Monday, October 21, 2013

Series Review: Burn for Burn

Burn for Burn
Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
358 pages
Released: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this book?  I had heard great things about it, purchased it, and yet there it sat on my shelf for nearly a year before I picked it up.  Well, I'm so glad I did because Burn for Burn was a fantastic book and the start of a really wonderful series.

Burn for Burn is told from the point of view of three different girls. Lillia and Kat used to be friends in middle school, but drifted apart in high school thanks to their "friend" Rennie.  The third point of view is from Mary, a girl who has switched schools for the school year.  What's fantastic about these alternating points of view is they're diverse - each girl has a different personality and is coming from a different place.  I think Mary's point of view was the most interesting to me because she's the outsider and has such a traumatizing past, but what I really loved was that despite their differences, Lillia and Kat both took Mary under their wings and befriended her.  The three girls are a motley crew, but they have each other's backs.  Love it!

I'm not going to lie, despite the great reviews I had read about this book, I was afraid that Burn for Burn would be a stereotypical novel about high school girls bullying other high school girls.  Far from it, there wasn't much about this book that was stereotypical at all, starting off with Lillia, who was Asian.  I can't remember the last time I read a YA novel with a prominent Asian character and it was refreshing.  Also, much to my relief, Burn for Burn went far beyond the reaches of high school bullying.  We learn a lot about Mary's backstory, for instance, which is centered around her being bullied in middle school, but when the three girls come together, they aren't out to bully back... they're out for revenge.  And so begins their quest to ruin the lives of those who have hurt them the most.

There was one strange part to Burn for Burn though... it read like a contemporary novel straight through the end, but hinted very slightly at the paranormal.  When the book ended I still wasn't sure whether or not it was 100% contemporary.  I really think it could go either way and while I really wouldn't classify Burn for Burn as a horror novel in the least, fans of Carrie will love it, as will contemporary fans who enjoy the occasional book about difficult topics or strong friendships.  Five stars!

Fire with Fire
Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
528 pages
Released: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Source: Little Shop of Stories (Thanks, Kim!)

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Well thank GOODNESS Kim at Little Shop of Stories had supplied me with the advanced reading cop of Fire with Fire, because as soon as I put Burn for Burn down, I picked up Fire with Fire and started reading.  Thankfully, the story picked up right where Burn for Burn left off and I was immediately plummeted back into the story.  I'm going to do my best here to not give away the dramatic ending from Burn for Burn, but be warned this review definitely contain spoilers from Burn for Burn.

So after said dramatic ending, the girls start to question their plans for revenge.  Have they gone too far?   Well, they must not have been too concerned with this since they continue on, focusing more on revenge for Mary, who was taunted by Reeve in middle school.  They come up with the perfect plan for Mary's revenge - since Reeve is in Lillia's group of friends, Lillia will reel him in and trap him in  a fake romance, then dump him in front of everyone so he can experience at least some of the heartbreak that he made Mary feel a few years ago.

Sounds foolproof, right?  Ha!  Things start going wrong all over the place and over the five hundred plus pages, Lillia struggles to capture Reeve's romantic attention and when she does have it they fight frequently.  Will Mary get the revenge she's been dreaming of?  That's all I'm going to say except you really should pick up this series.

Speaking of Mary, at the end of the first book I wasn't sure whether or not there was something paranormal going on with her, but there definitely is and I was surprised to see it happen, but at the same time the book still didn't feel paranormal to me.  It felt just as realistic as the first book.  Mary's powers grow stronger as the book goes on and she's trying to figure out exactly what they are, why she has them, all while dealing with family issues like her increasingly unhinged auth and completely absent parents.  The ending of the book brings a HUGE revelation about Mary.  I was completely and utterly shocked - did not see that one coming and that one moment at the end of book two makes the whole entire thing worth it (not that it wasn't worth it before, bur you know that I mean!)

Four stars!  The book would have gotten five, and it should with that ending, but the book was so long and dragged a little in the middle.  Nevertheless, I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read the next book, Ashes to Ashes, when it comes out next year.  Such a long wait...

Note: as of this post going live, the ebook for Burn for Burn is only $1.99.  It's definitely worth it, I think you should download it now and give it a go.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Ah!  My favorite time of year... the air is getting cooler and things are getting considerably more... spooky!  I'm happy to be participating in the fourth annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.  Enter via the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a Spooktacular book of your choice up to fifteen dollars.  Here are some spooky suggestions...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Belle Epoque

Belle Epoque
Elizabeth Ross
326 pages
Released: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Why oh why did I wait so long to read this book?  I got it out of the library as soon as the had it available then renewed it twice, ran out of time and returned it.  I immediately checked the book out again then renewed it twice and decided it was now or never - I read this book two days before it was due and as soon as I'm done typing up this review, I'm driving to the library to return it.  Guys, GUYS - don't make the same mistake I made, I absolutely loved and adored this book and I'm mad at myself for renewing it for twelve weeks, preventing anyone else from checking it out and loving it, too.

Maude, a spunky young girl in France during the mid-ninteenth century, runs away from home when she discovers her father has betrothed her to the butcher.  Knowing there's more for her in this life than to be a wife to a small town butcher, she flees to Paris with a vague job ad in her hand.  But when she applies for the job in person and is accepted she learns what the job is really about - she's now a repoussoir.  The agency hires unattractive young women who are then rented by wealthy families to stand near their debutante daughters at society events to make their daughters look more attractive.

This concept was a little stunning to me.  Sure in real life people sometimes make friends with the less attractive to feel better about themselves - hello, it's called middle school - but I had no idea this was an actual business is nineteenth century France, and the authors note at the end of the book confirmed it.  I immediately felt for Maude.  It must be humiliating and horribly bad for one's self esteem to be reminded of one's flaws every single day.  However, the pay was excellent and Maude took it in such stride most of the time that I was much more interested in her interactions with her client and her client's family.

Maude is immediately hired out by a countess for her daughter, whose first season is about to start.  But the catch here is that Maude has been hired for the entire season and the daughter is never to find out.  Maude is to befriend Isabelle and then report back to her mother about potential suitors.  Plots like this never end well, in books or real life, so I knew some high class drama was on the way and was it ever.  But aside from that, we learned a lot about Isabelle, who wasn't your standard young debutante.  In fact, I absolutely adored Isabelle!  She had her own dreams and she wasn't going to let her mother's dream of her marrying rich get in the way - until Maude stepped in and suddenly had the moral dilemma of doing her job, or helping a new friend.  I won't spoil it - but you'll be surprised and you must read this book!

Five stars!  I love you, Belle Epoque, and I'm sorry I neglected you for so long.  It's back to the library now where hopefully someone else will pick you up and love you just as much.

Friday, October 4, 2013

One Day Kindle Deal - Truly, Madly, Deadly!

You know I love a good deal, especially when it comes to ebooks, so I'm thrilled to be sharing a great deal with you today - Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Sourcebooks, 2013) is only $1.99 today for Kindle!  But it's just for today, so go check it out... I already got my copy and I can't wait to read it.  Here's the summary from the publisher:

Truly Madly Deadly is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about love, obsession and murder. Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin.
When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."

And in celebration of this one day deal, I have the play list from the author along with some descriptions of why she choose those songs for her book!  I love a good book playlist, so here goes...

There is so much emotion in TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY that the playlist had to reflect the same. Love, danger, terror – the book is packed with it and the playlist is, too!
1.     Aftermath Lifehouse
2.     My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark Fallout Boy
3.     Time-Bomb All Time Low
4.     Fighter The Fray
5.     Ready Set Go Outasight
6.     Nobody Listen Lifehouse
7.     Flagpole Sitta Harvey Danger
8.     Run Don’t Walk Hey Monday
9.     If I Lose Myself Tonight One Republic
10.  Hey Beautiful Seven Foot Wave
11.  Stuck In The Middle Boys Like Girls
12.  Brave  Sara Bareilles

Aftermath is slow and a little dark; it reminds me of Kevin’s funeral. The lyrics, “If we can make it through the storm/become who we were before/promise me we’ll never look back,” haunt Sawyer as she walks up the Anderson’s stairs.

Besides being the best song title ever, My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark fits Sawyer and Kevin’s dangerous relationship. Sawyer walks down the hill the night of Kevin’s death. His words are drowned out by the pulse of this song – “So light ‘em up, up, up/Light ‘em up, up, up/I’m on fire.”

 Time Bomb – “it was like a time bomb set into motion” – is Maggie’s and Sawyer’s first run-in, that Monday after the funeral.

I imagine Lucas looking so forlorn as he walks down the hall – I hear Fighter playing behind him: “Maybe we were meant to be lonely, lonely/maybe we were meant to be on our own.”

Ready Set Go is upbeat and fun, the perfect getting ready for the game song.

Sawyer’s run in with Mr. Hanson is intense – Nobody Listen – intense. “Everybody talk/Nobody listen/Nobody listen…”

Sawyer runs to the beat of Flagpole Sitta. Can’t you just hear her sneakers pounding out, “paranoia, paranoia/everyone is coming to get me/just say you never met me”?

Sawyer reads the second note with trembling breath, and the song Run Don’t Walk pulses through the hallway.

If I Lose Myself Tonight and Hey Beautiful filter out of a house party – calm, sweet lyrics before the storm.

Sawyer’s father drags her home and she’s terrified, looking over the destruction of her new baby sister’s nursery. She hears Stuck In The Middle, the words, “I know things’ll get better/Hold it together/Take your time.”

Finally, during the last few paragraphs, we hear Brave: “I wonder what would happen/if you say what you want to say/and let the words fall out/Honestly/I want to see you brave.” 

The baby’s nursery
Stuck In the Middle Boys Like Girls
I know things’ll get better
Hold it together
Take your time
Stuck in the middle

The end
Brave Sara Bareilles
I wonder what would happen
If you say what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I want to see you be brave
The second note
Nobody Listen Lifehouse

Wipe Your Eyes Maroon Five
Better With You Kris Allen
Shouldn’t Come Back Demi Lovato
I Choose U Timeflies
Ready Set Go Outasight (the football game)
Time-Bomb All Time Low
Run, Don’t Walk Hey Monday

So there you have it!  Be sure to check out this great deal on Kindle today.