Monday, January 11, 2016

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + GiveawayZero Day by Jan Gangsei
on January 12th 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn't know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?

My Thoughts:

Zero Day is one of those books that automatically got added to my TBR when I read the synopsis.  I didn’t care about other reviews, that the author was a debut, none of that.  Suspense featuring the daughter of the President of the United States who also happens to be a kidnapping victim?  I was sold.  Jan Gangsei’s debut novel surprised me in many ways and was definitely worth the read.

Pros:

  • Suspense: The suspense in Zero Day was strong.  I grew up reading James Patterson, Harlan Coben, and many other adult crime writers that were fabulous at suspense.  I’ve only found that same caliber in a few young adult authors so I was a bit skeptical going into this one.  While I did manage to guess a few things, it was usually only right before they were about to be revealed anyway so it didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
  • Romance: I was iffy about this romance for a while.  Darrow and Addie grew up together and Darrow pretty much held himself responsible for Addie’s kidnapping.  He was also 9-years-old at the time so there really wasn’t anything he could have done but try telling him that.  When Addie is returned, he pretty much automatically has feelings for her.  I couldn’t tell if it was because of what they went through or not but he grew on me and I liked seeing him with Addie.  As for Addie’s side of the relationship, it was really hard to judge.  If you read the book you’ll understand what I mean but her personality was so odd that I had a hard time telling if she meant things or if she was attempting to play someone.  I wanted her to like Darrow and at times I felt that she did but other times I was a bit hesitant.  It was odd.
  • Characters: Where do I even begin with these characters?  I have some really mixed feelings about some of them but overall I loved the development of them and the complexities to all of them.  Just look at Addie.  She was all over the place with her feelings and thoughts.  I couldn’t tell from page to page what was coming next with her.  She obviously went through a ton of crazy stuff in the eight years that she was held captive but that wasn’t really what fascinated me about her.  I wanted to know more about what motivated her when she got home.  You will understand what I mean if you read the book.  Her parents were both good parents and bad ones.  They cared so much about public opinion and they couldn’t see how that was affecting their daughters.  Then again, they would spend private time with them and be completely wonderful.  I guess that’s how politics works.  And I won’t spoil anything about Addie’s captors but I will say that they were seriously messed up.  Very twisted.
  • Setting: I don’t know if it’s so much the setting that I loved but what comes along with the setting.  A lot of the story takes place in and around the White House and also at Addie and Darrow’s very classy high school.  Taking a peek inside the world of the offspring of high up government officials was really interesting.  I can’t tell you how accurate it is but I enjoyed it.  I love reading about the lifestyles of the rich and famous so that definitely appealed to me.

Pro/Con:

  • Story: The story had good and bad things going for it.  I loved the idea of the story but the execution left some things to be desired.  I read a majority of the book before I even realized what exactly Cerberus was hoping to gain from their terrorist attacks.  Also, once I figured it out, I couldn’t really see how what they were doing was going to achieve that goal.  It confused me.  However, the idea of someone on the inside of the White House working with terrorists really appealed to me and kept me very intrigued.  Things tied up pretty nicely at the end but I could see how there might be room for a sequel and I wouldn’t say no to reading that.

Cons:

  • Writing: The writing was a bit heavy.  I honestly can’t put my finger on what exactly about it caused the book to drag more than it should have but there was just something about it.  I was hoping that as  I read more of the book, I would get used to the style and the pace would pick up but that didn’t happen.  It’s also weird because the book features short chapters which tend to speed things along for me but that didn’t happen with Zero Day.  The story was interesting enough though that I didn’t every feel like giving up on it.

Overall, Zero Day had it’s flaws but it’s good parts far outweighed those.  It’s a great read for fans of suspense with hints of hacking and politics as well as a peek at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  I will be keeping an eye out to see what Jan Gangsei does next.

What others are saying about Zero Day:

Bookish Babes’ review: “Zero Day by Jan Gangsei is a pulse pounding YA thriller that kept me guessing until the end.”

Kovescence of the Mind’s review: ” The strong female lead provides a refreshing addition to the realm of technology and mystery in young-adult fiction.”

Looking for something similar? Check out Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano!

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken | Review

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken | ReviewPassenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

passage, n.i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.ii. A journey by water; a voyage.iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

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Why do I continue to do this to myself?  I swear, I think I just like torturing myself.  I knew better than to read an Alex Bracken novel without having the sequel in my greedy little hands.  Passenger is just as amazing as I’d hoped but my heart broke when I reached the end and found out I was going to have to wait another year for the sequel after that seriously major cliffhanger.  I knew better.  Really.  I did.  However, if you’re like me and just can’t wait when a favorite author has a new book out, here are the good things about Passenger.

Pros:

  • Characters: I can honestly say that every character in this book held some appeal for me.  Even the bad guys were awesome.  It’s not that I liked them all but every single character had serious depth and the ability to surprise me.  Nicholas was definitely my favorite though.  He lived through so much hardship and adversity and yet he was still such a good person.  The same could not be said for Sophia.  That girl is on my shit list.  As for Etta, she was pretty bad ass.  She was thrust into so many different time periods and places that she knew nothing about and she took it all in stride.  Not only that, she did it all under serious pressure.  She was impressive.
  • Romance: I’m a sucker for romance and Nicholas and Etta’s was adorable.  Nicholas didn’t think very highly of himself and he couldn’t have imagined a girl like Etta ever falling for him so it was tough for him to take in.  I think that made me like him even more.  He didn’t take her for granted or her interest in him.  As for Etta falling for Nicholas, I can’t blame the girl.
  • Setting:  I guess this one would be better classified as settings.  Passenger takes place over many years and in many different places.  Alexandra Bracken did an amazing job setting up each place and time.  I honestly don’t know how she managed it.  The amount of research that had to go into each setting just boggles me.  Each different place and time period was full of so much history and depth.  It’s not just that she chose amazing places but she also chose to have Nicholas and Etta be in these places during some crazy time period like London during the war.  I have to give her props for the setting above everything else.
  • Story:  I truly didn’t know how anything was going to come together but it all fit together so seamlessly.  I love time travel stories but I’m also typically scared to read them because they can come across so choppy and undeveloped.  That was not the case with the story in Passenger.  The passages, the settings, the clues; everything somehow just fit and worked for the story.  There were no extraneous details and while things were a little confusing at first, it makes sense as you read more of the story.
  • Writing:  Alexandra Bracken became one of my favorite authors because she is such a fabulous writer and Passenger really cements that.  I find that with historical novels like this one (calling it that because a lot of it takes place in the past) the writing can either make or break the story.  Alexandra Bracken’s beautiful writing made this story come to life in my head.

Cons:

  • History: I’m a history buff and I’m not afraid to say it.  However, even to me some of the history seemed a little heavy.  It was pretty much just in the beginning of the book and I feel like it maybe just felt that way because the pacing is a bit slower to start but I was a little confused at some parts.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the history that was woven into the story but when I was just trying to figure out the time travel and the plot, it added a bit more confusion for me.  Once I got past maybe the first 100 pages though it stopped feeling that way.
  • Pirates?: I can’t really say this is a terrible thing but I was hoping for a story with pirates and more ships.  Technically, Nicholas is a pirate but he’s not the kind I was thinking of.  And yes it starts out on a ship but not much of it actually takes place there.  This point is more just for me though because the cover had my hopes up.  Also, this point didn’t really take anything away from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, Passenger is a hefty book that you will honestly wish there was more of when you finish it.  Nicholas and Etta’s story is really just beginning and I’m dying to see where it goes next in Wayfarer.  You can bet your butts I’m going to be getting that one the day it comes out.

What others are saying about Passenger:

Christina Reads YA’s review: “If you’re a The Darkest Minds fan, I do think that you’re going like Passenger; there’s a similar blend of cinematic action, romance, suspense, and emotionally charged situations.”

Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s review: “If you are looking for a brilliant adventure with a little swoon, I invite you to book your passage on the Passenger.”

Friday, December 18, 2015

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewWinter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 10th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 827
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

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How do I write a review for 823 pages of awesome?  Winter was a highly anticipated book for me and I’m so pleased to say that Marissa Meyer did not let me down.  Everything that’s been building up since Cinder has finally come to a head and Marissa Meyer left no loose threads in this final installment in the Lunar Chronicles.

I refuse to spoil this book or anything about it so I’m sorry if this review is all over the place.

First off, I have to applaud Marissa Meyer’s ability to weave together so many storylines that have been building up for four books (five if you count Fairest).  Readers finally get to see all the characters together in one place and how they interact.  The revolution that kept being hinted at in the first 3 books has finally arrived.  I was a little disappointed by the fact that there was so much build up to this revolution and it seemed a little unorganized but I guess Cinder didn’t really have time to plan much.

Of all the characters, I’m pretty sure Winter just cemented the fact that Iko is my favorite.  Her sense of humor is just amazing.  Winter was an extremely crazy book but Iko always managed to lighten the mood.  I also loved her loyalty to Cinder.  She was more like a sister to her than a friend.  That’s not to say that the other characters weren’t amazing and that Cinder didn’t have some amazing friends.  At this point, I feel like these characters are my friends too and I’ve come to care so much for each one of them, even Winter and Jacin.  They weren’t as well known to me before reading Winter but when you have 800+ pages to get to know someone, you really get to know them.

I didn’t care much for Jacin in the earlier books (he wasn’t exactly the best ally for Cinder and her friends) but I really felt like I started to understand his motives in Winter.  He was raised beside Winter and his loyalty was to her.  He cared so much for her and he knew that she was not safe under Levana’s care.  To be completely honest, Winter wasn’t even safe by herself.  She was severely affected by the fact that she refused to use her lunar gift.  Her craziness was kind of endearing but dangerous at times.  It was understandable why Jacin did so much to get back to her.

Cress, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Kai, and Cinder were just as fantastic as ever.  Cress has stepped up her game and I was impressed by her bravery all throughout Winter.  I admit that I didn’t exactly love her in Cress since she seemed so naive and a little weak.  Spending time with the crew of the Rampion has definitely changed her.  She’s become a strong woman who still had moments of naiveté and nervousness but those were understandable.  Thorne is still his charming self.  Pretty much every time I was reading about him I had a smile on my face.  He and Iko definitely provided some comic relief.  Scarlet and Winter’s relationship was a new addition that I really came to like.  I wasn’t sure how Scarlet was going to feel about her since Winter did keep her as a pet for a while but they grew past that.  Wolf has been one of my favorite characters since I first met him and that did not change this time around.  My heart broke for him so many times.  Kai didn’t play a huge role in Winter which was kind of disappointing to me but I understand that he couldn’t exactly be right in the middle of the revolution with the rest of them.  And what do I even say about Cinder? She’s strong, smart, funny, kind, and willing to do whatever it takes to take down Levana.  She’s determined to save the world.  She’s pretty damn impressive.

I want to say that while this book is huge, not one page is wasted with excess information.  Everything included in Winter is necessary to the story.  So much has been leading to this finale and there were so many little things that had to be tied up.  Marissa Meyer succeeded in leaving no loose ends.  All the romances, the fights, the villains, the heroes, everything is there.  I also want to mention that I love the futuristic twist to Snow White.  There are some parts of the book that really reminded me of the original story but with a unique twist that made it all Marissa Meyer’s.

Also, I hate Levana.  Hate her so much it’s not even funny!  She is psychotic and horrendous.  I wanted to reach into the book and punch her so many times I lost count.  She took pleasure from hurting others and they were people that I had come to care about so much over the course of the series.

Overall, I feel like I should probably stop gushing and let you read the book for yourself.  Winter is the perfect conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles.

What others are saying about Winter:

Literary-ly Obsessed’s review: “Overall Winter was an absolutely fantastic ending to unique and imaginative series.”

Mostly YA Lit’s review: “The other thing I will say about the book is that in spite of a backdrop of revolution, of serious action…every one of our beloved characters develops in this book and becomes stronger.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewQueen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
on September 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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If you have not read the other books in this series, this review will contain spoilers.  There is just no avoiding that.  However, I will not be spoiling any part of Queen of Shadows.

I’m gonna start off by saying that it’s been a month or so since I actually read Queen of Shadows so bear with me if this review is all over the place.  That being said, I’m still thinking about Queen of Shadows and all the twists Sarah J. Maas threw at readers this time around.  I wasn’t sure there was a whole lot left that she could shock me with but boy was I wrong!

