Review: The Darkest Corners

Title: The Darkest Corners
Author: Kara Thomas
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery Thriller
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
GoodReads

Synopsis:

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Review:

This took a me a long time to review. It’s not that it was a bad book – it was quite good in fact. I think it was because I didn’t know what to do with it. At the end, I had so many questions that didn’t have answers. Here I am, a year later, reflecting on it, and I still say that it’s a pretty great book.

I did like Tessa though. I enjoyed accompanying her on her hunt for clues, even when her curiosity made my stomach clench in fear for her. In the end, I also ended up liking Callie, despite my initial annoyance with her character. She grows up, I think, a lot throughout the novel.

Admittedly, the pacing was a little slow. There was a lot of history of the characters and of the town itself, and a lot of “why me” thoughts. But I felt like the book as a whole was put together well. Nothing was revealed too quickly, and I liked that there were some dead ends. It helped make the story more intriguing and creepy.

I read this book when I was taking a criminal profiling class in uni and I found it fascinating to learn and read about this whole thing simultaneously. While I found that some things made sense, I felt that there were a couple things that were a bit of a stretch. In the end though, I was too surprised to really care much about the couple of things that didn’t really click for me.

The end itself was quite the surprise for me, but at the same time, it left me wondering so many things. I get that there wouldn’t be a second one, but maybe a little more added to the ending would have been eye opening, or it might have ruined it, I don’t know.

The thing I love about Kara is that her books always surprise me. I really enjoyed her Prep School Confidential series, and I loved this books as well. I look forward to diving into her new book, Little Monsters, when it comes out in July!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.78/5

eARC obtained via Delacorte Press via Random House Children’s via NetGalley.

Book Tour + Review: The Waterfall Traveler

Welcome to the The Waterfall Traveler Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: The Waterfall Traveler
Author: S.J. Lem
Publication Date: April 19th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
GoodReads

Synopsis:

All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Review:

The Waterfall Traveler surprised me. I thought it’d be a little lighter, but this book was intense. There were a lot of dark scenes and a lot of death, and it was definitely an adventure/thrilling sort of read.

The book starts off running. We meet Ri and Samuel in the first few pages, and after the first couple chapters there’s an attack and then we’re off. It was fast-paced and intense, but not so much so that you didn’t have a chance to catch your breath.

I really like the intricacies of the book – a lot of the characters were connected to each other in unexpected ways and I was always surprised as to how. The development of the characters is pretty good too – each character has a chance at telling their story and what happened to them, and we as readers get to understand why they are how they are. I liked Ri’s independent and fighting spirit, even when it got them in trouble, and Bryce’s loyalty, and Carter’s sassiness, Katie’s sweet heart. That being said, I kind of really wanted to kick them all. Despite all their differences, every character was pretty self-sacrificing and overprotective. It was both admirable and irritating.

One thing that bothered me was that at the beginning there were a lot of “we’ll tell you later” sort of things. I get that they didn’t want to do an information dump, but there are less obvious ways to do that. I guess, in part, it was due to Ri’s bullheadedness, but it made the beginning kind of frustrating.

The end, however, was stellar. I was so surprised, I sped through the pages in excitement. There was a lot to digest, but it was worth it. I was really surprised, and kind of heart broken.

My next question would be whether this book has a sequel or not, as the end seems to hint at something of the sort!

Overall, an enjoyable read, but you really have to be willing to push through the first few chapters of the book!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.45/5

ebook obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Open internationally! Enter to win:

  • A print copy of The Waterfall Traveler
  • $50 Amazon GC

Tour and Review: The Lords of Valdeon

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Welcome to The Lords of Valdeon book tour, hosted by Roger Charlie!~

The Lords of ValdeonTitle: The Lords of Valdeon [Heart of the Warrior #1]
Author: C.R. Richards
Publication Date: January 7, 2016
GoodReads

Synopsis:

A new series from award winning Author, C.R. Richards: The epic tale of two men begins. The first – a man of honor trying desperately to turn his country from civil war. The other – a boy struggling to discover his destiny before agents of evil find him first.

