You Won’t Forget This One…

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When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.  Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.  This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget. (From Goodreads)

It’s a quick, but extremely brutal read. This may not be for everyone.

You really do feel for ‘Alice’ throughout the novel and what she goes through. There’s a feeling of utter helplessness watching her suffer under the hands of Ray and his cruelty is hard to read. What’s worse is, as the novel progresses and Ray develops other plans to include Alice you feel horrible reading the book (almost like having a bad taste in the mouth).

Alice’s behavior is also hard to read. She’s been conditioned because of Ray, and some of her actions are the cause of it. You almost cringe because you start doubting her and wonder if she really will listen to Ray or not. She’s had various chances to leave Ray but her fear for her family kept her staying. It’s understandable as Ray is a manipulator and managed to twist things around to get Alice to be compliant.

There’s pieces here and there of Ray and his background. However at that point you don’t care anymore since he’s an awful scumbag and deserves any horrible thing coming at him. It’s a pretty straight forward plot, everything is done through Alice’s perspective, and it’s definitely the type of book that will stick with you for a long while.

I’m not going to recommend this, it may be too much for some readers. Definitely pick up something with a much lighter theme after this one.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

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Team Magnus and Lucia because Cleo stinks.

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In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface. As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned***

I rather enjoyed this one. Somewhat. The characters are really what drives this book (some of them that is) and while the plot moves at a medium pace, it’s understandable as this introduces you to the setting, the characters and what’s in store for us as readers.

World building is straight forward and there’s a handy guide in the beginning so you can figure out who is who and from which Kingdom (there are three). It pretty much centralizes on a small group that are central to the main plot and it’s easy to figure out who is who as you quickly start developing favorites 🙂

And this is where it starts getting interesting. I notice this happens sometimes with fantasy books. The good characters are downright annoying, nauseating (even more so when the love factor is involved) and induce eye rolling moments while reading. The not so nice characters are  more interesting to read, you quietly cheer for them and hope they turn out for the better because you don’t want them going down that path because most likely, they’ll end up being gone and you’ll have nothing else to read but the good guys.

I tried to like Cleo. I really did. However all I see is a little naive twit who’s annoying and I don’t really see her worth in this book and I wonder why Magnus just doesn’t end her so she can join good ol dependable Theon. I am hoping she turns out better in the later books but so far she’s not looking so good and her romance with Theon was so eye rolling inducing it’s characters like these that make or break the novel.

Thankfully, I love the Magnus story arc. He’s turned into a jerk but it’s not really his fault as dad isn’t really nice. The thing with Lucia is creepy and although they’re not blood related it still gives moments of queasiness (dude, you have like so many girls in the Kingdom come on). That being said though, I love reading about Magnus and Lucia. Their story lines are interesting, they have faults, and they deal with it (albeit, perhaps not in an all too healthy manner).

The story arc with Jonas was also interesting and I wish more was written about him (I think Cleo’s got way too much time in spotlight) as he’s gone through so much to get his revenge and only to find out it just opened a giant Pandora’s box and we’re heading towards more epic battling.

The latter third of the book gets really interesting. I’m only hoping there’s going to be a good outcome for everyone and I really hope Cleo’s character improves because she’s really what could make or break my desire to continue onto this series. Sometimes it takes that one character to ruin it all. That being said, I think it’s off to a great start and I’m ready for some more! Great for those into YA fantasy.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  

Like a Reality TV show you can’t break away from…

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Welcome to Manderley Academy

I hadn’t wanted to go, but my parents were so excited… So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine’s not the name on everyone’s lips. Oh, no. It’s Becca Normandy they can’t stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley— the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it’s my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me. Then, there’s the name on my lips— Max Holloway. Becca’s ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can’t. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I’m starting to like it at Manderley, I can’t help but think she’s out there, somewhere, watching me take her place. Waiting to take it back. (From Goodreads)

This is one of the few times where I enjoyed the book however the characters were so unlikable I was amazed that I stuck through and finished the novel. It was well written enough that I was super curious as to what happened to Becca and whether she was really around or if she had a horrible outcome. The mystery element was well done to keep you guessing. The point of views changes between Becca and Callie’s. There’s a good easy flow between the two perspectives so it makes the reading easy to follow and quick.

That being said, the characters were just awful in a sense not that they were unreadable (almost) but they were just horrible awful people. Even our main character wasn’t that likable. However I digress. Let’s break them down:

Becca; Oh darling. You horrible awful attention seeking harpy. Not only do you have issues of your own but because you aren’t happy you feel the need to destroy others and to make sure you drag them down into the mud and follow you through your misery. I had no sympathies. Even when it was revealed what happened. Except for …well you know.

Max: Another horrible creature and he’s pretty much meant for Becca anyway as they’re both rather terrible people. The “I like you but I don’t want to be together” spiel is ugh. On top of that after you say that you go and do the pursuing. You’re the emotional manipulative type just like Becca and it’s hard to figure out which one is worse. You emotionally  play with the main character and give her the yo-yo treatment then get mad when she’s talking with your best friend..oh wait sorry let’s re-write that: “Best Friend”. Dude, you’re like a horrible Tinder date gone wrong.

Dana: You’re a psychotic twit and holy mother mary do you have issues. I get what happened and you stood there and was an observer but you lashing out and being Queen Horrible to Callie (main character) was inexcusable. This behavior can’t even be blamed on grief, you’re just pure malice. Your obsession with Becca is creepy it makes you look like the type of fangirl nobody ever wants.

Madison and Julia: You have no spines and you follow Becca like she’s a Goddess. Stop being sheep and your condescension towards Callie was uncalled for. You each deserve a swift kick for treating her like that.

Johnny: You broke the Bro-Code. You should be banned for life.

Callie: Where do I start with you? You started off as a great main character and a lot of sympathies to you because you started off on the wrong foot and in a precarious situation. However then you did this yo-yo game with Max saying “Yeah I like you but I never said I was going to be with you” sure, that was a savage burn on your part but you keep *whining* about how you like Max so much and he’s not returning the favor because of Becca but he keeps coming back to you like you’re the side piece and you don’t seem to mind that treatment. You try to stick up for yourself with Dana (which was admirable) but then you shrink back into your turtle shell and you just *walk* into these situations even though YOU KNOW it’s going to turn out with potentially bad consequences. You’re like the friend that complains about how horrible your significant other is treating you but you’re still with that person but you don’t listen to advice. You have got to be one of the most frustrating characters I have ever read so far.

Well now! That sums up my opinions of the characters. I say go for reading this one. It’s almost like you’re watching reality TV and it’s such a guilty pleasure but you can’t help but not look away. Maybe because the characters were just so hateful you had to keep on reading. You just wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

 

A Subject to be Aware of. Definitely Recommend this one.

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In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. (From Goodreads)

This was a great eye opener albeit a sad read on what’s going on with the Uyghur and how they’re being treated by the Chinese government. They’re not a very well known group of people and after finishing this book it’s an eye opening experience.

Throughout the novel you follow the narrative of Roshen, who’s left her family behind and a potential fiance to work in a factory. As a reader you already have an idea on how this is going to go as factories over there are usually sweatshops with grueling horrifying conditions. What I was not expecting, and because I didn’t know much of these peoples is they’re on the bottom rung of the ladder everywhere they go. Since they don’t look like your average Chinese, they stick out as a visible minority and because their beliefs are very much different, they get treated horribly and are pretty much slaves.

You follow Roshen and a group of Uyghur girls as they toil through the factory under horrible conditions. You can feel their fear and mistrust, even amongst themselves because anyone can become an informant. What I was not prepared for, was for Hawa’s character. You already had an assumption about her because of her behavior but when she does something completely unspeakable on behalf of Roshen it was a complete blindside. The negative feelings you had towards Hawa disappears completely and is replaced with a kind of respect for what she went through.

Definitely recommended to read. It’s horrifying what these families and girls go through, and awareness is key.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Great action and plot, bad love triangle

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MACKENZIE AND AMY WERE BEST FRIENDS.

UNTIL AMY WAS BRUTALLY MURDERED.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome – also known as the werewolf virus – is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk. (From Goodreads)

***Possible spoilers, you’ve been warned***

The book starts off well and has a good pace and momentum throughout the book. The setting is also well done and small with a handful of characters so it’s simple and makes the reading enjoyable. I particularly liked the dream sequences Mac has with Amy. They can be cliche but it helps move the plot along and adds to the mood.

The werewolf aspect is interesting in the book. The notion of them having a ‘rehabilitation’ camp has a dystopia feel and there’s also Mac trying to solve Amy’s murder. So there’s different characteristics of the book to please YA readers which makes the experience reading this fun and enjoyable.

Of course you need a bit of romance in the story as well right? I’m all for Kyle and Mac being together. I found the love triangle aspect here irritating and forced on. Jason did not have sort of chemistry at all with Mac. It felt forced, awkward, and well…it just didn’t sit well with me (your boyfriend likes your best friend…just. No.) The love triangle just made things so cliche and sappy. The story didn’t need this. It was fine with just Kyle and Mac!

The mystery aspect was good throughout the novel. The crumb trail to figuring out who was behind the attacks wasn’t that obvious until the late third of the book and although it was already known who it was, the action sequence and climax of the story was pretty exciting and a lot of things are revealed. The revelations weren’t the type to blind side you, it fits well into the story and puts the pieces together. Which is fine. I think the action scenes are enough to keep readers interested.

I was happy with the way the book ended and I’ll be picking up the second one. Recommended for YA lovers who just want a good light read with some good action and a readable enjoyable plot.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Sad to see The Grisha Go :(

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The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers. You’ve been warned***

The plot was a pretty fast paced one, just like the first and second. This one’s got more heartbreaking moments and I’m glad to see the romance drama has cleared as well. You still feel the awkward tension between Mal and Alina and it does induce moments of eyeball rolling but the heartbreaker comes when hell breaks loose and Nikolai gets taken away and becomes corrupted by the Darkling.

Did I ever want to cry out loud in horrifying rage.

Of all people Nikolai just HAD TO BE THE ONE. Just when things were getting a little better, when it looks like he might have snagged Alina and they might be together (just maybe?) but noooo! He had to be corrupted and although he valiantly did try to fight it my heart broke into two. (I guess you could say I’m all for Team Nikolai) Which of course clears the path for Mal and Alina to try again and rekindle their love.

This love triangle was one where I was happy with who she would end up being with either way. Of course I would have preferred Nikolai because I loved his character and personality. But now that Mal stopped his stupidity the chemistry was back between himself and Alina. It just felt right.

I loved how everything just came to full circle to close this series. How in the end, Mal and Alina go back to recreate the orphanage to house children just like how they used to be when they were young. It was sad to see Alina decline to be at Nikolai’s side, but also to decline to be at court with the other Grisha but, it was for the better. Alina had never felt like she was part of them, neither did Mal. It was touching when she received the kefta with the note (yeah I got a little something in my eye with that moment)

And even though the Darkling didn’t deserve it, kudos for Alina to take the high road and giving him a proper ending.

I enjoyed reading this series. I’m sad to see this series come to an end. I didn’t realize how attached I were to some characters. It was a nice sigh of relief at the end though. When I closed the book after reading the final page. It was a beautiful but bittersweet ending.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

 

(David and Genya!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!) 😀

 

Serious Subject Matter but needs to be read.

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Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks. That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead. (From Goodreads)

You simply just can’t imagine the terror Piper had to go through all throughout her life, and then to get out of that vicious cycle shows how strong she is. It’s sad that it had to come to severe extreme measure for her to escape but nevertheless she was able to do so is a feat in itself.

The way the characters; both Piper and Sanda are extremely well done in this book. They’re both mistrustful of others (can’t blame them) and although they try hard to learn how to integrate with society, they do tend to stand out. (Examples such as Sanda being fearful of not seeing Piper again or Piper learning how to register Sanda to school) This is so well done by Johansson. It’s very realistic of their characters and it shows how they struggle to blend in because of their fear of standing out due to their trauma. They shy away from physical contact to the point where it causes them physical discomfort. This is well written and felt by the characters accurately.

The plot itself was good as well. It just seems like wherever Piper goes horrible awful things just seem to follow. It’s serious and dark, and Piper being stalked does increase the chill factor several notches up. The idea of someone breaking into your apartment and leaving lovely goodies to freak you out is unsettling and terrifying. These moments are well written and does set the mood for the plot. There’s a moment or two where you feel so angry because of particular actions and the suffering some of the characters go through. (Yes Lily, I’m looking at you…you horrible girl you…)

I’m not sure what to think of the relationship between Cam and Piper. Sure Piper has a great deal of mistrust and puts Cam at an arm length’s distance but seriously? Romance? I know he’s trying to be friendly and has a bleeding heart for those in need but I’m not sure Piper would jump in at the chance to have a romance with him. Yes, she puts him as far away from her as possible and he tries hard to approach her through different ways but I really don’t see a romance as a thing in this story. Should there even be one? Why was there one in the first place? I found it rather unnecessary considering the serious subject matter.

This novel is nerve wracking, and props to Piper and Sanda for their inner strength. It was a good read. Not a light hearted one, but one worth the read nevertheless.

I give it a 7 out of 10.