Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rules of Summer

Rules of Summer
Written by: Joanna Philbin
Reviewed by: Amanda Peake

Jonanna Philbin  was born in Los Angeles and grew up in New York City. She spent her summers hanging out in The Hamptons. Her last name sounds familiar because her father is the famous Regis Philbin. She has helped her father co write The daughter Series. This is her first time writing solo.

Rules of Summer takes us through a summer in the hamptons. We meet our narrator Rory McShane as she is packing to take a job working in the hamptons for The Rule family as an errand girl. She quickly learns that not all things are as they seem when working for the rich. The Rule family is very kind and sweet except for the youngest daughter Isabel. Isabel spends the summers breaking rules and getting into all kinds of trouble. However after spending a year away from her family she is finding it harder and harder to fit back in her old role. Mr. Rule is away for most of the summer working in the city. He pops in for the weekends to spend time at the Country Club. The two older Rule children are picture perfect sequels to their parents. The oldest son works with his father during the week and golfs with him on the weekend. The oldest girl is going to be an interior designer like all hampton wives are. Connor is the exception to his families rules. He does things to appear to be the perfect son while quietly living his own life. Rory quickly finds out that the demands for her time and attention will also lead her to life long friendships and possibly love. Yet the secrets she keeps aren’t the only ones going on in the Rule house.  A quote from the book that sums it up ..”Not every picture is as pretty as it seems.”
The good of this book is it’s a fun easy beach read which is what Joanna Philbin was aiming for. It’s easy to see right from the start that our author knows first hand how the country club scene at The Hamptons works. The settings are perfect right down to the cracks in the pretty polish. The main characters are believable they aren’t always written to be liked which is refreshing. I love the way she takes the house manager almost a parody of what she should be with the fact she watches The Downton Abbey during dinner. The stories within stories of this book are funny to offset the semi serious tone that the major story takes.
The thing that Philbin misses with this novel is story plot. The main story is way too predictable. I knew from twenty pages in what the end was going to be. She gets going strong on the secrets the family keeps. However how the big secret is revealed falls horribly flat and not believable at all.
I am going to say that this novel gets two out of five stars because the characters are interesting enough that I finished the predictable story anyway. I don’t plan on searching out Philbin's next book. However if it pops into my hands for free like this one did I’ll read it anyway.
  As always HAPPY READING!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


by Lauren Kate
Reviewed by Amanda Peake
Lauren Kate is an international bestselling author. Her novel, Fallen, spent over a year at the top of both the national and international bestseller lists.  The Fallen Series has become very well-known the world over and has been translated into 30 languages. The sequel to Fallen, Torrment ranked number one on New York Times bestselling list for over eight months. Fans and critics alike hail Kate as “the voice from the shadows”.

