Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Title: The Murder Complex
Author: Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Murder Complex
Rating: ★★★★

The Murder Complex

I’m a little weird about blood and killing. It doesn’t bother me, really, but gratuitous amounts of it annoy me. So I was a little hesitant that a book with the title The Murder Complex would be one of those books that would overdo it on the killing. And I won’t lie, there is death and blood and killing. But it didn’t feel like it was killing for the sake of it. I enjoyed this book quite a bit.

Meadow lives with her sister, brother, and father on a houseboat. They are getting by on the serving or rations her father earns, but they need more. She has been trained by her father her entire life to protect herself through any means necessary and uses those skills to earn a job in the city. One evening, she comes across a dying Zephyr and for a reason she can’t quite explain, she stops and helps to save his life. From that point on, their lives are intertwined.

Meadow is a fighter. She doesn’t show weakness. It’s the only way to try and survive in the world. When the murder rate is higher than the birth rate, one must always be ready to fight. Her family, however, is her soft spot. She can take any beating, fight any enemy, but her family is where to hit her hardest. I liked Meadow, and I liked her moxie, but I want to see a little more depth of character. She’s got a great beginning and I have hopes that she’ll develop a little more as the series progresses.

I’m not sure about Zephyr. He’s not really my kind of guy, but he works with the story. He’s lived a life of struggles, and has a past that he doesn’t even understand. My only problem with his character has to do with a problem I find common in a lot of novels. The idea of instant love. And granted he has dreamed of a girl like Meadow for a while, but to love a dream of a person is different than loving a person. I’m hoping this idea is explored more going forward.

The story of The Murder Complex is something I haven’t read before. In the genre of dystopian fiction, there can be a lot of repetition or an author can try to be so different that it borders on the unbelievable. Cummings writes a world that paints a dire picture of the world, but adds a unique spin. I’m definitely intrigued by this world and am looking forward to more.

The Murder Complex is a new take on a bleak future. The characters are interesting and have room for growth. This is a series beginning that gives promise of good things to come.

If The Murder Complex sounds like a book you’d like to read, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Audible
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Rating: ★★★

The Art of Lainey

The Art of Lainey is not the kind of book I’d usually pick up. I thought it’d be a lot more superficial than it was. So I was presently surprised when, even though it started out as I feared it would, it didn’t end that way.

Lainey has a wonderful life. She’s got a pretty flexible job at her family’s coffee place, she’s popular at school, and she’s got the best boyfriend in Jason. So when he dumps her in the middle of the coffee shop, in front of everyone she works with and the customers, she feels like everything has been ruined. She doesn’t know how to be Lainey. She only knows how to be Jason’s girlfriend. She and her best friend Bianca decide to adapt the lessons in The Art of War to get Jason back. But as the summer progresses, Lainey learns more about herself.

At first, Lainey bothered me. A lot. It’s hard for me to identify with someone who places his or her worth on someone else. Lainey can’t see her life being as good without Jason as it was with him. She feels her social status depends on the people she’s friends with and not who she is. But then she starts to change. She begins to see that she’s not worthless without Jason. She can be important on her own. She has friends and she’s good at soccer. She has things in life that make her happy. She also starts to realize that Jason might not be the best person for her, but finds that Micah, a boy she works with, might be the person she needs in her life.

Micah is a good character. He’s sweet, but honest. He’s hardworking and unique. He pushes Lainey to figure out who she is, not who she’s dependent on. He’s a good contrast for her.

Bianca is one of my favorite best friend characters. It’s clear she cares for Lainey and wants the best, but instead of telling her what she thinks, she makes Lainey figure it out herself. She’s there to support Lainey, but she’s not afraid to tell her when she thinks Lainey is selling herself short. She’s the kind of best friend everyone needs.

The Art of Lainey was better than I thought it’d be. Even though it started out rough for me, Lainey’s character growth saved the novel and made it enjoyable. I’m glad I picked it up. It’s a good summer read for those looking for a book that will end putting a smile on your face.

If The Art of Lainey sounds like a book you’d like to read, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: (Don’t You) Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Rating: ★★★★

Don't You Forget About Me

This book messed with my head. In a good way. It’s a complete trip of a book, from beginning to end. Just when I thought I had a handle on what was going on, something would happen that would completely throw me off again.

Gardnerville is a special place. People don’t get sick there. It just doesn’t happen. And sick people who move to the town suddenly aren’t sick anymore. But it comes at a price. Every four years, a teen explodes with deadly consequences. The book begins in the middle of one of these fourth years, just dropping the reader right into the town. Skylar uses pills to forget the past, a past where her sister led teens to their death four years ago. But something finally stops Skylar from forgetting. The secrets she’s held for years have to come out. And as little pieces of the truth appear the story becomes even more confusing and amazing.

Skylar is an interesting character. She just wants to forget what happened to her family. She wants to forget that her sister was the cause of the last fourth year destruction. She wants to forget about the evil that possesses her town. She just wants to forget. But forgetting means she can’t move forward with her life. As her secrets are shown, between flashbacks and the present day, she becomes a great character. It’s clear she knows what she has to do for her town, even though only little pieces are shown at a time.

The town is a character itself. It has a strange power to heal people, but it’s not without a price. The town gives, but it also takes. It really made me think about what price I would pay for complete health. A small connection I made to the novel is that the mother of the book had the same disease I do, cystic fibrosis. Obviously, since she lives in the town, it’s not a problem for her anymore. But it made me think about if living in fear of external death would be enough for me to cure my internal death. I can certainly understand why the mother lives in the town, but her life isn’t perfect. She traded one pain for another. It’s an interesting thought; to examine what price a person would pay for perfect health.

I’m going to be honest. I was completely confused for the majority of the novel. But it was confusion I enjoyed, because it meant Quinn has weaved an intense story. Every little piece she gives you s dropped without much context, leaving you to try and piece it together. It’s like putting together a puzzle that doesn’t have a picture until every piece has found its place. You’re working to solve a puzzle where you can hardly figure out where each piece goes.

This is not a book anyone can pick up and enjoy. You have to be able to suspend reason and take the events that happen for what they are. If you can do that, then (Don’t You) Forget About Me is a fantastic book.

If you think (Don’t You) Forget About Me is a book you’d like to read, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Title: The Secrets of Lily Graves
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Rating: ★★★

The Secrets of Lily Graves

Let me start off by saying The Secrets of Lily Graves is not a romance novel. Yes, there’s a teaser of romance in the book description, but that’s not what this book is about. It’s about the secrets that surround the lives of the characters and how they unravel after a murder. The twists and turns are excellent, and I am happy to say I couldn’t see the ending coming.

Lily Graves is the daughter of a mortician, living in the house where the dead go to get ready for their funeral. Lily is the social outcast because of her family and how morbid others consider her to be. She’s had one best friend, and that’s really about it. So when Matt Houser starts to hang out with her, even though it’s because she’s helping him with school, she finds happiness in her new friendship. Yet when Matt breaks up with his girlfriend Erin, Lily is immediately the suspect. Things become even more twisted when Erin is found dead, murdered, the day after attacking Lily. With Matt and Lily at the center of the focus, she has to work hard to find out the truth.

I liked Lily. She was her own person and didn’t try and change to have more friends. She knew that if people didn’t like who she was, she didn’t need to have them in her life. Of course, this doesn’t mean she’s immune to the comments she receives, but she chooses to look beyond them. I think she’s a very well written teen. A little head strong and stubborn, like continuing to see Matt even though everyone tells her to stay away, but she’s also a little insecure about things. Her determination to figure out who killed Erin really drove the novel.

Matt was fine as a love interest. He’s a little too perfect for my tastes, but since their relationship wasn’t the main reason for the novel, it didn’t bother me too much. He’s sweet and a little corny, but it works. It makes for an interesting character study, when he is shown to be one way with Lily, but still have a mountain of evidence piled against him in Erin’s death.

There were a few things about the plot of the novel that I found to be just a little too convenient, but given how long working around those instances would have been, I can forgive. Things like Lily’s mother dating the chief of police and getting little pieces of information she would have otherwise never known seemed a little to convenient, but it worked. I was never really sure where the novel was going to go and until the very end, I had no idea how the murder case would be solved. When everything finally came to light, I was shocked, but in a good way.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is an excellent look into the secrets a town can hold and how those secrets can destroy. Everyone has a secret and while some are harmless, others lead to death. It’s one of the better Young Adult mystery thriller novels I’ve read. Definitely worth a read.

If you think The Secrets of Lily Graves is a book you’d like to read, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.