Mini Review: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

Friday, January 31, 2014

Title: The Innocents
Author: Lili Peloquin
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: October 16, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 259
Source: Publisher

Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie. Friends didn't. Boys couldn't. Their family falling apart never would. Until they got to Serenity Point.

In a town built on secrets and lies, it's going to be hard to stay innocent. They're sucked into a strange and seductive world—a world they can't help but hate, and can't help but love. A world that threatens to tear them apart, just when they need each other the most.
I was instantly captivated by the premise of The Innocents because it was touted as a true gothic mystery for the younger crowd. And, surprisingly enough, I wasn't disappointed in that regard. The mystery, itself, was surprisingly well put-together, and I found that I actually enjoyed - and was stumped by - several of the puzzle pieces that made up the novel. I also must say that Lili Peloquin has a beautiful writing style. A third person novel often makes it difficult to truly get to know your characters, but the voices she lent to each one were distinct, original and personable. Furthermore, Ms. Peloquin's prose has an easy, flowing sort of feel, which makes it easy to rapidly become invested in the mystery. 

I must say, however, that I struggled a good bit with many of the characters. Of the twins, Alice and Charlie, Alice was by far the more approachable of the two. She was much more demure, while Charlie often erred on the side of being a tumultuous, self-centered brat. I also felt a bit of a disconnect with the love interests, Tommy and Jude. Both felt a bit flat and one-dimensional to me, and Jude's arrogance left me feeling quite embittered. It made it very difficult for me to want to read more about their respective romantic arcs throughout the novel.

Overall, The Innocents was a quick and fun read - though not altogether imperfect. It definitely succeeded far more in the realm of mystery than in the romantic or character-driven aspects of the novel. It is the start of a series, however, and though I rather enjoyed it as a whole, I'm not sure I am actually invested enough to continue the story. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy a good, fun mystery.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion of this book.

The Fault in Our Stars Official Trailer

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Most of you know that I put off reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for a long time - mostly because of the hype of the book - and partially because I was pretty sure that I was going to be the only blogger in the entire world that didn't like the book. Needless to say, I was wrong on both accounts. The hype was not only well-deserved, but I should have listened to it. Also, the book was so incredible that I cried like an infant reading it on a plane in just 5 hours.

When I heard it was optioned as a film though, I was really upset. Let's be honest. 99% of the time, book-to-film adaptations just don't live up. (My Sister's Keeper, anyone? Talk about a trainwreck.) There's something different about this one though, and it has me incredibly excited to see it. I even think that Shailene Woodley might just work as Hazel, which is something I never thought I'd say. Check out the official trailer below:

I was actually, for the most part, pleasantly surprised about the trailer, and it gives me just a smidge of hope that it might live up to its literary counterpart. I'd be really interested to see what you all think though! 

Have you read The Fault in Our Stars
What do you think of the trailer and, most of all, are you excited to see the movie?

Waiting on Wednesday: After the End

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Title: After the End
Author: Amy Plum (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Pages: 352

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there. At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
Just when I think I'm totally sick of the dystopian genre, another novel pops up and catches my eye. I'd be lying if I said the genre has become a bit tired and repetitive lately, but I like the sound of the twist of this one. It seems like, if it's done well, it might be just different enough to pique and capture my interest throughout the story. So, I can't help but say that I'm lusting over this one shamelessly this week. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.

Vengeance by Megan Miranda Review

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Title: Vengeance
Author: Megan Miranda (Twitter)
Publisher: Walker Children's
Publish Date: Februrary 4, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

Nobody really believes in a curse. Until you know the people who disappear. Too much coincidence, you look for reason. Too much death, you grasp for something to blame. Carson pulled Delaney out and he died on the side of the road with her mouth pressed to his. Her air in his body. Troy. She told the cops it was suicide. Didn't matter. The lake released her and grabbed another.

But when Decker's father dies in a pool of spilled water on their kitchen floor, all Decker can feel is a slow burning rage. Because he knows that Delaney knew that his dad was going to die. She knew and backed out of his house and never said a word. Falcon Lake still has a hold on them both, and Decker can't forgive Delaney until he knows why.
Vengeance, much like its predecessor, Fracture, gives readers a sampling of everything we like all in one novel. Offering us romance, friendship, betrayal, mystery, paranormal and more, it's a whirlwind of a novel that captures us from the get-go, pulling us in with a near-immediate loss that serves to solidify our investment in the story and our characters' plights. Author, Megan Miranda, does it again, crafting a novel that's rife with twists, turns and unanswered questions, demanding the readers read on to understand the true nature of the events as they unfold. It's the type of novel that you can easily read in one sitting, but you can't help but want to make it last longer.

What I found most intriguing about Vengeance is that while it's presented as a sequel, I felt it could almost stand alone, so it was more of a companion novel than anything else. Ms. Miranda gives readers plenty of backstory to set the stage for readers that haven't yet read Fracture and, surprisingly enough, a new viewpoint makes it a completely new story, as well. While the first novel was written from Delaney's point of view, the second novel is written from Decker's. I though it was incredibly well done how very distinct each voice was, and while Delaney's voice was more confused and anguished, Decker's story was much more volatile, which well fit the title and the mood of the story.

Vengeance was a careful balance of mystery, a touch of tortured romance and a psychological thriller, with each element being thrust into the limelight for key elements of the story. I found this to be an extremely well-played asset of the novel because it gave us a little bit of everything without ever inundating us with too much. However, I will say that the novel's pacing felt a bit off to me. For the first third of the book, I was blown away by the speed of the action and mystery's progression. However, by the second third, everything seemed to slow down, and it remained that way until the final third of the novel, which picked right back up again. I would have liked to see a more interspersed degree of speeds, if only to keep my heart racing the whole time.

Furthermore, it must be said that Vengeance does offer us a bit more predictability than its predecessor. While very well-written, I found some of the clues and indicators to be a bit too obvious for my liking. With a mystery novel, I like things to remain a guessing game until the 11th hour, so I felt a bit cheated by that. I will say, however, that I actually really enjoyed Decker's point of view this time around. While Delaney's viewpoint had me a bit claustrophobic at times, Decker's anger and volatility kept things spicy and alive. 

Overall, despite a few hiccups, I quite enjoyed Vengeance. I do think I enjoyed the first novel more, but I can definitely appreciate the direction the author took the story, and I still absolutely love her writing style. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and psychological thrillers

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

The Perfect Road Trip Reads

Monday, January 27, 2014

For those of you that follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you've probably gleaned the fact that I'm moving in just 5 short days. I'll be packing up the car and heading out West to Arizona to be where the husband is stationed for the following year, which means that all of my beloved books are in boxes getting ready to be hauled to my the next state. But here's the thing: when road tripping, I want something meaningful, beautiful and sweet to read and live through along the way More than anything though, I want something more true-to-life. There's something about road trips that brings my adventurous spirit alive, and I want my books to match.

These three books are easily on my list of all-time favourites because they are powerful and profound, but they provide a beautiful degree of escapism, as well. The Geography of You and Me is due to release on April 14th from Little, Brown, while both Paper Towns and Jellicoe Road have been out for some time. 

All three of these books feature something very powerful in common - self-discovery. It's a beautiful transformation that our characters are embarking upon, and reading books like this while traveling somehow calms that restless soul in me. It makes me feel as though there's a great purpose to it all - and yes - I am sounding that cliche. There is an innate power to a good road trip read. If done well, it has the ability to transport you to another place with the characters, all the while teaching you about yourself as the characters learn to better understand themselves. 

The best part about a road trip book, however, is that it doesn't actually have to be about a physical road trip. It simply needs to be about a journey. In the case of The Geography of You and Me, it's about a journey to find that place and that moment that was shared just one time. It's stories like these that convince me that I'll never get tired of road trip reads, and it's why these three will be traveling up front with me, rather than in boxes like the rest.

What are your favourite road trip reads (either books featuring road trips, or books to read on a roadtrip)? I'm always looking for more to add to my list!

The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr Review

Friday, January 24, 2014

Title: The Cutting Room Floor
Author: Dawn Klehr (Twitter)
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: October 8, 2013
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 312
Source: Publisher

Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley. Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she's publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn't know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez's web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.
A true mystery is carefully and tightly wound so that, as a novel plays out, the story, the drama and the truth can slowly unravel and unwind, reeling you into a web of lies and destruction. The Cutting Room Floor is the type of novel that embodies that in a nutshell and, at times, felt even more claustrophobic than your everyday mystery. I've found in the past that many mystery stories focus too heavily on the plot to ever get to know the characters with whom we are supposed to empathize. This novel, however, errs on the opposite end of the spectrum and is extremely character-driven, forcing us to find a character with whom we can relate, root for and hope to come out on top with once the mystery has been solved. I found Dawn Klehr's take on mystery to be refreshing and, if I'm entirely honest, slightly schizophrenic.

The Cutting Room Floor is a bit all over the place though, for the most part, in a really well-done way. With they mystery well under way, we're offered two distinct points of view - one from Dez and one from Riley. Through Dez's eyes, we get to see that he's a little bit crazy, and he plays life very much like a game, manipulating people who might be power players or paws. He's also incredibly possessive of Riley, which should have made me hate him, but he was also kind of frank and honest, which I found appealing and, dare I say, endearing? Riley was the exact opposite of him. Closed off and vulnerable, coming out as gay made her a pariah in school, and her confusion lent a distinct air of sincerity to her voice and her point of view, which was a breath of fresh air from Dez's voice.

In terms of the mystery, I think it was quite well-plotted. It wasn't exceptionally mind-blowing, but the twists and turns throughout the novel definitely kept me guessing until the end, and I was surprised by the ultimate reveal. I think the sole thing that detracted from my enjoyment of The Cutting Room Floor was that I couldn't quite grasp exactly what this novel was, if that makes sense. I'm entirely for cross-genre fiction, but it seemed like this novel struggled to classify itself, as well. It wasn't just a mystery. Rather, it offered us a thriller, a murder mystery, a romance and a touch of gay fiction - all of which are great - but they definitely colluded what the actual feel of the book was supposed to be.

In the end, I really did enjoy The Cutting Room Floor, though I found myself a little all over the place after reading it. It's one of those books that will lead you in one direction, then switch the other way, all at a breakneck speed. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to all fans of YA, especially fans of complex mysteries, thrillers and LGBT themes.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Insanity by Susan Vaught Review

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Title: Insanity
Author: Susan Vaught (Twitter)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Publish Date: February 18, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher

Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing...

When the dead husband of one of Forest's patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.
Insanity fully embraces what its title implies, thrusting readers headlong into a world of mystery, ghosts, demons and more. Set within the dark, enclosed walls of a mental institution, the author embraces the cold world of horror and drama and brings it front and center, offering us a story that's a careful balance between terrifying and touching. Author, Susan Vaught, brought her considerable knowledge of mental institutions to light within the pages of the book, giving us a thrilling look into the minds and lives of three people directly affected by the world within Lincoln Hospital.

Having not read any reviews - or really seeing this book around at all - for that matter, I knew that it was the type of novel that, if done well, could reel me in in a heartbeat. Insanity did, at times, feel utterly insane. There was so much darkness, rage and powerfully dark magic within these pages. It was a perfectly atmospheric novel that developed well beyond its careful world-building to offer readers an almost claustrophobic feel, at times, which only served to bolster the horror elements of the story. It's been a long time since I can say I've read a true ghost story that embraces darkness in its most animalistic form, but this novel does it, and it does it well.

