Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again. 

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

I loved Terrill’s debut All our Yesterdays, so I was looking forward to this when I heard about it coming out.

The structure of this is not very standard, there are no definitive chapters, only breaks after scenes. This style worked really well to enforce the stream of consciousness and varying opinions the protagonist expresses and made this hard to put down.

The Tate family has such a strange dynamic and it’s clear that it’s not as perfect as it looks on the outside, but we are only ever privy to rare glimpses of what’s going on underneath. On top of that, the layers of Danny are so confusing, especially when we start to draw parallels between him and the ‘real’ Danny. His imagination is so vivid that when he starts to superimpose the things he’s thinking onto the real world the lines begin to blur as to who he thinks he is and how he fits.

The relationships he fosters with Nicholas and Ren are what begin to unlock everything for the reader. He feels the most real when he’s with these two, and we get the most honesty from him while he’s with them. I began to see him as an individual, he starts to feel that way about himself, and starts craving the possibility of living out a life in the world of the Tates.

As things begin to unravel with the rest of the family it gets even more twisted. The relationship between Patrick and Lex was something I was suspicious of from the start, and the way Jessica interacts with her family was so hot and cold. The way things unraveled wasn’t necessarily surprising, but shocking none the less. I really liked the ending too, things are left kind of open, letting you imagine the story is one of several options, but I like to think that the one told is the real one. It provides a level of closure for all parties, and there is some sense of justice.

Basically, another solid story from Terrill, I cant’ wait to read what she does next.

 

Review: The Bird and The Sword

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

This wasn’t really what I expected, though the curse basically sums this whole thing up perfectly. But there is so much more going on! It’s not just a story about self-discovery, or about love. There is a war going on with unfeeling beasts, a political power-play by Lark’s father and fellow counselors continually altering and trying to outflank the king, and several plot twists that you won’t see coming till they are upon you.

I really liked watching Lark learn her voice – literally. In the start of the book you can tell how smart she is, but she is also so vulnerable. She’s spent most of her life imprisoned and hated by her father – one of the people who are supposed to love you no matter what. And when she is taken by the King she has trouble navigating the waters of what makes her useful and what makes her wanted. Watching her at the palace was very interesting, she’s basically growing up again. She has a phase of childish innocence and jubilation over the experience of learning to read and write. Then as her powers start to manifest she learns how to use them, and how to make sure she is not used for them.

I really enjoyed the romantic element of this story. It’s a central plot, but it’s not overdone at all. There are very few physical scenes, and only a handful of heart-to-hearts, and I thought they were all perfect. We can see the bond between the two grow and develop, and those moments prove the devotion the two have towards each other, leaving us able to focus on magic, war, and politics.

Overall this book was very enjoyable and I devoured it. The writing evoked the same lyrical cadence of the original curse often, making it an artful experience. Also, I mean look at that cover.

Review: Vicious

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. Victor and Eli started out as college roommates?brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find?aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge?but who will be left alive at the end? In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

I can’t say I loved this as much as the ADSOM, or even the Archived series, but this was undeniably good. The lines between good and bad are so very foggy, and you find yourself justifying why you want this bad guy to win over this other bad guy. I love it when authors do that to you – it was a similar feeling to what Lu did in The Young Elites

I also liked that we got a break from these two broken adversaries through Sydney. An undeniably good person, who has been shoved into bad circumstances. Her perspective is what makes us sway towards one character over another, and shows us the redeeming qualities in all those characters who are some degree of bad.

The transitions through time really worked well in this story. I don’t usually like jumping back and forth, but the way Schwab planned this out it works how it should – revealing story lines and character traits slowly. This lets us form original opinions of our two ‘villains’ and really see how they have transformed and adapted to their abilities.

Overall, another masterful story by Schwab. But not as fun as the other series I have mentioned above.

Review: We Were Liars

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

This was one of those books I saw a lot of last year, and one with really mixed reviews. I was never that interested in it so I never bother to pick it up. Until I saw it on super sale through Kindle, and figured I’d see what all the fuss had been about.

Well, I’m not going to say I really loved it, or that I have been affected by it in any deep way. However, I couldn’t put it down, it was such a fast read, with really well ended chapters that I kept saying, “well, one more.” And as I got deeper into it, the twisted complicated relationships these people all had were intriguing, as well as our Liars and how they responded to it all.

The ‘thriller’ aspect of this really wasn’t that all thrilling, or very surprising when it came down to it, but I did like the way we followed Cady as she pieced her mind back together, and the revelations that came along with it.

So overall, it was an enjoyable and fun read, but I can’t say I will be revisiting it in the future.