I rarely review bestsellers because so many others already have.  I like to dig through the shelves of a used book store and stumble upon a book I've never heard of and hopefully fall in love with the words written between the cover. With that being said, Fallen crazily captivated me from the prologue to the very last sentence.
The story starts with the prologue titled IN THE BEGINNING…  It's set in Helston, England in September of 1854. The scene is about a man and woman who are in love but shouldn't be.  I was especially taken by the last page of the prologue: Their Kiss... He knew... He saw the spark of recognition... then there was nothing, nothing at all.
     Then we promptly switch to present day. Our narrator is also the main character, Lucinda or Luce for short. She's being introduced to The Sword and Cross boarding school, a reform boarding school that’s out of date, as most of the buildings are from the Civil War era. The staff members are called Reds and all the students are dressed like the dead in all black. We are rushed through the opening welcome and quickly learn the rules:  no cellphones, no leaving campus at all, no summer or spring break, and only school scheduled "socials" are permitted.  Luce is at the school because she was involved with a fire at her last school that left her crush dead. She has no memory of how it all went down, so the details are super sketchy. Arriane is next on the scene. She's the skinny girl with the sassy mouth that knows everything about everyone and is widely popular. She takes Luce under her wing by "claiming" her and she escorts Luce around the school. Next up is Cam, the smooth talking, good looking, “big man on campus” who quickly finds every chance to grab at Luce's attention. Then we "meet" Daniel whom Luce quickly shares an intense stare down and just as fast crush on. Daniel is aloof and broody. He flips Luce off, and that is the start to her borderline obsessive behavior over Daniel. He is so hot and cold we spend the majority of the book wondering just who Daniel is and why is he so quiet? Penn, another character we meet, quickly becomes a loyal friend to Luce. Penn is the only student at this school who isn't there because she’s gotten in trouble. Her father was the groundskeeper until he passed away and now she is the most trusted student at the school, which comes in handy if you need to break in the school records room.  
      As the story progresses we find out that Luce is being chased by the shadow people. They are dark and seem to cause nothing but destruction in their wake. She's been chased by these things since she was twelve years old. We learn this about mid-way through the book and kind of randomly too.  There is a fire where another student, Todd, dies. There are a lot of unknowns surrounding the fire, but the school seems to quickly brush it away, as does our author. However, Lauren Kate's writing is full of imagery and suspense. It was hard not to want to skip to the end and find out how it all turns out. Though, when I did that I still had more questions than answers.
    My overall impression of this book was three out of five stars. While Kate has great imagery and suspense, the timing in the book is off. It's really fast in the beginning and then slows way down. The characters are connecting and we don't really have a reason of why they would be; it's awkward to read.  Then it's dreadfully slow with the “does he like me or not”. The main characters are written in such a way that it's hard to understand why we should or shouldn’t like them. Luce for example lists her own greatest attributes as being super-smart and friendly. Yet she rarely goes to class? She's a good friend, but comes off as self-centered, walking off from friends and not showing up to meet them. She is supposed to be the love story heroine, but doesn't have a backbone at all. Daniel is constantly being a jerk to her yet she's helpless to say anything. Daniel's character is aloof and standoffish right off the bat. We know nothing about him or why he's so broody all the time.  We don't know enough about him, yet we as readers are supposed to want him and Luce to get together. There’s not enough information for me to like or not like him.
           The side characters are much more relatable. They are the girl next door, the mean girl, the guy who can get anything and everything, and the hopeless outsider who just needs a friend. Arriane is my favorite because she speaks her mind and seems not to give a fig about all Luce's inner turmoil over Daniel. She is sassy and dependable even when she acts the opposite.  We actually get more of their stories than the three main characters. They all show up for each other and the main characters like friends should. I have reason to support them in their quest or desires.
     Like I previously stated, it's not a bad book to read by any means. I'll probably read the rest of them at some point.  When you have the extra five dollars, this book is definitely worth that price tag.  If Lauren Kate ever writes a book about Arriane, I'll be one of the first to pre-order.  

Go grab a book or your kindle and tell me what impresses you.  Happy Reading!!


3 Stars.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Author- Katherine Longshore
Reviewed by Amanda Peake
(Advance Reader's Copy)

Synopsis (book jacket) - Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
First line- "A deep breath is all it takes to enter a room."
Reviewer’s Notes --First off I must say to the world, Katherine Longshore writes some of the most emotional historical fiction novels I have ever read. Vivid, heartbreaking, and incredibly human, TARNISH constantly tugged on heart strings. You may think you know Anne Boleyn, but you haven't heard anything yet. I read this book on a day long car trip cover to cover and I can't wait to read it again.

       TARNISH may be the story of Anne Boleyn, but this is her story before she became queen. I loved Longshore's spin on Anne's relationship with Thomas Wyatt. In this book, it's not just some fling or rumored affair; it's a story about love and inevitable heartbreak. I anticipate Wyatt's poetry as well as Anne's reactions to not only Wyatt but also to Percy and The King. They're so insanely human that I could feel her tears and emotions just soaring out the book and slamming right into me. To say this novel took me on an emotional journey is an understatement.

      Throughout the book Anne believes the only reason people can see her is because of Wyatt's poetry. This is somewhat true but what I found fascinating was how she couldn't see how beautiful she was or why men would literally go to war over her. I always thought of Anne Boleyn as this confident seductress, but now I see her more as an insecure girl stuck between love and duty. Even though I knew the end result, I still hoped that the story would change somehow. I guess it's just the girl in me who still believes in love and good people coming out on top.

