JJ Reads


Revived - Cat Patrick It was so good. Review to be posted soon.


Clockwise - Elle Strauss Ahh time travel. That thing we all wish we could do sometimes, turn back time, and undo those mistakes we've done. In Clockwise, the main character Casey, is able to time travel and manages to take with her whoever happens to be touching her at the time. Casey discovered she had this ability at nine years old when she was first transported to 1860. Casey doesn't just time travel and stays stuck in time, she actually gets to live in that time and maintain two different time-lines, switching back and forth and with time practically stopping and waiting for her from one timeline to the other. Basically Casey gets to live both in the past and the present.

In present time, Casey meets Nate, who is new at her school. He happens to time travel with Casey while they are dancing, by accident, because he happened to be touching her. He gets to spend time with Casey back in the 1800's and pretend he and Casey are family, brother and sister in fact, since she already has a life there and people she has developed relationships with. As they spend more time together, Casey and Nate's relationship takes on a more romantic role, but will things stay the same way once they go back to the present?

What I liked the most about this story is how real the characters were. Okay, so it's a story about time travel, which is as far from real as you can get, but still you felt that the characters' personalities were real and true to the situation they were facing at the time. I definitely recommend this book who anyone who is a science fiction fan, a fan of historical fiction, or even just a fan of a cute love story between two young people. It is a very fast read with a very interesting plot and down-to-earth characters. 4 stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Selection

The Selection - Kiera Cass Considered a YA novel that could be the child of The Hunger Games and The Bachelor, I found The Selection to be quite an enjoyable and fast read with a very provocative concept. Who doesn't like to read about a bunch of girls who get chosen to compete for the chance to become a Prince's wife? We all saw how fascinated most people are with royalty and their personal lives as the whole world stopped to watch the real Royal Wedding last year. Kiera Cass, you sly girl you, you picked the one subject you knew we couldn't stay away from. Royal obsessions aside, Kiera Cass has truly managed to create an engaging fascinating love story, love triangle more like it, where she marries the concepts of a dystopia with a fairy tale.

America Singer, is a actually a "singer" in a society where everyone belongs to a caste or social class determined way before your were born by whatever status your ancestors had. There are eight castes and America is a five, which means she and her family are artists, struggling ones at that, who struggle to make ends meet, but manage to get a few performing gigs a year to at least not starve to death. The ones are the richest class, besides royalty, and the eights are pretty much the homeless castaways. Everyone is identified by their order in this very unusual social structure. If you were a five, you were considered a whole class above a six, which could mean a world of difference. America is torn because she is in love with Aspen, her next door neighbor who happens to be a six, a whole class below her, and a forbidden love in the eyes of this very rigid society. America and Aspen's relationship is a rocky one, as they struggle to keep it a secret while Aspen holds an inner conflict with the fact that if he marries America, she would be downgraded to six, and definitely fall upon harder times still than what she goes through now as a five. In Aspen's eyes, he is not good for her.

A call has gone out to all eligible young ladies of the country of Illea (the new name for what once used to be the U.S.A.) to sign up for "The Selection". A competition where 35 women are taken to the palace to live like queens and spend time with the prince, while the prince weeds them out and chooses one of them to be his bride, and the future queen. As expected, in a country with so much turmoil and social struggles, almost every girl signs up, including America, as a favor to Aspen and her mother, who begged her to. To America's surprise, shortly after Aspen breaks up with her due to his feelings of inadequacy and America is chosen as one of the selected. America goes to live in the palace, pretty much as an excuse to get away from Aspen and forget him, but as she spends time there and gets to know the kind of person Prince Maxon is, she slowly finds that her feelings towards him might be changing for the better.