I read the first four books (I’m including The Assassin’s Blade in that count) about two months before Queen of Shadows and I’m glad I took so long to read them.  This series has so much going on that it’s actually pretty important to remember what happened in the previous books.  All the books include hints of what is to come and I love that Sarah J. Maas plans everything so far ahead.  I know there are definitely some things that I missed but hopefully I’ll catch some more things next year when I reread the series to prepare for the next book.  That’s not to say that you have to reread the first few books every time a new one comes out but having a summary of what happened in the previous books is good so you can stay caught up.

Can I just say that Queen of Shadows was everything I hoped for and more?  Is that good enough for you guys?  I imagine most of you have already read it (I mean, who could wait?) but if you haven’t you should just stop reading my review now and go pick it up.  Sarah J. Maas managed to answer a few questions while posing some new ones that I hope to get answers to in future books.  I’m honestly amazed at her skill with weaving all these storylines together.  I don’t know how she does it (one of many reasons she is the writer and I am not.)  Everything from the first four books has been leading up to this one and I’m sure it will be the same with the next one.  While some huge things went down, there is still so much left for Aelin and her crew to do.  This series is far from over and I feel like the wait for the fifth book is going to be torture.

I loved all the characters (even Chaol) but Dorian definitely held a special place in my heart this time around.  After what happened to him at the end of Heir of Fire, I wasn’t sure what state he would be in when Chaol and Aelin saw him next.  I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that my heart broke every time I got to a chapter from his POV.  I died a little inside every time I thought about what might happen to him.  He is the reason I spent so much of this book crying.  Just thinking about it now makes me want to tear up.

I did mention Chaol and I want to mention him again.  I loved him early on in the series but that did not last long.  I know some people love him but I was not one of those people and I’m still not really.  I like him and Dorian and Aelin as friends and that’s all I like them as.  Chaol had some serious growing up to do.  He needed to see that Aelin couldn’t just close off parts of herself because he didn’t like them.  She was a very independent woman and he needed to learn to accept that.  I did see progress on that front in Queen of Shadows and he really started to impress me again.  I also can’t fault him for his loyalty and friendship to Dorian.  They are more like brothers than friends.

I don’t even really want to say anything about Aelin because she’s just as badass and awesome as ever.  And as for who she ends up with, I’m not even going to say anything about it except that he is perfect for her.  I think Sarah J. Maas really took time to see how each guy would match up with Aelin and she chose the one that not only was good with her but was also good for her.

One of the best things about Queen of Shadows was the development of Manon and the Thirteen.  I wasn’t sure about them when they were first introduced in the series but they have grown on me and I see how they are going to play a huge role in the battle to come.  Now don’t get me wrong, I always thought they were awesome I just didn’t want anyone that awesome on the side of the bad guys.  I’m not saying they are good but I think Manon has finally realized that she needs to look deeper into what’s going on and decide for herself who she wants to side with.

Last but not least, the plot!  Things move quickly in Queen of Shadows and they build up to a huge battle.  That battle scene was just brilliant and epic!  I might have had some issues reading it since I was crying at the same time but I still know it was awesome.  A lot of huge twists happened during that battle and my jaw dropped more than once.  Sarah J. Maas is one of those authors who isn’t afraid to kill her characters and that battle had me worried for more than one of my faves.

Overall, Queen of Shadows is just plain amazing.  If you haven’t read it yet, get on it!  I know the wait for the next book seems like forever but just join me in misery while we wait together!

What others are saying about Queen of Shadows:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Queen of Shadows had some scenes that were just stellar: an epic girl fight, a reunion, a (bloody) witch savior, fucking badass witches, an insane finale, a tear-inducing but happy ending, death (obviously), the exploration of the “who is the monster and who is the man” concept, and discussions about nightgowns and underthings.”

Fictional Darkness’ review: “Sarah J. Maas has a special talent when it comes to sculpting characters.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | Review

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | ReviewThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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The Song of Achilles wasn’t even on my TBR until about a month ago.  I saw Nikki from There Were Books Involved reading it and after seeing her reactions to it, I added it to the TBR.  I didn’t think I’d get around to reading it for a while but I decided to just throw it on my November TBR and see what happened.  I couldn’t resist it for too long and it was definitely a good life choice to read it.  The Song of Achilles made the history nerd in me very happy.  Madeline Miller did a wonderful job with this retelling of the story of Patroclus and Achilles.

Like I already mentioned, I’m a history nerd.  I’m minoring in history and I only just recently took a class on mythology so the story of Achilles was not new to me.  Heck, even the story of Patroclus and Achilles wasn’t new to me.  That didn’t matter though because Madeline Miller took this age old tale and made it all her own.  She has a way with words that completely blew me away.  I’m not always a fan of writers that are really wordy but in this case it just works.  The writing only made this gorgeous story better.

I truly don’t even know what to say at this point.  The Song of Achilles broke me.  I knew this story, I knew what was going to happen, I knew exactly how it would end.  That did not matter one bit!  Patroclus and Achilles came to life through Madeline Miller’s words.  They were more than just the things they became known for.  Patroclus was always in the background of the story but that’s because he chose to be there.  He didn’t need to be the center of attention, he just needed to be the center of Achilles’ attention.  As for Achilles, he was more than just the son of a goddess or the hero he came to be known as.  He never wanted any of that.  He just wanted to be loved by his people and by Patroclus.  The development of their friendship and their romance was just beautiful.

Overall, I just want you to read The Song of Achilles.  I can’t even begin to put into words the beauty of this book.  It’s something you have to experience for yourself and I suggest you do that.

What others are saying about The Song of Achilles:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “If you are at all into Greek mythology/The Iliad or historical fiction (despite its mythological elements, itdoes almost read like historical fiction), if you like a good tragic romance, and/or if you just need a good cry, pick up this book.”

Angieville’s review: “What an exquisite agony reading The Song of Achilles was.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | Review

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | ReviewDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

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Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series put her on my radar when I first started blogging but I have to say, Dangerous Lies is the book that kept me interested in her work.  Young adult suspense novels pretty much always get added to my TBR automatically but they don’t always impress me.  I’m happy to say that I was pretty happy with Dangerous Lies, at least enough to check out her other suspense novels.

I know nothing about witness protection and I have to admit that I haven’t actually read anything or really seen anything about it.  Needless to say, I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for Dangerous Lies.  Stella’s life is turned upside down when she is forced to go into witness protection after witnessing a murder by a huge crime lord.  She has to leave everything she knows behind and take up a whole new identity in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  Needless to say, she’s not exactly happy about it.  She’s leaving her friends, her boyfriend (who also has to go into witness protection), and her whole existence behind.  She couldn’t care less about her mom (who got her into the whole situation) but yes, she does have to leave her behind too.

Dangerous Lies starts strong and has a pretty solid finish as well but the middle just dragged for me.  Like I said, I’m not always impressed with suspense novels and while this one is technically classified as that, it wasn’t really all that suspenseful or at least it didn’t seem that way.  I admit, towards the end there was a bit of a twist thrown in that definitely caught me by surprise.  However, that was really the only thing that caught me by surprise.  With this type of story, you know that the bad guys are going to eventually catch up to Stella.  For me, it just seemed like the middle of the book was a waiting game until they found where Stella was hiding.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just a little slow at times.

The characters are what made Dangerous Lies hold up even with the slow middle.  Stella was a little bit of a bitch at first but it was kind of understandable.  Her mom was a total druggie who never paid attention to her daughter and was more upset about Stella testifying against the crime lord than about the murder that happened.  She made me so mad!  Every interaction she had with Stella just made me hate her even more.  Then there was Carmina, the total opposite of Stella’s mom.  She took Stella in (for reasons that come up later in the book and totally broke my heart) and she really came to care for her.  Carmina was harsh at first but it was what Stella needed.  She needed someone to drag her out of her funk and find a life in Thunder Basin.  That life came to include Inny, Chet, Dusty, and a few others.  I wish Inny and Dusty were more developed but I liked what I saw of them.  As for Chet, he was maybe a little too perfect but after finding out a bit about his past, I can see why he would be so perfect.

I also want to mention Reed even though readers barely find out anything about him.  He is Stella’s boyfriend who is also forced to go into witness protection and I have no clue how I feel about him.  Also, while Stella and Chet start a relationship of some kind, I don’t really consider it cheating since Reed and Stella are never expected to see each other again.  While they didn’t exactly end their relationship, there really was no future for it.  And hey, if you’ve read Dangerous Lies, did Reed’s ending bother anybody else?  I won’t say what happens but it’s pretty open ended and it’s one thing that really bothered me.

As for the setting of Thunder Basin, Nebraska; it was perfect.  Becca Fitzpatrick really captured the small town feel.  Everybody knew everybody’s business and it was impossible to keep a secret.  Maybe not the best place for someone in witness protection but I guess they figured that even if Stella’s secret got out in the town, it wouldn’t spread anywhere else.  The only problem with everybody knowing everything was that things did get around.  Especially when one person was involved: Trigger.  Trigger was a pain in the ass from the start and everything about him bothered me.  That was one person with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  He definitely caused a ton of problems for Stella and I felt terrible for her.  He seemed to be the one person who was nastier than Stella (in the beginning) and that took talent.

Overall, Dangerous Lies was an enjoyable read that will definitely have me checking out Becca Fitzpatrick’s other suspense novels.  If you want a pretty quick read that might surprise you, check this one out.

What others are saying about Dangerous Lies:

The Eater of Books’ review: “I loved this book, and I highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoy thriller/mystery/suspense types.”

My Bookish Fairy Tale’s review: “It was a thrill and I am actually upset that I finished it as quickly as I did.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewFairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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Oh gosh where do I even begin with this review?  I’m a huge fan of the whole Lunar Chronicles series and I will say that I’m also a fan of Fairest but it’s really hard for me to put it into words.  Whereas I adored the rest of the series for the amazing characters and fast paced storyline full of twists and turns, I loved Fairest for the depth it gave to such a terrifying villain.  I’m still quite horrified by what I just read and I don’t think that will go away for quite some time.

Levana is the evil queen of Luna.  From the time I first read Cinder, I knew I would never like her.  Unlike with other villains (think The Darkling), Levana really has nothing to endear her to readers.  She’s just plain nuts and she has been from the start.  Sure she went through some horrifying things in her childhood but I have a feeling she was messed up even before all those things went down.  I admit that I read Winter before reading Fairest so some things that maybe would have been revealed for the first time in Fairest were actually already revealed to me in Winter.  I didn’t mind that at all though because those things were shown with more detail in Fairest than in Winter.

I’m not sure why I thought Fairest was going to make me feel sympathy towards Levana but it definitely did not do that.  In fact, it actually made me dislike her even more which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Levana suffered at the hands of her sister, Channary, and from what little I saw of their parents, they didn’t seem to be much better.  She never knew love from anyone in her family and when it came to romantic love, she didn’t have a clue what it entailed.  She was more obsessed with Evret Hayle than in love with him and she was never able to see that.  She was so delusional.  Everything she did, she did for herself.  She wanted adoration from her subjects but she went about obtaining that adoration in all the wrong ways.

I think the only thing I got joy out of in Fairest were the interactions between Celene and Winter.  There is mention in Winter of them being friends as young children and I really liked seeing that friendship in Fairest.  Obviously Selene was very young when Levana attempted to kill her so she and Winter didn’t have a ton of time to become friends but since they were pretty much raised together, they became fast friends.  They were adorable together and it broke my heart knowing that they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together or grow up together like they should have.

Also, Levana’s husband, Evret Hayle, is mentioned in the other books in the series and from those few mentions, I expected some great romance and a man that could see past her craziness to the woman underneath.  Early on in Fairest I realized that was totally not the case.  Levana had no qualms manipulating Kai because she didn’t know love and she wasn’t looking for it.  That’s made pretty obvious early on in Fairest.

Overall, Fairest is just plain crazy and I loved it.  Marissa Meyer has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time but she really impressed me with this addition to the Lunar Chronicles.  It takes talent to get inside the mind of a person like Levana and I feel like she didn’t take away from the rest of the series.  Levana is still the villain and that’s pretty clear in Fairest.  It’s just a more in depth look at the villain we’ve come to know and hate.

What others are saying about Fairest:

Butterflies of the Imagination’s review: “Seriously. It’s only further proof that Marissa Meyer has a way with words that can’t be beat.”

Nice Girls Read Books’ review: “Fairest added so much more depth to Luna, Levana, Winter and even Cinder (we get to see baby Selene!) and I can’t wait to read the final instalment in this series now!”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | Review

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | ReviewVicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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I’ve been a fan of Victoria Schwab’s since I read her debut, The Near Witch.  Her writing style just spoke to me and seriously impressed me.  I admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with all her new releases but I am trying to work on that and I figured Vicious would be the perfect place to start.  This is her first book writing as V.E. Schwab for adult readers and I loved it as much as I thought I would.

Victor and Eli’s stories fascinated me from the first page.  The prologue just grabbed me and did not let go.  I knew from the synopsis that Victor and Eli used to be friends but that’s about all I knew until I started reading.  From the prologue, you know that that is no longer the case.  Instead of the best friends that they used to be, now Eli and Victor are sworn enemies.  They have vowed to kill each other and they will do whatever it takes, including putting innocent others in the line of fire.

It’s hard to tell at first glance who is the typical “villain.”  Victor definitely has a darker side and he’s spent some time in prison that’s only made that dark side more prominent.  Eli, on the other hand, gets away with pretty much anything and, at first glance, appears to be a great guy.  In this case, appearances are definitely deceiving.  However, Victor and Eli do have something in common and it’s that one thing that tore apart their friendship.  Both Victor and Eli are ExtraOrdinaries (EOs) with special powers that came to them after some experimenting while they were in college (not that kind of college experimenting!).  Each person who is gifted with these abilities is given a unique power that some don’t even know they have.  Victor and Eli definitely know that they have these powers and both of them are searching for others like them, for very different reasons.

Victor may appear to be the bad guy but he has friends from his time in prison and one that he’s just met.  Sydney and Mitch don’t know everything about Victor but they know they are drawn to him and that they can trust him.  Sydney is a young girl who has a very special ability of her own and it’s that ability that makes Eli want to kill her very much.  Mitch was drawn to Victor from the moment he saw him in prison.  They didn’t start out as friends exactly but they do seem to be some sort of friends now.  Victor himself was a very confusing guy.  Like I said, he doesn’t exactly appear to be a good guy and his actions would sometimes appear to be not so great but he’s not like Eli.  Eli’s goal in life is to rid the world of the EOs (excluding himself) and he’s willing to do some pretty outrageous things to achieve that goal.  Eli was just nuts.  Clearly he wasn’t all right to begin with but the gift of his powers really screwed him up.  There was really nothing that endeared him to me and I really wanted to see Victor succeed in getting his revenge against Eli.

The story itself was a little slow but the writing made up for that.  Victoria Schwab just has a way with words that means she could write practically anything and make it come to life.  Vicious is a story that worked perfectly with the way she writes.  It’s dark and slightly creepy and just plain awesome.  And while some of the story might be a little slow, by the end, everything has built up and it’s impossible to stop reading!

Overall, Vicious is another stunner from V.E. Schwab.  If you’re looking to maybe check out something other than YA, this is a great place to start.  I think it can also definitely be enjoyed by YA readers even though it is a little bit more mature.  I just have to recommend it because, in my eyes, V.E. Schwab can do no wrong.

What others are saying about Vicious:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Here’s what you need to know: READ VICIOUS.”

The Blank Page’s review: “Despite a couple of places where I had to suspend my disbelief farther than I would have liked, Vicious quickly grew into its place as one of the best books I’ve read this year.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | ReviewLove and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
Published by The Studio on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I'm a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.

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Kerry Winfrey’s debut novel tackles the mental illness of agoraphobia with fun, flair, and facts.  Love and Other Alien Experiences is a strong debut that took me by surprise.  I can’t say what I expected but I think it would have exceeded those expectations that I might have had.

I don’t know what it is lately but this is the third book I’ve read recently about a girl who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave her house.  Agoraphobia is not something I’m familiar with but it is something that fascinates me and that was a big part of my draw to Love and Other Alien Experiences.  Kerry Winfrey chose a more lighthearted way to showcase this illness and I really enjoyed that take on it.  Mallory knows that there is something wrong with her and she knows she should do something about it.  She finally sees that chance to do something about it when she is nominated for homecoming court.  She could win some serious prize money if she actually won and that would be the perfect chance for her to set out to find her father.

Mallory’s life consists of classes taken via webcam and interactions on message boards about aliens.  Hence the title.  She has these crazy interactions with someone online named BeamMeUp and that’s pretty much her only socialization.  Her mom and brother play a key role in her life but they can’t possibly provide all the social interaction that a person needs.  That’s where Mallory’s love interest comes in.  It’s a bit of a reveal so I won’t say anything about who it is but I will say that they work perfectly with Mallory.  Mallory’s illness is something she’s always been made to feel bad about and that’s not what he does to her.  Mallory herself is a great character with a wonderful personality.  She’s sarcastic and open about her illness.  I kinda loved her.

Overall, Love and Other Alien Experiences has me eager to see what Kerry Winfrey writes next.  If you’re looking for a quick, fun read that doesn’t gloss over the details of having a mental illness, this one is for you.

What others are saying about Love and Other Alien Experiences:

Sleepsontables’ review: “If you were a fan of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone or Made You Up by Francesca Zappia I recommend Love and Other Alien Experiences.”

Welcome to Ladyville’s review: “Love and Other Alien Experiences is a cheeky little tale about a teenage agoraphobe, who by a surprise to everyone gets nominated for prom queen, and decides to win.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens | Review

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens | ReviewThe Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperTeen on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

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The Lies About Truth is the first book I’ve read from Courtney C. Stevens and let me just tell you, I’m impressed.  The Lies About Truth is a gorgeous story about loss, love, and learning to move on.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, and in the end, it made me smile.

The Lies About Truth takes place almost a year after a car accident that takes the life of Sadie’s best friend, Trent, and leaves her permanently scarred.  Trent’s brother, Max, as well as Sadie’s boyfriend, Gray, and best friend, Gina, were also involved in the car accident but they walked away with less visible wounds.  Max’s vocal cords were seriously injured but it was more losing his brother that caused him to leave town with his family for most of the next year.  Through emails and letters, Max and Sadie start to become close.  Everything comes to a head when Max finally returns for the year anniversary of Trent’s death, finally forcing Sadie to face what happened and her part in it.

Sadie was extremely messed up from the accident.  She had physical scars but she also had mental scars.  She was afraid to get behind the wheel of a car, afraid to show off her scars, and afraid to tell anyone the secrets she was keeping for her best friend.  She basically shut herself away from everyone but Max and she really only kept herself open to him because he couldn’t see her.  She could be the old Sadie behind the screen of a computer and when she didn’t want to be the old Sadie, Max was willing to take anything she would give him.  They were completely honest with each other because they didn’t have to face each other every day.  When Max finally came home, that all changed.  Sadie had already showed him the dark parts of her on the inside so it was just time to show him those parts on the outside.  As for Max, he didn’t care about Sadie’s scars, he just cared about her.  He had his own scars (less visible but still obvious) and as long as she could accept his, he was willing to accept hers.

The other two people involved in the accident, Gray and Gina, weren’t left physically scarred but they were mentally messed up from that day.  Gray and Trent were best friends.  Gina and Trent had been dating for a long time.  Everyone involved in the accident was somehow closely linked to Trent and they were all grieving him but it seemed like they didn’t know how to grieve him together.  They were all keeping secrets from each other and it tore them apart.  Honestly the secrets and secret-keeping were a bit overdramatic to me.  Gray had secrets from Sadie, Sadie had secrets from everyone, Max wanted to be in on all the secrets about his brother, and Gina was tearing herself apart by keeping Gray’s secrets.  They may have been friends at first but all their secrets were keeping them apart and they couldn’t seem to move past them or to share them.  The anniversary of the accident is what finally brought everything out and started the real healing process for everyone.

One of my favorite things about The Lies About Truth was Sadie’s relationship with Trent.  Obviously you only get to see flashbacks but those flashbacks were great.  It was so obvious how much they cared for each other and it truly was a friendship thing.   Trent and Sadie loved each other like family.  They accepted each other no matter what.  I think Trent would have approved of Sadie’s relationship with Max because Max was like Trent in that he accepted Sadie just how she was.  Neither of the brothers ever wanted to change Sadie.

Overall, The Lies About Truth is one novel that everyone should have on their TBR.  It’s just the right amount of cute, funny, sad, and moving.  Courtney C. Stevens is an author I’m definitely going to be reading more from.

What others are saying about The Lies About Truth:

The Book Bratz’ review: “The Lies About Truth is a beautiful story that I recommend anyone looking for a fairly quick contemporary read.”

Reading Lark’s review: “The universality of Stevens’ novels is what keeps me coming back, and why I keep recommending them to other readers.”