Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review: I Hunt Killers

Title I Hunt Killers

Series Jasper Dent, book 1

Author Barry Lyga

Release Date April 23, 2012

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

I Hunt Killers has been sitting on my to-read shelf for a while now (around a year and a half, but who's counting?). I finally picked it up whenever Netgalley invited me to read the sequel. Now, I wonder what took me so long to start.

Call me strange (or maybe even deranged), but serial killers are fascinating people. No matter what anyone else says, I know I'm not the only one that thinks so. After all, Dexter is a thing (still upset about the damn series finale, but that's another story). Even with this serial killer fascination, I was a bit skeptical about I Hunt Killers. I wasn't sure how well a YA book would tackle the subject. No worries there, though. Even with the YA classification, I still think fans of thrillers or crime novels will enjoy this book. On top of everything humor is sprinkled throughout the book (especially in the form of Jazz's best friend, Howie, and grandmother). I enjoyed the additional layer it added to the book.

Overall, I'd say that I thoroughly enjoyed I Hunt Killers. Though it started off somewhat slow for me, it did pick up and flow steadily afterwards. As far as the small element of mystery in the book, it wasn't nearly as big of a part of the story as I would have thought. In that instance, I don't think someone should read this looking for a mystery. You may be disappointed in that aspect. However, it's still a very solid book and I am certainly looking forward to the sequel.


4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: On the Way to Everywhere

Title On the Way to Everywhere

Author Kirsten Bloomberg Feldman

Release Date August 26, 2014

Though she’s nicknamed for the magical Harry Potter, six-foot, dreadlocked Harry Kavanaugh doesn’t find any wonder in her daily life at an exclusive girls’ school outside of Washington, DC. In fact she wants nothing more than to chuck her lot and enter the wilds of public school—too bad she didn’t reckon on a trip to the hospital, a runaway, and a renegade or three, which just might show her a different path to everywhere.

When Kirsten contacted me to read her second book, I jumped at the opportunity with no hesitation. I enjoyed her first book, No Alligators in Sight, and I was sure that this book would be no different. I was right.

Kirsten has a knack for writing characters. Once again, her characters truly come to life. Harry is fantastic. She's a little awkward and very much a teenage girl. Her family, Imogene Gayle and Jeremy, are both loving and a little dysfunctional. The girls at her boarding school are what I'd imagine. And while all of the characters are flawed, they are relatable in their own way.

On the Way to Everywhere is a great story about learning and growing up. Not just for Harry, but for everyone in the story. I loved reading about the transformations that the characters underwent throughout the book. It's clear that Kirsten has a talent for writing. Not only are her characters great, but her ability to tell a captivating story is present, too. There are no boring parts and everything feels essential to move the story forward.

This book is definitely worth the read and I recommend you read it when you get a chance.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Book Review: Reviving Izabel

Title Reviving Izabel

Series In the Company of Killers, book 2

Author J. A. Redmerski

Release Date December 6, 2013

Determined to live a dark life in the company of the assassin who freed her from bondage, Sarai sets out on her own to settle a score with an evil sadist. Unskilled and untrained in the art of killing, the events that unfold leave her hanging precariously on the edge of death when nothing goes as planned.

Sarai’s reckless choices send her on a path she knows she can never turn back from and so she presents Victor with an ultimatum: help her become more like him and give her a fighting chance, or she’ll do it alone no matter the consequences. Knowing that Sarai cannot become what she wants to be overnight, Victor begins to train her and inevitably their complicated relationship heats up.

As Arthur Hamburg’s right-hand man, Willem Stephens, closes in on his crusade to destroy Sarai, she is left with the crushing realization that she may have bitten off more than she can chew. But Sarai, taking on the new and improved role of Izabel Seyfried, still has a set of deadly skills of her own that will prove to be all she needs to secure her place beside Victor.

But there is one test that Izabel must face that has the potential to destroy everything she is working so hard to achieve. One final test that will not only make her question her decision to want this dangerous life, but will make her question everything she has come to trust about Victor Faust.

It's not very often that the sequel is just as good as (or even better than) the first book and I'm always surprised when it happens. In this case, I'd say that Reviving Izabel was better than Killing Sarai.

Let's talk Victor and Sarai. I enjoyed Sarai embracing her desire to stand on her own even if it meant putting herself in danger. I liked that she held strong to her decisions throughout the book. However, I less than liked her attachment to Victor and his to her. Is it too much to ask for a book like Reviving Izabel where the two main characters don't just magically fall into love? I firmly believe that a book can have a man and a woman be the main characters and then not have them fall in love with one another. It's possible. I mean, sure... if you've gotta have romance that's fine, but why does it need to just happen? I feel like given the characters and the circumstances love just shouldn't fall so easily into place. The seemingly senseless romance took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Now, on the other hand, we have Fredrik. He is the one I'm interested in. MORE, please! Since he's shown up, I wanted to learn more about him and by the end of this book, I just want inside his head to learn all his secrets. I'm glad to see that the next book in the series focuses on him. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.


5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Dear Jon

Title Dear Jon

Series Choisie, book 3

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date August 19, 2014

A summer with his family in Utah is all Jon Scott needs to pull himself together. It's time to focus on his mom's sobriety and the continuing education of his two younger brothers, Will and Max. For once, things seem to be on track with that part of his life. For the first time, he sees real hope for his family.

This family time is a much-needed distraction from the relationship he walked away from in Manhattan. Livvy Holland, the girl he's loved since they were children, has let him down for the last time. He doesn't want to waste his time dwelling on the fight they had, or the shocking incident that happened the next day, after her graduation. It's something he'll never forget, or forgive.

Things never go as Jon plans, though. Despite her actions and a distance of two thousand miles, Livvy has every intention of keeping Jon's attention throughout the summer with a series of 30 letters: three a week for every week he's gone. He doesn't have to read them; there are times when he simply doesn't want to. He has plenty of things keeping him busy: a job that requires long hours, family friends that come over for parties, brothers that ask too many questions, and a girl that's very unlike anyone Jon's dated before.

But there's something about Livvy Holland that keeps drawing him back to her. Reading the letters will either break the ties, or eventually reunite them. His brain wants one thing; his heart wants another.

By the end of the summer, Jon will return to Manhattan. He's come to terms with his past. He has a bright future. Back at Columbia, though, he must accept choices Livvy has made without him that will change his present plans.

I've had such mixed feelings about the Choisie series. I've enjoyed Lori's writing consistently since I started reading her books (the first being Not Today, But Someday). She so easily captures my attention and immerses me into the story. It's safe to say that I'd likely read anything she writes. However, I haven't particularly liked any of the main characters (Livvy or Jon) in this series. And while I've liked the storyline mostly, my dislike of the characters has affected my opinion of it. Things may have slightly changed with this book.
Since the very beginning, I've had less than fond feelings for Jon. I don't really trust him and there's something that constantly nags at me whenever I think about him and Livvy together. The two of them together seems wrong. It reminds me of how I originally felt about Emi and Jack being together (though that opinion did change). I don't believe that's the case here. I don't (currently) feel like there's going to be a turning point in their relationship that makes me *want* them to be together. Dear Jon only reinforces my opinion that I don't want them together. I like Jon as a person. He's smart, opinionated, and independent. However, I do not like Jon with Livvy. I just don't do it.

That leaves us with Livvy. This is where I noticed my opinion shift. Throughout the series, I've had a rather negative opinion of Livvy. She's been a spoiled and childish teenager. She's been needy and annoying. I just didn't care for her. And, to be honest, throughout the majority of this book I felt the same way. We're able to read the numerous letters that Livvy wrote to Jon and, until the end, she reminds me of the same girl from the previous books. By the very last letter, though, we experience a change within Livvy. It's a chance that I was absolutely delighted to see. It's a change that makes me hopeful for Livvy's future and the next book in the series.


4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Killing Sarai

Title Killing Sarai

Series In the Company of Killers, book 1

Author J. A. Redmerski

Release Date June 19, 2013

Sarai was only fourteen when her mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. Over time she forgot what it was like to live a normal life, but she never let go of her hope to escape the compound where she has been held for the past nine years.

Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who, like Sarai, has known only death and violence since he was a young boy. When Victor arrives at the compound to collect details and payment for a hit, Sarai sees him as her only opportunity for escape. But things don’t go as planned and instead of finding transport back to Tucson, she finds herself free from one dangerous man and caught in the clutches of another.

While on the run, Victor strays from his primal nature as he succumbs to his conscience and resolves to help Sarai. As they grow closer, he finds himself willing to risk everything to keep her alive; even his relationship with his devoted brother and liaison, Niklas, who now like everyone else wants Sarai dead.

As Victor and Sarai slowly build a trust, the differences between them seem to lessen, and an unlikely attraction intensifies. But Victor’s brutal skills and experience may not be enough in the end to save her, as the power she unknowingly holds over him may ultimately be what gets her killed.

This is their story…

This is my favorite book by J. A. Redmerski to date.

Reading Killing Sarai was like reading a good action movie. Does that make sense? From the very beginning, my attention was fully focused on this book. I could picture every scene perfectly. I love it when books are so vivid and really come to life. Though there is some romance in the story, it definitely took a backseat for me. The action was the more intriguing part of the story and I constantly wanted more of it.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Killing Sarai and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Reviving Izabel.


5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: Say What You Will

Title Say What You Will

Author Cammie McGovern

Release Date June 3, 2014

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern's insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

I'll admit that the first reason I decided to read this book was because of the comparison to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, two books that I enjoyed immensely. Does this book remind me of either of those stories? Not really. I do believe fans of those books will likely enjoy Say What You Will, but that's about it. Just don't do what I did, decide to read this book because they were mentioned. It left me feeling somewhat disappointed.

Amy's cerebral palsy and Matthew's OCD didn't play into my decision to read this book at all. As someone very familiar with cerebral palsy and OCD, I couldn't see these two characters as anything other than normal people. They weren't, and shouldn't be, their disabilities. In a way, I think my inability to see them as people with disabilities took away from my enjoyment of the book. In other words, I feel like I would have received the exact same amount of enjoyment had this book been about two people without CP and OCD.

All in all, Say What You Will was a nice book. I thoroughly enjoyed Amy and Matthew's friendship. It was incredibly sweet. I was a bit surprised at the twist thrown into the story, but not in a negative way. The biggest fault is the somewhat abrupt ending. I had no idea I was even near the ending until I turned the page and bam... acknowledgments! Oh well.


3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: I am Her...

Title I am Her...

Author Sarah Ann Walker

Release Date October 1, 2012

A sometimes funny, tragically graphic, compelling tale of a woman suffering...


She has no name of her own. She is every name everyone has ever called her. She is nameless. She has a good job, a beautiful home and a wonderful husband. She is everything she was supposed to be. She has structure and stability, but she is lost.

She is trying. Her whole life is spent trying; yet her whole life has been nothing but an apology. She is so tired of trying and failing.

In just one week, she learns her entire life is a series of brutalities. She learns intense, consuming passion for the first time with a beautiful stranger. She learns love within this passion, and she learns heartbreak while without.

Slowly her breakdown overcomes her. She tries to rise above her circumstances, but when she has nothing left to fight with; she tries to ease the pain forever.

Desperately, she fights her way through the agony of life, and she returns with a gentle hope. She wants to live, and she wants to love, for the first time in her life. Now, she has a name. Now, she can be 'her'... Any HER that she wants to be.


What in the hell did I just read? Honestly, I have no idea.

So, I was somewhat iffy whenever I decided to read this. The blurb seems interesting, but eh... who knows? I decided to take a chance on it, though, because of the good reviews I've read. However, I'm not sure I read the same book as everyone else. I just can't possibly understand the good reviews. I tried. I tried really hard! I just don't get it. That being said, I don't particularly enjoy writing negative reviews. I understand how much time and effort went into writing a book and I never want to try and discredit an author's hard work. Still, though, sometimes a negative review just cannot be avoided. This is certainly one of those times.

I spent the majority of this book in absolute confusion. No, not the majority. That's a lie. I spent the *entire* book in absolute confusion. NOTHING made sense to me. At the end of it all, I just didn't care enough to try and figure it all out. I mean, I understand the events that happened, but I just don't get it. Oh, and of course the book ends on a cliffhanger and there's a sequel. I don't care, though. I don't think anything in this world could convince me to read the second book.

Do yourself a favor and skip this book. It's not worth the time or the money.

While it's something I very rarely do, I took little notes while reading this book. If you'd like to see them, check out the spoilers below.


1 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: Bird Box

Title Bird Box

Author Josh Malerman

Release Date May 13, 2014

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

I don't read many thrillers. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but it's hardly my go-to genre. Whenever I saw Bird Box, I was intrigued. Without reading any reviews (I certainly didn't want the ending spoiled), I dove it. And wow! I was incredibly impressed. Bird Box certainly surprised me. First, I was sucked into the story immediately. Second, I wanted more! I needed to know what was going on. I needed to know what was outside. I needed answers! I devoured the book much more quickly than I thought I would.

So, I loved this book, but only gave it a 4.5? Here's why:

Other than what's mentioned in my spoilers, I absolutely loved Bird Box. I definitely recommend it to anyone that likes thrillers or mysteries.


4.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: Me Before You

Title Me Before You

Author Jojo Moyes

Release Date December 31, 2012

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

Whenever I started reading Me Before You I had full knowledge of what the book was about. Even with that knowledge, I wasn't prepared. For a book like this, I'm not sure if you can ever be prepared. I think you could read it a hundred times and still be hit with such powerful, heartbreaking emotion.

Me Before You is one of those books that will make you think about things like life, death, hope, dignity, and love. You'll experience a range of emotions from happiness to sadness to ultimately understanding. You'll likely experience all of these emotions at once and won't be able to figure out which one is the strongest or which you should grasp onto. Feel them all. They are all valid and perfectly acceptable when it comes to this beautiful book.

Certainly, Me Before You is one of my favorite books of this year. It will stay with me for a very long time. Read this book. Prepare yourself and grab the Kleenex, though!


5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Review: Virgin

Title Virgin

Author Radhika Sanghani

Release Date August 5, 2014

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.


This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

This book was awesome. Radhika touches on subjects that every girl wonders about (from masturbation to pubic hair to technique), but no one else seems willing to go anywhere near. Not only does she talk about everything that's on a virgin girl's mind (and let's be honest, even those of us that aren't virgins anymore certainly still deal with these things), but she does it with an honesty and humor that I absolutely adored.

I loved that Radhika took a positive outlook on sex. It's great to see a book about sex where there's no slut shaming or guilt about wanting to have sex. Ellie is a strong, independent woman and she wants to have sex. Good for her!

To top it all off, I loved the story. I think the characters were brilliantly done. While a woman may not relate to everything in Ellie's life, it's safe to say that you'll be able to find *something* to relate to. As for the actual story, it was perfect. I loved that it stayed true to real life and wasn't all rainbows and butterflies. Yes, I certainly enjoy those stories, but I find more realistic stories to be especially enjoyable.

I think it's safe to say that I recommend Virgin. It's a wonderfully funny and relatable story.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Book Review: Leftovers

Title Leftovers

Author Laura Wiess

Release Date July 7, 2008

A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

This book was certainly not what I was expecting after reading the blurb. Throughout the whole book, I'm expecting some huge event that completely flips the book from just mediocre to absolutely amazing (or at least worth the read). Instead, nothing. The book just ends. Right when we've reached the high point, the big unforgivable act, it just ends. We see no justice. We see no resolution. Highly disappointing.

The weirdest part of the book was the second-person narrative. Surely it's been done well before, but certainly not in this case. I assume the book was told this way in order to make the reader feel closer to the characters and become invested in them. Instead, for me, it did just the opposite. I never developed a connection to any of the characters and I didn't really care what happened to either of them. I kept thinking about how strange the narrative was and it removed me from the story rather than immersed me in it.

After reading some reviews on Goodreads, I guess this is one of those polarizing books. For some, it's this amazing book. For others, like me, it's a letdown.


2 out of 5 stars