Format: Hardcover

Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review:  Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

If you guys are looking for a fun summer young adult read, look no further because Alex, Approximately might just be the right book for you.

It follows a girl named Bailey who is a completely classics movie buff. She meets a boy nicknamed ‘Alex’ online on a movie forum and they share a lot of things in common. Alex wants her to travel to California because they are going to have this big movie festival during summer and there is a movie he wants her to see, plus because they click so much, he wants to meet her. When her mother’s relationship ends up on the rocks with her current husband, Bailey feels like she has had enough drama and moves to California to live with her dad.

It just happens that Alex, also lives in the same city as her dad.

Bailey get’s cold feet and never tells ‘Alex’ that she is in town in hopes of scoping out the boy first, in case he is a creepy old man, and with her past she has every right to be careful.

Unfortunately the search for Alex hits home a lot closer than she thinks.

Can I just say I absolutely loved and adored this book. As far as romances go, this is like one of my top five favorites of this year so far. I had so much fun with this, with Bailey and Porter. I adored them.

When the two first meet at work, it’s a bit rocky. Porter comes off like an ass and Bailey does not want to cower in front of him.

In fact, right from the start he really pisses her off. The two end up arguing a lot, but when they don’t fight, sparks fly and magic happens. It turns out, Porter actually really likes her.

I just loved this I really did. I needed something light after reading a dark book and this helped a lot. Lately I’ve also been enjoying Young Adult Contemporary because I haven’t read a lot of them. Plus, it helps with the Adult Romance rot I am currently feeling.

Bailey and Porter were great together. Not only did I love their relationship. I enjoyed the positive family relationships as well as friendships that developed in this book.

I absolutely adored how everything unfolded and that Porter is actually Alex and how the two clicked offline, without actually knowing who the two really are. (This is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb y’all)

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book except for the part where Bailey felt a bit thick when it came to the big reveal. Porter kind of put the two and two together first and his reaction made me a bit grumpy, but I just couldn’t understand how Bailey did not see the missing puzzle piece when everything was sitting in front of her. Honestly, she should have put the two together a lot more quickly.

Also, the Davy storyline in this was a little rough and a bit weirdly unnecessary.

Overall, this was a great read – currently top 5 romance favorites this year. It was well written, with a wonderful storyline, great characters, positive relationships with friends, family and between Bailey and Porter.

I loved Porter, I really did. He really made the story for me.

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Posted April 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Series: standalone
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I can’t believe it took me this long to pick this book up. I actually bought this for my dad about a month ago and after he finished, he told me “Lily, you got to read this.” I was a bit busy, had a lot on my plate, and did not get a chance to. I went to the library and behold, they had a copy available and I snatched it up.

Guys! I could NOT, put this book down. It was…Wow.

What is so great about this? Uh… Everything. It’s a science fiction, but it doesn’t completely read like one. I admit, there had been parts that made my head swim a little, but who cares? Crouch is a fabulous writer. The man knows how to suck you in from the very first page and it just never really lets you go. I lost sleep because of this, for reals. But who needs sleep, right?

This book never had a dull moment for me, I was eating up the pages eager for the end, wanting to know how it all turns out. Quite the roller coaster ride.

Don’t ask me to explain what this is about, I might literally explode. Read the blurb, that is the gist of it, the rest you pretty much have to experience on your own.

This book grabbed me from page one and never really let me go. My eyes are burning me, I am tired, but I am so glad I got to finish this. Crouch is really such a great storyteller.

Does most of this book make sense? No, it’s a science fiction. But, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s compelling and it’s the first book in over a month that has me so damn giddy. I wasn’t coming into this willing it to make sense. I just wanted fun, excitement, something different.

Different it was. I LOVED the concept, the idea of multiverse. How our lives branch out. How there is a possibility of like everything that we could do in a critical moment in our life. The characters were just so raw, so real, the main character especially. I couldn’t help but feel the connection, I felt his love, pain, his loss and the need to come back home.

It was just so good. Crouch to me is a master in storytelling, he succeeded in everything for me. I felt it. I enjoyed it.

I took away half a star because in the end, I felt the ending to be a little weak. A LITTLE BIT. After everything, I felt like maybe it could have used a few more pages. But I get it. The characters were tired.

It is a bit open ended, it is. BUT, but, you guys in this case, given the structure of the book – it does not annoy me. It felt almost perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It totally made sense following the events, so, go read it if you have not yet. The science fiction part of it is light, but it’s science fiction, don’t go into it thinking it has to make sense, just be open and enjoy every moment.

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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted March 30, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

Review:  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 348
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:half-flame

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I admit that I picked up this book because of the hype surrounding it lately. I felt like this book was everywhere and after finally managing to get a copy from my library to read it, I was excited. Unfortunately, this is why I am also sad to say I feel like a black sheep on this one. I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to and I did not understand the appeal of it.

Let me explain what worked and what did not work for me.

Instalove – Now this is something that I was warned about so it partially might have been my fault. I knew it was coming, but as I went into this book sort of blindly I was okay with giving it the benefit of a doubt. Still, it ended up not working for me. I would really have to suspend disbelief with this one and even thought I could in most cases, as a contemporary this did not feel realistic. Seriously, Daniel – the male in this book – basically stalks her. As someone who lived in the city, this was like beyond awkward for me to live and understand it. Also, half the time they talk about their flaws and what annoys them about each other. So not really sure how the whole can’t breath, can’t think about my life without you worked here.

Could not Connect – I did not feel the attraction between these two and just felt like I was on the outside looking in. I could not form any sort of attachment to any of the characters and had just the worse time connecting which I think really took away from the story when I found that emotional detachment.

Nothing Happens – almost nothing. This book could have honestly been summed up in 100 pages. Basically, it’s about these two unlikely teens in the city. Natasha is from Jamaica and is getting deported, thanks to her dad and Daniel is a Korean American from a very strict Korean family that has his life mapped from him. She is trying to find a solution to her deportations and while that is part of the story most of the book is honestly walking, talking, and some verbal fighting. I was bored, I was beyond bored. I just could not understand the appeal with this. If you like walking and talking books where that is literally almost the entirety of the book, then maybe? But with about 300 pages, my brain was starting to feel numb.

Family Dynamics – I did not like the family dynamics in this book. I could not wrap my head around Daniel and his brother’s relationship. There is so much hate there and the reason the author gave for it did not work for me I guess? Basically, it just felt like, this is it and there is no other way.

Open endings – UGH!! Okay, I DO NOT read books for opening, endings okay? Why is this now a thing? If I wanted an open ending in a book I would read it half way and just make up the rest of it in my head. This is just as bad as cliffhangers if not worse? In standalone novels, it feels like the ultimate killer. I almost gave this book 1 star because I ended up being SO MAD. Like what was the point of the epilogue if you are just going to leave it like that? It is the worse.

So what did I like?

I liked that these two kids came from two different worlds. I liked the different background cultures and I loved the different ethnic representation. This is probably why I felt so sad that I just couldn’t like it.

Also, I really enjoyed seeing how their interactions with other people in this book also effected these people in real life beyond their interaction. That was cool.

Overall, I really wanted to love this, but in the end I just did not understand the hype, and there was one too many things that just did not work for me.

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Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Posted March 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Swimming Lessons by Claire FullerSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Series: standalone
Published by Tin House Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 350
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.
Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

I really wanted something different from my current reads and Swimming Lessons took care of that.

The book was written in an interesting style that I found I enjoyed.

It follows a family whose mother disappeared a couple of years ago and no one knows why. Well, the mother, Ingrid left for them clues in the form of letters scattered throughout the books in the house. So when her daughters come home due to their father’s accident, we get to find out through the letters what happened to the mother and what caused her disappearance.

It was interesting, like I have mentioned, I really enjoyed the format of the story. We got the current events in one chapter and we get to read Ingrid’s letters the next chapter and as it progressed, we kind of get the sense of what has happened.

The book in itself was okay. Nan and Flora kind of felt one dimensional because I outside of Ingrid mentioning them in the letters, we only get to see them at this specific point in time and I never felt there was much character growth. Flora felt like an absolute disaster at times and Nan was the more mature one who seemed to try hard to keep everything from falling apart. I was also very confused about how Flora has managed to cloud her memories and she remembers things differently than they really were in reality and that pisses Nan off.

The letters part, I enjoyed, for the most part. It was at times hard to read because of the situation that unfolded. I was very confused why Ingrid stayed in the situation she was in with her marriage. I also never really felt the connection between her and her husband Gil. He was twenty years her senior. Ingrid never wanted children, but apparently did not know how birth control works? She gave up so much for this man. Her life, her dreams, her education and instead did everything she hated including having children – that she never really felt any connection to.

Gil, her husband has done some really horrible things. The story was heartbreaking with the amount of stuff Ingrid had to endure, but I also felt like it was her own fault. She was warned and yet she put herself in that kind of situation. Did she deserve any of it? No, but she knew. I get that the time period it was set that she might not have been able to walk away as easily, but there was always that choice… So… I don’t know… The story felt weird at times.

Overall, it was okay. Nothing amazing. It was page turning, it was kind of a cozy read. It was a bit emotional, but I mostly really felt anger. I don’t think I projected the emotion that the author wanted from me, and that was maybe anger at Ingrids situation and pity or sorrow? I couldn’t relate. I felt she basically built her own misfortunate.

The writing was good, I don’t think I ever felt bored.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted March 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Well guys, I finally did it. I finally read, A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had this book sitting on my shelf since 2015 and I have not picked it up due to the cover. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover, but this was one of those instances that I did. But, I was watching a ton of book wrap ups on youtube and this book kept appearing and it just had so many glowing reviews from booktubers, that I decided that I was going to go and give it a chance.

So this story follows Kell, who lives in Red London and is one of a very rare and dying breed of magic user (as far as he could tell). Kell can travel through doors into other Londons, or as he calls them, Gray, White and Red Londons. There is a mention of Black London, but due to its complicated history – no one travels there.

Kell likes to smuggle and collect objects from other Londons, so when he accidentally accepts a job and smuggles something he shouldn’t into Red London, he brings danger right into his back yard.

The story also follows Laila, a cross dressing girl who wants something more out of her life. She wants a ship and she wants an adventure. So when she stumbled into Kell and steals a black stone from him, she ends up attaching herself to him and the danger in hopes of finding something more to her purpose in life.

This book was actually pretty good. It was an interesting read. As far as fantasy books go this was was easy, cozy, page turning and not at all intimidating. If you are the type of person who wants to try fantasy, but find it a bit intimidating I feel like this book is for you. It really was just an easy read.

I liked Kell. I liked him even if he had that special factor to him, but he was just a really good character. He wasn’t perfect, which made me happy and his love for his brother – Rhys just go so deep, it’s fantastic.

I didn’t find myself as attached to it as I wanted to. I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but I didn’t love it. It was a good book for me to read, while reading some of the other things that I wasn’t necessarily into. I didn’t read it in one sitting, it did take me a couple of days to get through. I liked the fact that it mostly follows just two people, so your head isn’t swimming with too much information and the author gave us just enough for it to have great world building and great character building. The book was very creative, I really enjoyed the world a lot. There is obviously a lot more that we are still waiting to discover, but book one is solid, the writing was really good and I am looking forward to reading book two – hopefully soon.

I do totally recommend this book because I believe there are people that will love it and I do find it a must read if you like great writing, interesting characters and worlds.

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Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted February 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam RiveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social lifePapi, for allowing Junior to become a NeanderthalJunior, for becoming a NeanderthalThis supermarketEveryone else
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When I got a copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, I was extremely excited. A diverse book that takes place in the Bronx, being from New York City myself, yes please?

I went in with high hopes, I walked away strongly disappointed.

Margot and I started off on the wrong foot of the bat. The character was superficial, selfish and walked around with rose colored glasses on. After “borrowing” (stealing) around $600 from her father’s credit card on new clothes – Margot a.k.a Princesa is forced to work at her father’s supermarket. It’s the last way she wants to spend her summer, as Margot would much rather spend her days on the beach in the Hamptons swooning over a boy named Nick. But, on her first day on the job she meets a Latino boy named Moises. Moises is an activist in the Bronx with a sketchy past who has managed to reform himself.

I wanted to love this I really did, but there were several problems I had with this book.

1. Junior – Junior is Margot big brother who basically got kicked out of college. Junior is an angry person who treats Margot like crap. Apparently that wasn’t always the case as Margot explains that Junior was once a sweet and caring brother and she doesn’t know what happened to him and thinks much of his anger is aimed at something she did. I thought that as well, as it felt hinted through the story – unfortunately the big reveal wasn’t surprising but why was never really explained. I wanted to know what drove Junior to take up with the people he did and why he got into so much trouble.

2. Margot – I did not like Margot from the beginning and that feeling never changed. She was suppose to grow as a character, but none of that happened till like 5% left over in the book. Even after everything she went through, she still ends up pulling this horrible stunt that sends a lot of things into motion. Margot disrespects her parents, ditches people who are her actual friends, obsessed over some boy, and is friends with two girls who are really bad influence. She can’t be real around them, so she pretends to be something she is not. She is completely thick when it comes to what is going on around him at home and at the story as well.

3. The dreaded love triangle – don’t hold your breath, the romance in this book was completely horrid. First, the two boys have no personalities, what so ever. We see them so little and get very little feel for them all together. I didn’t like the romance and I especially did not like the events at the beach in the Hampton’s between Nick and Margot. It was reckless, did not make complete sense and it was kind of left unresolved. I didn’t believe that it didn’t effect her in any way.

4. The parents – They kept claiming they raised Margot to be better than she is, they could have taken their own lesson from that. I didn’t like the parents in this story. Did it feel real? Maybe, but maybe there needed to be more background. We don’t know why Margot’s father did what he did, there wasn’t much explanation behind his actions and everything ends with an open ending…which brings me to point number 5.

5. Open ending – the ending just wrapped up kind of weird, kind of open. We don’t get to find out what happens between Margot and Moises. We don’t get to find out if she has ever dealt with what happened between her and Nick. Not with what happens between her parents and not even as how they were going to go and save the store. If there was some sort of a message the author was trying to send with this book, I felt like it completely missed the mark.

The writing was fast paced, so I kind of enjoyed it. Made it easier to get through the book. Overall, the authors writing is actually pretty good. It’s the execution of the plot, underdevelopment of characters that was it’s ultimate demise.

Rating Report
Plot
2 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
3.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
3 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars

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Review: Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Posted December 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah RaughleyFate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Series: Effigies, #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…

In a world where Phantom’s terrorize the people, Effigies are meant to protect it. Four girls appeared at the same time these nightmarish creatures came to light. Each girl is able to control their own classical element, but only one type of elemental Effigy can exist at the same time.

When the last Effigy, Natalya, who controls fire dies, Maia becomes her successor and inherits Natalya’s powers and memories.

Maia is scared and does not want to admit that she is the fire Effigy even thought she doesn’t have much time before the organization known as the Sect – who train the Effigy’s comes for her. Maia has a hard history, her mother, father and twin sister perished in a fire. Even thought Maia idolized the Effigy’s, the last thing she expected was to become one.

Now something is going wrong, by random each big city in the world is having a problem with the device that keeps Phantom’s out from entering the cities and hurting people. The devices are failing, cities are getting attacked, people are getting hurt and they don’t know what is causing it.

A mysterious stranger named Saul wants something from Maia, and he just might be the link to all of these attacks.

It was in interesting read. Overall, I felt like this series has a lot of potential, if the kinks could be sorted.

I really liked the plot, to me it felt original and refreshing. I liked that there are four girls who control four different elements of fire, ice, earth and wind. It reminds me a little bit of Captain Planet growing up. The story-line thought engrossing had a lot of holes, and I think that is where it faltered most.

First, I did not understand the need to glamorize the Effigies. They are these normal girls who end up being chosen at random? And they fight the Phantoms until their last breath, protecting the people from harm. They turn into these celebrities with photo shoots, and it was just weird to me.

Second, all their personalities were such a big cliche. Like, you could just feel it coming from each girl, what they are going to act like, and it really had me rolling my eyes.

Third, Maia is obviously special, but why? Why is she the special one, especially since the Effigy before she is supposed to be a sort of legend. Maia is thrown into this fight with NO training, and despite obviously being a huge burden on the girls who suddenly have to protect her, she ends up doing things she shouldn’t really be able to do. She can wield her powers in such way that it takes a lot of work to be able to use, that she is suddenly good at. I felt like it was unrealistic and frustrating.

There were a lot of holes in the plot and most of it was left that way. I wanted to know more about the origins of the Phantoms. Where did they come from? Are they aliens? Are they an experiment gone wrong?

Why is Saul special? The whole mystery surrounding him kind of had me shrugging my shoulders. He told Maia that she wouldn’t like what she discovered and I didn’t see that reaction at all.

There is obvious some internal dirty stuff going on within the Sect itself.

There is a hint of romance… I guess.. It’s a little dry and Rhys, the Sect agent and the romantic interest is hiding a lot of secrets. One of which I think Maia is totally blind to, but is easy to figure out. He is also Geeky Chic… There is a lot of use of the word Chic to describe people in the book.

Overall, it was interesting no doubt it has a lot of potential and I will be reading the next book to find out where it goes. Despite all those things that might have aggravated, it was a great book to pick up when I wanted to get lost in something outside of the real world. I really wish it didn’t leave us with more questions then answers, but I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this next.

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City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 22, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

City of the Lost by Kelley ArmstrongCity of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan, #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
Diana has heard of a domestic violence support town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want; she's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding - in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.
An edgy, gripping crime novel from bestselling writer, Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost boldly announces a major new player in the crime fiction world.

Guys, I am totally kicking myself for not picking up a Kelley Armstrong book sooner. I picked up City of the Lost on the whim, I read the blurb, it caught my attention and I really wanted a good thriller. I know a lot of you have given Armstrong a lot of praises, so I can’t say I haven’t been curious what the fuss is about. What I got in return, I couldn’t have asked for more, mixed in with some really amazing writing and I was completely sold.

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective that has killed a man when she was in college, and not just any man but a grandson of a local mobster. She knows that eventually her secrets will catch up to her, but that does not seem to stop her from tempting fate.

Now with Casey’s best friend is in trouble. Her violent and abusive ex is back in town and she just can’t seem to shake her. When Diana gets attacked in Casey’s apartment and Kurt get’s shot by one of the mobster men, Casey is forced to make them disappear. Leaving behind her job as well as her casual partner Kurt.

The blurb had me at the mention of a city where people go to disappear. I thought that sounded extremely interesting and I was wondering how Armstrong was going to manage that. Casey couldn’t believe that a place like that exists, but she is proven wrong when she arrives in Rockton with the help from the local Sheriff Eric Dalton.

Eric doesn’t want her there. He wasn’t completely buying her story about Diana since Casey has no proof from the hospital that Diana was abused. Plus, Casey herself has committed murder and he doesn’t want people like her in his town. But Eric needs a detective and Rockton’s council kind of bends his arm into taking Casey in – so he puts her on probation for six months.

Casey arrives in town just in time for another murder and secrets of the town and the wilderness keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Wow… just wow.. I cannot express how much I loved this. It was so engrossing, it was so original and it was in it’s way creepy. There were secrets, there were settlers in the woods and people called hostiles. There was mention of cannibalism and an interesting mystery. Also, because Rockton is such a remote town in the middle of nowhere, we get to see the darker side of people when they don’t believe in consequences, something primal and scary that came from this. These people can suddenly be someone new, and leave the old selves behind letting the remoteness take over their beings. And since the ratio of men and women doesn’t match – there is also a bordello!

Okay, so I might have figured out who the killer is at around half way into the book. But, I was okay with that because there was just so much more going on. There is even a romance, but it’s kind of a subplot and doesn’t take over the entire book. Still, the romance was fantastic. I really loved Casey with the way she was around Dalton, she really bought something out in him. Dalton has an air of mystery on his own and it made me want to learn more about him.

I was confused about Diana and the way her character has changed so much, Armstrong also puts a strong spin on her story-line. I found that I didn’t like her character to begin with and by the end of the book, I hated her extremely.

One thing for sure, you cannot get attached to the people who live in Rockton. With the killer on the loose, you never know what will happen next and Kelley does not shy away from making sure that the reader gets the full experience.

When the big reveal happened, I wasn’t completely surprised I was just surprised by why and the confrontation was a bit odd to me and almost felt out of character. I forgave this because Armstrong still took us on a wild ride and since this is a series I am super giddy to see what happens next. I absolutely adored the setting, it played such a major part in this story.

I feel like I am going through a withdrawal, the worse part is the second book won’t be here till Febraury. Oh well, she has a ton of other books for me to explore that I think I will really enjoy. I am sorry the review was so long winded, but I was excited and had a lot to say. There is cursing, alcohol abuse and possibly sensitive subjects, so read at your own discretion.

Like thrillers? Like Armstrong? Did not read this one yet? What are you waiting for?

Memorable Quotes

He catches my expression, shakes his head, and says, “Ever heard of those amazing devices called DVDs?”

“Sure, but what do you play them on up here?”

“Tree stumps. If you carve them out just right and get ground squirrels to run around them really fast, you can project moving pictures on a wall.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

 

 

 

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Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex”, the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It’s a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or “rex” one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called “Bone Wars

I don’t know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father’s get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father’s behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

  • The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
  • The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
  • The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American’s and the white man.

 

So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don’t doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
    Rachel’s father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American’s head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

“We  could give him a good trashing,” said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. “That won’t be necessary. We’re not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They’re in the storage wagon.”

  • The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn’t get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel’s behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
  • The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
  • To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel’s behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn’t want to have his babies… what? what? what did I just read?!
  • Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.

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Review: The Isle by Jordana Frankel

Posted January 24, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review:  The Isle by Jordana FrankelThe Isle (The Ward, #2) by Jordana Frankel
Series: The Ward #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 19th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.
Drought season is coming....
The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.
Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.
The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.
But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.

The Isle

It feels like forever since the first book came out, but imagine my joy when I finally saw the announcement of the sequel that it felt like I have been waiting for forever for. I almost wished I re-read the first book to brush up on what it left off because The Isle starts shortly after the events of the first and when it takes off, it really takes off.

I found the second book of the series to be pretty faced paced, because before I knew it, I have devoured it in no time. It sets the tone from page one, and it pretty much for the most part, sticks to it.

I warmed up to Ren a bit more. She is still pretty reckless, but I admired her dedication to the people she loves and cares for as well as the lengths she would go to keep them safe, even if the price is her own safety most of the time. I loved the sibling relationship that is going on between Aven and Ren, how true to form it is. This book also happens to be from the point of view of Aven and Ren together, but it was easy to follow.

The romance does take a bit of a back seat in this book, but that’s okay, I did not mind it much. Do I wish there was more? Of course I do, I always do. But, I enjoyed continue to watch Ren develop into the person she becomes at the end of the book. I enjoyed the action and the adventure, and it felt a bit final, so I am guessing this was only meant to be a duology. Sure, there were still moments that made me angry, but the tear jerking moments, and some heartwarming scenes, definitely balances the book out.

I did have a hard time with Aven at some parts. She did remind me a bit of Ren from the last book. A bit reckless, and a total kid when it comes to not getting things her way. To be fair, I believe Aven is 14 in this book, so for the most part, it makes sense. She let her feelings sway her, she made promises she probably couldn’t really keep, and she endangered Ren because of these promises. I can’t say that I didn’t want to throttle her when she asked Ren to save the people when she knew the mission is dangerous, it was like expecting your sister to give up her life for others, it just didn’t seem fair to me.

Overall, I did enjoy this one. I wished it came out quicker than it did, it seemed like a long time to wait for this sequel. I did find it worth it. I enjoyed the authors writing, imagination and the world she had created with this series. I will miss it, but I am looking forward to what else she has in store for us next.

Giveaway:
3 Finished copies of THE ISLE
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

1/11: Night Owl Book Cafe – Review

1/12: Swoony Boys Podcast – Q&A

1/13: Live To Read – Review

1/14: Seeing Double In Neverland – Top 10

1/15: Take Me Away To A Great Read – Review
Week 2

1/18: The Cover Contessa – Review

1/19: The Irish Banana Review – Guest Post

1/20: Reads All the Books – Review

1/21: A Leisure Moment – Guest Post
1/22: Emily Reads Everything – Review

This review was originally posted on Night Owl Book Café

View all my reviews

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