Genre: Suspense

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book Review

Posted September 5, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 9 Comments

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson | Book ReviewBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Published by Harper on June 14, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 359
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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3 Stars

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...'

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

Every once in a while I have a hankering for a really great mystery or psychological thriller. I had seen Before I Go to Sleep popping up around the Internet, and was very intrigued by the concept of a woman who wakes up every morning with no idea who she is, where she is, what year it is, and who is sleeping next to her in bed. How scary would that be? I dove right in, and turned the pages as quickly as I could! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is CREEPY. Christine is at the complete mercy of others. She has to decide whether or not to believe Ben, the man who tells her every morning that he is her husband. He has this routine he goes through, where he tells her the basics of her life so that she understands what she is going through. She is also secretly seeing a doctor on the side who is trying to help her regain her memories and her ability to remember memories. Every morning he calls her on a cell phone she had no idea she had so that he can remind her of things Ben is not telling her.

This doctor has Christine write a journal of her every move and experience so that she can read it the next day and remember more things more quickly. As she continues to write and he continues to call her and tell her where she hid it and that she needs to read it, Christine begins to find this new power that enables her to make her own decisions. She also begins to have flashes of memory. As she remembers she starts to realize how many questions have been left unanswered.

2. I was a little turned off by the bluntness of some situations. Christine discovers the flaws of her older-than-expected body, and I was left uncomfortable by her bodily explorations. I felt very icky when I read about her longings for intimacy, and later the descriptions of her intimate encounters with Ben. Things were just very detailed with nothing left to the imagination and, since I was already creeped out by the story itself, I guess I was just extra sensitive. I mean, she is taking the word of a stranger and sleeping with him because she feels she has to. *shudder*

3. I never felt like I trusted anyone. I was just always on edge, wondering if anyone was telling her the truth. This book really lives up to its description of psychological thriller. My mind was going every which way.

4. There were several slow moments, where I just wanted to get done with the details and learn who the bad person here is! The problem with Christine forgetting everything every night is that every morning she gets up, we have to read about her and her journal-reading and her epiphanies over and over again. I just wanted to move on.

5. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’re given something that makes you question your thinking. The plot is twisted and complicated, and you will really probably just want to jump ahead to the end to put yourself out of your misery. Luckily I was reading on a Kindle, so I could not just jump to the end. Stick with it, though. No peeking! You’ll be happier. The ending is pretty exciting. :)

All in all, Before I Go to Sleep is creepy and intriguing, if not a little slow in places. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone in the mood for a thrill!

 

3 Stars

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 18, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!

3 Stars

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book Review

Posted August 11, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book ReviewDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars

Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this "ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews)" with a twist that defies the imagination.

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge's decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

Ok, so I could not hold off on reading Dangerous Girls any longer after continually reading how insane it made my friends! Dangerous Girls came with a lot of dangerous hype, and I hoped so much that it would live up to the masterpiece I had assumed it would be in my own mind. it DID. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think it goes without saying that my mind was completely shredded. I was flipping pages and staying up until all hours of the night, holding my eyelids open to try and figure out what was going on! My first thoughts upon finishing were (according to my Goodreads status after finishing the book at o’dark thirty):

What the HECK? What planet did this book come from? If I weren’t such a lady, I’d be swearing right now. What just happened?

2. Some people say Dangerous Girls is predictable, by I had NO IDEA who did it. None. I thought I had an idea, though, but my thoughts kept jumping around to everyone. And my lack of coherent thinking had nothing to do with the author’s writing style or her choices in the details she revealed. We were given so many clues, but I could not put them together until the book was over and I went, “WHAT THAT MAKES SENSE WHY DIDN’T I KNOW!!!??”. It was just so twisted and crazy! And the ending just iofhaergstgdrjtkgnsrgiaefiajefraorejfaerg.

3. I was so fascinated by Anna and Elise’s super weird relationship. These girls were TOXIC when mixed together. Were they friends? Enemies? Lovers? All three? None of the above? They brought out the worst in each other, and their intense obsession with being best friends forEVER was just creepy. These girls are not your typical best friends, allowing drugs, alcohol, parties, and shifty men to dull their senses and fuel their obsessions. So many lines were crossed that I honestly had no idea whether I should be ok with it or not.

4. I found myself not really liking anyone in the book, which I find very rare in books I actually liked. It’s hard to read books where you don’t like anyone. I felt extremely bad for Anna, and I wanted her to get out of prison SO BAD. But I didn’t like her. I’m not really sure why. And her “friends” became enemies very quickly after Anna was arrested, so I didn’t like any of them. I think I was so engrossed in the whodunit and the little details that the characters slipped through the cracks. I had absolutely no problems with this, though. I was actually happy it worked out this way.

5. EVERYONE is shady. The prosecutor, Anna, the boyfriend Tate, every friend, the men Elise meets before her death, the judge. Reporters kept digging up all kinds of information about everyone, which gave me more layers to think through. Everyone seemed to be hiding something. I just loved that I kept questioning everyone and everything.

6. The reader is witness to Anna’s interrogations, preliminary hearings, prison time, trial, TV interviews, etc. We also get to jump into her head and feel her thoughts and see her memories of happier times. She feels so much anger and frustration, betrayal, grief, and fear. She has flashbacks of her healthy relationships with Elise and Tate. We get to know Anna so well, even though people reveal details that make you question whether or not you know her at all. I loved being with her throughout the entire process.

7. The ending. WHAT. THE. CRAP. I still have so many questions and so many thoughts. Abigail Haas is brilliant.

Basically, you need to get yourself a copy of one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. It has every creepy element you could think of, plus everything else you didn’t realize you wanted. I can’t get over how I just didn’t see it. I’m thinking a re-read is in my future because I’ve just got to see what I missed! And I can’t wait to read more from Abigail Haas. She has a crazy imagination/mind, and I want LOTS more from her.

4 Stars

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book Review

Posted May 20, 2014 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book ReviewWhat is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Published by Cedar Fort on May 13, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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A Cinderella tale of deception and mystery.

In a land of masquerades and mystery, Evie is a mask maker in Venesia, where masks represent rank and identity. When a cryptic bandit strips away Evie's mask and destroys her home, she goes into hiding at the palace to find both a new identity and revenge.

 

I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read and review What is Hidden for the book’s blog tour. Due to a family emergency, I am a few days late posting my review. I appreciate the patience and understanding of Cedar Fort and Lauren Skidmore. I really enjoyed this book, and am excited to finally have some time to sit down and write out my thoughts! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. In the land of Venisia, nobody is allowed to be seen without a mask covering most of their face. Evie’s job is that of a mask maker, and she and her father make masks together in their home studio. Right at the beginning of the story, it is announced that there is a serial murderer, the Chameleon, going around killing people, stealing their masks, and assuming their identities. Nobody knows who this person is, whether they are male or female, or how to stop them. All they know is that this person has a unique brand on their face, hidden under their mask. One night the Chameleon attacks Evie’s home, burns it down, kills her father, and steals his mask and all other masks in the studio. The Chameleon also brands Evie with the same unique symbol, marking her as the Chameleon. If anyone sees her mark, she will be punished and maybe even killed for the real Chameleon’s crimes. She must go into hiding and abandon her friends, in the hopes of finding the Chameleon herself and clearing her own name. She flees to the palace and poses as a serving girl. It’s a very exciting and unique premise!

2. Evie has one link to her former life, her best friend Aiden. He has always been a master at finding people, and shows up at her bedroom door one night overjoyed that she did not die with her father. He is a noble, and has the ability to pull some strings and make her life a little less unbearable. Of course, she is delighted to have him in her life again and looks forward to their nightly visits and self defense lessons. She confides in him about everything, except for the Chameleon’s brand hiding under her mask. I LOVED Aiden. He’s so suave and cocky and snarky and caring.

3. All things considered, Evie is a pretty strong heroine. Her father has been murdered, she has been branded a criminal by the Chameleon, so can’t trust anyone, she has lost her former life, and she is dealing with the daily verbal abuse from other palace workers. Yet, she keeps her head on straight. I really liked that, instead of rolling over and accepting what has been done to her, she is making it her life’s mission to bringing the correct person to justice.

4. There is a bit of romance, which develops from a very sweet friendship. I loved it.

5. While What is Hidden is marketed as being a Cinderella tale, I also saw some of The Scarlet Pimpernel in it! I can’t tell you why because it’s a bit spoilery, but I really liked the added mystery and intrigue. Nobody is who they say they are, and their masks make things even more mysterious.

6. In case you had not guessed, Venisia is TOTALLY Venice, Italy. I’m not sure whether it’s an old Venice, a new Venice, or a Venice removed from time completely. The language is very modern, though, so it would be hard to convince me that it’s historic Venice. There are canals and water taxis, though, and any book that takes me to Venice or a Venice-like place is welcome on my shelves.

7. The writing style is very descriptive and lovely. I loved reading about the scenery and the intricate masks and costumes.

8. I’m just a little unsatisfied with the ending… There’s some loose ends and no announcement of a sequel. And seriously, these ends could have been tied up with a paragraph or a short epilogue, so a second book is extremely unnecessary. I would have liked a little more closure.

All in all, What is Hidden was a fun, slightly suspenseful story that I highly enjoyed. I loved the friendship turned love story, the Venice-like setting, and the sweet characters. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Lauren Skidmore’s future books.

This book is a 2014 debut

 


Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

Posted April 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewDon't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Holy. Moly. I’ve been in a major reading slump for about the past month, so I went to Twitter and asked people what I should read. One of my friends recommended I read this one because she was hooked so quickly! I love mysteries, so I was all about it. Guys, this was amazing! I absolutely loved everything about Don’t Look Back, and am so happy to say that it pulled me out of my slump! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. There are not a lot of good mysteries out there for YAs these days. And the ones that ARE out there usually ends in some annoying way, like the main character dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing, or there’s not really a mystery after all because the main character is mentally ill. Don’t Look Back is a good, nail-biting, spine-tingling, gripping mystery with all the elements one looks for when they are in the mood for such a book.

2. Usually mysteries don’t do well with a romantic element because there ends up being way too many things and emotions to keep track of. The romance actually enhanced the story in this case, though. Of course, I’m happy about this because we all know I drink love stories like some people drink diet soft drinks.

3. I could not GUESS who did it! I thought for sure at two different times in the book that I had figured out who it was. I was feeling so smart and smug that I had figured everything out. NOPE. I was no Nancy Drew here, which was a very pleasant surprise.

4. Ok, I’m sorry… but I LOVE the whole “I’m caught in a post-traumatic stress induced bout of amnesia, so everything is even scarier because I don’t know anything or anyone” kind of storyline. I know it’s been done before, but I honestly do not care. There’s just something about a person with no memory of the evil that happened to them just makes my spine tingle and my skin crawl.

5. Our main girl, Samantha, does not have the Rapunzel Syndrome as a result of her memory loss. She is not this scared, timid, little naive thing with no reason or common sense. She knew to question things and she knew to keep things to herself when she needed to.

6. Speaking of Samantha, she was a HORRIBLE person before she lost her memory. I mean, she had every single mean girl stereotype going on. I LOVE that this memory loss gave her a second chance, and I loved how mortified she was every time she received new evidence of her evil past life. It just goes to show that people can change, and that you don’t HAVE to be a mean person.

7. There is such a strong sense of family and companionship in this book, and I loved that. Samantha’s brother almost immediately steps into the role of “you touch my sister, you die” even though she has been an absolute jerk to him for years. This loyalty he has for her makes him one of the strongest secondary males I’ve read about in a long time. I love that he was able to set aside the hurt she caused him to help her. And Carson, ahhhhh. She was even worse to him, yet he is able to forgive her and help her as well! I was just amazed that so many people from her younger kid days of being sweet and loving possess the ability to gather around Sam in her time of need.

8. I gotta say this: I LOVE it when a former mean girl gets to tell off her mean girl clique and leave them speechless.

9. The suspense just killed me! I read this book mostly at night, and I was too scared to run across the dark hall to go to the bathroom! There were some moments just dripping with danger and mystery, and I could not handle it! I loved it.

Thank you, Jennifer Armentrout, for pulling me out of my reading slump! Thank you to my Twitter friend (I can’t remember which one of you recommended this!) for pushing Don’t Look Back on me. I had no idea I was in the mood for a mystery, but apparently I was! Definitely get your hands on this book, friends.

5 Stars

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book Review

Posted October 21, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards | Book ReviewSix Months Later by Natalie Richards
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Chloe didn't think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life. Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her?
And why can't she remember?

I’m loving these new mystery thrillers Sourcebooks keeps publishing! Mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres, and I’m very excited that they are starting to trend in the young adult book world! Six Months Later is an awesome story from a talented debut author! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The cool thing about this story is that we know no more than Chloe does. She has completely forgotten six months of her life, and has no idea why. Her best friend won’t talk to her, her parents thinks she is crazy, and she’s got this boyfriend who didn’t even know she existed six months ago. Nothing feels comfortable to her. I wasn’t comfortable either! I was squirming, trying to figure out what was going on. I was also intrigued by the bad boy with the bedroom eyes…

2. I liked all the characters for the most part, yet the story took my attention away from them. Chloe is your typical confused heroine. I appreciated the fact that nobody could convince her she was insane. I also liked that even though her memory is gone, she has this innate sense of distrust in people even though she does not know why. She blindly trusts her intuition, which is the sign of a strong character. I adored her best friend, Maggie, even though she played a small part for most of the book. She’s just so sweet, and seemed like a wonderful friend. Clearly, Chloe did something to ruin their friendship, and I kept rooting for them to mend fences and figure everything out. Blake is creeeeepy. He made my skin crawl. Adam is swoony and kind of scary and dangerous. He kept me guessing. My biggest issue with the characters is Chloe’s parents. They are terrible! They don’t like anything about their daughter except for the fake parts, and they don’t trust her either.

3. The mystery aspect was interesting. Why can’t Chloe remember? Why is this new life of hers completely unrecognizable? Who are we supposed to trust? The climax was pretty exciting, and the mystery was finely woven into an exciting plot line. I was able to predict the ending, which was a little disappointing. The author left too many hints, in my opinion. There were some extra details I had not thought of, though, so that was a nice surprise.

I feel like this is a super short review, but at the same time my mystery reviews usually are. My focus is always on the plot. Who did it? Everything else takes a back seat. There was no world building in Six Months Later, and not a much character development because we were not allowed to know much about the characters for the sake of the mystery. I enjoyed it, though! It was a fun, quick, entertaining mystery and I would recommend it to those of you who are looking for just that!

4 Stars

Unremembered by Jessica Brody (Book Review, Author Guest Post, & Giveaway)

Posted March 5, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Guest Post, Young Adult Fiction / 22 Comments

Unremembered by Jessica Brody (Book Review, Author Guest Post, & Giveaway)Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Series: Unremembered #1
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on March 5, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Survival, Suspense
Pages: 307
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Welcome to my stop along the official Unremembered blog tour, hosted by Macmillan Kids! We’ve got a jam-packed post today with my review, The Who is Seraphina? clue #9, a special guest post about the things Jessica Brody hopes she never “unremembers”, and a chance to win a hardback copy of Unremembered!

First of all, happy book birthday to Jessica Brody! Unremembered hits shelves today, and I am SO excited for you all to read and experience this wonderfully exciting book! I love mysteries and I love survival stories. Unremembered is both, plus a little science fiction. You really can’t go wrong with this one! I’m keeping my review short because we’ve got Jessica’s post right after!

1. I love the mystery and frustration that comes with memory loss stories. I mean, OH MY. I was getting so terribly frustrated that Sera/Violet could not remember anything! But at the same time, I was tearing through those pages in the hopes that she would remember. And the intrigue and danger that came with not remembering was really exciting.

2. This story flows really fast, but not so fast that you can’t keep up. I loved that.

3. I really liked Sera. I thought it was really cool that, since Sera did not remember anything, we got to learn about her past right along with her. Sometimes an author throws you into a story and has to teach you what a character already knows about his or herself. That can sometimes end up being tedious and frustrating. With Unremembered, though, we get to experience everything with Sera.

4. I really liked the very little I got to learn about Zen in this story. I’m hoping he plays a more dynamic role as the trilogy unfolds, because I really like what I know about him so far. I hope we get more of his own back story, rather than his past with Sera. I want to know him. And I was hoping for more romance. We get glimmers of it throughout the story, so I know the potential… and I want more! I can see book #2 being amazingly good.

5. The sci-fi aspect is really cool and unique. I won’t give too much away, because I loved not knowing about it when I started the book. Let’s just say there are some evil people, associated with an evil plan, who go to great lengths to get back what they claim is theirs. It was so exciting!

Overall, I loved Unremembered. It’s definitely a step or two away from the books I usually read, and I loved this change. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy a little bit of everything in their stories: romance, sci-fi, mystery, survival. It’s the beginning of a promising trilogy, and even though I know we are all really beginning to tire of trilogies, but this one is worth investing the next 2-3 years in.

And now for today’s clue!

Jessica Brody: Five Things I Hope I Never Unremember

My memory is a pretty fickle thing. It likes to play tricks on me. It likes to make up stuff and convince me they’re real. It has a tendency to completely misplace things and then blame me for it. Basically, my memory is a really annoying younger sibling.

When Jana and I first got in touch to talk about post ideas for this blog tour she suggested two topics: The first was “5 Things You Hope You Never Forget” and the second…well, I don’t think I even read the second because I was too excited about the first and my mind was already churning with ideas!

This topic is so charmingly appropriate. In UNREMEMBERED, my character, Seraphina, thinks she has amnesia after she’s been rescued from the site of a plane crash and has no memories about who she is or where she came from. But she soon learns there’s much more to her past than simple memory loss. Someone has actually been erasing memories from her mind. No bueno. I can certainly think of a boatload of things I hope are never stolen from my own mind but since the topic of this blog post is “5 Things You Hope You Never Forget” and not “A Boatload of Things You Hope You Never Forget,” I suppose I will have to narrow it down. 

So…here are the top 5 things I will cling to like a Krispy Kreme in a donut drought, should anyone ever try to erase my memories.

5. The way my dogs look at me after they sneak into the backseat of the car and hope I won’t notice and make them get out.

4. This perm at age 13. Because if I forget it, I may end up repeating it. *Shudders at the thought*

3. The girl who bullied me in the 6th grade. As painful as it was, as horrible as she made me feel pretty much every single day, I know her actions shaped who I am today. Remembering her means remembering that I survived it.

2.  The day I signed my first book contract. I had been trying to get published for over 5 years and had a mountain of rejection letters (I still have them all!) Getting that first contract in the mail (all official in a Fedex envelope) was pretty much one of the best feelings in the world. I would never want to lose that.

1. And last but most important, I hope I never forget why I do this job. It’s not for money or acclaim or to see my name on the front of a book. It’s to tell stories. To bring make-believe worlds to life. To entertain people like you. Fortunately, I’m reminded of this with every fan letter I receive and every reader who takes the time to tweet me or leave a comment on my Facebook page. So thank you for making sure I never unremember.

Comments from me: Yay! Jessica, thank you SO much for stopping by the blog today! I loved your answers. Your dogs are adorable, your perm was out of this world (I secretly wish I had a crazy hair style when I was younger, because then I could tease myself…), and you look so happy signing your contract! It was so much fun getting to know you better today. :) 

Try your luck at winning your own copy of Unremembered, which Mac Kids is so graciously providing! I hope you win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to stop by the other tour stops! Here’s the schedule:

Monday 2/25 Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday 2/26 IB Book Blogging
Wednesday 2/27 Good Choice Reading
Thursday 2/28 Books with Bite
Friday 3/1 Book Sake<
Saturday 3/2 YA Book Nerd
Sunday 3/3 My Five Monkeys
Monday 3/4 The Irish Banana
Tuesday 3/5 You are here! (That Artsy Reader Girl)
Wednesday 3/6 Carina’s Books
Thursday 3/7 A Patchwork of Books
Friday 3/8 MacTeenBooks Blog

And in case I have not provided enough links for you, here are some other really important ones: 

Unremembered Book Trailer
Read and download the first five chapters of Unremembered for free!
Become a fan of the Unremembered Trilogy on Facebook
Follow Jessica Brody on Twitter
Become a fan of Jessica Brody on Facebook
See Jessica Brody on tour!
Check out her website!

5 Stars

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Book Review)

Posted September 17, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Book Review)Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 18, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 296
Format: ARC
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4 Stars

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Sometimes I enjoy being scared. I’m a major chicken, so I don’t read many scary books, but this one sounded too good to pass up! I was also majorly intrigued when I found it’s a retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This was totally worth being scared for. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The location is really ominous, and a character all its own. It has the power to be a breezy, sunny escape or a stormy, treacherous nightmare. In this case, it was the latter and I loved it. The descriptions had me snuggling under my blankets, hiding from murderers.

2. Gretchen is amazing at writing suspenseful passages. All of a sudden, I was a speed reader with this book. It was not because I was bored or because there were too many details. It was because everything flowed and ran into the next story elements so nicely that I almost absorbed the words rather than having to shove them in my head. It was effortless reading. 

3. Now, I have not read Agatha’s original version of this story, but the reviews I have read lead me to believe that this version sticks very closely to the original. I didn’t read anything about it having the crazy weather like Ten does, which I loved. It reminded me of Stephen King’s Storm of the Century. Very creepy, and it added a lot to the story. Just like the location, the weather was a character.

4. There were a lot of people to keep track of. Meg is the main girl and her best friend is Minnie. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who in the beginning, just because they each had an “M” name. And all the other characters blended together a bit for me, except for T.J., the love interest. Even though everyone was being murdered, though, the story focused more on the scare factor and less on the characters. I actually enjoyed that, just because it was fun to be immersed more in my feelings and reactions than the characters’ stories.

5. The murders form and are all wrapped up into a pretty crazy web of details. We learn more and more and solve the mystery right along with the characters. I was just as confused as they were. And I figured things out at about the same pace as they did, which was fun. I enjoyed that the reasoning and resolution weren’t easy. I love my details!

6. SO many twists and turns and events. It never calmed down! It just got creepier.

7. I was so scared! I could not read alone or at night, or I started to get really paranoid. This is a great book for autumn, especially for around Halloween.

All in all, everyone needs to read a creepy book every now and again. I really enjoyed this one, and would recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves a good scare. It wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it’s definitely worth a read. And it seems to be great for all ages, since my dad just stole it from me when I was done! I really want to read Agatha Christie’s version now!

4 Stars

I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark (Mini Book Review)

Posted June 16, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark (Mini Book Review)I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
Published by Simon & Schuster on April 5, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Pages: 337
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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2 Stars

Alexandra “Zan” Moreland, a gifted, beautiful interior designer on the threshold of a successful Manhattan career, is terrified to discover that somebody is not only using her credit cards and manipulating her financial accounts to bankrupt her and destroy her reputation, but may also be impersonating her in a scheme that may involve the much more brutal crimes of kidnapping and murder. Zan is already haunted by the disappearance of her own son, Matthew, kidnapped in broad daylight two years ago in Central Park—a tragedy that has left her torn between hope and despair.

Now, on what would be Matthew’s fifth birthday, photos surface that seem to show Zan kidnapping her own child, followed by a chain of events that suggests somebody—but who? Zan asks herself desperately, and why?—has stolen her identity.

Hounded by the press, under investigation by the police, attacked by both her angry ex-husband and a vindictive business rival, Zan, wracked by fear and pain and sustained only by her belief, which nobody else shares, that Matthew is still alive, sets out to discover who is behind this cruel hoax.

What she does not realize is that with every step she takes toward the truth, she is putting herself— and those she loves most—in mortal danger from the person who has ingeniously plotted out her destruction...

I think I’ve mentioned to a lot of people that I love Mary Higgins-Clark. She is the first author I got hooked on as a teenager, and I really devoured her novels. It’s kind of a summer tradition to read her newest release while on vacation, so I bought this for my kindle and was SO excited to find some time to read it while I was in Europe! I read this mostly on my cruise and in Rome, Italy! The story was entertaining and intense, and I was definitely intrigued. However, the writing in this book does not sound like the Mary I grew up reading. Sadly, I found myself getting really tired of the writing style. It really detracted from the story, and I don’t have a ton to say about it. Haha.

I honestly think that Mary has reached the point in her career where she has hired a ghost writer or two, and I can’t blame her for that. According to her bio, she’s around 85 years old. I just wish she had hired a ghost writer with real talent to match her own. It makes me so sad to think that she chose to continue producing really mediocre books under her own name, rather than just bow out and leave with some amazing books under her belt. Maybe she’s still writing these on her own, but if that’s the case she has definitely slipped. In any case, this book followed a completely different writing style and formula that made her previous books winners in my eyes.

Zan is a pretty boring, semi-crazy kind of character. We know very little about her, except the fact that she is a very rich, divorced interior designer with a child who vanished several years before and a dark past. Plus, she’s gorgeous, thin, and so much better than everyone else. She’s completely unrelatable. Her ex-husband, a PR guy, blames her for the kidnapping of their child. And seriously, this guy is annoying. Not only is he a jerk, but he plays this role of sugar daddy/lover/brown-noser to this young singer client of his and caters to her every whining whim. Again, unrelatable. The other characters in this book are also rich, stuck up, and flat. Honestly, I feel like I learned more about and related more to the nameless culprit than I did with any of the main characters.

The plot seemed incredibly unrealistic and implausible. This just would not happen. For those who wish to read this, I don’t want to spoil it. But seriously. I just kept shaking my head and going, “No.” Haha. Too many coincidences and dumb, unobservant characters. If anyone had taken a second to be smart and use today’s technology and some common sense, I really think this story would have ended much sooner. And the mini romance seemed like it fell out of the sky at the last minute. I didn’t buy it at all. I’m so sad! I think I need to go back and read some of her older novels from the 90’s. She really was an amazing author in her prime, and her books scared the crap out of me and were so well done.

2 Stars

Slide by Jill Hathaway (Book Review)

Posted March 14, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Slide by Jill Hathaway (Book Review)Slide by Jill Hathaway
Series: Slide #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 27, 2012
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Suspense
Pages: 250
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

What an interesting take on a paranormal story, huh? A narcoleptic body snatcher on a quest to solve a murder she witnessed while inside and unknown killer. I was very excited to read this book, as I’ve heard great things about it. I liked it a lot, and was surprised (both positively and negatively) by the small details and plot elements of the story. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The unique storyline was very well done and explained in great detail. The author did a great job describing the sliding process and what that meant for Vee. I almost felt like I was the one doing the sliding, because each event was painted out for us so well. These moments were my favorites of the book. I liked the opportunities Vee had to explore the people she thought she knew so well. It’s like she and I were both flies on the wall. Sneaky!

2. I was hooked very quickly. The reader is immediately submerged in the story. Time is not wasted mapping out every single detail, and things just keep on going from there. There’s not a lot of down time, and I was turning pages very quickly.

3. I liked Vee, but her personality is a bit forgettable. Perhaps the next book in the series will let us get to know her more, but this book focused so much more on all the supporting characters than the main one. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that Vee was sliding so much. Naturally, that would focus the story more on the people who are slid into rather than the one who does the sliding. What we do know about Vee is sad. She does not really discuss happy memories or fun times, so she’s kind of one-dimensional.

4. This book is much darker, heavier, and more emotional than I had expected. I’m not sure how I feel about this. When Vee is not sliding, she’s focused mainly on comforting other people or putting herself in tough situations to try and discover who the murderer is. Her little sister’s best friend is the victim of the murder, so Vee spends a lot of time trying to pull her sister out of a deep depression. The grief in this book is very real. The characters do a lot of mourning, which actually started to depress me a lot. This is not a light read.

5. I liked Rollins, the best friend. However, I’m starting to tire of the endless love triangles where the best friend is ignored for the bulk of the story. This storyline is getting a bit old, in my opinion. Rollins obviously cares about Vee a lot, and I think he’s really sweet. He has a hard home life and some secrets, which both add a lot more depth to him than any of the other characters. He and Vee bonded in a very special way long ago, and their relationship is sweet when they actually get to sit and have fun rather than worry about who will die next. Zane, the newcomer, is mysterious and exciting, but I don’t see why that automatically makes him the immediate love interest. I mean, if Rollins is the best friend, why does Vee start distancing herself as soon as someone new enters her life? Friends don’t do that, and I feel bad that best friends are frequently treated badly, or just flat-out ignored in books like this.

6. I loved how complex the storyline was. There was a ton of stuff going on, page-gripping suspense, lots of characters and emotions, interesting twists, and a really convoluted mystery. We’re constantly being introduced to new things, new people, new facts, etc.

7. The mystery was my favorite part of the story. It was not predictable like some mysteries are. I wanted so badly to find out what happened, and kept reading until I was done. Suspense and danger were involved, and I love it when books do that, rather than focus mostly on romance, with a little mystery on the side. The romance was definitely minimal, and not important to the story’s flow.

8. The book did not end in a cliff-hanger! I was worried that since this is book #1, it would end in a frustrating cliffhanger. Everything was resolved, though, which I liked. This novel could be a standalone. Hopefully book #2 does not ruin that!

Overall, this was an interesting, unique, and emotional read. It was darker than I had expected, but the mysteriousness of the book needed that. I actually liked the storyline and the sliding better than any other aspect of the book, including the characters and the romance. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy paranormal thrillers with a tiny bit of romance.

3 Stars