     Though this book does focus a lot on Anne's secretive affairs (and her not so secretive ones), it also focuses on her family and the relationships she has with her siblings. Anne's relationships with Catherine and Mary were complex (to say the least), but her relationship with her brother George was brilliantly written and just truthful in general. I loved how much he adored her and refused to show it, yet everyone else could see it. Keep in mind his life wasn't easy either. His family relationships were no more stable than Anne's. He's supposed to be there to advise Anne as well as carry the Boleyn name; even if that means marrying someone he doesn't want to love. The one thing that stayed true was his obvious adoration for his sister and her love for him, written in a voice all siblings can relate too. Everyone should have a brother like George or mine.

     My only fault with this novel was that I wished it were longer. I wish we could've seen Anne as the queen and everything that unfolded after. With that being said, will there be a sequel? PLEASE?

     All in all, I highly recommend TARNISH to all Tudor fans, historical fiction buffs, and anyone else who loves a great story. If you're not a fan of historical fiction, I still recommend checking out TARNISH. It reads like a contemporary novel, and believe me, you don't want to miss out on all the relatable characters that you thought you knew. They will make you soar, right before they break your heart.

Loved It!!!

5 Stars!


Written by- Kaitlyn Davis
Reviewed by- Cover of Paradise (Amanda)

Book Synopsis-        "With one last look, one final search of the lines of his face for some sign, Kira turned and ran away from the sound of the man she loved laughing in the face of her death."
    When Kira Dawson moves to South Carolina, she meets Luke, a blonde goofball who quickly becomes her best friend, and Tristan, a mysterious bad boy who sends shivers down her spine. Kira knows they're keeping secrets, but when she discovers Tristan's lust for blood and her own dormant mystical powers, Kira is forced to fight for her life and make the heartbreaking decision between the familiar comfort of friendship and the fiery passion of love.

Book Quote-  “Do you actually believe that’s possible?” His squinted eyes caught hers at that moment and she knew there was more to this question, some deeper meaning. Her heart skipped a beat. Was it possible?

Reviewers Note-  Ignite is Kaitlyn Davis’s first book and she came in with a bang. I have read this book three times since October, 2012. I found this gem on Amazon for free. The cover caught my attention but the story kept it. Kaitlyn isn’t someone I know personally however, she now has my friendship and support. I wrote her an email thanking her for creating a book that helped me escape the pain that is chemo treatments. I didn’t expect to get a reply at all, I just thought sometimes authors get discouraged and I wanted her to know her work matters. She not only replied but kept replying. Recently she sent me some books to share and also a one of a kind copy of her book with the sweetest note. She’s not only a talented author but a kind person. With all that being said I am reviewing this book like I would any other book.

  I picked this book up on Amazon because it was free and the cover art quickly grabbed my attention. I support you checking out the book for much different reasons.

What a refreshing way to get the story we all secretly love. It's the typical love triangle with so many twist. It's what you're expecting from a paranormal YA romance with so much more. First it's not a knock of Vampire Diaries or Twilight book. It's like more like Buffy mixed with X Men thrown in. No I'm not kidding. Just when you start to think you have the story figured out another twist comes your way.

This story will have you rooting for Luke your guy next door/ best friend one minute and then Tristian this Vampire who doesn't follow the rules another. Kira is our heroine/main character. She's back home to South Carolina from boarding school in NY. She starts a new school and meets Luke they become close friends fast. The interesting thing about them is they have the same eye color which is very unique. She has Strawberry blonde hair something she "shouldn't" have. Without giving too much away because I want you to read it for yourself. These seemingly small things actually are the start of something so much bigger.
Our other love interest is Tristan he's got his own share of secrets. He shouldn't be interested in Kira for a lot of reasons. Yet as we all know somethings are way too hard to resist. He comes across strong and stand offish but, that doesn't last long. His story is just getting started really.
Kira our heroine has been born into a world in which she is in danger without even knowing it. As secrets unfold her world takes a dramatic change. Something tells me her story is just getting started.

As a fan of YA fiction and especially YA paranormal this book is a must read. Fast paced and great cliff hangers that have you searching your favorite digital book shop for more.


Five Stars!!