Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Murder Tightly Knit by Vanetta Chapman

Murder Tightly Knit 

By Vanetta Chapman

Blurb: In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle every day, a grisly murder leads to mutual suspicion. Can Amber and Hannah find the killer before fear unravels the community . . . or he strikes again?

Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man has been seen loitering around back.

Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.

The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and Village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village could have killed Owen Esch.

Amber and Hannah will need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.


Genres: Christian, Mystery, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: December 6, 2014

Pages: 352

Series: Amish Village Mystery (book 2)

My Rating: 1.5 stars

 This was my first 'real' Amish fiction book. Aside from a few YA Amish titles, (I liked one, detested the other) I have never really thought that they would be my thing, but Amish + murder mystery seemed to be a bit more interesting than most Amish fiction. However, that didn't end up being the case. I rounded up my rating because I don't know if perhaps it's just that this genre isn't my thing and I don't want to be unfair in this review.

I'm afraid that this book was quite boring. Now, I didn't expect this book to be a chilling thriller. I mean...it's Amish fiction. But for a mystery, it wasn't even mysterious, and that was my problem.

First off, the characters. Wow, they were borrrrring. There was no personality with any of these people! Amber, Hannah, Jesse...they were very two dimensional and not very colorful as characters. They were the opposite of colorful. They were the bleakest, slush-coloured grey characters I have encountered in a long time.

The mystery...not a mystery at all, more like. First off, we get a few chapters from the murderer's POV, so there's no question that it is not one of the main or secondary characters. Second, there are no plot twists. Zip. Zilch. It's a very straightforward plot and you can see where it's going. Not fun. The end was very anti-climactic and nothing new was revealed.

And do Amish people only use Pennsylvania Dutch words that are cognates for the English translation? (I'm being sarcastic, of course, they don't.) No, so why are those the only kind that show up in this book? And why have a dictionary for them? I mean, I didn't even look at the dictionary, and I could definitely figure out that nein was no and bruder was brother. In fact, all the random sprinkling of Amish phrases actually annoyed me a bit.

Murder Tightly Knit has a bit of an ironic title since the whole murder unraveled pretty easily. I don't think I'll be trying Amish fiction for a very long time unless I have ran out of all other reading material.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: The Hit by Allen Zadoff

Boy Nobody 

By Allen Zadoff

Blurb:
The explosive new thriller for fans of Jason Bourne, Robert Muchamore and Michael Grant, previously published under the title Boy Nobody.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.

When Boy Nobody was just eleven, he discovered his own parents had died of not-so-natural causes. He soon found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.



Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Action, Thriller, Mystery

Publication Date: September 4, 2014

Pages: 319

Series: The Unknown Assassin (book 1)

My Rating: 4.5 stars

 The Hit was a fantastic read. It goes beyond typical Ya Thriller I at first judged it to be. It is emotional, action packed, full of puzzles, and...did I mention emotional?

We never learn the main character's actual name. For purposes of this review, I will refer to him as Ben, the name he went by for his assignment during this book. Ben is a complicated character. He at first glance appears to be a mindless drone, taken at a young age and conditioned to kill without remorse. But he's so much more than that. Ben never does get too emotional throughout the book; there's always seemingly a bit of disconnect with him, which gives this story a unique flair. However, he is not the robot that his "Mother and Father" would want him to be. Sam brings this out in him more than he would like.

Sam broke through the tropes that are usually assigned to female love interests. She's smart, she has her own personality, she can see through Ben's facade (to a point) and she is by no means the innocent Mary Sue. She has a past that, though it at first glance seems like it doesn't matter much, actually plays a major part in the book, which I loved. She wasn't just put in the book to give Ben a girlfriend; she is an integral piece of the puzzle.

I loved this plotline. First off, it's not a black-and-white these are good guys and these are bad guys story. There aren't really bad and good guys here, really; the characters are kind of a shade of gray. This made the story so much more engrossing. It doesn't follow the usual formula that I am used to.

The ending, though, is definitely what made me realize just what a true gem this story was. It is so unexpected. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time it is necessary and I just could not respect the story as much if it had not ended this way. I sat in shock as I read the last few pages, and then some sorrow as the story went on. This is definitely one of those books where you should ABOVE ALL try not to get the ending ruined, because it totally makes the story.

This book went from being a fun thriller to being an emotionally scarring but strangely beautiful story in my eyes. I am so impressed with this book; I will definitely be reading the next one as soon as I can find it.

P.S. On a less serious note, what in Tom Hiddleston's name is with all the different titles?



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Coral and Bone by Tiffany Duane

Coral and Bone

By Tiffany Duane

Blurb: Halen knows the sparks igniting under her fingertips are dangerous. She has spent her entire life trying to quell the tingly feelings that make her destroy things, but now that she is back in Rockaway Beach, where she watched her father drown, the flames have become impossible to tame.

Halen is trying to hold on, but when she is thrust into a mysterious new world, the underwater realm of Elosia, she unravels the secrets of her past and can't help but ignite. As she explores Elosia, she realizes her life has been a lie. And when those who have deceived her come to her for help, Halen must choose—walk away or unleash the magick that could destroy them all.


Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

Publication Date: July 1, 2014

Pages: 290

Series: N/A (at this point, it is highly likely there will be a sequel to this)

My Rating: 3 stars


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

I went in to this book having heard that it was an original mermaid story. For those of you who have not read a lot of mermaid tales, let me tell you that this is hard to come by. It's almost as if a committee of authors came together and decided that all mermaid stories shall follow the same basic plot, no matter what. I'm only slightly exaggerating here. So, there was much excitement to start this book.

I can definitely say that this was pretty original. There are traces of the basic mermaid plot herel--girl who thinks she's normal finds out she's actually a mermaid and must get used to her new power--but the author goes beyond having Halen just explore the ocean with her new dolphin friends and crap like that, and makes it a lot more dark and suspenseful. (spoiler, highlight to see)
Plus, there's a long lost twin thrown in for extra measure. And the antagonist, Asair, is really fleshed out. There's a lot more of him near the end, and I really enjoyed that part of the plot in particular.

Halen starts out as a bit of a Mary Sue. She gets more kick-butt as the story goes on, but I still never felt like I got to know her that well, which is disappointing. (Slight spoiler, highlight to see)

And I couldn't help but feel like her sister Natalie sounded more interesting than her.
 
The real problem that I had with this book though, the thing that kept me from giving it above three stars, is that I didn't like the writing style that much. It was very straightforward and plain, for lack of a better word. It didn't get me excited for scenes that should have been exciting. It made the story a bit more boring than it should have been given the storyline.

This book isn't bad, but it is not as dazzling as I expected it to be. Maybe my hopes were too high? Anyway, if you are really into mermaid stories, this is among the better of the bunch. (Though it has not unseated the Emily Windsnap series as 'best mermaid story' in my mind.)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Ruination by Amanda Thome

Ruination (Worlds Apart #1)
by Amanda Thome


Summary from Goodreads:
What if everything came down to a single test? If your life was defined at seventeen, could you handle it? Could you accept your fate leaving the ones you love, or would you risk it all and stay?

One test stands between Vanessa and Central. One chance to make the leap across the walls to a better life. At seventeen, Central considers Vanessa an adult. Her labor role, marriage, and housing divisions will be dictated by her performance on the leap.

Dedication and unfaltering friendship has bonded Vanessa to Garrett as they fight for their chance to leap into Central. But what happens when love overtakes reason? When defiance in the name of love creates an unintentional fracture in their nation.

Without warning Vanessa is at the mercy of the nation that’s supposed to protect her. Exiled and abandoned she must fight but she find’s she’s not alone. With her heart divided she seeks her revenge, but will her stand be enough?

Ruination is the next YA dystopian trilogy that will hook you from the start! If you liked Veronica Roth's Divergent series or Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series then be prepared to get addicted to Ruination.





Buy Links:



Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Pages: 338

Series: Worlds Apart (book 1)

My Rating: 3 stars

Ruination was a entertaining dystopian read; however, some of its elements reminded me of other popular books in this genre like Divergent and Hunger Games, especially in the beginning of the story. 

