Review: The Melody of Light by M.L. Rice

Book Title: The Melody of Light
Author: M.L. Rice
Published Date: November 18th, 2014
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Siblings Riley and Aidan Gordon are survivors. Together, they survived an abusive childhood, and when a fiery accident incinerates all they have—except for each other—they survive that, too. The tragedy leaves them with burdens and pain beyond their years, but it also sets them free to forge their own paths. Aidan’s road to happiness seems smooth and carefree. But Riley continues to struggle, her only saving grace being a passion for music that helps soothe her damaged soul. As their paths diverge and college looms, Riley will have to depend less on Aidan and more on herself. Fear of failure drives her, but will finding love derail her single-minded determination to succeed, or will it open the door to the family she’s always wanted?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book sounded like something I’d love, so I was excited to get it from NetGalley. It’s no secret that I love dark contemporaries and that they usually give me all those feels. Unfortunately, this book didn’t do it for me. I was unbelievably bored the entire time I read it. I didn’t root for Riley or Aidan to overcome their childhood. I didn’t get excited or emotional at all.

Even as young adults they seemed overly involved in each others lives which really gave me the hebie jeebies. There was no reason they needed to constantly be all up in each others business and it really didn’t sit well with me. I understand being close with siblings, especially considering their rough childhood, but their co-dependence really made me wonder if they could ever have their own lives.

I was not a big fan of the romance either which is weird because I love LGBT romance. In this book it kinda came out of nowhere I was was left wondering if I had missed clues to the fact that one of the siblings was attracted to their same gender. Even when the couple got together, I wondered why they were ever together because I didn’t feel the chemistry between them at all.

Things were really rushed in this book and I don’t feel like enough time was spent developing their characters. I wanted more character development for Riley and more for Aidan. I wanted to see how they would conquer the world if they weren’t constantly attached to each other. I wanted them to explore their independence 

This book was overall very boring, the sibling relationship gave me the creeps and the character development was very poor. So I’ll be giving this book 2 stars. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Impostor (Variants #1) by Susanne Winnacker

Book Title: Impostor (Variants #1)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Release Date: May 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA Mystery/SciFi
Series: Book 1 in Variants series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. 

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Disclaimer: I received this e-book from Razorbill via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

The synopsis looked awesome and so I requested it all the while crossing my fingers for it. Surprise, surprise, I got it. I was excited when I started it.Unfortunately, I didn’t end up enjoying it much.In fact it narrowly escaped being a DNF for me. Which I hate.I mean c’mon, awesome abilities and romance. How can it go wrong?

Well it can go wrong with the protagonist being a very immature sixteen year old. It can go wrong with her obsession over Alec taking over EVERY part of the book. It can go wrong when Alec is talked about in terms of his hotness. And people wonder why teenage girls are so shallow. They are shallow because the writers make them that way.

I thought Alec was an idiot too. I mean I felt terrible for his girlfriend Kate. She was not painted in a good light and I think that was because we were supposed to shun her and root for immature Tessa and moronic Alec.

There was no character development which is a biggie for me so I was really disappointed about that. I was screaming at Tessa to just grow the eff UP. But that didn’t help at all. She remained as teenage-ry as possible. The writing was just very simplistic and that really bothered me. I mean I don’t need something like J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy but geez, sometimes the writing reminded me of a high schooler writing fanfiction.

Overall this had a lot of promise but definitely was not executed well. The characters were flat, the writing was blah. So unfortunately I will be giving this book one star. Clearly I seem to be in the minority but this book just wasn’t for me.

Review: The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello

Title: The Moment Before
Author: Suzy Vitello
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Don’t get me wrong. I loved my sister. I never, not once, wished her dead.”

Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart, but they couldn’t be more different. Popular Sabine, the head cheerleader dating the high school hunk, seems to have all the luck, while her younger, artsy sister “Brady Brooder” is a loner who prefers the sidelines to the limelight.

After Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident, grief unravels Brady and her family. Once recognized for her artistic talent, 17-year-old Brady finds herself questioning the value of everything she once held dear. Her best friend betrays her. Her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in the search for answers in the wake of her sister’s death. As an unlikely friendship emerges, Brady learns more about Sabine – and love – than she bargained for.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Recently, I told a fellow book blogger friend that there are a lot of criteria that goes into rating a book for me. Character development is a big one for me. It’s probably number 2 on my list of criteria. Unfortunately this book failed on this criteria. The characters all bored me and I found myself not caring about anything. The only character I seemed to like was Sabine and she was dead. Readers can forget about character development in this book as it was sorely lacking.

The pacing was so slow. Reading this book felt like pulling teeth because it seemed like nothing really happened. At least until the end when it got just a bit more exciting. I think if the events in the book were a bit more spaced out, it would have been much better. The writing, oh geez, I really hated the writing. It could have been something amazing but I didn’t feel like the author committed to writing this book.

Brady and Connor bored me. I mean really I didn’t see the attraction at all. It felt like she was just with him to get her parents to notice her. Which of course was akin to playing games which was something that was alluded to. It was like out of nowhere she was kissing this guy.Who she didn’t even really know. So the romance definitely felt forced.

Martha was a terrible, horrible friend. I couldn’t understand that dynamic at all. The only thing I could think of was that she had lost some brain cells recently. She seemed more interested in taking over Sabine’s reign as Queen Bee, than being there for Brady and Brady’s family who she claimed to love.

Up until about 80% in I was going to give this book one star, but the last 20% brought a bit more feeling into it. Unfortunately despite the effort to greatly improve this book in the end, it was too little, too late. So I have to give this book 2 stars.

Review: Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

Book Title: Afterparty
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Release Date: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle. 

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop… 

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss.

I had such high hopes for this book. The cover was really pretty, kind of a dark ethereal theme if there is such a thing.The book started off really promising but unfortunately it spiraled downward very quickly.

Emma seems like a very normal girl when we first meet her. Yes, her dad is overprotective, but I really don’t bat an eye at that. It’s not until Siobhan sinks her teeth into the naive “good” Emma that things really start to unravel. It’s not until Siobhan gets Emma into her clutches do we realize exactly how much of a doormat Emma is. I mean, I understand the idea to bust out of her father’s overprotection, but Siobhan has this hold on Emma which apparently renders Emma incapable of saying no.

The dialogue was repetitive a lot of the time. Emma’s morals are constantly talked about and rehashed. It was very frustrating to constantly have Emma talk about being the “good Emma” Siobhan was an absolutely terrible friend. Clearly she was troubled and she wanted to pull Emma down with her. Initially I felt bad for Emma, but then I realized that Emma didn’t have to say yes all the time. She needed a backbone. 

The character development was non-existent. I wanted to know so much about Siobhan’s background and how she came to be such a troubled young lady. There were points & conversations that alluded to it, but nothing was explored in depth. Also I wanted to know more about Emma’s mom. That storyline was basically swept under the rug.

The writing was weird too. It was a rambly style that really kind of drove me crazy. Sometimes the dialogue would feel kind of forced. I am big on dialogue so it really disappointed me to see that the dialogue wasn’t smooth.

I really didn’t enjoy this one at all. I cannot actually find anything about this book that I enjoyed. It had a lot of promise, but it just didn’t deliver. That’s why I have to give this book 1 star.

Review: Plague by Lisa Hinsley

Book Title: Plague
Author: Lisa Hinsley
Publish Date: December 9th, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: Barnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In this enthralling debut thriller written in the vein of Contagion, a young couple struggles to save their plague-stricken son as they desperately fight back against a tyrannical government.

A new strain of the bubonic plague is diagnosed in London. Before it can be contained it spreads through the population, faster and deadlier than anyone could have imagined. Three weeks is all it takes to decimate the country.

Johnny and Liz are devastated when their young son, Nathan, starts to show symptoms, but Liz phones the authorities anyway, and a few hours later the army arrives and boards up their house.

Now Nathan is dying and there is nothing they can do to help him. Hours pass like weeks as their little boy grows weaker and weaker. All Liz wants is for them to die with some dignity, but the authorities refuse to help. Then their Internet and phones stop working. Cut off from the world and stuck inside their house, the family tries its best to cope-but there is nothing they can do to stop the lethal epidemic.

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Ooooh boy, grab your popcorn boys and girls because this review will definitely be filled with rants.I was admittedly SO excited when I was approved for this title. That excitement did not last long once I started this book.

First of all, where the HELL were the quotation marks? Hell-o, they are kind of important so I know where the dialogue is and who is talking.Not having them is really not acceptable. For me that was a huge deal. Unfortunately that was not the biggest issue I had with the book.

