Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Posted February 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 9th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

The Plot

Earth intercepts a message from an ancient Alien race that is supposed to be extinct, about the technology on their planet Gaia and how it can be an earths doom or salvation. I was super excited for this because space, aliens, another planet, sounds fun right? I found myself a bit confused. This book had some science fiction notes to it, but a large part of it felt like it took place on earth. Most of the book follows these two teenagers, each other on Gaia on their own accord to save one of their family members back home. Mia is a scavenger and wants to bring back a power cell in hopes to buy back her sister from a contract she locked herself in. Jules wants to save his father by unlocking the secret behind the second message that they uncovered, warning the earth about possible dangers. They enter a temple and together they must solve puzzles in order to uncover what this alien race is hiding. But everything is set in this rock temple that feels more like they are back on earth than anything. I really LIKED the concept of this book, I thought it had a lot of potential, but the plot in book one felt a little odd until the end. Most of the book we follow these kids solving these puzzles which can feel tedious reading about.

The characters

I had no issues with the characters for the most part. I like Mia and I liked Jules and I liked that the author kept them true to their nature most of the book. Jules is book smart, Mia is street smart. She knows how to lie and deceive in order to stay alive and ends up throwing Jules under the bus several times in hopes of keeping them alive when danger started nipping at their heels. The characters weren’t always likable for me, but I think that’s what drew me to them. They felt human, they both had a bit of a selfish reason to be there and both lied to each other in order to try and benefit themselves. But it was also nice to see them evolve as characters by the end of the book and realize that they are going to have to set their differences aside in order to save humanity.

Romance

The romance was awkward. Did not work for me at all. I would have been fine without it in this book. I don’t generally like relationships that are built on lies and both of these characters lied and deceived each other at the beginning of the book. Also, it was awkward with all the goo goo eyes the two were throwing at each other and felt a bit of instalove for me really.

Pacing

Oh gosh the pacing felt terribly off for most of the book. It was awkwardly slow. I didn’t care to read about the puzzles because I found that I was rereading what they needed to do in order to understand how they were solved. It’s different when you are watching a movie, over your brain trying to scramble to make sense of what is happening. Also, because this was from two POVS, Amelia’s and Jules there was a lot of stuff that kept being super repetitive and I felt like the author kept rehashing things we already knew over and over again, it got boring up until like 70% of the book when it finally started to pick up. I enjoyed the last 70% of the book, the pacing picked up, it got exciting, and I found myself pushing more to finish it.

The ending

I don’t even know where to go with this. It confused me. I can kind of guess what is going on in general, but the big reveal at the end was a bit odd and I am not too entirely sure if I care for it. Remember, I was really looking forward to the whole alien, science fiction part of this book and I am not really getting much from it yet. Hopefully the conclusion will be so much better, because I am looking forward to see how it ends.

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MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

Posted November 7, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

MARY: The Summoning by Hillary MonahanMARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Series: ,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Pages: 245
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.
Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.
A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.
Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.
A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

This book follows a girl named Shauna and her best friends, Jess, Kitty and Anna. Jess develops this obsession in summoning Bloody Mary and says she actually knows the correct way, all the girls have to do is follow the rules and not let go of each others hands.

Well, Jess becomes overly aggressive about her obsession over Bloody Mary and ends up holding back a few things she refused to tell the girls. One of the summonings gets out of hand and they bring Bloody Mary into their world through the mirror. Mary tags Shauna and when the spell goes wrong, Mary does not return to her world and ends up haunting Shauna through the mirrors and anything “shiny”

Now Shauna is mad at Jess for being so careless and lying, but also enlists her in the help of finding a way of getting Mary off her.

This was a quick read and it was okay. It was most definitely creepy and as I was reading this during Halloween, it definitely bought out all the freaky parts.

Some parts and descriptions, particularly of Mary, made my stomach turn.

Like the other girls, I found myself frustrated and angry with Jess because of what she had done. I found her to be a horrible friend.

Overall, like I said, it was okay. I enjoyed it well enough, I got the creepy and the freaky out of it, but also some frustration as well. Not sure if it will hurry me to pick up book two anytime soon though.

