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.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about Fairest:

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

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

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
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4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What others are saying about The Lies About Truth:

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

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

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
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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

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewSix of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 465
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

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Leigh Bardugo has done it again.  She made me fall in love with the world, the characters, the story, everything, and then she ripped it all away!  Six of Crows proved to me that I will love everything she does.  If you were a fan of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, then Six of Crows is definitely for you.

Let me start off by saying, yes, there are references to the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to be completely honest, I feel that I would have been okay even without reading those books first.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend those books (very very much) but if you haven’t read them and you’re dying to start Six of Crows, I say go for it.  The references were mainly names and some incidents and sure they might spoil your experience with the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to each his own.  It’s up to you to decide which you read first.

When I started Six of Crows, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.  It took me a long time to really get into the story.  The book is told from six different points of view and it made it harder for me to really get to know the characters and fall in love with them.  That’s not to say that that didn’t happen eventually, it just took about 150 pages.  I really had to spend some time with this book and push through the beginning to get to the good parts.  And when I say good, I really mean great.  When things get going, they really get going.  Kaz and his crew do not mess around.

Kaz is the leader of the Dregs, a gang located in the Barrel, the lowest place in Kerch.  He’s in charge of the group that’s meant to take on the biggest heist possibly ever.  It’s an almost impossible job and it requires a very skilled crew.  Kaz (nicknamed Dirtyhands) brings everyone together and his skill set is wide.  He’s great at coming up with crazy plans and he’s willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants.  Hence his nickname.  He’s also got a past that haunts him and influences everything he does.  He’s got secrets and my heart broke for him every time a new one was revealed.  Then there is Inej.  She’s his Wraith, his righthand woman.  She is sneaky and brave and cunning and just plain badass.  She’s also got a past that is pretty much the only reason she’s stuck doing what she’s doing.  But she’s also got plans for a future and nothing is going to stop her from reaching it.  Jesper is another of Kaz’s crew, also part of the Dregs.  He’s got a serious gambling problem and a love for guns.  I feel that there’s more to him than meets the eye and I look forward to finding out more about him in the coming books.  Also, he’s pretty dang funny.  Nina is the Grisha in their crew.  She’s a Heartrender who is stuck doing things she doesn’t want to do because Grisha are totally taken advantage of everywhere now.  She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Ravka but she has some wrongs to right first.  Matthias is one of those wrongs.  He’s not part of the Dregs but he doesn’t really have much of a choice when it comes to this heist.  He took a lot of work but he wasn’t all bad.  Last but not least, there was Wylan.  A relatively new member of the Dregs (and I’m not even sure if he was a full member) but he had other uses.  He was smart and funny and willing to put up with all of Jesper’s crap.  The two of them together might have been my favorites.

The heist is totally crazy.  I had no clue how Kaz and the crew were planning on pulling it off and even if I thought I knew, I would have been wrong.  Things were popping up every other page that put a damper on their plans.  Like I said, Kaz was great at coming up with plans which was good because they needed a new one practically every other page.  Once the Dregs really start in on their heist, the book never slowed down.  I was hooked and I wanted to do nothing but read.  It was pretty much perfect from that point on.

Oh and there may have been some romance.  It was more of a slow burn and there wasn’t a whole lot of payoff this time around.  I’m definitely hoping for some of that in the next book.  I don’t want to give anything away but I honestly don’t know who my favorite couple would be at this point.  They all have their moments.

Overall, Six of Crows has solidified my love of all things Leigh Bardugo.  Take your time with this one.  Don’t let the beginning fool you.  It’s a fabulous book that deserves every bit of praise it has been getting.  I’m already dying to get my hands on the sequel.

What others are saying about Six of Crows:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to read more.”

Reading Books Like A Boss’ review: “Set in the same imaginative world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, this action-packed spin-off left me in an abyss of despair because I need more of these characters!”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “There was so much potential for attachment and shipping (the ships! so much potential there) and feelings, but Six of Crows never crossed that line from “potential” into actual, full-blown attachment, for me.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | Review

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | ReviewIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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At this point I feel like I don’t even need to write a review for this book.  So many other bloggers have read it and reviewed it and I’m pretty sure they have all said everything that I am going to say in this review.  Oh well, you’ll get my review anyway.

Illuminae was one of the most buzzed about books at BEA this year and after reading it, I know why.  I’ve never been a fan of science fiction books and I didn’t think it would be any different with Illuminae.  Boy was I wrong.  I adored everything about this book, from start to finish.  If I had the time to reread it right now, I would.  If you’re like me and a bit skeptical, I understand.  Ignore your misgivings and read it anyway!

The format of Illuminae makes for a quick, easy read.  Although I have to admit, the blacking out of swear words didn’t really do anything except make me curious.  I kept trying to figure out what words would fit in the sentences.  I’m weird like that.  Other than that, the story is told through interviews, chats, schematics, journals, and other odd styles.  I loved everything about that!  I admit there were some parts that confused me a bit and I had to reread sections to make sense of everything but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was powering through the book.  I just wanted to keep reading and I probably read a little too fast.  I guess that just means I’ll need to reread the book to see if I missed anything.

I was a little worried that because of the style of writing, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters.  That was not the case at all.  Kady and Ezra were really easy to like and I truly loved their relationship.  They definitely had their issues but they were so good together.  Even their arguments were cute.  There was actually very little physical interaction between the two but that didn’t bother me.  I’m all for romance and sexy times in my books but the build up in Illuminae might have been even better than actual sexy times between the two.  Together, the two were awesome.  Separate, they were also awesome.  They were strong and smart and funny.  I went through the spectrum of emotions while reading their stories.  I laughed, I squealed, and I definitely cried.  Boy did I cry.  Just goes to show that an amazing story can be told in many different ways.

The story itself is pulse pounding and full of surprises.  I really didn’t know what to expect with this story and I think that was a good thing.  I had no expectations for Illuminae but even if I had, it would have exceeded them.  The story is so unique and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman did an amazing job with it.  And while things tie up pretty nicely at the end, there is clearly more to come.  I look forward to seeing what these two have in store for readers next.  I’m not sure anything can top Illuminae but I hope the rest of the series does.

Overall, Illuminae deserves every bit of praise it has received so far and I hope that it becomes a huge hit when it hits shelves soon.  Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are two authors that are new to me but I’m definitely going to seek out more of their work now.  Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.  You won’t regret it.

What others are saying about Illuminae:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “This is fresh and spectacular and clever.”

Book Blog Bake’s review: “There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.”

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “For real, this book took me on quite the journey and I do not know about you all, but when I come back from a particularly great trip, I have this disoriented feeling as I try to get back to business as usual.”

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, September 1, 2015

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | Review

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | ReviewDrowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley
Published by Random House on September 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

"A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts."
John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back

Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?

picadillyblueThis is one of those books that’s really hard to review.  It’s not that I didn’t like it or that I loved it, it’s just kinda right there in the middle.  Drowning is Inevitable is definitely a strong debut but it’s one of those books that will appeal to some people but not at all to others.

Shalanda Stanley’s writing is beyond stunning. She’s one of those authors that could write a phone book and make it captivating. I wish I still had my ARC of the book so I could share some quotes but just take my word for this.  Her style of writing is extremely lush and descriptive.  It’s perfect for the setting of a small-town in the south and New Orleans.

Olivia is a hard character to like.  She’s spent her whole life in the shadow of her dead mom and she’s come to accept that she is not her own person.  It takes some extremely drastic measures for her to finally realize that she is an individual who makes choices of her own and has a life ahead of her that is all her own.  Even after she starts living her own life, she doesn’t make the best decisions.  She’s completely loyal, though.  I will give her that.  She loves Jamie with all her heart and can’t, even for a second, see that there might be something bad in him.  Personally, I couldn’t see the bad in him either.  He made a bad decision that affected him, his family, and his friends, but he did it out of love and terror.  As for Max and Maggie, I didn’t have many feelings for them, one way or the other.  Max was not the smartest guy out there and he was extremely jealous of how close Olivia was with Jamie.  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to see Olivia and Jamie safe.

The story is a lot more slow moving than I expected from the synopsis and the start of the book.  Things take off early but from there they fizzled out a bit.  Jamie, Olivia, Max, and Maggie go on the run and things only get worse for them from there.  They don’t know who they can trust and they don’t always trust the right people.  Family means nothing to these kids’ actual families.  They are more family to each other than any of their parents.  They were pretty much on their own and they did whatever they had to do to protect one another.

As much as I could see things coming, I couldn’t stop reading.  This book is very much like a train wreck.  You know it can’t end happily but you just can’t look away.  Even though they may have been in less trouble if they’d turned themselves in early, you know they can’t completely get away with what they’ve done.  They either take their chances on the run (which they do) or they take their chances with the law.  It was a lose-lose situation from the start.

While the story really does center on these 4 teens while they are on the run, it’s also a story about Olivia and her mom.  Her mom committed suicide shortly after she gave birth to Olivia and that death defined the beginning of Olivia’s life.  Her dad couldn’t stand to look at her because of the similarities to her mom and her grandmother only saw the similarities between Olivia and her mom.  Then there was the fact that everyone in town expected her to follow in her mom’s footsteps.  Olivia’s life wasn’t her own for most of the book and it took this crazy trip for her to finally start to see that maybe she could make her own decisions and her own mistakes.

