I liked this book enough, but something about it left me feeling like there was something missing. That being said, I would still give this 3 of 5 stars because there IS something compelling about this book... I just wish the ending had me feeling more.

Mayday introduces us to Crow, a teenage girl who finds herself living an out-of-body experience as her body decays in a coma that doctors say she will never wake from. Crow is given the chance to go back in time, to relieve important moments, to get things right. Crow believes that she's been given this opportunity to go back in time to save her sister, but soon learns her sister may not be the one who needs saving after all. Unfortunately for Crow, she may figure things out much too late.

This book was very engaging for much of the story but as I said above, at the end I just felt sort of let down. Truthfully, that may be because even though the ending is told to us very early on, I suppose I just did not want to believe it. I was hoping there would be some catch or something that changed the outcome. That being said, watching Crow go back in time and learn things not only about herself but about her loved ones was very entertaining and moving. Mayday is definitely worth a read, but you may not end up elated at the end. That's my two cents! Enjoy!

*REVIEW* Trial By Fire


Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted... which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian... Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Trial by Fire was a surprising hit for me because I really wasn't too sure what to think when this one started out. The beginning was a little lackluster for me but once things picked up, they went full steam ahead, barreling towards an ending that will have readers salivating for the sequel.

Trial by Fire introduces us to Lily, a teenage girl with debilitating allergies, allergies that will soon place her under for-life house arrest. All Lily wants is to attend one high school party like a normal teenage girl, a party she is attending with her best friend turned maybe boyfriend. Unfortunately, the night ends in a total disaster and Lily finds herself wishing to disappear... she had no idea how very real that wish was about to become.

Lily finds herself in an alternate world, a world where her weaknesses are actually strengths and Lily learns that not only is she strong, she's one of the strongest witches in this new world. Lily finds herself in the midst of a war and she must decide which side she will fight on. Will Lily make the right choice? Will she find her way back home, or will she be stuck in this alternate world forever? All will be revealed in this fast-paced book by Josephine Angelini.

This book ended up surprising me quite a bit because at first, I wasn't too sure if it was going to be the book for me. Once I really got into it though, I got HOOKED. This is definitely a unique world that Angelini has created, I love the way that magic and science are intertwined in this story. If you're looking for a unique and fresh story, this could be the one for you! Magic, string theory, science, love, friendship and more collide to create a story that is engaging, entertaining, and definitely outside the box. Check it out for yourself when it releases in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 2, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends

*REVIEW* Famous Last Words


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.

Famous Last Words is an entertaining and fast-paced read that I devoured in just a couple days. While the identity of the 'Hollywood Killer' was slightly predictable (mmkay, a whole lot predictable, I called it way early on), I was still completely invested in the story and wanted to see how things played out. Katie Alender weaved a tale that was a solid 4 stars. If mystery, murder, and ghostly mayhem are some of your things, this book could be for you.

Famous Last Words introduces us to Willa, a teenage girl uprooted and relocated to L.A. when her mom marries a famous Hollywood director. It's hard to feel too sorry for Willa when you read about the new mansion she'll be living in, complete with killer pool, killer views, and a killer--ghost?! Soon after moving in, Willa encounters some strange phenomenon... phenomenon that has her wondering whether or not her house (and her ghost) are somehow related to the Hollywood Killer's murders. Enlisting the help of Wyatt, a strange yet intriguing classmate, Willa begins to try to communicate with the ghost to discover the truth. Will Willa learn what she needs to learn in time, or will she be the next target of the infamous killer? 

I was surprised by how much I liked this one because while it definitely sounded interesting, I figured it would just be all right. Some of these murder mysteries end up being not all that mysterious and while the killer in this one was pretty predictable, the story was still pure entertainment. I really liked the supernatural element as well. The truly surprising thing about this book was the empathy you end up feeling for Willa as you watch her learn to love herself again and to allow other people in. And yes, there's even some love in this book. All good things. Check it out in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 30, 2014 by Point

*REVIEW* The Queen of Zombie Hearts


I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

Alice 'Ali' Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers; until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters; and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing and turning Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.

SQUEEEEEEE! No mistake about it, this is going to be one of those ridiculous fangirling reviews because I am in love with this series and this third and final installment did NOT disappoint. The Queen of Zombie Hearts is the conclusion to the much loved Alice in Zombieland series and it's heartbreaking, uplifting, fast-paced, pure entertainment that wraps up Ali, Cole and the gang's story in a completely satisfying way. Kudos to Gena Showalter! Totally sending her a virtual hug right now.

The Queen of Zombie Hearts picks up with Ali, Cole and crew as they continue their battle against the zombies and Anima, the evil corporation using the zombies to their advantage in the war. Anima plans a devastating attack--an attack that leaves the group wounded and heartbroken as they are forced to continue on without some of their beloved friends and fighters. New alliances are formed and the goal of all is clear: Anima must go down.

Throughout the chaos, Ali is introduced to a strange woman who appears to have a strong, and shocking, connection to Ali and her past. As Ali learns to control new powers, Anima sets their sights on her again and NO ONE is safe. It's a race against time to destroy Anima once and for all--before they destroy all the people Ali loves most. 

Again... SQUEEEEE! I'm always nervous reading the last installment in a series because sometimes, the author just makes a decision that baffles you and ends up ruining the whole series for you (thinking of the Nightshade series right about now!) but Showalter spins the perfect ending to this truly amazing series. That's not to say that there isn't heartbreak and sadness, because there totally is, but the story is magical, entertaining, satisfying, perfection. Can you tell I liked it just a teeny, tiny bit? *smile*

Be sure to scoop this up immediately when it releases in September. And if for some CRAZY reason you haven't tried this series yet, remedy it this very second. You'll thank me! Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 30, 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Crazy Conception

So I've been wanting to post some pregnancy topics and figured, where better to start than conception? For me, my husband and I were ACTIVELY trying to get preggers and I was pretty obsessed with it. Here I'm going to detail the crazy steps I took, some of the reasons behind my obsession, and things NOT to say to a friend who is in a crazy conception phase of her own.

Why the craze?

There are lots of reasons that people may be in a rush to see that positive sign on a pregnancy test. For me, it was insecurity and fear. See, my husband and I experienced a loss when I miscarried our first pregnancy early in the first trimester. Miscarriage seriously messes with your mind... (and yes, I'll be doing a post on miscarriage at some point because it's like this ugly, huge elephant in the corner that no one wants to acknowledge or discuss) and it leaves behind fears that you'll never be able to have a child, there's something fundamentally wrong with you or your body, and the fear that you'll never be able to carry a baby to term. Yes, we all know the statistics about the unfortunate percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage and my doctor of course assured me that many women go on to have successful pregnancies after a miscarriage but let me tell you, until you're holding that baby in your arms, you have doubts that you ever will. In addition to miscarriage, some women worry that they're getting too old, they have PCOS or another disorder that makes conceiving difficult, they're just plan excited, and who knows how many other reasons. My point? You never know why someone is in a rush to get knocked up, which brings me to my next point...

What NOT to say to someone in a rush to conceive:

  • What's the rush?
  • It will happen when it's meant to happen
  • I would never plan it like that, I want it to be natural
  • You need to stop stressing it so much
  • What's meant to be will be!

Yes, you may mean nothing but sweet things when you utter some version of the above but as someone who's been on the receiving end of this, just please don't. Again, you don't know always know why someone wants it so badly and you come off a little judgmental and non-supportive when you dismiss their efforts and insist that just letting things "happen naturally" is the best way.

My crazy conception steps:

The most important thing? TRACK, TRACK, TRACK SOME MORE!

If you don't know your cycle, you're basically just shooting in the dark *snort*. Seriously, tracking ovulation helped me realize that I ovulate on average a few days later than the standard 14 days. Who knows how many months I would have assumed we had passed the window and missed out on it altogether. How to track? Follow these steps:

  1. Track your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) each morning.
  2. Use ovulation sticks, no need to waste tons of money on them! Amazon sells Wondfos that are super cheap and totally reliable. Find them here.
  3. Make sure to DTD (do the deed) on the right days! (this is the FUN part!)
  4. Take a bromelain supplement (or eat pineapple core) on 1-5 DPO (days post ovulation).
  5. Start taking pregnancy tests (again with the cheapie Wondfos) around 10 DPO. No need to wait until your missed period, I got my first positive WAY early. And it's super fun to see the line get darker each day.
People recommend some even crazier things, but the above steps worked for me! It's a lot to keep track of so I would recommend joining a site. I joined Fertility Friend which keeps a super easy to interpret chart for you. And if you pay to be a VIP member, you have access to even more helpful tools. 

It took me 3 months of tracking to get pregnant with our sweet little Emmaleigh. Even if you do everything right, it sometimes just doesn't happen. Don't give up hope! It can take people months, even a year, to get pregnant. If you want to make it more likely for yourself, follow the above tips. Best of luck! 

*REVIEW* Anatomy of a Misfit


In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she's a freak; she can't stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika's life hell if she's seen with him. So Anika must choose—ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations—and tear at your heart.

Anatomy of a Misfit was one of those books that you just couldn't put down, even if you weren't sure WHY at some points. There were some things I didn't love about this book, like some of the teen speak and the use of some words, and the ending broke my heart, but all in all, this was a solid debut for Andrea Portes.

Anatomy of a Misfit introduces us to Anika, a popular girl who is terrified of the disapproval of the Queen Bee of the school, Becky, a nasty little piece of work who will not hesitate to steamroll anyone who gets in her way. Anika is fine keeping the status quo until she starts talking to Logan, a fellow classmate who went from not to hot over the summer. There's an undeniable attraction between them but Anika knows that she will be committing social suicide if anyone finds out. Will Anika stand up for what she wants, and what feels right, no matter the cost? Or will she discover too late everything she should have known all along?

Any woman is definitely going to be able to relate to the mean girl vibe in this book, even if you didn't experience it yourself, you likely know someone who did. I work in a high school and sadly, you see this all the time. Why girls are SO mean to each other, I will never understand. This book captures the high school experience all too vividly and you FEEL for Anika as you watch her waste time she should be spending with the people important to her, even if they're not part of the cool kids crowd. Anika learns some important lessons in this book, lessons that Portes delivers in an excruciatingly heartbreaking and honest way.

Expected publication date: September 2, 2014 by Harper Children's

*REVIEW* The Vault of Dreamers


The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

The Vault of Dreamers has a ton of promise, which is clearly obvious if you read the above synopsis. And the first 3/4 of the book delivers and then things get a little... weird. And that's unfortunate because I was really digging the book up until that point. No idea if O'Brien plans on writing a sequel but if she does, I'm definitely interested to see the fates of some of the characters.

In The Vault of Dreamers, we're introduced to Rosie, a student desperate to make the final cut on the Forge Show, an extremely popular reality show about an elite art school. Enter a sexy boy who works in the kitchen on the show, budding friendships with some of the cool kids, and Rosie finds a way in. Once in, she decides to skip her sleeping pill because there's just something she misses about the night... but what she finds frightens her beyond words.

Rosie enters a race against time to uncover the truths about The Forge School before she's found out, and silenced, for good. When she starts to question everyone, including herself, she finds herself unable to decide who to trust, and who to stay away from. A shocking injury sends Rosie reeling and she knows that time is running out for her... and possibly for everyone else as well. The Vault of Dreamers is a thrill ride guaranteed to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the very end.

*sigh* So. Much. Potential. The ending just really didn't do it for me. Like at ALL. I really hate it when that happens! It ends up killing the book for me. But like I said before, I'm still interested in the characters and would like to see what happens because the ending felt very... open. And odd. And unsatisfying. Sensing a theme? If you want to check it out for yourself, feel free in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 16, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
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