First, if you have not seen the awesome full-length Veronica Mars movie, I recommend doing so before reading this book. The movie picks up nine years after the end of the show, or ya know, Veronica's first year of college. The book picks up shortly after the end of the movie. And though the book does a slight recap, you'll benefit more if you watch/read in the proper order.
Second, this audiobook was amazing. Not only because it was narrated by Veronica Mars herself -- also known as the fantastic Kristen Bell -- but because it reads like an episode of the show. I mean, I'm sure it helps that the voice-overs that I'm used to in the show were narrated by the woman who plays the role, but I could perfectly envision each character as they made an appearance in the story. And I loved them all as much as I ever did, even that jerktastic Dick Casablancas.
I just love the adult Veronica and that even though she's grown up, she's still the same mixed up girl she was. She's still questioning her choices and her romantic entanglements, but even those have a darker edge to them now. The movie and this book together helped to make the nine years since the show's demise feel legitimate, like nothing and everything has changed.
The mystery is just as twisty as you've come to expect from VM, too. You always think you have the perp pegged, and then BAM, Veronica blows all of your theories out of the water with her shrewd sleuthing techniques. There are surprises, and then there are SURPRISES. I honestly can't imagine that fans of the show will be disappointed in this most recent installment in the Veronica Mars world. But if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you go the audiobook route. It's just as phenomenal as watching an episode.
I was hoping that the story behind that gorgeous cover would be equally enchanting, full of the revelry I've come to associate with the Roaring 20s. What I got instead was a story of necromancy, debauchery, and revolution. Not that I'm complaining...the story as a whole is quite intriguing.
Dark Metropolis was a much darker read than I had been expecting. That might come as a shock to you considering the word "dark" is right there in the title, but as I said, I was hoping for more decadence, less dead things. I was also hoping for a bit more world-building. I had read in a couple of places that the setting was based on Berlin in the 1920s, that period between the World Wars, and the war-torn vibe was there on the pages especially toward the end of the book, but it never felt like we were in Germany. Maybe I just don't know very much about Germany during that period -- or even now -- but I needed more from the setting. It also would have been nice to understand the Valkenrath brothers and their plan to utilize Freddy to help the country survive the aftermath of the war.
It felt as if this book began as Thea's story but quickly morphed into Freddy and Nan's story, with Thea included as just a bit player until nearly the end. And it's probably for this reason that I never felt very connected to any one character. I don't mind a switch in perspective in the narrative, especially when it makes sense to do so -- as in this story -- but before the transition, I'd like to connect to the last person whose head I was just in. The closest I came to this was with Thea in the first 50 pages or so, before it felt like she was ripped away from me in favor of Freddy's story. I suppose this sort of parallels how the families of the undead in this story probably felt, but I'm not inclined to appreciate that possibility right now.
The three main characters were great in their own right, though. Each was honorable, strong, and rose to the challenge set before them. Thea is the demure girl just trying to make her way as a plucky Telephone Club waitress while also taking care of her mother, who is ill due to a magic spell binding her to her missing husband. On the outside, Nan is Thea's closest friend and fellow Telephone Club waitress. On the inside, she is empty and unfeeling...until she solves the mystery of her special gift. And rounding out this trio, we have silver-haired Freddy, who has more control over life and death than he ever thought possible. Together, these three seek to put an end to the injustices being forced upon their friends and family.
I respect the author's inclusion of two very different romances in this story but also the fact that she didn't allow them to saturate the plot. They were very subtle, and I quite liked that. Also, yay for diversity! Even if that's another aspect that I would like to see expanded further. Not sure how many books will follow this first one, but I'm sure we'll see more of these two couples in the sequel -- and see if their love can withstand.
The thing that disappointed me most about this story, though, was probably how neat and tidy the ending was. I never wish for a cliffhanger, but I at least want to be intrigued enough to return for a sequel, and I'm not sure I'm at that point after finishing Dark Metropolis. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, atmospheric and equal parts gory and enchanting, but there was just something missing.
GIF it to me straight: It started off well enough, but the book lost its stride somewhere along the way.(less)
April and I are apparently pretty awesome at picking our buddy reads because Don't Look Back was another success. Not that we'd mind coming together to rip apart a book we didn't enjoy, but I'd much rather spend my buddy reading time with a good book.
Don't Look Back was my first time reading a book by Jennifer L. Armentrout, but it definitely won't be my last. I can now see why so many readers are drawn to her stories. I myself found her writing style to be quite addictive, making this book very hard to put down. I've had JLA's other books on my TBR for ages, but I think this book has pushed me to get to the others sooner. Don't Look Back wasn't anything I haven't seen before, but it was insanely readable which also made it unputdownable.
I've been curious about Jennifer L. Armentrout for a while. I've purchased a few of her books, but this is the first one I've picked up. I think it was a good start. Like Jen says, her writing style really is addictive. It was a busy weekend for me, so unfortunately I had to put it down a lot, but I didn't want to! I thought about it constantly when I wasn't able to read. Now that I've given her a try, I'll have to try out some of her other stuff.
Okay, so the murder mystery/missing girl scenario and subsequent amnesia plot aren't terribly unique, but the way in which they were handled in this story did impress me a bit, especially the way in which Sam's returning memories were triggered and how the memories were described. I also love an unreliable narrator, and it's definitely hard to believe a girl with no memory of the night she and her best friend disappeared.
Honestly, this book reminded me a lot of The Lying Game...the television show, not the book series it was based on. I only read the first book, but from what I could already tell, the TV series strayed wildly from the plot of the books. But Don't Look Back also features the bullying aspect of Mean Girls, though not quite to that extent, at least not at present. I'm sure if the book had begun with the time before Sam went missing, we'd have seen an entirely different side of her...and we do, but only through her returning memories and accounts from her family and friends.
I loved the story! I've read books with similar plot lines in the past but it's been a while. Reading Don't Look Back reminded me how much I enjoy these kinds of mystery's. Sam has amnesia, and her memories start to come back to her through-out the book. Her best friend is missing and she depends on these memories to help the police find her. I was very intrigued. Sometimes these amnesia story lines annoy me but I found myself looking forward to each and every memory.
Sam, as we meet her, is a completely different person from who she was four days ago when she first disappeared. Before, she was a spiteful bully who took pleasure in others' misfortune. Now, she's having a hard time reconciling her second chance with who she was before. But the people she seems to have been cruelest to in her past life are the ones who are most willing to help her to try to solve the mystery behind her disappearance, including her brother and his girlfriend...Sam's former best friend. I think this story goes far to prove the point that when tragedy strikes, you begin to find out who your real friends are. Sam's clichéd mean girl clique and her supposed Prince Charming are far from helpful or even kind, and it's clear that this group of privileged kids will always be waiting in the wings to usurp whatever someone else has that they want...Cassie included. That character remained a mystery for much of the book, as the search for her continued, but what's discovered about her character as the story unfolded made her no more likable than the other mean girls.
