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review 2017-10-05 02:12
The Book of Lies/Teri Terry
Book of Lies - Teri Terry

In this suspenseful, gripping novel, teen twin girls raised separately meet for the first time at their mother’s funeral. Quinn has been trained to never tell a lie. Piper is a practiced liar. Narrated in both voices, the story of their quest to learn truths that have been concealed from them is shadowed by a dark spell that beckons them to run at night with a pack of murdering ghost hounds. Suspense, menace, mystery, witchcraft, family secrets, mistaken identity, and romance are interwoven in a brilliantly written page-turner that will grab and thrill teen readers.

 

I wish the concept behind this book had been revealed a little bit earlier on because it was such a fascinating premise but I think it could have been taken further than it was.

 

This book could almost be considered magical realism, but it's kind of iffy as to whether it leans to the fantasy side or not. I think I would have liked it to be a little more realistic after it all.

 

Quinn and Piper alternate their points of views and sometimes these transitions are abrupt. Having the narrator's name in the corner of the page is a stylistic choice that helps greatly, but I still found it hard to truly distinguish between their voices, partially because Piper evolved over the book and Quinn did not. Their quick changes does make the story move quickly, but it can be challenging at points to follow.

 

I wish there had been more imagery of the area Quinn was from--it takes an hour's hike to get up to where she lives and the first time they make this trek, it's a huge deal, but later it becomes casual. I felt like the moors had so much potential but while some scenes with dogs were well written I didn't get a true sense of the scenery.

 

This does have some interesting commentary on what good and evil are but I wasn't a fan of the way that it ultimately played out and with some scenes before. I found it hard to respect certain characters for their actions. The interplay between the two sides of the spectrum was intriguing though, especially as the backstories developed.

 

Slated was a whole league ahead of this book, but Terry's writing style still makes for a fast-flowing fantasy novel.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-29 02:09
Christmas in London/Anita Hughes
Christmas in London: A Novel - Anita Hughes

A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

 

While I normally adore this type of book with all of its details about baking, this one fell supremely flat for me in various ways.

 

Firstly, the misogyny was too much for me. The two main characters are both female but seem to have absolutely no idea of their worth. Male characters fight over one with no ever visible connections and another suggests that a famous chef is only interested in the other for her looks, and not her talents. Regardless of ultimate results, it was really frustrating to see the girls rarely standing up for themselves and instead letting the guys drag them in every which direction.

 

The speech in this book was the other killer for me. Barely any of the dialogue written was lines that people would actually say. All of the speech was incredibly stilted, with characters speaking for a good paragraph or two before allowing someone else a turn. They gave far more details than would ever be interesting and relevant, and blurted out stuff that people just wouldn't say naturally. With every set of quotation marks, I found myself pulled completely out of the story.

 

There were two plots going on in this book, and quite honestly, we could lose Kate's entire story. It reads as a subplot--it's not until chapter four that we read from her perspective or learn anything about her--and doesn't contribute anything to the other side of the book. I also wish that there had been more offered in the beginning; Louisa is picked to be in a cooking show because the other girl had an allergic reaction and her lips were swollen up… I don't buy it. Get some allergy medication. It works wonders.

 

I did, however, enjoy all of the details about pastries, though I wish that there had been more variety and that we'd seen Louisa learning more new recipes. One strong scene was when she got distracted from her agenda by buying ingredients and that was probably one of the only real scenes in the novel.

 

This book just wasn't a success for me, and I'll be reading other novels this Christmas.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2017-09-26 20:49
13 Minutes/Sarah Pinborough
13 Minutes - Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

 

And finally, a YA thriller with all of the high school popular kid dynamics that I so very much adore!

 

This one was creepy. The way that scenes from Natasha's 13 minutes of death were woven in was very well done, and chilling. I could very much envision the scenes playing out.

 

The ultimate ending was a little bit hard to buy, yet it was clever enough that it worked for me and did the job effectively. I loved all of the set up that it took, how the clues were visible throughout the story yet challenging to put together, and how many aspects were all tied together.

 

If you're not into the cliché high school dynamics, don't read this. Me, I devour them unabashedly. Seeing the way the "friends" in this book interacted made me absolutely gleeful with the impending disaster, and seeing the way that the parents looked upon their little angels, too, was intriguing.

 

A very enjoyable thriller, I recommend this for younger readers of mystery.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-20 18:41
Love is Both Wave and Particle/Paul Cody
Love Is Both Wave and Particle - Paul Co... Love Is Both Wave and Particle - Paul Cody

This achingly beautiful novel considers how to measure love when it has the power to both save and destroy.

Levon Grady and Samantha Vash are both students at an alternative high school for high-achieving but troubled teens. They have been chosen for a year-long project where they write their life stories and collect interviews from people who know them. The only rule is 100% confidentiality—they will share their work only with each other. What happens will transform their lives.

Told from the perspectives of Levon, Sam, and all the people who know them best, this is a love story infused with science and the exploration of identity. Love Is Both Wave and Particle looks at how love behaves in different situations, and how it can shed light on even the darkest heart.

 

This is one of those books for which you have to roll your eyes a few times and remember that it's YA lit, so it's not necessarily supposed to be realistic sometimes, but if you can get past this, it's a stunner and a great exploration of relationships.

 

The biggest selling point of this one for me was the various interspersed chapters from other perspectives, and the way it felt like it really could be the project of high school seniors. I loved that. I loved the way other people put their opinions on our two main characters in and how these offered intriguing insights.

 

This story does throw you slightly in the deep end, starting off with an ambulance incident which already had my mind whirling with various character names, but I think that this style pays off, and that it's worth getting through the first few chapters and becoming oriented with the direction that it's taking.

 

I think that it could have benefitted by breaking away from the norms a bit more and focusing on the development of other relationships, but perhaps I ask too much.

 

Overall though, if you tend to enjoy multiple narrators or the traditional boy/girl alternating voice, this is a solid story.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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review 2017-09-20 18:18
A Short History of the Girl Next Door/Jared Reck
A Short History of the Girl Next Door - ... A Short History of the Girl Next Door - Jared Reck

This book is worth reading, so go read it, but stop reading reviews because they'll probably spoil something. Don't read the description; it'll spoil something. (Those author comparisons… come on, whoever did jacket copy!) If you like YA, go read it.

 

Okay, that being said, now I will talk about this book in ambiguous terms that jump around the major event that happens a third of the way or so through. No apologies if you're intelligent enough to guess what happens. Here's the blurb:

 

Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this unrequited love story will appeal to fans of Jennifer Niven, John Green, and Jesse Andrews. 
Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 
Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.
Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.
If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.
But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. 
After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

 

So this ends up being a premise I've totally thought about in a different fashion--the idea of who is important to you, but how many other people even know that you're important to them? Who has the right to grieve? Who has the agency to speak after certain events? (I told you there'd be spoilers. There's no way to do this.)

 

Matt is lovely and so very real and such a great boy character! Am I the only one who feels like boy characters are often one-dimensional in YA lit? I loved the way he interacted with all of his friends and especially with Tabby, and I loved the way that he dealt with the circumstances and lashed out and was vulnerable and real.

 

While a lot more YA deals with this than proportionally is realistic, I felt like I could see this community reacting and I could see the events playing out. From Matt's parents and family to the way he plays basketball and looks up to his teammates, I felt like Reck had really delved into the personality of every character.

 

This is so much better than All the Bright Places, and I highly recommend it for those who love tragic YA romances.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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