A Shot of YA: Secret Lies by Amy Dunne

Series: Stand-alone

Format: PDF
Release Date: December 16, 2013
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Source: Author
Excerpt here
Recommended by: Livia of Butterfly-O-Meter Books
Genre: Contemporary MYA – LGBT

Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

I went to an all-girls private school and witnessed first hand some of the things that Jenny O’Connor and Nicola Jackson experienced in SECRET LIES from the standpoint of exploring one’s sexuality. Let me clarify that a bit in case some of you get green, I mean I had friends who are gay and I saw them struggle with the semantics, go through heartbreaks, work out their confusions, and hide it from their parents during this time. Now my friends might not have been bullied or considered freaks in our school but some of my friends’ parents sure would have a conniption if they found out that their darling daughter’s having scissor fantasies with her alleged “bestfriend”. These coupled with adolescence, peer pressure, and keeping up with school can be a challenging on its own and comparing them with Jenny and Nicola, my friends had it easy somewhat. 

She [Jenny] was the girl every girl every guy in school fantasized about being with and the girl every other girls desperately longed to be… But she sacrificed a lot for her popularity, more than she dared to admit, and the idea of her friends and others discovering it was aa an act terrified.

Being gay is just the tip of the iceberg in SECRET LIES, Amy Dunne created this perfect storm for her MC’s. Aside from the bullying thanks to ignorance, there’s also a multitude of issues plaguing both Jenny and Nic. Jenny may be the prettiest and most popular kid in school but she has a dark secret of her own, when things get too intense, Jenny cuts herself. On top of this, she drinks, smokes, and medicates herself with the occasional marijuana to cope. Nic is an outsider, a loner, and a victim of physical and verbal abuse thanks to her mother’s good-for-nothing boyfriend. Nic’s back is like a portrait of nightmare, riddled with scars ranging from cigarette burns to various proofs of injury. Jenny and Nic’s personal stories were raw and very emphatic, it was quite easy to put oneself in either of their shoes and imagine what they’re feeling or thinking as they try to survive this phase in their lives. 
And maybe I’m in denial or simply naive because I can’t help but be overwhelmed and sometimes shake my head in disbelief over how some people can be so vile as exemplified by the secondary characters! I mean just because someone is different from you doesn’t make them a freak! Like who made these people the epitome of perfections?! And I still don’t understand how someone can physically beat a defenseless person to a pulp just because you don’t like their existence? I know SECRET LIES happens in real life, some situations are even more brutal and even fatal, still it’s a tough pill to swallow, fiction or otherwise. 
Jenny and Nic’s story might not be for everyone but it’s still a story worth knowing. I like the way their relationship developed even if it was quite fast. I think the reason why it didn’t come across as insta-love was because it started innocent and real tender, their passion was more protective than insistent and imposing. I liked the realness of SECRET LIES and I recommend it to readers who are fond of reading books riddled with social issues.

Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in philosophy and psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people until she moved on to deliver training and educational courses. She is currently in the process of setting up her own speech writing business aptly named, Gift of the Gab. She and her lovely partner Lou celebrated their Civil Partnership at the start of this year. They share a love of Dolly Parton and live with their two gorgeous cats and very naughty puppy.

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Neyra Suped Up: Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Series: The Yara Silva Trilogy 1

Format: eBook
Release Date: August 20, 2010
Publisher: Pendrell Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other females in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn’t want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist’s attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn’t going to go quietly

It had been such a long time since I’ve stayed up/spent all day just reading. I loved INTRINSICAL the first time I read it, and I loved it just the same this time around.
Sixteen year old Yara Silva’s first day at her new elite boarding school turns haunting when she notices a dark mist attack another student. The moment she has been dreading her whole life has arrived, her Waker abilities have surfaced. She, like the women in her family, has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. And no matter how hard she will try to deny it, Yara will soon come to realize she cannot run from destiny.
The first thing about INTRINSICAL is that it is such a light hearted read; it’s easy to get lost in the story. Follow it up with a strong protagonist, a little bit of romance, out of body experiences, an evil spirit, a sixty year old curse, and it’s impossible not to enjoy. I loved that the romance aspect of the story doesn’t become the focal point. It develops as the days go by and you get to watch Yara and Brent know each other as well as develop as characters. Yara is still a teenage girl, but she grows mentally and that is always an important factor for me when it comes to YA MC’s.
That being said, I do also believe INTRINSICAL comes with its flaws. Like for example, the Waker gene, or trait. Now that I think about it I am a little confused as to why Yara couldn’t see her ghostly companion until after she was able to astral project–leave her body. I’m only curious because Vovo, Yara’s grandmother, goes around town like the crazy lady talking to ghosts. I’d assumed that anyone who was a Waker would be able to see spirits as well. I hope this gets explained a little further in the next book. There’s also the “curse” aspect of the story which gets explained, but was a bit of a letdown for me.
Otherwise though, I enjoyed INTRINSICAL in its entirety. The boarding school and it’s creepy undertone, along with the side characters that helped connect you to the MC and feel like you could relate to what she was going through. I’m more interested in finding out what else Yara and her family can do with these Waker abilities and what new ghostly surprises await.
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Neyra is a book blogger on sabbatical. She’s currently moonlighting at Talk Supe 
because Braine needs help. 
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Steampunk Sundays: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School 2

Format: ARC
Release Date: November 5, 2013 
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Steampunk

Sophronias first year at Mademoiselle Geraldines Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing. For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy. Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ships boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is at first apparent. A conspiracy is afootone with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

Visiting Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality always guarantees a crazy good time for me. Gail Carriger’s brand of Steampunk is just unique and her style is strictly her own and unparalleled IMO. The plot may be MG/YA but as it’s well written and felt very authentic, even with the Steampunk elements, in terms of the time period, language, costumes, and all, I can’t help but be swept away by Sophronia Temminick’s latest adventure. 
CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES is another cool installment. I love the idea of a finishing school disguised as an espionage academy where catty girls are trained to use their feminine wiles to spy and even assassinate. Whew! High School’s got nothing on the girls Sophronia rolls with. Not only that but the actual school is a giant dirigible floating in Dartmoor with werewolves, automatons, and vampires for professors. It’s like a mash-up of Sky High and Hogwarts with corsets and petticoats galore!
This time around Sophronia cracks down a vampire conspiracy interspersed with friendship cool-offs and courtships. The adventure part is full of clever action while Sophronia’s personal life had me really invested and even giddy on some parts. The blush of first love and being courted by a handsome but arrogant blokes had my 16yo self in knots. GCarriger got flirting down to pat, the banter was sharp and witty while the sneaky seduction cute and affecting. 
I love CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES and the series as a whole. The proper nouns are eccentric (who names their kid Sophronia with a last name like Temminnick?!) and dialogue alone is something else. I hope I can articulate it for you and stress why it’s one of this series’ greatest strength but I’m not that brilliant so just take my word for it. Let me just say that as Finishing School is a historical novel in essence, language is important and GCarriger aced that part perfectly. I found myself transported to the book’s time period, sitting more erect like I’m at a frickin’ tea party, and adapting a snotty British accent in my head as I read the novel. Suspended disbelief 100% in effect! 
So if you’re in the mood for something unique, whimsical, light, easy, and fantastical, I suggest you try Finishing School for a unique reading experience. 

Shots of YA: The Fall & Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Series: Stand-alone

Format: Digital ARC
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA Fantasy

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

And Bethany Griffin’s gothic love affair with Edgar Allan Poe continues in THE FALL. Frankly I’m still scratching my head, unsure of WTF I just read. I know that this is a reimagined version of The Fall of the House of Usher and aside from all its creeptastic elements, I don’t think BGriffing gave us any definitive resolution for Roderick and Madeline Usher’s plight, reimagined or otherwise.

