4.28.2015

OBLIVION by Kelly Creagh

OBLIVION (NEVERMORE, #3)

by Kelly Creagh

to be published by Simon & Schuster / Atheneum


4 owls


***

"'But . . . ,' Isobel murmured, her voice quavering, suddenly weak, 'you wouldn't. I know you wouldn't. I know you.'
'For your sake, my dear Isobel, I very much hope you do. Because we certainly no longer recognize ourselves.'"*

Kelly Creagh's Nevermore is one of my favorite books of all time, and with Oblivion, the finale of the beloved trilogy, I am reminded why. Filled to the brim with constant pulse-pounding action, there is not a dull moment as we race to Isobel's and Varen's conclusion. 

As always, Creagh's writing is absolutely mesmerizing -- I found myself occasionally forgetting to pay attention to what was being said because of how beautifully it was being said.

I am sad to see Isobel's and Varen's beautiful story end, but I know it's for the best. I will be reading the amazing Nevermoretrilogy many times over in the future.

"This place, wherever it was - whatever it was - equated to insanity."*

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy!





*These quotes are taken from the advance copy of Oblivion and may change before print.

3.17.2015

Review: THE WALLS AROUND US

THE WALLS AROUND US

by Nova Ren Suma

to be published by Algonquin Young Readers
on March 24, 2015

                        

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

                        


5 owls

Some things in life just aren't fair. A prime example is the amount of talent Nova Ren Suma has in her fingertips.
"We went wild that hot night. We howled; we raged; we screamed. We were girls--some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen--but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men."
In The Walls Around Us, Suma introduces us to two characters who each spin their own narrative. There is Violet, a prima ballerina with some skeletons in her closet, and Amber, a prison-trapped girl with a bucketload of secrets. Both have moments of likability and unlikability, but ultimately, I fell hard for these characters. Their unraveling story drew me in from the start and kept me hooked until the beautiful, lingering ending.

The Walls Around Us is Suma's best offering to date. Every single word is deliberate, every sentence immaculate. I cried, I laughed, I raged while reading this book, and I cannot cannot cannot wait for more.

five owls!!!

2.11.2015

THE RUBY CIRCLE (Bloodlines, #6) by Richelle Mead

THE RUBY CIRCLE

by Richelle Mead

published February 10, 2015 by Razorbill


***

The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

***

2.02.2015

ALWAYS WATCHING by Chevy Stevens

ALWAYS WATCHING
by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

________________________


She helps people put their demons to rest.But she has a few of her own…In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today? And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back. Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape.Told with the trademark powerful storytelling that has had critics praising her work as “Gripping” (Kirkus), “Jaw-dropping” (Publishers Weekly) and “Crackling with suspense” (People magazine), ALWAYS WATCHING shows why Chevy Stevens is one of the most mesmerizing new talents of our day.

________________________


2.01.2015

NEVER KNOWING by Chevy Stevens

NEVER KNOWING
by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

* * * * *

The second novel by Chevy Stevens, author of bestseller Still Missing.

At thirty-three Sara Gallagher is finally happy. Her antique furniture restoration business is taking off and she’s engaged to a wonderful man. But there’s one big question that still haunts her — who are her birth parents? Sara is finally ready to find out. 

Sara’s birth mother rejects her—again. Then she discovers her biological father is an infamous killer who’s been hunting women every summer for almost forty years. Sara tries to come to terms with her horrifying parentage — and her fears that she’s inherited more than his looks — with her therapist, Nadine, who we first met in "Still Missing." But soon Sara realizes the only thing worse than finding out your father is a killer is him finding out about you. 
Some questions are better left unanswered. 
Never Knowing is a complex and compelling portrayal of one woman’s quest to understand where she comes from. That is, if she can survive…

* * * * *

1.31.2015

TUNNEL VISION by Susan Adrian

TUNNEL VISION
by Susan Adrian

published in 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin

* * * * *

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He's decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he's also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there's a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to "tunnel" into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It's an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn't agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he's doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel's help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.


* * * * *

1.10.2015

INVINCIBLE by Amy Reed

INVINCIBLE (INVINCIBLE, #1)

by Amy Reed

to be published by HarperTeen / Katherine Tegen Books

5 owls


***

Invincible tells the story of Evie, a girl who is trapped in her own mind and struggling to find her identity after a miraculous recovery. She is stuck in a place between what others think of her and what she wants to be. With her miracle came a destructive tragedy, which only adds to her sense of emotional burden.

