Review of Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

SuspicionSuspicion
By: Alexandra Monir
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Goldberg McDuffie Communications

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

My Rating:
star

Summary:
“There’s something hidden in the maze.”

Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.

For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.

Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.

My Thoughts:
I have always loved Hitchcock’s 1940’s version of Rebecca. It had me at the edge of my seat and had such a great atmosphere and wonderful suspense. I’ve yet to read the book the movie was based on but it’s on that TBR wish-list I hope t0 get to. Anytime I see a YA that teases a ‘Rebecca feel’ I get really excited but thus far, none have been successful.

I had fairly high hopes for Suspicion though I saw some pretty meh early reviews. When I started reading I was surprised with how easily I was absorbed into the writing and story. I felt that I might just be the black sheep and come out loving this book. Or at least liking it more than others had.

This positive push lasted until midway through the novel. Once Imogen arrives at Rockford Manor I started to become bored. The entire pacing of the book slowed down though there was possibly more action and I believe it was trying to be creepy. Things were thrown in that I’m sure were supposed to have the reader feeling disturbed/creeped out or generally ill at ease but none of this happened for me. I didn’t really feel much of anything. The characters lost any semblance of personality and I had zero interest in the relationship between Imogen and Sebastian. Honestly, I didn’t care about any of the characters or feel that I cared about their outcome. This was such a disappointment since I felt the book started out pretty well.

As I kept reading things went more and more downhill. I will admit, I was tempted to DNF but there was something that kept me reading to the end. And ugh, that end. Let me just say–it was weak. Really, really weak. I felt the twist wasn’t all that twisty and I wasn’t blown away, riveted or feeling anything positive.

Suspicion had a supernatural twist that I felt was unexplored to the point that it could have been left out and not changed the course of the book that much. I wish Monir could have taken it deeper and darker. Sure, the author did give a tiny bit of back story and show a few instances of the power but it felt far too simplified for my taste. For me, when a characters source of information is derived from mysterious papers found or research in a book it needs to be handled with care and done extremely well. If not, it feels too convenient and like an easy (and not overly creative) way of moving the plot along.

Final Thoughts:
I felt that Suspicion had a strong start with immersive writing and plot but as the story progressed it lost its grip on me. The second half of the book felt disjointed, slow and any connection to the characters slipped away. Sadly, I can’t recommend this one.

Review of Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

NowThatYoureHereNow That You’re Here
By: Amy K. Nichols
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Gifted by a friend

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.

One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

My Thoughts:
I first heard of Now That You’re Here recommended in a tweet from an author I adore. I immediately added this to my wish-list and sought how to get my hands on an arc. I loved the cover and summary and overall I found it to be an entertaining read though it lacked that extra little something that makes a book amazing.

I seem to have this problem with alternate universe books-I always want to love them but for some reason I can’t think of a single one that worked 100% for me. I honestly think it might be me as the problem rather than the books.

To this book specifically I found it to be a fast read though I didn’t really get behind the romance or the characters as well as I would have liked. Eevee, our main character, was likeable but I didn’t connect deeply with her. I did enjoy her parent’s strange living arrangement and thought that this added a very unique element to her character’s background. I also loved that Eevee was obsessed with fractals:

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I had a blast searching fractals and spending far too long staring at beautiful images. Back to Eevee-I loved that she had a hobby that she kept to herself and it was just another way for Nichols to add a layer of depth to her character. She did tend to fall into a typical ‘nerd’ stereotype as did her best friend, Warren.

I did appreciate that Nichols provided a relationship between the main character and her best friend. It is far too often I’ve read a book where the best friend seems like no friend at all. I was happy to see that though Warren and Eevee had their differences there was an underlining affection and understanding between the two of them.

This book does flip between two point of views, Eevee and Danny, the boy from the alternate universe. I think if Danny’s point of view wasn’t provided the story would have been far too confusing so I was happy to get insight into his thoughts. Danny was my favorite character in Now That You’re Here and I tended to enjoy his chapters the most. I liked watching him learn and cope with being flung into a world so similar to his own but different in some of the most important ways.

The romance was sweet though it didn’t have me swooning and it did take over the majority of the plot. We watch from both point of views as the two begin to fall for each other. If you like your science fiction with a hearty helping of cute romance then you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

I was most intrigued with the dimension Danny was from. Since it had a big brother vibe I wanted to read much more about why his world was the way it was. I imagine this will be explored in later books.

Final Thoughts:
Now That You’re Here was a cute alternate universe book that was nicely paced with likeable characters. Though it had these things going for it I still lacked a deep connection to the characters or their outcome and the book felt like it was missing that certain something that pushes a book into being wonderful. Sadly, I’ve been having a pretty bleh streak with alternate universe books this last year so it could have been a case of it’s me and not the book.

Review of Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

PrincessofThornsPrincess of Thorns
By: Stacey Jay
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publilsher via NetGalley

An electronic copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

The Story:
Princess of Thorns was the second book of Stacey Jay’s that I’ve read. I adored her retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Of Beast and Beauty and was so excited to see she was taking on Sleeping Beauty.

I expected this to be a retelling but in actuality it was more of an expansion to Sleeping Beauty. The main character, Aurora, was Sleeping Beauty’s daughter. The story was the slightest bit confusing in the prologue and first chapter just because I was wrapping my mind around the world and players. Once the story got started I was hooked and wanted nothing more than to read this book (why must I do other things when all I want to do is read??).

I absolutely love the girl disguised as a boy trope. I never get tired of this particular plot device and when it’s done right, which it is here, it’s so much fun to read. I loved the way Jay utilized it and made it work with her story beautifully. I felt that it was never obvious that Aurora was a girl dressed as a boy and was fully believable.

The adventure side of this story was fast paced and kept me riveted. I loved the action scenes and could easily visualize the fighting scenes. There was a good amount of adventuring which felt pretty typical to the fantasy genre but of course the writing made it fun and never boring.

Many aspects of Princess of Thorns have been done before- girl dressed as boy, curses, miscommunication and a kiss stealing the will of another person-regardless Jay was still able to give this book it’s own heart and mesh these together to create a story that I adored (even with my reading a ton of fantasy and seeing these things used often).

Have I mentioned I enjoyed this book?

It was such a pleasure to read and was perfect for what I needed right now. I wanted a fast paced, absorbing book that had heart and the sense of adventure. Jay gave me all of this plus a couple I could ship.

The Characters:
I loved, loved the characters in this book. Aurora was badass and perfect as the ‘boy’ Ror but also as the Princess out to avenge her family and save her brother. She was a true heroine ready to sacrifice to save others. I loved her struggle with the line between deception and truth and how much of herself to give. She was a well developed, likeable character that I immediately rooted for.

Niklaas was such a great addition to Aurora/Ror’s quest. I adored their banter and felt their connection early on. I loved his witty dialog and cocky attitude. He was so much fun to read and felt incredibly fleshed out to me. I also appreciated that he wasn’t just a side character there to help Ror on her quest, he was on his own adventure with very high stakes.

The villains of the story, the ogres, were wonderfully done as well. I loved that Jay gave them a mythology and appearance that stood them apart from other things I’ve read. They ate the souls of people and marked their bodies with symbols representing the souls they’d devoured. I loved this tidbit and would love to see more about them in a future book.

Final Thoughts:
Princess of Thorns was a wonderful expansion to Sleeping Beauty that kept me riveted to the page (or my phone in this case). I loved the characters and story and want more from this world (hoping for a novella or additional book).

Giveaway:

I’ve got an international Twitter giveaway going for a pre-order of Princess of Thorns.