Review + Giveaway: Hush by Stacey R. Campbell

hushTitle: Hush (The Lakeview, #1)
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publication Date: January 23rd 2013 by Green Darner Press
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis

For small-town girl Blakely Henry, any hope of finding her biological parents died when she stopped believing in fairy tales and Disney princesses. That is, until she spots her boarding school’s new British exchange student, Max Ryder, staring at her. Why would a boy who looks like he stepped out of the pages of a magazine be looking at her? Because Max knows something Blakely doesn’t.

Following the tragic demise of one of Europe’s most beloved royal families, Max has stumbled upon information he thinks may lead to a lost royal heir, and now he is on a quest halfway around the world to see if he’s right.

Sworn to secrecy by his university professor and the headmaster of Lakeview Academy, Max is admitted into an exchange program with the sole purpose of finding out the truth. But will his personal feelings for Blakely get in the way?

When a stolen email surfaces, Blakely and her friends’ lives are threatened, and Max starts to question what he is really after.

From the exclusive rolling lawns of Canada’s most prestigious boarding school to the University of Saint Andrews’ hallowed grounds, Blakely’s quiet, unassuming life is turned upside down. Is she really who she thinks she is? Can she survive long enough to help Max unearth the truth?

Hush was such an interesting read. It did start a bit slow and boring but I was really excited to see what’s going to happen so I went on.

I liked the premise of the book. I mean, long lost heir of a royal family and a British guy going undercover, it sounded pretty exciting and cool!

Blakely was this cool, friendly girl who turned out to be the long lost heir of a beloved royal family. She’s got a strong aura around her which made me root for her. I love her relationship with her friends, kind of a squad thing which is always cool!

Max was this British kid, who kind of went into undercover with the aid of a professor, who had a lead about the long lost royal heir. He’s a bit mysterious but sweet. Not that swoony though, which made me a bit sad because most British guys in YA novels are those I tend to fall in love with. Hahahaha! But then again, I guess that’s just me. I also felt him being British a but lacking, like he’s not even British at all, unless you mention the accent.

I really had mixed feelings about the book. It was a bit unpredictable and albeit being dragging sometimes, I found it really enjoyable most of the time. It sort of gave me a Princess Diaries kind of feels.

Giveaway

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The Leveller by Julia Durango (ARC)

the leveller

Title: The Leveller
Author: Julia Durango
Publication Date: June 23rd 2015 by HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★
Amazon // B&N // Book Depository

Synopsis

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

I’m not a big fan of video games or MMORPGs but I quite enjoyed reading this book. The Leveller takes place in a futuristic world, where one can enter a virtual reality game or simulation called MEEP. Nixy’s job is to drag kids out of the MEEP and bring them back home to their parents. Think of it as a futuristic babysitter, or something to that effect.

The concept of the story is quite interesting, not a first but it was enough to keep me reading.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned about levelling teenage boys, it’s this: when in doubt, follow the hot girls.”

Nixy is feisty, strong and definitely a snarky character. I love her sass and wits. She’s very strong-willed and determined. She’s also got a strong and cool relationship with her father, which is a bonus for me, because I love healthy parent-child relationships. However, I think she kind of got out of character when she met Wyn. It’s like all of a sudden she felt mushy and sort of cheesy but oh well, I guess love does that to you.

Wyn is pretty interesting. I thought at first that he was going to be this spoiled brat son of a billionaire game developer but he wasn’t. His relationship with his grandmother is really adorable! From Nixy’s descriptions, he’s pretty hot but he didn’t make me all swoony and stuff. Haha! But anyway, I enjoyed his character because he’s really a decent guy.

“You’ve seen what your perfect self looks like in the MEEP, so when you look in the mirror now, all you see are your flaws.”

Although, I found this book really enjoyable, I thought that this was a really fast read and I have to admit I was a bit lost because some things were happening too fast. It’s so fast-paced that I kept turning the pages back just to remember what happened before. I also think the character development is lacking, plus there’s insta-love. Insta-love works for me sometimes but for this book, it really didn’t. I managed to overlook it because I was looking forward to how Nixy and Wyn will be able to go out of the virtual world, only to be greeted by a sort of predictable twist and an abrupt ending. I NEED MORE!!! Good thing, there’s going to be a second book.

Overall, despite some reservations I had for this book, I think it’s an amazing debut. The world-building was good. The writing is also great so I’m definitely be looking forward to the next one.

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Review + Interview + Giveaway: Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot

unmaking hunter kennedy

Title: Unmaking Hunter Kennedy
Author: Anne Eliot
Publication Date: October 17th 2012 by Butterfly Books, LLC
Rating:★★★★
Amazon // Book Depository // Goodreads

Synopsis

After a car accident–an event he considers a prank gone bad–pop star, Hunter Kennedy is forced to hide out with his aunt in small-town Colorado. He’s supposed to rest, heal his scars and attend high school in disguise until the press dies down. But he only wants to get back to work.

Worse, the girl who’s been assigned to make him over into a geek is a major geek herself. Vere Roth is a chattering pixie, a blushing tornado and a complete social disaster. He’s never met a girl who’s never-been-kissed, believes in romance and thinks Hunter’s a ‘nice’ guy.

Funny thing is…Hunter is nice around Vere because she’s his first real friend. He also can’t seem to stop sharing his secrets or keep her out of his heart. Knowing he’d never deserve a girl as sweet as Vere, he resigns himself to the friend zone, and helps his new bestie with her own makeover.

She tortures him daily for ridiculous guy advice on how to snag her life-long crush. A guy Hunter thinks is totally wrong for Vere, and sadly, one who has taken note of Vere’s transformation.

When Vere asks her best friend for some kissing advice, Hunter can’t resist…

And that’s when things get out of control…

High School Romance, first love, sweet romance.

Anne Eliot did it again! She really does nail fluffy YA contemporary romances perfectly. She never fails to amaze me! I really enjoyed reading every single page of this book.

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy is told in alternating POVs (like other Eliot novels), Vere’s and Hunter’s. Hunter Kennedy is a member of a super famous band, GuardeRobe. He’s been sent to Colorado by his mom to “unmake” him. With the help of Vere Roth and her family, Hunter transforms from a rockstar to a dorky, awkward high school student named Dustin McHugh.

“Depression does not have an on-switch.”

The chemistry between Vere and Hunter was really strong and cute! They’re very adorable! Especially Hunter as Dustin! In case you didn’t know, I love dorky/nerdy guys big time. Although, I think the romance between them was a bit rushed and instant compared to the other characters from Anne’s other books.

Vere was very relatable, adorable and smart girl. I love her sense of humor. Her naivete when it comes to boys was a bit of a problem for her but it was addressed in such realistic manner. I also love her relationship with her brother, Charlie.

“Be the character, don’t ever let the character be you.”

Hunter was kind of a complex character for me. At first, he appeared to be a bit of an jerk but as the story progressed, it was nice to see his real personality gradually unveil.

Overall, the book was really enjoyable! I really had a great time reading the book because it doesn’t only focus on romance. It’s about friendship, family relationships and finding yourself.

Interview

1. Your books address brain and mental disorders. What inspired you to write about them, because I think it’s very good to know about what people with those disorders are really experiencing?Hi Inah,
Almost is a book about a girl suffering from PTSD which was inspired by an event that happened to a friend of mine while we were back in high school. Hunter Kennedy has a teen rockstar who’s recovering from depression and I actually go the idea after watching so many teen stars go through dramatic declines in their careers and wondered if a parent wanted to ‘rescue’ a star out of a life they were put into from early exposure to TV and media—could it be undone?My books, How I Fly and How I Fall are about a girl who has Cerebral Palsy which and therefore, one side of her body is weaker and doesn’t respond how she’d like it to, and that story was inspired by a daughter of a friend I had in University. She had a brain tumor removed when she was very little, and when she awoke one side of her body had changed forever in a similar way to Ellen Foster’s CP symptoms. I wanted her to have a love story she could read about a girl like her.2. Your characters are my favorite book boyfriends of all time, but if you have to choose among Cam, Gray, and Hunter? Who would you choose? Also, who’s your all time favorite book boyfriend/s??

Oh Inah, this one is so difficult. How can I choose between Cam, Gray and Hunter? When people ask me which book to read, I ask them—do you like extra good guys as in future firemen, future policeman, future rescue types? That type would be Gray Porter. Hunter Kennedy, though his heart is so sweet, is a bit more of a ‘bad boy’ rockstar, and Cam Campbell, he’s just sweet and crush worthy and the perfect high school boyfriend. I don’t think I can choose between them, but I did end up marrying a guy like Gray Porter. My husband is an ER doctor, and he loves to rescue people. ;)

3. What is your all time favorite movie?

All time favorite movie? Eeek. Pride and Prejudice even though they talk very fast. I also love this movie called Cinema Paradiso (it’s Italian) and OH GOSH Across the Universe, which features all of these Beatles songs and in the opening scene (you can find it on YouTube this boy sings, ‘About a Girl’ while he’s looking off into the sea, and you fall instantly in love with him.  I also love ONCE, and…Pretty in Pink (I love movies so much…so really I could go on and on. Email me any time for recommendations. :)

(Note from Inah: Anne really recommends pretty cool movies. One time, she told me and Jem to watch Bend It Like Beckham because according to her, it’s cute and enjoyable. We watched it along with our other friends and we ended up loving the movie. <3)

4. If you are to pick a dreamcast for your book characters, who would you pick?

The dream would simply be to have the books made into movies. It is really one of those stars in the sky that every writer wishes for, so I would just be so happy to see one of my books made into a movie.

