Friday, April 7, 2017

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | Review

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | ReviewLast Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 4th 2016
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

picadillyblue

I have a new favorite mystery.  Last Seen Leaving wasn’t even really on my radar until Angie from Lady Knight Reads told me to pick it up.  I’m so glad I listened to her.  Last Seen Leaving, Caleb Roehrig’s debut novel, is one of those books that I’m going to be pushing on everyone now.

Pros:

  • Flynn: Characters can really break or make a mystery novel.  If your characters are boring and straightforward, you’re going to be able to guess what happened right from the start.  Lucky for readers, there is not a single boring or straightforward character in Last Seen Leaving.  Flynn Doherty, main character and ex-boyfriend of January, is perfection.  I can’t honestly tell you everything it is that I love about him because there is too much.  I went through a myriad of emotions alongside Flynn.  It was so easy to see how much he cared for January and not knowing what happened to her really tore him up.  He was so confused by everything going on in his life.  He had no aspirations towards being a detective but he was unwilling to let January’s disappearance go unsolved.  He was tenacious and rather fierce when it was called for.  He was so loyal and he did not take his friendships lightly.
  • January: You never actually see January except in flashbacks from Flynn’s perspective.  She’s very much a mystery.  Flynn sees her one way and only starts to realize that there was much more to her once she has gone missing.  It’s hard to say what January was really like though because she put on a different face for every person in her life.  I think it’s part of what made her disappearance so intriguing and unsolvable.  Nobody knew the real January except for January.
  • Mystery: Like I said, this is one mystery that I could not solve.  Sure I could figure out little pieces of it but there was always much more to it.  Flynn didn’t really have a clue what he was doing when it came to solving the mystery but he was willing to try anything to find out what happened to January.  Because of that, he tended to stumble upon things that other people overlooked.  He was a little clueless at times and there were times when I wanted to knock some sense into him but he really was a pretty good detective.
  • Romance: The romance in Last Seen Leaving was really very subtle and well done.  Flynn obviously had a lot on his plate with January’s disappearance but he ended up getting help from an unexpected source.  Kaz was a coworker of January’s who really only offered to help Flynn because he considered January a friend.  They got off to a rocky start but Kaz and Flynn were pretty perfect together.  Theirs was not a relationship that just popped up overnight though.  They both had way too much going on to just jump into things and they really didn’t know each other.  I liked seeing them get to know each other and build upon their blossoming friendship.

Overall, Last Seen Leaving is an impressive debut from Caleb Roehrig.  I’m excited to see what is next from him!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + InterviewEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

picadillyblue

Evidence of Things Not Seen might be one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.  It’s unlike anything else in the YA market and while it wasn’t my favorite, I truly enjoyed reading it.

The story focuses on the disappearance of Tommy Smythe.  Tommy is a strange boy with a fascination for particle physics and alternate universes.  One of the quirky things about the book is that you never actually meet Tommy.  You get to read his journal entries but that is all you have of Tommy other than what other people have to say about him.  Each chapter is told from a different point of view, some people who knew Tommy and some people who stumble upon items of his after his disappearance.  While it took some getting used to, this style was awesome and probably my favorite aspect of the book.

Each chapter is almost like a short story.  Each person has something to do with Tommy, whether they know it or not.  It’s also a way to see how everyone is connected by just one person.  All of the people were very different but they all tied together somehow.  There were times when I wondered why I was reading about a certain person but later on in the book I’d see the bigger role they played.  It was really fascinating and such a unique way to tell this story.

The mature content in Evidence of Things Not Seen really got to me.  I don’t usually have a problem with this kind of stuff but in this case, there was a lot of it and some of it seemed unnecessary.  There was rape, incest, child prostitution, abuse, and all kinds of other stuff.  I just felt like there was an over abundance of mature content and at times it made me really uncomfortable.

The ending is not perfect, it’s not tied up with a bow, but it’s perfect for the story.  It’s very open ended and it has definitely got me thinking.  Also, I won’t tell you what it is but I adore the last line.

Overall, Evidence of Things Not Seen is a promising young adult debut from Lindsey Lane.  I look forward to more unique stories from this author.

What others are saying about Evidence of Things Not Seen:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “I will say that it is definitely unlike most books I read.”

Bewitched Bookworms’ review: “The writing was crisp, sometimes stark, but beautiful at the same time.”

Read.Sleep.Repeat’s review: “Overall, I recommend this book to people looking to read fresh and interesting contemporaries, and books with a large feeling of community and family.”

lindseylane

 

About the author:

Award-winning author Lindsey Lane is proud to announce her debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16, 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an iTunes app, which Digital Storytime describes as “heartwarming and adorable with rich illustrations and lyrical text.” In 2010, Lindsey received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lindsey is a featured presenter at many schools where she gets kids (of all ages) excited about writing. When she is not writing, reading or being a mom, Lindsey loves sweating at Bikkram yoga, seeing movies and plays, and enjoying some of the outrageously good food at Austin restaurants with friends.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

Interview with Lindsey Lane!