April: Old Sam's friends, are total bitches. There I said it! They really are and I loved to hate them. Then again, old Sam was a total bitch too. I think what I loved the most was watching Amnesia Sam react to things she learned about her old self. That shit was funny. Really, I wish some of the girls I went to school with could have had moments like that.
Like Jen says above, you definitely find out who your true friends are during tragic times. But that's a good thing, and it was nice to see her reconnect with people she alienated in the past. As the story goes on, you get a clearer view of why she was the way she was. Not that there's an excuse for some of her past behavior, but I understood where some of it was coming from.
From the moment Del's character is introduced, I didn't like him. (But I did love everyone's nickname for him, especially after having dated a "Del the Dick" myself.) He seemed skeevy, and I always felt like he was hiding something. And then when Sam couldn't remember their "fairy tale romance" or even conjure up any feelings for the guy, I knew he was a goner. Especially when she started spending a fair amount of time with Carson, who actually wanted to help her discover what happened to her and Cassie that night. And then Carson, player though he was, actually wanted to be a good guy to Sam, to not complicate matters for her while she was still sorting out her past and her feelings for Del, nonexistent as they were. I shipped Sam and Carson so hard, especially when I found out that they'd been best friends growing up. She may have been pretty horrible to him, but he was still there for her when it counted. So, it probably sounds like a love triangle, but it's not really...especially when certain things come to light.
April: The problem with doing a joint review following Jen's thoughts are, she always says everything perfectly, and I'm left thinking, hmmmm, what can I add? I'm going further on the "sounds like a love triangle" bit. Because I know many are discouraged by things like that. It's definitely not a love triangle. You see, Sam is a new person after what goes down. She has no memory of who she was, so coming into the book she doesn't know Del the Dick. And boy is he a dick. She's not confused as to how she feels about him, she doesn't know him. She knows pretty much right away that things will not work with him now that she's changed as a person.
I enjoyed the romance that bloomed between her and Carson. They're childhood friends, and that's the best kind of romance. <3 I also appreciated that while it was sweet and swoony at times, it didn't take away from the mystery going on.
Totally saw it coming. I mean, I feel like the truth was pretty much shoved in my face, but I pretty much start out any mystery like this trying to weed out possible suspects and red herrings. So, maybe it's my fault that I usually guess the ending before the halfway point in a story. But with this book...well, I don't want to point out anything that might spoil the mystery for you, but it was just so obvious. (To me, at least.)
April: I'm usually dense when it comes to twists. I rarely see them coming, but this one is right there. I'm laughing at Jen not wanting to point it out, because we discussed this obvious thing via text. Even though I figured it out pretty early on, it didn't ruin the book for me. I still didn't want to put it down, because I was dying to see if I was right!
Don't Look Back was a satisfying thriller that does use quite a few clichés and tropes to accomplish its mission, but JLA uses them so effectively that I didn't mind. Is that the magic of Armentrout's stories? That even though she uses some of the most annoying plot devices, they don't come across as annoying? I must read more of her work in order to prove or disprove that theory. But from what I've read of this book, and from what I've gathered from readers of her other books, I think the main contributing factor to her popularity is that her stories are just fun. And swoony. That always helps. I hope to enjoy the rest of her stories as much as I did this one.
April: Hmmm, overall I really liked it! I will definitely read more of her stuff. My friend Jess loves her books and she's been bugging me to try one for a while now. So glad I finally did. Also, major props to Armentrout mentioning the Poconos! My home. :) I actually get to meet her this weekend, she will be at YA Fest. Yay!! But yeah, Don't Look Back is a great story, and I'm so glad I started with this one.
GIF it to me straight: The Lying Game meets Mean Girls(less)
I always dreaded the game of Truth or Dare when I was younger. It never ended well for me. And the same is true for the girls in this book. But we'll...moreI always dreaded the game of Truth or Dare when I was younger. It never ended well for me. And the same is true for the girls in this book. But we'll get to that in a moment.
I like mysteries and thrillers and revenge stories. It's one of the reasons I'm still watching Pretty Little Liars. I didn't read the books, though. I read the first book in The Lying Game series by the same author, and I vowed no more. Those books just weren't on my level. Obviously, the story is interesting enough or I wouldn't still be watching the show. But I'm constantly screaming at all those pretty girls to just go tell someone in a position of authority what the heck is going on. And it's one of those mysteries that just gets more mysterious and complex as it goes.
The same could be said of Truth or Dare. It's an intricately woven story, full of secrets and deceptions, and it definitely kept me guessing. No dirty laundry remained un-aired. No skeleton remained in its closet. And no stone was left unturned as the girls tried to discover who was behind the dares. I'm usually really good at guessing who the culprit is early on and enjoy watching as the characters search for clues, but this time around, I was just as stumped as them until something happened and I just knew. The writing was clear and concise and the book read more mature than that series I mentioned earlier, and that just aided in keeping me in the dark for so long.
I generally like to know more than the characters do. So, when a character knows something that I don't and then takes it to the grave, it leaves me feeling a bit agitated. Especially when said character was on the verge of revealing this information, only to meet their untimely death. I call foul. What kind of ploy is this and why must you make me suffer so?
The suspense wasn't the only thing I liked about the story. The setting was the secluded town of Echo Bay, during it's Fall Festival. A festival which had previously been cancelled due to the mysterious deaths of three girls, dubbed the Lost Girls. If that doesn't set the mood for an eerie story, I don't know what would. The deaths weren't technically linked to the festival, but I usually attempt to avoid activities that lead to mentions of a curse and the like. But, hey, who am I to judge? Not the judgey people of Echo Bay, that's who.
I think I would have rather this book been a stand-alone. The story was just dark and intense enough to keep me reading, but that ending kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, you get your answers and you move on. Though the ending wasn't what I would call a cliffhanger, it did leave a lot more questions. Maybe I don't like mysteries as much as I thought? Because the questions and the not-knowing are seriously bothering me right now. I guess that's the sign of a well-written mystery? Like I said, I liked the writing, and I'd like to read more from this author. Just maybe not a mystery because she's infuriatingly good at it.
The potential for creepiness was off the charts with this book. The title, the cover, those two eerie words. All of this led me to...moreActual Rating: 1/2
The potential for creepiness was off the charts with this book. The title, the cover, those two eerie words. All of this led me to believe that Truly, Madly, Deadly would be a great psychological thriller...the kind that would keep me up reading till all hours of the night and leave me with disturbing dreams.
Somehow, the execution failed to deliver for this reader. First, the book was relatively short and I read it pretty quickly, so there was no need to stay up reading and invite nightmares of my own making. But I think the book suffered because of the length. The pacing was rather quick, pushing the reader toward red herring after another, and though my theory from left field came to fruition, I still don't like the why and how of it.
That's partially because the characters themselves, as well as their motivations, never made all that much sense. For one, the main character is the girl in the horror film who runs upstairs instead of getting out of the house and calling for help when she realizes the murderer is in the house with her. I detest that character. She never once makes an intelligent, informed decision. There was also insta-love which led to behavior that, considering the circumstances, was inappropriate at best and nearly deplorable at other times. It left me feeling a bit skeeved out.
