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Friday, August 1, 2014

WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE by Laurie Faria Stolarz {Review}

Review by Becca

First off, I want to send Andye a HUGE thank you for having me here on Reading Teen! Second, I'm going to be reviewing Welcome to the Dark House a little different than normal. I'll be writing a letter to the book, saying what I did/didn't like, similar to how I normally review on my own blog! Be sure to check out more of my review letters at Pivot Book Reviews !

by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Series: Dark House
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (July 22, 2014)
Goodreads | Amazon

What's your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it's the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it's bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it's their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake's latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn't even like scary movies, but she's ready to face her real-world fears. Parker's sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It's bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group-the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; "Mister Sensitive"; and the one who's too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

Dear Welcome to the Dark House,

I was so excited about you. Extremely excited, in fact. I remember reading your author, Laurie Faria Stolarz's, Blue is for Nightmares series way back in the day, and loving them. Plus, your cover is freak-tastic. I was hoping with all the hopes possible that I had finally found a book to scare the bejeezuz out of me. Nope. Didn't happen. Not even a little bit.

You, Welcome to the Dark House (or WttDH, as you'll be known henceforth, because your name is SO long), are the story surrounding seven somewhat troubled souls who pine after a certain horror director, and upon receiving word of an essay type contest to describe their worst nightmare in 1000 words for the chance to meet said director, jump on the train and pound those words out. The nightmares vary from weird to different to understandable. But this all-inclusive trip to meet Justin Blake and see behind-the-scenes footage of his new secret project is a little too close to real life horror for them, and by the time they realize their lives are at a gamble, they have to play the game if they want to live.

Okay. Sounds like a typical scary movie. One that I'm pretty sure I would watch. I was hooked on your concept, but the way you were delivered? Not at all. I really thought that I could handle reading seven different POV's, but you are just so fast paced, WttDH, that I just couldn't keep up. I found myself reading from a certain character of yours, and then having to turn back the beginning of the chapter where the name was listed, because I had no idea whose POV I was reading from. For the most part, I got about 3/4 of the way through you before I knew who was who, and by that time, well at risk of spoilers, I'll just say it was kind of pointless to know at that point.

If anything, you were quite gruesome. I'll give you that. I cringed at certain parts. You also had some profanity from certain characters. I just never really connected with any of them. The only one I did kind of like reading from was Ivy, who is pretty much the MC of your MCs (if that makes sense), but then there was some insta-love thrown in, and it all felt so rushed. I couldn't take anything seriously. A nightmare elf? Garth Vader as one of your character's names? Seriously? Honestly, I think the only reason I finished you was because I had to find out what the heck was going on and who was going to survive, only to find out that you are a part of a series!! Sorry I'm not sorry I won't be picking up any of your sequels.

I know I sound like I'm dogging you harshly, WttDH, and I feel a bit bad about that, but I can't help the way I feel about you. You just weren't my cup of tea, at all. I know you could've been executed so much better, if only you would've been from less character's POVs. I didn't have enough time to get to know all seven of them to have any empathy for them when they got the axe. (Pardon the pun) Unfortunately, Welcome to the Dark House, you just weren't the book to turn me into a horror genre lover. You had all the ingredients, but ultimately, fell flat.

Sticking to horror movies for now,
   Becca @ Pivot Book Reviews

Thursday, July 31, 2014

CINDER & ELLA {Excerpt & Giveaway}

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder. 


Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancĂ©e—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.
Teaser excerpt: You do have someone who cares, he said softly. No matter how bad things are at home or at school or whatever, you have me. Youre my best friend, too. You have my number now. Save it in your phone and call it anytimeday, night, the witching hourit doesnt matter. Okay?
It took me a momentand a series of deep breathsbefore I could respond. Okay.
I promise. As long as I always have you, Ill be fine. I kicked myself internally and laughed. Wow, that sounded really cheesy. You see? Thats why I didnt want to call you. I can filter my stupid mouth so much better when I have to type out my thoughts.
Cinder laughed again. Ah, but then you would miss out on all the sweet nothings I plan to whisper in your ear now that I know how much you like my ultra-sexy voice.
I blushed but refused to let him know that his flirting rattled me. I never said ultra, you egomaniac. But you should definitely consider recording audiobooks for a living.
Hmm. Thats not a bad idea. Cinders voice dropped to that slow, seductive purr again as he asked, Would you like me to read to you, Ellamara?
I thrilled at the thought and couldnt quite mask my excitement. Seriously?
Why not? Before you called, I was getting ready to have a Top Gear marathon all by my lonesome.
You are such a liar. Tonight is Friday night, and its Halloween. There is no way you dont have plans.
I dont have important ones. Its just a stupid party that my sort-of girlfriend wants me to go to.
Your sort-of girlfriend?
Yeah. Cinder stretched the word out in a long breath. Its a long story, but Im not that into her. Id much rather stay home and read with you. Besides, I cant hang up on you when youve had the worst day ever. What kind of best friend would that make me?
I almost cried again. The offer was so sweet. And thoughtful. Reading was a passion Cinder and I shared. We read and discussed books all the time. Wed even decided to read the same book at the same time before, but wed never read one together. Cinder had to know how much that would mean to me.
It has to be The Druid Prince, I said.
Cinder laughed. Its already in my hands.
Look for Cinder & Ella October 1, 2014!
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

DROWNED by Nichola Reilly {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Emily 

Drowned #1
by Nichola Reilly
Series: A Drowned Novel (Book 1)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 24, 2014)
Goodreads | Amazon
Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival.

Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.

Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become? Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters.

Drowned was sent to me by Andye @ Reading Teen because she was unable to finish/not interested in some books she had but thought they deserved to be reviewed! Thank you, Andye, because I really enjoyed Drowned. Here are my thoughts...

Drowned started out slow for me. I was kind of annoyed because I was suddenly thrust into this dystopian world that I knew nothing about and it wasn't explained very well. I still am not sure how the world came to be ruined by tides (it was never explained completely) but I did like the story once I pushed past that.

I started to enjoy the book at about 100 pages in. I know, for some of you, that you wouldn't have read that far if you didn't like it, but I was determined to not give up on this book. Coe, the main character, is invited to become a royal aide for the princess. I'm not quite sure how this dystopian world came to have a princess and a king, but I love and princess-y story so this made me happy (well, it did at first..)

The first chapter that the princess was introduced in, I liked. However, the more we saw her, the more I started to dislike her. I really loved the friendship/relationship between Coe and Tiam and the princess only got in the way of that. By the end of the book, I was like, "oh great, her again."

I really liked all of the other characters, though. Coe was generally likable, although it seemed like a lot of the characters in the book did not like her. Some of the things she did were reckless but for the most part she was brave and intelligent. I was confused about how she lost her arm, though. It's clearly stated in the beginning and also is seen on the cover of the book, but I didn't think it was explained very well. It's just a vague "she had an accident" type of thing and I wasn't a big fan of that, per se.

I loved Tiam. I wish he would have made his move earlier, because by the time he does, it's too late. I also wish we would have seen a bit more of him in this book because I loved when he and Coe were together.

I love when dystopian books have characters who don't know what certain things are-- like mirrors, and soap. It really makes me take a step back and think about what the world would be like without those things. Most of the characters in this book didn't even know how to read. That really surprised me and made me fearful of what might happen in the future.. people not knowing how to read? Crazy.

This book is left in a major cliffhanger. I was not expecting it at all but I knew, when I only had ten pages left and things weren't resolved, that I was not going to happy. I was really invested in this story by the end of it and I'm now dying for the sequel. Although I felt like a lot of details were missing, I loved reading about the world. I wish there would also be a prequel so we understand how all of this came to be. I think I would rate this book 3.5-4/5 stars. I enjoyed it once things picked up.

And here is the link to the review on my blog:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OCEANBORN by Amile Howard {Giveaway & Blog Tour}

Check out the tour page HERE

The coronation is over.

But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.


