Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver

Title/ Author: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA, contemporary, psychological thriller
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

"Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on." -- E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is a book that I have had my eye on since it came out. While I sort of expected more of a page-turning suspense novel, I was greeted by a very surprising and just as page-turning psychological thriller. I was not disappointed.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Meh. It's okay, but it doesn't do anything for me. The title is more interesting than the cover art.

Characters: This is kind of one of those books where I didn't really care overmuch for the characters. Nick wasn't, overall, terrible, I didn't mind reading from her POV. I definitely felt sorry for her, and I think she, as a character, did exactly what she needed to for the story. I was more interested in her overall relationships with Dara. Dara I didn't necessarily care overmuch for. I don't like those kind of crazy party girls. But again, it's the kind of book where the characters serve their purpose whether you like them or not. I did actually like Parker, he was a nice guy and think he was a good addition to the cast.

The Romance: The romance in this book is really just too complicated to explain without too many spoilers so I'll just tell you that, yes there is romance of various natures.

Writing Style: While the writing itself isn't anything horrible special, I loved the way it was put together, and the plotting was definitely really well done. I read this book in two days (most of it the second) because it was just one of those that you literally can't put it down. i think I sat for at least three or four hours and finished it because I actually couldn't stop. I did actually like the random journal entries and news articles scattered throughout it too. I don't always like that, but in this case, I think it helped the reader to know more of what was going on. I really can't say a lot about this book because if I say too much it will spoil the twist which was amazing but it was well done.

Accuracy/ Believability: Again, for the sake of spoiling it, I can't say much, but the problems this book dealt with were portrayed pretty accurately to my knowledge.

Problems/What bothered me: As I said before this is more of the kind of book you read for the plot and not because you like the characters, so I won't say much about my personal feelings about some of the characters. It didn't bother me because I knew it was all part of the story and it had to be. I am continuously skeptical as to how sixteen-year-olds can get around so much and find a steady flow of liquor though. Every once in a while, I can understand, but the amount of times it happened in this book was a little ridiculous. Not to mention them being able to get into clubs.

Conclusion: 4 stars. It was a 3 star book right up until the twist which almost warrants 5 stars, in all honestly because I literally gasped and had to stop and process what I had just read but factoring in everything else, it's a four star book. This is one of those that I really want to re-read not that I know the twist so I can fully appreciate all the little hints throughout it. Overall, really enjoyed it and for my first Lauren Oliver YA book, I was not disappointed.

Recommended Audience: Girl read 17 and up due to content. If you like sister stories and psychological thrillers, you really need to read this one. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Nether Isle by Nicoline Evans

Title/ Author: Nether Isle by Nicoline Evans
Genre: Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, YA
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: Lonely is a state of mind, solitude is a way of life. Confusing the two was never an issue for Theodore Finn, at least not until he found himself immersed in a world where nightmares were real.
Nether Isle is built upon a foundation of secrecy. The unimaginable truths living amongst the locals are kept hushed and often ignored. But when Theodore moves there from Alaska, the secrecy ends up being his worst enemy. His naiveté leaves him prey to the dangers lurking around his new home and when the truth is finally revealed, he is already tangled in a web of trouble. Too late to prevent it and too deep to escape, Theodore is forced to find the strength to fight it. Thrown into this strange new reality, he taps into the locals for help. Home to mystery and magic, the rough and jaded inhabitants of Nether Isle band together to save their home. Used to operating alone, Theodore must learn to trust strangers and adapt to the supernatural world unraveling around him.
Set in a run-down fishing village off the coast of Maine, Nether Isle shows the battle between good and evil, on both a large and personal scale. It reveals the fine line separating the two opposing forces and how light can often stem from a dark place. This paranormal fantasy captures the spooky feel of isolation when facing a force as great as nature. Nautical in setting, gothic in feel, this story is one for our buried imaginations.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I love supernatural/ghost stories, and I especially love supernatural/ghost stories when they are set in misty coastal towns so did this disappoint? No it did not.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I really like the cover it's pretty and creepy at the same time. I think it matches the feel for the book very well.

Characters: Theodore was a very likable protagonist. I instantly felt sorry for him for his situation, being pretty much stuck in the town with no friends and an alcoholic and abusive father. I liked him even more for the fact that we got to see him grow throughout the story. He was a very well-written and realistic dynamic character. I really enjoyed seeing his relationships with the other characters grow as well when he started to become fiends with Ruby and Rowan both of whom I liked, and I loved the mother/son relationship he shared with Adelaide. She was actually one of my favorite characters, I liked how she took Theodore in and gave him family when he didn't have any. As for Bianca's character (view spoiler) I will say that I really loved the Wiccans and Ouijans, they were such colorful and fun characters, I would have liked them to have more page time. Over all, this book presents a really likable and well-rounded cast of very dynamic characters.

