Short & Sweet: Feeling very raw at this point, but I'm simply not happy with this read. Very disappointed and in need of something more satisfying...moreShort & Sweet: Feeling very raw at this point, but I'm simply not happy with this read. Very disappointed and in need of something more satisfying. The message I got from this read was that everything is going to be okay because there's always more. More than this life, more than what's happening now. So in the case of Seth, the main character, he was okay with his choice to commit suicide in the end because there was always more. What is good about driving home that issue?
I'm just so not okay with this book right now, but perhaps I'll feel differently in a few days when I've had time to process things. For now, I really am not satisfied with this latest Ness novel and am quite unhappy about it.(less)
A revolution is beginning. As much as Kira would like to forget the last year of her life and begin anew she can’t, because everywhere she turns peopl...moreA revolution is beginning. As much as Kira would like to forget the last year of her life and begin anew she can’t, because everywhere she turns people recognize her. Kira, the one who began the revolution. Even with a new name and a new place to call home she can’t escape what she’s done by sharing the news of jackers in society. What’s worse than not being able escape her past though is how it may affect those she loves, her mindreader boyfriend Raf most of all.
Reading a sequel in a series is often difficult for me, because no matter how good the writing or the characters the second book never seems to live up to the connection with the first book. In fact that’s why I tend to avoid book series as much as possible. Of course, after reading Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn I couldn’t resist reading Closed Hearts, the second book in the Mindjack Trilogy. And now…there is absolutely no way I can resist reading the third book, Free Souls, when it is released. Closed Hearts completely tore through my expectations of sequels and is now my favorite book in the series to date.
From the start a big concern I have with sequels is the lack of information from the previous book or the never ending rehashing of all the events you’ve already read about. That was simply not the case with Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn. Again, in Closed Hearts Quinn has proven that she knows how to write and that she’s an author worth reading. If I hadn’t read Open Minds I have no doubt I would have enjoyed Closed Hearts just as much as I did reading it through this time. Quinn’s characters are so beautifully crafted with a range of emotions and characteristics that each individual character stands out, making them memorable beyond the pages of the story. Beyond the characters it was the blending of past information with what was to come including some fantastic action and adventure that made the pacing perfect and had me flipping page after page.
In Closed Hearts Kira is back but with a variety of names and working new jobs with her Dad who is also a jacker. At first I was surprised that the story started in such a different place than where the previous one had, but as the story progressed I found I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of the new setting with the past creeping back in around the characters. One of the other aspects that I loved that also surprised me in a very good way was the introduction of such a large number of new characters. The vast majority of the new characters were mindjackers like Kira, but there was also the introduction of a big new bad guy, Vellus, who I’m certain isn’t done with Kira just yet. I was also thrilled to see Raf back in the story, Kira’s boyfriend from the previous book, but I’m also intrigued by new guy, Julian. All of these pieces fit together so nicely, from the new setting to the new characters, making this a story I couldn’t put down.
In a stunning turn of events, Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn has proven to me that a sequel can be every bit as good as the first book in a series and potentially even better than it’s predecessor. With Open Minds I was completely shocked by how it exceeded my expectations of what I’ve come to expect from self-published novels. Now with Closed Hearts I’ve been entirely blown out of the water with it’s rich cast of characters and action packed situations. The Mindjacker trilogy is one to put on your to-read lists, now; a series to wait for with bated breathe as Quinn crafts next and final book, and is certainly one sci-fi dystopian fans should have already read. Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn begins with the rumblings of a mindjacker revolution, takes you through an action packed invasion and breaks your heart. Do not miss this series that is now on my “Top Reads” list for the indefinite future.
Short and Sweet: Ever felt like the odd man out or like all you hope for is to get by without being “seen”? Marni Bates’s novel Awkward is the perfect...moreShort and Sweet: Ever felt like the odd man out or like all you hope for is to get by without being “seen”? Marni Bates’s novel Awkward is the perfect book for you! Friendship, popularity, individuality and more. Awkward is a coming of age book that will have you laughing and nodding your head in remembrance of things past.
Full Review Originally Posted at my site There's A Book: Mackenzie Wellesley is just…awkward. She tries hard to blend in, not make waves and generally be an “Invisible”. Unfortunately for her life seems to want more out of her than simply heading to classes and chatting with her two best friends, Jane and Corey. When she’s suddenly in the midst of the “it” group at school, the Notables, she immediately goes into extreme awkward mode. What’s worse is when she stumbles and attempts to “save” the life of a fellow student she doesn’t realize that the whole scene will soon be played out millions of times on YouTube. With instant fame on her hands Mackenzie struggles to determine where she fits and hopes that one day soon life will return to it’s normal awkwardness.
Most of us can probably relate to Mackenzie on some level, especially if you happen to have been a bit of a book nerd or band geek like myself during high school. It’s one of those rights of passage I used to tell myself. Fortunately for those of us like Mackenzie, in the end we discover there are quite a few more people out there like us and a lot less like the Notables in Awkward. Author Marni Bates has created not only an enjoyable story, but despite the extremity of Mackenzie’s circumstances she’s a character you can’t help but relate to. In many of Mackenzie’s situations I couldn’t help but I have my own personal flashbacks of near constant rambling at the site of a cute boy and even the one time I slipped and fell in a puddle of grease on the first day of middle school. Yes, I could absolutely relate to Mackenzie. Thankfully for me YouTube had yet to be created so my more awkward moments will only live on in my own memory and not for my posterity for years to come.
One of the themes throughout Awkward that struck me was the importance of friendship. Mackenzie’s life, pre-YouTube, centered around school, her two friends Jane & Corey, her family and her tutoring of Notable Logan. After her instant fame hits not only do her friends stick by her side, but she remains grounded through them and her family. It was refreshing to read a book about a normal girl who wasn’t instantly swept away into what would never be reality, because who really does that? Mackenzie, her friends and especially her brother Dylan made the book shine through their love for one another. As for her blossoming friendship with the very handsome and elusive Logan…lets just say I couldn’t wait for those last few pages to see how things turned out.
Awkward by Marni Bates is a book for anyone who is attempting to survive or has survived the tumultuous time that is high school. Navigating those murky waters and getting out under the radar is the best some of us can/have hoped for, but Mackenzie Wellesley slams head first in the water as the largest blip on that very shiny radar screen. Her awkwardness and her love for her friends and family make Mackenzie a character that not only I related to instantly but one I’m certain other readers will as well. That alone would be enough to draw me, but there’s also a bit of romance that has you yearning for a very happy ending. This was one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve picked up in a long time and I’m beyond excited to see what else Marni Bates publishes in the future!(less)
Short and sweet: Thoroughly enjoyed this story! Love the concept of letter writing as the format and the issues the characters br...more*Review coming soon!*
Short and sweet: Thoroughly enjoyed this story! Love the concept of letter writing as the format and the issues the characters brought forward. Very very powerful book and would definitely be a great book in the classroom to start up discussion I think.(less)
Miranda, no, Rand is a girl with secrets. Yes, we all have secrets but not many of us have secrets that could forever change the landscape of the live...moreMiranda, no, Rand is a girl with secrets. Yes, we all have secrets but not many of us have secrets that could forever change the landscape of the lives of everyone surrounding us. Unfortunately for Rand her secrets have huge consequences. And it’s just one of many secrets that have sent her and her family in a continuous downward spiral even since before she was born.
Do you keep secrets? Secrets can be some of the most damaging things we carrying with us. Sometimes we do it because we think we are protecting others and then there are the times we are protecting ourselves. As the theme carries throughout the story from character to character you slowly discover that the secrets in Rand’s life began before her birth and don’t ever seem to stop. Again, some are kept with the best of intentions, like those from her mother, and others are intentionally kept from her, including those from her so-called friend Delaney. The most tragic secret is of course the one kept from her by her late sister Xanda.