5. Favorite TV Shows?

Currently I’m on a huge Orphan Black kick, because the actress who plays all of the ‘clone girls’ is SO COOL. How does she do her job? I bow bow bow to her. I actually try not to watch TV unless I’m doing dishes or laundry or some chore, because otherwise I just get hooked and then no work gets done.

6. Are you currently working on another novel right now?

Oh yes, I am. :) and Inah you are getting one of the first copies. I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet, because I get really shy about my work until it’s ‘done’ and even after it’s done, I feel like maybe it’s never finished so the less I say, the better I can type? Does that make sense?

7. If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you’ll most probably doing right now?

I KNOW if I weren’t a writer, I would be a reader and just eating up all of the cool indie books out there to read. It’s what I did before I was published, and it’s what I love to do. I would love to have a used bookshop full of dusty old books.

8. What are some of your favorite books?

Favorite books. Oh. I can’t even pick. All books are my favorite? Honest.

9. Describe your writing process.

Write. Doubt. Write. Doubt. Worry. Write. Delete. Try it again. Write more. Delete more…worry more. Write. (I do not recommend this, but it’s how I roll.)

10. Which of your characters has the closest personality to you?

I would have to say Vere Roth when she’s all dorky with the bad hair and strange outfits, and awkward. I blush some but not as much as she does. Also, I get really excited about really small things, collect rocks and act goofy at all times. :)

11. What advice can you give our readers, especially those who are aspiring writers?

Just keep writing. It’s a very strange industry and you should only put your work out when you feel good about it. Great about it? You can’t control what sells and what doesn’t, so all you can control is your own words on the page. If you can go to sleep at night and say, ‘I did all that I could. I rewrote that until I was happy, and I’m proud of those pages,’ then whatever happens you will be happy and able to sleep. I’d also say, listen to Stephen King’s writing book ON WRITING, it’s in audio book and it’s him talking and he’s got such good advice as well as in interesting journey. Study story structure, watch movies read a ton and most of all don’t be afraid to write 100 pages, and suddenly realize your book beginning is on page 101 (meaning you are going to trash those 100 pages and finally write your story. It’s not throwing away pages, it’s learning your story and the heart of your characters. Those pages won’t be lost ,they will come back and make your story stronger. Hope that helps a little?


Thanks a lot, Anne!

I hope you all enjoyed Anne’s interview here! As a last hurrah for our blogoversary, we’ll be giving away two e-copies of Unmaking Hunter Kennedy!

Giveaway

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Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider (ARC)

extraordinary means

Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publication Date: May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
Rating:★★★★★
Amazon // B&N // Book Depository // Goodreads

Synopsis

From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

 

God I am lost for words.

This is the sort of book that you’ll grow to love and adore and then it’ll leave you somehow broken and yet fulfilled at the same time.

I read this book back in this month because what the hell right? I haven’t read anything from Robyn Schneider but I’ve been eyeing The Beginning of Everything for a long time. So I dove into this book without knowledge of how she writes.

“We were the ones who’d faded away, who hadn’t come back in fall.”

This book is told in alternating POVs of Lane and Sadie, which meant extra points for me because dual POVs are very cool. Haha! Lane and Sadie both have tuberculosis and they’re staying at Latham, which is kind of like a hospital-slash-boarding school for people like them.

I instantly loved their chemistry. The first chapters for both characters really left me craving for more. I loved Lane’s character because he’s really an ideal guy. He’s smart, kind and really has a good sense of humor, not to mention good looking. Well, at least according to Sadie. Sadie’s character kind of reminded me of Alaska Young from John Green’s Looking for Alaska. She comes up as a carefree, smart and kind of rebellious type but really there’s more to her than her strong facade.

“He was familiar and unfamiliar, like a song I’d heard a different version of, and whose lyrics I couldn’t quite remember.”

The book kinda reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars to be honest, but it’s got a different kind of caliber. Along the pages, I occasionally pick up life lessons which makes me want to highlight every single word of the book.

This gave me a great emotional experience. Hahaha! I got to laugh and gush and yes, cry. It’s been a long time since I last cried so hard because of a book. And well, that was TFiOS which I read back in 2012. I loved every single thing about this.

“Someone always gets hurt. But what no one ever tells you is that you can get hurt more than once.”

TL;DR I love this book to pieces and I’d definitely recommend this book!

Giveaway

As part of our blogoversary celebration, we’ll be giving away one finished copy of Extraordinary Means for PH Residents only. Since, Robyn Schneider is visiting the Philippines this July (along with Katie Cotugno and Melissa Kantor), and July means my birthmonth and Jem’s graduation from Uni, the copy will be signed (and personalized if everything goes well).

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