Review: Control by Lydia Kang

An un-putdownable thriller for fans of Uglies

When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren’t like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn’t even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.

A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Just so anyone reading this knows, this book is nothing like UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld. I repeat, CONTROL is nothing, nothing and nothing like UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld. Please do not believe it is.

If you were interested in this book at any one point in time, I would strongly encourage you to go read the XMen comics. Not a fan of comics? Maybe try Transparent by Natalie Whipple or The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell. I would also strongly encourage you to read Uglies, but I would not recommend CONTROL.

Here’s problem one: the hater, who just happens to be the main character. She hates on everyone. Her father, her younger sister, the people who just try to help her, and here’s problem two: the only person she doesn’t hate on is the biggest jerk on the planet. His name is Cy, and his wonderful, super amazing power is that he can regenerate skin fast enough to have a new tattoo every single day. He also seems to be an abusive sadist who fantasizes about gore.

I’m telling you, I can’t make this stuff up. This is actually the guy.

It’s a painting of a dismembered hand, fingers stretching to extremes, but cut off at the wrist, leaning against the wall. The one next to it shows a long bone, still smeared with blood, floating in the same pale blue void the hand is in.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Problem number three: no world-building. Whatsoever. Whatever semblance of world-building exists entirely on the concept of suspended disbelief. You think the movies are bad? Read this book. Uniforms exist in every single state, for adults, and the sky isn’t visible because there’s a structure for growing plants because apparently there is now no farmland in Kansas, Iowa or Nebraska.

nebraska farmland

Yup. Definitely no farmland to be found anywhere near here. Guess we gotta build a structure in the sky.


And Alaska is a separate country now.

Problem four: these so-called mutants with amazing powers have no place in society. They aren’t feared, hated, envied, threatened, they simply exist. CONTROL tackles none of the social issues and questions that were brought up in the XMen comics and TRANSPARENT.

I just couldn’t deal with CONTROL. It was an exhausting book to read and I didn’t get anything I wished for. Zel hates on everyone around her as well as herself and there is 0 to no character growth in this story. Would not recommend. 1 star.

pg count for the hardback 393

Series: Control #1


ARC Review: Love, Lucy by April Lindner

love, lucy by april lindner

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

LOVE, LUCY was definitely a really interesting read for me. It was sweet, quick, beautiful and hilarious on separate occasions, but also all at once. This is the first YA book I’ve read that is set in Italy and it about travel, and I decided to read it as a sort of jumping-off point to see if I would enjoy books like it. There were a ton of things that I loved. The scenery, for one thing. I felt like I truly was with Lucy in her world, finding new places and new people. The beginning was fantastic, but the middle and the end slowly started to droop down for me.

As for characters and the decisions they made, that was an entirely different story. I was unable to connect with many of the supporting characters and at times, I felt like Lucy was a real jerk. I couldn’t find any sense of chemistry between the two love interests, and I felt like many of the characters were selfish, with no endearing traits. I didn’t think that Jesse and Lucy were real at all, their actions later on in the book only adding to that fire. I had hoped to see more from them, but it just wasn’t enough.
It really was the world-building and the brief moments of sweetness and thoughtfulness that made me able to enjoy this story. It’s slightly slow paced, but overall it has a good tone to it.
All in all, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about this story. I had expected a lot more from it, and I had believed that this would be some sort of light romance that was well-thought out, under the backdrop of Italy. LOVE, LUCY started out well, and I continued to love the descriptions and many of the story snippets to it–but I was disappointed by it. I was just missing the heart and the characters behind this story the entire time I was reading it, and the plot really meant nothing to me.
I would recommend this for fans of April Linder and books set in other countries, but overall it isn’t one of my favorite contemporary picks. It is a quick read, and if you can get past the personalities and deicisons of some of the characters it really isn’t a bad one–but this book just didn’t work for me. I would recommend April Linder’s CATHERINE and JANE as well as Kristin Rae’s WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN instead. 1.5 stars.
Much thanks to Novl and Little, Brown Books for the chance to read this!

pg count for the hardback: 304

Review: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

kiss kill vanish by jessica martinez

Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.

Description taken from Goodreads.

KISS KILL VANISH didn’t do it for me from page one, and that didn’t help the fact that I was so uninvolved with this book that up until I actually opened it, I thought that the title was Kiss Will Vanish.

First things first: boring. This is a boring runaway story disguised a thriller. It is not a thriller in any way, shape or form. I was bored with the majority of this story, and it didn’t help that Valentina is so unlikable. All she does is complain. Complain. Complain. Much like I’m doing about Valentina right now.

Valentina likes to think she’s better than everyone else, which is part of why I dislike her so much. She is constantly along the lines of if I were at home you would know how cool I am. Speaking of home, of course Valentina ran away from home right after realizing that her boyfriend was a killer. She didn’t stop to think about how to run away or plan at all so she ended up with basically nothing after awhile. Then someone came to rescue, which ends up happening the whole book.

It all goes back to the matter of the boyfriend, or boyfriends, considering this is a love triangle. But the original boyfriend. Valentina ran away in a panic because she saw Emilio kill someone, BUT THE ENTIRE BOOK SHE’S CONSTANTLY PINING AFTER HIM. Yes, even when she’s with the other guy.


Then Valentina’s benefactor dies, and the whole mish mash of nonsense continues. The plot holes, dislikable characters and lack of pacing were only part of why I just couldn’t bring myself to love this story the way I wanted to.

All in all, KISS KILL VANISH is an okay story if you don’t go into it expecting a thriller and you’re okay with Valentina’s minor annoyances. Some books I would recommend instead are TRANSPARENT by Natalie Whipple or LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes. 2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: n/a

Review: Inked by Eric Smith

inked by eric smith

Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

Description taken from Goodreads.

INKED had a great concept. For people out there who really enjoy looking at tattoos, I’m sure this book had a lot of interesting ideas behind it, and even for people who aren’t that interested in tattoos. I loved the ideas and power in tattoos in Rick Riordan’s THE RED PYRAMID, and being able to see those kinds of things portrayed in a different light was a lot of fun for me.

Overall, the plot wasn’t bad. It was believable, and I really enjoyed a lot of events in the story. There was lots of fun dialogue and scenes. In fact, my problems with this book really didn’t lie in the plot at all. Or the pacing. Or the writing, characters or themes.

It was all of it put together.

INKED was great, and to someone who is new to young-adult fiction, maybe this book will be awesome for them. To someone who has a lot of experience reading children’s and young-adult fiction, or maybe even just watched a lot of movies, the cliches are undeniable. For example, a boy in love with the girl next door who doesn’t even see him. An occasion that will determine the future of a girl/boy *cough* DIVERGENT *cough* MATCHED *cough*. The government is evil. Whoa.

Quite honestly, I do believe that I could’ve gotten over the fact that INKED is so predictable. It is an enjoyable story once I cut out my sense of predictability. It was more the ending, which is so disappointing because I really wanted to love this book.

The thing is, this ending could have been so much. The most. It’s where Caenum (could not get used to this book. Never throughout the entire story) begins to realize that things aren’t what he thought they were (in a way that was surprisingly not cliched) and there’s a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment for him. Well, it didn’t turn into a ah-ha moment. It turned into deaths. And ruined moments. And could’ve-beens.

I had hoped that this story could be so much more, but it just couldn’t. The ending was too much for me to handle, because I had such high hopes for it, and it fell short of my expectations. 2 stars.

pg count for the ebook: n/a

Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

just like the movies by kelly fiore

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

Description taken from Goodreads.

“I mean, why can’t relationships center around big romantic gestures and sweep-you-off-your-feet moments?”

Uhmm, excuse me?

I liked the premise of this story and the idea of it all, but that one sentence pretty much sums up exactly what I had a problem with JUST LIKE THE MOVIES. This problem was mainly in the beginning, but throughout the entire story I felt like JUST LIKE THE MOVIES was more about superficial love instead of actual love. There were a bunch of little things here and there that I was conflicted about, the “romance should be about big romantic gestures” thing just being one of them.

