Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I’ve wavered on reading Hush, Hush for a while now. The thing that finally pushed me into reading it was discovering Fitzpatrick is a Colorado girl, like me. I went into Hush, Hush with low expectations. I had seen reviews that absolutely loved it and ones that ripped it apart. To err on the side of caution, I tried to not think too much about how I thought it would go. Hush, Hush had a bit of a slow start, but it definitely sucked me in by the end.

The story itself wasn’t overly confusing, but it wasn’t simple either. There are a lot of players and a lot of suspicion going around. It makes for an intense read that I didn’t want to put down. I didn’t want to have to break up any part of the novel, afraid I’d miss some little detail when I started reading again.

Fitzpatrick dove right into the story, but the beginning still felt a little slow. I wasn’t able to understand the Nora-Patch connection and for a little while, it felt more awkward than anything else. But eventually, the story falls into a groove and things started to make sense. I could see the Patch that was hidden for the first part of the novel and I started to really like him. I’m not completely head over heels for him yet, but he’s definitely on my list.

I was able to connect with Nora right away. She’s a very likable girl, even though she has a couple moments of teen stupidity. I liked that she had those moments. It made her the 16 year old girl she’s supposed to be. I think that’s what I liked best about her. She wasn’t overly mature, but she wasn’t the complete opposite and dumber than a doorknob. She’s a 16 year old girl, through and through.

I’m very happy I finally gave in and gave Hush, Hush a read. It was an enticing fallen angel story and I’m greatly looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman

I was pretty meh about dancergirl. I was a little worried going into Circle of Silence that it would feel a little contrived and like I was being played for the sake of suspense. Fortunately, Circle of Silence was able to draw me in and had me guessing through the entire novel.

I think what I liked best about Circle of Silence was the slow build up of suspense, both through the eyes of Valerie and the point of view of the MP leader. As Val begins to work on the MP mysteries, the increasingly deranged view of the MP leader makes everything feel a little tenser. Val doesn’t know just how crazy he is beginning to get, and yet we know as readers. It helped amp up the tense atmosphere in a way that made absolute sense.

I liked Val and felt like I connected with her better than I did Alicia in dancergirl. I was also a huge fan of Jagger. There was just enough of their story in the background to make the novel feel like it had a little extra something without being overwhelmed by it. It’s sweet and just enough romance to bring a smile to my face.

Circle of Silence is a wonderful companion piece to dancergirl, or to read as a standalone novel. It’s well written and has wonderful characters. The suspense is amazing and will keep people guessing right up to the end.

dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

The initial reason I started reading dancergirl was because I wanted to make sure Circle of Silence made sense when I started to read it. I had no expectations of what the book would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The characters were very well written and I was especially fond of Jace. I wish there had been more of him and more relationship development between him and Alicia. I also wish there had been more of Ali’s mother in the story. The current trend of having extremely absentee parents gets a little more annoying each time I read it.

The writing was easy to read and flowed well. The beginning was a little awkward because there was a lot of explanation of details that didn’t have much bearing on the development of the story. Once that was out of the way, the story flowed easily along. The dance descriptions were gorgeous and Tanzman has an immense talent for writing that imagery, but on the flip side, she also has the ability to write tension and suspense.

As for the story, I felt like it was a little predictable in how Tanzman tried to make it unpredictable. I figured the ending out pretty early, and yet it still felt a little out of the blue, but not really in a good way. To me, there wasn’t enough character motivation given to let the ending make sense. It felt more like that outcome was chosen because it would seemingly be something unexpected.

Overall, dancergirl was a good book, but it fell flat in a few spots. It’s a good, quick read and has no major flaws, just little things here and there that held me back from falling completely in love with it.

Arise by Tara Hudson

I had a couple problems with Hereafter when I first read it. It was good, but the writing felt a little new and I wasn’t completely on board with Amelia and Joshua’s relationship. Both of these issues weren’t even a thought as I read Arise, the only thing going through my head was how amazing this book is.

Arise had a different feel to it. Maybe it was the story taking place in New Orleans, allegedly one of the most haunted cities in the United States. Maybe it was the introduction of new “types” of ghosts. I’m not really sure what it was, but Arise felt more mature and dangerous than Hereafter.

I like to be able to understand character decisions, even if I don’t agree with them. I need actions to make sense, and a lot of the time in Young Adult novels, I’m left a little confused by way a character makes one choice versus another. Thankfully, I didn’t feel this way about Arise. The choices made sense. I wasn’t a big fan of a couple decisions, but they made sense for the character and that was more important than me being 100% on board. Thank you, thank you, thank you Tara Hudson, for being able to write choices that made sense.

Amelia and Joshua’s relationship was the only other problem I had with Hereafter, but in Arise, I was in love with it. They aren’t completely losing themselves to the other person. Sure, they might have to make a bit of an effort, but they are trying to be together without losing their individual selves. And yet, it was easy to see how much they love and care for one another. This is the way relationships in books should be.

Arise is a simply stunning book, and a fabulous summer read. It’s got the romance and the action, all mixed together in a dark, rich location. This is definitely a book everyone should pick up and read.

The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

I do not scare easily. I can watch horror movies, ghost movies, ghost hunt shows…you name it and I don’t get scared. Reading The Unquiet had me scared. I jumped when the wind would come up, I jumped when a tree branch would hit the window and I jumped when I heard anything that sounded like footsteps outside my door.

The Unquiet is scary in a subtle way. It’s not an in your face ghost story, it’s more like a psychological thriller, and for a while, I wasn’t even sure if it was really a ghost story. Then, it got real. And I burrowed into my blankets with the hopes that they would be strong enough to keep out the ghost of the novel come to life. Little things would pop up that made me think and believe. By the end of the novel, I didn’t want to look around the room, fearful of what I’d see.

I think what made this book so intense was the reliability of Rinn as a narrator. She has a touch of unreliability because of her past, and yet you believe every single thing that happens. Soon, her voice is the only one that makes sense, even as she starts to question her own sanity. I started to feel as confused as Rinn and I was questioning my own thinking.

Garsee wrote a fantastic mystery ghost novel that had me afraid of the dark. The twist at the end was a wrench to the gut and I really cannot wait to see what comes next. This is definitely a book for anyone who likes ghost stories, but a word of warning–reading of this book is best done in broad daylight when you can see everything around you and nothing can sneak up to scare you.

Rape Girl by Alina Klein

This is not a happy book. It’s not tied up in pretty ribbons by the end. It’s hard to read and at times, you might have to stop for a moment and catch your breath. It may not be pretty, happy, or easy to read, but it is a powerful, powerful book.

Klein does not need to be overly descriptive or graphic in order to get her message across. Her writing style is simple, yet moving. She doesn’t go into the details of the characters’ lives before. It’s not important what kind of people they appeared to be before. What is important is the after, and Klein does an amazing job of getting that across.

Valerie, despite being the victim, has more to prove than anyone else in this book. In a society where people are innocent until proven guilty, she has the uphill climb of having to prove that she said no. She also has to face the fact that people don’t believe her, that her voice isn’t viewed as equal when compared to the voice of her rapist. It makes the book difficult to read and there were many moments when I needed to stop reading to gain control over my own emotions.

Rape Girl is a highly disturbing book about how reporting a rape can derail one girl’s life more than she thought possible. It deals not only with the rape, but with the emotional aftermath when people are quick to doubt the truth. This is a book that doesn’t fit within any constraints. Teens, girl and boy alike, as well as adults need to read this book. It makes you think and sticks with you long after you turn that last page.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood has been on my to read list for a while now. I put it off for the sole reason that I knew I’d love it and didn’t want to have long to wait before reading the second book.

Blake jumps right into the story and wastes no time in introducing Cas’ life to us. He hunts the ghosts that terrorize people and spends most of his life in moving boxes. His life is all about move, hunt, kill, repeat. Then, for the first time ever, a ghost presents a challenge like he’s never known and his system is thrown a little off balance.

I loved Cas. He was a real guy, and I applaud Blake for being able to write a guy that doesn’t sound like a girl in disguise. The relationship with his mother isn’t strained like a lot of parent/child relationships in Young Adult books today, and I really liked that. Cas and his mother don’t have many secrets and it was nice seeing a book hero rely on his parent when he needed just a little help.

Blake’s writing made this book stand out. She didn’t gloss over anything in an attempt to make it less frightening or disturbing. She tells it like it is when it comes to the ghosts. If they have skin hanging, she tells you. If their head isn’t on quite right, she tells you. She lets the gore speak for itself and that adds a level of tension to the story that made it amazing.

The one thing that held this book back from being five stars was how easily Cas’ new friends believed anything he told them. I wish there had been a little bit more convincing when it came to his friends. After one incident, they all take Cas’ word, and I would have liked just a little bit more conflict there.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a terrifically written ghost story that will have you holding your breath and checking over your shoulder for phantom eyes as you read. It’s got a little something for everyone and I can’t wait to read what happens in Girl of Nightmares.

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

I was really worried when I started reading Dreamless. I loved Starcrossed and was extremely worried Angelini would fall victim to the book sophomore slump and I’d be left disappointed. I’m so incredibly happy that this did not happen, and I’m just as in love with Dreamless as I was Starcrossed.

Dreamless was not about the romance. Yes, it’s there and it’s absolutely wonderful, but I think what I loved most about this book was Angelini allowed the love triangle to develop slowly, without being in-your-face, and it was done quietly in the background as the rest of the story happened. It made sense given everything else happening in the story.

As for the rest of the story, holy cow was it amazing. I was holding my breath through most of the novel. There is so much happening, but it all works somehow. Helen descending, her starting to fall apart, the act of the Gods on her…it all somehow manages to fit together perfectly. There’s action where there should be and as soon as I was able to catch my breath after one problem, I was holding it again because Helen was facing something new.

The ending is definitely not the worst cliffhanger I’ve ever read, but it definitely had me growling and grumbling over reaching the end of the book. There is so much possibility and potential for the next book, and I really can’t wait until I can get my hands on it.

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

For some reason, novels that center around school shootings, or schools under lockdown. Maybe it’s because I grew up after Columbine, and can remember having a lockdown drill every month and just wondering how a person can reach a point where endangering the lives of children is what they think of. For whatever the reason, I am drawn to these books with the hope that they will be real and gritty and completely unpretty.

One Breath Away did not disappoint. Typically, I don’t really enjoy jumping around several viewpoints. But it really added something to this novel. It adds to the drama. You know pieces, but not the whole. There are so many different outcomes each viewpoint presents that it’s hard to figure out which is the right one. I was holding my breath through the entire book.

The lives of each character are examined, but in a way that makes each detail important to what is happening in the novel. Each detail helps provide the reasoning for how each character acts, thinks, and speaks. It highlights the main story in a way that just relaying the hostage plot couldn’t do. It makes the players so much more real and it makes your heart ache with each unanswered question.

One Breathe Away was a breathtakingly good novel that will pull at your heart and having you wanting to read faster than ever to find out how it all ends. It’s definitely a book people need to read and I’m looking forward to reading more of Gudenkauf’s novels.