I really enjoyed this book so much. I felt like I was watching a reality show competition where I was pulling so hard for my favorite girl, America of course, to win it all. It was so much fun. The only disappointing thing I found about this book was the fact that the end left me hanging and I wanted so bad to continue the second one in the series right then and there. This is definitely a must-read and in my pile of best reads of this year so far. 4 stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman I went into this book feeling a little nervous, partly because after reading some reviews my expectations were perhaps a bit too high and partly because because after reading some other reviews my expectations were equally low. I just didn't know what to expect and that's a big doubt to get over when you're about to start a book that's almost 450 pages long in a genre where books are normally at least 100 pages smaller. Because I don't want to write the type of review that will give away more than necessary or leave you hanging, I will be necessarily vague with some of the things I say.

First impressions: From the very beginning of the book, you are sucked into this mystery. From the first sentence, you are told about "the blood", and how that's how the story should start. You know as soon as you pick up the book, that it will be intense and bloody, but you do not realize how many twists and turns the story will take you into.

I fell in love with the main character, Nora, and how strong she had to become to endure everything that was happening around her. All the uncertainty, the backstabbing, the fanaticism. Nora just didn't know who to trust most of the time. Everyone was a suspect in this messed up situation she was thrust into. Imagine being assigned to study and translate a book that will unsuspectingly bring about a chain of events that will make you question everything you have ever believed. This was Nora's new world.

The worldbuilding was amazingly done. Being taken from the U.S. to Europe, from France to Germany to Prague. The language, the buildings, the people, all described in a way that you felt you were there. I felt creeped out whenever the MC or any of her friends would set foot on any part of this city. I imagined a beautiful, yet dark and mysterious place, where hooded men lurked behind the shadows waiting to make their move. More fascinating still, was the way each of the characters felt so alive to me, like people I know, or rather wouldn't want to know if my life depended on it. I'd be afraid to get to know and love a character so much that then it would hurt to much to let them go, because they'd reveal themselves as a spy or a traitor.

Lasting impressions: This book has earned itself a reputation of being the YA "Davinci Code", and rightly so. There's mystery, murder, a mysterious book in a dead language that needed translation, 400+ year old letters with clues, and a puzzle that needed to be put together. All of this tied to various religious beliefs and what some will do to protect them, at all costs. I think this book was brilliantly written. It's the type of fiction that makes you wonder "well what if it's not, what if there's some truth to it". It's definitely a book that has earned 5 stars in my rating system, for capturing my attention and never letting go, and for keeping me on my toes every second I was reading it.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Here: On the Otherside Series, Book One

Here - Denise Grover Swank This book was such a nice surprise. Not only was it a great freaky thriller (just the way I like them), but that it surprised me somewhere along the middle by totally giving out this dystopian vibe that I so enjoy. There is a love triangle, mystery, drama, romance, world-building, and everything you can possibly ask for in a good book. Denise Grover Swank hit it out of the park with this one, in my opinion.

The main character, Julia Phillips, is complicated, disturbed, and with a serious case of guilt and self-destructive tendencies. Ever since the car accident that took her best friend Monica's life, Julia has become withdrawn and has shut everyone out of her life. Drowning in self-pity and guilt, Julia's life is spinning out of control as everyone around her reacts to her new self-deprecating attitude and causes tension. This tension is so strong that it is making things even worse for Julia, because now even those who love her are fighting and arguing over how to best help her. Julia's depression has been attributed to the trauma of the accident and losing her best friend, but a bracelet somehow appeared on her wrist at the scene of the accident, engraved with Julia's name, and causing even stranger things to happen to Julia, including dreams of the accident and abilities to show that she never had before.

Even at school she's getting attention that she never had before, from boys she never dreamed would even look at her. Evan Whittaker volunteers to be Julia's tutor, to help her get out of the hole she has gotten herself into by failing her classes. Evan is popular and good looking and completely ignored Julia , that is until the accident and the events that followed. Now all of a sudden Evan is obsessed with her, wanting to help her out of her depression. He does exactly that, help Julia, but Julia can't shake the feeling that Evan is hiding something important from her.

