[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] The Kings of Charleston by Kat H. Clayton

(Check out the rest of the stops HERE)
The Kings of Charleston (The Kings of Charleston #1) 
Title: The Kings of Charleston (The Kings of Charleston #1)
Author: Kat H. Clayton
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Casper Whitley is forced to move to Charleston, South Carolina where she’ll be the new kid her senior year of high school. Casper’s upset about the move until she meets the Roman family’s gorgeous son, Cal, but there’s a problem. A mystery surrounds him which can be summed up in one word…Kythera. Never heard of it? Neither has Casper until she finds the word tattooed on cars, paintings and all her new friends.

After Casper’s life is threatened, someone is forced to tell the truth about her parents, the Romans and Kythera’s motives for her being in Charleston. Once the truth is revealed, she must decide whether to protect her family and Kythera’s secrets or walk away from everything she has ever known.

It's been quite a while since I've read something so laced with suspense yet doesn't fall under the genres of paranormal or dystopia. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but suffice to say I was more than impressed and overwhelmed by what I read. The mystery element thoroughly enriched the novel, and helped set it apart from other YA reads - quite frankly, I don't think I'll be forgetting this novel any time soon. I finished it in one sitting, and the reason is simple, really - the first few pages had me hooked right from the beginning, and Clayton's writing is just tremendous!

I enjoyed reading about our MC, Casper. It took me a while before I warmed to her character though - I know that she isn't comfortable with her lifestyle, but all the complaints about wearing expensive dresses and having her pictures taken all the time got a bit annoying, to say the least. Thankfully, this impression of mine didn't last. After reading more about Casper, it was hard not to notice how lonely she was in reality, and how she wasn't comfortable with throwing her wealth around. Moreover, her love for horses made it difficult to not like her, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her when she was uprooted from the life she has always know at the blink of an eye.

The mystery of Kythera makes itself known pretty early in the novel. It made the novel thoroughly engrossing, and it is the reason why I couldn't read this particular novel quick enough. Kythera is everywhere  in the town of Charleston, and Casper is bombarded by it - the name is on her friends' cars, on paintings, and even tattooed on her friends' bodies. Not only that, this very word also managed to inspire terror from the other people who live in Charleston, and Casper somehow finds herself in the middle of the mystery of Kythera - just what is it, and what does it have to do with Casper and her family?

While the mystery of Kythera had me on the edge of my seat and tearing through the pages of The Kings of Charleston  like a madwoman, I wasn't that thrilled with the romance aspect of this novel. It came out of nowhere - Casper sets foot on the town of the Charleston for the very first time, and next thing we know, the neighbors' son, Cal, is spewing out all these lines how Casper is so beautiful and all that. Truth be told, the romance felt out of place, and as much as I tried to like Cal's character, I couldn't. He's too smooth, too slick, and basically an enigma. Not to mention, he's something of a liar as well. Lastly, he says he loves Casper, but I can't fathom how he came to that feeling in the first place.

From the middle of the novel, the action picks up, and it doesn't relent until the very end. Casper is thrown into hazardous situations one after the other, and it soon becomes clear that Kythera isn't your average organization. All in all, this is one heck of an exciting read, and I definitely recommend it!

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[Blog Tour: Review] Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point (Article 5, #2) 
Title: Breaking Point (Article 5 #2)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Release Date: February, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: A copy was sent by the publisher for a blog tour
The second installment in Kristen Simmons's fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

Wow. Just when I thought that this series couldn't get any better, Simmons proves me wrong by creating a kick-ass, unforgettable sequel!

What I loved the most about Article 5, the previous book in the series, is the non-stop action, and I'm happy to note that Breaking Point doesn't disappoint in that aspect. In this novel, we have Ember and Chase in the thick of things - now that they are part of The Resistance, things are different. In Article 5, Ember and Chase's main goal was to protect themselves and ensure their own safety, but now that they a part of a larger group, that mindset wouldn't work anymore. They have to contribute to the cause - to the resistance - and despite Ember's initial yearning to keep her head down in hiding, she learns that that isn't something can do. Furthermore, things take a turn for the worse when the FBR pinpoints Ember as a primary suspect in the sniper shootings that have been occurring as of late.

