Review: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

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Book Title: Delicate Monsters
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Published Date: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I would love to just spend a day in Stephanie Kuehn’s head because she is freaking brilliant and I cannot imagine what it’s like in her head. She manages to come up with captivating characters with fucked up morals. If I ever need a book that will mess me up completely, I’ll reach for Kuehn’s books and do a reread.

Saying I enjoyed this book sounds weird because the book was really dark, but I love dark books and I really did enjoy this one. I was expecting something a bit more gory. Especially given what people had told me about certain parts of the book. There were some disgusting things in the book. There’s one particular scene that made me squeamish, which is strange because I’m normally not squeamish at all.

I was expecting to struggle with the three POV’s this book had. But I didn’t. Sadie, Emerson and Miles were interesting characters. Characters that made some really bad choices (I’m looking at you Emerson) But they were characters that I wanted to know more about and I love that feeling.

Sadie was always angry, always cruel. Even from a small child, she never had anything  nice to say and it was her father that noticed her cruelty. She was very much a sociopath and sociopaths have always interested me. In Delicate Monsters, we learn exactly how messed up she is and I found her so fascinating. In the beginning, I liked her POV the best, but I slowly grew to enjoy the boys’ POV’s.

Emerson seemed normal, but it’s not until about halfway through the book that we start to learn that he’s not normal. in fact, he’s a sick boy with horrifying proclivities. Yet again, I found him fascinating. His family history was interesting. He still cared about his younger, and sickly brother, so there’s SOME kind of humanity there.

Miles was also very interesting. I kept wanting to know why he was so sick all the time. I kept wondering who was responsible for it. My suspicion turned out to be wrong, so apparently, I’m still not good at figuring out any twists. Someone needs to teach me how to figure them out. He had a lot of darkness inside of him, but I still felt like he had some sort of humanity.

I still don’r know if I even understand this book. It’s the most confusing book of Kuehn’s and it’s also my least favorite. I still recommend it, and I still recommend this author because she’s so brilliant. 4 stars to this book that kept me guessing, and made it impossible for me to read anything else that night.

Review: Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler

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Book Title: Under the Lights
Author: Dahlia Adler
Published Date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA LGBT
Series: Book 2 in Daylight Falls series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show,Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Spencer Hill Contemporary via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. If someone wants to figure that out for me, that’d be awesome. This book was utter perfection. Not only was the romance swoon worthy and sexy, but the friendships in here were absolutely awesome as well. Not to mention the diversity.

Josh was a royal pain in the ass initially. He drove me batcrap insane, but at the same time, he’d have me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He had the combination of humor and douche-canoe down pat. At the same time, I loved the friendship that developed between him and Vanessa. We don’t see enough opposite sex friendships in books and that really bugs me. It is possible for a girl & a guy to be friends and I really hate the implication that men & women cannot be friends without there being a ulterior motive.

Vanessa is involved with a boy named Zander. This boy wants things that Vanessa doesn’t want. He wants her to focus on him, and the future with him. He wants that future to include a purity pledge. That’s not what Vanessa really wants and she struggles with that and what that means. He is also intimidated by Josh, yes crude, rude pain in the ass, Josh. He’s convinced that Vanessa is stepping out on him.

Well technically it’s not Josh, Zander should be worried about. It’s Brianna. Brianna who is initially Vanessa’s stand in for Ally, Vanessa’s best friend. Brianna who quickly becomes Vanessa’s confidant and good friend. Brianna talks to Vanessa about the whole purity pledge thing

“You really don’t want to have sex until you’re married?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I respect that. If it’s really what you want. Is it?”

First of all, I absolutely LOVE Brianna. Not only does she support a person’s right to wait until marriage to have sex, but she verbalizes that viewpoint. Not very many people would voice that. And that is sad & so depressing. If someone wants to wait to be married to have sex, that’s their choice. Even though Brianna didn’t believe Vanessa, she still respected Vanessa’s choices. That’s important in both a friendship & a relationship.

“I just kissed my first girl. And yeah, I think I might be…”
“Gay?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m bisexual. What if I am?”
“What if you are? Like boys all you want Park. It still won’t fix this. I’m bi and I promise you it’s not a fucking light switch. You can’t just set it on ‘boy’ because it’s inconvenient that you like a girl right now. Widening your options doesn’t change the feelings you have.”

This stuck with me for many different reasons, most of them being because it took me four years to admit to anyone that I was bisexual. I struggled with feeling like I had to flip a switch and make sure it stayed on “boy” because it was inconvenient for me to like a girl. I totally related to Vanessa because of this. I remember feeling the same things that she felt.

The sex scene was steamy and sexy and so perfect. I absolutely loved it. There are virtually no LGBT sex scenes in YA, so I was super excited to see Bri & Van get it on and for it not to fade to black like so many other YA’s do. I was so, SO thrilled. I am very pro-sex in my YA and in some ways, even more in the subgenre of YA LGBT because there is such a lack of full on sexy scenes that don’t fade to black.

Van then has to go through the tough process of coming out. Coming out to her friends, her fans & to her family. Josh and Ally handle it perfectly and Josh’s response made me cry.

“So you’re a lesbian K-drama, not an axe murderer. Why do you say that like it’s the most horrible confession on earth?”
“Because it may as well be, and you know it!”

Van handles this whole thing better than I ever could. Especially given the fact that she lives in the public eye. She tells her parents. Her super conservative, Korean parents, and thankfully, she had her friends & Bri to console her when things become rough. I couldn’t help but remember how rough it was for me when I came out. Especially how rough things were between my Catholic relatives and myself. Things are better now, but it took a really long time. So reading about Van’s struggles with her family, really hit home for me.

This book and the friendships and the romance was utter perfection and I cannot recommend this book enough. Adler is amazing, and she captured so many of my thoughts and made them come out of Van. If you need a diverse read with a couple you can root for, then you need to pick up this book.

Blog Tour: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thicker Than Water
by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: December 29th 2015
Kensington Books

Summary from Goodreads:
On his own
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

Add to Goodreads
Buy Links: AmazonBarnes and NobleGoogle Play

Review
I didn’t know much about this book before I sat down to read it. I felt like it had promise and it had so much potential to be awesome. I also tried to avoid other early reviews of this book because I really didn’t want my reading experience to be tainted.

So I dove into this book with an acceptable amount of anticipation and, at first, I was disappointed with it and contemplated DNFing it. I just could not get into it because the pacing was so slow and some of the characters frustrated me. But I wanted this book to be awesome and I could see the potential in the main characters, Charlotte & Tommy.

So I kept reading and it kept getting better. I am SO happy that it improved because it ended up being a captivating read that kept me guessing all the way through.

I know a lot of people had issues with Charlotte and I get why, but I actually really liked her. Yes her family was crazy overprotective and that would have driven me nuts. Given what had happened many years ago to Charlotte’s classmate, I couldn’t totally blame them. She was also very passive and didn’t stand up for herself. That was definitely something that bothered me. But it’s the kind of thing that ALWAYS bothers me about girls (and guys) who are passive & don’t stand up for themselves. Charlotte had a great character arc, so I was able to get over her passivity & pushover-ness.

Tommy’s arc went places I was never expecting it to. I did love the relationship between him and his stepdad and how that unraveled throughout the book. I felt like that was done really well and I was really happy. I was very annoyed with how he was treated initially by the police, investigators etc. That was almost enough to get me to DNF the book, but like I said before, I am really glad I stuck with this book.

I want to talk about more of the book, but I’m not going to spoil things. So all I’ll say, is you need to read this book. It had twists & turns & even some utter mind-fuckery. I am giving this book 4 stars, mostly because of the slow start to this book and the crappy way Tommy was treated by law enforcement.

About the Author
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Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an infant to a teenager.

While writing STORM, it’s ironic to note that Brigid’s personal life was plagued by water problems: her basement flooded three times, her roof leaked, her kitchen faucet broke, causing the cabinet underneath to be destroyed by water, the wall in her son’s room had to be torn down because water had crept into the wall, and her bedroom wall recently developed a minor leak. Considering SPARK, book 2 in the series, is about the brother who controls fire, Brigid is currently making sure all the smoke detectors in her house have batteries.

Brigid loves hearing from people, and she probably won’t refer to herself in the third person like this if you actually correspond with her. She has a smartphone surgically attached to her person nearby at all times, and email is the best way to reach her. Her email address is brigidmary@gmail.com.

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Giveaway
Giveaway Link

Book Tour Organized by:
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SST: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

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Goodreads

Synopsis (GR):
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review
Guys, if this book is ANY indication of how awesome 2016 releases are gonna be, it’s going to be a GREAT year for books. Not so much for my wallet though.

