Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

HEARTBEAT by Elizabeth Scott 4 STARS

HeartbeatSynopsis :Life. Death. And...Love?
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
* I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from netgalley 

- Wow. Im not even sure where to begin with this story. This is one of the most heart wrenching, beautifully written and emotionally draining stories I have ever read. I am in awe of Ms. Scott. She was able to put all her characters emotions on the table, and weave an amazing story. This is not the warm and fuzzy kind of emotional story, this is an agonizingly painful, and emotional read that really digs deep into the world of death. What does pain for those left behind look like, what hope is there for those that are grieving the loss of their loved ones, how do people learn to move on with their loves after death occurs. Its truly difficult to understand grief in this way unless you have experienced it, and I personally have not, but having read this, I certainly feel closer to it, and better able to realize the overriding emotional rollercoaster that loss takes someone on.

Cover -- Cute
Rating: PG 13 
Overall: a heartwrenching story of finding oneself and love in the most unusual places in the most odd of times.  
Characters:  Dan, Emma, Caleb, Olivia 
Page Turner: Not really and yet sometimes
Series Cont.? No
Book Boyfriend: Caleb
Genre: Young Adult  
Sex Scenes: No
Setting Highschool in midwest 
Recommend if you like- Almost; Going Under; Reason to Breath Series; Pushing the Limits.

This story is difficult. Its different from the other "difficult" plots I've read. Instead this is a story about death and loss, specifically how people deal with those and move forward in their own life after suffering. This story line is different, its not just death, but the constant reminder, more than an unborn child but the thought of a a mother being kept alive so a child can continue to grow to survive. Its unique and sad and controversial. Ms. Scott does a great job of trying to show the different ways people deal with this and their opinions but the truth is, everyone will react differently.
The book moves a little slow, but thats okay, this isnt a fast paced book, truth is, the book is slow on purpose. The characters build and grow. Learning moment after moment. I was fascinated with the level of intensity each scene was able to produce, the emotion that it dragged out of me so easily. It was beautiful, it was broken, but it was exceptional. This is a great book for those that like a great heart wrenching story with love thrown in there, more than just romantically, but also through family and friends.

Danielle Panabaker as Emma 
Emma- Wow. What a draining character. I loved and I hated Emma. But I think I was supposed to. I loved her because she was so incredibly HONEST. Nothing about Emma was fake. NOTHING about her situation was unreal. What made Emma a great character was not only that she felt like a normal teenage girl going through a rough time, but her situation, her pain, and grief felt so raw, real, genuine. I felt every emotion, every thought that Emma had and said. I cried for her, and I cried with her. In the end I loved Emma. Her realism was perfect and even though her negativity could be annoying, it was true and I appreciated everything about her.

grey damon - Google Search
Dean Geyer as Caleb
Olivia- I really enjoyed Olivia, she was exactly what Emma needed, a true friend. What my mom would call "a keeper." An a character, she truly built up the world for Emma. She was everything Emma needed, whether thats a friend, a shoulder or someone to just be there, without ever having to say anything. I was really impressed with the authors ability to weave Olivia into the world and keeping her there, so often I see side characters who are simply there, but Olivia helped move things forward. She helped her friend deal in a way only a true friend can.

Margot Robbie - Google Search
Olivia Margot Robbie
Caleb- Aw Caleb. I just want to wrap him in my arms and hug him and never let go. Caleb's pain could truly be felt and resonated through me every time his character was in the scene. I felt his pain and sorrow, yet I was also able to see that he was trying to hard to move past the pain and grief, the guilt that ate at him. Whats worst about Caleb isn't his history, or his future, but his present, the one before Emma. His family situation is extremely heart breaking, and disappointing, yet I can see it happening, I can see that it may be the way things happen sometimes, without trying even, without knowing. Caleb though is able to move pass this on his own, in his own way. His grief is different, his pain is different, and I loved seeing his character grow and develop with Emma. He warmed my heart and I was extremely happy that with Emma he was able to see happiness at the end of a dark tunnel.

Dan - Dan was the one character I wasnt sure about until the end. By then I realized that deep down, he  was struggling to deal with things, and his pain, his hope, his loss, were all experienced differently than Emma. I liked that he never strayed, but that we saw glimpses of how Dan could have been through Calebs family.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

To Read & Reading Challenge

So this year I'm trying to read 100 books, AND Im trying to write my own book. Which is slow going.

Im also doing a reading challenge. First, reading challenge, Im attempting to read 1 book A-Z. This sounds fairly easy (26 letters 100 books), but its not, I tried reading 52 books last year (and read 118) but managed to miss 3 letters! Since I dont write a review on every book I read, I'll keep this list of books up to date so you can follow along.

In my journey to read 100 books, I really want to catch up on a lot of the books on my to-read list. Since I wait to read some books, and I offer to review so many, I end up not reading what I bought on my kindle. (I have about 30 books waiting for me on my kindle). So heres to trying to read everything on my kindle, reading A-Z and finishing 100 books this year!!! Keep me motivated.

*Updated as of 2-11-2014 As you can see, I am REALLY behind on my reviews, I am working on them,. I also try to post close every two days to three days instead of every day (I just don't have time for more!)

A- Altered by Jennifer Rush (4.5 STARS) 1-20-2014 Review Coming
     Anathema by K.A. Tucker (Casual Enchantment #2) (3.5 STARS) 1-22-2014 Review Coming
     Asylum by KA Tucker (Casual Enchantment #2) (4 STARS) 1-24-2014 Review Coming
Burn Out by Kristi Helvig- (5 STARS) 2-9-14 Review coming.
C- Created (By Sophie Davis) 1-1-2014 (4 STARS) - (http://beautysinbreakdown.blogspot.com/2014/02/created.html)
     Copied by SM Anderson 1-26-2014 (2.5 STARS) http://beautysinbreakdown.blogspot.com/2014/02/copied.html
Defectors - by (4 STARS) Review Coming 
E- The Eve (by Keary Taylor) 1-15-2014 (5 STARS) Review coming
Fall of Venus by  2-8-2014 (3.5 STARS) Review Coming
Insanity by Lauren Hammond 2-26-2014 (2 STARS) Review Coming
K- Knowing Jack (By Rachel Curtis) 1-6-2014 (2.5 STARS) (http://beautysinbreakdown.blogspot.com/2014/01/knowing-jack.html)
Loving your Lies By Piper Shelly 1-29-2014 (2.5 STARS) Review Coming
Live For You By  2-10-2014 (3.5 STARS) Review Coming
Moment By Marie Hall 2-1-2014 (3 STARS) Review Coming
Never Forget - by Emma Hart 2-15-14 (2.5 STARS) Review Coming
One Wild Night (Magan Vernon) 1-26-2014 (4 STARS) Once I finish the series I'll write a review the whole series.
Program by Suzanne Young 2-12-2014 4 STARS Review Coming
Relentless by Cassia Leo 2-12-14 3.5 STARS
S- Songs of the FireFlies (By JA Redmerski) - 1-10-2014 (3 STARS) - Review Coming.
     Secret of Ella and Micha (by Jessica Sorenson) 1-27-14 (5 STARS) Review Coming.
Salvation by Noelle Adams 2-24-2014 (3.5 STARS) Review Coming.
T- Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi 1-23-2014 (4.5 STARS) Review Coming.
U- The Uglies by Scott Westfield - 1-17-2014 (3 STARS) Review coming
V-ARV-3 By Cameo Renae (3 STARS) 2-7-2014 Review Coming
Wild Hearts (by Magan Vernon) 1-26-2014 (4 STARS) - Once I finish the series I'll write a review the whole series.
Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian 2-28-2014 (4 STARS) Review Coming
Young Love Murder- (by April Brookshire) (2-18-2014) - 4 STARS - Review Coming.
Z- Random Acts of Crazy- by Julia Kent (2-23-2014) No stars. I will not be providing a review for the book. I enjoyed it, but it was not quite what I was expecting, and not my usual style.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Anticipated 2014 Books

So now that I've shared what books I LOVED in 2013, Im going to provide the list of books I am REALLY looking forward to reading in 2014 or that are coming out in 2014!!! Ill note below whether I've read the book or not too. Most of them I have not though. I have a small problem though, which if you read my favorite 2013 books you will know. I tend to avoid reading books until the whole series is out. This is somewhat problematic when I look forward to the next year. But nonetheless I am providing a list of books that are either coming soon (2014) or that I plan to read this year! I will also update this list as I read the books.

So this list isnt really complete, I wont lie. But as I continued to go through my to-read list, I realized there are a ton of books coming out! I need to catch up!!! EEK! I think this list though is what I am MOST excited about.