I consider myself a huge fan of Ember, and I'm completely at how spot on Simmons was in portraying this character. In the first few pages of Breaking Point, we are privy to an Ember who is skittish, frightened, and is determined to keep her nose out of the thick of things. She hasn't left the Resistance's compound in months, and she's content with simply hiding. Things obviously don't stay that way for long, but I love how Simmons made sure that we would notice the subtle transition in Ember's mindset between staying out of trouble and finally deciding to stand up and fight back. The writing for this particular character never felt forced - Ember's extremely relateable, and it's rather difficult not to sympathize with her after all the horrible things she has experienced and is currently going through.

I've previously mentioned that the world-building in Article 5 is a bit lacking, but we get to learn some important details about the FBR - the aftermath of the war that gave birth to it; the president spearheading this government; and of course, the citizens' growing displeasure of the Moral Statutes - in Breaking Point. In the same light, we also learn more about the members of The Resistance, and just how they are willing to do absolutely anything - even at the expense of their lives - just to overthrow the FBR. Knowing all about these characters, their motives, as well as factoids here and there about this world they live in, just makes you appreciate the story all the more so.

I loved how Simmons made sure to develop on the characters of Ember and Chase, as well as their relationship. We all know that their relationship can never be perfect because of their rocky past, but this time, Chase's overpowering desire to protect Ember also strains their relationship. Add in the fact that Chase carries on his shoulders the guilt of what happened to Ember's mother, and that Ember still wonders whether Chase truly couldn't do anything to save her mother. Suffice to say the two have a messy, chaotic relationship, but there is no other person whom Ember trusts more than Chase, and the same goes for Chase. Simmons did an amazing job in developing this relationship, and we truly get to know more about these characters throughout this novel.

I can't say this enough - if you haven't started this series yet, you should do so now. The writing is excellent; the plot fast-paced; the characters developed thoroughly - what else could you ask for?

Rating: 4 Stars

[Blog Tour: Review] Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 (Article 5, #1) 
Title: Article 5 (Article 5 #1)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: A copy was sent by the publisher for a blog tour
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.


I'm not usually fond of Dystopian novels - other than the usual suspects (Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium series), I think I've only read a few. I guess it has something to do with the world-building (or lack thereof) - to elaborate, whether or not the worlds presented by the authors are the least bit believable. When I read dystopian novels, it's a plus when I actually I see this world being the one where we live in in a few decades or so - do you guys get what I mean? And for me to think that, at least some facets of the created world must be plausible. Also, I think you guys ought to know by now just how much I hate info-overload when it occurs during the first few chapters of a particular novel. Anyway, the point is simple, really - if the world-building is off, there's just no way I can like the dystopian novel in question.

Given that I'm very picky when it comes to dystopians (is that even a word?), you guys should believe me when I say that Article 5 is GOOD, and that you all should read it. It usually takes me a LONG time to read dystopian novels (I usually can't stand reading them in one sitting because all the unnecessary details get on my nerves), but it took me only a few hours to read Article 5. And I finished it in one sitting, so there's that!

I'm not going to say that Article 5  is without faults, but I found those faults easy to overlook, and I don't think they'll bother anyone too much. (I think most people's complaints center around the main character, but I'll get to that later.) My biggest gripe probably is the lack of a more detailed back story. While I had no problem when it comes to how believable and how realistic the word created is (I truly can envision our would being rather similar to the world depicted in Article 5 if wars and such became more prevalent) I would have appreciated a more broad and encompassing approach while painting just how this said world came to be - just how exactly did everything become so horrible? Just what prompted the Bill of Rights to be deemed null and void?

What I liked the best about Article 5 is how fast-paced the plot is. There isn't any boring part in the novel - it's jaw-dropping action all the way, and I thoroughly enjoyed how I was on the edge of my seat while tearing through the pages as fast as humanely possible. I also enjoyed reading about the characters - yes, even Ember, our beloved MC. Truth be told, I loved how stubborn Ember was - I loved how she knew what she wanted, and that she was willing to do absolutely anything to get it. She wasn't easily derailed from her goals, and though she made illogical decision upon another, I can't help but admire her bravery to do the unthinkable. I don't think I have ever met a more determined character! It would have been so easy for her to do what she's told, but she's not easily distracted nor sidetracked from what she wants the most - to be reunited with her mother.

Never once did I think that the romance in this novel was forced, or that it just suddenly blew up in my face with no warning whatsoever. It was always there - you knew it was going to make itself known in one way or another. I liked how Chase calmed Ember down and slowly earned back her trust; and I love how it took a while for Ember to trust Chase, because he was one of the soldiers who took away her mom, after all. It wasn't just blind love and adoration for these two - they were initially wary of each other, but that slowly goes away as they spent more time together and talked. The flashbacks also gave a lot of depth to Ember and Chase's relationship, and I particularly enjoyed reading those parts.

As I have previously mentioned (a gazillion times, it seems), I don't usually enjoy dystopia as a genre, but I loved Article 5. I most definitely will be with Ember and Chase as they continue their journey, and I can't wait to dive into the sequel, Breaking Point! (I might just do that in 3, 2, 1...)

Rating: 4 Stars

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Sweetest Taboo and Tainted Love by Eva Marquez


Sweetest Taboo  
Title: Sweetest Taboo
Author: Eva Marquez
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart.

This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.

Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world.
Tainted Love 
Title: Tainted Love (Sweet Taboo #2)
Author: Eva Marquez
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Isabel thought her life was on track – she was doing well in school, moving quickly toward her future, and deciding who she wanted to be. Best of all, she’d reunited with Tom, the love of her life. But it doesn’t take long for her history – and his – to
start catching up with them, presenting a range of uncomfortable questions. Does he really love her? Are they meant to be together? And what exactly has he been doing in their time apart?


It seems like taboo relationships are everywhere in pop culture these days. As a matter of fact, one of the central storylines of one of the most popular TV series geared towards teens and young adults, Pretty Little Liars (which is based on a book series, I might add), focuses on the relationship between Ezra and Aria - a teacher and his student. Moreover, this particular pairing has a lot of fans and supporters likewise. Why might this be, you ask. It's a taboo relationship - how can people support it? Simple. It's obvious to me that Ezra is not even the least bit predatory towards Aria. He treats her with love, respect, and is mindful of her wishes. Despite of the fact that their relationship is taboo, it really can't be denied that they have powerful feelings towards each other.

That's the way I felt about Tom and Isabel.

I'm not going to lie - Tom and Isabel's relationship is considered morally wrong by society in many levels, and I myself did cringe a few time while reading both novels, but I see that they feel something strong and powerful towards each other. However, it was hard to ignore the fact that Tom is more than twice Isabel's age, and that he is also married and has two children. As much as I tried to like and respect Tom as a character, I just couldn't. The fact that he has a family was hard for me to gloss over - I do firmly believe that love can happen between two people despite of how old they are, but it was difficult to me to understand how Tom can have no remorse over his cheating. Also, I did find him to be rather hypocritical when he was so judgmental of Isabel kissing another guy.

That's one thing you have to really ponder while reading series - it cannot be denied that Isabel and Tom care for each other and have intense feeling towards each other, but is the feeling really love?

Despite of my misgivings towards the character of Tom, I enjoyed the flow of the story. For majority of these two novels, I never saw Tom and Isabel as two people having an illicit and forbidden affair - I considered them as two people in a relationship going through problematic times - and I believe that this is a testament towards Marquez' strong writing. I had no problem at all reading these novels - I finished both one after the another as a matter of fact, and I think most of you will feel the same way. Usually, most written work about taboo relationships deal with the forbidden aspect, but Marquez actually had the relationship of Tom and Isabel develop, and that was something I found to be amazing and commendable.

I consider Sweet Taboo to be a particularly strong novel, but I was a bit disappointed with Tainted Love. While I'm sure that a lot of readers appreciate being able to know Tom's thoughts, I found them hard to read, mostly because I found them uninteresting. I don't even know why - perhaps it's because I never connected with him as a character? It also bothered me that Isabel's maturity was somehow regressing, and that she was involved with another professor, while attempting to maintain a semblance of a relationship with Tom. It kind of makes you wonder whether or not she really loved Tom, and I can't deny that I truly felt bad for Tom for the majority of this novel. Here he is pining for Isabel every minute of everyday while Isabel was off dilly-dallying with some other guy. I'm not exactly sure how Marquez will finish this series, but hopefully the third book is better than the second.

If I were you, I'd give this series a shot. Marquez drops a bomb in the foreword of Sweet Taboo that will make the readers see the novels in a different light, and as I mentioned, her writing is just excellent, and I can't wait to read more of her work.

Rating: 3.5 Stars


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Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Delirium #3)

Requiem (Delirium, #3) 
Title: Requiem (Delirium #3)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Published by: HarperCollins Children's Books
Source:  ARC from publisher 
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Well, this is a first - I have no idea how to begin a review. I have no idea how I want to kick things off, because I was just shellshocked - flabbergasted, really - after reading Requiem. I in no way did I expect that ending. I remember blinking rapidly, and just whispering "Ohmygod. That's it?" to nothingness (I'm not being overly dramatic, okay, I was alone, for one), and I remember sending out a semi-hysterical tweet. If I were to base my rating on my initial reaction, I'd probably be giving Requiem around two to three stars, but I forced myself to wait a few days before penning my review. I wanted to let the events that happened throughout the final book sink in, and I'm glad I did.

The thing is, I understand why some people were disappointed with how Requiem ended, and I can't blame them for feeling that way. While I consider myself a huge fan of open endings, a part of me still feels that that the way this trilogy ended is too vague. Readers will always want answers, a definitive ending, and an idea on how the characters will fare after the final page of the novel, but we don't exactly get that with Requiem. The final pages of the novel - while beautifully written, as Oliver truly has a way with words - still felt a bit rushed, and I remember feeling apprehensive when I realized that there were barely any pages left and yet the story didn't feel finished.

However, I soon realized that gripping stories don't really end per se - we only witness a few chapters of a character's life throughout a particular novel or series after all, don't we? Though we can't help but feel like we've been part of Lena's life all throughout, we weren't - our journey with Lena started when she began to value the concept of freedom and realized that love isn't a myth. We weren't with her before that. With this thought in mind, Oliver did end this particular chapter of Lena's life, and gave us a glimpse of what's to come for her. The ending may not be thoroughly detailed, sure, but it's still an ending,and I thank Oliver for giving me that.

Despite all the hoopla with the ending, I enjoyed reading Requiem. Requiem picks up where Pandemonium left off - Lena managed to rescue Julian with the help of the Resistance, and she now calls the Wilds her home. However, Alex's return throws Lena off, and she now must decide who she truly loves between Alex and Julian. This isn't your typical love-triangle set-up though - first and foremost, Alex is obviously scarred by the events after his arrest, and he's not exactly paying attention to Lena. Julian, meanwhile, is doing all that he can to show Lena his love. Also, unlike Delirium and Pandemonium, in Requiem, the romance takes a backseat to the Resistance's efforts to overthrow the current government, and it took a bit of getting used to.

While reading this novel, it was so apparent to me who Lena truly loved. The way she acted around him, the way she always thought about him, the way his every action - every single thing he did - affected her... It was just obvious to me that there was only one guy who Lena wanted, and needed, in her life. Moreover, he also showcases his undying love for her in a particular scene (I wish I could tell you guys which, but alas, this should remain a spoiler-free review). I loved how Oliver had their story unfold in this novel - the two's journey wasn't all fun and rainbows, and while we don't exactly find out whether the two have a definite happy ending, Lena's choice made sense to me, and I was ultimately satisfied with it.

The dual POVs enriched the story-telling too. While a part of me would have preferred that Lena tell the entire story, the chapters chronicled by Hana were gripping, to say the least. It was interesting to see how related events unfolded through Lena's - who was a vital member of the Resistance, and Hana's - who was marrying the mayor - eyes. Moreover, I particularly enjoyed reading through Hana's chapters for they proved to me how powerful some emotions are.

My feelings for Requiem as a whole are complicated. I enjoyed the main plotline, the character development, the dual POVs, and the beautifully written final chapter. However, like most of you, a part of me still yearns for something more. I wish we could have been given more. I'd love to be able to read about Lena a few months after the events of Requiem, just to know how she is faring. I'd love an epilogue. I just can't help but feel sad that my part in Lena's story has ended, and yet I feel like there are still plenty left for me to discover. Nonetheless, the Delirium trilogy remains to be a favorite of mine, and I urge everyone to read these novels.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

[Cover Reveal + Excerpt + Giveaway] A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was one of my favorite books of 2012 (check out my review HERE) and I couldn't be more excited for the release of its companion novel! The release date is still a long way off, so feast your eyes on this absolutely gorgeous cover instead:

Title: A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2)
Author: Rachel Harris
Release Date: August 2013
Published by: Entangled Teen
Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

Austin pushes the red and black Jet Ski into the water, past the first few crashing waves, then throws a leg over the side. He turns to me, extending an upturned palm, but as I watch the water pound against his legs, I slowly shake my head and inch away. Forget the confusion of the past few minutes or my concern if riding wrapped around Austin is appropriate…are jet skis even safe? So far, my experience with modern machines has taught me that they travel at terrifying speeds. What if I were to accidentally let go and fly off? I don’t know how to swim! 

Austin’s face gentles and he curls his fingers, coaxing me closer to the watery death trap. “I’ve got you, Alessandra,”  he says. “I promise nothing’s gonna hurt you. You can trust me.”
The sardonic guise he hides behind drops for just a moment, but it is enough.
I say a quick prayer and place my hand in his.

With my legs straddling the seat, my arms wrapped tightly around Austin’s firm stomach, and my chest and face pressed against his back, I do not need the extra layer my wetsuit provides. I am quite warm without it. Under me, the engine rumbles. Austin grabs my clasped hands, ensuring my death grip. And then we are flying.  

Fear is left behind me on the beach. My laughter is swallowed by the wind. And I hold onto Austin. The rest of the world falls away as he powers the machine forward. Whistling sound envelops us yet there’s also silence in the midst of the roar. Out here, there’s no room for worrisome thoughts about the future or about the past. No time for concerns over when I will return or how much I miss my family. In this bubble of Austin, wind, and water, all I can do is live and breathe and smile.

Austin spins us in circles and then we fly straight ahead, free as the winged creatures overhead. He bounces us over a swell and a spray of water splashes my face, tickling the skin left exposed from my wetsuit. I squeal, and under my clasped hands, I feel his taut stomach muscles shake with laughter. Then he takes off again in another sharp turn, racing in the opposite direction of which we came. Excitement has me screaming, asking him to go faster. I close my eyes against the sting of the salty air and the lash of my hair and tilt my head back, feeling more uninhibited than I ever have before.
More free, more alive…just more.
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[Cover Reveal + Giveaway] Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

Isn't the cover gorgeous? Just so you know, it was designed  by Erin Fitzsimmons - the same person who designed the the covers for Lauren Olivier's Delirium series! (Thanks for the cool info, Jennifer!)

Game. Set. Match. (Outer Banks Tennis Academy, #1) 
Title: Game. Set. Match. (Outer Banks Tennis Academy #1)
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Published by: Coliloquy, LLC
Nestled along the coastline of North Carolina, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the best elite tennis training facility in the world. Head Coach, Dominic Kingston has assembled some of the finest talent in the sport. From the game's biggest stars to athletes scraping and clawing to achieve their dreams, OBX is full of ego, drama and romance. Only the strong survive in this pressure cooker of competition, on and off the court.

Penny Harrison, the biggest rising star in tennis, is determined to win the French Open and beat her rival, the world’s number one player, Zina Lutrova. There’s just one problem, the only person who’s ever been able to shake her laser-like focus is her new training partner. Alex Russell, tennis’s resident bad boy, is at OBX recovering from a knee injury suffered after he crashed his motorcycle (with an Aussie supermodel on the back). He's hoping to regain his former place at the top of men’s tennis and Penny’s heart, while he’s at it.

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. Her parents have seven Grand Slam championships between them and she’s desperate to live up to their legacy. Her best friend is Teddy Harrison, Penny’s twin brother, and that’s all they’ve ever been, friends. Then one stupid, alcohol-laced kiss makes everything super awkward just as she as she starts prepping for the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

The Classic is what draws Indiana Gaffney out of the hole she crawled into after her mom’s death. Even though she’s new to OBX, a win at the Classic is definitely possible. She has a big serve and killer forehand, but the rest of her game isn’t quite up to scratch and it doesn’t help that Jasmine Randazzo and her little minions are stuck-up bitches or that Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and oldest brother, is too hot for words, not to mention way too old for her.