Breezing past Kevin at the Marine Center and yelling out that I’m taking the boat, I don’t even bother to change. I kick my shoes off at the bottom of the pier, let my toes sink into the sand and haul breath by cleansing breath into my lungs. And then I’m in the boat, speeding out to sea with spray on my face and freedom like salt on my tongue. For the first time that I can remember, I don’t want to be on land. I want to be down there—in the deep water, where I belong.

Where everything makes sense, even with the rivalry between the courts. At least there I am wholly me…not some creature pretending to be human and forced into a double life I’ve nearly grown out of. Now I understand why the Aquarathi aren’t meant to live with humans more than necessary. They drain us. I can’t play the catty games with Cara. I can’t try to be a flirt to make Lo fall in love with me. I can’t win. Not this time.

The boat veers past San Clemente Island. Out here, the water is so blue it’s nearly black. I have to force myself not to think that it’s the exact color of Lo’seyes. I close mine, not even sure what I’m running away from. There’s no way I can leave him behind while I return to Waterfell. Releasing the throttle on the boat, I drop anchor and let it sway gently in the wide rolling waves of the open sea.

The breadth of the ocean is unbroken, the deeper blue of the water nearly merging into the lighter blue of the sky in the distance. I hold my breath, turning my face to the sun. Golden shimmers of air dance across the top of the glasslike surface of the sea, and for a second not a drop of wind stirs. I am suspended between my worlds—the ever-reaching deep below me and the endless stretching sky above.

Where do I belong?

A shimmery glitter catches my eye as a school of dolphins breaks the surface, swimming nearer as if drawn to me. They circle the boat like playful children, their sounds happy and light. Leaning over the side of the boat, I let my hand drift through the rippling waves lapping against the side. Several dolphins pass below me, bouncing upward barely enough to let the slick rubber of their skins graze the human fuzz of mine. A trickle of golden light ignites at the electric tingle of their bodies, firing along the length of my palms. The water inside me surges to the surface in desperate response.

There’s only one place I can be at peace.

Bands of dewy green light shimmer along my bare arms as I strip off my clothing and somersault into the ocean, letting my body sink as it begins the transformation from girl to monster. The dolphins scatter, their shrieks turning fretful as I go from friend to foe. Bones crack and lengthen, pushing outward through soft skin as fiery green lights explode like fireworks along my entire span. I am something immense erupting from something insignificant. Hardened golden scales shimmer over fragile human tissue as a ridge of fins emerges from my spine, fanning into sharp, iridescent existence to the barbed tip of my tail. Fingers curl into talons and feet extend into claws as a crown of coral thorns sprouts in a fierce semicircle on my forehead—my glorious crown of bones—the final mark of what I am.

No longer a girl, I am every inch an Aquarathiqueen.

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SEAMONSTER by Amalie Howard (Aquarathi #1.5)
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AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RANDOM by Tom Leveen {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Krista

by Tom Leveen
Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2014
Simon Pulse
Goodreads | Amazon
Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall and Thirteen Reasons Why.

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.

He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.

The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can't help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.

With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…
Random is an emotionally charged roller coaster. The night before Tori is due in court, she gets a phone call from a boy claiming she was his last call before committing suicide. He wanted her to give him a reason not to. Little did he know that Tori's already had enough to deal with and facing some serious charges tomorrow. His phone call not only causes Tori to go into an emotional downhill spiral, but release her emotions about her own situation as well.

The characters in this story, especially the random caller and Tori really don't soften the blows when unraveling their stories. They are up front, blunt and often rude in their revelations to each other. They are both in the middle of serious emotional overloads and the tension is very high throughout the whole story.

The chapters are separated with short columns of Tori's facebook pages with the comments she is having to go to court over. Her story unravels slowly throughout the book as the majority of it focuses on the random caller and the powerful question of why..or why not. We learn a lot about Tori's life and how it came to her being in her situation. But the question always remains, is she the right one that can help the boy?

I had to read this book slowly, it was not something that I could just fly through. I think that bullying is a subject that we all have dealt with in our lives. Witnessing it, being the target or the bully. Even at the smallest of levels the subjects approached in the story are identifiable to all and you can understand where the characters are coming from. I know the story hit home for me, and I believe that it will for many others.


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