Review of The Graces by Laure Eve

TheGracesThe Graces
By: Laure Eve
Release Date: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.

Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

My Thoughts:
Wow, this is going to be a difficult review to write because I’m not totally certain of how I feel about this book. Upon first starting it I got a very strong Twilight vibe- girl in new school enthralled with a family of beautiful, mysterious siblings that everyone admires and fears. It all felt a bit familiar but it was pretty clear from the start that the main character was no Bella.

Our MC had malicious intent…or so I felt from the start. I never once trusted her narrative or felt any semblance of positive regard for her. For some reason her thoughts and motivations seemed so ick to me. She seemed only out to befriend the Graces to help further her own self interests along. I typically prefer to enjoy and connect to the main character. I understand that not every book has this and I don’t count (or try not to) it against the book or my reading experience. But, I’ll admit, it does make the getting into the book a tad harder.

A little ways in though I became captivated by watching this train wreck of a book. I could feel things building up and I couldn’t imagine the outcome would be pretty. There were moments of friendship and lighthearted movie nights but always underneath I felt trepidation as to what was around the next page.

The further I read the more and more certain I became that there wouldn’t be a happy ending. I had some suspicions and was pretty pleased with myself that I called it all fairly accurately. This book was very readable to me and I had no problems breezing through it in a day. Though it was a fast read there were some sluggish moments and overall it was not a feel good read. I felt the book cast a pall over me- my mood somewhat changed and a bit clouded over.

I’ll give it to the author- her writing was obviously strong to be able to have an emotional impact on my mood. As far as the story went-things were not overly predictable and I felt that it moved at a steady pace though the very ending was a tad disappointing. I can’t go deeper into it due to spoilers but one character didn’t really get what, I thought, they deserved…but I think we’ll get more in the sequel.

TheGracesPic

Final Thoughts:
The Graces played on some typical young adult tropes but the author put her own original spin on things and I felt overall this was a unique read. I found it to be captivating though it wasn’t a feel good read and not one I’ll be rereading any time soon. The way things left off there will be a sequel and I will be curious as to how the story will continue.

Thank you Jon at Bookish Antics for the lovely conversation we had after I finished reading this one. That is one of my favorite aspects of reading a book- discussing it after with a friend.

Review of How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Math_9780553539479_jkt_all_r1.inddHow to Hang a Witch
By: Adriana Mather
Release Date: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Knopf/Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials.

Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.

My Thoughts:
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started reading this book. I didn’t notice at first the author’s last name and that she shared it with her main character. Upon realizing that I had to flip to the back and make sure there was an author’s note (which there was). Knowing that the author was a Mather herself really added credibility to the story for me.

This story takes place in Salem present day but the main character has ties to the past- and not in a very popular way. I was really impressed with how the author handled Sam’s disconnect to those around her and the progression of bullying she faced in the town and school. It was hard to read at times but really tied together the past with present and the importance of not standing by while others are mistreated. I found the message to be very powerful and enjoyed that aspect of the book a good amount.

The town of Salem as well as the history of the Witch Trials was really interesting. I loved the little historical tid-bits and found the descriptions to be very vivid and clear. The author obviously knows this time period and history well and she incorporated it very well into her storyline.

Where things went a bit off for me was the romance in the novel. I never really felt anything towards the two and yes…there’s a slight triangle. I’m really not sure if everyone would consider it that but the main character does sort of feel things for two different people View Spoiler » I felt that the main romantic element was rushed and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters.

Another thing that fell a bit flat to me was the big reveal. I felt it was pretty easy to predict and though it was dramatic I never really felt the tension I’d expect. I wasn’t all that invested in the secondary cast so I didn’t have the emotional attachment I’d have liked.

Final Thoughts:
Regardless of the issues I had with How to Hang a Witch I did find it to be an enjoyable read and well worth the time. I thought the author did an excellent job adding in historical details. I loved that the author has an actual past with her story and used that to help develop and write this book. I think that aspect really added to the book.

Review of Burning by Danielle Rollins

BurningBurning
By: Danielle Rollins
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

My Thoughts:
I’ve never seen Orange is the New Black so that aspect of the description comparison didn’t draw me in but the summary and promise of a creepy 10 year old did. Overall I thought this book was mostly entertaining but I did feel it wasn’t nearly as creepy as I expected and there really wasn’t a definitive conclusion.

I really enjoyed the start of this book- I felt the writing was strong and I loved getting to know the main cast of characters. Each felt like they had a great amount of depth and backstory. I found Angela a great main character and I enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. I liked that she was a well rounded character.

The setting was unique since the majority of the book took place in a juvenile detention center. I felt that the author did an excellent job transporting the reader to the cold and depressing halls of Brunesfield.

Once I started getting a grasp (about 100 pages in) of where the story was headed I have to admit I was a tad disappointed. I sort of wanted more from it? I’m not sure what I expected but the way things played out wasn’t what I was necesarly hoping for. All in all though I think, if there is a sequel, things played out fairly well. Honestly though I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to read a sequel just because I can tell the tone of the story would change drastically.

There was an unexpected romance in Burning that I wasn’t expecting. I actually liked these two together though I feel like their attraction was rushed. I’d have preferred for it to be more detailed and grow slower. I think the romance seems to imitate the book in how it progressed by it starting out wonderfully and the slow building up were great. But somewhere around 3/4ths in things started to feel rushed and it felt to me less care was given  to building depth.

I really enjoyed the care the author took with the secondary characters. I was really taken with Issie, Cara, and Jessica. I found myself worrying about their outcomes so I feel that was very successful.

Final Thoughts:
My expectations of the type of book Burning would be didn’t match completely with how this book ended up being. I found it to be far less creepy than I expected and the ending left something to be desired. I felt that some questions weren’t addressed and things didn’t feel nearly as tightly woven as they had in the beginning.

Review of Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

ThickerThanWaterThicker Than Water 
By: Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: December 29th 2015
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

My Rating:
star

Summary:
On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

My Thoughts:
Thicker Than Water was my first Kemmerer book to read- throughout my blogging career I have heard really wonderful things about her writing and books so I was so thrilled to receive a copy for review. This wouldn’t normally be something I’d pick up (that cover is not to my liking) but I was willing to give it a try due to all the positive things I’d heard.

This book started off very strong. The story was told in first person by two separate people- I love when books are set up this way because I feel we get to see things from several perspectives. This usually has me feeling more invested in the story and this book was no different. I formed an attachment early on to Thomas- this poor boy had been through so much so early and I could feel his sadness radiating from the pages. I was so sad for him and hated the way he was treated in this small town. It made me love Charlotte because she could look past the rumors and see (or try to see) who he really was- how brave of her to be able to look past society’s perception of him.

The chemistry between these characters was electric and kept me flipping the pages. I was eager to see who was actually responsible for the crime and see justice served. There was true suspense for the first section of the book and I was riveted…then things changed for me. I thoroughly thought this book was a mystery/contemporary but about 3/4 in things the tone and genre shifted. All of a sudden paranormal aspects started showing up. They felt abrupt and SO not in character for the book. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t expect it or if it really felt disjointed but it made the last section of the book feel completely different than the start. I was so disappointed (and confused) by this shift.

The ending felt contrived due to the shift in genre and things seemed to fall in place a bit too easy. I had expected something so much different- sure I didn’t see the twist coming but it wasn’t a feeling of ‘a-ha!’ it was more, ‘what book am I reading?’ Hopefully other readers won’t be pulled out of the story as badly as I was and can enjoy the strong writing and character chemistry- but for me, it lowered my over-all feel for the book a good amount.

Final Thoughts:
Thicker Than Water had a strong start for me- I felt the character chemistry, tension and suspense but the last section of the book threw me off and felt disjointed from the rest of the book. This was still an enjoyable read but it isn’t a favorite. I will want to check out more from Kemmerer because her character portrayals were done very well.

 Have you read Thicker Than Water? What did you think of the genre shift?

Review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

PassengercoverPassenger
By: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print arc
Source: Big Honcho Media

A copy of this book was given to me in consideration for review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

My Thoughts:
There has been a lot of excitement surrounding this book and there were aspects I really appreciated but overall, I wasn’t 100% in love with this one. I was lucky enough to get ahold of the corrected arc so this review will be for that version. I’m not sure if things will change or not for the final copy.

First let’s talk about what I really did enjoy about this book. First, the writing was well done and I think that Bracken did a great job in describing her setting, time periods and characters. I could easily visualize all the various locations which was really impressive. This was a time travel novel and the way that Bracken approached this aspect was really brilliant. I loved the passages to time periods she created. I thought that the rules she associated with travel made a lot of sense and didn’t bog down the story at all.

Though I was sad about it, I did like that the color of Nicholas’ skin was a factor in how comfortable or not he felt in different time periods and how he was treated. Reminders like this need to continue and I felt it was a very important message to readers.

One character in particular, Alice, Etta’s musical mentor and life long friend, was such an amazing character and she was really my favorite piece of the story. I felt she was well developed and added a lot of heart to the book.

Where things went a bit astray for me was at the beginning to middle of the book. I felt it was rather slow paced and I wasn’t able to connect. I think because there was a lot of world building to explain things were slower paced than I’d prefer. I never was able to really form an attachment to any of the characters (except Alice) or really feel much chemistry between them. This was a rather important element to the story and since I wasn’t fully invested it did negatively impact my reading experience.

Why didn’t I form an attachment? I’m really not sure. I wanted to, but it just wasn’t happening. The secondary characters, minus Alice, were fairly weak and I really didn’t get much of a lasting impression of them. I never feared for Etta’s mother which took away a sense of urgency that would have helped the pacing for me.

As for the main character’s romantic relationship it didn’t move me like I wanted it to. I never really felt much between them and it felt a tad insta-love? I never got a sense for why they felt the way they did. Maybe, things were rushed between them? I’m not sure but it didn’t work for me (even though I really, really wanted it to). I was starting to appreciate them a tad more towards the end of the book and I’m hoping that if I read the next in the series I’ll form a deeper attachment.

Final Thoughts:
I think for Passenger, the hype I created,  the eagerness, and longing I had to read this book might have set up an unfair disadvantage for the story. I had so many expectations (so not fair, I know) about how much I’d love every moment I did feel a bit disappointed that I couldn’t really form a connection in the first half of the book.

I ended up setting it aside for a week or so midway. When I picked it back up I did enjoy it more and felt that the ending really left things open and (cliff hanger!) made me more eager to read the next book.

I’m curious have you read Passenger yet? If so what did you think.

Also, if you are really eager to read this book I do have a giveaway running for a finished copy.