The plot itself was pretty meh. Lots of stuff happens, but therein lies the problem. Too much is packed into such a short novel and none of it was explored to my liking. Things happened, there was a period of freaking out, and then the event was forgotten for the most part. There's even a Mr. Fitz-type situation, and while I've accepted it on PLL, it was too much for me in this story. Especially when the situation came out of nowhere, wasn't reported, and the main character delved no further into it when the next freak-out occurred.
Pretty much, if this book hadn't been so short, I would have DNF'd it. I was already pretty certain who the "admirer" was early on, and I didn't have all that much interest in seeing if I was right. But I saw it through to the end, anyway. And here I am, still disappointed. It almost makes me curious to see if the author's adult series is any better. Almost...
Thanks to Sourcebooks and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
I had some seriously high expectations for my second Lucy Christopher novel after the gut-punch that was Stolen. From other reader reactions, though, I knew to lower expectations a bit, that this would not hit me right in the feels like her previous novel. And while that may be true, I still really enjoyed this novel, and I attribute that to the fact that I embarked upon this story with reasonable expectations...and also because I went the audiobook route.
Fiona Hardingham is a fabulous narrator. She also portrayed Puck in the audiobook version of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, which is still probably my favorite audiobook to date. So, when I saw that she was voicing the character of Emily in The Killing Woods, I knew I had a winner of an audiobook ahead of me. I don't think I've ever experienced Shaun Grindell's narration before, but he really brought his A-game as the voice of Damon Hillary. I got a Jonah Griggs-vibe from him, if that helps. :)
Both of these characters' lives have, in one way or another, been affected by war. They live in an army town, and both of their fathers served...would be serving still if one hadn't been honorably discharged and the other hadn't been killed in action. And maybe under different circumstances, they could have bonded over this shared grief.
But when your father's been charged with murder, no one's likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. And doubt is everywhere in this story. Emily starts to doubt her father's innocence. Damon starts to doubt whether his memories from that night can be trusted. He even begins to wonder at his own innocence. I even started to doubt whether Damon was a reliable narrator anymore.
If I'm being completely honest, it didn't take me very long into the story to figure out who the real guilty party was. But it was still terribly intriguing to watch the puzzle pieces fit into place, to watch the characters come a bit unglued as it happened. Lucy Christopher is a master at capturing the setting of her story, and some of my favorite parts in this novel were of Emily and Damon's time spent traipsing through the dark woods. Christopher managed to make those woods both alluring and beautiful but also creepy and dangerous.
My favorite kinds of psychological thrillers are those told by an unreliable narrator, and so that's probably a big part of why I enjoyed this novel so much. I can't say for sure that I would have loved the story as much if I hadn't listened to the audio because those narrators did make the story that much more fantastic. But I think that if you've enjoyed Christopher's previous books, there's a good chance that you'll like this one, too. It doesn't pack the emotion of Stolen but the writing is still just as brilliant.
After reading devouring Arclightearlier this year, I knew I'd be picking up Premeditatedas soon as I could get my hands on it. I do love a good reven...moreAfter reading devouring Arclight earlier this year, I knew I'd be picking up Premeditated as soon as I could get my hands on it. I do love a good revenge story, but that synopsis had me sold. And apparently that is how the author queried the story! That is fabulous in and of itself.
But the writing, the narrative voice...it's everything I'd hoped for after a debut like Arclight. Dinah goes to extreme lengths to inflict retribution on the guy who broke Claire's heart so fully that she harmed herself in her despair. But despite the rather dire circumstances, this story still manages to be humorous and clever and avoids gloomy when it can be helped. I can't say, however, that I didn't see that ending coming. I don't think that's because the story was overly predictable, just that the author was nonchalant in providing details, meaning that I was thoroughly engaged by this story and carefully tucked away every detail I could. I'm intuitive like that.
The characters themselves were rich and well-fleshed out. Dinah is quirky in her own right -- and I know most cringe at the use of that word, but I mean it in the best possible way -- and she's sacrificing a lot on her cousin's behalf, transforming herself from goth girl to prep school charmer. That's enough to cause anyone to be a little quirky. And then there are the two boys, neither of which is who he seems. Brucie and Tabs rounded out the cast as Dinah's best friends, sidekicks, and fellow revenge-seekers, and they provide a lot of the comedy, as well.
I definitely felt that this story had a very Veronica Mars-vibe to it. I mean, Dinah dons a disguise, infiltrates the "it" crowd, and falls for the wrong guy. That premise has Veronica Mars written all over it. Not that I'm complaining. Dinah's even snarky like Veronica. And awesome. And badass. Can you tell I liked her character? Maybe even more than I should have? :D
And the narrator chosen to perform this audiobook was fabulous. Took me a minute to adjust to her, but she pulled off that snarky, quirky thing so. Freaking. Well. And managed not to make all of the characters sound like that. I'll definitely be checking out her other work.
Suffice it to say, Josin McQuein is going on my author auto-buy list. I had already planned on picking up the sequel to Arclight, but now I'm just planning on reading everything she writes, maybe without even reading summaries going forward. That's always fun...the little bit of risk that comes along with it is worth it, sometimes. So, yeah, if you like darkly funny capers reminiscent of Veronica Mars, I highly recommend this one. Also, if you like it when bad guys get their just desserts, I'd say this one is for you. Revenge is a dish best served cold...then they won't know what hit 'em!
I think my biggest problem with this novel was that it read at a much younger level than I was expecting. I loved Rachel...more-- Mini Review of Audiobook --
I think my biggest problem with this novel was that it read at a much younger level than I was expecting. I loved Rachel Vincent's take on mara or Nightmares in her Soul Screamers series, and I guess I was hoping this would be similar, but on a much grander scale since the Nightmare was the main character in this story. But, alas, it was not to be.
Unfortunate that the story didn't quite live up to the awesome cover. Because I do LOVE that cover. Very reminiscent of the cover of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. Unlike with SRB's book, though, it was relatively easy to figure out where this story was headed, who the culprit was, and how it all came to be.
The narration was also performed by the same (young) narrator as Tiger Lily. I think that probably also gave the story more of a MG feel than intended. Even so, I'm still intrigued enough by the Nightmares and the school for magickind that I'll pick up subsequent installments. But I'm much more excited for Mindee Arnett's Avalon. How awesome does that book sound?
The Madman's Daughterwas just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so. The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all prey...moreThe Madman's Daughter was just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so. The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all preyed up on my delicate sensibilities. I haven't seen The Island of Dr. Moreau in ages, nor have I ever read the original tale by H. G. Wells, so the disturbing things lurking and happening on the island caught me off-guard at times. But I am definitely not complaining. I knew going into this novel that I should expect hair-raising beasts and unorthodox ideas. Okay, unorthodox is putting it mildly...they were the ravings of a lunatic, a man gone crazy with power.
Speaking of, I loved seeing the degradation of the doctor's mental faculties. He never came off as a sane man, not once...not even when Juliet first arrived at the island. So I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride from the get-go. But I had no idea how quickly it would all evolve into chaos. Suspecting what the doctor was up to and finding out the truth only intensified the eerie vibe.
