Picture this: It's the week before Christmas. You're a young woman doing some last-minute shopping. Your 13-year-old sister is with you, but off in another part of the mall. Suddenly, you get a text message from her phone...
“I HAVE YOUR SISTER. DO EXACTLY AS I SAY OR I'LL KILL HER.”
Mallory (our protagonist) believes it's a sick joke courtesy of her sister, but soon learns this is not the case. The man on the other end of the text message forces Mallory to degrade herself publicly in order to keep her sister from being harmed. And if Mallory refuses? She'll receive a photo or video of her sister being tortured at the hands of her captor.
For Mr. Campbell—the individual committing these acts—it's all a game; a game that he's been itching to play for some time now. He wants to see how far he can push Mallory; wants to see what lengths a person will go to in order to keep a loved one from being harmed. Once the curiosity wears off? It'll then be time for the real fun to begin... time for him to make the mall his hunting ground—with Mallory as his prey.
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Text Message is the second novel by Malmborg that I've had the pleasure of reading. This book was, in some ways, similar to Jimmy... but also much, much different. It's similar in the way that they're both about individuals who are obviously mentally unstable. Individuals who have this insatiable need to put women in helpless, deadly positions in order to fulfill their own fantasies. The similarities pretty much end there.
*Possible spoilers ahead!*
Text Message is told in alternating 3rd person POVs. Mallory is the protagonist; our victim. Mr. Campbell is our antagonist. Then we have Dan, a security guard who ends up getting much too close to the deadly game going down between Campbell and Mallory. -- I really enjoy books with multiple POVs. I like the range it gives me. I like that I get to see the story unfold from more than just one angle. I like to get into ALL the characters heads, not just the protag. This was also a great tool in keeping the suspense up. While Mallory is doing mundane things such as hiding out in a bathroom, we get to see inside Mr. Campbell's demented mind, or watch Dan try to figure out why Mallory is acting so strangely. It makes for a very compelling read!
Something I very much enjoyed about this book is that, just like Jimmy, it's a book that doesn't apologize. It doesn't make excuses. It's gory, disturbing, and dark. PERIOD. Mr. Campbell is a truly damaged person. There is a good amount of back story given on him all throughout the book. You learn that his mother was a disgusting woman who did unspeakable things to her son. Mr. Campbell is not only mentally scarred, but physically as well. It's not put out there as an excuse, just a matter of fact. This man is evil and twisted, and there is definitely no question about that. And this guy knows he is sick. He knows he is evil. He admits to being a serial killer just like one would admit to having brown hair. It's just a part of who he is. He doesn't rationalize it. He doesn't excuse it. He doesn't have delusions about anything. He just enjoys killing people. It's almost comical, in a way. Now, I have to admit that I felt a pang of pity for him every now and then. I mean, the things he endured in his younger years were terrible. Then there were the moments when he just seemed so normal. I mean, I even laughed-out-loud at some of the crap going down in his brain. Not any of the torture stuff, promise. :P Anyway, Malmborg did a superb job at writing this villain.
My one and only problem lies with Dan. Quite honestly, I think the guy was useless. I don't think his character brought much to the story. His POV was interesting to have around, but aside from that he didn't seem to have a purpose. I especially disliked the inner dialogue. The guy's mind would constantly veer off to his experiences as a soldier in the desert. For example: There was a conversation Dan had with another security guard. Soldiering came up. Dan went on and on about brain damage and IEDs. This brought him to a rant about how a lot of soldiers were getting screwed out of medical care, etc. etc. What place does this have in this horror novel? None that I can see. The only time my mind would wander from the story is when Dan's would wander off on one of these mental tangents. I could've done without this guy altogether.
As for the plot, I was quite impressed. When I saw how LONG this book was, I was curious as to how it would stay suspenseful the whole time. I was afraid I'd get stuck. This was not the case. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Malmborg kept things going perfectly. The suspense began on page one and went on unerringly. I didn't get bored. I didn't have to put it down. Hell, I had trouble putting it down. This book kept me up til 4, 5 in the morning every night. I was peeved when I had to head off to work. I was peeved when I had to do anything but read this book. It's just one of those where you absolutely HAVE to know the outcome.
And what an outcome it was! The ending was unexpected, but fantastic. I fully expected Campbell to win his little game by finally capturing Mallory and killing her (and her sister Jenna as well) with all the wickedness of a serial killer. I won't go into specifics... but if you choose to read this novel, you'll truly be surprised. I was sickly delighted with the ending. Jenna ends up being the most interesting character of all. I wish we'd gotten some more interaction with her.
Completely unrelated to my actual review.. but I want to thank Malmborg for answering a question I have had for YEARS AND YEARS, literally. A long ass time ago, I watched a movie that I loved. It was a horror flick about killer robots. I could never remember the name of it. I searched and searched the internet trying DESPERATELY to find this damn movie, and had no success. Well, the movie was mentioned in this book! Chopping Mall. Thank you SO MUCH for unknowingly answering this question that's been nagging at me for literally over ten years. Ah, I freaking love you!
All in all, Text Message was a superlative piece of horror fiction. Malmborg did an impressive job at giving us yet another perfect glimpse inside the head of a truly sick individual. He has an infallible way of grabbing your attention and holding it until the very end of the story. This tale is packed with suspense. It's packed with gore. It's packed with all that is humiliating and demented. Not only that, but it's got unexpected twists and irony to boot. Just my kind of story! Text Message would make an excellent movie. I recommend this one to people who enjoy the darker side of fiction, horror novels, murder suspense, etc. It is NOT for the feint of heart!
*This book is absolutely not for people under the age of 18. Contains graphic violence, disturbing sexual situations, and an overall air of crudeness.*
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Book source: For review from the author Publisher: Self-published (less)
Outwardly, Jimmy Hawthorn is just a regular high school student. Inwardly, however, something sinister is taking form.
Jimmy has always been fascinated with the idea of women being held immobile by hanging from their wrists. He's spent hours upon hours and dollars upon dollars to feed this addiction with movies and photos, but Jimmy has become bored with the fictional stimulation. This is when the decision is made; he's going to kidnap a female classmate and make his fantasy a reality.
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I decided to purchase this book because of my love for disturbing reads. I love a book that doesn't apologize; a book that leaves your jaw resting on the floor - and this one definitely did the job. It was crass, disturbing, and horrific.
The editing was terrible. Not enough that it took away from my enjoyment, but enough to be irritating.
I wasn't very happy with the ending. I won't spoil the book, but the ending is so tragic and unexpected. I do appreciate the fact that the author took the road less traveled in terms of ending, though.
There was a lot of repetition in this book! Every time I turned a page, I thought maybe I hadn't and was re-reading the same thing I just read! This was probably the most annoying thing about the whole story. I probably would've bumped my star-rating up to four if it hadn't been so repetitious. Most of it was Jimmy's inner musings.
Character development. As other reviewers have stated, the characters are developed very well. Jimmy was a character you could almost sympathize with even though he was sick in the head. This is a surprise, too, because Jimmy wasn't abused as a child; he wasn't mistreated save some bullies in school. He just saw a movie scene that tripped some wire in his brain and his curiosity turned into an all-consuming obsession. He felt remorse during his torture of the two girls. He even thought about letting them go. In the end, he was still a monster, and even then I felt some sympathy. Most of all, though, my heart went out to Alan (Jimmy's brother). Aside from the girls Jimmy held prisoner, Alan was hurt most by Jimmy's actions. It was tragic and heart-wrenching to read.
Another impressive thing about this story is how smoothly the plot plays out. All events happen in perfect tandem with each other. There aren't any lulls in the plot. The action is ever-present. The need to know more never wavered. I couldn't put this book down. I was completely engrossed and eager to learn the fate of all characters involved. The story was extremely engaging.
The horror aspect was very well done. The descriptive scenes in the fallout shelter were disturbing and cringe-worthy. It was like a car-wreck. You know it's terrible and sick to stare, but you just can't stop. My heartbeat sped up each time Jimmy would go back to the shelter. I worried this would finally be the moment he killed one of the girls, or was caught by someone. Malmborg gave us the perfect glimpse inside the mind of a disturbed teenager with no regard for human life. In the end, you never find out exactly why Jimmy was the way he was. Mental illness? Some sort of imbalance? It wasn't because of childhood abuse, we know that... anyway, I enjoyed the mystery.
Overall, Jimmy was a good read. It's not for the feint of heart. It is graphic and very very dark. DO NOT read this book if you can't handle disturbing tales. That being said, this is a fantastic story of obsession, sexual fetish, and how one person's actions can ruin the lives of countless others in a domino effect. The writing is descriptive and the story is a page-turner. Jimmy is a character you will be torn between feeling sorry for and hating. It's a tough read in the way of subject matter, but a wonderful one in the suspense department. I recommend this only if you enjoy dark, disturbing reads.
*This book is absolutely NOT for people under 18 years of age. It contains violence, sex, and very disturbing imagery. Go into this read with caution!*
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Book source: personal collection Publisher: self-published (less)
“Mark Twain said, ‘The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.’
I don't remember the day I was born but I remember the day I found out why.
His name was Deuce.
He was my “why”.
And this is our story.
It is not a pretty one.
Some parts of it are downright ugly.
But it's ours.
And because I believe everything happens for a reason, I wouldn't change a thing.”
Eva has spent her entire life within the gritty world of motorcycle/biker clubs. Her father is the president of the “Silver Demons” club.
The book opens up to a 5-year-old Eva visiting her father in prison. It is here that she first meets Deuce. He is 23 years old.
Seven years later, they meet again, only now Eva is a blooming 12-year-old and Deuce is 30. It is here that things take a turn in the wrong direction.
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Okie dokie. What can I say about this book? First of all, I had some issues with it. I was so torn between love and hate. In the end, I landed in the grey area. It was very difficult to separate my personal feelings from my feelings about the book. I still don't think I can do that, but I'll try to be objective... maybe.
**Contains spoilers and bad language!**
First things first: The bad.
* Editing. Please please please do it! Editing is your friend! This book was such a hot mess in terms of editing. Egh!
* The language. I'm perfectly content with vulgarity in my books. I never really thought there could be too much of it... until now. I seriously want to go back and count every single fuck, bitch, and fuckin' - I know at least half the book would be taken up by the cuss words alone. It's BAD. There is such a thing as too much vulgar language. Yikes!
* Deuce. My problem with Deuce is not the obvious issue (his less-than-honorable feelings toward Eva when she is in her younger years), but with is hypocrisy. If you've read this book you'll remember a little scene in which, when Eva is twelve, and Deuce thirty, he almost loses his cool with a couple of young guys when he overhears them talking about Eva in a sexually degrading manner. He tells them, and I quote: “You respect women you little fuckin' shit. It was a fuckin' woman who carried you around in her fuckin' body, fuckin' birthed you and fuckin' loved you, and it's gonna be a woman who keeps you warm at night, who lets you inside her body and it's gonna be a woman who carries around your fuckin' children. You fuckin' respect that, you feel me? You fuckin' respect women, all of 'em, or I will end you.” -- (Got a little taste of the lingo I was talking about, too, yeah?) Apparently this rule does NOT apply to himself. I can't even count how many times Deuce disrespected women in this book, Eva included! Not only does he call them “bitches” every time he even mentions a female, he also physically abuses them, violently AND sexually. He is not faithful to a woman he claims to love. He doesn't respect her feelings, wishes, or opinions. He speaks down to her, hurts her on purpose, and even kidnaps her at one point. You tell me, is this what respect is? I think not. I think the author should have left out that little “respect women” speech if she was going to make her main love interest this kind of man.
I think that's about it for my dislikes. Now I will go on to admitting things I probably should not. lol
Number one. This is probably the first time I have actually felt sort of ashamed for enjoying a book. I mean, this book is dark. It's something you would cringe at if it were real life. But holy crap, was it entertaining! The drama, the violence. Something was just constantly going on!
The characters were oddly likable aside from Deuce. I mean, at times, I was definitely turned on by him (can't lie), but most often I wasn't his biggest fan. I really enjoyed Eva. She was hard and soft at the same time. There were definitely moments I wanted to slap a little sense into her, but for the most part I really liked her character. Frankie is another thing I am ashamed to admit I enjoyed. I liked Frankie more than Deuce. And that is sad because he did some really really REALLY messed up things. There was just something about his insane sense of loyalty and devotion to Eva that made me like him. Sick, I know.
The romance was Hot, with a capital H. It wasn't your run-of-the-mill sappy romance, either. This is hardcore shit right here. Frankly, I don't even think this qualifies as romance. It's lust, just pure lust. Deuce and Eva go at it every time they see each other. It's definitely intense, sexy, and mind-blowing. Sheehan writes fantastic sex scenes, I will give her that. As for the chemistry between Deuce and Eva, I think it's more physical than anything. Maybe the fact that they live in the same gritty world of MCs just makes it seem like they should be together. They know the same things, they have been through the same things. Anyway, this book definitely left me craving more of this dark romance.
The storyline. There is a bit more to it than just love and lust. There is a little subplot going on about crime and punishment, if you will. It's was all very enthralling. I appreciated that the author threw something more into it than just sex sex sex.
Overall, Undeniable was a very entertaining read. It's dark, gritty, suspenseful, and mega-sexy. There's a bit too much bad language going on for me, and the love interest(s) are not really what you'd call great guys, or ideal men. The book needs some major editing, but it's easily overlooked once you get into the story. It's a tough book to put down! Be ready to get angry, upset, and turned on. It's a wild ride of a story. I recommend this book only if you have an open mind and enjoy very dark stories. I, for one, plan to continue this series!
*This book is absolutely NOT for people under 18 years of age. It is ADULT in every sense of the word. Contains sex, violence, language, and situations that may be upsetting to many people. Go into this read with extreme caution!*
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Book source: personal collection Publisher: self-published (less)
Synopsis (from Goodreads): A brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, January First is the extraordinary story of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity.
At six years old, Michael Schofield's daughter, January, was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors had ever seen. In January's case, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. January, "Jani" to her family, has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. They go by names like 400-the-Cat, 100 Degrees, and 24 Hours and live on an island called "Calalini," which she describes as existing "on the border of my world and your world." Some of these friends are good, and some of them, such as 400, are very bad. They tell her to jump off buildings, attack her brother, and scream at strangers.
In the middle of these never-ending delusions, hallucinations, and paroxysms of rage are Jani's parents, who have gone to the ends of the earth to keep both of their children alive and unharmed. They live in separate one-bedroom apartments in order to keep her little brother, Bohdi, safe from his big sister--and wage a daily war against a social system that has all but completely failed them. January First is the story of the daily struggles and challenges they face as they do everything they can to help their daughter while trying to keep their family together. It is the inspiring tale of their resolute determination and faith.
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I honestly do not even know where to start with this review. I have never reviewed a book quite like this one.
I guess I'll just dive in... I'll start with the good, since my review is mostly going to be negative. The only thing I can say is that the book was well-written. It ended up being quite the page-turner. I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in less than a day.
Aside from that, this book disturbed me.
First of all, Schofield's disregard for anyone BUT January was disgusting. He didn't care who she hurt. He didn't care about his dog, his wife, his newborn son. Not enough to do something drastic enough (like admit her to a hospital like Mrs. Schofield did) to help January and, ultimately, his family as a whole. Instead, he coddles her. She acts out, such as running away, screaming, hitting, etc., and he lets her do it. He rewards her! He gives her special attention so she'll calm down. He takes her away so they can be alone—because supposedly, HE is the only one who “understands” her.
That brings me to the fact that this guy makes excuse after excuse after excuse for his unruly child. It is stated early on that January has a very high IQ. Schofield leeches onto this fact immediately and will not let it go. He relentlessly throws it into peoples' faces when they suggest he do something other than what he is currently doing to change her behavior. He uses her intelligence as an excuse time and time again.
“Sure, I would like Janni to be polite, but I realize odd behavior is a by-product of her genius.”
“...she must be a gift to humanity. I think that trumps being impolite on occasion”
“I will not restrict anything, because I worry once she shuts down in order to conform, her full potential might be lost”
“She is angry because she is mentally older than she looks...”
“...stupid rules prevent her from reaching her potential.”
THAT is all from before the book even hits 20 pages! This continues through the ENTIRE book.
[to Susan] “I am not going to let you keep exposing her to people that will only make her feel like a freak! She's brilliant!”
“Janni's IQ is higher than 99.9 percent of the population. That means out of six billion people, Janni is smarter than all but six million of them!”
“The source of Janni's rage is a disconnect between her brilliant mind and her young body.”
“Because of her high IQ, we knew she would be bored out of her mind with public school...”
“She has a 146 IQ, but they don't give a damn about that. All that matters to them is the stupid rules.”
“She's a genius, but these idiots don't seem to get that.”
“These morons don't see her potential. All they can see is her behavior.”
I could go on, and on, and on. There are hundreds of quotes just like these. If you think everyone you come into contact with is an idiot or a moron, why not try harder to modify your daughter's behavior? Why not do this so they will see more than just that? I mean the guy lets her get away with EVERYTHING. When he finally does try to punish her, he doesn't stick with it.
His brilliant solution is to get two apartments. One for January, and one for Bodhi (their newborn). Schofield blames Bodhi for January's behavior at this point. He thinks separating the family is going to help January. He constantly paints his wife as the enemy. She's out to get him. She doesn't understand January. He even suggests that Susan take Bodhi and move to another state. He'll stay with January by himself. He is the ONLY one who can handle her. Seriously? Having a screwed up home life is your solution? That's like giving up altogether! If you don't teach your child, how will they learn? You are the example.
This man lets his five-year-old run him, his life, and his family's. Incase you didn't know, Mr. Schofield, YOU ARE THE PARENT; YOU ARE THE ADULT. Hello? I honestly question his mental stability. At some points, it even seems as if his feelings toward January are unhealthy. Like he's obsessed with her. I don't know how to word it, but it seems skeevy. I am not convinced that the accusations of sexual misconduct were completely untrue.
The entire time I read this book I was angry. The sheer amount of denial disgusted me. The number of times Schofield coddled his daughter disgusted me. His constant disdain and disregard for anyone but himself and January was sickening. By the end of the novel, January was never truly diagnosed with schizophrenia. The doctors stated they'd “ruled out everything but schizophrenia” - but never stated that she actually had the illness. I do feel sorry for Susan and Bodhi. I wish the family a positive future. I do. I think the situation is impossible and I don't think their lives will ever be “normal”...
All in all, this book seems to be nothing more than a cry for sympathy. It seems as if Michael Schofield is just selfish man who wants handouts. If you view his blog and YouTube documentaries, you will see this. He asks for donations almost every single month, claiming his family cannot pay the rent or bills. The last post I saw on there didn't even pose it as a request; it simply said: “We will not be able to make December rent without help. Any donations via Paypal to donations@*********.org” - He simply expects it now! No please, no thank-you, nothing! I feel so sorry for the people who have given this man money; fallen for his martyr act. Not only that, he's now saying Bodhi may also be schizophrenic. These YouTube videos he's put out there make the stories in the book seem very much embellished. Janni's behavior doesn't seem anything more than minor tantrums in the videos. And the ones of Bodhi are even less serious. He just seems like an unhappy little boy. Who could blame him with the way he's been raised; with the kind of family life he's been given? Am I being judgmental? You bet. Schofield put his story out there, though, and in doing so, left himself open for such things.
I think Schofield is out to elicit donations and nothing more. If this man needs donations so badly, how was he able to afford TWO apartments? In their YouTube videos, it shows the family all moving back into ONE apartment again. So, their rent is reduced by HALF. Why is he still asking people for money (or, not even asking, simply expecting it to roll in at the snap of a finger!). I don't recommend wasting your time with this book or his story. This book is not about January. It's about Michael Schofield and his selfish, cowardly tendencies, and asinine thought process.
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Book source: My local library Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (less)
*Contains spoilers for Florence, book 1 in this series.*
Luminaire picks up not long after the events of it's predecessor. Florence Waverley has chosen to remain in the underwater kingdom of Niemela with her newfound mer friends.
All seems well for our heroine in this beautiful world under the sea... until things begin to crumble down around her. It begins with Rolan pulling away from her. At first it's small things; but eventually he seems to ignore her presence altogether. Florence doesn't understand the change in Rolan, but she resents it. Instead of dwelling on the issue, Florence decides to throw herself into helping princess Yolee qualify for the upcoming Life Path Tournament.
Truth Dreams begin to plague Florence. An unknown danger is threatening the children of Niemela and Florence is the only one who can save them. To find the answers she seeks, Florence has to enter the deadly maze which mer novices must successfully navigate in order to be brought into their Life Path.
Not only is it time for Florence to find answers—it's also time to prove she truly belongs in in Niemela.
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What a beautiful second installment to this already-beautiful series! :)
First of all - I didn't think Cho's amazingly descriptive writing could get any more fabulous than it already was, but I was so wrong. If Florence blew you away, Luminaire will do so even more! This author has a knack for world building. I cannot even describe how beautiful he's made this magical underwater world to be. It's a place I could ache over. I wish it was real. It's sparkling and luminescent; it's mysterious and enchanting. The setting of this series is unlike any other I've ever encountered. It's memorable and something I'll never be able to forget. It's something you just have to experience for yourself to understand and appreciate.
I love the way Florence grew into herself in this book. My one dislike was that there wasn't enough of Rolan and Florence together. BUT, this is something that clearly had a purpose. So, I can definitely appreciate that. In breaking away from Rolan a bit, Florence came into herself more. Participating in the Life Path tournament really helped her earn a place among the merfolk and also to feel like something more than just an outsider. She not only saves Niemela, but she also comes to a realization while on her journey that helps shape who she is and could become. This book is very much about Florence's self-discovery. When she and Rolan finally confront each other about his behavior, it really helps her to be stronger; to be more adamant about what she wants and where she belongs. So, I'd have to say that the romance, while not as present as I'd like, was very beautifully done and well thought out.
Luminaire does not lack action! From the very beginning, the story moves at a quick, yet natural pace. The Life Path Tournament and maze were definitely the highlights of the story. The new characters introduced were also quite the treat. Mara and Wynn were my favorites. These two, coupled with Florence and Yolee, made quite the interesting mix of personalities. It was wonderful to journey through the maze with them. The dangers of the maze were creative and surprising. I really admire this author and how each and every thing about this series is unique and special; something I've never read. This book is one that'll be very hard to put down once you begin.
The ending to the story was perfection. I just don't think it could've been better any other way. Everyone gets what they deserve; both good and bad. Florence makes a name for herself and gains the respect she deserves. We learn of some new twists in the plot and revelations are definitely made! The epilogue leaves the series very much open... and what an epilogue it was! A complete surprise. Jaw-dropping. I cannot wait to read more about this amazing set of characters living in this enchanting world. ♥
Overall, Luminaire is everything a sequel should be. It was fast-paced and full of action, plot twists, and fun. Our heroine grows internally and comes into her own. She is truly an inspirational character. Ciye Cho will wow you with his knack for painting the perfect world with just words on a page. I promise you, Niemela is a magical place you will want to fall into. I recommend this book (and it's predecessor, of course!) to readers of all ages.
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Studio Amazepop (less)
Really funny! The title is a bit misleading, though, because only a tiny portion of the book pertains to it. The rest is just oodles of funny comics....more Really funny! The title is a bit misleading, though, because only a tiny portion of the book pertains to it. The rest is just oodles of funny comics. :)(less)
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Four Teenagers. One Destroyed City. Thousands of Infected Predators.
Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Dave, Mini and Anna, crawl out from the wreckage to discover a city in chaos.
Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators...
Outnumbered. No sign of life. Just them. And you... ALONE.
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Sigh. Where to start?
A - The author did not put any of the dialogue in quotations. I am not sure if this was intentional or if it was just because the version I read was an e-ARC (and thus, buggy)? But I did read some other reviews and other readers did mention the same issue - so maybe it wasn't just me. *shrug* Anyway, it made this book extremely hard to read. I've read one other book with this quirk and hated it. IT IS NOT UNIQUE. IT IS NOT CUTE. IT IS INFURIATING!
**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!**
B - The big “twist” to the story. All throughout the book you think there are four teens trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic version of Manhattan, when in reality there is just Jesse. He's closed himself off mentally to the reality of his situation. He imagines his friends are still there for the comfort and security it provides. Normally I would LOVE this sort of twist, but Phelan didn't build up to it well. The supposed “clues” were just confusing and didn't make sense, even in the end. -- Earlier this year, I read The Raft by S.A. Bodeen. This book has a twist exactly like this one, except Bodeen did it right. The clues were there—literally right in your face—but they weren't things you picked up on until the end. They were things that made sense in the story, but things you would think back on afterward and say “Holy crap, that's why this, this, and this happened!” It was when the big revelation came that it all made perfect sense. This is how it should be. Phelan fell short here. It makes me sad, because this book could have been so much better. It could've truly wowed me.
C - The bad guys (the “Chasers”). Okay. This may not be to the fault of the author, but this book is categorized under ZOMBIES. The Chasers are more vampiric than anything else. They don't eat flesh, they drink blood. They seem to have zombie-like qualities such as traveling in little hordes, shuffling after their prey, low brain activity, etc. But they drink blood. Not only that, but they seem to be endlessly thirsty not just for blood, but liquid sustenance in general. When they can't have blood, they are drinking from puddles on the ground or other water sources. It's strange and unexplained. I get that this is the first novel in a series, but maybe we could've gotten at least a few answers! Instead, the whole book revolved around this mediocre twist in the plot. :/ I mean, what are these things? Zombies? Vampires? Zompires?
D - Lack of action. Most of the novel takes place in the Rainbow Room. It's just a bunch of filler to get you to the “big reveal” at the end. Complete snoozefest.
I gave this book two stars vs. one star for effort. I really liked the premise, and even though the infected people confused me, I like that they seemed unique. Their behavior wasn't quite like any other zombie OR vampire I've read about. A+ for the effort that went into making a new kind of paranormal bad guy. I'm sorry the book fell short for me. I am sure there are many readers who will feel differently.
Overall, this book just isn't my cup of tea. It lacked action and answers. The plot was paced much too slow and the big twist at the end was lackluster. Then, as a completely separate issue, there's the lack of quotations around the dialogue. Completely confusing and irritating. I don't recommend this book unless you have massive amounts of patience to spare.
Jonah Levine is just your average 15-year-old guy. That is, until his band “Hitstreak” becomes a phenom on the radio airwaves. The only problem? The song that's made them so famous isn't them. It's his father's band; a band that recently began playing together again after over 30 years of separation.
Living this lie has it's ups, and it's downs. Jonah and his buddies are enjoying all the female attention it's brought on, but not the stress of the whole charade.
Everything soon comes to a halt - because someone from his father's past has returned with a vengeance.
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This book was lots of fun!
I love how the author placed us into a future moment in the book; a moment full of nail-biting suspense. How is a group of 15 and 16 year olds about to play in front of 15,000 people? And why are they so freaked out? Then we jump back in time to how things lead up to that moment. It was the perfect way to hook readers in, and it totally worked on me. :) Bravo for a fantastic opening!
My problems with the book came a little later. One thing I had trouble with was the fact that this song became so famous and SO MANY people heard it... but none of them questioned that it was a group of prepubescent boys? I mean, a group of 40 or 50 something's is not going to sound like a group of 15-16 year olds, voice-wise. Right?
I also think that the plot twist was something that could've been more elaborated on; more fleshed out. I think the twist was GREAT and it added a whole lot of punch to the story, but it didn't go on long enough. It didn't delve deep enough. I think the author could've taken it so much further!
One thing I have to tell you is that this book will have you laughing out loud! It's hilarious. I think Eisenberg did a phenomenal job of portraying these guys as real teens. He obviously has teen boys or really did his homework before writing the book. Jonah was so fun and so easy to fall in love with. He was the perfect protagonist. I really enjoyed reading from his POV.
Another thing I truly appreciated was the author's writing. It was clean, crisp, and impressive. I would definitely read more of his books were he to release them!
Overall, Overnight Sensation is wonderfully exciting and loud-out-loud funny! It opens up to a suspenseful moment and it keeps up with that pace all throughout. The protagonist and supporting characters were all likeable and relatable. The storyline is intriguing and there are some twists you will not be expecting (unless you're reading this review!). I definitely recommend it if you want a fun read to keep you entertained for the day and make you smile.
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Bells and Castanets (less)
17-year-old Cali has lived her life in hiding. Her parents secreted her away before she was even born. In a secluded cabin in the woods, it's been just the three of them for 17 years. Cali's parents raised her to be self-sufficient and able to defend herself when necessary. The reasoning behind this was kept from Cali, but she's soon going to find out. You see, Cali can see people's auras; the colorful manifestations of emotion and intention that they're feeling. Cali can not only see them, but she can feel them as well.
Cali's parents are taken from her by a tragic accident. Since she isn't of age yet, she's sent to live with her aunt and her sleazeball boyfriend. She's simply biding her time until she turns 18. She then plans to return to the only home she's ever known.
Things begin to change for Cali when she meets Calvin. A bad-boy biker with tattoos on his arm and girls at his feet. When life keeps driving the two together, they slowly become close, and Cali eventually lets Calvin in on her secret. Events unfold that leave Cali and Calvin looking for answers. Together, the two of them start digging to discover the secrets of Cali's past.
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Derrolyn Anderson is officially one of my top 5 favorite writers! I mean, I am already in love with Marina's Tales (her first series, which you should go read like NOW!), but this one blew me away as well! I honestly didn't think anything could live up to how much I love Marina's Tales, but I was wrong. :)
*Possible spoilers ahead!*
The number one thing that always stands out in Anderson's books is her characters. They are colorful and full of life. They are multidimensional and they feel like people you could meet in real life, or know in real life. Cali was simply adorable, yet badass at the same time. She is naïve about certain things, but so very wise about others. She's the perfect balance of hard and soft. Any shortcomings she has can be attributed to the fact that she was raised in seclusion and without the every day things you and I take for granted (hot water, electricity, etc).
Then there's Calvin. Oh my, Calvin! Talk about swoon-worthy! He's definitely got the bad boy thing going on. Tattooed biker, chick magnet, party animal, devil-may-care attitude, etc. And yet, when he meets Cali (or ends up being saved by her, that is) he just melts. He turns into a complete softy. I love stories where a girl turns a bad boy into a pile of mush. :) Those romances are the best romances. And speaking of romance - that part of the story? FAN-TAS-TIC! BRAVO to Ms. Anderson for actually making these two fall in love. No insta-love. AMEN! I felt like dancing a jig! Seriously, though, the romance is done to perfection. Cali and Calvin actually get to know one another before they get serious. They have their quarrels; ups and downs, so to speak, but they get through it. They are a very special couple.
Let's talk about the paranormal aspect of this book. You see, it's not actually paranormal. I mean, it is... but it's thanks to science. This is yet another thing that makes this book stand out. How many Young Adult novels have you read or read about where it goes like this: Girl dies or comes close to death. Girl comes back and can see auras. Girl can't see the aura of one particular guy. Girl and particular guy have INSTA-LOVE. Fight evil, throw in a little angst, yadda yadda. The end. There are A LOT of these books out there. It gets old. The Athena Effect is entirely different. It's on a whole other level. This book is not paranormal; it's science fiction. Cali's abilities come from genetic experimenting. Her parents were involved in this experimenting in their younger years and Cali is the offspring of said experiments. She inherited the ability and her ability is on an enhanced level, and it even develops further as the story progresses. Not only can Cali see and feel auras, she can influence others by projecting her own aura onto them. It's a nifty little trick that ends up being key to getting her and Calvin out of a few predicaments.
There is a bad guy in this book. It's not a demon. It's not a ghost. It's a delusional megalomaniac dubbed Professor Reed. This guy is a freaking fruit loop! He was a very well-written antagonist. I won't give away too much in the way of specifics, but he was involved in the genetic testing that caused Cali's parents (and others) to flee and/or die. He's completely sick in the head. I mean, this guy is SICK SICK. He has this twisted sense of entitlement and decides to kidnap Cali and try to use her for his own plans. This part of the story was where it got really interesting.
Overall, this is a book you really need to read! I loved loved LOVED it. I stayed up all hours of the night to read this one; work or no work. :) The characters are amazing and memorable. The plot is detailed and moves along quickly. There aren't any lulls. The author's writing is beautifully descriptive but isn't overly done so that it takes away from the story. There's romance, action, suspense, humor, emotion, turmoil, and unexpected revelations. The ending was done to perfection! It was left open enough for a sequel (which there is!), but not in the dreaded cliffhanger type way. I definitely recommend this book to sci-fi lovers, YA or not. It's a roller coaster of a story that'll keep you glue to the pages way past your bedtime!
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Book source: from the author for review Publisher: Self-published (less)
Sheltered starts off with Ben, a teen who can't stand his home life. His stepfather is a controlling jerk and his mother is a drunk. Ben devises a plan to get away from his home. It begins with acquiring a house secretly (via his stepfather's business). He then finds teens who need help; teens who need to get away, and sets them up in the house for next to no money.
First there's Emily - a disturbed girl who self mutilates to cope with life and to punish herself. Then we have Cori - a girl with so much anger at herself and everyone else that she decides to channel it in terrible ways. She's rude, crude, and abusive to others. Then there are the twins; Adam and Chuck - schizophrenic. One is obsessed with Cori, the other contemplates killing her. Last, there is Megan - an emancipated teen with a secret she thinks she's hiding from Ben. Little does she know... Ben has been watching her for awhile and knows more than she thinks.
Together, these teens try to get through day-to-day life.
Then, strange things begin happening in the house. Things like Megan floating in mid-air while she sleeps. Thinks like Chuck attacking Megan and literally crawling on the ceiling. Things like Ouija boards sending out creepy messages to the group. Things that just can't be real, but are. The teens decide to get to the bottom of what is going on in the house, and end up finding out things they wish they never knew.
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For some reason, when I agreed to review this novel, I was under the impression (most likely thanks to my skimming an email instead of reading it in full! lol) that it was a contemporary read. The paranormal aspect came as a complete surprise to me. It was a good surprise though! This book definitely has a creep-out factor. I read it mostly before bed, and I have to admit, it made me want to turn all the lights in my apartment on. I kept thinking I heard things; saw things. It's what a horror novel should be!
My problems lie in the plot.
Throughout a good portion of the book, Ben has a “secret plan” that Megan is “interfering with” - a plan that you are led to believe is dirty, juicy, severely messed up, or all of the above. No. Turns out, he just wants to move out of his house. Seriously?! What a let-down. I don't think it was a good idea to have such a build-up and then let your readers down with something so boring. I was hoping he was a secret psychopath or murderer or something. But no, the kid just wants to get away from his a-hole of a stepfather. Hmph!!
My second issue is one that could be remedied with a sequel. There was soooo much going on throughout the book, so much detail and everything... but then the ending was sort of a cut-off. I mean, there wasn't really a true solution to the problem. There is a social worker woman who ends up being able to help the teens with their paranormal visitors, but the end is still left sort of unfinished. There are too many questions left unanswered. I really hope there is a sequel, because I would definitely read it to find out what happened.
Something I did like were the subplots. Megan trying to gain custody of her baby. Ben trying to deal with his home life AND keep things in the teen house in order. All the while, the two of them are falling for each other. Emily is jealous of this. She is really messed up. Then there's Chuck. He's all about Cori. Obsessed in a very unhealthy way. Adam is obsessed with something else entirely. Revenge. What I truly appreciated was the way the author portrayed Cori. She wasn't just some “goth” girl. She was an angry girl; an angry girl who did not know how to express or overcome her rage in a healthy way. So she expresses it outwardly with dark clothing, piles of makeup, body piercings, and a harsh, intimidating attitude. I enjoyed reading about her journey and transformation the most. The author did a fantastic job of interweaving all of this with the paranormal element of the story. It all fit together quite nicely!
Overall, I enjoyed Sheltered. It was a little confusing in the end, and a few parts were a let-down, but for the most part, it was great. It was truly creepy. Reading this in a dark room (Kindle Fire, love you!) was very scary for me. It was awesome! I love a horror novel that does what it should do, which is scare me so badly that I want to cower under my blankie and wait for the lights to come back on. That, paired with the drama and entertainment of the subplots, made this an enthralling read. It was one I couldn't really put down. I stayed up all hours of the night glued to these pages. I'd recommend it if you like a darker storyline with a bit of a horror factor.
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Book source: from the author for review Publisher: Big Pine Lodge Books (less)
All Things Different is the story of Jake and Sara. 15-year-old Jake is laid back, independent, and enjoys the quiet life he lives with his father. 14-year-old Sara is a damaged girl with terrible secrets.
The book opens up to Sara and her mother moving in next door to Jake and his father. At first, Jake isn't too thrilled. Sara seems too clingy and irritating for him to handle. Eventually, though, Sara manages to break him down and work her way into his daily life (as well as his heart).
In time, Jake helps Sara move on from things that happened in her past. Life is going great for their makeshift family - that is, until someone shows up to ruin everything.
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I have to say, this book surprised me. I honestly had no idea going into it that it was really about a very serious subject. It was much heavier than I ever imagined. I think the book was written very well and the story was beautifully told.
* A lot of the dialogue between Sara and Jake was sort of lackluster. I think Jake was the problem here. He gives way too many one-word answers. Maybe this was done to demonstrate the difference between he and Sara's personalities? Even so, it made Jake seem too monotonous and bored with all the conversations they were having.
* There were a few parts that seemed a bit sexist to me; things Jake would be thinking that truly bugged me. I wish I'd highlighted some specifics to quote, but I did not. It basically boils down to Jake making assumptions about Sara simply because of her gender. She's a girl so she must automatically only care about clothes, make-up, shoes, and shopping.
* The characters were fantastic. Multidimensional, lovable, and real. The author did a great job of letting us get to know both Sara and Jake thoroughly. I also adored Jake's father. He was a truly inspiring character for a plethora of reasons.
* The romance is age appropriate. Sara is only 14, you know? The romance aspect of this book could have ended up being icky. Instead, it was perfection. Jake and Sara start of a little shaky, but quickly become friends. Friendship blossoms into an innocent and beautiful tale of first love. It's pure and it's sweet.
* Male POV. Like I always say, I love a YA with a male POV. This book was no exception. :)
* Underhill's descriptive writing is magnificent! I mean, it felt like I was right there with the characters. The setting was beautiful and the words used to describe it all were just lovely. Fantastic imagery.
This is a book you shouldn't go into lightly. It isn't a fluff piece, and it's not a happily-ever-after in every way. It's about love and loss. Pain, suffering, sadness. It's about letting go of the things that hold you down. It's about moving on. The characters are wonderful and easy to relate to. The story moves along at a great pace. The author's writing is descriptive and beautiful. The setting is magical. The plot is filled with twists and turns, until everything wraps up almost-perfectly at the end. I think this is a great book and I definitely recommend it. It's serious. It's captivating. It's inspiring.
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Book source: From the author Publisher: Independently published (less)
Hey, Nobody's Perfect is the story of Sivia; a high school student with all the complications that go along with it. Her parents are divorced. Her father is controlling and won't let up about her future on the softball team. Her mother is still bitter about the divorce, and her brother covers his anxiety with food. At school, Sivia isn't a part of the popular crowd - but the boy she's crushing on is. She's stressing about trying to fit in, trying to deal with her family life, and learning not to feel like a failure at every turn.
That's when Keeley comes into her life and changes everything. Keeley is confident, funny, and full of life. He's also confined to a wheelchair because he was born without legs.
After the two teens are paired together for a school project, Sivia begins to develop feelings for Keeley. The problem? Sivia can't seem to get past her discomfort with Keeley's disability.
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This book was good. I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot.
The problem is that it wasn't fleshed out more (it comes in at just under 100 pages). There were many things going on! Sivia's family problems, her softball, her dealings with the popular crowd at school, and of course, Keeley and her feelings for him. These were the main focuses, but there were other things thrown in that didn't quite fit. The school project, for example.. how did it go? We never find out. Then we have the jealous banter going on between Sivia's parents. I got the impression they might still have feelings for each other? Then there's another issue with a fellow classmate being injured and having to come to grips with the possibility of being like Keeley. I think all of these things would've went together better had the story been longer and more detailed. It all just seemed to go by too quickly. There wasn't enough characterization. I would have really enjoyed some back story on Keeley and Sivia.
What I did like:
Keeley's character. He was fun-loving and colorful. I loved the attitude he had and the way he viewed his life. He wasn't the feel-sorry-for-myself type; he enjoyed his life. He was very inspirational and also quite funny. :)
I appreciated that the author didn't make Sivia the type of girl who was automatically okay with Keeley not having legs. Because let's face it... some people are uncomfortable with it. Some people just don't know how to react or what to do/say. Especially teens; people who deal with peer pressure at it's very worst. I appreciate that this story highlighted the fact that Sivia had to overcome her discomfort and prejudices. This, as well, was an inspiration.
Overall, this story was fun. It made me laugh-out-loud. It was a really cute romance. It was inspirational. I only wish it was longer and more built-up. I appreciate the moral to the story and the message it sends out. I just think it fell a little bit short. But, I'm glad I read this book and I think it's worth a read for people who enjoy YA Contemps!
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Book source: From the author Publisher: Books We Love LTD (less)
Fourteen-year-old Rose Zarelli is an angry girl. Her father died in Iraq, her brother went away to college, and her mother is a psychiatrist with a busy schedule and no real time to listen to her.
Then comes her freshman year of high school.
Rose and her best friend Tracy have different ideas of how things are going to go. Tracy immediately tries out for the cheerleading squad and makes the cut. Rose is all but left in the dust for the popular crowd.
Then you've got the guy... Jamie Forta. An older guy who played hockey with Rose's brother. On the very first day of school Rose has an encounter with Jamie. After that, all she can think about is him. She soon begins to see signs that Jamie may actually like her. When Jamie's girlfriend, Regina, gets the same impression, the downfall of Rose's high school life begins.
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Like many other readers, I was surprised to find out I was going to be reading about a 14-year-old. I usually go for books on the older side of YA. I decided to read it anyway, and it turned out to be a good book.
I wasn't a huge fan of the whole losing-your-virginity thing. It was everywhere. 14 just seems so young to me. I know it's not nowadays, but I still hate to think about a 14 year old girl battling peer pressure to have sex.
Rose wasn't my favorite protag. I think this, in part, is because she's so young. I found myself getting irritated with her A LOT. She seemed too naïve and oblivious to certain things. Her anger was misplaced. I had to keep remembering.. this girl is 14. It's not naïvité, it's just lack of life experience and the wisdom that usually comes with age. Once you get that set into your head, she is enjoyable. I especially liked the part where she finally flips her lid while trying out for the track team. Very nice! lol
The boy factor: Okay, there are three potentials in this book. Yes, three. Maybe some of you only saw two, but for me.. it's three. First, we have Jamie - older guy, takes Rose under his wing a bit, but seems, ultimately, to be a dog (in my eyes). Next up is the guy Rose keeps in the “friend zone” - Robert. Robert seems to be a nice guy, but he's also a little too persistent for my tastes. I mean, the guy tells people he and Rose are a couple when they aren't. That's not cute. That's creepy. Last, but not least - Angelo. Angelo is nice, funny, and above the drama. He is older like Jamie, but much more charming and sweet. I don't know if the author intends to make him a part of the love-triangle-square-thingy, but she should. He is my favorite.
This book deals with all of the things that come along with high school: angst, fitting in, bullying, potential young love, friends going separate ways, and just the overall stress of it all. It wasn't over-dramatized. It wasn't glossed over; it was the perfect balance. It was realistic. I also think the author did a great job of showing us the range of troubles a teen can go through. And being angry/upset about the loss of your father on top of it? Poor Rose didn't have a chance!