The Romance: In reality not a whole ton of romance, again don't want to spoil it: (view spoiler)

Writing Style: It was really good. Very descriptive and colorful. I really was able to feel like I was there in the misty town and I loved the dour and delightfully creepy notes of the ghost storyline. What I think stood out to me most about this book though, was the fact that while it is a supernatural suspense/adventure, there's a lot of lead up and character building that happens. Most people would probably only write half of this story, and the length might make the book drag for some readers, but for me, I loved the time it took to get to the real plot line. The buildup only made it more suspenseful instead of making the book drag, and it kept me turning pages because whenever I thought there was a hint of something, I needed to know where it led. And I think it's because of this that we were given such realistic characters instead of your typical action hero types who really have no personality. This book made me laugh and cry because I cared about the characters.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable. But I do still enjoy the take on the ghostiness in this story all the same ;)

Problems/What bothered me: Not really any problems to report. The only complaint I could make is that it took me a while to remember all the Wiccans and Ouijans and I wish we had had more time with them initially, but further on in the book, I got them straight.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book! I was lucky enough to meet Nicoline Evans at BookCon and got this one signed. I will definitely be checking out her other books now :)

Recommended Audience: Fans of ghost stories or creepy supernatural fantasies who also want a good deeper storyline would enjoy this. Girl or guy read, ages 14 and up.

(read this review with spoilers on Goodreads)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Title/ Author: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Genre: Fantasy, retelling
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I never was a fan of the Wizard of Oz, so this book immediately caught my attention and my expectations did not disappoint. I always love new twists on old stories and this is definitely one of the more unique ones I have ever read.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I like the cover. It's obvious what the book is about and it's just simple. The title though, is what seals it for me. Instant interest spiked ;)

Characters: Amy Gumm was a sympathetic, and pleasing character to read about. I instantly felt sorry for her, and also appreciated that, while she was put into a very bad position, she wasn't a brat about it even if she had every reason to be. I truly understood her want to get out of where she was, even if that place was a ruined Oz. She was a character who grew to be even better than what she started out to be, and I really enjoyed seeing her grow up in this story and gain more confidence. I really liked the supporting cast in this story as well. Seeing the traditional Oz characters was fun, especially in their new roles in this story. The 'Wicked' witches were enjoyable to read about and I liked Gert, Mombi and Glamora very much. I also really liked Nox, but then I can't help but love the sort of quiet, reserved male characters, especially since I didn't view him as actually brooding so much as just showing little emotion due to his position. The portrayal of Dorothy was frightening to say the least. But I loved her. She made an awesome villain, and I could actually totally see this happen. Power corrupts, right? She was a really awesome female baddie though, and even better for the fact that she actually acted on her threats. The Lion, the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow were seriously creepy too, especially the Scarecrow. I totally approve of the new versions of them. We didn't get to see a lot of the Wizard, but what we did see of him, I did like his portrayal, even if I'm not sure how exactly I feel about him yet.

The Romance: A little bit of a crush between Amy and Nox, but there's really no time for it, so it wasn't really even enough to form an opinion on. I wouldn't mind them getting together, but I hope it continues to not get in the way of the plot.

Writing Style: I really enjoyed Amy's narration, and this book was really awesome visually. It's obvious the author did much research into the Oz books to be able to create a twisted almost post-apocalyptic version of this world, and it really works. I was able to picture everything perfectly, which I love in fantasy novels, this was one that while I read it, I actually pictured it as a movie (which would be awesome!) so that's always a good thing. Really though, even if I hadn't liked the characters (which I did!) I would have still enjoyed this book for the descriptions of this new version of Oz alone.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable. I haven't read all the Oz books so I can't say much on that end, but I can still tell that the author got things pretty accurate and I do believe this totally could have happened, making it a believable alternate universe sort of story.

Problems/What bothered me: Didn't really have any problems. This was just one of those books you go on for the ride.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more! The ending was a super cliffhanger, so I will be tracking down a copy of the sequel as soon as possible.

Recommended Audience: Girl read, ages 16 and up due to some content (mostly just language). Whether you like the original or not, I think you would still appreciate this book.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title/Author: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I'll admit I thought this book sounded interesting when it came out but I had my misgivings because usually books promoted so much so soon turn out not to be that great. However, this one was one that really did deliver.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I do like it. It's a little plain, but the upside down crown dripping blood is really cool.

Characters: Mare was a lovely protagonist. She was partly a victim of circumstance who rose above that to do what had to be done, and yet she never came across with an attitude because of it. She was a very relatable and likable character. The only thing I'm not sure about her, whether I liked it or it bothered me, was her need to protect everyone around her. I do understand this, because I am naturally a protector, but I'm also the eldest of my siblings and Mare was not. It just seemed a little unnatural, and I understood why Killorn would have gotten annoyed at her for that. Men do not like women protecting them, it's just the way it is. And it just got ridiculous with her wanting to protect Cal when he's obviously capable of doing that himself. Anyway, only a little observation/complaint there. I loved the relationship between her and her siblings and I really wish we could have gotten to see more of that. The whole cast was good. I particularly liked Cal and Julian. I think one thing I loved about this book so much is that I really wasn't sure what to think about any of the characters at any given moment. I wish I could say more but I would spoil it. Let's just say that not everyone is as they seem, and the baddies were actually bad and sometimes surprising.

The Romance: This might be the first love triangle that didn't bother me. I hate love triangles, especially ones between brothers, but I think the reason the Maven/Mare/Cal triangle didn't bother me so much was that, one, it wasn't the main plot line, and two, she never liked both of them at the same time and that makes all the difference.

Writing Style: It did actually take me a few chapters to get used to the present tense in this book. Some books it flows better than others, and this one, not quite so well as some. But to counter that, the story itself was amazing, and this book somehow manages to have just the right balance of characterization and world building without lagging. I guess you could say it's a little slow in the beginning, but the plot really goes continuously and doesn't stop until the end. I really loved this unique world, to me it felt almost a combination of medieval and, I know it was supposed to be more modern than this, but I felt like it was maybe 50s or 60s, don't know why, it just felt that way to me. The only thing I was kind of disappointed it were the terms for things. Some of them were kind of lame actually, but it doesn't detract from the story too much. The plot the awesome and the world was imaginative and better still actually believable for the sort of people this was dealing with. It really surprised me.

Accuracy/ Believability: The world was actually believable, and I also really appreciated the rebel group in this. Unlike most books, the rebels were painted in a very realistic light. They weren't put on pedestals, thus making it seem like the author is just ranting and trying to prove some point. They aren't even always portrayed as the good guys really. Their ultimate cause is worthy, but Mare doesn't by any means always agree with their methods and I really liked that. On the flip side I also liked how not all the Silvers were just portrayed as nasty aristocrats.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the couple little niggles I already addressed, nothing.

Conclusion: 4/5 stars. The ending, while I kind of saw part of it coming, was still a big surprise and left me feeling breathless and in shock. I was very pleased with that, and this is one of those books I would love to read over to see if I can spot some clues the second time around. Either way, awesome ending, and I really look forward to seeing where the author takes the story next. This one left us with great promise for a sequel.

Recommended Audience: Probably more girl read than guy read. Ages 15 and up. Readers who are tired of the usual fantasy novels would love this because it's still fantasy, but it's kind of a whole new take and setting. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Beastly Bones By William Ritter

Title/ Author: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Historical, supernatural, mystery
Synopsis: I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.


*ARC Review*

Thoughts on the Overall Book: So anyone who follows my reviews will know how much I have been waiting for this one. I think that's explanation enough. And it didn't disappoint.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the covers for these, I think they are very pretty.

Characters: What else can I say? I adore Jackaby and Abigail. Abigail is a lovely narrator and I continue to love her just as much in this book as the first one, and Jackaby is just such a fun, eccentric character and the way Abigail describes him makes him even more so. I was glad we got to see Charlie again in this book, as he is definitely one of my favorite characters and I liked him just as much in this one too. This book had quite a few new characters introduced who I really liked as well. Mr. Hudson the trapper was fun to meet, as well as the two paleontologists who were constantly at each other's throats--very reminiscent of your typical archeologists of the day. My favorite though was the reporter, Nellie Fuller (view spoiler) She was just a really awesome, spunky female character, the kind I love to pop up in stories like this. So many awesome characters in one cast, and perhaps a new official nemesis? So excited to see where the plot goes with the pale man.

The Romance: (view spoiler)

Writing Style: Just as awesome as the first one. Abigail might be one of my favorite female narrators. Her descriptions are witty and enjoyable to read, she doesn't have an attitude, and I have no complaints being stuck in her head. While the first one might have been more frightening and presented a scarier villain, I still really enjoyed the mystery in this one, and while I guessed a couple things, several of the clues jumped out at me and the way two seemingly unrelated cases melded together was very cool. It's fast-paced without seeming to be just filled with action, and had a well-plotted storyline just like the first.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable here.

Problems/What bothered me: My only problem is that I wish it was longer! Not because it needed to be, but because I hate having to finish another Jackaby book!

Conclusion: 5 stars. LOVED IT! This is definitely a new favorite series of mine. The end promised interesting things to come, and can I just say that I am very sad to hear about the demise of Jackaby's nymph-made yeti wool hat.

Recommended Audience: If you enjoyed the first one, you will love this one as well. Fans of supernatural mysteries must try these! Girl or guy read ages 13 and up.

(Read this Review with Spoilers on Goodreads

Friday, June 5, 2015

BookCon/ May Book Haul

So, I usually just put the books I aquired during each month in my wrap up post, but this time, I thought it best to do just a BookCon NY trip haul post because I got a bunch of books and wanted to do a special post for them.

I will have another post up soon about my BookCon experience and a sort of survival guide to those who wish to do it next year, but pretty much, I had an awesome time. I met up with my friend and fellow blogger, Mara from The Reading Hedgehog and we had fun exploring New York together and experiencing BookCon. She will also be writing a BookCon post soon, that I will link to this one when she gets it up. We also got to meet another fellow blogger, Kel from Booked Til Tuesday who gave us BookCon tips and brought us lunch (Thanks again!) But more about that in my other post, this one is about my loot. While in NY Mara and I had to visit The Strand which was just as amazing as promised.  Three stories of tight rows of shelves is pretty much a booklover's dream. I didn't buy as many books there as I could have, but it was awesome.

Here's some pictures of everything. I hauled 22 books in May between books that I bought at BookCon and The Strand and books that I got free at BookCon and ones people gave me. Some of these were ones that I brought to get signed so not all of them I bought this month but I'll list everything below.

These are all the books I got signed

Getting books signed at BookCon was harder than expected (more about that in my next post). I actually missed Maggie Stiefvater's autographing session but I met up with her by chance afterward and she was kind enough to signed them all for me (Thanks again Maggie!) But apart from that I really enjoyed getting to meet Courtney Alameda (Shutter) and Michael Buckley (Undertow) They were both awesome and I really look forward to reading Michael's new book. I was sad that I didn't get the opportunity to get my copy of The Maze Runner signed by James Dashner, but I did get to see him in panel and he too is a very awesome fellow.

Other books that I bought

Free Books!

And of course all the swag I picked up. I got lots of buttons too, but those are already on my bag.

And without further ado, here is all the books I hauled this month:

Books given to me or that I got for free:

#1: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (This was given to me by Mara)
#2: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter (Also given to me by Mara--thank you!!!!)
#3: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 
#4: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Both of these were also given to me by Mara)
#5: Undertow by Michael Buckley (Free with the signing at BookCon)
#6: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (BookCon giveaway)
#7: Feral Nights (The Feral Series #1) by Cynthia Leitich Smith (BookCon giveaway)
#8: Reawakened by Coleen Houck (BookCon ARC giveaway)
#9: The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick (BookCon Giveaway)
#10: Demon Dentist by David Walliams (BookCon ARC giveaway)

Books I bought:

#11: The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson
#12: The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson
#13: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige 
#14: The Finisher (Vega Jane #1) by David Baldacci
#15: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
#16: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
#17: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
#18: Shutter by Courtney Alameda
#19: Nether Isle by Nicoline Evans 
#20: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson 
#21: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
#22: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

So that's my haul! Definitely can't wait to read all the new books I got. Now I just have to find shelf space for them!

I'll be back later with my BookCon experience post. 

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Wrap Up 2015

First off, I'm very sorry I didn't get any reviews up this month. I was so busy writing and all the blogging I did was for my other blog Tales From a Modern Bard (If you haven't checked out the recent challenge stories that I posted, do so! We had some awesome stories this time around and some new writers!) On the plus side, I did finish the first draft of the second book in the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, An Earthly King. I'll be looking for beta readers to the first one Blood Ties at the end of June but I'll talk more about that later.

Of course, I also have been getting ready for BookCon! By the time this post is put up, I'll either be there or be home from there, and will be making a seperate post all about it and my BookCon Haul which I know will be massive.

So, I'll just post a quick list of my reads for the month as usual. Only read 5 because of everything else, but I did read a lot of good ones, so I can't complain.

#1: The Luck Uglies (The Luck Uglies #1) by Paul Durham (3/5 stars)
#2: Blue Bloods (Blue Blood #1) by Melissa de la Cruz (2/5 stars)
#3: Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian (4/5 stars)
#4: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson (4/5 stars)
#5: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (4/5 stars)

Favorite Reads of the Month

Red Queen
Tunnel Vision

I will be back soon with the BookCon post! So excited to share my experience with you!