Review: Dear Killer – Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer Katherine Ewell

Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source/Format: Library / Hardcover, 359 pages
Opening Sentence: “Rule one. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

Well, my dears, I have to admit I’m rather torn over this book. Dear Killer is a novel I was excited for from the moment I heard about it. I was watching Tea Time when they showed it and immediately went to Goodreads like OMGOMGOMG.

The thing is, I’m not sure if I particularly liked this novel. On the one hand I thought the story was unlike anything else I’ve read and that made it special. Before this one, I hadn’t crossed any YA books that had a straight up serial killer as the main character. Let alone a female serial killer. It seems almost a taboo topic in YA. That was the main thing that drew me in, and if I’m being real? That idea is still my favorite part about it.

Now onto the other hand… There was something off about the way the story was presented. For a lot of the time I was entertained, but in the back of my mind there was still the thought that it could have been done differently. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong, but around halfway through the book I started to get bored. When I had about 100 pages left to read I started questioning if I should even finish it. I did finish the book and it was good, but I still feel lukewarm about it. The story started to feel redundant after a while and the main character stupid. I’m trying not to hold this against the book though, because it’s sort of seems like it was done on purpose.

Anyway, it seems as though my own expectations about the novel are what ultimately made me like it less than I could have. It’s like this novel had a lot of hype–in my mind, at least–that basically ruined the reading experience for me. I had a very hard time reading the story and not thinking that I had expected it would be better or different or [ENTER ADJECTIVE HERE].

That being said, Dear Killer wasn’t a bad story or a bad book in general. I know a lot of people would really enjoy it, but if you pick it up I advise you not to go in with too many expectations. Those expectations will ruin it for you. Try to keep a clean-ish slate and an open mind.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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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: We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source/Format: Library / Hardcover, 227 pages
Opening Sentence: “Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

There has been so much hype around We Were Liars since even before the book came out. I had read the synopsis before the hype started and decided I totally had to read the book, but then all these people came around saying how good and awesome it was and then I was just like “OHMAHGAWD, I HAVE TO READ IT!”

I feel like it took me forever to read this book. I mean, for as awesome as people said it was I was having some problems getting through it. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it was definitely slow. In my mind there are two types of awesome book. 1: the awesome book that’s awesome from beginning to end. 2: the awesome book that you have to make an investment in, but eventually it proves how awesome it is.

I don’t really feel like We Were Liars was either of those. It was definitely an investment book, but it fell sort of short in the “awesome” category. It was a good book, but I don’t know… I was expecting more. Maybe the hype got to me.

Don’t get me wrong! The story was good and I definitely don’t regret reading the book. I would probably recommend it to people, but I don’t know that I would read it again. It’s one of THOSE books. Good once, but that’s it.

I’ll give it this, though: The story was absolutely original and interesting. I loved the story, but I like it more looking back on it then I did while I was reading it. I don’t know what it was, but something was keeping me from loving the story (and the book as a whole) as much as I could have.

If you like books that keep you wondering and have poetic writing you’ll probably want to give this one a try. I suggest jumping into it with as little knowledge about the story as possible. It’s fun not knowing what to expect. Why are they liars? No idea. That’s part of the fun.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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: Find Me – Romily Bernard

find me

Title: Find Me
Author: Romily Bernard
Series: Find Me #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source/Format: Giveaway / ARC, 307 pages
Opening Sentence: “I’m halfway through the remote computer’s firewall when Detective Carson parks on the other side of our street.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

Find Me by Romily Bernard is a book I would say is out of my comfort range. It’s not uncomfortable, per se, because I’m open to read anything, but it’s a YA mystery/thriller… and I’d be lying if I said I read lot of those. Find Me was like a YA version of one of those action movies with badass characters you watch after everyone said it’s really good. The difference: no one had to tell me this one was going to be good. I mean, mystery and computer hacking? That already sounds super awesome.

I’ve read a lot of books in my day, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one about a hacker—teenage or otherwise. I’ll admit that’s the very first thing that reeled me in. Before I knew anything else I knew I was going to read Find Me if only for the hacking aspect. While the hacking aspect was super awesome (It’d be cool to know how to hack… except it can be illegal. Oh well. I wouldn’t know what to do with the skill anyway.) there were a handful of other storylines that I found intriguing.

I don’t know about you guys, but I want to learn more about Griff and Bren. Griff was totally that good person capable of kicking ass and I loved him for it. I feel like he’s such a good compliment to Wick, who is feisty and suuuuper independent (to a fault). I love Bren for a totally different reason, though. I don’t know what it was about her—because she wasn’t really in the novel too much—but I couldn’t help loving her.  She was Wick and Lily’s foster mom who could never have kids and… barfbarfbarf. You know, all that sentimental shit. Generally I’m apathetic to characters like that, but Bren’s character had several sides that I wish I could discover more fully. She seemed like the type of woman who tries to do the right thing and generally just be a kind person, but won’t hesitate to rip you a new one if you deserve it. God, I loved her. Can you tell?

I had a lot of fun reading Find Me. I was a little bummed near the end when the rapist was revealed. I had suspected a person from the very get go and they turned out to be exactly who I thought they were. It didn’t make the story any better or worse—I was suspicious, not positive—but I was definitely a little bummed that my mind wasn’t blown like some other people said theirs were. But honestly, now I can toot my horn because I was right. You give some you get some. It all works out.

Anyway, I didn’t know until right before I wrote this review, but Find Me is actually the first book in a trilogy. The end let on to it (which is why I Googled it, actually) but now that it’s for sure I’m stoked. I’ll definitely be picking up the next installments when they release. Until then, I urge you to read Find Me if you want something a little dark and mysterious. Maybe it will blow your mind. Maybe you’ll be able to puff your feathers, like me. Either way: read it, love it, come talk to me about it.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Golden – Jessi Kirby

Golden
Title: Golden
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Source/Format: publisher via Goodreads / ARC, 275 pages
Opening Sentence: “There’s no such thing as a secret in this town.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

Have you ever gone into a book knowing it was going to change you somehow? Not necessarily in some huge way, but maybe it made you think about a specific topic in a way you never had before. Perhaps it became one of your favorite books that you always refer to and recommend. That’s what happened with Golden by Jessi Kirby. I had never read anything by Kirby before, so I went into Golden completely unprepared for the story, her writing, et cetera.

I’m going to focus on characters in this review, because really, Parker basically ran the show. There weren’t very many outside forces deciding what would happen (maybe except for Kat. I’ll get to her in a second.). We got to read Julianna’s journal when Parker wanted to read it. We went into the woods when Parker decided she wanted to explore. We talked to people (or didn’t talk to people) depending on–you guessed it!–Parker. That’s not to say there wasn’t a plot–there was. But there were some pretty amazing characters in the story and I can’t help myself from gushing about them.

Parker Frost was seventeen and one of those people who never took chances. She stayed on the straight and narrow at the urging of her mother. Parker has amazing character development in this story. I remember noticing how rational she was at the beginning compared to the end. By the end of the book she was taking chances because they felt right or her instincts were telling her to go ahead. I loved Parker for how emotionally and mentally strong she was. She wasn’t perfect, but she was able to change the path of her life when she realized it wasn’t working out for her anymore. She’s one of those characters that you feel sort of proud of by the end of the book.

Kat, Parker’s best friend, is a wonderful example of the type if person you want to be friends with. I loved how much trust she put into Parker. Even when she knew she was being lied to it wasn’t a big deal because, to her, Parker was just not ready to explain yet. I did get annoyed with Kat for a little bit of the book, but things straightened out and I loved her again.

I loved basically all the characters in Golden. Parker, who was brave and afraid at the same time, and above all–strong. Kat, who put every ounce of trust and faith she could into her friends. Trevor, who was loyal and funny and completely golden-hearted. Gah, I can’t help but gush over all these characters and the story itself. It was so, so good. Through the entire book I felt so torn with my feelings. On one hand I was sad for everything that happened, but on the other I still felt hopeful that the future could be better. I think that’s one of Golden’s greatest strengths: there’s always hope. Even during the saddest parts of the story there’s a little voice in the back of your head saying “This can’t be it.”

What can I say? I loved Golden so much. It’s one of those books you can’t really explain in a 500-word review. I have so much to say and no idea how to tell you guys any of it. I loved reading every page of Golden and hope you all will give it a try. It’s totally worth it. You’ll love it (I hope!).

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone – Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
Title: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
Author: Kat Rosenfield
Publication Date: July 5, 2012
Opening Sentence: “The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Becca has always longed to break free. Free from her backwater hometown. Free from its small-town gossip and dead-end lives.

But the horrifying discovery of a dead body—an outsider, Amelia Anne, battered and broken—on the morning after graduation sends Becca into an unexpected tailspin. As the violence of the real world creeps close to home, Becca retreats, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

The details of Amelia Anne’s final, harrowing moments play out against Becca’s own out-of-control summer as Becca’s and Amelia’s parallel stories twist the reader closer and closer to the horrifying truths of Amelia’s last days.

This emotionally arresting, sexy, and raw debut tells the vivid story of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge.

Oh, Amelia Anne. I honestly have no idea where to start with this book. I was very on the fence about it until about half way through. It was sort of a slow starter and then I kept feeling hot and cold… and don’t make me mention how put off I was by a certain Chinese food container. (Though that part totally served its purpose.) I put the novel down for a while and picked it back up later. After I got past that initial hitch I couldn’t put the book down. I almost could have sworn it was glued to my hand for how much I was reading it (while lounging in the sun on my porch, you know).

The story in Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is highly exceptional. It switched between the perspective of Rebecca, the main character, and Amelia Anne. Both pieces of the story come together to tell us how everything went to hell and Amelia eventually met her demise. There was at least one part of the story where I was like “What exactly does this have to with anything?” while simultaneously feeling like I needed to read it. Usually when I felt that way I learned later that it was, in fact, important in a way I never would have guessed, but totally fit.

Kat Rosenfield’s writing is extremely colorful and poetic. Even the smallest of details are explained in a way that makes you feel like the story would have suffered had it not been included. Her prose hooks you and pulls you in, giving no mercy. I loved how honest this book was. Rosenfield wasn’t afraid to write about sex in an intimate way or examine that some people get off on the death of other people. She never shied away from explaining the things that aren’t so pretty and I loved it and absolutely appreciate it.

As for the characters, they were good, well rounded, and fleshed out, but I didn’t feel an extremely strong connection to any of them. I like Rebecca well enough, but I’m rather apathetic about her. When it comes to Rebecca versus Amelia Anne, Amelia Anne wins. Amelia Anne was more enjoyable for me to read, but to be honest (in Rebecca’s defense) it could be due to the fact that Amelia was living her normal day-to-day life and Rebecca was dealing with a murder in her town and everything else. It could have put a damper on her character. (Could have? It did. Whatever.) Both leading ladies were wonderful and made the story that much better.
James’s (Rebecca’s boyfriend) story broke my heart. I wasn’t swooning over him, but I liked him a lot and was hoping things would turn out well for him. I think he’s a great character and probably a good person in general too.

Aside from my apathy during the beginning of this book I was extremely impressed and engrossed in the world of Rebecca and Amelia Anne. I would never want to be in their shoes, but as a book it was great and definitely recommendable.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars