Monday, April 1, 2013

For Review from Netgalley: That Time I Joined the Circus, The Look, Entangled, Spellbinding

 Here's a recent batch from Netgalley that I thought looked interesting! Thank you Netgalley, Scholastic Inc, and Nikki Jefford for providing these copies for review. All books are now available.

From Goodreads:
Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose.

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake--and facing a terrible tragedy--Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi's mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn't there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus's fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi's ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

I really liked this one, but don't believe any comparisons to The Night Circus, which is pure fantasy with lots of romance and magic. That Time I Joined the Circus is classic coming-of-age contemporary - and a lot of fun.

But it doesn't start out that way. There's a huge tragedy at the beginning and it was so sad to see Lexi stuck with literally nowhere to go and no money. That part did bother me just a little because it didn't quite seem believable that her life could change so completely and so fast. Maybe if she'd actually communicated with certain people, but that would have ruined the book, of course, and we can't have that.

Lexi finds a home at the circus and friends and complicated romance even. And it's typical contemporary in that the romance isn't absolute and eternal like it would be in a fantasy. It felt much more real with ups and downs and both parties not really knowing how they felt all the time. Lexi was a very believable teenager.

The story wraps up quickly at the end with a little too conveniently perfect, tidy solution to Lexi's problems, but it was a sweet ride and I enjoyed it.

Content: Some kissing, off-page sex, and innuendo. Some swearing - no violence.

 From Goodreads:
Ted doesn't think of herself as glamorous. But her gorgeous sister Ava is. So when it's Ted who spotted by a model agency, at the same time that Ava is diagnosed with cancer, things have clearly gone very wrong. Ted isn't interested in modelling but Ava wants her to give it a try. Just how far will Ted go to please her sister? And what sacrifices will she have to make?

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

I liked this more than I thought I would. I was worried that I'd have to read about a lot of superficial, beauty-obsessed characters, but that is, refreshingly, not at all what this was about. Ted saves it. She's a brilliant character, all interesting and non-conformingly beautiful and fierce. It was fascinating to see some of the behind the scenes work in the fashion industry, which I will admit to being pretty interested in (not that you could tell it from how I dress!). I love the art aspect and how things travel from high fashion on the runway to what I can buy for cheap at Old Navy and Target. :D Ted gives us a real insight into how it is to deal with photographers and other models and super crazy fashion elites. While it's fun for a while, she is confronted with things she'd rather not do and I loved seeing how she dealt with these situations.

Ted's sister's cancer kept this story (and Ted herself) grounded in reality. Ted is there with her sister through every step of cancer treatment and I love that she shaves her head with her, not knowing (or caring) what her modeling agency will think.

Other than that, there's a sweet little romantic side plot, and Ted discovers lots of things about herself and her family. I'd say this is a great book for teens.

Content: A little sexual innuendo in conversations, very little swearing, and no violence.


From Goodreads:
Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

 My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

I found the whole premise of this book clever and entertaining. I'm always looking for a good teenage witch story (blame it on my obsession as a teenager with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (anybody else watch that show?). I liked Graylee as a character, she's powerful but doesn't abuse her power. It was interesting to see her dynamics with her twin sister, especially after they start sharing a body (by the way, there are some serious laughs that come from this situation).

The story is mysterious and it takes a while to figure out who is causing all the problems, which was irritating cause I called it in the first ten pages. On top of that, I couldn't bring myself to like Raj - the teenage warlock love interest - because he's a total jerk. Obviously, he's just in lust with Graylee, however much he wants to claim his undying love. I didn't buy into it.

I did not like the resolution. I felt like there was a very evil character who got no comeuppance whatsoever. That and there's some body swapping that I just thought felt wrong. Overall, this fell short for me, but it was entertaining enough.

Content: Plenty of sexual innuendo, off-page sex, and loads of swearing. No violence.

From Goodreads:
There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

I found this book interesting, creepy, and a little cliche. First off, I loved the connection to the Salem witch trials. It was well done. Also, I found Abby's reactions as she discovered her powers to be very convincing. And some of the scenes where she's working actual magic were a little unnerving. Definitely got a couple shivers and was glad I was reading during the day. :D

But the rest is so lame. Abby's first act as a witch? Make a love potion and give it to her crush! Great. I'm pretty sure I've seen that tried a million times and it never goes right. Plus, there's the secondary boy, Rem, and Abby's relationship with him was kind of lame and... well... secondary. The story gets more intense and danger sets in, but I never felt like Abby was really in much danger. The big final scene is, of course, at prom night and everything resolved in a sudden and surprising way. What I expected to happen did not happen and I was actually disappointed by it. I kind of wanted Abby to embrace her witch powers and become super witch, but she turns it all down to be a normal human. It was interesting, though.

It's a bit of a cliche teen witch story, but worth a read if you need a witch fix.

Content: Some swearing, no sexual content, some frightening scenes and actually a little bit violent at times, when Abby's crush's ex bullies her in a brutal way.

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