Another is one of the main issues that a reader sees the second they walk in on this book, starting in the intro and peaking in the beginning.

Marijke is a girl who has a boyfriend that constantly flirts with other girls. She also can’t get him to say, “I love you.” I can understand the “I love you” thing. It’s a big thing that means a lot, and whatever–she just wants him to say it. I would’ve liked it if Marijke acknowledged at least once that the fact that he doesn’t say it might mean that he doesn’t know if he really means that yet, or when he says it he wants to really mean it. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like her, I mean–HE IS HER BOYFRIEND.

It was the constantly flirting with other girls. Marijke, throughout the book, is always either verbally or non-verbally accusing him of cheating, and it isn’t cute or endearing or a display of how much she cares, it’s exhausting. If she really thinks he’s cheating and she can’t trust him for something like not looking at other girls, then why is she dating him? Is it because of how he looks or the feeling of getting used to a relationship? It feels that way to me, contributing to the shallowness and fakeness that appears to be their relationship throughout the book.

This story would’ve been perfect for me if it had ended at page 193. In that time, Marijke grew by leaps and bounds. She realized (in a way) that she’s been a jerk to her boyfriend and she realized that a lot of the time, life isn’t like the movies–but that’s okay. Sometimes better than okay. And she fell in love.

But the story must go on, because there’s one little problem. Her name is Lily.

Lily is crushing on a guy she can never have, completely focused on schoolwork and getting into the college she wants. In meeting Marijke, she decides to go after that guy. They grow closer, and they become friends, but it’s just not meant to be. She becomes heartbroken.

If Lily hadn’t been in the picture, JUST LIKE THE MOVIES would’ve been a completely different story with a completely different rating. I’m not going to say anything about the ending specifically, but I’m conflicted about it. I wouldn’t say that I hated it, but I really disliked it. I felt like it was really anticlimatic and there was nothing that it accomplished except letting the audience know that life is not like the movies, no matter what you try to do–and everyone knows that.

But hey, that’s what I wanted this book to say. Throughout the whole book, I was mad at Marijke for the way she treated Lily and used her and I was mad at Lily for being so easily swayed by Marijke and the people around her. I wanted Lily to become a bigger character not in the sense that she changed but in the sense that she became happy with her circumstances and not pining after someone else’s. I wanted Marijke to get off her high horse and realize life does not revolve around her. More than anything else though, I wanted these characters to realize that life is not like the movies and sometimes when you do things for someone, they don’t react the way you want them to. And hey, they did.

I am happy about that, but I did want more from this story and yes, more from the ending. Some hope, maybe. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Instead, I would much rather read NOT IN THE SCRIPT by Amy Finnegan. 2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 300

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

defiance by c.j. redwine

Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.

While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel’s father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city’s brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father’s apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Description taken from Goodreads.

I don’t understand the appeal to this book all that much.

I mean–I understand the appeal in the sense that the blurb is attractive and the characters seem pretty awesome in the beginning and hey, Tamora Pierce and GRACELING? I could go for that. I would love to read GRACELING for the first time again.

But this book is not it, and I do not understand the glowing reviews for this book and this story.

Sure, I can understand the characters. Both Rachel and Logan start off well. Logan prevailed in my mind. He was stupid but he was endearing. Rachel… not so much.

why are you so stupid gif

Explanation? First example starts unfolding not fifty pages into the book.