The world-building within Insanity is intricately constructed. Like a ball of string, we ever so slowly see it unravel and unwind until we're fully enmeshed in the plight of the characters within the walls of Lincoln Hospital. This careful construction of the story's backdrop makes the events within the novel more plausible and tangible, as well, giving them reason and meaning within the world the book offers. There are, however, elements to this story that might not be suitable for all audiences, as the novel heartily takes the horror route in stride. Certain events are explicitly detailed, giving us a true and honest approach to classic horror in its purest form. While not too gory for all readers, some of it is undeniably unsettling. 

If there was a singular flaw within Insanity, I think it lies solely within the multiple perspectives of the novel. Much of the story was so delicately crafted, that it felt as though the different viewpoints almost cluttered the storyline. Rather than get to truly know and invest ourselves in Forest's plight, we're wrenched from her perspective to another without warning, and the transition wasn't always smooth. I enjoyed the innocence of her character, but I would have liked her even more had she been our sole perspective through the book. Nevertheless, through her eyes we get to see the chilling world of this mental institution come alive - and we even get a brief taste of romance, which lightens the heavy tone considerably.

Overall, though not perfect, I quite enjoyed this new take on horror for the younger lot. It reminded me a bit of Supernatural in terms of the paranormal elements, and you can never go wrong with that. I give this a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries, thrillers and horror stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: April 22, 2014
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 416

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet. Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
I'm always on the lookout for a good historical fiction novel, and I've found that some of the most powerful books I've ever been read have been through this time period and the holocaust. I love the idea of a girl inside the horrors that engulfed Nazi Germany and, if it's done well, it could be a really profound read. I really hope that the romance balances the rest of the storyline well. Fingers crossed, right? What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine

Top Ten Tuesday: Things On My Reading Wishlist

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. All you have to do is post according to the weekly topic, link up your blog, and add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists!

1. More male narrators. I like to try to mix up my reads these days, and while I've read a ton of great books from a female point of view, I'd really love to see the male voice heard a little bit more.

2. Different historical periods for fiction. We have so many choices with historical fiction, but I feel like there are some eras and historical periods that are so often overlooked (ummm the Dust Bowl? the Oregon Trail?)

3. More realistic romance. I've read some really great love stories, but not all of them are entirely plausible. I'd love to read more with an engaging but honest romantic storyline. Not everything is Twilight.

4. More cold settings other than Maine or Washington. I feel like all of the horror stories I read are in either of these two places. I'd love to see some more in Alaska or, hell, Antarctica. Boom.

5. More quirky reads. I love reading books that hit hard because I can actually kind of relate to them. Why not add in a novel about a bookworm that blogs? Really, I'd just like a novel that embraces whimsy.

6. More sci-fi in space. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Star Trek. And Firefly. Heck, I was raised on them. The point is, I'd love to see more stories with such prominently different backdrops, rather than just cut and dried dystopian "we had to escape the Earth" stories.

7. More thrillers and mysteries. If you've watched The Following, you'll know that my husband and I are addicted to this show. It's psychotic, and twisted, and hellish, but I can't stop watching. I want that in a book.

8. More powerful sister stories. So often, sisters hate each other in the novels I read. I'd love to see more of a bonded sister story, or one that evolves into something a lot more beautiful.

9. More young adult in other countries. I'm not just talking about travel stories. I'm talking about novels like Raw Blue, where they actually take place in another country. 

10. A novel with many different storylines that intersect. We see it a lot in movies like PS - I Love You, or Valentine's Day. I'd love to see a book like this for the younger lot, though I know it would take great skill.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios Review

Monday, January 20, 2014

Title: Something Real
Author: Heather Demetrios (Twitter)
Publisher: Henry Holt BYR
Publish Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher

There’s nothing real about reality TV. Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight.

But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that is just so incredibly raw and real that it leaves you very nearly speechless. Something Real is that book. Raw, angry and beautiful, this novel is a powerhouse of emotion. Heather Demetrios catapults herself onto the contemporary scene with a novel that takes a deeper look at the reality of "reality television," as well as what its impact might very well be on its stars. Giving a host of oppressed child stars a voice that is otherwise altered and manipulated to become what the viewing populace wants, this novel breathes new life into contemporary fiction and makes it powerful and relevant again.

Something Real is, first and foremost, a character-driven novel. Bonnie™ Baker was born on national television - literally - and she, as well as her twelve other siblings, have lived out much of their lives onscreen ever since. But the show was off the air, and four the past four years, Bonnie™ has been able to live a real life outside of the prying eye of the paparazzi and the media which ravaged her family, and her own psyche, up until a dramatic incident forced them off the air. Living as Chloe for the past four years has been liberating, but being thrust back on the air is the last thing she can deal with or wants. Plus, she and her siblings are now subject to the manipulative plans of nearly every adult around them, forcing them to be their own advocates.

Bonnie™, Benton™ and Lexie™ are the Baker siblings we follow most, and it's interesting to see how being forced to live their lives on national television has shaped them all. Bonnie™ fought to remove herself from it all, and she's become withdrawn, hurt, angry and closed off. Benton™ has had to hide a piece of himself from the world for fear of outing those he loves most and Lexie™ has become exactly what MetaReel typecast her to be. The characters within Something Real were very much alive throughout the novel. Each perfectly illustrated the natural angst of teenage life, but it was brilliantly amplified by the fact that they had to live their "normal" lives on the air. Bonnie™'s relationship with her parents, both her mother, birth father and her stepfather, was understandably strained, and it was very powerful to see just how the cameras transformed people's characters.

