Tag Archives: katherine tegen books

ARC Review – The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen #2) by Jodi Meadows

22909838Title:  The Mirror King  (The Orphan Queen #2)

Author: Jodi Meadows

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

Huge thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC for review!

River’s Review:

If you know me you know that I’m not the biggest fan of YA fantasy. I mildly enjoyed The Orphan Queen and expected to enjoy this but not actually find parts that I LOVED.

In the TOQ I totally guessed who Black Knife was right from the start, and found a lot of the book predictable. I DID find the Wraith (and the Wraithland) intriguing and I was really looking forward to learning more about that. So sadly in this book the exploration that I had been hoping for didn’t quite happen, but I was surprised at the ending.

I read TMK in two days because I was very invested in what was happening. Some parts were predictable (especially when it came to certain deaths) but the way that things occurred were surprising and I enjoyed that. I really wish that Wraith Boy would have had more development because he was incredibly intriguing.

Overall there was just too much fighting going on and not enough wraith exploration. I really feel like there was a missed opportunity with that. The fighting and betrayals were all very typical fantasy, but the wraith was different and I’d read another book in this world if we were able to learn more.

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ARC Review – A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

23272028Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of this for review!

River’s Review:

I LOVED this book! I’m going to be honest, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The idea sounded excellent, but Sherlock stories can always go sideways quickly. I’m a fan of the BBC version and I highly enjoy the newer movies, even some of the older films are okay, but I really dislike the American remake and I’ve had issues with some of the other YA Sherlock remakes. So I went into this with low expectations and was worried it was going to be cringe worthy… and it’s not.

First off I love the writing. I compared it to one of my favorite author’s writing and had a friend look at me with shock because that is some HIGH praise coming from me. I love how posh everything is, how quaintly New England the rest of it is. There are a lot of clever moments in this but it’s not super heavy handed THIS IS SHERLOCK at any time. I also laughed at the James Bond part.

The homage paid to the original Sherlock stories was so well done. I loved the name play, the references to both old and new Sherlock. I also really enjoyed how Holmes and Watson were portrayed. In this book Holmes is a girl, but she’s also very much… a Holmes. I loved the whole backstory that was created for both families and how well it matched with the Watson and Holmes we currently know and love. I really liked how dark Holmes was; and yes she has a drug problem. It is addressed. But I think it’s done will in this book. And the Watsons in this book were great. We get to see not only young Jamie Watson but his father, another Watson, at work here. The way that they interact with Charlotte is both hilarious and spot on to how I’d imagine previous Watsons would react to previous Holmeses.

The mystery in this was really fun too. I didn’t see whodunit coming and thought it was well played. There were moments of shock and moments of deduction and moments of plain good sleuthing.

Everything in this was just so pitch perfect and I really hope we get more!

ARC Review – Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

23677316Title: Burning Glass

Author:  Kathryn Purdie

Rating:  ★★

Synopsis: Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.

But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy for review!

River’s Review:

I seem to be not getting along well with all of the super hyped fantasy titles this year. I struggled with this book and there were a lot of things that made me cringe.

First though I did like the concept. I feel like if the characters had all been aged up about 5 years (because let’s be real, this wasn’t YA. There was NO reason why these characters HAD TO BE teens. They didn’t.) and some of the issues were fixed then I probably would have enjoyed this. I LIKE dark fantasy. I grew up reading some of the darkest adult high fantasy the late 90’s had to offer.

I also really liked the idea of Sonya’s power. I really liked how easily she was overwhelmed by the emotions of those around her. I know that I can be a VERY emotional person that that the moods of people around myself can greatly affect me, and the extent that they affected Sonya was rather terrifying.

The writing in this was very intense and probably what kept me going. I didn’t DNF because I WANTED to see what was going to happen and the writing kept me turning the pages to find out.

Sadly I had issues with the characters, the abuse, and the lack of proper world building.

First off I thought Sonya was quite brainless. At the beginning of the book I actually thought it was told from her POV as a child! I was shocked when I found out that it wasn’t a prologue, but just the first chapter!

I understand that her gift overwhelmed her, but she didn’t really try to do anything about it. In the beginning when she’s living at the covenant she apparently spends all of her time being all “woe is me” because the other girls don’t like her. She also apparently spent all of her time NOT training. It drive me MAD later on when she was always like “what training, I didn’t get any training… because I was too busy not paying attention”. Like duh. You didn’t get training because YOU CHOSE NOT TO WORK FOR IT. She also was so blind at times to what was going on around her. And her impulsiveness was absurd. I get that she’s young but she had literally NO instinct for self preservation. Even when she was alone. Ugh, she didn’t really grow much either, like she finally tried to train herself, but again it wasn’t like she was disciplined about it or anything.

I hated both of the brothers. I did like the darkness in Valko and how he was so manipulative but the abuse that he inflicted on Sonya and how she JUST TOOK IT was disgusting. I felt dirty reading those parts… I also hated the way that he would fondle her under the table during important meetings with his advisers. Some of that was just too much for YA I felt. Too dark and twisted and too much for a character of that age and experience. Anton was also a weird one because he just had no personality and I didn’t understand at all how the two of them developed feelings for each other. Valko was crazy so I just chalked his crazy passion up to that. Anton though… it just never felt real to me.

So yes, Sonya is caught between two brothers… is it a love triangle? Some would argue no because Sonya’s feelings for Valko are really just his emotions taking over her. Either way she’s torn between the two brothers and there’s a lot of ~moments~ between her and the brothers. And I couldn’t get behind either pairing.

Another thing that greatly bothered me was the way that Sonya’s gift worked… because it’s never really explained. We know for sure that she can feel other people’s emotions. But it’s more than just feeling them, their emotions get inside of her and take over. I thought THAT was cool. But then there are times when she can practically read people’s minds? And other times when she feels things but doesn’t realize that it’s someone else’s emotion? And then other times when she can’t feel ANYTHING? And then even other times when she can take over other people THROUGH their emotions? And at the very end I don’t even know what happened. It’s all very vague. Oh and apparently she has a super “special” gift because she can sense the emotions of dead people and animals. It seemed a bit far fetched to me that she could sense the anguish of a clam having it’s pearl ripped from it’s body or the death of a cow through the leather of a boot but whatever?

And the politics and world building was all very bleh. Again, I’m coming from a fantasy background where books spend hundreds of pages describing the intricate politics and schemes and lands, but this was just teens playing at politics. Making rash choices for POWER and GLORY. And not really understanding how an economy works. None of it really made sense and it was all very lame.

So yeah. Nice writing, nice tension, interesting ideas, but a lot of poor execution that could have been fixed up and fleshed out with older characters and possibly a longer, “adult fantasy” length novel.

ARC Review – The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

22926200Title: The Lifeboat Clique

Author: Kathy Parks

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Some people might say that Denver had a death wish. Why else would she have dared to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies, namely including her ex-BFF Abigail? Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who was she to question this miracle of fate? Well, that wasn’t the only surprise fate had in store.During the party a tsunami hit the coast of California, wiping out everything in its path. Denver and a handful of others escaped death by holding onto the roof of the house and were swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways was none other than Abigail, who could barely stand the sight of her.

Now that she’s floating in the ocean, stuck on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first-dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

This book was so fun… which feels wrong saying about a book that is about a lot of freaking death. But Denver had a great voice and the whole story just worked. It’s very 90’s and very mean girls.

Denver goes to a party that she shouldn’t have, but wanted to because some dude asked her. She sneaks out of her house and heads to the illegal Malibu mansion party. A HUGE earthquake strikes and a tsunami follows, pulling the kids out to sea. Not a lot of them survive and it’s all quite horrid. But in a dark comedy sort of way. Denver ends up on a boat with the “cool kids” and uses a lot of science to try to save them. They fight, they pull together, and they have some moments.

There’s not really too much that I can say about this book other than you should read it!

 

ARC Review – Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

22663629Title: Shallow Graves

Author: Kali Wallace

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

Honestly, I had no idea what this book was going to be about. Zombies? I went into it with low expectations and thought I’d just get through it and review it but I ended up REALLY enjoying it! I started reading it in the middle of the night and didn’t want to put it down before going to sleep.

My only complaint about this book is that it felt like it could have been about 100 pages longer. I WANTED MORE! Especially when it came to the monster department. A lot of the monsters weren’t really explained and I feel like if you’re proficient in monster lore then you’ll Get It. But I only vaguely know stuff about ghouls and banshees and this book either expects you to know a lot more or it also only knows vague things.

Aside from wanting more explanations about the monsters, this book was very good. Breezy wakes up in a shallow grave, a year after her death. A man is digging her up (okay another thing that is never really fully explained… why was he digging her up? Did I miss the reason?) and she kills him. She spends a couple weeks trying to figure out what she is and what her limits are. Does she need to breathe? No. Does she die if she tries to kill herself? Nope. Have people stopped looking for her? Yup.

Unsure of what to do with herself Breezy starts to just… wander. She hitchhikes and gets picked up by random strangers who take her with them. She makes up stories about why she’s wandering around and ends up at a gas station where she meets a boy who gives her a flyer for a church that “helps people like her” and then she gets into the car with a murder (Breezy can “see” when people have killed before).

Eventually Breezy finds her way to the church on the flier only to find out that it’s really a place that takes monsters and “fixes” them. Breezy, not wanting to be “fixed” (which from what she’s seen from the people at the church, means killing them or basically taking away their faculties) and tries to make a run for it. Along the way she gets capture, meets other monsters, escapes, and faces her own demons and the questions of what is she and who killed her.

Aside from some details being glossed over and vague, I really enjoyed Breezy as a character and I loved her voice. I also enjoyed ALL of the side characters. The creepy church and religious aspects were wonderful, and I really loved how dark this could get.

I honestly can’t pin down what I loved about this book so much other than I just DID.

ARC Review – Shade Me (Nikki Kill #1) by Jennifer Brown

25773842Title: Shade Me

Author: Jennifer Brown

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

Huge thank you to Katherine Tegen Books / Harper Collins Canada for the ARC!

River’s Review:

I am SO disappointed. I wanted to love this book so badly and alas it wasn’t meant to be. It had EVERYTHING going for it for me: synesthesia, kick-ass fighter girl, intriguing mystery… but sadly none of that really worked out well.

First I have to say that I felt like this story would have possibly worked better with a much older cast of characters. Possibly out of college 20-somethings. Ultimately I just felt like it was being forced into being a YA when it really should have been an adult (or even NA) mystery-thriller.

Anyways, Nikki Kill, our kick-ass MC, has synesthesia. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when your sense get kinda mixed up. Some people can see colors when they look at numbers or letters. When I was younger I was able to taste smells (like foods wold taste like the smell of something… I kinda outgrew it) so I always love reading books that deal with synesthesia. Nikki’s was the kind where she looks at numbers and letters and can see colors. She could also see colors connected to emotions. This… didn’t really work for me. It seemed a little too magical at times… like she was able to “predict” things by looking at people and seeing colors. idk. It just really felt a little far fetched at times. Then later on we find out that there’s another person running around with synesthesia who can apparently see the same colors ad Nikki does? I’m… pretty sure it doesn’t work that way. I don’t think that two people with synesthesia can experience things exactly the SAME WAY.

The mystery in this book was also not as mysterious as I’d originally thought it would be and hoped for. Everything felt so thinly connected and some of the conclusions that Nikki would jump to and have actually BE RIGHT just seemed to random and far fetched and just like really??? When we get to the BIG REVEAL I was just rolling my eyes so hard. And like every time Nikki would find a clue she was always like I KNOW BLAH BLAH BLAH with so much damn confidence that I was like ‘really? How do you KNOW?’ it was just really annoying.

The love interest was dumb too. I hated how quickly things went and how there was no development and suddenly there was ~love~. Just… Nikki was supposed to be this cold hearted bitch loaner chick and despite having no friends she has guys falling all over her. And wtf was up with the creepy detective? He kept following her around and wanting to take care of her and there was so much weird sexual tension and just… ew. I don’t care that she was 18 and legal, that dude had to at least be late 20s early 30s!

And the pretend to be a prostitute to get information crap… just again more no. More this is way too old for its characters.

Ugh so much ugh. Around page 350 I just wanted to put it down but kept going with the hope that something shocking was going to happen and it just never did.

Sam’s Review:

If I could describe Shade Me in two words, it would be ‘hot mess.’ The premise of this book is what drew me to it, and if I’m being honest, I spent a lot of this book so razzled and confused as to what the author was eventually trying to get at. Was this a noir? A thriller? An urban fantasy novel? Contemporary? It blends a variety of genres in terms of its presentation, but doesn’t excel at any of them.

I loved the concept of synesthesia, and that was what drew me to the story. However, I felt so confused in its usage during the novel. There were so many moments where I totally understood what Brown was using it for, and other moments where I was like “Okay… what?” and that really bugged me. I felt like I couldn’t connect to Nikki or how she saw the world, no matter how hard I tried as I read the book. It didn’t help that Nikki is such a bland character who just makes poor decisions (which is cool, she’s a teen, it’s allowed), but they are decisions where they are just odd or made me uncomfortable? There’s one scene in particular and as I was reading it on my way home from work that just made me go “WHO DOES THAT?!” to the point where I texted my co-blogger said response.

I think if the characters had been presented a bit older, like they were in college, I think aspects of this novel would have worked so much better. Horribly, I just didn’t like any of the characters, their motives felt shallow, and the plot just comes across to messy at times. A lot of the connections are hanging by tiny threads, and it’s just frustrating given how interesting the premise is.

It’s like wasted potential, especially given that we are told one think about NIkki’s emotions (how she is unfeeling) and yet she feels so much. Yet, there were times I admit, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I think with it being such a hot mess, part of me needed to see where this story was going to go. To be fair, I actually genuinely enjoyed the last forty pages or so, as I was completely engaged, and it was a solid, if predictable ending.

While this is my first Jennifer Brown novel, Shade Me has not deterred me from reading her back catalogue. I wish this had been a much more cohesive novel, instead of the confusing mess that it is. I think this novel will appeal to some readers, just don’t go into it thinking you’re getting a straight-laced thriller, because it just fumbles at any sort of genre convention it attempts to replicate. This isn’t a bad novel, but I admit, I think I hyped it up way more in my head, and was left sorely disappointed.

ARC Review – Reckless Hearts (Wicked Games #2) by Sean Olin

24980595Title:  Reckless Hearts (Wicked Games #2)

Author: Sean Olin

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: What do you do if you find yourself fantasizing about kissing your best friend? Sensitive guitarist Jake has been asking himself that same question for a long time, and there’s no easy answer. Telling his dream girl –talented anime artist Elena– about his feelings might lead to the ultimate rejection, but not telling her just might kill him.

Before Jake can make his move, though, a new mysterious guy enters the picture in an unexpected way. In Elena’s mind, Harlow is excitement-personified: a rebellious yet kindred spirit who she instantly connected with online. Jake’s gut is telling him that something about Harlow is off, and that Elena is in way over her head, but the more Jake pushes the issue, the more he pushes Elena right into Harlow’s arms –and into a tragedy that neither of them would ever see coming.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

So last year I tried to read the first book in the “Wicked Games” series and I could not get into it and had to drop it. I was surprised to get this from Harper and thought that since they’d sent me a copy I’d give it a try. Thankfully things went MUCH better this time around.

Overall this is a quick contemporary read. The writing isn’t anything special and I saw the twist coming a mile away. But I enjoyed the characters and the overall story. I would have liked more depth and more emotions… especially because Jake was supposed to be this deep, emotional guy. This was a very surface level story that was a bit predictable but like I said, I liked the characters.

I actually could relate very well with both Jake and Elena. I was in love with my best friend for a long time before I finally realized what a hot mess it was and left for good, so I could totally understand Jake’s reservations over telling Elena about his true feelings. I could also understand how hard it was for him to see her obsessing over another person. And I’ve been in the situation before where someone I held dear to me wanted MORE than I could offer in that relationship and how hard it was to want to be close to that person, but not in the way that they wanted. I really enjoyed the struggle that both Jake and Elena went through and it was so hard for me to choose who I wanted to root for.

I also like how anime played a part in this. It was fun that Elena was so into anime and that she enjoyed drawing and animating things. I was a bit wtf at Harlow and his insistence that it was super easy to just get animators in Japan to notice some stupid American teen, but at that point I knew that Harlow was a jack-off.

Overall if you enjoy YA contemporary and are looking for a quick read then this should fit that need. And if you liked the first book then you should like this and if you hated the first book know that this one was MUCH better.