Monday, October 26, 2015

Marie Lu's "The Rose Society"

"Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all"

I just love reading books from Marie Lu. I am always swept up in the world she creates on paper. Taken to a place that I can see clearly in my head. Her writing is so vivid and imaginative. The Rose Society is the second book in The Young Elites novels. It is everything I could want in a second book of a trilogy. It takes what was in book one and elevated it far and above what I ever imagined and left me yearning for the third book to be finished immediately.

Adelina is an Elite. The blood fever left her with the power of illusion- she can make others think horrible things are happening to them. In book one she is fighting the Inquisition with her group of friends who each have powers of their own. But then they betrayed her, leaving her bitter and full of revenge. This book takes you to a dark, dark place. 

We see Adelina go from a heroine to a villain. She is an extremely damaged girl, and although she has good intentions, her hardened heart is leading her to a dark side. A side full of rage, revenge, and murder. 

This book is deep and dark, more action-packed, and much more deadly. New alliances are formed and new enemies are made. Everyone is fighting for the throne. Everyone has their own reasons why they want the crown. Can Adelina trust anyone around her, even her so called allies, to help in her mission?

Throughout this book Adelina battles her inner demons, dark voices, as she calls them. She isn't a completely cruel and cold girl. There is humanity in her. At just about the time when I start to like her and empathize with her, she goes off the deep end, turning into a cold-hearted, evil, malicious and deceitful girl. She turns into a villain I fear, yet desperately want to root for.

 There is never a dull moment in this book. Marie Lu went above and beyond my expectations. She took it to a whole new level. I loved Lu's Legend Series, but I like this series sooooo much more. I would deem the Legend Series as Sci-fi and The Young Elites is more of a fantasy series. If you liked the first Young Elites book you will definitely LOVE this second one. If you haven't read any of Marie Lu's novels then it is time to start! You won't be disappointed.

 I will leave you with random quotes of the book I highlighted while reading:

Right now, what I want is the throne. Enzo’s power. A perfect revenge. And all the Inquisitors, queens, and Daggers in the world won’t be able to stop me. ~Adelina

It is better to have an enemy who will fight you in an open field than a lover who will kill you in your sleep. ~Kenettra and Beldain Ancient Rivalry, various authors

I will keep you until the day I choose not too. You have destroyed and harmed all that is dear to me. In return, I want you to know what that feels like. I will not kill you. I will keep you alive. I will torture you. Until your soul is dead ~Adelina

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ARC Giveaway!

Back in the end of July I was so lucky for Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley to allow me to read the eARC of Marieke Nijkamp's This Is Where It Ends . This book blew my mind. I have never read a book like it. A student shooter is on campus. This book tells the story from 4 different perspectives over the course of the 54 minute ordeal. To read my previously posted full review click here. 

Well Sourcebooks has recently launched a Tumblr site for the book and are hosting an advanced copy giveaway! This is your chance to win "This Is Where It Ends" before it is released! 

Head on over to their Tumblr and sign up to win the ARC along with a chalkboard and chalk! Once you have read it, they invite you to use the chalkboard and chalk to express how you feel after reading. You can use words (or a single word) or even a picture. Was there a character that most appealed to you? Did it leave you speechless? Angry? Scared? They want you to share your feelings by using the chalkboard and snapping a picture to share on their Tumblr or any other social media site using the hashtags #ThisIsWhereItEnds and #SourcebooksFire.

So head over to there Tumbler page and enter! This is a book that people will be buzzing about. You definitely will want to read it, so why not try and win an advanced copy? Entry is easy. Once again, click here to enter. 

About the author:
Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA, and a founding contributor to YA Misfits. She lives in the Netherlands. Visit her at . 

"This Is Where It Ends" is the debut book by Nijkamp and is set to be released in January 2016.

Good luck and Happy Reading! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"The Killing Lessons: A Novel" by Saul Black

"Years of not locking doors and windows, of leaving keys in the ignition, of not thinking anything like this was ever going to happen, years of feeling safe- it had all been a lie... Your whole life could turn out to be nothing but you waiting to meet your own giant stupidity."

Two strangers turn up at an isolated farmhouse during the beginning of a huge snowstorm. Two serial killers reek havoc on Nell's 10 year old life, killing her mother and brother, but Nell escapes. Running terrified, half frozen, and injured she escapes into the frozen Colorado wilderness in search of help. Detective Hart is dedicated to solving these serial murders but is haunted by her own past and is starting to loose the drive to investigate and solve these horrific, brutal murders. 

"The Killing Lessons: A Novel" is told in different parts and viewpoints. We begin with Nell's point of view, move on to Det. Hart's story and finally end with the view of the story from one of the serial killers. Rarely are mysteries and thrillers written from several different views but I really enjoyed that aspect. It adds more dimension to the story. I liked being able to see it through different eyes. 

The author does a phenomenal job with character description and development. It was easy to imagine myself in the character's situation and get a clear picture of the surroundings and settings of the story. 

That is where it ends for me in the positive aspects category. This book started on such a high note but faded. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun read, but not a great read. Repetition. Over explanation. Boring side stories. Unbelievable situations. These are all things that made this a 3 star read for me. 

Be warned- the scenes described in this book can be VERY graphic. Murder, sodomy, rape, etc. The author writes in detail. Even for a true crime, serial killer, and murder story enthusiast like me, it was a bit too much and I skimmed through those parts. The horrible sexual violence towards women described in vivid detail was just unnecessary to me. The story would have been fine without such gory details.

***Mini spoiler***- the part in the story description on Amazon and Goodreads states that Nell is running  into what could be a worse place to go than the house her family was just murdered in and where the serial killers still are. I kept waiting for a more horrific place for Nell to reach. She reaches a cabin in the woods with a man who will do anything he can to help her... the plot summary is a blatant lie. It was something that made me confused and then angry when reading. I feel that it was such a let down, that it's worth pointing out to future readers. 

The overall theme at the end of this book that seems to tie all the characters together is TRUST. Betraying trust, loosing trust in someone, and finding out how to trust again. 

A decent read. Not a non-stop page turning thriller, but a satisfying story. 

Happy Reading! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Patrick Modiano's "So You Don't Get Lost In The Neighborhood"

I finished this book a few days ago. I have been stewing about what to say and thinking of how to rate this. Let's start with the basics. So You Don't Get Lost In The Neighborhood is written by 2014 Nobel Prize winning author Patrick Modiano. Prior to this book I had never heard of him or read any of his previous works. The following is the plot summary taken from Goodreads:

In the stillness of his Paris apartment, Jean Daragane has built a life of total solitude. Then a surprising phone call shatters the silence of an unusually hot September, and the threatening voice on the other end of the line leaves Daragane wary but irresistibly curious. Almost at once, he finds himself entangled with a shady gambler and a beautiful, fragile young woman, who draw Daragane into the mystery of a decades-old murder. The investigation will force him to confront the memory of a trauma he had all but buried.  With So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood Patrick Modiano adds a new chapter to a body of work whose supreme psychological insight and subtle, atmospheric writing have earned him worldwide renown — including the Nobel Prize in Literature. This masterly novel, now translated into twenty languages, penetrates the deepest enigmas of identity and compels us to ask whether we ever know who we truly are.

The summary sounded intriguing and being that I love a good mystery I thought this would be the perfect book to introduce me to the author. But I was fooled. This book is not the typical mystery. This story is more of a look into the mysteries of the mind. To determine if what a person remembers is fact or fiction. How over time our memories become skewed or forgotten all together. It wasn't the type of mystery I was expecting, and because of that I was disappointed. 

I was sucked in at the beginning but quickly lost interest because I just couldn't engage or relate to any of the characters. The bulk of this story is about the main character diving into his past memories and the plot just didn't flow for me. "Clues" came at odd times in the story, just like memories of the past sometimes appear suddenly in a person's mind. It was confusing, at times, trying to decipher what time (present or past) the story was in and also what elements of the story were real or a false memory. There were way too many side stories (memories) that didn't have anything to do with the main story. By the end of the book I just didn't care what happened or why it happened, but just wanted the book to end so I could move on to the next.

I really don't have much more to say about this work. It was such a short novel with no real "meat". Yes, there were a few interesting parts, but overall there was nothing spectacular or even memorable about the book. I expected more from an award winning author. Perhaps this story got lost in the translation from French to English? 

I also think that Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and even my library should not list this book as a mystery/thriller. Labeling it as such just sets the reader up for a huge disappointment. This was a 2 star read for me. 

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"The Winter Girl: A Novel" by Matt Marinovich ARC

"The Winter Girl: A Novel" by Matt Marinovich is due to be released on January 19, 2016. It is an ARC I requested to read and was granted access via Netgalley and Doubleday Books. It is described as this:

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband's obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

     It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion. 
     Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations. 
     Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection

Except that it wasn't a book done to absolute perfection. It wasn't even close in my opinion. I have to say that the beginning really got me and sucked me in fast! But the more I kept reading, the more it kept sizzling out. The excitement faded fast and turned into a completely unbelievable thriller that just was too over the top. 

No one, anywhere, would ever say or do the things that main characters of this book did. No one. While this is a work of fiction and the definition of fiction is literature that describes imaginary events and people, it was just too much. The words "are you kidding me" floated through my mind constantly while reading. But despite the craziness I continued to read.

Then story then gets really really sick and twisted. Dark family secrets of sex and lies come out. So unbelievable and so twisted that I am still very confused about it all. It is almost like the author couldn't correctly describe the characters' thoughts and feelings on certain situations and just kind of left the reader wondering "what the fuck just happened". 

There are parts of this book that are so well written and a pleasure to read. The scenery in this book is so well described. But the character's were a bit of a mystery to me. There was just something lacking in them that made them unlikable and one dimensional. Not much character development at all. Further character development may have made for a more enjoyable story.

I won't get into any further details so not to ruin this book for others who may still want to read it. It is a dark thriller with a sick, perverted twist. 

Not a complete waste of precious reading time, but in no way a good read. I feel like this could have been such a good book, but wasn't well executed and edited. Reading it was so disjointed and bizarre. The unexpected plot twists do keep on coming, which is the sole reason I continued to read. It was also a short novel, so finishing it didn't take long.

2.5 stars from me. I like dark thrillers, but this was so perverted, unbelievable, and at the same time vague, that I still can't wrap my head around the "why's". 

Happy Reading!

"Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story" by Shanna Hogan

"Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story..." by Shanna Hogan is a book I chose to listen to via Audible rather than read. I listen to a handful of true crime podcasts and thought that listening, rather than reading, would be more suitable for this type of subject. Side note-  Sword & Scale Podcast , as I have mentioned before, is my all time favorite podcast. Excellent content, interesting true crime, outstanding production quality, and I love the music used.

If you aren't familiar with the Jodi Arias  case here is a small snippet of info:

Travis Alexander was a handsome, hard-working, practicing Mormon who lived in Mesa, Arizona. His good looks and easygoing manner made him popular with everyone, especially the ladies. So when he was found with a bullet wound in the face and his throat slashed, the brutal murder sent shock waves throughout his community. Who could have done something so sinister?
But soon a suspect was singled out-Jodi Arias. A beautiful, aspiring photographer, Jodi had been in a long-distance relationship with Travis the year before. But Travis wasn't interested in a serious commitment; he was seeing several women during that time. When he broke up with her, that didn't stop Jodi from leaving California, moving to just a few miles away from Travis's home, and inserting herself into his daily life.
Investigators found one piece of startling evidence in Travis's home that implicated Jodi. But in a bizarre turn of events, Jodi would claim self-defense. Was she a victim - or a devious femme fatale?

~taken from Amazon 

I was not impressed by the voice used. It says that this is narrated by Emily Durante but it was this weird mix of human and robot voice that at the beginning really bothered me and at times couldn't correctly pronounce simple words. I have listened audiobooks previously that were narrated by the author and this weird narration drove me nuts. 

Despite the narration, the story was easy to listen to. This book reads and flows like a fiction story, which was good and bad. The author, Hogan, seemed to be very specific in little details such as what was said in conversations between friends and how various scenes looked in very minute detail, which left me wondering if it was all 100% non-fiction or a mix of truth and fluff. It was just strange to read (listen) to a timeline of exact words spoken by characters and the emotions they were feeling at the time. Hogan either did very extensive research and interviews, or made up dialog along the way. I just find it hard to believe she knew how Travis (the victim) was feeling prior to his death. 

It is a non-fiction, true crime story filled with emotions and memories rather than facts. I was left many times wondering why the author didn't elaborate more when actual facts were given. Really there were no new facts given in the book that weren't already explored during the airing of the trial on television. The only new incite this story gave were emails and texts between Travis and his friends.  

Hogan also told such a one sided story and not an objective re-telling of a crime. Most of it is focused on the victim, Travis, and his life prior to death, along with his family and friends' views and opinions after his horrific murder occurred. There are parts Hogan uses "according to Ms. Arias" or uses quotes from Arias that were published in news stories, but it seems like this was written specifically for the victim's family and friends to tell their side of the story. 

Another issue I had was the writing style. It is written like a very bad YA teen story. I happen to love YA books so this was a huge disappointment. Hogan writes the book as is she was actually there from death to trial. Like she was a part of the story. The language, dialog, and descriptions used to retell the story had me, at times, wondering if we were even dealing with grown adults, or juvenile teenagers. It was just odd. The character's description were so basic and boring that it was just flat. There are better words that Hogan could have used to describe witnesses throughout the book besides "petite blonde, peppy, or lanky" (she used them repetitively through the whole book also). The book opens by describing a scene of Travis' house. It reads like this:

"Slivers of light pierced the white wood blinds, illuminating a single window on the second floor. It was the only trace of light in the house--the rest lay shrouded by the night sky."

So over-the-top and dreamy-like. Very odd for a non-fiction book's opening line in my opinion.

All in all, it was a decent read (listen) and was interesting to hear the story from the "victim's side", even though I really wondered how much of the thoughts and emotions of the characters were actually true and how much was made up and imagined. It did seem to drag on because of the excessive detail into the life of the victim and explaining what a terrific guy he was. I just think Hogan's execution should have been different and read more like interviews of family and friends recounting the story and the life of Travis rather than retelling it as if the author was a part of the story.

If you have followed the Jodi Arias trial this is a decent read or listen, but nothing great. A 3 star read for me. 

Happy Reading!