Tag Archives: review

Review: Cheat by Kristin Butcher

CheatPublished: October 1, 2010 by Orca Books
Pages: 107
Format: Kindle Edition

Laurel discovers her passion for investigative journalism when she writes an article for her school paper about the homeless man who’s been living at the school. Eager to write more articles with impact, she launches an investigation of a cheating scam at her high school. Laurel’s efforts elicit hostility from her classmates. Nobody is interested in seeing her article go to print, not even her own brother. It is evident that the cheating is widespread, and Laurel, caught up in the thrill of the investigation, is willing to commit social suicide to get the story, but her ultimate discovery changes everything.

I felt like this book was written for a much younger audience than a lot of other YA, which is fine, but it surprised me a bit. This one was a really quick read, though… took maybe an hour, hour and a half to read altogether.

I felt like this book set out to send out a message to its readers, so things like characters weren’t given a lot of thought. They don’t have much depth, and there’s not a whole lot of character development and whatnot here. But I also kind of felt that toward the end of the book, the message wasn’t so much about cheating, but about the consequences of doing whatever it takes to get what you want without regard for others. I thought that was a message worth expressing, but since it was muddled up with cheating, it left me a little conflicted and confused.

I didn’t really know a whole lot about this book or the author when I picked it up – just spotted it in the new eBooks at the library and figured I would pick it up when I was done with the book I had been reading. It was definitely on the lighter side of things tone-wise compared to the other books I’ve read lately, so that was a nice change for me. I definitely would have liked more development all around, though, to make things feel more authentic, instead of a bit of a vessel for the author’s message.

I enjoyed the book well enough, having read it in one sitting, and would be interested in reading more of Butcher’s books in the future, despite having mixed feelings about this one.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review: The Hit by Allen Zadoff

The HitPublished: May 24, 2013
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about.  He shows up at a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long.  Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die – of “natural causes.”  Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change.  The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father.  And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching.  Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home, and parents; a young man who wants out.  And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

This book is apparently known by at least three different titles (Boy NobodyI Am the Weapon, and The Hit), which confused the hell out of me at first. Once I sorted that out, though, I was good to go.

I had an extremely difficult time getting through the beginning of this book. It wasn’t boring, it wasn’t badly written, none of that stuff, but I still struggled. I must have reread the beginning sections three, four, maybe even five times before I finally got through it for good and read the rest of the book. Before that, I kept putting it down in favor of other things. The beginning of the book made me so nervous because I was afraid it was going to be violent/gory beyond what I could handle at the time, and I couldn’t figure the main character out. I didn’t know what his motivations were or why he was doing any of this, and I don’t like seeing bad things happen to good people, through no real fault of their own, which, of course, happens in books all the time… but seeing it from the POV of the “bad guy” made me kinda go, “Oh no, oh no, oh no,” and put the book down… repeatedly. I generally love books that do this kind of thing, but for some reason, in this book, it just made me super nervous and it was really difficult to continue.

Thankfully, the book wasn’t too gory or violent, and once I actually got through the beginning and continued on, I found it to be a really enjoyable book. There were still scenes that made me really uncomfortable, but I think that was the point. The main character has a really unique voice, and I liked that a lot. His observations let the reader see things in a different way than if another person were telling this story, and I thought that gave the story a lot of character and let it stand out.

The main character is a type of assassin working for The Program, an organization which appears to work for or be part of the government. This book covers what happens when that assassin starts to question things. It’s hard to go into why I found this book so unique compared to similar stories without spoiling anything, though. The premise of the book itself isn’t unique by any means, but it still stood out from a lot of books I’ve read recently, and I’m still thinking about it long after finishing it.

Overall, I found this book pretty enjoyable once I was able to get through the beginning and get a sense of what was going on with the main character, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next installment in the series!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: A Promise of Magic by Melissa Giorgio

A Promise of Magic (Silver Moon Saga 2.5)Published: November 20, 2014 by Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing
Pages: 172
Format: Kindle Edition

This novella takes place after the second book in the Silver Moon Saga and sets up events for the third book in the series.  As a disclaimer, I am friends with the author.

