Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross

Genre:  YA Steampunk
The Steampunk Chronicles, Book 4

Note:  If you haven't read this series, the information below could spoil plots from earlier books.

Description (taken from Kady Cross' website):
1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin

London’s underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End’s most dazzling circus.

Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe—especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.

Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist’s maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come face-to-face with the destructive power he wields.

This is a steampunk series told from multiple points of view.  We have Finley/Griffin, Emily/Sam, Wildcat/Jasper, and Mila/Jack.  It seems like new characters are creeping in and everyone's got a partner to love.  Regardless, this story gets to introduce Mila a little bit more, and the story weaves through her relationship with Jack.  It looks like bad boy Jack might have finally found a reason to be happy.

Garibaldi, Griffin and the gang's arch nemesis, was finally destroyed in the last book.  But now he's in the Aether, and he's out to get Griffin.  So when he finally does capture him, all hell breaks loose with the gang as they try to figure out how to save him.  But Finley will stop at nothing to save the man she loves.  Even if it means destroying herself in the process.

Honestly, I have fun with this series.  I can't really say I remember exactly what happened in the previous books since it's been a year in between books, but I still enjoy reading them.  Sometimes, the multiple points of view get to me, but I think it went well with this one.  I got enough from each character to stay content but was left with a little mystery to want to keep reading.

This is an original steampunk series that keeps going.  If you haven't looked into it, I'd suggest you read the first one.  It might catch your eye (and keep your heart).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Bodies we Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Genre:  YA Paranormal Thriller

Description (taken from Goodreads):
A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

When Faye was 11, her father's dealers took her father's debts out on her.  They forced a highly addictive drug on her and her best friend.  Heam is the new drug out there that stops your body momentarily and gives you a glimpse of the afterlife.  But an overdose has dire consequences.  It can leave you with scars and an addiction that almost no one can kick.  But Faye is going to get over the addiction.  In fact, she's going to hunt down the ones that did this to her.

Treated like a piranha in society, Faye gets into a good school with the help of her guardian.  But being the charity case addict, she has a strict set of rules to follow in order to stay in school.  Because no one believes an addict can live a normal life.  But Gazer, the guardian, thinks she can help Faye and give her the confidence she needs in order to want to live.  But only a miracle can make Faye see something other than the revenge she seeks.  She's tainted by the world's horrors and can only see herself as another horror in this world.

I think this book plays heavily on the emotional scars we hold onto.  And it puts drug-user stereotypes to the extreme.  Based on my own experiences with the unsavory drug world, we do place drug users at the bottom of our societal chain regardless of whether or not they should be there.  And since this is all Faye's known, she sees her own life as worthless.  The only point she can find in life is getting revenge.  And sadly revenge isn't the best thing to live for.  But there are so many good characters in this story that challenge Faye's views.  And I loved those side characters.  I certainly despised Faye, but I loved all of those characters that came out and rooted for her.

This is a story that should make you think twice before you are quick to judge people.  And hopefully it'll make you see the good in others.  It was a good and deep read, but I'm still not sure how I feel about this one.

Thanks goes to Random House Children's Books for providing me a review copy.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Genre:  YA Ghost Story

Description (taken from Goodreads):
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.

We have a corporeal girl looking for vengeance.  This is our narrator and who we will follow throughout this tale.  She's a girl obsessed with numbers and filling a need that can only be filled by spilling blood.  But when a boy catches her attention, she'll put her vengeance on hold to protect him.  For he bears a curiosity that we're dying to figure out.

Tark has recently moved to Applegate where his cousin, Callie, lives.  There's been plenty of strange happenings with him, and he's trying to put his past behind him.  But as Callie tries to encourage her cousin, she notices something quite peculiar following him around.  And when she realizes it's a ghost that's following him, she's determined to keep her from hurting Tark.  So begins their journey into the realm of spirits and Japanese folklore.

For being a ghost story told from a dead girl with OCD (the numbers!), I thought this was a good read.  I was captivated pretty early on and kept going with the flow.  I saw so many correlations to those Japanese scary movies that I watched as a teen, and I think it was cool to read about something instead of watching it.  My imagination went wild.  But in the end, it's still a ghost story with a happy ending (how'd that happen?).

If you're not one strictly into Japanese folklore and are looking for a ghost story, I think you'll enjoy it.  It's a fun story that gives an introduction to a well-known ghost story (just like adaptations of fairy tales but it's ghosts here).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction
Prisoner of Night and Fog Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Anne Blankman's website):
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

Gretchen has lived under Uncle Dolf's wing ever since she was a little girl.  Her father became a martyr when he protected Adolf Hitler during a putsch.  Gretchen's the perfect Nazi girl living the ideal lifestyle.  That is until she is forced to quit her schooling and must work for the National Socialist Party.  But as she gets close to the inner workings, a strange boy makes her question the  very foundation she grew up on.

Daniel has always wanted to deliver the truth to the public.  And he sees Hitler for what he really is.  But when he gets a whiff of a story where the beloved martyr didn't die for his fellow friend and was instead murdered, he will stop at nothing to investigate it.  And all it takes is a very curious girl who has a huge investment on the outcome of this story to pave the way to truth.

Honestly, I loved how well this fictional story ties into the factual life of Hitler and his close companions.  I spent a lot of time googling names and placing people in my timeline of events.  And this is definitely a different book where it follows the life of a very despised yet renowned figure from our past.  My only problem was I felt the pacing was slow, and it took a while before my interest ramped up.

This is definitely a series to look for if you're interested in pre-World War II Germany.  It gives a different perspective while giving some entertainment.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

So I did absolutely little to no reading while on vacation this past weekend.  At least that means I went and did stuff with my husband.  So it was a vacation well-spent.  But now I'm starting to lag on my reading.  So many books, and I'm reading enough.  Oh well.  This weekend will be filled with reading and making delicious soups.  Happy Saturday!

For Review:

  • The Bodies we Wear by Jeyn Roberts
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I've actually seen a lot of reviews for this one.  It sounds so intriguing.  And that cover looks sad yet determined.  I'm hoping for a thrilling one here.  Thanks goes to Random House.

From the Library:

  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  • Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • My slow yet determined crawl through this series.  I feel like all of the books start to feel the same after a while.  Although I think I really enjoyed number eleven.  Here's to keeping it real - Stephanie Plum style...
  • Daylighters by Rachel Caine
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I really don't know why it's taken me this long to pick it up.  And I also heard this is the last book in the series.  It'll be a sad day to finish this loved vampires series.

manda-rae's Past Week



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Genre:  YA Contemporary Thriller

Description (taken from Stephanie Kuehn's website):
Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to finally know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award–winning author of Charm & Strange.

Jamie is your average teenager trying to survive high school and keep his parents happy.  Only, he has a terrible past that he can't remember, but his sister remembers it.  And while his adoptive parents are perfectly okay at letting the past be forgotten, Cate refuses to let him forget it.  But can Jamie handle the past?

Cate has barely gotten out of juvenile detention, and now she's hell-bent on making those responsible pay.  But Jamie has always been there.  He's always been along for the ride and putting up with Cate.  So it's confusing that she's decided to come after him.  Maybe it's because of sibling jealousy or maybe she's just looking for an ear to listen to her.  But Jamie's not sure he wants anything to do with her.  After all, she's just trouble trying to make more trouble.

So, I can't really go into this novel too much without ruining it.  However, I will say one word: terrible.  That's how I felt about the novel, the writing, and the epic conclusion.  I felt like the writing was so choppy, and I couldn't handle the two-paged chapters well.  So of course, I wasn't enjoying this too much.  And while I felt like the whole plot premise was glaringly obvious, I felt like the terrible ending had quite a few redeeming qualities to it.  But it just wasn't one that made me think it was time well-spent reading.

With all the open-ended questions each chapter leaves, I'm sure there's going to be plenty of others who love this chase.  I just feel like I would have done better if I could ride through this chase with a Hummer instead of a tricycle (I'm sure my imagery makes no sense)...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

I'm currently writing this before I go on vacation.  But I'll be in Minneapolis when this posts.  I hope I'm having lots of fun and getting some reading in.

From the Library:

  • Sister's Fate by Jessica Spotswood
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I was one who thought the second book was just an okay second book.  Until that cliffhanger ending was thrown at me.  I believe I cried out in anguish and tried to peel the back cover off looking for more pages.  That ending pissed me off...  But I've patiently waited for the next one!
  • The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Genre:  New Adult Paranormal Romance
Bloodlines Series, Book 5

Description (taken from Richelle Mead's website):
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

In regards to how this book turns out, my lips are sealed.  But I would totally unseal them and squeal with you once you've read this one.  I think this is one of my favorites in the series right after the first book.  And Richelle Mead is so good at putting real characters who mess up as well as shine in her books.

Sydney has been captured by her fellow alchemists and sent to re-education.  There, they will try to change her ways and close her mind.  But she has faith in Adrian and that they will find her.  Adrian on the other hand is beginning to lose hope.  And with the depression that Spirit brings, he finds himself digging a hole.  But when reality returns, he's determined to save Sydney even if it means risking himself.

I feel like this book can be divided into two sections. One has a very Program-esque feeling (go check out Suzanne Young's books if you have no idea what I'm talking about).  And then it has a really dreamy happy-gooey romance.  And oh my goodness, I feel like I saw the bad in Adrian and then the sweet.  I think this was the first time I ever felt slightly ashamed for calling him my book boyfriend.  But he redeems himself, and I'm still in love with him.

Oh goodness, if you've never read any of Richelle Mead's books, you are missing out...  Go check out her books, and then you can join the fandom.

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