Who will rise? Who will fall?

Told from rotating points of view, GAME. SET. MATCH. is a 'new adult' novel about three girls with one goal: to be the best tennis player in the world.

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[Blog Tour: Review] I Am Alive by Cameron Jace (I Am Alive #1)

(Check out the rest of the tour stops HERE!)

I Am Alive (I Am Alive, #1) 
Title: I Am Alive (I Am Alive #1)
Author: Cameron Jace
Release Date: December 1, 2012 (Edited Version)
Sixteen-year-old Decca Tenderstone feels captivated when she meets Leo, who is arrogant, silent, beautiful, and shoots almost every one he meets.

the usual boring girl meets badboy story... hmm... with a twist ...

They live in a dystopian future in Los Angeles where every sixteen-year-old is ranked on a scale from one to ten to determine their future. Outranks, who are considered a danger to society, are forced to attend the Monster Show, a brutal sacrificing ritual that is broadcasted worldwide on live TV, where rebellious teens are labelled Bad Kidz or Monsters and get to fight for their lives in deadly games.

To prove that you're still alive you have to scream I Am Alive every six hours. Lower your voice, and you're dead.

Decca doesn't need Leo's company. She has secrets of her own. While they both can't stand each other, she will find out why she doesn't fit into any rank.

Nothing will stand in her way as she has to make choices concerning love, life, staying alive, growing up, and finding out who she really is.

This book isn't exactly short, but it was a quick read for me. I finished it in one sitting, and the reason is simple, really - I found myself engrossed in the story early on. (I almost didn't want to give this book a shot because of the very unflattering cover, but I'm glad I did. Never judge a book by its cover, right? And besides, I think there' a newer - and infinitely much better - cover floating around!) The general plot, the characters, and the storylines were intriguing, to say the least, and my interest was also highly piqued by the dystopian world that served as a backdrop to this novel. And to be fair, the first chapter really surprised me too! (I was warned that I ought to prepare for a shock, but I honestly didn't expect what happened!

I'm sure that a lot of people will compare this novel to either Battle Royale or The Hunger Games trilogy, but as the author himself points out, the entire 'trying to escape death while the whole world watches' is a concept we see in literature time and time again. (And didn't Roman prisoners fight to their death for the amusement of the general public ages ago?) Moreover, to tell the truth, other than the original premise, I see no similarity between The Hunger Games and I Am Alive. This is just a little something to take note of, because I'm sure there would be readers who would be immediately jumping to conclusions on how this particular novel is a copycat or the like.

Decca, the main character, is not difficult to like. While I wish we could have explored her thoughts and feelings more, I still reckon that I understood her character enough. I fully understood why she chose to make some decisions that seem rash and and a bit reckless; and I couldn't blame her for leaving no stone unturned in her quest for answers. I admired her loyalty to her family; her friendship - which was definitely out of a place in her wold - with someone ranked higher than her; and I admire her sheer tenacity and her strong will. Decca is an excellent character to read about.

While I did find this novel an easy read, the pacing was a bit off at times for me. It was as if things were moving too fast, and events that should have been explored further were largely ignored. Generally, I like novels that are paced quickly, but sometimes reading I Am Alive gave me something like a whiplash. The quick pacing skipped out on some essential character development (with regards to Leo, the guy Decca suddenly finds at her side, most especially), and I feel like the novel could have been much better if the pacing was toned down a bit.

Also, the love story angle felt like a bit of a stretch to me. For me, I don't think the romance brought anything to the story. Moreover, I really don't think the relationship - or love, or whatever - between Decca and Leo was even developed properly, and I couldn't help but wish that it could have just been left out of the novel. Hopefully we get to see more character development in the next book in the series. Also, I did have some difficulty understanding some of the reasons why this world came to be in the first place.

All in all, while I did have some misgivings with it, I still consider I Am Alive a strong beginning to a series, and I can't wait to find out what happens next! I enjoyed the pop culture references, as well as Decca's sassiness when it comes to mouthing off with Leo. Leo's quite fun to read about when's he's exasperated too!

Rating: 3.5 Stars