Wildcard by Marie Lu Review

Wildcard by Marie LuWildcard by Marie Lu (Warcross #2)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Pages: 342

Summary: Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

*Spoilers Ahead*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Wildcard is the character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With intrigue and more of a central focus on the characters and complex plot, Lu’s finale changes the game and raises the stakes more than ever!

I was on the verge of a reading slump, but Analee, In Real Life & now Wildcard have just pulled me out of it! I flew through Wildcard in practically a couple sittings!

Wildcard picks up just 3 days after the ending of Warcross and Emika is seeing the impacts of Hideo’s algorithm firsthand, with criminals turning themselves in or even attempting suicide.

Emika can’t help but blame herself and consider what she could have done differently. But, now Zero (who we know is Sasuke) is wondering if Emika will join his side to bring down Hideo’s algorithm one and for all!

She doesn’t want to put her Warcross team (The Phoenix Riders) in danger, but she knows they can’t stay in the dark about whats going on.

As she works with Zero, she figures out what exactly the plan is to bring down the algorithm and learns more about the impacts of the Neuro-Link than she first thought was possible.

Okay so I don’t want to get into too many major spoilers here, but I just want to say that what I really loved about Wildcard so much was how Marie really changed the atmosphere of this finale, compared to Warcross.

Where Warcross was very action-packed, quick-paced, & delving with intrigue, Wildcard focuses more on the specifics of characters, politics, & intrigue that she expands on even more than in book 1!

I was iffy about this intrigue-focused sequel/finale, but reading it, reminded me why I loved Alwyn Hamilton’s sequel to Rebel Of The Sands, Traitor To The Throne.

The intrigue and politics to the world of Wildcard for me, just added a whole new layer of depth to the tech., business, and morality that was introduced in the previous book, which I really enjoyed!

Within this book, we get introduced a vigilante team of sorts, called the Blackcoats. Which is led by Zero,  Dr. Dana Taylor, & assassin, Jax. All they want is for Emika to join with them, so they can put a stop to the algorithm.

This leads us to see a whole different side and much higher stakes to the technology introduced in book 1!

I really loved how character-driven this book was and because of that we learn more about the Phoenix Riders team: Hammie, Roshan, Asher, & bounty hunter Tremaine. But with the introduction to the Blackcoats, I loved that we learned even more about Zero & new character, Jax (she was really great).

I loved Jax introduction and her overall story! When reading about her through Emika’s POV, you can just sense what a fun, interesting, & badass character she is! Jax was a wonderfully developed and explored morally grey character, considering she’s only in Wildcard!

Hideo and Emika’s dynamic really changes in this book and takes some unexpected turns with the introduction to Zero/Sasuke’s story!

Wildcard goes in ways I wasn’t expecting (in terms of Zero, the use of the Neuro-Link, Hideo, etc.) and is a lot darker than Warcross, which I found made it such a unique and memorable finale for me!

This book also gives a bit of a psychological thriller vibe, which I wasn’t expecting at all, but the more I got invested in the politics, depth to the story, the mystery that unravels, etc. I found it just made the plot just–so different and it could have been a very predictable story, but Marie really took risks with how she explored the backstory and direction of Zero’s character, among other things, which personally made it a fun read!

As for why why it isn’t exactly a full 5-stars like Warcross, similar to Traitor, when a book is very politics/ intrigue heavy, I found some of the character and story threads felt a bit slower paced than I would have liked.

Wildcard is a dark, character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With a focus on intrigue, politics, new characters, & a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat, Wildcard will have you connecting the pieces with every page!

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter Review

Not If I Save You First by Ally CarterNot If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Pages: 297

Summary: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Carter’s latest novel, Not If I Save You First, is filled with intrigue, politics, and mystery! This page turner is mystery, thriller, and character-driven story all in one!

As a long time fan of Ally Carter’s books, I always look forward to reading what she comes up with next!

She integrates politics and mystery so seamlessly into everyone of her novels and that’s just one of the many reasons I really love her books!

Not If I Save You First follows Madeleine“Maddie” Rose Manchester, daughter of a Secret Service Agent and Logan, the president’s son.

