Now I Rise by Kiersten White – Conqueror’s Saga #2

When I read And I Darken, I immediately fell in love with the unique protagonist. Lada is like no other in her ferocity and determination. The author stays true to her vicious nature and I loved that the author never made that aspect of Lada go away. It was no surprise then that I would be anxiously waiting for the sequel. So here is my review:

Lada Dracul is only after one thing: Wallachia. And she will do anything to get there. Filled with rage, she storms the countryside with her loyal men, terrorizing all those who defy her. But brute force isn’t working as well as it should. What Lada needs is her younger brother, Radu. But she left him – and Mehmed – behind. What Lada has yet to discover is that Mehmed has sent Radu to Constantinople – as a spy. Mehmed wants to control the city, and Radu would do anything for Mehmed. Radu longs for Lada’s confidence and bravery – but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. As nations crumble, the Dracul siblings must decide if they will make the ultimate sacrifice to fulfill their destinies.

I didn’t think the story could get any better – but it did. I loved everything about this book but let me try to break it into components. First off, I loved Lada (as usual). She maintained her ferocity, but also realized that she needed to change her style at times. She had her own unique way of deciding to govern her people, one that was influenced by her time with the Ottomans as well as by her memories of her father. She grows as an individual and the reader gets to see her vulnerable side (but not for too long!) This is the one character that does not require a man to complete her, or help her fulfill her goals and that is what I love about her. I’ve always been fascinated with the historical figure Vlad the Impaler but I never thought anyone would be able to reimagine him as a female. I’m happy to say that the author has succeeded! The next amazing thing about this novel is that the author made Radu a more prominent character. Before, he had been overshadowed by Lada, but in this novel he had his own moments. He also grew and changed as events unfolded. He became wiser, and struggled with himself at times. Was he my favorite character? No. But that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t well developed. In fact, he was an amazingly developed character, and the author kept him true to his original personality. What I actually liked about this novel was that Mehmed took the back seat. I was worried that this second novel would be more of a love triangle than a story filled with action and warfare, but I needn’t have worried. There was a ton of bloodshed and cunning in this story, enough to keep me satisfied. The story had a lot of twists and turns and it forced the reader to pay attention to all of the details (not that I had to be forced!) Overall it was a very compelling read and I really could not put the book down. And that ending? Well, it was fantastic and I cannot wait for what the author has in store for the Dracul siblings! Definitely a 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I’m a sucker for murder mysteries of all kind. But this one had a unique premise. It’s been called a mashup of The Breakfast Club and Clue. After reading this book, I couldn’t agree more. Here is my review:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. There’s Bronwyn, an intelligent and driven student whose only desire is to go to Yale; Addy, a pretty girl who is always considered an airhead; Nate, the delinquent who sells drugs; Cooper, the star athlete who everybody loves; and Simon, resident gossip blogger who is hated and feared by everyone. However, what begins as a typical time in detention soon ends up as the scene of a tragedy: Simon dies. And according to the police, his death wasn’t an accident. As the investigation begins, it is revealed that Simon was planning on revealing some juicy gossip about all 4 of his fellow detention buddies – which means they’re all suspects in his murder. Everyone has secrets…. but how far will you go to protect them?

The first page of this book reminded me of Gossip Girl, which is a guilty pleasure show of mine. As the story took off, I found myself loving the intrigue and the gossip. It felt like one of those teen shows like Degrassi … but more sinister. I loved it. It was interesting to read from each character’s perspective and I was itching to know each of their secrets. Some characters I liked more than others, but each one was unique and well created so I have no complaints there. The author also set up the story very nicely; there were plenty of clues and hints so that the reader could guess the ending, and there were quite a few moments where you really felt sympathy for the characters and what they were going through. I also liked that the ending was realistic; it’s not just puppies and rainbows with everything being perfect. I think this novel would be perfect for anyone who likes shows like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars. It was a fun read that is addictive and I could totally see this made into a miniseries. If you like those shows and if you like teen drama and murder mysteries, you are going to love this novel as much as I did!

Happy reading ~

Feel Me Fall by James Morris

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I promise that even though I’ve been super inactive on my blog, I’m still reading books! I’m on vacation right now and I really don’t get good wifi so having the connection necessary to write and post has been quite a challenge. I finally found a stable wifi connection so get ready for a deluge of posts!