  • p. 30. Rachel’s point of view (POV). After Logan becomes her Protector and she moves into his house, she confronts him about finding a way over the Wall and going after her dad. Unbeknownst to both of them, they both have plans to individually go after Rachel’s dad even though Logan pointed out all the dangers to the both of them (and especially her) going. One little snippet I should point out here: Three days after moving into Logan’s house, I found his magnetic handgrips, perfect for sliding safely down the bulky steel ribs along the Wall. 
    • Also on this page, going onto page 31. It’s been thirteen years since a woman dared walk through Lower Market without her Protector. She paid for her actions with her life. Flicking the hood of my cloak over my head, I make sure it hides every strand of the red hair that makes me so easily recognizable. I don’t like the idea of risking my life by going into the Lower Market alone… but she does it anyway. No big deal. Everyone can see she doesn’t have her Protector, but of course no one says anything and the police don’t notice.
  • p. 32. I have no intention of allowing them to catch me. Nobody ever intends to get hit by cars or slam into someone coming around a corner. Thieves typically do not intend to get caught stealing. Intention means nothing here.
  • p. 43. Rachel tricks a man into escorting her to her father’s friend Oliver’s house, not noticing that the Commander’s personal Brute Squad is making the rounds and failing to mention that she is Rachel Adams, who could get that innocent man killed.
  • p. 46. “What am I supposed to tell Logan if I let you put yourself in danger?” Oliver asks, still moving towards me, though we both know he can’t catch up. 

That I’m sorry? That I no longer meant any of the things I’d said two years ago? That he brought this on both of us by not listening to me and helping me search for Dad? I square my shoulders, flick my hood over my hair again, and pat the sheath strapped to my waist. 

“Tell him he’s too late,” I say, stepping our of Oliver’s tent and into the shadow of the Wall. 

  • By doing this, she’s completely throwing away Oliver and Logan and hoping that the Commander won’t pay attention to them because she just magically slips away.
  • p. 50. Logan’s POV. I’d rather not a match for the Brute Squad either, but I’m not about to fail her. What wouldn’t Logan do for Rachel? There has to be something, but he’s evidently not going to say it. Of course, the first guard spots her at page 51, showing how incompetent and how incredibly blinded by grief she is. If I can see her, so can the guard above me. In seconds, I hear the soft whoosh of a body plummeting to the ground and brace myself. He lands slightly to the right of me, all of his attention on Rachel. 
  • p. 52. Worst Case Scenario 3: Commander Chase discovers her act of treason, tries to punish her for it, and I draw my weapon against the man who rules all of Baalboden with an iron first of terror. This is sweet and all, but then you both get tortured and killed and you have to give up the information that you have about Rachel’s father, achieving nothing and getting punished for treason.
  • p. 55. One wrong move, and I’ll never be heard from again. Which means I can’t make a mistake. My hands shake as I rehearse my plan. Run out the doorway. Grab the edge of the Wall. Vault over. Slam my hands against the steel ribbing as I fall. Slide down and escape into the vast, treacherous darkness of the Wasteland with nothing but my wits and my knife. It can work. It has to work. I take a deep breath and spring out the door. I haven’t gone more than three yards before I slam into a hard, unyielding obstacle. Strong fingers reach out to grab my arms, and I look up. Commander Chase.
  • p. 58. “It isn’t foolish. I know what I’m doing. My father saw to that.” Way to go, Rachel. You were determined not to give up any secrets and now you willingly told them your father trained you to fight.
  • p. 59. More guards enter the room, pushing another man in front of them. Logan. The same Logan who, the last time we saw him, was determined to kill the Commander if he hurt Rachel. And he got caught.
  • p. 60 – 65. Rachel and Logan give up all their secrets in an effort to get permission to track and bring back Rachel’s dad.
  • **segment left out due to spoilers**
  • p. 71 – 72. “Don’t be an idiot.” She sounds like she’s gritting her teeth. “I didn’t know the Commander had his guards following us.” 

Wowwwww. So you expect to know if the Commander is having you followed?

“Of course you didn’t. Because you’re so wrapped up in missing Jared, you refuse to look at anything else.” I regret the words as soon as I say them. 

No, Logan, you should not regret those words.

  • p. 76. Logan almost kisses Rachel. Logan, the boy that swears he has no feelings for her. Rachel, who says that her feelings have all disappeared. Great.

There were so many things wrong with this book for me. World-building was extremely poor and ^ characters were unlikable ^. The dramatic, tears-and-sobs romance completely takes over this story, despite the fact that the book is supposed to start out with Rachel hating Logan and Logan in no way wanting a romance with Rachel.

As for good things, there were a few. I liked the writing style of this story, and I do believe that people could come to like it. Honestly though, I think there are much better paranormals as well as high fantasies that would be better options than this book. While DEFIANCE had lots of great elements, I couldn’t bring myself to love it. Instead, I would recommend books such as Black City by Elizabeth Richards (for paranormal fans), Defy by Sara B. Larson (for high fantasy fans) or Graceling by Kristin Cashore (for high fantasy fans). 1 star.

pg count for the hardback: 403

Review: The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

the doubt factory by paolo bacigalupi

n this page-turning contemporary thriller, National Book Award Finalist, Printz Award winner, and New York Times bestselling author Paolo Bacigalupi explores the timely issue of how public information is distorted for monetary gain, and how those who exploit it must be stopped.
Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie. At least that’s what a mysterious young man who’s stalking her keeps saying. But then she begins investigating the disturbing claims he makes against her father. Could her dad really be at the helm of a firm that distorts the truth and covers up wrongdoing by hugely profitable corporations that have allowed innocent victims to die? Is it possible that her father is the bad guy, and that the undeniably alluring criminal who calls himself Moses–and his radical band of teen activists–is right? Alix has to make a choice, and time is running out, but can she truly risk everything and blow the whistle on the man who loves her and raised her?

Description taken from Goodreads.

The road trip through a story is never quite smooth. There are ups and downs, feels and sometimes plotholes.


And many other things. You know, when I was reading this book I went into it thinking SHIP BREAKER or THE DROWNED CITIES (Bacigalupi’s other books). Both SHIP BREAKER and THE DROWNED CITIES were both awesome books with great plot, unique premise and characters, good writing and more. Bacigalupi has a very unique and entertaining voice that brings life to the settings in his stories.

I couldn’t find that voice in THE DOUBT FACTORY.

let me just find it I CAN'T FIND IT gif

This book actually starts out really well. I loved the suspense and mystery themes. It almost reads like WATCHED by C.J. Lyons, except without many inappropriate aspects. It’s later on in the book that problems start arising. There’s speculation as to why Bacigalupi wrote this book, but what I’ve heard–and how THE DOUBT FACTORY reads–all point to the idea that this is a book with an agenda.

When people say book with an agenda, they mean that the author is trying to accomplish something by writing a certain story. Similarly, there’s movies with agendas, music with agendas, and so on. THE DOUBT FACTORY’s agenda is to spread the word about false advertising. Like Louis Sachar’s THE CARDTURNER, I felt great for the author because this a story and a cause they clearly care a lot about–but I don’t think it was executed the way that the particular cause deserves. Writers need to write what they want to write, the true stories in their minds, and I feel like this book just didn’t come as easily to both Bacigalupi or the reader.

Just to clarify, books with agendas are not all bad books. In fact, many of them are. A popular example is Cory Doctorow. Most of his books are books with agendas, and they cover their topics very well. Books with agendas are not written for lack of caring–it’s actually quite the opposite, I believe, but at the same time I think that these stories are just not the kind that come easily to people. Trying to make a cause into a book can be extremely difficult. Story writing in general is extremely difficult, so I commend Bacigalupi for attempting THE DOUBT FACTORY.

The thing is though, THE DOUBT FACTORY just didn’t work for me. The plot and pace were entirely unbelievable and the writing was definitely nowhere near the best that I’ve ever read. Nowhere, if you catch my drift. The logic is based on nothing, brand names are mentioned every other sentence and the characters were one-dimensional and flawed as well as entirely unrealistic. I really wanted to like this book, and I think with a little bit of straightening-out of plot this could be an amazing movie. However, the book just didn’t do it for me and I would not recommend it. (Please do go try Bacigalupi’s other books though! Such good writing, great characters and unique premise). 1 star.

pg count for the hardback: 496