ARC Review: Soulprint by Megan Miranda

soulprint by megan miranda

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be published February 3rd, 2015, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. 

This book was incredibly surprising to me because I, in no way, thought I would like this book as much as I did. Sure, it has an interesting plot, but it carries that plot all the way out until the end–and doesn’t release until it’s done.

There are so many great themes to SOULPRINT, and I felt like every single one of them was unique in it’s own way. I loved the idea of soul printing, and the world-building behind this book is entirely real. I can quite literally see Alina’s world through the United States, or even the Canada, of today. For those people who feel like dystopian/future-based novels just aren’t plausible enough, I urge to try SOULPRINT.

It wasn’t even the setting in SOULPRINT that really stuck out of me in the beginning. It was Alina, and the characters around her. The very first thing I thought when I heard her name was Marie Lu’s Alina, and I expected this (somewhat) to end up being a villain’s story.

But’s it’s not, in a weird way, and that’s a lot of the beauty of SOULPRINT.

She’s flawed. She longs for revenge, even when revenge is probably not the smartest thing to be thinking about at the moment. She’s smart but can make stupid decisions. She wants to be free, and she doesn’t want to be judged by people. She even fears that June really is her, at the core.

There were so many things I loved about Alina that were really just nuances of her, and that was why I felt like she was perfect for this story. I did feel like the other characters were solid as well, but I didn’t love them as much as her.

SOULPRINT was a great, really fun read for me. I would definitely recommend it, even though I was slow to like it in the beginning, and will be rereading. 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 368


Once Upon A Gif: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Once upon a gif is a feature by Hafsah and Asma at Iceybooks, where a pre-review is written with gifs. My full review of LIARS, INC. will come out on February 20th, 2015. 

liars, inc. by paula stokes

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Description taken from Goodreads.

LIARS, INC. impressed me from the very beginning. It wasn’t stand-and-shout-to-the-world-how-much-you-love-this-book good, but it was exciting, well-written and with great descriptions.

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Max is one of the more out-of-the-box characters I’ve read. There were so many times when I felt bad for him, or I cheered him on, or he completely disgusted me. For the most part, he was a hero that.. isn’t really a hero at all. Someone could/should do a complete post on the many faces of Max Cantrell. It’d be worth reading. Despite that fact, Max still very much retains who he is at the core (not in a Rob Swanson way, but in a Max way) and it was something I loved about him throughout LIARS, INC.

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I loved how flawed each of the character in this story are, and it was easy to keep track of the cast because not too many people show up in this story.

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Stokes take us into a world spun of lies and everything that leads up to Max in a cabin in the middle of the woods facing two FBI agents. The world-building is beautifully done and everything is well organized so that the mystery remains a mystery but it’s easy to understand.

And the romance. I will say, Parvati isn’t my favorite YA girl. Far far away. Like where Shrek lives far away. But at the same time, I did like her at times, and I didn’t hate her in the end. In fact, I rather liked her romance with Max, and I LOVED how this book turned out. Parvati tries to act tough and cool in the beginning, but as time went on I began to see more of a different side of her. It took way longer than Preston and Max and the other characters, but I came to like her. When she does show vulnerability eventually, it makes it more important to the story.

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Then everything blew up. Not literally, but quite figuratively. The villain was definitely not who I thought they were, and I got so confused (in a good way!) about who was what. Things get more and more messed up, and I came to finally see how perverse it all is.

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Then something happened that truly threw me over the edge, something I wrestled with for awhile and debated not reviewing this book over.

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Check back on February 20th to see my full review!

pg count for the hardback: 368

ARC Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

gone too far by natalie d. richards

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.

Piper Woods can’t wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She’s sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone’s sure it’s suicide, but Piper remembers Stella’s name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.

Drowning in secrets she doesn’t want to keep, Piper’s fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished…

Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be released January 6th, 2015, in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

Shall we say… Death Note?

Okay, no.. just, no. But GONE TOO FAR can stand on it’s own.

Probably my favorite thing about GONE TOO FAR is the characters in it. When I first opened this book up, I expected it to be at least as good as Six Months Later, but it wasn’t.

It was so much better.

The mystery was the very first thing that I noticed I was enjoying much more than SIX MONTHS LATER (not that SML was bad, it just wasn’t my favorite book. I actually really enjoyed it). The mystery goes by at a fairly fast pace. It isn’t too hard to figure out, but it kept me occupied the entire course of the story. I enjoyed watching every aspect of the book play out, especially when I saw where everything was going.

The fact of the matter is that in the beginning, Piper just wasn’t very likable to me. Sure, there were plenty of strong points about her. She was never so unlikable that I thought about not reading the book the whole way through because of her, just irritating in many ways, especially when faced with the ups and downs as well as consequences of what she brings about in the aftermath of Stella’s death. In fact, Piper is likable in a lot of ways. She’s smart, she knows what her weaknesses/strengths are, she’s realistic and she’s relatable.

