My Thoughts: Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith

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Summary:

When 22-year-old aspiring journalist Emma Cohen is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story—and a life-threatening situation—when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.

Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate, where she is both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father, and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.

Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel. Griffith’s powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.

My Thoughts:

(**I received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

I finished Amazon Burning a little more than a week ago; today, I’m still unsure about how I feel about this book. To begin, I thought this book fell more into the new adult category instead of the young adult category (the steamy scenes get a little too graphic for me to place this in YA).

I went into this book thinking it was going to be engaging and heavy; instead, Amazon Burning is more of a light, action-filled story. The plot was filled with crazy impossible scenes and non-stop action, which allowed me to imagine the book as a thriller movie, instead of a novel, in my mind.

Emma is a likable protagonist, even though I was not able to connect with her. The story begins with her in the middle of a sexual assault case against one of her professors, which prompts her to take her dad’s offer to go to Brazil. Although I understood the importance of the situation, I did not think the writing captured the severity and effect it has on Emma’s life. I was waiting to read about Emma’s character development through her mental and physical battle with these events, but it never came. There are many sub-plots that emerge throughout the novel; I wish Griffith had focused in and built more of that one.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the relationship between Emma and Jimmy. Jimmy is caring, protective and adorable. Emma and Jimmy are a good fit and I think the romance is a great part of the plot. Still, I found the sex scenes to be awkwardly detailed.

A great aspect of this novel is the setting. A majority of the book revolves around the Amazon rainforest and the animals and people that live in it. Amazon Burning is unique from other teen books because it focuses on people outside of modern influence. I liked reading about Yanomami Indian characters, and knowing that the author spent time with Yanomami people adds to her credibility in portraying them.

Overall, I thought Amazon Burning was alright. I didn’t fall in love with the book, but at times I kept reading because I wanted to know what came next. If you’re looking for something different, Amazon Burning might be for you.

 

Blog Tour: London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton [Book Thoughts]

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Summary:

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she’s returned to the International School in London—and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch—she can’t help but remember the attraction, the drama … the heartbreak.

She can’t help but want him even more.

Samir can’t afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It’s his senior year—his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he’ll be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps—not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they’ll both have to fight to survive the consequences … and find a future together.

My Thoughts:

Although I adored I See London, London Falling somehow made me fall in love with Maggie, Samir and the International School a hundred times more.

To be honest, I didn’t really know where London Falling was going to go. Yes, the first book set up a lot of things for the sequel, but I questioned the relationship between Maggie and Samir. Everything between them was already so intense and passionate that I honestly questioned how it could become more intense and passionate. In the end, it was wrong for me to question. Chanel Cleeton crafted an addictive sequel that intensified everything between Maggie and Samir, making me feel every emotion known to mankind.

Even though the book revolves around Maggie and Samir, Cleeton doesn’t forget about the other characters and other important things. For example, Fleur’s past comes back to haunt her, and she’s stuck getting through everything too. Maggie is also challenged with facing her own family issues. What I love about London Falling is that it mirrors true reactions and outcomes. In every scene, I understood and empathized with a character’s decision.

Chanel Cleeton does a wonderful job at capturing moments and emotions and translating them into words one can put on a page. I found myself staring at the book in awe at certain sentences and passages because Maggie’s thoughts about life captured my exact feelings. Those details brought me closer to the characters because I knew how they felt.

In the end, all I can do is applaud Chanel Cleeton for writing a wonderful sequel to a wonderful book. If you haven’t read I See London, the first book in the International School series, then you need to do so right now. If you have, you need to somehow obtain the sequel because this series is my favorite.

Buy Links
Amazon Barnes & NoblesiTunes Harlequin

Author Links
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Giveaway!

Win a London Falling coffee mug, Tea, (4) signed London Falling bookmarks, (4) signed I See London bookmarks, (4) pens, a London case, and a $25 Amazon GC. Enter the rafflecopter here!

Please check out the rest of the LONDON FALLING tour here!

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Blog Tour: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki [Book Thoughts]

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Branded-Cover

Summary:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.
Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

My Thoughts:

It’s always hard writing a review about a book you love because all you want to do is praise it – Branded is a seductively thrilling read that takes the seven deadly sins to a whole new level.

I’m going to begin by telling you that I started and finished this book within forty-eight hours. Lexi’s story starts in media res, like many other novels do. Unlike many other novels though, I was immediately hooked. Even though I’m familiar with the seven deadly sins, I have never read a story completely based off of them. Because of that, I found the plot to be extremely exciting and very original.

Even so, the book does have its fair share of clichés. The protagonist Lexi is not the girl everyone thinks she is. Cole is your stoic warrior. Two people, who aren’t supposed to become friends, break the rules and become more than friends. To be truthful, their relationship was obvious to me the second Cole was introduced to the story. With all this said, I didn’t mind the clichés one bit. Why? Because everything came together to make Branded a wonderful read.

Although I love a lot of things about Branded, my favorite would have to be the relationship between Lexi and Cole. Ketner and Kalicicki are able to artfully construct a true developing relationship; they added enough confusion, unspoken words and sexual tension to make any reader want to punch a wall with all the emotion running through the pages. It is not only beautifully written, but also evenly developed throughout the story.

This book is filled with terror and bloodshed. Never once, did anything Lexi experienced get tiring. Even though bullets were fired or another person was after Lexi, it was written in enough detail in such a thrilling way that similar experiences kept me reading instead of sounded redundant.

Overall, Branded is fast paced read that had my heart racing from beginning to end. It is the best self-published book I’ve read and I know I’ll be looking out for the authors’ other works! Check this book out!

Blog Tour: Deep Blue by Jules Barnard [Interview]

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Summary:

When Cali Morgan kicks off her perfect post-college summer in Lake Tahoe, she has everything she ever wanted: acceptance into a top law program, a gorgeous boyfriend, and an incredible summer planned with her best friend.

Confident about her place in the world, Cali makes it her mission to be her friend’s wingwoman and help her meet guys. What Cali doesn’t count on is running into Jaeger Lang, one of her older brother’s high school friends, or the sparks that fly when she’s around him.

Jaeger has changed, and it’s not just the added height and muscle. There’s something about him that’s deep and a little scarred. In spite of the changes, Jaeger becomes a top pick for her friend—if Cali can keep her hands off him.

But when Cali’s boyfriend dumps her and her carefully laid plans begin to unravel, she finds herself questioning what it is she truly desires. In the midst of doubts about her future, one thing is very clear: she wants Jaeger for her own. The question is, has her friend already fallen for him?

On my stop of the tour, I was lucky to have an interview stop and feature Jules Barnard!

1. How would you explain your novel in six words?

Fun, friendship, heat, drama, tents, naughty-fishing-scene.

2. Where did you get the inspiration for Deep Blue?

I worked in Lake Tahoe as a cocktail waitress one summer during college. Though the characters in Deep Blue are more interesting than I was, and okay—not at all like me—I used nuggets from that summer in Tahoe to build Cali and Jaeger’s story. Deep Blue is a New Adult romance about Cali and Jaeger’s journey together, but Cali’s job at Blue Casino is like a secondary character. A loving, brooding, pain-in-the-ass secondary character that walks along with Cali as she falls for her first true love and makes daring choices that pull her life in new directions.

3. Do you write to music? Are any parts of your novel inspired by songs?

Yes! I write the drafts of each novel to a playlist that I listen to over and over. I create the playlist before I begin writing and choose songs that make me feel strong emotion to get me in the mood for the story I have in my head. When I edit the manuscript, I have to turn off the music, because editing is much harder for me than drafting. I need every neuron focused during editing!

No specific section in Deep Blue is inspired by a song, but there are a couple of songs in my Deep Blue playlist that really got the creative juices flowing. For some reason, Don’t You Worry Child (Radio Edit) [feat. John Martin] by Swedish House Mafia was one of them.

4. If Deep Blue was turned into a movie, who would you cast?

Oooh, wouldn’t that be awesome! I would cast Jennifer Lawrence as Cali, because Jennifer has a fun, outspoken personality like my heroine, but she’s also down-to-earth and funny. Of course, she’s also a phenomenal actress, so there’s that as well. My hero, Jaeger, is tall and muscular, but he’s also intelligent, modest, and artistic. I think Channing Tatum would be a great Jaeger. For Gen, Cali’s best friend, I’d have to go with Emma Watson. Check out my Pinterest Deep Blue Dreamcast board. I’m totally technology challenged when it comes to Pinterest, so I don’t have a fancy link, but this should get you there: http://www.pinterest.com/barnard1231/.

Thank you so much for having me on Believing in Books! Please visit my website www.julesbarnard.com to learn more about Deep Blue and the second book in the Blue Series, Blue Crush, out May 27th, 2014.

About Jules Barnard:

JulesBarnard_edited-265x300Jules Barnard is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended UC Davis, whose college landscape often finds its way into her New Adult novels. She has a Master’s degree and spent many an hour running statistical analysis, until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

Deep Blue Links! Amazon Barnes & Nobles Kobo

Author Links: Website Twitter Facebook

Also, enter in the DEEP BLUE giveaway over on Jules’s website! Don’t forget to check out all of the other stops on the tour!
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Book Thoughts: London Falling by T.A. Foster

Summary:

It’s London’s senior year and she only needs one class to graduate. She just didn’t expect her final assignment: fall in love.

Communication 224 has a reputation for giving out the most unique projects of the semester. When London James and Beau Anderson signed up for the class they had no idea they would be paired up together, much less spend an entire semester working on their final grade.

Professor Garcia tasks them to produce a study on the hit reality show, Love Match, a show about strangers falling in love on over the top dates. London and Beau decide to debunk the popular show’s fantasy portrayal of romance. Determined they can date the entire semester and not fall for each other, the classmates share blogs about their dates and start a website where everyone can follow their dating experiment.

Is staying out of love as easy as it seems? Headstrong and success-driven London discovers there might be more important things in life than an A.

My Thoughts:

London Falling is an adorable story about two students who fall in love as a result of a quirky Communications assignment.

