Monday, February 27, 2017

Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Game of ShadowsGame of Shadows by Erika Lewis
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.

Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he's ever seen. He's assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.

Travelling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.

Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.

My Thoughts:
Game of Shadows was so much fun!!  I loved the adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed the rich Celtic mythology!

Ethan has grown up sheltered.  His mom will not let him out of her site and as you can imagine this is quite embarrassing for a fourteen year old boy.  All he wants is freedom so when an opportunity pops up to walk to school alone he takes it.  He never imagined his life would turn upside down from that one walk, but it does and Ethan's life is changed from that moment on.

I really enjoyed this story.  I thought Erika Lewis did a great job at pacing the story and the build up was incredible.  Right from the start the story starts out with adventure and I got totally lost in all of it.  My favorite part about the story though was the mythology.  I have missed reading books that contain mythology and a touch of paranormal so this was right up my alley.  Lewis did a great job weaving in her magic with the Celtic magic and it all really worked.  I did get a tad lost when the backstory was being discussed and I honestly think it is just me.  I tend to gloss over details unfortunately and well you can't do that with fantasy novels.  After I went back and reread the parts that confused me I did get a better grasp and Lewis does work her way through everything by the end so I did eventually get it all. It is a complicated story, but one definitely worth figuring out.

The characters were also really fascinating.  My favorite of course was Lily, but Ethan was great too.  They were a great pair and complimented each other very nicely.  I also really liked that the author had adults thrown into the mix.  She let Ethan take the lead, but it was nice to see he had adult back up when he needed it.  His story line with his mom and Runyun was great and I honestly can't wait to see where that line goes.

I even liked the romance.  SHOCKER!  It was very well done and made me laugh quite a few times, because the author managed to capture love at fourteen brilliantly.  It isn't perfect and it shouldn't be at that age.  Lewis through in so many hilarious moments that fit the character and his age and I appreciated the effort. 

I honestly had no issues to complain about with this story.  I did figure out one twist early on, but I don't think it was that big of a deal.  And actually that twist didn't go as far as I thought it would so there was still a bit of surprise with it.  All in all this was a fun story that totally captured my attention.  I read it in two sittings because I just couldn't put it down. I am definitely eager for the sequel!  Game of Shadows ends on a cliff hanger so beware, but it's a good cliffhanger that brings Ethan's story full circle. I loved that the author went in this direction and I can't wait to see the fall out!

5 snowflakes

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

Bad BloodBad Blood by Demitria Lunetta
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.
My thoughts:
As much as I want to love this this I just can't.  I've been sitting here for about 10 minutes trying to figure out my thoughts and they all just lead me to I didn't like it.

The story was so intriguing and there were parts I truly loved.  Heather, our main character, has been cutting herself and having just returned from a stay at a Wellness Clinic she travels across the sea to visit her Aunt Abbie in Scotland.  Her parents aren't thrilled, but she swears she's better and convinces them to let her go.  She goes every summer so she already has a group of friends waiting for her.  Sounds more like a contemporary novel right...well what we don't know from the beginning is that there is a reason for Heather cutting herself and what she cuts into her skin has a far deeper meaning than Heather thought.

Okay so my description isn't really spooky, but the author does a great job at filling in the spooky and I liked it.  The story flips back and forth from Heather's POV to two sisters Primrose and Prudence who lived in the 1600's.  Their story is filled with witchcraft and it isn't a pretty one because during that time witches were executed and the two sisters didn't exactly get along so there was tension even in their house.  I liked this part and I wanted so much more, but the author didn't really get down to the whole witch storyline until to late in the story.  There was so much build up and at 90% in the story I knew the author was going to rush and she did.  It really killed the whole story for me. I wish she would have given herself an extra 100 pages because I think the story could have been fantastic with those extra pages.  She could have spent so much more time with Heather's grandma and the whole coven plot line.  As it stands though once the meat of the story finally happens it's all over in the blink of an eye.

And the ending was very problematic for me.  I won't spoil anything, but in a certain scene I could feel the author going "hmm only have 10 pages left, better wrap this up quickly". It was such a disappointment and not believable in the slightest. I know it's witches and that's not believable ( well for some it is so please don't take offense) much either, but the ending was just ridiculous and too nice.  I expected more wickedness from all parties involved.

I also hated the romance.  I've been trying to lighten up my thinking on romances lately because I know I can be pretty harsh and they usually aren't my cup of tea, but this one was just horrible.  Heather has been in love with Allistair, Robby's brother forever and never even looked at Robby. Well the first summer that Allistair is gone she all of a sudden sees what I great guy Robby is and wants to date him.  Oh and Robby has grown up and gotten cuter, that helped her decision too. What a bunch of bull!  Robby we know has been in love with Heather forever, but knew she pined for his brother so kept his feelings to himself.  Well like I said the brother is at college with his girlfriend so Robby decides to finally speak up.  Now them getting together wouldn't have bothered me if they had a conversation about her liking his brother and what her feelings were at this moment and if she had always thought he was somewhat cute.  It really bugs me that they just left so much unsaid and that made their whole relationship feel false and strained.  I didn't like it and I didn't buy it.  I would have preferred there to be no romance or maybe she could have gravitated towards Fiona, her single friend.  That would have been so much better.

I also didn't like Aunt Abbie.  Heather had issues and nobody knew these issues tied into witchcraft so Heather should have been watched more. I get giving a teenager space, but she just got back from a hospital and you are going to let her run around unsupervised??  Oh and lie to her parents!  Talk about being a complete waste of a character.  And her whole story line bothered me.  I again would have preferred a different set of actions.  Maybe Heather could have went to Scotland for school?  That would have at least given her reasons for not being supervised.  All Aunt Abbie did was give Heather room to cut herself and get her friend almost killed.

So these were my main problems with the book.  I had a few other ones, but these were my main gripes and as you can see they were pretty big areas of the book that I had problems with.  The story could have been so good and with the market lacking in witches these this really could have been a hit. As it stands though this is a very forgettable book filled with way too many plot problems for me.

2 snowflakes

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Giveaway!! To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Today I am participating in the blog tour for To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough!  For my stop I have a GIVEAWAY!  See below for details!

To Catch a KillerTo Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late.

About the Author
In a career that spans more than twenty years, Sheryl Scarborough has written TV scripts, series concepts, comic books, non-fiction children’s books, business plans, magazine articles, for an online men’s style magazine (as managing editor), celebrity social media and even theater and restaurant reviews for great seats and free food. Now, she’s writing what she truly loves: books, specifically YA thrillers and mysteries. Scarborough says, "Writing keeps my life interesting in ways I couldn’t possibly make up, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store." 
 Giveaway time!!  
Enter to win your very copy of To Catch a Killer!!  
US residents only.
Good Luck!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

My Thoughts:
Okay WARNING!  This review will be filled with SPOILERS!  Like BIG SPOILERS!  Like revealing who LIVES or DIES SPOILERS!!  I can't talk about this book without mentioning the ending SO YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!  SPOILERS!!!!!

Yep I am going to start off with that ending.  With any other book I would've been screaming NOOOOOO, but I think the ending that McGinnis picked had to happen.  There wasn't any other way and I applaud her for making this decision.  I am not a fan of unhappy ever afters especially when I adore the main character, but like I said there was no way for Alex to have the happy ending after her actions.  She was a phenomenal character and probably one of my favorites of all time, but she had to die.  Even though she did bad things for good reasons it still didn't absolve her of her actions and I think Jack knew that.  He loved her, but even in his gut he knew what she did wasn't right.  I think that might even be why he was drawn to Branley even in the end. 

Okay that being aside I really enjoyed this story.  McGinnis has this unique way of writing stories that start out super dark and then even out in the middle, but you can still feel that darkness lurking.  It isn't sinister it's just darkness that kinda closes in by the end and well it's pretty awesome.  The Female of the Species follows this pattern and I could not get enough.  It almost felt like there was someone constantly reading over my shoulder, but when I looked it was just a sunny sky overhead until that sun was blocked.  Mindy McGinnis is definitely in my top 5 favorite authors and I will read ANYTHING she writes!

I also loved the multiple POV's.  I enjoyed being in each characters heads and I thought it was interesting to see how they each saw each other.  I do wish Branley would've had her own POV. She was the character to hate, but she was so broken and I think it would've helped me connect with her a bit more if I could have seen inside her head. 

Alex where do I even start.  She was such a great character and one that I was so intrigued by.  I thought the author did a great job at weaving in her backstory and her dad.  This gave me the understanding for why she is the way she is and even that little scene with her mom was so eye opening.  Alex was broken in so many ways, but I am curious to know if she hadn't died what her fate would have been. Would she have stopped killing?  Would she have lived happy ever after with Jack?  My initial answer is no because well Jack wasn't the greatest boyfriend and I think her instincts would have gotten the better of her.  It would be nice to think that she would've had a HEA, but I just don't think that was in the cards for her dying or not.

The whole romance situation was weird for me.  This is why I have to go with 4.5 stars instead of 5.  I liked Jack and Alex together, I liked that they were both competing to be valedictorian, and I really liked that they understood each other.  What I didn't like was his male mentality.  He kept saying he wanted to be better and a good guy and he was to a point, but he could never stop himself from looking at the nude pictures Branley would send him.  That was just not okay.  Plus in that last scene he almost gave in to Branley because Alex would never have found out.  I mean really??  I wanted him to be completely faithful to Alex because that is what she deserved and even though he never acted on his impulses he wasn't 100% in with Alex.

One last thing I liked Peekay.  She was a unique character and I enjoyed reading her parts especially with her family.  She might have been the preachers kid, but that preacher was the greatest dad ever.  He took the time to talk to her and even though I think her parents should have kept a tighter hold on her I liked the fact that the lines of communication were open. Peekay just needed to use them more.  It was warming to see parents taking an involvement in a YA book.  They weren't perfect because Peekay drank a LOT in this book, but I have to give them credit for at least being aware of their daughter.

All in all this was fantastic!  I loved the darkness of the story and I felt so much throughout.  This story surprised me in so many ways and I have to be honest I thought Jack was going to be the one to die in the end.  With so much emphasis placed on females I thought Branley was going to kill him, but I was wrong and I am sorta glad.  I think it would have been cool for her to kill him and then her and Alex have a somewhat understanding. Strange maybe, but kinda cool in my opinion.  As the ending stands though I thought it was pretty perfect and I am okay with how it all happened.  I am curious to know if Jacks future turned out the way he feared though...

4.5 snowflakes

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post: Arwen Elys Dayton

Today I am participating in the blog tour for Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton!  This is the last book in the Seeker series and for my stop on the tour I have Arwen with us!  She stopped by to talk her series ending and her feelings that accompany it.
I wrote the manuscript for the first book in the series, Seeker, with no idea if anyone other than myself, my husband, and my fluffy white little dog would read it. (I secretly suspected that my dog wasn’t actually reading the manuscript, but she did lie down on top of the pages a few times in an interested sort of way, and once she licked a word that happened to be misspelled—coincidence???) My book before Seeker, Resurrection, had been a bit of a cult sci-fi hit, but with Seeker I was writing something for a younger audience—a new enterprise. I saw the world of Quin and Shinobu and John and Maud so clearly in my mind, but hey, you never know what’s going to happen once your book is done.

When Penguin Random House bought Seeker, I was elated because other people had stepped into Quin’s world and they wanted to stay there. “But how many books will you be writing?” they asked me, as though I carry around some sort of book-writing accountant in my head who knows the logical answer to questions like that.

“Um…three?” I speculated. This felt about right, though honestly, I could have said any number between two and six and it probably would have felt right, because the world of Seeker was bristling with stories. And yet it was particularly the story of Quin, Shinobu, John and Maud that I saw rolling out in front of me. “Definitely three,” I added a moment later, with less of a question mark in my voice. “Sounds good,” they said.

“Sounds good.” Two simple words. And with that I embarked on a few years of writing. It turns out that seeing the story unfolding in your mind, and actually making it unfold in real words on real paper, for several books, are two different things. But here’s what you don’t know until you’ve written a series: watching your characters change (sometimes for the better, sometimes not) and hate and love and make mistakes, which they try to put them right or insist already are right—all of this is a hazardous and intoxicating experience for an author.

If you have been following the Seeker series, you might imagine that you know where or how Quin and the others will end up. I can promise you that you are wrong (especially about John!), because I didn’t know where or how they would end up, not really, until the last book.

I’ve lost some close friends, now that I have left these characters to go on without me. And yet I’m satisfied that I told their story properly, and truly, which doesn’t mean that there is a happy ending for everyone. Someone once said that a good story strikes a balance between satisfying and defying the reader’s expectations. These stories and the characters that populate them have satisfied and defied me many times—and I hope they do the same for you.

 I love Arwen's answer because I have always been curious if an author is just as sad as I am when a series ends.  I usually try my hardest not to finish a series because I don't want to lose characters either, but I just have to read Disruptor!  I have to know where each character ends up and I have a feeling Arwen will keep me guessing til the last page!
Keep a look out for my review soon!

Disruptor (Seeker, #3)Disruptor (Seeker #3) by Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
For readers of Sarah J. Maas and of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy comes Disruptor, the sequel to Traveler, the thrilling conclusion to the Seeker series.

Quin has spent her life as her father’s pawn. She was trained to kill and manipulated to guarantee her family’s power. And now that she’s broken free of that life, she’s found herself trapped again, hostage to a plot that has been centuries in the making.

It’s taken generations for the pieces to come together, and finally all is in place. Her best friend Shinobu’s mind has been corrupted, the Young Dread has aligned with her enemy John, and the bloodthirsty Watchers are being awakened and gathered. Now there is nothing that can stop the force of time.

But Quin will no longer be a pawn. Quin is a Seeker. She stands for light in a shadowy world. She will face the vengeance of the past and its enemies and save herself and the ones she loves, or she will die trying.

“Readers of the first two volumes will find their long-awaited conclusion here, and Dayton will have found fans for life.” -Booklist

Other books in the series
Seeker (Seeker, #1) Traveler (Seeker, #2)
Katniss and Triss would approve.”
“In this powerful beginning to a complex family saga…Dayton excels at creating memorable characters.” -Publishers Weekly

In the Seeker series, a teenage girl called Quin has spent most of her life training for what she believes is a noble purpose, only to discover that her family is turning her into an assassin instead.

“Fans of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series: your next obsession has arrived.” -School Library Journal

Quin has grown up in the remote Scotland Highlands, where she and two boys her age—one her oldest friend, and one her boyfriend—have spent years preparing to inherit two ancient artifacts, which have been handed down in their families for hundreds of years.
 These artifacts allow them to do astonishing things, including appearing and disappearing from anywhere in the world. Quin expects to inherit this power for noble purposes, but her father intends to use her as an assassin, plain and simple.

“Both past and present choices shook me to the core, and the final pages left me trembling . . . and then internally cursing that I’ll have to wait until 2017 for a final resolution!” -Fanboy Comics

The story is set in the near future, in a world where the hooded cloaks of Seekers and ancient Scottish ruins live comfortably next to futuristic airships and advanced medical techniques. It’s into this world that we watch Quin try to escape when she discovers the fate that’s waiting for her. And it is in this world that Quin is followed, helped, betrayed and abandoned by those she trusted the most.

Don't forget to check out the other amazing blogs on the tour!
February 6th - Winterhaven Books
                           Adventures in YA Publishing
February 7th - The Cover Contessa
February 8th - Unbound Worlds   
February 9th - The Eater of Books!
February 10th - Once Upon a Twilight
February 13th - A Dream Within A Dream
February 14th - Two Chicks on Books
February 16th - Mundie Moms
February 21st - Bookhounds YA
February 23rd - The Fandom
February 24th - Page Turners Blog
February 27th - Fiction Fare
February 28th - YA Books Central          

Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

The You I've Never Known The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.

My thoughts:
No one can really like or love Ellen Hopkins books. They are always so real and raw that it leaves at least me with an uneasy feeling and I sometimes even feel gross.  That being said though, they have to be read because Ms. Hopkins shines light on tough subjects that need to be talked about and she's brilliant in her delivery each and every single time.  

I've read several books by Ellen Hopkins so I knew beforehand this book would be tough to read and it was, but it didn't quite pack the punch that her previous books did.  This was a good and bad thing in my opinion.  I appreciated the dialed back story line, but I did miss the ugliness.  This book isn't pretty by any means, but it just wasn't as dark as it could have been.  I feel strange saying I wanted it darker, but I kinda did and maybe that's because I know how dark Hopkins can go. 

This story was dark though, we have a girl who is trying to find out if she is gay while living with her abusive father who can't know her struggles.  See dark subject matter and there were a lot of dark scenes and I can't lie I did fall into the overall story line.  I wanted to find out who Ariel would chose for a partner and I wanted her to kick her father to the curb.  It wasn't an easy story to read, but Hopkins did an amazing job at delivering Ariel's voice.  I couldn't put this one down.

I think my favorite thing about this book was Ariel.  She had a hard life, but she didn't let that get the better of her.  She worked hard and she knew she wanted more out of her life than what she was handed.  It's tough to think that way and rise above, but she did and it made my connection to her stronger.

I don't want to give spoilers, but I figured out the twist pretty early on and I think that was the authors intent.  It wasn't hard to figure out and I'm glad I did so that I could read between the lines going forward. 

I believe this is a great story for readers especially with diversity being a huge topic in our world.  Hopkins did a great job at incorporating diversity throughout and I think teens that read this will appreciate what Hopkins does in this story. 

All in all I found this story moving and one I won't forget.  I never forget a Hopkins story though and while I did want this to go darker, I still very much became attached to these characters so much so that I wanted more of an epilogue.  I found myself thinking about Ariel, Monica, Maya, and even Gabe long after the final pages were over and I just want more.  I hope one day we get to see these characters again because I want to see their endings.

4 snowflakes