It was fairly easy to envision myself on the island with the characters, thanks in part to the lush imagery used to describe the flora and fauna residing there. The descriptions of the doctor's creations and their way of life only made it more menacing. But I was able to fully immerse myself in the story because of it. It's not always easy to impart just how creepy and disturbing a situation is, but I think in this instance, the author has been completely successful.
There are some books I read mostly because of the romantic angle, and there are some I read strictly for the actual storyline. The Madman's Daughter falls into that latter category. It's a good thing, too, because I really wasn't feeling the romance in this book. Don't get me wrong, there are some tender moments and there are some steamy ones, but the overall evolution of the love triangle boggled me.
The frequency with which Juliet found it necessary to mention her idolization of Montgomery when they were younger really bothered me. Sure, it plays a part in the romance now, but it also serves to make her look young and naive, considering how little it matters to the actual story. And since it does appear that the author wants Juliet to come across as a strong young woman, maybe a little bit wild even, it does her character a disservice to mention this idolization no less than three times during the course of the novel. Especially since her feelings ricochet back and forth between Montgomery and Edward like a ping-pong ball.
First, there's kind, intelligent, good-natured Montgomery, whom Juliet has known all of her life. It's clear that this boy is in love with her and that she has similar feelings for him. I'm okay with that. No insta-love. No "we're soul-mates". No pledging of the undying love. Just warm and fuzzies, even if they are from different stations and Juliet's father has strictly forbidden them from any romantic notions. Joke's on you, Dad!
And then there's the enigmatic Edward. A stranger. A castaway found lost at sea. A boy with secrets he has yet to divulge. And here he is, pledging his love to Juliet, telling her she's the reason he made the island his final destination, as well. Blech...I don't think I can ship this relationship. Except...he's got secrets. I like a mystery...a challenge, if you will. Maybe his feelings are legit? Maybe I'm making undue assumptions and rushing judgment on this guy?
I don't know...the more I saw of Juliet with each boy, the less I wanted her to pick one and the more I wanted her to simply jump in that dinghy and escape the island and its monsters on her own. But like I said, the romance -- the love triangle -- wasn't what drew me to the book, so I can honestly overlook it...for the most part. It does play some importance in my enjoyment of this novel, but not as much as it might have if it were a different book altogether.
All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with how this book turned out. Lots of mystery and intrigue. Off-the-scales creepy. Characters that are well-developed with individual motivations. Had the romance been a little less central to the plot, I think I might have enjoyed this novel even more. But I won't let it deter me from picking up the next installment, that's for sure, especially since I hear that one's a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Thanks to HarperTeen for providing an ARC for review!
I kind of loved Megan Miranda's debut novel Fracturewhen I read it early last year, so I had pretty high hopes for Hysteria, despite seeing a lot of...moreI kind of loved Megan Miranda's debut novel Fracture when I read it early last year, so I had pretty high hopes for Hysteria, despite seeing a lot of mixed reviews for it. But I know what resonates with me as a reader, and I rarely go wrong with psychological thrillers, so I maintained those high expectations. I just knew that I would enjoy this novel, and I'm not at all surprised that I was right. That's the price you pay for being an insufferable know-it-all...you can't surprise yourself anymore. =)
The author has a background in science, and it shows in both Fracture and Hysteria, in the way she presents the story in a slightly clinical manner. I can see why that would be off-putting for some readers, but I love it. Science and the paranormal weave together in this story to create a narrative that is both emotionally gripping yet able to confound the reader into suspecting everyone. I also love the use of flashbacks and half-dreams throughout the story to impart secrets or otherwise hidden knowledge. While some aspects of the mystery were easy to speculate upon, others remained elusive till the bitter end.
So, normally I need to really feel a connection to the main characters in order to truly enjoy a novel, but in this case -- and with Fracture, if I really think about it -- the mystery itself was the aspect I was most drawn to, and since it encompassed a big percentage of the storyline, it made the fact that I wasn't completely enthralled with the characters a little easier. That's not to say that the characters weren't likeable or relatable; they simply won't go down as my favorite characters or anything. And that's okay with me.
The relationships in the book balance out the characters in such a way that I was able to overlook a lot of character flaws. Like the fact that given a chance, Mallory would rather run than face her problems. Every single time. She did a lot of running in this story. But her friendship with Colleen put us back on even footing. Because even though Mallory wasn't ready to meet her own problems head-on, she would do anything for her best friend, including fighting Colleen's battles if need be...and vice-versa. The fact that there was such a strong, solid friendship at the center of this story really compensated for any of the shortcomings it might have had.
There's a bit of romance in this book. Nothing earth-shattering, and no love triangles, but we do get to witness two (three?) very different relationships in Mallory's life...all within the last six months. These relationships are all equally important to the story. It isn't all about the murdered boyfriend but rather about the repercussions. It's about the memories, the ability to determine reality from the imagined. It's about the friendships and relationships that survive and the ones that don't.
Hysteria is a stark look at how one night, one choice, can change the course of your life. Full of heartbreak, betrayal, and guilt, it's a slightly gritty contemporary with a paranormal vibe, and if you enjoyed Fracture, I can almost guarantee you'll like this book, as well. In fact, I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't recommend this novel to someone.
Thanks to Bloomsbury & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
I am going to be completely honest here. The sole reason I added this book to my TBR was because of that exquisite cover. It's so reminiscent of one o...moreI am going to be completely honest here. The sole reason I added this book to my TBR was because of that exquisite cover. It's so reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood movies ever that I knew I'd read it, no matter what it was really about. But with a gorgeous cover like that, there's little chance the book will be a big ole fail, right?
The story wasn't a failure...not really. It only failed at being the epic fantasy novel indicated by the cover, and the author even admits as much in her acknowledgements at the end of the book. Even the book trailer makes this book seem infinitely more epic than it is. But despite the fact that the novel didn't quite live up to the amazing cover, I still found it relatively engaging, full of murder and intrigue. However, the rather slow pacing and the not-so-mysterious mystery both left something wanting.
Nisha is an orphan, as are all the girls in the City of a Thousand Dolls, henceforth known as the City in this review. But somehow, Nisha is different. Unlike the rest of the girls in the City, she is not trained for a specific house, to be purchased by the highest bidder at the Redeeming. Nisha learns what she can from a couple of the houses, including wielding a weapon and dancing, but what she excels in is collecting secrets for Matron, head of the City. She is already not very popular with the other girls, but this skill leaves her even less so.
Her only true companions are the cats that follow her around the City and speak to her in her mind. At first, I was afraid that the presence of these feline friends was going to annoy me, but the spotted cats actually ended up being one of my favorite aspects. The murder mystery and the romance both took a backseat to these creatures who seemed to know way more than they were letting on.
This is a book full of secrets, just waiting to be uncovered. Sadly, though, by the time Tac made his first appearance -- could that subplot have been any more glaringly obvious? -- I had every secret and mystery sorted out and compartmentalized until nothing surprised me anymore. All of the deceptions and trickery were very obvious and not at all subtle, at least not to this avid reader. Had I not been able to guess literally every element of the ending ahead of time, this might have been an even more enjoyable read.
As it stands, I liked it. I wouldn't recommend it to those who get bored easily or who are expecting high-action fantasy. But if you love a multi-layered plot full of mystery and intrigue, or if you just love cats, this might be a good fit for you. I'm definitely interested enough in the characters and the storyline to continue it should this turn into a series, but I'm also happy with the material presented and the way it ended. I'm game either way.
Venom started out as a very difficult read for me. If it hadn’t been for a slew of reviews raving about this book, I might not have felt compelled to...moreVenom started out as a very difficult read for me. If it hadn’t been for a slew of reviews raving about this book, I might not have felt compelled to finish it, even if I did request it on an ARC tour. But I am nothing, if not determined, and so I forged on…and I was handsomely rewarded with a tale of mystery, romance, and intrigue that twisted and turned more than a corkscrew.
The hardest part of this story for me, aside from the pacing in the very beginning, was the speech patterns of the main character. I love historical fiction, and I knew Venom was set in Renaissance Italy; the research the author did on that front shines through. Even the behaviors remarked upon in the book seemed relative to the time period. It was simply the dialogue (mostly between Cass and Falco) and Cass’s own inner monologue that did not seem cohesive to the Renaissance era. It just didn’t seem formal enough, especially considering Cass is a member of nobility, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that Falco is not. But maybe I’m also expecting too much because I recently read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, and though that was a fluffier read than Venom, it grabbed my attention from the very beginning and really made me feel as if I were walking the streets of Renaissance Italy as I read.
Cass was not my ideal protagonist, either. She wants her independence, her freedom to choose who she loves and where she goes, but her efforts are thwarted time and again by her stodgy aunt or her maidservant. But even with a murderer on the loose, Cass constantly puts herself at risk to seek the answers she so desperately craves regarding her friend’s missing body, the odd hours Falco keeps, and the many secrets of Senore Dubois and Dottore de Gradi, in addition to actually trying to find the murderer. Sure, Falco is her near constant companion on her quest for the truth, but even he seems dangerous. And she’s putting others’ well-being at risk with her endeavors, including the maidservants who are covering for her in her absence. I guess my biggest problem with Cass’s character is her faltering sense of honor.
It would be careless of me not to mention that there is a love triangle in this novel, though it isn’t truly present until much closer to the end of the book. Falco is that cocky, arrogant, enigmatic son-of-a-bleep that you don’t want to fall for, that you try your hardest not to fall for, and then what do you do? You fall for him. Well, most girls will anyway. He was definitely swoon-worthy, but I’m faithful to a fault. And distrustful as all get out. Why was Cass seeking out Falco for secret, steamy moments when she’s engaged to the doggedly faithful Luca? Even if she doesn’t love him and it’s only an arranged marriage, there was such a thing as honor back in those days. Sure, the gallivanting behind Luca’s back is more fun to read about, but for shame, Cass. For shame. But, and this is a small concession, I never truly trusted Luca either. For all of his undying faithfulness, his character isn’t as straightforward as he’d like everyone else to believe. But this book is built upon secrets and lies and seduction, after all, and where would the fun be if both male points of this love triangle were the perfect guy?
As I was reading this story, I was fully prepared to rate it at three stars. It was simply an "okay" read for me. But then the proverbial stink hit the fan, if you know what I mean. Another murder. Luca comes home. Mada's wedding. And once that pacing picked up, it did not slow down. And as sure as I was that I had everything all figured out, every piece of the puzzle where it belonged, I was thrown off course again and again. Not many books come across my reading pile that can throw a serious curveball that I don't see coming, but Venom managed to do just that. Fiona Paul is a whiz at misdirection, in addition to her ability to create such a picturesque setting. The open ending left me a little wanting, but I'll definitely be picking up future installments in this series because I am sooo curious about the Order of the Eternal Rose. I just know the story behind that will keep me glued to the pages!
"How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the sides of its golden prison."
“Cass felt torn in two, like the sky split by lightning. One side guilty. One side wanting. She froze, statue-still, as Falco’s lips brushed against her earlobe and then moved down and across her jawbone. His mouth hovered in the air, a parchment width away from hers. Eternities came and went.”
"I know you want this as much as I do," he said. "You aren't going to report me. And even if you did, I'm inclined to think a night with you might well be worth imprisonment."
“Everyone else was apologizing to God for their sins, and here she was dreaming up some new ones.”
“He described marriage as much like a cage full of birds, where the unmarried struggle to get in and the married struggle to get out."
It's funny, I remember lovingthe first book in this series when I read the ARC last year, but when I started thinking about it, all I could remember w...moreIt's funny, I remember loving the first book in this series when I read the ARC last year, but when I started thinking about it, all I could remember was the ending. And not the ending with Zane but, um, only Rollins. I have tunnel-vision when it comes to that guy, I guess. I do so adore the best friend turned love interest, though, so you can't fault me for it.
Needless to say, I had to do a quick re-read of Slide to catch myself up. Only, you know what? I didn't....I only thought I needed to. (That's alright, though...skimming through the first book made me remember exactly why I'm so fixated on Rollins. :D) The author expertly called up key plot elements from the first book without dwelling on them too much, and I didn't feel like I'd missed anything. The story picks up six months after the tumultuous events of Slide and not much has changed in that time, other than Vee dealing with the loss and heartache she suffered in the first book.
And not only is she having nightmares about that fateful night, but it seems that someone else has her ability and is using it to control her actions. Someone who might be a murderer. After a prank gone horribly wrong, a boy is left for dead and although Vee was there that night, she has no memory of what really happened. All of the girls involved in the revenge plot swear to secrecy, but Vee's not sure who to trust anymore.
Including Rollins. He knows about her ability now, but there's a new girl in his life, and Vee's not sure she can trust him with her heart anymore. I cringed as this relationship developed because it was obvious to me that these two crazy kids belonged together, especially after all they've been through together, but trust issues will eat away at a relationship every time. I wanted to smack them around a bit and tell them to just talk to each other instead of making undue assumptions.
Whereas Slide focused more on broken relationships and what had gone wrong, Impostor relies on fixing those relationships. Even those that seemed permanently broken. Mattie and Vee begin to bond. Rollins and Vee work on their friendship before taking a bigger step in their relationship. And then a couple of new characters enter the picture, throwing everything all out of sync for a bit.
But it all made for an intense story full of unexpected complications and surprising twists. I absolutely love it when a story can get the jump on me. This book is as unpredictable as it was fun to read. And if that wasn't enough to keep me interested in the series, that shocker disclosed at the end makes it inevitable that I'll be picking up the next book. Definitely recommended for fans of psychological thrillers that keep you guessing till the very end.
Thanks to HarperCollins for providing an ARC for review.
This haunting tale cast its spell on me from the very first chapter. Stories involving mermaids and selkie folklore have inundated the YA market as of...moreThis haunting tale cast its spell on me from the very first chapter. Stories involving mermaids and selkie folklore have inundated the YA market as of late, but each struggles to bring something different to the reader, to make an indelible impression upon them. With her second novel, it’s clear that Elizabeth Fama has created a story so unique and so beautifully woven that her readers will not soon forget it.
