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

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 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:
Barnes and Noble

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:
Barnes and Noble

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:
Barnes and Noble

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:
Barnes and Noble

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

Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman’s Daughter Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★

Even a day later, I’m still having trouble figuring out what to write about this book. It’s dark, twisted, and a little horrific at times. It brings up an interesting topic and works to address it. There’s a love triangle that doesn’t annoy me. This definitely isn’t a book everyone will enjoy, but I loved it.

Juliet Moreau has lived with the consequences of her father’s actions for years. He vanished in the midst of a scandal, leaving Juliet and her mother to fend for themselves. After her mother dies, Juliet goes to work as a maid. After a series of events, she travels to visit her father, living isolated on an island, accompanied by Montgomery, the son of a former servant, and Edward, a castaway. Once on the island, Juliet discovers the truth about her father’s madness and how she is connected to it.

I’m torn in my feelings about Montgomery and Edward. In Montgomery’s favor is the childhood bond he shares with Juliet. They grew up together and there’s something about childhood friends that lasts a lifetime. But he also witnessed and was a part of her father’s actions, something Juliet isn’t sure she can handle. Edward is mysterious, running away from a past he doesn’t want anyone to know. Juliet can understand that desire after seeing the madman her father has become.

I had never read H. G. Well’s The Island of Moreau, but that didn’t take anything away from the novel. It’s dark and twisted, but not overly so. Things are discussed and Juliet comes to her own conclusions, but for the most part, the evil takes place outside of the novel. We get to see the consequences instead of the actions. I figured out one of the twists and had a feeling about another, but I was so drawn in that it didn’t slow my reading at all.

The Madman’s Daughter poses interesting questions. What is it that gives someone his or her humanity? Is it simply being human? Or can it be created? Dr. Moreau is clearly a madman, conducting experiments that should never happen. Does he still hold on to his humanity because he was born a human? What about the creatures he created? They were not human to begin with, but through the doctor’s experiments, did they gain their humanity? Are they people because they have human emotions, thoughts, and morals? Or are they forever doomed to be nothing more than monsters, the product of a madman’s desires?

The Madman’s Daughter fascinated me. I couldn’t put it down from beginning to end. The content is shocking and a little grotesque, but it is still an amazing novel. I think this is definitely a must read as long as you think you can handle the twisted nature of Dr. Moreau’s work.

If you think The Madman’s Daughter sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing: A Novel by Phil Viner

Title: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing: A Novel
Author: Phil Viner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is so much more than a murder mystery. There’s a ghost story, crooked cops, and it will mess with your mind. There are so many twists and turns that just when I thought I had things figured out, a new detail would pop up and I’d be thrown again.

Dani was kidnapped and brutally killed when she was away at university. Her murderer was never found. Her mother has gone nearly crazy trying to solve the case herself, her father sees and talks with her ghost, and her best friend Tom has devoted his life to finding the killers of girls like Dani. Her parents’ marriage falls apart and no one ends up any closer to finding the truth about happened to her.

Some might find the time jumping bothersome, but I think it works for this novel. Little pieces are revealed a page at a time, but not enough information is known until the very end. It kept me guessing and wondering what really happened. It also gave me the chance to see life before compared to life after. I felt the impact more when I read how happy they were as a family when Dani was little and then immediately after read about Jim, Dani’s father, talking to her ghost. It made her father’s sadness and her mother’s obsession all the more apparent.

Dani was fascinating to me as a character. When she was alive, she portrayed herself as a perfect child, working hard and not getting into trouble. It became very obvious early on this was not her true self, though, and that the truth of who she was would give a greater clue as to what happened her than any case file could.

There was one dramatic twist at the end that I felt was out of place and unnecessary, but every other turn had me scrambling to figure out where I was headed next.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a gripping psychological thriller that will shock you. You’ll be looking for answers on every page and you won’t find any until the very end.

If The Last Winter of Dani Lancing sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle

I was better prepared this time. I had a feeling the beginning would feel a little disjointed but then everything would suddenly come out and it would be wonderful. I was ready. And The Dream Thieves did not disappoint.

Things are different for the group now. Their roles aren’t as defined and no one really knows what that means for their quest or their friendships. Tensions are rising, secrets are coming out, and the truth is getting muddled. Blue is still in a sort-of relationship with Adam, but her feelings about Gansey are getting confusing. Ronan has demons to face and a secret that could get him in trouble. Gansey is empowered by the successes of their quest, but unprepared for the failures. All of this is only made more important by the arrival of people searching for the same thing the raven boys and Blue are looking for.

Something I am really enjoying about this series is the slow build. Not everything has to happen right away. Things take their time unfolding, letting the idea grow before coming to fruition. Blue and Adam are a friendship, but maybe more, but Blue won’t let herself fall for any boy, even though Adam tries. Blue and Gansey are building a friendship build on trust and respect, even as things start to get confusing for them. Even Blue and Ronan are finding a groove in their relationship. Things aren’t perfect, of course, but it all feels real. Nothing is forced in these relationships and that’s refreshing to read.

I feel like The Dream Thieves is more of Adam and Ronan’s stories. Adam is trying to find a way to be equal in the group and Ronan is trying to find a way to deal with the truth.

Adam has always felt like less than because he doesn’t come from money like the other boys. He’s had to work for everything, he’s had to think about how his actions affect others, and he’s had to make choices for himself that he didn’t want to. It’s left him feeling unequal in the circle of friends. In The Dream Thieves, he finds what makes him equal.

Ronan has carried a secret with him and now it’s threatening his way of life. He doesn’t understand what he is or how he affects the world. He’s blown off this secret any way he can, until it finally gets free and he must face it. He has to find a way to accept what he is and learn how to control himself. His struggle was fascinating to read and it really explains a lot about his character.

The Dream Thieves is a superb follow-up to The Raven Boys that only deepens the mystery. It will have you on the edge of your seat and holding your breath. Things are only just beginning and the wait for the next novel feels so incredibly long. There’s so much story left to tell.

If The Dream Thieves sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastic Press for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.