Series: Gabrielle Giovanni Mystery #1
Published by Witness Impulse on July 29th, 2014
Nominated for a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, was inspired by Belcamino's dealings on the crime beat with a serial killer.
To catch a killer, one reporter must risk it all ...
San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat, flitting in and out of other people's nightmares, yet walking away unscathed. When a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, her quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper, Jack Dean Johnson, who reels her in with promises to reveal his exploits as a serial killer. But Gabriella's passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper may have ties to her own dark past: her sister's murder.
Risking her life, her job, and everything she holds dear, Gabriella embarks on a quest to find answers and stop a deranged murderer before he strikes again.
Perfect for fans of Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series!
This was the second book I started this year and I was so excited about it. I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn in 2015 and it gave me a taste for adult thrillers and mysteries and, while I knew it wasn’t going to be the same or even similar, I was just excited to be reading in the genre again. However, nothing panned out for me and I read about a third of this before putting it down.
Simply put: I cannot deal with instalove. I could deal with the cheesiness of the whole thing and the over-the-top way the MC’s Italian heritage was slammed down my throat over and over again (something I was initially happy with because hey, me too! But Jesus Christ, one can only stomach so many shots of limoncello.) But what I could not stand was how fast and hard Gabrielle fell for the love interest. One page she would be going and on about how unlucky in love she was and how hard it was for her to connect to someone, and the very next page, after meeting this guy three days ago (!!!) she was saying how perfect he was for her. I can’t deal with it in YA and I reallly can’t deal with it in grown adults.
Sadly, the mystery was not pressing or urgent enough for me to push through the lackluster (and not even steamy) romance bits.
This Song is (Not) for You Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th, 2016
Bandmate, best friend or boyfriend? For Ramona, one choice could mean losing them all.
Ramona and Sam are best friends. She fell for him the moment they met, but their friendship is just too important for her to mess up. Sam loves April, but he would never expect her to feel the same way--she's too quirky and cool for someone like him. Together, they have a band, and put all of their feelings for each other into music.
Then Ramona and Sam meet Tom. He's their band's missing piece, and before Ramona knows it, she's falling for him. But she hasn't fallen out of love with Sam either.
How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?
This is not my normal kind of book, and I knew that going in, but I wanted to give it a shot because I absolutely adored Nowlin’s debut, If He Had Been With Me. It was just beautifully done and showed a vivid, accurate portrayal of seasonal depression. So knowing how the author’s work affected me, I shoved all my misgivings out the door and jumped into this one head first.
Basically this book is about three insufferable music snobs, and I just hate that kind of character more than anything. I can’t stand people in real life who think they’re better than you because they know about music, or they heard of a band, a television show, WHATEVER, before you did. And now we have three POVs and they’re all going to be like this. And one of the POV characters was the most insufferable ass I’ve ever seen. After going on and on about how he “glitter bombs” public places so people can appreciate glitter more (side note: wtf) he then went on to assume that one of the other characters, a girl, was not actually interested in music but was instead there as someone’s supportive girlfriend. Puke.
I wanted more of this because of the asexual representation but nope. Nope.
Sanctuary Bay Published by St. Martin's Press on January 19th, 2016
In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?
When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.
In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.
This all came down to the main character just being a jerk to everyone, honestly. She was a foster kid and lived in poverty for a good amount of her life and, understandably, that has her a bit bitter when she meets her new, super-rich classmates when she goes to the elite boarding school, Sanctuary Bay. She makes rude assumptions about everyone she meets right away, even after being proven wrong. She is very judgmental and I couldn’t get past it.
The writing was also very juvenile and I didn’t believe in any of the characters, especially Sarah. She had a hard life growing up, and the book made it a point to show how that made her grow up faster. Except she read as a fourteen year old.
Also, one can only read so many descriptions of ratty underwear before you lose your mind.
Finally, the main character was biracial and spent a lot of time going on about her unmanageable hair and her looks and how she didn’t fit in anywhere. There are plenty of examples where these insecurities are written well, especially in Own Voices books, but this was written by two white women and it came off kind of gross to me.
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Published by Harper Teen on February 2nd, 2016
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.
With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.
Oh my god, where do I even start with this one. I was SO disappointed and it’s definitely the worst book I’ve “read” so far this year.
The world-building was absolutely nonsensical. There are assassin “families,” nine of them to be exact, who are in the business of lawful killing. They apparently serve some goddess (think His Fair Assassin but making absolutely no sense) and because of that, what they did was okay. But they didn’t get their marks from the god, they got contracts from normal people. So this didn’t make any sense. Their killings are sanctioned and totally fine, but they still have to hide and lurk around and pretend to be different people. Again, makes no sense.
