Category Archives: NetGalley

REVIEW: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different in Real Life

by Jennifer Castle

YA Contemporary

Book Description

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they’re real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.

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MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

I was initially excited to read this book, because it had a really unique premise that is different from anything else I’ve read recently. But unfortunately, events fell flat for me, and the book just left me with an overwhelming sense of meh.

The novel revolves around the five teenagers whose lives have been filmed for documentary audiences every five years. Our narrator, Justine, Keira, Nate, Rory, and Felix have all grown apart since the last doc was filmed. When the directors don’t get enough interesting film, they put all five kids together to try to make something happen–and something does, but nothing that they expected.

I didn’t feel like enough was revealed about each character…I actually felt they were all one dimensional stereotypes. For example, Rory has been diagnosed with autism…so she’s quirky, and Nate is a jock, so he’s handsome, charismatic, and able to pretty much get away with anything. We don’t get to know much of anything past the shallow descriptions of the characters…least of all, Justine. Even though she was the one telling the story, I felt I knew her least of all.

I guess this could be classified as a coming of age or friends reconnecting novel…but just not that much exciting happened. There were “surprises” I definitely predicted, and the ending was just too clean. Maybe I’m just too old to relate, and teens closer to the age of the characters will enjoy this book more than I did.

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About the Author

Jennifer Castle’s first novel, The Beginning of After, was named an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” Book. She wrote many unproduced movie and TV scripts before returning to her first love, fiction . . . but she’s still hooked on film and the way we can find and tell our stories with images. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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REVIEW: The Collector by Victoria Scott

The Collector

by Victoria Scott

Dante Walker, Book One

Book Description

He makes good girls…bad. 

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

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MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

The Collector by Victoria Scott

I’m going to give this a verrrrrryyy reluctant 3 stars.

There was so much hype for like a YEAR leading up to the release of this book, of course I had to request it on NetGalley! The hype was mostly centered around the book’s protagonist (?) Dante Walker, and how he was so much of a bad boy that you’ll hate to love. Oh I hated him alright, but it never even came close to the love part.

Dante is cocky, egotistical, and just plain mean. He’s a Collector of souls for the bad guy downstairs, so essentially a demon. His job is to corrupt people and make sure their souls go where they need to go after death. He’s really good at his job and has become the bad guy’s favorite…until he gets an assignment to collect Charlie.

Charlie is unattractive, clumsy, and lacking self confidence, which is pretty much everything Dante hates in a person. Yet for some reason, he is inexplicably attracted to her. As she gets closer and closer to having her soul collected, Dante begins to think that maybe his job might be worth giving up for her.

As I said before, I’m not one of those girls who was charmed by Dante’s attitude and uber-coolness. For essentially the first 75% of the book, he said and did so many things that turned my stomach, I almost quit reading several times. He’s dead, but still so shallow and vain…I would have thought dying would show a person what was really important in life. He actually calls Charlie ugly and worse, albeit not straight to her face.

I also didn’t get his feelings for her. It wasn’t insta-love per se, but it was fast nonetheless, happening in less than ten days. It’s a bit unbelievable to me that someone as vain as Dante could have fallen so quickly (or at all) for Charlie…though I’m sure the wishes she made to make herself more beautiful helped him balance things in his mind.

So why did I give the book 3 stars at all? Well, it barely made it. The premise of Collectors and Liberators is an original one, and I like it when I can come across something new in paranormal YA. And although I have a strong dislike for the main characters, there are secondary characters that are way more interesting…Valery, for example. The end was pretty unexpected but still good, and I feel like a showdown is coming.

Hopefully Charlie will change Dante, because if he stays the same, I don’t think I’ll be able to read any more Collector books. Here’s to change.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW, INTERVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome by Marissa Moss

Home Sweet Rome

by Marissa Moss

Mira’s Diary, Book Two

PRESENTED BY SOURCEBOOKS

Book Description

As if traveling to a new country in search of her missing mother weren’t difficult enough, Mira has to do it dressed as a boy. In a different century.

A new postcard from her time-traveling mother points Mira to the 16th century Rome. But before she can rescue her mom, she must follow the clues left around the city to find Giordano Bruno, a famous thinker and mathematician, who discovered something so shocking that important Italian officials don’t want it revealed. All the while avoiding the Watchers–time-traveling police who want Mira back in her own time.

It’s another whirlwind adventure for Mira, and this time she is determined to bring her mother out of the past.

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome by Marissa Moss

I really liked this novel a lot more than the first one in the series. Mira is getting into her time travel ability now, and this time she’s off to renaissance era Rome. While there, she meets the famous painter Caravaggio, and learns the reason she has been sent back to this time–the works of a man named Bruno are in danger since he has been named a heretic and condemned to death for infuriating the church. With hints from her mother and clues she pieces together with her own clever mind, is it possible Mira will make it in time to save what needs to be saved?

I felt like Mira grew up a bit in this installment. She’s no longer shocked as she (understandably) was by her time travel in the first book, and she wastes no time with silly romantic notions as she did before. She goes in and immediately sets about finding out what needs to be done.

I still have my issues with the believability of events in the book…the people she meets along the way must be quite gullible to swallow some of the tall tales she feeds to them. Also, I have trouble understanding just how much time she is spending in the past when she goes back. This is important to me because it almost seems as if she meets people once and then 20 years later they still remember her. It bothers me a bit.

Overall, I enjoyed Mira’s journey this time and I found myself learning a lot. The research put into writing these books shows through, and gives you a history lesson while you read a good story.

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sshinterview

 

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve always wanted to make books and I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine.  Naturally, it was terrible and they didn’t publish it.  I didn’t try submitting anything again until I was a grown-up, but I kept on telling myself stories and drawing pictures to go with them.

 

2.  Who or what gives you inspiration?

If by inspiration, you mean the urge to write, I get ideas from all kinds of things –something I read in the newspaper, an overheard conversation, a childhood memory, something that’s going on in my life right now.  It’s not hard to get ideas — it’s remembering them that’s a challenge, so I keep a notebook with me wherever I go.

 

3.  What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

It’s always hard to balance complicated information with strong plots that will draw in readers.  When you’re dealing with another century, it’s harder still.  I wanted Rome, both in the present and in the past, to be vivid, to come alive for the reader.  The city felt to me like another character and I hope I brought her to life!

4.  What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?

I’m a disciplined writer and I’ve had to write while watching my kids in the park or in doctor’s waiting rooms, so having the luxury of a room of my own now is all I need.

5.  What are some of your favorite books?

Top of the list from my childhood, Roald Dahl with James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Then E. B. White with Charlotte’s Web.  If only I could write like them!
For writers now, I’m a big fan of Gennifer Choldenko, J.K. Rowling, Louis Sachar, Karen Cushman, Sharon Creech, Christopher Paul Curtis, too many to list!

 

6.  Are your characters based on anyone you know?

Amelia, from the Amelia’s Notebooks, is basically me when I was a kid (and Cleo is based on my real older sister — no wonder she hates the books).
Mira is more of who I wish I was like — brave, adventurous, quick-witted.  The other characters in the book are based either on people who historically existed at that time or are loosely (very loosely) based on people I know.

 

7.  What, if anything, are you working on right now?

Mira goes to London next, during WWI and gets involved in women’s suffrage, among other things. It’s another juicy historical period that’s a lot of fun to explore.

 

8.  Why do you love writing?

I think writing is magical.  Nowhere else but on a page can you make things happen exactly as you want them to.  I love the richness of language, the vividness of the pictures words can create.  Plus it’s hard, challenging work, so you’re always being stretched, growing with each book.  As a friend of mine put it, it’s a glorious struggle.  What other work is both glorious and a struggle?

 

About the Author

I was born in Pennsylvania, but my family moved to California when I was two, and I’ve been here ever since. I grew up in the southern part of the state and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I studied art at San Jose State but fought too much with my art teachers (I was very opinionated – I wanted to do my kind of art; they wanted me to do theirs). So I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley where I didn’t take a single English or Art class. Mostly I took history where I learned how to do research, tools that have helped me in making the historical journals and working on my Young Adult novel. Then I took classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts for a year since I didn’t want another degree and a year’s tuition was all I could afford. I just wanted some guidance on how to break into childrens books.

I waited tables while I sent out stories, waiting for some editor to fall in love with my work. There was no fall-back plan, no alternative career. I’d still be waiting tables if I weren’t lucky enough to have gotten that first book. And after that, the second one, and then the third and the fourth and the fifth. . . .

Each new book is still a challenge. It’s hard work and I love every minute of it.

  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

 

sshgiveaway

 

One commenter on this post will win a copy of the first book in the series, Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris.

Book Description

Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it’s time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn’t run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?

TO ENTER, COMMENT ON THIS POST AND TELL ME WHICH TIME PERIOD YOU’D LIKE TO TRAVEL BACK TO.

