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.

 

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Review: The Girl With all The Gifts

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

This was a weird book. But it was a good weird book.

It took me a while to get into this, and I thought about quitting in the beginning there. Come page 100 I was still waiting for myself to get invested. Well I stuck with it and not too many pages later I was finally hooked.

This had a very “The Walking Dead,” feel, and I loved that aspect about it. The creepiness part about all this though is Melanie herself. She’s a zombie kid – that’s not a spoiler – but she’s smart, a genius, and she’s reluctant to other people. That alone makes this story so unique and worth sticking past those slow first 100 pages.

Once Melanie and her strange group of compatriots are making their way across England the story takes on so many new elements. We’re seeing what society has broken down to, how this disease has affected the zombie people and environment as a whole, and we’re watching all of the people making these discoveries.

Overall, this was a dark and creepy tale but it was such a fresh take on the zombie narrative, well worth the read.

 

Revisiting: Six of Crows

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Goodreads Summary:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This was probably my favorite read last year, and the re-read was just as enjoyable. I loved all the little tells that became evident this round since I knew all of their backstories this time.

All the hype about this book is absolutely true! I’d be hard pressed to find something that I didn’t like or that didn’t work in this book. I’m also going to go ahead and say I liked it even more than the Grisha Series, though I really enjoyed those books, and I think I will be rereading them soon (I’ve still yet to do that . . .).

I loved every character in Kaz’s crew. They were all so different, skilled in different things, and yet united through the common goal of a huge cash haul and the potential freedoms the money would buy them. However, via the amazingly rich and detailed back-stories that Bardugo weaves into the story, we also see that they all have ulterior motives and that they are all more than thugs and criminals.

I have to say though, Kaz’s back story was my favorite. It explained so much about him and the person who he is in the Barrel. I can’t wait to see how he continues his growth. And that’s another thing that was done so well, the character growth! Each character changed a little throughout the story, but it was in little moments, it was gradual, and it was so believable. None of their core values ever changed, they found ways to accept others views, to open themselves to vulnerability, and to explore their own persons.

The fact that this was told from five main POVs (I keep seeing people saying there were 6, one from each crew member, but Wylan didn’t have his own, unless they all got different books than I did. . .), with a unique one for the first and last chapter, gave this the potential to be overwhelming. Each voice was so distinct though that I was never confused who I was reading. Furthermore, with so many moving parts, having different characters in different places to explain things was really helpful. I think it also made it a lot more fun with the twists and reveals because while we are with this character, those over there are doing their own scheming and whatnot.

Overall, I loved this story. It’s pace, it’s main goal, it’s use of characters who would normally not be seen as heroes, and it’s three budding ships. The story-telling was top-notch, the writing was distinctive and easy to follow while still being witty and smart. I cannot wait to continue this series.

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.

Review: Wink Poppy Midnight

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

I’m still not completely certain what I think about this book, but one thing is clear, it’s sticking with me. And that’s a pretty good indication that this book has some winning qualities.

I really enjoyed that each of our three characters had a little hero and a little villain in them. And they all have their secrets. There was a good plot twist, quick catchy and smart writing, and each character had a clear voice.

Certainly worth a read of you’re looking for something outside your usual genre, or a quick read with a different voice and intriguing characters.

Review: The Devil You Know

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Goodreads Summary:

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it’s just the risk she’s been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

This isn’t something I would usually pick up, so the 365DaysofYA Challenge gets another feather in its hat for making me step outside of my box. This book wasn’t anything fantastic or profound, but I was entertained while college football games droned on in the background, because that’s about as long as it took to read this – a football game.

The synopsis was intriguing but the thrills were suspended until the last 40 pages or so. I felt like the central theme of this book was more a journey of self-discovery through a stint of possibly earned rebellion. Cadie forced herself to shirk what was expected of her and to listen to her intuition – to see what she was capable of without the weight of her normal responsibilities, and I can respect that.

What she does is so beyond stupid though. Even though we all know this, and she knows this, Doller is still able to play execute this adventure without the normal clichés, making it a fast and entertaining read. The romantic element I think was well balanced; there was an obvious connection between the two characters, but it was never chalked up to love or fate or any of the YA tropes we see relationships take on in this genre most of the time. And overall I felt it was pretty responsible between the characters, they understood the levity of their decisions when it came to their involvement and in the end it was a bit more established.

Beyond the self-discovery of this novel though, I felt a bit let down. The thrills promised with this malevolent character were pretty non-existent the whole time. While hints at the terror were obvious to everyone but Cadie, emphasizing a naivety on her part. Also, for anyone who has watched a serial killer/profiling show (Dexter, Criminal Minds, etc.) it was glaringly clear who the killer was from the start. That was the biggest let down of this book, the utter obviousness of it all.

It was an enjoyable enough afternoon read, but by no means the dark, twisty, exciting story that was promised.

Review: A Madness so Discreet

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Goodreads Summary:

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

First, look at that cover, I mean how beautiful is that? But to the book,it was. . . interesting. The first 10% of it or so was dark, edgy, and horrific – all amazing. It was so different and vivid! Then things got weird. Grace becomes a sleuth in training, and she spent so much time isolated in her own mind, that I kind of lost sight of what all was happening.

The story, I think, had some holes in it. But as I reached the end I started to see the point of the characters and of madness in general. McGinnis truly painted a portrait of insanity, in all its forms. It was really neat to watch the characters who you came to think of as normal show their true colors and illuminate the madness that lived in them. And on the flip-side, you started to question what “normal” was at all. “Normal” people do terrible things, and “mad” people show such caring – so what is really the negative label? This whole point of McGinnis’ story I think is the strongest element.

I started out the story really liking Grace, but as we got farther in I found her selfish and pushing her problems onto others to have them solved. Along with that, her relationships weren’t developed well enough for me. I never really understood what connected she and Thornhollow beyond their criminal profiling, yet Thronhollow was so devoted to protecting her, and without any romance at all. I’m not saying you have to be romantically interested in someone to want to help them, but I didn’t see any reason at all. I liked her relationships with Lizzie and Nell as it showed her ability to touch into her feelings. The crime-fighting I think was the weakest part of this story, and really just served as a background plot to entertain while we studied the depths of Grace’s madness. I think it would have worked better if it had solely been focused on bringing retribution to her father.

I also thought two of the secondary characters were two of the best. Nell was so refreshing, and Falsteed was my favorite, I really wish he had more of a presence in it all. Overall, McGinnis showed her strength in the vivid imagery she establishes, as well as her ability to create visceral scenes of emotion and feeling. Her writing is amazing, and that alone makes this worth the read. I also really appreciated the historical element and reading about her research.