Four by Veronica Roth Review

Monday, June 30, 2014

Title: Four
Author: Veronica Roth (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.
Fans of the Divergent trilogy know, love and appreciate what a fantastic hero Four, or Tobias, is throughout the series. However, we also know that Divergent is Tris's story, and it's her path to her destiny. While we're privy to plenty of Four's story, there were countless times through the series that I wanted more from his perspective. I wanted to know, to feel and to fully comprehend what he had to face to become the person he is today. Finally, Veronica Roth has given us what I'm sure many others hope for, as well; a deeper glimpse inside the mind of our hero, Four.

The beauty and curse of Four is a bit of a double-edged sword. Reading the story through his eyes made me wish that we could see the entire series all over again through the same perspective. There is something wholeheartedly refreshing about his journey to personal freedom and integrity that speaks to my soul, and reading the novel really clarified exactly why he because such a beloved character for many. His strength of person, his crisp, clear and passionate point of view shine through these four installments, and it's something I wish I could have read much more of.

It's always a bit difficult to analyze novellas, simply because they're such small snippets of the larger overall picture. Four is no exception to the rule and, in fact, pretty much epitomizes why I want so much more from novellas and tend to steer clear of them. All of that said though, Ms. Roth does a beautiful job of painting four of the main parts of the Divergent story from Four's point of view. While I worried it might feel a bit too familiar and commonplace after having read the full series, the beauty of this collection is that it feels so separate and singular - meaning that Four shines, while when we see Tris, she's clearly a secondary character.

The true talent of this collection, however, is how beautifully Ms. Roth has managed to string avid fans like myself into her incredible world, yet again. Through the eyes of Four, I got to see how he truly because a member of Dauntless, how he met and fell for Tris and how he coped with the incredible changes and challenges that dominated his life. And, while these four novellas definitely tied whatever those missing elements from the series might have been back together, Four stands alone in its raw power and insight into our beloved character's heart.

It's rare for me to read a novella and come away feeling satisfied, but while I wasn't entirely fulfilled (because hey, who doesn't want more), I loved reading every bit of these novellas from Four's eyes. Fans of the series will fall hard for Four all over again, I'm sure. I give this collection a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who are fans of the Divergent series and love dystopian 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.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe Review

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Title: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe (Twitter)
Publisher: Orion
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 320
Source: Personal Copy

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice. The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.

The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.
When a mystery novel is truly done well, it works hard to transcend the genre and leave readers with a lasting impression that goes far beyond the normal "whodunit" routine. Novels that succeed in doing so are extremely rare though, so when you find that one-off, you make sure to hold it close and savour every last page, if only hoping to immerse yourself just a little deeper in the story. Far From You is exactly that type of story, creating a world in which we can all see little pieces of ourselves. Showing readers the depths of despair, as well as the wildly optimistic beauty of the future, author Tess Sharpe weaves us into a web from which we hope to untangle ourselves, but never truly hope to be free of. 

I very seldom read novels with story lines that alternate between past and present that actually work, but I have to say that Far From You does this with expert ease. By offering us both tragic past memories, as well as tales of happier times, we are able to see our heroine, Sophie in multiple lights, which makes her more sympathetic and, ultimately, far more real. It's important to note that this story rotates between these POVs seemingly at random, offering us tidbits of hope when we need them most, and tempering them with gravity and reality, as well, never straying too far from the actual message and theme of the story.

What I love about the mystery aspect of Far From You is that nobody appears to be entirely ruled out from the start. In most murder mysteries, we see a bait and switch sort of tactic, whereas this novel gives us a little dirt on everyone, making certain that we're never one hundred percent certain that anyone is innocent. While it makes for a slightly less breathtaking reveal, it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, and I thought it was extremely clever how intricate Ms. Sharpe's details were when scattered throughout the story with great care.

My only real issue with the novel was the drug addiction storyline. I never felt as though it was really explored in depth to warrant it being such a poignant part of the novel. Drug addiction, in and of itself, is vastly complex, and I would have loved to see it portrayed in deeper shades of grey than we saw. Throughout the novel, it was presented as almost a character roadblock, but we never really feel or experience the ramifications through Sophie's eyes, which lessened its impact in the end.

Overall though, Far From You definitely exceeded my expectations and offered me everything from love, to mystery, to tragedy and personal triumph. It's the type of novel that has a little bit of everything for everyone, and it embraces its genre fully. I give this novel a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary novels and mysteries.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Orphan Queen

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fantasy is the type of genre that, in theory, I should love impartially, but I find myself borderline too picky most of the time. It's very hit or miss with me, but when it does manage to hit, it hits hard. I've been on the lookout lately for an awesome fantasy novel to crave…and I think I might have found it. Only problem? The release date. 

Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows (Twitter)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: YA, High Fantasy
Pages: 400

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities. She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others
Yes. Freaking. Please. It sounds like The Orphan Queen has everything that I want in a fantasy novel - romance, power, magic and a whole lot of adventure to boot. Plus, Wilhelmina sounds like the type of protagonist that I could totally root for, especially if their adventures are dangerous and threaten their loyalties. Clearly, this is the type of fantasy book that I long for, and I'll be eagerly anticipating its release…forever. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Words as Cover Art

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cover art is always, always, always evolving, as I'm sure you know if you've been an avid reader for some time. It's always been something that's fascinated for me, and while some trends work for me, others really don't. I think that, first and foremost, covers need to work with their content, so if they don't, that tends to lead me astray…but, as you know, there are always the exceptions to the rule!

I Love…Distorted Faces, Words as Cover Art & Backs on the Cover

I Love…Movement on Covers, Bright Colours, Partial Faces

I Love…Mirror Effects, Illustrations, Repetition, Objects Instead of People

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Blog Tour: Dollhouse by Anya Allen

Monday, June 23, 2014

You may remember that way back when, I revealed what I think is possibly the coolest and creepiest trailer of the year to you all for a novel called Dollhouse by Anya Allen from Paper Lantern Lit. Well, my friends, the wait is over! The book has arrived, and you'd better believe it's as awesome as we thought it could be…and more!

Dollhouse was every bit as eerie as I'd hoped it could be. With a setting that was absolutely to die for in Australia (New South Wales, to be exact), and a host of unforeseen circumstances, the ball starts rolling on a novel that seems innocent until things begin to unravel. It must be said that author, Anya Allen, sets the stage slowly but surely, establishing her characters first before things begin to fall apart and go awry. It's a tricky feat, but once the novel hits its stride, the adventure, mystery and heart-palpitating drama is non-stop.

I thought that Dollhouse would offer us childhood references to dolls and wishes as a sort of respite from the eerie events, but it seemed to use them to further the macabre. Psychological and, at times, uncomfortable, it's the type of novel that makes you cringe as you read, but at the same time, you're simply unable to look away. The sincerity of the horror aspects of the novel are well done, and it must be said this novel doesn't err on the side of over-the-top supernatural experiences. Rather, the grim takes center stage and pushes the story forward.

Trust me, my friends, if you're a fan of real psychological thrillers and stories that will keep you thinking, Dollhouse is the perfect novel for you!


Title: Dollhouse
Author: Anya Allyn (Twitter. Facebook)
Publisher: Paper Lantern Lit
Publish Date: May 20, 2014
Genre: YA, Thriller
Pages: 205

It isn’t nice to play games. Cassie knows coveting her best friend’s boyfriend is practically a cardinal sin. So when Aisha disappears, Cassie fears it’s her fault for even thinking of Ethan that way.

As the chemistry between them escalates, Cassie and Ethan discover a secret they never would have imagined: a hidden mansion in the mist-enshrouded mountains, where Aisha and several other girls are being held as dolls by a handsome young man who they call The Provider.

Torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, unexpected attraction to The Provider, Cassie must overcome temptation. Because it turns out that even good girls can be drawn to dark things… and the game between Cassie and The Provider has only just begun, in this tantalizing start to an incredible series.

