Review: Dangerous Girls – Abigail Haas

Dangerous Girls Abigail Haas

Title: Dangerous Girls
Author: Abigail Haas
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Source/Format: Library / Paperback, 400 pages
Opening Sentence: “Shots! Shots! Shots!”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

Wait, what. I mean… WHAT?

I’ve heard so many great things about Dangerous Girls. And not even just from random people on Goodreads, but also people I talk to. Obviously I wasn’t going to pass up this novel.

Mystery is definitely not my favorite type of book to read, so I was wary coming into a book that is most definitely a mystery and spends a lot of time in a courtroom. I wasn’t disappointed though! Dangerous Girls is a book that just drew me in. I didn’t feel particularly compelled to keep reading, but I would fly through 100 pages and not realize I did it because it was interesting.

I don’t really want to talk about my feelings about the book because I’m afraid I’m going to spoil it. I see no way to talk about it without talking about it completely. I’m still somewhat confused. The ending lets you know the gist of the situation, but it still leaves a lot up for interpretation. That’s fine, but not for me. I like my books, especially mysteries, to lay things out for me completely and this one didn’t. That’s why it lost a star.

Anyway, I feel like I’m about to start saying too much. Would I recommend the book? Yup! But be prepared to be jerked around. This is nowhere near a happy story. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Rating: 3.5-4 of 5 stars


Review: Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage – Bob Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith

nick and tesla's robot army rampage science bob pflugfelder steve hockensmith

Title: Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage
Author: Bob Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith
Series: Nick and Tesla #2
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher / Hardcover, 224 pages
Opening Sentence: “Nick was in the lab in the basement making a volcano with vinegar and dish-washing liquid.”
Author Website (Science Bob and Hockensmith) | Goodreads | Amazon

Nick and Tesla return in an all-new, robot-filled adventure!

When a rash of robberies hits the town of Half Moon Bay, 11-year-old sleuths Nick and Tesla are determined to catch the criminals—but to do so, they’ll have to build a host of new gadgets and gizmos! In this robot-themed follow-up to Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, the brother-and-sister duo build four different droids out of ordinary household objects—and illustrated instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build them, too! Make bristlebots that buzz, hoverbots that float above the ground, battlebots that duke it out, and more! Can Nick and Tesla catch the criminal mastermind—and foil his army of rampaging robots—before it’s too late?

Guys! I hope you like science experiments and kids with perseverance and lots of wits, because that’s exactly what you get in Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage.

I just can’t start off this review any other way than saying how enjoyable Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage was to read. I really enjoyed Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab when I was reading it and was super stoked to read this next installment.

Right from the very beginning the reader is thrown into the sort of hectic lives of Nick and Tesla who are, as ever, very persistent and witty. Super smart, throughout the book they build robots (cool!) not only for fun, but also to help them in trying to catch a thief. As if that alone isn’t cool enough, there are instructions included so that the reader can build some awesome robots as well.

Cool science and robotics aside, the story itself is engaging and fun to read. Following Nick and Tesla as they try to catch a mysterious robber is equal parts exciting and distressing. Are they going to get themselves in over their heads or is everything going to pan out fine? And will they solve the mystery? I can tell you right now that I NEVER guessed who was behind the robberies in Half Moon Bay. It came as a total shock to me.

I don’t know, you guys. An enthralling mystery, cool projects you can do yourself, and some amazing (and rather perceptive) kids equals up to be a whole lot of awesome contained in one book. Add in the great illustrations scattered throughout and I couldn’t recommend this book any more. Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage was so much fun to read, and with an ending like that I’m making grabby hands at the next installment in the series.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviews from the rest of the series:
High Voltage Danger Lab (#1)
Secret Agent Gadget Battle (#3)

Review: Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky Veronica Rossi

Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 4, 2012
Source/Format: Personal Library / Hardcover, 374 pages
Opening Sentence: “They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod ‘the Death Shop.'”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered.

This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Guys! Hi! I finally read Under the Never Sky. I didn’t even try writing a normal review, but instead did it in list format because my thoughts aren’t gluing together. These aren’t in any particular order. Onward!

  • Woah! I didn’t realize how much went down in this book. Reading it was super fun and entertaining, but it’s so easy to not pay attention to how much is actually going on. After I finished I looked back and was just flabbergasted at how much Aria and Perry had been through and how much time really did elapse. Oh man.
  • I knew from the very beginning that the sky was basically made up of Aether (I mean, it’s called the “Never Sky” for a reason), but I didn’t realize the people in the story had special senses. Not special senses, technically, but significantly sharpened senses. It sort of came as a shock to me… but not a bad one. I feel like I should have known it, honestly. (Don’t worry. That sounds like it should be a spoiler, but it’s not.)
  • Aria was not the annoying heroine that I thought she was going to be. I mean, a couple times I was like “Suck it up!”, but I was also fully aware that if I were put in those situations I probably wouldn’t suck it up either. Aria was a powerful character and I like that. I don’t mean powerful like “Oh, she can beat someone up!”… but more of a mental power. She just doesn’t give up. She has a lot of willpower. I like that a lot.
  • I really liked Perry as well. It really stuck with me how vulnerable Perry was. On one hand he was this physically big, strong guy who could scare just about anyone out of their pants… on the other hand he was caring and self sacrificing and also completely unsure about life. Also, he cried at least twice in this book, which was refreshing. It proves that a character can be a badass and also not completely emotionless.
  • Science! I love it when books use science to their advantage, and this one certainly did. I can’t really elaborate without spoiling it for people who haven’t read the book. Just… science.

  • How did Aria know Perry can’t read? Like, was it something she just sort of picked up on? That’s all fine and dandy, I’m cool with that, but there wasn’t really an explanation. At the beginning Perry thought something about not wanting her to know he never learned to read and then later in the story Aria thought something about Perry not being able to read. But there was never any connecting thread. He never told her and she never had an Aha! moment. Unless I missed it? Someone let me know.

    So yeah. If it’s not obvious by my scattered review: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Under the Never Sky. It was kind of the full package as far as books go and I’m glad I read it finally. One bad thing is now I’m not really that pumped to read the next book. I want to, but I don’t feel any particular rush. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend this one. It deserves the hype. Let’s hope the rest of the series stands up to that.

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Reviews from the rest of the series:
    Through the Ever Night (#2) — COMING SOON!

    Review: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab – Bob Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith

    Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab Science Bob Pflugfelder Steve Hockensmith

    Title: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab
    Author: Bob Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith
    Series: Nick and Tesla #1
    Publisher: Quirk Books
    Publication Date: November 5, 2013
    Source/Format: Publisher / Hardcover, 240 pages
    Opening Sentence: “Someone climbed into Joe Devlin’s cab, and he put down his newspaper and looked in the rearview mirror and started to say “Where to?””
    Author Website (Science Bob and Hockensmith) | Goodreads | Amazon

    Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

    In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

    Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab is probably the coolest title I’ve ever seen for a book. It pulls you right in, doesn’t it? Cool title or not, the book itself was a good read as well. It was made for younger kids so obviously at some points I felt like rolling my eyes, but you have to keep perspective.

    The plot was simple but moving at the same time. There was more going on than “Oh, no! My summer is boring.” Real danger and conflict took place in the lives of the characters. I loved that this book didn’t look down on its readers. Nothing was “dumbed down” or simplified for the sake of being easier to understand and I really appreciated it.

    On top of that there were a few cool projects within the story as well. Nick and Tesla often made inventions to assist them in their adventures and instructions were included so the reader could make them as well. I didn’t make any myself, but I’m definitely thinking about it.

    Overall, Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab was an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend it to the kids I know and even older people, like myself, who still enjoy a good middle grade read.

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Reviews from the rest of the series:
    Robot Army Rampage (#2)
    Secret Agent Gadget Battle (#3)

    Review: All the Truth That’s In Me – Julie Berry

    All the Truth That's In Me Julie Berry

    Title: All the Truth That’s In Me
    Author: Julie Berry
    Publisher: Viking Juvenile
    Publication Date: August 31, 2013
    Source/Format: Library / Hardcover, 247 pages
    Opening Sentence: “We came here by ship, you and I.”
    Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

    Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family.

    Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember–even if he doesn’t know it–her childhood friend, Lucas.

    But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

    This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

    I’m going to be completely honest. When I first heard of All the Truth That’s In Me I wasn’t too impressed and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read the book at all, let alone come back and share what I thought of it. I also didn’t have a very good idea of what the book was about… and for some reason I thought the characters were Amish. (They aren’t. I don’t even know.)

    For the most part All the Truth That’s In Me was unlike anything I was expecting from it. I was sort of put off by the mystery aspect that was seemingly pushed in the publicizing of the book—but it’s totally not one of those mass-market thriller mysteries that have 15 corny sequels with even cornier names. Is it a mystery? Yeah, kind of. Does it have way more going on? Definitely WAY more going on.

    The biggest thing that struck me about this book was the characters… in a bittersweet way. I really liked a lot of the characters, but I also hated a lot of them. I feel like for every one character I liked there were at last two I despised. This is at no fault of the author’s, in fact it was done very much on purpose and it made me like the entire book more… but man. I forget that people used to be way more crazy and close-minded back in the day. Not to say they aren’t that way now, but on the average day I don’t see a lot of people at this level of bigotry. It’s terrifying to think life used to be this way—and it was normal. This book really threw me back and reminded me what humans are capable of. *shivers*

    The story itself was rather interesting. Told in very short “chapters” that mirror something of a diary or even just the main character’s thoughts, the story is highly personal. Unfortunately it didn’t really affect me as much as I feel it should have and at the beginning I found myself getting somewhat bored. Still, I enjoyed reading Judith’s story and sympathized with her from beginning to end. I definitely liked reading from Judith’s point of view. She was headstrong and determined but also extremely vulnerable. It was nice getting to read about someone so well rounded.

    Sure, the beginning was a little rocky, but overall the story was of quality and the writing was graceful and entertaining. For the most part I appreciated All the Truth That’s In Me and will probably find myself recommending it on more than one occasion.

    Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

    Review: My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

    my life next door huntley fitzpatrick

    Title: My Life Next Door
    Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
    Publisher: Dial
    Publication Date: June 14, 2012
    Source/Format: Library / Hardcover, 394 pages
    Opening Sentence: “The Garretts were forbidden from the start.”
    Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

    “One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

    The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

    As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

    A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

    My Life Next Door has been on my radar since, like, the first day I started blogging. From the very beginning I saw people gushing about this book left and right and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. And let me tell you: it lived up to the hype. I super duper enjoyed reading this one.

    Going into this book I was expecting a quick, light, fun read. Those traits were definitely present, but there was so much more as well. Right on the cover it says “A Secret” but I never guessed what that secret would be. I was reading and thought “It should say ‘a bunch of secrets’.” because there is a lot going on. THE secret, though… man guys. It’s a big one. I feel like I’m getting into spoilery territory so I’ll stop this train of thought.

    Another part that I was really excited to experience was, of course, the romance. I hear Jase this, Jase that, Jase, Jase, JASE. And now I know why. Jase is one of those swoony boys that seems absolutely obtainable because he is realistic. He isn’t perfect and neither is his relationship with Samantha. Not to mention his super eccentric family! I loved them all. They were kind of crazy but in a good way. It’s a party you want to join.

    I don’t know what to say, you guys. If you haven’t read My Life Next Door I hope you’re just waiting for it to come in the mail or something. This is one quality contemporary and a book you’ll start thinking about randomly during the day. Prepare to fall in love. That is all.

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Review: Me, Myself and Ike – K.L. Denman

    Me Myself and Ike K.L. Denman

    Title: Me, Myself and Ike
    Author: K.L. Denman
    Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
    Publication Date: October 1, 2009
    Source/Format: Personal Library / Paperback, 192 pages
    Opening Sentence: “The men are weary.”
    Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

    After watching a TV program about Otzi, a 5,000-year-old Ice Man, Kit’s friend Ike becomes convinced that Kit’s destiny is to become the next ice man–a source of information for future generations. Together they obtain artifacts they think will accurately reflect life in the early twenty-first century and plan their journey to a nearby mountain. Kit gets tattoos similar to Otzi’s, writes a manifesto and tries to come to terms with making the ultimate sacrifice. As he grows more and more agitated and isolated, his family and friends suspect that something is terribly wrong, but before they can discover the true severity of the situation, Kit and Ike set off on what could be their last journey.

    I’ve been super excited to read Me, Myself and Ike (I hate that there’s no Oxford comma!) for a really long time. I just so happened to see a copy at my library’s annual giveaway and snatched it up.

    I knew from the get-go that this book was about mental illness, but I had no idea what kind of illness. Unfortunately I ran into a spoiler in a synopsis I read, so the whole plot of the book was kind of ruined for me. Still, the story was definitely a good one and totally worth reading even though I knew what was up.

    The most enjoyable thing by far was how IN the main character’s head the reader is. There was basically no detachment. Everything he thought and perceived is exactly what the reader got. It definitely made reading this book an almost immersive experience. I’d say the downside to that, though, was how challenging it was to get to know the main character; his head was never 100% there, so neither is the reader.

    So, yeah, the plot was spoiled for me, but I still really enjoyed reading Me, Myself and Ike. It’s an interesting look into mental illness and a pretty good male point of view as well. Definitely one to check out.

    Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars