Tag Archive | 3 Stars

Book Review: Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Dollhouse   Screen shot 2014-10-16 at 20.19.04Fresh off the boat and trying to acclimate to Australian life, Cassie has found herself in quite the predicament: the only girl that has befriended her, Aisha, has disappeared. Now she’s on the hunt with Aisha’s boyfriend and best friend Lacey. Let’s put it out there that Cassie has a major crush on Aisha’s boyfriend. Out in the bush, they stumble upon a decrepit old house. Curiosity gets the better of the teens and before they know it, they’ve found a spoken carousel that leads them to an underground hell run by a dollhouse keeper. 

Yes, it is just as it sounds, and the story keeps getting creepier. Once they’ve entered this dollhouse, they can’t leave. As Cassie tries to solve the mystery of how this porcelain prison came to be, the deeper their fates are stuck into this timeless terror. Round and round like a carousel. Can Cassie find Aisha and a way for them to escape?

I loved the dark and ominous feeling of this book. Allyn knows how create suspense. For most of the story I was wondering just what was going on. There is so much bizarre and strange occurrences, but they’re painted beautifully, with a language that keep you guessing. Information is giving at leisure. I loved that. It kept me engaged. My only criticism is that pacing was a bit slow. I know it may have helped with the overall feeling of the tale, but I just wish things had moved a tiny bit faster. For such an explosive ending, I feel there could have been better use of some aspects of the story to keep it at a swifter pace. Nevertheless, this book has stuck with me. I want to know what happens next. I am excited to read more from Allyn!  Many thanks to Paper Lantern Press for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Review: Split Second by Kasie West

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*Note – This is the second book in the Pivot Point Series – may contain spoilers
For my review on Pivot Point

“Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.”

I loved Pivot Point, adored it! I was bummed when I learned that another book was being added to make it a two book series – I thought it ended in a excellent way. 

I wish I could say I was wrong. The style of Addie’s two different points of view was unique and exciting. I feel slightly let down by having it go to a two different characters point of view. The pace is slow going too. It picks up, but I wasn’t as enchanted as before. 

Still, I’m glad there’s only two books in this series. Addie and us the readers, get the closure we need. It is interesting to see how Addie goes about living her life outside of the compound, again, and getting more information about the inside government of it was clever. The direction this book went was probably the best it could go. I don’t know if it’s silly, but I just wish there was more to the book? 

West’s writing is nevertheless engaging and her characters are still full of secrets even when us readers are being taken again on a second ride with Addie. I highly recommend reading West’s work, and I look forward to branching out to her other books, but I have to end by saying Pivot Point was better, but Split Second is ok too. 

Book Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfield

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Please note this is the second book in the Uglies series and does contain spoilers.

For my review on the first book, Uglies

“Gorgeous. Popular. Perfect. Perfectly wrong.

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.”

What I See: I don’t feel this sequel helped progress the series as much as I was hoping for, but, Westerfield’s craft of language is amazing. I felt this book was cluttered with too much romance, but I loved the shift between Tally and Shay’s relationship.

I feel this series might have worked better as a graphic novel. As everything is based on appearance, it would be cool to see the visuals of the ‘Pretties’ and ‘Uglies’ and ‘Specials’. 

Book Review: Vortex by S. J. Kincaid

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Please note this is the second book in the Insignia series and does contain spoilers.

For my review on the first book, Insignia.

“The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process. 

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.”

What I see: Hmmmmmm, I really enjoyed the first book, but that new feeling has rubbed off and I feel this sequel kind of coasted through. It was enjoyable, there were a few major things that happened, but I didn’t find it as gripping as the first.

In not so many words, it’s kind of a YA Ender’s Game version of Harry Potter. I don’t want to discredit the book at all, I did like it and was surprised by some of the turn of events, but first book kind of hit everything really hard and now there’s not too much more to expand on. I want the focus to be drawn back and I’m hoping that will occur in the third and final book, that’s currently untitled. 

Book Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

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“Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal… and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.”

What I see: Up front? A bit too long. However, this is a gruesome ghostly tale with teenage heat! (I’m not a fan of the heat but I know tweens and teens will love it!) I loved all the spookiness and it’s nice to see Purgatory get some environmental space. I feel like the idea of it all is fresh, pushes the limits, has a murder(ish) mystery and teen love blossoming.

Yes it’s a bit calculated but at the end I got what I wanted, to a point, and it followed the formula. A nice change of pace and different from most of the usual YA I read, it’s perfect for Halloween! Be warned, the author does not hold back from squirmy details! Happy Halloween everyone!

Book Review: Gods is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

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“Fifteen-year-old Grace Manning is a candy striper in a nursing home, and Mr. Sands is the one patient who makes the job bearable. He keeps up with her sarcasm, teaches her to play poker . . . and one day cheerfully asks her to help him die. At first Grace says no way, but as Mr. Sands’s disease progresses, she’s not so sure. Grace tries to avoid the wrenching decision by praying for a miracle, stuffing herself with pancakes, and running away from all feelings, including the new ones she has for her best friend Eric. But Mr. Sands is getting worse, and she can’t avoid him forever. Robin Epstein has delivered an incredibly engaging, thought-provoking debut YA novel, with all the snappy dialogue and attitude of the movie Juno.”

What I See: This book challenges it’s characters in a rarely seen contemporary way. I appreciated that, but there was still something missing. Grace Manning is a strong female teen character, and perhaps that’s why I’m not entirely on board. She acts a bit too adult. She’s a bit too mature.

It’s a different kind of story, with beautiful passages and thoughts through Grace. I don’t want to hate on Grace, I just want to bring to attention that it’s all a bit cookie cutter when it comes to the end. To go from super adult to typical YA ending makes have a disconnect. 

Nevertheless, it’s a story that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s a coming of age story that hits all the buttons and targets for what a books needs to be. And yet, I wanted something more. Not more pages, but I guess it’s the ending for me. It’s a bit 80’s romantic comedy. The major chunk of the story is full of heart and trials, and I guess I wished the end reflected that growth of character. But the grief subject matter is a great discussion point and I’m pleased that Epstein went there. There needs to be more contemporary, stand alone YA books out there!

 

Book Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

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Dare to You

**Although this is a sequel, this second in the Pushing the Limits series doesn’t continue with the same characters, but gives minor characters their own show. Find my review for the first book, Pushing the Limits.

Beth Risk is just as her surname describes. The only one capable of looking after her junkie mother with the abusive boyfriend, Beth risks it all to keep her out of jail. Now she is swept from her home, from Isaiah and Noah to a town filled with Stepford wives. A ward of her uncle, a now famed retired baseball star, Beth is forced to forget herself for her uncle in order to keep her mother’s secrets.

Ryan Stone is the heart throb of the baseball team. A start pitcher, he’s as cocky on the field as he is off, and winning dares is his speciality. Everything is lined up in Ryan’s life – pro ball – a life of athletic fandom, and his parents have worked endlessly to present him with blue collar opportunities. But there’s more to Ryan than just ball. He writes, and writes well, so well that college could be a choice in his future if he dares to take it.

A golden boy and a girl from the wrong side of the street. The two have nothing in common except wanting to be themselves. As they are forced to get to know each other will either dare to deny the chemistry that blooms between them?

I am a huge fan of the first book, and perhaps because I loved the first so much I was left feeling a bit disappointed with the second. Why? Well, in Pushing the Limits I feel that McGarry kind of went and took every extreme for her characters. It’s fantastic but where does that leave this book? Clichéd rich parent expectations and actions.

Beth and Ryan are standout characters. I have no fault with them, McGarry is very talented with writing both male and female teenage voices. My issue is with everyone else around Beth and Ryan that I found lacking.

However, perhaps this needed to be the case to allow for Beth and Ryan to truly shine. Both characters did things I didn’t expect (more or less). I kept reading because Beth has a lot of secrets and I love major jock Ryan being a closeted writing nerd. The chemistry between the two is also really hot, so another major win for this romance publisher. They are talented in finding writers that can tone down adult romance on a teenage level.

I can’t wait to read the third book and Harlequin Teen is proving to me one of the best YA romance publishers out there!