Review: Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

not in the script by amy finnegan cover Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma can’t help but wonder if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships. Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance. When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

I received an advance copy of this book, to be published on October 7th, 2014, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. 

I have to say straight off that I wasn’t too interested in the other two books in the If Only series by Bloomsbury, but I decided to try this book due to the contemporary I’m writing right now. Sure, mine’s about music and not acting, but I just wanted to draw some inspiration.

NOT IN THE SCRIPT did not disappoint me at all. Several times I had to put down this book so I could scribble down a few more chapters. There were so many things I loved about this book, mainly the characters. Good characters will never cease to amaze me, and that’s exactly what they did in this series. The four main stars of the show that Emma ends up starring on, Kimmi, Jake and Brett, all have their own flaws and weaknesses. They felt incredibly real to me.

Kimmi really stood out to me out of the four of them, even though I thought initially that she would be a boring character. She’s a prime example of why I loved this book. Kimmi starts out as annoying, selfish, arrogant and standoffish. And that’s part of her personality. She’s mean to the crew and inconsiderate of other people. As the book goes on though, she changes. She has fleeting moments of kindness, wisdom, cleverness and empathy, while maintaining how she seems to be on the outside. She takes Emma’s advice over time and becomes Emma’s frienemy. In the end, she grew to be a character I was extremely impressed by. Is she perfect? Far from it. But she’s real, and that meant more to me than anything else.

Even the supporting characters, or characters that we only see once or twice as readers, are well drawn out. I appreciated the way Finnegan used each character to demonstrate aspects of her main character’s personality. Even Emma I didn’t love all the time. Sometimes, she’s selfish and downright rude and mean to people. Sometimes she doesn’t think before she acts and contradicts her own statements, but she’s also an extremely caring person that tries to be polite to the crew and considerate of them. She’s just trying to do her best and even though she annoyed me at times, I grew to love her character.

Jake is awesome too. He thinks about how Emma feels and the two of them try to understand one another in a business that can rock a relationship back and forth and back again. Brett is the only one I really wish there was a sequel for, because I feel like he has a lot farther to go. Not because I didn’t like him, or because I didn’t think he grew or wasn’t real. He was all of those things. Looking back, I think Finnegan did an amazing job of showing me who he could be and just how much he tried to be different.

There’s a part of Brett I can understand, because he’s not sure how much of his personality is really him due to all the acting roles he’s taken. I feel that way sometimes with books. I’ve been surrounded by them all the time since I was small, and I’ve taken bits and pieces of characters I’ve admired along the way. Sometimes I’m not even sure if a memory is mine or from a book, if that makes any sense without me seeing psychotic. The only thing is, I want Brett to find his own happiness. To continue to grow. I want to see where the relationship between the four main characters goes.

The relationships in this book are done fantastically, and I can’t wait to see what else Finnegan comes out with in the future. Finnegan’s world-building, dialogue and plot are done well too. I don’t think dialogue is Finnegan’s biggest strong suit, but it’s not bad at all. I loved the friendly banter, though I think it has a ways to go before it comes to the level of Elizabeth Eulberg and Kasie West (but then again, that’s Kasie West). The world-building and story telling is awesome though. Finnegan has an unpredictable, well-paced plot that isn’t boring and creates a world that I can envision well in my mind. Finnegan doesn’t try to cover up or lie about anything her characters do, instead using it to make the adult characters appear wise and helpful, always making her characters deal with what they’ve done.

Overall, I would really recommend this book. The Hollywood themes are awesome and even now this is just the beginning of how much I loved the characters. This book is the perfect read for a contemporary lover, or even people that don’t love contemporary as much. Finnegan blew me away with her characters, writing and plot. I was extremely entertained by this story and I hope to see more of her work in the future. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 272

Series/Companions: If Only #3

Review: Solving For Ex by Leigh Ann Kopans

solving for ex by leigh ann kopans

“Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy.

But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley’s place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.

Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There’s no real reason Ashley shouldn’t like Vincent, but with the
battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.

She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.”

Description taken from Goodreads.


Hugs to this book.

hugs gif

There are SO many things I loved about this book. It reminded me a lot of The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes and it was AMAZING. I came to really care about the characters even though they are flawed–no, especially because they’re flawed.

Ashley was awesome, but I did have a few issues with her. I really disliked the way that, during the book, the characters would realize something and then automatically turn around and forget about it for awhile. Almost as if they were little kids, learned something and grew up, and then automatically just glitched back to being kids again. It was extremely irritating, and I didn’t enjoy the way that Ashley couldn’t just chill and look at the situation in a different light when she really had no reason to be that upset.

There were a lot of things I liked about her though. I really enjoyed how smart she was, and how she figured out that something was seriously wrong with Vincent and Sofia. My heart hurt for her with her bullying, and I understood all the aftereffects that she talked about. My heart also hurt for her during the course of the story for Brendan (even though she does kiss Vincent. Shocker.) I appreciated how kind she was, and her genuine love for school, Mathletes and photography. She appreciates the things other people do for her, and she takes the time to listen to people. I felt like she was very real in those aspects.

One side note that I couldn’t brush off though was yes, she did get mad at people when they did really bad things. **cough** VINCENT **cough**, but she doesn’t stay mad, which is a good thing when you look at it from the outside but she doesn’t take the time to think about the situation again what kind of “not staying mad” she should be. There are some things that happen in the book that are a serious NO and she forgives it pretty easily.

Brendan surprised me. I don’t care for many a heroine/hero in books, and I didn’t think that I would like Brendan. But I did. He’s kind, fair and cares about people. An overall good guy. He gets and stays mad for the right reasons even though he does forgive, he truly cares about his passions and his friends and he’s not a jerk about it. I appreciated the issues he was going through, and how he dealt with them. I thought that Kopans did a great job of showing off his character during those times.

Another thing that surprised me was the math notes. I expected them to bore me and be a break in the pace which I usually hate, but it was refreshing in SOLVING FOR EX. The notes were funny and something I looked forward to over the course of the story.

I do have to admit that overall, the plot is a little cliche, which is annoying and nice at the same time. It’ll definitely appeal to girls who like contemporary romance and won’t mind, but it was something that did bother me after I read the story. The pace is steady, not exactly slow or fast and not something that was on my mind during the course of the book which is a good thing.

I loved how real the characters in this book were and even though I felt like some things were missing or some things didn’t get tied up, I’m really excited to start the companion book, FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, which is about Sofia. I do hope to see a Vincent story one day and get his side of everything, but we’ll see.

I don’t get the title of this story. Maybe I’m just slow or I missed something, but Ashley doesn’t have an ex. She is eternally crushing on Brendan, and the idea that she slept with the captain of the lacrosse team while he was dating the head of the cheer team was completely a rumor/gossip.

3.8 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 300

Top 10: Mythical Creatures in SILVERN by Christina Farley, author of GILDED

silvern by christina farley

Jae Hwa Lee has destroyed Haemosu, the dangerous demi-god that held her ancestors captive, and now she’s ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Then the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. Jae escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. But Kud is stronger and more devious than Haemosu ever was. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

I was able to get in touch with one really amazing author, Christina Farley, awhile back and was so happy to find out that she was willing to do a guest post on RealityLapse! Christina’s the author of the GILDED series, which is about Korean mythology (awesome!). If you haven’t heard about GILDED, be sure to add it to Goodreads using the button below.

Top Ten: Mythical Creates in SILVERN

Like I did in GILDED, in SILVERN, I incorporated more of the ancient Korean myths and creatures. Researching these creatures was fun but there isn’t much information out there on Korean mythology and often the sources conflicted. So I took the common threads from what I gathered and then added some of my own creativity, too.

Here is a list of my favorite mythological beasts from SILVERN:

1. Imoogi- These creatures are half-dragon and must wait a 1,000 years to become a real dragon. But there are also imoogi who decide to forgo dragon status and just hunt human souls and feed off of them. Hence the inspiration for my (Chapter 19)

2. White Tiger: The White Tiger is one of the four guardians, the guardian of the winds. He is also the tiger that is pictured on the cover of SILVERN. In this story, the orb that takes on the White Tiger’s powers is to seek out what the welder desires. (Chapter 24)

3. Gwishin: These are ghost of someone who died. These Korean ghosts are pretty creepy. They wear only white, usually long flowing white hanboks and their hair is draped over their faces so you can’t see their expressions. There are a few different types of gwishim:

a. dalgyal gwishin—a ghost with a featureless egg-like head- If you see one of these, it means you will die. (Chapter 16)

b. mool gwishin—ghost of one who was drowned by water (Chapter 15)

4. Bonghwang—A mythological bird with the beak of a rooster, face of a swallow, forehead of a fowl, neck of a snake, breast of a goose, back of a tortoise, hindquarters of a stag, and tail of a fish. (Chapter 25)

5. King Daebyeol—The ruler of the Underworld. (Chapter 16)

6. Samshin—The goddess of life and childbirth. I had fun with her role in setting her residence in one of my favorite haunts to visit in the mountains outside of Seoul: Herbnara. If you ever visit there, I highly recommend staying. (Chapter 29)

7. The Nine Dragons –These are the nine dragons that guard the sacred Kuryong Falls in North Korea. (Chapter 22)

8. Princess Bari- Bari was the seventh daughter of King Ogu. Bari became the death goddess because she was able to bring flowers and healing water to bring her parents back to life. She is considered the guider of the dead to the Underworld.


 

This was such a fun post! Many thanks to Christina, who made this all possible–and be sure to check out her books! You can use this as a guide as you go along the chapters to find out more about ten of Christina’s favorite mythological creatures.

Add the GILDED series to your TBR:

add gilded to goodreads

add silvern to goodreads

Connect With Christina:

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Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

illusions of fate by kiersten white

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Towards the end of last week, I did a tour recap of the night where I got the chance to meet Natalie Whipple and Kiersten White, both fabulous and amazing authors, and now I’m finally getting the chance to post my review of ILLUSIONS OF FATE, the spotlight book of the tour. Now before I actually say anything about the book, I have to introduce you to someone.

howl jenkins pendragon from howl's moving castle

This ^^^ is Howl from the Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki directed, spectacular movie HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. And if you are a fan of animated movies (and even if you aren’t) I strongly encourage you to try one or two or all of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s movies. The reason why I’m introducing you to Howl is because throughout the course of the book, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and Howl in particular played a strong part in my visual of Finn, the male main character to ILLUSIONS OF FATE. During her tour stop, Kiersten said that Finn is a combination of Mr. Darcy (from Pride & Prejudice) and Howl, and that is exactly on point. 

One of my only complaints with this book was Jessamin. There were so many things that I absolutely loved about her, from her personality and how hardworking she was to her dry humor and letters to her mother. But there was also the fact of the matter that sometimes she’s stubborn beyond all practicality and the fact that she made some really bad decisions because of her pride despite the fact that her life and the lives of others were in danger. This is a problem in YA that I see that’s incredibly annoying, and I was sorry to see it in Jessamin.

There were so many things I did enjoy about the characters though. I thought that White’s portrayal of Finn was spot-on, and I really enjoyed reading about him. I loved Jessamin’s determination to protect the people around her, and the community that she had around her. There were a few things I wanted to see more of, particularly more scenes with Kelen. I really wanted to really be able to feel the friendship and relationship between Jessamin and Kelen, but it didn’t really happen. ***This is NOT a love triangle.*** 

On to Jessamin and Finn’s relationship. I really had no qualms with the two of them, and I actually quite liked their relationship. I appreciated how chaste it was, and how White led up to everything perfectly. I actually loved the banter between the two, and it was a lot of fun to see how their relationship progressed. I completely ship them, and over the course of the book I only loved them together more and more. They go through their own share of troubles, and they have to face their own prejudices against each other–a concept that I love in books, and that was done really well.

The world-building was amazing. I wanted to see more of Jessamin’s life at the boarding school she was at, and maybe a flashback or two of Melei (the place where Jessamin was born and raised), but that was okay. I loved the visual of the life Jessamin lived, and I could picture everything clearly in my mind.

One thing about the ending–this book is a stand-alone, which I really appreciate and I LOVE because I’ve been waiting for way too many series lately. But the thing is, I felt like the ending was a little rushed. There were a few critical things I was looking for in the ending. They were small things that I could let go, but I felt like it needed a little bit more time.

Overall, I completely loved this book and it’s one of my favorite reads of 2014 so far. The writing is clear cut and the prose is beautiful without being too much, and the writing is compulsively readable. There are so many little things, the magic, Sir Bird, Eleanor, that made this book stand out so much more than it already does. I would definitely recommend this for fans of Bethany Hagen, Libba Bray, anime in general and anyone who has ever wanted to see more of Howl. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 278

Review: Side Effects May Vary but Julie Murphy

side effects may vary by julie murphy

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Description taken from Goodreads.


SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY didn’t have too unique of a premise. It combined sickness and bucket lists, two recent trends; and it was and wasn’t all I had expected it to be.

For one thing, I felt before, during and after that this book would’ve been more powerful and hard-hitting if the unfolding of it hadn’t been split between then and now.

The POV was also split between Harvey, the love interest of this story and Alice’s best friend, and Alice herself. This did work on many occasions because I enjoyed seeing into both Alice and Harvey’s minds, but the problem was that the two POVs felt too similar. I hated the way that Harvey and Alice both constantly went off on tangents, explaining things and going on about matters that weren’t really vital to the story.

The thing is, a lot of people will hate this story simply for the main character. Alice. And she doesn’t grow, doesn’t blossom, doesn’t do any of that. She’s incredibly selfish and rude at times, and when she starts up on her bucket list she pretty much sets out to get revenge on anyone who has ever done her wrong. I can’t say that I agree with her motives and I definitely don’t agree with a lot of the things she ends up doing on the basis of petty things like revenge, regret and grudges.

But there’s the fact that a personality like Alice’s and the actions she ends up undertaking are not entirely out of the realm of possibility. The bitterness from people who have done so many bad things to her and how she would react and how she would feel after being diagnosed are entirely reasonable, and because of that I was able to understand where Alice was coming from. I did think it was extremely selfish of her to bring Harvey into the picture–she should pay for the things she does by herself–but she did need someone who wasn’t about to die.

There were so many flawed characters in this story, but none so much so as Alice. If you want to read about entirely flawed, messed-up characters, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a book like this but not so hateful at times, you’re better off going in the direction of IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green or THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider. For a fun, fluffier summer read, I would go with THE ART OF LAINEY or SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS by Bethany Crandell–both 2014 debuts as well that are extremely well written.

As much as I wanted to hate Alice, I couldn’t in a way. As a writer, I admire her. She’s so completely hateful, flawed and believable that I can’t help but be in awe of the way she’s written. She can use people and not appear to feel any guilt over it, but at the same time she has plenty of self-conflict and self-hate. In terms of plot and overall execution, this story was entertaining enough–but the heavy narrative bogged down the entire story. 3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 330

Five Star Pick: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

how to say goodbye in robot by natalie standiford

From bestselling author Natalie Standiford, an amazing, touching story of two friends navigating the dark waters of their senior year.

New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn’t made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It’s not romance, exactly – but it’s definitely love. Still, Bea can’t quite dispel Jonah’s gloom and doom – and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

Description taken from Goodreads.


All of the books I’ve ever rated five stars are on the column to the right >, and HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT is one of them. Reading this book again because I haven’t in awhile, I was reminded of just how amazing it is. This book truly never ceases to shock, astound and amaze me at every turn.

The thing about HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT is that it is straight up contemporary. There is seriously no other way to phrase it, and if you don’t love slow-paced books, then this will probably not be the best book for you to read. Keyword: probably.

3/4 of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT is pretty slow. Bea and Jonah are quite unlike many YA main characters, and their story is an unusual one. Bea is blunt, crude and pretty quiet, but that makes her hilarious on many occasions. Jonah is extremely quiet and a loner by all definitions. Both of them can be extremely awkward at times. Their scene isn’t partying and living the high school popularity scene, but rather listening to the radio in the middle of the night, breaking into hospitals to see people they thought were dead and going out of town to have fun on their own on homecoming night.

Oh yes, and one more thing I should tell you.

*****This is NOT a contemporary romance. Bea and Jonah do not fall in love.*****

But the thing is, this book is about a relationship much more complex and deep than that. They go to and beyond the limits of friendship and the way that their relationship blossoms over the course of this book, despite the baggage on each of them, is amazing.

 

If you still are interested in reading this book, I would DEFINITELY recommend it. The way that Bea and Jonah communicate, and the way they both face their own issues in life, is told incredibly well in HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT. The radio show and the completely quirky, weird people who call into it tell an entire story of their own and has been weaved into the book seamlessly. Standiford shows the reader an ending that isn’t entirely complete, that shows that not every ending can be complete, not every ending can be happy. And I love this book for it.  So if you’re up for it, and I would highly recommend it,

Read it. Just read it.

ALL THE STARS.

pg count for the hardback: 276

ARC Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

the walled city by ryan graudin

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.


From the very beginning, it’s apparent that THE WALLED CITY is extremely rich in description and character. The world-building is stellar, even though sometimes the book doesn’t read like it’s actually set in that world. Everything and everyone is so clearly visible in my mind that this portrayal of the actual Kowloon Walled City that by the end of this story, I was completely enraptured and horrified by it all.

One of the disappointing things about this book for me is that over the course of time, that beautiful world-building writing style diminishes a little bit and description becomes minimal at times. However, when it does come back I really appreciated Graudin’s writing style in a way that I didn’t at all in her other stories and I thought she did an amazing job of portraying the Walled City.

And then there’s the characters. This book is split between three different perspectives–Jin, Mei Yee and Dai. The complete and utter lack of hope that is scattered in the minds of all the characters in at least one part of the book was nothing short of beautifully written and haunting. I loved the narrative to THE WALLED CITY and how the three perspectives tied so closely together, even when the characters were apart. I also thought that many of the moves that were made throughout the book were realistic and clever.

If I had to name a favorite character, it would probably be Mei Yee. Yes, I did love Jin’s strong personality and her desire to save her sister. I completely loved Dai and the way the romance in this story built up slowly and never overtook the need to survive. I thought his first interactions with Jin and the way that their relationship grows as well was great, but overall Mei Yee took the cake. I loved the way that she was written and truthfully, I thought that some of Graudin’s best moments came out of her through Mei Yee’s perspective and the desperate situation she was in.

There was so much to THE WALLED CITY that I loved, especially the ending. It’s definitely very hardcore and while it could constitute in some aspects as urban fantasy or some kind of the-terrible-future kind of story, it’s not technically dystopian or even sci-fi. If you’re looking for an equally haunting story that strikes much closer to home, I would recommend The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend this book.

4 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 432