Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2010
Publisher: Razor Bill

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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I wanted to like this story, the concept is one that I haven’t seen a lot of, and the fey/changelings are something that interest me. However, I just could not get into this book at all. There are so many questions left unanswered, and everything is mysterious, nothing gets explained and all of the characters seem to know what’s going on, but there aren’t any resolutions or forward movement.

Mackie is one of the biggest problems for me. He’s vague and a bundle of walking contradictions. His changeling status makes it so he can’t handle loud noises, yet his favorite place to be is in the pit of a rock show? Or on stage with the band. He can’t touch metal, but he drinks beer from a can. The author spends so much time making him so different from everyone else, and then doubles back and breaks her own character rules. I really couldn’t get behind his voice, or his actions–or really bring myself to care what was happening to him. He’s got a crush on Tate (who is her own bundle of off putting characteristics) and yet he wants to hang out/make out/score with the hot/slutty girl of the school.

Also, can we stop with the slutty characters? You can have sexual characters, just please no slut shaming in books. It really is off putting, and shows no respect for the characters themselves. It distances me even further from this story, because this particular character was only referred to by how hot she was/how easy she was. I did like Emma–she was a character that seemed so fleshed out compared to the others. She had motivation and drive and distinction from everyone else in the story.

I’m not out to trash this book, or anyone who enjoyed it. I couldn’t get into it. There were moments that showed promise, but then something completely removed me from the story. The concept is neat, and something that we don’t see a lot of in the book world. I just wanted more from it.

Overall: pink2 Skip this. It’s frustrating and disjointed.

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Book Review: Unspeakable by Michelle K. Pickett

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Title: Unspeakable
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Published: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”

On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.

She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.

When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.

Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?

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I feel a little weird saying that I really enjoyed this book considering the subject matter. That out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. The story is well written, the characters are engaging and have strong, solid voices. Willow really stood out for me and I really love how she grew and changed as the story progressed-it was refreshing to see her find her own footing and stand up for herself. Brody is a great character and he really works well with Willow. I love their relationship and how it changes both of them and really pushes Willow to stand on her own.

There were a few instances where I was a little skeptical of the authenticity of the story. Medical professionals are trained to recognize abuse, as are teachers, and most adults would question the amount of bruises/’accidents’, and injuries Willow happens to have. A few scenes slipped past me as well, as some of the abuse happened in front of witnesses. I understand Jaden’s hold on the school and student body, but someone would have spoken up at some point–and that could have been really interesting to explore. That being said, I did like how Willow didn’t instantly become able to stand on her own simply because Brody came into her life. It took time for her to be able to speak up, to do something other than suffer at the hands of her tormentors.

Overall: pink3 A well written, thoughtful read with memorable characters. I will be picking up more from this author.

Book Review: Lunacy by R.A. Sears


Title: Lunacy
Author: R.A Sears
Published: December 2012
Publisher: Darq Deviant Press
Disclosure: I won Lunacy off of a Facebook contest. All opinions are my own–the author did not ask me to review in exchange for this book, it was a gift.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Kacea Meade is your average high school senior: a bit of an outcast, a good student, and looking forward to graduation so she can move on from little Elm Valley, New York. Or so she thinks. Unbeknownst to her, Kacea has a dark destiny heavily entrenched in magick, creatures meant to dwell only in nightmares, and Ragnarok: the Norse apocalypse.

Jynxx Davison, Kacea’s classmate and long-time crush, has his own unnatural calling that is brought to light through her awakening. With their relationship just starting to blossom, a cloud of tragedy hangs overhead, threatening all she holds dear and forcing her hand. To keep her family and friends safe from these eldritch beings with godlike powers, can Kacea leave everything she’s ever known behind and trust in the word of a vampire?

picadillypink I could not put this down. I quickly fell in love with the main cast, two characters stole my heart completely, and at one point I was texting a friend going “THIS CHARACTER BETTER NOT DIE BECAUSE RAGE”. Lunacy is a fast paced read that is dense with world building and blazing imagery. I’m a visual person, and I really appreciate it when authors books are lush with description and images that can stand on their own.

Kacea just wants to finish high school and get on with her adult life. She’s smart, quirky and has a good group of friends that she can count on. She’s been crushing on Jynxx since middle school, and it seems that fate has brought them together. Their chemistry is off the charts, and melts the pages without being too explicit or hurried. Kacea is a strong female character, who knows what she wants and can stand on her own. Jynxx is a character that falls into the ‘tall dark and handsome with a tragic past’ but this is expanded and doesn’t fall into the trope territory.

I love the take on werewolves here, and the werewolf mythology that’s presented. Speaking of mythology, the subtitle of this book is The Ragnarok Legacy, so there’s Norse mythology intertwined with the world of the wolves, Kacea’s seemingly human world and with the addition of vampires it’s certainly jam packed with supernatural elements, but it doesn’t get cluttered. Everything works together and blends beautifully. I’m really interested in where this story goes as it ends on a cliff hanger (con #1). There is a novella that bridges between book one and book two. Book two isn’t out yet, so I’m going to wait somewhat patiently for it.

My only complaint about this book is the sheer amount of characters presented. It’s got a massive cast, both main and support and what I like to call mainsupport (those who are support, but have more of a storyline than the support cast normally do.) At times I had to stop and figure out who was who, making sure I had the right characters in the right place. I have a feeling that these characters will be important down the line, but it was kind of intimidating at times to have so many in the book.

Overall: pink4 I’m chomping at the bit for the second book, which isn’t out yet. I have the novella somewhere in the house so I’m going to be tracking that down as well. It’s a great read full of action, and really amazing lore. If you’re an anime/manga dork like I am, you’ll find little Easter eggs and connections.

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.


Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Published: September 21st 2006
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

picadillypink I wanted to like this so badly–and I’m also sensing a pattern with Green’s works for me. I find them so pretentious and almost antagonistic in the way that they present the overly smart male protagonist and the whimsical, mysterious female that he undoubtedly falls in love with. Maybe because the narrative voice in TFioS is female, and I identify a little bit with the way Hazel presents herself and speaks that I didn’t find it as pretentious as the other books by Green.

My other problem with An Abundance of Katherines, is the pacing. It seems to drag and flip flop between the past and current events. It stretches out so slowly that it was almost a burden to finish. I’m trying really hard not to have any DNF books this year, and already six days in I was really tempted to just put it back in the bag for the library. I slogged through it, finding Colin boorish and just someone that I really didn’t want to read more about. The only slight ray in the dark was Hassan, but even that was drowned out by Green’s incessant reminders that he was Muslim, and throwing around Arabic/Islamic phrases. Please do not get me started on the footnotes, I hate them in text books, and I have absolutely no interest in seeing them in fiction (which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t read high fantasy either).

Overall: pink2 I have two more John Green books to read and I’m not certain I’m going to.

Book Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney


Title: Every Breath
Author: Ellie Marney
Published: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tundra Books.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

picadillypink Where to begin? I am undeniably, head over heels for this book. It’s not fair for me to review it, because my review is going to be filled with lots of squeeing and whining that I need the second in my hands right.this.instant. And the fact that there’s a third book in the works? Sign me up for more please.

Okay, down to business. Every Breath is a strong, brilliantly crafted character driven novel. There is mystery, action, intrigue and good old fashioned sleuthing involved but the thing that drew me into this novel, and has me going crazy for the sequels? The characters. Mycroft and Watts are two of the most tangibly written characters I’ve come across, and it’s damn near perfect. They’ve been friends for a few months, and we’re dropped right into the middle of their friendship. It’s real, believable–not forced, nothing strained. There’s no in-jokes that we’re supposed to somehow figure out on our own. Their friendship is real. Watts bringing Mycroft supper because she knows he forgets to eat is something that stuck with me early on in the book. They take care of each other in the only ways that they know how to. There is a spark between them, that is more than friendship, but doesn’t detract from the original relationship that they have with each other. Speaking of chemistry, these two have it in spades, and I very much want to smoosh them together and declare everything happy and sunshine and kittens.

The plot is carefully constructed, unfolding as the story progresses nicely. The pacing is really great, not too slow, and not giving everything away all at once. It’s subtle storytelling at it’s best and it’s something that I really love in a mystery book. Coming back to the characters, I really love what Ms. Marney did, in keeping the teenage aspect to it. They’re disturbed and rattled by the murder of Mycroft’s friend. They make mistakes, they have nightmares, they’re shaken and rattled by things that they discover. They’re smart kids, but the base of it is, they are kids. Their investigation is their own, and they figure things out without it coming off as contrived or handed to them.

There are parallels to Sherlock Holmes-don’t let that deter you from reading this book/series. Every Breath is that good. It’s quickly become one of my favorite books that I’ve read, and it’s one that I’m going to have a very hard time restraining myself from literally throwing it at people and going “READ THIS”. (Yes, I have done this before, and it’s more common than I’d like to admit.) These characters are their own beasts, and their story is beautifully written and unique.

Overall If I could give this more than five umbrellas I could. If I could read the next two books in the series right this instant I would. Read this book. Read it and come and talk to me about it. *Thank you Tundra Books for gifting me a copy of Every Breath.

Book review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini


Title: Starcrossed
Author: Josephine Angelini
Published: May 31, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

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I wanted to like you so badly. Greek mythology? Tempting fate and destiny? High school? Small town? Sounds great right?

Nope.

What I get instead is a character named Helen, who is so different from everyone else. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s athletic, freakishly fast and strong. She’s an outcast, the product of a single parent household. She has an overbearing father who wants her to take pills for agoraphobia, a best friend named Giggles and she’s tall.

Whoa, hold up, tall female alert.

I’m sorry. I read this. I really wish I hadn’t. I wish I had listened to my better senses and put it down, to take it back to the library. The writing is really hard to swallow, it shifts between juvenile prose, and something that’s trying entirely too hard. Helen is so hard to get attached to, and I see shades of various other ‘heroines’ in her. There’s nods to Twilight, and The Mortal Instruments series (don’t get me started on the ending), and a few other characters that I know I’ve seen before. Within the first thirty pages she’s going on a tirade about how she hopes “she doesn’t have to breathe the same air as the Delos family”. And that’s my thing right there. Helen is melodramatic one moment and emotionless the next. And I’m not going to get into her reincarnation, or the ‘insta-love’ between her and Lucas. I skimmed the last 100 pages, and even that was too much.

Overall: pink2 Don’t bother. I should have listened to the reviews on goodreads.

Book Review: Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis.


Title: Bold
Authors: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis.
Published: October 16th 2013
Publisher: Createspace.

Rating: Did not finish.

Synopsis:
Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?

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Bold has an interesting premise, though it contradicts itself. Sasha who makes a promise to be bold after nearly dying, takes pride in hiding in the shadows and remaining on the fringes. Everything changes of course, when Will (the new boy in town) enters the picture. I could have gotten past that. However, the writing in this book is more akin to a screen play. Lots of visual imagery, a lot of cut scenes, and more exposition than anything. The story switches narration, which I would be okay with, except that it switches every two to three pages.

One thing that made me want to stop reading was the response to a background character responding to Will’s crying (also, who in the world rubs hot sauce in their eyes to induce crying? That’s dangerous). The trucker nearly throws Will into the dumpster because he “Wanted to give him something to cry about […] Crying boys lead to gay men.” I’m not certain where young men crying suddenly changes their sexuality. I understand that the authors wanted to create a background character like that—but not necessary. It really stuck out to me and hit a chord. Another instance and what made me put the book down, is after a chapter or two of flirting, Will and Sasha decide to go hiking. Will (in his narrative portion) has a mental soliloquy about how his dates normally go and the fact that “Sasha meeting him at the trail head is strange. He hopes this doesn’t put him in the FRIEND ZONE” That phrase along made me rage that I didn’t want to finish the book. I flipped through it, and there’s instances where Will is controlling, off putting and worried that Sasha is sneaking around on him. Also, I don’t normally mention this in reviews, but it really bothers me. The couple on the book look so much older than high school–more like college age. It’s slightly off putting considering the age range of the main characters.

Overall pinkdnf Rampant sexism and rapid switch narration made this book really hard for me to swallow.

I was sent this book free for review purposes. I am not being compensated or influenced in any way.