I haven’t met two more unlikable characters in a very long time. Liz struck me as obnoxiously clingy. I know we only got a 9 day glimpse into their lives but oh gracious I was highly annoyed with her. Johnny was an asshole and there was no excuse for it. My opinion of these two did not change at all as the book progressed. Nathan was absolutely adorable and he was easily my favorite character in the book.

Overall, though I had no emotional connection to the characters. To be totally honest I wanted Liz and Johnny dead because they were so unlikable.Nathan was the best part of the book but I still didn’t have any sort of emotional connection to him.

Now let’s get to the biggest issue for me. 

This book was filled with information or facts about the bubonic plague that if the author had totally researched it, she would have realized the conflicts.First of all it’s supposed to be a virus but you cannot treat viruses with antibiotics.Yet it’s supposed to be a strain of bubonic plague which is a bacteria.

Next the people Liz spoke to are not medical professionals and it is illegal to disperse medical advice unless you are a medical professional.Why didn’t a doctor appear on the phone instead of this Pete guy?

When two people show up to examine the boy why is one person in full on hazmat gear and the other one simply wearing a gas mask? It needs to be all or nothing.Why did they board up the house and everything but leave one window alone so it can be opened to get air? I’m pretty sure that if the plague can get out of the house, it can come into the house too.

So this book will be getting one star. Poor writing, uninteresting and unlikable characters and most notably, really sloppy research job.I think this book had great potential but unfortunately it did not reach its potential.

Review: One More Dance by Valentine Cardinale

Book Title: One More Dance
Author: Valentine Cardinale
Published Date: July 12th, 2013
Published By: Outskirts Press Inc.
Genre: Mystery
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble) 
One More Dance is a powerful tale about two people looking for love, a family in crisis, and the search for a mysterious assailant. After Julian Case, a Manhattan realtor and widower, meets Alegra Rossini, a university professor and single mom, at a wedding in Italy, he’s confident he’s found new love. On the plane back to the States he’s already making plans to see her again. But when he enters his home in New Jersey, he discovers his son has been savagely attacked and left for dead. Fearing that whoever beat the young man into a coma will try to finish the job, Julian puts his life on hold to assist in the investigation to find the assailant. 

And so the mystery begins, taking the first of many telling twists and turns. Who did it? Is there a likely suspect? Will the attacker strike again? Can a father unlock the secret connection and find his son’s attacker before it’s too late? Will Julian lose his chance at new love as he throws himself into the chase? 

In Italy, Alegra, who feels as strongly about Julian as he feels about her, can only continue teaching, caring for her eight-year-old daughter, and hoping. Will she let real love slip away from her? Can she wait as Julian deals with a family crisis that may take months, or years, to resolve while she struggles to get on with her life? The quest to find new love after the death of a spouse is understandable and a universal concern. But when it conflicts with a grave family matter, does it have to take a back seat? Should Julian be denied the chance for one more dance in his life?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

When I received a request to review this book, I was intrigued. The premise looked promising and involved Italy, a place I have wanted to travel to for a long time. Unfortunately my initial excitement over the book’s premise faded as I began to read the book. It was a very quick read. In fact I finished it in less than six hours. 

The writing style did not appeal to me at all. It seemed as though very little thought was put into it as the descriptions of things seemed to use the least amount of words possible. Now I’m not saying every book has to be the size of J.R.R Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings books,but what I am saying is that this book read like an extended fan fiction. I found no spelling or editing errors in the book so that was definitely a plus.

I couldn’t connect to any of the main characters. I tried throughout the entire book to connect with Julian or Allegra or Florence or Leo or Frankie, but I just couldn’t. That’s when I really started to get frustrated with this book. If I cannot connect in some way to the characters, then I am more than likely going to hate the book. I liked Florence and Frankie enough but I just didn’t connect with them. I think, had Allegra been a bigger part of the book I would have liked her, but she wasn’t so I didn’t. I blame the lack of character development.

One of my biggest issues came near the end. I can’t specifically talk about what happened as it is a major book spoiler. But what I can say is that in involved a certain piece of medical equipment that the author clearly didn’t understand how it worked.

I was really annoyed at the supposed romance because I didn’t feel it. I need to feel like I can root for these characters and because of the lack of character development and the lack of chemistry between Allegra and Julian, I just couldn’t root for them. 

So I have to give this book 2 stars, the lack of character development, the poor writing and the lackluster effort towards this book are the reasons why. Maybe someone else will take a chance on this book.