Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Stay With Me by Elyssa Patrick

Release date: August 30, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 276
Format: Egalley
Source: Author provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
With one look, I’m his . . .

With one touch, he’s mine . . .

With one kiss, it changes everything between us . . .

I’ve been famous since I can remember. Singing, acting, dancing—I’ve done it all. The tabloids cover my every move, but I don’t want that anymore. I want to be normal, whatever that is.

When I leave Hollywood for college in Vermont, I’m on my own for the first time in my life. This is my chance to figure out who I am and what I want in life.

But it’s a lot harder than I expected. I can’t escape my image. Classes are difficult, and I’m struggling. And then there’s Caleb Fox.

Sexy, intriguing Caleb Fox.

Caleb is the one man who doesn’t want to use me. He breaks down my walls. He challenges me. He wants me. And I just don’t know if I can give him the same—or if he’ll stick around when he finds out my shameful secret that the tabloids haven’t managed to uncover.

Dating him is risky enough, but loving him could break me.
Normally, when I read new adult, I prefer the novel to focus more on the events of the story ahead of the romance. Stay With Me is not of that trend, and yet I found myself really enjoying the story. The romance is the center, yet it's such a sweet, giving, uncomplicated romance that I couldn't fault it for being the center of the story.

I really enjoyed exploring Hailey's life because it's a different place in fame than most novels show. She's attempting to leave the spotlight, tired of the world of the rich and famous, and wants to be a normal college student--rather than seeking the spotlight. Her reasons are completely understandable. In a time when she's trying to adjust to going to school for the first time in their life and avoiding any kind of drama possible, in pops Caleb Fox, eager to get to know her and be in her life. She tries to push him away, but he doesn't take no for an answer.

Like I said, the romance here is really sweet, and Caleb shows Hailey again and again that he wants truly wants to get to know her and doesn't care about her celebrity. Hailey has to learn how to let herself love and trust someone again. There's one bit of romantic drama, but it blows over quickly and easily. Normally, Hailey's worry leading up to something that is resolved so quickly would bother me, but it didn't here, since it felt in character for her to blow it out of proportion--and it really is a big deal; it just doesn't hurt their relationship.

It's nice to see Hailey come to understand that not all art is associated with fame and celebrity, as her life has shown her, and to discover things she's good at aside from acting and music. Her realizations come in part because of Caleb, but also because she's able to be away from outside influence. Everyone in her life encourages to search for her passion, rather than pushing her towards something.

Stay With Me is a sweet, romantic new adult novel that I really enjoyed. It's a quick read that will likely leave you happy. If you like new adult and romance, and don't mind the story focusing on that romance, maybe you should give this a try!

About the author:

Elyssa Patrick is a former high school English teacher who left the classroom to write contemporary romances and New Adult. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien {41}

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Release date: September 16, 2014
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

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.

SO EXCITED for this one! Stuff about dreams is so intriguing. :D

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly {67}

Title: Deep Blue
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Release date: May 6, 2014
Pages: 320
The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

My teaser, from 23% in the egalley:
"Wait, Sera," Mahdi said, looking desperate. "I'm sorry. You're hurt, I know you are--"

"Oh no, I'm perfectly fine, your grace," Seraphina said, blinking back tears.

Mahdi shook his head. "Your grace? Whoa, Sera, it's

"I would be hurt, if I cared."
I'm super excited to read this one, since I've yet to find a mermaid series I really love. Maybe this'll be it! :D

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes

Release date: February 10, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Pages: 293
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
New York City, 1883

A Prince Charming meets his match...

Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naivete and sparkling beauty. She's a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancée, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.

A Cinderella with a secret...

Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father's life depends on it.

A Happily Ever After that could never be...

When Christopher's investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingenue may be a femme fatale in disguise. Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he's come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.
Once Upon a Masquerade is certainly not my normal fare, but I requested it on a whim from Netgalley because the story sounded fun and the cover was pretty. (I am indeed, superficial.) And, while it's far from a perfect read, if you like historical romance, it's a light, fun, and quick read that left me smiling at the end.

The premise is interesting enough, and the plot moves at a good pace, keeping you entertained throughout, both with intrigue in the story and romantic tension. I did have the ultimate ending figured out really early, but that didn't especially detract from my enjoyment of the story.

I found myself quite liking Rebecca, even though she was a little dumb in some of her decisions. She loves her father deeply, and feels a lot of loyalty towards him, which makes her take care of him and continue bailing him out of his messes, even though he truly needs some tough love. She isn't delusional about the situation she brings herself into and carries herself with a lot of dignity. I certainly didn't agree with a few of her choices, but I understood them and her motivations.

The attention to historical detail here likely isn't especially well-maintained, since the social constraints of chaperones and using others' Christian names seemed quite lax. But the only thing that really bothered me was the dialogue. There are times, especially in the beginning of the novel, when the dialogue felt very stilted and unnatural, even like filler in moments. It gets better as the novel goes on, but there are still moments where the conversation felt forced and unnecessary--and definitely not intentionally.

But, all in all, Once Upon a Masquerade is a kind of Cinderella retelling that adds a dose of mystery and back-alley drama. It's quick and fun, an enjoyable read.

About the author:

A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {64}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been good! And guess what! IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! I'm so pumped. :) I love my birthday, and it's really cool when Easter falls on the same day. So, also, HAPPY EASTER! :D 

For review:

Victories (Shadow Grail #4) by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Then and Always by Dani Atkins
Creators (Lost Souls Trilogy #3) by Tiffany Truitt
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

A big, big thanks to Tor Teen, William Morrow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Ballantine Books,Entangled Teen, and Feiwel & Friends for these! :)


Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Thursday - Blog Tour: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman ) {Review + Giveaway}
Friday - Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Books I read this week:
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes

I'm currently reading:

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

So that's been my week! Victories and Natchez Burning just showed up on my doorstep this week, without warning. Natchez Burning is actually by a Mississippi author, though, who is signing close to where I live in May, so I'll likely be reading this and going to that. Victories is from a series I've never heard of, but it sounds pretty interesting! :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Release date: February 4, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.
Is it weird that I wanted to read Alienated almost exclusively because I've been watching Star-Crossed on The CW (and loving it) and really wanted to read something similar? It might be, but it's true. Unfortunately, I'm now in a minority of people who aren't raving about this one. While it's really enjoyable and fun at times, I never truly connected to Alienated and a lot of the book felt cheesy and reliant on cliche.

Cara is your typical type-A overachiever. She's ruthless in her pursuit of being valedictorian and completely set on becoming a journalist, but the high cost of college is standing in her way after her mom had cancer and most of the family's resources were drained with hospital bills. So when the opportunity to host a L'eihr exchange student presents itself, with the offer of a massive scholarship, a chance to visit L'eihr, and the ripe chance to blog about the experience included, she can't turn it down. (My first question: If she wants to be a journalist so badly, why isn't she working for a school newspaper? Even my tiny high school had a paper.) At the beginning Cara comes off as not the nicest of people, what with sneakily knocking off the former valedictorian by retaking a class over the summer and getting a better grade, but she does prove herself not to be a mean girl, both in the ways she handles her persecution in her high school and her treatment of Aelyx. So there's that.

But Cara is supposedly ridiculously smart and a hard-worker, yet we basically don't see her ever paying attention to either school or homework, and her supposed debate team (of which she is the star debater) is mentioned three or four times, and she attends, what, twice? Her decisions aren't all that intelligent either, but at least that can be chalked up to being lovestruck, or something.

What's the problem here, though, is that most of the characters are boring cliches. You have the overlooked best friend, the jealous exboyfriend, the "groupie" (alien groupies!), and the intolerant jock, amongst others. No one displays much past these surface ideas, and it's hard to even begin to care about them, since there's clearly not much of an interior life, nothing that motivates them.

The "aliens" here are also kind of... lazy. I feel like it's something we've discussed enough at this point that we're of the understanding that aliens most likely are nothing like humans. Sure, a romance with a scary alien wouldn't necessarily be feasible or appealing, but it'd be nice if they were at least a little different from humans. Their DNA is basically identical, they eat foods eerily similar to ours (though without seasoning!), and live at temperatures comparable to Earth's. So, what's so alien about them? They've got advanced technology, but that's it. The people of L'eihr are like bland humans. Yippee?

There were points in the novel that I found enjoyable, and I did find myself rooting for the romance, but I guess I just expected more from a novel that so many have raved about. Alienated needs a world and alien race that are beautiful but different from our own, secondary characters that I could feel like I'm (at least) acquaintances with, and some deeper ideas going on. It's not a terrible book, just not one that feels especially well-realized.

About the author:

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn't afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public--just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, "Sweetheart of Ohio."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman {Review + Giveaway}

Release date: April 22, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
To me, Prisoner of Night and Fog is historical fiction done right, even though it makes small revisions to the history here and there to make the story work. By lightly manipulating history and wielding the aura of the world's most notorious dictator, Anne Blankman tells a very human story of a girl coming into to her own and finding herself, shirking the ideas and beliefs settled upon her by her family, peers, and society to establish opinions and beliefs that are wholly her own--all with the fascinating lead-up to World War II as the catalyst.

Gretchen Müller is the darling of the National Socialist Party, and of its leader, Adolf Hitler. Known throughout Munich as the daughter of the man who sacrificed himself to save the soon-to-be Führer, Gretchen has grown up swaddled by the Nazi party's ideology and referring to Hitler as Uncle Dolf, believing him to the kindly, fond man she sees. Reading Gretchen's view of Hitler is fascinating, because it's so hard, in our time, to imagine people truly believing what the man said, buying into his belief system. But, we're gifted with hindsight, the knowledge of what is to come. This is 1931, before Hitler truly began his campaign against the Jewish people, and it's not so hard to understand why Gretchen never suspected anything bad before Daniel shows up, telling her things might not be as she's been told.

But Gretchen is smart, so the moment doubt is culled she digs in and begins to notice more amiss than she could have imagined. She searches for more information regarding her father's death, even though her search brings her to dangerous places. What's so great about Gretchen is that she quickly realizes the faults in the logic she's been living behind and wholeheartedly shirks them. She only worries about defying the party in relation to it hurting those she cares about, but she's not afraid to let others know how she feels and can see the goodness in the Jewish people, the people she's been raised to belief are sub-human. A large part of this comes from Daniel, who is constantly challenging Gretchen, not only when it comes to what she thinks but also in her actions. His fearlessness is the catalyst for Gretchen. Their romance is sweet, honest, and built completely on trust and acceptance.

The only flaw here is that the beginning may run a bit long, spending a bit too much time setting up the story before getting to the meat of the plot. Many readers might get bored and stop reading, but I encourage you to continue on, for the story is completely worth it.

Anne Blankman masterfully winds her characters and situations into real historical events and among real people, giving the reader a well-established sense of place and history. It feels like something that could have been happening during Hitler's rise and calls to attention reasons why and how he came to power. Prisoner of Night and Fog paints Munich as a city on the edge, wracked by Nazis and Communists, with its citizens living in fear even before the worst happened. Even among this, Gretchen's story is one of heartbreak and pain, but her courage allows her to stand up to one of the most feared (and most charismatic, let's not forget) men in history. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a stand-out historical novel that you don't want to miss.

About the author:

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

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