The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby

the-stranger-gameTitle: The Stranger Game
Author: Cylin Busby
Series: No Series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: October 25th, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

Quick Look:

I thought I had the story figure out before I started reading. But then Busby created two narrators who are entirely unreliable and everything I thought would happen changed. I was so thrown off for a majority of the novel, with my mind trying to come up with new answers as my theories were proven wrong. Continue reading

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A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

DesperateTitle: A Desperate Fortune
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Series: Standalone (although some character crossover with other novels)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published: April 7, 2015
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5) Continue reading

Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Orphan QueenTitle: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Orphan Queen Duology
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: March 10, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5)

Continue reading

New Review: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Title: Blackbird
Author: Anna Carey
Series: Blackbird Duology
Rating: ★★★★

Blackbird

Blackbird was not quite the book I thought it would be. I was really interested in the story, but I wasn’t sure if I could get into the 2nd person point of view. The first few chapters didn’t really connect with me, but eventually the story drew me in and the 2nd person point of view became an incredible way to feel like part of the action.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks with only minutes to react. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is, or why she’s there. She can’t remember a thing. She wants answers, but has the sense to know that answers are likely dangerous. She has a feeling that she is being hunted, but doesn’t know why or by whom.

Imagine that type of scenario. That panic and fear. The desire to know what is going on, but the worry that searching for answers will only make things worse. That is what the 2nd person point of view conveys in this book. It makes you, the reader, the main character. It’s not like other books where you have to imagine yourself in the place of one of the characters. Instead, the entire book is detailing your life, and you’re just as clueless to what’s happening around you as the main character is.

I think that’s the really interesting thing about this book. I think this would have been a good book from any point of view. The story is interesting and engaging. The characters feel real. But using 2nd person puts the reader directly into the action. I felt the same panic and fear that I was supposed to because I wasn’t reading about some character’s life. The entire book is filled with “you” statements. “You run,” “You are about to do this,” made me feel although I was the main character. I was the one in the book. It’s a feeling I rarely experience so fully in novels written in 1st or 3rd person.

I completely understand that the POV of this book will likely turn some people away. It’s not for everyone. But for me, it made the book more exciting (once I became used to it). I stopped picturing a character doing all those things and was instead putting myself into the book. I don’t mind that there weren’t many answers. It’s all a part of the 2nd person and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

If you’d like to read Blackbird for yourself, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Audible
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IndieBound

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

Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno
Rating: ★★

The Half Life of Molly Pierce

I expected a little more from this book. I’m not entirely sure why, but I did. It’s not that this is a bad book. It’s not. It just wasn’t what I had expected it to be. I figured out the “twist” before I even started to read. Even with that, I wished it had just a little bit more.

Molly has been having blackout periods. She remembers everything up until the blackout starts and once she comes out of it, but absolutely nothing in between. She hides these episodes from her family, not wanting them to worry about her, or think she’s crazy. All she wants is for these episodes to go away and to be able to remember what she’s doing. So when someone from those black periods lands in her life, she begins to piece together what she has been doing and who she really is.

I felt for Molly, I really did. She’s struggling in life, and these blank episodes of time aren’t making anything easier. She wants to fit in and be as normal as she can. She just never felt like a developed, explored character. I never really felt I started to know her. I can understand that some of this was due to Molly not really understanding herself, but I do think there could have been a little more development. She has many sides to her, and I felt like only the surface was touched on. Maybe that’s all there was room for in the book, but I still wanted more.

There’s an attempted romance, I think, but it didn’t really feel like it fit. To me, it felt like it was there to be there. I think the book could have stood on its own, as an in-depth examination of the mind without having a relationship to examine as well. It just didn’t feel necessary, other than to introduce a few things and get the plot rolling. Beyond that, I don’t really think it was important to have and keep talking about.

Like I said before, I had the book figured out before I started reading. That didn’t bother me, though, because I had hoped the topic would be handled in an interesting way, one that was suspenseful and would have me on the edge of my seat. In the end, it just wasn’t the book I had hoped for.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce has an interesting premise, but it wasn’t explored as well as it could have been. It didn’t go deep enough into the characters or the story for me. It didn’t stick with me like I wanted it to. It’s not a bad book, but it could have been so much better.

If you’d like to read The Half Life of Molly Pierce, 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: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Rating: ★★★★

Panic is an interesting book. On the surface, it’s a bunch of just graduated teens, looking for a way to spend the summer in a town with not much to do. Panic is invented as a way to test the bravery of teens and give entertainment to the participants and the spectators. But it’s more than that. It’s about revenge and anger, about looking for a future; it’s about finding a place to belong.

Heather and Dodge are competitors, each fighting for a different reason. They both come from less than ideal homes. Heather has a drunk, barely there mother who doesn’t care about taking care of her children. Dodge lives behind a diner in an area of town known as Meth Row. Heather had no intention of joining Panic, but she wants to feel important, valued. Panic gives her a way to do that. Dodge wants revenge after holding onto his anger for years. This is his chance to do it.

Heather is not the strongest character in the beginning. She’s doing this as a way to try and heal the heartbreak of teen love. She’s got courage, but she doesn’t know how to fight. She goes along with things, wanting to change them, but not actually doing it. Through the game, she discovers that she can do something about her life. She can fight and make changes. The life she has now doesn’t have to be the life she has to have.

Dodge, on the other hand, is fighting for something he believes in. Unfortunately, he’s so blinded by anger that he can’t see that the people around him don’t need revenge. He sees the game and the only way to even the score. He has a lot of demons he has to fight, but instead of realizing they are personal, he thinks the only way to defeat them in to get revenge.

Even the secondary characters are fantastic. Nat and Bishop, originally Heather’s best friends, become Dodge’s friends as well. They have a perfectly realistic friendship, complete with jealousies, insecurities, and not being able to completely understand a person, even when you’ve known them your entire life. It’s wonderfully well written and real.

The action plot of the book is unique. It starts a little slow, but the game isn’t the main focus of the novel. It’s there to drive the character development, but it’s pretty interesting as well. It’s a game that’s entertaining and frightening to those watching, and a way to test endurance and courage of those participating.

Panic is probably not the book you thought it was. It’s about a game, yes, but there’s so much more. It’s about fighting personal demons and finding a way to fight for yourself. It’s a wonderful book that’s worth a read.

If Panic 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 HarperCollins for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Title: The Splendour Falls
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Rating: ★★★

I love how Kearsley can blend history with the present in such a way that it all flows perfectly from one story to another. The history is such an important piece of the present, setting up situations and characters that draw me right in. The Splendour Falls not only has that perfect mix of the times, but it has a murder mystery and a missing person case wrapped up in there as well.

Emily Braden is convinced by her cousin to join him in France. It will be a vacation for her while he gets some research done. When she reaches the hotel, her cousin is nowhere in sight and no one seems to know where he is. This is nothing new for Emily’s family, as her cousin has a habit of not being the most reliable, so she doesn’t worry too much. She starts getting to know the others staying in the hotel, all the while wondering about her cousin’s whereabouts and thinking about the history of the town she’s staying in. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the events of the past that still has an impact in the present day.

Just like in the other Kearsley novels I’ve read, the characters are unique and amazing. Even Garland, the woman who doesn’t think before she speaks, is a fascinating character to read. Each character has a personality that differs from every other character. It’s easy to see them existing in real life, not just in the pages of a novel. They’re real, with dimensions and flaws, and each one serves a greater purpose in the novel. I might love the way Kearsley weaves history into the present, but it’s her characters that make her books excellent.

The murder/mystery/missing person aspect of the novel was very well done. For once, I didn’t see the twist coming. I figured there’d be one, but my guesses were way off. There’s a lot of cover-up and things hiding beneath the surface. I spent half my time reading trying to figure things out. I do wish there had been a little bit more of the historical mystery written about. It’s there to drive the characters along, but it stays mostly in the background.

The romance of this book is in the background. It doesn’t play a major role, but it’s always there, hovering at the edges. I’m glad that it wasn’t a major focus. It allowed me to fall in love with every character and with the setting.

The Splendour Falls has everything that I enjoy about Kearsley’s novels. When I pick up one of her books, I trust that I’m going to love it. Even if the historical angle doesn’t appeal to you, the characters make this book worth reading.

If The Splendour Falls sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Audible
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Thank you to NetGelley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.