Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston | Review

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston | ReviewExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 248
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

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I finished Exit, Pursued by a Bear a few days ago but I haven’t been able to properly put my thoughts into words.  I still can’t really do that but I’m going to try.

Trigger warning: As noted in the synopsis, this book deals with rape and teen pregnancy.  If those aren’t things you can handle reading about, this book is not for you.

Pros:

  • Characters:  If I had all the time in the world and I thought you guys would read a breakdown of each and every character in this book, I would give you one.  That would take so long though so I’m just going to focus on some of the key players and their strengths and weaknesses.  Hermione is obviously the most important person in Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  She is the captain of her school’s cheerleaders and she is a pretty popular girl at her school.  She’s still very down to earth though.  She knows what people think about cheerleaders and she is there to prove them all wrong. She’s smart and funny and amazingly strong.  She doesn’t just want to be another statistic but she also doesn’t want her rape and pregnancy to define who she becomes.  With the help of her family and friends, she’s willing to do what it takes to get the guy but also move on.  Her family is a huge help but it’s her best friend, Polly, who really helps her through.  Hermione and Polly are best friend goals.  They love and support each other through everything.  When Hermione can’t be strong, she has Polly.  Same goes for Polly.  The two of them love each other unconditionally.  It’s not often you see friendships like theirs portrayed in YA books but I loved seeing it.  And right now I can’t think of his name but I adored Hermione’s psychiatrist.  He was exactly what she needed.  He helped her feel like even though everything was wrong in her life, she wasn’t doing anything wrong and she was on the path to where she needed to be.  You could see that he really wanted to help her.
  • Story: I knew going in that this would be a tough story to read and I was right.  I cried so many times.  I’m glad I read it though.  Not only is Hermione raped, everyone knows about it.  It happens at cheer camp and quickly spreads around school and their small town.  She has no choice but to be faced with peoples’ pity.  She knows that she could let this be the moment that defines who she is or she can find a way to make herself known for something else, something good.  When she finds out she’s pregnant, it makes things even more difficult for her.  She never lets this stop her though.  She still cheers, gets good grades, and focuses on her future.  E.K. Johnston showed a very different side of the story than I ever expected and it showed that a terrible event doesn’t have to be the defining moment of your life.
  • Romance:  I’m just briefly going to mention this because there wasn’t much romance in Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  At the start of the book Hermione is dating fellow cheerleader, Leo, but that doesn’t last and I was happy about that.  They were not good for each other.  After the rape, Hermione is a little hesitant to have anything to do with boys her own age.  She puts up with it for cheerleading but that’s pretty much all she is doing.  However, Dion, a fellow cheerleader, is the only boy who really makes Hermione feel safe and like she might be okay with guys in the future.  Their friendship and possible romance is sweet and perfect for the story.

Overall, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is going to the top of my highly recommended list.  I know my review doesn’t even come close to doing it justice but take my word, you should read it.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Exit, Pursued by a Bear:

The Book Wars’ review: “In Exit, Pursued by a Bear, we see how the truth loses none of its potency when surrounded by people who are willing to trust in it. Highly, highly recommended!”

Pretty Deadly Reviews’ review: “This is a very different, very uplifting story about a girl coming to terms with being raped, and it is a necessary voice in a world telling girls they don’t own themselves.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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The Hating Game, Sally Thorne’s debut novel, has been generating a lot of buzz lately.  I kept seeing it mentioned on my Twitter feed so I decided to check it out.  It’s not my typical read but I ended up loving it and I’m glad I branched out a bit for this one.

Pros:

  • Characters:  Lucy and Joshua are the main characters here and honestly, there weren’t really any other characters I cared that much about.  It’s not that the others characters sucked, it’s just that Lucy and Josh really took the spotlight and their story was the one I really cared about.  Lucy seemed really carefree at first.  She was a total sweetheart but also a little bit of a pushover.  She let people (other than Josh) walk all over her.  She wanted everyone to like her and she put her own needs second because of that.  She was lonely and homesick and totally overworked.  She just hid it really well.  Josh was an ass and it was pretty easy to see that it was because he had feelings for Lucy.  I admit, I didn’t care much for Josh’s approach.  He was just another person who didn’t treat Lucy right.  Everything made more sense once more of his story came out but I still didn’t approve of his mean streak towards her.  However, that’s not to say that I didn’t still like him because I totally did.
  • Banter: Josh and Lucy may not have been nice to each other and I may have had some issues with how they treated one another but the banter between them was too perfect.  Josh may have been mean but Lucy could hold her own against him.  She always had a sassy comeback for anything he may have said.  Even as their relationship changed, the banter never did.  It was easy to see from the start that they had chemistry but it really showed when they were going back and forth in a battle of wits.  They were pretty evenly matched.
  • Romance:  I’m torn here because for a while it seemed like nothing happened but I also liked that Sally Thorne took the time to build up to their relationship.  I don’t think I would have found it as easy to believe if it just popped up at the very start of the book.  The build up was one of the best parts.  However, the sexual tension between Josh and Lucy had me wanting to shove them together from the very start.  It was just so easy to see that they needed to get together!  And boy did they ever.  If I thought they had chemistry when they were just bickering, it was 10 times better when they finally got together.

Cons:

  • There wasn’t really anything I absolutely hated about this book.  All my problems with it were already mentioned.  Yes, Josh was kind of jerk.  The secondary characters were a little non-existent and I couldn’t find much to make me care about them.  These were all little things though and they didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, The Hating Game really did impress me.  Josh and Lucy are right up there with some of my favorite couples.  I’m quite eager to see what Sally Thorne is going to do next.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Hating Game:

Harlequin Junkie’s review: “The Hating Game turned out to be quite a lovely adventure.”

Book Thingo’s review: “I’m not yet convinced this book is a keeper for me, but it gets pretty damn close.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay | Review

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay | ReviewThe Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 325
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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3 Stars

Who will be left after lights out?

At Cate's isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game- it's an elite secret society. Members must avoid being "Killed" during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the "Killer" is. When Cate's finally invited to join the Assassins' Guild, she know it's her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she's the next target?

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With a title like this one, I had some pretty high hopes.  The Assassin Game is my first time reading a book by Kirsty McKay and while it wasn’t all I had hoped for, it was enough to get me to check out some of her other books.

Pros:

  • Mystery: There were times when I totally thought about setting aside The Assassin Game and adding it to my short list of DNFs.  I admit, there were times when I was just plain bored.  Things moved at a slow pace with this one.  However, I could not stop reading this one because there were so many things I still needed to know.  Yes, there was a killer in the game but there was also someone attempting to kill people in real life too.  And let me tell you, I didn’t have a clue who either killer was.  These kids were pretty ruthless and they each wanted to be the last one standing at the end of the Game.  They were willing to do a lot of stuff in the name of the Game and it looked like someone was taking the Game a little too far.

Cons:

  • Pacing: I already mentioned this briefly but the pace of this one was ridiculously slow.  I honestly felt like nothing happened for the first half of the book.  The synopsis tells you about someone taking the Game a bit literally and trying to kill people but the first attempt doesn’t even happen until halfway through the book.  The first half just focuses on Cate and her many romantic entanglements as well as the progression of the Game.  I was extremely bored with that.  Which brings me to my next point.
  • Characters: I was not impressed with any of these characters.  Cate, for instance, was immature and obsessed with the Game.  I think she saw it as a way of fitting in which was something she had always been trying to achieve.  She was the kid that wasn’t really supposed to be at Umfraville but since her family owned the island she got to attend the school.  Everyone there was snobby and rich and she didn’t feel like she belonged with any of them except maybe Marcia and Daniel.  Also, she may have considered those two friends but they were anything but.  Marcia was self-centered and totally not there for Cate at all.  Daniel, on the other hand, was completely obsessed with her.  He was creepy.  As for Alex and Vaughn, Cate’s other possible love interests, I wasn’t really impressed with either of them.  Alex was the popular guy who was a total player but for some reason, Cate never wanted him.  They hooked up once and that was the end for her.  Vaughn was her childhood friend who reappeared after years and they immediately fell for each other.  I didn’t really have any problems with the two of them together but I didn’t feel any sort of investment in their relationship.
  • Writing: I wasn’t terribly upset with the writing in The Assassin Game but I was far from impressed with it.  It was very stilted and straightforward.  I felt like I was being told everything outright rather than having things shown to me through descriptions.  It was a really dull way of telling this story.

