Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra SirowyThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on August 18, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Stella came back. Jeanie never did.

Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush—until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets.

Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t.

She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.

Book Review:

THE CREEPING has an interesting premise. When they were six, Stella and Jeanie were in the woods. Only Stella came back. Jeanie disappeared, never to be seen again. Stella has no memories of that day or any before it, so she wasn’t able to help the police. Years later, Stella’s put all that behind her, and now she’s a popular girl, concerned with kissing hot boys and having a great senior year. But then she finds a dead little girl, a girl who reminds her of Jeanie.

THE CREEPING is one third creepy and two thirds boring. A huge part of the book is Stella and her monologuing on being popular and boys. For a book titled “THE CREEPING,” I expected more creepy stuff. I mean, there’s some there, but really, a lot of the focus is on Stella and guys and her friends. Stella’s somewhat of a bitch at first, but I didn’t really mind that. I found her attitude and the attitudes and behaviors of her friends to be realistic. It was just a bit much for me, especially all the “There’s no way he’ll help me. I was a jerk to him. Oh he’s cute. Why do I like him? He’s geeky.” etc. over and over.

He refers to Sam, Stella’s childhood friend. I quite liked Sam, as he’s sweeter and more helpful than a lot of the guys you find in YA books. He’s always there for Stella, even when she’s a complete bitch to him. I did wonder why he was so loyal.

Okay. The creepy part of THE CREEPING. I won’t spoil it, but the author did surprise me with the final reveal. I just wish that more of the book had been, well, creepy! By the middle of THE CREEPING, I wanted to skim the teenage angst bits and get to the creepy sections. I do think the book is too long — 400+ pages of teenage angst and only a bit of mystery was about 150 pages too much.

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Alexandra Sirowy:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin by J. Matthew Saunders

Book Review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin by J. Matthew SaundersYasamin by J. Matthew Saunders
Series: Daughters of Shadow and Blood #1
Published by Saint George's Press on May 3, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 335
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realizes she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths on the day before her wedding. An unearthly menace lurks in the palace corridors, and the one person able to protect Yasamin is a soldier named Iskander, who seems to appear whenever she needs him. Charming and confident, he is nothing like her new husband, but trusting either of them could be a deadly mistake.

Berlin, Germany, 1999: Adam Mire, an American professor of history, discovers a worn, marked-up copy of Dracula. The clues within its pages send him on a journey across the stark landscape of Eastern Europe, searching for a medallion that once belonged to Dracula himself. But a killer hounds Adam’s footsteps, and each new clue he uncovers brings him closer to a beguiling, raven-haired woman named Yasamin Ashrafi, who might be the first of Dracula’s legendary Brides.

Adam has an agenda of his own, however, a quest more personal than anyone knows. One misstep, and his haunted past could lead to death from a blade in his back … or from Yasamin’s fatal embrace.

Book Review:

YASAMIN is the first book in a new series, Daughters of Shadow and Blood, about the three women in Dracula’s castle. Are they the brides of Dracula, as many have guessed? Is Yasamin one of them?

I was intrigued by the book’s summary, because: 1) I’m a vampire fan, 2) I enjoy books about Dracula’s brides, and 3) I liked the mix of the past and modern day.

Unfortunately, the book just wasn’t for me. I spent a fair amount of the book confused, as there’s a lot of jumping around in time. Not just between 1999 and 1599, but between weeks and months in 1999. There’s approximately 300 pages and 77 chapters. The chapters are short and choppy; rather than jumping in time and into different characters, I would have liked some more time with Adam and Yasamin.

I don’t read a lot of thrillers, so I’m not sure if this book can be classified as one, but that’s the impression I got. But I never got any sense of urgency or felt that Adam’s life was truly in danger, even when he was captured by this group or that.

The idea behind the book is interesting, but the way it’s written didn’t work for me. I’m also a character driven reader, so I like characters I can really care about or get invested in their stories. The characters in this book felt like chess pieces to me, moved here and there to keep the plot going.

Let’s talk about it:

Dracula’s brides — yay or nay? Would you be interested in reading about them?

Socialize with the author:

J. Matthew Saunders:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola Carr

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola CarrThe Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Series: Electric Empire #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 10, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Mystery, Steampunk
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry.

