Thursday, December 31, 2015

Shopaholic to the Stars

Book: Shopaholic to the Stars
Series: Shopaholic #7
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved Shopaholic series with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky’s husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can’t wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive. But she really hopes to become a personal stylist—Sage’s personal stylist—if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage’s archrival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it’s a dream come true!

Red carpet premieres, velvet ropes, paparazzi clamoring for attention—suddenly Becky has everything she’s ever wanted.

Or does she?-Goodreads

Review: This was a light, funny read. Yes, Becky is a shallow, selfish character and this series probably should have ended several books ago, but sometimes you crave a light read and this hit the spot. 

Grade: 3/5


Book: Break
Series: Songs of Perdition #3
Author: CD Reiss

Everything about Fiona Drazen is forbidden. She’s a party girl with dark desires. She’s beautiful, irresponsible, irresistible. She’s my patient. I’m her therapist. I’m past past wanting her. Past possessing her. Past bedding her or protecting her. I’m willing to be self-destructive, negligent, brave, audacious, and stronger than I ever believed possible. She’s blunt force trauma to the heart. And she calls another man Master.-Goodreads

Review: I love this series, I love CD Reiss and Fiona is without question, the best Drazen. I just didn't love this book. Fiona is, without question, the most messed up heroine I've encountered. I wasn't sure how I envisioned the series ending but I didn't see her getting a HEA with Elliot or Deacon. This is a character with serious demons and I feel like she needed serious rehab or counseling for an extended period of time (with a real counselor, not someone who fell for her after a few sessions) to heal herself. 

I could see her ending up with Elliot several years down the road, I just didn't buy that she becomes a Suzie Homemaker in a monogamous relationship so quickly. No way. 

Overall-great series.  

Grade: 2.5/5

November 9

Book: November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.-Goodreads

Review: Fallon (I kept wondering if Hoover is a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon), was once a rising actor until half her body was burned in a house fire at age 16. While having a challenging meal with her father, Ben, a stranger, pops into the booth and pretends he's her boyfriend. The two hit it off and decide to meet up with each other every year on November 9th, with no contact in between. No emails, no exchanging of cell phone numbers, nada. Ben's an aspiring writer and wants to write about their story. Okay, I admit I like this concept. It's very 'You've Got Mail' and could be quite romantic. 

Unfortunately, Fallon had almost no personality and Ben was beyond cheesy/creepy. For example he spews these lines:

"Baby," he says, his lips forming a smile. "You have already made this the best I've ever had, and I'm not even inside you yet." ==> GROSS!

"Fallon," he whispers, dragging his lips slowly across mine. "Thank you for this beautiful gift." ==> of course, this is when he finds out he's taking her V card

The dialogue was just so over the top and ridiculous, I could not stop rolling my eyes. I did like that that one point Fallon's roommate pointed out that after 3 years she had literally spent a total of 3 days with Ben. Ben's 'secret' was obvious and while very sad, I felt like this was a poor version of 'Ten Tiny Breaths' (heart wrenching book, I recommend if you haven't read it). 

Overall-not my favorite read. I think new adult romance is just not for me.  

Grade: 2/5

Making Faces

Book: Making Faces
Author: Amy Harmon

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.-Goodreads

Review: 'Making Faces' is a sweet (extremely chaste) romance with strong Christian themes (there is a lot of bible quoting as the main character is a preacher's daughter). Set in a small town in Pennsylvania, Fern (ugly duckling with a heart of gold) has always been in love with Ambrose (good looking, high school wrestling star). After graduation, Ambrose and his friends go off to war and he is the only one who makes it back, severely disfigured. Not surprisingly, Fern is now beautiful (she's shed her braces and glasses and grown out her red hair) and Ambrose forge a friendship. 

I felt like the characters were a little too cookie cutter (ugly duckling but smart and sweet? check. pretty but not that smart best friend? check. Ugly duckling in love with high school jock who is actually a sensitive guy? check. Disabled but funny friend? check). I found it odd that few of the main characters had college prospects outside of Ambrose (and that was because of a sports scholarship) and Fern (she couldn't leave her cousin Bailey and weirdly had no conflicting feelings about this). I thought the beginning sections written of the towers going down were well done. Ambrose's reason for wanting his friends to join the military with him were thin (hey, let's all delay life a little and join the army so we can hang out longer!) and how he convinced them SO EASILY to join up wasn't believable. The character who suffered the most was Fern's best friend, Rita. She's dating a guy who no one likes and gets pregnant by him. She tells Fern that she was about to break up with him before she found out she was pregnant. There is no discussion about abortion or adoption-it's just, hey, marry him (even though Fern thinks he's dangerous!?!). Not surprisingly this doesn't end well. The only other female character (Ambrose's friend's girlfriend) we really hear about also gets pregnant as a teen. Literally, 2 of the 3 female teens become pregnant. I realize teen pregnancy is an issue but this takes place in 2001 and Pennsylvania, they should have had some sort of sex ed (birth control is not even mentioned in the book). 

Fern, the main character is very sweet. She stays sweet throughout the book, there is little character growth or development. Ambrose comes back from war and suffers PTSD as well as disfigurement. The book focuses more on the disfigurement (beauty/beast, Christian style) than the PTSD but he was a likable character. Their friendship/romance is very sweet (I know I keep using that word, but they aren't that exciting of a couple. They reminded me of 15 year olds instead of 20 year olds). My favorite character was Bailey, Fern's cousin and best friend who suffers from muscular dystrophy (although he even made me mad with the whole Rita situation-at one point he says he's glad she's married to the abusive dude). Anyway, he was a great character and absolutely saved this book for me. 

Overall-not my favorite read but I absolutely BALLED at the end so I did enjoy it. 

Grade: 3/5

Those Who Save Us

Book: Those Who Save Us
Author: Jenna Blum

For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.-Goodreads

Review:  'Those Who Save Us' is a very interesting book. It's a WWII story told in alternating narratives. In present day we follow Trudy, a professor in her mid-50s who believes she is the daughter of an SS officer. Her mother has refused to discuss the war in any capacity. In the other timeline, we follow Anna during WWII. There are no quotation marks (takes a few chapters to get used to this) and there are graphic scenes involving violence and sex. This may not appeal to some readers. 

Like many books with different timelines, I found Anna's storyline stronger and more compelling. Anna, a beautiful, naive German girl, lives at home with her demanding father. She falls in love with a Jewish doctor and eventually hides him in their house. I'm not sure if that author's intent was to write Anna/Max as a 'true love' type of thing, but I didn't read it that way. I know Anna didn't view her relations with Max as rape, but it seemed (at least their first encounter) like rape. I also couldn't believe Max wouldn't suggest some sort of birth control, he knew she lived with her crazy Nazi father and he was a doctor. Max is eventually found and turned into authorities, while Anna, finding herself pregnant, flees her house and lives with a local baker. Anna eventually becomes involved in a resistance movement of sorts and finds herself as a mistress to the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. 

Now, the Obersturmfuhrer. I initially thought this character would be someone to root for. A man who hates what the Nazi's are doing and does what he can to help the prisoners in secret. Nope-he's one bad dude. He has very few redeeming qualities although he does bring Anna and her daughter food and other misc items. Their twisted relationship is the longest Anna has with any male (other than her father) and she finds that she hates him and is ashamed of the way her body responds to him. Their scenes are graphic and disturbing. Anna relies on him and loves him in twisted sense-she is a definite victim of Stockholm Syndrome. Her story is heartbreaking. 

In present day, Trudy is interviewing non-Jewish Germans who lived in Germany during WWII. Her story wasn't as compelling as Anna's, but it was nice that she finally discovers her heritage at the end of the book. 

This is one of those books that stays with you and you can't stop thinking about. If you are a fan of WWII stories, you might like this one. 

Grade: 4/5

Career of Evil

Book: Career of Evil
Series: Cormoran Strike #3
Author: Robert Galbraith

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

Career of Evil is the third in the series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A mystery and also a story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.-Goodreads

Review: This is a difficult review. I love JK Rowling. I love her writing. I love her attention to detail. I love the first two books in this series. I love how she constructed interesting mysteries surrounding celebrities (book 1) and the publishing world (book 2). I loved the focus on the 'case at hand' while the personal lives of Strike and Robin were part of the story but didn't overshadow anything. I fully expected to love this book but was ultimately disappointed. 

The good? I love her writing style. We finally learn why Robin dropped out of university and why she is still with Matthew. The bad? Robin's personal issues with Matthew seemed to be the main focus in this book. Also, I felt like Galbraith is trying to set up a future relationship between Robin and Strike and it doesn't feel organic. Look, it's clear Robin and Matthew shouldn't be together but I don't see Robin and Strike as end game. It doesn't help that Strike is written as a total slob-he's overweight, smokes, drinks and has a poor diet. I understand he has the 'war veteran' thing going for him, but he didn't even come across as that intelligent in this book. (as a side note-I fully expect him to develop heart disease or diabetes at some point in the series unless he makes some lifestyle changes).

Now, onto the mystery itself. Robin receives a severed leg by a courier-sounds interesting, right? We are told immediately who the four suspects are. Once Strike reviews the backgrounds of the different men, it's clear who the killer is (only one of them is a sexual sadist). I actually enjoy the hunt of the other suspects, it was still interesting. The biggest issue I had with the mystery element of the book were the gaping plot holes. GAPING! The reader is expected to believe that the British Police didn't interrogate a suspect thoroughly. This suspect had a direct link to one of the victims. Okay, we'll let that pass. Then we are to believe that Strike (who personally knows the four potential suspects from years past) seeing the person, talks to the person and sees a picture but doesn't recognize him. We're told Strike is tired, focused on someone else, the guys hair was different, etc. I don't buy it. I'm sorry-he's a seasoned detective and there are four suspects. He should be looking more closely. Especially considering that Robin recognizes the dude and she's never even met him. When Strike finally figures out who the killer's pretty anticlimactic.

Overall-weakest of the series but I'll definitely keep reading.  

Grade: 2/5 

Magic Shifts

Book: Magic Shifts
Series: Kate Daniels #8
Author: Ilona Andrews

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…-Goodreads

Review: It's book 8 in a series-one would think it's hard to keep a series fun, fresh and interesting at this point but the writing duo that make up Ilona Andrews has no problems. I loved this! It was action packed and funny. Cannot wait for the next book!

Grade: 5/5

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Hit

Book: The Hit
Series: Will Robie #2
Author:  David Baldacci

Will Robie is a master of killing.

A highly skilled assassin, Robie is the man the U.S. government calls on to eliminate the worst of the worst-enemies of the state, monsters committed to harming untold numbers of innocent victims.

No one else can match Robie's talents as a one, except Jessica Reel. A fellow assassin, equally professional and dangerous, Reel is every bit as lethal as Robie. And now, she's gone rogue, turning her gun sights on other members of their agency.

To stop one of their own, the government looks again to Will Robie. His mission: bring in Reel, dead or alive. Only a killer can catch another killer, they tell him.

But as Robie pursues Reel, he quickly finds that there is more to her betrayal than meets the eye. Her attacks on the agency conceal a larger threat, a threat that could send shockwaves through the U.S. government and around the world.-Goodreads

Review: It's been years since I read a Baldacci book and I forgot how fun they can be. This was fun, fast-paced and kept me on the edge of my seat. A great quick read about Will Robie, best assassin the CIA has, tracking Jessical Reel, a fellow assassin who has gone rogue. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this. 

Grade: 4/5

Little Black Lies

Book: Little Black Lies
Author: Sharon Bolton

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely...

