Friday, August 19, 2016

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay | Review

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

Who will be left after lights out?

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Assassin Game:

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayHolding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
Published by Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink's help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he's willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

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Elle Cosimano became one of my favorite authors with her Nearly duology (possibly trilogy?)  When I first heard about Holding Smoke, I was extremely excited and immediately added it to my TBR.  I got my hands on an ARC and I read it immediately.  While it was very different from her first books, I liked the new direction her writing took.

Pros:

  • Characters: Smoke stole my heart from the very start!  He comes across as a bit of a bad boy but he has a heart of gold.  His circumstances were beyond crappy.  He was not a completely innocent man but he was not as guilty as you’d first think.  He had quite a few layers to him and I never knew what side he was going to show next.  I liked that he was able to keep me guessing.  As for Pink, she was a bit of a mystery.  She came across as this badass female but she also had quite a shy, scared side.  She knew when she could handle herself and she knew when she needed help.  She and Smoke weren’t always good for each other but they worked past that.
  • Story: The story was both a pro and a con for me.  It was so unique and so twisted that I was kept guessing until the very end.  Not only could I not figure out who committed the crime Smoke was in jail for, I also couldn’t figure out the exact nature of the crime Smoke actually committed.  He was good at hiding things and Elle Cosimano is good at twisting things so much, you’ll never see it coming.
  • Romance: Smoke and Pink didn’t have a traditional romance.  For one, Smoke wasn’t actually physically there for most of their interactions.  With his ability, he came across as a ghost to Pink most of the time.  Because of that, their relationship developed mentally way before it did physically and I really liked that.  They weren’t exactly a cute couple (they got on each others nerves quite a bit) but they had their own charm.

Cons:

  • Story: Like I said, the story was both a pro and a con for me and it’s actually the only con I had with Holding Smoke.  I felt a little confused at times.  Smoke’s ability was very unique but also very odd.  I didn’t understand it all the time and some of the scenes when he was separated from his body threw me off.  I think it was how they were written and how Smoke looks at things when he’s like that.  It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just took some getting used to.

Overall, Holding Smoke isn’t my favorite from Elle Cosimano but it held up to my expectations pretty well.  Elle Cosimano is a name to know if you are a fan of YA suspense.  If you were a fan of her Nearly books, check out Holding Smoke.  I think you’ll find you enjoy it.

Giveaway

3 winners will receive copies of Holding Smoke.  US only.

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

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!

Giveaway

Enter to win one of three copies of Zero Day!

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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.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Review

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Review

Blog Tour: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | ReviewDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton on May 26, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

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Daughter of Deep Silence is the first book I’ve read by Carrie Ryan but it will not be my last. If you’re looking for a suspenseful, mystery-filled novel, look no further.

I was a little thrown off by the beginning of the book. It takes place right after the attack on the cruise ship and Frances is hysterical. She’s also only 14 years old. For a while I thought that was how old she’d be for the whole book but it jumps to 4 years later after a couple chapters. I was also a little thrown off by the brevity of the relationships between Frances and Libby as well as Frances and Grey. From the synopsis I’d expected them to have been long time friends but it turns out they’d just met on the cruise. It didn’t really make a huge difference but it seemed a bit unrealistic that after such a short period of time Frances could take Libby’s place. Same with the romance. Not only were they just 14 years old but they had also just met each other. Yet they claimed they were in love. I was a little skeptical.

Daughter of Deep Silence clocks in at almost 400 pages but it takes no time at all to read. The chapters are short and the writing style is very simple and straightforward. The story is also extremely gripping, which helped the pace. There is quite a bit of mystery and I had no clue what was coming. The mystery behind the attack on the cruise ship was not at all what I expected.

The characters were not exactly easy to like. Frances (as Libby) was completely driven by vengeance. She had her sights set on the senator and his family and she would stop at nothing to take them down. It reminded me of the TV show Revenge and that is definitely not a complaint. Frances has emotions but they are buried very deep. She’s hard to connect with because of that but it’s not hard to understand where she is coming from. As for Grey, he was possibly a bit too perfect for my tasters. He was a total gentleman (which I loved) but only in private. I wanted to see him stand up to his father who was a complete asshole. I had no problem rooting for Frances to take him down. As for the romance between Frances and Grey, I could see why she had trouble not falling for him. They had great chemistry and their history together made things even harder for her. Grey was just such a sweetheart.

Overall, I was impressed with Daughter of Deep Silence in spite of its flaws. I look forward to reading more from Carrie Ryan, especially if she continues to write suspense novels as awesome as this one.

What others are saying about Daughter of Deep Silence: 

Midnight Bloom Reads’ review: “Delving into deeper psychological themes such as identity and grief, Carrie Ryan’sDaughter of Deep Silence is more than just an addictive revenge thriller.”

Carina’s Books’ review: “I would say that you should all read Daughter of Deep Silence.”

The Forest of Words and Pages’ review: “Daughter of Deep Silence is an addictive thriller you won’t regret picking up!”

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayNearly Found by Elle Cosimano
Series: Nearly Gone #2
Published by Penguin Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The sequel to the highly praised and intricately plotted Nearly Gone--a YA urban mystery that's perfect for fans of Bones, Numbers, and The Body Finder

When Nearly Boswell starts working as an intern at a crime lab, she's hoping it will give her an advantage when it comes to college applications. But on her first day, a girl from her trailer park turns up dead. Then the corpse of a missing person is discovered, buried on a golf course, with a message for Nearly etched into the bones. When Nearly finds out the corpse is the father of Eric, a classmate of hers, she starts to worry that the body is connected to her father's disappearance five years ago. Nearly, Reece, and Nearly's classmates--Vince, Jeremy, and Eric--start a dangerous investigation into their fathers' pasts that threatens Nearly's fragile romance with Reece, and puts all them in the killer's path.

picadillyblueNearly Found is a solid sequel to Nearly Gone.  While I didn’t love it as much as it’s predecessor, it captured my attention and kept me guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell is back and better than ever.  With her tormentor behind bars her life should be on it’s way back to normal.  However, that is not the case.  She, along with many people in her life, have started receiving messages in places that should not be accessible to people; locked cars, bedrooms, and other private places.  It’s up to Nearly, Reece, and her fellow classmates to figure out what is going on before bodies start piling up.

Nearly and Reece are back and their relationship is still very new.  Nearly is starting school, a new internship, and on top of all that she is once again involved in some crazy stuff.  She can’t ever seem to keep herself out of trouble.  As for Reece, he has a new assignment that keeps him from spending a lot of time with Nearly and puts their new relationship on the rocks.  To be completely honest, I was a little skeptical about him this time around.  He acted quite sketchy at times.  I wanted to love him like I did in the first book but he made it difficult.

This time around Nearly had a lot more allies, even if some of them were reluctant to team up with her.  Alex and Gena are back but they don’t have prominent roles.  I still loved them though, especially Alex.  Jeremy and Anh are also back and I had some serious issues with them.  They both blamed Nearly from what happened at the end of the first book and pretty much dropped her as a friend.  I hated that.  Vince was back and a bit less of a douchebag.  Lonny was my favorite though.  He has a unique relationship with Nearly.  They have more in common than either would like to admit.

My biggest problem with Nearly Found was how much crap Nearly got away with.  She was an intern with the forensics lab and she totally took advantage of the access that granted her.  She should have been caught and in serious trouble many times but she somehow got away with it.  It was very unrealistic.  Her internship was a pretty fascinating part of the story though.

The mystery was just as good as the first book.  I was completely unable to see the connections.  I had no clue how everything was going to tie together.  There were so many times when I just wanted to skip to the end to see who it was but I forced myself not to.  I devoured the book in one day though because I could not stop reading without figuring out who the killer was.  Good luck guessing this one.

As for Nearly, her development as a character and with her ability was fantastic.  She is more open to touching people and she is really trying to learn to deal with her ability without pushing people away.

Overall, Nearly Found was a wonderful conclusion to this duology.  I look forward to reading Elle Cosimano’s next book.  I highly recommend this duology to suspense fans.

Giveaway

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone #1) by Elle Cosimano | Review

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone #1) by Elle Cosimano | ReviewNearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
Series: Nearly Gone #1
Published by Penguin Teen on March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.

picadillyblueSuspense novels for teens are hard to find.  Good suspense novels for teens are extremely hard to find.  Nearly Gone fits into that second category.  Elle Cosimano’s debut novel blew me away.  I was up all night reading.  I dare you to put this one down once you start it.

Nearly (yes, that is her name) spends her Friday mornings searching the personal ads in the newspaper, not always sure what she’s looking for.  One day she discovers an ad with a sinister undertone and realizes that it is meant for her.  It sets her on a course of action that brings her in the path of a killer and changes her life forever.

Nearly is a character that is impossible not to like.  She’s smart and spunky and the girl has attitude.  She was a major nerd (way smarter than I could ever be!) and while she embraced that nerdiness it also made it hard for her to fit in with most people.  She was an outsider at school and her classmates were not nice about it at all.  She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself though and she did have some friends to back her up.  Jeremy and Anh are Nearly’s two closest friends.  It’s pretty obvious from the start that Jeremy wants more with Nearly but even so, he’s still a good friend to her.  He’s got some issues having to do with his home life and I truly wanted to see him happy.  As for Anh, she was Nearly’s friend but also her biggest competition.  I never really knew what to think of their friendship.

Then there was Reece.  Where do I even begin?  Elle Cosimano found and exploited my weakness for tattooed, pierced bad boys with good hearts.  Reece and Nearly have undeniable chemistry and their banter made me love them together.  They had some serious rough patches but they worked well together.  Reece had the street smarts and Nearly had the book smarts.  Together they made an unstoppable team.  Also, angry makeout sessions are the best.

The mystery is what really hooked me.  I was stumped from the start.  There is so much going on that I could never tie it all  back to one person.  There were definitely some red herrings that kept me on my toes too.  Elle Cosimano also doesn’t pull any punches just because it’s a YA book.  It’s not gruesome or overly horrifying but it’s not toned down for a younger audience.

As for Nearly’s ability, it helped with her investigation into the killer but it didn’t play as prominent a role as I expected.  She can sense feelings by touching someones skin.  It helped her sense when someone was lying but it’s not like she had the ability to sense what someone was lying about.  It was definitely an interesting ability though and it kind of broke my heart that Nearly could feel all the bad things people thought of her.

Overall, Nearly Gone is what I am always looking for in a YA suspense novel.  It’s fast-paced with a mystery that never becomes obvious.  Elle Cosimano’s debut is perfect for suspense fans.

What others are saying about Nearly Gone:

Presenting Lenore’s review: “NEARLY GONE is the rare mystery that is both character and plot driven. Definitely worth a look, especially if you like puzzles.”

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “A large part of my enjoyment of this book rests on the narrow shoulders of the fantastic Nearly Boswell.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “That’s not to say the novel is a terrible mystery–honestly, the mystery angle of the novel is one of the only angles it gets right–but it needed much more work to be a good, fully formed book.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway

Blog tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt | Review + Favorite Quotes + GiveawayHold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Series: Once Upon A Crime Family #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 19, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

picadillyblueHold Me Like a Breath is a completely fresh new story for the YA genre.  Tiffany Scmidt has crafted a wonderfully captivating story that will hook readers from start to finish.  And who wouldn’t love a princess and the pea retelling?

I’ve always been fascinated with stories relating to the mob so I had a feeling this would be a book for me.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail and involvement the mob aspect actually had to do with the story.  While Penny is part of a crime family, they aren’t bad people.  The purpose of the Landlow Family was to help people who the government couldn’t.  They definitely did it for the money but they also wanted to help.  It made it easy for me to sympathize with everything their family went through.

Penny was both one of my favorite and least favorite characters in the book.  She was incredibly naive which bothered me.  She lived a very sheltered life so I understand why she was like that but it seemed as if any lessons she’d had on surviving left her as soon as she was on her own.  She was an amazingly strong person, having to deal with everything on her own, including her illness.  However, she very quickly comes to trust a stranger when she is on the run for her life.  There were a few moments where I wanted to smack some sense into her.  Also, the illness aspect adds a whole other layer to Penny’s story.  Being on the run is bad enough but there was also the constant danger of Penny’s illness incapacitating or even killing her.

The rest of the characters were quite a mix.  Penny’s family and Family were very protective of her and so she didn’t know everything about them.  Carter was an adorable older brother and while he was very mysterious, his love for Penny was always clear. It was the same with her parents.  They handled her with kid gloves because they both loved her so much.  Their family was very sweet.  Then there was Garrett.  I am still torn about him and you’ll understand why when you read the book.  The whole bodyguard aspect definitely drew me to him but his sweetness also did.  As for Char, he also greatly appealed to me.  The romance between him and Penny was so fun.

The mystery could have been a bit more developed but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I could see what was coming from the start but it still threw me for a loop.  I’m not sure where things will go with the sequel because things tied up pretty nicely at the end of this but I’m still eager for more.

Overall, Hold Me Like a Breath will greatly appeal to fans of contemporary thrillers and also Holly Black’s Curse Workers series.  I can’t recommend it enough.

What others are saying about Hold Me Like a Breath:

Novel Novice’s review: “Billed as the first in the Once Upon a Crime Family series, Hold Me Like a Breath still reads like a standalone novel — which is really the best of both worlds.”

Fantastic Book Reviews’ review: “Hold Me Like a Breath had plenty of grit to go around.”

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About the author:

Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath. She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr

 

Favorite Quotes

These two quotes kinda perfectly describe Penny and both of the boys she has relationships with. I also love the contrast of the two.

“There wouldn’t be a clean break. I could no more sever him completely than I could untangle my DNA and remove whatever combination of nucleotides spelled out my skin’s tendency toward purple”

“He beamed. Beamed. No one had ever smiled at me like that. Like just by walking out the door I’d made his life better. It punched holes in my caution, made me feel off-balance.”

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Review

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydewith a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

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Dangerous Boy captured my attention with the prologue and I decided to pick it up solely based on that.  While it was not what I expected I found myself flying through the pages.  It’s nowhere close to being a favorite of mine but it entertained me and kept me guessing until the end.

First off, apparently this is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I didn’t know that until the end of the book but it would not have made any difference to me since I’ve never read that book.  Fair warning though, if you’ve read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the twists in Dangerous Boy might not be so shocking.

The story is dark and twisted though not horror movie scary.  Strange things are happening in Harper’s town; bones being left in mailboxes, birds dying in large groups, and bloody hand prints showing up places.  Things get even creepier when Harper meets her boyfriends identical twin brother, Daemon.  He’s creepy and bit stalker-like.  He’s obsessed with the murders that happened at their home and he uses the house’s history to terrify Harper.  He’s definitely not quite right.

Harper really did nothing for me and neither did her boyfriend, Logan.  They were a bit too cutesy for me.  Also, Harper was not the smartest.  She gets stalker-like messages and doesn’t tell anyone.  She’s terrified of some of the weirdest things and yet Logan can easily talk her into overcoming these fears.  It all seemed a bit too easy.

Also, nothing against the book but I kept thinking of The Vampire Diaries while reading.  Two brothers, one named Daemon, move to town with their uncle, one brother good, the other bad.  And I won’t spoil anything but those aren’t the only comparisons.

Overall, Dangerous Boy is an okay book if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller.

What others are saying about Dangerous Boy:

Bookish’s review: “It started out so good. And turned around just as quickly.”

Itching for Books’ review: “Dangerous Boy is a creepy, mysterious, fast-paced story.”

Sarah’s Random Musings’ review: “I would recommend this book to anyone that wants an intense read with great atmosphere.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Beautiful Girl by Lida James | Review

Blog Tour: Beautiful Girl by Lida James | ReviewBeautiful Girl by Lida James
Published by The Studio on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

I’ve always wanted to be beautiful, but the irony is that you can’t force it—real beauty is when you don’t have to try, it’s just there. You wake up to it, like freshly fallen snow outside your window, and it’s yours to bask in. Real beauty is for people like my roommate, Kate, who float through life.

I don’t float—I run.

Sophomore year at Dutchess College has just begun, and Nicole is still haunted by memories of her first love, Zach. As the changing leaves fall on the stately Hudson Valley campus, she takes solace in running—pushing herself to go harder, faster, to be the best. With the wind blowing through her hair, she can almost convince herself that she is beautiful, that she will find love again.

So when Nico runs, quite literally, into the maddeningly elusive Justin, she’s convinced she’s found the guy to make her forget her ex—despite the warnings of her friends and her straight-edged running partner, Luke.

But when Nico is attacked in the woods after a wild night of partying, everything changes. Suddenly, Nico begins receiving anonymous threats, and she no longer knows where to turn for help—or whether even her close friends can be trusted.

All she wants is to be one of the beautiful girls—the ones who never have to chase perfection. But in order to uncover the truth, she’ll have to face a past she had hoped to leave behind forever. She thought she could outrun the darkness, but darkness has a way of catching up...and only one boy can save her.

picadillyblueBeautiful Girl is the first book I’ve read from Paper Lantern Lit’s publishing imprint and it’s definitely set my expectations pretty high for their future books.  Lida James’ debut novel has pretty much everything readers could want: suspense, romance, mystery, and betrayal.  I was hooked from the moment I picked it up.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nicole when I first started the book. She’s not an easy girl to like and it was hard for me to figure out if she might be a little bit crazy.  She definitely seemed like she might be a bit of an unreliable narrator.  She was paranoid and a little obsessive when it came to certain people in her life.  She was also very confused about guys.  She was a little bit of a tease and that was probably my biggest issue with her.  She had 3 or 4 guys interested in her  and it seemed like she just played them all.  I had no clue which one of the guys she was truly interested in although I knew which one I thought she should be interested in.  Henry was the only guy that seemed to be really good for Nicole.  He was sweet and charming and a little shy.  He was good for her and didn’t bring out the bad side of her like Justin or Zach did.

As for the mystery, I saw part of it from the start but there were many things that managed to surprise me throughout the course of the book.  Things kept happening and I’d expect one person to be doing them only to find out later that it was someone else.  I think Nicole’s paranoia really added to the mystery.  There were times when I was sure she was right about whoever was attacking her and other times I was sure she was just losing her mind.  It kept things interesting, that’s for sure.

The friendships in the book really did very little for me.  Nicole’s roommates were supposed to be her friends but I saw Monica more as a frenemy than anything and Kate was barely there for most of the book.  I just didn’t understand any of the draws for the friendships and I thought they were actually quite mean to each other.  They definitely had more of a relationship that involved a lot of backstabbing and jealousy.

Overall, Beautiful Girl is a thoroughly interesting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It definitely fits into the new adult category since it deals a lot with sex, drugs, alcohol, and other explicit content but it’s not done for the shock factor alone.  I’d highly recommend this one for fans of suspense.

What others are saying about Beautiful Girl:

Reading Lark’s review:  “I think in the end Lida James has created a story that will remind you of the beauty of hope and new beginnings.”

Fiktshun’s review: “BEAUTIFUL GIRL is a dark and intriguing story with gorgeous writing, an array of disturbing, maddening, sympathetic, likable and detestable characters facing a number of tough issues, and a chilling and suspenseful mystery.”

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About the author:

Lida James grew up in Brooklyn, New York and graduated cum laude from Vassar College with a BFA in English (and a lot of film credits, too). After working as a cameraperson on feature films in NYC she relocated to Los Angeles in search of mountains and waves. Once there, she wrote and sold screenplays (and snowboarded and windsurfed). She continues to enjoy living in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children—all shredders like herself—and two rescue dogs. Beautiful Girl is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter to learn more and for updates! photo © Amy Malloy