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Book Review:

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE originally caught my attention because it looked like it had steampunk elements, fantasy, evil curses, magical forensics, and a dark twin. This is one of those books that’s difficult to describe, but in a good way. Happily, the book had all it promised and more — I’m already looking forward to the next book in the Electric Empire series.

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is narrated in turn by Dr. Eliza Jekyll and Lizzie Hyde. Both are the same person, but with very different personalities and abilities. Those last names should sound familiar — remember the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? The author goes off that a bit, but makes it all her own.

Viola Carr wrote Eliza and Lizzie so differently that I never had any trouble telling them apart. Although they share a body, they felt like two distinct characters, and their dual narration/personalities was probably my favorite part of the book. It can bug the heck out of me when an author switches perspective mid-chapter or even mid-scene, but it really worked here. I loved the way one would take over from another. At first, Eliza tries to keep Lizzie subdued with alchemy, and when Lizzie does get out, Eliza’s relieved she can’t remember anything Lizzie does. But over the course of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE, Eliza begins to trust and rely on Lizzie, and vice versa.

Dr. Eliza Jekyll is something of a forensic scientist, using her knowledge, experience, and gadgets to help the police solve crimes. Given the time period of an alternate London, many on the force aren’t willing to work with her, but Eliza trudges onwards in the search for justice. The case in THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is a gruesome one: a serial killer takes body parts from each victim with surgical precision. Why? The appearance of a Royal Society watchdog hampers the investigation. Does the Society suspect Eliza of using unorthodox science?

The murder mystery was pretty twisty for me. The last quarter of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE really surprised me, which is always something I enjoy.

I would have liked more worldbuilding, because the glimpses I got to see were fascinating. There’s an underworld of fae creatures, but other than a few scenes, we don’t learn much about them. Sadface. I also wanted to know more about Eliza’s London, where the crown decides what is allowed science and what is witchcraft. Sometimes, THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE felt like setup for the rest of the series, moving characters here and there, giving out this bit of vital information or that. Also, Eliza has a fascination with a killer she put away before the book started; I felt like I was missing some important background on the Todd/Eliza equation.

Aside from a bit of nitpicking, I really enjoyed THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE. It has an alchemical je ne sais quoi to it. Bring on more of the Electric Empire!

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– leeanna

Book Review: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

Book Review: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan StratfordThe Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford
Series: The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Mystery
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!

Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.

Mystery fans will love this tween girl riff on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. History buffs will be delighted to see all the real figures who play a role in this story and appreciate the extensive backmatter that helps separate truth from fiction. Parents and educators hoping to promote the STEM fields for girls will be thrilled to have a series where two girls use math, science, and creative analytical thinking to solve crimes. But most especially--emerging readers will love this series filled with humor, action, intrigue and wonderful artwork from Kelly Murphy.

Book Review:

I adore the premise and characters in THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE. Featuring Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley, this book is the first in a new series aimed at middle-grade girls. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency wants to show girls that math, science, history, and literature can be used for everyday problems and maybe even to change the world.

Yes, this series does experiment with history. For example, Ada and Mary were eighteen years apart in real life, but are three years apart in this book so they can be friends. Sometimes it annoys the heck out of me when authors mess with history, but I’m all for it here. The author makes it work. Even though I’m not the target age, I was still interested by his characterizations of Ada and Mary, and when I finished the book, I went searching for information on Ada. At the end of THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE, the author does include biographies of most of the characters, filling readers in on their real lives and any changes he made for the book.

I flew through THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE. The mystery isn’t too difficult to solve, but I had a hoot watching Ada and Mary work through it. I loved Ada from page one. I mean, she has a balloon on the roof of her house, and thinks “Oomph times zoom equals kaboom!” on page one. Ada and Mary approach things differently, and I think any reader will find something to identify with and like in one or both of them. Ada’s not so good at dealing with emotions and people; she prefers math. Mary’s better with people, likes poetry and romance, and has the Very Good Idea of the detective agency. It was great to see the girls become friends and understand each other’s strengths while they subvert 1820’s society’s view of girls.

Lastly, there are some great illustrations in THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE. I would have loved them as a kid, and I still loved them as an adult. I thought they added a lot to the story, and I really appreciated that one of Ada’s equations was drawn out. All too often math equations (if they’re mentioned at all) aren’t shown, so it’s tricky to know what the character is talking about.

Socialize with the author:

Jordan Stratford:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis Hall

Book Review: Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis HallIron & Velvet by Alexis Hall
Series: Kate Kane #1
Published by Riptide Publishing on December 16, 2013
Genres: Adult, LGBT, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
First rule in this line of business: don’t sleep with the client.

My name’s Kate Kane, and when an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince came to me with a case, I should have told her no. But I’ve always been a sucker for a femme fatale.

It always goes the same way. You move too fast, you get in too deep, and before you know it, someone winds up dead. Last time it was my partner. This time it could be me. Yesterday a werewolf was murdered outside the Velvet, the night-time playground of one of the most powerful vampires in England. Now half the monsters in London are at each other’s throats, and the other half are trying to get in my pants. The Witch Queen will protect her own, the wolves are out for vengeance, and the vampires are out for, y’know, blood.

I’ve got a killer on the loose, a war on the horizon, and a scotch on the rocks. It’s going to be an interesting day.

Book Review:

I’m not really sure what took me so long to get into IRON & VELVET, but boy, do I regret waiting to read it. IRON & VELVET is one of those books I couldn’t stop reading — I felt as if it was written just for me. I adored everything about it, and there is one upside to not reading it when it was released — I don’t have to wait for book two, SHADOWS & DREAMS.

Kate Kane, paranormal investigator extraordinaire, doesn’t work for vampires. But with business being non-existent, and the Prince of Cups, one of the most powerful vampires in England, asking for her, she doesn’t have much choice but to take the case. Before long, she’s up to her eyeballs in vampires, werewolves, witches, tentacle monsters, and more. The whole gamut and then some. Kate herself has some supernatural blood; her mother is the Queen of the Wild Hunt, but that’s mostly an inconvenience.

I really liked the world the author created, as well as his twists on the different supernatural creatures, from vampires to demons to werewolves. Most of the creatures are true to legend, but upgraded for modern times. I also liked that three of the most powerful characters: Julian, vampire Prince of Cups, Tara, the alpha werewolf, and Nimue, queen of mages, are female.

Oh, yeah. IRON & VELVET is full of gay women, including Kate, Julian, and Nimue. This is an f/f paranormal book, possibly the f/f paranormal book I’ve been craving. There’s some pretty damn hot sex, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time Kate had to remind herself not to sleep with the client, or to keep her eyes on someone’s face when she was talking to them.

The author’s writing style pulled me into the book. If you like any combination of sarcasm, dry humor, and dark humor, you’ll probably enjoy Kate’s narration. “Here lies Kate Kane. Eaten by big bad werewolves. Beloved daughter. Sorely missed (Chapter 3).” Kate’s an alcoholic, has trust issues, is attracted to almost anything female that moves, but she does sincerely care about the victims. Kate usually tries to do the right thing, fucks up here and there, but keeps trying until things are right (or as right as they’re going to be). Yeah, in case you can’t tell, I kind of loved Kate.

Everything about IRON & VELVET kept me flicking the pages, from the murder mystery to Kate’s voice to Julian’s sexiness to well, everything!

Socialize with the author:

Alexis Hall:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Hatshepsut’s Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A.W. Exley

Book Review: Hatshepsut’s Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A.W. ExleyHatshepsut's Collar by A.W. Exley
Series: Artifact Hunters #2
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on November 13, 2013
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 280
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
"Loving you is easy, it's living with you that's killing me."

An ancient Egyptian artifact is driving Queen Victoria insane, and that's not top of Cara Devon's growing list of problems.

Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is a man of numerous secrets, but there is one in particular that threatens his fledgling relationship with Cara. Stunned by Nate's revelation, and before she can absorb the ramifications of his actions, he is arrested, charged with treason and imprisoned in the grim Tower of London. He stole something the mad queen wants, and only has days to deliver, before his date with the executioner.

Although sorely tempted, Cara can't let him die on Tower Green, not when their connection means she would share his fate.

Only together can Cara and Nate figure out how to wrestle Hatshepsut's Collar from around the queen's neck, before she plunges Britain into a world war. The search for answers sends Cara to the opulent Winter Palace of St Petersburg and the frozen depths of Siberia, with every step shadowed by an enemy with his own dark plans.

Book Review:

Last year, NEFERTITI’S HEART was a book I enjoyed a lot. It’s a quirky, unique book, blending steampunk and Egyptian mythology along with romance and adventure. When I read it in April 2013, I wasn’t sure if it was the start of a series or a standalone, so I was quite pleased to see HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR come out this year. I couldn’t wait to join Cara and Nate on their next adventure.

And boy, HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR is one hell of a ride. The book starts about six weeks after the events of NEFERTITI’S HEART, and doesn’t waste too much time recapping the past. I don’t think you need to have read book one to be able to read this book, but you’ll have a better understanding of Cara and Nate’s relationship if you’ve already read NEFERTITI’S HEART.

That fledgling relationship is put to the test when Nate drops a gigantic bombshell on Cara (really, I wanted to take his head off myself). But before Cara react, Queen Victoria’s troops arrest Nate for high treason. Even though she’s tempted to let Nate rot in the Tower, Cara has to help rescue him, because if he dies, so does she, thanks to the bond they have through the Nefertiti’s Heart artifact. Another Egyptian artifact is influencing the queen, the Hatshepsut’s Collar of the book’s title, driving her towards worldwide conquest.

HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR takes Cara and Nate from England to Russia as they try to clear his name. I really enjoyed the glimpses of the author’s version of St. Petersburg, as well as two new characters, Nikolai and Natalie, acquaintances of Nate’s. They, as well as Loki the air pirate, provided amusement and seriousness, as needed. There’s a good dash of humor amongst the more dangerous moments. There’s nothing like laughing just before or even while characters are charging into danger. I mean, where else can you imagine a pirate blasting Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries as he attacks the Tower of London in an airship?

Cara spends a lot of the book wondering if she should stay with Nate, as she’s tired of him hiding things from her, including Very Big Secrets that impact her too. Even so, they don’t hold back on the physical side of their relationship; they have a lot of sex. I wish those scenes had been more consistent, because some were more explicit than others, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one or two pulled me out of the story. Until I got to the middle half, that is, where the action really picked up. Then there wasn’t as much time for shenanigans between the sheets, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I did like that Cara thought a lot about Nate and their relationship, and just didn’t forgive him off the bat.

HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR takes everything I enjoyed in NEFERTITI’S HEART, from the world to the action, to kick butt Cara to scene-stealing Loki, and builds upon it. The book is a fun romp through a steampunked London and St. Petersburg, and the ending promises more such adventures for Cara and Nate. Definitely recommended, especially if you want some romance along with your steampunk and mystery.

Socialize with the author:

A.W. Exley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Silent Harmony (Vivienne Taylor #1) by Michele Scott

Book Review: Silent Harmony (Vivienne Taylor #1) by Michele ScottSilent Harmony by Michele Scott
Series: Vivienne Taylor #1
Published by Amazon Children's Publishing, Skyscape on May 28, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 238
Format: Paperback
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Small town seventeen-year-old Vivienne Taylor is a talented equestrian with Olympic dreams and a little something extra going on she is also an equine empath, someone who has the ability to read horses minds and moods. When she receives a full scholarship to attend Fairmont Riding Academy, a prep school with a famous riding program, she struggles with homesickness, hazing by the school's snooty drama queen, intense competition in the sport of three-day-eventing, and the not-altogether-unwelcome interest of a hot guy. On top of all of that the horse given to Vivienne via the scholarship is an animal that she cannot read or understand. When Vivienne learns that her new horse Harmony belonged to the school's vet, who recently died in a freak accident, she senses that the horse's aloof behavior may be the result of her witnessing this accident. But as a connection begins to unfold between Vivienne and Harmony, Vivienne begins to believe that the vet's death was no accident at all but rather murder and she resolves, at considerable peril, to track down the killer.

My Review:

SILENT HARMONY is the first in a new young adult series combining horses, romance, and mystery.

Vivienne, the main character, is a girl I liked quite a bit. With dreams of being an Olympian in the sport of eventing, Vivienne has her life together – there’s no room for anything but school and horses. Vivienne’s talented and dedicated enough to win a scholarship to one of the most prestigious riding schools around, Fairmont Riding Academy, but of course, the school isn’t the horse-lover’s paradise Vivienne expected it to be.

SILENT HARMONY has a lot going on, and for the most part, the author tackles everything pretty well. To start off, Vivienne has a unique gift, one I’m sure many horse lovers would die to have: the ability to speak to horses. Really speak to them, mind to mind, in words or images, depending on the horse. It’s a skill that she’s used to help her mother (a vet) save horses’ lives, and at Fairmont, she employs it to try and learn why her new horse, Harmony, is so sad. It turns out that Harmony’s previous owner, Serena, died in a mysterious accident that might not really have been an accident.

Next, there’s a healthy dash of mean girls, romance, and mystery. Vivienne’s not interested in romance, but that doesn’t stop a couple of guys from trying to get into her pants. Literally. The boys of Fairmont have a bet for the scholarship student – whoever can get her first wins all the money. Now, I know some parents might not like sex mentioned in books. But you know what? Teens are going to do what they want, regardless of if it’s in books or not. Anyway, that’s a whole different argument, but I mention it here because I like how Vivienne handled the bet once she found out about it.

SILENT HARMONY is mostly written from Vivienne’s perspective, but there were a few chapters from Tristan and Riley, two boys who like her. I personally would have preferred the entire book to be in Vivienne’s voice, because her character was the strongest, and it was jarring to go between the different characters. Including chapters from their perspectives didn’t really add to the book for me, because Vivienne was often present in their chapters.

I didn’t really feel the romance between Vivienne or any of the boys, but I’m often picky on romantic relationships. I also didn’t care for the ending; the mystery was resolved without a real climax, which was disappointing. Lastly, for a book on horses and eventing, I wanted MORE about eventing. The second half of the book focuses mainly on friendships, romance, and the big mystery of Serena’s (Harmony’s previous owner) death. But those minuses weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying the book. SILENT HARMONY is a quick, easy read; I was halfway through it before I knew it, partly because I liked the start of it so much.

Overall, though, I think SILENT HARMONY is a book teen horse lovers will enjoy, and I’m curious to see what else is in store for Vivienne.

Socialize with the author:

Michele Scott:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough

Book Review: Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-CloughNothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, Houghton Mifflin on May 7, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
All dead. No one survived. All dead.

This morbid chant haunts seventeen-year-old Blue as she trudges through the countryside with just the clothes on her back, heading to her childhood home on the ocean. Something absolutely awful has happened, she knows it, but she doesn’t know what. She can’t even remember her name, so she calls herself Blue. This gripping survival story—peppered with flashbacks to bittersweet times with her boyfriend, Jake—strips life down to its bare bones. Blue learns, with the help of a seemingly magical stray dog and kind people along the road, that the important thing is to live.

My Review:
NOTHING BUT BLUE is an odd book to describe. Most of the story is about a girl, Blue, walking across the country to an unknown location for an unknown reason. Blue can’t remember much of her past, so both she and the reader are clueless as to who she is.

I just did not connect with this book or its characters. For me, it was one of those ones where I wondered why I was reading it, because the story didn’t hold my interest. NOTHING BUT BLUE is a pretty short book (224 pages in hardcover), but the first half was so slow and uneventful I wanted to put it down.

I can usually suspend my disbelief when reading, but this time, I just could not understand why a girl who could barely remember anything would walk across the country. At first I thought some sort of disaster had changed the entire world, but within a few flashbacks, it was quickly apparent what had actually happened. A disaster, yes, but one that only impacted Blue and her family. There are a lot of clues, so it was frustrating as a reader to see Blue not figure out the truth sooner.

The only character who did interest me was Shadow the dog. He’s supposedly magical, but I had unanswered questions. Was Shadow really supposed to be magical? Or was he some device for Blue, another link in the message that material things don’t matter and real connections between people (and animals) do?

I get what the author was trying to do, or I think I do. The journey across the country is Blue’s way of finding her self, her true self not defined by anyone else’s opinions. The execution was just off for me, and so I’ll end by saying NOTHING BUT BLUE wasn’t the book for me.

Socialize with the author:
Lisa Jahn-Clough:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Escape From Eden by Elisa Nader

Book Review: Escape From Eden by Elisa NaderEscape From Eden by Elisa Nader
Published by Merit Press on August 18, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 271
Format: eBook
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s façade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ESCAPE FROM EDEN by Elisa Nader. From the second I read the summary for the book, I wanted to read the whole thing. I really liked it, so read on for my review as well as a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours, and you can check out all the stops here.

My Review:
The summary for ESCAPE FROM EDEN is originally what drew me to the book, and I’m happy to say that the book lives up to that compelling summary. Scratch that — the blurb barely covers the surface. ESCAPE FROM EDEN is a suspenseful, action-filled look into a religious cult. There’s twist after twist, and I was pleasantly surprised by many of those twists.

When a book starts off with poisoned cookies, there’s a lot of ways it can go. I want to keep from spoiling you, so all I’ll say is that the author takes ESCAPE FROM EDEN in some great directions, many of which made my stomach churn or had me saying, “WHAT?” There’s a lot of dark stuff in here, but I’m the type of reader that likes when Very Bad Stuff happens.

I don’t even know where to start talking about ESCAPE FROM EDEN. For me, it was one of those books I didn’t want to put down until I finished, and after I did read the last page, I just sat there for a bit and processed.

Edenton is a cult reminiscent of Jonestown, a religious community in the middle of a jungle. Most of the members have been brainwashed into following the Reverend’s every doctrine. But Mia, ESCAPE FROM EDEN‘s main character, isn’t a docile believer. She’s been in Edenton for six years, and at the beginning of the book, is starting to question spending the rest of her life there. With her quietly rebellious attitude, and desire to escape, it’s easy to root for her. She grows so much over the course of the book, and soon her rebellions grow too, until she’s the hope for the people of Edenton.

Gabriel, a newcomer to Edenton, is an interesting character. Almost as much as Mia. He’s a sort of bad boy, with a past including drugs and partying, and an even darker secret that brought him and his parents to the community. There’s an immediate spark between Gabriel and Mia, but their romance isn’t really the focus (which is my preference). Yeah, there’s some kissing and mutual attraction, but their focus is more on getting out of Edenton. But there IS romance there, for those of you that like it.

It’s hard for me to say what I didn’t like about the book, because to describe anything too deeply would give up a lot of spoilers. One was the ending, which was a bit too sudden after several gritty, difficult (in a good way) chapters. I just wanted … more. I was also left wanting to know more about Edenton and the Reverend. I wanted more details on how he “went bad,” for lack of a better description, and where Thaddeus, his left hand, came from.

Overall, ESCAPE FROM EDEN is a dark and thrilling book, one I am very happy I read. Definitely recommended, especially if you have any sort of interest in “utopian” communities or cults. The author does a good job of exploring the psychology in such places — you’ll be asking yourself why the Flock stays once you find out some of Edenton’s secrets.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:
elisa naderHi. I’m Elisa. I like cheese and reading and TV show marathons. Writing is scary, but not as scary as, say, Civil War amputations. I’m an Aquarius. Uh… let’s see… I’m not very good at writing my own biography. Or autobiography. I guess this is reading more like a slightly incoherent personal ad.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N | Powell’s | IndieBound

– leeanna

Book Review: Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey

Book Review: Deceived by Julie Anne LindseyDeceived by Julie Anne Lindsey
Published by Merit Press on September 18, 2013
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
3 Stars
Ever since she could remember, Elle has had to hop from town to town to keep up with her dad's demanding career as a corporate insurance agent. Each time, a reoccurring nightmare followed her wherever she went--until the day that the frightening figures haunting her at night became all too real. When news of a serial killer spreads throughout her new school, Elle worries that the Reaper has been leaving her his calling card in the form of cigarette butts on her doormat and an unusual ribbon in her locker. With the help of Brian, a boy she meets at a flea market, she discovers that this isn't her first encounter with the murderer and that her father has been concealing her true identity for the past twelve years. But despite her father's desperate attempts to protect her, Elle still comes face to face with the darkness she has been running from her whole life. Trapped in the woods and with help hundreds of miles away, will Elle be able to confront the Reaper and reclaim the life she lost?

Hey, ya’ll. Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for DECEIVED by Julie Anne Lindsey. I’ve wanted to read something of hers since finding her blog a long time ago and learning she was a fellow Ohioan! Read on for my review and a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours and you can check out the rest of the stops here.

My Review:
“One handshake and they were friends for life, to hear Pixie tell it. The world was full of potential friends for her.

Personally, I called them all the opposite until proven otherwise. I’d had my share of treacherous friendships. As a general rule, people weren’t as nice as they should be.” (p. 14)

Elle has that one right! DECEIVED is a book where you’re never quite sure who to trust. A young adult thriller/mystery, the book is a good read.

DECEIVED starts off at the beginning of Elle’s senior year at a boarding school in Ohio. Usually shy, even paranoid, Elle is trying to turn over a new leaf this year, to get away from the nightmare that has haunted her for years. A nightmare she can barely remember, but one that has kept her from getting a good night’s sleep for longer than she can remember. The boarding school is also an opportunity for Elle to stay in one place for a while; she and her father have moved at least once a year since her mother’s death.

But the school year barely kicks off before mysterious things start happening to Elle. Paranoid because of the dream, where she’s always in danger of dying, simple things like finding a pile of cigarette butts outside of her door or hearing a faulty car every morning freak her out. And when Brian, the gorgeous guy she met before school, shows up and enrolls in all of her classes, all bets are off.

Brian is a real hot-cold kind of guy. He virtually ignores Elle at school, but then he does sweet things like cook her dinner and bring her coffee. I was bothered by Elle’s instant attraction to him. It was close to, if not outright, insta-love for me, and that’s never something I like. However, as the book went on, and I learned more of Brian’s secrets, I began rooting for their relationship.

The first half of DECEIVED is pretty slow. The action picks up after the first hundred or so pages, and after that, I read straight on until I finished the book. The beginning is full of developing Elle’s paranoia and fear, as well as the burgeoning relationship between Elle and Brian. Once I reached the end of DECEIVED, some of the odd things in the first half of the book made a lot more sense. No, I’m not going to spoil it, but I will say keep your eyes open as you read, and see what clues you find.

The mystery was my favorite part of DECEIVED. Near the start of the book, we learn about a serial killer, The Reaper, who brutally tortures and kills high school age girls. With almost two dozen victims to his name, he’s been on the run for a long, long time. When she reads about him online, Elle doesn’t think much about it, other than being grateful there’s no way he’d be interested in boring old her. Naturally, their stories tangle together, resulting in the question of who’s deceiving whom, and a great action scene. I can’t say much else than that without ruining the entire book, so go give DECEIVED a chance.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize package #1 (US only)
Signed hardcover of DECEIVED with signed swag/bookmarks
$10 iTunes gift card
Black satin makeup bag with: black blinged compact/mirror, blue sheen nail polish & 5 pack Frosted lip gloss & balms

Prize package #2 (US only)
Signed hardcover of DECEIVED with signed swag/bookmarks
Silver makeup bag with: silver sparkly compact/mirror, Pixie dust (in honor of my favorite YA roommate) & 4 pack Moshi Monsters flavored lip gloss tin

Prize package #3 (US only)
Signed ARC of DECEIVED with signed swag/bookmarks
4 pack Nerds flavored lip gloss tin

Prize package #4 (US only)
Signed ARC of DECEIVED with signed swag/bookmarks
Satin Pucker Up makeup bag

Prize package #5 (US only)
Signed ARC of DECEIVED with signed swag/bookmarks

Prize package #6 (INT)
1-eARC PDF of DECEIVED

About the author:
julie anne lindseyJulie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. In 2013, Julie welcomes five new releases in three genres including her newest title, DECEIVED, a YA suspense from Merit Press, and her first cozy mystery, MURDER BY THE SEASIDE, book one in the Patience Price, Counselor at Large series from Carina Press (a digital imprint of Harlequin).

Julie is a self-proclaimed word nerd who would rather read than almost anything else. She started writing to make people smile. Someday she plans to change the world. Most days you’ll find her online, amped up on caffeine and wielding a book.
Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime (SinC) and the Canton Writer’s Guild.

Find her online:
Tweeting her crazy @JulieALindsey
Soothing her book obsession on GoodReads
Pinning the pretty on Pinterest
Tumbling lamely on Tumblr
Blogging about books and writing at Musings from the Slush Pile
Facebook
DECEIVED’S trailer

Buy links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo

– leeanna