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

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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.

Y U MAKE NO SENSE???

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: 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.

Plot holes. THIS STORY HAS THEM.

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

Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

winterspell by claire legrand

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Description taken from Goodreads.


WINTERSPELL was… interesting, to say the least. Before I go into detail in how disturbing this book was, may I just say that I skimmed most of it.

Good? Good.

Just so you know, if you’re a fan of the Nutcracker, I would not go into this story expecting the Nutcracker. Go into this story expecting just another story, and then be pleasantly surprised by the few Nutcracker influences in this book.

And just so you know, if you’re going to read this book at all, go into this story expecting some seriously WEIRD stuff. First of all, the romance in this book. NO. NO NO NO NO NO. Many reviewers that I know had one issue or another with one of the love plot lines in this book.

What’s up with everyone wanting to get with Clara? She’s weak and cannot stand up for herself for one second, to anyone, for anything, even though Godfather dearest trains her in the arts of fighting. I meann…

  • Romance Numero Uno: Clara’s disgust at a guy who seems to love experimenting on girls and likes young Clara.

UHMM. EXCUSE ME?? WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY???

wat gif

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE, BUT I FIND THAT EXTREMELY DISTURBING.

Nothing actually happens–don’t worry, that comes later.

  • Romance #2 a.k.a. The One In Which Nothing Gets Better: Clara’s fascination with a FREAKING. STATUE.

She thought of the statue, tall and impassive in the shadowed corner—its full lips and narrow waist, its arms in their serrated armor. As she pictured this, the flush on her skin shifted from embarrassment to pleasure, despite the danger luxuriating in the next room.

UHMM.

wat gif

 Yes, yes I do understand that the statue comes to life and it’s a magical, mystical prince. While I didn’t find that as disturbing as some people have, I must point out the fact that THIS GUY WAS A STATUE AND CLARA LOVED HIM EVEN WHEN HE WAS A STATUE.

Of course, this never gets explained.

And of course, Godfather dearest turns out to be an automaton.

wat wat wat wat wat

  • Romance Number 3 (The Third Side of the Triangle): Anise.

wat gif

I KNOW I KNOW. AND YES, ANISE IS A GIRL. I don’t love LGBT stories, I really don’t. It’s part of my beliefs and my opinion, but I don’t mind them. Even if a book has an LGBT romance, I can learn to like that story and get past the romance. Well, the reason why I didn’t like Anise and Clara’s relationship… there was girl action… and….

I can’t.

I just can’t.

If you would like to read examples of parts of this book, you can read this this review.

Honestly, there were parts to WINTERSPELL that I enjoyed. I liked the plot, the fresh voice and the overall premise of the story. But there were parts of this book that were so seriously messed up for me that I couldn’t get through this story. In fact, I would recommend this book for lovers of new adult and not young adult. WINTERSPELL could really be enjoyable for the right person, but I just could not get past the romance of this book.

Overall reaction:

what is this gif

no gif

NO

HECK NO

1.5 stars.

DNF.

pg count for the hardback: 264

Series: Winterspell

Review: Lailah by Nikki Kelly

lailah by nikki kelly

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

Description taken from Goodreads.


DNF at 152.

I can see why LAILA is such a success. It holds very mainstream ideals, for one thing. I’m not totally against paranormal romance. In fact, I’ve loved many paranormal books, but I just couldn’t get into this story. There were so many things I just could not agree with and so many things I felt were one-dimensional, totally unnecessary or disgusting. That being said, I loved SO many of the twists and turns behind this book. I really was not expecting many of them, making this book okay at times. It was still disappointing, but I think the biggest issue was that I expected too much for LAILA from the hype that I’d heard.

disappointed gif

And really, I do think that LAILA had a few good ideas. I mean–it’s popular! The idea of an angel and a vampire and new mythology and a girl caught between them, it’s poetical. But I didn’t see it as poetical. I couldn’t see it as poetical, especially when the brilliantly smart and ever-clever and utterly powerless, pathetic Francesca does things like complaining to guys about them hanging out with other girls when dear saint Francesca over here is STILL DECIDING WHICH GUY SHE WANTS TO GO WITH. Human beings are not toys.

your love is weird gif

AND IT’S NOT ONLY THAT. After I was disappointed AND continually disgusted by certain characters **COUGH** JONAH **COUGH COUGH COUGH** I decided to keep on going with the story and persevere in the hopes that the ending would bring about some sort of satisfaction.

i've made a mistake gif

a horrible decision gif

NO.

The only thing I could truly begin to appreciate in LAILAH was Gabriel. I enjoyed how truly decent of a person that he was, or tried to be. I liked the way that he was set up, but in the end I had hoped that he’d have more dimension to him. With more exploration, he could be a fantastic character.

Overall, I just couldn’t bring myself to love or even like this book. Francesca is so seriously skewed in her idea of right and wrong and what people should and should not do, when really she should be LOOKING AT HERSELF BECAUSE SHE IS THE BIGGEST ISSUE HERE. I wasn’t in love with the writing or the pace. Both were incredibly choppy, but I could’ve dealt with it. It’s the characters and the way that Kelly manipulates them into plot points that I cannot and do not want to understand that truly flipped me off the boat. 1 star (very close to a 1.5, but I just could not).

done just done gif

pg count for the kindle edition: 352

Series: The Styclar Saga