Ruins (Partials, #3)Ruins by Dan Wells (Partials #3)

Three (Article 5, #3)Three by Kristen Simmons  (Article 5 #3)

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)Still in the Blue (#3)

Don't Look Back Dont look back by Jennifer L Armentrout

SalvageSalvage by Alexandra Duncan

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Alienated by Melissa Landers

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Tether by Anna Jarzab

The Almost GirlAlmost Girl by Amalie Howard (5 STARS)

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Hellfire by Colee Firman

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Untitled Fetch 2 by Kat Falls

The Treatment (The Program,...The treatment (#2) by

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Ordinary#3 by Jess Petosa

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Stuck (#3 in Stitch Trilogy)

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Curse Keepers (#2)

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Captive by Aimee Carter

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Frayed by Stacy

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Relentless Warrior Star crossed Series #6

Tether (Many-Worlds, #2)Underground (Terra #2)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Phoenix Island by John Dixon- 2.5 STARS

Phoenix IslandSynopsis--The story that inspired CBS TV’s Intelligence. Phoenix Island was supposed to be a boot camp for troubled children. But as one boy learns, the secrets of this jungle are as vast as they are deadly.
When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble—a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.
Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning “throwaway kids” into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction. 
* I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from netgallet

Cover -- Okay 
Rating: PG 
Overall: Intriguing Idea but missed the mark for me
Characters:  Carl 
Page Turner: Sometimes
Series Cont.? No
Book Boyfriend: NONE
Genre:  Young Adult 
Sex Scenes: No
Setting - Island

Overall- I am not sure how I feel about this book. I didnt love, but I didnt hate it. I was disappointed with the ending, and much of the book in general, yet it was different, and inventive. It was intriguing and interesting at times, but also lacked what I consider continuous plot movement, and little character development. The story is heart breaking actually and yet inspiring  The idea, the premise is really interesting, and I would have LOVED to see what happens NEXT. Which I guess is where the new TV show will pick up. The book felt overly descriptive with little action occurring. In fact it reminded me of a few other books I've read lately, specifically Variant, in that the plot is really great, but its slow and disappointing in the end. The book reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies. Which I hated. (I realize Im alone in that) But I think overall the book has a great message and Carl is a wonderful character, driven to help others. And I really want to like this book. I do. But I just cant. The more I think about it, the less I like the book, and the more I like the idea behind it. Honestly, what I liked about this book was the idea behind the camp, but nothing that happened while on the island. And the idea behind the "chip" and what happens, but nothing about Carls story to get there. The book reminded me a lot of Bourne Identity, except more like a prequel. I am in love with the idea and the plot but everything that actually happened, I didnt like. I havent had this type of feeling/reaction in a long while. 

Plot-The premise here is REALLY intriguing. Carl, after numerous run-ins with the law is sent to the Island. The Island however is not what it seems, its not just a boot camp to scare kids, all the kids are orphans, and its more like a military camp, Lord of the Flies style. Murder and fighting run rampant by the end of the book. The interesting part of this book comes maybe 35% in, where Carl learns some of the secrets held there. But the next 40% of the book are all about getting up to speed on the secret (and not in a knowledge way but more like physical training) the last 15% were interesting and gripping, all up until the ending, which was simply disappointing. I would have liked to see what happens next, rather than the entire novel being about the Island and the chip but the effects of the chip would have been of interest. I would have preferred a half and half (half on the island and about getting the chip the 2nd half on after the chip) I also struggled with quite a few of the side plot points especially the amount of violence and disturbing scenes. Dont get me wrong, violence doesnt gross me out, or scare me, but on some level, this felt wrong and it felt like it was very similiar to LOTF (see above) It felt like there was no order and only mayhem all around and I just didnt get it. In the sense, I just didnt see the point or necessity of the entire book being about the Island. The book also dragged, A LOT. It felt so slow at times, with excruciating detail. I didnt need to know about the training with Old Man. At all. In the end, I was happy when this book ended. 

Carl--I liked Carl overall. His will and ambition, his drive and his passion are really amazing. Its his personality that truly drives this book and this character is what makes the book interesting and kept my attention. He is strong willed, and determined. Hes not really an individual, but on the island, he is, because he is unwilling to follow suit with the other killers on the island. I think Carl's perseverance was what was amazing. Never giving up No matter what. His strength was great and quite amazing to read. But nonetheless, Carl couldnt make up for the other issues in this book for me. 