Overall, Confessions of an Angry Girl was a good read. I enjoyed it. I was glued to the pages. It's emotional at times. It covers a wide range of teen issues. The characters are real and the story is well written. There are characters you will love, and characters you will hate (*cough*Tracy*cough*). You get to see some of them grow and change; morph into something different by the story's end. The author leaves you with a bit of a cliffhanger, but it's not too bad. It wasn't to the point where I wanted to toss the book into a wall. I definitely plan to read book 2!
As the title suggests, this book is a collection of twenty short stories; twenty dark retellings of Mother Goose rhymes. Some are darker than others, but the title is spot on, I promise you.
When I review an anthology I like to talk about my top three and my bottom three. I don't choose to review every single story, but that doesn't mean I disliked them. They just landed somewhere in the middle for me. :)
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**Some spoilers ahead!**
I'll start off with my bottom three.
“Little Miss Muffet” by Georgia McBride - Okay, it's inspiration is obvious. The story... is disturbing. It's definitely one of the darker tales in this anthology. A family of shapeshifting spiders. The Muffets. Two sisters. One good, one not. One ends up turning human and eating her mother in spider form. It's gross and disturbing and just yuck! Cringe! There was, however, a little thread of romance woven in that I did enjoy.
“Blue” by Sayantani DasGupta - Inspired by Little Boy Blue. Interesting. Nice prose. Definitely had potential. It's about a mysterious spirit who writes stories into peoples' skin. It was a bit confusing and ended in a weird spot. It was too abrupt and left with with a question mark over my head. It wasn't really what I would call “dark”, either.
“The Well” by K.M. Walton - Inspired by Jack and Jill. This was one I could have easily liked. It's got a dystopian twist. Set in a post-virus ridden world. The siblings hate each other for different reasons. It's definitely one that was much too dark for me. It was almost sick. The only thing I enjoyed was the eerie feel to the story because the siblings believed they were the only humans remaining alive.
Now for my top three. It was hard to choose, because I liked ALL of these stories to some degree, even my bottom three. This book was really fantastic.
“As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old” by Nina Berry - This is the first tale in the novel. Inspired by Taffy and the Welshman. I noticed that many reviewers didn't enjoy or were confused by this one. It saddens me because I think the symbolism is so so beautiful and the story presents an eerie twist. For a short story, there is a LOT of detail. I think it was a perfect opening for this book. I don't want to say too much and spoil this one, but it is so so beautiful and definitely surprising.
“One for Sorrow” by Karen Mahoney - Inspired by a nursery rhyme of the same title. A strange tale, this one. An extremely lonely girl forms a bond of sorts with a lone crow that comes into her bedroom window at night. She later learns a world-shaking secret about said crow. This story is lyrical. This story is romantic and beyond beautiful. It's a bit eerie, a bit thrilling. It's about magic, love, destiny, and companionship. I really loved this one.
“Wee Willie Winkie” by Leigh Fallon - Inspired by a nursery rhyme of the same title. Oh, I LOVED this one! It's definitely the creepiest one of the bunch. About a girl who moves to a Scottish village where teens under the age of 16 are being targeted by a villainous presence. If not in bed by 8 o'clock, it comes for you. The atmosphere of this one is dark and spooky. The writing was fantastic and the ending was perfection!
Overall? I enjoyed this book immensely! Some of the stories were a bit long-winded; some too dark, but ALL of them were enjoyable, even the ones I didn't care for. Some of them were spooky. Some of them were romantic. Some magical. Some downright icky! The authors explore a wide range of rhymes. Some very well known, others you've probably never heard of. In the beginning of each story, though, they show you the rhyme that has inspired the retelling. It's a great book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a retelling, a chilling tale, or a really great anthology.
17-year-old Florence Waverley is a loner. She spends her time watching others, but never being a part of anything. She doesn't even fit in with her own family. Her father died, leaving her with a rich, spoiled mother who pays someone else to take care of her own daughter.
Then, during a school field trip to the beach, Florence's life is forever changed. She swims out into the ocean to take some underwater photographs and ends up knocked out and kidnapped by a purple-skinned merman.
When Florence comes to, she finds herself in an entirely new world; a world beneath the ocean. Here, she learns all about the merpeople who snatched her away, all about the underwater kingdom of Niemela, and about the dangers that surround it.
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This story was so much fun!
I like to talk about my dislikes first when reviewing a book. The problem I had with Florence is that it lacked some back story and explanation. For example, it's mentioned quite a few times that Florence can mysteriously speak the language of Niemela, but the reason why was never explored or brought to the fore. If this book is to be the first in a series, I can understand why certain explanations were left out or why a few loose ends were left untied, but if it's a stand-alone, this makes me unhappy.
The number one thing I loved about this book was world-building. I can't even begin to describe how amazing it is! Niemela is unlike any other world I've come across in a fantasy novel. I've read quite a few mermaid books and I can say with absolute certainty that this is—by far—the most vivid, fun, and intriguing. The author presents us with a fantastical underwater kingdom that's filled with colorful, lively merfolk with a huge array of personalities. Their world is nothing like the human world. It's like a well-oiled machine. Each and every merperson must have a place; a “life path”. It's pure societal cohesion. Not only is this world magical and spectacular, it also has an entire history behind it. The author gives us an explanation of how it came to be, as well as how it all works in the present.
The characters were likable and fun. Florence was a wonderful protagonist. I find myself getting irritated by YA protags quite frequently these days. It was refreshing to love a character so thoroughly. She's selfless, caring, and brave. I really loved her. As for the merfolk, there are three we spend the most time with: Yolee - the one and only princess of Niemela. She's spunky, sweet, and artsy. Then there's Kiren - the prince who is about to be crowned king. He's a handsome charmer who harbors a deep, dark secret. Last, but not least, there's Rolan - a prince who gave up his rights to the crown after failing to protect his younger brother from the “Darkness” many years ago. He's moody, broody, and far too serious for his age. All of the characters are multidimensional and quite memorable.
Overall, Florence is a winner! It's the epitome of what I want in a mermaid story. It's magical. It's full of color and sparkle. It's original and creative. The characters are engaging. The villain is extreme. The world building is out of this world! It's simply a stunning story that takes place in a stunning world. It all comes down to a suspenseful final battle that had me glued to the edge of my seat. I definitely recommend this book to mermaid lovers, fantasy lovers, or anyone who enjoys a fun, clean, YA read. It's truly wonderful, and I really really hope there's a sequel coming. :)
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Book source: Sent to me by the author for an honest review! (less)
The book opens up to Radley (a teenager - I don't remember her specific age EVER being mentioned) making her way home from Haiti, where she was doing volunteer work. Things in the US government have gone downhill and Radley wants to be safe at home in Vermont, with her parents—but when her plane lands, they are not there to greet her. There are restrictions on traveling, a curfew for all citizens, and things are falling apart.
Radley decides to take matters into her own hands and begins the long walk toward her home. Upon arrival, she sees the last thing she wants to: nothing. Her parents are nowhere to be found and Radley believes the police are after her for crossing state lines without permission.
Radley decides to make her way toward Canada where the laws of the US won't effect her. It's on this journey that her life is changed forever.
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**SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!**
I had very high hopes for this novel. I simply LOVE books like this. I was a bit disappointed by this one. I was expecting a book laden with survival tactics, suspense, and dystopian tendencies. No. There is a little bit of the survival part, but not quite in the way I was hoping. It made for a lackluster tale. It's a whole bunch of walking, dumpster diving, and looking for shelter.
Then we have the post-sneaking-into-Canada time. Radley shacks up with another girl she meets along the way. They make a home of sorts together and end up staying there for weeks together. I didn't really get the point of this part of the novel. I don't think it really needed to be there. I appreciate the effect it had on the plot in the end, but while reading, I was bored. I didn't know where things were going. I think this part should've been edited, taken out, or something. Instead, maybe a bit more back story on the goings on of the United States would have been nice.
I also completely hated the fact that random photos were thrown into the book. Around the last third of the story, the chapters were being opened with a corresponding photograph. A tree, an animal, a lake, a bike. Just any random thing that coincided with the chapter's opening paragraph. At first I liked the idea, but by the end it was a major irritation.
What did I actually enjoy? I'll tell you.
I enjoyed the fact that this was a survival story. Was it a great one? No. BUT it was still decent and I really appreciated a lot of the situations the author put the protagonist into.
I liked the ending. I won't give details, but it was a shocker. I was expecting something completely different. I think this made the entire book. I probably would've given the book like 1.5 stars had the ending not been so dramatic and surprising. I was a little disappointed with it at first, but the more I sat on it.. the more I realized I liked it. The author took the road less traveled, and this is something I always appreciate.
This was a super quick read. I read it in just a couple hours. It was entertaining enough, but it did lag a bit and it was definitely missing some crucial points. The beginning was okay, the middle was less-than-okay, but the end was great. It's not super unique, but if you enjoy survival stories, you may like this one.
Point of Retreat is the follow-up novel to Slammed. Point of Retreat is narrated by Will, giving us a much deeper connection to him and a chance to view Lake in an entirely new way.
*Contains spoilers for Slammed!*
Point of Retreat takes place about a year after Slammed. Lake's mother has passed away. Lake and Will are happily still together and they're both working hard to raise Kel and Caulder. The heartache, trials, and tribulations they've all been through has only brought their little family closer together.
Will's love for Lake couldn't be more intense and real, but when a blast from the past ends up in one of his classes, Will makes the decision to keep it from Lake. When she finds out the truth, everything changes. Lake begins to question everything about their relationship and their life together. This results in an epic struggle between the couple; one that could leave their new found family separated forever.
“If I were a carpenter, I would build you a window to my soul. But I would leave that window shut and locked, so that every time you tried to look through it... all you would see is your own reflection. You would see that my soul is a reflection of you...”
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Well, this book was just as amazing as book one. It was for the same reasons, but different ones as well.
First of all, Will as a narrator was just fantastic. Like I said up above: This brought the story of Will & Lake; their life, their love, to a whole new level of beauty. Being able to know how Will feels about Lake, how he sees her as a person, was very moving. In Slammed I found Lake to be a little capricious. She was the same in this book, but it was easier to get it, to get her while reading about her tantrums from Will's POV. I guess it made her look less like a brat. She had legit reasons for being how she was, but didn't really know how to channel her pain and frustration.
I have to say that the humor in this book had me rolling! This, in part, was thanks to a lovely new addition to the character line-up. There's a new kid on the street and her name is Kiersten. She attends school with Kel and Caulder and she is just about the most endearing character ever! ALL of these characters are just packed with personality! The hi-jinx that ensue are sure to make you giggle! :) It's all done so smoothly, too. Hoover must be a really fun gal to hang with IRL.
Point of Retreat is just as much of an emotional roller coaster as it's predecessor. I cried just as much as I laughed. Will and Lake's story was heartbreaking in entirely new ways. What these two go through together and apart is a lesson in being grateful for the life you have and the people who are in it. EXPECT TO BAWL.
All in all, this is a truly stellar follow-up novel. I didn't think the story could get any more amazing than it already was, but that's definitely untrue. The characters, new and old, are quirky and full of heart. I adore them all to pieces! The story of Will and Lake is precious and beautiful. I'm a sucker for a tragic story with an ultimately happy ending and this book definitely has that. Just as with Slammed, I can't even form the proper words to express how much I love this story. You just have to see for yourself... Colleen Hoover is a very impressive writer and I am going to be watching her blog like a hawk to see what she's going to throw at us next!
On the day of a school ski trip to Scotland, new girl Bobby couldn't be more miserable. Having just moved back to the UK after living in America for 7 years, she feels like a total outsider. She just wants the trip to be over, but that satisfaction is belied when the bus stops at a roadside cafe for lunch. Bobby decides staying on the bus is the best idea - that way no one can pick on her. The only other person who stays behind (not by choice) is class trouble-maker, Smitty.
As time passes and the snow keeps raining down on the bus and the cafe, Bobby and Smitty get a surprise when Alice, the school's most popular, trendy gal comes banging on the door of the bus, saying everyone in the cafe is dead.
As the three panic and try to decide what to do, the rest of their class comes shambling out of the cafe, arms outstretched, faces twisted grotesquely, mouths frothing with black ooze and blood...
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Obviously, I must first explain my tiny .5 star deduction. I was a little offended when, in the beginning of the book, there were some jabs at Americans - basically an insinuation that we're all a bunch of ignoramuses. Not that I'm silly enough to think people's nationalities aren't made fun of every day, but they aren't by me, and I was irked by it just a little.
Onto the good. :)
Wonderful characterization! This motley group of teens were thrown together under the extreme circumstances, but made the best of it. Bobby is, as stated, the new girl at school. She's a loner and gets picked on a lot. There's Alice, the popular girl who does a lot of the picking. She's more worried about her designer handbag being left in the cafe than the fact that everyone is dead. Smitty is the sardonic trouble-maker with a bad attitude and a leather jacket. Last, we have Pete, the slightly geeky techie of the group. These four made quite the entertaining cast, let me tell you. McKay built them each up very well and they had a wonderful group dynamic.
And this book is Funny with a capital F! I thoroughly enjoyed how the characters threw out wonderfully hilarious banter and sarcasm at all the right moments. I laughed and laughed! It was something greatly appreciated by me at the moment, as I could use a few laughs. :) Moving on!
In the beginning, things are a blur. You don't know why these zombies have come to be. You don't know what happened inside that cafe. You don't know if it was all an accident or if it was done on purpose. Our characters have plenty of theories, and I found myself wondering which, if any, was the truth. The author does a fabulous job of giving us tidbits of information at perfect intervals. The plot is fleshed out nicely and the twists and turns it takes are spectacular! I wasn't expecting such a bomb storyline from this book, to be honest. I was pleasantly surprised!
Another thing I appreciated about the book is that there wasn't a gooey romance factor. There was some flirting between Smitty & Bobby, and then some flirting between Smitty and Alice, but you never quite knew which girl he liked and it was definitely NOT the main focus. It wasn't even a secondary focus. I think it's marvelous to find a YA novel that isn't all about the love. Don't get me wrong, I adore my romance just as much as the next gal, but I appreciate a break from it too. I find it impressive that this book was so amazing without there being such a focus on romance.
Overall, Undead is a complete winner! It was a fantastic opener for this series. The author gave us a colorful cast of characters and plenty of yucky zombies to entertain us. There's a bit of gore, yes, but it's made light of by the hilarious sarcasm and wit of these characters. Bobby is a fantastic narrative voice and I feel that she embodies the teenage mind well. The plot is fast-paced and packed with humor and surprises that'll have your jaw on the floor - this includes the ending. I definitely recommend this one!