But she’s also reckless at times, and dives straight into the idea of revenge without looking at the mysterious texter seriously sideways even once, what her actions could mean for other people. I also didn’t love how she handled the realization that the so-called vigilante had “gone too far”, to bring in the namesake of this book.

Things got way better after Piper realized that she had to do something about the situation at hand, to reverse things and make them better instead of worse. After that point, she came to genuinely think about the assumptions she’d made to get her to that point and help her out of it. Then an awesome character change came into place. The development that happens here, because of the events that have happened and the people around her, Richards highlights her characters at their very best and very worst in a way that shows how nuanced and real GONE TOO FAR is.

I think my greatest disappointment with GONE TOO FAR was that at the end, it struck me that this book could’ve been more. There were a few scenes that were spent on petty drama that I especially wanted to stick out more, to reach farther, to dig deeper into the mystery and the mess Piper got herself into, or get into the emotional weight of certain scenes more.

Overall, I really enjoyed GONE TOO FAR. The observations by Piper are vivid, well-drawn and allowed me into her world. Richards shows the relationships, growing, broken and the way they are in the beginning/end extremely well. They’re not just kind or mean, they’re everything in between. GONE TOO FAR has a complicated villain, a great mystery, an endearing heroine and writing that completely transported me into the middle of it all. I would recommend this book for people who liked DEAR KILLER by Katherine Ewell but wanted more. For people who have read GONE TOO FAR already and wanted more from it, I would recommend LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes. 3.5 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 304

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

the young elites by marie lu

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Uhmm, yeah. I didn’t know what exactly I was expecting when I opened up THE YOUNG ELITES, but for some reason I didn’t expect this.

I loved LEGEND so much, and the series as a whole, that I knew I would go into full-on rage mode if THE YOUNG ELITES turned out to be disappointing. Well, the thing of it is that MARIE LU IS A GENIUS AND I SHALL NEVER DOUBT HER EVER AGAIN.

I mean–this officially puts Marie Lu on the list. The I-Hope-To-Write-Like-This-Someday list. She’s just so.. so… amazing. I think that at the end of LEGEND, I really liked her writing. I admired it. I thought it was entertaining. At the end of PRODIGY, I won’t lie–I was a little disappointed. PRODIGY is definitely my least favorite in that trilogy. I had hoped for so much more from her. Then came the earth-shattering, heartbreaking, beautiful ending of CHAMPION.

I was really conflicted at the end of CHAMPION, to be honest, and even now I’m still choosing to love it–because I don’t entirely believe that it was the right way to go with that story. All in all, the LEGEND series has a permanent place in my heart and is one of the series has come extremely close to making my five star list. In fact, it just might someday.

But then I got to THE YOUNG ELITES. I was bracing myself for it not to be everything it would be, and I ignored the hype about it. BUT MOTHER OF PEARL YES. THE YOUNG ELITES DESERVES A YES. I was horribly, terribly wrong. Authors have a way of proving that to me.

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I mean–Adelina and Enzo and Raffaele and Violetta and ASDFGHJKL. I won’t lie–through it all, I believe that Adelina was the best devleoped character, but Raffaele was my favorite. All of the characters were fleshed out and nuanced and made in a way that I was truly impressed by. There were so many things to love and hate about each individual character; as a writer, Lu’s story makes me think about my own villains and the way I’ve shaped them. The way that each member of the Dagger Society looks out for each other and work toward their purpose was brilliantly done.

There’s the characters. Really, the characters. This story goes to the very basis to the heart and nature of evil, sorrow, wrongdoing and darkness. It’s insane and crazy and wild and yet, understandable. Lu finds the heart in her characters and their motivation, and that is truly something to be admired. This kind of story is just so rare that I can’t help but be in awe of it.

I will admit it, there’s a part of me that wishes that Enzo and Adelina had found rigetouesness, but I wouldn’t change this book for a thing. I’m really interested to see how things pan out, but I HOPE THAT RAFFAELE ENDS UP LIVING. Ah Raffaele. He could quite possibly be one of my favorite characters of all time.

This review cannot begin to bring justice to THE YOUNG ELITES. I can’t begin to describe how beautifully the imagery, the prose, the way in which Adelina becomes an understandablevillain. I loved the romance that isn’t a romance, the conflict, the powers, the nuances, the Italian influence, the uniqueness, everything about this book. For anyone who is trying to figure out how exactly to craft a villain, or even just what a good story looks like in my opinion–

the young elites by marie lu

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4.8 stars (Subject to change).

pg count for the hardback: 355

Series: The Young Elites

ARC Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

the walled city by ryan graudin

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

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

From the very beginning, it’s apparent that THE WALLED CITY is extremely rich in description and character. The world-building is stellar, even though sometimes the book doesn’t read like it’s actually set in that world. Everything and everyone is so clearly visible in my mind that this portrayal of the actual Kowloon Walled City that by the end of this story, I was completely enraptured and horrified by it all.