Coveted by two ancient enemies of a long forgotten age, the continent of Andara holds the key to victory in an endless struggle for dominance. Eight hundred years have passed since the god-like Jalora struck a bargain with the first King of Valdeon. The Lion Ring, symbol of the covenant and conduit of power, gives its bearer incredible abilities. The ring’s borrowed magic protects the people of Andara from covetous evil, but there is a price. As with most predators, the Lion Ring must feed. Only the blood of the D’Antoiné family line will satisfy its hunger.

A rival for Andara’s treasures, the Sarcion has waited impatiently for its time upon the land. Whispers of treason in the right ear aid its treachery. The King of Valdeon mysteriously disappears, leaving his lands in danger of a civil war by the hand of a murderous usurper. His Lion Ring is lost and the covenant is broken. The Jalora’s power begins to seep away from the land.  Evil’s foothold grows stronger. Can the Lords of Valdeon, Sacred Guard of the covenant, stop the tides of war? Or will Andara fall into chaos? The future rests in the blood of a boy…

Review:

Overall, I thought this book was good. It wasn’t underwhelming or overwhelming, but it was good.

The prologue was not something I enjoyed reading. It was riddled with repetition and it tried too hard to sound fantastical. It also didn’t really gel with any of the voices in the book. As your first impression of the book, it isn’t a good one. Honestly, if I were you, I’d skim it and then try again after you’ve read at least five chapters of the book. Totally different voice from the rest of the novel, but it is necessary to get a gist of the story’s history.

This book is the first of a series and it was very much a book that sets that stage for something more. The Lords of Valdeon is packed with a lot of description and world/character building. Every chapter contains more and more chunks of the places these characters reside and their situations and it’s definitely interesting getting to know them. Something I really enjoyed was that each character had their own aspect of the world to talk about, and each one generally had their own voice and I also like the women in the story. All of them are quite fierce and strong characters, though I wish they had a larger role in the story itself. With that being said, I felt that within each chapter, the characters voices blurred. All the men and boys sound similar in Seth’s chapters, while all the Lords maintain a formal tone. While these help with world building, and allowing readers to get an idea of the pleasantries and conversations appropriate to each setting, I wish there was more to each character, and not just the plot propelling the story along.

On that note, the plot is quite intricate and interesting. These gods are supposedly cut and dry characters at the beginning, the Jalora seen as good, while the Sarcion is seen as evil. This pretense is tested throughout the novel as each reveals different facets of their own personalities and it really adds colour to the story. It’s interesting to watch each characters’ journey against each other and with one or the other godly being. I particularly like Seth’s thread within all of this, as his character is more exploratory and deals more with self discovery throughout the novel. Although it was slow going at first, the plot really makes the book addicting as the story moves forward and the action begins!

On writing, the author is quite skilled at creating worlds, but I found the most challenging part of this book was the writing. Many aspects just fall short for me. There’s a lot of repetition, and often a lot more telling than showing. Although I really enjoyed the novel as a whole, certain aspects just didn’t do it for me.

Overall, this book is like the Night Circus in its extensive descriptions, mixed with Star Wars’ family feud, with a hint of fantasy and mystery mixed in. I think this is an amazing start to the series, and my expectations are high for the next book!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 3.5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Cover: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.25/5

Ebook obtained via Roger Charlie in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

A huge lover of horror and dark fantasy stories.

C.R. Richards enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure. Having began writing as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper, Richards has worn several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. She has now published a handful of novels, including Phantom Harvest – book one in The Mutant Casebook Series – which took home the EPIC eBook Award for Fantasy in 2014. Richards beat out entries from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and other English speaking countries.

The youngest of five army brats, Richards was born on a military base in Utah.  She spent much of her childhood in the back of her family’s sky blue station wagon on trips to see her grandmother – who would show her how to spot faeries in the backyard.  “Sometimes she’d put candy in small silk slippers and tell us the pixies had done it,” says Richards. “She’s the one who gave me my love of fantasy creatures.”

