Monday, December 30, 2013

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe


The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1)

3.5 stars...

"Why would Villicus want that?
Why would parents be so willing to do that?...
This must be the hundredth time I've asked myself that very question.  But it is the first time I've actually come up with an answer.  And the answer changes everything."

Anne Merchant is weird, okay she isn't supper odd, she just happens to be the daughter of a mortician.  It has been part of her identity for a long time.  Another part of Anne's life?  Her mother suffered from severe bipolar and died in a tragic and traumatic way, and Anne was the one that found her.  Now, every time Anne closes her eyes she sees the last time she saw her mother replay over and over again.  Anne has worried her father, enough for him to think a change of scenery is needed.  So starts Anne's new life at a rich, secretive, creepy prep school named Cania Christy. 

Cania Christy only caters to the uber-rich, every student looks like they stepped out of a fashion magazine, and they all are competing with each other to earn the spot of the Big V, class valedictorian.  As Anne begins to attend this school, not only is she questioning how her father managed to get her into this super secretive, members only school, she is also wondering how he is swinging the payments and pondering the bigger meaning behind the Big V competition.  In a place where no one is your friend, and rules are not meant to be broken, Anne must figure out what is happening and why she's at Cania Christy.

The writing really leaned to the creepy, dark and stormy aura going on through out the book, and had I kept that in mind I might have been able to determine the plot of the book; however, I was pleasantly surprised at the details that I would not have guessed at.  Basically, this book looks, smells and taste like foul play/creepy secret society/parental secrets; however, the depth of the deception and weaving of the foul play is much greater.  I am interested in seeing what happens to Anne next and what is really behind the character known as Teddy, and what really happened to her mother... does she some how have a hand in everything at Cania Christy with Villicus?

Thank You NetGalley
Publishing Date: 01/14/2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

No One Else Can Have You

Prepare yourself for a disturbing crime YA drama, that will keep you guessing until it's too late.
“The cop looks directly at her for the first time, blinking.  He starts to tell her that she called in a disturbance, not a body, but she keeps going. 

                ‘Fancy red thread all through her lips.’  Her eyes are wide.  ‘Straw coming out through some of the stitches.  They tore apart our scarecrows and that’s what they did with the filling.  From the looks of her cheeks, her whole mouth’s been stuffed full.’

The officer drops his pen.”

And so begins our story.

 

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale is set in the small rural town of Friendship, Wisconsin with a small population of 688.  There has been a gruesome murder, and now no one feels safe.  Kippy has lost her best friend Ruth Fried, and Mrs. Fried has given her Ruth’s journal to edit the sexual content.  Kippy soon learns there was more to Ruth than she had thought.  Ruth’s boyfriend, becomes the prime suspect, but since she was having an affair with an older main, Kippy is not too sure this is an open and shut case.  Now armed with Ruth’s journal and the help of Ruth’s older, cute but suffering from PTSD from the war brother Kippy must figure out who in her town was sadistic enough to murder a young girl and stuff her like a scarecrow, before she becomes the next victim. 

This was a great mystery/thriller.  With so many characters and small population, almost anyone is suspect… at some point I considered Kippy and even Davey (Ruth’s brother).  The shocker at the end isn’t so much of a shocker.  It’s obvious, but again well played by placing the crime in a small town; it’s much easier to hide the obvious.  It was also a very humorous book.  Kippy isn’t an awesome person overall, there is nothing wrong with her, but she can be funny for sure. 

3 out of 5 stars! Thank you Edelweiss.

The Lost Boys by Lilian Carmine

The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys by Lilian Carmine was both charming and a bit strange.

Joe has just moved to Esperanza with her mother, two weeks before Christmas.  The book begins with Joe becoming lost in the cemetery, as she twists and turns to figure her way out, Joe spots him sitting on a grave.  “A boy, just a few feet away.  And he was beautiful.”  That is the beginning of Joe and Tristan’s friendship.  The only problem?  Tristan never wants to hang out anywhere but the graveyard, and since Joe just wants to be around him, she doesn’t really bother to think… for a minute… what this could mean.  I mean you only need a minute to figure out why someone only wants to be in a cemetery, never wants to touch you (like, say, when you fall), or doesn’t really talk about himself much.  Turns out, he’s a ghost.

This is a story of love, of witchcraft, of The Lost Boys (band of misfits and cuties who play in a…well, a band), and finally of growing into your own skin.  I think the author tried too hard to do too much in this book.  Not only is a ghost story, but Joe brings Tristan back with some hidden power she has.  Now they both must escape from the thing that fixes mistakes and anomalies in life, and they both must run away from death, or is it run towards it?  At the same time this is happening, Joe starts a new school, where she has to pretend that Tristan and her are siblings.  Here it’s about her growing into her own person, meeting new people and struggling with a new love that must remain hidden.  All the while the supernatural world is knocking on the door.  The book was interesting but it was not light, it tried to be…

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Offering by Kimberly Derting


The Offering (The Pledge, #3)
The Offering by Kimberly Derting is the third and final book in The Pledge series.  Charlie is still queen and she is still battling to remain herself, and not completely surrender to Sabara.  Niko, Sabara/Layla’s soul mate, is on a mission to get back his love, even if it destroys countless of people.  He bands together with Queen Elena, promising her the gift of immortality, but what she doesn’t realize is that she is just a pawn in a bigger game, one that she will not win.  This book was a great closer, people died, people were freed from bondage, and some people were given the chance of a HEA.  I do want to comment on the opening of this book: way to give me chest pains before the actual ride began.  Better yet, thanks for not letting the readers know that they are getting on a ride on the first page, it was more exciting that way, granted I don’t know how I feel about the aftermath of that first scene.  Sage, as character, was awesome… mainly because of the previously mentioned aftermath, was an amazing person through that.  I am glad that the end turned out to be less than perfect, like a mentioned people died; however, there seems to be the hope for everyone that things will in fact get better, slowly.  The ending made me giddy, but weirdly enough it had nothing to do with our faithful two lovers Charlie and Max.  To mention the death, I will state that it was necessary and just awful.  I mourned with Charlie and I mourned with the other characters who loved this character. 

3.5 stars out of 5 because there wasn’t enough action until the very end.  Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for an ARC.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine


The Promise of Amazing
 
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine had the promise to be something amazing… but it fell short for me.  About 40% in a realized that this was sensationalized fiction; the situations that the characters found themselves in were too ridiculous to be truthful, almost a 1 in a million story.  There are two main characters, Wren and Grayson.  Wren is on the verge of losing it, since she is “too quiet” and will possibly never get into a college like Harvard.  Her issues are realistic for kids her age during senior year.  Grayson on the other hand has done some bad things, the one I will spill in the review is the fact that he was part of a term paper scheme and was thrown out of his high school; however, Grayson has other issues and dirtier secrets.  One pig in a blank is what unites these two, as Grayson almost chokes to death on one and Wren saves him, since she is the waitress at her family owned restaurant. 

I don’t know how to fully explain my disappointment in the characters.  Not only where the situations ridiculous but the characters’ reactions were beyond ridiculous.  At some point I had to stop, because I was laughing too hard and just couldn’t deal with the issues unfolding in the book.  I do have to say that I laughed and had fun, because it was so short I couldn’t hate it too much.  I appreciate the author putting herself out there in her first novel, but my advice would be to try to reign in the ridiculous and make it more believable.  For instance, Wren’s way of dealing with the situations presented to her during the book made her look like a weak character as oppose to a character that grew (which is what I felt the author was going for.) 

2 out of 5 stars.  Thank you Edelweiss and the Publisher for an ARC.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Control by Lydia Kang

Control (Control, #1)
Control by Lydia Kang was uncontrollably good… sorry, I had to say it.  The tag line on goodreads.com states “An un-putdownable thriller for fans of Uglies.”  I haven’t had the pleasure of reading that series, but I will tell you one thing; this is a thriller that is written by someone who knows their stuff.  Remember when Harry Potter came out and everyone wished there was something magically special about them?  Well, I have seen variations of this story spun countless of times, and there always seems to be magic involved.  That is not the case in Control, there are a group of kids out there that are special, but their specialties come from variations of their genomes… or something scientifically smart like that.  It is so nice to read something that sounds so ridiculously technical, it must be true (I googled some things, turns out most of it is true if there was a crazy geneticist out there… I’m surprised there isn’t, really). 

Enough of the legitimacy of the fictional world created by Kang.  Zelia and Dylia are sisters, and they just saw their father die in a terrible accident.  Taken through the foster system, they are separated when Dylia is taken by some tough looking people.  Zelia is taken by Marka, an old colleague of Zel’s father.  What Zelia is not prepared for is the fact that her father worked with mutant kids, and that her sister is one of them.  Desperate to find Dyl, Zelia slowly finds her way at Carus House, her new home and home to genetically modified kids.  Here she discovers herself, her father’s real work, and something called love. 

Love:  I loved the love in the book.  There was a moment when I thought there would an infernal triangle (which could still happen in the series), but thankfully the author spared us all a huge dramatic cry fest by not having a love triangle.  At Carus House Zel meets Cy and boy is he something.  Cy has the ability to heal all wounds, so every day as part of his self-torture he tattoos his whole body.  The tension between these two is ridiculous in the beginning, especially since his hologram professor looks exactly like what Zel would look like, if she decided to wear a skirt and heels, coincidence, I don’t know.  Cy also has dark secrets that intertwine with Zel’s predicament.  Will he be able to help her?  Why is he always trying to hurt himself?

World Building:  Awesome world building in this book.  Set in the future this is an obvious dystopian novel.  To give some background of what is in store for readers, here is a small description of what the world for Zel looks like:  “…after the country couldn’t agree on religion or politics or how to wipe your butt the right way, they divided into clustered States.  Alms, Ilmo, Neia, Okks…each stewing in their happy ideals, all of them unified under a federal government weaker than my left pinkie.”  It was exciting to see a future so hauntingly close to what could really happen.  I am not comparing this book to 1984, but the realism of the changes to come was comparable. 

Best Description Used for Character: 

“He stands there, a pillar of ash and ink.”  If you read the book and get to know Cy you will feel as if this is an accurate description of him.  I love Cy J!

 

4 out of 5 stars.  Thank you Edelweiss and to the publisher for an early ARC.

Angelbound by Christina Bauer

Angelbound (Angelbound, #1)
 
 
Angelbound by Christina Bauer was not the most amazing book this year, but it was pretty entertaining.  It’s your classic (weird that it is now a classic…) Angel vs Demon vs Humanity vs Souls.  Myla is a quasi-demon, meaning she is a mix of some of the previously mentioned groups.  She lives in a world where everyone coexists in Purgatory, with issues of course, and she is the bottom of the totem pole.  Have you read books with angels and nephilim?  The whole time everyone is hunting down, or talking down to them because they show the greatest weakness of the fallen?  It’s almost like that, but with a twist.  “I am a quasi-demon (mostly human with a little demon DNA).  I’ve spent all eighteen years of my life in Purgatory (…aka the most boring place in the history of ever).”

There is also a love story, and of course she falls for Lincoln, someone she shouldn’t want to be with because of what he is and what she is; however, there’s a twist!  Myla isn’t what she thinks she is, and her mother has been keeping it a secret from her.  Now Myla must figure out who her father is, where he is, what she is, what she feels for Lincoln, pass school, avoid being on Armageddon’s radar, and bring a revolution like Purgatory has never seen before.

Was it exciting?  Yes, but sometimes I felt that it was too long, some scenes too unnecessary.  What I did like was Myla’s personality… to a point; she really likes killing (FYI).  There are some golden nuggets of conversations that were really funny.  Overall the experience was not terrible, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, and I will most likely be reading the next book.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for an early ARC.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

These Broken Stars by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
 
 
These Broken Stars by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner has to be one of the most original Sci-Fi stories this year, possibly in the past couple of years.  Not only was it sci-fi, but there were intense survival issues throughout the book, along with romance and social barriers being broken.   I even love how the title just makes sense in the last scene.  Tarver and Lilac’s little world eventually became broken stars, ones that I hope they will be able to see throughout time. 