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3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted September 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

3 Mini Book ReviewsWesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Series: standalone
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.
So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.
But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

A cute Young Adult Contemporary romance about a girl named Quinn Hardwick, who is having it kind of rough. Her grandmother is having Alzheimer and is put into a home. Her father’s gambling addiction seems worse than ever and she has a trip to London with her band that she needs to afford because it has always been her dream to go there. To top things off, Wesley James is back in town and he has ruined her life.

This was a cute read… I flew through it fast, but it was quite a bit frustrating. First, Quinn is 16 years old and Wesley James had an incident like 5 years ago when he was just a little kid, he said something and Quinn automatically accuses him of ripping apart her family. Uh, she is 16 years old and still blames him for something that happened at like 11? Come on Quinn, grow up. Every time her friend pointed out that there was no way it was Welsey’s fault she wouldn’t hear it.

So attraction grew, but I found Quinn frustrating and immature. There wasn’t much character growth here as she didn’t realize her mistakes till like 90% of the book and it was because her mother finally decided to say something after 5 years? Yea, not very believable.

3 Mini Book ReviewsHello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Series: standalone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream
Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.
Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?
Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.
Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Becca Harrington feels like a reject after being rejected by all the colleges on her list, so she drops everything and moves to LA where she gives herself a year to land a gig as an actress. To make matters worse, Becca ends up being dumped by her high school sweetheart after he drops her off at LA and ends up living in a small one room apartment as she struggles to get an agent to notice her.

Umm… I found this interesting, apparently, because I kept reading it. The book did take me a while to get through. I did not understand how Becca was so naive the entire time.

She shows up in the city and has every door slammed in her face because she does not know what she is doing and has no formal training. They kept saying she was a good actress, but I found it hard to believe. She shows up in LA thinking she can just walk into an office and get an agent to see her. No real history of acting, no head shot, just show up. Right.. no

The romance was weird. There was Raj who was in love with her and lived in her building and befriended her. Becca is still heartbroken over her ex boyfriend, but then she meets a fellow actor during one of her shoes and sleeps with him – thinking they can be the next big Hollywood couple. Ah! But wait, he warned her before they slept that he wasn’t looking for anything with her. So Becca flies off irrationally when he acts like she was just a one night stand the next morning because she was picturing them as a couple already. Raj is put on a second burner.. Not okay, I did not feel she deserved him and honestly wished he sent her packing.

Overall, okay read – but Becca keeps being frustrating the entire time because despite everything she still does not seem to get it even 90% into the book. Same mistakes, just as naive.

3 Mini Book ReviewsThe Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Series: standalone
Published by Point on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

I think it’s safe to say at this point I have read everything this woman has ever written.

This book was fun and creepy and just what I wanted, ghosts.

Delia inherits her grandmother’s house, and her parents take both her and her sister during the summer to help them fix the house. Delia is also in trouble because she tried to sneak out on a trip without her parents knowing and lied to them, now they don’t trust her.

After finding something strange in the house and trying to get out, Delia’s parent’s don’t believe her, lock her up and she dies.

Now Delia is stuck in the house unable to move on because something is keeping her and the other girls of Hysteria Hall trapped and she must find out who and why.

Interesting story, I was glued to the pages. There is another strange sibling relationship here that is rocky at the beginning (seems to be typical for this author) but ends up being resolved at the end as Delia’s tries to save her sister from the house claiming her as another soul.

Creepy, interesting, atmospheric and perfect for fall. A bit slow going, now much has been happening for a while, but overall, a good read.

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Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t Die

Posted August 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Guys, I have been on the roll with ghost books lately, not sure why, it’s still August and summer but, for some reason ghosts is like it for me this month. So I read the entire Bad Girls Don’t Die series and here are my thoughts.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieBad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 21st 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 346
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.
Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

The book is about a girl named Alexis who is a bit of an anti-social and is leading a dysfunctional life in school and home. Kasey is an Alexis’ younger sister who is obsessed with collecting dolls and that creeps Alexis out. Things start to happen in the house and Kasey starts to act a bit strange and even worse when her blue eyes shift green. Soon Alexis finds out that something has possessed her little sister and that it might be linked to one of town’s saddest history. Now Alexis must find a way to get rid of whatever is possessing Kasey before her little sister commits any murder.