Author: Anya Allyn
Anya Allyn grew up in Sydney, Australia, and now lives by the beach on The Central Coast. She spends her days with five incredibly cool males - four of whom are her kids. As a child, she could be found reading, sketching comic strips or fainting during choir practice in her school convent. She has worked in entertainment, web content, and most recently as a Features' Editor for Fairfax Media in Australia. Dollhouse is her first novel.


Find Dollhouse on iTunes. Amazon. Barnes & NobleGoodreads

Mini Break

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guys!!! I'm so sorry this blog has been kind of dead lately. My husband headed off for 5 weeks of training with the Army about two weeks ago, and we've been on radio silence, so I decided to take a little break and head home to New Hampshire. As you can imagine…that came with lots of visits to family, working in an office again for a few days and much-needed relaxation with all the beautiful green

I'll be off this blog until Monday, June 23rd, and which point I promise I'll return all comments and blog love! I just need this time to enjoy unplugging and being with family while my man's away. Love all your faces and see you soon! :)

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore Review

Monday, June 16, 2014

Title: Dark Metropolis
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore (Twitter)
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: June 17, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.

Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron atthe club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.
Paranormal, so I've found, is a uniquely tricky genre to both read and write. It requires expert precision, a careful hand when crafting the world in which its characters live and a host of characters with whom we can easily and readily relate. From the premise alone, Dark Metropolis offers us all this and more. However, it's quickly noticed and understood that it's a trickier novel than the synopsis lets on. Jaclyn Dolamore has a uniquely perceptive writing style that lends to a near cinematic quality for this novel. I often felt us though I was being offered bits and pieces of the larger picture - though never quite enough to truly grasp the world in which our protagonist, Thea, lives.

In most paranormal novels that I've read, we're privy to a rich backstory that enables us to become fully invested in the world within the pages. Dark Metropolis, however, falters in that aspect, giving us glimmers of a magical world through Freddy and the Valkenrath brothers' plot arcs. Furthermore, though the novel is set in war-torn Germany, this unique setting is alluded to, but otherwise largely overlooked, leading to some disappointment in that aspect. For such an exciting time and place to be mentioned, I would have hoped to really explore the ramifications of the setting, as well as truly understand why this setting was chosen.

Thea, though our protagonist through the story, is not the sole focus, which allows us greater scope when reading the novel, but doesn't altogether give us that depth and deep-seeded understanding that we might have hoped for. While we begin with Thea, we quickly transition to Freddy and Nan, and we sort of lose the focus that I'd been hoping for, which might have provided some much-needed direction for the novel in the end. It must be said, however, that the characters were a highlight for me, and they definitely offered a unique perspective on the novel and the unfolding events as a whole.

Though I'd hoped for more depth and magic from Dark Metropolis, I was intrigued by the cinematic writing of the novel, and the darkness that the title implies was definitely front and center - something I can appreciate in any novel I read. I wasn't altogether blown away by the novel, but the author has potential, and I'd be interested to see where the story goes in the future. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal 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.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen Review

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Title: Landry Park
Author: Bethany Hagen (Twitter)
Publisher: Dial
Publish Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 384
Source: Personal Copy

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate.

As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.
In a futuristic society run almost entirely on nuclear energy, Landry Park offers readers a powerful conceptual dystopian in which society is separated into strict classes. Dystopians are, more often than not, a dime a dozen on the YA market these days, so reading a novel with about a broken society in a somewhat imaginable future is a breath of fresh air. Bethany Hagen has crafted a novel that's as enticing as it is intriguing, and the premise promises readers a true fractured future, though I felt some of the hype was more potent than the novel itself.

Landry Park is touted as the "Downton Abbey" of dystopians, leading a reader like me to expect clear, concise and believable class distinctions that are marked by duties and responsibilities. While, yes, the novel offers us clear class hierarchies, I felt that it failed to explain how the separation of classes truly came about, which became an almost fundamental flaw for me, as it seemed so very crucial to the world-building of the novel. The descriptions of the gentry and the Rootless, however, are solid and remarkable, making them tangible. The gentry really grated on me, as I could almost taste their acrid sense of entitlement, while I felt great sorrow and loss for the hardships the Rootless had to endure.

And yet, I struggled to find our protagonist, Madeline's, place in all of the hardships of this future society. On the surface, she played her role very well as the self-important wealthy girl longing for a life that's different than the one she lived out. More than once, we read and understand that she longs to make a difference and make a change in the way society functions, but I felt that her motives and reasoning for wanting this change were never really explored through Landry Park. I wanted to become fully invested in her desires for change and her plight to right the wrongs of society, but I found myself thinking only that she satisfied, but did not fulfill her role in its entirety.

Landry Park also offers readers a touch of romance through the budding relationship between David and Madeline. David's character was more fleshed out than Madeline's but I never truly grasped the poignancy of their relationship. Rather, it felt more like a plot device to further our protagonist's agenda and endgame of creating change. Thus, their relationship and the romance that I'd hoped would offer us a bit more drama, ended up only offering a slight diversion with little to no substance.

Overall, I can't say that Landry Park was the best dystopian I've ever read, though I do admire the risks that Ms. Hagen took. I feel that if the story had had another 200 pages, we might have had the full society and plot devices to create a truly memorable dystopian novel, but in the end, I'm not entirely certain it stood out from the crowd for me. I give this novel a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans  of YA, especially those who enjoy lighter dystopian novels

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fall

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's no secret that I love creepy, eerie, things that go bump in the night kind of books. They're my thing...even if they give me nightmares for days. Those, my friends, are the very best books because they're so very tangible that they actually inspire fear. Plus, aren't our imaginations a little more terrifying than watching things play out on screen? I know mine is...

Title: The Fall
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Genre: YA, Thriller
Pages: 400

Madeline Usher is doomed. She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.
Psychological thrillers, plus an Edgar Allan Poe inspiration? Count me in. Though retellings are notoriously tedious and tend to fall flat (in my eyes, of course), I have high hopes for this one. If it even comes close to as haunting as that cover, I'll be sold within a few pages, and I'm not certain I'll ever sleep again. I think, my friends, this is most definitely the book for me! What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

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

Top Ten Tuesday: The Best Books of 2014 Thus Far

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I swear there is absolutely no shortage of amazing books this year, and just when I think I've read it and seen it all, something surprises me in the best possible way. Even more than four years into blogging, there never fails to be something new and exciting. Plus, with up-and-coming authors cropping up and staking their claim on the young adult genre, I think it's safe to say that I will be excited for years to come. For now, however, these are the best 10 books that I've read thus far this year…

The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington
Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

On the Fence by Kasie West
Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton Review

Monday, June 9, 2014

Title: Where Silence Gathers
Author: Kelsey Sutton (Twitter)
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 360
Source: Publisher

Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Tate sits outside Nate Foster's house, clutching a gun. After serving ten years for the drunk driving accident that killed Alex's family, Nate has been released from prison. Every night, Alex waits out of sight, building up the courage to exact her own justice. There's just one problem: Forgiveness.

Alex has been able to see personified Emotions for as long as she can remember, and Revenge is her best friend. But when Forgiveness suddenly appears, he offers Alex a choice—getting even or moving on. It's impossible to decide when Revenge whispers in one ear . . . and Forgiveness whispers in the other.
After being significantly charmed and enamored by Some Quiet Place in 2013, I knew that I needed to get my hands on Where Silence Gathers, if only to see that winning formula in action yet again. There was a beauty to the first novel in that it broke the mold for me by offering up a premise that was different, alluring and slightly unnerving. There is something epically fascinating about the concept of being able to actually see and visually recognize emotions in a more tangible manner than we normally experience them. And, as such, Kelsey Sutton brings something new to the paranormal genre; something imaginative, creative and just a little bit scary.

From the start, I felt back at home with Ms. Sutton's writing style. She has a fluid, almost languid way of writing that's both easy and eloquent at the same time, giving readers the very best of both worlds. If for no other reason than that, Where Silence Gathers is worth a read. What struck me with this novel though was how poetic the story got with its emotions. It seemed as though she struck her characters down to the core, making them come alive through tragedy and it's in this raw, vulnerable form that we are truly able to see who and what these people, emotions and characters really are - bare and open for all to see.

Where Silence Gathers was tricky for me in some aspects though, too. I struggled very much with Alex's character from the start. She's been broken and battered by the horrors that her family and she had to endure, but there's a selfish, angry and resentful side to her that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Though believable, I wanted to slap her at times and tell her to just grow up and understand that vengeance wouldn't make everything better. At the same time though, it's through this shattered state that we see her find her way from Revenge to Forgiveness. And, as these are both personified emotions, we do sort of enter that dreaded love triangle - though we see it through new eyes, as these are their base forms, which is far more powerful.

As a companion novel to the first powerful installment, in many ways, Where Silence Gathers soars. However, I found myself longing for the character, Fear, of the previous novel. Though Fear appears from time to time through the novel, he contributed a powerful magic to the first book that neither Forgiveness nor Revenge fully embodied. I will say though, that this book stood out because of the difference in the protagonists. In the former novel, Elizabeth didn't feel anything. In this novel, we see and experience as Alex feels far too much. Reading and understanding this vast and powerful difference is what made this story really work for me and won me over in the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed Where Silence Gathers, though it's definitely different than its predecessor. I enjoy that both novels can stand on their own, and it's clear that Ms. Sutton has a truly powerful gift for storytelling and complexity that I will seek time and time again. I give this book a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it for all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal 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.

How to Fall by Jane Casey Review

Friday, June 6, 2014

Title: How to Fall
Author: Jane Casey (Twitter)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: August 26, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.
There's nothing quite like a good mystery to make your blood curdle and have you longing to leave the lights on long after dark. I think that's why I'm so partial to mysteries. They linger with you long after you close the book on the last page, begging you all the while to scour it again for one more clue you might have missed, or one more detail that led to that final, fateful outcome. How to Fall by Jane Casey is the type of mystery and thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end, hoping that you might very well lose yourself along the way, as well.

How to Fall gives readers a fantastic setting, which was one of the true highlights of the novel for me. Ms. Casey manages to bring the English countyside alive through the careful details of the town, its inhabitants, the weather and all those eccentricities that set it apart from other potential settings. The beauty of these descriptions is, though the setting is altogether unfamiliar to me, it's a rather closed scene, in which we feel as though we grow to know and empathize with the town's inhabitants, as well as their daily lives and routines. Through that, we better understand our protagonist and the characters, which is a truly remarkable feat - and one I don't see that often in other such novels.

The characters within How to Fall presented us with fairly vast character map - giving us a little bit of everything within the closed off setting. Jess, our protagonist, was a bit of a double-edged sword for me. Ms. Casey takes great care in calling attention to the differences between Freya and Jess, despite their outward similarities. Unfortunately, at times, I felt that this made Jess's persona a bit cloying and smothering. Freya is described as a quiet, artistic girl with a more patient and calm demeanor. Jess is the exact opposite, often bringing a bit of a bold, hard-edged demeanor to the story. It was a pretty thick shell that made it fairly difficult to actually access her true persona and personality. Our other characters such as Darcy and Natasha, while serving their purposes well, often felt more like tropes than real people, which unfortunately drew me out of the story at critical times.

There was a quiet simplicity to the actual mystery of How to Fall, and I appreciated that Ms. Casey took great care in setting the scene of Freya's untimely demise from page one. While it wasn't the most earth-shattering mystery, it still had me guessing at key moments, and that's often good enough for me. I think that the only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the actual mystery was Jess's detective nature. She's presented as an incredibly intelligent and likable character, but many of her actions and motives made her seem rather a juvenile detective that was in far over her head.

Overall, I found How to Fall to be an enjoyable mystery - though perhaps a lighter mystery than those I'm particularly partial to. It's not a perfect story, but Ms. Casey never fails to impress with her writing style, and the setting, itself, is reason enough to pick up this novel. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary stories and light 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: The Dolls

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

There's never a shortage of paranormal novels on the young adult market these days, but there's often a shortage of paranormal novels that actually capture my attention...and keep it. I look for vivid settings, great characters and a plot that's going to stand out as original. That's a tough list of criteria for any book (because I'm a hardass), but they do pop up! 

Title: The Dolls
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal Mystery
Pages: 384

Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.

Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.
There's something about a down-home Louisiana setting that both excites me and makes my skin the best possible way. Add to that delightful setting a character with a painful backstory, a voodoo plotline and mysteries galore, and you pretty much have a winning combination in my book! There's something dark and twisty about this one, and I absolutely must know what it is. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week? 

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for the Summer Beach Bag

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summertime is here, my friends, and am I right in saying there's absolutely nothing better in the whole world?! Some of my earliest memories are of days at the beach, book in hand, just soaking up the rays. And, whether I wanted to believe it or not, there is such a thing as the perfect beach read! When I'm there relaxing and enjoying a beautiful sunshiney day, I want something sweet, fun, romantic and soul-fulfilling. These are, without a doubt, the perfect summertime reads in my book (pun intended)!

On the Fence by Kasie West
We'll Always Have Summer (The Summer Series) by Jenny Han
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama Review

Monday, June 2, 2014

Title: Plus One
Author: Elizabeth Fama (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopians
Pages: 373
Source: Publisher

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.
Dystopian novels are often a dime a dozen these days, but I must admit that the concept of Plus One had me going from the very start. Author, Elizabeth Fama, is known for her way with words, spinning stories into this hypnotic, melodic sort of storytelling that leaves you breathless, so I had no reservations at all when I picked up the novel. Offering us an interesting alternate reality, it's the type of novel that asks readers to put their preconceived notions aside and simply dive headfirst into a world that's unfamiliar in it's familiarity. It's a different sort of dystopian novel - one that I believe will either sink or swim for readers.

Plus One  presented a unique challenge for me, perhaps because I've read so many dystopian novels in the past couple of years. In 1918, a flu pandemic threatened to destroy the world's population, so the then President divided the populace into two groups - those who would work the medical fields during the day and the laborers who would work at night. I struggled a bit with this premise, understanding exactly how two perfectly symmetrical shifts would help heal the world from a ravaging disease. Furthermore, what started as an equal society working together (though separated) to keep their people alive, melted into a complete persecution and separation in less than 100 years. I found it, while fascinating, a bit implausible.

I started to reconcile with the idea of the day vs. night premise about halfway through Plus One, and I found myself growing attached to Soleil's character. She was rash, and impulsive and fairly unpredictable, but in a novel that felt quite intangible at times, I felt that she was a ray of light. At times, she felt a bit juvenile, and her actions seemed a bit haphazard, but her persona and the relationship between Soleil and D'arcy rang true and honest. I truly believe the relationships were the highlight of the story for me because, whereas much of the plot felt a bit rushed and haphazard, I felt like I always had a grasp on the characters and their motives, at the very least. 

I think that in the end, my real qualm with Plus One was simply that it felt a little too rushed. With a novel like this, we're being offered a new world in which we're expected to understand and empathize with the changes to society and its inhabitants. However, there was simply so much going on that it felt as though it moved with a little too much speed, when it could easily have worked just a little slower and more deliberate in its actions. The foundation for the world was there, but unfortunately, the meat simply didn't follow through, and while I loved the characters and longed for more of them, I couldn't help but feel a little slighted at the end.

Overall, Plus One  is a complex dystopian that I have extremely mixed feelings on. Ms. Fama remains an incredible writer - one whom I will seek out time and again. Unfortunately, it was also a little unbalanced, and that's where the story lost me a bit. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA and NA, especially those who enjoy dystopian novels that focus heavily on characters over plot.

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.


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