Are you kidding me? I thought this was a continuation of All Our Pretty Songs. What a crock. :/ McCarry writes beautiful words, but this story was a d Are you kidding me? I thought this was a continuation of All Our Pretty Songs. What a crock. :/ McCarry writes beautiful words, but this story was a disappointment and lacked substance.
*This review will contain spoilers for The Taking (book one in this series)!*
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?
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Eighty-four minutes. That's how long it had taken us to cause an explosion, break into a secret NSA lab... and lose one of our own.
The first chapters of The Replaced are a whirlwind. An amazing whirlwind.
The entire book is a whirlwind! Can I just say... I was very much anticipating this follow-up and Kimberly Derting did not disappoint!
Backtracking, for those of you who are foggy on book one, let me refresh you. This goes without saying, but just in case: SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE AHEAD!!
Alright, in a nutshell? Kyra was abducted. She reappeared five years later with no memory of what happened. As expected, Kyra is quite shocked—as are her friends and family. Her boyfriend and best friend are together. Her parents are divorced; mother remarried, father insane. Kyra falls in love with the boy next door. She and him have a wondrous romance complete with sappy bits of dialogue and cutesy acts of adoration. Kyra finds out she is changing; but also not changing. Not aging. Healing rapidly. Moving things with her mind. She also has toxic blood. Blood which Tyler, the new love, comes into contact with. The only way to save Tyler is by letting him be abducted. This is all found out through a group of Returned just like Kyra. In the end, Tyler is abducted and Kyra is left reeling from this coupled with the disappearance of her father.
Jump to The Replaced. This book takes place within just days/a couple weeks of the first one. Tyler is gone and Kyra has received a shady message from someone that may just be her missing dad, saying that the NSA has Tyler. This is bad-news-bears due to the fact that the NSA wants to experiment and/or kill people like Kyra and the other Returned. They swoop in, things are not what they seem, etc. etc.
What I loved about the beginning of this book is that the author did not waste any time. She charged head-first into the good stuff. She just dropped me right in the middle of a hellstorm. This not only includes a kickass opening chapter, but a steady pace from cover to cover. Never a dull moment. Something always gripping; always holding you captivated. Not just words on a page, but a series of events that you can feel and almost touch.
The action is palpable, and so is the romance. When Kyra and Tyler are finally reunited, things are shaken up even more by a crazy twist. Tyler doesn't remember the events leading up to him being taken. He doesn't remember Kyra coming back after the five year disappearance OR them falling in love. This throws Kyra into a haze of emotional discord and confusion. To tell, or not to tell? Is the time right? Will it ever be right? Will he remember on his own? Derting also throws the curve ball of Simon having a thing for Kyra. Love triangle? NO NO NO. This was my only complaint about The Returned. I feel like the love triangle with Simon really dulled the bond we were supposed to see between Kyra and Tyler. I feel like this was a mistake... but things were left slightly in the air, so maybe there is a reason for this that I cannot yet grasp, because Kimberly Derting clearly likes to shake things up.
A huge part of the plot is focused on Kyra's group of Returned constantly running from agent Truman and the rest of the NSA group tailing their every move. Every time these guys turn around, there the NSA is, breathing down their necks and trying to kidnap Kyra above everyone else. The story follows the group from place to place, and this creates fantastic new elements within the story. Not only that of bonds between current characters, but brand new characters altogether. I was very impressed with the new additions as well as the plot twists they brought with them. Get ready to pick up that jaw when it falls to the floor!
Lastly, along with the action and romance comes knowledge. We learn some answers to the who and the why questions we were left with at the end of The Taking. The aliens and the government and what they were up to. Who was involved and why. Why Kyra is different from the other Returned...
“My dad liked to talk. When I was one of his subjects... ...both sides wanted all along was to create a replicate... Not a hybrid, but... It was what they referred to as Replacement.”
Overall, The Replaced was a hit! A complete hit. The romance was a little off-kilter, but still fantastic in an overall sense. The action and pace were ON POINT. The use of plot twists was exceptional and perfectly timed throughout the book. The characters developed very well and I also enjoyed the new ones I got to meet. Derting wrapped this one up with yet another cliffhanger to keep you waiting with bated breath. I am stoked for the final book in this trilogy so I can see where this roller coaster ends! If you were at all a fan of The Taking, I highly highly HIGHLY recommend reading this second book. If you haven't read either? What are you waiting for?! I promise you will not be disappointed. It has a little of everything and is age-appropriate for the YA genre. I hope you'll check it out!
Burned picks up a few weeks after the final events of Gifted.
Lucy is still reeling with guilt over killing Felix in self-defense, and also reeling with her indecision over her love life. Avoiding Gabriel and Keegan makes things a tad bit easier, but Lucy knows it's only a matter of time before she must make a choice.
On top of her emotional struggle, Lucy and the Donovan Circus family are about to encounter a new threat...
One evening whilst strolling along the grounds, Lucy is grabbed. A knife is held to her neck and words are spoken into her ear...
Tell Sheffield that Medved is hunting him.
Tell him. Tell him the Bear is coming.
Medved the shifter is a villain with immense power. Sheffield quickly calls on an old friend—a friend who happens to run a competing circus—for help.
The Donovan crew head off to Grayson Circus to form an alliance in hopes of beating Medved, but end up getting the opposite of a warm welcome.
While trying to win over the Grayson group, learning more secrets about her father daily, and fighting with her own feelings, Lucy is ready to explode.
Will Medved and his army be enough to take her and her friends down?
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What a follow-up!!! Gifted was great, but Burned? ASTOUNDING! Liz Long is quickly moving up in the ranks of my all-time favorite authors!
The first thing I have to note is that the romance in this book is superbly done. I am so impressed with the fact that Liz didn't make it the focal point, but kept it alive with passionate and meaningful interactions between Lucy and both her love interests. I also like that I was surprised at her choice once it was made. I won't spoil it, of course, but I think you'll be surprised as well. I imagine it's quite a feat to keep up the suspense with both Gabriel and Keegan enough to make it realistic and yet still a surprise outcome. Does that make sense? I hope so. lol Anyway, the romance is beautiful and moving and very much heart-wrenching at times.
After reading the first book in the series, the characters really stood out to me. I remember being impressed with the sheer number of characters and how each one stood out so completely, remaining clear and memorable in my head even weeks after I read the book. We get all those same characters in this novel, plus some. With the Donovan crew spending a good portion of the book at the Grayson Circus, we meet new people! And the same thing happened with this book... I found them all SO SO memorable! Not only new characters, but new Gifts—some very interesting and fun ones at that. You can definitely expect new friends as well as enemies. :)
Lucy is a lovable protagonist. I found that she really stepped up in this book. She was going through emotional turmoil for many different reasons, but embraced her role as leader even when she wanted to do anything but that. She never asked to be caught up in a war her father and Sheffield began. She never wanted to have to hurt someone using her Gift. She never asked for her Gift, period. But she grew. She learned. She overcame. She is inspiring and I very much enjoyed reading from her POV; enjoyed going on that journey of growth with her.
As for the new villain. The Bear has quite a presence. This guy isn't just evil, he's freakin' insane! Sociopathic, even. He's definitely a memorable baddie! The action that accompanies his battle with Lucy and her friends is pure awesomeness. I felt like I was watching a movie. Liz did a perfect job of writing the action and keeping up the suspense. I was enthralled and glued to the pages.
All in all, Burned left me completely satisfied. The characters, both old and new, are amazing and very stand-out among the hoards of New Adult characters out there. The romance is sexy and intense. The storyline progresses nicely and leaves things open for a third book without torturing us with a cliffhanger ending! Please bring on another Donovan Circus novel... like now! I definitely recommend this book (as well as Gifted) to anyone who enjoys a unique, fast-paced NA novel with a paranormal twist. :)
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Createspace ...more
**Before is the prequel to Betwixt, so expect some minor spoilers.**
In this novella, we learn what Dale's life was like before he met Nicole.
Dale was a party animal; a bad boy. He lived for partying and the experiences that came along with it. This was his way of rebelling against his strict parents (strictness that comes along with having a minister for a father). So, at just 15 years old, Dale would go out every night with his friends and party it up. They smoke, they drink, they have sex, they steal cars. They joyride. They stay out all night and don't give a damn what their parents think of it.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get a closer look into Dale's character. After reading this prequel, I understood him better and was able to connect with him even more than before. It was insightful to get into his brain and understand why he was the way he was; to understand the essence of who he came to be and why he chose to help Nicole in Betwixt. I hurt for him. He was a rebellious teen, sure, but he was also trying to cope and trying to find his way and embrace who he was and what he believed.
Sometimes to find your way... you have to get completely lost.
Unfortunately, along with the rebellion and party lifestyle came a hefty price. The accident. The accident that ultimately earned him the epithet “Scarface”... the accident that changed his life forever.
Dale, while in the throes of pain and fear, calls upon God. He ends up the sole survivor of the crash, and comes out of it determined to be a better person; determined to make something of the life he nearly lost. This journey was inspiring and I was very moved by his plea for a second chance.
Final words? This novella is perfectly written and beautifully moving. I loved it and I can't wait to get my hands on Beyond for another taste of Dale and Nicole. :) I definitely recommend this series.
*This novella contains mature themes such as underage drinking, mild sexual content, and adult language.*
Gracie is a survivor. She's done with her emotionally abusive ♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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*Will contain spoilers for In Too Deep!*
Gracie is a survivor. She's done with her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, Noah, and is ready to move on with her life.
But having immediately jumped into a relationship with her best friend Jake, Gracie wonders if maybe she needs to take a step back and try to stand on her own two feet.
A gorgeous man from Gracie's past pops into the picture to stir things up. Not only does he have feelings for Gracie, but they share a connection that even Jake can't touch.
As Gracie begins to heal and step out of her comfort zone with a new confidence, she also has to sort out her feelings and let go of that last piece of herself that Noah still holds over her.
What happened to me is now a part of me; it always will be. I have scars that won't go away.
Noah stole a piece of me I don't want any part of. He stole a piece of the weak Gracie.
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What a follow-up! I was daunted at first, because Gracie was still in her weakened emotional state thanks to Noah. It took a little extra patience on my part to overlook that. I had to remember that this book is about her healing, and if I was just patient, I'd get what I wanted. ;) And I so did!
After finally letting go of Noah, Gracie jumped into a relationship with Jake head-on. This alone was a bad choice. She didn't give herself room to exist beyond a man and a relationship. I was glad when Gracie made the decision to backpedal and try out life without the crutch of her relationship with Jake. She knew she had to heal herself before she could give her everything to Jake and she made the right choice. In that moment, I was so impressed with her. She is such a real character! I connected with her on a deep level and I felt her transformation every step of the way. The Gracie in the beginning of the book is not the Gracie at the end.
Not only does Gracie go through a change, but Jake as well. This book is told from a dual perspective—Gracie and Jake. This was a nice twist versus book one. Getting into Jake's head was a pleasure. It made him more solid and real, whereas in book one, he was sort of blurry for me... Anyway, Jake does some growing of his own. With Gracie out on her own, possibly getting closer to another man, Jake learns to let go of some of his own insecurities and comes to the realization that Gracie can be close with someone else and still love him at the same time.
Their relationship as a whole is taken to an entirely new level in this book. I think it's a transformation anyone would be awed by.
A blast from Gracie's past comes into the picture in the form of Calon Ridge. Calon Ridge is the lead singer for a local band called Alternate Tragedy. Awhile back, Calon and Gracie shared an intimate moment that neither of them has ever quite let go of. When they meet again, Gracie feels that old spark and her feelings begin to muddle up a bit. But the biggest thing Calon brings to the table is MUSIC. Gracie loves music. It's an escape for her. It gives her a high like nothing else ever could. With Calon's help, Gracie learns to set her creative side free. I loved this part of the story! I also think Michelle did an amazing job of portraying the feelings Gracie has when singing or playing her guitar, or simply listening to music. She gains a freedom through it and it's a palpable thing.
Not only does Gracie have Jake and Calon to help her, but her best friend Becki. Becki deserves a shout out all her own. Her antics and crazy attitude had me laughing out loud all over the place. The little surprise Michelle gave us after the epilogue was one I was praying for! Now I just have to wait... and wait... and wait...
All throughout the book, Gracie is trying to heal. One of the bigger steps she takes is going to see a therapist. With the help of said therapist, Gracie uncovers truths that she never even knew were there. New tragedies rear their ugly heads and threaten to pull her back under. The old Gracie would've lain down and died right there, but not the new Gracie. The new Gracie tackles these new developments head-on and the ending is an explosive one. The ending absolutely floored me.
All in all, On Solid Ground was everything I wanted in a sequel to In Too Deep! Gracie transforms from a weak girl with no self-esteem to a strong, bitchin' rock chick who tells people exactly what she thinks. The romance between her and Jake is as steamy as ever and definitely doesn't disappoint! The pace of the book had a bit of a lull in the middle (hence my 1-star deduction), but if you stick that out, you will not be disappointed. ;) It's an emotional whirlwind of a story you don't want to miss! Michelle Kemper Brownlow delivers a stunning picture of one girl's journey to save herself and shed the layers of pain and insecurity from an abusive relationship. Not to be cheesy, but it reminds me of a caterpillar-turned-butterfly type scenario. ;)
Do I recommend this book? YES! A thousand times YES.
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Self-published ...more