Overall, The Assassin Game may not have a lot of pros going for it but it was an entertaining enough story for me.  It’s not something I’ll ever re-read but it was a good mystery for a rainy day.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Assassin Game:

Flavia the Bibliophile’s review: “McKay did an exceptional job at keeping me guessing until the very end, and I commend her for that!”

The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh!’s review: “Overall, this is a case of a fun book that would NEVER happen in real life.”

Novelgossip’s review: “I had hoped that there would be some originality in this one, but alas I was left disappointed and irritated.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal | Review

Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal | ReviewHurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal
Published by Aw Teen on May 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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2 Stars

For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he's now silent and angry. When their evacuation route is gridlocked, River is the first to recognize the danger they're in. Together he and Jillian set out to seek shelter in their abandoned high school. As they wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is about more than just staying alive it's about fighting for yourself."

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Oh how I wanted to love Hurricane Kiss.  I don’t know what it was about this book but I was really drawn to it (despite the embarrassing cover).  I figured this would be a quick, fun read with some good secrets and romance.  It was quick but that was about all I got right about this one.

Pros:

  • Pacing: Let’s be real here; the only good thing about Hurricane Kiss was that it didn’t take long to read.  It was slow to start but once I got about 40 pages in, things took off.  It’s pretty clear from the summary what you’re getting into as far as the hurricane and the survival part of the story.  I will admit that I was so not impressed with the time spent in the car trying to get out of Houston but once River and Jillian took off on their own, things really started to move.  Survival stories always intrigue me while also creeping me out.  Hurricane Kiss definitely did both of those things.  I have to say that that is probably one of the main reasons I didn’t just give up on this one.  I wanted to see what would happen to River and Jillian and everyone else in their lives.  If nothing else, the story is very captivating.

Cons:

  • Characters:  I felt nothing for River or Jillian.  Jillian was judgmental and very closed off.  River was tortured and messed up and every other thought in his head was about how bad he was for everyone around him.  Put them together and they were not any better.  And don’t get me started on their parents.  Jillian’s mom would rather stay behind to report than take her kids to safety.  Sure she sends them off with someone else so they aren’t trapped in Houston with her but I could not believe that any mom would do that.  As for River’s dad, he didn’t even like his son.  He wasn’t willing to listen to him and he just believed what everyone else had to say about him.  Then he let him run off (literally, run off) in the middle of an evacuation.  He didn’t try to stop him or go after him.  What kind of dad does that?  So yeah, while I disliked both Jillian and River, I disliked their parents even more.
  • Romance: Can you say insta-love that is totally based on looks alone?  Maybe there was more to it than that but all it seemed these two ever thought about was how attractive the other was.  I couldn’t see any other good reason they might be interested in each other.  They had nothing in common (except for the single parent thing) and to make matters worse, Jillian had a boyfriend!  Yeah, she didn’t feel much for him but that doesn’t mean she should just go for another guy without breaking up with him.
  • Story: There were two parts of the story that I just couldn’t get behind.  One: I don’t think Jillian and River would have survived the storm.  They holed up in their high school and they weren’t prepared at all.  They stayed in rooms with windows (isn’t that a big no-no during tornadoes and hurricanes), they had almost no food, and they kept going out into the storm for completely stupid reasons.  Oh and when the roof would collapse or windows would shatter, instead of just leaving it alone, they would go to check it out.  That makes a lot of sense.  The second part was River’s story about what happened to land him in juvie and his time in juvie.  His dad is ex-military.  I find it hard to believe that he just took the schools word for his sons actions and didn’t fight him getting sent to juvie.  Then there were the stories about what happened at juvie.  I know I have never spent any time in a juvenile detention facility but it seems like beating them, drugging them senseless, and feeding them food crawling with worms would be frowned upon and easily discovered.  What do I know though?

Overall, Hurricane Kiss is not something I’d recommend reading.  I could go on and on about this book but I’m going to stop here.  I’m just really happy it was a quick read and I didn’t waste too much time with this one.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Hurricane Kiss:

A Belle’s Tales’ review: “I really enjoyed Hurricane Kiss; it was a fast read, and the writing and characters were captivating.”

