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.”

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
Goodreads
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.”

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
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
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
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
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.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Review

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | ReviewThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
on September 15th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Three students: dead. Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

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The Dead House was high on my list of books to get at BEA.  I hadn’t heard much about it but the synopsis and cover really caught my attention.  I’m not a huge horror fan (I’m such a scaredy cat) but I really wanted to give this one a try.  I’m really glad I did.  I wasn’t nearly as scared as I thought but The Dead House certainly caught my attention and kept me hooked from start to finish.

I really don’t know what I expected from The Dead House.  I couldn’t really figure out what the story was going to be just from reading the synopsis and I think that worked in it’s favor.  I went in completely openminded and didn’t really expect anything other than a story that would creep me out.  While it started off more of a psychological thriller than a horror, it definitely changed to something a bit scarier.  Kaitlyn/Carly’s story is very addictive and not at all what I was guessing.

The story is told through newspaper clippings, transcripts, journal entries, letters, etc.  Not only do readers get to see both Kaitlyn and Carly’s thoughts, they also get to see the thoughts of the people in their lives.  Friends, love interests, and even doctors weigh in on what happened with Kaitlyn and Carly and the other missing students.  And the story actually starts off years after the accident and takes readers back in time by going through the case as a police officer would.  All the evidence is presented and it’s up to readers to decide what really happened that night.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters and I think that has something to do with the style of writing.  It was extremely hard for me to get in the mind of any of the characters and so I never felt like I could relate to them or really love them.  So much of their stories were unknowns and I didn’t like that.

Carly and Kaitlyn were the same person but they were two very different girls.  Carly had the daytime hours and Kaitlyn took over at night.  They didn’t have any control over each other when it was the other’s time in the body.  The journal found in the ruins after everything goes down is Kaitlyn’s and it shows everything Kaitlyn thought and felt but not so much Carly.  There were a few little things from Carly in the journal but not much.  She was very much a mystery.  She had friends and a boy who was interested in her.  She was essentially her own person.  It was the same with Kaitlyn, although not so much the friends part.  She did have a boy though.  The romance seemed a little out of nowhere but I didn’t have too many issues with it.  I could see why the two of them got along and I could see that Kaitlyn needed someone.

As for the mystery, there is a lot and it’s not anything you will see coming.  Things just kept coming out of nowhere, it seemed.  I could never guess a single thing that was going to happen.  The mystery of how the accident would go down was what kept me reading.  And it may not be for everyone but I liked that the ending left things a little open.  This isn’t a open and close case.  Nobody survived so nobody is there to tell exactly what happened that night.

Overall, The Dead House wasn’t exactly perfect but horror fans and newbie horror readers can find something to enjoy in this one.  I look forward to seeing what’s next from Dawn Kurtagich.

What others are saying about The Dead House:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “The Dead House was a very interesting and intriguing debut and novel, to say the least.”

My Friends are Fiction’s review: “I finished this book last night and my first take away was that The Dead House was brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | ReviewFrosh: First Blush (Frosh, #1) by Mónica B. Wagner
Series: Frosh #1
Published by The Studio/ Paper Lantern Lit on October 20th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

During welcome week at Hillson University, the FROSH will hit the fan.
Type-A aspiring journalist Ellie plans to take freshman year by storm. But hell-bent on breaking a huge on-campus scandal, she risks becoming one herself—and getting the mysterious, heart-melting QB in serious trouble.
Grant, star quarterback and charismatic chick-magnet, is hiding a life-altering secret. The last thing he needs is an overeager (absolutely adorable) journalist asking questions. He’s got a reputation to protect.
High-society legacy student Devon is ready to catch the football hottie of her dreams. If the tabloids feature her with the “it” boy on her arm, her tainted past will be buried—or so she thinks.
Charlie, pre-med, is done being the sweet and funny geek that girls like Devon ignore. But if he tries to impress her with a new edgy, spontaneous attitude, will his heart end up in the emergency room?
FROSH intertwines the stories of Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie in Mónica B. Wagner’s sexy NA debut series, about falling in love and falling apart.

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New adult has been my thing lately but I especially love new adult that takes place at college.  Obviously, when I saw Frosh, I had to add it to my TBR.  While I did have my issues with it, Frosh is definitely a fun read to start off a series I can see myself continuing.

Daniela (Ellie) is taking her freshman year by storm.  She’s determined to get the editorial assistant position at the Hillson Daily Nexus.  She’s focused and passionate and she knows that she’s the best candidate for the job.  She just has to prove it to everyone else and she has exactly one week and one assignment to do that.  It just so happens to be that her assignment is one rather distracting football player.  Grant is the quarterback of Hillson’s football team and it appears his passion is football, just like Ellie’s is journalism.  As a freshman, he knows he needs to stay focused on the game and make himself known at Hillson.  Ellie complicates that.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Ellie at first.  She seemed a little uptight and very focused on getting the position she wanted at the HDN.  I quickly warmed up to her though.  She was fun and bubbly and it was easy to see that she was just very passionate about journalism.  Sometimes she came across as a little rude towards other passions (such as football) but she did try and relate them to her own passion to help her understand people a little better.  I liked that she could see that football was to Grant what journalism was to her (or so she thought).  She wasn’t just a snob about anyone who wasn’t in to journalism and that worked in her favor for me.  As for Grant, he’s cocky but he definitely seems to have earned that cockiness.  He’s smart and funny and good at what he does.  It doesn’t hurt that he has a body of a Greek god.  And while he may be great at football, he’s not sure it’s what he wants to do with his life.  He’s a little lost and he’s not sure where his future is going.  When Ellie enters the picture he finally sees something he really wants and he’s willing to go after her.

Then there’s the other half of the story.  Devon is on a mission to catch a guy.  One guy in particular: Grant.  She’s determined to get her man so that she can bury the mistakes of her past.  Devon is a self proclaimed bitch and I could see it from the start.  She’d been hurt in the past and it made her completely close off.  She wanted no girl friends and she only had eyes for one guy.  Too bad that wasn’t the guy who had eyes for her.  Charlie was a geek.  He didn’t think he had anything in common with Devon but once he got to know her he quickly found out that wasn’t the case.  Devon is smart underneath the airhead facade.  She doesn’t want anything to do with Charlie and Charlie’s not normally the type to chase after a girl who seems way out of his league but he doesn’t want to give up on her.

Charlie was a total cutie and at first I thought he could do a lot better than Devon.  She was just so mean!  I understood that she had been hurt in the past and that she had secrets but she just seemed so cold.  She was very single-minded in her mission to get Grant and I felt like Charlie was going to get hurt because of that.  I didn’t love her ever but I did warm up to her and I liked the side of herself that she showed around Charlie.  She was a smart girl and she should have showed it more often.  Together they made an odd pair but I liked it.

And let me tell you there are some steamy scenes in this book.  Both couples really had some chemistry and I loved that.   Neither part of either couple really had the upper hand.  Grant was popular but Ellie was extremely smart.  Charlie was extremely smart and Devon was driven.  They balanced each other out really well.  It was definitely a couple cases of opposites attracting and I loved to see that.

Overall, Frosh: First Blush is a good start to this series.  I look forward to reading more about the students of Hillson University.  New adult fans should definitely check this one out.

What others are saying about Frosh: First Blush:

On a Book Bender’s review: “If you love New Adult, you will want to pick this book up.”

Fiktshun’s review: “This is one of those stories that will make you shake your head at some of the characters’ actions and decisions, want to throttle a few of them, root for the ones you adore and hope they get a happy ending.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson | Review

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson | ReviewDreamland by Robert L. Anderson
Published by HarperTeen on September 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

From immensely talented debut author Robert L. Anderson comes a stunning, complex, and imaginative story about the fine line between dreams and reality that will appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle.

Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people's dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person's dream more than once. Dea has never broken the rules.

Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town. For the first time in her life, Dea feels normal. But both Dea and Connor have secrets, and as she is increasingly drawn to Connor's dreams--and nightmares--the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate, putting everyone she loves in danger.

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With a cover that gorgeous and a blurb stating ‘for fans of The Raven Cycle,’ I couldn’t pass this one up. I should have known not to be fooled by a pretty cover and a blurb like that. While Dreamland was by no means a bad book, it just couldn’t live up to my expectations.

Let me start with my biggest issue; the pacing. Oh my gosh it should not have taken me such a long time to read such a short book. It was just so dang slow! I kept waiting for things to take off and they never did. The story just keep plodding along and I could not stay focused. I was basically looking for an excuse not to read because I was just so bored. I thought about DNFing this one but I just kept expecting more. While it did eventually amount to a little bit more, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the rest of the book.

Dea was hard to like. She had one friend at the beginning of the book (Gollum) and by the end of the book she also had Connor. I understood that she moved a lot and she didn’t want to have to make friends only to leave them behind but she was just standoffish and afraid to meet people. Also, while Gollum was her friend’s nickname, I felt like it was kind of rude for her to call her that since it was a nickname that someone came up with to be mean. Small complaints, I know, but still. Connor was a bit shady but that was intentional. There was a lot of mystery surrounding him and I was honestly intrigued by that mystery. It was probably one of the only things that really kept me interested in the book. There really weren’t any fabulous characters in Dreamland and for someone as character driven as me, that definitely didn’t help things.

The concept was interesting, for sure, but the execution fell flat. The first thing I thought of when I read the synopsis was Inception. I could definitely see hints of that throughout the book but Dreamland was no Inception. Dea and her mom were dreamwalkers. They had to walk through peoples dreams or they would get sick and become weak. However, there were rules to walking dreams and Dea very quickly broke them with Connor. She kept going back to his dreams and that screwed things up. From there, things only got worse. There was so much more to dreamwalking than Dea had ever been told and by the end of Dreamland there were still things she didn’t know. I haven’t actually heard if this is going to be a series or not but that ending definitely left things way up in the air.

Overall, Dreamland is not in any way a bad book but it just was not what I was hoping for. I have a feeling I’ll still check out the sequel but this won’t be on my list of favorites.

What others are saying about Dreamland:

Me, My Shelf, and I’s review: “With a killer cover, and intriguing tag line it’s more than disappointing to me that the rest of the book didn’t live up to the hopes I had for it.”

MC’s Corner’s review: “The writing is okay, the concept is good, the characters are not annoying blah blah blah and the cover is awesome. “

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | Review

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | ReviewLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

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Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman’s young adult debut, completely blew me away.  Described as Game of Thrones meets Alexander the Great, it lives up to that blurb and more.

Legacy of Kings is told through many points of view, each one unique and interesting.  At first I thought it might be a little confusing and it was, until I really got to know each of the characters.  Kat and Jacob, best friends since childhood, shared something more than friendship.  Their lives were not easy though and they both knew they wouldn’t be able to be together unless they both did some drastic things.  Alex and Hephaestion were also best friends.  Alex was groomed to be a ruler but he never let it get to his head.  He wanted to lead but he wanted to be right there with his people at all time.  Heph was one of those people.  Alex took Heph in when he was young and made him his personal guard.  Their friendship was severely tested though by Cyn.  Cyn, Alex’s half-sister, had to have been one of my least favorite characters ever.  She was so selfish and just plain evil.  The cast of characters was extremely diverse and so interesting.  The way all of their stories intertwined was so intricate and amazing.

The romance was steamy, as to be expected from any Harlequin Teen book.  There was a lot less than I expected but it was all done really well.  I also thought there might be at least one love triangle popping up but I didn’t see it, at least not in this book.  Also, I appreciated that there were true friendships between male and female characters, without any romance.  It’s not done often enough and Eleanor Herman did it really well.

There is a good amount of action and battle in the book but it doesn’t come for quite some time.  Most of the book is focused more on secrets and lies and uncovering them.  I saw some of the secrets from the start but not many of them.  This is a very twisted story that left me with many questions that I expect answers to in future books.

Overall, Legacy of Kings is a fantastic start to Eleanor Herman’s fantasy series as well as her career as a YA author.  An intricately woven tale of magic, romance, and deception, Legacy of Kings has something for every reader.  Once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.  Fantasy fans will truly adore this one.

What others are saying about Legacy of Kings:

Fiktshun’s review: “LEGACY OF KINGS is a stunning, imaginative and spellbinding saga that will send readers back to a time of magic and myth, prophecy and fate, bloodshed and brutality, dishonesty and deceit.”

Deadly Darlings’ review: “Legacy of Kings sets great characterization, world building, and plot-development to be enriched with the second book and I cannot wait!”

My Not So Real Life’s review: “The concept and historical setting were fantastically done, although the book truly did drag for a variety of reasons.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | Review

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | ReviewThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
on June 1st 2005
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 377
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

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I can’t tell you how many people have told me to read the Percy Jackson series.  I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve put off reading the series.  I honestly don’t know why, I just did.  The urge finally hit me to actually sit down and give this one a shot and I’m very glad I did.  This seems like the start of a series that I’m going to enjoy.

First off, things were a little odd for me with this one because I’ve read the graphic novel and I’ve also seen the movie.  Yes, the movie is very different but it still felt a bit like deja vu while I was reading.  I didn’t mind though because there was enough new content for me that I found it enjoyable.  Sure there wasn’t so much mystery about how things were going to end but that didn’t slow me down at all.

This series is very much middle grade, at least for now.  Percy is only 12 years old at the beginning of The Lightning Thief and while I knew that, I still found it a little off putting.  I’m so used to reading about older teens that getting used to Percy was difficult.  He was not very mature but what 12 year old boy is?  Some of his concerns seemed trivial to me but otherwise I liked him and I enjoyed watching him grow throughout the course of the book.  He went through a lot in a short period of time and he handled it really well, especially for someone so young.  I was impressed by that.  As for the other characters, Annabeth and Grover were awesome.  Annabeth was a little snotty at first but she came around eventually.  Grover was, by far, my favorite.  He was hilarious.  Grover was definitely the comic relief here but he also played a huge role in the quest.  He was funny but that wasn’t his only purpose and I appreciated that about him.

The Lightning Thief incorporates a ton of mythology.  I can see now why so many people love this series.  It’s full of stories that people of any age can enjoy.  I lost track of all the myths that were included in The Lightning Thief.  Even if it was just a brief mention, I caught so many gods, goddesses, and myths.  I think I really appreciated this now because I just finished a mythology in literature course and I was able to catch so many references that I might not have before.  It was fun trying to figure out all the myths and people as I went along.

The story itself is pretty straightforward but I can tell it’s going to tie into something much bigger as the series goes on.  The theft of Zeus’ lightning bolt is the main storyline in The Lightning Thief (obviously) but it all ties into something that doesn’t get wrapped up at the end of this book.  While I wouldn’t call the ending a cliffhanger, it’s definitely enough to get me to keep reading.

The writing style is simple and I enjoyed that in this case.  Rick Riordan’s writing is nothing fancy, that’s for sure, but I think that works with the type of story this is.  Like I said, I knew a lot of what was going to happen in The Lightning Thief but it never got boring and the style of writing really helped move things along at a good pace.

Overall, The Lightning Thief wasn’t absolutely amazing but it’s definitely earned the hype that surrounds it.  The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is one that I will be continuing.

What others have to say about The Lightning Thief:

Fantasy Book Review’s review: “A fantastic book for sure that has me thanking the gods I bought the series.”

Shae Has Left the Room’s review: “The story itself was also a joy to read.”