Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Great
Author: Sara Benincasa
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss
Review by: Jenn
In Sara Benincasa's contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.
2.5 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher, but it did not influence this review in any way.*

I haven't read The Great Gatsby (yet) but I have seen the movie, so I was really excited about starting Great. I've been eyeballing the cover because is so eye-catching and it one of the reason why I chose to read it. However, Great wasn't all that great (pun intended). 

Naomi is spending the summer in the Hampton and somehow managed to become a part of popular crowd, partly because of her mother and because Jacinta seeks her out. Jacinta is the new girl in the neighborhood and everyone is curious about her. Jacinta has an air of mysterious clout and it was very interesting seeing it unravel.

As the story progressed, I was curious about some of the characters' motives. I was concerned that they were using Naomi for their own sneaky scheme and that she would get hurt. I was always suspicious of Delilah's, Teddy's and Jeff's real reasoning for hanging out with Naomi. But I did managed to figure out (well partly) Jacinta's motives. And unlike Naomi, I would have checked out of the budding friendship she had with Jeff a lot earlier than she did. Yes he was being charming but the way he defended Teddy when he was being an asshole really rubbed me the wrong way. I understand Teddy is Jeff's best friend but there was always something underlying in his reasoning.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't end up loving the book. I just couldn't click with any of the characters, not even with Naomi. I think I'll read The Great Gatsby and hopefully that will make up for the disappointment of Great.

Book Blitz + Giveaway - Found in Us by Layla Hagen

Release Date: July 24, 2014
Synopsis:
All Jessica wants -as a college graduate — is to be a good girl. She landed the job of her dreams at a museum and is trying to eliminate temptations. No more short skirts (when she can help it). No wild parties. And no men.

She particularly excels at that last thing. . .

Until her path crosses Parker’s. Again. Jessica remembers the last time their paths crossed very well. She was left with a seriously bruised ego. She knows it would be best to avoid him altogether. But the charming Brit makes it hard for her to elude his electrifying pull. He is as irresistible as he is captivating.

And enigmatic.

Because underneath the sleek Armani suit and the sweet British accent that makes her crave his touch, Parker isn’t the perfect gentleman everyone thinks he is.

He’s exactly what Jessica doesn’t want, but desperately needs.
A bad, bad boy.

**This can be read as a STANDALONE. The second book in the Lost series tells Jessica and Parker’s story.**



Giveaway

You can also purchase the first book in the series, Lost in Us, and Found in Us for $0.99.

You can also check out Nahomi's review on Found in Us. She LOVED it.

About the Author:
My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author. I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough.
Author Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Book Blitz organized by: Xpresso Book Tours
 

Waiting on Wednesday (#69)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spinethat spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Morning swooners!

This week pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is:

Expected Release Date: Fall 2014
Synopsis: 
Finding Us is in both Jades and Garrets POV

After the events of last year, Jade and Garret are anxious to get a fresh start in a new town and a new college, far away from the people who tried to tear them apart.

But soon after moving, their relationship problems begin. Jade finds out Garret hasn’t been completely honest with her. And knowing he’s been keeping secrets drives her back to old habits. Garret begins to worry when he sees Jade reverting back to the girl he met last year and yet he continues to hide things from her, thinking it’s for the best.

Jade and Garret thought they’d be safe in a small college town but they start to question their safety when a crime occurs in their neighborhood. And the more they investigate it, the more suspicious it becomes. Was it just a random crime or were they the intended victims?

It’s a turbulent start to their new life together. But this is just the beginning. Plans are in the works behind the scenes and Jade and Garret have no idea what’s in store for them.

So I wasn't sure this was going to come out, but I am so excited the Allie Everhart decided to publish the sixth book of the Jade series!!! I am so excited that the mystery is back, and top it all off I get Garrets POV too!!! *happy dances* So, what are you waiting on this wednesday Swonners?

Book Blitz + Giveaway - Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Expected Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Synopsis: 
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings...until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

“Reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid’s debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.” – School Library Journal

“Five love stories, beautifully woven together by a special girl in search of adventure, hope, and full appreciation of life’s simple pleasures. A do-not-miss. ” – Justine Magazine

“An entertaining and romantic road-trip debut.” – Kirkus

Author Adi Alsaid stopped by to talk about some of his favorite YA authors. Here's what he has to say:
My top 5 YA authors are

• John Green

• Leslye Walton

• David Levithan

• Corey Whaley

• E. Lockhart 

In the few years since I began reading young adult novels, I’ve taken a shotgun-blast approach when choosing what to read next. Rather than focusing on one author’s work to fully explore, I’ve tried to get my hands on as many different ones as possible. So, though I've only read one or two books by some of these authors, they wrote the books I most enjoyed within the genre, and am looking forward to reading more and more of their work. Three of them I only discovered this year while traveling to book conferences, and all three of their books (Whaley’s Noggin, Lockhart’s We Were Liars, and fellow debut author Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender) are among my favorite books overall that I’ve read in the past couple years.

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible.
In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let's Get Lost is his YA debut.

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Book Blitz organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

Quotes (#68)

Morning Swooners,
Today marks the first day of a new routine for Jenn and I! We signed up for a 5k run in September and we start training today! I am both excited and nervous about this whole ordeal but we will keep you updated. Wish us luck. Have a great Monday!

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.”

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Review: Found in Us by Layla Hagen


Found in Us (Lost #2)
Author: Layla Hagen
Release Date: July 24, 2014
Publisher: Layla Hagen
Source: Layla Hagen
Review by: Nahomi
All Jessica wants -as a college graduate — is to be a good girl. She landed the job of her dreams at a museum and is trying to eliminate temptations. No more short skirts (when she can help it). No wild parties. And no men.

She particularly excels at that last thing. . .

Until her path crosses Parker’s. Again. Jessica remembers the last time their paths crossed very well. She was left with a seriously bruised ego. She knows it would be best to avoid him altogether. But the charming Brit makes it hard for her to elude his electrifying pull. He is as irresistible as he is captivating.

And enigmatic.

Because underneath the sleek Armani suit and the sweet British accent that makes her crave his touch, Parker isn’t the perfect gentleman everyone thinks he is.

He’s exactly what Jessica doesn’t want, but desperately needs. A bad, bad boy.

4.5 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an eARC of this book from the author but it did not influence this review in way.*

Found in Us is a sweet story of two people trying to find love and acceptance. I love Jessica and Parker's story even more than I did Serena and James's.  There is always some degree of predictability in when I read a story but Found in Us had some very surprising twists that I wasn't expecting, which made the story so much better than Lost in Us for me. I was so happy that I got to see some of my favorite characters from Lost in Us!  I had missed Parker, Jessica, Serena, James, and Dani.

This story is quick paced and had the right amount of intrigue that kept me turning pages. I really loved Jessica she was really trying to turn things around in this book. I admire that she wants to prove  to herself that she can make it in the real world doing what she loves. I like her character flaws and her resilience in never giving up on trying to turn herself around.

Parker is just an infuriating sweet seemingly untouchable guy that has everything together. I truly wasn't expecting to find out what I did about Parker. I was in shock! I loved how Parker slowly came out of his shell and let Jessica into his life. Parker is the type of guy who can piss you off and turn you on at the same time.

I really like Jessica and Parker together, they balance each other out. Layla Hagen does wonderful job  of capturing the emotional tumult involved in falling in love and opening yourself up to love. I truly enjoyed reading Found in Us and can't wait till I can read Dani's story with the dark haired hottie.

Waiting on Wednesday (#68)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spinethat spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Morning swooners!

This week pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is:

Expected Release Date: September 2, 2014
Synopsis:
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I don't think I need to explain myself on this one. For every person who've read this series, I know that we're all anxiously anticipating it's release. And for those that haven't? What are you waiting for, start the series! It so good, you'll be kicking yourself for not starting it sooner.

What are you "Waiting on?"

Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy (Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: NetGalley
Review by: Nahomi
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

4.5 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an egalley of this book from the publisher but it did not influence this review in way.*

From the moment I started reading Defy I was hooked; I just couldn't put it down! I loved basically everything about it, except for one little detail at the end but I'll get into that later. I really enjoyed the suspense of the story, never knowing who to trust or what's really going on kept me on alert and turning pages. This story has a perfect combination of details that create a wonderful backdrop for this fast paced adventure.

Can I just say Alex is AWESOME! I was so heart broken for her in during certain scenes of this book I actually cried. Alex or Alexa is a very endearing character. She pulled me right in from the very beginning and kept me interested in her journey through out the entire story. She is tough and a little confused about who she is and where she fits in her world. In the end makes a huge sacrifice and proves how strong she really is. Alex is a great example of a kick ass female character! She is strong and able to defend herself but still has this vulnerability to her that tugs at the heart strings.

This book has a love triangle which I am not really a fan of but it is not horribly trying. I was really disappointed with the ending because my heart was broken for Alex. I understand why she made the decision she did but it still broke my heart. This is a great novel! I truly enjoyed being immersed in this world and am now desperate for Ignite.


Quotes (#67)

 
Did I ever tell you guys that I have a thing for Flynn Rider? Like, a big thing. He maaaay  be one of my fave Disney hero. And he's such a flirt. Love it.

Morning Lovelies!

Who's with me on the Flynn love? I know I can't be the only one. Don't make me look like the odd woman out here, you guys. ANYWAYS. Quotes time.

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”- Mark Twain 

“There's things that happen in a person's life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there's no forgetting them.” - John Boyne

“We are each the authors of our own lives, Emma. We live in what we have created. There is no way to shift the blame and no one else to accept the accolades.” - Barbara Taylor Bradford, A Woman of Substance

“The conversation of kisses. Subtle, engrossing, fearless, transforming.” - Alice Munro, Runaway

“Surely only boring people went in for conversations consisting of questions and answers. The art of true conversation consisted in the play of minds.” - Ved Mehta, All for Love

“All happiness depends on courage and work.” - HonorĂ© de Balzac

“Books may well be the only true magic.” - Alice Hoffman

A lot of those are basically words that I'm telling myself. Sometimes I just need to drown myself in the goodness of inspirational quotes. 

I hope you all have a great week. And fess up about who loves Flynn Rider. Don't make me feel like a weirdo.


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