An attack within the White House when they were 10, leads Maddie + her father to stay off the grid for 6 years in Alaska.

In that time, Maddie has been writing letters to Logan, but we quickly learn she hasn’t gotten responses. This leads her to believe, that maybe she’s lost her only friend.

Then when there’s news that Logan will be staying with them, the story takes off from there!

Now, when Maddie’s tasked with watching over him, it turns out they aren’t completely off the grid as they thought.

When its revealed someone is after Logan (and is later kidnapped), its up to Maddie to save him and when she does, they have to find answers.

Over the course of the story, they work together and unravel the mystery all while trying to stay alive in the Alaskan wilderness.

As they uncover more about what caused their friendship to end so abruptly, they also team up, help each other and maybe attempt to revive, what they felt was a long-gone connection!

I loved seeing the unique dynamic between Logan + Maddie. It was interesting to see their friendship during their younger years in the beginning + seeing how it drastically shifts in the present.

The characters and their development, especially Logan and Maddie is another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed!

Carter does such an amazing job at keeping her characters and their development consistent throughout her books and it shows throughout the entirety of Logan and Maddie’s interactions.

The mystery as to who was after Logan and why, kept me turning the page! There’s so much mystery and things left unsaid that made it fun figuring out who was behind all this!

As for the plot and considering its a standalone, the story easily wraps up and any loose strings are pretty much resolved.

*I also loved the Gallagher Girls reference to the Blackthorne Institute!! ❤ ❤ Being a long-time fan of Carter’s books, it was fun seeing that little easter egg!!

However I will admit, the story itself was pretty slow towards the middle (when Logan + Maddie spend a lot of time trying to lose their tracks of Stefan, who’s chasing them). It did lead to a bit of repetitiveness of the setting and with that, not much happening plot wise when Logan+Maddie are trying to escape Stefan.

Additionally, the big reveal as to who was behind it did feel pretty rushed, as did the ending itself.

I will admit, the build-up itself was so incredibly done and kept raising the stakes with each moment.

When we finally reach the end, there was just a lot happening at once and overall felt a bit too fast-paced when it was revealed.

Overall though, I’m interested to read what Ally releases next! I always look forward to reading her novels and always have so much fun reading them!

Character development and mystery are at the heart of this story! Not If I Save You First is a uniquely plotted YA mystery/thriller and page-turning read! Though the pacing and ending suffer a bit, its an entertaining read perfect if your looking for a YA Contemporary/Thriller-Mystery standalone!

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco Review

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri ManiscalcoHunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (SJTR #2)

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 434

Summary: Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Hunting Prince Dracula takes you on another murder mystery, this time set in Romania as detective duo Audrey and Thomas head to a school of forensics! Maniscalco’s writing builds an atmospheric setting and keeps you in suspense as you follow Audrey on her adventure to solve another case!

While I didn’t rate this higher than book 1, rating aside, this was still a great book! Hunting Prince Dracula, immerses you from the start as Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell are in Romania on a train, headed to compete for the few remaining spots at the Academy of Forensics and Medicine.

However when a murder on the train continues to lead suspicion about the infamous Vlad Dracula’s return, Audrey and Thomas feel this may be one of their darkest mysteries to date!

What I loved about Hunting Prince Dracula so much was the rich and expansive history, Maniscalco weaved into the story from the Romanian folklore to the legends and tales surrounding Vlad Dracula! Before deciding to read this book, I had actually watched an interesting documentary about Dracula recently and was able to recall a lot of the info from it in this book which was really cool to revisit in this book + even learn some new tidbits of fascinating history + folklore!

Audrey Rose is dealing with the aftermath of the events in Stalking Jack The Ripper and essentially over the course of the story finds her strength to continue doing what she loves while accepting what happened and is determined to claim one of the limited spots in the academy! Her determination never wavers even as guys at the academy question and doubt her, she never once backs down!

We learn much more about Thomas which was great + it was great to get even more into Audrey’s head too as we follow grief, mystery, and so much more that she tackles throughout Hunting Prince Dracula!

Maniscalco’s 1st person POV allows us to brilliantly explore this dark addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series, from the clues that leave us unsure of who to trust to following Audrey’s inspiring journey to pursue what she loves no matter what gets in her way! Mansicalco also continues to build such a detailed and immersive atmosphere into this novel which really makes for a setting and tale that really come to life!

And what made this novel such a perfect December read was the vibrant winter setting!

What I really love about this series so much is how Maniscalco really tackles this genre of mystery in such unique ways to deliver a new, interesting, and complex strings of murder and mystery that weave together + overall just brings such heart to her stories!

She builds plot twists, mystery, and suspense so well and I will continue to be on the look out for the next book!

As for diversity, we have Audrey Rose who is biracial (white + Indian) and there was an f/f romance introduced, that weaves throughout the story!

Now as for why I didn’t rate it as high as I’d I hoped…For me I did find the pacing to be much slower than in Book 1 and found the beginning to be rather slow to get through. And there were certain aspects about Thomas’s character (in relation to how he handles Audrey admitting her worries/fears to him) that had me feeling like he wasn’t the same as he was in SJTR. While there were so many great elements to this book, overall it just felt like a 4-star read to me.

Aside from that, I will continue to love this series with all my heart with Audrey and her unwavering determination to the new and interesting mysteries, she and Thomas unravel!! (Plus it was also recently announced to be a 4-book series! ❤ )

Hunting Prince Dracula is a brilliant addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series! Following a much darker mystery, Maniscalco continues to deliver on the detailed setting to her brilliantly complex characters and plot that all weave together in such a way that will leave you wanting to read even more adventures from the brilliant and witty duo of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum Review

The Wicker King by K. AncrumThe Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Wicker King is a dark and thrilling mystery that will keep you immersed and on the edge of your seat! The lyrical and raw writing delivers such emotion and conveys a dark and gritty atmosphere of mystery and suspense!

From the summary, I knew The Wicker King would be an intriguing mystery, but there were so many elements that surprised me and I became so invested into the world, plot, and characters!

Set in 2003, we follow August and Jack have been long time friends, since they were kids. Now as the years passed, they have their own friend circles, but outside of school still manage to maintain their deep and complex friendship.

There are also side characters, such as Rina + twins Roger and Peter, play a much more central role in Jack and August’s story as it progresses. Though for me personally a lot of the other minor side characters weren’t as developed as I would have hoped.

Then Roger suspects that Jack may be losing sight of reality and implores August to help his friend. As August begins to find out for himself, he soon learns more about Jack’s alternate fantasy with magic, monsters, and a quest, which tells of a prophecy only they can fulfill!

There’s discussion of co-dependency between Jack and August as its clear that Jack is very much in control of the dynamics of their friendship. While August wants to ensure Jack’s well-being, he can’t help but continue to feel obligated towards him and keep their relationship from fracturing.

Ancrum explores the dark and complicated elements of their codependent relationship and how it above all, impacts August the most.

The lyrical and vivid 3rd person POV flows perfectly with the overall dark and mysterious tone of the story, while really allowing you to see the characters (especially Jack and August)  in such a unique way, focusing more on their inner psyche and unique sides to their character.

What also brings so much more to the novel is the format of the novel! With pages going from light to dark as the story progresses, which was brilliant and further conveyed how the story grows into a much more complex, darker, and mysterious tale! There’s also additional illustrations, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc. all which really add more depth & an intriguing element of mystery!

Both August and Jack are developed so well that you really understand whats going on their heads through the short, but impactful sentences and chapters.

While this is a pretty quick moving mystery-thriller, its done in such a way where it slowly descends and unravels into a darker tale as the story progresses.

Arcum delivers dark mystery and suspense so perfectly! Alongside the quick, emotional and raw writing-style, it just brings together the plot and intricacies of August & Jack so perfectly!

From just such few sentences, we know about Jack & Augusts parents and how their neglect for their kids really impacted them and caused them to rely heavily on each other. (With Jack’s parent’s absence & August’s mother’s depression).

Mental Illness and health slowly gets weaved into the story and really cements itself into the story as it progresses.

As for diversity, we have one of our main characters August Bateman who is biracial and bisexual (as is Jack) and a GLBT+ relationship that clearly develops among Jack and August.

The story is brilliantly plotted and honestly had me up late reading just to unravel the mysteries of this book and the fascinating characters, August and Jack.

With twists, dark and atmospheric writing, discussion on mental health,  brilliantly crafted main characters, among other fantastic elements, The Wicker King is a perfect mystery read!

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada ARC Review

This Mortal Coil by Emily SuvadaThis Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 432

Summary: Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Suvada’s debut brilliantly explores genetics and gene-hacking in this YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia! This Mortal Coil follows hacker Cat Agatta as she uncovers the secrets her father left behind when he leaves her with a mission to release a vaccine alongside a Cartaxus soldier, Cole!

Ever since I read the summary for This Mortal Coil, I put it on my tbr right away and considering I don’t usually read much YA Sci-Fi, from the summary it sounded like such a fascinating read. I mean a teenage gene-hacker, futuristic genetic tech., and mysterious organizations? This book sounded like something I’d really like & after finishing the last page, I didn’t just like it, I adored it ❤ !!

Due to the technological advancements in this world, everyone has panels connected to their arms which allows them to genetically enhance or alter themselves and for those who are able to hack into these panels, can amplify natural abilities, among other fascinating things! However, there are plauges and viruses that have taken over and because of that, corporate organization Cartaxus has stepped in and taken control of this technology, causing a divide between the people (those protected from the plagues/viruses by Cartaxus  & those left to fend for themselves).

In comes Catarina Agatta, genius gene-hacker and coder, who at the start of the novel attempting to catch a gene-hacked pigeon and examine its DNA in the forest where she's been off the grid, living in a cabin for the past 2 years with her neighbor and friend, Agnes.

Through her geneticist father, Lachlan Agatta, she has learned and taught herself the ins/outs of genetic hacking and coding. With that, she has become part of a secret group called the Skies (an independent network), which hacks into Cartaxus and gathers medical codes that the organization keeps for itself and releases them to the public.

I found the way Suvada developed and introduced Cartaxus was brilliant. There are so many layers and sides to this organization that really added depth to the world.

The story continues to pick up when Cartaxus Lieutenant, Cole Franklin manages to find her and tells her of a vital mission her father left behind for Cat to complete.

It turns out there is a vaccine to bring an end to Hydra, one of the most dangerous viruses. And Cat is the only one who can unlock the vaccine to save the world. Both Cole and Cat have to work together to figure out a way to unlock it and release it, but luckily he father leaves behind clues to get Cat on the right track.

But Cat knows she can’t trust this soldier, considering he’s from Cartaxus the same organization that took he father and childhood friend Dax away from her 2 years ago. Regardless, she undergoes this journey despite the danger ahead of her because as it turns out, Cole has been coded with the latest Gentech to not only help her along the way but also protect her.

The plot went in such unexpected directions and truly surprised me as I found myself flying through each chapter. The world, secret organizations, the gentech, characters, themes, and riveting story all weaved together so perfectly!

I loved the relationships that Cat develops between the characters of this book, especially the mysterious soldier, Cole! With his mission given by Dr. Agatta to take care of her and ensure she unlocks the vaccine, Cat begins to better understand the different sides to her father and Cartaxus along the way through him. While Cat doesn’t really trust him at first, she soon finds that she has to in order to help others, but does grow to better understand him as well throughout the story. The dynamics of their interesting relationship were built so well with the fast-paced plot and intriguing world.

The characters were all so well written! Even those who are only introduced for a brief amount of time, you feel you know them from just a few sentences. I adored Cat as a character, no matter how many times she is put in danger or takes risks, she always considered what was best for others, always. Even when tough decisions need to be made, she always thought of what would be best for the people she wants to save with her mission.

The writing-style was spectacular. Told through a 1st person POV, we follow Cat as she uncovers the mysteries her late father left behind. Suvada really builds in genetics, coding and hacking throughout the whole plot. So if you like stories about female hackers and love genetics, I feel you would really love this book.

I found myself looking up terms and concepts brought up throughout This Mortal Coil which made this book so much fun to read because I found myself learning new things about genetics I’d never considered or knew.

It was an aspect of the book that really stood out and made this book shine. Through it Suvada builds so many layers into her world. Because its through a 1st person POV, the way technology, genetics, politics and the ability for the characters to recode their DNA, works so well in this story, and is weaved together in a unique way and really made sense.

The technology introduced was so complex but fascinating! The panel within people’s arms allows them to download apps (such as Healing Apps) or if they can hack, allow them to input their own codes to create and use their own apps.

Suvada’s writing also made this book feel very cinematic, so from the fast-pace to the twists, and development along the way, it felt very much like watching a movie and really came to life as I read it!~

Your kept on the edge of your seat as Suvada builds and uncovers the mysteries of the genetic technology and what Cat discovers as she attempts to complete her mission.

Above all, its clear from the brilliant writing and details of the world, that Suvada put so much heart into this story. Its books like This Mortal Coil that remind me why I love Science Fiction~

My only minor issue was that I just wanted a little more background and development on some side characters and the atmosphere of the world.

This Mortal Coil is a brilliantly detailed and immersive YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia that weaves genetics and technology to deliver a fascinating tale! With such originality, the world-building, wonderfully developed characters, fascinating plot, tons of twists, turns, action, and intrigue that will leave you hooked till the final page!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter Review

Take The Key And Lock Her UpTake The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Carter delivers a satisfying conclusion to her Embassy Row Series filled with intrigue and twists you don’t see coming!

With every novel, Carter always delivers a plot with such originality and I love that! There isn’t so much politics/intrigue and mystery to where it seems like too much and Carter knows how to balance them very well.

This novel concludes Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row as she learns more about her fate as a future princess, the mysterious Society and her mother’s secret ties to the Society + what she had uncovered all those years ago.

Carter continues to build upon the fictional country of Adria, introducing prince Thomas and the king, while also revealing more about the Society and how it plays a major role in Adria’s long and complicated history.

People want to get rid of Grace and her family, but she knows she’s not going down without a fight. Essentially this whole novel is Grace finding out more about what her mother discovered and how she can put an end to it.

As for overall plot, Princess Ann (now who I can gather was the overall antagonist) develops a plan for Grace to assume her role as princess and marry her son Thomas so Amelia’s lineage can continue. And Grace knows there is more to this than what she is led to believe.

Alexi’s mother is finally introduced! Overall she was a wonderfully written character and it was interesting to see how she was weaved into the plot and her history with Grace’s mother.

There’s introductions to the king and Prince Thomas of Adria who was definitely one of my favorite characters in this final novel (possibly even the whole series! Even though he was just in 1 book<3)

While he wasn’t in the book too much, Thomas was definitely one of the most memorable characters as was Alexi’s mother! Both were wonderfully written and developed.

While its obvious this series focuses on Grace, I felt the side-characters (Alexi, Rosie, Noah & Megan; even Grace’s brother Jamie who was quite an important character in See How They Run) weren’t given much page time for a majority of the novel and only showed up when it was convenient for the plot. That was a real bummer considering in book 1 All Fall Down, they were with Grace most of the time. They were wonderful additions to the story and it would have made this book much better if they were all together.

Regardless, it was definitely great to see Alexi and Grace together! There were more moments between them which was nice. Everytime they interacted it was clear that Grace really cared for him and vice-versa.

What I love about not only this series but Ally Carter’s books in general, is that regardless of what is going on in the story she always keeps her plot focused and doesn’t take the story in unnecessary directions. 

I did take off a star because while I adore the originality of Carter’s stories, I found myself annoyed with Grace’s voice/character. She was very repetitive about her craziness and in general repeated multiple lines over and over regarding it, among other things which really didn’t add much to the story itself a majority of the time.

Additionally, I felt certain characters (like Ann) were too cryptic and secretive about things, to the point where reading from Grace’s POV felt a little confusing at times, because no one would tell her anything!

Also as stated above, it would have been better if the side characters were included more in this final novel.

Aside from my cons about her, honestly I’ve never read about a character like Grace before, so it was great getting a unique 1st person POV and additionally what I do enjoy about her character is her independence and strength to fix problems on her own.

Overall Take The Key And Lock Her Up is a mysterious and engaging finale which ties together the mysteries that Grace has been trying to solve on Embassy Row!

Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal Review

forest-of-memory-by-mary-robinette-kowalForest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Pages: 88

Summary: Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.

There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A captivating and mysterious short story where technology has become a fundamental part of everyday life.

Having listened to audio drama podcasts recently (many in the vein of quirky sci-fi/fantasy) I was easily transported into this Dystopian/Futuristic Pacific Northwest.

Centering around a futuristic world where AI Tech is a part of everyday life, Katya Gould, the main character, recounts her story on a typewriter of what happened to her when she found herself in a forest with her connection to her AI tech mysteriously cut-off and how she gets tangled with a mysterious character who is hunting deer.

Katya’s recollection of this moment in her life was written in such a unique way. There are misspellings/typos throughout this short story and I felt they really tied into how this world with so much tech. had influenced Katya as a character and the imperfections of memory.

Another aspect that made this short story so much fun to read was the overall concept. Katya is an antiquities dealer who trades objects (mostly tech) that are vintage or everyday objects we have today, such as books, that have been used/have lived through experiences and are seen as nostalgic to people in this world.
This novella brings up fascinating ideas in such a short amount of time such as man and machine, connecting with nature, and the importance of memory. The ending is rather open ended, but I felt so connected to this world in such a short amount of time.

However I did take away a star b/c the pacing felt slow at times and I wish Katya’s job dealing with Authenticities was given a bigger role because it was such a fascinating concept!

Overall a mysterious, unique and immersive story that I highly recommend. Katya’s POV will keep you reading from start to finish as you uncover more about this peculiar world!

The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis Review

the-female-of-the-sepciesThe Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 344

Summary: Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A powerful + important read! Highly Recommend!

Note: This novel discusses rape/rape culture and sexual assault. There is also mention of animal abuse. Be aware if those are triggers for you.

She discusses rape/rape culture honestly + brings up very important topics! Even after closing the book, this book still has me thinking! There is so much to this story from its underlying messages to its complex main characters.

McGinnis writing style is spectacular! She weaves in a lot of symbolism/metaphors + through her writing which connects her 3 POV’s extremely well. Having read/loved her Not A Drop To Drink duology, it was interesting to read this novel and compare from her shift of Sci-Fi Dystopia to Contemporary.

The main characters Alex, Peekay & Jack all had their own POVS and were wonderfully written. McGinnis’s first person POV really brings these characters to life.

Alex gets to know Peekay and Jack over the course of this novel. Keeping herself isolated, she learns about relationships and friendships, and comes to understand how her acts of revenge are affecting her mentally/emotionally. Alex does becomes Peekay’s best friend and it was wonderful to see from her POV, the compassionate/loving side Alex usually keeps hidden, when she begins working at an animal shelter.

Peekay (Clarie) gives the reader an inside look at how female vs. female behavior can be harmful. Throughout this novel, Peekay becomes more aware of how her behavior can really skew her view on others and why its important to change that.

Jack is very much meant to show the reader an inside look at the “boys will be boys” statement. He changes over the course of this novel and begins to take initiative and look at how his behavior could be harmful to women (like Alex and his former girlfriend Branley.) Additionally, through out this novel he tells himself how much he wants to be a better person and really works towards doing so.

While I loved each of the 3 MCs equally, Alex was my favorite. She murders those who commit horrible acts of rape and sets to make things right considering her sister is no longer with her, due to being raped herself. She wants to have close relationships with others, but struggles because of what she’s lost (not only her sister, but also her family which is now broken), due to the dark murders she’s committed.

My only minor issue was the pacing in some parts.

This is a novel that will leave you thinking long after you’ve finished. The raw + poetic writing style keeps you connected to these characters +  gets you thinking about these  important/mature dark topics that are sadly still around us.

An immersive YA Contemporary which handles very tough subjects, but overall delivers a very important discussion of rape/rape-culture.

September 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

sam-maggs-25-innovators-oct-181.Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors + Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs

ARC Review To Come 

Publisher: Quirk Books

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of stories that shares + celebrates the amazing  accomplishments of 25 women who, against all odds, changed the world! Highly recommend checking this book out ❤

Girl In Pieces August 302.Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Girl In Pieces Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Pages: 416

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: After using self-harm to free her of her pain, Charlie wants to start a new life for herself. Handling many tough topics + through a unique writing style, Glasgow’s debut delivers a powerful and inspiring read as Charlie undergoes a journey to put herself back together. Highly recommend!

Stalking Jack The Ripper Sept. 20, 20163.Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (SJTR#1)

*Debuted @ #1 on NYT Bestellers List*

Stalking Jack The Ripper ARC Review

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This is a dark/immersive mystery that will keep you  turning the page! Maniscalco’s 1st person POV brings the characters/world of Victorian England to life. Audrey is such a delightful + engaging main character that really makes you feel connected/part of this mystery trying find Jack The Ripper! Highly recommend!

Unscripted Joss Byrd August 234.Unscripted  Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Unscripted Joss Byrd Full Review

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Release Date: August 23, 2016

Pages: 224

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A delightful coming-of-age story about a young actress who is trying to find herself in the bustles of Hollywood. So many topics are discussed in this novel + characters/character development are the heart of this moving contemporary.

Crooked Kingdom Sept. 27, 20165.Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (SOC #2)

Crooked Kingdom Spoiler-Free Review 

Publisher: Henry Holt &Co.

Release Date: September 27, 2016

Pages: 546

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Bardugo masterfully concludes her Six Of Crows duology! With Six of Crows, the world wasn’t as developed as I had hoped. However, the world of Ketterdam in Crooked Kingdom is greatly expanded + developed! Along with the world-building, character development is a huge part of this novel. This finale as with SOC, is filled with an exquisite writing style that really transports readers to this magical world + non-stop action and plot will keep you reading to the very end!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes I #6

A Torch Against The Night Playlist + Kingdom Of Ash And Briars Playlist

September 2016 Book Releases

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maureene Goo Cover Reveal

Supporting Diversity In YA {Book Blog Discussion}

Kingdom Of Ash & Briars by Hannah West ARC Review {August 2016 Wrap-Up}

Top 10 Tuesday: Podcasts

What Books Did You Read This Month? 🙂

 

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco ARC Review

Stalking Jack The Ripper Sept. 20, 2016Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (SJTR #1)

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world. 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts:*Picked up an early copy during BN Buzz Fest*

A dark/immersive murder mystery with twists/turns that will keep you turning the page!

I loved this book so much! ❤

In terms of characters, they are all wonderfully written/developed. With this novel being written in first person, through Audrey’s eyes you really feel connected with them and the relationships Audrey has with her family/friends.

There is also great character development between Audrey and many characters! One of those is between Audrey and her father. He is seen as a cold and rather distant person and doesn’t approve of her love for science/forensics.

I absolutely loved reading from Audrey’s POV! She was smart, witty + overall an incredible main character. I loved the elements of feminism in this story! ❤ It was inspiring to read how passionate she was + continued to do what she loved regardless of what others thought! She isn’t what her aunt/father expect a young lady to be, with societal expectations, etc., but she doesn’t let it stop her.

Aside from Audrey I also loved Thomas Cresswell! The banter between them was so much fun to read + their relationship is wonderfully written!

Written in an almost diary format, the author does a fantastic job at creating the atmosphere of Victorian England and really makes you feel as though you are there with Audrey finding Jack.

I will admit there are moments of slow pacing + for me I felt it was in the beginning mostly and towards the middle, however once you get through those the plot really picks up and the espionage/intrigue keeps you turning the page.

The author took this murder mystery in unique directions & really keeps you guessing on who the killer is! I had so many theories & the author overall does a great job on keeping the mystery suspenseful + unexpected!

Overall the author creates such vivid characters & delivers a fun/mysterious plot that will keep you guessing!

The ending wraps up quite nicely and hints towards a great sequel! ❤

Highly recommend if you are a fan of Ally Carter, The Diviners or are just looking for an immersive murder mystery to dive into!