This was an entertaining read. I loved and enjoyed this author writing so much, I felt like she really knew how to tell a creepy, atmospheric ghost story and it took me to quiet a ride.

I felt bad for Kasey. I felt like she was a bit misunderstood and Alexis treatment of her little sister seemed a little heavy-handed. I definitely didn’t understand the relationship there as my sister and I at this age were actually pretty close. Kasey is definitely my favorite of the two sisters and really made me sad for her, as all she really wanted was to have some friends.

The flow of the story kept me on the edge of the seat and I never found it dull. I liked that Alexis ends up enlisting help in the most unlikely people and despite the fact that her family life is a bit of a mess things seem to work its way out in the end.

I do feel like there was something left out that didn’t get resolved or maybe I missed it ? But there was a scene in the basement where Alexis finds Kasey digging and she runs out of the basement holding something, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned what.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieFrom Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Hyperion on June 14th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who's finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized. Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs. It's strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey's in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success. Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

Second book of the series and although I still enjoyed it, I do have to say it wasn’t my favorite.

Following the events of book one, Kasey is back from the insinuation that the paranormal agent had locked her up in so she could get better. After all, who comes away unscratched from being possessed?

Kasey ends up having a hard time being back in school and everyone starts to look at her funny and treats her differently because they know she has been to the looney bin. Kasey gets kind of mistreated and Alexis with her new found popularity and best friends does nothing to help her sister’s transition. I disliked Alexis in this one a lot at the beginning. Her treatment of her little sister was a little cruel and unfair and the fact that she did not ease her sister’s transition in school made me angry at her lack of concern. Alexis has a boyfriend now, Megan ends up being her best friend and the cheerleaders are no longer so bad.

When a new girl shows up at school, Kasey befriends her. Together they start a club called The Sunshine Club where any girl is welcome. The Sunshine Club has many rules and Alexis is worried that there is something sinister behind it all and that Kasey might be in trouble again, so both her and Megan join the club only to discover a ghost named Aralt is telling these girls what to do and is leading them to success. How can someone that seems to want nothing but good for the girls be evil?

This was creepy, it really was. Aralt wanted the girls to always be pretty and successful and these girls spend a lot of time grooming and primping in order to satisfy his wishes. The entire club turns into a kind of occult and I kept wondering how Alexis was going to be able to stop it especially when Aralt seems to be playing a great hand in Alexis own success with her photography and has been around for a while.

The ending was difficult but sets up the final book.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieAs Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 15th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

It's been three months since Alexis helplessly witnessed Lydia Small's violent death, and all she wants is for her life to return to normal. But normal people don't see decaying bodies haunting photographs. Normal people don't have to deal with regular intrusions from Lydia's angry ghost, sometimes escalating to terrifying attacks.
At first, it seems that Lydia wants revenge on Alexis alone. But a girl from school disappears one night, and Alexis spots one of Lydia's signature yellow roses lying on the girl's dresser the next day. Soon, it becomes clear that several of Alexis's friends are in danger, and that she's the only person who can save them. But as she tries to intervene, Alexis realizes that her enemy is a much more powerful ghost than she's ever faced before... and that its fate is tied to hers in ways she couldn't possibly imagine.
Not even in her worst nightmares.

Third and final book of the series and hard to review without spoilers of the series. After getting rid of Alart and watching Lydia Small die in front of her, Alexis can now see ghosts especially through her photography. Lydia is now haunting Alexis and again strange things start to happen when girls, Alexis knew are starting to disappear and are getting hurt or killed. Alexis thinks Lydia is behind the attacks, especially when she thinks Lydia’s bright light leads them to her and the ghost of the girl always seems to be there.

Soon Alexis realizes that this new ghost she is facing is much more stronger and powerful than before and she is going to rely on herself and an unlikely ally to put a stop to that.

This was kind of dark, a bit darker than the first two books and there is a death in this book that really brought tears to my eyes because I wasn’t expecting it. The story is well told, well written and kept me turning the pages. I read this in the middle of the night and despite the fact that it was super creepy, I could not put this one down. I think of the three I did find this one to be the strongest and one of my favorites.

 

I highly recommend this series if you are looking for ghost stories this October.

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