The Reader and the Chef’s review: “All in all, I believe Hurricane Kiss will attract readers in search of books inspired by events as real as natural disasters, brooding hot guys with a dark past, personal obstacles, light romance, and revelations until the very end of the book.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt | Review

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt | ReviewUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrar, Straus on January 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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5 Stars

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

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I’ve always been the queen of contemporary but it’s not often that I find a contemporary novel that I adore.  That was the case with Underwater.  Marisa Reichardt’s debut novel completely blew me away.

I’m always a big fan of books that are fast paced and have a lot going on.  Underwater is not one of those books but it’s got a lot of other things going for it.  Marisa Reichardt’s writing is phenomenal.  It seemed a little wordy at first but once I got reading, I saw how it made everything come together.  The writing style just worked for this story.  Marisa Reichardt’s writing managed to capture exactly how Morgan felt after the school shooting and convey them perfectly for readers.  It took very little time for me to feel like I could understand exactly what Morgan was going through and how she was feeling.  It takes real talent to make that happen in such a short period of time.

The events that led to Morgan’s agoraphobia (I think that’s pretty much what she had) were a mystery for most of the book.  Readers can tell early on in the book what happened at the school that day but it’s not so obvious why it affected Morgan the way it did.  While other survivors embraced life and decided to take chances, Morgan did the opposite.  She shut herself away from everything that could hurt her, including other people.  Evan, her new neighbor, forces Morgan to reevaluate her choices and actually consider coming out of her apartment for the first time in months.  Evan was a total sweetheart.  He didn’t know what Morgan was like before the shooting but he quickly came to care for her, even with her quirks.  And honestly, Morgan’s quirks made me like her even more.  Sure I felt for her from the start but I only grew to really like her once I started to understand exactly what she thought about herself, the shooting, the shooter, and what her future might hold.

To some, Underwater might seem a little slow and a little lacking in action.  I did mention earlier that that is normally what draws me too a book but I didn’t mind the pace or the lack of action in Underwater.  There was some mystery (not much) which did keep my interest piqued but it was the characters that really kept me reading this one.  Like I said earlier, I felt emotionally connected to Morgan from the start so I never once considered putting Underwater down because of it’s pace.  I do think it’s a good thing to know going in though that Underwater is not necessarily a book you are going to be able to power through and read in an hour or two.  Take your time with this one.  It’s worth it.

I also really loved all the family dynamics in Underwater.  Morgan lived with her mom and little brother and they were all very close.  Her mom was extremely understanding about Morgan’s condition and her little brother was adorable.  Evan was also very close to his mom and aunt.  There wasn’t a ton of interaction shown between them but it was easy to see how they cared for each other and helped each other out.

Overall, Underwater is a fantastic debut that I can’t help but recommend.  I look forward to seeing what Marisa Reichardt does next.

What others are saying about Underwater:

My Friends Are Fiction’s review: “What a beautifully developed and executed debut Underwater was.”

bookstacked’s review: “Everything about this story was amazing: the writing, the theme, the dialogue, but one of my favorite things about this story was the underlying message. The message that having hope is one of the best things in the world.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

With Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley | Review

With Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley | ReviewWith Every Breath (Wanderlust #1) by Lia Riley
Published by Forever on December 29th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
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3 Stars

BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.

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Oh new adult novels, you can be so cheesy.  With Every Breath fits in that category but I must say that I found myself enjoying my first foray into Lia Riley’s works.  It’s a fast-paced read that you can probably read in one sitting if you really want to.  It’s cute and will definitely leave you with a smile on your face.

Pros:

  • Story: I loved both Auden and Rhys’ stories.  Auden is an aspiring journalist who doesn’t have much to show so far in life.  She’s lived in the shadow of her twin sister and she feels that it’s finally time to get out there and create some stories of her own.  Rhys has lived more than most people.  He’s a professional mountaineer who is looking for redemption at the top of La Aguja.  Both Auden and Rhys are looking for something at La Aguja.  What they find isn’t exactly what they set out for but it proves to be exactly what they need.  There were some surprising twists in each of their stories and I liked that I could be kept guessing.
  • Characters: Auden is probably one of my favorite new adult protagonists.  Her life hasn’t been easy but she’s not a depressed or pessimistic person.  She’s funny and quirky and a lot of fun.  From the moment I was first introduced to her, I knew I’d be able to relate.  She’s not very outspoken and she’s afraid to ask for help.  All that changes when she meets Rhys.  He’s someone who doesn’t know her and she can be whoever she wants to be around him.  She was looking for the chance to change and he was the perfect opportunity.  As for Rhys, what can I say, I have a thing for the brooding ones.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s Scottish.  Even in my head I could hear that accent.  He was very closed off and that didn’t change the second he met Auden.  He didn’t really have a choice but to help her out.  His past was much darker than Auden’s and I could see that he thought his future was going to be too.  He had to work hard to open up to her and trust did not come easy from him.

Cons:

  • Ending: The ending felt really rushed to me.  I remember looking down at the page count on my ereader and wondering how everything could be wrapped up in so few pages.  I felt that once Auden and Rhys reached the camp at La Aguja everything just sped up and came tumbling out.  Things were revealed and resolved in just a few pages.  I didn’t see how that fit with either character.  I also felt that the biggest thing that happened in the whole book just got glanced over.  It’s a huge thing that impacted both Auden and Rhys and it was barely mentioned.  I don’t know if the next book in the series will address it at all but I really hope so.
  • Dialogue:  Dialogue is what usually gets me in new adult novels and that was the case with this one too.  Rhys is this brooding mountaineer who supposedly uses women for his own purposes but when he meets Auden he acts like this lovestruck teenager.  Sure he sometimes acts rather rude but most of the time he’s super romantic and sweet, even in his head.  I just couldn’t put that with my idea of Rhys as he had been described previously.

Overall, With Every Breath is an enjoyable read if you are just looking for something fun and mindless.  It’s not the best new adult but it’s definitely not the worst either.  I have a feeling I’ll continue with this series and check out more of Lia Riley’s books.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about With Every Breath:

Romancing the Book’s review: “Emotions are high throughout and I shed some tears along with a few laughs.”

Harlequin Junkie’s review: “With Every Breath is a fun, enjoyable, slightly angsty read that I highly recommend especially if you’re interested in an at-home trip to South America.”

Stories Unfolded’s review: “Every new book I read of Lia’s makes me more of a fan and she’s getting another thumbs up from me on this one.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Vial Things (Resurrectionist #1) by Leah Clifford | Review

Vial Things (Resurrectionist #1) by Leah Clifford | ReviewVial Things by Leah Clifford
Series: Resurrectionist #1
on August 9, 2016
Genres: Horror
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

When the resurrectionists of Fissure's Whipp begin disappearing, eighteen-year-old Allie knows someone is after their blood—or, more accurately, the genetic mutation that allows their blood to heal wounds, save lives and even bring back the recently deceased.

Raised by her aunt after her parents' deaths, Allie knows staying vigilant means staying alive. She's trained her whole life to protect herself by any means necessary, from self defense classes to extensive weapons training in knives. Now, she’s gone so far as to befriend a homeless boy named Ploy who unknowingly trades a few nights a week on her couch in exchange for being a human tripwire to those hunting her.

But as Allie and Ploy's feelings for each other grow, Allie realizes this time, she'll need more than fighting skills and a sharp blade to beat a villain literally out for blood.

Protecting a girl he shouldn’t love, from a threat he understands too well, Ploy must face his past to save his future in Allie’s world—a world where bringing back the dead can cost you your life.

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve read a book from Leah Clifford but it didn’t take long for me to remember why I loved her first series.  Vial Things is the start of her new Resurrectionist series and while it definitely gave me the same vibe as her Touch trilogy, it really captured my attention with it’s unique new story.

Vial Things is the story of Allie, a teen resurrectionist trying to escape her gift.  She doesn’t mind the whole bringing people back to life thing but she doesn’t like that her family uses it as a way to make money.  She decided that the easiest way to deal with it was to leave it all behind.  That plan is a good one until resurrectionists start turning up dead.  Allie knows that someone is hunting them and she isn’t safe just because she doesn’t use her gift.  She teams up with a homeless boy named Ploy and together they set out to make things safe for the resurrectionists again.