As a child growing up in California, Evan Underwood only has a basic knowledge of Silver Moon, the organization that keeps the world safe from demons. After accidentally setting his parents’ house on fire with magic, he’s sent to the New York Silver Moon HQ to learn how to control his powers. Frustrated by his teacher’s refusal to show him anything beyond magical theory, Evan decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands. But teaching himself magic isn’t as easy as Evan imagined, and it’s during one of these practice sessions that he’s discovered by Alexandra Chen, a strange girl Evan finds both frustrating and alluring. Making a promise to show Alex magic, Evan is determined to live up to her expectations, even if it means breaking a few rules in the process. But when things backfire, Evan must rely on his friends to help free him from the clutches of a new, sinister character.

It was great to read this one while waiting on the release of The Shadow StealerA Promise of Magic is a collection comprised of one novella and two shorter stories. The novella centers around one of the main supporting characters in The Silver Moon Saga, Evan Underwood, and is followed by two stories taking place after the events of The Soul Healer.

“A Promise of Magic” takes up the majority of the collection, and spans eight years of Evan’s life. It chronicles his magical education in Silver Moon and his relationship with Alex. I LOVED this. I loved getting to learn more about Evan’s past and loved being able to see the beginning of his relationship with Alex. She’s a character that we’ve heard a lot about at this point in the series, so it was great to actually meet her. I also liked being able to see some major events in great detail that we’ve heard a lot throughout the series.

The pacing of the novella is a bit up-and-down, though that makes sense, since a lot of it takes place during Evan’s childhood. We get to read about the beginnings of his friendship with Rafe, which was nice to see, especially after the events that took place during The Soul Healer. Several other characters also make appearances, and in a way, it was nice to see them through another character’s eyes. Gabi can be a bit quick to judge (to say the least!), so it was nice to meet some characters, such as Charles, from the POV of someone who didn’t flat-out hate them right out of the gate.

As Evan ages over the course of the story, we get re-introduced to the jokes and whatnot that we’re used to seeing in the other installments in the series. I love the humor in these books and I kind of can’t get enough of it, haha.

“The Favor” is a short story told from the POV of Philip, one of the characters introduced during The Soul Healer. It was nice to get to see more of Kain, one of my favorites of the new characters, and I thought the story itself was really sweet. Looking forward to seeing more of both of them in the next book!

“An Unbeatable Team” is told from Gabi’s POV. I LOVED this story, and didn’t realize how much I was missing Gabi’s narration until I started it. Her voice is definitely unique, and she’s sassy from beginning to end. I loved it. The story takes place during Valentine’s Day weekend, and readers can definitely expect some cute moments. Some of them made me a bit nostalgic thinking of the earlier parts of my own relationship. This story was absolutely adorable and left me wanting more. I flew through the last installment in this collection for sure. It almost felt too short!

I can’t wait for the next book to come out! Very excited to see where the series is going next.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank (Crank, #1)Published: October 1st, 2004, by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 537

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.  But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place.  Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina – she’s fearless.

Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank.  And what begins a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul – her life.

Crank is a novel written in verse, so it is an extremely quick read despite its 537 pages. I ended up picking it up for my eReader when it was on sale, and while I enjoyed it, I think it’s a hard book to review in a lot of ways. There were some pretty horrifying and sad scenes, and Kristina could also be a frustrating narrator, but I finished the book in 1-2 days, so I guess it’s clear that I enjoyed reading it despite my issues.

I periodically found it a bit hard to follow, but was usually to pick things back up again after rereading a couple of lines. Reading it on the eReader was a little weird from time to time – I had the font size as small as it would go, but still had to turn it sometimes so that the lines would display the way they were originally intended. I think a paperback copy of this would probably be easiest to read, but I generally wasn’t too inconvenienced by the formatting issues because they were usually pretty easy to recognize and sort out quickly.

I didn’t really understand the alter-ego stuff with Kristina/Bree, but I eventually just accepted it. Bree almost seemed like a coping mechanism for Kristina at times, a way to distance her old life from the new. I found that interesting, but also sad. Knowing Crank is loosely based off Hopkins’ daughter’s experiences really makes parts of the book hit home, and Kristina’s decline is swift and disturbing. I am interested in continuing with the series, but Crank was a pretty heavy read despite being quick, so I may wait for a bit before continuing.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe

Earth & Sky (Earth & Sky, #1)Published: October 28, 2014 by Amazon Children’s Publishing
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong.  But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy.  Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us.  For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments.  Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help – but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there be no Earth left to save.

Earth and Sky gives us a different type of protagonist – one I couldn’t exactly relate to in some ways, but whom I liked nonetheless. Skylar is definitely different from a lot of other YA protagonists, and I liked that a lot. She’s definitely an unlikely hero in this story, and I liked seeing how she dealt with all that the story threw at her.

There is a love interest, of course, but no love triangle (Can I say YAY?!). Win is interesting, and he definitely isn’t without his faults, and I liked that a lot. While I wasn’t particularly attached to him, I did think he was likable despite some of the downright frustrating or rude things he does, so that was a plus. He may not be the most interesting love interest in YA, but I definitely thought he was on the more likable side of things, and I didn’t hate the romance. It isn’t overbearing, and there is no insta-love, either, so between the no love triangle thing and that, the romance gets quite a few points in my book.

Like other time travel stories, you may need to just throw aside your doubts and enjoy the ride. There were definitely times when I was a bit confused about the time travel aspect and how things would be affected or changed in the present, but eventually I just had to take things at face value, and this book is definitely more enjoyable that way. That said, while a couple of things did throw me a bit, I didn’t have too many issues on that front.

I wish we had gotten to learn a little more about Skylar’s life in the present, because by the end of the book, the details from the beginning were a bit fuzzy, having not really been reinforced since early on. I also wanted to know a lot more about the specifics of what was going on and why, but I got enough that it didn’t bug me too much.

I thought the technology used in the book was fairly unique and kind of fun, and I didn’t feel like too much of the science-y stuff went over my head, so that was good. This book was definitely a fun ride, and I am really looking forward to reading the second book in the series ASAP!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1)Published: September 13, 2013 by Hatchette Children’s Books
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336

This review is for the first book in the series Heart of Dread.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice.  Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature – freezing.  But some things never change.  The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestel, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out.  Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.”  They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise.  More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there.  Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other.  But can true love survive the lies?

Frozen was a really, really weird book. It has really (intentionally) odd punctuation, and capitalization, and in the end, I just couldn’t really get past that. I loved the idea of the world and I wanted to know a lot more about it, but I couldn’t get into the characters.

I really tried to get past the capitalization and stuff, but I had a REALLY hard time with it. It really annoyed me that I couldn’t seem to find a pattern or reason to it, and that kind of preoccupied me for a lot of the book. So while I tried not to let it affect my rating, it did in the end. I found it so distracting that I had a hard time focusing on the story.

I did enjoy the story (what I could focus on), and the world, as I mentioned before, but didn’t care for the characters much, and I’m a person who generally needs to care about characters to enjoy the story, so that was a pretty major problem for me, but I did enjoy what was there enough to want to continue the series in the future. Overall, I enjoyed where the story took me, though I was MAJORLY disappointed about one thing toward the end, something I thought could have been a really interesting twist, but then I was let down… a lot. :(

Another issue I had was that I kept forgetting the book was intended for a YA audience, not because of the writing or anything like that, but because I kept forgetting that the characters are supposed to be 15-17 years old, for the most part. I… did not buy that, at all. They act like teenagers at times, but most of the time, I didn’t feel like the characters were teens at all. Maybe that’s part of the point, that the world being the way it is forced them to grow up, but every time that was brought up I was kind of thrown for a loop. Definitely could have done without that, lol.