REVIEW: Undead by Kirsty McKay

Undead

by Kirsty McKay

Undead, Book One

Book Description

Out of sight, out of their minds: It’s a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they’ve changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they’re zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin’ fast, because that’s the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates’ next meal. It’s kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Bobby is a British girl who moved to America, and is now back in Britain for high school. She doesn’t think she really fits in, so she’s less than thrilled when she must go with her class on a ski trip. But when the bus stops at a roadside diner, everyone who went inside suddenly becomes zombified. Bobby, prissy Alice, nerdy Pete, and loner Smitty are the only kids left unaffected. The four must try to outrun and outwit the zombies…all while dealing with ridiculous situations that pop up along the way.

Of course I am all about zombie everything, so I was stoked to read this book. Too bad it left me with a mostly meh feeling.

The characters are all pretty big stereotypes, classically thrown together in their time of distress. Since this is more or less supposed to me an action/horror novel, characterization is expected to be on the lesser side, but I felt like we learned NOTHING about any of the four kids during the course of this book.

Bobby is likable enough, though I don’t get her whole idea that she’s an outsider. If anything, I’d think her peers would be interested in her and wanting to ask her a ton of questions about America. As the book went on, Bobby got a bit more daring and kick-ass, which was great.

The main thing I missed in this book was zombie killing! There are a couple of scenes where zombies are killed, and that’s it. The rest of the time is spent running and hiding. I understand that they’re just kids, but at one point in the book they all had weapons…and never used them, even when surrounded.

One saving point of Undead is that it was pretty funny. All the characters are sarcastic and they trade some hilarious remarks. The story is told in first person through Bobby’s point of view, and the way the thinks is funny and relatable.

The end was weird for me, and I basically thought it was a cop-out. Also, I was pretty sure this was supposed to be a stand-alone book…but I guess not.

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REVIEW: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe

by Sarah Crossan

Breathe Series, Book One

Book Description

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe. 
Breathe. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina
has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

*Below is a review that will most probably make people mad at me…*

Quinn, Alina, and Bea are teenagers in a dystopian future where the atmosphere has been depleted of oxygen, making it impossible for anyone to breathe. As a result, The small population of survivors from The Switch now lives in a structure called The Pod, where air is pumped in and pretty much every aspect of life is controlled by an oppressive government (any of this sounding familiar yet?).

Quinn is the oldest son in a prominent family, and happens to be best friends with Bea, a brilliant but poor girl who has high aspirations. Alina is a member of a resistance group that plans to bring Breathe (the government) down. When Quinn meets Alina, he immediately becomes interested in her, and soon all three of the kids’ lives are intertwined, for better or worse.

Breathe was one of the most anticipated releases of Fall 2012. I was one of those bloggers who heard about it ages ago and immediately put it on my TBR list. But unfortunately, the book description that roped me into wanting to read this book was just about the only compelling thing about it.

I was so excited to start reading this book, but once I started, the many shortcomings I found made me not want to finish it. First off, maybe it’s just me having dystopian overload, but I feel like I have read this story. So. Many. Times. Pure by Julianna Baggott comes to mind, countless others. It’s kinda like the author went down a dystopian novel checklist:
-Oppressive Government: CHECK
-World changing event THAT IS NEVER TRULY EXPLAINED: CHECK
-Resistance group with a crazy leader: CHECK

Then there was a YA checklist:
-Love triangle: CHECK
-Non-existent/non-caring parents: CHECK
-Whiny girl, idiot boy, kickass (but not quite) heroine: CHECK

So many things about this book didn’t make sense to me. Just for example: the kids find a drifter, an older lady named Maude. She explains that before The Switch, she was training in the medical field. That would take a person with fairly high intelligence, correct? Well, in this book she talks as if she just stepped out of 1870’s Appalachia. “I weren’t no threat.” and such. Maybe I picked things apart, but hey, I’m a reviewer so things like this catch my attention.

Characterization was severely lacking in this novel, and I’d be hard pressed to say I found redeeming qualities in any of the characters. Quinn made me want to punch him several times, Alina just wasn’t the smartest, and Bea had no backbone. The sort-of-but-not-quite love triangle was very annoying.

There are several other things I had issues with, but honestly, I am tired of talking about this book and I’m ready to get it out of my mind. I only finished it because I started it…and I kind of wish I hadn’t.

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REVIEW: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

The Vicious Deep

by Zoraida Cordova

The Vicious Deep Series, Book One

Book Description

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.
He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.
His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.
Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

Tristan Hart is a high school lifeguard who isn’t worried about too much besides girls and his swim team. But out of the blue he is overtaken by a huge wave on the beach, and he experiences very–unusual dreams.

But when he wakes up, his mother lets him know he was not dreaming. Tristan is in fact half merman. And not just any merman, an heir to the royal throne. But there are those who would not be happy to see Tristan come to power. Not only that, he must figure out how to keep his two worlds from colliding. His life is getting more complicated by the minute.

I haven’t had much luck with what I call “merpeople” novels. Lies Beneath was horrible for me, and others I’ve read have just kind of been meh. Vicious Deep has some promise, but unfortunately doesn’t completely deliver.

First off, we have Tristan. He is a grade-A jerk. He is a player who can’t ever remember girls’ names correctly, and rather rude and chauvinistic at that. Yet in spite of all this, he is somewhat in love with his best friend, Layla. She knows his history but still manages to have feelings for him too.

The world of the merfolk (or merkin as they are called here) is very intriguing and I enjoyed being immersed in it. I was also partial to the two merfolk who came to help Tristan, Kurt and Thalia. They were charming in an awkward way 🙂

The biggest problem I had with this novel was the pacing. It. Was. SOOOOOOO. Slow! It took a long time for anything of substance to happen, and I almost gave up on reading it a couple of times. Once it got the end end, it finally started rolling along better.

By the time I got to the end, I was glad I had read it, but there were several unanswered questions. I wish I could have learned more in this book…but it is of course, the first in a series.

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REVIEW: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

What’s Left of Me

by Kat Zhang

The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One

Book Description

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER HERE

MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Eva and Addie are two souls who share one body–though Eva lost the ability to control that body long ago. They are called a “hybrid”–which are outcasts in society and hunted down and sent to government facilities. People are only supposed to have one soul, after all…but Eva and Addie’s body never settled.

They try to hide the fact that they are hybrid, but soon enough they are found out and shipped off to an institution where they meet several other kids like themselves. But something sinister is happening there…and Addie and Eva want out.

I had high hopes going into this book, and it was somewhat different than I expected. It was unique, but at the same time I came away from it feeling I had read this tale before.

The novel is told through the first person perspective of Eva, who is the “submissive” soul in the body she shares with Addie. (I’m not even sure what to call them, really…sisters doesn’t seem quite right? Maybe Soul Sisters. Heh.) Because Addie is the one who puts on the public face and controls the body, Eva is essentially trapped. She can think and speak to Addie in their mind, but that’s about all she’s able to do.

Since Eva was the one narrating, I didn’t get to know Addie at all. They are the same body, but two entirely different people. Characterization in general was weak in this novel. I don’t understand how Addie became the “dominant” soul, when she seems so meek and introverted compared to Eva. I wish this novel would have been told in rotating chapters from each girl…I would have enjoyed knowing Addie’s true feelings about everything that was going on.

Once the story unfolded inside the Nornand facility, then it got kind of predictable. Definitely been there before.

The part that was most confusing to me–how did the issue of a body sharing two souls even happen? Obviously the book is set in our world, at some point in the future…but some event must have occurred to make such a weird thing come about? This topic was not even broached and it’s something I would have liked to see.

I’m glad I read the book, but I wish it would have been a bit more explosive and less predictable.

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REVIEW: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits

by Katie McGarry

Genre: YA Contemporary

Book Description

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS

*THIS REVIEW IS SLIGHTLY SPOILERISH!

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Echo and Noah have at least one thing in common: both come from broken families. Noah lost his parents in a house fire and his two younger brothers are with different foster parents. Echo’s mother is mentally ill and her dad has moved on with his young wife who is pregnant. Though they seem to be opposites in every other respect, Echo and Noah are drawn to each other and share a passionate relationship.

But things are not always that easy, of course. Echo has her own psychological issues to work through before she can let someone really get to know her. Noah is fighting against authority to try to gain custody of his brothers, the most important things in his life. Can they get through against all the odds to truly love each other?

I had heard tons of positive reviews about this book before I started reading it. For the most part I enjoyed it, but I did have a few problems with both characters.

Echo has had intense things happen to her in the past, no doubt. But she became sullen and withdrawn instead of turning to her friends for help. I believe if she had at least tried to reach out, she would have found so many people willing to help her. I will probably catch flack for this opinion, but I think she made herself the victim too many times. I’m in no way downplaying what happened to her. But the way she treated her dad and stepmom made me want to slap her sometimes.

Noah is a little more likable, but I don’t think he makes the best decisions. If he knows he wants to get his brothers back, why would he engage in the behaviors he does? The introduction of Echo into his life changes him some, thankfully.

The book also had the trope I hate the most, “I love you so I’m breaking up with your for your own good.” GEEEZ I’m tired of seeing this in YA lit. It always has the opposite effect.
[“I love you so I’m breaking up with your for your own good.” GEEEZ I’m tired of seeing this in YA lit. It always has the opposite effect. (hide spoiler)]

So what did I like? Well, I’m glad this book addressed such serious topics as foster care, mental illness, and losing someone in the military. I think it could have been achieved with a lot less cussing and drug use, though.

I also liked the ending. Things were not exactly perfect but everyone was working their way towards improvement. And really, that’s all we can hope for in life.

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REVIEW: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

Quarantine: The Loners

By Lex Thomas

Quarantine Series, Book One

Book Description

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

David is starting the first day of his senior year, and his little brother Will is coming in as a freshman. On the first day at their brand new school however, the most unimaginable thing happens: the whole school becomes locked down and no one is allowed to come in or out. As it turns out, all the kids in the school under 18 are carrying a virus deadly to adults. And until the government can figure out what to do with them, hundreds of kids are living a nightmare.

After a year in quarantine, vicious gangs have formed and do whatever it takes to survive–even kill. David must protect his little brother at all costs…even if Will doesn’t want his protection.

For some reason I went into this book thinking it was a zombie novel…I was quite wrong. The premise of a whole school full of kids being confined is definitely what piqued my interest, but I’m not really happy with the way this novel played out.

There was not very much characterization at all, and I couldn’t connect with any of the kids, whether protagonist or antagonist. The book only tells of one event that happened prior to the quarantine, and in my opinion that wasn’t enough to get a good feel on any of the kids who were there. I know the reader is supposed to root for David and hate Sam…but I couldn’t really do either.

The gangs that formed in the school are really just extreme versions of the cliques that already divide kids in high school–Freaks, Nerds, Skaters, Varsity, etc. I suppose that having all these groups under one intense situation for so long would provoke things, but I have a hard time believing such violence and hatred would occur. Why wouldn’t all the kids try to work together to find a solution?

The book dragged a lot for me, and I only kept reading because I wanted to see if they would be rescued. But even the ending disappointed me. The last event happened so randomly and with no explanation as to how or why.

I know this is supposed to be the first book in a series, but I can’t see myself wanting to read anymore about this horrific group of kids.

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**I reviewed this book courtesy of NetGalley and Egmont Publishing.

REVIEW: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath

by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath Series, Book One

Book Description

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

I’m not gonna bother with my usual 2 paragraph summary before I get into my review. This book only got 2 stars because I only give my DNF’s a 1 star rating.

Calder has to get close to Lily so he and his sisters can kill her dad, but of COURSE he falls in lurve with her instead. Why makes her have questionable taste, to say the least. Calder is a grade-A stalker. Within about a week of meeting her, he’s randomly shown up at places where she is, starts working at the same place he knows she wants to work, and oh yeah, GETS CAUGHT LURKING IN THE WOODS OUTSIDE HER HOUSE AT NIGHT. Yes, I would sooooo be all over the dude that did these things to me.

Lily is one of the most clueless girls I’ve ever encountered in a book. Calder TELLS her how much of a monster mer-dudes are, and that basically he wants to eat her aura. It kinda went like this:

Lily: So, I saw this big dolphin-ish thing in the water…was that you?
Calder, panicked: Whaaaa???? Noooooooo….
Lily: [READING VICTORIAN POETRY ABOUT MER-PEOPLE]
Calder: OMG you totally got me. I wasn’t gonna tell you but yes I am a mermaid…er, mer-dude. That poetry dragged it out of me. Oh BTW, me and my sisters eat people’s auras and also kill people for fun!
Lily: But….you’re not like your sisters, are you Calder?
Calder: You DID just hear me, right?

I also don’t know why Calder fell in love with a teenaged hipster who wears lots of velvet and apparently wishes she were born in 1871.

Another big thing that bothered me though, was there is a whooooolle lot of incestuous content for a book that is marketed to teens.

This book was painful to finish, but I did get a good surprise at the end, even though it left me more confused than ever. I won’t be reading the next books in this series.

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*I reviewed this book courtesy of NetGalley and Random House.