I had a friend of mine spoil the rest of the book because I couldn’t read it any further and it just gets worse. The MC cares more about random boys than she does her dead family members, which is one of my BIGGEST issues when it comes to SFF YA in general, and something YA has been moving away from.
Basically, the whole thing was a really corny version of His Fair Assassin mixed with some Assassin’s Blade fan fiction and I am not a fan.
Little White Lies Published by Soho Teen on February 9th, 2016
Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White's Tumblr, Little White Lies--a witty commentary on race and current events, as well as an exposé of her brilliant-yet-clueless parents--has just gone viral. She's got hundreds of thousands of followers; she's even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a confession: she hasn't been writing her
own posts. Overwhelmed with the stress of keeping up with her schoolwork and applying for colleges, she has secretly hired a forty-one-year-old ghostwriter named Karl Ristoff to help her with the Tumblr. His contributions have helped make it a sensation, but unable to bear the guilt, Coretta eventually confesses the scandalous truth to a select
few to free herself of the burden.
The fallout is almost instantaneous. Before she knows it, her reputation has been destroyed. The media deal disappears. Even her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a precipitous fall himself. Ultimately, the two join forces to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives . . . someone who might even have had the power to fuel their success in the first place. And to exact justice and a clever revenge, they must truly come clean to each other.
You know when you read YA book filled with “teen speak” and it’s just so glaringly obvious that it was written by adults who are very, very out of touch? This book had that. I cringed through the entire portion of what I was reading. None of it felt realistic at all, from the way the characters spoke, to the plot itself.
Basically the whole thing surrounds the MC’s tumblr that takes off and goes viral after one post. A blog that had no followers in the morning and didn’t even use any tags to find an audience, and ended up with over 7,000 followers that afternoon. All because of a few paragraphs about Kanye West. Now, I don’t know about you, but this just didn’t fit into the real world as I see it. There’s no real science to how things go viral, I know, but it didn’t make sense to me. The dialogue was cringe-worthy and there was even a scene with the basketball team walking down the hall, cheerleaders hanging all over them.
I can’t, you guys.
Did I Mention I Love You? Series: DIMLY #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 1st, 2015
Love is everything but expected.
Eden Munro came to California for a summer of sun, sand, and celebrities—what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers: a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmom, and three stepbrothers.
Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother, Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He has angry green eyes and an ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pulls her into their world of rule-breaking, partying, and pier-hanging.
And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t love…
I barely made any headway through this before I put it down because it was just impossible. This book was way, way too long. I can’t believe how many pages were spent just leaving the airport!
The main character was just awful. Her tone was acidic and snippy for no reason and she was such a snob, in the weirdest way. And the way she went on and on about how epic and amazing her summer in Hollywood was going to be was just over the top. The way the setting was described, like “I always thought [palm trees] were a myth” felt ridiculous and very obvious that the author had never stepped foot in the area before writing about it. (Not that I think it’s required, but also you should do more research beyond what you see in the movies.)
Finally, the writing was clunky and at times too vague to even understand what the MC was even trying to say, and at 400 pages, I couldn’t imagine reading one more word.
The Scorpion Rules Series: The Scorpion Rules #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 22nd, 2015
Genres: science fiction
The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?
Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.
Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.
As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.
This book was just too weird for me. I was interested in it mostly because I heard there was an f/f romance, but honestly, I didn’t make it far enough to see it. And I so desperately wanted to.
The biggest issue I had was the writing. The tone was just so weird. The writing almost felt like Very Serious Fantasy, which didn’t at all match the story or the setting. Even weirder were the Utterances – basically a holy text filled with all these quotes from Talis, the AI that keeps humans in line. While the regular narrative was strangely formal, these “utterances” were strangely informal, even using words like ‘whatever.’ None of it flowed well, in my opinion, and it was just so hard to wrap my head around. The tone didn’t match the story.
I had a hard time getting to know the characters, even the main character, which is ridiculous since it was written in first person. I couldn’t grasp the world at all, especially the hostage situation the kids were in. What happened if the kid was killed? Then there would be no heir. What if the parents were too old to have more children? It just didn’t make sense to me at all. Maybe it was just me, but it all felt too vague for me to really get a handle on.
There you have it! One thing I wanted to work on this year was tracking my DNFs, since I abandon a ton of books. Have you read any of these? Do you think they’re worth a second chance?