Book Review: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

Title: Cryer’s Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Published: February 8th 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a Did not finish

Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer’s Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she’s not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world’s sweetest boyfriend, behind.

But when Cryer’s Cross is rocked by unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn’t get close to… the one boy who makes her question everything she feels for Nico.

Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she’s always loved, Kendall keeps up the search–and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can’t stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried….

picadillypink This book had some potential. A main character with OCD? Sounds interesting. Mystery and scary stuff going down in a small town? All for it. Unfortunately this book just gave me a lot of frustration and it didn’t live up to what it was promising. I couldn’t get through it. I got eight chapters in and started skimming the rest of it. The actual culprit behind the evil going on in the town, while ridiculous can work. Spirits, could essentially attach themselves to inanimate objects. However, the way people are dying is absolutely laughable. I’m really glad I got this as a library book, because I would have been really upset if I had paid for this. The tenses change non stop, and the narration tone shifts from Kendall to something else. Just not for me.

Overall: pinkdnf Bad writing, bad plot and a terrible misrepresentation of OCD. Skip this book please.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars.
Author: John Green
Published: January 10th 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

The Summary:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

“Did that boy give it to you?” She asked out of the middle of nowhere.

“By it, do you mean herpes?”

“You are too much,” Mom said. “The book, Hazel, I mean the book”

It’s the scenes and lines like this that make this book so deceiving. Exchanges like this lure you into a false sense of snarky security only to have all of your feelings and heart ripped out and jumped on. Seriously. If you feel like letting your heart get ripped out and used as John Green’s personal trampoline, please, by all means read this book. Even if you don’t, please, by all means read this book. I held out for so long, it seemed like EVERYONE was talking about it. So naturally, I avoided it. In avoiding it, I think I made a huge mistake. I would have liked to gush about this book with everyone else.

This book is beautifully written with smart, memorable characters. It’s very visceral in it’s imagery, and it’s a writing style I’m drawn to. I LOVED this book. I’m looking forward to the movie, and throwing this book at my bestie the first chance I get so I can go to the theater and cry with her. I want to see this on the big screen and see if my images of the events match the creative vision. I’m keeping this book. It’s finding a home on my already too stuffed bookcase and it’s going to live there forever.

Overall: pink5 pink4 I’m sorry that I also don’t have a graphic for “Left me sobbing on the floor, clutching the book to my chest.”

Book Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Published: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen

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Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

I really enjoyed this book. Dusty (Destiny) is a nightmare, a magickind who feeds off of dreams. There’s a lot of different takes on magical/mythical creatures in this story, and we as readers are exposed to a few of them. The world is incredibly written and more importantly it makes sense. The imposition of the Will, which keeps magickind from harming each other and the Ordinary people, and the different social structure within the magic world itself. It does take place in a boarding school, so I can see where some people make the allusion to Harry Potter, but frankly the two aren’t all that similar.

I really like the characters in this story. They’ve got great voices, and while the romance is a bit run of the mill and predictable it’s natural and unforced. There’s not really a love triangle, just a bit of jealousy and things get resolved rather quickly toward the end of the book. There are a couple things that I disliked, the first being the pacing. I wanted more of the world building, more characters interacting. I liked that a couple characters weren’t who they seemed to be. On the other hand, and this brings me to my second dislike, is the fact that the bait-and-switch and major plot twist was kind of predictable. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but I had a strong feeling that certain characters were not as they seemed.

Overall pink5 a cute quick read with quirky characters and I’m looking forward to reading the second book.

Book Review: Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Published: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

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The Summary:
There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don’t talk about. The murder way back in ’45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian’s parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he’s drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn’t just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they’d rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it’s no surprise that Christian isn’t exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter’s last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi’s came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States’ involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love

I picked this up because of the cover and the blurb on the inside cover. I curled up with it and read it while everyone else was watching the Superbowl. It took me a little while to get into it, and then once I was fully seated in the story it jumped all over the place. In a way I felt that it was trying to emulate James Joyce’s style of stream of conscious, but it just wasn’t cutting it for me. Which made me a little sad because I love that style of writing. Things are introduced, major plot tools, only to be briefly touched on, and then not fully explained. Even when the main character taps into it–he doesn’t know what he’s doing, how he did it and so the reader gets lost along in the dark with him, and there’s no resolution or explanation to why it happens.

There’s also two different stories going on here. I think I would have liked it more if it focused on Christian’s abilities and parents, or the secondary turned primary story line of the Jews and Nazis in his small town. It felt rushed, and a bit awkwardly thrown together. I wouldn’t have finished it, but by the time I had decided to put it down, I had turned the last page. Speaking of the way this book ends is extremely frustrating to me.

Overall: pink2 Cluttered, rushed and packed with lots of information and very little resolution.

Book Review: Palace of the Twelve Pillars by Christina Weigand

Title: Palace of the Twelve Pillars
Author: Christina Weigland
Published: 2013
Publisher: Muse it up
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this for review purposes.

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The Summary:
The Peace Summit was in shambles, the prince kidnapped.

When the rival king realizes he kidnapped the wrong prince, hostilities escalate. Loyalties to each other and country are tested for the twin princes of Crato, Joachim and Brandan.

Joachim, captive of King Waldrom, faces deception and betrayal as he struggles to find his way home. Brandan, at home with a father focused on rescuing Joachim, wrestles with his own demons as he searches for his place in the world and the favor of his father.

Torn from the safety and peace of their childhood, they are thrust into a world where bonds of family, brotherhood and roles as heirs to Crato are tested. Through war, spiritual journeys, death and marriage, will they choose the path of good or evil? Who can be trusted, as the world they know slips into a whirlpool of chaos.

Palace of the Twelve Pillars is the first in a Christian Fantasy trilogy by Christina Weigand. The story is complex and entertaining with heavy a heavy allegorical lean. There’s a story within a story here, presenting the battle between good and evil in a new way–on a fantastical world with twin brothers playing out the roles they’re handed. It’s an interesting read, the first in this genre that I’ve read. It blends fantasy and Christian teachings through story telling and characters. Character’s motives and roles are made clear from the start, save for one who is introduced later on.

It is the first book in a series, therefore it sets up for the stories that come after it. I would have liked a little more world building, but I’m very much a visual person, so the more the world is revealed through setting and prose the happier I am. The plot is multi-layered and full of twists to keep the reader guessing.

Overall: pink3 for my first introduction to this genre, I think it served it’s purpose.

Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill

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The Summary:
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

This is another book in my neo-gothic, horror binge I guess, and it’s one that I really enjoyed. Paper Valentine was a really quick read that I easily got sucked into the story. Hannah is an interesting character who grows along the way. Something that I found interesting that Yovanoff did, is when Hannah started talking to ‘the love interest’ she changed. In a positive way. She started to stand up for herself, and move away from the circle of ‘friends’ that had fallen apart after Lillian’s death. I really liked that when the love interest was introduced and confirmed that Hannah didn’t become clingy. She actually opened up and started to change for the better.

The story itself is really interesting. I like crime stories, and those involving serial killers and the fictional element to these murders was really well thought out. They’re graphic without splattering the pages in blood–and I think that’s something that adds to the mood of this story. There are hints, while Hannah sneaks glances at the pictures of the crime scene, or the last victim that Hannah sees in person it’s shown but not glorified. The hidden twist and the killer was something that I didn’t see coming. I like that there’s more to it than “THIS GUY! THIS ONE RIGHT HERE!” It’s subtle, and doesn’t give anything away until the end.

Overall: pink4 Read this book. It’s a great subtle, well layered story with a horror and paranormal twist.

Book Review: Girl Of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Title: Girl Of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Published: August 7, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen

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The Synopsis:
It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

Anna Dressed in Blood blew me away. I read it in one sitting, and it kept me up all night, with visions of creepy things lurking in the corner of my bedroom. Girl of Nightmares on the other hand, took me a little longer to get into. I’m not sure exactly why, but it dragged for me until about the midway point. I really loved Cas’ character in the first book, but in the second there’s a shift, and it’s more than just losing the woman he loves. However, the secondary characters, grew a bit more. One of them pulls something really stupid though, and I really felt bad for Thomas.