Now the synopsis hints at something being “off” but I had no idea that it was a time travel book until I started reading. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even really read the synopsis before I started reading. I was thrilled that it was a time travel book because time travel is one of the most fascinating things to me in the world.

Natalie was instantly likeable to me and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes me awhile to warm up to the main character. But not this time. I also really liked Grandmother, I found her to be fascinating and when Natalie would recount her stories, I found myself excited to keep reading. Normally having a character recount someone else’s stories would bore me, but not this time. Not with Natalie and Grandmother.

I loved that Natalie was adopted and that she was Native American. We don’t get a lot of Native American representation in YA, so this was really awesome to see. YAY for diversity! We definitely need more Native American representation in YA.

I was also worried that this book would focus “too much” on the romance aspect and that would ruin the book for me. I’m not one for the fluffy stuff. Yes this book had a lot of romance in it, but the time travel aspect of it made it much better. It was more compelling and I found myself excited to read and that’s a feeling I haven’t had lately.

I did like the romance between Natalie & Beau, but I didn’t love it. I know several people who mentioned the romance seemed a little insta-lovey. I didn’t see that, but I also felt like Beau’s development wasn’t as strong as it could have been. There were times that he seemed a bit bland to me. He was infinitely better than Natalie’s ex, Matt.

Matt was a piece of crap. Not only did he get physically rough with Natalie, but he also attempted to rape her. We later find out that he has issues, but that’s no excuse for the abhorrent way he treated Natalie.

Alice Chan was one of the side characters who was attempting to help Natalie figure everything out. I loved Alice. She was very fascinating and I found myself hanging on to her every word as she worked to uncover the reason behind Grandmother’s appearances and the reason behind Natalie slipping through time.

The writing was utterly gorgeous and I think that was one of the reasons I fell head over heels for this book.The writing helped pull me into the world that Henry created. The writing  actually made me want to STAY in this world. Well that and the cover. The cover is unique, eye catching and all around perfection. Whoever designed this cover is a freaking GENIUS.

Highly recommend this book. Pre-order it now.

About the Author:
Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

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Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

FIRSTS

Book Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin via NetGalley.

Review
I think I underestimated the book and it’s importance. Because it is such an important book. It tackles friendships, sexuality and the infuriating truth that are double standards.

Mercedes is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine. People aren’t going to be okay with the fact that she basically helped these guys cheat on their girlfriends. As someone who has experience with cheating boyfriends, it took me a little while to get my head wrapped around Mercedes’ idea. It was a little uncomfortable to me for awhile, but I pushed through the discomfort because I was so insanely excited for this book.

I was really excited to see strong female friendships, not so much with Mercedes & her friend Angela, but with Mercedes and the new girl, Faye. I actually took to Faye immediately and even though I could tell Mercedes really didn’t want to let anyone else into her life, I was hoping she’d let Faye in. What I wasn’t expecting was the Mercedes/Faye flirtation throughout the book, but oh my god, did I love that.

Tonight was weird. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. This could very well be what regular teenagers do every day. But something was weird. I felt wanted.

What this book also did was explore the rage-inducing double standards that teen girls still experience today. Boys are applauded for having sex, girls are criticized for having sex. Boys are studs and girls are sluts. How does that make any sense? It’s no longer the 1950’s. Big surprise, even girls like sex.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about Angela’s boyfriend Charlie. Alarm bells related to him didn’t go off for a long time. But when they did, they rang like the church bells in The Sound of Music. I started getting a knot in my stomach around 70% through the book, and the knot did not go away through the rest of the book.

I’m torn on the romance aspect. On one hand, I really liked Zach and I loved how good he was to Mercedes. She really needed that. At the same time, I almost feel like the thing with Zach weakened the book for me. Like they were better friends than a couple. I think I’m the only one to feel like this though.

Yes, Mercedes had character flaws, but I think that’s what made me adore her even more. She was flawed, and awesome and I saw quite a bit of myself in her, and that surprised me. I didn’t expect to relate to her, but I did.

“…Nothing you do will make him leave, no matter how many times you push him away. And you’ll never have to be afraid of him.”

This book is so important to all teenagers, both boys and girls. I totally recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. Give it a shot, it may surprise you like it surprised me.

Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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Book Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley

Review
Nothing I can say will ever do this beautiful book justice in my mind. I mean, WOW. What an incredibly gorgeous, yet heartbreaking book this was. I wasn’t sure what to expect, wasn’t sure I’d love this book as much as I wanted to, but at about 12% of the way through, the tears started falling and they never let up. I think part of the emotion was because this has happened so many times in the US. School shootings are not as rare as they once were.

I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep the 4 different POV’s in my head. I wouldn’t be able to differentiate all four voices. Thankfully, it only took me a little while to get accustomed to them and before I knew it, I had no problem telling each of the voices apart. Claire, Tomas, Sylvia & Autumn each have a connection to the shooter, though the connections aren’t immediately apparent. The different connections they had to the shooter are revealed early on, for which I was grateful.

I cannot say enough about the diversity in this book. In some ways, I think the diversity within the characters was my favorite part. There were characters of different ethnic backgrounds, different family systems, and perhaps my favorite thing, main characters who were lesbian. I did not expect the LGBT aspect of the book, so to see that unfold really excited me, and in some ways, made me sob even more.

This book was very character driven and for a short book, these characters were very well developed. That was one of my concerns with this book, given the length. I was nervous these characters wouldn’t be fleshed out well, but they were.

The pace was quick, but in a book like this I wasn’t bothered by it. A whole lot of stuff needed to be packed into 54 minutes and it felt real to me. I felt the panic. I felt the terror and I felt sadness. I didn’t know it was possible to feel all of these things from a book, and I’ve been reading since I was four.

This book was the kind of book that sticks with you hours, even days after you’ve finished it. I love these type of books. The tough subjects, the books that bring the feels and this book was no different. Marieke Nijkamp’s debut is a stunning book that broke my heart from the beginning.

Review: Queen (The Blackcoat Rebellion #3) by Aimee Carter

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Book Title: Queen
Author: Aimee Carter
Published Date: November 24th, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Book 3 in The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy
(Pawn & Captive)
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
PAWN…CAPTIVE…QUEEN?

Kitty Doe is a Blackcoat rebel and a former captive with a deadly connection to the most powerful and dangerous man in the country, Prime Minister Daxton Hart. Forced to masquerade as Daxton’s niece, Lila Hart, Kitty has helped the Blackcoats take back the prison known as Elsewhere. But Daxton has no intention of ceding his position of privilege—or letting Kitty expose his own masquerade. Not in these United States, where each person’s rank means the difference between luxury and poverty, freedom and fear…and ultimately, between life and death.

To defeat the corrupt government, Kitty must expose Daxton’s secret. Securing evidence will put others in jeopardy, including the boy she’s loved forever and an ally she barely trusts. For months, Kitty’s survival has hinged on playing a part. Now she must discover who she truly wants to be, and whether the new world she and the rebels are striving to create has a place in it for her after all.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
I’ve been eagerly anticipating the final book in this series and I am so glad I finally got to read it. The anticipation was absolutely killing me. So when my copy became available at the library I promised myself I’d start it the minute I picked it up.

This book was an awesome ending to the series. I loved the series overall, and although the 2nd book, Captive, is still my favorite of the three, Queen had a whole heck of a lot of awesome inside of it. A whole lot of craziness and even an eleventh hour ship change, which thrilled me for reasons.

Kitty took a lot of risks in this final book, but they were risks that paid off for the most part. They were risks that had me breathless as I kept reading to find out the outcomes of certain things.

I don’t know who was more of the breakout star in this book: Greyson or Celia. They were both captivating and I could never figure out what their next plans were.  I had always liked Greyson so I was happy to see more of him. Celia had always interested me. I had always wanted to know more about her and what made her tick.

I want to talk more about other characters, especially Knox & Benjy, but I won’t. I don’t want to accidentally let something slip about their character arcs. I still love Knox and I grew to dislike Benjy in this book. That’s all I’ll really say.

I am so sorry to say goodbye to these characters, but I am so glad that I got to read this series. It was captivating, exciting and fascinating. I am giving it 4.5 stars. It was so freaking awesome and I would totally recommend this series to everyone who likes dystopian books.

Blog Tour: Half in Love With Death by Emily Ross

HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH

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Half in Love with Death
by Emily Ross
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: December 18th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

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Synopsis
It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish.The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

Review:
I was a little iffy on this book when I first saw it. It didn’t look like something I’d be into, so I passed on it. Later, when I looked at the synopsis, I was very intrigued.

I took a chance with this book because normally historical fiction is not what I reach for when I want to read. However, after a slow start, this book hooked me in and did not let go of me the rest of the book. It was the kind of book you need to be patient with because it was a bit slow in the beginning and I found myself frustrated at both the pacing and the characters.

I think that’s why it took me so long to read a book that’s not even 300 pages.

Caroline was a fascinating character to me. She was maddening, but she also clearly loved her sister, so she was in a near constant state of conflict. Her parents were cold and distant with her. Maybe that was part of the 60’s parenting thing, I have no clue. Caroline also had boy problems. She had Billy, but she also starts falling for Jess’ boyfriend, Tony.

But is Tony innocent?

As the book continues, things get very creepy and questions begin to arise about Tony, about his friends and about whether or not Jess is actually in California like everyone else seems to think she is.

This book was a slow start, but it ended up being very enjoyable and it left me questioning everything and even wanting more after I finished reading it. I am giving it 4 stars because outside of the slow start, it was a VERY enjoyable book and I’m really glad I took a chance on it.

About the Author
EMILYROSS
Emily Ross’s YA mystery/thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH is forthcoming from Merit Press(12/2015). She received a 2014 MCC Artist Fellowship finalist award for fiction, and is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. When not writing she works as a web developer and is the mother of two millennials. Find out more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/ or https://twitter.com/emilyross816.

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Review: Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Book Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published Date: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Series: Book Two in The Naturals series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
I loved the first book in this series and I could not wait to start in on the second book. I was a bit worried about the second book not being as good as the first one. Sophomore slump and all that. I was excited to see what was in store for Cassie, Dean, Lia, Sloane and Michael.

Especially Cassie and Dean. Cassie went through a rough patch at the end of The Naturals. After Locke, after the bombshells that were leveled on Cassie I was worried. I was worried that she would spiral out of control like so many others would do if they were in a similar situation.

But I was also curious about Dean. We had learned that his father was in prison as a serial killer. Serial killers fascinate me and Dean being the son of a serial killer was really interesting. I wanted to know where it went.

So Dean was definitely fascinating in this book. The way he pulled away from Cassie and the rest of the inhabitants of the house was hard to read because they just wanted to help him, but he wasn’t receptive to their help. The interactions with his father were so fascinating, the interview had me hanging on every word on the page.

“Because if you’re a part of Dean’s life, you’re a part of mine.”

That, right there, is so very creepy. It’s the kind of creepy that could bring nightmares.

I did enjoy this book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first one. I adored the first one, but I only liked this one. I wasn’t as invested in this one as I was in the first one. I will be giving it 4 stars. I am still excited to see where this series goes next.

Review: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Book Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published Date: November 5th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Series: Book One in The Naturals trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
I don’t know why it took so long for me to read this book. Maybe hype reasons, I’m just not sure.

But I am totally kicking myself for not reading it sooner. It was so, so good. It went beyond my expectations. I usually try to go into books with average expectations because I’ve been burned before, but more than once, bloggers had been telling me that it was a “me” book and that I’d love it.

They were right!

It’s very rare that I like pretty much all of the main players in a book. Usually there’s one or two who I am not a huge fan of. That was not the case with this group. I loved Cassie, Sloane, Lia, Dean and Michael, but if I had to pick, I’d pick Cassie and Sloane over the others.

In fact, I think Sloane was my favorite character in the entire book (Sorry Cassie) She was just so awesome, and willing to speak her mind. You all know how much I love outspoken female characters. Nothing fazes her. She crazy intelligent and one heck of a hacker.

“This encryption is pathetic. It’s like they want me to hack their files.”

I wish I had that kind of talent. Where it would take a few keystrokes and I’d be in the middle of something that’s not for my eyes. Sloane was fascinating. Her ability with numbers & statistics was quite fascinating and that was one of the many things that fascinated me about her. I do hope we learn more about her in the books to come.

I also found Cassie to be interesting. She was motivated by the fact that her mom had been murdered when she was 12 and she had been sent to live with her dad’s relatives who she never really fit in with. I understood her desire to solve her mother’s murder. I too wanted her to be able to solve it. Well her and the other teenagers in this program.

The romance was weird. It was a weird romance-square. Between Lia, Michael, Cassie and Dean. If I hadn’t enjoyed the book as much as I did, the romance could have ruined the book for me. I liked them both, but for Cassie, I liked Dean better. Lia and Michael were more on and off again and throwing another person in a relationship like that ruins things.

I want to talk about so much more, but I can’t. I don’t want to ruin things for those who still haven’t read this awesome book. I loved it and I am happily giving it 5 stars.