After a plane crash that stranded her and her teenage friends in the jungles of the Amazon, these high schoolers must band together to struggle against the elements. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new hierarchy arises, filled with power struggles, betrayals, and revenge. When Emily emerges as the lone survivor, she must explain why she is the only one alive. But can she carry the burden of the past?

There were quite a few things that I enjoyed about this novel. I liked that the author skipped back and forth in time for certain portions of this story. It may have been a bit confusing at first, but it really added to the intrigue and mystery of the story. This novel was really action-packed and it was very easy to get caught up in the story. The one thing I didn’t really like was Emily’s character. She wasn’t a character I felt very interested in and her personality was a little blah for me. The ending was a cliffhanger, which I both liked and didn’t like; it was a unique twist but I generally just like to have a completely finished story. Overall, this was a strong YA novel that was action-packed and gripping, and I think many teens would enjoy reading this book!

Happy reading ~

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

I read the premise of this novel months ago, but it was not available anywhere in Canada for a while. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this novel, which has been hailed as a YA version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which is one of my favorite series!

Lumikki Andersson is a loner and she likes it that way. She knows all too well the trouble you can get in if you don’t mind your own business. But Lumikki’s rule is put to the test when she discovers thousands of washed Euro notes in her school’s darkroom – and 3 classmates with blood literally on their hands. With people now determined to get the money back, Lumikki finds herself on the run. At the center of all this chaos is Polar Bear, a mysterious drug lord with a notorious reputation for getting what he wants. If Lumikki hopes to make it out alive, she’ll have to uncover the entire operation before it’s too late.

This was a book that I had high hopes for but it ended up letting me down. To be frank, it was boring. In the beginning of the novel, the author alluded to a fairy-tale; however, the reference soon became obsolete as it literally did not have anything to do with the actual story. The plot itself was quite simple and the main character kept putting herself in situations that she could have easily avoided. While I understand that this is needed for there to be an actual story, the author should have at least included strong motivating factors that led to such decisions. I can see where the author was trying to go with a Lisbeth Salander vibe with the main character but it didn’t really work too well; instead of being intrigued by Lumikki, I just couldn’t care less. The other characters were nothing special, and this added to my indifference towards this book. At the end of the day, this story started off with a premise full of promise but it delivered on nothing. Perhaps I’m being unfair. I must mention here that I read a translated version; maybe the original is better! However, since I will probably not be in a position to read the original work, I’m going to have to pass on this series.

Happy reading ~

Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love my badass heroines. So when I read the premise and saw that this novel was about a girl whose parents are assassins, and that she is on the run, I fell in love.

As the daughter of professional assassins, Kaia has faced her share of danger and will do anything to survive. After her parents vanish, Kaia spends a year in hiding, looking for her parents before finally realizing they must be dead. She tries to forget her past and blend in as a normal teenager. And the one person who makes her feel sane and normal is her boyfriend, Oliver. But when a hit man jumps her, and Oliver sees her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is revealed. In a split-second decision, she leaves everything behind and takes Oliver with her. With professional killers out for blood, can Oliver and Kaia protect each other long enough to discover the truth?

I really wanted to like this novel. The beginning of this story was full of excitement and I got a rush from reading about their hasty flight out of town. This story was told from the perspective of both Oliver and Kaia, which I thought was a nice touch; we get to see what the assassins’ daughter feels and the civilian. However, the longer I kept reading, the more incredulous I found the whole thing. There are so many things that happen to them, so many weird connections made, and things just didn’t add up. At various points in the story, I had to put the book down and just try to move past all of the inconsistencies. While there was definitely tons of action, I felt no connection with the characters, and just couldn’t get into this absurd plot. For me, this novel did not live up to expectations.

Happy reading ~

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

December is my favorite month when it comes to reading. Because I know that the new year (and new books!) will be upon me shortly, I become frantic and try to get through my ever-growing pile of books to read and review. December gives me the motivation I need to sit and read book after book, and write review after review, until I’m left with a much more manageable book list that I can continue to work on in the new year. I desperately wanted to finish this book before January, and I was able to get through it in a mere 3 hours!