One of the disappointing things about this book for me is that over the course of time, that beautiful world-building writing style diminishes a little bit and description becomes minimal at times. However, when it does come back I really appreciated Graudin’s writing style in a way that I didn’t at all in her other stories and I thought she did an amazing job of portraying the Walled City.

And then there’s the characters. This book is split between three different perspectives–Jin, Mei Yee and Dai. The complete and utter lack of hope that is scattered in the minds of all the characters in at least one part of the book was nothing short of beautifully written and haunting. I loved the narrative to THE WALLED CITY and how the three perspectives tied so closely together, even when the characters were apart. I also thought that many of the moves that were made throughout the book were realistic and clever.

If I had to name a favorite character, it would probably be Mei Yee. Yes, I did love Jin’s strong personality and her desire to save her sister. I completely loved Dai and the way the romance in this story built up slowly and never overtook the need to survive. I thought his first interactions with Jin and the way that their relationship grows as well was great, but overall Mei Yee took the cake. I loved the way that she was written and truthfully, I thought that some of Graudin’s best moments came out of her through Mei Yee’s perspective and the desperate situation she was in.

There was so much to THE WALLED CITY that I loved, especially the ending. It’s definitely very hardcore and while it could constitute in some aspects as urban fantasy or some kind of the-terrible-future kind of story, it’s not technically dystopian or even sci-fi. If you’re looking for an equally haunting story that strikes much closer to home, I would recommend The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend this book.

4 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 432

ARC Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

tabula rasa by kristen lippert-martin

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she’ll need the help of the teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that’s blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why .

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

There really was just one issue when it came to me and my experience with TABULA RASA. I’ve been really excited for this book for a long time, mainly TABULA RASA is a thriller, it’s a stand-alone, it’s a debut and because Kristen is a part of the YA Valentines–and they’re all awesome.

The thing that went wrong for me was the issue of drawn-out suspense and teasing when it came to answers to all the questions that are asked throughout this book. Too many times, the teasing just didn’t work for me. I got so frustrated trying to figure out what was going on and how the questions were being answered only to realize they weren’t being answered at all. I felt like as a reader, I had to know what was going on in certain parts of the story, but I wasn’t getting anything, and the teasing approach in TABULA RASA just didn’t work.

Not to mention that the way everything was answered at the end in one huge dump was entirely anticlimactic. I don’t think that the one thing that went wrong for me and TABULA RASA should reflect on the author, because it’s a skill that requires time and patience to master, and I believe that Kristen can fully do that in her books to come.

I did like a variety of things in TABULA RASA though. I loved the descriptions and how graphic it was without being too much. I thought the world-building was excellently done and believable, and the memory issues were realistic. I really enjoyed the way that Sarah never gave up, and her relationships grew and developed. I wasn’t a fan of the romance at first, but I grew not to mind it and enjoy parts of it. The pace is very fast and the book goes by really nicely. The action elements and themes didn’t get bogged down by the journey and search part of it, and I really liked the steady pace.

Overall, not the best debut I’ve ever read or the best thriller, but I did enjoy this book and appreciate many aspects of it. I’m really looking forward to what else Kristen comes up with, and I would recommend it. 3 stars. Be sure to check out this interview with Kristen to learn more about her and the book!

pg count: 352

Review: Acid by Emma Pass

acid by emma pass

The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.

When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn’t know who to trust?

Description taken from Goodreads. 

I think what surprised me the most about ACID was how much of it was spent in futile explanation. The beginning is awesome, with Jenna showing off how cool she is and what kind of situation she’s in. I also got a good grasp for what her world looked like inside the prison. I admired the way that Pass wrote her fight scenes and the way Jenna thought, but most of all the scenes where Jenna gets sick. There was so much description that I really enjoyed in the first quarter of the story, but–like much of the other good components to this book–that dissolved pretty quickly.

ACID is one of those questions books, where all the author wants to do is torment their main character and the people around them until finally the MC breaks free and goes off to find their own answers. The problem with stories like these for me are that often times, by the time the MC has figured out some of their situation, their questions still far out number their answers and I’ve figured out all the things that the main character has and then some to the point where any information that they get is useless. It was incredibly frustrating to think about all the questions that are asked over the course of the story.

There is so much to this book that is left as an extremely promising, half-baked idea but then is completely wasted and thrown into the flames before those ideas can ever come together and be fully formed. I think that was the most irritating part of ACID and one that I felt was a shame because of how much promise this story had to it. The world-building and plot were unfocused and not detailed as well.

Overall, I think that there are much better books with these types of elements out there. I expected a lot more from ACID than I got and was really disappointed to find that it wasn’t all that it had appeared to be in the first few chapters of the story. If this was a series, I might have been able to continue on just to see if things get better, but unfortunately I wasn’t happy with the ending and there was just too much to this story that wasn’t completed. For fans of this type of world and romance, you might want to try the MATCHED series by Ally Condie. 2 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 431