I wanted a bit more background on Nat and Wes, and how the world came to be the way it is in the book, but hopefully we’ll get more of that in future installments in the series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: Day 21 by Kass Morgan

Day 21 (The Hundred, #2)Published: September 16, 2014 by Little, Brown
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320

This review is for the second book in the series The Hundred.  There are some spoilers for the first book in the blurb.  My review for the first book, The 100, is here.

It’s been twenty-one days since the hundred landed on Earth.  They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries… or so they thought.  Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together.  Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost.  And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.

Once I finished reading The 100, I moved on to Day 21. I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but having already requested the second one, I figured I would read it next to get it out of the way. Thankfully, Day 21 was a significant improvement over its predecessor. Going into the book knowing it focused a lot more on the romance then on the science fiction aspect helped a lot too, I suspect. :)

A bunch of new characters are introduced in this one, some of them from the original hundred. I liked that we got to know more of them, but it felt like since the narrators were already semi-familiar with them, the reader never got a real introduction to them. It felt like some new names were just thrown in, and that left me feeling really confused for a while. I kept wondering if I should remember the characters from the first book, haha. But it was really nice to be introduced to more of the hundred, especially because I was hoping they’d be more likable than the main characters.

Day 21 has the same structure as The 100, with three POVs on Earth and one on the Colony. While I still felt like this was too many, at least the reader knows the characters now, and in Day 21, we finally get some of the much-longed-for character development that was more or less absent in the first book, due to the fact that the reader gets very little time with each character. I still didn’t really care for the main characters much, but it was still a pretty big improvement!

In terms of world-building, there is a bit of an improvement versus what readers got in the first book, at least on Earth, though I will still disappointed on the “savage Earth” front. One entire section of the ship still remains unexplored, though, so that was pretty underwhelming.

I honestly wasn’t too enthralled with this book, but about 2/3 of the way through, things picked up quite a bit, to the point that I’m interested in checking out the third installment in the series at some point. I still haven’t seen any of the TV show, but I’m considering it, since I’ve heard it’s better than the books. Day 21 was, despite its faults, a solid improvement over The 100, and I am happy that I am looking forward to learning where it’s all going in book three.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100 (The Hundred, #1)Published: September 3, 2013 by Little, Brown
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 323

This review is for the first book in the series The Hundred.

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere.  No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again.  But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth.  After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space.  Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community.  But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future.  To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.

This book had an awesome premise. One hundred criminals are sent to Earth to determine if humanity can return there after being ravaged by some kind of nuclear attack three hundred years before. Sign me up! …unfortunately, what The 100 promised in its blurb is not what it delivered, and I was majorly disappointed.

For a book with just over three hundred pages, The 100 covers four different POVs. While I normally don’t mind multiple POVs in a story, four is too many for a book this short. The reader doesn’t really get to spend enough time in anyone’s POV to really get to know them, so as a result, I didn’t find myself attached to anyone. I generally need to be engaged with the characters to enjoy a book, so that was a major problem for me personally. Some of the main characters are flat-out unlikable, and others just aren’t developed enough for me to care.

The reader is also given very little to go on in terms of the two major settings in this book. The Colony is split into three sections: Phoenix, which seems to be for the richer or otherwise more privileged inhabitants of the ship, and Walden and Arcadia, where the poorer or more disadvantaged people live. Other than giving us the information that there is a bridge between the sections of the ship and that each section has a market and residential areas, I finished the book not really knowing what anything looked like or what the general layout was other than that there is a bridge (somewhere) and there is more than one level. There is also one section of the entire ship that we only know of by name and know pretty much nothing about, and none of the characters visits it across the entire three hundred pages of the book, which made me wonder why the ship was split into three parts in the first place, if one of them is basically not even in the book.