Sci-Fi:  It probably looks obvious, but this is a Sci-Fi book all the way.  You have a huge space ship cruising through space with rich, poor, and military.  I have to agree with some responses to the book that it reminds me of the titanic, crash and all; however, this was much more electrifying (no pun intended) and at no point did I feel a sad lull, because there was too much action.  By the time Tarver and Lilac descend onto the planet nearest the crash, no one is left alive.  They are the sole survivors, and now on this new planet they must learn to adapt and also grieve their loss… that’s when the sadness comes on.  It was easy to follow along during the space talks and the world building was phenomenal. 

Lilac:  Lilac LaRoux is the residential rich girl, daughter of the most powerful man in the universe.  Her father is the owner of LaRoux Industry; they inhabit planets, make them into livable places and have colonies on those planets.  Her father is feared, and that makes Lilac untouchable much to her chagrin.  Many men fawn over her because of her status, and others steer clear of her because of fear of her father… that’s every man, except Major Merendsen.

Tarver:  Major Tarver Merendsen is the new hot shot decorated soldier.  Coming from a poor background, he will never fit into the rich life, however much they want to make him mingle.  He knows he’s only on the upper class deck for photo ops, no one there really wants to get to know him, and it’s all a show… that is, until Lilac catches his eye.

The Planet:  Holy creepiness.  I think that is what made this novel the best Sci-Fi so far.  Everything is creepy about the planet.  It’s inhabitable, but there are no inhabitants.  What there is are whispers, illusions, recreations of your thought, and rift from one dimension to the other.  Something is on the planet; Lilac and Tarver are not alone.  What they need to figure out is whether or not this something is a threat, or better yet what are they trying to communicate.

Bad Guy:  Guess who the bad guy is… that’s right!  It’s Lilac’s father.  I have noticed that the upcoming books will be companion novels, following new star-crossed lovers… but the baddie is still LaRoux.  He is dangerous, disturbing, and a bit controlling.  Throughout the novel you never see him, or even scenes of him, it’s hard to know the man behind the villain, thus far.  The closest we get is the end, when Lilac gives him a little bit of that hard earned LaRoux attitude and makes me so proud!

This was such an achingly sweet novel, with equal parts creepiness, romance, action, craziness, and heartbreak.  I had to put the book down for grown up reasons like my job; however, I did wake up at 1 AM because I just had to finish the book!  You will not be disappointed.

4/5 stars!  Thanks NetGalley.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms, #2)
 
Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes is the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series.  Much like its predecessor, it contains narratives from most, if not all of the major characters in the book, even if they only got one chapter.  Last time we left Cleo, Jonas, Magnus, and Lucia Auranos had fallen in to the clutches of King Gaius.  Lucia played a very integral part in this acquisition, as she is the prophesized sorceress.  Cleo has lost her father and sister at the hands of King Gaius, along with her kingdom and freedom.  Magnus is still his father’s, King Gaius, shadow; meanwhile Jonas is the leader of the rebels.  Too much happened in this book and my head is still spinning.  To summarize the main points: people will die in this book, people will marry in this book, there are a few surprise kisses (one will be extremely “ship” hot, while the other is so awkward and surprising it isn’t hot until a couple of pages, and then you will think… really, well I fancy those two together, Go Nic!), treachery and double crossing, weird alliances, more death, the Watchers are now making a big presence, new crazy villain, a resurrection, oh and more death.

Magnus really grew on me in this book.  There was definitely more of him in this book than the previous; the first book really centered on Cleo and Jonas.  Now that Magnus is the heir to the new kingdom of Mytica and Lucia is stuck in “The Sanctuary” since she is in a coma, they both seem to have bigger roles in this book.  Lucia is also going through this crazy sorceress stage, while Magnus is trying to cut the umbilical cord attached to his father.   The ending was too swift, almost as if you have been running a marathon for the past 2 hours and then all of a sudden some hand juts out to stop you.  Now your defenses are up, your heart rate is askew, and you no longer have anything to keep running to.  That is how it ends.  The next book will most likely zero in on Cleo and Lucia, since one holds the key to the other’s power.  That will be interesting to see: 

“And you’re not afraid of me?”

Terrified beyond words.

“No, I’m not afraid of you.”

 

4 out of 5 stars.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.