The protagonist, London, is your hard-working student that will do anything to get an A. In the story, she is paired up with Beau, an average undergraduate that cares more about experiencing life than spending all his time working towards his future. Of course, these two are forced to get to know each other through this assignment. Right from the beginning, I wanted them to happen. Professor Garcia’s project is a perfect instant solution to pairing up students that I secretly want one of my Professors to do something like this.

London Falling has a very unique plot; and that was the reason I actually decided to read the book. I was curious about the different date ideas and how the two made the dates plausible for college students. Their outings were cute and romantic, right out of the dreams of most teenage girls. Not only that, but I think the plot is realistic – working on a project allows people to get to know each other, which sometime leads to friendships or romantic relationships.

Still, I actually didn’t enjoy the novel as much as I hoped I would. The plot moved way too quickly for me; one page they were on the date and the next page showed what was happening a week later. With a plot like this, I was hoping for some intense details in their research and emotions. Instead, the whole novel just skimmed the surface.

In the end, I did get caught up in the book at some parts and rooted for London and Beau the whole time. If you’re looking for a quick, fluffy read, I suggest you check this book out!

Blog Tour: I See London by Chanel Cleeton [Book Thoughts]

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Summary:

Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change— and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for.

When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can’t seem to keep her hands off of.

Half French, half Lebanese, and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he’s everything she can’t resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.

My Thoughts:

Honestly, I have no words. On January 11, 2014, I started I See London; on January 15, 2014 at 2 AM in the morning, I finished I See London. I have not, in the past year, finished a book in less than 24 hours and then here comes this wonderful NA story. I See London is by far my favorite New Adult novel I have read so far.

I am going to start off with the protagonist, Maggie. She’s awesome. She begins her journey as a closed off, always-trying-to-be-perfect girl trying to keep up her grades, while trying to enjoying herself in a new city. Even though she is pretty relatable at the beginning; she becomes even more relatable throughout the story. Her new environment changes her, and she becomes confident, daring, and sexy; learning to live life as she wants to, not how she’s ‘supposed’ to. I absolutely love that about Maggie; I followed her along every step she took, and saw myself in her shoes as college changed her.

To continue, Maggie’s friends are just as equally as amazing. Although rumors and reputations get in the way of forming friendships at first, Maggie breaks through them and finds the personalities underneath. All of the characters – Samir (the sexy guy), Fleur (the Ice Queen), Mya (the genuinely nice friend) – to name a few, have unique personalities and background stories of their own. Cleeton not only builds Maggie’s story, but also everyone else’s. Because of this, I connected with the story more, because in life, as you grow, the people around you do too.

Additionally, I became absolutely hooked on the budding relationship between Maggie and Samir. Samir is cocky and comes on pretty strong, but Maggie learns to hold her own against him. Every scene between these two had me on the edge of my seat. What I appreciate about I See London is that there is a visible growth in their relationship; it’s no love at first sight. Furthermore, this book goes on to show that not everything has to be about love; showing a different side of most romance stories, but the more prominent side of the lives of young adults today.

The one thing about this novel that disappointed me was the writing. The writing of I See London isn’t that strong; it’s too basic, with sentences that don’t carry much weight. It bothered me at first, but I looked past it. By doing so, I was able to really enjoy the story.

In conclusion, I loved I See London. This story makes me want to transfer to the International School in London in hopes of becoming friends with Maggie and finding a boy like Samir. If you read New Adult novels, you definitely have to put this one on your list.

Book Thoughts: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

(**I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Summary:

It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

My Thoughts:

I wish this book had come out six months earlier. And even though I chose a commuter school in the middle of the city, I would have loved to intertwine my summer-before-college experience with EB & Lauren. Not only that, but I’m sure the rest of my friends would have eaten this book up at the time, since they were all going through it too.

My first impression of EB and Lauren was that they were very similar. Not exactly the same person, but they had the same voice and talking style; I thought I was going to struggle remembering which girl’s chapter I was on. Thankfully, their unique differences showed through. It was weird; as I got further into the story I felt as if the authors found my group of friends and wrote the book about us. I pictured one of my friends in each of the girl’s situations. It’s crazy how much I connected with EB and Lauren.

To continue, an important thing to note is that these two girls are from different parts of the country. Because of this, I hoped to read a little more about culture. I was waiting for different colloquialisms and quirks, unique to certain parts of the U.S., but they never came. Yes, the characters do mention that San Francisco is artsy and open-minded whereas the Jersey town EB is from is closed minded. Honestly though, I didn’t really think about those statements (partly because I live in New Jersey, near the town EB’ from and my town is open-minded). While I read this book, it didn’t feel like they were from different parts of the country. College is a major learning and changing experience, mostly due to interactions with people from different parts of the world. Here, the girls were opened to new life situations, not cultural experiences, and I wish that had not been the case.

On the other hand, both girl’s mature as a result of talking to the other. Their character development was relatable and Zarr and Altebrando wrote it really well.

In the end, I think this book is a really good read for anyone heading off to college. For me, Roomies is between the YA and NA genre, which is a great transition for teens that are in the exact position of teenage and adult hood. It doesn’t matter the college you’re going to, I think you should pick this book up!