Supporting Characters-- Well, there were quite a few small characters. Roles that were necessary to make this book. Carls best friend was sweet. But it was obvious that nothing would really help this kid. He had a good heart but sometimes its not enough. Carls love interest was sweet, and it was clear that she was driven and passionate. I would have loved to see their interaction more. Parker, ugh, a necessary evilness on the island, nonetheless cruel and annoying. The Old Man, hmm...I liked him at first, thought he was intriguing and helpful but realized too late that he is actually selfish and cruel, quite the evil man, only looking out for himself. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Running on Empty

Running on Empty by Colette Ballard 5 STARS

Running on Empty
Synopsis-What does it feel like when you die—in those final moments? Do you feel the physical pain, or just the pain of your regrets? What does it feel like when you realize you can’t answer these questions because you’re not the victim?

You’re the killer.
River Daniels lives an ordinary life as a high school junior growing up in the confines of rural Texas until her boyfriend’s brutal attack leaves her both a murderer and a fugitive. When River’s closest girlfriends come to her aid, they make a hasty decision to not only help her, but leave their own troubled lives behind and join in her escape. The girls manage to elude police for months, but with every near-miss, River’s life spirals further out of control, until she finally hits rock bottom. Realizing she must stop endangering her friends and find evidence proving she acted in self-defense, the girls decide to make a risky move. River must face her ugly past and the one person she was protecting the night her world caved in, the guy she has loved for as long as she can remember.

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Gripping. Intense.  Emotional. Powerful. Beautiful.  Running on Empty is an amazing coming of age story about finding strength when you least expect, and finding family in unexpected places. River, the main heroine, finds herself on the run with her best friends after her boyfriend's murder, trying to find evidence that would clear her name. The author does an amazing job of intertwining so many different genres, action, suspense, mystery and best of all romance. Each and every character had depth and growth throughout the book. I felt more than invested in the book and characters, but a part of the book.  I could relate to the range of emotions River went through during the entirety of the book.  Running on Empty was an emotional roller coaster that had me laughing, crying and most of all enjoying the ride! I haven't liked a book this much in a long time, and it reminded me of the reason I love to read and write. This is a must read for fans of: Out of Breath, and Going Under...

Plot- The plot here is simple. Girl's boyfriend winds up dead in a small town practically owned by his family. So girl goes on the run with the help of her friends to evade the law and in an attempt to find evidence to prove her innocence. There is so much more depth though to this simple plot. The author managed to take an age-old story and make it anew. Between River's amazing friends, to River's strength and stubbornness, to River's ultimate love, this book was touching and relatable, if not eerily realistic at times. Once I started the book, it was difficult to put it down, every page was as important as the one before it and the next. I loved the different paths that River and her friends took, the trouble that seemed to find them, and the crazy ways they managed to get out of trouble. Most of all though, I loved the relationship River shared with her friends, ad Justice. The beautifully interwoven love story was also sweet and so carefully written. I am in awe at the writing abilities of the author, the story could not have been better written.

I was blown away by the author's uncanny ability to develop so many characters and keep the integrity of the plot and emotional connection to the book. I felt like I knew the characters, that I was River and Kat and Billi Jo were my friends. I was truly transported to this world and life. Perhaps its true that I couldn't quite transport myself because I haven't experienced many of the aspects that River and her friends went through, but the author was able to make me feel as though I was a part of the book, and not just a behind the scenes reader. Truly amazing.

What brought River together with her friends happens to be a string of misfortunes and depressing events, but these three girls provided strength to one another when one was lacking, and stood by their friend regardless of the circumstances. A testament to true friendship and family. Not to mention unconditional love.

Each character in Running on Empty has depth, true emotional depth that the author managed to highlight throughout River's journey and adventure. The strength of these three girls' friendship is truly amazing, and I could only hope to have friends as devoted as these girls are to one another.

I also really enjoyed reading River's transformation. As told by River, it was truly remarkable to listen to her as she analyzed and rationalized her actions, like so many of us do. Her explanations made perfect sense to the person attempting to rationalize a negative aspect. Her shutting down and coming back to life, those thoughts, emotions and actions were not only made perfectly clear through the authors writing, but could truly be felt and related to, rationalizing of course is only human.

I liked that the characters came to life in more than one way, humanizing them even more by providing personality and depth. Between Kat and Billi Jo's wit and charm and their protective nature of River, and Justice's argumentative but protective and caring  ways really brought this story alive.

A poignant and gripping coming of age novel, that takes its readers on an adventure filled with mystery and plenty of romance and friendship.