Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Series: N/A
Pages: 240 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (May 13, 2014)
Rating: 4.25 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

The novel, We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart describes the summers of Cadence Sinclair Eastman at a secluded family island.

Warning: Review contains spoiler!

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Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices | Book 1
Pages: 720 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; 1 edition (March 8, 2016)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

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Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

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Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird trilogy | Book 1
Pages: 384 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
Rating: 4.5 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

Book 1 of the Firebird trilogy, A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray describes sixteen-year-old Marguerite Caine’s quest for vengeance to kill Paul Markov, her parents’ (two famous scientists) prodigy and lab assistant, after the theft of the Firebird: a device which allows users to leap between different dimensions (realms of different outcomes and possibilities).

GoodReads Synopsis

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

Lately, A Thousand Pieces of You is the second book I’ve read with multi-dimensional travel, but I think it is the first book I have ever read that completely delves into what multi-dimensional travel would really look like. In this book, people travel to different dimensions by using the Firebird to transfer their consciousness into a dimension that had another version of them. While in that dimension, they would inhabit and control the body of their other dimensional self.

In different universes, especially the “Russiaverse” (where Marguerite is a grand duchess), this makes for “moral” conflicts, especially when Marguerite makes some big decisions for her other self while she is inside her body. This added an element of character vs. self and made the plot more interesting as Marguerite also grappled with external conflict as she hunted down her father’s suspected killer and the thief of the official Firebird prototype through the dimensions.

Another story aspect I liked were the plot twists. As Margeruite learns more about multi-dimensional travel, she discovers a secret about her travel companion. When the main character discovers not once, but twice, that two things she thought were true weren’t, it makes for some very suspenseful moments.

Like in The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, the author starts the book in the thick of things (Margeruite chasing her father’s killer through the dimensions) and then jumps back in Margeruite’s memory throughout the chapters to give the reader background information on events. I’m not a big fan of this, but it did not make me want to stop reading.

However, Claudia Gray did do an excellent job of developing the characters. Chapter by chapter she reveals a new layer of the characters, which makes them more believable. It also altered my opinion of them for better or for worse.

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Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: N/A
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper; Reissue edition (March 29, 2011)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie describes an enthralling murder mystery on the Orient Express.

GoodReads Synopsis

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. A passenger lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

As usual, Belgium detective Hercule Poirot must solve the mystery of who the murderer is. But as he begins investigating, every new fact he learns complicates everything he already knows about the mystery. Can Poirot find the killer before they escape?

Warning: This review contains spoilers!

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Pages: 181 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 3, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman weaves a psychological thriller about an ‘ocean’ at the end of a lane where a man (unnamed deliberately by the author) lived as a young boy.

GoodReads Synopsis

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Despite it’s relatively thin length for a novel (181 pages), The Ocean at the End of the Lane compacts a lot of meaning into those pages. And it left me still thinking after I’d finished it with the thought-provoking plotline. The author, Neil Gaiman, did a good job holding my interest through every page and generating intrigue.

A unique twist on the classic good vs. evil story with an adult tone to it, The Ocean at the End of the Lane took a little time to set up before fully launching into the story. I think what made this book fascinating was the surprise ending, and–highlight for spoiler– (the horridness of one Ursula Monkton), and how the author described memory and trauma.

One aspect of the novel that I found to be an interesting choice on the author’s part was the deliberate decision to keep the man (the main character) namelesss throughout the novel. In a way, I thought that it made sense.

Although the novel’s synopsis did not  intrigue me, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Once you begin to read the book, it grips you and does not let you go until you finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel from the excellent writing, plot development, and character development.

I’d recommend this book to people who’ve read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s other novel Coraline or are looking for a good horror-psychological-suspense novel.

Review: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

Title: The Crossroads
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Series: A Haunted Mystery | Book 1
Pages: 329 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)

GoodReads Synopsis

ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

Award-winning thriller author Chris Grabenstein fills his first book for younger readers with the same humorous and spine-tingling storytelling that has made him a fast favorite with adults.

The novel The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein weaves a ghost story of revenge and death.

The Crossroads was written from multiple third-person perspectives. Literary conflicts included character vs. character and character vs. supernatural. Overall I found The Crossroads to be a rather dull with a flat plot at times. Curiously, there were a great number of plot twists, and while I understood most of them, they did not jar me with surprise as other well done plot twists have. I felt that these plot twists just served to complicate the plot and didn’t really ‘add’ anything to the story.

The story moved rather slowly because it took awhile to establish all the characters who are rather interesting in personality for a middle grade novel. On note of the story: it wasn’t what I was expecting. Like Grabenstein’s book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library it was written with a light tone befitting of a middle grade novel. But I did not expect to find murder, insanity, divorce, revenge, and evil spirit possessing in a novel classified as middle grade.

CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution if you’d like to read The Crossroads in the future.

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Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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TitleSix of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows Series | Book 1
Pages: 480
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (September 29, 2015)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The Grisha novel, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardguo describes criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker’s perilous quest for wealth.

When Kaz Brekker, deadly criminal prodigy with a mysterious past in the city of Ketterdam is offered a chance to earn gold–a dangerous offer which might get him killed–he accepts. If he can break into the notorious Ice Court of Fjerda and retrieve a hostage harboring secret knowledge that could destroy the world, he will be showered with wealth.

In his quest for wealth, Kaz assembles a cunning group of six dangerous outcasts: Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias, and Wylan.

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Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTitle: Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Worldwalkers Trilogy | Book 1
Pages: 400
Publisher: Square Fish (September 1, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The first novel of the Worldwalkers trilogy, Trial by Fire, by Josephine Angelini, tells the story of a girl named Lily Proctor with life threatening allergies.

After a humiliating incident at her first party, Lily Proctor begins to hear a voice in her head. Her voice, to be exact, but it isn’t quite her voice. The voice sounds exactly like hers’, except she knows that those words inside her mind are not of her own.

You are sick in this world. Come to me and be the most powerful person in the world. The voice urges Lily.

Lily refuses though and the voice fades away into silence. But after Lily has a terrible argument with her best friend, Tristan, the voice asks again: Are you ready to go now? This time Lily replies, “Yes. I’m done here.

It will be terrifying. It was for me. The voice tells Lily. In a matter of seconds, Lily finds herself in a different Salem, Massachusetts.

In this parallel world, Lily is a witch who rules Salem. And what makes her weak in her home universe, her allergies, makes her a powerful witch here. Her counterpart, Lillian, summoned her to this world. Before Lillian can use Lily though, Lily runs and is captured by rebels. The rebels make a deal with her: if she can save them from Lillian, then they will help her go home.

But “How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?”

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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series | Book 1
Pages: 382
Publisher: Quirk Books; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, blends black-and-white photographs with a haunting dark fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman lives a relatively ordinary life. But when his senile grandfather, Abraham Portman, calls him frantically for help and raves madly about someone coming to find him, his mundane life is shattered. At the sight of his grandfather’s murder, he beholds a terrifying monster, but even more terrifying: only he can see it.

Seeking answers, Jacob convinces his parents to let him travel to a Welsh island with an abandoned orphanage that might hold the keys to his grandfather’s past and his future.

When Jacob visits the orphanage, which was destroyed by a World War II bomb, he encounters a girl who can hold flames and an invisible boy. Through them, he is drawn into the world of the Peculiars: a group of people with Peculiar abilities who can never age as long as they’re in their time loop.

But there are wonders and dangers in the Peculiar world. Tentacled creatures called hollowgast prey on Peculiars when they can and the wights–hollowgasts who’ve preyed on enough Peculiars to regain a semblance of human life–are planning something new.

Can Jacob embrace his own powers while protecting his newfound Peculiar friends?

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Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The novel, Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare follows the story of warlock, Tessa Gray in Victorian London.

Since receiving a ticket to London from her brother (Nathaniel Gray) Tessa has been taught how to magically Change into another person (and assume their identity) by the Dark Sisters. She did not know of her powers until recently and they frighten her. But the Dark Sisters plan to marry her to the mysterious Magister of the Pandemonium Club, a shadowy organization, frightens her.

After being locked in her room after attempting escape, two Shadowhunters: Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs save Tessa from marriage to the Magister by. Her rescue was not their original intent,  but related to their first purpose.

The Shadowhunters of the London Institute offer Tessa sanctuary and help to locate her brother. While Tessa stays with the Shadowhunters, she develops relationships with Charlotte Branwell, Will (William Herondale), Jem (James) Carstairs, and Jessamine and learns more about the Shadow World. As Tessa remains in the Shadow World, she soon realizes that her brother is entangled in many mysteries of the Shadow World and getting him back will not be easy.

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