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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Thing About Scorpions by Tiffany Nicole Smith

The Thing About Scorpions (Scorpions, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads
"Autumn had been born six weeks before her due date. Maybe she wasn't complete. Perhaps God was about to give her a heart and a conscience, but she came out before she was whole."

Something is wrong with Autumn. Unfortunately, she has a way of getting her friends to do anything. Lying and manipulating are her special skills. Fifteen-year-old Cicely Scott and her friends find themselves tangled in Autumn's web unable to free themselves as bodies pile up around them. Cicely is at her breaking point and must find a way to release herself from Autumn's clutches. The only problem with that: Autumn won't let her go easily. Then there's poor Emma, the pretty girl dating Autumn's crush who mysteriously turns up missing . . .

5 stars
This was an amazing read! So many twists and turns, and the writing kept you on the edge of your seat. You never knew just what Autumn was going to do next. The characters were well drawn, and the plot was so intricate that just when you thought you knew what was going to happen - BAM - it would veer off in a totally different direction.

It was obvious that the author had done her homework about sociopaths. Autumn felt like a real life one. The things that were written were scary and accurate for a sociopath. It was almost too scary that things that Tiffany Nicole Smith dreamed up. I don't want to give one single thing away because that is the beauty of this book, but Autumn really is crazy, manipulative and domineering. I felt really bad for Cicily. I just wanted her to open up to someone - anyone really. The mom had blinders on, but I guess that is realistic as well. No mom wants to acknowledge that they have birthed a monster.

Things are not neatly wrapped up in this book. I want the second one this minute, but I am afraid that I will have to wait a while. It's not even on Goodreads yet. The second one promises to be just as enjoyable. (I got a sneak peek at the first chapter). So many threads left unanswered - aargh.

Everything was top notch in this novel. I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves a good, psychological thriller.

This was a clean read - no sex and no language.  There is some animal cruelty that is sadistic in nature.

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing SeasonBlurb from Goodreads

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.
4.5 stars
It's unfortunate that the blurb sets this book up as something it's not. Because on its own, the book is brilliantly written and will find an audience. But since it was billed as a serial killer/ghost story I feel it will alienate readers. You will not get that kind of book. Instead you will get a fantastic story and psychological insight into friendships. Anderson has a way of probing deep into the psyche of her characters, and her characters are always people that you want to know in real life. They are not cookie cutter cut-outs from a stereotype. They seem like flesh and blood people who could be your next door neighbor, your best friend and your crazy cat aunt.

I loved Maggie's love affair with literature. There are so many references in the book to other books. I thought having Maggie home schooled so she could casually drop references to books that teens her age don't typically read was brilliant. Maggie's relationship with her dad was amazing. So often you see teens either without a parent or at odds with their parents. It was nice to see a functioning and healthy relationship between Maggie and her parents.

I really loved Tiger Lily, and I had read all of the reviews for this book so I was a little nervous reading this one. I shouldn't have been. Anderson is an adept storyteller, and even though this wasn't big on plot or mystery, it was a very satisfying read.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mirror X by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads
Cassie Dannacher wakes up in a hospital over 1,000 years into the future after her space capsule is retrieved from space. She soon learns that 600 years prior to her arrival, the earth was struck by a plague, killing over half of the world’s population. Na├»ve and desperate, Cassie, who longs for home and is having trouble adjusting to the new, dictatorial 31st century government, is comforted by Michael Bennett, the 20-year old lead geneticist at the hospital where she was revived.

But why is Cassie in genetics’ hospital in the first place, and why do several of the people around her seem so familiar, including Travel Carson, the hot and edgy boy she is fated to meet? Soon she discovers there is a sinister answer to all of her questions – and that they want something from Cassie that only she can give.

The ending was so hurried and rushed while the middle felt long. It was a great concept, and I thought the implications of a future society unable to replicate were well reasoned. The insta-love was a bit of a turn off. One minute Cassie would be thinking about how to escape, and the next she is kissing one of the doctors who is keeping her confined. It didn't make any sense as most romances written for teens nowadays are written.

I thought the way Cassie's viewpoints from our time frame were completely out of synch with how a future society thought and what they believed was well done. Society is always evolving, and what is widely held conviction in today's world will seem out of place in the past or in the future. Cassie's value on freedom was foreign to Michael's world.

Loved the inclusion of the Washington Irving quote and the shout out to the Van Wrinkle project.  Cassie woke up to an entirely different world just like old Rip.  The quote about wanting someone to know who are you in the world was especially poignant.

The message that life is special and sacred is an important one. I thought the book really highlighted this well and did so in a non-didactic way. For those women who cannot have children, the message will be especially poignant. I know this was written for teens, but the struggles of a future world who cannot conceive can create an empathy for women who are struggling with the same thing. And really isn't that a great benefit of books - stepping out of our own worldview and into another creating empathy and compassion?

This book was good, but I felt the pacing was off and the romance played way too much of a part in the story. This will make you think about the future of humankind, but it wasn't really a stand out in the field of dystopians.

 Spoiler alert...

No sex. One swear word.  There is a sense that Cassie was raped as she is held against her will and impregnated.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

(Don't You) Forget About Me

Blurb from Goodreads
Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

4/5 stars
I really enjoyed the narrator voice. It was rich and complex, full of little wisdom nuggets, and unique. I can't say that I have ever encountered a narrator quite like Skylar. No spoilers, but I will say that up becomes down in the end. It was beautifully written, and the anticipation builds sweetly and slowly. I liked that the romance played a minimal amount. The true love story here is between two sisters who have been separated. Piper has been sent away, and Skylar is left to mourn. Quinn does a great job of showing Skylar's grief and her desire to forget everything. The narration pivots between first person and second person. I think second person is tricky to write, but clearly we are in the hands of a master as it is so well done. The irony is that as hard as Skylar is trying to forget, the more clear and precise her memories of Piper are. The second person chapters are always flashbacks to their time together.

I also enjoyed the seamless way the songs and The Wizard of Oz were integrated into the story.  They weren't necessary, but they certainly added a nice touch.  Each chapter that is a flashback is the title of an eighties song.  Of course, they dovetail perfectly for what happens in that chapter and are important for another reason that is revealed in the end.

The mystery builds so deliciously that I just wanted to tear through the pages faster and faster, but the words were so beautiful that I wanted to stop and savor them. I have a feeling that this will definitely be a second read for me. I also appreciated that this is a stand alone novel. I will absolutely be checking out more works by this author. 

There is a fair amount of language in this book.  No sex scenes although it is hinted that sex is traded for favors. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Best of 2014 so far...

Here is a list of the books that I have loved so far this year...

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)
This is truly a favorite of all times, not just this year.  It's that good.

Cruel Beauty
This one will take your heart, rip it out and stomp on it.

This was such a compelling read. Once you start, you won't be able to stop.

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)
You won't know who to cheer for.  Rutkoski does a great job of showing each side.

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3)
It's Sage - enough said!

Severed: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow
This one came out last year, but it was worth a mention again in 2014.

A Creature of Moonlight
A true gift of words. It is so beautifully written that you want to take each sentence and just roll it around in your mouth before you go on to the next sentence.

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
Bet you can't guess which one is which....

After the End (After the End #1)
Still can't get over the ending on this one.

Knight Assassin
Loved the historical aspect blended seamlessly with fantasy.

I, Morgana
This isn't YA, but I still loved it!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Parallel by Lauren   Miller 

Blurb from Goodreads
Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

4/5 stars
This was so much fun to read. Imagine the possibilities if just one little thing is different in your life. I would like to think that I would have ended up with my husband regardless of where our lives would have taken us. Abby doesn't have to imagine, she knows exactly what her life would be like if fate had dealt her a different hand. I thought the shifts in "reality" were believable, and I love how the ending brought them all together. Of course, I was routing for one particular guy all along so I am happy that things worked out that way. Fate is a fickle thing. I loved Dr. Mann and thought that his insights were funny and spot on. He said that circumstances change in our lives, but our destinies remain the same. I like that.

Just the other day, I was thinking of getting older and how I haven't really done big things with my life. But then I realized that I am content making baby splashes in the pool of life. I think Abby comes to that realization as well. I may not be President of the US or a relief worker in an urban area, but I do impact those around me even if it is giving someone a smile on a day that they really needed it. This book does a great job of exploring how we live and the impact that we can make. One little decision can make all the difference. We may not even know what the difference is, but our choices define us, and fate guides us. So who cares if I don't have an expensive car, I am living the life that I am meant to live.

I actually found this book to not only be a fun read, but also a thought provoking one. With implications around every corner, we get to see how Abby's reality is shaped by her choices. That's true for all of us, I believe.

There was no sex with the main characters, but there was an allusion to a hook-up from some minor characters.  A couple of swear words, but no f-bombs.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cool giveaway...

June Kindle Fire HTML
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Kindle Fire HDX Giveaways!

There are 2 Kindles being given away  (or if preferred the winners can choose a $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash)

To enter to win the 1st Kindle Fire HDX you use the rafflecopter form:

There is a second Kindle Fire HDX (or gift card or paypal cash being given away).  This one is available only to those who post about the giveaway on their blog.  You can post anytime from NOW until May 31st.

The easiest way to do this is simply copy, paste and edit the HTML found at the end of this message.  Or if you prefer you can grab info off these 2 links to create your own post:

Once your post is up you MUST enter the link into this form to be entered to win the 2nd Kindle:

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