Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Goddess Inheritance ~ Aimee Carter (earc) review

The Goddess Inheritance (Goddess Test #3)
Harlequin Teen
February 26, 2013
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

(( contains spoilers for ending of Goddess Interrupted - Goddess Test #2 ))

The end of Aimee Carter's second Goddess Test series book, Goddess Interrupted left readers on a serious cliffhanger: Kate was pregnant and kidnapped by Calliope.

At the start of The Goddess Inheritance, the conclusion to the series, it's nearly nine months later and Kate has survived her captivity -- but it's time for her to give birth. She may be alright, even following months of unwilling cohabitation with Calliope and Cronus, but what now?

Calliope, Queen of the Gods, wants Kate's baby and there's nothing Kate can do to stop her . . . until the Titan steps in. His deal isn't one Kate takes happily but she has no other choice. In exchange for Kate, he won't allow Calliope to hurt the baby.

It's not ideal and doesn't stop the brewing war between the Titan and the council, who he'll still kill. Yet, without Kate's agreement Cronus promises to destroy humanity . . . and then the council.

Is there any way to truly win against Cronus or does Kate risk losing it all?

It took a little while to get into The Goddess Inheritance. The beginning does set up that Kate is a) pregnant and b) being held somewhere against her will very quickly and quite well. It isn't a recap but it  helps readers to, right away, remember where Book 2 ended. After that, however, it feels like things go back and forth, the plot not exactly going anywhere for a while.

It's hard to know why certain characters haven't done things before the nine months elapsed, Kate's decisions -- and the thought process behind them -- jumps around a lot. She seems to go from thinking one thing, to thinking almost the opposite, then back to the first thing, then back to the second, then repeating a few more times. It felt like something bigger or more needed to happen.

Past about half way, once all of the characters are back and we know who's who again, once the plot is really set up and everything has really been established, things do get moving quite a bit more. The other two books in the series, do feel like they have more action in them and this one continues to feel like there's more back and forth (as opposed to forward) movement, especially in smaller pieces. As a whole, there are big things that happen. There are also times that need the characters unsure of their decisions, for that big battle charge not to happen just then or for things to even be almost frustrating. It comes together in the end.

This is definitely a conclusion book. Reading the previous two will definitely help with the plot so far and knowing who different characters are, especially in their relationships to each other. There's basic recap there, over the course of the entire novel, that's more to help those who've read the previous parts of the series and won't completely fill in anyone new to it.

The Goddess Inheritance may not be my favorite installment in this series but I really liked how everything was concluded. Those things that needed to be brought to a close, were and there some nice (new) parts included as well. We learn more about Kate, our central character and it's really great to see the parts of her that have grown and changed, but also those that have stayed true.

(I do still kind of wish there was a 'Guide to the Gods/Goddesses' or something in these books -- it's hard to remember all of them and who they are/what they do from one book to the next.)

Rating: 8/10

digital galley received through NetGalley, thanks to the publisher

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
Reboot by Amy Tintera

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

I can't help but think of the 'strong, faster' part of the synopsis in some serious movie announcer's voice . . .

I'm really liking where some authors are taking 'robot' books right now and I like the idea behind this -- the longer you're dead the more 'robot' and less 'human' you are and what that could mean for the pot.

Out May 7, 2013 and published by Harper Teen.

Find it on Goodreads

What's your pick this week? Link me to it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser:

. . . I think this is some kind of cheat because I'm actually listening to the audio version of this book but I it's the book I want to be my 'Teaser Tuesdays' book.

Thankfully, libraries have ebooks as well:

"Can't. The feng shui man's there. Our karma's, like, blocked, you know?"

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly  -pg 36

While I definitely do recommend the audiobook, there are a lot of versions/editions on Goodreads and 'e' versions may not even link from there, so . . .

Revolution on Goodreads (the paperback)

(was going to link to a Overdrive search page but it won't show any audio results which is obviously wrong as I have one downloaded.)


Apologies for having word verification on blog commenting now. (There's been a crazy uptick in spam commenting lately.)

I'm still not, personally loving the number bit of the verification -- especially on my phone -- so I may switch to moderated comments in the future.

Garden of Stones ~ Sophie Littlefield (earc) review

Garden of Stones
Harlequin MIRA
February 26, 2013
301 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

The internment of Japanese Americans in 'War Relocation Camps' (anyone down to 1/16 Japanese could be sent) by the United States government after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor is one of those things we sort of don't talk much about -- or write many books about. Sophie Littlefield has, though:

In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice Lucy Takeda is just fourteen years old, living in Los Angeles, when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are ripped from their home, rounded up-along with thousands of other innocent Japanese-Americans-and taken to the Manzanar prison camp.

Buffeted by blistering heat and choking dust, Lucy and Miyako must endure the harsh living conditions of the camp. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring beautiful, vulnerable Miyako. Ruined and unwilling to surrender her daughter to the same fate, Miyako soon breaks. Her final act of desperation will stay with Lucy forever...and spur her to sins of her own.

Sophie Littlefield's Garden of Stones is a novel I was looking forward to reading for a long time.  While it is a good story, about a time and doing in American history that isn't talked about enough, it's not quite all that I was hoping. It starts out strong: a murder and an introduction to our characters Lucy  Takeda and her daughter, Patty in 1978 and then goes back to 1941.

Pre-Pearl Harbor, Lucy is still experiencing anti-Japanese sentiment, but it's only troublesome, not yet life altering. That doesn't come until the order that sends them to Manzanar.  This part of the novel, with the tension mounting, Lucy's living a life of privilege that is collapsing, and the introduction to Manzanar is the best of the book.

While the narration alternates between the 1940s and 1978 and the murder investigation, we see just how much everything changes for Lucy. From her family structure, the safety and security she's been used to, and then, really, her whole world.

While it's hard to know if everything the Takedas and other Japanese experience and need to do prior to and after being interred, it feels very real so kudos to Littlefield for that. Lucy is a very sympathetic character here and her age seems a great choice. She's mature enough to handle certain things, to be that almost-grown-up but to also have just enough naivete left that certain actions, thoughts, decisions of hers introduce elements of the story, as well.

Lucy and Miyako's relationship is complex and very well done. We see bits of it when things are normal, both Miyako's character and the mother/daughter relationship really becoming more a part of the story later.

Most of the focus of the book is on Lucy's life, circa World War II and then the murder investigation in 1978. I do wish there had been even a few more sentences on her life between the two time periods.

There were a couple of places where things from place one in the book didn't quite seem to line up with what happened in place two. Most of them were small, but even little things distract me from the story. (ex: Leaving Manzanar with no pictures. then in '78 having photographs from that period.)

It may have tried to do too much in too short of a novel, but it is a book that keeps you turning the pages, for sure. Aside from being a time period that's sorely under covered, there are interesting characters and separate stories, in different decades that weave together as the story goes on. Garden of Stones is worth reading.

This is where spoilers come in . . .  Real, live, hello-this-is-a-large-section-of-the-ending spoilers:

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Madness Underneath ~ Maureen Johnson (earc) review

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)
Putnam Juvenile
February 26, 2013
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

It looks like I'm going to have to keep on loving Maureen Johnson. I've read -- and enjoyed -- her realistic fiction books like 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope and The Bermudez Triangle. She's easily a go-to author for a great book.

Johnson's first paranormal series (after Devilish, an unrelated  stand-alone was released in 2006) started in 2011 with In the Name of the Star.  See my review here.

In the Name of the Star brought New Orleans teenager Aurora "Rory" Devereaux to London's Wexford Academy for her last year of school. It also brings back Jack the Ripper . . . or what appears to be Jack the Ripper.

[spoilers for ItNotS below] 

 After a run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat that nearly killed her, Rory's stuck-in Bristol under the ever watchful eye of her parents. Away from Wexford, Boo, Callum, Stephen, everything that's come to be her life while in England, Rory's going a bit stir crazy. When her therapist suggests she return to London, it's somewhat intimidating, but also incredibly welcome.

While the Ripper may be gone, London is not yet safe and sound. Unexplained deaths are occurring and it may be up to Rory to uncover how their linked -- and convince the Shade (the city's secret, ghost-fighting force) of the connection.

All while still dealing with the events that very nearly cost her her life and the changes it brought.

The Madness Underneath is very much a sequel to In the Name of the Star. While you can read this second book without having a great memory of what happened in the first (or where it left things), you'll probably be lost on a few things if you haven't read it at all. There's not a lot of recap. There was also quite a bit more character development in Name of the Star and you'll feel more for those characters -- Jazza, Alistair, etc -- if you 'know' them better.

Which is all not to say that The Madness Underneath is not amazingly fantastic because oh how much it is. It's just much more fantastic if you've set everything up well for yourself by reading In the Name of the Star first.

I love that the plot of this book is so different from the first and yet is so similar. This is very much a series but definitely not a series using a formula for its books. There is cohesion with the characters, the world's that created (the Shade, the ghosts, how all of that works), but a lot of great newness.

The new characters that are introduced in The Madness Underneath and the role they play in the story seems a bit different, at first. The way that it all plays out is something, though. This one has an ending that I want taken back or changed . . . and then I don't because I want to see where it goes in the next book . . . and then I'm back to wanting it changed. We shall see.

Rating: 9/10

thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for my egalley

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cinema Saturday [Oscar Time]

 There are two big events happening tomorrow that we can watch on TV: one is the Daytona 500, the other, of course, is the Oscars.

Airing on ABC Sunday night, the Oscars have some great nominees this year (but don't they always?). From Lincoln to Silver Linings Playbook to Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty, the year has been filled with movies noted for how fantastic they are.

While I haven't seen a lot of the nominated movies - but do plan to see quite a bit more of them - there are some I have seen . . .

Here's my:
Mini Oscar-y Cinema Saturday Post
(with a few of my pics + links)


You can see the nominees here and/or here where you can make predictions (and share on Facebook)

Picture & Actress
While, I'm hoping to sneak in Life of Pi before tomorrow night, as of now, Beasts of the Southern Wild is the only film nominated for Best Picture that I've seen. Despite having not seen the others -- and very much wanting to see nearly all of them -- I do kind of want Beasts win.

Quvenzhan√© Wallis beyond good in Beasts and it is the only movie, of the Actress nominees films I saw . . .  [You can see my post about Beasts of the Southern Wild here]

I love Jennifer Lawrence (I need to do a post on House at the End of the Street) but haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, yet so I can't say what she's like in that movie.

Then I also wanted to see Zero Dark Thirty even before I was sure about the plot because I do like Jessica Chastain lots. (From The Debt and The Help, so far.)

While I'd love Wallis to win this one, just behind that I'd love any of these three.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Such long nomination titles . . . Anyway. Out of these I have seen only The Sessions. I haven't done a post on this (yet?). Here's IMDB's synopsis:
A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.
Helen Hunt plays Mark's sexual surrogate, Cheryl, in the movie. It's not a movie that does quick cutaway shots, vague terms, avoids discussion or uses humor to avoid things. If sex -- or people talking about sex rather frankly, makes you uncomfortable, The Sessions may not be for you. In some ways, it does seem to almost push at the R rating. It's not as graphic as a lot of movies, but almost more explicit.

It does, thanks in no small part to Hunt and her performance, deal a lot and rather well with relationships, their complexities. I'm glad Helen Hunt has this nomination (and maybe a little surprised there aren't anymore from The Sessions.)

So, oops, I saw none of the films that those in either Actor categories are nominated for roles in . . .

Animated Feature Film
I very much want to see four of the five of these (they're always out when I go to get them!).  Brave, Franenweenie, ParaNorman and Wreck-It Ralph all look like really fun and enjoyable movies (with fantastic animation, as well). I do have to admit to not really knowing anything about The Pirates! Band of Misfits, though.

Costume Design
I'm thrilled that both Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman were nominated here. The costumes in Les Miserables and Lincoln also look great and I have a bit of a crush on those from Anna Karenina from the trailer and clips I've seen, but I love the evil-ness that was portrayed with Charlize Theron's queen character via her costumes. Three of them are period pieces -- almost four because Mirror Mirror is very fairy and has the pretty, big dresses -- but SWatH really has creative, unique to those characters and that movie costumes. (And that's all a bit unfair as I didn't see the other movies, I suppose.)

Makeup and Hairstyling
I need to see Hitchcock -- and I'm surprised there's no big, special effects movies in here this year -- but won't it probably be The Hobbit?  Or Les Mis? (I had to say that because if not, it'd be the one I didn't mention!)

I haven't seen any of the documentaries this year. That's horrible. Usually I've seen one or two, at least. I need to find them. Anyone seen any of them yet?

I'm going back out on my limb and saying my preference is Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. My preference may change after I see Life of Pi but only maybe as I'm still really loving how Beasts was made - possibly more than I love the movie?

So, I definitely need to see some more movies! I'm also pretty pleased with those that were nominated -- a lot of those that I haven't seen are ones that I want to see and those that I have seen were ones that I enjoyed a lot and I can see why they were nominated.

Were there movies you think should have been nominated -- or shouldn't have been?

Who's watching tomorrow night? Anything special planned?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Lead a Life of Crime ~ Kirsten Miller (arc) review

How to Lead a Life of Crime
February 21, 2013
358 pages*
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

This winter is a good one for fans of author Kirsten Miller. Just a month after the release of her last book (The Darkness Dwellers: Kiki Strike #3, Bloomsbury, January 22nd) she has another new release.

How to Lead a Life of Crime is a bit like if the character of Ally Carter's Heist Society series and Holly Black's Curse Workers series (the mob part, not the magic) had a baby and sent it to a school up to no good.

Mandel Academy, under the guise of being one of Manhattan's most elite private -- and upstanding schools -- has been training criminals for years.  Those who excel graduate and find themselves made for life, those who don't . . . are gone.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket living on the streets, is one of Mandel's newest students. He has something very distinct that he wants out of the school, but is it worth what they want and what they may be going to take?

[Why, Goodreads/publisher, synopsis do you give away so much of the plot even as short as you are?]

How to Lead a Life of Crime is a lot more complex and deeper than I expected it to be going into it. I already knew author Kirsten Miller from The Eternal Ones which I loved very much (I requested this on LibraryThing prior to reading Kiki Strike), thought the school for criminals sounded like a great time and stopped there.

I have a tendency not to read the synopses provided by publishers (what's on Goodreads/Amazon or on the backs/insides of books) or to only read the beginnings of them. Too often, for me, the second halves tend to correspond to, well, the second half of the book. I hate that.

That proclivity, along with the title, did, however, have me expecting a lighter, possibly more humorous book. While I did not get what I was expecting, I got something so, so much better.

Flick, the main character and narrator has a back-story that not only gets him into the school, but makes him an incredibly dynamic character. How who he is works into the story provides a connection to his character, but also gives the story a lot of layers. Flick and his past provide a lot of emotion to the story, while his present is capable of providing quite a bit of violence, still.

So many little examples of things, specific to characters or the plot, that I want to pull out and mention but they're later in the book and/or involve too much of the story and would be spoilery, so I won't. Just know they're there and I love them?

The interactions and relationships between the characters are really pretty fantastic. There are those that are supposed to be complicated and based on intimidation and they have the uneasy air to them they need. There are the ones that have the warmth that's necessary -- all while never forgetting who Fllck is. There's a great variation in the relationships and a great complexity to those relationships.

I've never cared much about J.M. Barrie before but after this book I really want to go (carefully) read Peter Pan, at the very least.

The school almost felt reminiscent of something that would have been used in one of the Hunger Games books, in the Capitol. It was great that it wasn't just any old building or set-up similar to other schools because it's not. It's definitely in a league of its own and Miller created it to be unique. The students aren't like those you'd encounter in a run of the mill school, either. If Kiki Strike is on one end of the rule/law-breaking spectrum, Mandel Academy and its students are so far on the other end that you're still trying to get there.

I do have one pet peeve**, shall we say, with this book - and perhaps with the author. The 'F' word is used quite frequently in the novel. I say 'F' word as that's where my problem is, the word's never spelled fully. It's either, "F---" or "F---ed." How to Lead a Life of Crime is a YA novel, a mature YA novel, even so I really don't understand the reasoning behind not spelling the word. Especially as other swear words (another 'F' word, as well) are all full spelled out. Maybe in a movie it would get you an R rating, but I don't think it'll somehow make a book 'adult' and not YA.

If you're going to put a word in your book, put the whole word in. (It makes reading just that little bit unnecessarily awkward.)

Rating: 9/10

**If this is different/not true in the final/publication version, someone please let me know and I'll remove this from my review. Thanks.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Penguin for my arc

*some books really make me curious as to how the layout/text/margins/whatever changes from the arc to the print book. Advance copy is 434 pages and Goodreads is listing 358 for hardcover, at least (sometimes the pages after the last numbered page are included) 76 pages is fairly significant.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

I'm mixing it up a bit today with my pick, or at least with how I"m presenting it . . .

Half Lives by Sara Grant
I learned that surviving isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you survive, you've got to live with the guilt, and that's more difficult than looking someone in the eye and pulling the trigger. Trust me. I've done both. Killing takes a twitch of the finger. Absolution takes several lifetimes.
Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all? Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager...and they have surprising ties to Icie.
This high-stakes, original, and thought-provoking adventure from Sara Grant follows two unlikely heroes, hundreds of years apart, as they fight to survive.
what's different is that it's the synopsis from the US edition's page, but the UK cover as the UK description is crazy short but I like the UK cover so much more!

After reading Dark Parties in 2011, I've been really anxious to read something new from Grant -- and this sounds like a really fantastic read.

the UK edition will be out May 2, 2013 and published by Indigo - on Goodreads/pre-order from Book Depository
and the US edition is out July 8, 2013 and published by Little, Brown Young Readers - on Goodreads/pre-order from Book Depository

What are you waiting on this week? Link me! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feedback ~ Robison Wells review

Feedback (Variant #2)
October 2, 2012
356 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** Review contains spoilers for Variant (Variant #1) -- review here **

Benson -- and Becky -- have escaped from Maxfield Academy. The rest of their classmates who attempted escape with them either dead, secretly androids, or back at the school injured and their fate unknown. Freedom isn't what Benson expected, though.

He and Becky are now in a town that feels more like a prison. Inhabited by familiar faces, even some he thought dead, it's yet somewhere else under Maxfield's thumb.

As he learns just how much control Maxfield has -- and just what they may be doing -- Benson wants to escape , for real, more than ever. But even more be at stake this time.

Feedback picks up exactly where Variant left off, its first pages a reprint of Variant's last. It's a great way to get right into the story, especially with how much of a cliffhanger the previous book was.

The thing that didn't work so well for me in Variant was all of the secondary characters. Some didn't have much of a role, but were mentioned a lot by name. Their lack of a real presence in the story (other than their names, occasional actions) made it hard to keep them all straight. In Feedback it starts to make sense why there were so many characters in Variant. Characters that were merely present before, have more of a role here and because there were mentioned before, even if it was almost forgettably so, they don't feel like new characters here.

I liked the continuity.

There's still the tension of Benson wanting to escape but the danger he faces if he does attempt it in this sequel. It was less tension here and more finding out -- or hypothesizing -- about the motives behind the school and their program. While the tension before made for a compelling read, the 'why' really did need to be presented. It was nice to see more of the 'how' and to see characters working on the 'why.'

I do wish more of the 'why' had been explained, not just guessed at by the characters. A lot of things were presented -- things that Maxfield was capable of, how widespread things were -- but it was lacking some of the end wrap-up for me. I guess I prefer endings that bring things together a bit more.

Becky was more of a main character in this book and while I still don't love her (she annoyed me quite a bit in the previous book), I'm warming to her. I think I'm . . . ambivalent towards her now.

I did like the different way we saw familiar, known characters in this book. It was an interesting way to have new characters that aren't really new.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to Harper for my copy of this novel

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser:

The big man froze, staring at the knife. Pell's blue eyes studied his sweaty black face.
"Don't do it Daniel."
Pell moved in.
-pg 19 The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance #1) by Jeffery Deaver [hardcover]

Yes, so it's four sentences - but, one, they're short and, two, they're much better as a teaser than just the two would be.

If you have a Teaser Tuesdays post you'd like me to see, leave the link as a comment!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Me, Him, Them & It ~ Caela Carter (earc) review

Me, Him, Them, & It
February 26, 2013
326 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who's been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn's secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex - until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant - and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

While the synopsis and promos for Caela Carter's debut do reference the more commonly known teenage mother bits of popular culture (Teen Mom, Juno, and Secret Life of the American Teenager), it was something else that drew me to this. George Ella Lyon's release, Holding on to Zoe from July also featured a teenage mother. Jules, from Lyon's novel, and Evelyn definitely react to their pregnancies differently but both are from less than ideal family situations. I was interested in seeing what Evelyn's tension with her family brought to this story.

There's a depth to the story thanks to Evelyn's relationship with her parents, with Todd, with her best friend Lizzie and with her aunt and her family. Through the way the story is told, in a mostly chronological fashion, but sometimes diverging to bring in key stories or facts, we find out how everyone got to be how they all are with each other.

Readers see not only how Evelyn got pregnant, but also some why, as well.

Me, Him, Them & It is obviously a story about a teenage girl who gets pregnant but it's also very much about the relationships in her life. How they're maybe played a part in her getting pregnant and then how they're effected by her pregnancy.

I really love that the story is able to focus on Evelyn, her being pregnant, yet the characters and their interactions is also fantastic. With Me, Him, Them & It it's not a one or the other type of story. One side doesn't suffer for the sake of the other, both things can be equally amazing and equally at the forefront.

It makes for one very enjoyable story.

Evelyn doesn't get all mushy on her potential baby, she's not completely scientific, she isn't removed. There's an interesting balance that while, almost, odd at times, felt real. Evelyn is a confused sixteen-year-old girl and the text of novel reflected that.

Both the characters and the story are great and kept me reading page after page.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to Bloomsbury & NetGalley for the egalley

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Also Known As ~ Robin Benway (earc) review

Also Known As
Bloomsbury Juvenile
February 26, 2013
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Being the daughter of two spies -- and a master safe-cracker -- sounds like a glamorous life. For sixteen-year-old Maggie it is . . . . in some ways, but so far it's mostly meant never attending school like a normal kid, moving so many times and so often that she hasn't made any friends, let alone found a boyfriend.

Maggie longs for her own assignment.

Then she gets one.

Maggie Silver's first assignment takes the family to New York and Maggie to high school for the first time. She'll have to navigate her way through the private school, crack a safe or two, get past school security -- and befriend the cute Jesse Oliver -- to solve the case.

And stop from blowing her cover.

Add together my love of Robin Benway's debut Audrey, Wait! and the spy!girl novels I've been enjoying lately (Kirsten Miller's Kiki Strike and Ally Carter's Heist Society series) and I was super excited for this book.

Maggie is the daughter of two spies, each with their own unique skills, who's been brought up all over the globe, and who has her own skill: safe-cracking. It's now time for her own job/assignment.  I liked that Maggie was a bit awkward and that her assimilation into high school wasn't all smooth and stealth, despite her being a spy.

At times the amount that she just did not seem to get about teens and current culture in general, made me think of if Spencer Reid from 'Criminal Minds' had been a girl (and a spy) going into high school. Then, though, she knew enough pop culture (TV, etc) that some of her lack of knowledge didn't seem to sync up. It made it a little hard to grasp just who her character was.

The cute boy, what develops between him and Maggie and the quandary it presents for her was a great part of Also Known As. Both the character and his story line gave the story some great depth. We also learn more about Maggie -- as does she, I think -- through it all.

After we started out with Maggie's safe-cracking skill, I have to admit missing her spy work later. Even if it had been through flashbacks, it would have been nice to see how she and this talent of hers, fit in with her parents assignments as we were getting into the story.

Despite Also Known As being about Maggie's first assignment as a spy, after being raised by two spies, the story focuses more on its main character and her interpersonal relationships. Some of her first. Though it's light on the spy work, those elements definitely add something unique and special to the tale.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to Bloomsbury & NetGalley for my egalley

Friday, February 15, 2013


Thanks to some strange preferences around Christmas, I have a copy of Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl to give away!

Beautiful Redemption is the fourth novel in the series -- it follows Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness and Beautiful Chaos. If you've seen my reviews [for Books 1, 2, 3, 4], you know I"m pretty much in love with the series . . .

If you've been hoping to get the conclusion to the series, here's the chance . . .

(synopses are with the reviews or here on Beautiful Redemption's Goodreads page -- not posting here so as not to spoil the previous books in the series any!)

(Rafflecopter widget below the cut)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

If We Kiss ~ Rachel Vail review

Happy Valentine's Day! Looking for a Valentine read? Here's one . . .

If We Kiss
April 26, 2006
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Charlotte is waiting for her first kiss. Her best friend Tess has already had her first kiss -- and quite a few more -- she's even been in love a few times and is waiting for Charlie to finally know what it feels like.

Waiting for it to be special, to mean something, Charlie won't just give her first kiss up to anyone. Not even nice George who everyone insists likes her very much.

But when her first kiss does come, it's not what she expected at all.

One day before school, Kevin -- a boy she thinks of as a jerk -- unexpectedly leads her behind the school and kisses her. From that moment, all Charlie can do is think about Kevin. She may even be falling in love with him.

Then a week later, at her party, he kisses Tess. Whom she hasn't told about her own kiss with Kevin.

Soon, Tess and Kevin are dating, Charlie still can't get him out of her head, Tess doesn't know Kevin kissed Charlie and its causing complications all around. Complications that only get worse when her mother and his father start dating.

If We Kiss is a cute, fun, and very quick read. At the beginning of the book the characters are just in the beginning of ninth grade and it allows for them to still seem young and to be figuring things out. Author Rachel Vail also keeps her characters young. Many YA books -- and authors have any high school characters acting the same as any other high school character, no matter their age, but these characters still act fourteen. Maybe, almost, a young fourteen (at least YA-wise).

They're still dating, having parties and there's some drinking but their behavior allows If We Kiss to be a Middle Grade-slash-Young Adult crossover book. Older Middle Grade readers could absolutely read and enjoy this one.

The idea of just one kiss changing Charlie's life so drastically -- and not in the way she would have anticipated -- is fun. It's more true that little things, and their fallout, effect us more a lot of the time than huge ones and here we get to see it. The kiss, that second where Charlie doesn't tell Tess, etc.

I liked that Tess and Charlie's friendship was shown and that Tess wasn't made out to be either a saint or some evil, slutty friend so that Charlie should feel fine lusting after her boyfriend. The character, their relationships and the way they interacted did make the story feel real.

However, I was hoping for more resolution and for more things to come together at the end. What I felt was one of the big questions or at least a, "Huh?" was just forgotten (save for being mentioned, not explained). Or the characters are better than me and moved on? There is a sequel and I'll see if things are resolved there. (I'll try for that review later.)

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Madman's Daughter ~ Megan Shepherd (arc) review

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Balzer + Bray
January 29, 2013
432 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Juliet Moreau has gone from being a proper young lady, the daughter of London's best surgeon to being a maid, barely getting by, an orphan. She also has to live with knowing that her father, the man no presumed dead, ruined not only his reputation but their family's when he was accused of horrible crimes in his role as doctor.

Presumed dead, Juliet's father disappeared never standing trial for his crimes. Filled with her childhood memories of a caring father, Juliet has never entirely believed the tales of his crimes. Despite his absence and the hardship it has caused her, when possible evidence of not only the doctor's mortality, but nearness appears, Juliet has no choice to follow-up.

Who and what she finds is more than shocking.

More than a little timely, as well.

When the meager life Juliet has managed to scrape together for herself threatens to fall apart, knocking her even farther down the social ladder, there is an option for her.

To find her answers, Juliet will travel to a remote island and learn more about herself, her father, his supposed crimes, and the actual island than she ever could have expected.

I did not know all of what The Madman's Daughter was about before I started reading. I knew it was a Gothic set in the nineteenth century. Then it started with these two lines:
"The basement hallways in King's College of Medical Research were dark, even in the daytime.
At night they were like a grave."

While I'm sure you can find better opening lines, I'm particularly fond of these. Pair them with the title and the cover and knowing that Juliet is the daughter of a man who used to be England's top surgeon and now, presumed dead, is accused of horrible crimes -- and she's a cleaning the Medical College?

It makes for a story that I really, really enjoyed discovering as I read it. I loved not knowing the twists and turns as they came. Even not knowing the big plot points ahead of time was really fantastic. (Which is why there are less in my synopsis than the publisher one, but it is available on Goodreads.)

One of the things that made this such an absolute stand-out novel for me was the way author Megan Shepherd is able to transport a reader to the world she has created. Yes, a lot of novels do use more descriptors, are more elaborate in the way they set up scenes, but not for a better end result.

It has been a long, long, long time (if ever) since I have read something that so fully draws you into the story that when you stop reading, it's a surprise to see your own surroundings and not those of which you were just reading. It feels like you should look up and see the island all around you.

Not only that, other scenes between characters feel so real, so charged that it draws you in and you can picture it -- a bunch of adjectives or no.

It's also great that the 'Victorian sensibilities' aren't forgotten. Little things come up at different points i the story that seem to keep it in the time period and not only because of their clothing and lack of electricity. I really appreciated the way the era effected the story and characters.

While some of the revelations towards the end were not wholly unexpected, others were more surprising and they, along with the character development, character interactions and tension made the last third of the book my favorite.

I'm excited to read numbers two and three in this series. (I am also now interested in The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells which inspired this novel, a story I hadn't given much thought to before, honestly.)

Rating: 9/10

review copy received from publisher -- thank you

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Doctor Who: Dead Air - James Goss (audio) review

Doctor Who: Dead Air (BBC Doctor Who: New Series Audio Exclusives)
AudioGO Ltd
May 11, 2010
read by David Tennant
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

An exclusive audio story, read by David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor

'Hello, I'm the Doctor. And, if you can hear this, then one of us is going to die.'

At the bottom of the sea, in the wreck of a floating radio station, a lost recording has been discovered. After careful restoration, it is played for the first time – to reveal something incredible.

It is the voice of the Doctor, broadcasting from Radio Bravo in 1966. He has travelled to Earth in search of the Hush – a terrible weapon that kills, silences and devours anything that makes noise – and has tracked it to a boat crewed by a team of pirate DJs. With the help of feisty Liverpudlian Layla and some groovy pop music, he must trap the Hush and destroy it – before it can escape and destroy the world...

Written specially for audio by James Goss and read by David Tennant, Dead Air features the Doctor as played by David Tennant in the acclaimed hit series from BBC Television.

Dead Air is one in a series of audio stories the BBC has produced featuring whomever is, at the time, the current Doctor. Some are a bit longer -- closer to novel/audiobook length. At seventy-one minutes, Dead Air is closer to novella length. There are no print equivalents of these 'audio exclusives.'

While there is, obviously, nothing visual with Dead Air aside from whatever your imagination creates, it still feels very much like an episode -- or two -- of the series. Some of that is, yes, due to the length. Most, however, is due to the writing, the pacing and the characters, Tennant is the Doctor here just as he is (okay, sorry, was) in the show. It doesn't feel like he's reading someone's lines or playing someone else's character, it's simply the Doctor off on another adventure. This isn't fanfiction, it's simply some more fiction.

Dead Air doesn't seem to fit into the Doctor's timeline anywhere in particular -- at least not that I noticed. So, I don't think you need to know the Doctor Who story line to understand any of what's happening. Nor do I think anything in Dead Air spoils any of the Tenth Doctor's story but that one I'm not sure about because I wasn't listening for that.

This may even be a great story for those who don't like (possible?) or know Doctor Who. It has fun twists and turns. Apart from the Doctor and the known Doctor Who elements, the plot itself is almost like The Twilight Zone in some (good) ways.

If this had been an episode of the series, it would be up there with "Blink" as one of my favorites.

Rating: 9/10

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild (movie) review

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Fox Searchlight
December 4, 2012
PG-13; 94 minutes
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon/Amazon Instant Video

There's been a lot said about Beasts of the Southern Wild and (hopefully, hopefully) there will be a lot more said after the Academy Awards take place on the 24th.
Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
Beasts of the Southern Wild isn't some big budget, studio blockbuster. Nor does it have A-list stars. There aren't giant, pyrotechnic explosions and it's not all done on green screen or with everyone wearing motion capture suits . . . or in 3-D.

It's not a film I can tell you reminds me of A or B or that  you should see it if you liked C or D. Really, you should just see it.

The more I hear (through different stories on the film) or see (again through media but also DVD extras) about the making of this movie, the more I am in love with it. Beasts of the Southern Wild just seems like the kind of movie that anyone who's been involved with any sort of production - play, film,  high school musical, elementary school talent show on down -- can't help but be happy about.

The co-writers moved to the area to write their script, their friends and family were involved in the production, town residents were extras in the film, some were on the crew, Many of the actors are from Louisiana bayou country and also either unknown actors or not previously actors.

All of which you would not know to watch it. You'd know there was something special and one of a kind about it, yes. Would you know that that actor had never acted before? I certainly don't think so. Quvenzhané Wallis is nominated for an Oscar for playing Hushpuppy but I think the other actors did fantastic jobs as well, Dwight Henry, in particular for playing her father. (She is definitely superb, though.)

It's not a safe or conventional story and it doesn't take a lot of the routes I, actually, expected -- even during the course of watching it. It's a fable of sorts, with little Hushpuppy scared of the ancient aurochs while at the same time learning about the modern day dangers.

I don't know if the filmmakers can replicate the kind of feeling they created in Beasts or if it was a one shot deal or if the actors will be as great in other films (if they all choose to continue acting). I do know these things, however, I hope they'll all attempt it because I'm ready and anxious to see the results . . . and you most definitely need to see Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Days of Blood and Starlight ~ Laini Taylor (earc) review

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
November 6, 2012
517 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

The end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone let us -- and its characters -- in on some secrets.  Days of Blood and Starlight is what happens once those secrets are revealed.

I have to be honest and say that I almost wasn't going to review this title. Something about it just did not click with me. I did love Daughter of Smoke & Bone -- yet my least favorite part was the Karou and Akiva relationship (for whatever reason, one I could not pinpoint) and that is so much a basis for this book.  Don't hate me yet for still choosing to review this!

The reason I am reviewing it despite the disconnect I felt from it is because of the movie news. (Still don't hate!)

There's something about both Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, as well that fall back to more of a storytelling time. Days was better for me as an audiobook, hearing someone tell me the story, brought me into it a bit more.

I think what I missed -- and part of why I'm so hopeful the movie will happen soon -- in Days was the gorgeous, exquisite world Laini Taylor created in Daughter. It reminded me a lot of if Sara Crewe from the Little Princess movie had grown up in the magical world she imagined -- and dyed her hair blue.

I did love that some of my favorite characters, like Zuzana were back in this second book. I love that human marionette ballerina -- and her friendship with Karou. As always Laini Taylor's writing is fantastic and she always has lines I'm ready to quote. It just didn't all add up to a story that's so far (see #4 below) worked for me.

So, what I'm taking forever to say is this, no, I never did really connect with Days of Blood & Starlight (I hate that!), but four things: 1) Don't let that discourage you from trying either book 2) Try the audiobook(s) for this series 3) This book/series should be crazy brilliant as a movie, if adapted well - read the book(s) so you know what's up 4) I loved Daughter of Smoke & Bone so much I'm giving this one a try again later to see if I just read it at the wrong time.

(This may be my least sense-ical and/or logical review in a long, long time if not ever . . . . hoping my four points help a bit!)

Rating: 6/10

thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my e-galley of this title

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Variant ~ Robison Wells review

Variant (Variant #1)
Harper Teen
September 26, 2011
373 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Living in foster care and stuck working, without pay, in the gas station owned by his foster family, Benson Fisher thought the scholarship to Maxfield Academy was going to save him. Little did he know how wrong he was.

In the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around for seemingly miles and miles, surrounded by a wire wall, with every move monitored by cameras, Maxfield is not your ordinary school. And that's before you even get to the lack of adults. No one there is any older than the students themselves -- not the teachers, administration, custodians . . . everything is run by the students. Students who have split into groups, or gangs, for survival.

In a school where breaking a rule could kill you, they seems necessary.

But what happens when Benson discovers the secret behind Maxfield?

The beginning of Variant was interesting for me as I went into it having almost no idea what to expect. Things were definitely very strange at the school, with the lack of adults and the measures taken to monitor students, their activities and their location.

As things got weirder, it was a bit harder for me to stick with the story, wondering why someone didn't just try a or b or c . . . but then Benson started to really wonder the same things more. (He'd always had a sense of trepidation about how things were running but once he began really pushing, it worked better.)

It actually works better that things stay rather complacent for a while in Variant. Through the different activities the students take part in at this strange Academy, we're able to meet more of the students and see how they interact with each other. At times it was a bit hard to keep the characters, beyond the main few, straight. Though, that could have been due to listening to the story (and not being able to jump back a sentence and check a name).

The characters were well done. They were in quite extraordinary circumstances and their personalities seemed to reflect that. Yet, they also reflected it differently. It was great that so many of them had been in the same setting, but had reacted differently -- we weren't given characters who were all clones of each other.

From the very beginning, or the almost very beginning, Wells teases that there's going to be a big twist or a big reveal of some sort. Something that explains the school and how and or why it operates the way it does. Wow is there.

It definitely wasn't the one I was expecting, even as it was happening, but it worked so well. It also upped the tension for the rest of the book. All the way through to the end there were things to figure out and wonder about. And end which set up Feedback Book 2 fantastically!

I'll be reviewing Feedback next week. I was going to do a double review, but didn't want to spoil Variant with the Feedback review.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Waiting On Wendesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Here's my Waiting on Wednesday pick:   Insomnia by J.R. Johansson 

It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

I'm still loving thrillers (don't really see that going away, actually) and I love finding new/upcoming YA ones. I also, perhaps weirdly, love books dealing with sleep issues . . . they seem to fascinate me and this one looks like it uses it really well. It looks to actually take into account that lack of sleep would seriously effect someone.

Can't wait! (Out June 8th, 2013, published by Flux - Goodreads page/pre-order from Book Depo/or Amazon)

Link me to your post, if you'd like. I love discovering new books!

Under the Never Sky ~ Veronica Rossi review

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1)
January 3, 2012
374 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
**Currently $2.99 for Kindle/and for NOOK**

Aria's always lived in Reverie, protected in its dome world where everything is regulated. She gets her entertainment by visiting alternate realities, 'Realms' through her 'Smarteye', but never leaves the safety of Reverie.

So, when her mother goes missing and Aria's forced to try to survive outside the dome where the outsiders, 'savages,' live, she doesn't dream she can possibly do it, but she needs to find her mother.

Perry's spent his entire life as an outsider. His life is very different from Aria's but it's the only one he's ever known. Also looking for someone very dear to him, Perry, a 'savage,' is the last person Aria expects to need -- or get -- help from.

And what good could a girl from Reverie be for him?

If they can both stay alive, they may just find out.

So, I finally read Under the Never Sky. I started it a while ago but the first few chapters just didn't grab me and I put it aside. With the re-read/read-along happening in December, I decided to pick it up. In January. Oops.

But I really got into it once I moved past the first couple of chapters. Once the characters were introduced and we moved into the impetus for their meeting . . . and then their actual meeting, things really picked up.

In Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi really has created a great world. The dome of Reverie reminded me a bit of the domes in Sara Grant's Dark Parties and Teri Hall's The Line where the characters also live under isolated, protected, almost Utopian (or such is the goal) dome worlds. What was unique to Rossi's novel -- and I quite liked it -- was the characters ability to leave that dome and the readers' ability to experience the world and characters outside of that supposed utopia.

In essence, we get both sides of the coin -- with Aria and her knowledge and experience of Reverie as well as her stereotypes of the world outside Reverie and the outsiders, then with Perry and his knowledge of the world outside Reverie but his beliefs about those who live in the dome. We saw both characters adapt as they gained new information about the other and their surroundings.

Perry and Aria's friendship was great, they really did have to rely on each other, even when it was clear they didn't want to do so. Then you could see how the circumstances and time effected them and how they grew less wary of each other. They weren't just the savage and that girl from Reverie anymore. That part was great for me.

When there got to be a bit more to their relationship, it didn't work for me. I'm not sure if the timing felt right, really because I was more focused on it just feeling weird. It was something that was obviously coming, so it wasn't unexpected yet it still felt off. Perry's attraction to Aria started in a strange way (for me). Their interactions were still sweet, which goes back to me enjoying their friendship but the romance felt almost cheesy.

I'm still looking forward to reading Through the Ever Night - the sequel, though.

Version note: I listened to the audio version of Under the Never Sky (after starting with the print version) and really enjoyed it. The narrator does a great job -- even with a single narrator you really get the feel of separate, distinct characters. It's a definite audio recommendation! (Of which I actually need some . . . )

Rating: 7/10

Thank you to Harper for my copy of the book

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers ~ Kirsten Miller (earc) review

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers (Kiki Strike #3)
Bloomsbury USA Children's
January 22, 2012
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

First they ventured deep under New York to save the city itself. Then things got personal as the Irregulars ventured into a haunted mansion in Chinatown to uncover an evil twin. Now, in the third installment of bestselling author Kirsten Miller's Kiki Strike series, this delightful group of delinquent geniuses jump feet first into a fast-paced international pursuit, going underground in Paris to pursue a pair of treacherous royals who have killed Kiki's parents. With a dash of romance, a fresh take on good manners, and loads of butt-kicking bravery, Kiki, Betty, Ananka and the other Irregulars sharpen their amazing skills in this highly anticipated new adventure.
For whatever reason, I haven't read (and didn't really know much about) the previous Kiki Strike books. The series started with Inside the Shadow City and was followed by The Empress's Tomb, The Darkness Dwellers is the third book.

While it is the third book, it starts with an introduction -- a dossier, actually -- of its main characters, both the good and the bad. Readers are told who the Irregulars are - the group of girl geniuses who can also be a bit delinquent, too - and some of what's happened to them so far. The main villains and how they've played into the girls' lives are also in the dossier.

It was nice to have the introduction to the characters, but it seemed to be something that worked a bit better as a refresher for fans of the series. For those new to the series, it was a lot of information all at once and a lot that could get lost. The basic info was nice to have, though.

It was a lot of fun to have simultaneous plot lines happening at once with neither getting wrapped up before the other was focused on again. The way that different characters were involved in each kept it from being confusing yet the overlap of their lives and their friendships kept it all tied together.

The girls' friendships are a great part of the story. They do a great job of caring for and looking out for each other -- even if that means questioning one of their other friends. It can be difficult to have so many girls as friends, in a novel or in life, but Kirsten Miller seems to have manged it well. Each girl definitely has her own personality and they play well of of each other.

A few things were, as someone new to the series, slightly confusing and took a little while to figure out -- like just how old each of the characters were, especially given their actions and what they were allowed to do. At times it seemed as if they were older than fifteen and at times, almost, younger.

Their age and the content of Darkness Dwellers does make for a good Middle Grade/Young Adult crossover novel. Some older readers may wish for certain parts of the narrative to be developed more, for certain parts of the story to have more focus, but keeping the focus where it is allows the book to work for more ages.

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers is a fun and enjoyable read that will leave you wanting to read the rest of the series if you have not already. (Author Kirsten Miller's next, unrelated, novel How to Lead A Life of Crime will be released on February 21st.)

Rating: 8/10


thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for my e-galley
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