Pros:

  • Characters: I knew I was going to like Allie from the start.  Yes she was closed off but that wasn’t really by her choice.  The only people in her life who knew what she was capable of wouldn’t accept her once she stopped using her ability.  She found it hard to trust others and she didn’t exactly have an easy time of making friends.  I found her to be really likable, even if she didn’t show a whole lot of emotion.  She was lonely and that was something that is so easy to relate to.  That loneliness didn’t stop her from being a total bad-ass though.  She was strong and fierce and willing to do what it took to survive.  Ploy was similar to Allie in a lot of ways.  He was homeless and not exactly fit for the streets.  It was easy to see that no matter how he acted, he wasn’t always as brave as he seemed.  Allie was a friend to him; one of the only ones he had.  He had secrets from her, that’s for sure but so did she.  They were both using each other for different reasons but as they used each other they got to know each other and started to genuinely like one another.  Neither of them were completely trustworthy and there were times when I questioned what exactly one or the other was going to do but that’s one of the things that kept me hooked and on the edge of my seat.
  • Backstory: The science behind the resurrectionists did confuse me at times but it was really interesting.  The ability isn’t something that everyone gets and it’s not something that just comes out of nowhere.  It’s a genetic thing that manifests in some children but not all.  As this is the start of a series, I understand that I probably didn’t get everything there is to know about the resurrectionists but I look forward to finding out more.  There was so much about the family dynamics that I feel like I didn’t get and I hope to find out more about that as Allie learns more about being part of a group of resurrectionists.
  • Pacing: The story moves along at a rather quick pace.  There isn’t ever really a time when you’ll want to step away from the story.  Things are constantly happening and new information is being learned at all times.  I had a hard time stepping away from Vial Things once I was really able to sit down and start reading.  It’s one of those books that hooks you early on and doesn’t let you go until the last page has been read.

Overall, Vial Things needs to be on your radar, if it’s not already.  Leah Clifford has a way with the dark and morbid and scary and I love it.  I look forward to reading more in this series.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Vial Things:

Insane About Books’ review: “The words disappeared as I read this story, and I found the building of this story  with anticipation and mystery completely brilliant.”

Novelknight’s review: “This is going on my recommendations list for the September newsletter (a little late for August unfortunately).”

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What I’ve Been Reading

I spent my blogging hiatus doing a lot of reading.  Let me tell you, it was pretty nice just to read whatever the heck I wanted and not have to worry about writing a review or posting on Twitter or the blog.  I was able to really power through some of the books on my shelves and I am pretty proud of myself for that.  I definitely think blogging became my number one priority for a while and the books actually got pushed to the side.  Sure I’d read them but I read what I felt like I needed to read for the blog and I spent way more time focusing on what to post rather than what I was actually reading.  It happens.  My goal this time around is to not do that.  That may mean less posts or posts of a different variety but hey, I can do what I want here!

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Obviously I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  I started it the second I got my hands on it and read half in one sitting.  I really wanted to savor it since it will be the last Harry Potter book but that didn’t happen.  I’m happy that I got to read more of Harry’s story and find out what became of the wizarding world but it couldn’t measure up to the originals.  I will definitely see the play if I ever get the chance to though.

Broken Prince is the second book in the Royals series and these books are so addicting.  I am dying for book 3 right now.  Paper Princess is the first book (which I reviewed here) which I read a couple months ago.  I picked up Broken Prince the day it came out and I regret that a little because, like Paper Princess, it totally has a cliffhanger ending.  Erin Watt needs to stop doing this to me!

I read the most recent book in the Charley Davidson series from Darynda Jones and was looking for something similar. I found that in the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill. And then I promptly read all 12 books.  Whoops.  Now I’m impatiently waiting for the 13th and final book in the series.  If you love snarky women who are majorly badass, you’ll love Merit.  Oh and Ethan’s not bad either.  Seriously though, you should probably check these books out.  Clearly they are addicting.

Those are just some of the books I’ve been reading this summer.  I did read some books I picked up at BEA and even some of my egalleys but I’m going to save those for a later post.

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any books similar to these to recommend to me?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What the heck has become of this community?

My title seems pretty self-explanatory.  This is pretty much just me ranting so if that’s not what you want to read, you should probably stop reading this post now.  You have been warned!

If you read my last post or have paid any attention to the blog, you know I have taken a break from blogging.  Part of it was stress and lack of time and part of it was because I honestly just got fed up with how I’ve seen book bloggers acting this past year.  I’m sure it’s not just book bloggers but since those are pretty much the only people I pay attention to online, it’s really noticeable to me.

It seems like every time I login to Twitter, it’s a competition.  Let’s be real here, blogging has always been about the books and no matter what people say, it’s always been about the ARCs for some.  You can see who those people are just by logging in and checking out the BooksForTrade hashtag on Twitter.  That started out as a great way to spread the ARCs around and clean off your shelves but that is not what it has become.  It’s almost impossible to trade books now because people have wishlists of books that aren’t even available.  People want only specific ARCs of either much older books or books that haven’t even had ARCs made yet.  They also are only willing to trade their books for those specific books.  Then there are the people who go to conferences and get really popular books and then post them on the hashtag.  Pretty sure that’s not what those conferences are for but what do I know, I’ve only been attending them for the past 5 years.

Here’s another thing that the BooksForTrade hashtag really brought to my attention: the lust for ARCs.  What the heck?  I can understand wanting an ARC of your favorite book but I don’t see the need to have ARCs for every popular series out there.  It’s pretty easy to see who wants the ARC for their collection and who wants it just to show the rest of the world that they have it.  If your wishlist consists of nothing but really popular books and in ARC format, good luck with that.  Pretty sure you’re completely missing the point of not only the hashtag but the whole reading thing in general.  Don’t get me wrong though, if I thought I could trade someone for a Harry Potter ARC, I’d put my firstborn child up for trade.

I swear this next part is my last little rant but I have got to say something about Instagram or as us bloggers know it, bookstagram.  I used to love going on Instagram to see what books people had bought or received or were reading but I can’t really stand it much anymore.  Every other post is sponsored by someone or something and the posts that aren’t sponsored are trying really hard to get sponsors.  For something called bookstagram, it doesn’t seem to focus much on the books anymore.  Most of the pictures that are supposedly about books focus more on the accessories or props that are with the books in the photo.  And don’t even get me started about the books.  It’s clear which books are popular at the moment and those are pretty much the only books you are going to see photos of on Instagram.  It’s well known that the popular books are the ones that get the most likes in photos.  Why would anyone post photos of lesser known books if they know they aren’t going to get them more likes or followers.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me about the things posted here but this is my blog and these are my thoughts.  This is how I feel and it’s a big reason why I took such a step back from social media.  I know these are very generalized statements and I’m not saying that everyone does this.  There are bookstagrammers that I adore and people who use the BooksForTrade hashtag for its original purpose.  It just seems like everyone wants what other people have. When did it stop being about being grateful for what we do have?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Things Are Changing Around Here

Hey!  Look who it is!  Yeah, I know, I suck as a blogger.  You would think that with it being summer, I would have plenty of time to read and you’d be right.  I have been reading.  I just haven’t been blogging.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve actually been reading more than ever before.  I lowered my Goodreads goal this year because I just didn’t think I would be able to read more than 100 books.  I’m now at 80 books which puts me 20 books ahead of schedule.  Deciding to back off from the blog and social media has done wonders for my reading time.  It has also done wonders for my happiness.  Blogging is stressful work.  It used to be a bunch of fun and I’d come home from work and look forward to just working on the blog.  That stopped being the case a while ago.  I kept thinking about coming back to blogging and I’d start to work on a post and just give up.  It held no appeal to me.  I mean, it has been almost 8 years.  I figured I’d get tired of it way before now.

However, that’s not to say that I’m done.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately just thinking about life and my priorities.  I spent so much time this summer focusing on other people and I finally decided it’s time to just do what I want.  That means I’ll be blogging again but it probably won’t be like it was before.  I’m not going back to review all the books I read while I was taking a little blogging break.  I will probably mention them around here or on Twitter or Goodreads but that is way too much work and I’m not about that right now.  I want to bring the fun back to my blog.  I really miss the way blogging used to be for me and it’s time I got that joy back in my life.

So that’s it.  I will see you guys around here and on Twitter and probably even on Instagram though I admit that I’m pretty lazy with that one.  I’ve missed blogging and I really look forward to jumping back in and seeing where things go!