It must be said though, that a secondary character very nearly stole the show in Something Real. Patrick, Bonnie™/Chloe's love interest was the most steady, handsome, nerdy, wonderful rock throughout the seemingly endless turmoil of the novel. Whenever she needed him most, he was there with the words and love she needed most. Even when she pushed him away, he never strayed too far. Most of all though, it was beautiful to see a teenage love story played out in an honest, pure and beautiful way. Rather than thrusting us into an insta-love scenario, Bonnie™ and Patrick are friends, above all else, and their romance stems from this - the most powerful of places. Also amazing to experience was a well-executed plot that progressed through Bonnie™'s carefully executed character development, which fueled the major plot points and really kept things moving. And, it simply must be said, that this novel gives you a cast of characters that are true-to-life and easily relatable, which makes the novel all the more enjoyable.

I've always said that the hardest books to review are the ones we love the most, and I'm not doing Something Real justice at all. Ms. Demetrios has crafted a novel that I will cherish among my favourites, and I will most certainly be on the lookout for more of her excellent, quirky and charismatic storytelling in the future. I give this novel a 5 out of 5, and I can't recommend it enough to all fans of YA and adult fiction, especially those who enjoy powerful contemporary novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

What Makes Me Quit a Book Series

Friday, January 17, 2014

As my most of my bloggy friends and followers know, I rarely DNF books, but I also rarely review entire series on this blog. That's not to say that I don't actually read the entire series most of the time. It's simply indicative of the volume of books that I read and review. However, there are times when I stop reading book series, and while I generally hate to do it, it's also what ends up keeping me sane. 

Over the past four years of book blogging, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and I've learned that there isn't always a ton of merit in forcing yourself to read something your heart and mind just aren't feeling. Take, for example, Sophie Jordan's Firelight series. I absolutely loved the first installment of the series, but I felt that my excitement began to wane after the first series, and I got to a place where I honestly felt almost ambivalent about the book. Does that mean the following books in the series were bad? Heck no. It did, however, mean that I wasn't completely invested in the series anymore, and I doubt that I would be able to objectively read and review the novel after that. 

There are a lot of other factors that will make me discontinue series, as well, though. In the case of The Mortal Instruments series, I enjoyed the setup and the first four novels of the series, but I grew tired of the incessant repetition of the same storyline throughout. In the case of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series, I stopped reading after Crescendo because I felt that the characters weren't actually evolving in any good manner. In fact, I felt as though Patch, in particular, was regressing into this shell of what I once really fell for as a character. In terms of the Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater, I didn't actually read past Linger because even though I felt the second installment was stronger than the first, I still didn't believe the first book actually had to be a lead in to a series.

Generally speaking though, if an author wants to captivate me and keep me invested in a series, this is what I'm always on the lookout for:

  • Consistency throughout - I want to know that while, yes, things are evolving and changing, we're still following the hook and the original characters with whom we first interacted.
  • Growth of the characters - It's great to give us characters that we love in the first installment of a series, but I want to see these characters transform into something bigger, better and more powerful.
  • Reason - This might seem like a confusing one, but it really isn't. I need a reason, or a motivation why this series is continuing, which will be the driving force behind the series.
  • A build in power - It's great to have a solid setup and action in the first book, but if you start well, I want to see each installment get even better and more enticing.
  • Expansion of the plot - There is something to be said for the original plot morphing into something bigger and more "all-encompassing." Raise the stakes, and I'm guaranteed more investment.

I never actually enjoy abandoning book series, and more often than not, I'll give them a go at a later day again, but sometimes it just isn't worth it. Just a few examples of series that have me hooked and kept (or still keep) me reading are the Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin, The Lying Game by Sara Shepard and the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. And, it must be said, the reason I read the entire Redwall series from Brian Jacques long past my youth was simply because it never wavered or faltered, but it continued to deliver the same recipe for success again and again.

What makes you quit a book series and/or what makes you remain invested?

The Well's End by Seth Fishman Review

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Title: The Well's End
Author: Seth Fishman (Twitter)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all, she’s baby Mia, the one who fell down a well. That was years ago, though the darkness still haunts her. But when her classmates and teachers at ritzy Westbrook Academy start dying of old age from a bizarre and frightening virus that ages its victims years in a matter of hours, Mia becomes haunted by a lot more than the dark. Their deaths are gruesome and Mia worries she and her friends may be next. In order to survive, Mia and her small crew must break quarantine and outrun armed soldiers in hazmat suits who shoot first and ask questions later.

And there’s only one place to go—the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia knows it’s somehow connected and hopes her dad, Director of Fenton Electronics, who has always been strangely secretive about his work, has the answers she needs, and more importantly a cure to save everyone before the whole town succumbs to the mysterious virus. Unfortunately, it’s not answers Mia discovers, but something far more treacherous and impossible than even the virus itself.
The Well's End is the type of story that readers will undoubtedly read long after dark, riveted and unable to put the book down until it's been finished in a single sitting. I knew from the start that this would be a book for me, blending the most powerful aspects of horror, mystery and cinematic-style adventure into a novel that is  both gripping and alluring in its darkness. Author, Seth Fishman, doesn't shy away from the drama, but rather embraces and draws you in with a novel that is so full of action, drama and adventure that it is fairly impossible to simply stop in the middle of the novel to put the book down.

The setup of The Well's End, while exciting, didn't sound entirely original to me, immediately bringing to mind thoughts of Contagion or other such mystery stories, but I was surprised to see that while, yes, the story embraces that concept, it also goes far beyond it. The quarantine and mystery elements of the story are the bones and framework of the novel, but the characters and the deeper, more sinister mystery in the background are the meat and muscle of the novel, pumping a vibrant and electric life into the book from start to finish. This isn't the type of novel that you can read for pure escapism. Rather, The Well's End pulls you into a mystery so very multifaceted that its nearly impossible to extract yourself and find the source of it all until the third act illuminates it all and leaves us reeling. 

Mia was an excellent main character for a reader like me. To create an avid swimmer, the author definitely did his due diligence in researching swimming terms, practice methods, equipment and drills. As a child, Mia fell down a well and was trapped for days, leading to a deep-rooted and inherent fear of darkness and cold. Swimming, however, embraces both of these things, and Mr. Fishman's use of two polar opposites cements a sort of vulnerable power in our main character, making her both appealing and relatable. The supporting cast of characters including Jo, Odessa, Jimmy, Rob and Brayden were quite solid, as well, each playing their part to their fullest potential. That said, it must be noted that I did feel the romantic setup in the novel was a touch too convenient, and I think if the characters had been given more of a chance to evolve together, it would have been more believable. The only character I felt lacked a bit of true depth in the first half of the novel was our antagonist, Blake Sutton. We know that he's bad, and we understand there is more to him than meets the eye, but we're kept in the dark for much of the novel until the big reveal. 

The true beauty of The Well's End, however, is most definitely the whirlwind plot, which simply doesn't stop. While I felt that, at times, the characters weren't entirely rooted in reality, the plot takes center stage. For example, when I though the mystery was brought to light and we were going to understand the root cause of the virus and The Cave, Mr. Fishman throws readers a curveball. Thrusting us headlong into a town that's riddled with mystery and darkness, we're helpless but to watch and hope as the events unfold with painstaking care. It's exciting to see an author take such care in setting up surprising elements to a story that might have otherwise fallen quite flat. Furthermore, the author has an incredibly easy tone that makes it fun and engaging to follow, and he embraces the modernity of language, which brings our teenage cast alive.

In the end, I read The Well's End in one sitting, riveted from start to finish. When I thought the mystery had unfurled by the second act, I was surprised to see more action, adventure and mystery in the third. It's the type of novel that asks you to simply put aside your reservations and plunge in headfirst with it. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy science fiction, thrillers and mysteries

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Conversion

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for…

Title: Conversion
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 448

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago...
Words cannot adequately describe my sheer excitement for Conversion. For those of you that know me and know this blog, you are well aware that supernatural books involving witches are my thing. Perhaps it's because I've been living right near Salem, MA for so long now, or perhaps it's because of my fascination of The Witch of Blackbird Pond from a young, tender age, but this gives me goosebumps of excitement! Plus, from an author like Katherine Howe, I can only expect greatness. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week? 

Avalon by Mindee Arnett Review

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Title: Avalon
Author: Mindee Arnett (Twitter)
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: January 21, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.
I've said it a million times, but I'll gladly say it again - this is going to be the year of the resurgence of science fiction in young adult. Since a young age, I've been a fan of the genre, both in literature and in film, but I've found that it's somewhat died down in popularity over time. That, in large part I'm sure, is why the premise of Avalon worked so very well for me. The combination of space, crime, mystery and survival is exactly what I was looking for, and this is the type of novel that truly delivers. Mindee Arnett offers readers a rich world that's cold, alluring and, ultimately, hauntingly perfect.

I'd be daft to say that Avalon wasn't without its hitches, but it must be said that the novel develops upon the initial issues I found myself grappling with. For example, as many reviewers have attested, the novel takes a while to truly start. I was initially frustrated with the book for the first 100 or so pages, but I found very quickly that Ms. Arnett was taking the time to do something very important. In those "slower" pages, the author was developing a firm foundation for a new series, which is so often overlooked in novels these days. Rather than simply jump into action and interjecting details throughout, Avalon lays the groundwork from the start, establishing backstory and a rich world that undeniably transforms the latter half of the book and, I'm sure the series. 

Once the plot gets going though, it's like a runaway train, building momentum steadily until a conclusion that left me desperate for the next installment of the series. I do believe it should be mentioned though, that the plot devices, the twists and the turns overshadowed the characters a bit. Jeth, though a solid character, felt a bit detached for me, and I wasn't truly able to understand or appreciate his point of view until the back half of the novel. This did leave me feeling that the romance was also a bit flatter than I'd anticipated, but not unforgivably so. Plus, there is no love triangle, which is a huge element in its favor after all.

Most of all though, Avalon delivers science fiction, pure and true to readers of all ages. With a touch of a Fireflyesque feel, so long as readers remain invested in the novel, the action, suspense and drama will be readily delivered in the latter half of the book. The whirlwind nature of the escalating plot left me breathless, and it truly distracted me from the fact that it's not necessarily a character-driven novel. And, ultimately, the author gives readers what they ask for, though she makes us work for it in the best possible way.

Overall, I found Avalon to be a challenging, intriguing and successful science fiction novel. It wasn't without its flaws, but it gave me the type of science fiction that I've been craving, so I can't fault it all that much. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to YA fans of true science fiction that is heavy on action.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book. 

Why I Really Read Young Adult Books

Monday, January 13, 2014

Even after four years of blogging, I'm asked this question almost routinely. Since I spend more time at my office than I do at home right now, I've had any ARCs I receive delivered here and, in all truth, this blog was a big part of why I was hired for the position I've been in (and loved) for a year and a half now. They think it's awesome that I manage to keep up a blog while working a full-time career, but I know that they wonder exactly why I read the books that I do. And, in fact, many of my friends and coworkers have actually voiced these questions.

Here's the thing...I have always been a big reader. I've loved it since I could first make out a word in a book, and I vividly remember my first night reading past my bedtime, hiding under the covers so my mother wouldn't see that I was still up and reading. I am, however, acutely aware of the fact that a lot of kids didn't have the same relationship with reading that I did, and I'm often saddened when I hear people say that they don't like reading because they think it's a chore...especially younger people.

I am of the school of thought that books, when done well, can change lives. 

They can make you think, they can make you feel and they can bring you into worlds that you might have otherwise never had an opportunity to discover.

Most of all though, they provide the purest, most beautiful and timeless form of escapism that there is.

That is why I read and review young adult books. Don't get me wrong. I read adult books for leisure. I read novels that, yes, bore me at times. I read scandalous romance that would make you blush, and I read autobiographies, biographies, documentaries and more. But there is this innate beauty to YA that makes it so wonderful...

Simply put, it captures youth in its rawest, most poignant form, and it doesn't back down.

I'm proud to be a 27-year-old married lady that's a teenager at heart. I'm proud to scan my shelves and see an overabundance of teen books that I readily share with other readers who show any bit of interest. And, most of all, I'm excited to someday pass on this love of books and reading to my children, and I hope that they'll eventually do the same.

Young adult captures a genre and an age that might otherwise not be interested in books, and turning just one or two readers onto a great book that means the world to me is, in essence, why I read and blog solely about YA books.

Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend Review

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Title: Poor Little Dead Girls
Author: Lizzie Friend (Twitter)
Publisher: Merit Press
Publish Date: December 18, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

Perfect people aren't just born. They're made. The first time she is blindfolded and kidnapped, star-athlete and posh boarding school newbie Sadie is terrified. She wakes up in a dark room surrounded by hushed whispers, hooded strangers, and a mysterious voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in her ear.

But once the robes come off, she realizes it’s just an elaborate prank designed to induct her into the group that’s been pulling the strings at Keating Hall for generations. The circle has it all--incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges.

The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the unexplained marks on her body, the creepy ceremonial rituals, and the incident that befell one of her teammates the year before. So the next time Sadie is kidnapped, she isn’t scared, but she should be. The worst of Keating Hall is yet to come.
There is something about the ritual of secret societies that is utterly fascinating, so the premise of Poor Little Dead Girls spoke to me almost immediately. There's an innate darkness to the hidden nature of it, and I think that's what makes stories that involves secret societies so very gripping. It's not so much about the actual drama that needs to play out in the forefront of the novel, but rather played up by the cloak and daggers mystery of it all. It's all lurking in the shadows, and that's what keeps readers wanting more; it's simply not so cut and dried as we might otherwise want.

Lizzie Friend offers us a fun blend of young adult and mysterious drama, all enveloped in this secret society. The mystery wasn't really that intensive, and I didn't feel as though it offered any insane drama at the end, but it was nevertheless interesting and engaging, which kept me invested from the start. Furthermore, the author sets up a great setting for Poor Little Dead Girls, which brings the background to the forefront and the visual elements alive. It was because of this that I felt completely able to put myself in Sadie's shoes, despite the fact that I didn't really have anything at all in common with her character.

Sadie wasn't an incredibly deep character, but she was still likable, and I found it easy to become invested in her story and her side of the mystery. Nevertheless though, she rang true for me, and it made it easy to understand why she felt like an outsider in the world of Keating. There were heavy mentions of the styles, the name brands and the overall excess within the world of these teens, which made the circumstances far more believable and realistic, especially in  a young adult novel. I think that I really just wanted so much more from the characters in the end. Jeremy, for example, was interesting in theory and in all of my suspicions, but he ended up being just as simplistic as I'd assumed, and while he was sweet, I think that I just wanted a bit more depth in the end.

I have to say that Ms. Friend did create a pretty enjoyable setup for a lighter contemporary mystery. I think it's the type of novel that could really create the perfect setup for a promising new mystery series, but as far as I can see it's a stand-alone novel. The novel, the mystery and the characters were solid, if not spectacular, but I have to say that the verbiage and writing itself was the highlight of the novel for me. The author spun numerous quotes that resonated with me and really left me thinking - often more than the plot itself, so I can definitely say I'll read more from her in the future.

Overall, Poor Little Dead Girls is intriguing, though not altogether spectacularly different. I think that it will find a great audience and that the author will find a good fan base from this novel alone. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy lighter mystery stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Guest Post from Supernatural Snark: Beyond the Bay Boy

Friday, January 10, 2014

Melissa asked me to talk a little bit about a favorite romantic relationship I’d read lately because, well, she knows me and understands my love of all things romance. Her suggestion got me thinking though, and instead of talking about a specific romantic couple, I thought I’d talk about a particular type of romantic character. I am always in favor of a bad boy. Who isn’t? But bad boys, while often beautifully complex and unique in their own ways, are a dime a dozen in young adult, new adult, and urban fantasy/romance. The men I want to talk about today are far more elusive; rare personalities who openly defy label and convention and then take their rebellion one step further by laughing in the face of any who dare try to pigeonhole them. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to refer to them as Romantic Outliers (though they would threaten bodily harm for calling them such).

Upon first glance, one might mistakenly try to assign the Bad Boy label to a Romantic Outlier. It’s a common error as they are both often dark and brooding characters; their thoughts and motivations kept close to their chests as the air of power emanating from them ensures they cut an easy swath through those clamoring to be around them. There are several important key differences that mark a man as a Romantic Outlier rather than just a Bad Boy, however. Where Bad Boys are dangerous, Romantic Outliers are downright lethal. Where Bad Boys aim to wound emotionally or physically, Romantic Outliers aim to scar permanently, and whether that scar is left on someone close to them or the enemy is entirely irrelevant. Bad Boys are memorable, but Romantic Outliers erase the memory of every other person who came before them so they alone exist, unable to accept anything less than the totality of being the one and only.

Bad Boys often push our capacity for forgiveness to its very limit, using cruel words to keep those who would accept the risk of an emotional beating by trying to navigate their rocky shores away, but deep in the heart of their blackness lies vulnerability and a willingness (however small) to stray from the path they’re on if given a good enough reason. Over the course of a Bad Boy’s story, we often see them change; our innate desire to be the one person who knocks a Bad Boy off his axis and acts as a balm to soothe his damaged soul fully realized, if vicariously, through the character who steals his heart.

With a Romantic Outlier, it’s we who do the changing. They remain immovable, completely unapologetic and absolutely uncaring what we think of them because it frankly makes no difference in the grand scheme of their lives. They force us to alter our perception of them–to dig deeper and see what’s there, not simply what we want or hope to see in them–rather than rising to meet our lofty expectations, and we can practically feel their smugness as we struggle with the challenge. We read their stories with a magnifying glass attached to our faces, looking closely for even the barest of hint that they are the men we so desperately want them to be, and when they prove to us again and again that our romantic ideals have no business trying to adhere themselves to their person, we can’t help but find ourselves equal parts dismayed and perversely pleased that they’ve burst our bubble once more.

The Romantic Outlier might not sound romantic in the least for some; after all, who wants to love someone who for the most part couldn’t care less whether or not they have our love? But therein lies the attraction. We all want what we can’t have. Hope is a force to be reckoned with and can be a cruel mistress, keeping us flipping pages out of the sheer desire to prove that these men are more than what we’ve uncovered so far; that if we just keep digging we’ll find the evidence that our hope has not been grossly misplaced. It’s part of the fun. There’s an undoubtedly dark appeal in wondering if it’s the next chapter that will see them do the irredeemable; to cross a line that can’t be uncrossed. Or can it? Our ability to rationalize their actions–to excuse what they say or do in a way we might never have before them–can be startling yet oh-so fascinating, a testament to how much they’ve changed us, and just maybe, how much we craved change and simply needed a Romantic Outlier to show us the way.

If you’re curious about the Romantic Outlier, check out the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. Barrons, Ryodan (Fever series) and Warden (The Bone Season) are all such stunning emotional and romantic challenges, and I can guarantee that love them or hate them, you will remember them forever.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vanishing Season

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for…

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 256

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town. I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig. I am looking for the things that are buried.
It's no secret that I love me a good mystery and, frankly, the creepier, the better. There's something about disappearances in novels that always haunts me and draws me in, so The Vanishing Season fits the bill perfectly. Plus, we're promised danger, intrigue, love, betrayal and a mystery that might just make our heads spin. How in the world am I supposed to pass something like that up? Oh, and it doesn't  hurt that the cover is absolutely gorgeous. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Guest Post from Alexa Loves Books: On "The Wedding & True Love

Monday, January 6, 2014

Today, I'm so happy to welcome the lovely Alexa from Alexa Loves Books to my little blog. Alexa graciously offered up her reviewing time and prowess to provide some insight into one of her favourite love stories of all time, The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. Please welcome her to the blog, and then be sure to drop by her blog later. It's one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Alexa!


Even though it’s been quite a while since the last time I read it, The Wedding is one of my favorites among all the Nicholas Sparks novels. The reason it has earned top marks with me is fairly simple: when it comes right down to it, this novel is a story about love. I’m not just talking about the glow of first love, or the heated passion of the early days, though these are ever present. I’m talking about the true, real, forever kind of love – the kind that everyone hopes to have on their wedding day.

The kind of love that Wilson and Jane have is the kind that I believe I have with my husband, and what I’m believing in for Melissa and her new husband, Ryan. It’s not perfect in the way that movie romances tend to be, with the right line at the right time with the swoon-worthy grand gesture. No, it’s flawed and riddled with imperfection; Wilson and Jane face a few conflicts and things that make them question their relationship.

But their love is real.

It is also true, as readers will discover when they keep on reading. We learn more about these two, how they fell in love and what their life is currently like. We meet their children, their parents and some of their friends. And with every chapter, we see their emotions when it comes to one another – the passion, the respect, the trust, the love and the loyalty – and it’s wonderful.

For that’s what true love is really like. It teeters between the good times and the bad ones, the moments of complete solidarity and the moments on opposing sides. And when it comes right down to it, loving someone becomes your choice. You choose to love someone. You choose that person, in spite of their flaws. You choose that person, because of the good things they bring to your life. You choose that person – and if they choose you, well, then you’re blessed indeed.

Does The Wedding have a happy conclusion? You’ll just have to read it and see for yourself. It’s definitely the kind of love story I’d treasure and read all over again, and I think you should too.

But in the meantime, join me in wishing Melissa and Ryan a hearty congratulations on their wedding, which is a celebration of true love in real life! May their love be like Wilson and Jane’s – not perfect, but real and true and strong.

Today is the Day

Saturday, January 4, 2014

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you probably know by now that I am getting married today! 
This is the best possible way for me to think of starting 2014, 
and I cannot wait to get back from my honeymoon and share all the magic of our day with you lovelies. 
However, as you can imagine, I'm taking this time to enjoy a blissful week with my husband (!!!) before then.
I'll be gone from today through Sunday, January 12th,
but a few sweet bloggers have offered up some guest posts in the meantime.

I've also scheduled some reviews and features during my absence, 
but as you can imagine, I'll be pretty much MIA from commenting and blog loving for the next week.
I sure can't wait to be back reading all your lovely blogs and comments upon my return!