Zoe is a child genius, a musical prodigy – the perfect daughter. But a party gone wrong led to the death of three teenagers – and Zoe was the one to take the blame. She faced the courts, served her time. And now she’s free. Her mother remarried and now Zoe has a stepfather and stepbrother in her life, along with a half-sister. As Zoe Maisey, life should go back to normal again. But on the night when Zoe decides to give a piano performance, there is a disruption that threatens to bring her past back to the forefront. By midnight, Zoe’s mother is dead. Who killed Zoe’s mother and why? And what will happen now to this “perfect” family?

One of the things I liked about this novel was how it was split into two parts and went back and forth between different character perspectives as well as between different points in time. This ensured that the reader was attentive; I like to be kept on my toes because it makes me work that much harder to make connections – and sometimes, a challenge is a good thing!

While I enjoyed reading from the perspective of different characters and found the events leading up to the murder interesting, I didn’t really find Zoe to be a well-developed character. For one thing, the whole genius aspect had no purpose so it didn’t really even need to be included in the story. I thought that it was mentioned because it would lead to something somewhere but it didn’t, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Her character just made me sad but I couldn’t connect with her or feel anything other than marginal pity. I feel like she could have been a lot more complex, especially in showing her emotions regarding her mother’s death.

I also found the character of the solicitor to be quite unnecessary. I thought that the author had included him and his perspective for a purpose but he pretty much did nothing throughout the whole novel and had his own mini sidestory going on that I didn’t really care about. I pretty much hate when authors include things that have no bearing or purpose so the solicitor was definitely a disappointing character for me.

While the premise was interesting, and the whodunit aspect had me hyped, finding out what happened and the way that it resolved itself was a bit lacking in the wow factor, so I didn’t get that thrill that I was hoping for.

Overall, this is a well-written novel that incorporated many different perspectives and timelines. However, it was lackluster in terms of creating complex characters, and did not deliver on the thrill factor as strongly as I had hoped. Still a decent read, and worth giving a shot!

Happy reading ~

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I love Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Ever since I first read The Hound of the Baskervilles, I have been their fan. I love watching movies and TV shows based off of the books and I am absolutely in love with Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock. I was so excited when I heard about this book, especially because I love the idea of genderbending the characters. Anyways, here is my review:

Jamie Watson is famous for being a Watson – a descendant of the famous Watson, who was Sherlock Holmes’ colleague. When he gets sent to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school, he had no idea that he would be studying alongside Charlotte Holmes, the famous Sherlock’s great-great-great granddaughter. Jamie is giddy at the thought of meeting her, wondering what she will be like. And it turns out, she is exactly like Sherlock Holmes in terms of her intelligence, volatile temperament, and drug abuse. From the moment they meet, there is an intense connection. And when a Sherringford student dies under mysterious circumstances, and Jamie and Charlotte are under suspicion of murder, they decide to put aside their differences and work towards solving this case.  But the more they sleuth, the more they realize that nowhere is safe – and the only people they can count on are each other.

This novel was good. But that’s all I have to say. It wasn’t spectacular. It wasn’t special. As I kept reading, I found myself growing disinterested. There was no charm, no fun, no wit to anything. While Charlotte does embody Sherlock’s character, she doesn’t have any charm to make me want to like her or even admire her. Jamie’s character is reduced to a bumbling, hot-headed teenager who just seems besotted by Charlotte. They didn’t seem to really work well together, at least not as well as the real Sherlock and Watson did. I found the premise of the novel itself to be quite interesting, but I was quickly able to deduce who was the perpetrator behind the murder. The reasoning behind it was passable but the author really was trying to work on too many different angles, making it all quite muddled. Overall, this was a decent book but it did nothing for me. I think I’m just going to wait for the new season of Sherlock for my next Holmes and Watson fix.

Happy reading ~

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Red Rising #1

I will admit that I can be a book snob at times. When I first saw this book, I really liked the way it looked and its general premise seemed interesting. But as soon as I read a couple pages and realized it took place in space, I dropped it and decided not to pursue it. That was a mistake, as this book has now been named a New York Times bestseller and is flying off of the shelves. And now I hear that it is part of a trilogy. So it is with a bruised ego that I picked this book up and decided to give it a true shot!