Her most recent literary projects include the horror short story, Lost Man’s Parish and the newly-released dark fantasy thriller, Pariah. She is an active member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Horror Writers Association.

In January, Richards releases her epic fantasy novel The Lords of Valdeon, the first installment in the Heart of the Warrior series.  Through her storytelling, Richards aims to reach lovers of fantasy who are exploring alternatives to the traditional status quo. Her message is simple: One person can be a catalyst for change.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Review: Uprooted

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Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
GoodReads

Synopsis:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

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

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

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

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

This whole entire novel was not about what I had expected it to be about. The synopsis is extremely vague and to be honest only reveals what’s in the first 2-3 chapters. This entire novel was like inhaling a trilogy of books, without the painful year long waiting between parts. There are so many sub-plots within the plot and history within these pages. It’s honestly one of my favourite fantasy novels of this year, and maybe ever.

It is honestly so hard to describe how amazing this book was without spoiling anything. Ahh!

The story set up is absolutely perfect. We start in Agnieszka’s village, move to the Dragon’s tower (note, he is not in fact a scaly creature), then into the Wood, then into the Capital city, back to the tower, back to the Wood. There’s so many changes in setting and characters that the book keeps you entertained throughout. While each setting is sectioned out, so are the character introductions – we meet the main character’s family and friends in her village, then history of the Dragon in his tower, then other characters depending on where the story takes us next. The fact that the setting and characters are presented in such digestible tidbits made the whole book more enjoyable as it was easier to follow where people were going and what was happening in the novel.

I read this novel as an ARC, and I’ve found the response interesting. A lot of people rage on and on about the “kidnapping” not really being a kidnapping, because the MC gets to live in a tower and get nice clothes, etc. However, something that they miss is that it is horrifying. Said tribute is taken away from her home, her friends, her family – torn from her community and culture. She is placed with a less than amiable wizard, and honestly, I don’t know how people see becoming refined as a gift and not a ten year long social redevelopment project. The response to this element of the novel has really made me think about it. Sure, the outcome isn’t bad, but there is a large negative aspect to it that nearly mimics real life in some ways… just food for thought for those who have yet to read it (this is all revealed in the first 20 pages, no spoilers, I promise!).

I think my favourite part of the novel was the antagonist. It wasn’t a specific person, per say, but a thing. A terrifying thing that consumes a person from the outside in – first their body, then their soul. The Wood was likely one of the more interesting antagonists as it’s so evil without any conscious thought. Honestly, the scenes set in it freaked me out haha. Further, the story behind it was extremely interesting and actually moving. This aspect of the novel was built well.

One thing I wish had been better is the Dragon’s personality. There’s so much there to pull at, and I feel like we missed a lot of history in his lack of emotional and overall character exposure. Also, the MC was a little dense at times, but otherwise quite a strong female lead for this novel!

Overall, this was an extremely intricate book, and it truly captured my heart. It’s quite long, and the beginning isn’t as interesting as it could be, but in the end I thought the entire experience was well worth the effort. A beautifully constructed novel that really gets you thinking about suffering, revenge, and friendship.

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.2/5

eARC obtained via Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blitz: Kiss Kill Love Him Still

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Welcome to the Kiss Kill Love Him Still Book Blitz, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

KKLHSTitle: Kiss Kill Love Him Still
Authors: Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller
Genre: New Adult Mystery
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Jackson Landis kept secrets. It’s how he got girls into bed, the grades he wanted, and a reputation for being the life of the party.

But now he’s dead, and no one knows how or why. Especially not the four girls whose secrets he protected. Secrets so scandalous they could cause each girl to lose something valuable. Secrets so dark, someone may have killed for them.

The four girls – a campus drug dealer, an overweight bookworm, a closeted lesbian, and a spoiled princess have one thing in common – they’re terrified the things Jackson knew may not have died with him. As Reggie, Haddie, Val, and Livie try to piece together her own role in Jackson’s death, each girl realizes Jackson had some not-so-pretty skeletons of his own.

Which makes a girl wonder, who really wanted Jackson Landis dead?

Buy Links:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Kobo

Suspect Profile: Regina “Reggie” Walker

Height: 5’8”
Weight: 117 lbs
Hair: Long, dyed black
Eyes: Dark brown
Demeanor: Sarcastic, aloof
Motivation for killing Jackson Landis: He knew she was dealing drugs.

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Officer McMichaels: Get your feet off the desk.

Regina: Just getting comfortable for this long, boring-ass questioning. How about a cup of coffee?

McMichaels: Did Jackson Landis buy from you?

Regina: Hell yes, how do you think I got my patch?

McMichaels: Your patch?

Regina: My cookie sales patch—wait, aren’t we talking about Girl Scouts?

McMichaels: Laugh it up. You and I both know it’s only a matter of time before we bust you and throw you behind bars.

Regina: Whatever you say, Chief.

McMichaels: Were you under the influence of drugs the night Jackson died?

Regina: High on life. As always.

McMichaels: And Jackson?

Regina: Isn’t that what autopsies are for?

McMichaels: Who do you work for?

Regina: Your dad.

McMichaels: We’re done here.

Regina: I didn’t realize we’d even started.

Buy Links:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Kobo

About the Authors

Jamie BlairJamie

Young adult author of the Kirkus-starred novel Leap Of Faith (Simon & Schuster 2013), and Lost To Me (2014), featured in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling anthology, Dirty Boys of Summer. Represented by Rebecca Friedman of RF Literary.

Author Links:

Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Google+ | Facebook | Instagram

Dawn Rae MillarDawn

Dawn is a Twitter and fashion addict whose favorite things in life are her family, gorgeous dresses, tea leaf salad, and French macarons. She splits her time between San Francisco and Northern Virginia, and is always up for a trip to Paris.

Author Links:

Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway:

Fill out the form below to be entered to win one (1) ebook copy of Kiss Kill Love Him Still. Open internationally.

Review: All Fall Down

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Title: All Fall Down [Embassy Row #1]
Author: Ally Carter
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

I actually thought I had reviewed this months ago when I read it in January. I didn’t apparently though.

I couldn’t love this book. There was so much that happened, but at the same time, I felt like nothing did. I’m used to the action-packed, suspenseful, mysterious plots that usually come with Ally Carter’s book. This one was trying too hard to do the whole PTSD thing. Grace has been traumatized by her mother’s death, or murder as she remembers it, but has been traumatized even more by the people around her telling her to let it go and that it was a mistake, not murder. Due to this, the whole book was like going around in circles – her screaming it was murder, her being told it wasn’t, her investigating on her own, and her again being told that nothing happened, and around in a circle it went. It felt empty, almost.

There was a lot of telling, and very little showing in this book, to the point where I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Grace was a frazzled mess, and had very few concrete thoughts, and when she did, it was an obsessive focus; Noah was entertaining and cute, but that was all I could say about him; Rosie was fun, but I know basically nothing about her; and I can’t even remember the other partner in crime’s name – just that her skills and appearance were a little too convenient in line with Grace’s “clue-finding”.

Admittedly, the highlight was the end. It was not what I had expected, and it was enough to make me not totally hate the book. While this book could have had more action and more allure to it, I can see why some things were done as they were. Grace’s adventures are mundane, because she is mundane. She too far in her own world, even prior to her mother’s death, and she can’t seem to realize that she’s not like Cami or Kat – she has no training or skill in really anything except causing problems, jumping to conclusions, and diving in head first into brick walls and dead ends. In the end, I felt sorry for her, but prior to that, it was hard to get through internal complaints and frustrations. That may seem unsympathetic because no one wants to hear that someone with a mental health problem is being told to just be “fine”, but at the same time, it was a little extreme, everything she did, and it was her impulsiveness that annoyed me more than her thirst for the truth.

This book, overall, was not the quality that I’m used to from Ally Carter. It didn’t catch my attention as well, it didn’t draw me in, or keep me glued to the pages. It actually took me two weeks to finish this book, because I didn’t have an itch to run back to it everyday.

I enjoyed some of the twists of the story, but this story didn’t have the same connection and flow that all of her other books had. If I had to say one thing, it’s that I wish this had been another Heist novel instead of a new series.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 3/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.79/5

ARC obtained via Scholastic Press in exchange for an honest review.

Book Tour + Suspect Profile: Liars, Inc.

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Welcome to the Liars, Inc. Book Tour, hosted by Jean Book Nerd!~

Liars, Inc.

Title: Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Strokes
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery
GoodReads

Synopsis:

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

For more information, check out THE OFFICIAL LIARS, INC. WEBSITE.

Buy Links:
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

FRI MARCH 20. PARVATI AMOS PROFILE

Paula: Welcome to Day 5 of the #CatchAKiller Blog Tour. It’s time to learn about Parvati, Max’s fierce but flawed girlfriend. Be sure to check out the tour next week too as Special Agent James McGhee will be interviewing each of the suspects! Also, stop by my blog today or tomorrow and find out about Mystery Twitter Theater: Oh noes! There’s been a murder on Twitter, and if you can deduce the killer before anyone else, the prizes are EPIC!

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CASE CA4153-228
INFORMATION PROFILE
LEAD INVESTIGATOR: McGhee, James, Special Agent
SECONDARY INVESTIGATOR: Gonzalez, Alex, Special Agent
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY: Amos, Parvati and Bhatnagar-Amos, Priya, JD

SUBJECT: Amos, Parvati
AGE: 17
GENDER: Female
NATIONALITY: American
ETHNICITY: Indian
HEIGHT: 5’3”
WEIGHT: 120 lbs
HAIR: Black
EYES: Brown

Parvati Amos is a seventeen-year-old female. She was born in Los Angeles, CA. Her current legal address is 6 Cormorant’s Nest in Vista Palisades, CA. Parvati is currently a senior at Vista Palisades High School and is being questioned in conjunction with the disappearance of Preston DeWitt.

CRIMINAL HISTORY: Arrested for shoplifting at age 15. Charges later dropped by store.

MEDICAL HISTORY: Cracked ribs at age 11 and broken wrist at age 14 from sparring in karate class. Broken arm and orbital fracture at age 15 from zip-lining accident. No other medical or surgical history. Subject denies psychiatric disorders, tobacco use, and drug/alcohol use.

ACADEMIC HISTORY: Attended elementary school in Los Angeles and Vista Palisades Middle School. Ninth, tenth, and most of eleventh grade at Bristol Academy until she was expelled for stealing from locked classrooms during the spring semester of her junior year. Mother clarifies it was a prank “kids being kids” that was taken too far, the bulk of responsibility pinned on her daughter. Subject is currently a senior at Vista Palisades High School.

WORK HISTORY: None.

SOCIAL HISTORY: Subject says she prefers a few close friends to a lot of superficial ones, but that she gets along with everyone at school and has no enemies. No current boyfriend. She has known Preston for three years and Max for about eight months. She and Max dated for a few months and broke up recently but are still “school friends.” Subject has been a vegetarian since she was a child. In addition to speaking English, she also speaks Hindi, Farsi, Spanish, and some Arabic.

About the Author:

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Liars, Inc. and The Art of Lainey. Her writing has been translated into nine foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Giveaway:
Open to International | Must be 13+ to enter
Giveaway Banner Blog Tour
  • 1 Deluxe Swag Pack. Includes (1 Black or White T-shirt, 1 Notebook, 1 Signed Postcard, 1 Magnet, 2 Signed Bookmarks, 1 Signed Bookplate, and a Mini Shark’s Tooth Pendant) all wrapped in crime scene tape and packaged in an official evidence bag.
  • 2 Mini Swag Packs. Includes (2 Signed Bookmarks, 1 Magnet, 1 Signed Bookplate).

ENTER HERE!~

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone

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Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Mary Jennifer Payne
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Mystery Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.

Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.

Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she’ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.

I wanted to like this book. Truly. It sounded so interesting the premise – a sort of mystery/thriller. But it wasn’t. It was more of a panic attack, mixed with filler story, with a touch of forced romance.

Edie sucks as a main character. I couldn’t like her. There was nothing attractive or nice or remotely relatable about her. She starts off judging a girl because she’s small, quiet, friendly, and dresses in a fair amount of black, basically kicking her to the curb because she looks different. Then she has the audacity to say that she doesn’t like bullying, but proceeds to make fun of her in her head and get annoyed that this girl is being friendly to her. Like really??

Then her mom disappears and she’s like THIS IS MY SECRET, but wait, I want to tell this person, and this person. But I think I will actually tell all my secrets to this guy who doesn’t like me at all and might just turn me in to save his own butt.

Is that really the best idea?

There’s such an inconsistency between her thoughts and actions. This makes it extremely hard to relate to her or care about what she’s thinking, if what she does is going to be the opposite.

Further, her character sucks. She’s not a frugal spender, and she uses money she steals on ‘dates’ and to pig out on meals that I don’t even provide myself when it’s my own money being used. She generally just had a bad personality and I couldn’t find it in me to like her.

Then there’s the romance. The romance was so forced and didn’t fit at all in the book. She’s supposed to be distressed and anxious, and she is, but it’s hot and cold as the romance takes over the storyline. And it’s so random. They’ve known (and hated) each other for like 20 minutes before they start making gooey eyes at each other and it bothered me so much. She has time to do all these things with him and yet she also states that finding her mother is number one priority (that inconsistency thing again).

The last thing I have to comment on is the writing style. It was a lot of fact fact fact, thing that is actually happening, and then fact fact fact again. I couldn’t get immersed in this world, despite my best efforts. On top of that, there were a lot of metaphors and similes that were fairly unnecessary or irrelevant that just cluttered the narrative.

I wanted to this like this, but there was basically no connection between me, the characters, and their world. I couldn’t bring myself to like them, or feel happy or sad for them. There just wasn’t anything in this book that did it for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 2/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall: 2/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.14/5

eARC obtained via Dundurn via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tour + Review: Mean Streak

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Welcome to the Mean Streak Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours !~

MeanStreakTitle: Mean Streak
Author: Sandra Brown
Publication Date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central
Genre: Adult Romance Suspense
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

Buy Links:
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Review:

This is the first book that I’ve read, in a long time, that actually had me captivated from beginning to end. Also, it was my first Sandra Brown book ever. And I loved it! It was intense, it was interesting, and I actually didn’t expect that end.

I think my favourite part of this book is that I didn’t expect the end at all. Like maybe one part here and there, but I just… it was really well organized and everything just falls into place at the end and it’s wonderful.

I love every character in this book, well except for that cheeseball, but that’s ’cause he’s supposed to be annoying. ANYWAYS. I loved Emory. She’s a pure hearted character, but she doesn’t come off as the cookie-cutter type. She enjoys helping people for the sake of helping people, and doesn’t care for riches, fortune, or popularity, and I love that Brown made her characters in a way that seemed normal and realistic.

The others characters popped out of the page for me as well, and I loved that, throughout the novel, each one rolled down a road I never expected them to take. The number of random twists and loops kept me guessing and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the ride.

I think my two favourite characters were Knight and Grange, the two police men on Emory’s case. They were the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the novel, as some of their lines just sent me off grinning like a fool in the middle of my Shakespeare lecture (yes, we were learning about Hamlet).

The plot itself had a couple of holes and unanswered questions, but overall it was a very well pieced together novel. It did kind of strike me the wrong way as to how various characters kind of let their unanswered questions slide. Sometimes, they would question something, and then the other character would give them a vague answer that wouldn’t sit well with them or the audience, and a number of times, we never got that answer. This still bothers me as I ask the question “Why?” for a few actions and reactions throughout the book. I understand that some were meant to lead readers towards a different conclusions, but I feel like it could have flowed better, or have been a bit more cohesive within the storyline.

Overall, I loved this book. I love mystery/thriller type novels and this was the perfect book to get me back into reading!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.01/5

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo

About the Author:Sandra

Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE(2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), CHILL FACTOR (2005), WHITE HOT (2004), & HELLO, DARKNESS (2003).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program “PM Magazine.”

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write, Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Author Links:

Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Tour-Wide Giveaway (USA/CAN):

  • 5 winners will each get a signed personalized copy of MEAN STREAK in Trade PB and swag (image attached) + a dozen buttercream cookies from Cheryl’s

GiveawayMS

ENTER HERE !~

Review: Wicked Little Secrets

17905353Title: Wicked Little Secrets [Prep School Confidential #2]
Author: Kara Taylor
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery Thriller Romance

Synopsis:

Anne Dowling becomes entangled in a web of secrets involving a missing student and a conspiracy at Wheatley Prep in this fast-paced, juicy follow-up to Prep School Confidential

Anne Dowling—a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private—is back for her second semester at Wheatley Prep. Although things have settled (somewhat) since her roommate Isabella’s death, Anne’s still kind of obsessed with the disappearance of Wheatley student Matthew Weaver thirty years ago, since she found a picture of him and his crewmates with the words “they killed him” scrawled on the back among Isabella’s things.

When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger. Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.

Kara Taylor one of my favourite 2013 debut authors. I loved Prep School Confidential and now I love Wicked Little Secrets,as well!

I’m going to get right into it. The book started off with a quick little reference to what happened in the first installment of this series, but it skimmed over it. While I always appreciate the lack of an in depth excessive summary, this time, it took me an extra beat to get back into the story. With a series like this, I feel like I needed to get a little longer overview of what happened a few weeks back in Anne’s world, just to re-familiarize myself with all the names.

That being said, I still found myself sucked into the book from the beginning. Sure, I sat there for a moment every now and then trying to remember Harrow and Upton, but seeing as those characters weren’t really important in this installment, remembering them would only clear up your memory of book one, not enlighten you on the clues that are dropped throughout this one.

As I mentioned previously, I really love the character development in this series. They change in such small and subtle ways, but it makes a big difference in the long run. I loved how Anne accepts her crazy, while those who once accepted it are wondering whether she might actually be crazy instead of an extremely clever teen detective. The only issue I have is the lying. I really wish book characters would just stop lying about everything. It’s really vexing. Aside from that, I can’t give away much without spoiling the book, so I’ll just leave it at this: no matter how much each character changed, I loved the way the story flowed and ran with the plot. No change was inconsequential and I appreciated that every little thing had meaning later on, if not in the moment.

The plot and mystery was extremely well done. This book had my heart pounding throughout; the suspense was killer. While there was one scene that I felt lacked some realism, the plot was, overall, believable and captivating. I really enjoy the way that Taylor can just spin readers and her characters around in circles, planting clues and making dead ends. I really like the dead ends. Though they make the book longer, I feel like every dead end helps make the whole mystery more realistic, and makes the story itself more interesting and shows Anne’s determination. And the end. THE FREAKING END. All the pieces just fell into place and it was perfect. It was dramatic, action packed, and slightly heart-breaking. The very end though clawed at my heart. I have to now wait for the third book. It’s inhumane really, leaving me with such an ending only to cut me off from the knowledge of what’s to come. Gah.

I am in love with this series and am now anticipating the finale to this trilogy, supposedly out in August. Amazing writing, great plot lines and ideas, and a fairly tolerable romance between characters. Kara Taylor is officially one of my favourite authors.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.14/5

ARC obtained via St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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