Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Title: Sinner
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #3.5
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

"I am a werewolf in L.A."
If I'm being completely honest, I wasn't as excited about this Maggie novel as I am about Blue Lily, Lily Blue which is due out later this year, but I still had pretty high expectations considering my love for The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. And I wouldn't say I was disappointed with Sinner, per se, but I think maybe my expectations were a little misplaced. As in, Cole is still a werewolf and I expected him to wreak his brand of havoc on L.A. And he did that, just not in the way I was expecting hoping for.

Initially, I was a bit unsettled by the difference in this cover as opposed to the rest of this series, but now it really makes sense. This is Cole and Isabel's story. Hardly any mention is made of Sam or Grace, as it should be. Basically, you could read this novel as a stand-alone, having never cracked open the cover of Shiver, and you'd still be able to appreciate the nuances of a rock star who's addicted to his wolfism same as he ever was to any illicit drugs. In other words, this is truly a companion novel about two side characters in the main series, and you need absolutely zero working knowledge of the other books in order to "get" this story, especially as it reads like a contemporary novel, not a werewolf story. I suppose the same could be said of the other novels, too, but it's never been more evident than in this book.

Sinner is resplendently introspective. Cole and Isabel spend a lot of time locked inside their own heads, unwilling to let the world see their true thoughts and feelings, scared to let go of that control. They each have a persona they wear for the world, which makes it difficult for each of them to express their feelings for each other, obviously, unless they become willing to shed their respective masks. Yes, the romance seems to be the focal point of this novel, but where the familiar rumblings of a contemporary novel most come into play is whether or not these two characters' have the ability to overcome their pasts and create their own destinies.

Because of the contemporary-type story, the plot is very character-driven with little to no action, but if you've read the other books in the series, you know that's pretty par for the course. Not that this is a bad thing...I love that Stiefvater opts more for character development than any other aspect in her stories, even making the side characters so important that they deserve their own companion novel three years after the final book in the series was released. But who's counting? :)

GIF it to me straight:
Cole can be my Alpha anytime.

Title: Catch a Falling Star
Author: Kim Culbertson
Narrator(s): Erin Spencer, Andrew Eiden
Length: 9 hrs 55 mins
Series: n/a
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Netgally, audio borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

I'd heard comparisons made to Jennifer E. Smith's This is What Happy Looks Like, and I ignored them. Once I experienced the story, I could admit that they were somewhat apt, but I think Catch a Falling Star was slightly less juvenile and less over-the-top cute than This is What Happy Looks Like, which is definitely a good thing in my book. The narrator for this audiobook also sounded less bubble-gum pop and more like a realistic teenager, which helped immensely, too.

I usually enjoy the fake girlfriend/boyfriend plot, and this story was no different. This novel took it a little further because of the actor status of the love interest by employing scripted dates and kisses and fights to make the fauxmance appear legit, but I thought that, too, might be in keeping with something Hollywood execs might think up to help with appearances. I don't think there was anything out of the ordinary or too unexpected in this novel: girl needs money, actor hires her to play his love interest, girl ends up falling for guy, filming wraps up and guys moves on, c'est la vie.

The aspect that bothered me was that it felt more genuine and realistic than that other book, but then it went and morphed into happily ever after with barely a moment's warning. Sure, it was becoming more and more obvious that Adam cared about Carter, but Carter was pragmatic. A hobbit, as her friends proclaimed. How realistic is it to think that a relationship with a movie star could really last? I'm a pessimist and I know I'm projecting, but even though Carter wanted something to happen with Adam, her behavior at the end still felt like it was coming out of left field. Adam's, too, considering they'd never had a real conversation about their feelings, only about their fake relationship. Also, there was literally no resolution concerning Carter's future aspirations...either I zoned out during the conclusion where that was mentioned, or it's all still up in the air where it was when the story began.

I liked the story. I really did. But it's making me reconsider my rating on TIWHLL because I definitely liked this book more than that one, and I rated that one fairly high. But that's neither here nor there. If you like your starstruck fauxmance to come with a nice HEA, then this book is probably right up your alley.

GIF it to me straight:
Was pretty decent up until that ending...

Title: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend
Author: Katie Finn
Narrator(s): Katie Finn
Length: 9 hrs 18 mins
Series: Broken Hearts and Revenge, book #1
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher, borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?

Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel.

This audiobook was torture! Not because the story was bad -- it's Katie Finn, better known as Morgan could it be bad? -- but because I kept expecting everything to blow up in Gemma's face at any moment. She had a bazillion opportunities to come clean, and she thought about it a ton, but not once did she 'fess up...until she was forced to.

Gemma/Sophie was naive, gullible, frustrating, and made some really, really stupid decisions. But despite it all, I couldn't help but love her. I wanted her to realize that yes, what she did was all kinds of horrible, but also that she was a child when it all went down and though she can't really be held accountable for her actions then, she's trying to make amends now, which says a lot about her character.

I had suspicions and theories, but I had the feeling that Gemma and I both were being purposefully thrown off the trail. Every time I felt like something bad was about to go down, I had to stop the audio -- which the awesomely awesome author narrates herself -- and take a break so I wouldn't have a meltdown of my own. I was pretty engrossed in the story, to say the least, but that's partially because I was cringing in expectation of this all going downhill very fast for Gemma.

I kind of love that this is a contemporary series...not a series of companion novels but an actual progression of the story featuring the same characters, still hellbent on revenge. I would have been more than a little irate had the story wrapped up all photo-finish like -- see review above for Catch a Falling Star -- so I'm more than a little excited to see what these girls cook up next.

GIF it to me straight:
Quirky but somewhat true.


  1. haha i love this end GIFs! especially Sheldon's! I agree about Sinner.. it felt more character oriented and we spend a lot of time in their heads and i feel like that's why i loved Sinner so much! and my god COLE! so freaking swoon worthy!! :D as for Katie Finn's book.. i was a bit disappointed because i predicted everything and wished it was a bit more interesting. Maybe the audiobook would have been more fun!

    great reviews,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. The Katie Finn book was very predictable, I'll grant you that, but I was still intrigued enough to see how it was all going to come to a head, ya know? The audiobook was definitely good. And Sinner...sigh. I'm glad for the resolution, finally, for those two. And I love that it totally felt like a companion novel, not a continuation of the other books.

  2. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Sinner overall. I haven't gotten to it yet, but I'm excited for it.

    Also, I love the GIF it to me straight bits :)

    1. Thanks! Sinner was good. It kind of made me want to go back and re-read the rest of the series, just because it's been so long.

  3. I'm honestly scared to read anything else by Maggie, even if it is Sinner. After reading The Scorpio Races... not sure if anything else can compare. And damn you are good, getting it read already. I'm so not up on the hot new releases like you are. lol. That's good though, so we aren't both reviewing the same things at the same time.

    I have to read this Katie Finn stuff! I'm so excited to see she writes under another name. lol and that gif.. love it. That show is so funny.

    1. Oh, The Scorpio Races is tops, that's for sure. But if you're going to read something else of Maggie's, I'd go with The Raven Cycle books. They are fabulous, and the narrator is awesome. I thought I'd dislike him at the beginning, but he really is phenomenal. Well, I normally try to review things a few weeks before their release, but this one landed in my lap just shortly before release, so I didn't have time. :( And, yep, that show is hilarious...even my 9yo nephew loves it.

  4. I didn't know that this was Morgan Matson (I haven't read any odf her books yet) but I think it's so awesome that she narrates her own book. I have this one on my audible wishlist to check out.

    1. Yep, I didn't know it until recently, but it made me that much more excited to get to it, seeing as how I'm a huge fan of Morgan Matson. :)

  5. I enjoyed Sinner a good amount but I'm more excited about Blue too. Ugh, I want to read that book so badly. It's impossible for me to not like Maggie's work.

    1. Same here. I even read that faerie series she first wrote. As soon as I finished Shiver and Linger, that's what I read because I needed more Maggie. I'm excited that there's going to be a third book now. :)

  6. I had to skip over the Sinner review, because I'm currently reading it. Actually, I'm almost finished with it. But anyway, it makes me so happy to see that you gave it a solid 4-star rating! I'm really enjoying it, even if Cole and Isabel are driving me a little nuts w/their push & pull methods. haha

    I'm glad you enjoyed Catch a Falling Star, but it's too bad about that meh ending. I think I'll have to take a pass on that one. I'm not very interested in anything with the fake gf/bf trope. I feel like I've seen that plot play out one too many times on TV or in movies, and I've had my fill. But I really do want to check out Broken Hearts! Revenge stories tend to be fun, and I like that there's a sequel in the works -- because CHARACTER GROWTH. Also, I had no idea Morgan Matson wrote it, and while I haven't read any of her work, I know she has a great following! I need to experience her stuff already! Great mini-reviews, Jen!

    I'll be back to read your thoughts on Sinner soon. :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

    1. Cole and Isabel totally drove me nuts with that, too, but I think that was the point. :) You definitely should pick up some Morgan Matson. I won't say that Broken Hearts is my favorite -- that honor might go to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Since You've Been Gone -- but it's still a great read. :)


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