I did not particularly like the main character, Nessa. She did not think before doing and as a result some of her decisions were questionable. Like, why would you even think about giving your crush the equivalent of death berries just for a more thrilling scavenger hunt? Garrett was equally foolish for accepting the dare, but geez. 

However, I did like Tyler. He was the voice of reason a couple times, which is good. And, while the romance between him and Nessa happened quickly, it was explained well, so it never felt like insta-love. Plus, he didn't act like a lovesick puppy about it; it's clear that he loves Nessa, but he isn't annoying about it. 

Garrett I think I would have liked if we had seen more of him. It seems like he will be a main character in the rest of the series, but not necessarily in this book. (Kind of like Gale Hawthorne was in Hunger Games, if that makes it any clearer) Though at times he seemed like a bit of a cliche, I still thought that he and Nessa were cute together at the beginning. I honestly haven't picked a team in this love triangle because they both seem like good guys.

The plot, near the beginning, bares some resemblance to Divergent, and there are some Hunger Games elements to it as well. For example, they have to take a test that kind of resembles what Tris had to go through in Divergent. Hunger Games wise, there's a corrupt capitol with a bit of an eerie resemblance to Panem, churn berries that are basically death berries, and Nessa's weapon of choice seems to be the bow. Plus, the Leap was reminiscent of the Reaping. So I was a bit wary that this would be a bit too similar to those stories at first. However, it ended up branching off from those nearer to the end. Still a bit formulaic for Dystopian--girl is different/free thinking in her bleak community, realizes that the government sucks, tries to take it down, love triangle--but it never entered ripoff territory, and really, who am I to complain about Dystopian being formulaic? I love it even when it is. Dystopian is my bookish chocolate. 

The science fiction aspect of the book was certainly a unique concept; I liked that it didn't completely overtake the storyline, either, but still played a pretty important role in the story. I prefer action to paranormal-y stuff, so that's probably why.

There were a lot of run-on sentences in this book. I have been getting a lot better at tuning those out lately, but they still bothered me. Some readers will be bothered by this, and some won't. It really depends on how strict you are about grammar, I suppose.

The ending was a nice resolution with a little cliff hanger. I think I would have been more excited about the cliffhanger if, well, it wasn't so apparent that there would be a cliffhanger, and what it would be. You can just kind of tell by the direction the book ended up taking with the romance. Still, not a bad ending.

I might go forward with this series because I do want to know where the story goes from here. I think it has the potential to be quite good; Ruination is, in my opinion, more of a warmup for the rest of the series, but I still enjoyed it.
 


About the Author
Amanda Thome is the Author of Ruination, book one in the Worlds Apart dystopian trilogy. Amanda grew up in Maine and later moved to Pennsylvania where she obtained her bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College. She later received her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from Co
lumbia University. Amanda currently resides in San Antonio, TX with her husband Clint.

Author Links:




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Saturday, November 29, 2014

100 Followers via GFC!



This is just a short little post, but guys! I finally have gotten 100 followers via GFC! Thanks so much everyone who follows me! I know it's not a lot compared to some blogs, but for me it's a huge milestone. :D

To celebrate, here is a gif of Tom Felton and Rupert Grint doing a little happy dance.  (I am in a really gif-y mood today for some reason.) Enjoy! ;)


Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

The Body Electric

By Beth Revis

Blurb: The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?


Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: October 6, 2014

Pages: 482

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars


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

The Body Electric was what I wish every single Young Adult book would be like; entertaining, free of stupid tropes, and original.

*coughs* and it has a really pretty cover *coughs*

This book revolves around Ella Shepherd. She's an awesome main character. Not once did I get annoyed with her. Ella is confused about what is going on with her, but I never thought that this caused her to make annoying/stupid decisions. Her reactions to things always felt realistic to me, as well.

She also has this awesome to read about relationship with Jack. It isn't instalove. It isn't sappy. It feels real and sweet and...ship-worthy. That's something I don't say very often. I. don't. ship. I tolerate, usually. I am a so very non-romantic guys. It is a problem when all you read is Young Adult, but I manage. But Jack and Ella were good together, even I'll admit that.

The plot...this is where I get conflicted, because on one hand, I guessed a lot of the plot twists. It was kind of like Cinder, where I could see something coming, but not in an annoying way where I was mad that it was easy to spot? (Spoiler, highlight to see)
kind of a coincidence, considering both of these stories deal with cyborgs, hmm. I suppose that doesn't make much sense. They were good turns to the storyline, they just were guess-worthy good turns to the storyline. I still thought the overall story was well crafted and different than anything I've read before.

The writing is something I usually don't talk about in reviews, but I think it really deserves to be mentioned here, because it was soooo great! It definitely made the story for me. I felt that it captured Ella's voice really well, which is possibly also why I liked her so much. It was great.

Plus, it's a standalone. There wasn't any cliffhanger at the end. I like a book that actually ends with a concrete resolution. I mean, cliffhangers are fine too, but they make me AGONIZE for months until the next book in the series comes out, which is not fun.

This book was my first Beth Revis book, and I have to say, there's a chance that she could become one of my favorite authors after reading this. I'd check this one out if I were you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Mac on the Road to Marseille

Mac on the Road to Marseille

By Christopher Ward

Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Mackenzie returns to Paris to attend the Christmas Eve wedding of her Dad's old friend, Rudee Daroo, and the love of his life, dancer Sashay D'or. Mac is told about the annual New Year's taxi road rally, this year hosted by the Marseille Marauders, the nastiest lot of drivers you've ever seen.

Partnered with hulking cabbie Blag Lebouef, Mac manages to convince her parents that the road rally is more like a carefree drive in the French countryside than the death-defying cutthroat rivalry it's always been. Negotiating brutal weather, cryptic signage, outright sabotage, random flocks of sheep, and zigzagging back roads, Mac and Blag might be the perfect combination of cunning and brute strength, though they are both extremely strong-willed and rarely agree.

On the road, she makes the startling discovery that the clues the drivers have been given during the rally could lead to the discovery of some valuable missing artwork. Is that worth losing the rally over?


Genres: Juvenile/YA, Realistic Fiction, Adventure 

Publication Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 164

Series: Sequel to Mac in the City of Light

My Rating: 4 stars


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

Well, I should probably start off by saying that this book is actually a sequel to a book I've never read. (Oops, didn't realize before I started reading, but whatcha gonna do?) Yet I still really enjoyed Mac on the Road to Marseille. It was fun and nothing really heavy. Perfect for getting out of a small little reading slump I've found myself in.

The mystery of this book really isn't that much of a mystery to the reader; we are introduced right from the start to the person who is stealing famous artworks and replacing them with well done frauds. However, we don't know a lot about him at first, and that means there still were some reveals at the end of the book. It's cool to see from his POV how he pulled off the heists, and doesn't sound too far fetched, though I doubt that someone could pull of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in real life, no matter how good their plan is. *Knocks on wood*

It's pure entertainment to read about Mac as she discovers fake paintings, participates in a huge race, and much more. The story always seems a bit humorous; even its more serious moments are never truly serious, because it's plain to see that Mac will be able to get out of those situations.

The characters are all really fun to read about too. Like the plot, none of them ever get too 'serious', except for maybe the thief. Mac is a brave girl, who has really interesting friends and has a habit of getting into exciting adventures. She's not afraid to stand up to the art thief on television; this causes some problems for her later. I liked her a lot. Mac's friends Blag and Rudee could best be described as 'quirky' but they never seemed to get too silly for me to like them, and I liked that.

Definitely a recommended read for younger readers, but if you're older don't feel ashamed to pick it up as well.


 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review: One Wish Away by Kelley Lyn

One Wish Away

By Kelley Lynn

Blurb: Be careful what you wish for…

Lyra has always been ahead of the curve. Top of her class in school, a budding astronomer, and with a best friend like Darren she barely has time to miss the mother who abandoned her family years ago. She's too busy planning to follow in her father's footsteps, and to become the youngest astronomer at Space Exploration and Discovery.

When a star goes missing Lyra is determined to get to the bottom of it only to discover her braniac dad is the mastermind of a top-secret government experiment. They promise to build a perfect world, one galaxy at a time, but with every tweak of the present, a bit more of the future starts to crumble.

