One Tiny Lie by K. A. Tucker

One Tiny Lie by K. A. TuckerLivie Cleary was always the smart, sensible sister and her sister Kacey was the wild one. But deep down she is desperate to make her parents proud even though they are no longer alive to witness it. She follows her father’s dream for her, going off to Princeton to pursue a career in oncology. But when her sister and her roommate drag her to a party one night, she didn’t expect to get drunk and become infatuated with the best looking guy on campus. Suddenly there is more to life than the future she had mapped out for herself, and she finds herself constantly drawn to a guy who is exactly the opposite of the man she always expected she would marry.

I really liked Livie’s story, and I think I liked it even better than Kacey’s. Livie has always seemed put together on the outside but she actually is still dealing with her parents’ death on the inside. While she has a very different way of dealing it from her sister, it still is not healthy. She is so desperate to fulfill her father’s dream of her going to medical school that she doesn’t even stop to think about what she really wants. When she meets Ashton, she realizes that the life she planned for herself may not be the life she actually wants to live.

I was really able to feel Livie’s conflict and I felt myself going back and forth with my opinion of Ashton right along with her. He comes off as a player and someone who could never get serious with someone like Livie, yet when they are alone he acts like she is the only person he cares for. Half the time he acts like a sweet, caring person and the other half he is being a jerk so, like Livie, I went back and forth between loving him and hating him. What Livie comes to discover though, is that there is more going on in his life than she realized and he may be dealing with just as many things as she is.

Overall, One Tiny Lie was a great story about a girl’s struggle to discover herself. I really loved this one and I liked the fact that Kacey and Trent still made an appearance.

One Tiny Lie was released on June 11, 2013 and is the second book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series.

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You by Katie McGarryOn the outside, Rachel Young seems like the typical private school rich girl. But on the inside she hides a girl who loves cars more than makeup and racing more than shopping. Rachel keeps her real personality a secret from her parents and brothers, and lets the real Rachel run free when she sneaks out at night to drive her Mustang. When she gets in over her head with a street race, Isaiah Walker helps her out. He is exactly the type of boy her parents would never want her to be involved with–foster kid, tattooed, into street racing–yet she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. When their lives are threatened after  a street race and they are given six weeks to set things right, Isaiah and Rachel must work together to save each other.

I love these books!! It’s so great to be able to read a new story about a character we’ve seen in previous books, and I love how we still get to see what characters like Noah and Echo and Beth are up to. I felt so bad for Isaiah after what happened in Dare You To, and I was so excited to read his story.

Isaiah and Rachel are more similar than they initially think. They both present a certain image on the outside, but in reality they are very different on the inside. Isaiah presents the bad boy look so that other people won’t mess with him, but he is actually trying very hard to do well in school so that he can pass his automotive test and get a good job straight out of high school. Rachel forces herself to act the way her mother would want her to, but it hurts her to be unable to share her true self with her family. The two are able to be their true selves with each other, and they realize that they have more in common than just their love for cars.

I really liked Rachel because she was such an innocent young girl who was completely inexperienced in relationships, and it was fun to see how nervous and excited she became when she got involved with Isaiah. It was also interesting to see how transformed she became when she was behind the wheel of a car. She also has to deal with so many things in secret and it was horrible how sick it made her. Her family was extremely messed up, and didn’t even notice what was happening to Rachel right in front of them. Isaiah was able to give her a sense of freedom from her family, and he helped her realize that she is just as important as the rest of her family and she should not hide herself or do things she doesn’t want to do just to make other people happy.

Overall, Crash Into You was an exciting story with great new characters and a beautiful love story. My favorite new character was definitely Abby and I’m hoping that McGarry will write a story about her one day!

Crash Into You was released today, November 26, 2013 and is the third book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To by Katie McGarry“That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn’t care as long as you had that one person standing beside you.”

Beth Risk is constantly protecting her mother–an alcoholic whose boyfriend beats both her and Beth–because she is afraid that her mother would be sent to jail and Beth would be all alone. When her uncle comes back into her life and tells Beth that she can either come live with him or else he’ll send her mother to jail, Beth is left with no choice but to leave the only home she knows for a place where she doesn’t fit in. Ryan Stone is a popular jock who is the complete opposite of Beth, yet for some reason the two feel drawn together after a dare forces them to cross paths. Beth is hesitant to let Ryan into her life, and to allow herself to trust someone with her secrets.

I loved this book!! At first it kind of had a She’s All That vibe–popular guy’s friends dare him to ask out the loner girl who he then falls for–but the story is so much more than that. Ryan’s life seems perfect from the outside, but the reality is that his brother is no longer allowed to come home and his parents’ marriage is almost nonexistent anymore. His father is the type that pushes him into playing baseball all the time so that he can make it into the majors, but while Ryan loves to play, he also has another talent. Ryan is basically trapped in his life until Beth comes along and helps him to realize that he doesn’t have to live out the life his father dictates for him. What’s great is that Ryan has a really decent group of friends that take Beth in as one of their own.

Beth has a constant need to protect her mother, even though her mother treats her horribly and falls right back into her bad habits. She goes to live with her uncle in his gorgeous new house and gets to go to a good school but she still wants to run away to save her mother. I admired her loyalty to her mother but at the same time I was really angry because a girl her age should not have to take care of her mother the way she did. When Beth meets Ryan she doesn’t believe that he could ever really care about a girl like her who comes from a broken home. It takes a lot for her to finally trust him, and I loved seeing how her walls finally started to come down.

What’s great about this book also is that we still get to see flashes of Noah and Echo from Pushing the Limits. It was great to see what they have been up to and how their lives have changed.

Overall, Dare You To was a great love story that had a lot of depth to the characters. It is not simply a sappy romance but rather a story of two teens with real issues who learn to overcome those issues together. I think this book is my favorite of the series.

Dare You To was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series. The third book, Crash Into You will be released on November 26, 2013.

Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp

Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp“You’re not going to disappear,” I said. “I won’t let you.”

River’s girlfriend Nia was killed in a drive-by shooting meant for her brother. In an instant, he loses the only person who has ever meant anything to him, and he is suddenly lost. All he has left of her is the map she left behind, a map detailing every place she wanted the two of them to travel together. River decides to leave his life behind and follow Nia’s map, in hopes that it will keep her memory alive.

This was such a powerful story. Breathing Ghosts is told in chapters that alternate between present day and memories that River shared with Nia. Through the memories, the reader begins to understand the type of relationship that River and Nia had and the loss that he is truly suffering without her. Nia was so full of life, even though the life she lead was not the most ideal. She seemed to look on the bright side of things and constantly planned a future for River and herself, anxious to get away from reality.

River is very much the opposite of Nia–he is very pessimistic, extremely realistic, and he has no desire to travel and doesn’t understand why Nia plans for something that will never happen. He and Nia come from opposite sides of town and her family does not approve of him. His mother is married to a man who beats her but still protects him over her own son. River doesn’t dare to dream a way out of his situation, yet Nia dreams constantly.

When Nia is killed, it seems to finally wake River up. He decides that he needs to get away from the life he is currently living. He takes Nia’s map and decides to follow it just like she had planned. Along the way, he ends up learning so much more about himself. He meets a pair of siblings who end up hitchhiking along on his trip. The three of them end up on a crazy journey across the country, and help each other to move on from their pasts.

This story was really beautifully written. I loved the alternating chapters because I still felt like I was able to see River and Nia’s relationship grow and progress even though it was in the past. I really enjoyed reading about all of the interesting places that the map lead to and River’s crazy experiences at each stop.  While I didn’t expect the ending, I think it worked really well for the story.

Overall, Breathing Ghosts was a beautifully written novel about dealing with grief. The story was really powerful and I really enjoyed reading it. A big thanks to Laekan Zea Kemp for providing me with a copy of the novel for an honest review!

Breathing Ghosts was released on September 30, 2013 (MY BIRTHDAY!).

Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

Indelible by Dawn MetcalfJoy Malone meets Indelible Ink when he tries to cut out her eye one night in a club. Instead of doing just that, he instead leaves his signature mark on her, marking her as belonging to him. This forces her to become part of his world, but also puts her in danger. She begins receiving messages at all hours from all sorts of creatures because they believe her to be Ink’s chosen one. She is forced to figure out where she belongs–in Ink’s world or her own.

This book had one of the most original stories I’ve come across in awhile. The way Ink and his sister Inq go around marking people was such a fascinating concept to read about. All of the characters were extremely well developed and I especially liked Inq’s role in the story. The relationship between Ink and Joy didn’t seem forced at all and I loved how they grew to care for each other. Joy herself was a great character and she grew a lot throughout the book, becoming more confident in her own abilities.

Metcalf does a great job of constructing the world of the Twixt. It is fascinating yet confusing, but I feel like this is exactly how Joy felt as she was experiencing it so it made me feel like I was right there with her. The writing is very descriptive and makes the world of the Twixt just that much more vivid.

Overall, Indelible was an incredible book with such an original idea. I can’t wait to read what happens next!

Indelible was released on July 30, 2013 and is the first book in the Twixt series. The second book, Invisible, is expected to be released on April 29, 2014.

 

Inhuman by Kat Falls

Inhuman by Kat FallsAmerica has been completely changed after a war destroyed the country. A wall was constructed, dividing the west and east sides of the country. The east side is full of people suffering from all kinds of mutations and some people are now more animal than human. Crossing the wall is considered forbidden, but some people sneak out to Fetch artifacts from the east. When Delaney Park’s father is nearly caught doing a Fetch and then disappears, she agrees to complete her father’s job in order to save his life.

This book was fascinating!! The science nerd in me loved all of the talk of mutations and the way they were affecting each person. Lane encounters all sorts of different creatures and half-humans on her journey, each more incredible than the next. I also thought it was really cute how everyone names their children after the places that they miss from the eastern part of the country, for example–Delaney Park, Annapolis, and Orlando.

Lane manages to make a deal with Rafe, a boy her age living in the Savage Zone. He agrees to help her with her father’s job but Lane is not entirely sure that she can trust him. At first I wasn’t crazy about Rafe but halfway through the book, he really grew on me. I really liked his interactions with Lane, especially once she realized that there was more to him than meets the eye. I was a bit surprised by the love triangle and it will definitely be interesting to see how that begins to resolve in book two.

The world building in this book was excellent. I loved reading about the America beyond the wall even though it is extremely treacherous and scary. Little settlements have sprung up full of people with and without mutations, yet some entire cities are run by tyrants. It was interesting to read about life outside the safety of the wall and it was evident how much it really affected Lane to see the truth out there.

Overall, Inhuman was an exciting original story that kept me turning pages. The ending was (of course) a major cliffhanger so I am anxiously awaiting the second book!

Inhuman was released September 24, 2013 and is the first book in the Fetch series.

Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Countdown by Michelle RowanKira Jordan wakes up chained in a room with Rogan Ellis, a boy well known for his vicious crimes. They are told that they are participating in the game show Countdown, in which they have to pass a certain amount of levels to win. In each level, they are told to do a specific task within a certain amount of time. If they complete the task, they move on to the next level; if they fail to complete the task in time, they die. Kira must learn to work with Rogan, someone she would rather have nothing to do with, in order to finish the game and survive.

This book reminded me of a twist between The Hunger Games and The Running Man by Stephen King. In Countdown, criminals are drafted to play in the game show that the rich people watch for entertainment. Kira’s entire family was murdered in front of her so she has been living on the streets trying to stay alive. Rogan has been in prison for a horrible crime, and he and Kira are supposed to work together to win the game show. They have to complete terrible tasks to pass each level, and they are being constantly monitored so they are unable to escape. As they complete each level, Kira and Rogan discover more truths about each other and realize that they must overcome their differences to win the game and find a means of escape.

While I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns in this book and found it hard to put down, I think it would have been better as a trilogy than a standalone. It’s so rare that I say that because today it seems like everything is a trilogy and I’m always wondering where all the standalone novels have gone but this is one book that could have benefited from having at least one sequel. It was a lot to jam pack into one novel and while the ending had somewhat of a resolution I still found myself left with a lot of questions as to what happened after. I loved the fast paced action and the constant twists but I felt like I would have wanted to spend more time reading about this world.

Overall, Countdown was a fast paced novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. I would have liked a bit more of a resolution at the end so I am definitely hoping for a sequel!

Countdown was released on October 1, 2013.

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn by Aimee CarterKitty Doe has spent her life as an Extra, an illegal second child who was sent to live in a group home at birth. She has tried her hardest to prepare herself for the day when she would take the exam that would determine how she would spend the rest of her life, in hopes that she can score high and earn a Ranking of at least a IV. However, when Kitty earns the ranking of III and her job assignment is to work in the sewers in Denver, a city thousands of miles away from her home in D.C., she decides to do whatever it takes to stay near her boyfriend, Benjy. When she is presented with the opportunity to become a VII, the highest Rank possible, she is unable to refuse, even though she knows there must be a catch.

The catch is that Kitty will have to be Masked–surgically altered to look exactly like Lila Hart, the manipulative prime minister’s niece. She will have to learn to be Lila so that she can take her place and the country will never have to know that the real Lila was killed. However, she must not only be Lila–she must stop the rebellion that Lila was stirring up, even though it is something that Kitty herself believes in.

This was such an exciting start to what seems to be a promising new dystopian series! This book had a ton of twists and turns and I found myself unable to put it down. Kitty is a really great character–she is dyslexic so she is unable to learn how to read, yet she doesn’t let that stop her from learning. She is very smart and is able to memorize entire books and speeches after hearing them just a few times. She is extremely self sacrificing and brave, and she stands up for what she believes in. She was a great heroine and I loved her growth from beginning to end.

The world that Aimee Carter creates reminded me a bit of the world in The Selection by Kiera Cass. Like in The Selection, the people are assigned numbers or Ranks that determine their place in society. While in The Selection this was determined by family (children are assigned the same rank as their parents), in Pawn every member of society takes an exam that determines their Rank based on their intelligence. IV’s, V’s, and VI’s live in a completely different part of the city than I’s, II’s, or III’s and are given more money and privileges and have better jobs and housing. III’s and below live in run down areas of the city and are given menial jobs such as sewer maintenance. Carter paints a vivid picture of this society and I really enjoyed the world building in this book.

The only thing that annoyed me a bit was how Kitty’s world at times seemed to revolve solely around Benjy. I get that he’s the love of her life and he’s been one of the only people in her life for so many years, but I wasn’t nearly as interested in their relationship as she was. I actually felt like Kitty had more sparks with Knox, and I would’ve liked to see that relationship explored a bit more.

Overall, Pawn was an exciting book that kept me on the edge of my seat! I highly recommend this to any dystopian fans!

Pawn will be released on November 26, 2013 and is the first book in The Blackcoat Rebellion series.

Rory by Ciye Cho

Rory by Ciye ChoRory is a cake decorator who gets taken by a demon into the land of Palladino, where ghosts and gargoyles and other creatures live. She is forced to train to be graceful and proper so that she can be auctioned off to a ghost lord. While she goes along with the training in order to survive, she secretly plots to escape Palladino even though she has been told it is impossible.

There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this book but there were also some things that I did. I felt like there really wasn’t enough character development–Rory is thrown into this situation pretty early on in the book and I felt like I couldn’t develop a connection to her character at all. There are flashbacks with random characters thrown in that don’t really make sense–there are two flashbacks with a neighbor boy that she had a crush on but other than that his character has nothing to do with the rest of the story so it seem forced and out of place. Also, Rory’s mother constantly warns her about demons and being out after dark, yet we never find out how her mom even knew about these creatures or why she would suspect that they would come after Rory.

The world building was something that I did like–Cho creates a very vivid world filled with castles and hot air balloons and an array of ghost and creatures. The whole ghost ballerina thing was kind of strange, and I really didn’t get the purpose of the girls having lessons on posture and how to hold a fan when supposedly the ghost lords only want them for their memories, but the whole concept of the story was a very original idea.

Overall, Rory was a bit of a strange book that was lacking in some areas but had great world building and an original story. While it was not really for me, I’m sure others may enjoy it more.

Rory was released on August 10, 2013 and is the first book in The Ghosts of Palladino series.

Light by Michael Grant

Light by Michael GrantWARNING: SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE GONE SERIES AHEAD

The kids of Perdido Beach have been living in the FAYZ for a year now. Kids have starved, died, developed mutant powers, and fought countless battles. Now that the barrier has gone transparent and they can see out into the rest of the world, it seems as though the end is near. The kids begin to worry about what will happen to them when the barrier does come down and how they will be treated by the rest of the world. But before they can even deal with those issues, they have to figure out how to stop the gaiaphage, or none of them will make it out alive.

I have been a huge fan of this series for years now, and I was so amazed that each of these books have been better than the last. This series has been six books long and every single book in the series has been amazing. I’ve been anxiously awaiting Light because I’ve been so excited to see how this would all end. And once again, Michael Grant did not disappoint!

This series has such a large group of characters, but Grant does a great job of giving each character their own voice. Each character has their own issues to deal with outside of the group’s issues, and each person has changed greatly since the FAYZ was created. Some people became leaders while others became cowards. But what is amazing is that some characters have changed completely just in the last few books and have become the type of person you never expected them to come. The character growth has always been very nicely done in this series, and in this book especially it seems like each character grew tremendously.

The kids start to realize that the barrier is going to come down soon, and not everyone is happy about it. Sam for instance, was last seen murdering Penny on national TV, so he is almost positive that once the barrier comes down he will be thrown in jail. The people outside the barrier have no idea about the horrors that the kids have faced inside and the things they have had to do to stay alive. Many of the kids have more experience with war than some people in the armed forces. It is hard for Sam and the others to imagine just going back to high school and returning to their lives, because it seems like in the past year they have grown into adults. What I thought was really interesting is that one of the characters asks if the adults had been present in the FAYZ, would they have run things better or worse? This is an interesting question, because while adults may be more knowledgeable about things like medicine and procuring food, adults also do not have the same innocence that many children have.

The kids also have to deal with the gaiaphage, who is growing at a rapid rate and has more mutant powers than any of the other kids. They know they will have to fight, but they are unsure if any of them will make it out alive. The gaiaphage wants to kill them all and seems to actually take pleasure in causing pain. Plus, kids have started starving again because they are all sitting at the barrier talking to their parents rather than working, so there is no food being grown. It’s crazy how much these poor kids have gone through in the past year, but they are still so resilient.

This book wrapped everything up nicely and didn’t leave any questions at the end. We finally get the answers as to why the FAYZ happened and what the gaiaphage actually is, and what Little Pete’s role in the whole thing was. Also, we get the back story of Sam and Caine and why their mother only kept Sam. I really liked the way this ended, and I think Grant really accurately portrayed the way the media would react in this situation.

Overall, Light was an excellent conclusion to the Gone series. I will miss reading about these incredible kids, but I really enjoyed the ending.

Light was released on April 2, 2013 and is the final book in the Gone series.