I enjoyed this book so much that I can't wait to read the next book in the series. The dystopian elements came out of nowhere but that pleased me more than anything, probably because I enjoy dystopias so much. I loved the characters as well. I felt that Julia had a lot of issues to work through and she was so broken that I felt like picking her up myself and try to make it all better. I felt her hurt, her pain, and I wanted to make it stop. I give this book 4 stars. Denise Grover Swank nailed this supernatural thriller with a twist. Read it and thank me later in the comments.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Girl in the Park

The Girl in the Park - Mariah Fredericks Rain is the shy girl in school, the one who only talks when absolutely necessary and who is very good at disappearing into the background. She was born with Cleft Palette and although she has had corrective surgery done and taken speech therapy, years later she still feels like the odd one out, the one all the other kids point at and make fun of because of the way she talks. So, to cope she has perfected the art of not getting noticed. Only one person made her feel like she wasn't such a freak, her once best friend Wendy Geller. Wendy saw her like she was something special, something she wanted to be.

Wendy was a party girl, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who ended up in a private school, the one Rain attended, where most of the kids there were the sons and daughters of someone famous and definitely rich. Wendy was one of the few exceptions and as an exception she was also seen as a plague. The trailer trash girl who wanted to fit in so badly, she spent tons of time her first year trying to be accepted into the popular group. One girl noticed that she was trying too hard and brought that to her attention. That girl was Rain.

Rain and Wendy's friendship grew for a while but eventually drifted apart. Wendy's obsession with being part of the in-crowd and the anger she felt when she was cast away, turned her into the boyfriend-stealing slut of the school, so to say. Wendy found the perfect way to get back at the snooty girls in school. You don't say hi back, I steal your boyfriend. It was that plain and simple in Wendy's eyes. Not so for Rain, who really wanted Wendy for once to have her own boyfriend, and not someone else's. Wendy eventually becomes fixated in getting this one guy Nico Phelps, also taken, and posts a video on Facebook promising the guy that she was going to get him. This public challenge became the talk of the school. The day of the party Rain and Wendy have a brief talk right before Nico shows up with his girlfriend. Not wanting to be around for the scandal that was about to get unleashed, Rain heads home and calls it a night. The next day the headlines are all over the place "Wendy Phelps, found dead in Central Park", but who killed Wendy? Was it Nico because she wouldn't leave him alone? Was it Nico's girlfriend? Or was it one of the many girls that Wendy crossed by getting with their boyfriends?

As a contemporary mystery, this book was enjoyable. I felt at times that the pace of the book was slow and it did take me a while to get into it. I felt that there were holes with the way the police investigation was presented. How in the world could a key piece of evidence be confused for something else? Doesn't the police take proper pictures and documentation? I also felt that these so called investigators were hardly doing any "investigating" and Rain was the one doing all the work. It just didn't feel believable to me. Plot issues aside, I felt that the story was very heart warming, although I felt a stronger connection to the girl that died, Wendy, than the main character who is narrating the story. This I think is because Rain constantly flashes back to memories of the days she and Wendy were closer friends and I felt that Wendy, with all her flaws, was still a good loyal friend to Rain. I did feel bad for Rain when the other students were mean to her, pretending they couldn't understand what she said, just to make her feel more inadequate. I was a bit disappointed that there was no romance in the book, since Rain does have a crush on someone but the romance never really develops.

All things considered, I did enjoy this book quite a bit, even if it frustrated me at times. I would give this book 3 stars. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea as they say, but it could definitely be yours. The book was well and clearly written and the story is one that breaks your heart. I did get teary-eyed at the end when Rain reminisces and talks about how what happened to Wendy changed her life as well, move me it did.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Brightest Kind of Darkness (Brightest Kind of Darkness, #1)

Brightest Kind of Darkness (Brightest Kind of Darkness, #1) - P.T. Michelle,  Patrice Michelle Can you imagine dreaming everything that will happen tomorrow, tonight? That is exactly what the main character, Nara, goes through on a daily basis. Part blessing and part curse, Nara gets to relive every moment of her dreams the next day. This proves to be especially helpful when it comes to those pesky pop quizes, figuring out which direction the opposite team will kick the ball, or to avoid unpleasant situations. Knowing exactly what's going to happen, Nara has become a sort of expert at avoidance, having learned her lesson early on that trying to change the outcome of her dreams, can have not so pleasant consequences.

One night Nara dreams of a bomb going off in her school, hidden in a locker and placed there by a disgruntled classmate. Unable to just let it be, Nara calls the cops and anonymously reports a bomb threat and thus saving many of her classmates' lives. Because of the gravity of the situation, Nara broke her own rule not messing with Fate. Problem is that since stopping the bomb incident, Nara notices that many of her classmates that would have gotten hurt had the bomb gone off, are still getting hurt in other ways. Almost as if Fate is trying to even the score. Nara continues to intervene and stop Fate from hurting her friends, but she quickly discovers she is way in over her head.

One of these classmates she saves is the mysterious Ethan. Nara and Ethan become very close, and feelings as more than friends develop between these two. I felt that the romance bloomed at just the right speed. Not too fast, not too slow. Ethan is the kid with the bad rep at school because he got into fights in his last school and ran into trouble with the police, yet Nara feels that there's something special about Ethan and she wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. I loved the way these two characters fed off each other, each giving the other the strength the other one lacks. You see, Ethan has a special ability of his own, that changes the way Nara's own ability works. The combination of these supernatural elements, together with the "Final Destination"-like plot made for a read I wanted to do in just one sitting, because I just had to know what was going to happen next. The similarities of this book to the "Final Destination" movies definitely didn't take away from the originality of its characters or the story as a whole. I give this book 4 stars. Highly entertaining to those of those who enjoy the paranormal with a good amount of romance mixed in.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)


Altered - Aubrey Coletti Altered is the type of book that will have you in suspense the whole time. The complexity of the plot and the characters contributes to this element of anxiety and thrill. The story centers around a group of teenagers new to a boarding school, the likes of which would probably give you the creeps, Bates Motel style. This is the sort of school you would send a troubled teen to, when you didn't want to deal with him or her. This sort of school would also be known as a reform school, where they specialize in "behavior modification". These behavior modification tactic were highly abusive and questionable, bordering on murderous. The characters in this story are not aware of the type of school they are being sent to, willingly going in thinking this would be a fresh start, and with no idea of what actually awaited them.

I can't even begin to describe the despair I felt for these kids, being punished in such ways that would make your skin crawl. Although you got the feeling that these kids were not in their right minds, and definitely needed professional help, you couldn't help but be angry at their parents and wanting to stop all that madness somehow. I was also very taken aback when the age of the characters is mentioned, very young, too young, to be put through that kind of torture (although there is no right age for torture is there?). The characters quickly get caught in this hell where punishment was a given for the smallest of mistakes. They find their strength and begin to plot a way to escape the school, working together, or so they thought, until they are betrayed and their loyalties tested.

The book doesn't disappoint being fast-paced and full of twists and turns. I found myself caught off guard many times. Just when I would start to think that something positive would happen to these poor kids, something else would come along to ruin it. I loved how each character had their own voice, their own distinct personalities, very true to the way a young person would act and think. Aubrey did a great job of capturing that mind-frame of the anger of a teenager under attack and uniting to defeat a common enemy. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely read the upcoming books in this series.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

After the Snow

After the Snow - S.D. Crockett I tried to get into this book, I really did, but I just couldn't get past the slow-moving plot, the obviously unstable main character, and the strange dialect. I'm going to have to DNF this one unfortunately (this is only my 2nd DNF) and move on. Since it's a DNF I will not be posting a review on my blog.


Slide - Jill Hathaway Part contemporary, part mystery, Slide introduces a concept I haven't read about before. What if you could invade someone's mind and see the world through that person's eyes, even if just for a little while? And what if this invasion meant that you would completely leave your body, leaving it unconscious and defenseless, all that while? Sylvia Bell ("Vee") can. She unwillingly slides in and out of people's minds, whenever she touches something that the person she ends up sliding into, has imprinted on, or was important to that person.

It happens to her with books, which is why she always purchases new books. It also happens to her with money, clothes, pretty much any object that has previously been touched. People at Vee's school have labeled her as a Narcoleptic, because that's the condition she was diagnosed with, but no one knows what really happens to Vee when she drops unconscious in the middle of class or in the hallways. Most of the time, Vee can see it coming, and sometimes, she is able to safely make it to her bed, or a bathroom stall, in order to not physically get herself hurt. But this is not always, and Vee regularly ends up with bumps on her head from the sudden falls. She cannot control when she slides, or who she might slide into, which makes for a very OCD way of living life, trying to avoid anything someone else has touched.

During her slides she sees things she does not want to see, like her school principal sneaking in alcohol, a student-teacher affair, or a plot to humiliate another student. Nothing could prepare her though for the time she slid into the mind of a killer, right after the murder, make to look like suicide, of her sister's best friend. This knowledge eats away at Vee, knowing that this girl was murdered, while everyone else thinks it was a suicide. She decides to be proactive and use her sliding abilities to find out who the killer is, but what awaits her is a whole world of hurt and unexpected revelations.

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I really liked Vee's character and felt her frustrations with not being able to be in control of her own body. I also liked her dad, because being a working mother myself, I understand what a challenge it is like to try to have a career and take care of your kids at the same time. More so, I loved Rollins' character, Vee's best friend in the world. I wish I had that make friend in high school who had stuck up for me when I needed it or not hesitated to punch an inappropriate jerk in the face for me. 4 stars for this book (in a Z formation).

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Mayfair Moon (The Darkwoods Trilogy, #1)

The Mayfair Moon (The Darkwoods Trilogy, #1) - J.A. Redmerski It's been a while since I've read a book about werewolves, so this book was a welcomed change. Quite entertaining and with plenty of action, J.A. Redmerski introduces us to a world where the war is between the werewolves themselves, without any interference from other supernatural beings. Two teenage sisters who are very close, Adria and Alexandra (Alex), live with their mother and their abusive step-father. One day, while seeking a break from the fighting going on at home, the two sisters head out to the park and stay there until after the sun sets. While on their way back home, they come across two werewolves fighting, and are unwillingly caught in the middle of it. They both suffer injuries from basically being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Alex, the older sister, bore the brunt of the beating while trying to protect her little sister. Because the neighbors were already suspicious of what was going on in the girls' home and them coming home so obviously beat up, coupled with the fact that they missed a few days of school to recover, Child Protective Services got involved. The girls were sent away to live with their uncle and his wife in Maine.

Once in Maine, Alex becomes very detached and cold, hardly ever leaving her room and even becoming verbally abusive. Adria, while also in shock from the experience they had back at home in Georgia, is handling things better and is grateful to her uncle and wife for taking them in and giving them a loving home. Adria can't understand why Alex is behaving this way, so not like the way she used to be, and is worried about what is going on in Alex's head. One night Adria follows Alex as she takes off into the woods and joins a gang of werewolves. This event unleashes a series of confrontations, threats and fights, because another family of werewolves, the Mayfairs, take Adria into their protection from her own sister and the Vargas family. The battle between the two were-families, the Mayfairs and the Vargas, ensues.

