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With Malice – Eileen Cook

With Malice – Eileen CookTitle: With Malice by Eileen Cook
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: ALAMW16, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 11, 2016

For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive, compulsive read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident...wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

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Line up here, mystery and thriller fans — you won’t want to miss WITH MALICE! I’ve always loved mystery/thrillers and any book that can surprise me, get that adrenaline going, or keep me on the edge of my seat. So far 2016 seems to hold so many young adult titles like these and I’m trying to gobble up every single one! It’s been a while since I’ve been so hooked and particularly invested in a thriller and I have a feeling that WITH MALICE will be one of those special books that holds readers and sucks them in!

Right off the bat, the reader is hit with an unreliable narrator. After a terrible accident, Jill wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened so the reader really has no idea what happened either — and trust me, even though this review just presented you with the synopsis, don’t read it right before you read the book. I hadn’t read it since I added the book to Goodreads and I got hit with a few surprises that are in the synopsis that I didn’t remember. It really started the book off with a bang! The whole book was so exciting and it was interesting to try to fit the pieces together of what happened to Jill. Since Jill is the main character, obviously you want to root for her and help her prove her innocence and that the accident was not her fault but the question that remains from the police, the hospital staff, and even Jill’s parents and friends is: Is Jill really to blame? No one really knows exactly what happened and Jill has to piece the puzzle back together and hope she gets some memories back to try to find an answer.

I loved the slow reveal of clues, facts, and reports. Jill really has to dig for some things that no one else can answer since she was one of the only people involved in/on the scene of the accident. Along the way, she has to deal with lawyers, reporters, and even family that doesn’t quite trust her. As the evidence slow starts pouring in, Jill has to come to some hard realizations about herself and how she’s treated other recently as well as if that means that she really is guilty.

I don’t really want to say too much about the book because it’s really best to experience. I was honestly hooked from start to finish and I ended up finishing it in a single day! (Thank goodness our internet was down that day, huh?) WITH MALICE definitely had a DANGEROUS GIRLS feel in a lot of ways and although they were similar in content, the book was unique enough that I never really knew where it was going to go. I mean, with any book like this, who can really say what will happen in the end! I really enjoyed the ending as well and I think readers are going to love this one!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

with malice gr updates

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Jill // Character Obsessions: Memories, healing, friends, secrets 
I loved having an unreliable narrator like Jill. I was so on the edge of my seat to see if something insane happened or it was just a horrible mistake. I really felt for Jill in a lot of ways but I was always still so dang suspicious of her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dangerous Girls read-alikes. I am obsessed with DANGEROUS GIRLS and I will take all the read-alikes I can get!
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. The ending happened a little quickly and I could have used a couple more sentences/paragraphs to really wrap things up but it was still quite interesting!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this one and I think if you’re a fan of thrillers, it’s a must-read!

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BOOKS LIKE WITH MALICE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DANGEROUS GIRLS    GONE GIRL

Once Upon a Kiss – Robin Palmer

Today’s review is a little something different to bring back some 80s nostalgia! Penguin Teen invited me to be a part of a really fun review campaign in which reviewers of ONCE UPON A KISS add a little 80s and 90s flair to their review posts! Naturally, I immediately said yes –because how much fun is that? — so today’s review will have a little extra blast from the past for you! Enjoy!


Once Upon a Kiss – Robin PalmerTitle: Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Alternate Reality, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 8, 2016

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

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ONCE UPON A KISS was exactly what I thought it would be — adore, cute, and just a feel-good book! I’d say it’s 13 Going on 30 meets Mean Girls, except instead of simply moving forward into her own future like Jenna does in 13 Going on 30, Zoe Brenner ends up in an alternate present-day life where all of her friends and family are the same but 2016 is their reality instead of 1986. The concept was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this new take on time travel and alternate realities where the two really end up blending!

I really enjoyed how ONCE UPON A KISS was a blend of contemporary with a little bit of science-fiction! I wouldn’t necessarily call it a time travel book but what happened to Zoe really did span the boundaries of time and also ended up skewing into an alternate reality where her life in 1986 got shifted to what life would be like at the same age, in the same house, with the same people but all in 2016. It was really fun to see how her entire life would have shifted if she was living the same teenage years in 2016 instead of 1986 and how her family was adjusted to that change as well!

The book was definitely adorable but at times actually a bit too cutesy for me. I really loved the switch from 1986 to 2016 and it’s always interesting and fun to see how the author adjusts each person’s life from the day to day routines in 1986 and how much different those same lives would be in 2016. It was highly entertaining to watch the same lifestyles adapt to modern day, especially Zoe’s parents and their work out videos! They were a bit silly and over the top sometimes but it was also hilarious to see the new name drops of celebrities that helped them endorse and participate in their work out routines!

I’ll admit that the use of modern-day jargon was a bit too much for me at times. I think I was more okay with it when they were being silly with overuse of 80s jargon because it amped up the 80s atmosphere (and hey, I was a baby in the 80s so I can’t tell you how many of these words were actually used and how often) but the 2016 catch phrases, abbreviations, and terms got to be a bit too much for me at times. People don’t really use that many buzz words in everyday speech (well, if they do, they’re not people I know) and the 2016 vocabulary felt a bit like overkill for me sometimes… BUT that also amps up the 2016 feel for Zoe and allows room for laughs as she tries to figure out what the heck these people are talking about! It was one of those moments where it was definitely cute but maybe went a bit too far for my personal taste.

Right off the bat, I was shipping Zoe with her best friend Jonah. If you know my reading tastes at all, you know that I adore best friend to romance relationships so even when I wasn’t sure if that was the idea of the book, I was already on board with it when the book first took off! I totally felt for Zoe when she ends up in 2016-life and a best friend who doesn’t even really know this new version of her. I thought the friendships and romances throughout the whole book were really well done! I enjoyed the romantic aspects of the book as well as the various friendships that Zoe both maintains and strives to acquire. She really worked hard to be a good person, include everyone that she could, and went out of her way to befriend others!

ONCE UPON A KISS was definitely a quick, fun, and light book! It bordered a bit more on the fluffy side for me but it was perfect timing because that was exactly what I needed! I wished there was a bit more to the plot development and I could have used a bit more possible explanation why Zoe was transported to the future and why her life there was different, but I did love the character development and how everything really varied from 1986 to 2016. I had a great time reading the book and it was definitely a delight!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

once upon a kiss gr updates

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Zoe // Character Obsessions: Everyone getting along, Jonah, getting back to the past. 
Zoe was a really fun character! She was just so enjoyable to get to know and I really loved how positive she was. She really took that whole “new world” thing as easily as she could and I always admired how much she really just wanted equality for everyone. I wish I had known more about why the switch from 1986 to 2016 happened but she seemed to adapt really well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alternate realities. I really liked this take on an alternate reality! Instead of a parallel universe or straight time travel, Zoe ended up being in 2016 instead of 1986 that was an alternate reality of her life and not just an alternate universe or possibly future.
Left Me Wanting More: Explanation. I think the thing I was really missing from the book was why Zoe was transported to 2016. I suppose there doesn’t have to be a reason but it’s always nice!

Addiction Rating
Try it

I wasn’t totally wowed but it was such a cute book. It was definitely on the lighter side for me but a fun take on an alternate reality and definitely adorable.

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BOOKS LIKE ONCE UPON A KISS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BEFORE I FALL       LANDLINE


TOTALLY 90s!

In honor of ONCE UPON A KISS, I’m also sharing some of my favorite 90s nostalgia! Since I was barely born in the 80s (’87 baby!), all of my childhood memories are from the 90s so we’re bringing back some of the most awesome things from the decade!

Honestly, Buzzfeed summed up my 90s childhood pretty well with 45 Things From Your 90s Childhood You Probably Forgot About (YES to literally everything on this list) but there were so many trends at my school that didn’t make the list! Some of my other favorite things that were big when I was a kid were pogs, keychains for your backpack and/or purse (like, as many as you could possibly find. From Claire’s, of course), mood rings, and for some reason it was a thing to wear tall white socks (but I think that was just a thing at my school because I haven’t found other people who did this)! I also loved rocking my fake work boots, which for some reason was also a thing. Can’t forget that light green eye shadow and buying/gifting tons of lotion from Bath and Body Works!

    

Were you an 80s or a 90s kid? What were you favorite items/trends??

Hellhole – Gina Damico

Hellhole – Gina DamicoTitle: Hellhole by Gina Damico
Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 17, 2015

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high.
With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out.

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HELLHOLE is another book that I really picked up solely because of the audiobook narrator. If I’m being perfectly honest, this book wasn’t even on my TBR until I heard MacLeod Andrews narrated it! It wasn’t intentionally off my list but the book really hadn’t grabbed my attention and I actually really love my favorite audiobook narrators have recently motivated me to try books that I might not have otherwise!

HELLHOLE was really my kind of concept — a male narrator, a comedic circumstance, and an awkward romance usually hook me so I was interested right off the bat! Max was definitely the nerdy type and the amount of time that he spent taking care of his mother (who is very frail due to a heart condition) really kept him out of social circles even more. At times he was a bit too awkward and I had a hard time with it but overall, he was a fun character to connect with an an easy one to root for! Most of the characters were very easy to connect with and I really enjoyed seeing them interact!

The main issue that I really had with the book was the execution of the concept. In HELLHOLE, Max ends up being forced to house and comply with a devil (yes, an actual devil from Hell itself) because he was responsible for summoning and unearthing it. Chaos as well as comedy ensues because how can you play this one off without some comedy? (Which I enjoy!) The execution and rules that followed were a bit shaky for me. Some rules seemed concrete while others seemed a bit messy and the whole concept seemed a bit far-fetched. I mean, sure, housing a devil is far-fetched to begin with but I love when authors are able to make me forget that something is supernatural and not commonplace (much like Lish McBride’s book, HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER).

The devil character (Burg) also really didn’t appeal to me but I also know that’s a personal preference. I suppose I wanted a more appealing devil to make his offers, temptations, and commands harder to resist. I mean, it’s a book with a male POV so obviously it won’t be a temptation based on attraction (well, it could be. Or could be a female devil as well) but that was sort of what I was hoping for. Even one who acted a bit more normal or used a bit more intimidation to add a fear-factor. Burg was mostly rude, irritating, and frankly just disgusting. I have a low tolerance for “gross humor” so that was kind of hard for me and took away from how much I enjoyed the book.

I loved the purely platonic friendship between Max and his best friend Audi as well as the slow and awkward romance between Max and Lore. The relationships were really well done and I felt like they leaned away from the norms or stereotypes in many ways! I also love a good parent relationship and really enjoyed Max’s bond with his mom. They don’t always have it easy but Max is a great kid and really will do anything to help his mom (hence, the current predicament).

HELLHOLE was fun but there were a few minor things that ended up being kind of large turn-offs. It was a quick and easy read but not quite convincing. I didn’t quite love it as much as I had hoped considering there was a good mix of my favorite things in there! If I hadn’t been listening to one of my favorite narrators, I’m not even sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

MacLeod Andrews is always one of my favorites (maybe THE favorite narrator of mine) and I picked this book up entirely because he narrates. He really has a way of making every voice unique to a character and brings each one to life. I also almost always agree with the voices he chooses for characters, intonation, and narration style. He really just makes everything so vivid and real and I always enjoy performances from him!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

hellhole gr updates

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Max // Character Obsessions: Taking care of his mom, work, being good. 
I liked Max a lot in some ways and in others, he was hard to get along with but the good definitely outweighed the bad! He was a bit awkward at times but I really loved his dedication to the ones he loved and how hard he worked to stay a good person!
Burg // Character Obsessions: Junk food, fancy houses, women, vices. 
Burg was the devil. No, literally, he was THE devil in the book. I was hoping for someone a bit more sinister to come off as creepy, scary, and intimidating but instead Burg was more obnoxious and disgusting. I couldn’t stand his bad habits so that sort of turned me off a bit there.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Comedic paranormal. I never really thought of comedy combining with a paranormal or horror aspect until recently and I’ve actually really been enjoying it! It sort of lightens concepts that I might otherwise shy away from. (Like the devil living at your house…)
Left Me Wanting More: Crossing paths. I was expecting and had hoped for more of a Will/Will friendship. Although they met and ended up being connected to each other’s lives, they really didn’t end up becoming friends or directly affecting each other’s paths.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This one didn’t floor me but it was fun. The gross humor turned me off (okay, it was mostly just Burg who was gross) and the characters were sweet but a bit awkward at times. The audio was really what kept me hooked!

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BOOKS LIKE HELLHOLE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER    WHITE CAT

NEED – Joelle Charbonneau

NEED – Joelle CharbonneauTitle: NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 30, 2015
Related Posts: The Testing (The Testing #1), Independent Study (The Testing #2)

Teenagers at Wisconsin's Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

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My experience with Joelle Charbonneau’s Testing Trilogy was a bit of rocky ride but nonetheless, I was super intrigued by NEED! I always love a good mystery and/or thriller and that seems to be a genre that’s gaining popularity in the past year or so in YA and looks like it will continue to grow in the years to come! I was anxious to read NEED in the hopes that it would be a book that totally turned my world upside down!

NEED started out with an interesting concept: a social media network for a small-town Wisconsin high school. It’s invite-only and students who wish to join have to invite a certain number of people (and later on, perform a certain tasks) in order for their NEED to be approved. I felt like this concept was incredibly intriguing and really could have gone so many different ways to totally hook me. Like The Testing Trilogy though, the execution just started to feel melodramatic, over-done, and really just not realistic.

The characters in this book were just awful people. Pretty much every student at this high school seemed willing to do some pretty deplorable things in order to get what they wanted (let’s be honest — they weren’t really needs), and it was pretty disgusting how easily they were able to talk themselves into thinking that what they were doing wasn’t really wrong. By the end of the book, even the main characters were starting to lose some serious moral guidance and it was just so hard for me to like anyone in the book because of that. I’ve read plenty of books where bad things have happened to characters, they’ve sought revenge, they’ve had to protect themselves or possibly use violence against another person, but usually that’s in the heat of battle or in self-defense. NEED just felt like a group of selfish brats who were willing to use people to get what they wanted and felt that they were entitled to do so and I think that was really the scariest thing about the book.

None of the characters seemed to have a lot of depth, either. I was already disconnected from them considering I was seriously questioning their actions but I didn’t really see that internal struggle or a moral battle to figure out if what they were asking for was really worth what they were doing. There were a lot of POV switches — both switching from character to character and switching actual points of view from first to third when switching — and I’m sure that didn’t help me get a grip on the characters either. Instead of showing me a new point of view, I felt like it took focus away from the main characters by spending a short amount of time with a secondary or even tertiary character that didn’t offer much in the way of personality or plot anyway.

I was hoping the ending would really bring things back around and leave me feeling a bit better about the book overall but sadly, I didn’t really enjoy the way it was handled. I had a hunch on how it might end and I was both right and wrong at the same time but in the opposite ways that I had hoped. There was a solid explanation of who was behind NEED and why it was created and yet I didn’t find it satisfying. Again, it felt like a far-fetched idea and didn’t really make any sense to me.

I was super bummed out that I didn’t enjoy NEED because I love supporting local authors and I’ve met Joelle Charbonneau a few times and she’s just so sweet! It’s sad to say that I think I just don’t click with her writing. It seems like too many things that add shock value are there just for shock value and there isn’t a real concrete explanation why they happen. I was hoping this would be the turning point for me with her writing but unless a future book gets rave reviews, I just don’t think I’ll be picking up another one of her books any time soon.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

need goodreads updates

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Kaylee // Character Obsessions: Family, NEED, finding a donor. 
Kaylee was… hard to read about. It was so incredibly painful to watch her search for a kidney donor for her brother — not because she was doing just that but the way she went about it. Look, you can’t go around school expecting your classmates to donate a kidney to your brother. A) It’s not you. B) They’re mostly minors. C) It’s creepy. D) It’s a HUGE freaking thing to ask of a relative much less a kid who barely knows you except for seeing you around the halls of the high school and may not even know your brother at all. She just was awkward and weird and I had some serious issues.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Hating bad characters. I admittedly sort of liked when the characters were so awful that I… started to cheer when bad things happened to them. *hangs head in shame*
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. This book just didn’t feel realistic at all and the far-fetchedness of it made it feel super hokey.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Usually I know when my less-than-favorable ratings are a it’s-not-you-it’s-me situation but this isn’t one I’d recommend. It’s not TERRIBLE and I made it through and it was thankfully fast-paced but I wouldn’t really say “go read it”. If the ending was better, I’d say give it a chance but it didn’t even wrap up well for me.

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BOOKS LIKE NEED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME    KILLER INSTINCT

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko Jean

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko JeanTitle: We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 2, 2015

Murder.
Fire.
Revenge.
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.
Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

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I’m always interested in a good psychological thriller so I was really excited to start WE’LL NEVER BE APART, especially when I was looking for something with an edge to read around Halloween time (you know… for those horror-chickens like me)! As with most psychological thrillers, I went into this one nearly blind so I could be surprised by any twists that might occur.

WE’LL NEVER BE APART definitely had its thrilling moments but… maybe I’ve read too many psychological thrillers recently… I totally guessed the twist after the first chapter. This was one of those books I was hoping I was wrong and that there would be something more surprising coming but turns out my guess was accurate. It was kind of a bummer because then I spent the rest of the book reading it assuming what the twist was and it made it a bit anticlimactic instead of exciting and mysterious.

I did appreciate that the story really dug into deeper layers as the book went on. I struggled for a bit in the middle because, well, once you know the twist, the suspense deflates a bit so I didn’t feel as hooked as I had hoped. Things really start to pick up around 50% to 75% in and the pacing really picked up! I found out so much more about the backstories of the characters and there were some very shocking revelations about their backgrounds and how their past affected their present/future.

I think the thing I was disappointed in was that even guessing the ending or not, the middle of the book didn’t seem to develop as much as I had hoped. I’m sure being in the dark would have left some suspense and I would have felt more of a pull to read but even still, I feel like there wasn’t too much going on in the middle. I’m not sure what I was expecting — more action? More thrilling moments? More hints at backstories earlier on? — but the book as a whole just didn’t quite grab me. I enjoyed the ending and thought it culminated nicely but again, it just didn’t feel like anything original for me.do like when books end on a sort of open note like this — it’s all tied up in the end as far as plot goes but there’s juuuust a little jab that makes the reader think twice and I kind of love when horror/suspense books do that!

WE’LL NEVER BE APART felt a bit like it fit the mold of the other psychological thrillers I’ve read so it was nothing too new for me, BUT I think if you’re new to these sorts of books, this could be a really fun one! Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a perfect fit for me.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

we'll never be apart gr updates

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Alice // Character Obsessions: Cellie, Jason, defeat, escape.
Alice wasn’t a very deep character for me… I guess I shouldn’t say deep but I just really didn’t connect with her like I had hoped. I think it would have been a lot more enjoyable had I been able to get a better feel for her character and really get into her head but I felt really disconnected from her. She never quite panned out to a real person to me and just felt like a story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. As much as I felt this one was a bit too predictable, it did leave me with a craving for more books like this. I love when books mess with my head and take me totally by surprise and I think it’s always a good thing when a book leaves you wanting more of anything.
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises. I just really wish this could have been something I couldn’t have guessed. Or maybe I could have been led off that path to be surprised that what I had guessed really was the ending. It’s hard to say!

Addiction Rating
Try it

I’d recommend this if you’re more of a newbie to psychological thrillers. If you’re a veteran to these types of books, you’ll probably guess the ending as well and I’m not sure the rest of the story is appealing enough to really stay suspenseful and shocking. For me personally, I just wasn’t as connected as I had hoped.

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BOOKS LIKE WE’LL NEVER BE APART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WE WERE LIARS    VANISHING GIRLS

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road – Erin BowmanTitle: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Publishing Info: September 1, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 19, 2015

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

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I’ve never read a Western before — honestly not one Western that I can recall — so I was both nervous and excited to read VENGEANCE ROAD! The extent of my Western pop culture knowledge pretty much comes from Back to the Future Part III, so that about sums up my tangles with the Wild West. VENGEANCE ROAD was a fun and fast-paced read that quickly dissolved and qualms I had about reading something so different for me in the realm of historical fiction and I’m so glad I was able to read and enjoy!

The book took off for me pretty quickly. Right away, there was a little bit of action and I immediately took to Kate’s character. She was spunky, determined, and tough as nails and she made a great heroine for this revenge story! I honestly loved how ruthless she was and I don’t normally root for people to seek out revenge but the atmosphere of the Wild West just totally demanded that Kate got her vengeance. There were also some really nice twists in the book! Some I could see coming but others were just a total surprise! I really enjoyed how Erin Bowman put this story together and brought readers on the journey right alongside Kate.

The setting was just excellent. I really could picture myself with the characters the whole time and Erin Bowman did a great job at really making this world come alive! I definitely picked up the desert-vibe as well as the time period and it was so fun to envision myself going on a journey with these characters (although thankfully I didn’t have to endure the peril that they did)!

One of the great things about this book is that is that for a non-historical fiction person like me, it felt more like a book full of action in a specific setting. I shy away from a lot of historical pieces because I’m just not a history person so I don’t usually enjoy all of the implied references, historical settings, and characters based on actual people. I supposed it’s not that I don’t enjoy them but without the extensive historical background, I’m not able to appreciate them as much. VENGEANCE ROAD certainly does have all of those things but if you’re not a history buff, you don’t feel like those things are going right over your head. It was also a very different time period and physical location than I’m used to with a lot of historical fiction so it was definitely fun and fresh for me!

If you’re unsure of VENGEANCE ROAD for any reason, I don’t think you need to worry. It was a truly picturesque book with some excellent action and a really stand-out heroine to boot. I think readers will really enjoy!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

vengeance road gr updates

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Kate // Character Obsessions: Revenge, family, survival.
I really loved Kate. Right away I connected with her and I sort of loved how cold and ruthless she was. I also think I’m a sucker for any character who starts out cold and full of hate and softens a bit. I love that she never gave up her mission though she did learn to compromise. She was so strong and just really fun to read about.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Westerns. Heyyyyy, I like Westerns? Well, maybe. This book opened the door to other ones though and made me feel comfortable to try them!
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. I’m not sure if it was because Kate was so hell-bent on her revenge mission (which I enjoyed) but I felt like I could have connected JUST a bit more emotionally. Sometimes it’s me and a book or me and a character but I was left wanting juuuust a bit more to really pull me in!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a lot of fun! It was quick, well-written, and had some really nice characters. A really fun read for me.

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BOOKS LIKE VENGEANCE ROAD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DANGEROUS GIRLS     REBOOT

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) – Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) – Robin LaFeversTitle: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin Lafevers
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: ARC
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 7, 2014
Related Posts: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)

    In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.   She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

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** This is an honestly, truly SPOILER-FREE review of MORTAL HEART! Only details are how I felt about things and never exactly WHAT they were. Too many incredibly special moments and reveals to spill the beans in a review! Enjoy! **

Not that I didn’t love the other two books (because I did) but I have been waiting for Annith’s story since we first met her in GRAVE MERCY. You guys… MORTAL HEART does not disappoint. In fact, for as much love as I had for the first two books, my love for MORTAL HEART soared above and beyond my expectations. It has the answers to everything and I mean EVERYTHING.

Oh my gosh, how do I even write this review without telling you all of the amazing plot points that I surely don’t want to spoil? Okay. No spoilers… I will just touch on things we learn!
We get to know more about Annith’s past. I have been dying to know more ever since we first met Annith so this was SO exciting. Not only do we get to learn more about her as a person, but having Annith’s story be the last in the series really ties everything together!
YES, there IS a romance and it is super swoony. I mean, did you have any doubt?  Mysterious, brave, broody… And he and Annith have great chemistry. The more I read about these two, the more I fell in love with their romance. It was truly awesome, incredibly deep, and also incredibly interesting.
There are mysteries galore! And even more importantly, we get all the answers!!! We’ve been wondering all along why Annith has been kept in the convent. There are hints at different characters being involved in different plots. There are plots of murder. There are family histories. And the reveals for each question that pops up is perfectly timed and utterly amazing.

It is really and truly hard to discuss MORTAL HEART without any spoilers because it’s the finale of this epic series and I immediately just wanted to discuss ALL THE THINGS. Robin LaFevers totally nailed it with MORTAL HEART and this is the book in the series that I really connected the most with. Annith was incredibly relatable, entirely badass, and fiercely determined. One thing that I loved was how Robin LaFevers really managed to create three entirely different heroines between Ismae, Sybella, and Annith but still keep many of the same basic qualities and ultimate goals. These girls had so much in common and the their stories all intertwine perfectly to create this series, but each one definitely felt like a very different person and a very strong personality.

The relationships in this book are just amazing. Of course the romance because WOW, but every relationship — the good and the bad — was just so perfectly shaped. The way Annith interacts with everyone — her feelings, her reactions, her decisions to trust — just felt so genuine and I really connected with her as a character. She had a lot to gain and a lot to lose all at once and so much of that was based on her relationship with her friends and Daughters of Mortain, with the convent, and with her possible enemies.

The plotting throughout the whole His Fair Assassin series is amazing. I enjoyed the first two books immensely, but with everything coming to a conclusion in MORTAL HEART, the action, the mystery, and the adventure really took off in this book and I could not put it down. If you loved the first two books, I don’t see how you can possibly be disappointed by MORTAL HEART at all. This book just floored me in all the best ways and I wish I could just soak in it forever.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Just ignore the fact that this is all the same date……. I accidentally deleted the wrong edition of the book which wiped out my status updates BUT I did have them saved on my phone because I didn’t have access to the internet while I was reading! So I just uploaded them back when I had the chance. 

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Annith // Character Obsessions: Leaving the convent, training, answers.
Out of all of the characters in this series, Annith was definitely my favorite. I was so glad the series closed out with her story and that it was saved for the very end. She was such a pleasure to read about and everything that happened to her! Just shocking and amazing. I loved her spirit and determination.

To be honest, I want to talk about soooo many more characters but let’s discuss AFTER you read the book! There are so many surprises and reveals and pasts and secrets that I just can’t possibly say anything more about who we meet, who reveals what, and how their roles shape the book! 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction + fantasy blend. This series really combined some serious historical fiction and awesome mythology/fantasy aspects. I loved the mythology that Robin LaFevers invented for this book (oh yeah, we get more of THAT too!) and how everything just really fit so well for the time period. It was just perfect.
Left Me Wanting More: Of this series. It ended so perfectly but that’s the thing — it was perfect. I wish there was so much more but then again, I’m extremely happy with the way it ended.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

Do not hesitate to buy this book and this series and cherish on your shelves! So amazing and definitely worth owning all three books. Forever.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE MORTAL HEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Shadow and Bone   Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Son (The Giver Quartet #4) – Lois Lowry

Son (The Giver Quartet #4) – Lois LowryTitle: Son (The Giver Quartet #4) by Lois Lowry
Publishing Info: October 2, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 7, 2013
Related Posts: Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3)

    They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.
    Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

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SON was… an experience. But overall not a good one for me. I’ve raved plenty of times how much I’ve loved THE GIVER ever since I first read it in seventh grade and even re-reading as an adult about two years ago, that opinion still stands. I feel like it opened the doors to dystopians for me (and possibly others, even authors) but I think the doors should have closed after THE GIVER came out. The other three books in the series were not up to par in my personal opinion and SON was probably the worst of them all for me.

SON is the story of Claire, a girl who grew up in the same community in which first met Jonas in THE GIVER. She was chosen to be a birth mother for her profession and right away, I saw where this was going. I can’t remember if Claire was ever mentioned in THE GIVER, so maybe this plot had already been set up for me but considering that I can’t remember, it stands to reason that there was still quite a bit about her that I didn’t know. What I really wasn’t sure about was how much of Claire’s story I was supposed to be able to infer. Was it supposed to be obvious to me who her connections were and how she tied into this story? Or was this supposed to be a twist or a surprise when we found out exactly how she tied into the book? It was obvious to me from the beginning so I was just unclear whether it was supposed to be a twist or not. (Also omitting what that connection was so I don’t spoil it for other people who DON’T know.)

My biggest issue with SON is that it was SLOW. SON is basically broken up into three parts. The first section was my largest concern and the part I struggled with the most. Even listening to the audio at 2x speed didn’t help me get through it. We first meet Claire in the Community and the first third of the book seems to parallel the story of THE GIVER except from the point of view of a different and more removed character. It may have been nice to have that refresher of THE GIVER except for the fact that it all felt very slow and anti-climatic.

The second part of the book didn’t go much better for me either. It still felt incredibly slow and with one exception, it felt totally unnecessary for the plot. I feel like it was supposed to beautiful and poetic but instead it just felt dull and long for me. I was waiting in anticipation of when Claire’s story line would hop back in to the connection with THE GIVER once more, so I was mostly anxious and waiting for this section to be over. There were too many details that were not relevant to the plot at all that I actually skipped over a few, my interest not being held.

The last portion of the book was by far the best. Things finally start to become relevant again and connections are made. YAY! Except… It was just too little too late. The last third of the book switches POVs so we’re no longer hearing things surrounding Claire’s life (and maybe this was why the last section of the book worked so well for me) and I found myself wishing that the POVs had been reversed with the majority of the book here and the smaller portion focusing on Claire’s history.

Overall it was a really rough read for me. If I hadn’t been listening to the audio, I think it would have been difficult to finish, but I was also determined to finish this series that I’ve been more or less reading for over ten years now. Based on the reviews I’ve seen on Goodreads, the reactions to this book are very mixed so take my review with a grain of salt!

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Claire // Character Obsessions: Finding her child at all costs. That’s about it.
Claire felt very one-dimensional for me. I understand that the people from the Community are raised not to feel emotions, but Claire actually felt quite a bit after her complicated birthing situation. It wasn’t that her emotions weren’t varied because they truly were… But her focus was on ONE thing the whole book and it takes the whole book to get there. She didn’t deal with many other conflicts and when she did, they were resolved quickly or were easily explained away. I just didn’t connect with her at all and her naiveté, even after finding out so many horrors, continued to bother me the entire book.
Jonas // Character Obsessions: Being a good leader, watching after Gabe, carefully selecting when to use his gift.
I’m not sure how I feel about Jonas, even after writing my whole review. Obviously he’s gone through A LOT and he’s bound to change just as much, but he didn’t remotely feel like the Jonas I once knew as a 12-year-old. I guess that’s to be expected though. I really, really didn’t like that he and Kira (remember Kira from GATHERING BLUE?) are romantically linked. I wanted their stories to come together, absolutely, but it felt to forced for them to be a married couple when we see them again in SON.  I did like Jonas’s leadership skills and how he was able to communicate and connect with everyone so well.
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Kept Me Hooked On: A series I’ve been reading for fifteen years. I started this series when I was twelve years old (OMG, just realized that was perfect timing to read THE GIVER haha) and I’m glad that I finally finished it.
Left Me Wanting More: Of the characters we first met in THE GIVER. The biggest question I had from the WHOLE series was “What ever happened to Gabe?” and I KNEW that this question would be answered in SON. This book just had way too much Claire and not nearly enough Gabe.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I know there are a lot of different reactions to this book, but mine was not a good one. I rarely tell people NOT to read a book but I couldn’t recommend this to someone. I didn’t enjoy it until almost the very end.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SON

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Eve   Wither

Independent Study (The Testing #2) – Joelle Charbonneau

Independent Study (The Testing #2) – Joelle CharbonneauTitle: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau
Publishing Info: January 7, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 25, 2013
Related Posts: The Testing (The Testing #1), NEED

    In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.  

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I guess I shouldn’t start off a review by saying that I almost didn’t read this book but… I feel like I must disclose that! After reading THE TESTING last year and feeling like it too-closely resembled THE HUNGER GAMES (not just because it’s a dystopian but really in so many ways), I almost didn’t pick up INDEPENDENT STUDY. I was just so torn on whether I would really enjoy it or if I would still see those parallels and feel unable to separate myself from that idea. What I can say is that I decided to read it thanks to encouragement from Nicole at The Quiet Concert (thanks for the encouragement!!!!)  and although I wasn’t stuck on THE HUNGER GAMES parallels, it still didn’t quite knock me off my feet.

I liked INDEPENDENT STUDY… But I almost didn’t. The beginning was very slow to me. It wasn’t that nothing was happening but I just was still very unsure in what direction the book — and the series, actually — was taking me. THE TESTING ended with quite the epic finale, including a shocking cliffhanger and INDEPENDENT STUDY kind of did where we left off… So maybe that’s actually the reason it was slow for me. I almost feel like it would have benefitted from some time in between the two books and backtracking through the story to fill in what we’ve missed. It sounds crazy, right? Isn’t that the kind of stuff that normally confuses me and I get frustrated with? Yes. It is. But for this book, I feel like that would have worked because I wanted both me as the reader and Cia as the main POV to be more… in the dark. I can’t really say any more because of book one spoilers and honestly going in, I had no expectations or an idea that that’s what I wanted so it wasn’t even a let down of expectations. I was just… restless.

I actually appreciated the content of this book more than the first, I think. While THE TESTING set up necessary elements, characters, and world building, INDEPENDENT STUDY really started to explore those elements and how Cia would ultimately fit in and how she could change things. I know, I know, you’re saying, “Well duh, that’s what a book two should do!” But trust me — it doesn’t always. That being said, INDEPENDENT STUDY also felt like a totally different book in many ways. I think it matured a lot from its predecessor and the content went much deeper than Cia’s experience in the Testing. Things got much more political and the stakes were higher when it came time for Cia to decide who to trust and who to fear.

There were a few twists involved in the second half of the book but I was torn whether I liked them or not. The one big twist I’m thinking of I’m still very hesitant about because it hasn’t been developed yet but I guess that’s something for me to find out in book three! In all honesty, I was almost surely not picking up book three — which is called GRADUATION DAY, coming in June — and I almost didn’t even pick up book two! I’m actually glad that I did because I enjoyed it and it was a quick, fun read once the ball got rolling. I’ll be looking forward to book three to finish off the series but admittedly, I won’t be running to the shelves to get it.

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Cia // Character Obsessions: Surviving in the real world, spending time with Tomas when she can, fulfilling her role as a good student, subterfuge.
Subterfuge. How much did I just want to use that word? (It’s true, either way.) Cia doesn’t have it easy. She’s torn between what she knew and what she knows now and all of the things she used to know and doesn’t anymore. She doesn’t know who to trust and I really appreciated seeing things from her POV because I was pretty wary of MOST people myself. She gets betrayed a few times and finds unlikely allies in other places and I think she does a pretty dang good job of holding it together! Are we BFFs? Not quite, but I admire her courage and determination! Oh, and her keen intellect because she’s a lot smarter than I am!
Michal // Character Obsessions: Hidden agendas, helping Cia, more subterfuge.
More subterfuge. Yes. Hmm, Michal. I was always wary of him, never quite sure if he was on the side of good or corrupt. I had a hard time trusting him and wasn’t sure if Cia should too which made his role in this book all the more interesting! I was actually really happy to see more involvement from him!
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Kept Me Hooked On: The Testing Series. I almost didn’t even pick this book up because I didn’t have a driving force to push me to continue with the series, but I’m glad I did. (And thanks to Nicole for the push!) I’ll be finishing the series now because I’m curious to see how it all wraps up!
Left Me Wanting More: Mind games. Dare I say I wanted more politics in this book? Okay. I wanted more politics. The university students in this book go through more training and challenges that were similar to the Testing so while that added another aspect of how they worked together and figuring out who was smart and who was not to be trusted, I wanted even MORE of a political aspect and MORE of the rebellion. INDEPENDENT STUDY really started to explore that aspect but I wish it had been more of a primary focus instead of more game-type deals.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re already invested in The Testing trilogy and you’re thinking about picking this one up, it’s still a good read! I had a few reservations while reading but the ending really picked up and I ended up enjoying it over all.

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BOOKS LIKE INDEPENDENT STUDY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Catching Fire            Insurgent

The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle CharbonneauTitle: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
Publishing Info: May 4, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 23, 2013
Related Posts: Independent Study (The Testing #2), NEED

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

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There has been so much buzz about THE TESTING so I’m excited that I was able to receive an ARC to review and share my opinion with everyone before the book comes out on June 4th! If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you probably know that the whole reason I even got into YA was because I was dying for more dystopians. I was in a huge dystopian kick with books like The Hunger Games, Matched, and Delirium so you can image how excited I was when I heard several comparisons that THE TESTING was the next Hunger Games!

I will say that I can’t deny the similarities I noticed between THE TESTING and THG. Yes, it is dystopian so, okay, there will be elements in there that the “classic dystopian” will most likely contain, but I’m not talking about those. The thing that stood out to me most was watching Cia, our main character, be taken away from her family to participate in “The Testing” which if you’re not familiar with the summary is a series of rigorous mental and physical tests/situations to determine if the United Commonwealth’s smartest teens are worthy enough to move onto the University and be groomed as the nation’s next group of leaders. Where I saw the similarity and just couldn’t shake it was seeing a sort of “first half” where Cia is figuring out secrets about The Testing and getting to know her fellow candidates and a “second half” where they are all out in the “field” so-to-speak (which I likened to the arena in THG) and the students decided whether to work together or battle against each other. I can’t really say whether it was good or bad that it reminded me of THG. On the one hand, it was a book that I truly loved (still do) and both books had great female heroines and exciting action! On the other hand, I couldn’t get that comparison out of my mind and it made me feel like the story was a tiny bit unoriginal. Hard to say since so many dystopians will seem similar just because they share genres!

I really did enjoy all of the action in this book. There were some extremely tense moments, although I wish some were drawn out longer, and some shocking twist of events. The Testing is designed to truly put these kids through the wringer so it brings out the best in some and the worst in others and at times I was truly surprised to see people’s true colors!

Honestly, my favorite aspect of the book was the mind games between the Testing officials and Cia. Cia’s intelligence level is probably the highest out of all of the kids based on her assessments of the officials as well as her fellow Testing candidates. Those little twists and turns in the plot were really the most exciting part for me! No spoilers of course, but the ending totally hooked me in and has me anxiously awaiting book two! Upon finishing, I was actually really glad it ended the way it did. The ending could have gone two different ways, and in the first, I think it would have closed the book off and made for a more wrapped-up ending. The way the book actually ended definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and in anticipation of the rest of the series! I truly have no idea what is to come!

I think dystopian fans will enjoy this one! If you’re looking for a comparison, I totally saw it as a mix of the feels from The Hunger Games and Divergent. Strong stuff, right!?

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Cia: To be brutally honest, Cia is no Katniss for me, but I loved so many things about her. One thing that really got me was her truly honest and genuinely caring personality. True, she may have been a bit naive because of it, but she stayed true to her character the whole book and it created a lot of interesting situations when your characters is trusting of her peers in situations that she maybe shouldn’t be!
Tomas: Tomas was Cia’s friend from back home in Five Lakes and is our main romance in the book. One thing I really liked about him was how his character — in Cia’s eyes — was constantly changing. Cia knew him from home, but he wasn’t a really close friend until they started up their whirlwind romance in the Testing. It’s interesting to see Tomas through Cia and try to figure out all of his little secrets!

addiction_factor1Try it

I enjoyed the book… buuuut it felt a bit TOO Hunger Games-y for me. I had fun reading it but I’m not 100% sure about the trilogy…

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE TESTING

     Catching Fire      Divergent