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Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Dead House by Dawn KurtagichThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 15 Sept 2015
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Suspense, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Somerset, England

First Line(s): I curse anyone who reads this book. If you touch it, hell will be waiting. Screw you. Happy reading.

THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich is the a YA debut murder mystery story. Its told using mixed media or “found” documents after there is a fire at a boarding school that resulted in the deaths of a couple of students and another,Carly, to disappear without a trace. Twenty years after the events in question Carly’s diary is found and that is the main source material used to tell this story. The reader quickly learns that Carly isn’t your average teenager. Because at night she’s no longer Carly and she becomes Kaitlyn. The two girls, though they share a body, are two very different people and they lead two very different lives and yet they somehow manage to coexist. It is never clear throughout the telling of THE DEAD HOUSE which personality is the original and which is the alter.

THE DEAD HOUSE is a quick read because of its format and I thought that the story was well written and engaging as I was reading it. However, the more time that passes between my reading of the book the more story itself fades into the background. When I finished THE DEAD HOUSE I wasn’t sure what to make of the story and now a few months later I am still unsure of it. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of resolution and it felt a little open ended as if there might be a sequel at some point in the future. I also expected THE DEAD HOUSE to be a creepier story than it was and maybe the audio version incorporates the creep factor in better. Though I’m not sure how well this mixed media style would work in audio form.

The Dead House Quote

Overall, I was left a little underwhelmed with THE DEAD HOUSE. It was interesting and yet at the same time its also forgettable. I feel like I’m missing something when I see all the rave reviews of this story. Because for me there wasn’t a whole ton of substance. We got the facts and nothing but and we never really got a solution to the mystery at large. Who was Carly/Kaitlyn really? Where did she go after the fire? Or was she a victim that was never found? In the end I was left with more questions than answers so was left thinking that the whole story was just average.

Other than the main mystery of the fire, there are several other things going on from potential paranormal aspects to cults and mysterious events that happened years before the fire. There is a lot of detail given and yet not a lot at the same time. THE DEAD HOUSE is a weird little novel that I liked but didn’t love and maybe it is one that I should re-read to see if its one of those stories that makes more sense the more its read. Although, I really don’t have a whole heck of a lot of desire to re-read this one. THE DEAD HOUSE wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t what I was expecting either and so maybe that’s part of where my disappointment comes in. If you liked mixed media and ghost stories then maybe you’ll like this one too.

irishdarkblue

IR - Dead House

Add The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender to Goodreads.

Add Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer LathamScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 19 May 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Arabian, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Las Almas Bay, Unknown

First Line(s): The kid was cute. Her bare, knobbly legs swung back and forth like pendulums between the chipped legs of my client chair.

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham was a book that I was really looking forward to reading this year as its a debut novel featuring a Muslim-American. Yay diversity!! And while I did like the story I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would. Scarlet Undercover was a quick read but it wasn’t as mysterious or suspenseful as I was hoping it would be. Much of the mysterious elements came in the form of characters being cryptic and not revealing what they knew in a timely manner. This just frustrated me to no end because so much could have been avoided if the various characters didn’t keep secrets and just communicated with each other. Also, being cryptic is not the same as laying red herrings and weaving  a tapestry of misdirection and false truths until you get to the big reveal.

I did enjoy the character of Scarlett but did find elements of her character to be a bit unrealistic. The secondary characters were also interesting but none of them ever really shined all that bright. While I often enjoyed Scarlett’s voice when looking back I find both her and her friends and family to all be forgettable. There is a romance element to this story but like the overall mystery its a bit lukewarm and falls short of creating that heart achy feels that I so love in a story. Again, the romance and the mystery all suffer from lack of communication and as such the love interest and the story line could have all been easily resolved if people just talked to each other.

Scarlett Undercover Quote

The plot pacing of Scarlett Undercover could have also been better. So much happened due to convenience and it often made my eyes roll when events and people just appeared and disappeared exactly when needed. Despite all my high hopes for Scarlett Undercover I was left underwhelmed with the story. I also felt that the ending was a bit rushed and then there were all the unresolved threads. As far as I know Scarlett Undercover is a standalone book but there is definitely enough left open to spawn a sequel or two. Which, if it happens, I’m on the fence on if I would read it or not because while this book was just ok I never really became invested in the story.

I did like that Scarlett was smart and sassy as well as being a diverse heroine. This book was bursting with diversity which is a good thing but sometimes felt a little forced. Just as the paranormal elements of this book felt forced because they were just randomly tossed in and not fully explained or developed. Scarlett Undercover was just an ok read for me but if you are looking for some snarky diversity then you should check it out.

irishdarkblue

IR - Scarlett Undercover

Add Clarity by Kim Harrington to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mini Reviews: Forged & Betrayed by Jennifer Rush

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Forged

 

Forged by Jennifer Rush 
Published by Little Brown on 03 December 2013
Series: Altered, Book 0.5
Pages: 32
Format: eBook
Source: Library

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, Michigan

First Line(s): The bed beneath me was thin as paper, though not as thin as the cotton gown still tied around my naked body.

I really enjoyed the Altered series by Jennifer Rush so when I saw that my library had digital editions of the two novellas in the series I knew that I had to check them out. The first novella, Forged, takes place before the start of Altered (my review) and is the origin story of one character, Dani, and gives a little background to another. I was initially excited for this one but just didn’t care for it. It felt like a different tone than the rest of the series and I just didn’t care for any of the characters. Despite this on weighing in at just 32 pages it was a bit of a struggle to read. To me, this one didn’t really add much of anything to the overall story ARC of the series.

Betrayed + Forged Quote

Betrayed

 

Betrayed by Jennifer Rush 
Published by Little Brown on 26 August 2014
Series: Altered, Book 1.5
Pages: 32
Format: eBook
Source: Library

Place(s) Traveled To: Sarasota, Wisconsin

First Line(s): Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

While I didn’t really enjoyed Forged I did really enjoy reading Betrayed! I just loved reading Trev’s story and devoured this short little novella quickly. For a short story this one had a lot to it and my only real complaint was that it wasn’t longer. I still have hopes that one day Trev and Cal will get full length books as I really want to know more about them both. Though Betrayed does do a good job in filling in some of the gaps of Trev’s story. This one I think adds value to the overall story and one that I think is worth the read. Though at 99cents and only 32 pages you may want to check to see if your library has it in its digital catalog.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Review: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon HaleThe Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale
Series: Ever After High,
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 08 October 2013
Genres: Adaptation, Adolescence, Books & Libraries, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Fantasy, Friendship, Girls & Women, Middle Grade, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 305
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Fairy-Tale World

First Line(s): Once upon a new school year, Raven Queen was packing.

The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale is the first book in the Ever After High series which was created by the same people who did Monster High and is a spin off of sorts. Though instead of “monsters” this story is filled with the children of the fairy tales we grew up listening to. We quickly learn that all the children in this story have a destiny that they need to fulfill and that destiny is to live out their fairy tale story as written and as determined by the Storybook of Legends. If your mother was an Evil Queen then you are supposed to grow up to be one too, even if you don’t feel so very evil. Which is Raven Queen’s dilemma as the new school year starts. This is her legacy year, the year she signs the book of Legends and seals her fate. Only she doesn’t want to be evil and wonders just what will happen if she doesn’t sign the book after all.

Along the way you meet her friends and a girl named Apple White, the daughter of Snow White, and the girl that Raven is supposed to grow up and poison so she can have her happily ever after. Apple is supposed to be good but what I love about this book is that the lines are blurred between good and evil and just because someone is perceived to be good doesn’t mean that they are. I really liked how fun and imaginative this story was and I did so enjoy the youtube cartoon tie-in as well. I liked all of the characters and the mystery that was contained in its pages. It was a fun fairy tale retelling and one in which I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

 

Storybook of Legends Quote

While I enjoyed the story I did get a little frustrated at times because I couldn’t understand why if each fairy tale character had two parents then why did Raven have to follow her mother’s path when her father was a good king. And what about the fairy tale characters that had multiple children? How do their stories play out as if there are 3 girls then they can’t all be Cinderella, can they? And just what happens if you don’t follow your destiny but instead forge your own path? These are all questions that I hope get answered as the series moves on. But for now, I was happy with it and do think that younger readers will enjoy it as well.

 

irishdarkblue

 

IR - Storybook of Legends

Add The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy to Goodreads. (Click Here for my review)

Add Kat, Incorrigable by Stephanie Burgis to Goodreads. (Click Here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: Reborn by Jennifer Rush

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Reborn by Jennifer RushReborn by Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered,
Also in this series: Altered, Erased, Forged + Betrayed
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 06 January 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Altered, Erased, Forged + Betrayed

Place(s) Traveled To: Trademarr, Illinois

First Line(s): I never took to fighting like the others.

To say that finding the words to write my review of Reborn by Jennifer Rush was a difficult thing is an understatement and I’ve been searching for them since I finished this book. Reborn takes us back to the world and story that was begun in Altered (my review) only this time we get Nick’s point of view. Nick, oh the amazingly taciturn soul of few words and who I’ve been longing to know more about since his first grunt in Altered. And let me tell you, it may have taken 3 books and 2 novellas but Jennifer Rush does not disappoint when it comes to Nick’s story. It was everything that I hoped for and more. Reborn was a book that made me smile, it broke my heart, and it also gave me all those happy heart achy feels that I love in books. There was action and romance and just so many things that it really is hard to find the words without spoiling this story.

Reborn Quote

I really love the Altered series and I think that it gets better and better as it goes on. The first two books are told from Anna’s point of view and focus more on her and Sam. Reborn changes things up by not just focusing on Nick but also becoming an alternating POV with him and Elizabeth. I loved this style and now kind of wish that Altered and Erased had done the same as I’d love to be able to see into Sam’s head. Elizabeth is a new character to the series and she adds in a nice balance to Nick. They are very much a yin and yang to the other and give each other balance. Elizabeth helps to bring out Nick’s softer side and Nick helps bring out Elizabeth’s strength.

Reborn is a fast paced story and if I had the time I would have been able to read the whole thing in a day. There is a lot that goes on in this story but what I love about Jennifer Rush’s writing style is that she is able to maintain the mystery and keeps the reader guessing as the story unfolds. It was filled with intrigue and questions and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see where it would all end up. Seriously, this series is one of my favorites and I really hope that there will be more books coming. After all Trev and Cass need to find their happily ever afters too. Plus there is still just so much to learn about the past of all of these boys and what the Branch will do next.

My feelings of Reborn summed up in a gif

hugs

 

Irish Recommends - Reborn

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Quotably Yours, Review2 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Blog Tour Review: Torn Away by Jennifer BrownTorn Away by Jennifer Brown
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 06 May 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Family, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Elizabeth, Missouri // Prairie Valley, Missouri // Caster City, Missouri // Waverly, Missouri

First Line(s): Marin wanted to teach me the East Coast Swing.

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown is the story of a tragedy. Its the story of Jersey who lives with her mom, stepdad and half sister Marin. Life isn’t perfect for Jersey but its comfortable and she’s reasonably happy. That is until the day that her town is devastated by a massive tornado that levels most of it. Having only lived through one tornado, and a small one at that seeing as how I am not in the midwest, I really have no idea what Jersey’s experience was like. But you don’t need to have experienced a tornado fully as Brown does an amazing job in bringing the experience to life.

For me, that scene and the ones immediately following were the best in the book. They were filled with such emotion and feeling that it was impossible not to get swept up and taken away by it all. However, after that the book started to fall apart for me. I liked Jersey, most of the time, but the secondary characters were all horrible people that they really took me out of the story. Her stepdad abandons Jersey just when she needs him the most and her real dad is not much better. His family branch delights in torturing Jersey and it often made me uncomfortable to read. Maybe that was the point but it didn’t make me like Jersey or the story any more I just wanted it over.

I also found it odd that Jersey would call her half siblings step-siblings as if there was no blood or relation between them. With her dad’s other family I could understand as they were strangers but with Marin? It just added distance into a story that should have been bursting with emotions. And then of course there was the BFF that wasn’t which is so typical these days in books that I shouldn’t be surprised by the cold and unfeeling things that they do.

Torn Away isn’t a bad book but it doesn’t have the same magic to it that some of Jennifer Brown’s other books did. It was a quick and short story and beautifully written but it suffered from likable characters.

irishdarkblue

 

three-stars
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Erased by Jennifer Rush

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Erased by Jennifer RushErased by Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered, Book 2
Also in this series: Altered, Reborn, Forged + Betrayed
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 07 January 2014
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Altered, Reborn, Forged + Betrayed

Place(s) Traveled To: Hart, Michigan // Unknown, Indiana // Port Cadia, Michigan // Grand Rapids, Michigan // Millerton, Michigan

First Line(s): Like clockwork, I woke after midnight and immediately had the urge to see Sam.

Erased by Jennifer Rush is the sequel to her debut novel Altered (my review) which I read at the strong urging of my friend Andi over at AndiABCs. Well, Altered is one of those books that really makes you want more and so thankfully I was able to get my hands on an early copy of Erased so I could get more. Erased picks up not long after Altered ends and is just as fast paced as the first book. There are lots of secrets revealed and there is just oh so much more to know!

I loved how each of the characters that we grew to love in the first book developed further in this one. I loved learning their various back stories and I got all giddy at times during my read of this book. There were also moments that I wasn’t too fond of and characters that I didn’t care for. As with Altered, there are many secrets and lies for Anna and the gang to filter through. Its hard to know who to trust when everyone you’ve ever known seems to have lied to you after all.

Erased was a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions and twists and turns and it was just oh so good. Once I started I couldn’t stop reading and then I was all crazy bouncy with the need to talk to someone about it. Erased is a book that just begs to be discussed as there are just so many what ifs and theories that fill its pages. Its a book that makes you long for the next installment in the series and one that I think that everyone should read. Jennifer Rush is an amazingly talented writer with a real gift at spinning a tale. Her writing is solid and addictive and I think she’s a great new talent and I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl
Series: Icons,
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 07 May 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 428
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Los Angeles, California – City is now called Hole (Future)

First Line(s): One tiny gray dot, no bigger than a freckle, marks the inside of the baby’s chubby arm.

First off I feel as though I should admit to not having read Beautiful Creatures, its a books I’ve tried to read but its also one that kept putting me to sleep. I did see the movie (my review) and so began thinking that maybe I should give Stohl and Garcia a shot but still haven’t gotten around to trying that book again. When I received Icons by Margaret Stohl I thought that even though its a standalone book by Stohl that here was a a chance to give these authors another shot and see if I liked their writing more. And the verdict? Well, the most I can say about Icons is that I finished it.

Icons’s plot is a bit of jumble that is jumping on both the alien and dystopian band wagon. Filled with people who are special, who don’t see or know they are special, and of course we can’t forget about the all important love triangle. *le sigh* The whole plot was just so very cliched and filled with all the usual tropes that there was nothing new or original. It was a fairly quick read but I think that was more in that I forced myself to finish more than a desire to know what happened. Because, for me, I found this one to be very predictable.

I think the story would have been a bit more mysterious and intriguing if it wasn’t for all those little peeks into that forbidden book with Dol had and then lost before she could read it. As this book was told from her POV it seemed a bit of a cheat for the reader to know all these mysterious things about what makes Dol and her friends so special as she struggles with whats going on. It just took away from the story. The rest of the book is pretty forgettable if you ask me. There was nothing that made this one stand out and I don’t have a burning desire to read more of this world. I don’t really care about the world or the characters.

I think what kept me reading was the writing. I did like how Stohl strung her words together and when I was reading the book I was in the world, just not immersed within it. Overall, I found Icons to be a very meh read and its not one that I can really recommend. If you are looking for unique and interesting dystopia/alien books then I strongly suggest that you try Mothership by Martin Leight and Ilsa Neal (my review) or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (my review). I was totally shocked and blown away by each and both have me salivating for the sequel!

Icons Series Order
Book 1: Icons
Book 2: Idols (08 July 2014)
Book 3: Untitled (2015) – assuming

three-stars
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