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

Black Dove White Raven

Book: Black Dove White Raven
Author: Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?-Goodreads

Review: The first 100 pages of this book were extremely slow and boring. I actually thought about giving up on the book (a rarity for me) but this is Elizabeth Wein, so I stuck with it.  The biggest challenge was that I found Teo and Emilia's voices to be almost identical. If it weren't for the different font and notification of who wrote what, I really would have been lost. I also didn't warm up to their mother, Rhoda. I understand she and the kids had to go to Ethiopia for the story to work, but the premise of how they arrived was just so unrealistic (not the fact that she wanted to go, but that she was basically depressed, had limited funds and then one day-woosh! Kids, we're moving to Africa). 

Now, once the story moves to Africa I really enjoyed it. The most fascinating part of this was the historical aspect and I kept saying to myself "Wow, that's so interesting. I didn't know that." It takes place before WWII and Italy was trying to invade Ethiopia. They even gassed them at one point and there was limited response from the rest of the world. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I really enjoyed the flying lessons in the book as well as the relationship between Teo, Em and the rest of the people in their town. I'll avoid spoilers but Teo and Em are forced to grow up quickly when certain revelations were made, and like the other Wein books I've read, I found myself in tears at a few different points. 

Overall-slow, boring start but it picks up eventually.  A really interesting historical read. 

Grade: 4/5

Shadow and Bone

Book: Shadow and Bone
Series: The Grisha #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.-Goodreads

Review: Wow-another great read! I loved everything about this book. I loved all the characters, the Russian elements and the fact that I thought the story was going one way and it totally went in another direction. Another thing I loved-the Darkling. He's so powerful and bad ass he doesn't even have a name. He's dark (obviously..), raw and I loved his dynamic with Alina. I'll avoid spoilers but I cannot wait to read the next installment and see where this goes.  

Grade: 5/5

The Young Elites

Book: The Young Elites
Series: The Young Elites #1
Author: Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.-Goodreads

Review: Wow, what a fun start to a series. This is Adelina's story and she isn't your typical heroine. In fact, she's a future villain and this is her beginning. I really like that this has a different angle from other YA's out there and enjoyed almost every character. This was dark and the relationship between the sisters was fascinating. I cannot wait for the next book!  

Grade: 4/5

In the Afterlight

Book: In the Afterlight
Series: The Darkest Minds #3
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.-Goodreads

Review: The first book in this series was really good, the second was excellent and I'm sad to say this was disappointing. The first 3/4 were extremely boring, too much time was spent on the Ruby/Liam romance, Ruby should have figured out what was causing her headaches and 'exhaustion' much sooner and **spoiler alert** the way Cole's death was handled (mostly off-page and then he was barely referenced) infuriated me. He was a major character! He deserved a better send off. I did enjoy Chubs, Vita and the rest of the gang. 

Overall-my least favorite of the series but I'm glad I read it. 

Grade: 2/5

Night Road

Book: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.
To hold on…
To let go..
To forget…
To forgive…
Which road will you take?

For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows--her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy--until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.

On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.-Goodreads

Review: This is one of those books that stays with you. I finished it weeks ago and can't stop thinking about it. Jude is a super mom (also a helicopter parent) who is challenged as her twins become teenagers. How much do you trust your kids? Are they truly being honest with you? How much freedom do you give them? It's a delicate balance. Jude thinks everything is fine until one fateful night. This book touches on a lot of issues including culpability, guilt, friendship, accountability and forgiveness. Jude is an extremely unlikable character (I seriously hated her at times and couldn't believe her husband didn't divorce her). Lexi was the most realistic character and my heart broke for her. I will say I was disappointed in the ending (it was too 'red bow' for me).

Overall-this was a powerful read. 

Grade: 4/5

Finding Paris

Book: Finding Paris
Author: Joy Preble

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can't trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who's moved them all to Las Vegas. It's just the two of them: Paris, who's always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn't going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max's offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.-Goodreads

Review: This book was all kinds of frustrating yet extremely readable. Let's get to the premise of the book. Paris ditches her younger sister at a diner in the middle of the night-WITHOUT A CELL PHONE, WALLET, MONEY OR KEYS-and leaves her a vague note saying:

"Stay calm, Leo. This is the only way. He’s making me. You have to find me. xParis 0 00 1 36"

Leo goes on a scavenger hunt of sorts around Vegas, with some random guy she met, trying to find her sister. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hunt, but it was very odd that Leo was worried something bad had happened to her sister when she was obviously well enough to leave her clues around town. I also didn't warm up to Paris (she was definitely a  unique personality). The big reveal at the end would have been more powerful if it hadn't been broadcasted so much throughout the book. I'll avoid spoilers but the author brought up some major, heavy stuff and I don't feel like it was fully addressed.

Now-all that being said, I love Preble's writing stuff and I found myself reading this in one sitting. 
Grade: 3/5