Holly Cupala’s debut novel, Tell Me A Secret, is a tremendously well written story that explores not only the relationships we have with those around us, but the choices we make and their impact. It’s not often that I find myself enjoying a story about a young girl, still in high school, who after some poor choices ends up pregnant, but Rand was an amazing character. She was incredibly likable and I found myself relating to many of her doubts from when I was a teenager. Didn’t we all question whether there was that guy that would still like us after spilled some of our deepest feelings? Or wonder about the girls around us and whether their intentions were pure? There are so many feelings that get wrapped up into being a teenager and Cupala did a brilliant job communicating each of them in her novel.
It’s almost difficult to believe Tell Me A Secret is a debut novel. Holly Cupala does such an amazing job illustrating each facet of teenage life without sounding condescending or out of touch. Each of the characters in the book brought something different to the experience, even the minor ones. I’m also not an advocate of teenage pregnancy, but Cupala handled a touchy situation with finesse. Without a doubt Tell Me A Secret is a book I would eagerly share with readers of almost any age, especially those that enjoy a well written young adult novel.
Short and Sweet: This one started out and I was just about to put it down when things completely flipped for me. Even now I get v...more*Full Review to Come*
Short and Sweet: This one started out and I was just about to put it down when things completely flipped for me. Even now I get very emotional about this story and the horror of bullying. One of my favorite reads this year.(less)
In a world where everyone who’s normal has the ability to read minds being special isn’t exactly what Kira was hoping for. As the world around her boo...moreIn a world where everyone who’s normal has the ability to read minds being special isn’t exactly what Kira was hoping for. As the world around her booms and brightens with the loud cacophony of thoughts Kira’s world is silent, the only noise she hears are the thoughts in her own mind. That is until her best friend Raf attempts to kiss her and immediately ends up falling to the ground completely knocked out. From that point forward Kira’s life changes forever. She learns from a fellow student that she’s a mindjacker, and a powerful one at that. Having the ability to enter and control the thoughts of those around her is the last thing she’d thought she’d be doing during high school, but it may lead to more problems than simply knocking her best friend unconscious.
In a growing pool of young adult fiction Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn stands out as a novel with a fantastic premise, excellent characters and an incredibly well executed plot. Being a fan of dystopian and sci-fi in young adult books this was exactly the type of book I was hoping to fall in love with and absolutely did. Quinn took the idea of human evolution and took it one step further by adding an element of involvement from the government. It wasn’t that they were simply involved in the aftermath of the evolution, but the initial development by introducing toxins into the water supply that eventually triggered the first changes to mind reading by all. This was certainly a unique concept, especially since the entire population was affected by it and I’m now interested to see where the idea goes from here in the next two books in the series.
Now everyone who knows my reading preferences know that I am not a huge fan of the typical love triangle and at first I thought I was going to be annoyed by Kira’s love intersts, but I absolutely wasn’t. Obvious to anyone who reads Open Minds there’s a huge development at the end of the story that changes everything making the love triangle completely different than those other more typical situations. Between the two I’d certainly say I was much more on the side of Raf, her childhood friend, than Simon, the “bad boy”, but as the story went on I did feel more sympathetic towards Simon and his situation. In many ways I could understand Kira’s desire to be with Simon because of their shared abilities, but at first the way she shunned Raf was a bit irritating since he was always so supportive of her “zero” status. In the end the conflict was perfect and the way all of their relationships progressed were extremely believable.
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn is a brilliant addition to the ever increasing pool of dystopian/sci-fi young adult fiction. There’s something for readers of all types in this fantastic new YA novel, from action to romance to science and more. As many of my readers know, I don’t read many self-published books primarily because I find the stories underdeveloped and poorly edited. To be honest I’m completely shocked Quinn’s Mindjacker series hasn’t been picked up by a major publisher, because it certainly doesn’t fall into either of my dis-qualifiers. This is a novel that’s been extremely well thought out, written beautifully, and it’s obviously been edited professionally. YA readers who love authors like Ally Condie, Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver and others would be missing out if they failed to pick up Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn. Join Kira on her journey to save her fellow mindjackers and potentially change the landscape of her world forever.
Locked away with little or no hope of escaping both Arson and Emery are trapped in an asylum that has them questioning their sanity. Is any of it real...moreLocked away with little or no hope of escaping both Arson and Emery are trapped in an asylum that has them questioning their sanity. Is any of it real? And is there any hope that either of them will see each other again? As Arson discovers more fully who he is and what he’s meant for his story becomes one that could affect not only his small family and Emery, but the world as well.
Ashes is exactly the kind of book I would have read in my teens. This may shock some of you, but as a teen I read primarily horror novels. From Anne Rice to Richard Matheson to HP Lovecraft and more, there was hardly a horror book I left alone. As a teen there was no such thing as young adult fiction and I basically read whatever my Dad had & recommended. It worked out great because we shared quite a few of the same interests in books and music. Enter today’s standards and I’m sure the books I read back then wouldn’t make the YA cut. Which brings me to the dilemma with Ashes, is it YA or adult fiction? In my personal opinion I’d easily recommend it to a mature teen who loves a good scary paranormal read, but in that same vein I’d also hand it to an adult horror reader as well. I think that applies to quite a bit of YA fiction, but in the case of horror YA maybe even more so. I’d hate for a reader to turn Ashes down because they thought it was not in the right “category”.
As for the story…it was just as I remembered with Arson, full of action and great characters. This being the second book in the series I was personally looking forward to getting to know both Emery and Arson better and seeing where their relationship went after their abduction at the end of the first book. That certainly happened, but what I didn’t expect was the additional characters including Emery’s parents, Lamount, Adam, Saul Hoven and many more. The addition was great in terms of plot twists and the future of the series, but at times I did wish there were only one or two narrators instead of four or five. Besides that, the story was amazing and I loved the idea of placing much of the story in an asylum. Very creepy indeed.
Ashes, the second novel in the Arson series by Estevan Vega, is packed full of action, plot twists and of course a creepy setting. Vega is a fantastic new voice in the world of horror fiction and one that readers will thoroughly enjoy. With the fate of the world at stake I’m eager to see where Adam will lead Arson, if either is truly hoping to save the world and of course who will get the girl in the end. This is a series to watch for and I’m excited to continue reading it as soon as the next book is released!
I was given an early look at this book and I'll briefly say, it was incredible! Easily kept me up until four in the morning and I'm dying for the sequ...moreI was given an early look at this book and I'll briefly say, it was incredible! Easily kept me up until four in the morning and I'm dying for the sequel. Loved it!
Short and Sweet: An amazing beginning to a brilliant new YA series! Some scenes include mature themes including sex and mild foul language.
Full Review Originally Posted at There's A Book: Violet Eden isn’t your run of the mill kind of girl. Though she’d love to believe she’s every bit a normal teenage girl with dreams of college and typical adventures, nothing is typical about her. Upon reaching her seventeenth birthday she discovers the secret behind not only who she is but who her mother was and how it makes her future choices that much more difficult. Violet’s source of comfort and strength, Lincoln, has been holding back on her and it leaves her with no other choice than to find someone else to turn to…Phoenix. In an all-out battle between good and evil with angels fighting amongst humans, the outcome of Violet’s choice could potentially change everything.
When I was initially asked to read and review Embrace the book hadn’t even been sent to print yet and I jumped at the chance. It took me all of one night, sitting up until four in the morning, to finish it in one reading. I simply couldn’t put it down. With the reading world screaming “angels are the new vampires”, this is the book leading the way. I’d honestly go as far as to say, if you will only read one angel YA book than this would be the one I’d recommend. It literally blew me away!
For Violet, her angel background comes as a shock to both her and those around her with the exception of Lincoln of course. One of the aspects I absolutely loved about Embrace was the lack of cover-up needed. It’s irritating to me that in most novels where a character has a “super-power” that they keep it from those they love, especially when that someone is a teen. Because lets be honest, teens can be good at secrets…but that good? I never bought it and in many ways it played to the part of life that tells people it’s okay to be dishonest. In many ways I was thrilled Violet was able to share her new found Grigori identity with her father and best friend Steph. Not only did her telling them set right with me, but it also kept in context with Violet’s character who had earlier felt betrayed by her best guy friend Lincoln who had been keeping her in the dark all along.
Now, as for the love triangle…I know, many of you are rolling your eyes at yet another love triangle in YA, but I’m asking you to make an exception to the rule. Normally I’m one of those readers who sees “love triangle” or it’s likeness in a description and I go running for the hills, but Embrace was not your typical Jacob versus Edward type of debacle. On one hand you have Lincoln who is supposedly Violet’s best friend, the person she trusts above all else, but he’s been keeping a huge secret from her and just when she needs him he gives up. Enter the dashingly dangerous Phoenix who also happens to be the son of a very evil mother, but is also the only person who seems to understand and accept Violet. Unfortunately, Phoenix has a few chinks in his “knight and shinning armor” get up though too and tends to be a tad bit too manipulative for my tastes. That being said, Violet holds her own between these two and I’m almost hoping that in the end she doesn’t choose either because she’s a force to be reckoned with all on her own.
There’s a reason Embrace by Jessica Shirvington is getting rave reviews and you’re seeing it everywhere from EW to book blogs and more, it’s brilliant! Embrace is by far one of my favorite YA reads, ever. I’m excited for the next two books in the series and can’t wait to see who it is Violet Eden ends up with…or not. Embrace is not only a story about angels and good & evil, but making tough choices and growing up. Jessica Shirvington has written a YA angel series that stands out amongst the sea of new novels this year and one that readers everywhere will absolutely fall in love with!(less)
I Love Him to Pieces is the classic, boy meets girl – boy turns into a zombie romance. Yes, Dicey happens to be captain of her high school baseball te...moreI Love Him to Pieces is the classic, boy meets girl – boy turns into a zombie romance. Yes, Dicey happens to be captain of her high school baseball team and incredibly intelligent, but she’s also interested in a very unlikely match, Jack. When they’re paired up for a science project Dicey learns that Jack truly does have feelings for her, but what happens when the zombie apocalypse suddenly happens and Jack may have been infected? Will Dicey fight for him or run for her life?
Are you a graphic novel fan and/or a zombie/paranormal fan? If you answered yes to either than you absolutely need to check out this series. I Love Him to Pieces is the second in the series by Evonne Tsang and Janina Görrissen and it’s fantastic! Not only is the story captivating, but the illustrations are superb. A cross between a comic and a purely graphic novel, the illustrations combined with the text make the story literally jump off the page. With some graphic novels you can feel a disconnect between the writing and/or the illustrations with one or both being too choppy, but that certainly wasn’t the case here. I Love Him to Pieces had characters that came to life, the story felt genuine and overall it was incredibly fun to read.
Now, as I mentioned, the story was fantastic. Obviously my readers know I’m a big fan of zombie related reading in any form, from picture books to adult books if it has a zombie in it I’ll consider it. That doesn’t mean that each is enjoyable, but in this case it certainly was. The romance between Dicey and Jack was fun and intriguing, because who doesn’t like a popular tomboy falling for the school nerd? Jack always has his nose in a book, but that also has something to do with his background as well. Jack’s parents are gone during the majority of the book and it has you wondering what type of scientific research they are doing that would keep them away. Soon enough you learn exactly what it is and it makes what happens with Jack that much more compelling. Overall, a truly enjoyable and fast paced story with characters you can’t help but get attached to.
Perfect for the season, I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang and Janina Görrissen, is a zombie graphic novel that will have readers engrossed and excited for the full “My Boyfriend Is a Monster” series. Tsang shares a story that’s well written and Görrissen’s illustrations connect seamlessly to make a fantastic graphic novel reading experience. With main characters struggling to deal with regular life and the sudden onslaught of the zombie apocalypse is easy to feel compelled to see where Dicey and Jack will end up. I’d highly recommend this I Love Him to Pieces (as well as the rest of the series) to not only graphic novel fans, but regular print book readers who love the paranormal as well. This would be the perfect addition to a reluctant reader’s library, especially for those who may enjoy things that go bump in the night!