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders—Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum—are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.-Goodreads

Review: This book has an interesting format. There are three sections narrated by three different people. It started out incredible and I couldn't put it down. Catrin is bitter and grieving. Her best friend was babysitting her two young children and her negligence lead to their deaths. Catrin lost her children, her marriage broke up and she has been channeling all her anger and resentment at her former best friend. Catrin has a plan to make Rachel pay for her crime but a missing child on the island is getting in the way. When another child goes missing, the story shifts to Callum, an outsider living on the island. He and Catrin have a history and he wants to believe the old Catrin is in there somewhere. When she is suspected of killing the children, he comes to her defense. But he has a lot of issues of his own. This section for me was a big let down after Catrin. Callum came across kind of stalker-ish and frankly, not that intelligent. The last section is narrated by Rachel, who hates herself for what happened to Catrin's children. Even though Rachel's children are still alive, she cannot undo what happened years ago and she feels like a pariah in town. She cannot bring herself to love her youngest son. I enjoyed Rachel's section although it wasn't as strong as Catrin. The ending was very frustrating as we find out Rachel knows who the killer is and takes no action. 

Overall-I did enjoy this. The Falkland setting was eerie and perfect for a murder mystery. Catrin's narrative was undoubtedly the best and while the others weren't as strong, I'm definitely planning to read more from this author. 

Grade: 3/5

After You

Book: After You
Series: Me Before You #2
Author: JoJo Moyes

11 hours, 6 minutes

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.-Goodreads

Review: I loved Me Before You for multiple reasons-it made me think about assisted suicide, I fell in love with Louisa and Will's story, and it caused such a visceral emotional reaction that I could barley talk about the book for days without crying. It's hard to top that and unfortunately After You was...well, it was okay. I didn't hate it, but instead of focusing on Louisa's life I felt like Will was still front and center. We are introduced to a new character, Lily, who was incredibly annoying. There were explanations for her behavior but I really despised her and her awful behavior. Lou does find love again-he's nice and they are very nice together. Nothing extraordinary. 

Overall-there's just nothing special or exciting about this sequel. 

Grade: 2.5/5

Children to a Degree - Growing Up Under the Third Reich

Book: Children to a Degree - Growing Up Under the Third Reich
Author: Horst Christian

Based on a true story about a young boy growing up under the Third Reich.

Karl Veth, the oldest of three children, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. By the time he was old enough to start school and begin his education, Hitler had already established a firm death-grip on the country. Children were fed a steady diet of Nazi propaganda and were often encouraged to turn on their family and friends but contrary to popular belief, not all of them bought into it.

Karl is an intelligent young boy who strives to excel in his studies, but he questions everything. Dangerous questions during a time when people are closely monitored. Karl’s father and grandfather are not blind followers and they have their own opinions about Hitler and his regime. The lessons they teach Karl often contradict what he is taught in school, yet they also inspire him to think on his own and form his own opinions.

German law mandates that all children must become members of the Hitler Youth and at the age of 10, Karl enters the Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth. He must wade through the propaganda and everything he is taught to decide for himself what is right and what it wrong. Little does he know at the time, but many of his grandfather’s predictions about the future of the Third Reich will eventually come to pass. The lessons he learns now and the opinions he forms will determine his fate in dangerous times ahead. -Goodreads

Review: This was a very interesting story about a boy growing up in Nazi Germany. It provides good insight into the indoctrination methods used at the time and how families were impacted. I was afraid for Karl's grandfather throughout the book (he was not a Nazi supporter) and while the writing stuff wasn't that great (it was written like an old grandpa telling you a story) I overall liked this. 

Grade: 3/5


Book: You
Series: You #1
Author: Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.-Goodreads

Review:  'You' is a great book about horrible people. Seriously, every character is pretty awful. Beck is the object of Joe's obsession and although you can clearly see where this story is heading, it's a fun, twisty, creepy ride. Kepnes is such a talented writer she made me forget Joe is a sociopath/murderer and I found myself actually agreeing with some of his inner thoughts (especially about IKEA). Great job! (very graphic)

Grade: 4.4/5

Queen of Shadows

Book: Queen of Shadows
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Author: Sarah J. Maas

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.-Goodreads

Review: This series is back on track, yes! The first book was good, second was really good, third was a huge disappointment (my 2 star rating was generous) and this was great. This was action packed from the first to last page. Aelin was kick ass and I loved Manon's storyline. I cannot wait for the next book. 

Grade: 5/5

Monday, November 30, 2015

Irreparable Harm

Book: Irreparable Harm
Series: Sasha McCandless Legal Thrillers #1
Author: Melissa Miller

There's an app for everything. Even evil.

Attorney Sasha McCandless is closing in on the prize after eight long years: she's months away from being made partner at a prestigious law firm. All she has to do is keep her head down and her billable hours up.

Then a plane operated by her client slams into the side of a mountain, killing everyone aboard. Sasha gears up to prepare a defense to the inevitable civil lawsuits.

She quickly realizes the crash was no accident: a developer has created an application that can control a commercial plane's onboard computer from a smartphone. Now it's for sale to the highest bidder.

Sasha joins forces with a federal air marshal who's investigating the crash. As they race to prevent another airline disaster, people close to the matter start turning up dead. Sasha must rely on both her legal skills and her Krav Maga training to stop the madman before he kills her.

Sasha will need to rely on her legal training and her Krav Maga training in equal measure to find and stop a madman before he strikes again.-Goodreads

Review: This was a fun read. The plot was predictable but fast paced, I enjoyed the legal aspect to the book and Sasha was a good heroine. I will check out the next book in the series. 

Grade: 3/5

I've Got Your Number

Book: I've Got Your Number
Author: Sophie Kinsella

I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.-Goodreads

Review: It's been awhile since I read a light romance and this book hit the spot. Most importantly-it was funny. I laughed throughout this book (I still chuckle thinking about Sam running his companies charity race dressed in a costume..hehehe). If you are looking for something cute and funny, give this a try. 

Grade: 4/5

Thirteen Reasons Why

Book: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.-Goodreads

Review: I feel like this is one of those books you either love or hate. I'll admit that my initial reaction upon finishing the book was not favorable. While I like the idea of the book and the writing style, I didn't find Hannah likable and quite frankly, most of the 'reasons' why she killed herself seemed like typical high school bs most people have to deal with. I actually felt like the most sympathetic character was Jessica. Jessica, Hannah's ex-best friend has the esteemed pleasure of being 'one of the 13 reasons' and it is later revealed she was also raped (and now several people know her personal business...thanks Hannah). While Hannah probably could not have stopped the event, I was surprised she didn't feel more guilty about her actions (or lack there of). I was also looking to forward to seeing how Clay fit into things and his inclusion seemed like a cop out. 

Now, thinking about the book for a few days, I realize I've never been depressed. Maybe dealing with high school BS that most people put up with really does have an impact when someone is already emotionally fragile. All the small things build up until the person can't take it anymore. I don't know-this definitely wasn't my favorite book but it certainly was interesting and kept me thinking about it. 

Grade: 3/5

Six of Crows

Book: Six of Crows
Series: Six of Crows #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.-Goodreads

Review: Wow-Leigh Bardugo is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved the Grisha series and this new series takes place in the same world (although the Grisha was focused on Russia and this is more Netherlands) with all new characters. This is essentially a YA fantasy version of Oceans Eleven. The world building was excellent, the cast of characters were well developed (LOVED Nina) and I enjoyed the heists. The first heist consists of breaking a prisoner out of a secure prison, while the second is breaking into the most secure building to rescue a scientist. I loved this! 

Grade: 5/5

Luckiest Girl Alive

Book: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Review:  I'm disappointed.The marketing of this book suggested it was like Gone Girl, so I was expecting a good psychological thriller. I was hoping for at least a big plot twist. I'm even okay with bitchy heroines as long as they have some sort of dark humor or wittiness to them. This book didn't deliver on any fronts. I didn't find anything redeeming about Ani (she was a horrible teenager as well but in her defense she was 14) and I felt no emotional connection to her nor any other character. I think this would have been better if she had had more of role in the 'final event' that is revealed at the end. 

Grade: 2/5


Book: Devoted
Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Rachel Walker is devoted to God.

She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.-Goodreads

Review: Rachel Walker is a 17-year old brought up in the Quiverfall church (like the Duggar family). While her mother deals with a miscarriage, Rachel takes care of the household and her multiple younger siblings. Rachel knows her father will be picking out her husband soon, so she too can be married and start a family of her own. Just like she has been taught is her duty. But Rachel doesn't want that life and when she stumbles upon the blog of a girl who escaped her family and the church, Rachel's life begins to change. 

This book was a wonderful surprise. I found myself going on an emotional journey with Rachel-distress, happiness, fear, sadness, etc. I actually cried toward the end which was pretty shocking to me. I was proud of what Rachel accomplished in the book while at the same time my heart broke for her. I also enjoyed how Mathieu handled the religion concept here (this is not a 'religion is evil' book by any means). Good read. 

Grade: 4/5

Under a Silent Moon

Book: Under a Silent Moon
Series: DCI Louisa Smith #1
Author: Elizabeth Haynes

Two women share one fate.

A suspected murder at an English Farm. A reported suicide at a local quarry.

Can DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather the evidence and discover a link between them, a link which sealed their fate one cold night, Under a Silent Moon?

A tense, compelling and unsettling novel mystery brimming with source material and evidence set over just six days, Under a Silent Moon will keep you gripped until the very last page and asks:

Can you connect the clues and name the Killer?

In the crisp, early hours of an autumn morning, the police are called to investigate two deaths. The first is a suspected murder at a farm on the outskirts of a small village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, her cottage drenched with blood. The second is a reported suicide at a nearby quarry. A car with a woman's body inside was found at the bottom of the pit.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather evidence, they discover a shocking link between the two cases and the two deaths-a bond that sealed their terrible fates one cold night, under a silent moon.-Goodreads

Review: If you are fan of police procedurals, you might want to try this book. It is not a psychological thriller like her previous books, this is a straight up murder/suicide where the police are trying to figure out the killer. While I enjoyed the narrative style (multiple narratives, excepts from police interviews and reports) it started off extremely slow and I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. The book picked up toward the end. I will definitely read the next in the series. 

Grade: 3/5

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Girl on the Train

Book: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?-Goodreads

Review: I'm a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers. Even though I figured this out midway through, this was a super fun, fast paced read (this was critical since I just finished a 700+ tedious book about historians hunting Dracula..yes, it was as ridiculous as that sounds). Back to TGOTT...the story is told in 3 narratives with 2 different timelines. We have Rachel, an alcoholic who is obsessed with her ex-husband and his new wife. She spies on them (in a matter of speaking) as well as their neighbors as she takes the train to and from London (where she pretends she is working all day). She's prone to blackouts. Next up, we have Anna. Anna is one of the reasons Rachel is divorced. She had an affair with Rachel's husband and is the new "Mrs." She doesn't like Rachel trying to interfere in her 'perfect' new life, but is everything as perfect as it seems? Finally, we have Megan. She's beautiful, she has a doting husband and her life should be perfect. But she battles depression and is a cheater. When Megan goes missing, Rachel is sure she knows what happened. But does she really know anything? Who can be trusted? Who is telling the truth? 

While none of these women are particularly likable, I enjoyed the quick pace and seeing the story unfold. If you like thrillers, give this a try. 

Grade: 4.5/5

The Historian

Book: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.-Goodreads

Review: There is a decent book hidden in this 700+ page monstrosity. Do editors still exist in the literary world? If so, how did they allow this to get published? I feel like at least 300 pages could have been edited out. Kostova certainly knows her history (and food...she really likes to describe food) and while some of it was interesting, it was overall slow and boring.  I'm a huge fan of the epistolary writing style but the letters were way too long to be believable (and no one remembers things from 20 years ago in the level of detail described). The ending was also a HUGE disappointment. After reading for close to 14 hours, most readers expect some big reveal, a huge climax, something we can sink our teeth into and think about. The 'revelation' about Dracula was laughable. 

Skip this one. 

Grade: 1/5

The Martian

Book: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? -Goodreads

Review: I must admit I was a little afraid to read this book. When almost every one of my friends rates a book 5 stars, my expectations become so high the book in question almost always becomes a disappointment. I'm happy to say that was not the case here. 'The Martian' is a survival tale. Astronaut Mark Waney is an engineer/botanist who is stranded on Mars. This book was written in dual narrative and Waney's sections were journal entries. I fully admit I am not a science person-I found most of his sections repetitive and devoid of emotion. He found a problem, he might die, he fixed it. Rinse and repeat. I never once felt any sort of danger for his well being (reading his sections) because he was such a Mac Gyver/Michael Weston I knew he'd escape/survive whatever happened. He did have a dry sense of humor which I liked. What I loved about the book were the NASA sections-wow, they were fantastic. Weir really did his research and brought Mission Control and the politics and people of NASA to life. 

This was a super fun read, I highly recommend! (and the movie looks great, can't wait to see it)

Grade: 4/5

Little Black Lies

Book: Little Black Lies
Author: Sandra Block

In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives - a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother - Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother's death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.

As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can't remember just might kill her.

Little Black Lies is about madness and memory - and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. -Goodreads

Review: Zoe Goldman is a psychiatry resident with issues. Her birth mother died in a fire when Zoe was a young child, but she can't remember the event. Now in her mid-20's, her nightmares are back and she's decided to find out more about her birth mother, but her adoptive mother is in a home with dementia. Meanwhile, Zoe's heart has been broken (by a boyfriend who served little to no purpose in the book other than to demonstrate there is no way Zoe is as a plain Jane as she makes herself out to be) and she has a new patient who murdered her mother approx. 20 years ago. The patient claims she doesn't remember killing her mother. Zoe needs to determine if she can be released into society or if she is a sociopath. 

This book had some interesting parts, especially the hospital scenes. The author is a medical doctor and really brought these scenes to life. Other than that, the plot moved way too slow to keep me interested in the story. The pace picked up the last few chapters but it was too little too late (this book should have taken a few hours but took me TWO WEEKS!!). 

This is the authors debut novel so I will probably give her next book a chance. 

Grade: 2/5

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Book: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.-Goodreads

Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a wonderful surprise. It's a melancholy tale about Henry Lee, his family and his best friend Keiko. Keiko and her family are Japanese Americans and sent to an internment camp during WWII. Told in different timelines, we follow Henry as a young student in the 1940s and Henry in the mid 80s as he tries to reconnect with his son. The historical aspect of the 1940's sections was very interesting. I was especially heartbroken by the relationship between Henry and his father, a man with extreme hatred toward the Japanese due to his upbringing in China. While the 1980's section wasn't as strong, I enjoyed seeing Henry and his son reconnect. While the book didn't pack as much of an emotional punch as I would have liked, this was a fabulous read. 

Grade: 4/5


Book: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.-Goodreads

Review: This book was absolute perfection. I LOVED it. It is a beautifully written tale that incorporates friendship, family, love and magic into a wonderful bundle. It also had me laughing (repeatedly). Please give this a try folks-it's worth your time!

Grade: 5/5

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ruin and Rising

Book: Ruin and Rising
Series: The Grisha #3
Author: Leigh Bardugo

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.-Goodreads

Review: After the second book, I wasn't sure what to expect with this third and final installment. I'm happy to say this was great on almost all fronts. I loved the third amplifier storyline, Alina and Mal were likable again and we had more Nikolai, yay! The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was the ending (it was a too 'red bow' for me) but overall, a satisfying read. 

Grade: 4/5

Siege and Storm

Book: Siege and Storm
Series: The Grisha #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.-Goodreads

Review: I loved the first book in this series and was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, the only thing that worked was the introduction of a new character, Nikolai (imagine a young, debonair Richard Castle). Other than the first few chapters, the Darkling (who is def full on 'bad' now) was barely in the book and the few scenes he was in, didn't seem necessary to the story. Most of this book was teenage angst with Alina and Mal, both of whom were incredibly annoying and boring.  

Grade: 2/5

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy the Shocking Inside Story

Book: The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy the Shocking Inside Story
Author: Ann Rule

Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.-Goodreads

Review: This was an extremely creepy, disturbing read about Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. I've watched a lot of documentaries on him over the years and while this didn't add that many new details, it was interesting read. Ann Rule worked with Ted Bundy (in his mid-20s) for several months at a suicide hotline and states that they saved lives together. Even though Ann reported him to police as a possible suspect, she had trouble believing her 'good friend' Ted was a killer. They kept in contact for many years, including during his trials. 

Like any other true crime novel, this is a rather dry, non-emotional book. There are a lot of facts and backgrounds on the victims, but it wasn't too graphic. Ted Bundy was a high functioning sociopath and it's frightening how many people he fooled. I couldn't put this down and I was seriously freaked out for several days after finishing it. 

Grade: 5/5

Cold Burn of Magic

Book: Cold Burn of Magic
Series: Black Blade #1
Author: Jennifer Estep

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .-Goodreads

Review: This was a fun, predictable read. Lila Merriweather is a young thief who inadvertently helps save the life of Devon Sinclair, the son of a power Family in their magical town. This decision changes the direction of her life. Lila reminded me of a young Gin Blanco and she has a lot of potential as a character. I will definitely read the next book in the series. 

Grade: 3/5

The Other Typist

Book: The Other Typist
Author:  Suzanne Rindell

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist's spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls' friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose's fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?-Goodreads

Review: This book was a delicious mix of Single White Female, The Great Gatsby and the Talented Mr. Ripley. Rose Baker is an uptight typist who develops a fast friendship/obsession with another typist, Odalie. Rose is not particularly likable and the author does way too much foreshadowing throughout the book so readers are not surprised that we are building up to some unfortunate event. This book was a slow burn but I loved it by the end. 

Now, let's talk about that ending (while being spoiler free). Readers will either love or hate the ending. It's open ended and the author won't even say how readers are supposed to interpret it. Personally, it worked for me and made me think about the book for weeks after I finished it. I cannot wait for the movie to come out!

Grade: 5/5

The Girl With All the Gifts

Book: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.-Goodreads

Review: This book started out with a bang and immediately got me hooked. I really loved Melanie and her journey. The pacing slowed down mid-book and I grew a tad bored, but overall, I really enjoyed this. I think the movie will be excellent (Glenn Close!) and I can't wait to see it. 

This was my first read by this author and I will def check out more of his books. 

Grade: 3/5

Damage Done

Book: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .-Goodreads

Review:  Julia Vann's life is forever changed when her twin brother commits mass murder at their high school. She now has a new name and a new life in a town where no one knows her past. This is a book you can't take too seriously. There are a lot of plot holes and the end was incredibly ridiculous but I thoroughly enjoyed every page. It was fun being in Julia's head, even though one of the 'big reveals' was projected too much throughout the book. I think YA readers will love this. It's dark and fun!

Grade: 4/5

Friday, July 31, 2015

Survive the Night

Book: Survive the Night
Author: Danielle Vega

We're all gonna die down here. . . .

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse . . .

. . . until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.

Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here. . . .” in this bone-chilling sophmore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless.-Goodreads

Review:  Casey gets out of rehab and immediately ditches her soccer friends (the 'good girls') to hang out with Shana, her 'best friend' who helped get her addicted to drugs in the first place. Casey has a destructive relationship with Shana and it's clear things aren't going to end well when they go to NYC and attend an underground rave. When they arrive at the rave, Shana shows Casey how much she cares about her and her new found sobriety by...drugging her. I wish I could say something positive about Shana but she's never developed further than the wild child/druggie/bad friend. When one of their friends is found murdered, Casey, Shana and a few others are trapped underground. 

Now-the general premise of the book is pretty good. I was hoping to be scared. But these kids were so dumb it was hard to root for them. They watch the police break up the rave and are stuck....not sure why they didn't yell or try to attract the attention of the police. Also odd is that the police break up a rave and the place seemingly clears out in 5min. Shouldn't some officers have stuck around to make sure the tunnels were clear? Now-my biggest issue. All of these kids have cell phones. They are referenced multiple times because they are using them for lights. At NO point do they even attempt to make a call. Not once. It's the subway and doubtful there is service down there but they didn't even try? Very unrealistic. I was hoping this book was going to end and this whole adventure was a drug induced dream..but alas, that is not the direction the author went in. Really, I wasn't expecting it to go in the direction it did and it was a little weird. 

This wasn't a bad book per say, I did stay up late to see how it would end. 

Grade: 2/5