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


Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

the madman's daughter by megan shepherd

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

Description taken from Goodreads.

People told me this book was disturbing. They didn’t tell me how disturbing.

There’s a quote from Paula Stokes that goes, “When you care about someone, you can’t just turn that off because you learn that they betrayed you.” That is exactly the feeling I get when I read this book. I can’t even begin to explain the madness that is this story and the goodness in the evil of the characters, especially in the villains. Shepherd created this story with some pretty amazing and complex characters, and that is just the first of the things she should be commended for.

One of the biggest conflicts in this story is the self-conflict that Juliet feels as well as the conflict she feels with the people around her. This book has a fairly small cast (bordering on medium) that Juliet is constantly questioning at one point or another. That makes it sound like a bad thing, but I didn’t think it was. None of the characters of THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER, including Juliet, are goody-goodies who are completely for or completely against what Dr. Moreau and Juliet started.

All of the characters in THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER are strong in one way or another. (Speaking of characters, I would’ve loved to see more of Lucy and Adam). Juliet is bold and brave, a very strong heroine without having to prove anything about herself–refreshing after books that point out time and time again how the heroine doesn’t need anyone and is strong all on her own. She’s not someone who is really cute in any sense. She’s not busy focusing on herself, but more of others, in her own way. She has her own insecurities as well as strengths. And she’s got a brain, by the way, and she uses it. It’s not one she just talks about. Like I said, refreshing.

I won’t say I was entirely okay with Montgomery or Juliet’s father or even Edward. They all have their own flaws, just like Juliet does. Montgomery is trapped in this eternal cycle of worshipping Juliet’s father while still knowing at heart that what he’s doing is wrong. Juliet’s father is delusional and utterly insane, but he’s still Juliet’s father. Edward… I don’t even know where to begin with Edward. For most of the story, I was set against him, but Shepherd completely messed that up too (in the last 50 pages of the book, no less). I was just as confused as Juliet about each of these characters, which I’ll say was a pretty impressive move. I hated some of Juliet’s reactions to how the people around her acted, but I could understand her at the same time.

There are lots of questions about morality, abnormality, madness, and how far is too far to go under the pretenses of science. Shepherd addresses all of these taboo topics skillfully, in a way that the reader can see just how multi-dimensional these ideas are. It’s not hard to understand the different dissection parts and there’s not a lot of vocabulary to learn over the course of the story.

For those of you who are wondering which book the quote is from, that’s from her upcoming book (that I read and think is fantastic) Liars, Inc. Add it to your TBR! 

Let’s talk characters. Juliet. Edward. Cymbeline. I can blame school Shakespeare studies for my recognition of these names. The very first thing I think of when I hear the name Juliet is Romeo & Juliet, a story that I think is massively overrated–but that’s for another time.

Find out about the No Fear, Shakespeare SparkNotes series and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

As soon as I saw the groupings of names, I figured something was up. I can understand slipping in a few references, but there was way too many characters for it to be just a simple admiration of Shakespeare.

This book and the gruesome secrets behind what Dr. Moreau has done–closer to the main characters of THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER than I ever thought in the beginning–were something I never saw coming. Fans of THE MONSTUMOLOGIST by Rick Yancey or anyone who thinks Virals by Kathy Reichs meets the “pursuit of science” would be interesting to see, this book is for you. I would strongly caution animal lovers or animal (even human) rights activists against reading this book.

THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER…. I really would not agree with everything that is in this book. I don’t mean that I disliked parts of it (I actually did dislike the romance. All of it.) but what I mean to say is that there are so many controversial topics in this book that it’s hard for me to have a strong opinion. One thing I can say–I do believe this book is one of those truly fearless books. I do think it’s very well-written. There’s amazing descriptions and prose. The horror is horrifying without being too scary. The topics are covered in a way that doesn’t cover up anything, but instead shows all the complexity to these issues.

All in all, I would recommend this book. 9 out of 10 times, I most likely would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 15/16. Of course, there are exceptions to that–but this book is graphic at times and kind of creepy at others. For the right person, this book is brilliant in many aspects. I totally did not expect the ending and I can’t wait for the next book. 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 420

Review: Astray by Amy Christine Parker

astray by amy christine parker

Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.

Suspenseful and chilling, Astray is Amy Christine Parker’s nerve-fraying sequel to Gated. This fast-paced psychological thriller is masterfully plotted and sure to leave goose bumps. Perfect for fans of creepy YA thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Amy Christine Parker has done it again.

In Gated, Parker blew me away with her characters and the way that she showed me, as a reader, how brainwashing and convincing that cults can be. In GATED, I got to see Lyla’s struggle and the things she went through in order to realize what a psycho Pioneer really is, and through her format and masterful storytelling Parker was able to make me feel what Lyla felt. Now, in ASTRAY, she talks about Lyla’s self-conflict and I could not ask for a better sequel.

In terms of characters, I LOVED THEM. I really liked the way that Cody is such a sweet character in both GATED and ASTRAY without being stupid. Both he and Lyla were multi-layered characters and I felt like I saw a lot more dimensions of them in ASTRAY than I did in GATED. In addition to that, Parker takes advantage of her reader’s emotions by using Lyla’s friends (who are still under the influence of Pioneer) and Pioneer himself, against her. This book is twisted in the very best way.

Parker really got into my head with this story and showed me even more of what she could do, and what Lyla can do. I thought that Lyla truly grew over the course of this story and everything came together. Parker truly scared me to death with this story. By definition, this book is one of the best thrillers/cult stories I’ve ever read. I hope to see a lot more work from Parker in the future.

Overall, this book was just as good–and better–than GATED. Fans will definitely not be disappointed, and I was blown away by the way that Parker takes such great advantage of her plot, characters and the good and bad of the world she’s created. Fantastic book. 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 352

Series: Gated #2

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

afterworlds by scott westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Before I say anything, I need to say that even starting from the dedication, AFTERWORLDS meant something to me.

I’ve respected Scott Westerfeld as an author for a long time, starting from the very first time I read LEVIATHAN to the UGLIES series to here, AFTERWORLDS, but none of this books have truly struck a personal note with me until this book. The dedication reads:

To all you wordsmiths, you scribblers, you wrimos in your vast numbers, for making writing a part of your reading.

Yes. YES. A millions yesses and thank yous to Scott Westerfeld for this ^^.

As if that wasn’t enough, Scott Westerfeld made this book relatable to anyone, especially any kid, who has ever aspired to be something and legitimately thought through and worked for that something. Not only that, but this book is about writing. YA writing. About agents, blurbs, publication, queries, the beautiful, uncertain mess that both publishing and writing are.

you're making me cry with your emotions gif

There are so many arguments against this book, but really–especially if it interests you–please do read it. If you are an aspiring writer or one of those teenagers who dare to dream about getting a book deal at age 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, this is a book for you.  It’s rare, and writing is never easy (in any form), but it does happen, and it happens to Darcy in this book. Paula Stokes and Veronica Roth are just two of the authors this has happened to, and numerous authors have been traditionally published after being found on Nanowrimo.

AFTERWORLDS is definitely long, longer than it needs to be at parts, but the way that this book is constructed and the two stories within this book mesh together is beautiful and truly shows just how much of a writer’s actual life and experiences are embedded into a story. AFTERWORLDS is constantly making fun of the publishing industry as a whole, bringing in the ups and downs and the way that young writers and old writers alike think. I loved so much of this book because of the numerous things that I could relate to. This book is one big book about writing that is so true in it’s entirety and so masterfully crafted that I can’t even begin to explain how much this story stands out from other fiction works that talk about writing.

There are things that I disliked, and certainly things that will draw the average reader away from this  book. For one thing, it is long. For another, at certain parts, it feels long. Then not everyone will agree with the LGBT aspects of this story. Then there’s the matter that not everyone will understand the sheer amount of satire in this story. Overall, I think this book and how a reader will understand it will differ each time depending on the person. If you’re interested in reading this book, I would recommend reading the first 50 pages and see how things pan out from there. If you’re someone who loves to read and/or write, I would definitely recommend this book for you.

And Scott Westerfeld…

Thank you.

like a boss gif

For a better understanding of all the humor and the arguments for/against this book, I would recommend taking a look at this great review. 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 600

Review: Premeditated by Josin L. Mcquein

premeditated by josein l. mcquein

A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.

Description taken from Goodreads. 

I read this book awhile ago and ended up doing a gif post for it, kind of like in the Once Upon a Gif format. I always meant to someday do a full review of it, but I never got around to it due to my pile of ARCs at the time. I went to the library a few days ago, remembered this book and picked it back up again for a full review this time.

My GIF review of Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein.

PREMEDITATED really is a spectacular book. The way it is built up, established, reestablished and then twists right at the end of the story is a thrill ride that is extremely satisfactory, and leaves you with a full-on book hangover. I never saw the twist coming, and it was genius for me. Over the course of the story, McQuein drops little hints of it all over the place, only making the end result all the more shocking.

I think that the greatest thing behind this book is the masterfully crafted ending, but I can’t say that without mentioning all the things that led up to that ending and, specifically, the characters that made it all possible.

There are three, four counting Claire, main characters to this book. There’s Brooks, Claire, Dinah and Dex. I can’t say too much about any one of them without giving something away or hinting at the ending, but one thing I really, truly admired about PREMEDITATED was how much depth, layer and realness there was to each of them. I could clearly envision each one in my mind, even if the supporting characters dwindled away a little over the course of PREMEDITATED (this book has a fairly small cast anyway).

Brooks and Dex you really have to read about to figure out. Both are extremely different people, and because of the four main characters I believe it was impossible for this story to have a completely happy ending. Because these characters are the people that they are. It does have a good ending though, with the right people ending up in the right places and the beginning of a happy story.

As for Claire and Dinah, I have a little more room to work with.

Dinah is as she says she is. She’s rash and stupidly impulsive at times, which can be rather hard to watch, but she’s also clever and wickedly smart at times. The way she cares about Claire is awesome to see and watch play out. Their relationship is really fun and their banter is entertaining as well. Claire and Dinah are almost exact opposites at the beginning of the story, but Dinah comes to find out that they really aren’t all that different in essence. Dinah grows tremendously over the course of PREMEDITATED, and for that I was extremely grateful.

Claire has a pivotal role in this book, and yet she doesn’t do too many things or make too many appearances in the story itself. From what I did see of her, I loved her innocence and the way Dinah perceived her, but I also loved how strong she was and I could really sympathize with her.

My recommendation? READ THIS BOOK. The plot, pacing and characters are all on point.The beginning is a little dry, but the rest of the book is insanely good. If you’re a sucker for great endings, then this story is for you. Then go read The False Prince by Jennifer A. Neilson if you’re a fantasy junkie, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford if you love contemporary or The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin if you want really gritty, intense contemporary. But I’m getting ahead of myself. My only advice for reading this book: keep on reminding yourself that you’re not really sure of anything about this book.

4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 336

Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

love letters to the dead by ava dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

Description taken from Goodreads.

I’ve read many books that are narrated by letters, the first of which being DEAR MR. HENSHAW by Beverly Cleary. Still, until reading LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD, I hadn’t read a narrated-by-letters type of book that didn’t have the same basic themes and framework. LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD has all the basics down, but it also goes much further than that. It was an extremely unique type of story that was entertaining and much more than I had expected in that aspect.

LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is extremely readable. It’s not written too simply or too depressing that it wears on the reader, but instead it comes together as simply the story of a girl who had something bad happen to her and how she comes to move past it. This may sound like just another YA story, but with the way that LOVE LETTERS is executed as well as how the girl’s past is not what defines her, but rather how she’s been affected by it, was what really stuck out to me in the writing of this book.

LOVE LETTERS starts off slowly. It’s not a book that goes right into it and that itself was a little annoying about this story. It’s also very character-driven, which I really respect in a book. I think it goes along with the way that Laurel is written, that she’s not just her past. There’s so many issues and elements that come into play over the course of LOVE LETTERS, and I think that the book and the different moves the characters make as they grow and the plot reflects that. Dellaira does a great job of not heaping too many things at a time on the reader, but this still is a deep book and not something I would recommend for someone who just wants a lighthearted, somewhat bittersweet read.

While I did like the characters in LOVE LETTERS because of how well-developed I feel that they are, I didn’t love a lot of their choices and I had a love/hate relationship with Laurel during this time. She makes a lot of questionable moves for her new friends, and that really annoyed me, but I felt in the end that it was somewhat necessary. However, I don’t think all people will like/accept that–and by no means would I judge them for it, because I really had no respect for Laurel during certain parts of this book.

There are so many beautiful elements to this book, the concepts, the way LOVE LETTERS is written, the plot, the characters, it all comes together to make a lot of emotionally-hitting scenes. The one thing that takes away from the emotional element to this story is the predictability that comes in different waves over the course of the story. It doesn’t take away from the plot too much, but it is an issue that I didn’t love but was willing to let slide in several aspects. I grew to really like the letter format for this story. Another heavy read that is a lot like this book that I enjoyed was The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, and if you’ve read and enjoyed this book than I think you’ll enjoy that. As for those of you who haven’t read this book yet, it definitely will not be for everyone–but I loved it and would recommend it to people who like or will tolerate the letter format and are looking for a deep read. 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 327

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce

Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Description taken from Goodreads.

I think that COLD SPELL could definitely grow to become my favorite  Jackson Pearce. There was so much to this book that was just spectacular, the characters in particular. I’ve read many retellings of THE SNOW QUEEN, all of them fairly disappointing in one way or another. The thing is, they’re all just so similar. Even with other retellings, I usually don’t see that. I had hoped that Jackson Pearce would be able to serve up something a little more unique and her style, and I was not disappointed.

I think the most powerful thing about this book is not the characters in general or the plot or what Pearce did with the story, even though those things are great, to be sure. What I thought was the best in this book was the relationships between the characters. I loved the way that the story started out with the story of Kai’s grandmother, the love of her life disappearing with a mysterious woman in a snowstorm–never to see him again. There were lots of great mystery and suspense elements from the beginning, which kept me hooked on the story.

One thing I didn’t love in this story was how Kai and Ginny’s relationship started out. Kai is portrayed as being some sort of genius, and I respect that, but through their relationship all I really felt was that Ginny was dragging him down. I didn’t enjoy her personality much either. I think that was part of the whole point though, because I ended up really enjoying how Ginny turned out.

The blurb on Goodreads does a great job of showing the growth in this story that comes over Ginny as she goes on a huge quest to save Kai–meeting fantastical characters along the way who teach her lessons I didn’t think she would be able to learn. In many stories, I think it’s less about where your characters start out or end up, and more about how they grow along the way–and Jackson Pearce’s COLD SPELL was a perfect embodiment of this growth.

The main vein of this plot is straight up snow queen style. It’s completely apparent and yet, with her writing, Pearce is able to weave an entirely new story. I think that this is by far my favorite book of hers for the writing by itself.

There wasn’t much about this book that I didn’t love and looking back, I think that if anyone were to ask me which of Jackson Pearce’s books should they read (if they only wanted to read one), I would answer COLD SPELL for sure. Fans of Pearce will not be disappointed. There were many great elements to this book and I hope to see more like this from Pearce in the future. The only problem with this book that I had was that I wished the ending had been a little more drawn out. I’ll stop as to not give away spoilers, but I felt like it was a little rushed. Anyway, 4.3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 323

Series: Fairy Tale Retellings #4