Now BGriffin didn’t really take too much liberties with the original Poe short story, to me it was more of an extended version of the tale with a few tweaks here and there but for the most part it’s still The Fall of the House of Usher. BGriffin retained the Gothic feel of the original story with the cursed family and the entity that is The House. Yup proper noun there because The House is a character in THE FALL like Amityville where it just sapped the life out of the characters, casting this ominous gray cloud throughout the novel… literally. I mean The House is one badass villain i.e. turning an otherwise happy pink frock into a drab gray dress? Heck, even the characters started turning gray after some time! How can you possibly go up against that?! 
There’s a lot of gray areas, pun intended, in THE FALL which reinforces my comment that this is the novel version of the original short story. Like WTF is up with the curse and The House? There was a family legend that was shared but it didn”t factual. Then there’s The House. It’s creepy what The House does to its residents and the Ushers themselves but it remained more of a looming and passive entity and retained its mysterious air until the end. I mean I want to know how it does its juju and what is it exactly? Like is it a gateway to Hell or some messed up shiznit like that? 
I love dark reads and THE FALL satisfied that perfectly. I enjoyed the unconventional way BGriffin told the story, flip flopping across Madeline Usher’s life in a crisscross manner to show how bad the curse is and the power The House has over the Ushers. There was a great build up and since this was a reimagined story, I was expecting that we’ll get a concrete backstory and a concrete resolution that Poe didn’t give us. Alas, the ending totally pissed me off… yeah what the lady is saying/doing. 
Photo Credit
Series: Masque of the Red Death 2

Format: Digital ARC
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA Fantasy

Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.

Now THIS is a perfect example of what a retelling should look like… IMO. Like The Fall, Masque of the Red Death is also based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story. But unlike The Fall, DANCE OF THE RED DEATH is more vivid and a great expression of creativity without sacrificing the integrity of the original story. 
This series has a dystopian feel to it and the gist of the plot is that there’s a plague that’s ravishing the populace and the cure or vaccine is being held hostage by a despicable tyrant. And typical of any YA fantasy novel, the fate of the world rests on the hands of a handful of special teenagers. In this case it’s up to Araby Worth, daughter of the scientist who created the plague, and her ragtag team of usurpers and rebels to save the day against the tyrant, Prince Prospero and his arch nemesis, rebel leader, Malcontent. 
I love how this duology was concluded with the conflict of choosing the lesser of two evils. BGriffin played her cards right in extending the short story and using a big bright palette of colors to give an otherwise dreary story vibrant. In the original story Prince Prospero basically got away with murder while in DANCE OF THE RED DEATH, justice was served and everyone reaped what they sowed and I appreciate this alternative ending because Prince Prospero is scum and he needs to be put down like a rabid dog. 
Not just that, I enjoyed some of the gray characters and the layer of uncertainty they brought to an otherwise predictable story. This is a retelling after all and we know good always wins, it’s the stuff that happens in between that makes this interesting. The journey not the destination and all that shiznit. DANCE OF THE RED DEATH had a lot of crazy stuff that went on in the middle before it got to that satisfying ending. 
My only critique here are the incessant distractions. The super long search for Araby’s missing father took up a big chunk of the book eating up space that could’ve been better used for the big confrontation between Araby, Prince Prospero, and Malcontent. On and on they looked for Araby’s father to get the cure which proved to be in vain. 
Still I enjoyed DANCE OF THE RED DEATH. My enthusiasm for YA have whittled since I read Masque of the Red Death but that did not deter me from appreciating this. The ending felt realistic despite it’s fantastical premise, important characters died, got punished, or was hardened by the ordeal they went through thanks to the plague and Prince Prospero. DANCE OF THE RED DEATH didn’t end with rainbows and butterflies which is expected because they all went through varying types of tragedies that should and would change them in some ways. Plus it’s a duology people, no long standing series or drawn out plots. It can’t get better than that.

Steampunk Sundays: Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy 1

Format: Mobi
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Amazon
Recommended By: Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews
Genre: YA Steampunk

Skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue… and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

Before I proceed, know that THIRD DAUGHTER is currently FREE at Amazon so be sure to grab a copy before the sale ends!
That said, I’d like to formally thank Kara over at Nocturnal Book Reviews for reviewing this a while back. I saw the ARC at NetGalley but ignored it because the cover art did not appeal to me. Oh well, another lesson on not judging a book by its cover literally because THIRD DAUGHTER was a unique and amazing read! The blurb is spot-on in summing up this novel and for the purpose of comparisons (to convince you to read this) the world is as rich as Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas although on a micro level. The story is concentrated on Dharia, the Steampunk version of India, and its relationship with the neighboring states/regions. The plot is politically driven with a side of romance, lots of intrigue, treason, and double-crossing. 
5 Reasons why you should read THIRD DAUGHTER

  1. It’s Bollypunk y’all! Like Bollywood minus the song and dance numbers and definitely badass. The world-building is simply amazing! Susan Kaye Quinn maintained the exotic and traditional feel of India and mixed it with Steampunk elements. 
  2. She kept the sci-fi simple but plausible and the Steampunk elements wondrous. My favorite is the clockwork pen and her aethroceiver which acts like Morse code device.
  3. I love the politics and how it drove the novel and the series as a whole. Arranged marriages for the sake of alliances and peace, each region having an ace up their sleeve maintaining the balance in the region whilst making peace very precarious.
  4. The spy games enhanced the mystery and suspense of the conflict. Is Prince Ash of Jungali sincere or not? Is he trying to double cross Aniri and the Dharians or is he trustworthy? Who is the real villain here? You’ll have your suspicions but you won’t confirm it til the end. 
  5. I’ll expound more on the romance because though it’s not a plot driver, it had lots to do with Aniri’s character development and her relationship with Ash. There’s a love triangle but it’s not a deterrent, as Ash and Anari’s are a political match I think it’s not unnatural that one of them, in this case, Anari, is in a relationship. There’s some mild tension and it was eventually resolved but as THIRD DAUGHTER isn’t a romantically driven novel, the love triangle wasn’t all that important nor did it have a bearing on the novel as a whole.
Look out for…

  1. The slow burning romance. This personally didn’t bother me but as a lot of you love romance in your books, there’s not much of that going on here.
  2. Prince Ash is dreamy!
  3. Anari’s relationship with her boyfriend wasn’t resolved and this is important as said boyfriend did something bad to Anari.

Okay the last two items aren’t really deterrents so take it however you like it… THIRD DAUGHTER was such a pleasant surprise and truly unique. SKQuinn has carved a niche for herself in the Steampunk genre with this series and if you love fantasy and Steampunk then you must read this.

Neyra’s Shot of YA: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha 1

Format: Print Hardcover
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Purchased
Genre: YA Fantasy

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo had been sitting on my shelf for over a year now, and I’ve chastised myself enough for not having started it any sooner.
Alina Starkova is headed into the Shadow Fold–a place of total darkness and countless dangers with flesh eating creatures—with her best friend, Mal. But when the First Army is attacked just seconds into the Fold, and Mal’s life is in danger, Alina unknowingly unleashes a power she didn’t know had been lying dormant within her. Alina gets whisked away into the world of the Grisha, an elite of magical beings with extraordinary power, in order to train so that one day she could save her war laden country.
I’m not going to lie; I started SHADOW AND BONE feeling very confused. It took me a second to understand all the different provinces of Ravka and its hidden dangers. But I was allured by the story of the boy and the girl living in the orphanage. I wanted to know more about them and what eventually would become of them. How they transcended from children to young adults in a world that seemed so dark and oppressing; and how one girl fought with every fiber of her being, the very essence of who she was in order to stay with the boy who made her feel as though she weren’t alone.
SHADOW AND BONE is a very fascinating tale of strength and courage; and when you add magic, it’s breathtaking. There’s not much I can say without filling the page with spoilers, but SHADOW AND BONE is a book you will want to pick up. The characters are built up well enough and shrouded in mystery; it doesn’t surprise me to know there will be more from each secondary character in the next installment. I loved that there are villains whom you will despise for their treachery, but before then you will have loved them. Because in a world of magic, all is not as it seems ;)
I spent all night reading SHADOW AND BONE until the very end; it took me approximately five hours after the first page. I was grumpy and dead the following day, but I regret nothing. Magic is by far one of my favorite fantasy traits and I loved seeing how LBardugo took this concept and blended it with the elements. I don’t believe any book is without its flaws, but there were none big enough for me to complain about; and if you’ve read any of my reviews lately, that’s saying something. I have a way with finding something to complain about. Every time.
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Neyra is a book blogger on hiatus and a friend of Talk Supe. 
She usually writes snarky but funny reviews which can be entertaining to read. 

Melissa Loved It: This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

Series: Standalone

Format: PDF
Release Date: January 1st 2014
Publisher: BookFish Books
Source: Author
Genre: YA Contemporary

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that changes everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so how can he bring her back?

As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye.

This is one story that knows exactly how to pack an emotional wallop!  THIS IS SARAH is  full of well written and well developed characters. Sarah is at the heart of the book, even though by the time the story starts she is already gone. You learn about her as a sister, a girlfriend, and a friend, through the people who knew her. You piece together her personality bit by bit, and I thought that was so very clever.
Colin, her boyfriend, is in pieces after she goes missing. His life is collapsing around him and all he wants to do is keep hoping. He is such a sympathetic character. You just want to reach into the book and give him a hug. He feels so responsible for what happened, even though he doesn’t even know WHAT actually happened to his girlfriend. No one does, that’s the kicker. He grieves so hard and feels guilty for grieving. He wants to hold out hope that she’s still out there, but he’s so angry because what if she is? His heart doesn’t want to allow those thoughts to go through his mind. He holds onto that angry and sadness, because he feels like there’s nothing left for him until answers are found.
Claire, Sarah’s little sister, is left behind. She isn’t lost, but she feels like a shadow. Her parent’s focus hard on finding her sister, and they almost seem to forget she’s still there. It’s understandable that they are both wrapped up in their own pain, but it made me so mad and sad for her. My heart simply ached for Claire! She is hurting too, but no one seems to recognize that. She not only loses her sister, but her family seems to crumble as time goes on.  
This book hinges on great character development, and it does not falter one bit. Chapters alternate between Colin and Claire, and the transitions are super smooth. As I mentioned earlier, getting to know Sarah depended on piecing together parts of her life from the people around her. The way this was written, in alternating POVs, was so GOOD. This style can be confusing sometimes, but Ally Malinenko has a firm grasp on this technique. Her writing shines and her characters speak volumes.
THIS IS SARAH, will leave a lasting impression with you. Prepare your tear ducts, because this one will hit you right in the feels.

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Needs Work: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by NIkki McCormack

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: PDF
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA – Steampunk

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT by Nikki McCormack sure sounds good on paper. A thief, a cat with a mechanized leg, a murder, and conspiracies all set in Victorian London. What’s not to like?! Eh, a few actually. 
For me the lure of Steampunk novels is it’s unique and fantastical world building, It’s like the Industrial Revolution on steroids where the world is getting modernized exponentially on one hand, and on the other there’s an expectation for society to stay as is, keeping tradition and heeding to rules of conduct and class. Quite the contrast which turns the characters into mavericks. 
Unfortunately THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT has close to none in terms of world building. Aside from mentions here and there of automated carriages, horses, etc. and the cat’s leg, I didn’t really feel I was in Steampunk Victorian London. The details of this world is left for us to construct and imagine which didn’t bode well with me. 
The dialogue also didn’t feel authentic. Street urchins like Maeko has a way of speaking and some people might take it for granted but I am particular when it comes of word usage and “book accents” on my historical reads. Aside from the world, how people converse is another device authors use to take us back to a certain time period. No cockney accent here. 
Now it’s not all that bad. I like the premise of THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, it’s the kind of craziness that I enjoy reading. I love the chase, the process of solving the murder mystery, getting away from the bad guys, and redeeming some of the characters. Unfortunately the execution of the story fell short. Maeko could’ve been an interesting heroine to follow but she and the rest of the characters need depth, dimension, and layers to flesh them out. 

Suped Up! Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass 3
Format: eGalley
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA | Fantasy


Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?


I think [Celaena] like to suffer. You collect scars because you want proof that you are paying for whatever sins you’ve committed – Rowan

She would not let that light go out.
She would fill the world with it, with her light–her gift. She would light up the darkness, so brightly that all who were lost or wounded our broken would find their way to it, a beacon for those who still dwelled in that abyss. It would not take a monster to destroy a monster-but light, light to drive out the darkness.

Lots of people have and will review HEIR OF FIRE which is fine by me, gives me the perfect excuse to do a lazy girl review…
There are wyverns and badass witches and this is from the Baba Yellowlegs thread. I don’t know yet if these nefarious witches led by this lady called, Manon, will be Celaena’s allies or nemesis but they sure are a curious and scary bunch. Their storyline sure was interesting even if they pose a threat.
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I love Aedion, Celaena’s long lost cousin. He is like the combination of Legolas and Eomir with his fae looks, keen sense, ruthlessness in the battlefield, and loyalty to Celaena/Aelin’s memory. 
Dorian is coming to his own. I’m glad that his infatuation with Celaena is finally put to rest however it seems like tragedy isn’t far behind…
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… and well you know how this ended. 
Oh Chaol, why do you have to be such a hero?! 
As for Celaena, this girl is barely unrecognizable and she went full on Carrie here, I loved it!

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She has grown tremendously in HEIR OF FIRE. I could write up a review just about her character alone but I thought I’d “sing” it instead. This is a lazy girl’s review after all…

*fast forward to 3:53, to me that’s how it felt like when Celaena
faced off with Queen Bitch Maeve*

So boys and gals, the mad gushing and wild fangirling is valid, HEIR OF FIRE, the latest Throne of Glass novel by Sarah J. Maas is EPIC! It’ll make you feel a wide range of emotions from the wholesome, to the romantic, down to the bloody and manic. I surely took my time reading this baby, savored each and every chapter for days because I don’t want it to end. I have to make myself slow down otherwise this will be a quick read not because of its length but because its packed. HEIR OF FIRE killed it! This book is a game changer in more ways than one starting with the genre. IMO, HEIR OF FIRE transitioned the series from YA to full on epic fantasy. So if you’re a fan please do us and yourselves a favor, get the book today and start reading. If you haven’t started this one yet then you’re missing out on something really good. Every installment is jaw dropping. SJMaas is a true fan of fantasy, she knows what we readers love and she delivered.

DNF: Zomburbia by Adam J. Gallardo

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: eGalley
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: K-Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA-Fantasy

“Welcome To Zomburbia.”

My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.

I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…

Just a disclaimer, I DISLIKE tagging and writing DNF posts for obvious reasons but there are instances where I feel compelled to explain why I’m rating the book as such. And this is how I feel regarding Adam J. Gallardo’s ZOMBURBIA
First of all, ZOMBURBIA is my first ever zombie book. After watching The Walking Dead and enjoying the blood, gore, and decay of these undead, I felt like I’m finally ready to read books about them. Alas things didn’t pan out that way here. I stopped at 40% and continued to skim until the end for the sake of closure. 
It’s not all bad though, I love the idea behind ZOMBURBIA. The zombie apocalypse happened a long time ago, it was bad but people managed to survive, adapt, and rebuild. There are still walkers loitering around and the world is still not a safe place but the uninfected, like Courtney Hart, placed systems to keep them out and the remaining healthy populace safe. I imagined things to be similar to Warm Bodies minus the humor and likable characters. Another interesting twist is the healthy people found a new drug in zombie brains and Courtney is a dealer, selling this disgusting drug on the d/l so she can save enough money to move out, live in a different city, and go to college to pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor and finding a cure for the disease.
What didn’t work for me is Courtney Hart herself. As the story is told in her POV and she’s basically driving the story, it was difficult to be objective and focus on the plot per se. Here’s why Courtney and I didn’t get along: SHE ANNOYED THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME. At first I was loving Courtney’s sarcasm, snark is my favorite characteristic in a heroine and Courtney has an abundance of that. But as the story kept moving along, she quickly crossed the line from cute to bratty, condescending, and ungrateful. Even her friends are complaining about her attitude and how she takes them for granted and makes them feel like they’re beneath her. 
One thing you should know about Courtney is she’s not one of the popular kids, she’s one of the “outcasts” and takes pride in being one. Until she caught the eye of one of the jocks, Brandon Ikaros, then things turned for the worst for her friends. Slowly but surely, Courtney was sucked in to the clique she allegedly despises, blowing off her friends so she can hang with Brandon, lying to them about things, etc. What grated on my nerves even more is after committing offenses that betrayed their friendship, and Coutney’s clearly in the wrong, she refused to apologize which annoyed me even more. I mean I’ve met a LOT of snarky heroines but their redeeming quality lie in that they are kindhearted and are wise enough to know what matters and what doesn’t. Courtney didn’t demonstrate any redeeming qualities in the first half of the book, the redemption happened after she lost her friends because of her selfishness. 
Of course I’m just one reader so DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! I’m sure your experience will be different from mine and you’ll probably end up loving ZOMBURBIA. So please, read it and let me know what you think.