Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Review by: Jenn
Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way.*

The Walls Around Us truly exceeded my expectations by how utterly captivated I was when I read it. Going into the story, I was prepared for what everyone had been calling this book "Orange Meet the Black Swan." Now, I haven't watched "The Black Swan" and I've only seen one episode of "Orange Is The New Black" so I didn't really have much backstory on it. However, Nova Ren Suma had me hanging onto her every word.

The Walls Around Us follow the stories of both Amber and Violet but we learn right away of a third person whose story needs to be told, Ori's. To be honest, I don't know how to fully explain what this novel is about without spoiling the plot and that is the last thing I want to do with this book. Also, I always felt like I was being told a story and a very important detail was being withheld from me and every time I thought I was closer to finding out the truth, Nova snatched it away. All was revealed, of course, right at the perfect moment. And it was in that moment of clarity that had me so thoroughly impressed with Nova Ren Suma's story telling abilities. I'm not sure how she did it but the story lines were intricately woven together that I believe only a few authors can pull off that kind of work.

Now, while I loved Nova's writing abilities and how I hung to her every word, my only complaint was the end. I'm not exactly sure I understood what happened in the end. Well, let me clarify. I understood what happened but what I don't understand is the HOW. And what happens AFTER. Like, what is going to happened to that person? Will someone notice? How and what and I don't know are still racing through my mind as I try to piece together the ending. Nova, what have you done to me?!

If you're looking for great storytelling writing and some mindfuckery, I say pick this one up ASAP.

Quotes (#101)

Morning Swooners,

I am actually excited that today is Monday! I get to go visit family for the rest of the week and I'm super excited that I am getting a break! I hope you have a wonderful week... on to our quotes may your week rock!

“I've found that there is always some beauty left -- in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
 ~Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

“I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“Whoever is happy will make others happy.”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“A quiet conscience makes one strong!”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“Anyhow, I've learned one thing now. You only really get to know people when you've had a jolly good row with them. Then and then only can you judge their true characters!”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“The weak die out and the strong will survive, and will live on forever”
~Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

Happy 3 Year Blogiversary to us!

Happy Friday Swooners!

AHHHH! Ok, I had to get the out of my system. We are super excited that today Books and Swoons turns 3! This past year has gone by so fast that it seems like a blur. Jenn and I would like to do a recap of our past year and do a giveaway to thank all of you who follow us and support our baby. So here goes.

We've been blogging for 3 years now and after so many giveaways and bookish stuff, we wanted to do something different for this year blogiversary. Nahomi and I talked how we've never really share much of our lives besides the occasional personal post. So we're taking the time to show you a glimpse at our lives outside the blog.
The daily struggle at work

Working on the blog at home

Book Bash 2014 meeting Natasha Boyd!
YALL Fest 2014 with Sarah Dessen
YALL Fest 2014 with Kiera Cass

At our Bookish Xmas Party.
Boomerang Launch Party with Noelle August, AKA: Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger
With Kristi Cook at her Magnolia book launch
With Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
With the Fierce Reads authors 2014: Anna Banks, Lindsay Smith,  Marie Rutkoski, and Katie Finn (Morgan Matson), and our blogging friends
With our other bestie, Daisel
In NYC after doing BEA2014
Nahomi's birthday dinner
It been a crazy 3 years and we've had so much fun and struggles with it but I know I can't imagine not doing this. So thanks for sticking with us and I hope you'll continue to be readers of this blog.

Now, for the fun part! The giveaway portion of the celebration!

This is our first giveaway that will be international and the reason for that is because we wanted for our readers from all over to be able to participate. The only rule is that you must be 13 years or older. Now, go forth and enter! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Favorite Friday (#29) - See Me by Wendy Higgins

Have a favorite book? Series? One that you've just read or are currently reading? Favorite Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Books and Swoons where we spotlight some of our Favorite Reads. Everyone is welcome to join. Just enter your information on the linky or leave us a comment!

This week pick is: See Me by Wendy Higgins.

While most seventeen-year-old American girls would refuse to let their parents marry them off to a stranger, Robyn Mason dreams of the mysterious McKale in Ireland, wondering how he’ll look and imagining his cute Irish accent. Prearranged bindings are common for magical families like her own, however when she travels to the whimsical Emerald Isle she discovers there’s more to her betrothal and McKale’s clan than she was led to believe.

What starts as an obligatory pairing between Robyn and McKale morphs over time into something they both need. But one giant obstacle stands in the way of their budding romance: a seductive and deadly Fae princess accustomed to getting what she wants—and what she wants is McKale as her plaything. Love, desire, and jealousies collide as Robyn’s family and McKale’s clan must work together to outsmart the powerful Faeries and preserve the only hope left for their people.
This is great story! I loved getting lost in Robyns and Mckale's world. The story is sweet and suspenseful. It's definitely a must read.

About the author:

After earning a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, Wendy taught high school English until becoming a mommy. Writing Young Adult (YA) stories gives her the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal, daunting, and exciting years before adulthood. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.
Author's links: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

I hope you can join us in sharing and talking about some of your favorite reads. Book talk always make me happy. 