Usually, when I come across a book with werewolves, there's almost always another type of being (vampires, fae, etc.), but this book was just about werewolves and the role they play right under humans' noses. I found that very interesting. I also liked the main character, Adria, a lot. I'm always a fan of strong female characters who take matters into their own hands. The writing flowed and Adria's POV was down to earth, like the girl next door would tell a story. I did wish that the romance between Adria and Isaac had been better developed in the beginning. It seemed like they skirted around the issue of being attracted to each other for a while, but then suddenly, they were together. Not exactly insta-love, but I would have liked a little more pursuit before jumping into a relationship. That's just a personal choice though. Overall this was a great book. It leaves you with a cliffhanger, so I'm looking forward to the sequel. 3 Stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)


Enchanted - Alethea Kontis Enchanted is a fairytale retelling of several fairytales we know from childhood all rolled into one. Seven daughters and three sons. Each daughter named after a name of the week in the order that they were born, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sunday is the seventh daughter, daughter of Seven, as her mother is also a seventh daughter and names in succession by number. This makes Sunday a seventh daugher of a seventh daughter, which makes a very powerful combination if you have fey blood in you.

The story centers mainly around Sunday, who has a knack for writing stories. Only problem is that when Sunday writes things that haven't happened, they usually come true, only not exactly the way she pictures it. To avoid complications, Sunday sticks to writing things that have already happened, since the past is past and cannot change. One day Sunday runs into a frog who speaks to her and tells her he wants to hear her stories. Sunday knows that a talking frog is actually a man under an enchantment, probably being punished by a faerie for something he did. So as not to complicate things by telling stories that might come true later, Sunday pleases the man turned frog who she now considers her friend by telling him stories from the past. So the frog learns everything there is to know about Sunday and her family. Sunday ends up falling for the frog, who won't turn back into a man despite the fact that she kissed him, only to find that he disappears shortly after. Worried about her friend the frog, Sunday goes frantically looking, only her frog cannot be found because he is no longer a frog, but the prince her family detests.

Sunday's mother was seemingly harsh and stern, but in reality she was kind, but guarded because she'd lost so much. There is a lot of treachery in the story, people being turned into animals just because, faeries with deep dark secrets, and long lost family members. The writing is a little confusing, but at he same time beautiful. There are also very likable characters, such as Sunday's half brother who is completely fey, and completely random. I found this to be a short enjoyable story to those who like a good old retelling of those fairy tale classics. 3 Stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Changelings (War of the Fae, #1)

The Changelings (War of the Fae, #1) - Elle Casey This book as such a nice surprise and totally not what I was expecting. How come I am just finding out about this book?! It was so entertaining and fast paced. A surprisingly fast read. By looking at the cover, the title, and the blurb you know that you are about to read about book about Fae and runaway kids in the woods, but never did I imagine that it would be so hard to put down. At this point I am just itching to read the second book.

The story is told from the main characters's perspective, Jayne. Being in Jane's head was so much fun. Her inner dialogue was hilarious, not to mention the stuff that came out of her mouth. She has a potty mouth and is tough as nails. Jane tends to say whatever she is thinking, without considering the consequences, a fact that has alienated her from the kids at her school and has labeled her as a troublemaker. Jayne only has one friend, Tony, the nerdy kid at her school who she practically annoyed relentlessly until he finally agreed to hang out with her. Jayne and Tony are tight, best friends, in a completely non-romantic way. Jayne also has a serious problem at home. Her divorced mother has a live-in boyfriend that likes Jayne a little too much, to the extreme that he has attempted molesting her, forcing Jayne to take matters into her own hands and regularly find ways to defend herself from him. Her best friend Tony has gotten wind of what is happening with Jayne and, being unhappy at home himself, he proposes running away to Jane, assuring her that if they don't run away together he won't be able to control himself and have to put himself and a gun between Jayne and her step-father. To avoid complications that could send her loyal best friend to jail, Jayne agrees to tun away with Tony to Miami.

Once in Miami, Jayne and Tony find themselves homeless and quickly run out of money. Circumstances lead them to Jared, who finds them a place to stay in an abandoned warehouse where a group of 5 other runaways are already settled, under the Jared's leadership. Doubtful but without any other choice, Jayne and Tony agree to stay with Jared and their group, under the agreement that it was to be temporarily. A hard to resist offer, by way of a flyer, finds their way to the group of runaways, a $500 fitness trial compensation to anyone who completes the test. The group, seeing this as a chance to get more money for food and shelter, agree to subject themselves to this trial, not expecting what will happen next. Jayne, Tony, and the group of runaways, find themselves in an unknown location, in the woods, where they realize that in order to make it out they have to defeat many obstacles, all of which are magical and/or supernatural, and in the process realize that they each have abilities they never knew they had.

Elle Casey's ability to tell a highly entertaining story with a combination of supernatural, fantasy, and contemporary elements took me for a ride. I saw this story as a combination of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series' Fae lore and The Hunger Games' big-time action, all the while keeping it unique and remarkable. All the characters have distinct personalities traits that make it easy for you as the reader to identify with them, yet you still had that sense of doubt that at least one of them wasn't as or who they seemed to be. I am very glad I was able to take part in this book's blog tour, otherwise I might have missed the chance to have this series on my radar and my e-reader. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about the Fae, or just plain loves action and a good laugh. There is some strong language in this book as the main character doesn't seem to have a filter, but then again, that's what made her all the more entertaining. I give this book 5 stars. Excellent, excellent, read.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)


Partials - Dan Wells As a fan of dystopian fiction, I'm always on the lookout for new stories that stand out from the sea of dystopians out there. After reading Dan Well's Partials, I can finally say "well this is different". Even though it was a slow start, Partials snuck up on me when I least expected it, and took me for a wild ride.

The combination of a badass heroine, funny and likable characters, a unique plot, plus enough scientific data and hypothesis to bring Biology 101 flashbacks, makes for a very entertaining and believable book. I found myself in the heroine's shoes quite a bit, getting into her brain and trying to figure out things alongside her. Kira, the main character is a very strong individual, with a very clear idea of what she wants and how she is going to get it.

Kira is one of just thousands of humans left in the world after a virus called RM wiped out 99.9% of the population. The survivors have gathered and made a home in Long Island, NY, where they have been for the last eleven years staying away from the Partials. The Partials are genetically engineered humanoids that humans created for the purpose of winning a war as soldiers, only once the war was won, the Partials turned on the humans and attacked and are believed to have created and released the RM virus that wiped out most of humanity. While the humans only have Long Island to call home, the Partials have taken over the rest of the world.

The worst part is that the humans that are left, the ones who survived because of an immunity, are able to reproduce but as soon as a baby is born he or she dies within hours or days from the same virus. With babies dying and the humans that are left getting older, humanity is facing extinction. Kira is a medic and an idealist, and formulates a plan to find the cure for RM, unleashing a slew of events that will give you whiplash. Just when you think you have things figured out, something else pops up that makes you question everything and you just don't know who's good or bad until the heat is too much to take.

This book does not disappoint. I think what I liked most about it was how in tune I felt with the main character. I was able to follow her train of thought and come to the same conclusions that she did. Whenever I would think that something was off or didn't fit, she would also point out the same thing in the next line or two. I truly identified with her. The rest of the characters didn't disappoint either. No love triangle, no passionate scenes, and yet I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages. This is most definitely a 5 star read for me and I just can't wait to see what Dan Wells has for us on the second book.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Pieces of Us

Pieces of Us - Margie Gelbwasser I must admit that I had trouble finishing this book. I went into it thinking it was more Y than A, but it was quite the opposite. Pieces of Us deals with some very mature, disturbing subjects, that at first I felt very uncomfortable reading about. I am very sensitive about the subject of abusive relationships and those who think that they deserve it. No one deserves to be treated like dirt, and seeing one of the characters in this book going down that self destructive path bothered me greatly.

That said, this book was very well written and touches on some very real issues. How jealousy and rumors that spread like wildfire can ruin a person's life. How we are a product of our environment, and how we often turn out more like our parents that we would like, or admit, to be. How abusive relationships can cause irreparable damage. How, when a girl says no, it means NO. This was a very strong debut novel for Margie Gelbwasser.

The story revolves around four teens, two sisters and two brothers, who live in different states but that know each other from spending their summers at a lake house where they are neighbors. Katie and Julie, the two sisters, and Alex and Kyle, the two brothers. The dynamic between these siblings is a very difficult and complicated one. There is very strong sibling rivalry between the girls, mainly because Katie is seemingly the happy go lucky type who is on top of the cheer leading pyramid. Her sister Julie resents Katie for having everything and for being "the pretty one", a stereotype perpetuated more by their own mother than anyone else, who favors Katie in everything, making Julie feel unwanted, insecure and craving love and attention. Little does Julie know that Katie's life is not as perfect as it seems, and that she's dealing with some very scary skeletons in her closet.

For the two brothers, life is no picnic either. I didn't like Alex's character very much. I found him to be a prick, with total disregard for people's feelings and a complete lack of respect for women. I did realize that this is largely due to the fact that he grew up watching his mother not respecting herself or her body. He despises his mother for cheating on his father, who later committed suicide, and then turning into an easy woman, sleeping with a different guy every night and working as a stripper. I cringed every time he called women words that I wouldn't repeat out loud, and it pained me to think of how many like him are walking around hating women because they have mommy issues.

Kyle was the more "normal" of these characters. While I found him to be socially inadequate most of the time, he was more sensible and human than any other character in this book. Even if he didn't feel love towards a person, he was incapable of hurting that person, and maybe that was his big problem, that he didn't express his feelings enough. I also sympathized a bit with Julie. I felt for her in the beginning, how she was always in her sister's shadow and that made her feel insignificant, but I didn't like the person she later became, someone willing to hurt others just to please some (and herself).

In conclusion, I had mixed feelings about this book. There were things I hated, and things that I connected with. There were definitely things that touched me at a very deep level and maybe that's what made it hard for me, because the author of this book didn't pull any punches and called things for what they were, but this is more of a personal issue for me. Like I said before, the writing was impressive and the plot was very intriguing. If you like to read about the complex nature of the human condition, this is definitely the book for you. I give it 3 stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Pandemonium (Delirium)

Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver As I read the last page of Pandemonium and flip to the back cover, I am in shock and awe at what Lauren Oliver has done again with this amazing story. I expected a good old middle book, where nothing really happens except drag the story on, maybe some character development, just to get us through to the third and final installment. I couldn't have been further from the truth. This book, in my opinion, was even better than the first, and I really, REALLY, loved the first book (Delirium).

We follow Lena through her struggles and achievements after the heart gripping cliffhanger we were left with in Delirium (Note: If you haven't read Delirium yet, do it now!!! and sorry if I give up any book 1 spoilers, but sometimes I won't be able to help it in order to get my point across). After Lena crosses over to The Wilds, she finds that it was not as easy as she thought it was going to be. It wasn't all love and games and pretty things. She was in for the lesson of her life, and sometimes the lesson itself was to value and fight for her own life. New, very interesting, characters are introduced, and some old ones I wish had been there.

Lena finds herself part of The Resistance, which is rapidly growing, as the number of sympathizers and uncureds who are doubting the cure rises. Lena infiltrates the DFA (Deliria-Free America) and takes on the assignment of shadowing Julian Fineman, son of the head of the DFA and the poster child of the DFA's Youth Division. He is not yet cured, but it's about to be. Circumstances put Julian and Lena together, and they are forced to coexist and work together. This leads to an inevitable love triangle, between Lena and Julian, and the boy Lena is in love with Alex, who sacrificed himself in the first book to get Lena to the other side of the fence. The thing is that Alex is invisible to Lena, since she doesn't know if he is even physically alive, but very much alive in Lena's heart.

Just like Delirium, Pandemonium ends with a shocker of a cliffhanger. We find out more about Lena's mom and we witness Lena's growth, from a weak girl with unreachable dreams, to a strong, independent woman, who can kick anyone's behind. I am absolutely blown away by this sequel and can't wait to find out what happens now. Lauren Oliver has once again captivated me with the beautiful prose and fast-paced action found in this book. 5 stars all the way.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)