For me the book really picked up gear in the last half. The introduction of another character however, really set my teeth on edge. She’s just Cas 2.0, and she flaunts it every chance she gets. I did like the ending, I thought it wrapped the book duet nicely. I want to read more of Kendra’s books, because I really enjoy her writing. Girl of Nightmares just didn’t do it for me.

Overall pink3 Pace is a bit sporadic, and the characters are a bit different than in the first novel, but still an enjoyable read.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: October 18, 2007
Publisher: Razorbill

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Read this book. Just grab some tissues, some hot chocolate and read this book. I kept seeing it crop up on various blogs, and it was the book of the month in a reading group I’m in, I just didn’t get a chance to read it in time. This book much like A Monster Calls destroyed me. Clay is a believable character, and his story along with Hannah’s just sent me on an emotional roller-coaster. Hannah is so broken. Labelled due to a rumor she floats and exists through high school, trying to find something to hang on to, but in the end she gives up. Faced daily with reminders of something she didn’t do, knowledge of a duo of horrible things that happened in her presence and the overwhelming feeling that everyone.has.given.up on her. I think most readers can identify with Hannah and Clay. Clay wants so desperately to let Hannah know that there’s someone there for her, someone that wants to know the real her–though he too buys into the rumors, finding intimidation in a fake reputation.

And Hannah notices. Clay’s portion of the tape just had me so angry and emotional. If they had only somehow crossed their paths earlier, maybe things would have been different. This book is moody and eerie. I dislike audiobooks, but part of me wonders how it would translate. The dual narratives worked for me on print, and the audio book probably would have been too intense for me. I am still thinking about this book, and I will probably do so for a long time.

Overall pink5 Read this book. It’s heart wrenching, and something that I think everyone should read.

Book Review: Flip by Martyn Bedford

Author: Martyn Bedford
Published April 5, 2011
Publisher: Wendy Lamb

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The Summary: Alex, 14, goes to bed in December, and wakes in June, in a strange house to a strange family. In the mirror, he sees Flip. Unless Alex finds out what’s happened and how to get back to his own life, he may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else. What is identity, the will to survive, and what will we sacrifice to survive?

picadillypink The cover drew me in, as well as the synopsis. I wanted so very much to like Flip, and I did. But rather than blowing me away, it just left me with the feeling of “okay I read a book, and it was decent”. So I guess you can be whelmed in response to the age old question that 10 Things I Hate About You raised. The narrative was nice, and I liked the characters over all. I liked the budding relationship between Alex/Flip and Cherry. The first few chapters were confusing–I expected the disorientation, the confusion, and the panic, but the pacing just seemed so off. It took a while for Alex/Flip to figure out what had happened, making the story drag, and then the ending smashed all together and read really quickly. The ending is what made me give this such a low rating. It felt rushed and clunky, not matching the rest of the prose in the story. I just wish I liked this more, because this style of story telling is right up my alley.

Overall pink2If you’re looking for a quick read with an interesting premise and strong characters, pick up Flip. There’s not much to it however, and I found it just slightly below average.

Book Review: A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd.
Published: September 27, 2011 by Walker Press.

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The Summary:
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

This book left me an absolute mess. I was crying, sprawled out on the floor clutching the book, while my dog looked on upset as to why his owner was petting a book. This story is heartbreaking, I knew what was coming but by the time it happened I was already emotionally drained. The story is intense, the narrative weaving beautifully with a second narrative (Conor and the monster’s). Ness writes emotions well, taking the reader along with the feelings of absolute desperation, and want for something more. I’ve been in a situation close to Conor’s and I can identify so much with the feeling of being invisible, and then the panic when you’re not invisible. The want for punishment, someone to notice you’re not doing what you’re supposed to—the maddening, crushing feeling of everyone giving you a pass because you’ve got some serious stuff going on.

A Monster Calls is a haunting story, the imagery that goes alongside it just adds to the story. It’s a fairy tale for the modern age and shows both the fantastical elements of the genre and the not-so-discussed consequences and dark side of the magical world. Fantasy and reality blend, and there are real life situations that parallel stories that were handed down for ages. This book is heavy, and painful, but there’s a glimmer of hope at the end, something shiny and bright for Conor to hold on to, and capture when the darkness fully passes.

Final Recommendation: pink4 Read this. Read this and have the tissues at the ready.