Until then, much, much love from the new Mr. and Mrs. Moore! xoxo

See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne Review

Friday, January 3, 2014

Title: See Jane Run
Author: Hannah Jayne (Twitter)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: January 7, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

I know who you are. When Riley first gets the postcard tucked into her bag, she thinks it's a joke. Then she finds a birth certificate for a girl named Jane Elizabeth O'Leary hidden inside her baby book.

Riley's parents have always been pretty overprotective. What if it wasn't for her safety...but fear of her finding out their secret? What have they been hiding? The more Riley digs for answers, the more questions she has.

The only way to know the truth? Find out what happened to Jane O'Leary.
Have you ever read The Face on the Milk Carton? That is, essentially, what I expected when I first began reading See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne. The mystery within the pages is set up early on, almost before we truly get to know our characters and our protagonist, which leads readers to believe that this mystery will dominate the novel above all else. I figured that the mystery, because of this, would be pretty cut-and-dried, but I was surprised to find that Ms. Jayne didn't hesitate to have us second-guessing, peering over our shoulders and really, honestly, topsy-turvy throughout. That is, essentially, what makes a good mystery after all, and it is a large part of why the novel ended up working fairly well for me.

While much of the novel was rife with paranoia and speculation, however, we weren't offered nearly as much mystery or depth from Riley, our protagonist. On one hand, she's an incredibly sympathetic character, as we can sense her palpable anxiety from the minute the novel begins. On the other hand though, Riley fails to use any sort of logic or common sense when she could have probably easily discovered the root of the mystery, if only through asking the proper questions. Rather, we watch as Riley makes countless poor decisions, and we're helpless but to beat our head against a wall, begging this girl we really want to like to simply stop, take a breath and then proceed. At the same time though, you could sense an air of vulnerability about her that made you desperate to like her, regardless of her numerous character flaws. It must be said that I also really struggled with Riley's best friend, Shelby. The girl was so antagonistic, unfailingly blunt and constantly swapping between logical and illogical that the scenes with her actually pulled me out of the story more than once. If she'd been a bit more tempered and supported Riley's persona better, I think she could have worked.

In terms of the mystery itself, See Jane Run isn't a slam-dunk, but it does have a solid setup. Yes, there were several plot holes throughout the novel, but just when I thought things were about to unravel, Ms. Jayne would patch up the fragmented pieces and send us down another path. I'm not sure it was entirely logical in the way that the mystery played out either, but I can appreciate the direction in which the novel took us. It was different than I'd anticipated, and there's something to be said for that, in and of itself. Furthermore, there is a sweet romance that leaves its mark on the story and the plot, and the connection between JD and Riley heightens the stakes and further draws us in, despite a few little flaws through the novel.

Overall, See Jane Run was a solid, but not perfect novel. Regardless of the flaws though, I found myself rather enjoying the story as a whole, and I could overlook many of the little issues to appreciate the story in the end. I give it a solid 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA novels, especially those who like mysteries and thrillers.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins Review

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Title: Forever
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher

All I want is my happily-ever-after. That's all I've wanted since meeting Noah Miller.

From the day we met, the world has tried to keep Noah and me from being together, but now that I'm carrying his child, no one will be able to tear us apart. Or so I hope. But Noah and I have made some mistakes along the way, and the consequences are impacting the people we love. Worse, there's a storm on the horizon, and it's sure to cause serious devastation.

If we can get through this, we'll finally be Rose and Noah; a family, forever. But first we have to survive the road ahead. And happily-ever-after is a long way off.
This is the third novel in Karen Ann Hopkin's Temptation series, and I must admit that from the start, this has been a guilty-pleasure series for me. I'm generally the type of reader that wants rough, tough and gruff contemporary fiction, and I have a penchant for quickly discarding what might otherwise be considered sappy romance. However, Forever earned a spot on my review pile, simply because there is something inherently alluring about a forbidden romance - especially one that crosses cultures and beliefs. Forever, once again, brings us back to Meadow View with Rose and Noah as they attempt to navigate new obstacles blocking their paths to happiness, yet again. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Forever and its predecessors are the tales of an Amish boy, Noah, who falls in love with an English (non-Amish) girl, Rose. While much of the setup for the previous novels felt a bit trite and cliche, this third and final installment in the series offered a surprising amount of new depth  to a pretty dramatic tale. Noah and Rose were rather reckless with their love for one another in the previous novels and, while they knew that their love would have consequences, they gave it little to no thought at all before. This time, however, we see Noah step up and mature, which I found really helpful for a series such as this. It would have been so easy for the author to simply settle for the drama of an unplanned pregnancy, but we actually get to see Noah take ownership of his actions and their subsequent repercussions. I was, however, still frustrated with Rose. There are serious strings attached to their relationship at this point, yet she still felt the need to hide it from her disapproving father. Colour me mad, but I would have loved to see the same level of maturity and growth from her as I did from Noah.

In terms of writing, Ms. Hopkins doesn't disappoint. Her prose is simple but sweet, and it has a delicate nature that doesn't feel overtly flowery or pretentious, but it weighs lightly on our hearts while it pulls us into this web of a story. Like I said before, this is not the type of series that I'd normally love, but it's engaging, and you can't help but root for two such characters. The ending was a bit neater than I might have liked. I like a bit of an open end, if only to keep me thinking about the story long after I close the book on the final page, but Forever gives readers what it's promises from the start - a happily ever after. I do wish we could see Rose and Noah grow a bit more together as friends, rather than just lovers, but I suppose that's asking a bit much of such a series.

Overall though, Forever is a fitting conclusion to a romantic forbidden love story. It was an interesting take on cross-culture relationships and, while often a bit cheesy, it was sweet, and it's a fast-paced read you can easily finish in a night. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA and contemporary romance novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover