Tease

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Tease

“From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18599901-tease)

This was a bit of a painful book to read. not because the story was badly written or the characters were underdeveloped, but because it brought into sharp relief one fact about bullying: bullies are not really aware of the consequences of what they are doing. And this is made abundantly clear by our main character, who is a bully.

In this story, the consequences are extreme: Emma, the victim, commits suicide. Even though the story jumps back and forth in time, the POV is constant. This means we don’t get to see Emma’s side of the story. What we see of her is shown through the eyes of Sara, the bully, who is not, for obvious reasons, a neutral party. There were several moments when all I wanted to to was throttle Sara. She went too far to think that was she did was normal or acceptable.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending, as I was expecting something harsher to happen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)

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Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6)

They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead’s international #1 bestsellingVampire Academy series.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6527740-last-sacrifice)

This book was, in my opinion, a marked improvement from ‘Spirit Bound’. Rose came across as a smarter character, and it was also interesting to see her away from Lissa. I know that they have been apart in previous books, but this time felt different. Lissa had to really stand up for herself and act by herself, without Rose to advise or guide her.

Because I had already read ‘Bloodlines’, I already knew what the big revelations of this book were about. Sadly, that detracted a bit from the suspense factor, and I wasn’t as on the edge of my seat as the author probably wanted me to be.

I do have to say that, while Rose was smarter, she was still annoying sometimes, especially in all matters related to Adrian. What she did to him was most definitely not nice. I felt really sorry for him, as he knew what was coming, but Rose still kept denying it would happen.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

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Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

“By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8525590-wither)

I added this book to my shelf on Goodreads a long time ago. In fact, it was number 16 on my to-read shelf (which has, at present, 408 books). But I only managed to get a copy and read it a couple of weeks ago. It was not one of those books where I kicked myself for not reading it sooner. It was an okay read.

There is an interesting world building, involving some catastrophic war and genetic manipulation gone terribly wrong. However, not many answers were given. We finish the book without really knowing the cause of the war (or maybe we did, and the reason didn’t stick with me) or why the genetic manipulation had the consequences it had, namely, people dying so young. And that was frustrating.

I’d think that, because people die so early, they’d live their lives in a reckless manner, which was not the case here. I’d be freaking out if I knew I only had four more years to live, as Rhine has. Instead, she seems quite content to just lounge around, doing nothing. As a heroine, I couldn’t really sympathize with her. As for Linden, I felt sorry for him, and that was it.

I’ll read the next book in the series in the hopes of learning more about the world building, which I found to be quite original.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)

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Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5)

 

“Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won’t rest until Rose joins him… forever.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6479259-spirit-bound)

For me, this was not as good as the previous books in the series. It was not for lack of action, but I felt this lacked believability. For one, Rose is truly blinded by love. She has absolutely no qualms in breaking someone out of jail. Someone that tried to kill her and Lissa. Whatever happened to They come first? Not to mention the sheer craziness of it. Running away from school, kind of okay. Breaking a condemned person from prison? Nope, not okay.

It’s hard to review this book without giving much away. But I’m going out on a limb here: the whole Dimitri thing was a complete mess. Dimitri’s reaction was completely understandable. Rose’s reaction was completely irrational. Then again, I guess she was blinded by love. And Eddie! That kid doesn’t exist, I think. Too much loyalty and no self-preservation instinct.

The saving grace of this book was the ending. If it weren’t for that cliffhanger, I’m not so sure I would have read Last Sacrifice so soon after this one.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Prisoner Of Night And Fog (Prisoner Of Night And Fog #1)

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Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)

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

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

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

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

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17668473-prisoner-of-night-and-fog)

This book had a horrifying opening scene. The blurb had already implied that scenes like that would happen, but I hadn’t expected one of them to be the very first scene in the book. It was a brutal way of making me understand what I could expect from Prisoner Of Night And Fog.

Even though this story centers on a badly explained death, it was not the mystery that pulled me in. It was character growth and change. Gretchen, our main character, has grown under Uncle Dolf’s influence and protection. At first, Uncle Dolf seems quite sweet, albeit a bit quirky, like that weird uncle we all have. But then, as events unfolded, he morphed more and more into Adolf Hitler, the man that went down in History as the mind behind the Holocaust. And watching that change happen through Gretchen’s eyes was mesmerizing.

Another very interesting aspect was how Gretchen changed her view of Jews. In her sheltered life, she had never had any contact with Jews, and had no reason to doubt what she learned about them. And when that changes, it’s really interesting to see her faltering in her beliefs, and then tossing them aside.

Plotwise, there is the mystery element. It is interesting and well done, but not enough to sell the book on its own. I was more fascinated by the growing danger that Gretchen is in than in the murder resolution. Given the timeframe, I think it’s a given this danger will only increase in the sequel.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Me Before You

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Me Before You

“Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15507958-me-before-you)

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be a fluffy and light read. It wasn’t. It made me think about controversial issues and it wasn’t an obvious story at all.

I disliked some characters from the start, such as Treena. She came across as very selfish in her choices. I get it, she had a kid while in college and dropped out. It can happen to anyone. What I find unacceptable is her decision of just going back to college without really giving a thought if the family’s financial situation can afford that. Patrick was another annoying character. His fixation with all things fitness was too much.

I could sympathize with Will, one of the main characters. His situation is, in my opinion, one of the worst medical situations out there (the worst being degenerative diseases). After some reflection, I could accept his choice. It was not an easy choice, but it felt right to me.

The ending was heartbreaking, but right. It was really nice to see how much Lou grew throughout the book (she was a bit annoying at the beginning, but she got better).

Rating: 3 out of 5

Heir Of Fire (Throne Of Glass #3)

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Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

“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?”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20613470-heir-of-fire)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Pic for proving me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

After the ending of Crown of Midnight, I couldn’t wait to get my hand on Heir of Fire. And, when it became available for request on NetGalley, I requested it, but, given the amount of request they probably got for that, I really didn’t think I’d get a copy. When I did, let me tell you, it made my day (that’s the mild version, there was some internal screaming involved. I was at work, after all, I had to behave).

While reading it, though, I lost some of my excitement. Celaena was too angsty for too long, in my opinion, which made for some excessively long breaks in pace. In this book, Manon Blackbeak, a new character, stole the show. Her chapters were better than Celaena’s and Chaol’s. There were several moments when all I wanted to do was to try and shake Celaena out of her passiveness. Do I understand her situation? Yes, she was grieving. But days and weeks passed and she didn’t react, and that was the annoying part.

As for Chaol, his first chapters were so-so, but then, with the addition of some new characters, they improved a lot. Dorian didn’t really get a lot of pages in this book, but his plot thickened so much, especially toward the end. His very last scene had me sitting on the edge of my seat and thinking ‘No no no no!!!’.

I don’t know if this is the final version or if there is time for one more revision before the book goes to print, but I really hope that, if they do revise it again that they cut some scenes to try and improve the pace. While the beginning didn’t impress me, the ending was far better, and left me eager for the next book.

Rating: 3 out of 5