What are one of your favorite reads?

Waiting on Wednesday (#101)

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: May 12, 2015
First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.
I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I love the Rusk series and can't wait to dive back into that world.

What are you "Waiting on?"

Blog Tour Stop - Excerpt: Captive by Brighton Walsh

(Captive #1)
Author: Brighton Walsh
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: St. Martin's Press
He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.

Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.

I let my hands settle under his shirt, against his skin. I’d never felt anything like it. Raw power radiated from the flesh-covered muscles, his abdomen taut and rippled, and I wanted to see it. I wanted to see, to feel, every inch of him. His body was a drug, and I craved more. I pushed his shirt up as he continued kissing me, until finally he pulled away and reached behind to yank it off.

He knelt at the edge of the bed, looking down at me, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. I was too busy tracking every inch of skin he’d uncovered. Like I’d imagined, his tattoos continued to more than just his forearms. They arced up over his biceps and massive shoulders, trailing down his chest, several littering the ridges of his stomach. Some wrapped around his sides, and I could only imagine what I’d find when I looked at his back.

He groaned. “Christ, Madison. You need to stop looking at me like that.” He came down next to me this time, his body half covering mine, the evidence of exactly how much he wanted me pressed into my hip. He slid his hand to my waist and down to my hips before he moved under my shirt. Slowly, so slowly I ached, he continued and allowed the piece of cotton to bunch up against his wrist, his thumb tracing soft circles as he went. And the whole time, he watched me. His eyes never left mine, and the intensity in them stole my breath.

About the author
Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she's not pounding away at the keyboard, she's probably either reading or shopping - maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoddie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at
Author Links: Facebook / TwitterGoodreads / Website

Quotes (#100)

Morning Swooners,

I can't believe this month is going by so fast! There's always a lot of things to get done and the time seems to be flying by at the speed of lightning. This is our anniversary week here at Books and Swoons! We have a special surprise for you this Friday so stay tuned.

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”
~John Updike

“It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you.”
~John Updike, My Father's Tears and Other Stories

“We are fated to love one another; we hardly exist outside our love, we are just animals without it, with a birth and a death and constant fear between. Our love has lifted us up, out of the dreadfulness of merely living.” 
 ~John Updike, Brazil

“If you have the guts to be yourself, other people'll pay your price.”
 ~John Updike, Rabbit, Run

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
~Henry Ward Beecher

“I cannot live without books.”
~Thomas Jefferson

“We live for books.” 
~Umberto Eco

Remember to stay tuned for a special anniversary surprise we have for you at the end of the week! Happy Monday.

Favorite Friday (#28) - One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Have a favorite book? Series? One that you've just read or are currently reading? Favorite Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Books and Swoons where we spotlight some of our Favorite Reads. Everyone is welcome to join. Just enter your information on the linky or leave us a comment!

This week pick is: One For The Money by Janet Evanovich.

She’s a product of the “burg,” a blue-collar pocket of Trenton where houses are attached and narrow, cars are American, windows are clean, and (God forbid you should be late) dinner is served at six.

Now Stephanie’s all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad’s, doing her best to sever the world’s longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler, and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case.

Out of work and out of money, with her Miata repossessed and her refrigerator empty, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, fearless bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook.

Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli is also the irresistible macho pig who took Stephanie’s virginity at age sixteen and then wrote the details on the bathroom wall of Mario’s Sub Shop. There’s still powerful chemistry between these two, so the chase should be interesting.

It could also be extremely dangerous, especially when Stephanie encounters a heavyweight title contender who likes to play rough. Benito Ramirez is known for his brutality to women. At the very least, his obsession with Stephanie complicates her manhunt and brings terror and uncertainty into her life. At the worst, it could lead to murder.
One For The Money is one of the first series Jenn suggested I read, and I absolutely love it. Stephanie is hilarious and gets herself into some really interesting predicaments. Morelli and Ranger are really hot! This book will have you laughing out loud and addicted before you know it.

About the author:

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in LaLa Land. La la Land is like an out-of-body experience –while your mouth is eating lunch your mind is conversing with Captain Kirk. Sometimes I’d pretend to sing opera. My mother would send me to the grocery store down the street, and off I’d go, caterwauling at the top of my lungs. Before the opera thing I went through a horse stage where I galloped everywhere and made holes in my Aunt Lena’s lawn with my hooves. Aunt Lena was a good egg. She understood that the realities of daily existence were lost in the shadows of my looney imagination.

After graduation from South River High School, I spent four years in the Douglass College art department, honing my ability to wear torn Levis, learning to transfer cerebral excitement to primed canvas. Painting beat the heck out of digging holes in lawns, but it never felt exactly right. It was frustrating at best, excruciating at worst. My audience was too small. Communication was too obscure. I developed a rash from pigment.

Somewhere down the line I started writing stories. The first story was about the pornographic adventures of a fairy who lived in a second rate fairy forest in Pennsylvania. The second story was about …well never mind, you get the picture.

