{Review} Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Pages: 310
Publication date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
How I got the copy: Library
Rating:  3 Stars
From Goodreads:
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

    The first time I ever laid eyes on this cover I got chills.  It's so creepy and definitely what my nightmares are made of.  But sadly, it wasn't scary at all.  Upon reading the last sentence of the book I was left thinking "this is not what I signed up for".  Where were the creepy ghosts that I was promised on the cover?

{ARC Review} The Dollhouse Asylum

Pages: 296
Publication date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
How I got the copy: from Spencer Hill Press for review (Thank you!)
Rating:  3 Stars
From Goodreads:
A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields--a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus--she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.

At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne's heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.

The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now "Persephone," and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.

If they play it right, then they'll be safe.

But if they play it wrong, they'll die.

    I won't lie.  My first thought about rating this was one star.  But after really thinking about what I didn't like in this story I could only come up with one thing that would push me to rate it one star.  And that is the main character Cheyenne.  Oh how I wanted to shake her into reality.

Cheyenne had Bella Syndrome.  She's blindly in love and doesn't care about anyone else except her lover.  When she's kidnapped she's not concerned that he used chloroform on her.  When he pushes her she thinks she deserves it.  She doesn't even care about her mom dying from the virus or being eaten alive.  And sadly, I could go on.  I thought once she realized Teo was a bad person she'd stop liking him.  But no.  He still gave her the tingly swoons.  And I could have respected her if she still cared about him after he shows his true colors.  I mean they did sort of date(ish) for a year so of course she would want him to get better right?  Wrong.  She doesn't care about him at all, but yet she still wants to make babies with him.  Oh and now she wants to make babies with another character too. On top of that, the world has ended and all she can think about is who she wants to kiss more.  I tend to like character development more than plot development so when I don't like a character it makes me not like the book.  So while I recognize Cheyenne had to have these flaws for there to be conflict in the plot I just couldn't get past her personality.   

If Cheyenne hadn't been the main character I think I would have rated this four or five stars.  The plot was phenomenal.  The idea of each couple being a tragic literary couple was brilliance.  I loved watching their stories unfold like the original stories.  Zombies were reinvented in this story and the world was really creepy.  The only complaint I have is that the ending felt really rushed and like it was too convenient how it all wrapped up.  [Highlight for spoiler] plus why wouldn't their parents try to save them?  That didn't seem realistic.

Marcus was another part of the book that made me want to rate this higher.  He had a lot of layers and was sweet.  It was awesome to see the nice guy getting some attention for once (even if it's only after the hot one turns evil).  And he seemed realistic.  He had some skeletons in his closet.  

What I really loved was Teo.  He was so sick and twisted and unlike any other villain I've ever read.  I didn't love him like I love Warner from Shatter Me.  But it's more I was just shocked by his pure evilness.  Literally no character was safe from Teo's wrath and the anticipation and suspense of who he would attack next kept me on the edge of my seat.  

Stacking the Shelves/Sunday Post #43

 The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by  Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Both are a chance to share what books you got this week, what happened on your blog last week, and what is to come next week.
Here's what the Book BFFs got this month.

Review and Bucket List: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

This book inspired me to make a bucket list.  I already sort of started one, but I was never serious about it.  I had goals on there that seemed really unreachable.

But then my brother in law was saying he made a 30 things to do in his 30th year (bc he's turning the big 3-0 in a few weeks).  And he put goals that were attainable.  It made me really want to try this.  I'm one of those people that's pretty much content staying in on a Friday night reading so this may just be what I need to get out there and face the things that scare me, but that I've always wanted to do.

Here's my bucket list.  It's a mix of things I want to try to do soon and things I plan to do before I die.

1. Visit Italy (Sicily where my ancestors are from)
2. Swim with dolphins
3. Meet Sarah Dessen and Jennifer L. Armentrout
4. Open a bakery
5. Publish a book
6. Become a Zumba Instructor
7. Start a charity or at least run an event for one
8. Go to BEA and/or ALA
9. Try Sushi
10. Get a puppy
11. Drive down to South Carolina to visit my friend
12. Go to Disney (or more importantly Harry Potter World)
13. Read 150 books in a year (Last year and this year I only seemed to read about 100).
14. Go to a NFL football game
15. Learn to make granny squares and chevron in crocheting
16. Have a daughter and give her my grandma Jo's (Josie) name as a middle name.
17. Complete NaNoWriMo project
18. Learn how to ballroom or cha cha dance (in heels).
19. Get a tattoo
20. See another professional ballet, but this time sit in seats (not standing)
21. Learn how to play guitar
22. Sing Karaoke
*23. Do a random act of kindness one day for a year (stole this idea from the book!)
24. Write a thank you letter to my first grade teacher who got me into reading and helped me when I struggled.
25. Raise $1,000+ and awareness for Crohn's Disease.
26. Take a cake decorating class
27. Take a photography class
28. Read at least one nonfiction book a month
29. Get back into drawing (draw something once a month)
30. Get purposely lost and explore a new area (then use the gps to get home)
31. Run a race
32. Try Yoga
33. Meditate for 10 minutes everyday for a year
34. See a meteor shower
35. Go on a road trip
36. Finish all the series I've started (ya right)
37. Have a library in my house (or craft room with big bookshelf & comfy chair)
38. White Water Raft
39. Meet my Book BFFs in real life (Idk why I didn't think of this one sooner)
40. Get bangs
41. Donate my hair to locks of love
42. Wear something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
43. Visit Australia
44. Ride a horse
45. See a drive in movie
46. Try cooking a new gluten free meal a week.
47. Be part of a flash mob
48. Get a reading from the Long Island Medium
49. Ice skate in central park
50. Live somewhere else (another state or country)

Heres' my Bookish Bucket List too.

I loved this book and am so thankful Rie recommended it to me.  It had me laughing and swooning and got me excited about life again.  The writing was just perfect.  I wanted to savor the words and often reread paragraphs just to enjoy the fluidity and poeticness of them.  I recommend this book to EVERYONE!  Seriously, go read it.

{Excerpt} The Dollhouse Asylum

Here's an excerpt from The Dollhouse Asylum which comes out October 22 and is a great creepy Halloween read.  
There has never been a more evil villain than Teo.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Gruff fingers yank a blindfold off my face, light splashes into my eyes, and I blink. Gray walls swim about my head, and the ceiling soars much too high above me. I don’t know this place. I was walking to my bathroom when someone grabbed me from behind and forced a sour-smelling cloth over my face and—someone grapples with my hair, and I flinch. Who—who is touching me?
I try turning in the flimsy chair, but someone’s grabbing my shoulders, forcing me not to move. Spasms of fear shoot up and down my arms and legs. I try swinging my fists to make them loosen their grip, but my captor’s fingers only tighten.
Raising my arm to jab my captor in the gut, I pause. Someone’s laughing. How do I know that sound? It’s beautiful and low, a laugh I could recognize anywhere. Glancing around the sun-filled room, I find the source almost immediately. It’s Teo, my Teo, standing across from me on the hardwood floor, beaming at me. His ebony eyes shine forth like two onyx stones, and even his olive-toned skin makes me breathe a bit shallower. Choking back a strangled laugh—no one’s here to hurt me—I reach out for the love of my life, too tongue-tied to say anything.
His lips spread into a thin smile, reminding me of his mouth melting into my own. Fire raged beneath my skin with that kiss and it felt like I was lifted up into the air and floating. It’s been six days since our kiss and we still haven’t been able to talk about it. I tried repeatedly to go into his classroom, but it was like our school had purposely decided to schedule a more than average number of parent-teacher meetings.
Locking his eyes on mine, Teo asks, “Manicure?”
I glance down at my fingernails, trying to see why he would think I needed a manicure, when my shoulders are released and pale, icy fingers grip my hand. Chills run through me.
A flat, tenor voice says, “Yes.” And I’m startled to see my fingernails are actually painted. Clear and shiny.
The fingers drop my hand, and my captor walks around to face me. White uniform, white skin, white hair. He’s albino. Who is he?

Blog Tour Stops!

Top Ten Tuesday #31

Hosted by: Jamie from Broke and the Bookish

This Week's List:
August 13: Top Ten Books I Was Forced 
(or encouraged) To Read:

1. Golden was chosen as our Book BFF book of the month one time and even though I didn't want to read it at first, I ended up loving it!
2. Angela told me to read Shark Bait and I'm so glad I listened to her!
3. My big in the sorority gave me the first Sookie Stackhouse book and got me hooked on that series and tv show.
4. Melina raved about Monument 14 so I decided to read it because I had book 2 already that I'd won from a giveaway.

NaNoWriMo and Warm Up!

When most people think of November they picture pilgrams and turkeys.  But not us nerds.  Nope.  We think of 50,000 words.  I'm proud to say I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month this year to complete a manuscript in 30 days.  

If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is don't worry.  I hadn't heard about it until last year, but basically it's this genius idea someone invented to get writers who procrastinate (like me) to actually complete a novel.  Everyone motivates each other to write 1,667 words a day.  And by November 30th you've got a book.

Now, I kinda want a book longer than 50,000 words because I have a lot to say (I've got a plot within a plot sorta).  So when I found NaNoWarmUp I did a little happy dance.
I'll be able to get a good chunk of my novel done before the big event even starts!  A little appetizer if you will.  Plus I already had a brainstorming session with my cousin so I've got my plot, setting, and characters all mapped out already for the most part.

Dewey's 24 hr Readathon Goals and Updates

The last time I stayed up 24 hrs was probably Relay For Life a few years ago.  And by hr 24 I was not a fun person to be around.  So I haven't decided if I want to do the full readathon.
 But what matters is that I'm taking part in the Dewey Readathon at all!
I knew I'd need lots of caffeine and snacks to keep me awake so I made a video to show everyone what I plan to read and eat today!
2pm: halfway through Asylum by Madeleine Roux and it's pretty good so far.  It's Pretty Little Liars meets Shutter Island.  That's the only way I can describe it.

7pm: Finished Asylum!  It was really fast paced and confusing but so good!  I'm gonna start Goodbye Rebel Blue now.

Mini Challenges:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Girl of Fire and Thorns!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Muddy Buddy Mix!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
This is the first year I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
It's my first Dewey's Readathon.  I'm most excited to talk with other bloggers.  I love events like these because they bring us all together.  And of course the snack...who doesn't love readathon snacks?

Favorite Book Trailer:
I haven't read this one yet, but I really want to after seeing this:

Out of all the books I've read so far in 2013

5 Tips on How To Get Out of a Reading Rut

Sometimes we get into reading slumps.  It happens and it's normal.  I've developed some techniques that help me trudge through these ruts.  Especially with the end of the year sneaking up on us.  Gotta get our Goodreads goals accomplished!

1. Ask your friend to pick a book for you to read.

Every month the Book BFFs do a feature where we randomly assign each other a BFF and then pick a book for them to read that month based on what we know about their reading tastes.  Sometimes your friends know you better than yourself and will pick a book that'll get you out of your slump.

2. Reread a favorite
@CelineNYX suggested this one to me recently and it's great advice.  Sometimes we just need to remember why we love reading so much.  And the best way to do that is to go on an adventure we already know we will enjoy.  Jennifer L. Armentrout, Sarah Dessen, and JK Rowling are my go to authors.
3. Try a really hyped up book
CAUTION: this may backfire.  I did this once and was lucky.  I picked up Shadow and Bone when I was not in the mood to read.  I had heard such great things and decided what the heck.  Luckily it was an amazing read.  But I think most of the time hype is true so if you pick something that bloggers you trust loved chances are you'll love it too.

4. Watch BookTubers
I'm once again advocating for BookTube.  Whenever I'm in a slump if I watch some people gush about how much they love books it makes me want to read.  Sometimes our love for reading is contagious.

5. Take a break
This sounds counter productive, but really sometimes we just need a break.  Book bloggers are not robots and I think we forget that because we feel like there's such little time and so many books to read. But sometimes recharging your battery so to speak will do you some good.  After a big readathon I tend to take a week to just catch up on tv and relax.  It really works!

What are your tips for getting out of a slump?

Top Ten Tuesday #30

Hosted by: Jamie from Broke and the Bookish

This Week's List:
August 13: Top Ten Best/Worst series enders

My favorite series enders were ones that wrapped up everything nicely and gave me all the answers I wanted.  Even if a character I loved died I was still content with the ending.

My least favorite series endings were the ones that didn't answer any of my questions or just seemed like a filler book (Sookie Stackhouse #13).  I just remember being very disappointed with those five.  I still enjoyed them, but I was left wanting more.

What are your picks?

{Review} Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Pages: 310
Publication date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
How I got the copy: ARCycling for review 
Rating:  4 Stars
From Goodreads:
As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

    I've never read Hansel and Gretel, but I knew the base of the story.  Two kids are lost in the forest leaving a trail of breadcrumbs and find the candy house with the witch inside that wants to eat them.  I wasn't sure how Jackson was going to be able to make this into a YA friendly retelling.  somehow she took this really disturbing story and made it fun and entertaining.  And yet she captured that dark and creepy tone that made it feel true to the original tale.

     Gretchen's character really grew during the story.  I'm such a fan of character development so I was very happy to see this progress over time.  What I did find odd was her strange trust in Sophia, the chocolatier.  As someone who was so scared of the witch, why would she trust a complete stranger especially when things started getting weird?

    But with that said, I found myself trusting Sophia too.  I wanted to like her even when things started making her seem shady.  I wish I had read Sisters Red first because I feel like I wasn't understanding everything that was going on.  Also, for anyone who has read this.  Is the chocolate supposed to have magical powers?  I was really confused by the confidence inducing chocolate oranges.  This was definitely a page turner and probably my favorite retelling so far. 

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