Book Review- The Red Queen

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The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Published by Orion on February 12, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 383
Goodreads
Amazon

This is a world divided by blood-red or silver.

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

After having this book recommended *ahem, shoved in my face* multiple times by multiple people, I decided I should probably just read it- so at least I could tell people to back off if I didn’t like it. But, I was actually really surprised by this one.

I’ve been trying to move away from the dystopia book, mostly because after a while they just all sound the same. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this so much- because I haven’t read a dystopia in quite some time.

Anyway, I’d be lying if I said that this book doesn’t remind me of others. It reminded me A LOT of The Selection series (which I also enjoyed, so I didn’t mind that at all), and had some similarities to a bunch of other dystopias, like the Hunger Games (the whole area/fighting aspect), and pretty much any dystopia where the main character finds out they have powers.

I loved the characters in this book, and the depth they had to them. Yes, some of the *ahem* not as important characters were a little one sided *ahem* Evangeline *ahem*. But for the most part, the characters were interesting and some had some very surprising sides to them.

The one thing that really sets the Red Queen apart from other dystopias was the theme repeated throughout the book: Anyone can betray anyone. It was so relevant throughout the story, and I felt like it really tied the events of the book together.
BUT THE END. OH THE END!!!!!! I wont spoil anything, but that just threw me for a loop. UGH. WHYYYYYYYY.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to people who love YA, The Selection, and/or dystopia (or are looking to get into/back into dystopia). But just be sure to have the second book on hand, because if you are anything like me then you’ll have about two seconds to breathe before your nose is buried in the Glass Sword!

I am going to give Red Queen four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Author Q&A – April Higuera

April Higuera is a licensed private investigator, the owner and principal agent of ADH Investigations located in Reno, NV, specializing in criminal defense investigation of violent crimes on county, state, and federal levels. Higuera has a lengthy record of assisting wins for defense in complex criminal cases. Her work has been applauded and recommended by judges, attorneys, colleagues, and clients across the country. Higuera is a contributing writer for various blogs and national publications in her effort to promote public awareness about the essential need for criminal defense investigation in maintaining a balanced justice system. Her new book “Making a Case for Innocence” is receiving rave reviews as “informative,” “evocative,” and a “page-turner.”

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Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I started writing poetry at age 8, songs (lyrics & music) at age 13, writing and performing my songs professionally at age 17, and have continued throughout my life.  I have music playing in the background of multiple television shows and two albums (CDs) online for sale as an artist. I attempted writing books in my mid-40’s and started at least five books, which I’ve never finished. Last year I began, completed, and published my first book at age 54 titled “Making a Case for Innocence: True Stories of a Criminal Defense Investigator.”

Q: Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have a muse? 

A: No muse. My inspiration is my life and work experiences as a criminal defense investigator since 2001.

Q: Tell me about your book, Making a Case for Innocence. Why did you decide to write it?

A: My current book is a series of personal and professional memoirs as I investigate murders and other violent crimes on behalf of the persons charged with the crimes. The book takes the reader along my journey from singer/songwriter to seasoned criminal defense investigator and all the moral and emotional shifts I experienced personally, as well as detailing my investigation work on a handful of very interesting and dramatic criminal cases.

I decided to write Making a Case for Innocence to inform the general public what really goes on in the criminal justice system and how innocent people fall through the cracks of justice on an alarmingly regular basis. I wanted to educate the public about wrongful convictions and how to defend themselves against a sometimes corrupt justice system.

In the book, aside from the general criminal case elements typical of any true crime writing, I detail my experiences finding and interviewing witnesses, the evidence never presented in court, and the family members of the defendant who are never known to the public . . . all confidential information that is typically never divulged outside of a courtroom (though I obtained permission). My accounts are all true.

Q: What do you think the most challenging part of writing a book is? How did you get through it?

A: Editing. Beginning to write a book can also be difficult. I just started with my own story and interspersed fascinating criminal cases I investigated. I hired folks to edit (three people actually).

Q: Are you working on any writing now? If so, what can you tell me about it? 

A: I am writing articles for various media outlets to help raise public awareness about the pitfalls of the criminal justice system, and offer suggestions to help it work as intended. I also write articles on best practices for criminal defense investigation.

My next book is going to be review of wrongful conviction cases from a criminal defense investigation perspective and/or a series of crime stories with the main character being a criminal defense investigator working on fictional cases with real-life issues and investigation tactics . . . I’ve already begun the first book in the series, and I’m in the process of obtaining story rights to for wrongful conviction case reviews and commentary.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: People must care more about people than money. We can all make money doing the right thing.


 

Don’t forget to visit April’s website (click here) and get a copy of her book: “Making a Case for Innocence” !!

Book Review- The Love Interest

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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Expected publication Feiwel & Friends on May 16, 2017
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Glbt
Pages: 384
Goodreads
Amazon

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be: whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

I was seriously disappointed by this book for a lot of reasons. It promised to be so good. Like SOOOO GOOD. Come on, two hot spies fighting for their lives and the love of a girl, all while secretly falling in love with each other!!?? There is some serious potential there. However, as I said, I was MAJORLY disappointed.

Firstly, what threw me off was the narration, and Caden’s style of speaking. It’s pretty obvious that the person writing the book SET IN AMERICA is NOT FROM AMERICA. And, as an American, the words like “bloody” (and a bunch more that are escaping my memory) stuck out like a sore thumb.

Secondly, the plot was just too unbelievable for me to buy into. I’m the kind of person that is willing to believe anything that a book puts before me, but something about this plot and the LIC was just too fake feeling. It felt like someone took a half developed idea and stuck some clichés in there and hoped for the best.

Thirdly (I’m almost done, I promise), the characters were so darn ONE DIMENTIONAL that it hurt. It physically hurt me. There was barely any depth to the main characters, and there was no hope for anyone else. It was like combing through the book of stereotypes, picking a few, and throwing them in to fill empty spots in the already-falling-apart-plot.

So yeah, this was not my favorite read. And the worst part is that the potential is there. This book could be so amazing, and the fact that it’s not just really makes me want to throw the book at a wall and then pick it up and find that the story magically developed into everything that I dreamed that it would be.

I am going to give The Love Interest one out of five hearts.

*I was provided with an ARC of this book by the publishers. This in no way affects by views of the book.

Book Review- Everything, Everything

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Pages: 310
Amazon
Goodreads

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black: black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I’ve wanted to read this book for a while, but decided to finally pick it up because the movie is coming out (and the trailers look amazing!!!), and I don’t like watching a movie before I read the book. Honestly, for a book that I’ve wanted to read for so long, I went in with relatively no expectations, which I think is why I enjoyed the book as much as I did.

The story is told in an interesting way: there is text, and then there are IM conversations and drawings and logs and emails and medical reports (I might be missing something here, but you get the point). Maddy, the narrator, had a strong voice, and was easy to relate to (which is pretty remarkable considering her “bubble boy” condition). Olly, the male protagonist, was very entertaining and kind of perfect. And the two of them together were straight up adorable.

So did I enjoy this book? The short answer is yes, even though I did have quite a few problems with it. For one, the relationship between Maddy and Olly seemed very unlikely. But, that doesn’t really bother me that much… because it’s literally the biggest plot arc of the book and without that there would be nothing (well, maybe not nothing, but certainly not a story). What bothered me more about this book was the end.

Obviously I’m not going to give any spoilers, but I’m just going to say that the whole second part of the book and especially the major “twist” at the end kind of ruined the whole book for me. It felt too out there to be possible. Like, yeah, I get it, happy ending and all, but it just wasn’t realistic. I didn’t buy it. And it just made the whole book go from yes-okay-this-is-adorable-and-I-can-maybe-imagine-that-this-is-real-in-some-world to what-just-happened-this-is-not-possible-please-just-erase-the-last-hundred-pages-and-make-an-ending-that-I-can-believe.

Everything, Everything was definitely interesting and cute, and a very fast read. I would recommend it if you are big into contemporary and YA romance, but if you are not that into it (like myself) then you might have the same problems with the book that I did.

I am going to give Everything, Everything three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Letters to the Lost

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury on April 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Amazon
Goodreads

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

This book was all kinds of beautiful. First of all, let me just say that going into this book, I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t usually love contemporary books (even though some of the ones I have read lately have been surprising me), and I’m usually not big on romance either. But somehow Letters to the Lost pulled it all together in a heart wrenching, page turning novel that left me lying on my bed for hours wondering what I should do with my life.

Juliet, the female main character, was surprisingly relatable. She felt real, and her pain felt real, and the whole time I was reading I just wanted to reach into the book and hug her and tell her that everything was going to be okay. And, even more surprising than my attachment to Juliette, I felt the same way towards Declan. AND, on top of that, THEY WERE SO OBVIOUSLY THEIR OWN PEOPLE AND HAD COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORIES.

If I had to pick one thing to love about this book (which is really hard to do, believe me), it is that every character was individual. They all had depth to them, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I bumped into one of them while walking down the street (read as:  walking through the grave yard).

I also love the complexity of the characters emotions. And not just of the main characters emotions. I mean EVERY CHARACTERS emotions. Yup. That’s right. ALL THE CHARACTERS HAD EMOTIONS. And pasts. And futures. I cannot explain to you how refreshing that is. It was wonderful.

Also, I have to say that the amount of romance was perfect. It just melted my heart. It was too beautiful. Just too beautiful. I need more.

I am going to give Letters to the Lost 5 out of 5 hearts (or 10 out of five, but I don’t think that’s possible). If you haven’t already ordered this book, I seriously suggest you do it now. Just do it. You won’t regret it. I promise.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Book Review- Toward a Secret Sky

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Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean
Published by Blink on April 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Amazon
Goodreads

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Toward a Secret Sky was a thrilling read. There was never a dull moment, from the first chapter to the last, and I couldn’t help but pick up the book every time I had a spare moment.
Not gonna lie, starting to read this book was a bit of a struggle. I loved the secret organization aspect of it (which is what made me go for this book in the first place), but the writing style took a little while to get used to. It’s not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just different than what I am used to, so it shook me up a little. I also didn’t love how boy crazy Maren was, and how she ogled over Gavin every time he was around. But again, I’m not big into romance-y stuff, so having a character that was so vocal (in her head at least) about her feelings for him was kind of jarring.
I did however love the book itself. It was full of demons, angels, and a whole lot of action. Every chapter was action packed and so full of twists and turns that I had no idea what was going to happen next.
I definitely went through a whole range of emotions while reading this book, from giddiness to heart break to shock to relief (and many more… and not necessarily in that order). I would recommend this book to people who love the supernatural and a good bit of boy ogling.
I am going to give Toward a Secret Sky four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*I was given an ARC of this book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review- Alice in Tumblr-land

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Alice in Tumblr-Land and Other Fairy Tales for a New Generation by Tim Manley
Published by Penguin Books on November 5, 2013
Genres: Humor, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Fiction, Retellings, Short Stories
Pages: 265
Amazon
Goodreads

The Ugly Duckling still feels gross compared to everyone else, but now she’s got Instagram, and there’s this one filter that makes her look awesome. Cinderella swaps her glass slippers for Crocs. The Tortoise and the Hare Facebook stalk each other. Goldilocks goes gluten free. And Peter Pan finally has to grow up and get a job, or at least start paying rent.

Here are more than one hundred fairy tales, illustrated and re-imagined for today. Instead of fairy godmothers, there’s Siri. And rather than big bad wolves, there are creepy dudes on OkCupid. In our brave new world of social networking, YouTube, and texting, fairy tales can once again lead us to “happily ever after” — and have us laughing all the way.

Alice in Tumblr-land took classic children’s book characters and put them in the modern world, creating some pretty interesting situations. A lot of these situations, as I’m sure you can figure out by the title, have to do with social media and the internet.

This book was definitely written for adults. It had its fair amount of R rated content, and though some of it was entertaining, most of it just felt unnecessary and forced. The stories were split up into small paragraphs that rotated, so each of the individual stories ended up feeling disconnected. The stories, besides being set in modern times, really had no connection to each other.

The characters were very one dimensional and not engaging. It felt like each story took the most stereotypical view of each character that was possible and created these unrealistic situations around them.

Alice in Tumblr-land is a very short book, and took less than an hour to read (which tbh is probably the only reason that I finished it). If you are looking to kill an hour, reading this book isn’t the worst way to do it. That being said, I’m not any better off for having read it, so I guess it just comes down to if you enjoy this type of book or not (which, as it turns out, I do not).

I am going to give Alice in Tumblr-land two out of five hearts.