Lyra has to go undercover to reveal the truth and let humanity decide if the consequences are worth more than wishing on a star.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Publication Date: November 24, 2014  

Pages: 213

Series: N/A

My Rating: 2 stars


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

As I started to read One Wish Away, I was quite sure that I would love it. And then...I read some more. And slowly, I realized that it would not be a lovefest like I had assumed. The characters turned from awesome to frustrating, and the author didn't manage to make the plot seem believable.

At first I was quite sure I would be able to relate to the protagonist, Lyra. She seemed a little awkward, but super smart,and I was like, hey! the bookish world needs more characters like this! But then she kept making stupid, stupid, stupid decisions. She sneaks in to her dad's workplace, then gets caught. (Shocker.) Then, her dad saves her from getting sent to jail or worse, but she is warned that she can't reveal any of the secrets she learns while there. Well, guess what she does. Tells all the secrets to the boy that she has a slight crush on. And then, to add a bit of hypocritical-ness to the poor decision making, she judges someone else when they get caught for telling someone about the super-secret machine that grants wishes from stars. Like she hadn't done the EXACT same thing.

My reaction:
description

Bennett's character was the second-most disappointing character. His character development near the end was just unbelievable; and I do not mean that in a positive way. It was just a little unbelievable; kind of like the rest of the storyline.

Second, I couldn't help wondering, as they were again and again pondering making wishes happen because the "White House wanted it done"...why don'tcha just wish the White House didn't know about the project? Then we wouldn't need to sit through these conversations about if the scientists should make the wish or not. This bugged me throughout the story, and is really what made me not be able to fully buy the storyline.

This book, while promising--I mean, it is super different then most books out there--didn't properly deliver. I never really was able to suspend my disbelief or connect with any of the characters, and the rating suffered due mostly to this. It was a disappointing read.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Discussion: Goodreads, AKA, The Precious

Sorry I haven't done a discussion post in such a long time! I am still getting used to doing them. It is still hard for me to come up with ones that I can be satisfied with putting on my blog. But I'm working on it!

I decided to go with talking about Goodreads for this discussion post, because...I really. love. Goodreads It is the most beautiful website in the entire world.  Goodreads is what influenced me to start blogging, and how I have found a plethora of the most wonderful books known to man. (And also a lot of super crappy ones, but let's not talk about those, hmm?) But I also hate Goodreads. Because it is the most epic time-waster I have ever encountered in my entire life.


It's not Goodreads' fault, of course. It's mine. I tell myself, "let's just update my progress with Gone with the Wind!" and before I know it it's an hour later and I've joined two new groups, commented on statuses, and written another review. Definitely NOT just updating my page number on Gone With the Wind. Meanwhile, a pile of homework sits on my bed, waiting to be done.Oops.

Shame on me.

But can anyone blame me? Goodreads is like an oasis of booklovers in a desert of people who literally have never read a book in their life besides ones for school. I had a conversation yesterday about Mockingjay with a group of people, NONE OF WHOM HAD ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK. They just saw the movie!
But it's The Hunger Games! How???
 
So, when I get on Goodreads, where practically EVERYONE has not only read the Hunger Games, they can also quote directly from the books, I am one happy little bookworm. 
Plus...the recommendations guys. How do they know me so well? Are they spying on me? (Probably not, but you never know.) I have found so many good books using that recommendation system. So really, who can blame me if I take thirty minutes sorting through the new books that Goodreads think I would like? No one, that's who. '

And the groups, especially the ones with Read and Reviews and fun little challenges. So addicting! I have joined so many. I mean, they're just motivating me to read, riiiiiight? Even though at this point I spend almost as much time looking for new groups and challenges as I do reading, if not more?

So, you see my problem. 

Lately, I've been trying to make sure that I don't waste time on Goodreads. I have made a rule that I am only allowed to go on after I've finished a book/while writing a review for already finished books. It's been working out pretty well for me. Sometimes I am weak and break that rule-- *blushes*--but most of the time it's kept me from going on.

I can always use your guys' tips. So how do you deal with Goodreads addictions? Or are you an incredibly self-controlled person (in which case PLEASE TEACH ME YOUR WAYS) who never has had this problem? Or do you hate Goodreads and have no idea what I am talking about? Let me know below!