As a character, Evie is rarely likable, but she is real. Reed does not sacrifice truth to create likability, which I respect and admire. Evie has suffered, almost losing her life to cancer, and it shows. She has lost her sense of identity, and it shows. She makes bad decisions; she says mean things to people she loves; she is indecisive. These things forge Evie as a tangibly real person. She has leapt off the page and burrowed into my brain. She resonates. Reed gets adolescence more than most other YA writers.

Invincible is Reed's best book yet, and the first of a planned duology. I'm not going to say it's the next The Fault in Our Stars, because it's not; it's so much more than that. Reed touches on love, identity loss, hope, friendship, expectations, reality, depression, addiction, family, losing yourself, finding yourself choice, and recovery in one brisk novel. I may never read another book, if only because I'll be rereading Invincible over and over again.


1.09.2015

ELEGY by Amanda Hocking

ELEGY (WATERSONG, #4)

by Amanda Hocking

published by St. Martin's Griffin


4 owls

***


This review contains spoilers for the first three novels in the Watersong series! Read with caution!

You know, the length of this book kind of took me by surprise.

542 pages. For Hocking, this is abnormal; her Switched books were all short, clocking in at around 300 pages apiece, and the other Watersong books were each around that length, too. In a 542-page tome, I was worried Hocking would stray from the main mission and divulge too much side information. I was worried the series she has spent three books crafting would crash and burn with an overbearing fourth installment.

Those worries were definitely unnecessary.

In Elegy, Gemma is closer than ever to breaking the siren curse. With the scroll in her possession, she is almost there. With Penn's impending threats and a ticking clock, she needs to crack the case. The Watersong series ends with the best book, in my opinion. Family drama, sizzling romance, and a touch of the paranormal combine to make Elegy a spellbinding finale to the series. The characters read like your favorite TV family. The strongest offering of Hocking's and my favorite underwater series I've read yet!

1.08.2015

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

STILL MISSING

by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

read via Kindle store



***


3.5 owls

First off, let's get this out of the way: my Kindle ruined, or at least severely tampered with, my reading experience with Still Missing. (Yet another reason why these blasted things should be read on paper. But, hey, I did read it on a Kindle; I'm the one at fault here.) 

One of the most crucial design flaws of the Kindle is the way the extra crap hastily included at the end of books (reader discussions, interviews, and But Wait . . . There's More! teasers of the authors' next books) count toward the overall percent-read figures of the book. I expect to reach the 100% mark when I finish the last chapter and hit the acknowledgments, but because of all the extras at the end of the Kindle editions, the actual end of the book hit me at 85%. That means that a whole fifteen percent of this book was dedicated to excerpts from Stevens's other books and reading group discussion questions, which was severely disappointing when I expected that 15% to include more plot points. That's what screwed things up for me: my belief that something big was coming, that more things were happening, maybe a jaw-dropping twist at the very end to leave us guessing, something infuriating and rewarding. Because I had fifteen percent left, I expected more. What I got as a conclusion wasn't more: it was sadly less than what I hoped for.

I enjoyed the way Still Missing unfolded. I enjoyed how the story was told from the perspective of a bitter, traumatized woman looking back on her traumas. I enjoyed the blossoms of Stockholm syndrome strewn throughout -- the book was, for the most part, psychologically accurate. (Somebody did her research!) The plot kept me turning pages; even though none of it particularly surprised me, it still led to feverish, nail-biting reading. What I don't think was the smartest choice, however, was the storytelling method Stevens employed, wherein Annie conversationally accounted her tragedy to her "shrink." It gave Stevens an excuse to write lazily (so many clich├ęs!) and didn't trust readers very much to pick things up on their own (for example, the way she explicitly spelled out the irony -- I think we got it).

Some of Annie's traumatic experiences really resonated, eliciting lots of emotion from me as I read. It got a bit graphic, but was all necessary to develop Annie's character. Overall, Still Missing functioned very well as a psychological thriller, delivered with a plot that engrossed (but ended, in my opinion, a little too bow-tied and perfect), and captured the facets of trauma very well from a psychological standpoint. People aren't the same after they experience traumas, and it can take years for them to return to how they were before, if they ever do. Stevens captured this beautifully.





12.03.2014

Review: BURNING KINGDOMS

BURNING KINGDOMS

book two of The Internment Chronicles
by Lauren DeStefano

to be published by Simon and Schuster
on March 3, 2015

read as an ARC

                        

***WARNING: This book summary is SPOILEROUS in regard to the first book!***

After escaping through the bottom of Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives aboard the great mechanical bird land on the ground to finally learn what has lived beneath their floating island home all these eons.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and customers watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park. 

It is also a land at war. 


Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven. But caught under the watchful eye of another king that wants to dominate his world, they wonder if coming to the ground will drag Internment down with them.

                      

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