Review: Mortal Danger

Mortal Danger by Ann AguirreTitle: Mortal Danger
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Immortal Game #1

About: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. 

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.

My Thoughts: This sounds like a pretty good concept, until you open the cover. This “Faustian compact” — Edie has Kian make her beautiful. Somehow, that fixes all of her problems. Suddenly she’s no longer a social pariah, and apparently her new look equals a new and improved personality, too. Oh, and she shouldn’t worry about her parents — however drastic the changes to her appearance might be, they won’t be suspicious since she’s spending the summer away. As if parents/adults are completely oblivious idiots. (Sorry, but as a parent, that’s just infuriating to have my peers written off as just the biggest morons ever.) And, no, I’m not just too old to be able to remember life with my parents at that age — my parents were not idiots who were blissfully unaware of just about everything.

And I have apparently turned this review into a mini-rant about how we parents are just totally misrepresented in YA literature. Sorry. Back to the review …

As if teenage girls aren’t (generally speaking) superficial enough, let’s have a book wherein the main character’s social problems are all but completely solved simply because she’s suddenly no longer an ugly girl. Yeah, because that’s how life works … (please note the gigantic amount of sarcasm here)

So, basically, Edie comes across as the most shallow main character I’ve come across in quite awhile. Sure, she gets into big trouble and is in — hee, hee — Mortal Danger, but she’s kinda made her own bed. Shouldn’t she lie in it?

And the insta-love between her and Kian? Hasn’t this been very overdone in YA? Hell, not just YA, but especially YA.

I found this extremely disappointing, and it was slow to start, too. Took me several days of forcing myself to read just a few pages to finally get where I wanted to finish. And, honestly, several times I considering making this my first DNF in quite some time. But, a tiny part of me wanted to see where this was headed.

Will I read this again? Absolutely not. Would I recommend this? Probably not. Will I continue the series? Only if the opportunity presents itself.

1.5 StarsSource: ARC sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: Mortal Danger is scheduled for release around August 5, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: There Will Be Lies

There Will Be Lies by Nick LakeTitle: There Will Be Lies
Author: Nick Lake
Series: n/a

About: Shelby Jane Cooper’s world is the town of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she’s home-schooled, hits balls at the batting cage, visits the library, and sees The Boy. Life in her city in the desert is one big routine, like ice-cream-for-dinner Fridays: normal. 

But in four hours, she’ll be struck by a car, and that’s when normal ends.

Barely recovered from the accident, Shelby is inexplicably whisked away by her mother—away from the hospital, her home, and everything she loves—on a manic road trip to the Grand Canyon. 

Shelby’s mother says that everything’s fine. But with mile after mile falling fast behind them, Shelby starts to question everything she knows about her life and tries to piece together what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can ultimately trust.

My Thoughts: I was very surprised by how good this book is. The writing is fantastic, and the story had me hooked right off the bat. One thing I really liked was that typography was used to “illustrate” the book in many ways. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll get it if you read it. It reminded me in many ways of a novel in verse, except that it’s mostly a basic novel written in the usual format — except in some parts.

The book is told in first-person from Shelby’s perspective. And I just loved her voice. She’s sarcastic, honest, witty, and fun to read. Oh, and she’s your typical teenager — snarky and prone to exaggeration (things taking 4,280 years, and whatnot). It’s a hoot to read! She, as a character is very sympathetic. I found myself rooting for her from start to finish.

My only complaint is that this book is highly predictable. I don’t think there were any surprises in it for me. I figured out the truth pretty early on, and the Dreaming’s purpose was also very easy for me to figure out on my own. While there’s some satisfaction in being able to shout, “I knew it!” while reading, it’s also somewhat disappointing to have it all figured out from pretty close to the very beginning.

Despite the obviousness, I still found this book hard to put down. I felt for Shelby. I loved her voice. And this is a very well-written book. If it wasn’t for the predictability factor, this would’ve been a 5-star book.

4.5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: There Will Be Lies is scheduled for release around January 6, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Feral

Feral by Holly SchindlerTitle: Feral
Author: Holly Schindler
Series: n/a

About: It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

My Thoughts: I am very confused about this book. Not by it — I understand the story just fine — but about this book. How I feel about it. What I think about it. Do I like it? Don’t I? What do I think about it? Why?

Usually those are somewhat easy questions for me to answer. But, I’m not sure this time — and, no, it’s not “writer’s block” or anything like that. I started out liking it, and quickly found myself thinking it was pretty darn good. I was eager to get into it, really get submersed in the story. And then Claire went bat-shit crazy. And, somehow, her classmates — Rich and Becca especially — don’t get weird about it. Somehow they keep trying to be her friends. I don’t know about you, but high school wasn’t like that for me. If I’d done and said some of what she did, I’d have been a social pariah!

The book is creepy. Very creepy. And it makes feral cats seem like tools of Satan — or something. I love cats, and they have never freaked me out before. But this book, well, they’re quite freaky. And, well, it’s also a bit gross — and that’s putting it mildly. If you’re squeamish, proceed with caution!

The end, I think, did play out pretty well. Claire grew. She matured. And she came to some understandings about things she clearly hadn’t had before.

This book was very, very predictable. I figured out pretty early who “he” is. And I had a pretty good — and accurate idea — what was going on with Claire. There were a couple of things I didn’t quite get, but they were really not a huge surprise either.

So, after all of this, how do I feel about this book? Let’s think. I liked it at first, then really liked it. Then Claire became an idiot. An absolute idiot. Yes, that is explained, but that part was drawn out way too long. And everyone around her — her father and Rich especially — seemed to not pick up at all on her craziness. I find that hard to believe.

The middle third or so, I often felt I had to force myself to keep reading. I was so ready to make it a DNF. But, I wanted to see if the story could recover. See if I could find the ending worth pushing through all the stuff I just couldn’t stomach. And, well, I felt the ending was pretty satisfying (although, there was one pairing I was hoping to happen that just didn’t). Not awesome-so-glad-I-saw-this-through satisfying. But good enough. I’m glad to know exactly what happened. And the final chapter, that part was touching, sweet, and pretty close to perfect. But, well, it wasn’t enough to fully redeem the sludge in the middle.

3 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Feral is scheduled for release around August 26, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: The Girl From the Well

The Girl From the Well by Rin ChupecoTitle: The Girl From the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: n/a

About: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night. 

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out. 

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

My Thoughts: Riveting. Captivating. Amazing.

Yup, I loved it! I wasn’t aware of the Japanese ghost story that is the basis for this book, so I didn’t realize that’s what this was until the legend is mentioned in the book, which is pretty far into it. (Side note: I only read the synopsis once, when I decided to sign up for this tour. I almost never read the synopses before starting, as that tends to tell more than I want to know. It’s generally enough to know that I thought it worth reading when I first signed up. Even with books that aren’t part of a tour, I rarely read the summary.) Not knowing the story didn’t affect my understanding of the book at all. In fact, lack of familiarity might’ve been a good thing. I had no expectations related to that story. Nothing the book had to live up to.

This book is thrilling. Absolutely thrilling. I was hooked from page one, and easily could have read it all in one sitting. For one thing, it’s relatively short (less than 300 pages), but also because it’s a fast, exciting read.

The writing style is unique, and very good. I loved the narrator’s voice, and the occasional straying from conventional paragraph structure. It was a nice touch that really helped with the feel of the story — which is exciting and a bit creepy. If you’re good at visualizing what you read, this might freak you out a bit. If you love a good thrill, make sure to read this before turning in for the night! ;)

Riveting. Captivating. Amazing. If you like a fast, thrilling, chilling read, don’t miss The Girl From the Well by Rin Cupeco.

5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: The Girl From the Well is scheduled for release around August 5, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Sinner

Sinner by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Sinner
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5

About: A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

My Thoughts: I’ll be honest and tell you right off the bat that this didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The Wolves of Mercy Falls was one of those series that surprised me. I read it because I had heard a lot of hype. I was skeptical — things so often don’t live up to the hype. I was delightfully surprised to find that I absolutely loved the series — each book a bit more than the previous one. As such, I had very high expectations for this book.

That really wasn’t fair. 

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater is good, but it didn’t blow me away the way the rest of the series had. It kept my interest, but Cole and Isabel — their on-again-off-again relationship was tiring. And while I liked how everything turned out, I didn’t feel the plot was developed enough to really make it a logical conclusion. (I would expand on that, but don’t want to spoil for anyone out there.) 

Still, if you’re a fan of this series, then definitely read this book. Especially if you’re a fan of Cole. I liked his perspective on things. I enjoyed seeing the story through his eyes. I felt bad for him when Isabel went into bitch-mode, which (not surprisingly) was more often than not. I would like to believe that theirs is a happily-ever-after ending, but I cannot be confident in that. Hopefully the rocky road that is the start of their relationship smooths out and becomes the foundation of something truly wonderful.

3 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Afterworlds

Afterworlds by Scott WesterfeldTitle: Afterworlds
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: n/a

About: Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… 

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

My Thoughts: When this book arrived, my first thought was that it’s HUGE. And it is — it’s over 600 pages long! While I tend to be a fast reader, I wasn’t so sure about how quickly I’d make it through such a large tome. Thankfully, it doesn’t read like a book with 600+ pages. It goes fast, and it covers a lot of ground.

Firstly, though, I gotta say, I love the cover. And I liked it even more once I started reading; it’s a perfect fit. (And I couldn’t help but think what a big-time author he is, as he has earned having his name in a bigger font that the book’s title!)

As stated above, this book is told in alternating chapters: Darcy’s life and Darcy’s novel. Now you see why this is such a long book, right? ;) I found it really neat how the two worked together. You have Darcy adjusting to her new life in New York, and it quickly becomes watching Darcy try to make edits to make her publisher and editor happy. You see her ruminate about things, discuss things, and how things have changed from her original composition to her final draft, the one we read. I loved reading about how different things had to change, and sometimes we read about the changes (or proposed changes) after having read the part in question. No need to explain how that turned out — we already know!

The writing is masterful — for both Darcy’s life and Lizzie’s story. The stories, however, weren’t quite as riveting as I’d hoped. I never felt like I had to keep reading. Never felt like I just had to find out how everything ended up. Still, I found myself getting through it surprisingly quickly. And, overall, I did find it enjoyable.

3.5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Afterworlds is scheduled for release around September 23, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: The Kiss of Deception

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonTitle: The Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1

About: In this new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

My Thoughts: This is another one of those books that took me by surprise. I was intrigued by the description, and thrilled to find that the book was even better. Only one complaint: BIG-time cliffhanger ending!

The book is told in first-person perspective throughout. Most of the time, it’s from Lia’s perception, but we also have a good amount of narrative from the assassin and the prince. And even occasionally from someone else, like Lia’s friend, Pauline. The story flows seamlessly, and it’s handled very well. My favorite thing about this style was that at first the guys are referred to as “The Assassin” and “The Prince.” Once they meet Lia, they’re referred to on a first-name basis. But it’s not clear which is which. At times I found myself thinking I knew, and something would happen to make me change my mind. And, honestly, that question was what really got me hooked early on in the book. Once I had made up my mind, I discovered I was completely wrong! What a glorious surprise!

In addition to the narrative style, the story itself is very good. While at first I found myself wanting to roll my eyes at Lia’s complaints (poor thing, born royalty and has duties — but really no real problems, like not enough money for food or other such struggles), she quickly grew on me. By the end, I was pulling for her one hundred percent! And I am irked at the huge cliffhanger I’m left with! ;-)

So far as relationships go, I liked both Rafe and Kaden and found it hard to decide which I hoped was which — assassin or prince. As I mentioned earlier, once I had decided, I was dead wrong! Despite the circumstances, I think both guys have some book boyfriend potential. Will they both make my list at the end of the year? I’m not sure, but I think one might …

I’m not going to say much more, as I’m wary of spoiling any bit of this. The question of who was in which role had me more intrigued than anything for the first half of the (rather long — almost 500 pages) book. I would hate to ruin that for future readers. Suffice it to say that The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is a book I would very highly recommend! And, yes, I hope to read it again — perhaps shortly before reading the sequel (which can’t come soon enough).

5 StarsSource: Sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: The Kiss of Deception is scheduled for release around July 15, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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