It’s also heavily hinted that the Earth the hundred criminals are landing on is going to be a savage, dangerous place, but the reader is given almost no details to differentiate it from Earth as we know it today. The surrounding area the hundred live in is also fairly vague. I never really got a feeling for where they end up living, other than knowing of a few landmarks that are some vague distance away. In the end, what could have been a really interesting, awesome setting just turns into a vague blob with some not-so-vague blobs around it.

It is also important to note that while The 100 frames itself as a science fiction novel with some romance novels, it is more of a romance novel taking place in a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic setting. The focus is definitely first and foremost on the romance, and everything else takes a backseat, to the book’s detriment.

The writing itself wasn’t bad, and I think I could have enjoyed the book had it trimmed the POVs down to two (one on Earth and one on the Colony would have been fine) or even just one, but as it is, I couldn’t get to know any of the characters or the place, which made it really hard for me to care about what was happening. :(

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird BoxPublished: May 13, 2014 by Ecco
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 293

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news.  But they became too frequent, they became too real.  And soon, they began happening down the street.  Then the Internet died.  The television and radio went silent.  The phones stopped ringing.  And we couldn’t look outside anymore.

Malorie raises children the only way she can; indoors.  The house is quiet.  The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows.  They are out there.  She might let them in.

The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall.  Soon she will have to wake them.  Soon she will have to blindfold them.  Today they must leave the house.  Today they will risk everything.

Imagining a world where opening your eyes could make you go mad really made me think about walking around outside after I finished this book. AHHHHH. I loved Bird Box. I hated putting it down and every time I had to, I looked forward to picking it back up. While I did have some issues with the book, I still loved the book and my issues didn’t affect my rating.

I went into this book having no idea what it was about, knowing only that Malorie and her children could not look outside, and anything they did outside had to be done blindfolded. The book alternates between the present, the day Malorie and her children are preparing to leave the house they’ve lived in for four years, and the day in the past that Malorie learned she was pregnant. Not knowing anything about this book was so awesome. I loved learning more about what was going on bit by bit.

I did have a couple of issues (I didn’t like that the children weren’t named… that made no sense to me, and I was also confused about something that the news reports fairly early on because I couldn’t understand how they would possibly know that), but overall, those issues didn’t affect my rating. I still loved the book and highly recommend it. That said, there are some pretty gruesome scenes, so I would go into the book keeping that in mind.

I really hate how hard it is to write about books that you love, because I just want to throw this book at everyone and make them read it. XD Very happy that my book club picked this one out, and super excited for the discussion about it in a couple of weeks. :)

AHHH JUST READ IT. XD

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Random by Tom Leveen

RandomPublished: August 12, 2014 by Simon Pulse
Format: eBook
Pages: 224

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call.  It’s a wrong number.  But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.

He asks for a single thing – one reason not to kill himself.

The request plunges her into confusion.  Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he’ll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life.  And the first just might land her in jail.  After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can’t help but suspect that the caller is a fraud.  But what if he’s not?  Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.

With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger – and maybe redeem herself – leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…

I read Random while it was available on Pulse It. I was originally alerted to this title by a friend’s review earlier this year, so I was excited when it was available to read on Pulse It.

I haven’t read many other YA books on this topic, and I think it’s an important topic to cover. I was also intrigued that this particular title is told from the point of view of the bully, but in a way, it was also very frustrating, because Tori clearly doesn’t feel any remorse or feel like she was in the least responsible for what happened to someone she used to consider a friend. I couldn’t understand that at all, and I will admit that I had a REALLY hard time with that over the course of the story. I won’t say how things turn out for Tori or if her attitude changes, but this was something I really struggled with over the course of this book. Tori was very ME ME ME, and I hated it.

While I had a very complicated relationship with the main character of Random, I really enjoyed this book from a writing standpoint, and I liked the concept of the story. I also liked how the book showcased the way Tori’s actions affected her family. I thought that showed at least one side of the repercussions of what Tori had become involved with, even if Tori herself didn’t seem affected in a lot of ways. Overall, I enjoyed this despite my issues with Tori, and I think that it’s worth giving it a shot! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Leveen’s books in the future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars