Friday, April 17, 2015

The Conspiracy of Us by by Maggie Hall

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Available Now
YA Thriller
Putnam Juvenile
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio CD/ BN/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter
Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

REVIEW

Okay, so I know this has been compared to the Da Vinci Code for YA and yes, it is complicated, maybe a little too complicated, but it has a few too many faults for me. Avery is okay, but after living a very sheltered life, moving from place to place for her mom's job and never having friends or a boyfriend, she all of the sudden starts noticing a boy who suddenly asks her to prom. After a week at school. After she has found him stalking her. And she goes. To prom, that is.  And then things get bad from there. She's a bit like a helpless bird who has crashed into a window and is stunned. Her wings are hurt and she spends most of the novel that way. Being rescued. Again and again and again. And while I don't mind the rescue thing, it does get old after a bit.

But the story line was very interesting. Twelve was the magic number- 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 ruling families who can shut down Prada as well as have private planes on standby in every major city in the world. One prophecy looking for the One with the violet eyes. Bet you can't guess who has violet eyes??? Though she wears contacts to make her eyes brown so she keeps her identity a secret for a bit, gathering information about the prophecy and who her family is among the twelve ruling families. I'm still not sure who she belongs to and I didn't realize this was a series. I have to say that Avery gets more gumption and depth towards the end of the book and the story is much more interesting in the later third of the book than in the first two thirds. It's the only reason I will probably borrow the next book from the library and read it.

However, more troubling to me, I couldn't keep straight who the good guys were and who the bad guys were- The Circle or The Order and maybe that was intentional, I'm not sure. You will also have to swallow a lot of disbelief in the romance department. I believe this is a world record in how fast a YA couple falls for each other. I think it's a day and a half. Now, it might have something to do with the prophecy or something else magical though there have been no signs of magic so far. And there is a second guy, but I believe Avery's preference is clear, so I don't think there is a love triangle. Time will tell.

There is a lot of violence on and off the page. Some of it is really violent and could be disturbing to younger YA readers. Talk about the violence is glib among most of the characters as they are used to it, though Avery is not. I think a lot of readers would find this very fun to read and would be able to swallow what I found troubling in the novel. It might have just been the wrong time for me to read this novel. Or maybe I was just expecting something a little more. If you go in with a lighthearted attitude I think you'll enjoy it. But the insta-love, rescue syndrome, and bad decisions as well as hazy prophecy and secret societies just made it too much for me to really love this one.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Compulsion by Martina Boone

Compulsion by Martina Boone
Heirs of Watson Island Series
YA/Paranormal
Available Now
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ MP3 CD/ B&N/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

REVIEW
I believe timing is everything. The first time I tried to read Compulsion I put it down after the first couple of chapters. It just wasn't the right time. That was last Fall when it came out. But I picked it up again and was able to breeze right through it. Now, it isn't without it's problems, but I could let those problems slide for the sake of the story. 

Compulsion is set in the South, an island off of South Carolina, one of my favorite settings. Everything is slow and sultry and the author does a great job of making me feel the humidity and the warm breezes of summer. Too bad I didn't pick this up on a snow day! I didn't feel that this had a gothic feel to it but there are definitely ghosts and skeletons in the closet. Any old Southern family has some of those in their closet, I suppose.  But I'll start with, I couldn't tell for sure because of the vagueness, but I think Barrie fell in love in less than a day. Yes, so if you have a real problem with insta love, forget this book. She was already worrying about Eight leaving for college after two or three days. Yeah, so there is that, but....if you can overlook that, there is a really great story in there.

First there is a great family story that unfolds about the heirs of Watson Island, The Colesworths, The Beauforts and  The Watsons. There is an interesting mythology surrounding the original owners and their heirs and  there is a mix of ghosts, Gullah and voo-doo lore. If you live along the Southern Coast, South Carolina to Northeast Florida- maybe to St. Augustine, you take for granted the lifestyle and the pace of the area. And the stories of how the areas were inhabited and still inhabited by ghosts and spirits. There are so many traditions and superstitions and generations, it's really hard to keep things straight but it makes for a great story, especially if your family is part of that story. Regardless of what God you believe in or don't, it's hard not to believe in some of the superstition and stories being told and that's exactly what happens to Barrie, only she can see it with her eyes. She has a gift for finding lost things, a pull towards those lost things like a yearning, and if she doesn't go find it, it becomes insistent almost to the point of pain. The Beauforts have their own gift as Barrie finds out belatedly. And the Colesworths have one as well, an unfortunate one.

This story is kind of meeting the family and introduction to the island kind of story. Oh, yes, there is a big action scene and mystery that gets taken care of but there are some very big loose ends that need to be taken care of in the next novel. Barrie's gift is interesting and one that definitely can be exploited by the wrong sort if she lets them. Luckily, Eight seems to be her protector right away even if Barrie doesn't want a protector. She doesn't quite sell me on that point. But I do see how Eight could be a little infuriating. And Barrie, for getting thrown headfirst into a situation she knows nothing about and is forced to swim through secrets and lies and betrayal looking for the truth, I'd say she's a strong character. She does not get rescued by Eight, but rescues herself so that is a commendable aspect of her personality. She's level headed even when she's falling apart. Even when I'd be shrieking ( I can only take the ghost thing so far). And she is very kind. To her Aunt Pru who does deserve it. To her cousin Cassie, the jury is still out on her. And in general to the people on Watson Island and even the spirits. She falls in love with the place, the place her mother grew up, and I think she learns to forgive and understand her childhood there.

You really should read it if you are into ghosts, and Southern folklore and curses. Yes, there is insta love, but it's almost part of the curse, they are just destined to love each other, it's always been that way. Why fight it? Especially when Eight makes Barrie so happy, and his gift is was it is. So forgive the insta love and read it. It's worth it. I really do recommend it! Especially if you are still in a part of the country that is thawing out!!



Monday, March 23, 2015

Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

ASK ME by KIMBERLY PAULEY
Available Now
YA Magical Realism
Publisher- Soho Teen
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ MP3 CD/ B&N/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads: Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. 
 
But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.
 
Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

REVIEW
****Minor spoilers******
I was disappointed with the mystery in this one, I'll just let you know right up front. I knew right away who it was that was the psychopath doing the killing. However, my husband made me doubt myself because with the initial killing, we get the killer's point of view and my husband pointed out that it didn't give a gender. So I did question myself, a little. But it's always the charming smarmy one. What would have surprised me is if it had been the guy everyone was warning her about. But that was not the only thing that was disappointing in the book. One girl had a chance to save herself from being killed. It was clear that she was going to have to be killed to keep her quiet so why, why, why didn't she tell her best friend or someone else what had happened? I can understand being confused and upset, but if I had been in her place, even at her age, the police would have been my first phone call when I got home.

So, I didn't buy into the stupid girl premise. We aren't that dumb. Then, Aria had to be dumb too because she had to fall for the psychopath and even when he was asking her questions like, "Who is going to die next?" she didn't catch a clue. Really? Why would someone ask that question? And why not go right to the girl's home and tell her? Call the police? Tell her grandparents?  I know Aria had never had friends because of  her weird "oracle" abilities, but she gets a couple of friends and stops thinking. And the obvious questions were avoided. I don't think you can have an oracle and avoid the most important questions. Who did it? Can  X be trusted? (fill in X with several names) Is X in danger (definitely putting Aria's name in that spot). 

And then, throughout the book, it is emphasized that almost every oracle in the bloodline has lost her ability by the age of 17. But Aria has gone past her 17th birthday and hasn't lost her ability. She also has a book with a lot of information about her bloodline all the way back to the original oracles. But nothing  comes of that. And nothing comes of her not having lost her abilities. Is there another book in the works? Will we get some more information on what important information is in the book? What the importance of Aria keeping her abilities means? Will she retain them and become a consultant for the police?

I also had a little trouble with the reason she was with her grandparents. Now, her grandparents were golden! They were the best thing about the book! I loved that her grandfather would ask her about who would win the races and he would interpret her cryptic answers so he could win a little extra money for them as they were very tight on money. They loved Aria and I loved how when boys started coming over Grandpa got his shotgun out and started cleaning it! Very great pair!! But I didn't understand why her parents blamed her for their split. Why they didn't send money for her expenses. I just think the whole story with the parents needed some more back story.

So, while I read it and liked the author's writing, I didn't think it was a great mystery. Too obvious who did it right from the start. The girls were all portrayed as too stupid to figure out who the bad guy was because he was cute and (oh my fluttering heart) he paid attention to them. The oracle story needed depth and closure.
And the parents not paying support and blaming Aria for the breakup of their marriage, didn't work for me either. Aria's instant popularity was hard to buy as well.

I think the reviews have run the gamut on this one so enter at your own risk. If you've read my review, you'll probably be disappointed with the book or...you've been forewarned and your expectations will be lowered. I wouldn't say this is the worst book I've ever read, not even close. I wouldn't recommend it, but I didn't hate it. It's just one of those "meh" books to me and because I wanted to review it, I was honest about what I didn't like about it. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it! To each her/his own!


Monday, March 16, 2015

After the End by Amy Plum

After the End by Amy Plum
Available Now
YA/Dystopian/Realistic/Supernatural
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ AudioCD/ B&N/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
REVIEW
Okay, I'd like to say right off the bat that I thought the beginning chapter of this story was phenomenal!! I bought into the whole WWIII premise even though I knew going in that it hadn't really happened. But then the next page, or Chapter 2, is a spoiled 18 yr old getting expelled from his rich kid high school while his father tries to buy his son's way out of trouble. Ripped me right out of the story. I really was disappointed to be taken out of the wilderness so quickly. Eventually, it worked for me but I would have loved if the story had been written in Juneau's point of view for a longer period of time and then had the story from Miles' point of view. Just a little bit longer. But in any case, this story really was good. I haven't read Amy Plum's other series but I found this novel easy to read and really fascinating. I put myself in Juneau's shoes and tried to imagine what our world looked like through her eyes. Couldn't do it. I am not able to unknow what I do. But she is very wise for not having computers and smart phones and GPS. And her survival skills are top notch. As well as her abilities to be able to read people both literally and figuratively. Of the two characters, I preferred Juneau over Miles for most of the book. She was honest, spare with her words, her mind was clear, uncluttered with unnecessary thoughts or words. Silence with her was natural and not uncomfortable. I liked her being one with the Yara. She loved and communicated with her dogs. She took care of the earth. She made friends with homeless people. What's not to love about Juneau? She started out like a wise toddler and grew in a couple of days to the genius of our species or some species.
Miles on the other hand was a total screw up through most of the trip. He was a spoiled rich kid who didn't want to work in the mail room for four months so he tried to take the easy way out by finding Juneau for his dad and bringing her back to his dad. HA! HA! Joke was on him, though. He spent most of the trip believing he was with a woman with schizophrenia who was delusional at best and dangerous at worst. Then there was the raven Poe that she insisted ride in the back of his BMW, nesting in his clothes. I love the nuggets of information Juneau throws at him. When he complains that the bird will poop all over his back seat, Juneau says he won't do that because then he'd have to sit in his excrement and birds are smarter than that. Score one of many, many points for Juneau.
The story that Juneau and her clan had been isolated because they believed in WWIII and that they were survivors of the war is really plausible considering where they live. But as Juneau's beliefs fall apart, so does her belief in the Yara, everything she's  been taught by her mentor, even by her father. Her faith in herself is shaken so that she's not even sure what is true about herself anymore and her gifts are lost. She meets some interesting people in her journey to find her clan, even some of her enemies become interesting to her, providing some knowledge that she needs. It's a cliffhanger of an ending but seems to be heading in a good way. The book is very fast paced and my hope is that they eventually end up back in the wilderness of Alaska on Juneau's territory being chased by the bad guys. I want her to make painful traps and smear them with bear scent so that they are begging for death! But they aren't headed there now.
I highly recommend this one for book lovers of dystopians/realistic fiction with a little supernatural thrown in. There is nothing in this but a little kissing so that I think any age can read this one. I couldn't stop reading it once I got started. I am really excited about the next book in the series. And really happy I took a chance on this series. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Perfect Ruin- The Internment Chronicles One by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin- The Internment Chronicles One by Lauren DeStefano
Available Now
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audiobook/ B&N/ Book Depostiory/ Indiebound/ Kobo

YA/Fiction/ Dystopian

Goodreads: On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream, unless you approach the edge. Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close can lead to madness, like her older brother Lex, a Jumper. She takes solace in her best friend Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry. When she investigates the first murder in a generation, she meets Judas. The suspect was betrothed to the victim, but Morgan believes he is innocent. Nothing can prepare Morgan for the secrets she will find – or whom she will lose.

So, I have discovered the joy of reading for pleasure! You know, when you first started out blogging and you didn't know about ARCs and you didn't have a schedule for posting reviews. Do you remember that time? I have just rediscovered that time. I am loving it! And really working on my TBR list! I'm excited about reading again! So this one has been sitting on my Kindle since November of 2013!
Review
I haven't read anything by Lauren DeStefano but I knew the reputation of the Chemical Garden Trilogy  so I thought I'd try this expecting, I don't know, hoping for something very different in the dystopian genre. I was really surprised by this one. First that Internment was described as it was, an island floating in the clouds, made as if a giant hand had scooped up a piece of land from below and placed it there. So I could really picture what Internment looked like. And the size of it. It is contained in the air so there is no slipping out unless you jump, but there are ferocious winds that surround the border of Internment so that something happens to anyone that tries to jump. That seems man made, but who knows? And Internment sounds like a place of punishment, doesn't it? Kind of like how Australia started out as a penal colony. But we don't get a lot of history about the early days of  Internment, only that there have always been royalty and there used to be a kind of hierarchy of people being used as slaves. So you couldn't always be anything you wanted to be just by dreaming. And why do people want to get off of Internment? Why aren't they content? They don't have to worry about food, money, a job. They do have a space problem on Internment. You have to sign up to have a child and there are no accidental babies. You have to get the ok from the King.

So, throughout the book, I'm thinking why jump? I know why Lex jumped. I know why Alice is upset. I get the idea of why the murder happened. There is rebellion going around and it needs to be stopped. But I'm thinking about our world compared to Internment and trying to figure out why rebel? What is so bad about it? Certainly there are rules, but we have them as well, they are called laws and they maintain order, somewhat. There is relative safety on Internment. Even the Jumpers aren't punished. There don't appear to be slums or  homeless people. So is it curiosity that makes them jump? The desire for more than what there is on Internment? There is freedom already on Internment. But there is a lack of space. So a need for more must be the motivation. More space, more information, more freedom, more choices, more chances.
I'm not sure what they are going to find when they get to the ground, but I know what's to be found in our world. I hope they aren't disappointed. As I write this, the second book is due out tomorrow. I'll know what happens in a bit.


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