Monstrous Beauty is considered a young adult novel, but honestly, it doesn’t read like one. And it’s most definitely not your typical mermaid story either, which all too often tend to be on the lighter side and altogether fluffy. This story is haunting – literally – and full of all manner of vile things, including -- but not limited to – murder, rape, abandoned children, and a curse hundreds of years in the making. But woven into this cryptic story is also a tale of love and sacrifice so heart-wrenching it took my breath away at times.
The story is told through alternating points-of-view and spans two different time periods. The novel begins with Hester in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, pondering over unrequited love and her own awkwardness. I immediately felt a kinship with Hester, not because of either of those things but because of how genuine her thoughts and feelings were, how honest she was, even with herself.
Though the novel might start with Hester, the story truly begins with Syrenka and Ezra and a love so powerful that it transcends their time together. A curse is born of their love and the mistakes they make in their desperation to be together. But it is Hester and her ancestors who must bear the burden of this curse throughout the years, and as the story unfolds, it becomes all too clear where everything went wrong for these ill-fated lovers.
I wanted to devour this book, but I made myself read it slowly, so that I might fully appreciate the gorgeous prose and breath-taking storytelling. It was very much worth the delayed gratification, though I must admit that I gobbled the story at the end, too engrossed to properly digest it. Such is usually the case with such an exquisite novel, but I didn’t mind reading the ending twice, especially when it was so poignant and heartrending. It almost makes me wish there were more of the story to be had. Almost.
"It was one of the reasons she was drawn to history in school: there was such romance in listening to voices of the past."
I highly recommend Monstrous Beauty for anyone looking for a darker fairy tale, one riddled with secrets and ghosts and very dark deeds. Or if you’re simply looking for a mermaid tale that doesn’t read like a Disney cartoon, this book might just be what you’re searching for. And if you’d like to take a peak at the author’s writing and the world she has created, you can check out her short story, Men Who Wish to Drown, set in the same world as Monstrous Beauty.
Thanks to Macmillan and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
A quest. Four very different boys and one very unique girl. And secrets heaped upon secrets, just waiting to be dug up. Literally. If there are any li...moreA quest. Four very different boys and one very unique girl. And secrets heaped upon secrets, just waiting to be dug up. Literally. If there are any lingering doubts out there that Maggie Stiefvater is a genius, this book should curb any skepticism. (I, for one, never doubted it for a second.)
The Raven Boys finds Blue Sargent in a churchyard late at night on St. Mark's Eve when she first "meets" Gansey, the boy that she will inevitably kill, if her mother and her psychic friends are to be believed. Blue's not one to tempt fate, but who wouldn't be curious about a prediction like that? When the boy shows up elsewhere in her life, neither of them think it's a coincidence.
I love the way the narrative is split in this novel. It's not the standard first person POV we usually see from this author. Instead, it's divided between Blue and several of the Raven Boys and told using the third person omniscient perspective, which unloads veritable buckets of knowledge on the reader without which we'd otherwise be clueless. Blue's perspective is fun but she's very much the staple type of protagonist in a Stiefvater novel: quirky with a quick wit and even sharper tongue. Gansey's point-of-view was probably my favorite to read because he was self-deprecating, but not in a dreary, depressed way. He simply accepted himself for who he was, even if he didn't see himself as others did. Gansey is the reason for this quest, the reason they are all brought together in the first place. Adam's perception of things was slightly jaded because of his background, but I tried not to hold it against him. We don't really get to read from Ronan or Noah's perspectives, but we still find out enough about them to know that they both have skeletons in their closets, or at the very least, they know more than they've divulged to the group. I didn't particularly like reading from Whelk's point-of-view, but his story is just as vital to the quest as those of the Raven Boys.
So, if I'm correct, that's four different perspectives. How did the narrator of the audio tackle that? Beautifully. I'll be honest, I was wary in the beginning. I hate when a male narrator attempts to make his voice effeminate to portray a female character. But Will Patton simpy softens his voice a notch, and in doing so, he was able to voice the dialogue of several female characters without grating on my nerves, even weird old Persephone. His portrayal of the Raven Boys was fantastic, as well, even Adam's Virginian accent and the way Gansey properly enunciated things the way you'd expect him to. All around, great narration.
It's funny how Blue is supposed to keep away from the Raven Boys and then they ultimately become her boys. I loved this group dynamic, the bond they all seemed to share without even really intending to. It seems that just as easily as the boys fell in together, they just as easily accept Blue's now permanent residency as one of the gang. It's intriguing to see where their exploits take them and how much they're willing to risk to find what they're looking for on this adventure of their own making.
I've adored Stiefvater's lyrical prose since I first delved into Shiver what feels like forever ago, and it's only gotten better over time. Her wry sense of humor shines through in The Raven Boys -- even more than it did in The Scorpio Races (though some might argue that point with me...I still thought it had its moments) -- and I found myself laughing out loud many times while listening to this incredible audiobook. I can't wait to read more of this most mysterious mystery and see what the future holds for the Raven Boys and their girl Blue...especially after those jaw-dropping last lines.
"He was still wearing those idiotic Top-Siders she'd noticed at the reading, this time paired with cargo shorts and a yellow polo shirt that made it look as if he were prepared for any sort of emergency, so long as that emergency involved him falling onto a yacht. In his hand he held a container of organic apple juice."
"We have to be back in three hours," Ronan said. "I just fed Chainsaw but she'll need it again." "This," Gansey replied, "is precisely why I didn't want to have a baby with you."
"You are in trouble. I told you to stay away from him and you didn't," Maura said. "I just haven't decided what to do about it yet. My feelings are hurt. I've consulted with several people who tell me that I'm within my rights to feel hurt. Do teenagers still get grounded? Did that only happen in the eighties?"
I’m going to be honest. This is going to be a hard review to write. Not because I didn’t like the book – I LOVED IT – but because I’m so afraid of acc...moreI’m going to be honest. This is going to be a hard review to write. Not because I didn’t like the book – I LOVED IT – but because I’m so afraid of accidentally spoiling something. I didn’t read a single review before plunging into this book, and I can honestly say I was pleasantly shocked at the direction the novel took at times, throwing me for loop after loop. I respect and admire a book that can keep me guessing, and The Book of Blood and Shadow did just that.
Robin Wasserman expertly weaves a beguiling tale, full of rich history and the menace of an unseen threat. It’s clear in the writing and in the story that the author did extensive research in preparation for this book, and she even discusses it briefly in the afterword. Though much of the story is based on actual events, much more is based on a fabled device that would allow the user to converse directly with God. The knowledge of the very existence of this mythical machine has put the lives of Nora – and her closest friends – in jeopardy.
The first half of the story is set at a leisurely pace, carefully crafting the back-story for our characters, showing how well-developed their friendship was and how they were simply normal teenagers, working on an independent study project for school. The story may develop gradually at first but it never feels bogged down in the history of the study group, nor is it weighed down by the actual history of the subject matter being researched. The author balances each focus well, and the end result is a book shrouded in mystery and secret societies, every bit as intellectually stimulating as The Da Vinci Code, which it will almost inevitably be compared to.
The second half of the book is set at a more rapid pace and really ups the ante for our heroine. Nora and what’s left of her friends – after a devastating blow from those who seek the contraption – are in mortal peril. At this point, I’m just going to say it: TRUST NO ONE. Even the hot cousin. Especially the hot cousin. It seems cliché to say that nothing and no one is as it seems, but in this story, there is not a truer sentiment.
This book is not all dire situations and fleeing from crazy religious zealots, though. There’s a good bit of humor laced in there, with witty banter and a hilarious episode where two of the characters pretend to be engaged in order to gain access to an off-limits collection of astronomical manuscripts. There’s also the letters Nora translates from Latin that almost come to consume her in her search for answers. I very much enjoyed the correlation between Nora’s translations of Elizabeth’s letters and the situation Nora is currently faced with in the novel.
There is some romance in the book, as well, but it took a back-seat to the real problem at hand, and I appreciate that no matter how the love story was going at any particular time, it never overshadowed the rest of the story. The only thing that could have done that would have been the setting. Prague became a character in its own right. With the author pouring such beautiful and vivid descriptions into the story, it was no trouble envisioning myself as Nora, searching for answers and pieces to a puzzle she didn’t even know existed.
I’m not sure if this is slated to become a series. Though it’s over 400 pages long, I still had doubts that the author could wrap up the story before the book’s end. However, the ending was immensely satisfying and though left slightly open-ended, I would be content to leave things the way they are on the last page. Conversely, I wouldn’t be disappointed to learn that the author was continuing Nora’s story, either.
I think I had some seriously misplaced expectations for this story, based on the author's...moreThis MINI review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
I think I had some seriously misplaced expectations for this story, based on the author's previous work -- I've read The Replacement and her short stories on Merry Sisters of Fate -- but even so, it held my interest. I also think that it's been awhile since I read that synopsis and added this book to my TBR because I'm only now just putting the title and premise together and seeing how it fits. Oh, well.
The fact that Hannah can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of the Valentine Killer murder victims, intrigued me to no end, but I still really would have liked to know why she could see them. I don't take a lot of things on faith, and so I spent a substantial amount of time looking for answers to that question rather than on who the serial killer was and what their motivation was.
I just knew that I hoped it wasn't Finny Boone. I love an awkward romance that makes little sense to everyone else. This is one of those cases. It reminded me a lot of Kiri and Skunk in Wild Awake honestly. And I rooted for it, even when the characters themselves weren't sure. It was just sweet and the way Finny and Hannah were both so protective of each other melted my heart a bit.
Obviously, this was not a murder-kill-stab bloody gore-fest, or anything, and it didn't really delve into the psyche of a serial killer, either. Instead, it was a kind of sweet story about friendship and deceptive appearances in a town with a serial killer on the loose. And I kinda liked it. Makes me want to get to my copy of The Space Between that much sooner.
GIF it to me straight: Weird...but delightfully so.(less)
As I was reading Slide, I was reminded of my time reading Fracture by Megan Miranda. I liked the characters, but I never felt at one with them. What r...moreAs I was reading Slide, I was reminded of my time reading Fracture by Megan Miranda. I liked the characters, but I never felt at one with them. What really got me into the story, however, was the mystery, the thrill of the chase. This story was YA contemporary in nature, with an awesome paranormal twist. And you know that’s how I like my contemporary.
Just because I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, though, doesn’t mean they’re not relatable or are totally unlikeable. Quite the contrary. I was sucked into the story and finished it in one sitting, if that tells you anything. But sometimes you are so involved in a story that you feel as if you are going through things with the character, instead of simply watching as they tackle their obstacles, and that wasn’t the case with the characters in Slide.
But I enjoyed watching Vee figure out her ability, or curse, depending on how you look at it. Vee’s been through a lot, and things really started to get weird for her after the death of her mother. Still having both of my parents around, I can’t imagine how hard Vee’s life has been up to this point, but I can’t imagine it got any easier once she developed the power to “slide” into other’s conscious thoughts and actions whenever she passes out. Though, this power does come in handy once she learns how to control it a little better and uses it to try to discover the identity of the killer.
Admittedly, I was a little over halfway through when the puzzle pieces all aligned and I knew without a doubt who the killer was. But I love that any number of suspicions could have been proven correct and led Vee right to the killer. Motives were aplenty and dubious behavior was out in full force. It’s really anybody’s guess who done it. However, I often wonder if I’ve just read too much or seen too much and that’s why I find plots more predictable than others. Maybe I just have an uncanny sense for it. Either way, I don’t think many will find it as easy to determine the killer as I did, especially with all the twists and second-guessing that goes on in the story. I had several theories going before my final guess even panned out.
Slide was an absolutely phenomenal read. I’ve probably been over-using that word lately, but in all seriousness, all of the debut novels I’ve read this year have been, well, phenomenal! And Slide was no different. If you’re looking for a good murder mystery that keeps you on your toes and has you suspecting everyone, including the best friend, look no further.
That audio was the cat's pajamas, man! :D Review soonski!
So, I started my ARC of The Diviners -- which I won from t...moreThat audio was the cat's pajamas, man! :D Review soonski!
So, I started my ARC of The Diviners -- which I won from the awesomeClaire LeGrande -- back in early September before the book was released, but I soon realized that I would need to be able to devote a large chunk of my time to finishing all 578 pages of this novel. And my time is limited. No, I'm not dying, but I do work full-time away from the home, I'm a devoted (okay, maybe that's pushing it, but I do love my family ohsomuch) mother and wife, and I'm a book blogger, which many of you know can be a full-time job in and of itself sometimes. So you can see my conundrum...maybe you even identify with it. But lo and behold, the audio was released on the same day as the novel hit the shelves at bookstores, and I snatched it up and immediately shelved my ARC in favor of hearing the indomitable January LaVoy breathe new life into the characters I'd already come to love in the first 100-150 pages I'd already managed to devour.
The Diviners is now my new favorite audiobook EVAR. I am completely, completely serious. I loved all of the voices and dialects Tavia Gilbert used in her reading of The Night Huntress series, but -- and no offense meant, honest -- she cannot hold a candle to January LaVoy's narration of The Diviners. This woman managed to portray all of the following characters without ever sounding trite or unbelievable: a 17-year-old girl; two very different 17-ish boys; an old, stodgy uncle; several African-American characters ranging in age from 10 or so to the very old and disabled Blind Bill; the swarthy and sophisticated Memphis Campbell; two senile old ladies; a cocky news reporter digging for the scoop; and a deranged serial killer, hell-bent on cleansing the world. Those are just a few of the characters...there are many, many more secondary characters, and all of them sounded completely different in their own way.
This is obviously a story that is composed of many smaller stories, each of their own importance. As the story unfolds, we meet each character separately as they start on the path that eventually leads them all to each other. I thoroughly enjoyed each characters' introduction in this manner and that the reader learns each story gradually...hence the nearly 600 page narrative. Once events are set in motion, though, the story finds its pace and really draws you into the world of 1920s New York.
It all starts with one Evie O'Neill, though. This "unflappable flapper" is quite the contrast to Gemma Doyle, who was both precocious and docile when we first met her in A Great and Terrible Beauty. Be that as it may, Evie still stole the show for me in The Diviners and quickly marked herself as my favorite character, though that arrogant Sam Lloyd came in at a close second. Really, though, all of these characters (and their stories) appealed to me in his or her own way.
Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors. I loved her Gemma Doyle trilogy, and I can say with complete faith that if you, too, enjoyed that series, you will loveThe Diviners just as much. The rich world-building, the superb cast of characters, the incredible story-telling...it's all there in this book, as well. There's just something about Libba Bray and hidden magic that go hand-in-hand. The sheer amount of research necessary to write a story of this caliber alone is deserving of accolades. But pair that with the unfathomable story she's created, and you have yourself a novel to be revered.
Don't believe me? Check out the free previews currently being offered: Amazon | B&N
This is probably going to read more like a plea to the author than a...moreEnter to win your own copy of Dead Silence as part of the Dead Silence Blog Tour!
This is probably going to read more like a plea to the author than a review. So be it.
I love this series. I love the characters, how much they've matured over the course of these four books and how their relationships have changed. And I'm not ready to say goodbye yet. When I finished Dead Silence, it didn't feel like goodbye, either. So many things feel unresolved; it didn't feel like an ending at all, not even an open-ended type of conclusion. I was actually anticipating an announcement from the author regarding the next book, but then I saw THIS post. I knew it was likely that this would be the last book, and nothing is definite, as evidenced by the author's response to my comment on the aforementioned post (see below), but it hurt my heart to know that this may be the last body-finding adventure I get to go on with Violet, Jay, and the rest of the Center gang.
And it's obvious how much Kimberly Derting does indeed love her characters, even though she puts them through hell at times. There are some intense and horrifying moments for Violet, and she puts herself in danger entirely too often, but at the end of the day, she's a great heroine, role model and just an intriguing character overall. Her gift -- or curse, depending on the situation -- definitely makes life interesting. And once she learns that she's not alone, that there are others like her with similar gifts, things get really exciting.
As remarkable as Violet's gift may be, actually using it is what gets her into trouble. More often than not, using her gift means stumbling onto a murder victim, and Violet can't get any peace of mind until the victim is laid to rest and the murder is solved. The author creates an added layer of creepiness to the story by interspersing Violet's perspective with that of the killer, and a disturbing game of cat and mouse ensues while Violet searches for clues to aid in the Center's investigations. And while the killer is loose, no one is safe...not Violet, not her colleagues, and not her friends.
Violet's had her ability since she was a child, and she's mostly kept it a secret, though her best friend Jay has known the truth of her gift for years. Jay has proven himself compassionate and caring and completely trustworthy time and again, showing exactly why he has become one of my most treasured book boyfriends. He's the real deal, and the relationship between Jay and Violet, from best friends to first loves, is my absolute favorite kind. Have you ever read about a more honest and adorable fictional couple in YA literature? I don't think so. Sure, they hem and haw around their feelings for each other in the beginning, but they've been nothing but forthright with each other since. Just as Violet is an inspiring character, this romance is one to aspire to...a love for the ages, if you will.
Sure, there have been complications, with the relationships in this story and in general, but these characters persevere and do what is ultimately right. They fight the good fight. And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to adequately express how much I'm going to miss all of them. If this is it for Violet and friends, I'm glad the series ended on the note it did.
But hear this, Kimberly Derting: I will ALWAYS be ready for more, so whenever you feel like writing more of Violet, Jay, Rafe or even Chelsea, know that you have a willing reader in me. (Please, please, PLEASE write more body-finding adventures! Pretty please?)
Thanks to CBB Promotions & HarperTeen for providing an ARC for review purposes!
Okay, I’m going to get right to it. If you haven’t read the first two books in The Body Finder series, beware that there may be spoilers ahead for th...moreOkay, I’m going to get right to it. If you haven’t read the first two books in The Body Finder series, beware that there may be spoilers ahead for those books. I’ll try not to include spoilers, but I can’t promise that something I don’t think is a spoiler for the other books won’t seem spoilery to you. My apologies in advance. You have been warned. :0)
I won my signed copy of Desires of the Dead from the author herself, but I hadn’t really heard much about the series until that point. Of course, I had to go out and buy the first installment because I’m neurotic and can’t read a series out of order. (I wouldn’t want to, anyway, but that’s beside the point.) Anyway, the books hooked me from the very beginning, so to say that this latest book is my favorite yet should really tell you something.
For one thing, the writing – and the story in general – just gets better with each new book this author releases. (If murder-mysteries aren’t your cup of tea, check out her dystopian series, The Pledge.) The writing isn’t fluffy, but it flows so smoothly and keeps you so enthralled with the story that you don’t have a chance to form any expectations about what’s going to happen next.
But Violet’s unusual gift does leave a lot of room for unpredictable situations. And so does her behavior. Violet has remarkable instincts, but she’s impulsive…always rushing into things, usually without a moment’s hesitation to collect her bearings. But she’s determined, resolute in her need to end the recently departed’s suffering by finding their killers. And now she’s working closely with a secret organization that wants to put her skills to good use.
I was afraid for Jay and Violet’s oh-so-sweet relationship, knowing that Violet would be working closely with Rafe on the cases, especially since there seems to be something electric between them, but I needn’t have worried so much. Admittedly, there is still the potential for a love triangle, but it’s not seedy and off-putting like so many out there. The Last Echo gives the reader a much better view of Rafe than the few short glances we were given of him in Desires of the Dead, and from what I saw, I generally liked the guy. Don’t get me wrong…I still love Jay and hope that things remain carefree and lovey-dovey between him and Vi, but should Violet give Rafe more than a cursory glance and decide to take a chance on him, I wouldn’t be distraught. Rafe is deep and troubled and I honestly believe he needs Violet to make him whole again.
Speaking of troubled, the case in this installment is probably the creepiest Violet’s encountered yet, and she’s seen a lot of weirdness already. This time around, she’s trying to help catch a serial killer called The Girlfriend Collector and prevent him from killing again by determining his next target. But, as per usual, Violet’s involvement in the case has put her directly in the line of sight of the murderer, and if Violet doesn’t figure him out quickly, she may become his next victim.
I love all of the characters in this series, but Derting has a real knack for creating sinister, disturbing villains with well-developed motivations and backgrounds. I love the dual narrative of these novels, as well, switching the perspective from that of Violet to the inner-workings of the killer’s mind. Seeing things through the eyes of a murderer really increases the creep-factor.
Fast-paced and hair-raisingly intense, this novel kept me engrossed and inspired any number of frightening dreams. And I’ll never look at lilac nail polish the same. The author has set the bar high for herself and for the next novel in the series, but I have no doubt she’ll surpass my expectations.