Overall, Drowning Is Inevitable is a stunning debut novel that will take readers by surprise.  It’s a story full of layers that continued to take me by surprise.

What others are saying about Drowning Is Inevitable:

Emily Reads Everything’s review: “This book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.”

The Book Hookup’s review: “Drowning is Inevitable perfectly captured life in all its complicated glory.”

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
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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.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewHeir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

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Oh Sarah J. Maas, what have you done to me?  Heir of Fire has ruined me for all books in the near future.  This series just continues to amaze and impress me.  Heir of Fire takes things up another level for the Throne of Glass series and to be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible.

I don’t want to spoil things for anyone so if you haven’t read Crown of Midnight, stop reading.  Seriously, go away now.  I will not be held responsible for any spoilers you might see in this review.

A few people finally know who Celaena really is.  Not many, and not all the key players, but some.  However, just because people finally know her identity as Aelin doesn’t mean she’s any closer to accepting it or the responsibilities that come with it.  In fact, she may be even farther away from accepting those responsibilities than she was before.  Being sent to Wendlyn to find out about the Wyrdkeys and learn to control her magic has pushed her over the edge.  Memories from her past are surfacing, some that she’d rather not remember.  In Heir of Fire she is really forced to take a look at her past and figure out what everything means for her future.  Controlling her magic is only the first step in the process of defeating the king.

I have loved Aelin from the start, even when she was being selfish and spoiled.  I didn’t like that about her but I came to accept it and saw that she could be that way even while being a badass assassin who took shit from no one.  In Heir of Fire I came to love her even more.  She is nowhere near the same person she was when her journey began.  She’s faced losses that would cripple some people and she’s come out the other side with a very different outlook on life and her goals.  She’s still very much focused on how things will end for her but she’s learning to branch out to include some other people.  She is a very caring person no matter what front she puts on for people.  Even if she’s not sure she wants to accept the responsibilities of a queen, she knows that she wants to help her people.  I appreciated that about her.

A lot of new characters were introduced in Heir of Fire and I’m not sure who I loved the most.  I will say that I didn’t care all that much for Sorscha but I think that’s because I didn’t know a lot about her.  Her story didn’t seem very fleshed out to me.  I wanted to know more about her background and why she did what she did.  Hers was the only story like that though.  Aedion, Rowan, Manon, Maeve and even some of the more minor characters had such depth to them.  I admit that I didn’t really like many of the new characters at first but most of them grew on me.  Aedion was Aelin’s cousin and after the downfall of their kingdom, he did whatever it took to keep his people safe.  Sure he was kind of a little shit but I came to understand his actions.  Rowan was pretty damn harsh to Aelin but his history was very complicated and he saw her as nothing but a young, spoiled girl who hadn’t had to fight for anything in life.  Their relationship was twisted from start to finish but I loved it.  Not sure he’s someone I want with Aelin but I could see how it might work between them.  As for Manon, she’s a hard nut to crack.  I don’t know if she’s evil or not.  The witches roles in things are going to be very interesting.

I just want to briefly mention Chaol and Dorian because I can’t possibly not mention them.  Chaol really bugged me this time around.  In Crown of Midnight I saw how he felt about certain aspects of Aelin’s life but you really get to know his feelings in Heir of Fire.  I’ll have to see how things play out with him and Aelin in the next book because if he doesn’t switch things up soon, I’m not going to like him anymore.  As for Dorian, that poor boy has too much stuff to deal with.  My heart broke for him so many times and I don’t know how I’m going to take things in the next book if something doesn’t change in his situation.

The story is lengthy and twisted and totally nothing I ever saw coming.  The thing I appreciated most about Heir of Fire was the amount of history woven into things.  Sarah J. Maas doesn’t just dump information on you, she manages to weave it all into the current storylines so it makes complete sense.  I would have felt so lost if I hadn’t learned some info about the witches, the fae, and the Wyrdkeys.  That was one of the things I felt so clueless about in Crown of Midnight so I appreciated that things were finally explained some more.  Also, while a lot of things are explained in Heir of Fire, a lot of new things are introduced that left me with tons of questions.  I can see how this series is going to be six books.  There is just too much going on to condense these.

Overall, Heir of Fire is the best of the series, by far.  Sarah J. Maas has cemented her place on my list of favorite authors.  I cannot wait to continue this series.

What others are saying about Heir Of Fire:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “While Heir of Fire definitely has all kinds of action, it’s a looong book, and it’s slower.”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Heir of Fire is that rare epic fantasy that is about people.”

Great Imaginations’ review: “It is miles and miles away from the boy-and-candy-crazy ‘assassin’ of Throne of Glass and is instead a story of a people rising up to face an oppressor, of a girl coming into her birthright, of hope and healing and fighting back.”