Review: Vengeance by Megan Miranda

Vengeance

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Wow – I enjoyed Vengeance more than Fracture, and that’s saying a lot, because I REALLY REALLY liked Fracture!  In this follow-up, the story is narrated by Decker, and boy, oh boy, is he having some issues!  Suffering from the trauma of pulling his best friend out of Falcon Lake after she falls through the ice, he performed CPR on her while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.  Delaney was under the water for 11 minutes, and while waiting for word on her prognosis, Decker wished desperately for her to live.  In those agonizing hours he waited for her to wake up, he would have traded anybody’s life for hers.  When bad things start happening to his friends, he starts to wonder if the lake really is cursed, and whether it is punishing him for taking Delaney away from it.

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Interview with Kelley York, Author of Hushed

The pre-release madness for Entangled Publishing’s new Embrace imprint continues! Don’t forget to check out the post from earlier this morning so you can enter the giveaway!

 

Please welcome Kelley York to the virtual offices this morning!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kelley York] Capable of wanting to read/write rainbows and unicorns one second, and death and destruction in the next. I like books to make me cry.

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Review: Siren’s Secret by Debbie Herbert

Siren’s Secret (Harlequin Nocturne)

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love mermaid stories, so when I saw Debbie Herbert’s debut, I had to read it.  I really enjoyed Siren’s Secret.  It’s told through protagonist Shelly’s POV, as well as that of her love interest, Tillman, and the serial killer, Melkie.  I didn’t find Melkie a compelling character, and wish his POV hadn’t been as prominent.  While I found Shelly and Tillman engaging, Melkie was too one dimensional for me to find him interesting. 

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Waiting on Wednesday–Made of Stars by Kelley York

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I love the tag line – even the stars are lies. 

In stores October 2013.

 

 

 

When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent…they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?

 

What are you waiting on?

Review: Shift by Kim Curran

Title:  Shift (Strange Chemistry)

Author:  Kim Curran

Publisher:

Shift (Strange Chemistry) DIGITAL

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.


Review:

When I discovered that Angry Robot Books would be launching a YA imprint, I was excited to check out the Strange Chemistry line.  Every book under this imprint looks good.  I don’t think there can ever be enough books released with fantasy or sci-fi elements, so I was eager to start digging into the launch titles for Strange Chemistry.    First up for me is Shift; I found this one intriguing because protagonist Scott learns that he is a Shifter, and that he can undo decisions he’s made if they turn out to be bad ones.  It’s like having a non-expiring do-over card, except for those occasional unpleasant consequences.   Yes, you knew there would be consequences for using a power that cool, and after seeing the heartbreaking handiwork of one of his Shifts, he decides that maybe it’s not such a great ability after all. 

I thought the pacing for Shift was great.  I powered quickly through this book, and once I got a few chapters in, I didn’t want to put it down.  I wanted to learn more about Scott’s ability and the world he lived in.  This is a great blend of super-hero comic with equal parts futuristic thriller and murder mystery tossed in for good measure.  There were even a few pages that completely freaked me out and got my heart pounding in fear as Scott got himself into some horrific and scary situations.  For a kid who has no idea what he’s doing, he sure manages to get himself into so much trouble!  Life-threatening trouble, too!  I still can’t believe that he made it to the last page relatively unscathed.  That just proves that luck is just as important as mondo-powerful supernatural abilities.

Scott discovers that he has the power to undo decisions he’s made quite by accident.  He is showing off in front of a bunch of his classmates, and his uncharacteristic flash of bravado is just about to get him killed.  Until he wishes with everything he has that he hadn’t decided to act like a moron.  He’s never been cool, and he never will be cool, even if he completes the dare, so he wonders why he even bothered.  Being a pancake after falling from a utility pole just doesn’t seem worth it.  He regrets that he wanted to impress a pretty girl he’s never seen before, and now it looks like it’s going to be the death of him. 

I loved Scott.  He’s self-depreciating, and once he started getting over himself, he is a fun character.  Thrown into circumstances far beyond his control, he finally starts coming into his own.  As he begins to understand the consequences of  both doing and un-doing his decisions, he begins to accept some the less favorable choices he’s made.  He can no longer blame others for his poor judgment, and that helps to give him the kick in the pants he needs to start growing up.  People can live or die by his actions, and there is no blaming anyone else when he messes up.  Instead, he has to put on his big-boy pants and fix the chaos he’s caused.  He needs to risk himself to save his friends from the harm he has caused them, and this time, a simple shift isn’t going to cut it.  For a big nerd, Scott’s take charge attitude impressed me, and his determined charge to the end of the book kept me completely engaged in the story.

I had some quibbles with Shift, but they weren’t enough to ruin the book for me.  Many of the secondary characters are one-dimensional and yawn inducing stereotypes.  I would have liked more depth to all of the secondary characters.  Overall, though, this is a fun read, and it got me geeked to read more releases from Strange Chemistry.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Kim Curran, Author of Shift

 

Kim Curran is the author of Shift, one of launch releases for Angry Robot’s new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry.  Kim dropped by the virtual offices to induce herself and to chat about her new paranormal thriller.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kim Curran] Lives in pyjamas, wants to be a ninja. Hopeful, fretful, loyal. Laughs a lot. Hugs a lot. And (according to a 10-year old) is well cool.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Shift?

[Kim Curran] Shift is about a teenage boy called Scott Tyler who realises he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power’s going to be really cool. But as he comes to terms with it, he realises that changing his choices can have terrible unforeseeable consequences. Consequences that could unravel his whole life. He’s helped along the way by the mysterious Aubrey Jones. Although he’s never sure if she’s getting him out of trouble or deeper into it.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Kim Curran] I was sitting on a bus on my way back from work one day, looking at the people all bustling home, thinking about all the choices they’ve made in their lives. At the same time I was thinking about a book I’d just read on quantum physics. And bang. The idea for Shift came to me. What if you could change your decisions, in the same way light can ‘shift’ from particle to wave?

As for the characters, I’d just finished a (trunk) novel written 3rd person with a female lead. So I decided I wanted to try writing 1st person. And for some reason Scott Tyler’s voice came to me incredibly clearly. On the surface he’s a bundle of anxieties and yet he has this inner strength. So maybe it was like a reversal of myself (I’m strong on the outside, wobbly on the inside!). I scribbled the prologue in a taxi on my way to work one day, and it’s remained virtually unchanged since. And as I had a male protagonist, I had to have a really cool female opposite, just to get him into trouble. So Aubrey Jones was born. She’s the kind of girl I always wished I could be when I was a teenager, but never was.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Scott?

[Kim Curran] Self-depreciating. Kind. Strong.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Aubrey would never have in her purse?

[Kim Curran] I’m not all together sure Aubrey would have a purse. But in her bag, she would never carry anything she might perceive to be too ‘girlie’. So nothing pink or glittery. She probably doesn’t carry much money in there either, as she’s not very good with it.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Scott’s single most prized possession?

[Kim Curran] Oh, good question. Probably a vintage, still-the-box, action figure of some kind.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Kim Curran] I’m hugely influenced by films and comic books. I’ve also been creatively shaped (for good or bad) by working in advertising for 15 years. So I’m always thinking about the audience and how to connect with them – and fast. As I say, not always a good thing, but there you go.  As for writers, we’d be here all day, but the few that pop into my head right now are: Lauren Buekes, Anthony Horrowitz, Patrick Ness, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Sergei Lukyanenko, Camus.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Kim Curran] I need very little. Something to write with (my MacBook Air or my Waterman pen) and something to write on! Other than that, a comfortable chair.  I can write anywhere: at home on my own, in cafes, on buses. In fact, most of the first draft of Shift was written on a bus.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Kim Curran] Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. For me it’s close to being perfect. Hugely fun and yet astoundingly well written. It’s rare, I find, that literary books are so joyful in their storytelling.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Kim Curran] Probably Roald Dahl’s BFG. I read it when I was about eight and then devoured all of his other books. That was when I realised I was a ‘reader’. And I never stopped.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Kim Curran] Unsurprisingly, I like to read. I find it hard to read when I’m writing as I pick up voices too easily. So when I’m not writing I try and catch up on my huge TBR pile. I also love coffee with friends, watching movies and the usual stuff. I used to fence a lot, but I’ve recently hurt my hip, so I’m looking for a new sport to get into. Capoeira maybe?

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Kim Curran] I’m on Twitter, far too much twitter.com/KimeCurran, I have a Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-Curran/222018584554942 and they can email me via my site www.kimcurran.co.uk

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can order Shift from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

Review: Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

 

Title: Beautiful Lies

Author: Jessica Warman

Publisher:  Walker

Beautiful Lies DIGITAL

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins-so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they’ve lived with since their parents passed away, can’t tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong-especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself? Master storyteller Jessica Warman will keep readers guessing when everything they see-and everything they are told-suddenly becomes unreliable in this page-turning literary thriller.


Review:

Wow, this book left me reeling several times, as the painstakingly developed twists and turns began to unfold.  I don’t know how to review this without major spoilers, but I am going to try, so if I am vague, it’s so I don’t spoil any of the suspense.   I finished this yesterday, and I am still trying to decide how I feel about the book.  It was hard to put down, but because the author was keeping me on my toes and only revealing bits and pieces about Rachel and Alice, I didn’t feel that I ever got to know the twins.  I learned about their history, as life-changing events in their past were slowly picked apart, but I never felt that I got to know  them.  There was an emotional distance around them that I couldn’t breach.  I also hated the ending.  Hated it!  It is dark and brutal and unforgiving, and it made me uncomfortable and depressed.

Alice and Rachel are identical twins.  They also know when something happens to the other.  If one of them is injured, the other is as well.  They look so much alike that even their aunt and uncle can’t tell them apart.  Their parents were killed when they were young girls, and their mom’s sister and her husband stepped up and took them in.  There is a history of mental illness in the family, and because of her tenuous grip on reality, their aunt refused to allow their grandmother to have custody of them, even though the girls often spent time with their grandmother.  Due to their personality clashes, their mother and aunt hadn’t spoken to each other in years, and the girls hadn’t even met their new guardians.  After a rough adjustment, they settled into life in their new home, but they never felt  that they were part of their aunt and uncle’s family.

When one of the twins disappears, the other is frantic to find her sister.  One second, she felt her sister’s familiar presence, and the next, she was gone.  Like she had never existed.  The problem, Alice was a troublemaker, always finding herself on the bad side of a situation and forbidden to see her boyfriend because of his bad influence.  The adults in her life, including the police, are skeptical that Alice has been abducted, and they all think that she’s only run away.  She does this often, so nobody is in a hurry to try to find her.  They all expect her to come home in a day or so, because she always does.  Only this time, she doesn’t.

Beautiful Lies is an engrossing read, and it was very hard to step away from the suspense.  I almost turned down lunch at the Indian buffet so I could stay home and keep reading, and if you know me and how much I love food, you’ll understand what a big deal that thought was(my stomach did win out in the end).  I was always wondering what was real and what was a figment of the protagonist’s imagination.  Her grip on sanity was questionable, and it was difficult to tell whether she was seeing something that was really there, or whether she believed that something was there.  This back and forth between questioning her sanity and  taking everything at face value kept me turning the pages.  I had to know!  Was she nuts?  Had her sister really been abducted, or did she have something to do with her disappearance.  To add to the tangled web, both sisters kept secrets from the other, and some of those secrets were huge!  As each was unearthed, a very real and understandable sense of betrayal and hurt permeated the pages. 

I loved being off balance and not really knowing what was going on.  It is only the ending that keeps me feeling reserved about this book.  Though it is a fitting end, it is not easy to read, and it disturbed me.  I did not want the story to come to this end.  If you read the book, how did you feel about the conclusion?

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Waiting on Wednesday–Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I loved The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, so I am eager to see what Paper Valentine is all about.  Hot weather, dying birds, murdered girls?  And the ghost of a best friend? Sure, I’ll give that a read!  In stores January 2012

 

 

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record.  The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one.  Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders?  Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets.  She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

What are you waiting on?