Archives

Review – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things

By Julie Buxbaum

SummaryEverything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been eyeing Tell Me Three Things for awhile, but hardcovers are expensive and I almost never fork out book money on hardcover YA contemporaries because I read them so quickly. And to be honest, I love waffles and I wasn’t quite sure if I only noticed it because of the waffles on the cover. I mean, that’s not a great a reason to pick up a book. I’ve been burned before by enticing covers. But when the kindle version went on sale over the holidays, I snatched it up. I’ve been in the mood for a nice contemporary that wasn’t totally dark or sad, so I finally picked it up and read it.

Tell Me Three Things was so good. I absolutely loved it. I flew through the book in an evening because I just couldn’t put it down without knowing who SN was. (See what I mean about how quickly I read contemporaries?)

Jessie’s life was completely upside down. Her mom died, her dad got remarried, they moved across the country, and Jessie ended up in an LA private school with a bunch of rich teenagers. And that was pretty much just the first paragraph. I hated being the new girl, so her situation was something I totally got. And while I fortunately have both my parents, I did have to deal with step parents and step siblings as a teenager, too, so I even understood that. It’s tough, and it’s even tougher when you have to also deal with grief. I knew I was settling into a book that hooked me.

After a rough first couple of days at her new school, Jessie received an email from SomebodyNoboby (SN for short) who offered to help her navigate the wilds of her high school. It was just the rope she needed to help keep her afloat. Here was a guy who really got her, but who was he? She took the help and ended up having some pretty meaningful conversations and he gave her some great pointers.

With SN’s help, Jessie was able to make some friends. She started working a project with a guy in her class and started to develop a bit of crush on him, but she was also desperately trying to figure out who SN was. She started a job and ended up working side by side with a guy dating one of the girls who was mean to Jessie, which created some drama for her. It was a complicated mess she was trying to navigate, while also trying to manage her home life. Her new home was huge, came with a flamboyant stepbrother who refused to talk to her in school, but was at least opening up a bit at home, a “helper” who made all of the food and made Jessie a bit uncomfortable, and a stepmom who was practically a stranger. The LA lifestyle was an alien world and Jessie was trying to figure it all out and still maintain her friendships back in Chicago.

I can’t really give anything away, but I loved the book so much. I loved the build up to the big reveal, the complicated boy drama, and the coming of age, figuring out who you are and how to be a better friend and forgive your parents. It was cute, but with just enough seriousness to balance it all out. 

I loved the end so much I reread it a few times just to experience the moment one more time! 

I definitely recommend Tell Me Three Things to fans of YA Contemporary. The book is every bit as delicious as the heart shaped waffles on the front. 

Star 4

Review – Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

 

Dark Tide

By Elizabeth Haynes

SummaryElizabeth Haynes, author of the bestselling debut Into the Darkest Corner, returns with a tense, gripping thriller about a woman caught in an underworld of corruption and murder..

Genevieve has finally achieved her dream: to leave the stress of London behind and start a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. She’s found the perfect vessel: Revenge of the Tide. She already feels less lonely; as if the boat is looking after her.

But the night of her boat-warming party, a body washes up, and to Genevieve’s horror, she recognizes the victim. She isn’t about to tell the police, though; hardly anyone knows about her past as a dancer at a private members’ club, The Barclay. The death can’t have anything to do with her. Or so she thinks…

Soon, the lull of the waves against Revenge feels anything but soothing, as Genevieve begins to receive strange calls and can’t reach the one person who links the present danger with her history at the club. Fearing for her safety, Genevieve recalls the moment when it all started to go wrong: the night she saw her daytime boss in the crowd at The Barclay…
Dark, sexy, and exquisitely chilling, Dark Tide is another superb mystery from acclaimed rising star Elizabeth Haynes.

 
Source: I purchased a paperback
 
 
Review:
 
Dark Tide was a suspenseful novel involving death, romance, and a secret life. Genevieve started her dream of living on a houseboat and making it her own after saving a ton of money. The book toggled between the present day, with her in her marina on her houseboat and her past, where she worked as a salesperson and an exotic dancer. The body of someone she knew turned up by her boat the day of her houseboat-warming party and the police started to get involved.
 
The plot was interesting and I loved getting to know who Genevieve was and who she used to be. She wasn’t a dancer for any reason other than knowing it made her a lot of money and genuinely enjoying dancing, but it was something that had an effect on her safety. Her work associates from her day job had no idea and she tried not to let it clash, but she angered some pretty important people by leaving.
 
I really enjoyed Into the Darkest Corner from Haynes, so my expectations were really high. Into the Darkest Corner was one of the best stalker type of books I’ve read, but Dark Tide was a much more forgettable suspense novel that didn’t really wow me. It was a good story and well written, but I didn’t connect to the character or the gravity of her situation the way I did with her other novel. 
 
If you enjoy romantic suspense, thrillers, and mysteries, Dark Tide is decent and if you can find a cheap copy, it’s certainly entertaining and worth the read. However, I would recommend Into the Darkest Corner as a MUST READ and if you could only read one, Dark Tide is the one you should skip.
 
Star 3

Review – My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares

 

My Name is Memory

By Ann Brashares

SummaryFrom the New York Times-bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Last Summer (of You and Me) comes an imaginative, inspired, magical book-a love story that lasts more than a lifetime

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.
Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel’s unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.
A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Source: I purchased a paperback from a used bookstore.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

My Name is Memory was the story of Lucy and Daniel. Lucy was a girl in high school with a crush on the quiet and mysterious Daniel. And Daniel was gifted with the memory, meaning he remembered all of his past lives and had known Lucy in most of them. But he scared her away by trying to explain all of that and calling her someone else’s name.

First of all, I feel like this is the non angel/paranormal version of Fallen by Lauren Kate with Daniel knowing Luce, Luce being drawn to him, and him having to explain that they’ve always known each other. I’m actually a little annoyed because even the names are practically the same. The books were published right around the same time, so I can’t really say anything about rip offs, but it’s just weird.I did not enjoy My Name is Memory but mostly because it felt like a cheap knockoff of a better concept. It was Twilight and Fallen and  The Time Traveler’s Wife all rolled into something similar. The writing was more young YA/older MG despite the entire concept being about relationships and true love, which made it a bit diffiicult to read.

I don’t know that I recommend My Name is Memory. I really wanted to like it and I was in the mood to read a YA book dealing with romance and I wasn’t expecting anything super well written or even hard hitting, so I’m a little surprised that I didn’t enjoy it even a little. It just felt hopeless and slow. And towards the middle it was predictable. The ending was less than satisfying, too. 

Sometimes my trips to the used bookstore result in hidden gems and awesome lesser known books, but this is not one of them.

Star 2

Review – Winterspell by Claire Legrand

 

Winterspell

By Claire Legrand

Summary: The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Source: I received a paperback in a Yureka Book Box

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Winterspell was a story of a crime infested city, a curious girl, a statue, and a bit of magic. The book was inspired by The Nutcracker with plenty of parallels, but felt like a totally unique story.

Clara’s father was in deep with the various criminal bosses of New York, but after the brutal murder of Clara’s mother, he lost his way and couldn’t seem to keep everyone happy. His position as mayor was certainly crumbling, which meant a quite unfortunate fate for Clara and her younger sister. Fortunately, Clara had a secret with her Godfather, a life of training and stealth that allowed to her at least prepare for some of the unseemly events that others had been plotting to take down Clara’s father. And then, all hell broke loose from another plane. Godfather burst in with mad ravings and Clara stood in front of what used to be a statue and appeared to be a human. Which lead her to a place called Cane, where an even bigger battle of power would have to take place.

I loved the plot and Clara as a main character. She was smart, determined, and relatable. All she really wanted was to save her father, in both worlds. She didn’t realize she was something special and she certainly never realized her weird magnetism with the statue would eventually turn into a weird sort of attraction to a guy who was real. 

I thought the book was a bit long, but I kind of enjoyed the length. I enjoyed seeing Clara balance the conflict in her New York life. It wasn’t really the fast paced OMG I Just Found Out I’m Special and I’m In Fairy World Now kind of book that gives a main character a normal life as just a backdrop. Clara had a real life in New York and she wasn’t just some extra in a play who wouldn’t be missed which made her feel a little more real. I admired her and the way she handled her strength. 

I suppose the whole statue thing can be considered odd, but I enjoyed the relationship between Clara and Nicholas, from statue to prince. It was intriguing and different. 

My only main complaint is that I’ve always been under the impression that iron was lethal to any fairy beings and it’s a product of the fairy ruling over Cane, as she created a bunch of mechanical beings and structures that didn’t seem to be lethal to anyone and so I think the fairies should have been something else in order to make sense in my brain. Also, it’s weird that a person half human and half mate or half fairy would be more powerful than undiluted fairy or made blood, so that was a little weird, too. Those things made sense in the story, but are way different from similar mythology which was the only reason it was a bit off putting for me. 

I enjoyed Winterspell. I love Legrand’s writing and her imagination is quite vivid. I’m definitely happy I received the book in my Yureka Box and I recommend it to anyone looking for a winter fantasy with a little bit of magic and adventure. It was a little bit Nutcracker, Gotham City, and fantasy rolled together.

Star 4

 

Review – The Taking (The Taking #1) by Kimberly Derting

The Taking (The Taking #1)

By Kimberly Derting

SummaryA flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing. 

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. 

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

The Taking was a science fiction romance involving a strange abduction. Kyra disappeared in a flash of light one night at 16 years old and was redeposited by the gas station in her town, seemingly intact and okay. Except despite the fact that she was still the same and still in her softball uniform from that night, the rest of the world passed and it had been 5 years since her disappearance. Her parents were divorced, her mom and new stepdad had a baby, her dad became a crazy alcoholic, and her best friend and boyfriend certainly seemed to move on without her. 

The Taking was a great book for my mood. I was in the mood for something light, quick, and entertaining. If I think too hard about the how’s and whys of the whole thing, I’ll end up doing what I did in The Body Finder and just tearing it apart. It’s a story that is by all means not plausible and, while there was a government agency tracking her, her very appearance would have brought in the various police and task forces originally assigned to her case, testing would’ve been conducted and she certainly wouldn’t have been hanging around town without supervision. However, it’s not necessary to worry about things like that. I just went with the flow and enjoyed the ride. Had a been in a different mood, I think this review would be completely different as well.

Kyra’s boyfriend had a younger brother. While Kyra was still 16, her boyfriend and friends and everyone aged 5 years, which meant her boyfriend’s brother was now 17 and in the perfect position to confess his lifetime crush on Kyra and try everything he could to woo her. Which worked for me because, man, was he sweet. He drew chalk art on her driveway, gave her his favorite book to read, and was genuinely adorable, so I went with that, too. (Some reviews have torn the book apart based on this somewhat strange age difference situation. Maybe he was 12 when Kyra was 16, and maybe Kyra is technically supposed to be 21, but isn’t, so maybe there’s something weird going on with the age difference, but considering they are a year apart in the present after her weird journey, I don’t see why that’s a big issue. It would be the same if everyone aged 10 years and he was 22 and she was 26 or he was 27 and she was 31. The situation removed the weirdness for me so I don’t think this book promotes pedophilia and whoever actually thinks that is just putting way too much negative thought into things and probably refuses to read vampire romance because it promotes necrophilia, which is equally ridiculous.) I don’t think Kyra was in any way 21 years old since she did not age, had not had any life experiences, and only a day passed for her, so she’s allowed to be a teenager in my opinion.

The Taking was essentially a romance based YA sci-fi novel with aliens and abductions, but mostly romance. It was fun and I recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining YA full of feels and a little bit of mystery and action. I was able to find the sequel on my library’s Kindle lending program, so I’m definitely going to continue. But The Taking is not a science fiction novel that explores aliens and abductions in a way that will satisfy someone looking for something serious. And if that whole age thing is something that immediately puts you off, then I don’t recommend reading it. 

Star 3

 

Review – Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms #4) by Morgan Rhodes

 

Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms #4)

By Morgan Rhodes

SummaryRebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorceress has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea. 

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

Add to Goodreads

Review:

This is such a weird situation for me to be in. I enjoyed the book, but I also don’t think it’s very good. I mean, maybe I just need to explain it better. Just when I’m rolling my eyes wondering what on earth I’m doing reading the book, I realize I’ve already read so much of it, I might as well keep going. And then something will hook me, I’ll be into it, back out of it, and then there’s always something awesome at the end that makes me want the next book. It’s no Game of Thrones by a long shot and it’s kind of jumbled and there are so many characters and none of them are particularly complex or likable, but I just want to know what happens.

Frozen Tides was an even bigger mess of unfortunate circumstances, but suddenly, it seemed the already unlikely alliance added a few more unlikely candidates to their group, which made it even shakier. Lucia turned to what could be the Mytica version of The Dark Side and was drunk on her own power, doing unspeakable things and even alienating her brother. Cleo and Magnus were the only characters I really cared about at this point, but King Gaius was even more drunk on his power than his crazy elementia daughter. It was just a big giant mess. Amara was deliciously evil, but somehow slightly likable, as she’s been throughout the series. 

I enjoyed the plot. I finally got a little bit of a moment with Cleo and Magnus that I wanted, despite their reluctance to participate in liking each other one bit. Jonas didn’t seemed to have learned anything, and towards the end, I wanted to hit Nic over the head. If he’s so into Asher, why does he always act like a jealous lover with Cleo and her choices? Gah. It’s maddening.

Essentially, Falling Kingdoms is my new guilty pleasure. I love it, even though I kind of cringe at my own enjoyment. It’s not eloquent. The characters are lacking a lot of great complexities and the conflict is kind of simplistic if you really get down to it. But somehow, I’m totally hooked. I want to know what happens and I plan on seeing this through. I’m even planning on reading the spin off series. 

I recommend the Falling Kingdoms series as long as you know what you are getting. Despite the beautiful cover and fantastic synopsis, the book is not the in depth and brilliant fantasy series you might expect. But it’s fun. Make some popcorn, dig in, and I’m sure you’ll be just as hooked if you see it from that aspect. Otherwise, it is likely to disappoint you. And if you don’t dive into good fantasy for the writing, you’ll love this series. It’s fun, it’s full of backstabbing and betrayals and alliances and rebellions. And romance. I can’t help it. I’m preordering the next book. 

Star 4

Review – Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

 

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Illuminae was one of kind, an absolutely thrilling story told in a unique way and had a flawless execution. 

I’ve heard a lot of praise for the book, but whenever I picked it up in the store and saw the way that it wasn’t a story in the traditional sense, with strange pages and transcripts and emails, I would put it back down. That style of storytelling has never worked well for me and I’ve always seen it as a great idea theoretically, but it sacrifices writing and details and would be better told as a movie if it’s not going to be a true story. It feels like a gimmick and it feels like a gimmick that stands in place of true storytelling. 

Illuminae completely blew me away and shattered my preconceived notions. I’m so glad I finally just grabbed it and decided to read it. I went into it feeling very nervous about it, afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that it would be dull or hard to read. But as soon as I dove in, it was easy and thrilling.

I cannot gush enough about how amazing the story was. Now that I’m done, I think the weird format was what made the book even better. It didn’t feel like a gimmick. It didn’t feel like the authors used the tactic to avoid writing well. There was incredible writing throughout the book and some poetic and moving sections. It was heart pounding. Terrifying. Absolutely mind blowing.

The book was a brilliant science fiction tale of loss, love, horror, war.. it was everything. Parts of it reminded me of Event Horizon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 28 Days Later, Starship Troopers… it’s rare that a science fiction YA novel really gets it right and Illuminae did it… and truly captured the essence of great science fiction. 

It mainly featured Kady Grant, a teenager living on Kerenza who was pretty good wth computers. She broke up with her boyfriend and her planet was attacked by a giant corporation. Refugees were rescued by a scientific research vessel and a military vessel and were on the run from the corporate ship. The military ship did not come out of the rescue unscathed, leading to some problems with the ships being able to make a swift escape. It sounds cool, but it could’ve easily been an eye-roll inducing dystopian space novel and because of the writing and the layers of storytelling, it was so much more. 

I did not expect the book to be so terrifying in some moments and I say that as a horror lover. The story was absolutely stunning and executed flawlessly. I can appreciate and savor each and every page. 

Illuminae was smart, clever, adventurous, emotional, scary, and so much more. I highly recommend it. Do not let the strange format stop you from reading the book! It was brilliant!

Star 5