First off, thanks for stopping by the blog.  =)

Thank you so much for hosting me. It’s an honor.

Describe Evidence of Things Not Seen in 140 characters or less!

Without hashtags? Okay, here goes:

Tommy is missing. As the community searches, their lives are affected by the loss & the only clues they find are pages from Tommy’s notebook

What made you decide to write YA?

I’m not sure I decided to write YA. I think stories come to us and we have to figure out the best way to tell them. That said, one of the things that I am most proud of about EVIDENCE is that it is tough, gritty and honest and I think that young adults sometimes want a story that doesn’t have easy answers and big bows. Sometimes they want to look behind the wizard’s curtain and see the machinations of what makes life messy and magical.

Your character, Tommy, is a genius when it comes to physics.  Do you have a physics background?  If not, how did the idea come to you?

I do not have a background in physics but I have a fascination with the ideas in physics.  So do a lot of other writers. Steven Moffatt (Dr. Who) Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass), to name two of many.

The first story I wrote about Tommy was called Particles and, in it, I hinted that Tommy might have disappeared by going into another dimension. When I expanded the story and wove it through the entire book, I had to entertain all the possibilities of how Tommy might have disappeared.  As Tommy writes in his journal:  All Possibilities exist. When I make an observation, all possibilities collapse into one. So is it our observation that limits possibility? What if there is absolutely no observer? Then anything is possible. Anything. I could be anywhere. I could be dead. I could be sleeping. I could be on Ruby going to class. I could even be in class because that’s one of the possibilities that exists as long as no one is observing me.

Do you have any must haves while writing?

A cup of strong black tea (Yorkshire Gold or Scottish Breakfast) with milk and a comfortable chair. Other than that, I love hearing my animals breathing nearby and, if the weather’s good, the windows open so I can hear the birds.

What has been your best experience being part of the YA community?

I have to say that the Kidlit/YA community has the most enthusiastic and generous people on the planet. As far as best experience, well, being on this blog tour is pretty great and when I reached out to blurbers, I was welcomed heartily into the fold. Because this is my debut, I am looking forward to many more great experiences.

What are you working on now?  Anything else YA?

I am working on the next YA novel. The working title is Inside The Notes.  The protagonist is a musician who is set on a path to meet the man who killed her mother fourteen years ago: her father.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | Review

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | ReviewThe Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Harper Teen on May 13, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

picadillyblueThe Secrets of Lily Graves is one of those rare YA books that actually manages to surprise me.  I expected to enjoy this one, and I did, but I didn’t expect to by stumped by the mystery and up late into the night reading to the very end.  Sarah Strohmeyer wove a fantastic mystery that kept me guessing until I turned the very last page.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is a supremely unique YA novel.  Not only is it a mystery, it’s got a totally non-typical romance, a wonderful family relationship, and a heroine who took me by surprise multiple times throughout the course of the book.  The mystery had to be my favorite part.  I very rarely find young adult suspense novels to be suspenseful but that was not the case at all with The Secrets of Lily Graves.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book!  Erin’s murderer is at large throughout the book and it’s dang near impossible to figure out who it is.  Even if you do figure out who it is, the motive will totally take you by surprise.  There were multiple layers to Erin’s murder and it seemed like as soon as I peeled away one layer, another one would pop up.  Sarah Strohmeyer really did a great job with the mystery aspect of The Secrets of Lily Graves.

The romance was cuter than I expected.  Matt and Lily have had some sort of relationship for a while but Erin was always in the way of them taking it any further.  Erin’s death might not have been the greatest way to bring them together but it did work.  Everyone blamed Matt for Erin’s death except Lily.  Lily took it upon herself to prove everyone wrong.  That brought her even closer to Matt and their friendship started to turn into something more.  The build up of their relationship was so realistic and they were adorable together.

The family aspect of the story was something else unique about The Secrets of Lily Graves.  You don’t see a lot of close knit families in YA books and you do in this book.  Lily is very close with every member of her family.  Sure she keeps some things from her mom but what teenager doesn’t?  Her aunt Boo is always there for her when she doesn’t want to talk to her mom but needs an adult.  Her grandmother was a bit crazy and she really cracked me up.  The Graves women were totally fun.

Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves is a great young adult mystery that I definitely recommend checking out.  Sarah Strohmeyer definitely deserves every bit of praise she’s been getting for this one.

What others are saying about The Secrets of Lily Graves:

The Book Nookery’s review: “This wasn’t a terrible book, but it was completely generic, lackluster, and half-assed in every way.”

Words, Pages, and Books’ review: “Oh how I adored The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer!”

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “The Secret of Lily Graves is great read for mystery lovers.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel | Review

Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel | ReviewVivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel
Published by Harper Teen on June 3, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine's fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he's a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won't stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn't she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer?

Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can't be trusted-what could he be hiding?

Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she's running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there's no option to yell "cut" like there is on set....

picadillyblueVivian Divine is Dead is a unique addition to the young adult contemporary suspense genre. Lauren Sabel crafted a very twisted mystery that left me guessing until the very end. It’s not often that I’m unable to figure things out but that was definitely the case with this one.

Vivian Divine is a spoiled rotten movie star. She was really hard to like at first. Her mom was murdered and her dad pretty much gave up on life after that but that didn’t give her the right to be the bitch that she was. She expected people to wait on her and she couldn’t fend for herself to save her life. She talked down to people and she thought very highly of herself. She was like that for most of the book and I thought that might be the one thing that would make me hate Vivian Divine is Dead but that actually wasn’t the case. She did develop as a character and I was already hooked on the story so I never once thought about giving up on this one.

Nicholas, Marcos, Scars, Isabel, and pretty much all the rest of the secondary characters were a little flat. Nicholas was this handsome stranger who Vivian met on the bus to Mexico. Since he spoke English, Vivian decided to rely on him to help keep her safe. He honestly didn’t have much going on other than being handsome. There was a little back-story to him but not enough to really get me interested in knowing more about him. He wasn’t well-developed and while I liked him well enough, I wasn’t invested in his relationship with Vivian. Marcos and Scars were worse than Nicholas. I had no interest in them and found them to be more of an annoyance than anything else. Scars had no personality and was really just known for being a big bad ass with scars. He was not really all that creepy if you ask me. Marcos was a little better developed but still lacking. As for Isabel, she was the only one I really cared for. She had more back-story than any of them and was the most developed of them all.

The story was the truly interesting part of the book. Vivian Divine goes on the run after receiving a death threat. Seems like a simple plot but there was a lot more going on than I ever expected. Not once was I able to guess who was behind the death threat or why. There was also a mystery surrounding Vivian’s mom and what exactly happened to her. I had no clue how Lauren Sabel was going to tie everything together in the end but she managed it wonderfully. Admittedly, the story was a little all over the place at times but it was still entertaining.

Overall, Vivian Divine is Dead is a great debut from Lauren Sabel and I will plan to check out more from her in the future. Hopefully that includes a sequel to Vivian Divine is Dead since I could use a little more from these characters!

What others are saying about Vivian Divine is Dead:

Book.Blog.Bake’s review: “In the end, I think, what happened in Vivian Divine is Dead is a lack of development both of the plot and the characters.”

The Social Potato’s review: “Vivian Divine is Dead is so bad that it’s almost comical.”

Turning Pages’ review: “Vivian Divine is Dead is unlike any book that I’ve read this year.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Find Me (Find Me #1) by Romily Bernard | Review

Find Me (Find Me #1) by Romily Bernard | ReviewFind Me by Romily Bernard
Series: Find Me #1
Published by Harper Teen on September 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 307
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

Find Me, Romily Bernard’s debut novel, has been garnering some high praise from reviewers lately. I went in with very high expectations and I think my expectations were maybe a little too high. While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t love it like I had hoped. It’s a good addition to the YA suspense genre but nothing too spectacular.

I wasn’t drawn into Wick’s story like I had hoped to be. For a suspense novel, it wasn’t all that suspenseful. I kept reading hoping for the pace to pick up but it took way longer than I felt it should have. I wasn’t all that interested in the story until the very end. I didn’t feel invested in any of the outcomes and I only really kept reading to see how things would turn out and if I could guess who the killer was.

As for that, I’ll give Romily Bernard points for keeping me guessing until the very end. I never actually figured out who the killer was. Romily Bernard does a great job and throwing in some red herrings and keeping readers on their toes. There’s more to the story than first meets the eye and I did really like that about Find Me.

The characters were mediocre, at best. Wick was cool. Her talent for hacking was really awesome and something you don’t read about a lot. However, I felt that she could have been doing a lot more with her hacking skills than just helping people find out if their spouses were cheating. I was a little let down by that. Her sister, Lily, seemed very immature and naïve. Wick did everything to protect Lily but I felt that Lily was old enough to know at least a little about protecting herself. She blindly trusted people. With her past, you would think she would know better than to do that. As for the romance between Wick and fellow hacker, Griff, it was cute but nothing that really caught my interest. They didn’t really have much chemistry.

Overall, Find Me is good for a rainy day read but nothing super awesome. I’ll look out for Romily Bernard’s future books (including the sequel to this one) but I feel that this is one that could be skipped over.

What others are saying about Find Me:
Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “Y’all, I zipped through this hacker thriller in a single day.” 
Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Find Me was a promising debut from Romily Bernard.” 
Realm of Fiction’s review: “Sadly, Find Me lacks too many things for it to be a title that I can easily recommend.”