Category Archives: Book Reviews

Breathe – Book Review

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Plot:

Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl. It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught. That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over. Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way. Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction. On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is. Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening. Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time? Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.

Review:

From the very beginning, this book had me hooked and kept me all the way through til the very end. It’s not often that a book has me voraciously reading to find out what happens, but this one did, and I absolutely loved it.

As if Jasmine didn’t have enough to deal with after the murder of her sister, the person who killed Daisy was never caught, so her family decides to move halfway across the country to Lafayette, Louisiana, where they hope that things will be better. And things do get better, for a while.

Jasmine meets the world’s dreamiest Southern gentleman, Easton Ward. I only wish that I could be in Jasmine’s position because Easton sounds just like my dream guy. This may have had something to do with how much I loved the book but I think that the story itself was captivating as well.  The plot flowed well from event to event and kept me guessing at all the right points, which I appreciate in a book.

Overall I give this book 5/5 stars and I’m super excited to finish reading the sequel, Shimmer. If you love suspense, strong female characters and good Southern hospitality, you’ll definitely like this book.

Summer Demons – Book Review

Summer-Demons-jpg-for-webPlot:

Jenna Shaw ran away to escape her past. In fact, she jumped on a plane and flew to Portugal to try and forget it. However, it turns out leaving everything behind isn’t as easy as it sounds.

She thought she could move on and break free of her fears—that if she had some space, the pain would stop. But as memories resurface due to an ill-timed joke, the past crashes into her present once more and she didn’t see it coming.

Jenna’s plans for normality are derailed by the charismatic Ethan Brooks. She sees him as an annoyance; he sees her as a challenge. But as he tries every trick known to him to impress her, they only serve to push her further away. He’s never faced this problem before and Ethan has to work harder than he ever has if he wants to win over and help his mysterious girl.

Review:

While I’m not usually a fan of short novellas, I was intrigued by Summer Demons‘ description and occasionally I am a sucker for a romance novel. Also, and this might be terrible of me, the book has a really pretty cover. Hey, I’m only human, right?

Anyways, after a bit of a slow start, this book really picked up for me. I found myself intrigued by Ethan’s persistence in trying to woo Jenna, despite her seeming to be vehemently against his advances. After a bit of persuasion from her friend Amy, Jenna finally gives Ethan a shot and the two turn out to be really good for one another.

Even though this was a short and quick read, Summer Demons left me thinking about many important things, like how you never really can tell what someone is going through simply by looking at them. Just because someone looks happy or at ease doesn’t always mean that’s the case. A simple, “harmless” action can affect people in ways unknown, and Ethan learns this when he first attempts to hit on Jenna by knocking her off of a pool raft. While his intentions were good, Ethan had no clue that Jenna was ridiculously afraid of the water due to recent experiences. This, and other events in the book, show that it is difficult to tell what someone is going through solely based on appearances and that people should think more before they act.

Overall I give the book 3.5/5 stars.

 

Dark Child (The Awakening) – Book Review

dark child

Plot:

Lately things have been getting weird for pathology technician Kat Chanter. She’s been craving raw meat, and having dreams so realistic they’re scary. When she accepts a job offer from the prestigious Hema Castus Research Institute, she hopes she’ll have the chance to discover what’s wrong with her, but instead, her move to New York thrusts her headlong into a treacherous hidden world, where the wrong move could be fatal . . .

Tarot, witchcraft and astrology all take on a frightening resonance in Dark Child‘s richly imagined alternative reality where vampiric beings live among us, hidden by magic. Dark romance tangles with paranormal fantasy and page-turning suspense in this enthralling tale of ‘dark child’ Kat Chanter, half-human and half-vampire, who has woken an ancient prophecy and must face a formidable destiny.

Review:

I was first drawn to this book because it was recommended for fans of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. Having really enjoyed what I’ve read so far from that series, I decided to give this book a go.

The first thing that I noticed about this book is that it is actually five “episodes: stitched together to make one book. While reading, I was always on the lookout to see if I could tell where each episode ended, and I never once found such a place. The writing flowed well and kept me very interested in the characters’ stories.

Perhaps one of the things that bothered me the most about this book was how “stereotypically YA fantasy” it was. Kat’s body starts going through really weird changes. She wonders “oh my goodness, what’s wrong with me???” She then discovers that she is a part of a secret world she never knew about, due to her absent father, about whom Kat knows absolutely nothing. Well, turns out he had some secrets that he was keeping. Surprise!

Even though Kat has all this new information thrust upon her, she never once says “You people are nuts!”, and in fact just sort of blindly accepts that whatever these weirdos are saying must be true. Okay, Kat, making real good decisions there.

Then, among the Tabérin people (aka the quasi-vampires), there is a feud among the two different factions. Because there has to be some sort of added drama, right?

To top it all off, there’s even a little love-triangle action going on towards the end of the book. Not nearly as bad as the love triangles in many other works, but nonetheless annoying. Can’t characters ever have “normal” love lives?

All of this being said, I really enjoyed reading this book and I think that the series has a lot of potential for future installments. I just wish that the book hadn’t taken the “How To Write a YA Novel Checklist” so seriously. I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

 

Grasping at Eternity – Book Review

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Plot:

Leave it to Maryah Woodsen to break the one rule that will screw up eternity: Never erase your memories.

Before entering this life, Maryah did the unthinkable—she erased. Now, at seventeen years old, she’s clueless that her new adoptive family has known her for centuries, that they are perpetually reincarnated souls, and that they have supernatural abilities. Oh, and she’s supposed to love (not despise) Nathan, the green-eyed daredevil who saved her life.

Nathan is convinced his family’s plan to spark Maryah’s memory is hopeless, but his love for her is undying. After spending (and remembering) so many lifetimes together, being around an empty version of his soulmate is heart shattering. He hates acting like a stalker, but has no choice because the evil outcast who murdered Maryah in their last lifetime is still after her.

While Maryah’s hunter inches closer, she and Nathan make assumptions and hide secrets that rip them further apart. Maryah has to believe in the magic within her, Nathan must have faith in the power of their love, and both need to grasp onto the truth before they lose each other forever—and discover just how lonely eternity can be.

Review: 

Grasping at Eternity surprised me in such a good way. The main character, Maryah Woodsen, is an Element, or at least she was until she decided to erase her memories forever. Maryah must deal with many difficult things, including the loss of her parents and brother, moving in with her godmother and growing apart from her best friend. In addition to all of this, Maryah has crazy dreams that are more than they appear to be.

The characters that the author has created are so intricate and nuanced. While there are a ton of characters, I never found myself trying to remember who was who and getting everyone confused. Karen Amanda Hooper did an amazing job of developing her characters and it makes this book a great read.

Unlike many YA books, I found myself being surprised by this book almost the whole way through, which doesn’t happen often. I didn’t find this book to be predictable at all. Also, the whole premise of the book was something new to me, and with all of the books out about witches and angels and whatnot, it was very refreshing to read something completely new.

Overall I really loved this book and have already added the other two books in the series to my never-ending to-read list. I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

Madly, Deeply – Book Review

Plot:

Annaleigh Wells and William Calloway had a love even the angels envied. It was as if the universe spun them toward one another, like the stars crafted their souls to fit perfectly together.

With a wedding on the horizon, fate had a change of heart. Whispered warnings from phantoms and morbid nightmares darkened every night—but even visions of the future couldn’t save Annaleigh.

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee, Crouch’s period romance Madly, Deeply tells the tale of love so great, it cannot be contained in just one life.

Review:

Madly, Deeply  is not your traditional love story.

Anna and Will are, well, madly, deeply in love with one another. Theirs is a love so perfect that it almost made me want to hurl. But not in a bad way, if that makes any kind of sense (it probably doesn’t).  And while their love for one another may be perfect, the other aspects of their lives are anything but. Both characters experience hardships in their lives that they must overcome.

The way that that Crouch writes makes for a very quick yet entertaining read, and once I actually allowed myself time to just sit and read, I made my way through this book very quickly. The plot flowed well and the characters were well developed.

Not being familiar with Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” I didn’t know where the story was going. There were definitely many hints and clues sprinkled throughout the story, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it predictable. That being said, afterwards I looked up the poem, even though each stanza was given its own place at the beginning of each of the six sections of the book. Overall I thought this book was a fantastic reimagination of Poe’s work.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Since Forever Ago – Book Review

SinceForeverAgoPlot:

Fresh off the heels of a devastating breakup, Riley Benson is a mess. But with her ingenious plan to become a ball-busting heartbreaker herself, she’s pretty sure she’ll survive. After all, what better way is there to get revenge than to move on?

Riley’s determined to become the perfect bachelorette—she’s going to drink like a bro, belch like a beast and swear so much that she’ll make even the most seasoned sailors blush. After all, those are the qualities that every guy’s secretly looking for…. aren’t they?

Max Fletcher is in love with the girl who gave him chicken pox and his first broken leg. When his best friend seems to finally be out of the picture, he can’t help but want to keep Riley all to himself. And, after coaching her with the very best of the very worst love advice, it seems as if he might actually get what he’s wanted after all those years. But just as the two come to the realization that they’re actually kind of perfect for each other, along comes a secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Review:

Before I even started reading this book, I saw that reviewers had been giving it very negative reviews, so I tried to go in with as open a mind as possible and to not let others’ opinions influence my own.

The characters in Since Forever Ago are very realistic. While some reviewers have called them whiny, immature and clueless, I think that these characters are very much a representation of at least a good portion of those in the “new adult” age range. As a 19-year-old college student myself, I thought that Riley and her roommates Liz and Audrey portrayed new adults in a fairly accurate way. College students are notorious for partying too much, drinking too much and being overly dramatic, and the characters of this book represent just that. While these traits don’t describe all college students, it does describe a decent percent of them.

Riley is no hero. She drinks too much, swears like a sailor, and generally doesn’t have any part of her life figured out. But no one is perfect, and not all characters are hero types. Not everyone can be a Hermione or a Katniss. Riley showcases real emotions and often acts before she thinks. Just because she isn’t the empowered heroine doesn’t make her a bad character. She is just flawed, as everyone is, but perhaps just a bit more.

This book does have a lot of swearing and a few sex scenes, if that bothers you. While this book definitely wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, I enjoyed it and thought it was very funny. I found the characters and the story easy to relate to, and it was a very fast read.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

Ruination – Book Review

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Plot:

What if everything came down to a single test? If your life was defined at seventeen, could you handle it? Could you accept your fate leaving the ones you love, or would you risk it all and stay?

One test stands between Vanessa and Central. One chance to make the leap across the walls to a better life. At seventeen, Central considers Vanessa an adult. Her labor role, marriage, and housing divisions will be dictated by her performance on the leap.

Dedication and unfaltering friendship has bonded Vanessa to Garrett as they fight for their chance to leap into Central. But what happens when love overtakes reason? When defiance in the name of love creates an unintentional fracture in their nation.

Without warning Vanessa is at the mercy of the nation that’s supposed to protect her. Exiled and abandoned she must fight but she find’s she’s not alone. With her heart divided she seeks her revenge, but will her stand be enough? At seventeen, Central considers Vanessa an adult. Her labor role, marriage, and housing divisions will be dictated by her performance on the leap.

Review: 

Ruination is a great book for fans of the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched trilogies, and has themes that are similar in nature. Right away, the world that Amanda Thome created reminded me of those three series, in a way that was familiar yet new. For example, the story takes place in a world that is divided into three sectors, Central, Inner and Outer, similar to The Hunger Games districts. Residents can move up from lower sectors to the higher sectors with the Leap testing, which also decides what jobs and marriages the citizens will have, similar to the matching process in Matched.

One thing that I loved about this book is that while the world felt very familiar, I never knew what was going to happen and was constantly being surprised. Just as I thought that things were going to happen one way, I would be completely surprised by a new plot point.

The characters were all pretty well developed, and the chapters primarily switched between the narrations of Nessa and Ty. There were one or two chapters in the middle narrated by Garrett that I found a bit out of place, as they neither moved the story along nor added any real insight. At first it was a bit difficult to tell who was narrating each chapter as there were no titles like there are in books like Allegiant by Veronica Roth, but after a while it became very easy to tell who was narrating each chapter.

I really enjoyed the fast pace of the story and found it to be a quick read throughout the whole story.  I was kept on the edge the whole time I was reading and couldn’t wait to finish because it was such a gripping story.

In general, there were a few punctuation errors, like random hyphens in the middle of words, but I just attribute that to it being an ebook, where I always seem to find minor formatting issues. Not that big of a deal, but I still found myself being slightly annoyed every time I came across such an error.

I give this book a solid 4/5 stars.

The author is also holding a contest to have a character in book two named after two lucky winners.

Proving Ground – Book Review

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Plot:

This is not the story of how America fell apart; it is the story of how it pulled back from the brink at a heavy cost. Randall Quinn saved the people by killing democracy, and while everyone else is enjoying the booming economy and free rides to college, 16-year-old Lacan Branford is stolen from her family and tossed into a secret prison. She becomes part of Quinn’s nanotechnology experiments designed to create Nanotechs, the ultimate weapons of national security. But she is not alone.

Lacan meets Chloe, a girl who has been locked up longer than most and lost a little of her sanity along the way.  She also finds Alex, a classmate she did not really know aside from her flirty reputation. And then there are the other girls they just try to avoid. They are three against a hundred.

Their families think they are dead and they have no chance of escape. Their only choice is to serve Quinn and preserve the new order he has created. Fortunately for Lacan, she met someone who says he will help her do just that. All she has to do is survive her training.

Sooner or later, they all have to prove their worth.

Review:

Proving Ground is a well-written novel that drew me in from the very first sentence.  Right away, I felt that the characters were very well developed and the story was something unique. The main character, Lacan, is just an average 16-year-old girl who gets her life ripped away from her and is thrust into this secret world that few know exists.  Though obviously upset about being torn away from her family and her boyfriend, Lacan stays strong and makes allies immediately, though the alliances are less about protecting herself and more about protecting others. All of the girls that have been forced into this facility are training for the Trials, where their skills will be tested, and if they prove themselves worthy, which few do, they will become Nanotechs.

The Nanotechs are scientifically advanced creations that thrive off of nanotechnology and specially designed suits of armor. Right away, they reminded me of comic book characters like The Winter Soldier or even Iron Man.  So far, only two have proven themselves worthy of becoming Nanotechs, the Gray Reaper and the Black Knight. They serve as a symbol of justice, taking care of what needs to be done that the new government can’t necessarily handle through traditional means.

There is a fair amount of violence in Proving Ground, similar to The Hunger Games, but nothing overly-gruesome. The Trials require the girls to fight against one another to prove their skills, and the girls are relentless.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am impatiently waiting for the sequel, Silver Maiden, to be completed so I can get my hands on it. I give the book 4/5 stars.

You can purchase Proving Ground from Amazon HERE

The Murder Complex – Book Review

the murder complex

Welcome to the Murder Complex

You cannot see us. You cannot feel us.

But we are here.

And we control your every move.

Plot (from Lindsay Cummings’ blog):

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision. The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family? Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

Review:

Let me start this review off by saying that I absolutely adored this book and can’t wait for the prequel novella and the second book to come out. So good!

Right away, The Murder Complex hooked me and kept me interested throughout the whole book. This book is a great possibility for those who love dystopian series such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Legend. The book switches between the points-of-view of the two main characters, who both learn things about themselves and their families’ pasts as the book progresses. Unlike most books where the major plot points are sometimes extremely obvious and predictable (to me at least), this book kept me guessing as to where it was headed next.

As the name might suggest, The Murder Complex does not shy away from blood and death, as there is plenty of both. In this kill-or-be-killed world, if you aren’t willing to kill someone, you can bet that you will be next to die.

One thing that bothered me a bit about the book was the progression of the relationship between Meadow and Zephyr. In the beginning, the relationship seemed very forced, and then almost out of nowhere, the tension between the two disappeared and they got along fine. The transition between the two separate stages of their relationship could have been a little more developed so as to not feel quite so sudden.

Throughout the last third or so of the book, the action picks up immensely and by the time I read the last page I was already dying to get my hands on the sequel. I need to know what happens! It’s not too often that a book literally leaves me yearning for more.

I give this book 4/5 stars and a definite “You need to go read this!”

You can preorder The Murder Complex, available June 10, 2014, HERE, and the prequel novella The Fear Trials, available June 3, 2014, HERE.

This review was originally posted on Hunger Games Network