I sent my weird stories out to editors and agents and collected rejection letters in a big cardboard box. When the box was full I burned the whole damn thing, crammed myself into pantyhose and went to work for a temp agency.

Four months into my less than stellar secretarial career, I got a call from an editor offering to buy my last mailed (and heretofore forgotten) manuscript. It was a romance written for the now defunct Second Chance at Love line, and I was paid a staggering $2,000.

With my head reeling from all this money, I plunged into writing romance novels full time, saying good-by, good riddance to pantyhose and office politics. I wrote series romance for the next five years, mostly for Bantam Loveswept. It was a rewarding experience, but after twelve romance novels I ran out of sexual positions and decided to move into the mystery genre. I spent two years retooling –drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, practicing cussing. At the end of those years I created Stephanie Plum. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.

In ’95 my husband and I moved to New Hampshire. We bought a big ‘ol house on the side of a hill, not far from Dartmouth College. I have a nice view of the Connecticut River valley from my office window and there’s a couple acres of land around the house.

It’s a good place to write a book … and would be even better if we just had a decent mall. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl.

When we moved to New Hampshire we realized there was more to this writing stuff than just writing, so we formed a family business, Evanovich, Inc. My son, Peter, a Dartmouth College graduate, assumed responsibility for everything financial. He’s the guy who pulls his hair out at tax time and cracks his knuckles when the stock market dips. In ’96 my daughter Alex, a film and photography school graduate, came on board and created the website. Alex does it all … the E-mail, the comics, the store, the online advertising and the newsletter. Both Peter and Alex work full-time for Evanovich, Inc. I’m their only client.

My husband, Pete, has his doctorate in mathematics from Rutgers University and now manages all aspects of the business and tries to keep me on time (a thankless, impossible job!) … plus he does a little golfing and skiing.
It turns out I’m a really boring workaholic with no hobbies or special interests. My favorite exercise is shopping and my drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.

I read comic books and I only watch happy movies. I motivate myself to write by spending my money before I make it. And when I grow up I want to be just like Grandma Mazur.
Author's links: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

I hope you can join us in sharing and talking about some of your favorite reads. Book talk always make me happy. 

What are one of your favorite reads?

Review: Duplicity by N. K. Traver

Author: N.K. Traver
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Macmillan
Review by: Nahomi
A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that fa├žade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.

2.5 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an early copy of this title from the publisher but it did not influenced this review in any way.*

This book is not what I expected. After having read the synopsis I was expecting a fast paced mystery full of suspense and action, and that is not what I got. To begin, I never really connected with the main character, Brandon. I couldn't identify with him on any level. Both Emma and Brandon came of as generic characters.

In theory, the plot was interesting but when in came down to the actual story it wasn't executed well and I lost interest. The overall story was bogged down by a lot of techie language which at times made my mind wander so I had to keep trying to focus on the story. At the climax of the story, which is almost at the end, one moment we are in the thick of it then in the next chapter poof! the issues are resolved (although not completely). It's like the magic wand effect which is really annoying. Then the ending... is way too open ended, there is no real resolution. I didn't get any closure for the characters in this story; just a possibility for a second book. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get into Duplicity like I hoped I would.

Waiting on Wednesday (#100)

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: March 24, 2015
It all starts with one little lie…
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.
Doesn't this sounds so good?! I mean, what's going to happen?? I need this book!

What are you "Waiting on?"

Review: Beautiful Beloved by Christina Lauren

Beautiful Beloved
(Beautiful Bastard #3.6)
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: February 2, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Book
Source: Gallery Books
Review by: Jenn and Nahomi
An eShort, features Max and Sara Stella (from Beautiful Stranger) as they struggle to balance passion and play with the arrival of their new beautiful bundle of joy.

Jenn's rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Nahomi's rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Our overall rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

*We received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, it did not influence this review in any way.*

We're big fan of Christina Lauren around here so anything that has their name attached, we'll read. So when this book was announced and I realized I was getting more Max Stella time, I was over the moon. Now, I'm not a fan of babies in my romance novels and would prefer to have a HEA with them mentioned for the future but not something I want to read about now. And so I was a bit hesitant about starting Beautiful Beloved because while I was getting Max Stella, I was also getting a baby with it. However, the idea of sweet and dirty Max being a daddy, totally won me over.

Beautiful Beloved was such a quick and easy read and I read it in a few short hours. It was great snap chat at seeing how Max and Sara's lives changed with having a baby. And I loved being introduced to Max's brother Niall. Now I can't wait to get my hands on Beautiful Secret.

It was wonderful catching up with Sara and Max again! This novella hit close to home because I can totally identify with some of the situations and feeling they were experiencing. I like their dynamic as a couple and their struggle to find their way back to being a couple like before.

Overall there were so many moments in Beautiful Beloved when I was literally laughing out loud. I was so happy that I could finally catch up with all of my favorite couples again. Beautiful Beloved  is the perfect precursor for Beautiful Secret.

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