Young Adult

Broken Spirits

broken-spirits Broken Spirits by S.A. Hunter

Publication Date: July 31, 2013
Read Date: December 15, 2016

Series: Scary Mary
Book #3

Amazon, Goodreads

This book was even better than the last two and I gave those 5-stars as well. This one brought Kyle, Cy’s older brother, into the picture more, you might remember him as the one who tried to kill Mary when he was possessed in the first book. This time, though, he’s worked really hard at making it up to Mary and being there for her even when she has no idea why he would want to be. He’s popular, he’s cool, he’s cute; why her?

Well now she’s his date to homecoming and needs a dress. There’s nothing quite like a possessed dress to jump you into this ghost story.

“Oh, yeah? Prove it!” Rachel said.
“You secretly like Justin Bieber.”
“Fiend!” Rachel shouted and shook her bells at her.

Dating is very foreign territory for Mary and she treads this terrain with wonderful humor and realistic aspects of what it’s like to start dating for the first time. Like when she asks Kyle out on a movie date because it’s the 21st century and a girl can do that, except she accidentally invites Rachel too and now it’s kind of awkward.

Any nudges or touches from Rach were completely unnoteworthy. On the Kyle side, the merest ruffle of air made her tense up and over analyze it. What did that nudge mean? Was he uncomfortable? Did he want the armrest all to himself?

Girl, same. I’ve definitely had my fair share of movie dates with those thoughts. Onto the story, this one revolves around possession. The Shadowman she thought she defeated is back. It won’t leave her alone. Why can’t she catch a break? It’ll take help from her new friends and a frenemy to get to the bottom of this one.

five-stars

Stalking Shadows

stalking-shadows Stalking Shadows by S.A. Hunter

Publication Date: October 27, 2011
Read Date: December 15, 2016

Series: Scary Mary
Book #2

Amazon, Goodreads

My favorite clairaudient, Mary. Well, she’s the only one I’ve ever read about but I have no doubt that she would still be my favorite. Mary has the perfect amount of sarcasm, wit, sass, however you want to put it, she’s badass and awesome. She’s just trying to survive high school while simultaneously having to listen to some ghosts.

Right off the bat we get my favorite part about this series: Mary’s humor.

“No, we’re dreaming.”
“No, you mean me. I’m dreaming, and you’re the monster in my nightmare.”

In this book, Vicky is in the hospital, in a coma, from a car accident after a date with Cy (gasp!). She’s able to reach out to Mary through her dreams to try to get help because there’s something in the hospital feeding the life source off of unsuspecting patients. She’s scared for her life, and as much as she hates to admit it, she needs Mary, even if they’re basically enemies.

“What made you decide to volunteer at the hospital?”
“Well, I heard Vicky was there in a coma, and I figure this will give me access to her room so I can Sharpie a mustache on her without getting caught.”

Yes, Mary. You get your revenge for the nickname of Scary Mary and every other hell Vicky has put you through.

Rachel is still the greatest best friend who always knows exactly the right words to make you feel better. Especially when the guy you really like starts dating the girl you thought both of you agreed on that you don’t like.

“If they were a couple, Vicky would’ve had T-shirts made. It was probably their first date, and she tricked him into going. He probably thought he was taking her grandpa to the airport or something, and she gave him directions to the movie theater instead, and since she already had pre-purchased tickets, why not go see the movie because both of Vicky’s grandfathers are dead.”

There is also more of Chowder, too, who is like the best ghost dog one could ever ask for!

“Chowder, get in your body. Get in your body now!”

Even if he is being unruly. Gran is also back with a force, helping Mary out even when Mary thinks she doesn’t need the help. There’s this wonderful scene in the hospital with Gran and I’d quote it, but it’s too long and it’d give away how much fun you would have reading it.

This is another awesome 5-star book with a great cast of characters to leave you laughing and crying and begging for more.

five-stars

Cinder

Cinder.jpg Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Read Date: January 11, 2017

Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Book #1

Amazon, Goodreads

Forgive me for bringing up Heartless again, but after reading that, I felt the need to devour everything Marissa Meyer has ever written. It was my personal goal to finish this book in one sitting, and that I did. I don’t regret one single minute. I loved this whole concept, fairy tale story meets The Terminator meets Star Wars. Inititally, when I first heard about the series, it didn’t sound too great to me. Sci-fi isn’t the easiest genre to get into, but this was perfect.

Cinder is a cyborg. What’s crazy is the struggle to fit in with a society that looks down on them while being perfectly fine with using the technology for their own benefit. Cyborgs just happen to have that technology inside of them as well as in the products they use. I would think that being a cyborg would make you cooler than your peers. Don’t feel like bringing a purse? I’ll just throw my lip gloss in my calf for when I need a touch up. Where did I leave that screwdriver? Oh, that’s OK, I have a spare in my palm. On top of all that usefulness, her user interface connected to her brain can show her news feeds, comms (text messages), and it can tell when someone is lying. She doesn’t even need to wear the Samsung VR for that. Yet this whole package of awesomeness is considered inferior. These people need a reality check. These robot parts have either saved humans’ lives or are making their lives easier (no more amputees), it doesn’t make them less human (just more robot/awesome).

“I think I have some oil in my calf if you’d like me to fix that wheel.” So thoughtful.

Cinder’s wit was right on point with the sense of humor I adore.

“I don’t actually remember anything from before the surgery.”
…”The cybernetic operation?”
“No, the sex change.”

“Speaking of eye surgery, do you realize you’re missing tear ducts?”
“What? Really? And I thought I was just emotionally withdrawn.”

Prince Kai was definitely adorable to me. I was excited whenever he showed up because I adored how assertive he is. Like when trying to get Cinder to go to the ball with him:

“Maybe you would change your mind? Because I am, you know.”
“The prince.”
“Not bragging,” he said quickly. “Just a fact.”

Swoon.

A complaint I had read prior to reading this was the lack of world building in a place that sounds absolutely fantastic. I can see that point of view. Marissa Meyer has actually grown in her writing skills because the world building in Heartless, her most recent novel, is superb (here I am, bringing up that novel again). Regardless, this book is clearly a series, it looks like the world will continue to be built amongst the books, which is nice because I am not a fan of information dumping. I can only handle so much before I need to go back and reread whatever the heck I just read.

This is an awesome spin on a fairy tale with a heroine who is very self-sufficient and is growing to become bad ass. There’s nothing like a heroine who decides to save the man, instead of being the damsel in distress. You go, girl.

five-stars

Six of Crows

six-of-crows Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Read Date: January 10, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

First off, I do want to say that it was tough for me to get over the Heartless hangover and I thought that a book that actually got 5-star reviews from ALL of my favorite reviewers would be the perfect way to move on.

I was wrong. I’m actually still not over Heartless, but I don’t think that that was a reason for my thoughts about this book.

I do want to acknowledge that I am VERY MUCH in the minority on how I felt about this. Everyone raved and said it’s one of their favorite books. It was almost like an Ocean’s Eleven with this incredible heist but with a team of six. There’s magic, there’s wit, there’s a heist. Sounds absolutely perfect. Except I found that I could have put the book down at any time and not ever cared if I picked it back up or not. It just never really grabbed my attention.

I understand that there was a trilogy that had come out previous to this book that would have helped me understand the whole “Grisha-verse” but not having read that, this was very confusing in the beginning. There is a lot of terminology that I didn’t understand, nor was it ever explained. I wish there was a glossary in the back so that way when I forget whatever made up word I had come across, I wouldn’t be completely in the dark. That’s what is tough when creating a different language, making it to where it won’t be too confusing. But the purpose is defeated when you use that language on a character who doesn’t understand that particular language and then it isn’t explained. So now that character is in the dark as well as the reader. It just gets confusing.

The strongest aspect of this book is definitely the dialogue.

There was rage on his face when he turned back to Kaz. “Always one step ahead, aren’t you?”
“Geels, when it comes to you, I’d say I have a running start.”

Nina crossed her arms. “I’m mad at you too.”
“Me? Why?”
“I don’t know yet. I just am.”

“You came back for me.”
“I protect my investments.”

Investments. “I’m glad I’m bleeding all over your shirt.”

My favorite:

“If Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly.

I did enjoy the characterization to a point. Nina was definitely my favorite, I love how assertive she is, especially when it comes to Matthias. One thing that threw me off was when Jesper all of a sudden thought that Wylan was cute late into the book. We had had previous chapters from Jesper’s perspective discussing Wylan, but never did he mention he thought he was cute. It should have been talked about it earlier. Teasing is something friends do to each other. That doesn’t always mean that the person “like” likes another person. So when it was brought up that Jesper liked Wylan, I was like…where the hell did this come from?

I also found it hard to believe that these characters are kids (teens) pulling off running a gang and breaking into two prisons. If they were older, I think I would have found it easier to believe. But being the mastermind of a gang and masterfully plotting every step at such a young age was a little ridiculous. I understand how in a place where they grew up, they would have to grow up fast. Look at Carl, from The Walking Dead. We’ve watched his character grow up on screen over the years. He’s had to grow up fast, and I think he’s grown into a bit of a badass. But do I think he would be capable of being a mastermind like the teens in this book? No. If they were a little older, maybe, but the suspension of disbelief was tough for me here.

I’m also not a fan of flashback scenes in the middle of the action. Which ended up happening a lot during the main action. It completely strips away the adrenaline from the scene.

Ultimately, this book just wasn’t for me. I’ve tried thinking back on it to see if maybe I was being too hard, but I just didn’t care for it. The cover is gorgeous though, and the dip-dyed pages in black is stunning. I’d honestly pick up the sequel because it’s only getting the one other book and that one is gorgeous too. Those pages are red!

two-and-a-half-stars

Heartless

heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Read Date: January 5, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

I haven’t had a book hangover quite like this one gave me in…I don’t even know how long. Too long. I couldn’t even think about picking anything else up when all I wanted to do was to be transported back to Wonderland.

My exact thoughts that I wrote down after reading the book were: I am so profoundly sad. Heartbroken; though my heart is more than broken, it’s actually gone. Which is eerily similar to what happened in the book.

I’m pretty sure I cried a couple of days after finishing this because it was just so good that I kept thinking back on it and then ended up becoming really sad all over again.

I know that so far all I’ve done is make you think that this book is sad, and that you probably don’t want to be sad when finishing a book, but that’s where you’re wrong. This made me feel so much emotion that I 100% plan on reading it again.

I purposefully went into this book without knowing too much about it. I knew it was a book in Wonderland, but I, shockingly, did not realize it was an origin story for how the Queen of Hearts came to be. I was perfectly content without having that information until I screwed it up for myself halfway through when I went on Goodreads to see if everyone else loved it as much as I was loving it. I tried to distance myself from the work then, knowing that it couldn’t have a happy ending, but I wouldn’t have ended it any other way. It was perfect. I wish it wasn’t a standalone book so I could get more from Wonderland and all of the awesome characters.

The Cheshire cat is awesome! Please allow me to share my favorite quotes from the book… all of which so happen to be from the Cheshire cat. Don’t worry, they’re not spoilers–they’re just incentive to read this.

Abigail told me that once she dreamed about a big glowing crescent shape hovering in the sky…and the next morning Cheshire showed up, all grinning teeth hovering in the air and begging for a saucer of milk. Years later and we still can’t seem to get rid of him.”

Cheshire’s head spun upside down. “How slow you are tonight. I was speaking of the rumors surrounding the new court joker.”
She perked up. “No. I haven’t heard anything about him.”
“Neither have I.”
She furrowed her brow. “Cheshire, that is the opposite of a rumor.”

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

“Why, yes, I would enjoy a cup of tea. I take mine with lots of cream, and no tea. Thank you.”

“I’m only saying that you might be the King’s wife, but who is to say you couldn’t also have more clandestine relations with the Joker?” (This in particular is what I had been wondering for myself throughout the whole book–it would kind of be a way to solve the problem. It’s not like kings and queens have never done it before!)

Unashamedly, almost all of the quotes I marked were Cheshire quotes. Such a clever cat. Here’s another quote (not from Cheshire!) that specifically speaks to me as an editor.

“Sir Hare?” asked Catherine.
“Haigha,” said the March Hare. “Rhymes with mayor, but spelled with a g.”
She stared, not sure how Hare could be spelled with a g. Before she could ask again, Jest settled a hand on her shoulder and whispered, “I’ll spell it for you later.”

Moving on, I loved watching how Cath went from the girl who could dream up six impossible things before breakfast to being all “Off with its head!” I thought it was perfect. Instead of thinking of the Queen of Hearts as this awful character, I will forever think of her as the girl who only ever wanted to open up a bakery with her best friend. She never stood a chance. Also, I loved how we learn just why she hates white roses–I would too.

In my notes, I wrote heavily about how perfect this was through my tears. I’ll just leave this at bringing up how clever it was to throw it other stories, such as “The Raven” from Poe, and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.”

I just read this…but after writing this review, I think I might just read it all over again.

five-stars

Different

different Different by Alicia Linwood

Tainted Element Series:
Book 1

Moira is an elemental, along with many other people in this world. There are people with pure elements, which are considered strong, and sub-elements, which are considered weak. Moira is starting to develop a second pure element: fire. It’s kind of freaking her out because that’s supposed to be unheard of. After traveling to an island where her mom might be able to help find answers, help finds Moira instead. Noah appears out of thin air to tell her there are others like her and that he can help. And so starts the adventure.

With so much to understand about this world, it was tough to figure it out when I had to keep rereading confusing sentences, such as:

“…I could feel myself reaching for it, but I couldn’t feel fire, which obviously didn’t mean I didn’t have it.”

There are many of these sentences with negative contractions throughout the sentence. It just makes it more difficult to read, because I have to keep going back to see that I’m thinking what it means to tell me. It’s just unnecessary when a simpler sentence would do. Also, everyone seems to be licking their lips before they say anything. Is the air dry there? On an island? I don’t think so. I don’t want to keep reading about every single person licking their lips before they need to speak.

Timing was off whenever cooking was involved with dialogue. In one scene, someone starts making pancakes (or french toast in another scene), and dialogue goes back and forth twice and all of a sudden the pancakes (or french toast) is done. What? Not even 30 seconds have gone by! That’s a bit too much liberty with the time there.

So the above issues coupled with the grammar and editing issues left much to be desired. I didn’t even care about the cliffhanger because I just didn’t really care about anyone. I do have to say that I loved the loyalty and trust Moira had towards her parents; that was really commendable and it made her a stronger heroine. But the start of what was looking like a weird love triangle despite the lack of romance amidst the mind control and elementals hunting other elementals, just isn’t really interesting me.

However, because of how much rereading I had to do to make sure I understood this world, it’s tempting to continue on with the series in the hopes it gets stronger. I invested myself enough to understand the world, I might as well give it one more book to see if I’ll really stick around.

two-stars

Scary Mary

scary-mary Scary Mary by S.A. Hunter

Publication Date: August 18, 2010
Read Date: December 10, 2016

Series: Scary Mary
Book #1

THIS. I absolutely adored this short story. Mary is what is deemed a clairaudient. She can’t see ghosts, but she can hear them and speak to them. Growing up in a small town, everyone remembered when she was a kid and used to talk to herself on the playground. She is now labeled as a freak and is bullied in high school. She does her best to look past it, but she can’t help the snarky comments that come out of her from time to time. Who can blame her?

Her best friend, Rachel, is the only friend she has until a new boy starts at the school and takes a liking to her. This all goes downhill when a trip to his house makes her realize his house is haunted, and not by a very nice ghost either.

The humor is awesome; the sarcasm is spot on. Rachel is the greatest. This is honestly a story I would reread over and over because I enjoyed it so much. There’s an invisible dog she plays fetch with, how much more fun can this get? Also, the random ghosts that are anchored throughout the town that she can listen and talk to are so great.

I pulled out one of my favorite quotes from Rachel to Vicky, the resident mean girl:

“Hey Vicky,” Rachel called, “I’m sorry too, but I can’t make it either. I gotta be in Aspen this weekend. You understand, right?”

“So what?” She said. Her voice dripped with disdain.

“Oh, I just wanted to be a part of the rejection. Buh-bye,” she said giving her the beauty queen parade wave.

And then this one from Mary to Vicky:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fakest of them all? Oh never mind, I see her.”

Those will be even funnier when you read the book, which I highly recommend doing. The only issue I have with it is that there are some spelling and grammar errors, but I loved this so much, I can’t even dock a star for that.

five-stars