Darrow is a Red, stuck on Mars, where he is forced to slave away to mine resources to make Mars a habitable place for the rest of the human race. Although he hates being caught in this system where he is the lowest caste, he knows he is building a strong future for himself and his family. But all of it is a lie. Darrow discovers that humanity reached the surface of Mars – and other planets – a long ago, and he is no better than a slave to the higher Colors that govern society. With nothing left to lose, Darrow embarks on a mission to infiltrate the legendary Institute as a Gold, the most elite member of society. He will be forced to compete for his life to become the best – and most brutal – of Society’s ruling class. And then, he will tear them all down. One by One.

I am an idiot for not reading this novel sooner! It is absolutely fantastic in its rendition of life on other planets. The depravity of humanity is combined with a scenario similar to that of the Hunger Games… except that I actually like Darrow a LOT more than Katniss (which I honestly did not think was possible). Darrow knows pain and he knows revenge and he is intelligent. He has problems with ego and rage and mourns for all that he has lost. He is both human and other, making him a force to be reckoned with, and the champion of all who read this novel! I actually found this novel to be a lot more intense than any of the books in the Hunger Games trilogy and every subterfuge that was used in this novel had me biting my nails and whooping with joy (when it worked, of course)! This story was a lot more graphic and a lot more compelling; I literally could not put the book down for a second and find myself being moved by the plight of Darrow. Suffice to say, I will be grabbing the next book as soon as possible and will devour this series. I will work hard to no longer be a book snob and to have more of an open mind when approaching novels so that I never again miss out on such an amazing book. If you haven’t read this novel, then I highly urge you to do so! This isn’t just for teens, adults can enjoy it as well because the emotional pulls in this novel are just that intense.

Liked this novel? Tell me what you thought about it and what made it special for you! I would love to hear your insights on it!

Happy reading ~

Never Never Part Two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher – Never Never #2

After the first book ending in such a cliffhanger manner, I knew I had to read on and find out what would happen to Silas and Charlie. As soon as I got a copy of this book,  I stopped doing everything else and just sat down and read until it was all done. Good thing the novel was short!

Silas wakes up, not remembering anything. He is in a car, all by himself, in the middle of nowhere. But he spies a letter, a letter that is written by him and someone named Charlie which is supposed to explain his circumstances. The only instruction in the letter is to find Charlie. With no knowledge about himself or his life, Silas sets out to find Charlie – and find out what is going on with his memory.

To be honest, this novel was a let-down for me. I understand that they always lose their memory within 48 hours at an appointed time (no, that is not a spoiler!) but half of this novel was just a rehashing of the previous novel with a bit more detail. The only time when it started to move beyond that was after the half-way point, and by then, the novel was close to being done. I know that the author is trying to make it more realistic and stick to the idea of complete memory loss but sometimes being this thorough can leave a reader wanting! Since this is a trilogy and I’m almost done, I’m going to read the last book. I hope that the conclusion of this mystery is satisfying enough to justify having to keep returning to the same starting point!

Happy reading ~

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The first book I ever read by this author was when I was 12 years old and I remember it being a really good romantic teen fiction (it’s been a while since I read it so I may be wrong). When I was recommended this novel, for some reason, I found myself hesitant. Maybe the premise didn’t interest me or maybe I didn’t want to read anything teen-y. I’ve put this novel off for a while but I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Cadence comes from a distinguished family. Every summer she and her mother go to their summer vacation island to meet her grandparents and cousins.  It is the one time where they all come together, everyone in their separate yet connected estates, bonding and joking and laughing. But everything is different the summer that Cadence turns 17. After a traumatic swimming injury that has led to memory loss, everyone is tiptoe-ing around her and hiding things from her. And Cadence is determined to find out.

This summary really doesn’t do this novel justice but the whole mystery and thrill of this novel comes from figuring it out on your own so I don’t want to reveal anything more. It’s only told from the perspective of Cadence but she is such an interesting character that I was fine with that. In the beginning, I felt quite fed up hearing about the privileged lifestyles of the family but the more I kept reading, the more I saw that this was the author’s intent. This novel is not humorous; it is dark and dysfunctional in the best way possible. I enjoyed it because it takes teen fiction to a whole other level; it deals with complex issues and almost becomes an adult novel. I’m definitely recommending this to older teens because it is really a thought-provoking read!

Happy reading ~